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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Year

In February I don't have to write a blog for Romance Books Or Us because my turn is always the 29th of every month.  This year is leap year so February has 29 days in it, and it's my turn to blog.

A leap year (or intercalary or bissextile year) is a year containing one additional day (or, in the case of lunisolar calendars, a month) in order to keep the calendar year synchronized with the astronomical or seasonal year. Because seasons and astronomical events do not repeat in a whole number of days, a calendar that had the same number of days in each year would, over time, drift with respect to the event it was supposed to track. By occasionally inserting (or intercalating) an additional day or month into the year, the drift can be corrected. A year that is not a leap year is called a common year.

 February 29 is a date that usually occurs every four years, and is called leap day. This day is added to the calendar in leap years as a corrective measure, because the earth does not orbit around the sun in precisely 365 days.

Here are some traditions for leap day.  In the British Isles, it is a tradition that women may propose marriage only on leap years. While it has been claimed that the tradition was initiated by Saint Patrick or Brigid of Kildare in 5th century Ireland, this is dubious, as the tradition has not been attested before the 19th century. Supposedly, a 1288 law by Queen Margaret of Scotland (then age five and living in Norway), required that fines be levied if a marriage proposal was refused by the man; compensation ranged from a kiss to £1 to a silk gown, in order to soften the blow In some places the tradition was tightened to restricting female proposals to the modern leap year day, February 29, or to the medieval (bissextile) leap year day, February 24.

According to Felten: "A play from the turn of the 17th century, 'The Maydes Metamorphosis,' has it that 'this is leape year/women wear breeches.' A few hundred years later, breeches wouldn't do at all: Women looking to take advantage of their opportunity to pitch woo were expected to wear a scarlet petticoat—fair warning, if you will."

In Denmark, the tradition is that women may propose on the bissextile leap year day, February 24, and that refusal must be compensated with 12 pairs of gloves.

In Finland, the tradition is that if a man refuses a woman's proposal on leap year day, he should buy her the fabrics for a skirt

In Greece, marriage in a leap year is considered unlucky. One in five engaged couples in Greece will plan to avoid getting married in a leap year.

A person born on February 29 may be called a "leapling" or a "leaper". In common years they usually celebrate their birthdays on February 28 or March 1. In some situations, March 1 is used as the birthday in a non-leap year since it is the day following February 28.

Technically, a leapling will have fewer birthday anniversaries than their age in years. This phenomenon is exploited when a person claims to be only a quarter of their actual age, by counting their leap-year birthday anniversaries only. In Gilbert and Sullivan's 1879 comic opera The Pirates of Penzance, Frederic the pirate apprentice discovers that he is bound to serve the pirates until his 21st birthday rather than until his 21st year.

For legal purposes, legal birthdays depend on how local laws count time intervals.

For additional information you can go to Wikipedia. 

Contest News: Romance Books Or Us will be having contests for the next few months.  The first will be a St. Patrick's Day contest.  Be sure to visit Romance Books Or Us website at

Also, this is last for the sale of all of Eirelander Publishing's catalog is 30% off at the Coffee Time Romance Store!  My books can be found there.

Have a Happy Leap Year!

Sandra K. Marshall, author of The Odyssey Mysteries Trilogy

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Interview with Seth Dawson, Hero of Windswept Shores by Janice Seagraves

Interview with Seth Dawson, hero of Windswept Shores
By Janice Seagraves

My book

 “I have Seth Dawson, my hero from Windswept Shores, with me today. Say hi, Seth.” I turned toward my couch.

Seth rests an arm across the back of my couch, which pulls his surfers t-shirt taunt against his muscles and deep chest. He’s wear tan shorts, with his ankle resting on his knee, and has no shoes on his size thirteen feet. “G’day.”

“Where are you from?” I ask.

“I reckon you know since you made me up.” Seth picks up my book on Sydney that I have on my coffee table. “I hail from Sydney, but my port of call these days is Fort Lauderdale. That is until I washed up on the little island, where I met Megz.” He picks up my book on the Bahamas.

My face heats and I clear my throat. Hmm, I should have put away my research books before he came over. “Isn’t it true that you something of a bad boy?”

Seth drops both the books back on the table and leans back. “I reckon that depends on who ya ask.” He winks.

“Describe yourself in three words.”

“I’m a true blue Aussie.”

“I think that five words.”

“No worries mate. I reckon the readers will get the reference.” Seth waves, and I looked behind me, wondering who he’s waving at.

“Uh, Okay. So tell me about meeting Megan.”

“She found me washed up on the beach. I coughed and rolled over, but I must have startled her because her scream woke me up.” Seth’s gray eyes crinkle at the corners as he chuckles.

“Is there something you’d like to tell Megan?”

“That she’s stronger than she thinks she is.”

“What would be a perfect date?”

“I’d take Megz for a walk along the on the beach and then a swim in the ocean.”

I frown. “But you and Megan live on a deserted island?”

Seth grins, his cheeks dimpling. “Abso-bloody-lutely.”

“Moving on.”  I looked down at my question sheet. “Boxer or briefs?”

“If I’m not going commando, as you yanks call it, than its briefs.”

The heat that started in my cheeks goes down my neck. “What kind of shoes?”

“I prefer being barefoot or thongs.”

“What can you tell me about your family?”

“Me parents are still around the last I looked, and me da has a few bobs to rub together.”

“A few or more than a few?”

Seth looks around and whispers, “Can ya keep a secret?”

I lean forward. “Yes.”

Seth whispers, “Da’s a very rich man, but don’t tell Megz. I want her to love me for myself.”

I lean back in my chair and smile. “I don’t think that’s going to be a problem.”

Seth grins. “Oh ace. That’s good news, that is.”

I cover my mouth. “Oops, I wasn’t supposed to say that.”

“I reckon the cats out of the bag now.”

I nod. “Are you ready to tell everyone about Windswept Shores?”

“Orright.” Seth clears his throat. “For Megz it would have been a dream vacation, a holiday to the Bahamas, 
but something goes horrible wrong. For me and Megz it would be a time we’d never forget.”

Windswept Shores by Janice Seagraves
Cover Contest Winner
erotic contemporary romance
novel (approx 50K)
price $4.95
Cover Art by Pink Petal Books with assistance from Winterheart Design

The sole survivor of a plane crash, Megan is alone on a deserted island in the Bahamas until she finds a nearly-drowned man washed up on shore. Another survivor, this time from a boat wreck. With only meager survival skills between them, will they survive and can they find love?

Except 2:

“Will this do ya?”

Megan glanced at what Seth had in his hands. “Oh, you found my gathering basket and scrapers. Sure, that’s fine for gathering mussels.” She unbuttoned her cotton shirt and hung it on a nearby bush. The lace-edged camisole she wore underneath was a bright green but didn’t really go with her outfit. She stuck in her thumbs into the elastic band of her capri pants, stopping with a startled look at Seth.

“Don’t let me stop you.” He grinned, showing a flash of white teeth in his tanned face.

“Uh, I’ll just leave these on.” Yanking her hands out, her face heated as she ducked her head.

“If I weren’t ‘ere, you’d do it in the nuddy,” he accused.

“If that means naked, not quite,” she corrected, hanging the basket on her arm.

“Then in you’re underdaks?”

“Uh—underwear?” She frowned, wondering why he wouldn’t drop it. “Um, yeah, it saves on the washing, especially since I have to do it by hand and also drying the clothes is iffy business at best.”

“I hear ya, but still don’t let me stop you from doing something you do naturally.” Heat filled her body with the look he gave her. 

Oh, God, he’s a man all right. “Thanks, but I’m more comfortable with my clothes on with company around.”

Seth arched an eyebrow. “I’m company?”

“You’re my guest.”

He gave her a lopsided grin. “How about a mate? I reckoned you could use one.”

“If that means friend, sure why not?” She smiled.

“Abso-bloody-lutely,” he agreed.

They waded out and began scraping off the black, shiny mussels that clung to the rock. The surf pulled and dragged at her legs, getting both of them thoroughly soaked. 

“Isn’t that a beaut?” Seth showed Megan a fine clutch of mussels. “I got ‘em in one go.”

“Oh, that’s great! And they’re nice big ones, too.” She held out the basket, but slipped on a stone, stumbling against his side.

He dropped the shellfish into the basket she held. “Easy there, mate.”

“I mean the mussels,” she snapped.

“I meant the mussles, too.” He scraped at another batch. “Course, a man’s muscle is his most important 
body part.”

“O-oh, you’re just like every guy I know. Why is it always sex with men?”

“Do you know which muscle I was even talking about?” He smirked. “Most blokes are scum.” He glanced 
sidelong at her. “Most blokes just want to tell their mates how many birds they've shagged that week.” He dropped more mussels in her basket. “But I could be different, if you ever want to find out.”

“You do realize I’m a married woman?”

Seth yanked his gaze up to hers. “Megz, I realize you’re a spunky widow.”

“I’m not a widow. He’s alive,” she snapped, blinking back tears.

“You have a nightmare every night about his death.”

“I-I don’t know for sure.” Megan scraped vigorously at a new spot. “Jonathan might have made it. The plane could have . . . popped out—” Half the shiny black shells fell into the water, as she snatched at the rest. “From the other side of the wave,” she finished.

“Orright.” He shrugged.

Megan dropped her mussels into the basket. “I think we have enough. Let’s go in.”

“Ready when you are, mate.”

Roaring filled her ears as a large wave hit, for a moment all Megan could see was teal tinged water.

A hand grabbed her arm, keeping her rooted to the spot. “Megz?”

Megan coughed rubbing the saltwater sting from her eyes. “I’m fine,” she gasped.

“Let me have the mussels. The waves are picking up.” He dropped his scraper into her basket, then took it from her.

Another wave hit, but this time it lifted Megan off the rocks. Seth grabbed her around the waist. She clung to him.

“The sea means to take you back.”

“It can’t have me.” She looked around. “I think I lost my scraper.”

“Let it go, mate. You can make another.”

In the lull, when the wave washed back out to sea, Seth handed Megan back the basket. “Hang on a tick.” 

She clutched it to her chest. He abruptly picked her up and waded ashore.

Surprise made her eyes big as her cheeks heated. She glanced shyly up at him, then over his shoulders to the rocks the waves crested over. “The tide has come in. I usually keep watch for things like that.”

“I must be a distraction for ya.” Seth grinned, while he set her down on the sand.

“When are you not a distraction to anyone?” she asked with one hand against his muscular chest.

“My mum said I’m always one to hog all the attention to myself.”

“I think she’s right.” She took a step back so she could pat his arm. “Thank you for keeping me from being swept off to sea.”

“That’s what mates are for.” He took the basket, with a look inside it, he added, “Besides, you were carrying me brekky.” Seth smirked down at her. “I really like yer top. You should wear it more often.”

“Oh!” Megan gave a mortified glance at her clingy camisole, which looked like it was spray painted on. Her erect nipples were making credible attempts to poke holes in the thin material. She snatched her brown shirt off the bush, hurrying to slip it on. Dammit, I’m never wearing this again.

Seth chuckled while he hauled the mussels up to their camp.

Janice Seagraves website:
Janice Seagraves blog:

Monday, February 27, 2012

Guest Blog: Suzanne Brockmann: Writing Books Versus Making Movies

So who’s got an Oscar hangover this morning? And I’m not talking about the kind you get from imbibing in too much food and drink. I’m talking about the glued-to-your-TV-set-for-hours-and-hours-and-hours type of hangover, where you stay up much too late on a Sunday night because finding out which movie won the Oscar for best pictures matters.

Oscar night is my favorite holiday.

I’ve always loved movies. In fact, I became a romance writer as a kind of an alternative, sideways route to becoming a screenwriter.

See, back when I was just starting my writing career, I focused on writing screenplays and TV scripts. But back then, I was also a new mom. I had two kids in diapers and a husband who worked in New York City. So after I submitted my scripts to a Hollywood agent and he called to ask me when I was going to move to LA – because he’d rep me if I moved out there – I took a deep breath and told him that it would be about eighteen years before my youngest was out of school, so a move west wasn’t in my immediate future. He told me – and these words were burned into my brain – that I was a very good writer. But he said that there were ten very good writers who already lived in LA and were ready to do the leg work necessary to selling their scripts, and he was going to represent one of them instead of me.

It was the best rejection of my career. And in the aftermath of that phone call, I sat there doing what I do best, which is think outside of the box. As unknown writer A, I would have to move to LA to sell my screenplays. But you know who sold plenty of screenplays from his home in Maine?

So, following that logic, I surmised that if I could become a bestselling novelist, I wouldn’t have to move to LA to write and sell screenplays.(Oh, I was SO very young back then!)

In the days after that phone call, I decided that I’d write genre fiction – my goal was to entertain – and I took all of my screenwriting skills and incorporated them into writing romance novels that were as fast-paced and as visual as possible. I wanted my books to play out like movies inside of my readers’ heads.

Long story short, I outlined my first romance novel exactly the way I would’ve outlined a screenplay, and then sat down to write the book. It was an exhilarating experience, complete with a “Eureka!” moment as I realized that romance novels were, perhaps, the ultimate fit for my particular writing voice.

I discovered that I loved writing romance novels.

So I put my screenwriting career on hold and focused on writing books.

But my love for movies has never waned. And last year I collaborated with my husband, Ed Gaffney, (an Edgar-award-nominated thriller writer) and my son, Jason T. Gaffney, and together we three wrote a screenplay – a romantic comedy with a hero and a hero, called THE PERFECT WEDDING. And then, last summer, we used our very own production company, small or LARGE Productions, to shoot the movie.

We had a cast of over a dozen actors including James Reborn (Independence Day, Real Steel) and Kristine Sutherland (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and a crew and production team of close to fifty hardworking people, including an enormously talented young director named Scott Gabriel.
We used a digital camera called “The Red” to create a movie with high production values, and shot our feature length indie film in twenty-one grueling days.

We’re currently in the final stages of post-production, with a hope to premiere THE PERFECT WEDDING at film festivals around the world, starting this spring. Find out more about TPW at and

So what’s the biggest difference between writing a novel and writing (and the producing) a movie? For me, it’s all about the control. As a novelist, I am god. The story is mine, and mine alone.

As a screenwriter, I was already collaborating with two other very creative (and stubborn people before we moved into production mode. And remember those dozen actors and fifty crew and production team members I mentioned earlier? All of those people brought a little bit (or a lot!) of themselves to the process of telling this story. Making a movie is a team sport, and in order to make the best movie possible, you have to learn to pass the ball.

Things I cannot do: Edit a movie. Direct a movie. Light a room to film a movie. Move a camera on a dolly so that it doesn’t bump or shake. Wire dozens of actors for sound. Film a movie. Apply makeup to the actors so that they look great. Feed fifty-something hungry and hardworking people three times a day.

Well, maybe I could do that last one. I could not have done it alone.

My favorite part of the movie making process was casting the film. As one of the producers, I had input into the casting, and I was present for many of the auditions.

In fact, casting was so much fun, that when I began to plan my promotional efforts for my next book (BORN TO DARKNESS, the first in my new paranormal “Fighting Destiny” series), it didn’t take me long to decide to use my newfound skills and cast actors as the six main adult characters in the series, and then hold a photo shoot with my favorite NYC photographer, Shirin Tinati. I used her photos (and some video footage we shot, too) from that session to create “BORN TO DARKNESS Trading Cards,” and photo galleries, and book trailer videos so that readers could see the characters in this book exactly the way I see them.

Because even though I’ve only written two screenplays versus fifty-one novels in the past twenty years since I got that phone call from that Hollywood agent, I still write books using screenwriting outlining techniques, in hopes that my stories will play out like fast-paced and exciting movies in my readers’ minds.

GIVEAWAY ALERT: I have two copies of the CD audiobook of "BREAKING THE RULES" to give to two people who leave comments by midnight EST, 28 February. Please put your email address in the comment box!

Dishonorably discharged, former Navy SEAL Shane Laughlin is down to his last ten bucks when he finally finds work as a test subject at the Obermeyer Institute, a little-known and believed-to-be-fringe scientific research facility. When he enters the OI compound, he is plunged into a strange world where seemingly mild-mannered scientists--including women half his size--can kick his highly skilled ass.

Shane soon discovers that there are certain individuals who possess the unique ability to access untapped regions of the brain with extraordinary results-including telekinesis, super strength, and reversal of the aging process. Known as "Greater-Thans," this rare breed is recruited by OI, where they are rigorously trained using ancient techniques to cultivate their powers and wield them responsibly.

But in the depths of America's second Great Depression, where the divide between the haves and the have-nots has grown even wider, those who are rich--and reckless--enough have a quick, seductive alternative: Destiny, a highly addictive designer drug that that can make anyone a Greater-Than, with the power of eternal youth. The sinister cartel known as The Organization has begun mass-producing Destiny, and the demand is growing. But few realize the drug's true danger, and fewer still know the dirty secret of Destiny's crucial ingredient.

Michelle "Mac" Mackenzie knows the ugly truth. And as one of the Obermeyer Institute's crack team of operatives, she's determined to end the scourge of Destiny. But her kick-ass attitude gets knocked for a loop when she discovers one of the new test subjects is the same smoldering stranger who just rocked her world in a one-night stand. And although Shane quickly discovers he isn't a Greater-Than like Mac, as an ex-SEAL, he's got talents of his own. But Mac's got powerful reasons to keep her distance from Shane-and reasons to want him close. She's used to risking her life, but now she faces sacrificing her heart in the ultimate war on drugs.

Izzy Zanella wasn't looking for another reason to butt heads with his Navy SEAL teammate and nemesis, Danny Gillman. But then he met Danny’s beautiful younger sister, Eden. When she needed it most, he offered her a place to stay, a shoulder to cry on—and more. And when she got pregnant with another man’s child, he offered her marriage. But Eden’s devastating miscarriage shattered their life together—and made the intense bad blood between Izzy and Danny even worse.

Now Eden's back, on a mission to rescue her teen brother, Ben, from their abusive stepfather. Even if she and Izzy can prove that their broken marriage is still in one piece, winning legal custody of Ben is a long shot. But they’re not alone: Danny and his girlfriend Jenn offer to help, and he and Izzy agree to bury the past and fight for Ben’s future.

As they plan their strategy, Izzy and Eden grapple with the raw passion that still crackles between them—while Danny and Jenn confront new depths in their own rocky relationship. But events take a terrifying turn after Ben befriends a girl fleeing a child prostitution ring. When the young runaway seeks refuge with Eden and Izzy, her pursuers kidnap Ben—and a deadly standoff begins. Now, they must all pull together like never before and strike back, swift and hard, to protect their unconventional little family and everything they hold most precious.

Suzanne Brockmann is the award-winning author of fifty-one books, and is widely recognized as one of the leading voices in romantic suspense. Her work has earned her repeated appearances on the New York Times bestseller list, as well as numerous awards, including Romance Writers of America's #1 Favorite Book of the Year and two RITA awards.

Married to author Ed Gaffney, Suz divides her time between Sarasota, Florida; Boston, Massachusetts and New York City. They have two grown children, Melanie, who is a personal trainer and a writer, and Jason, who is an actor and tap dancer, and two miniature schnauzers, C.K. Dexter-Haven and Little Joe, both of whom (unlike Mel and Jason) still live at home.

Suz is a proud member of PFLAG -- Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. She is also a card-carrying member of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Human Rights Campaign, and MassEquality. A firm believer in civil rights for all people, she has fought hard to bring equal marriage rights to all citizens of her home state, Massachusetts.

Suzanne has an author page at: Come and visit!

facebook main page:
twitter: @SuzBrockmann

See pictures of my “cast” of "BORN TO DARKNESS" at:

Find out more about "BORN TO DARKNESS" at:

Join my official countdown to "BORN TO DARKNESS" at:

Get a virtually signed copy of "BORN TO DARKNESS" (plus a bonus “Extra” Jules Robin short story) at:

Find out more about TPW a: and

Sunday, February 26, 2012

How Do You Make a Dragon Real?

When you read a fantasy, are you able to suspend belief and make the reader feel like she’s really there?  Every fantasy writer hopes so, but how does one achieve that goal? Okay, I’m no expert but I do write fantasy. These would be my tips:
1.      Be consistent.
Everything about your world has to follow a predictable course, even if it does so in a circuitous fashion.  Your world, whether it is simple or complex, has to be true to its structure throughout the novel.  With a fantasy, the world is most likely complex.
2.      Do your research.
Even if you are making things up, don’t go too far off the beaten path. You can lose your audience. Mix in some traditions or activities with which your reader can identify, When you first feed in such details, make sure the items and events are true to what would be expected by the reader.
3.      Give your fantastical creatures personalities.
No one likes a boring dragon.  Cinder, my dragon in the Book of the Beginning series, has a scorching case of dragon breath. She is just now gaining control of her outbursts after fifty years. Cinder is a very pleasant dragon of only two-hundred-fifty pounds, a miniature breed with a willingness to please
4.      Infuse the scenery with smells, sounds and description that makes it tangible.
In Honey Blood and the Collector, the reader knows that when a vampire is annihilated the old-fashioned way, by quickly severing his head, there is a significant explosion, following by earthquake like rolling and emitting the smell of clean ozone. These are the kinds of multi-sensory details that make a book come alive.
5.      Make at least one item, person or event unforgettable and relatable.
Again, Honey Blood and the Collector has many unforgettable characters, from Cinder who has a tendency to sit on your foot, to Angie, queen of the Ieies and the hero’s mother, who believes her chance at destiny and true love have passed her by, and Parfait, the half-vamp, half-Ieie who will later be destined to triumph over the evil wizard, Gardartha.

What you make of your fantasy is up to you, but make it believable, loveable and unforgettable.
Bobbye Terry writes  mystery/suspense, romance, fantasies and dystopian fiction.  Her latest solo work is This Magic Moment, a contemporary romantic fantasy.  She also has an angel fantasy just out, Walk Right In, with the sequel Walk Right Back out any time. Honey Blood and the Collector will debut in just a few days. All of those books are written as Daryn Cross, but she also has new mysteries in e-book and print. For more about Bobbye, visit her at and .

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Interview of Author H. C. Brown

Today I'm pleased to present an interview of romance author H. C. Brown.

Latest Book: A Tryst of Fate
Buy Link:

Video Link:

H.C Brown is a multi published, bestselling author of, Historical, Paranormal, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, BDSM, Time Travel, Action Adventure and Contemporary Romance. "I write tender erotic romance, always with a happy ending."

H.C writes under the pen name Pia Moonglow for YA Fantasy. Living in Australia with her own alpha male, HC enjoys walking hand in hand along the beautiful Gold Coast beaches.

Q: What’s the first thing you did when you received word you’d sold a book?
A: Sat stunned for some time before doing the Happy Dance.

Q: What part of the book is the easiest for you to write? Why? What part of the book is the hardest for you? Why?
A: I'll put the answers together. I don't find any part of a book harder or easier to write. I enjoy writing the story usually flows without any problems at all.

Q: Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
A: Alexander. He is a gay man living in a time when being discovered as homosexual could lead to the hangman's noose.

He is gentle and only desires the right to love whomever he chooses.

Q: What hobby do you enjoy when not writing?
A: I paint characters from my books and I enjoy the beach.

Q: What is your favorite romance book that you’ve read?
A: The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon. She weaves a magic in her stories I find hard to resist.

Tell us where to find you: website(s), publisher’s page(s), blog(s), Facebook page(s), etc. List them all!
Noble Romance Author's page:
Ellora's Cave Author's page:
Manic Readers:

Find HC here:
25 February:

26 February:

3 March:

6 March:

After inheriting a Georgian house in London Colt Daniels, millionaire art dealer, becomes obsessed with a portrait of the home's former owner, Lord Alexander Swift. Searching for information, Colt goes into the cellar where Alexander Swift and his lover Fitzhugh mysteriously disappeared. When his flashlight fails, Colt finds himself transported to 1775 and comes face to face with the man of his dreams. In a time when man-love led to the hangman's noose, can colt convince Alexander he is the man's destiny?

Colt Daniels lifted his bidder's card. "Thirty thousand."

"The bid is thirty thousand pounds. Come now, ladies and gentlemen, this portrait of Lord Alexander Swift by Benjamin West is dated 1775 and is in extraordinarily fine condition." The auctioneer at Sotheby's surveyed the silent crowd with a critical gaze.

Taking a casual pose, Colt flicked his gaze to the opposing bidder. The man in the slick Italian business suit met his gaze with a slow smile. Colt lifted his chin and stared at the painting. From the moment he had laid eyes on the portrait of the handsome young man in the Sotheby's catalogue, he had wanted to buy the painting. Lord Alexander Swift's troubled gaze held a distant loneliness, as if reaching out to Colt across the centuries.

A strange twist of fate had brought him to London with the inheritance of the townhouse once owned by Lord Swift in Berkeley Square the gift coming from a distant relative on his thirtieth birthday. Over the past year, he had restored the house to its former beauty and now he required this painting to complete the task. During the years Lord Swift had owned the property, the painting had hung at the top of the stairs, facing the front door. For some unexplained reason, Colt had a compelling desire to finish the house by restoring the painting to its original position, in time for the anniversary of Alexander's death on June 4.

"Forty thousand." The man in the suit lifted his bidder's card.

Colt sighed. With his fortune to back him and the prestige as owner of some of the most prestigious art galleries around the world, he rarely had people bid against him for very long. They should know better. If Colt Daniels wanted a painting, Colt Daniels would go to any price to secure a purchase. He cleared his throat. "Seventy… thousand… pounds." He shot the opposing bidder a cold stare.

After the usual pause, the hammer came down and Colt moved to the clerk to settle the account. "Have it shipped to 42 Berkeley Square, Mayfair." He turned and strolled back to the painting to gaze at Alexander.

Warmth pooled around Colt's heart, He touched the man's pale cheeks and ran a finger over the long blond curls, tied back in a queue. The young man appeared to be about eighteen in the portrait, slight of build with delicate features, yet Colt's research revealed, West had completed the portrait by Swift's twenty-fifth birthday, the day he had inherited great wealth and lands from his father. Colt rubbed his chin. One would think His Lordship should be overjoyed on such an occasion, and yet Alexander's blue gaze followed him with heart-wrenching sadness.

"West has captured the essence of his subject, don't you think?"

Colt turned to see business suit gazing at him with a friendly smile. "Essence?"

"My name is Jake Williams. You may have heard of me?" replied business suit in a cultured Boston accent.

"Can't say that I have, sorry."

"Ah--so you don't know about the letters." Jake Williams inclined his head toward the portrait. "The love letters between Alexander and the Hon. David Fitzhugh. In a time when the crime of sodomy held the death penalty, to write love letters to a man… my God, can you imagine the implications?"

Colt straightened his shoulders. "You have these letters?"

"I most certainly do! Copies of the original documents are in my book, The Gay Lords." Jake took a card from his jacket and gave it to Colt. "I know you're restoring Alexander's house; perhaps we could meet over lunch and I'll give you the details I didn't put into print."

Anything else you’d like to add?
A Tryst of Fate and three autographed Tryst of Fate cover flats in PDF format for e-readers. Winners picked at random from comments on my blog on 26 February.

Friday, February 24, 2012



Who doesn’t love a villain? I love villains, both to read about and to write, especially to write. We authors can take our hidden aggressions out on our villains, make them do things we’d never do.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the heroes in my books. Really love them, as in fall in love with each one: Tom, Logan, Dominic, Nick, Daniel, Aiden, and all the heroes in my short stories.

Our romance heroes are larger than life - sexy, sweet, tortured, tough, sensitive - but always willing to sacrifice all for the women they love.

Not so with villains. Villains are out for themselves only. They care only about what others can do for them. What makes villains such fun to write is that we can project all sorts of nasty attributes to a villain and get away with it.

However, the best villains aren’t pure evil but multi-dimensional and contain enough humanity that the reader can say, “You know, he’s really bad, but I sort of understand why he’s doing what he does.”

On some level, we all know we have the capacity to slip into the darkness. Most of us don’t, of course. The villains are the ones who slipped. We look at them with a mixture of relief and gratitude, and a little bit of smugness. Thank God we have enough sense and strength to fight the darkness, we say.

Each of us has several sides to our personality, mostly good, some maybe not so good. The most well-known example of good versus evil is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. A classic case of split personality where both decency and wickedness reside in the same person. This story has fascinated readers since Robert Louis Stevenson published it in 1886. Why does it fascinate? Because we can all relate to the fight within us, the fight between good and bad.

Remember the Star Trek episode where Captain Kirk splits into two distinct personalities - one wimpy, one horrific? A masterpiece.

Villains, no matter how evil, should have that glimmer of humanness that shows through at times. We can relate to a villain who is conflicted because we understand him and, on some level, sympathize.

I’ve never seen the TV show, “True Blood,” although I hear it’s good. I’m afraid of vampires which is why I don’t watch it. When I was talking with one of my writer friends about doing a blog article on villains, she mentioned Eric, the tall blond vampire on “True Blood,” as an excellent example of a conflicted villain. He wants the heroine Sookie for himself, and he’s contemptuous of humans. But he has a tender side. He cries tears of blood for his maker. Viewers watch him and wonder if the love of a good woman can redeem him. But then he’ll turn around and do something twisted, like when he tricked Sookie into taking some of his blood. Good conflict and suspense that keep people glued to the TV or to a book.

I’ve tried to give my villain characters some redeemable values. The villain in my romantic suspense, “Logan’s Redemption,” is out to kill my heroine and destroy her father. But in his mind, he’s feels he’s justified. Decent people don’t commit murder to settle scores. But we like to read about others who take that drastic step. It allows us to touch our dark sides vicariously and to know we’re better than someone who commits evil.

The villains in my romantic suspense novella, “Murder, Mi Amore,” don’t have many redeeming values. These villains are very nasty people, motivated to find a stolen diamond before some even nastier terrorists come after them. I made them bad and violent, driven only by the real human desires for money and power, and propelled by fear and self-preservation.

The villain in my paranormal romance, “Cursed Mates,” is a demon. Now, that’s about as evil as you can get. But this demon fell from grace and made a bargain with the devil because of his love for a lady. As a demon, he cursed his political and love rival to life as a werewolf. My demon loved this lady so much that 500 years later, he’s still tortured by her rejection and determined to kill the man who stole her from him. I tried to give him a flicker of humanity, to make him multi-dimensional. My werewolf hero in that story is dark and tormented too. He’s fought for 500 years to stave off the darkness in his soul, and he’s slipping, but he continues the fight. The demon gave in to the darkness. Most of us, like my werewolf hero, fight the shadows. Still, we love reading about the ones who slipped into the abyss.

Can you think of some classic baddies you’ve loved despite yourself?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Interview of Author Charlene Roberts

Today I'm happy to present an interview or romance author Charlene Roberts.

Latest Book: A Gentleman's Savior
Buy Link:  - (Published by Ellora's Cave) -

I've been writing for over 10 years, ever since my friend asked me to help her type her first novel (computers were not common then). She also took me to my first writers' meeting.

I live in Toronto, Canada and work as an administrative assistant in a consulting firm. However, I'm now looking for a new job that I hope will incorporate what I love--writing.

I have 2 cats, watch way too many cartoons and Japanese anime, and want to write a movie script and a graphic novel in the near future. I've started the graphic novel; the movie will take a little longer.

Q: What’s the first thing you did when you received word you’d sold a book?
A: I was at work and checking my personal emails during my lunch break. I saw an email from Ellora's Cave with the name of my manuscript in the subject line and the first few words which said “Thank you for submitting to...” And it ended there. My first thought was “Oh great, another rejection.” I actually ignored EC's email while I checked other emails!

So after about half an hour I finally bit the bullet and looked. The email said “Thank you for submitting to Ellora's Cave. After careful consideration, we would like to offer you a contract. Congratulations!!”

My mind went blank. I'm sitting at my desk, my piece of sushi halfway to my mouth, thinking, “OMG! I sold it!!”

The first person I called was my best friend Chris, because I couldn't yell at work--no one knew about my writing because I only recently got the job. I know my voice was shaking when I told her, and she was considerate to do all the yelling and screaming for me. She's such a great friend. :)

Q: What part of the book is the easiest for you to write? Why?
A: I love writing the plot--the beginning, middle and end, the twists to a story, and if it's a fantasy or time-travel, I love the “what-if” scenarios. I enjoy challenging my brain to think of something different and fresh. I love description too--if a writer can pull me into a story, and engage my 5 senses, then 3/4 of that book has done its work.

Q: If one of your books became a movie, which celebrity would you like to star as one of your heroines? Tell us about your heroine.
A: I would say for A Gentleman's Savior, my movie star heroine would have to be Rachel Weisz. I can see her being surprised if she found herself in an unexpected place and time (i.e. time travel), but she would adapt quickly. Rachel is a very intelligent woman, and I can't see that woman losing her cool.

Q: If one of your books became a movie, which celebrity would you like to star as one of your heroes? A: Tell us about your hero.
A: I love Alcide Herveaux, Sookie’s chaperone in True Blood Joe Manganiello). He would be perfect as Gabriel. He has the elements of a man in love who would protect his woman no matter what, mixed with a gentler side that makes you want to go "aww". He is definitely my type of guy and one I would choose as my hero. My first choice would have been Hugh Jackman, but after watching Joe in action in Season 3 of True Blood, I've got to change my mind. Sorry, Hugh!

Q: Do all your heroes and all heroines look the same in your mind as you “head write”?
A: No they don't. For every story that I create, I have to at least create the characters' physical as well as personality attributes. I don't want them to look the same in my head for every story, because then I would get bored writing it. I'm visual-oriented when reading (if I can't visualize the story, you've lost me). Characters' features are just as important. It's already hard enough when the hero and heroine are these 95 percent hot-looking people. That other 5 percent needs distinctive attributes so that they stand out. For example, Gabriel in AGS has battle scars from fighting in the Napoleonic Wars. He's also taller than the average Regency gentleman, which I find gives him a unique advantage.

Q: What genre would you like to try writing in but haven’t yet done so? Why?
A: I admit I'm curious about ménage. My two books are erotica, and I finally sold my urban fantasy (which was a blast to write), but I've got to say that there are times where writing an erotic love scene between a man and a woman can give me the shakes! Not because I don't enjoy writing them, but I worry if it's going to sound fresh and interesting. So imagine trying to write a threesome! However, I do love a challenge; it just might be on the list this year.

Q: Facebook, MySpace, Blogs, Chats, or Twitter. Which do you like best and why?
A: Honestly, all I have at the moment is my blog (which I don’t update often), and I share a FB page with other EC authors called "Kelli's Den of Iniquity", where we post our new books and other tidbits, plus I also contribute to the occasional guest blog. Personally, I'm afraid that I would get sucked into the social media whirlpool if I join too many sites--I'd never get any writing done! Plus I also work at a full-time job, which has been sucking a lot of time from my writing lately. :(

I’m sure all of the social media sites have their advantages and plus points, but I have to ask—where does one find the time to read, post and respond to all, AND write? If someone has an answer, let me know, please!

Tell us where to find you: website(s), publisher’s page(s), blog(s), Facebook page(s), etc. List them all!
Blog site:
FB page: Kelli's Den of Iniquity
Liz Crowe’s Blog: – Dec 15, 2011
Tina Donahue’s blog: – May 22 and Dec. 26, 2011
Nina Pierce’s Blog: – Dec. 14, 2011
Sweet ‘N Sexy Divas Blog: – June 30, 2011

When Stephanie’s art teacher issues a challenge—create a painting based only on the torso of a human sculpture—she decides to paint a Regency lord. But with his muscular body, longer hair and a few well-placed scars, Stephanie’s lord is definitely no Regency dandy. Her best work ever, the painting stirs an obsession Stephanie can’t explain. Not content to wait for the next class, she visits the art center, just to get a peek at her lord. She touches the painting…

And suddenly finds herself in a bedroom in 1817 London, her lord standing behind her—very real, very naked and very ready to end Stephanie’s sexual dry spell.

Before she can say “ton”, Stephanie’s indulging her desires with Gabriel, dressing in the height of Regency fashion and meeting the Prince Regent. But life in 1817 isn’t all tea and crumpets. Stephanie soon learns she’s reliving her past life—one that ended tragically. Thrust in the middle of a sinister plot, she must save the prince, save Gabriel…and if she’s luckier this time around, save herself.

EXCERPT: WARNING: Adult Language
Gabriel, who literally stood head and shoulders above the Prince Regent’s guests, grew concerned when he couldn’t locate Stephanie. Excusing himself from the small knot of political men, he went in search of her, worried that she may have wandered off.

He thought about how Stephanie had enjoyed herself in their bed before their arrival at Carlton House. She had always been reserved and quiet; however, tonight had been a most pleasant exception.

He smiled, watching as some of the women nearby reacted favorably to his expression. During his bachelor days he would have welcomed their advances, played the games of mind and body the ton was so fond of and made his conquest. He knew how different he looked compared to the other lords—over six feet, with a muscular body due to hard training from the Napoleonic Wars, long, black, wavy hair and a scar on his left cheek that he refused to hide.

Stephanie hadn’t fallen for his charms when they were first introduced by her mother, God rest her soul. In fact, she had done her utmost to stay as far away from him as possible, which only offered a higher thrill to the chase. Even as they became better acquainted, Stephanie refused to fall into his arms like the others—instead, when she was ready, she had decided to take matters into her own hands and steal a kiss from him one evening while dining at Almack’s, a wonderful establishment run by women with strict rules on propriety. He was quite smitten then.

Halfway through the music room, he spotted Stephanie, her brown hair falling seductively in curls about her shoulders, her gown fitted to her body with perfection, her pink lips parted invitingly and her blue eyes sparkling. But Gabriel also noticed how her gaze darted around the room, her gloved hands clenched together as if she were worried and the fast rise and fall of her chest.

She spotted him and waved frantically, which caught the immediate attention of those standing nearby. She waited while he maneuvered through the crowd then grabbed his hand.

“Dearest, whatever is the—?”

“May we leave now? Please?”

“Yes, of course.” They walked quickly to the front entrance, where a servant retrieved their belongings and called for their carriage.

“Stephanie, what is wrong?”

She looked over her shoulder. “Not here,” she whispered.

They remained silent until their carriage pulled away from Carlton House.

“Gabriel, if I tell you something, will you believe me?”

“That is a strange question to ask indeed.” He leaned toward her, taking her shaking hands in his. “Tell me.”

She took a deep breath. “Earlier, I was wandering through the halls, admiring His Highness’ collection of paintings.”

This didn’t surprise him. As a lover of the arts, Stephanie would have found an opportunity to study them.

“I needed some air, and went out onto the terrace. Two men came out after me but they didn’t see me. They were talking about…” She hesitated, glancing out the window into the darkness, lit intermittently by street lamps. “Gabriel, it sounded like they meant to kill Prince George.”

He studied her face, earnest in its expression. “Can you be sure? There is no mistake in what you heard?”

Stephanie shook her head. “One man said that something will be done about Prinny.”

“But this man did not actually threaten the prince’s life?”

“No. But it frightened me.”

“Did these men see you?”

“No, but I saw one of them, or at least part of him. He was addressed as ‘sir’, and has a large moustache and wore a gold pin in his cravat.”

Gabriel kept his expression neutral. “My love, you have described one quarter of the ton who live in London, and that is a lot of men.”

“You don’t believe me!”

“I didn’t say that. But if what you say is true, it will be most difficult to locate him.” He paused. “What of the other man?”

“His name was John, that’s all I can say. I didn’t see him.”

Gabriel nodded, thinking. He had heard vague rumors about the possibility of removing Prince George from the throne. He was a constant thorn in the public’s eye, spending taxpayers’ money on lavish and ostentatious things, hosting elaborate parties, and all the while pointedly ignoring the public’s contempt. Gabriel felt that something sinister would happen. He just didn’t know what.

“It’s late, Stephanie,” he crooned, putting his arm around her shoulders. “We shall talk more about this in the morning.”

When Stephanie heard Gabriel’s even breathing, she quietly climbed out of bed. She stood in front of him for several moments, watching his relaxed face, so serene as he slumbered, his dark lashes sweeping across the tops of his cheekbones, his hair tousled about his tanned face, his body half-hidden beneath the sheets.

She reached out to touch him then pulled back. This man, her hero in the painting, was not her husband—he was a figment of her imagination. Stephanie knew she couldn’t remain here.

Her other concern was the plot on Prince George’s life, if that were true. In her studies about her ancestry, Prince George went on to become King George IV of England in 1820, despite an assassination attempt.

So what exactly did she hear? Or imagined that she’d heard? Maybe the two men plan on controlling the Prince Regent after his ascension to the throne? She had read how weak-willed the prince could be, wanting nothing more than to be idolized by his English subjects. Could that be their plan?

It didn’t matter—she couldn’t stay. Stephanie didn’t know enough about the Regency era to pass herself off as naturally as part of the ton. And she adored her hero too much to make him the laughingstock of London.

So she had decided to go back home. It was a painful decision—this man had brought her body and spirit to life in such a short space of time, and Stephanie was hard-pressed to give that up. However, she didn’t truly know him, and to stay in this alternate reality for too long might pose a danger to the future—her present time.

Stephanie turned to look at the mirror she had stared at when she’d first arrived. It was about the same size as her painting, and in a way it made sense—it was the only thing in this bedroom that would qualify as a passageway.

Stephanie turned back to the bed and its sleeping occupant. Walking quietly to his side, she placed a soft kiss on his mouth. He moved slightly and she backed away, grasping her dressing gown with both hands. She was going to miss him, but she vowed she would only look at him in the painting from now on.

“Goodbye, my lord.” Without hesitating, she crossed the room and lifted her hand to touch the mirror…

And she was back in the storeroom facing a blank wall. She turned and saw her painting, her hero in the same pose that she had drawn, looking at her with his intense green stare.

Stephanie wanted to touch him again, but instead she hastily threw the sheet over the canvas. God, what was she going to do with her painting?

“I see that you’re back.”

Uttering a short scream, Stephanie whirled around to see Leila standing near the door. “Leila?” she asked, walking toward her. “What the fuck are you doing here?”
“I would ask you the same thing.” Her teacher nodded at the painting. “So, what did you think?”

“Of what?”

“Don’t play stupid, Steph. I knew you had touched the painting, which you couldn’t resist. What I do admire is that you came back before you could do any damage. My past students weren’t that smart.”

“You knew that would happen? Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Would you have believed me?”

Stephanie stared at Leila, dressed in a colorful blouse and tight black jeans, her black hair unbound and framing her face. “No,” she admitted.

“Exactly. Now come along. We have a lot to talk about.”

Anything else you’d like to add?
Watch for: Eternal Heiress, an early 2013 urban fantasy release by Double Dragon Publishing.

Write what you enjoy, not to what the market is selling. With the explosion of the e-book phenomenon, authors have so much more choice in genres, length of book, etc. When you write what you love, it comes across in the story. If you write because the latest genre is hot and it's not your strength, you've just increased your chances of being rejected. It takes some time to know what you're good at--writing is not a race; it's you writing a story that YOU believe others will love too.

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