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Friday, June 29, 2012

Book Series

Do you like to read a single title book, or do you prefer series? 

For those who may not know, a single title is a book that stands by itself.  Book series can be several books using some of the characters from the first novel in the stories that follow.

Of late, I've been reminded why it might be a good idea to write stories in a series.  A woman called me and told me her mother had just read, The Catalyst, the first story in 'The Odyssey Mysteries,' and her mother was dying to find out what happened next.  She wanted to read all of my other books even the ones that weren't mysteries. 

When writing a manuscript, I may have secondary characters that become strong enough you have to write their story.  In the case of 'The Odyssey Mysteries', I planned to use two secondary characters, and I set up the plot for them.  If you set up the plot for a secondary character you don't have to go back to the original story and do the foreshadowing for the next book. 

I'm not a plotter, but I have ideas running around in my mind.  I write those ideas down and start incorporating them, so I don't have to rewrite so much. 

Because of my series three more of my books will sell.  I think it can be well worth writing a series.  What do you think?

Sandra K. Marshall

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Guest Blog: Elaine Cantrell: The Blogging Life For Me

There are so many articles about book promotion that it can give you a headache trying to sort through all the information.  Interestingly enough, a lot of it overlaps.  So, after spending hours reading through article after article, I think I’ve found a couple of things I feel comfortable putting into practice, things that most people swear by.   

The thing I enjoy most is blogging.  I set up my first blog at My Space, but I soon realized that wouldn’t do so I moved to Blogger where I’ve been ever since.  (  Most people like Blogger because it’s super easy to manipulate, but others have pointed out that you don’t own the site.  They prefer to have more control over their blog.  They make a good point, but for the present I’m sticking where I am because it truly is easy to use.  A note here, when you set up your blog be sure you use your own name as I did.  

Okay, what does it take to have a blog people actually want to read?  First, you need to change your content frequently.  If people see the same old thing day after day, they’ll soon find someone else to follow.   As an added bonus, new content gives more words for Google to search.   

What kind of content do you want?  That depends on whom the blog is written for.  If the blog targets authors, for example, articles on writing as a craft would increase your readership.  No matter who your target group turns out to be, your content should be interesting and allow your personality to shine. Readers like feeling as if they know the author on a more personal level.  

The blogs I personally like best are those with a mixture of things, so that’s what I’ve done at my own blog.  I have a feature called Beyond the Book.  Each Tuesday I allow readers a glimpse into my character’s lives after the book ends.  Also, on Fridays I write a fashion column.  On Saturdays and Sundays I share excerpts, and the rest of the time I’m open to guest bloggers.  Many of my readers have expressed an interest in pets, so on June 8 I’m planning to introduce a new blogger, my dog Rascal.    

I think it’s important to be consistent with your blogging.  If you set aside a certain day to blog, do it every single week at that particular time.  Don’t skip days or you’ll disappoint the readers, and they’ll go away.

Use pictures as well.   Some authorities say don’t use too many pictures, but I like them and include them regularly.   Be sure you give credit for any pictures that you use.    

Mostly, you’ll have to experiment and find what works best for you.   Truthfully, I probably should replace my fashion column with something else.   The readership isn’t growing as much as I’d like, but I enjoy the column so I’ll give it a while longer to catch on.  

Don’t forget to add links out and keywords to your content.  

Building a readership doesn’t happen overnight, but be patient and consistent, and it’ll pay off in the long run.

Elaine Cantrell was born and raised in South Carolina.  She holds a master’s degree in personnel services from Clemson University.  She is a member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international honorary society for women educators and is also a member of Romance Writers of America.  Her first novel, A New Leaf, was the 2003 winner of the Timeless Love Contest.  When she isn’t writing or teaching, she enjoys gardening, quilting, and collecting vintage Christmas ornaments.

Find Elaine at:

Liesel Wolf has a secret, a dangerous secret she’ll go to any lengths to conceal. When she’s paired in a charity game with sexy marshal Andy Bryce, a man with secrets of his own, her carefully constructed world comes crashing down, and Liesel’s on a collision course with her past.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bra Shopping With Men by Janice Seagraves

Bra shopping with men
By Janice Seagraves

Hi, my name is Janice Seagraves. I’m a romance writer. I think sometimes my life is more interesting than it should be.

The other day my daughter and I went bra shopping with my husband and her boyfriend in tow. For the women reader, I’m sure you’re very familiar with bra shopping.  Have you ever gone shopping with the man in your life?

Yeah, that’s an experience isn’t it?

My hubby usually vacates the area, fast. He says, “I’ll shop for manly things like jockeys, while you’re occupied with feminine stuff.” This time he did the usual and you should hear him peeling out, as his shoes made black scuff marks on the tiles of J.C. Penny’s.

After raising an eyebrow at her father’s quick exit, my daughter turns to me. “What can I get?”
I pointed out the sale sign. Buy one bra and get the second one for half off. “Get two.”

My daughter found two bras.

“Try them on.”

She sighed. “But they the same ones I got last time.”

“You still might have changed since them. After all you did just lose weight,” I told her.

Daughter returned from the changing room, only to put the bras back. “I got bigger.” She hung her head.
I stared at her a moment. My daughter is the only woman I know who can simultaneously lose weight and get bigger boobs. How is that even possible?

“Then find the next size,” I said as I continued the search for my bra size.

I glanced at daughter’s BF. He kept his face impassive, but his eyes danced.

“I’m surprised you’re not doing cartwheels right through the middle of this store,” I told him.
BF grinned. “Oh, I keep that sort of thing to myself. But my inter pervert is doing cartwheel and flips on the monkey bars.”

“Oh, I’m sure.” I shake my head. What is it with bra size and men?

I made my own selections and go to the changing room. After struggling with my new shirt which I discovered too late was hard to get off, I found that I had grabbed the wrong size bra. “What the heck. What size am I?” I looked at the tag on my bra from home. Great, it's bigger.


Redressing, I go back out and look for a bigger bra.

My daughter finds the right size bra tries it on and comes back, and I’m still looking.

“These fit. Can I have panties too?” she asks.

“Sure, if there’s a sale.”

“There is.”

“Okay.” I keep looking.

My husband has bought his jockeys and came strolling back, and I’m still looking.

I put back yet another bra I can’t wear. By this time I’m at the end of the bra section and the end of my rope.

“This is so not fair. I find all kinds of a little smaller and even a few just a little bit bigger, but not one single in my size,” I wail. Yeah, I’m loud when I’m upset and I don’t care who knows it.

Right then a saleswoman shows up as if she sprung out of the floor. “Can I help you, ma’am?”

While I’m telling her my problem, loudly, my husband starts to smile.

The saleswoman looks me straight in the eyes and asks, “Are you sure that’s your size. Have you tried a smaller size?”

I grit my teeth. “I just had on a smaller size my cup was running over like this.” I mimed my molded over breasts with both hands. I glance to my hubby and my daughter’s BF. “Sorry guys. I didn’t mean to be so graphic.”

“Oh, no problem at all.” My husband is grinning from ear to ear and bounce on the balls of his feet.

My daughter tells him. “Dad, stop smiling. It’s scary.”

My daughter’s BF whispers, “Your dad’s a perverted.”

Meanwhile the saleslady asks me, “Have you ever tried an extender?”

“Huh?” I stare at her like she had just grown two heads. What good would that do?

“A lot of women wear an extender on their bras. It really helps them,” she said as she plows on.

Hands on hips, I lean toward the smaller woman. “Look, lady, if you haven’t noticed I’m a large woman. I need the right size bra, anything smaller just won’t do.” Was the woman even looking at the size of my tits?

The woman didn’t even blink at my outburst. “But an extender would—”

I let out a dramatic sigh. God, I really hate pushy sales people. “No, extender. It just wouldn’t work.”

My daughter reaches past me and hands me a black bra. “Here’s one?”

“Well, hell. I was standing right next to it.” In the space of a minute we found two more.

I looked one over. “Oh, this is a pretty bra. And it’ll give me lots of support too.” You don’t always find good support and prettiness in the same bra when you’re my size.

My husband is looking happier if that’s possible. “Support is good.”

BF shakes his head. “Dirty old man.”

I go to the changing room and try on the bra. It fits. It’s supportive and it’s pretty. I imagine in heaven angels are rejoicing. Hallelujah.

And then my daughter thrusts a bra through the door at me. “Look, I found another one.”

“Yay, now I get the sale’s rate. Buy one second half off.” I dance a jig as the angels in heaven launch into another louder chorus—Halle-lu-jah!

At the cash register, while I’m making small talk with the cashier, my daughter’s BF saddles up to me and whispers in my ear. “I hate to tell you this, but your husband is doing perverted things to the bras.”

“What?” I jerk my head toward my husband. His cheesy grin is still in place as he strolls down the center aisle. “What did he do?”

“He felt up the bras. He told me that you compliment the bra, ‘Silky’ and when your woman is in them you used both hands, ‘Nice’”. BF mimes what my husband did.

“Oh, good grief. That man will be the death of me yet.” Good thing I don’t get embarrassed easy. My mother would have been mortified.

I paid for our things, and my daughter picked up the bag. My husband joins us, and we head out.
As we pass a manikin that’s wearing a bra and panty set that show half its white plastic ass, my husband hand whips out, slapping it on the butt.

My mouth dropped open. “What did you just do?”

“It was presenting.” He grinned back at me. “What else was I supposed to do?”

“Uh, not hit the dummy on the ass would have been my choice.”

BF says, “See he’s a big perverted.”

My daughter mutters, “Maybe you should hit him, mom.”

“Wouldn’t do any good.” I shrug. “What is it with men and bra shopping anyway?”

“It brings out the inter pervert,” BF said. “That’s my theory anyway.”

“I think you might be right.” We follow my smug husband back into wilds of the shopping mall.

Janice Seagraves grew up in a small California town. Her home is a hundred year old haunted house (I’m not kidding), where she lives with her husband and daughter, an overly affectionate cats and a German Shepard puppy that can’t get the cat to play with her.

The writing bug hit her late at around twenty. However her art always drew her away from the characters in her head. After being diagnosed with tendonitis she found doing artwork painful, but she could still type and at last she turned her full attention to writing.

Her first book, Windswept Shores, is available through Pink Petal books.

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?

You can find Janice on her website:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

T is for Taking the Risk

I’ve been writing fiction professionally for seventeen years and nonfiction since 1988. During all that time, I only once thought of publishing my own books, and those were nonfictional volumes. There is something comfortable about the concept of someone else being ultimately responsible for packaging your finished product and introducing it to the world. I have to admit that maybe it’s more convenience than comfort. Whatever the case, after sixteen years, I’ve learned a few things about turning over my work to a publisher:

1. All publishers are not created equal. I have written a blog about finding a good publisher at RT Book Reviews. You can find it here: RT Book Reviews

2. Publishers can take advantage of the naïve author. Make sure you know what you’re signing before you sign a contract. If you don’t know, get help or you may be sorry later.

3. You aren’t going to become a millionaire publishing with small press, at least not at the present time. Just know that it helps to be a small press author because it gets your name out there, builds your reputation and gives you credibility. In time, it can be very profitable, but don’t go signing a mortgage based on anticipated earnings.

4. Your chances of becoming a millionaire in large press are diminishing by the hour. If you don’t believe me, read Brenda Hiatt’s Show Me the Money column and see what average authors are making. Authors are making far less than they did in the past. Yes, of course, there are exceptions—I’m talking about the average author.

5. Just because a publisher has your work does not absolve you from advertising and promoting your work to the public. You will spend more time in promotion tham writing the book—sad, but true. My best words of advice are to forge friendships with readers and authors early on and take your cheering squad with you along the journey.

Because my eyes are open regarding both small and large press publishers, I decided that, though I will always keep my toes in the waters of small press, I owed it to myself explore the new world of indie publishing. There is no denying that indie publishing is a risky prospect. It is fraught with a new vocabulary, different conventions and techniques and the need for skills most authors have never learned.

There are many books written on this subject and it could never be covered in a blog, but here are things to consider if you want to explore this new frontier:

1. Do your homework. Don’t think you can just go follow the instructions on Amazon and Smashwords and whammo-bammo put up your work one Saturday afternoon. “Homework” consists of lots of reading on how to properly indie publish. This would include the Smashwords guide (free for download, and yes, even if you don’t plan to publish it here). It also includes talking to many writers who have already published several books to more than one main venue, such as Kindle, Smashwords, Pubit and Allromance Ebooks, just to name a few.

2. Thoroughly edit your work. That means getting someone, other than you, to line edit and a separate person to Beta-read. You’re better off with multiple people doing each. At the end, you need to go back through the work at least one last time.
3. Explore ways to convert your files so you can have multiple formats. That way, you don’t have to always rely on Smashwords and its “Meatgrinder.”

4. Spring for a professional cover. One you do yourself is more than likely not going to draw readers to your book. Get someone who makes a living by doing this to design one that looks like it came from a New York publisher. There are some out there who only charge $50 per e-book cover (some less). If you can’t afford that, wait until you can.

There is so much more you need to know, but I believe it pays to take the risk.

Bobbye Terry is the muti-published writer of romantic comedy, suspense and fantasy. Her most recent indie novella release is Rose, a contemporary romantic comedy. She is currently indie publishing a cyberpunk novella series. Millicent, the prequel, Frozen Assets, Book 1 and of Full Moon Rising, Book 2 of The Cash Chronicles, are available under her Daryn Cross pen name. Her mystery novella series, Briny Bay, is out, including Buried in Briny Bay and The Marriage Murders plus the August release, The Shadow Knows. The series and much more under both names are available through Turquoise Morning Press. For more information, check out her online headquarters:, and

Monday, June 25, 2012

Romance Books 'R' Us Stifled by Trademark Police

We are no longer known as Romance Books 'R' Us. We are now Romance Books '4' Us.


The Toys "R" Us "trademark police" threatened legal action if we didn't change our name...namely, Geoffrey LLC (which is an intellectual property company owned by Toys "R" Us, Inc. and holds all the trademarks associated with all the "R" Us companies you're familiar with) and their NY attorneys/watchdogs who THINK our romance BOOKS group could be confused as to being a company associated with the many "R" Us brands.

The letter sent to me called Romance Books 'R' Us a "book business". Maybe I should be flattered that they even consider us a threat...but since we don't SELL books, I can't see the logic.

Now, I'll admit that I should have considered this more carefully when filing for a trademark for Romance Books 'R' Us. But since I saw other R Us groups on the trademark list (like Lights R Us, Studs R Us, etc.), I didn't figure on any trouble.

We don't SELL books. We talk about romance books and the industry. How could we possibly be confused with being associated or sponsored by the Toys "R" Us companies that sell breast pumps, teddy bears, and kids' underwear?

As organizer of a small group that TALKS about romance books/writing industry, I can't afford attorneys/court fight over this. There is no choice but to rename our blog, yahoo group, website, Twitter account, and Facebook page. Unfortunately, my having to abandon the trademark application meant losing the money that was already paid for filing.

Let's face it...the letter R they use is backwards. I assume they can use it upside down, horizontally, whatever, and they "own" any configuration of the letter R with the commonly used word, Us. Interesting that one big business can wield so much power...and spend lots of OWN R Us. In fact, they even tie up using the combination of ARE US.

So recapping:
1. Geoffrey LLC as a, Toys "R" Us company, "owns" the R Us trademark...any letter R position they choose/the word ARE in combination with the word US.

2. As a big business, they can afford many trademarks to tie up these combinations AND hire watchdog attorneys to find scoundrels who DARE to trespass using THEIR words.

3. The attorney who signed the letter I received never returned a phone call. Maybe too embarrassed to speak to me? Perhaps "little people" like me don't warrant a courtesy return call?
(Shakespeare: Henry VI, Act IV, Scene II: "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." I've always loved reading Shakespeare, and, I'll note, this doesn't apply to all lawyers.)

4. Small businesses/little people like us have no chance of standing up against big name conglomerates who hire big law firms. So, we get stomped. I now lose the money it cost to file a trademark application for Romance Books 'R' Us. Big businesses can afford to lose money that probably seems like a pittance to them, but I can't...and I'm not a book business.

5.  Romance Books 'R' Us was also accused of possibly "diluting" the "distinctive quality" of the "R" Us brands. Really? gives this definition of dilute:
-To lessen the force, strength, purity, or brilliance of, especially by admixture.
-To decrease the value of (shares of stock) by increasing the total number of shares.

So...a group that TALKS about romance books can:
lessen the force, strength, purity, or brilliance, decrease the value of stock shares, impact the "distinctive quality" of companies represented by Geoffrey LLC?  How in the world could Romance Books 'R' Us do that? 

6. Those threatening us with legal action must think that consumers aren't smart enough to distinguish between the Toys "R" Us companies and our group.


I doubt ANYONE in their right mind would consider singing "I wanna be a Romance Books 'R' Us kid".  Or, come to our yahoo group, blog, or website and assume we were affiliated with/sponsored by any "R" Us company and expect to find us selling breast pumps, teddy bears, or kids' underwear. How sad that big companies don't give consumers more credit for possessing common sense.

7. I have shopped at all the "R" Us stores in the past. That ends now. I'll take my business elsewhere. In addition to Walmart and Target, here are some alternatives I'll use:

8. While I have no problem with companies trademarking their business name, it shouldn't include the ability to "own" a letter of the alphabet in combination with a commonly used word. That's a fault of how the trademark filing system works. Then again, money exchanged for "owning" R Us brings in big bucks to the Trademark system, so why would they change it?

9. If you considered trademarking Poetry R Us, think twice. For over two years, we were known as Romance Books 'R' Us...but nothing was said until I filed for a trademark.

10. If you're thinking of trademarking Potted Plants R Us, Drain Cleaners R Us, or Toilets R Us, you'll be sniffed out by Geoffrey LLC's "R" Us watchdogs. After all, consumers might think you're selling breast pumps, teddy bears, or kids' underwear.

Be warned. Big NY attorney hired "trademark police" are out there waiting for you.

IF you'd like to voice your opinion to Toys "R" Us, here are some ways to contact the company:

CEO Gerald Storch
Toys“R”Us, Inc.
One Geoffrey Way
Wayne, NJ 07470

Customer Relations:
Media Relations:

If you voice your opinion about this:
Please assure Toys "R" Us that you were in no way misled to believe that Romance Books 'R' Us claimed any association/affiliation to any of their stores or products...and that they lost no sales by our TALKING about romance books at our yahoo group, blog, Facebook Page, Twitter page, or website. 

The name Marianne is trademarked as a clothing brand. So, does that mean I need to worry about "trademark police" tracking me down for using my first name? Is YOUR name trademarked? Sandy, Adele, Cara, Desiree are. And, Teacher and Nurse are Trademarked. If you want to search your name, go to and click on Basis Search. On the next page type in your name in Search Term, hit live, and submit.

IF you'd like to voice your opinion to The US Patent and Trademark Office about their system allowing one group to "own" a letter of the alphabet combined with a commonly used word OR that a name can be trademarked, use this email:

Marianne Stephens

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Can’t Get There From Here
Road Construction and Storytelling

My turn to blog was rapidly approaching and I had no ideas. Nada. Not a one. With this on my mind, I headed out to the gym one sunny day. I go to the gym five times a week, a much needed physical break from the computer. On this day, I started the fifteen minute trip in a cheerful mood, enjoying the sunshine and looking forward to my workout on the exercise bike, my Kindle propped in front of me. I couldn’t wait to finish Adele DuBois’ excellent book, “Desert Wild.” I love to read while exercising, and to especially read erotic romance. I get good workouts from those sexy books. The hotter they get, the harder I pedal. I should market this as a new health regimen: read hot books as part of your fitness routine.

My trip went smoothly for seven minutes, then I hit a roadblock. Literally. Is there a lot of road construction where you live? Since last summer I’ve been surrounded by construction, reminding me of the adage, “You can’t get there from here.” As I sat in my car, fuming, as the construction worker held up the huge STOP sign, I started thinking about how writing a book is like hitting road construction.

I always know how each of my stories will begin and end. Like my trip to the gym, I know where I’m going. Also like my trip, I sometimes run into a huge STOP sign. I’ll be writing blissfully, everything going smoothly, following my outline. Then, wham! Roadblock! The story isn’t following the route I’ve mapped.

If I’m lucky, my characters will take me on a detour to a road that’s more exciting and adventuresome than the one I’d charted for them. In those cases, I follow their lead. However, with my current WIP, a romantic suspense, my characters took me down a bumpy road and began acting like the Keystone Cops and not a couple in danger. I had to pull them back onto the path I’d set for them. But how?

Not only had I run into a major roadblock, but my car (aka brain) stalled. I was stuck. My critique group said my hero was beginning to be TSTL (too stupid to live). He seemed to be my major problem. Maybe he didn’t like having a heroine who was kick-ass and could best him in a fight. Whatever the reason, he wasn’t acting like a hero. Where had I taken that wrong turn?

Several agonizing days followed, when finally the construction worker in my head turned the STOP sign to SLOW. I’d figured out how to make my hero heroic. I was driving down that highway again to my destination.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you been jolted to a stop because your story started to go in the wrong direction? What about you readers out there? Have you loved the beginning of a novel and settled in for an emotional, unforgettable ride only to have the book stall somewhere in the middle?

The roads around me are still congested by construction, delaying me everywhere I go. At least the work zone in my head has cleared.

Below is a little tease from my latest release, “Storm of Desire.” A raging January nor’easter causes a major detour in the lives of Samantha and Aiden. Only this emotional detour is wickedly sexy and wild.

Sam closed her eyes now and let that night [with Aiden] play out in her head like a movie. They’d barely made it into his apartment before they started stripping each other, leaving behind a trail of garments from the door to his bed.
Remembering his scorching mouth and hands, Sam touched her breasts under the thin silk of her nightgown. She massaged them, rolling the nipples between her fingers, pushing her breasts together, seeing Aiden as he’d been that night. He’d made love to her with a tempting combination of hunger and tenderness, worshipping her with his hands and mouth and body, unselfishly giving her fulfillment over and over before he found his own release.
Heat stole over her, putting her on edge. She shouldn’t have run from him tonight. Now that she’d tasted him again, she wanted to feast on him.
A loud rumble shook the house. Sam let out a small scream and sat up, clutching the comforter to her chest. Screeching, the cats ran off.
She heard footsteps, then her bedroom door flew open. “Sam! Are you okay?”
The flashlight Aiden held filtered dim light through the room and silhouetted his body in the doorway.
“Yes. What was that noise?”
He moved into the room. As her eyes adjusted, she saw he wore boxers that rode low on his slim hips. His legs were long and beautifully formed, and his chest bare, the muscles defined and taut.
Her breathing went shallow.
“It may have been a telephone pole going down, or maybe lightning hit a transformer,” he said. “I looked out, but I didn’t see anything.”
“It startled me, but I’ll be okay.” More than okay, she thought as she deliberately let the comforter slide down her torso. “Looks like the cats ran off though. They were keeping me warm.”
Aiden’s gaze went to her breasts, barely covered by the silk nightgown. Her nipples puckered. “I could keep you warm,” he offered, his voice thick.
She knew he wouldn’t do anything she didn’t want. The choice was hers.
“Then keep me warm, Aiden.”
 He sucked in an audible breath, took a step forward, then halted, shaking his head. “No, I don’t think so.”
“What?” Fresh humiliation washed over her as she sat there half-naked, hot tears forming in her eyes.
“You’ve been running hot and cold on me for what feels like my whole fucking life. And you’re doing it again. Not tonight, baby.” He turned away.
“Aiden, wait.”
He stopped with his back to her. “Go to sleep, Sam.”
She cast pride aside, knowing if he walked out now, he wouldn’t be back. “Please don’t go. I…I’m sorry about what happened earlier.”
“And the rest?” His voice was a barely disguised growl.
“I need you. Please.”

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Interview of Author Lisa Kessler

Today I'm pleased to present an interview of romance author Lisa Kessler.

Latest Book: Night Walker
Buy Link:
Video Link:

Lisa is an award-winning author of Paranormal Romance novels and short stories.

Her debut novel, Night Walker, won a San Diego Book Award for Best Published Fantasy of 2011, and was a Double Finalist in the Book Seller’s Best for Best Paranormal and Best First Book.

When Lisa’s not writing, she’s also a professional vocalist performing in musical theater and opera productions.

She lives in San Diego with her husband and two incredible kids.

Q: What’s the first thing you did when you received word you’d sold a book?
A: Cried and then called my hubby to tell him the great news.

Q: What part of the book is the hardest for you? Why?
A: The middle is usually the toughest part for me. I love the excitement of beginning a new book and the rush of the ending is fun too. The middle is always a challenge to keep the tension going.

Q: Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
A: Calisto stole my heart when I wrote Night Walker. His voice sounded like Antonio Banderas in my head, and I loved his old world charm and quirks. I think he’ll always hold a special place in my heart.

Q: Do you eat comfort food when writing? If so, what food inspires your imagination?
A: I actually chew gum when I write. Lots of gum. And I chomp it like a cow. So attractive! LOL But it definitely helps me focus and get creative!

Q: What hobby do you enjoy when not writing?
A: Music is my first love. I love to sign and perform. My son is now singing too, so when we get to perform together, it’s the best!

Q: What’s your strongest point as a writer?
A: I think I write villains really well and push my heroes to the brink until you think they may not win… A well-earned happily Ever After is a good thing, right? LOL

Tell us where to find you: website(s), publisher’s page(s), blog(s), Facebook page(s), etc. List them all!

He gave up his soul for a second chance to love her...

Two and a half centuries ago, Calisto Terana lost everything when a zealous priest murdered the woman he loved. Now, desperate for another chance to love her, he wants redemption for the mistake that cost her life.

She's haunted by dreams of her own death...

After catching her fiance with another woman, Kate Bradley returns to San Diego to clear her head. The last thing she needs is romance, but after meeting Calisto she's drawn to him in ways she doesn't understand.

They've waited in the shadows for centuries...

Calisto has no doubt Kate is the reincarnation of his lost love, but the Fraternidad Del Fuego Santo has a new watcher with dark ambitions of his own. As old enemies reemerge and a new threat arises, the betrayal that enslaved Calisto to the night might destroy the only woman he's ever loved again.

Kate watched them wander off before kneeling closer to the cross. Unable to stop herself, she traced her finger along the T in the center.

Behind her, someone cleared his throat. Kate jerked her hand away and shot to her feet. When she turned around she found a tall,dark-haired man staring at her.

Her cheeks flushed with heat. She hoped he hadn’t witnessed her touching the relic. She waited for some kind of admonishment, but he didn’t say anything.

Not with words.

Something in his dark eyes captured her. His gaze wandered over her face like a tender caress, and strangely, instead of screaming for Lori and Edie, she caught herself imagining his touch on her skin.

“I hope I did not frighten you,” he said.

His deep voice resonated through the empty courtyard, and the intimate tone weakened her knees. The hint of a Spanish accent didn’t hurt, either. Nervous laughter escaped her before she could contain it.

Her face warmed all over again. “Just a little startled. I didn’t see anyone else out here.”

He stepped closer without encroaching on her personal space, his eyes locked with hers from beneath thick lashes. “Forgive me.”

She swallowed hard and prayed she wasn’t blushing. “No problem.” She looked away before she embarrassed herself even further, focusing on the cross. “It’s beautiful isn’t it?”

Si.” He nodded slowly. “Yes, it is.” His barely there smile made her think he wasn’t referring to the flowers or the cross. “I am Calisto. Calisto Terana.”

Expectation hung as heavy as the scent of eucalyptus, as if he waited to hear something more than just her name.

“I’m Kate.” Instead of offering to shake his hand, she tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear. “It’s nice to meet you.”

“The honor is mine, Kate... ” His accent colored the vowel in her name. It had never sounded more beautiful. She reminded herself to breathe.

When he hesitated for a moment waiting for her to speak, she realized she hadn’t shared her last name as he had. She flipped through a rapid pro and con mental checklist, and decided it couldn’t hurt. Maybe they would meet again.

“Bradley,” she said.

A sexy smile curved at the corners of his lips. “I hope this will not be our last meeting.”

She glanced around the shadowed courtyard, feeling vulnerable, and almost gave in to her first instinct—to run. But she remembered her promise to herself. Be strong. Take action. She lifted her chin and said, “I guess you never know.”

With a smile that said he had every intention of seeing her again, he tipped his head. “Buenos noches, Kate Bradley.”

Her heart raced and her palms sweated when she realized he meant to leave. No man made her palms sweat. Ever.

His gaze held hers for a moment, full of unspoken promises she didn’t understand. Without another word, he walked away.

Anything else you’d like to add?
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Friday, June 22, 2012

So what are they if they're not cowboys?

Note: One lucky commenter will win a download of this book. be sure to leave your email.

The live in Texas and they wear cowboy boots, but they aren’t ranchers. Nope, they build ranches. And a lot of other things, from houses to major developments. They are the McMann brothers—Alex with a masters in business administration, Josh with an advanced degree in architecture, and Tyler, the civil and construction engineer. Each one is better looking than his brothers and they cut a wide swath through the eligible women in San Antonio.
In Erector Set, you will meet each of them and learn his story.
First out of the gate is Erected, Josh’s story with Vanessa “Ness” Bowen.
From Ellora’s Cave
Who can resist a pint-sized female with luscious curves stranded in a parking lot? Not Josh McMann. It’s his pleasure to save Ness Bowen, especially given the instant sensual chemistry that explodes between them. When she wrecks her car on the way to meet him for dinner, he saves her once again. And dinner at home takes on a whole new meaning as the sexual pull becomes too strong for either to ignore. The more they see each other, the more intense and erotic the sex becomes.
 But Ness sees Josh as a player, and she’s been dumped by men like him who were always looking for the next conquest. Josh has his own trust issues, having been burned by women interested only in his money and power.
 When a breakfast date goes awry and Ness thinks she’s been dumped once again, it takes a lot of fancy maneuvering from Josh to make amends.
“Yeah, hi,” he said when a male voice answered. “This is Josh McCann. Did you guys tow a…” He looked at Ness.
“White BMW,” she told him. “With navy interior. One day old,” she added, anxiety edging her voice.
Josh repeated the information into the phone. “Okay, thanks. Uh huh. Hold on.” He pressed a button on his phone, pulled out a slim stylus and wrote something down. “Got it. We’ll take care of it.”
He disconnected and shoved the phone back in his pocket.
“Well?” Ness looked to be more in control of herself even with anxiety written all over her face.
“They towed it. About an hour ago.” He looked at her curiously. “Were you in the restaurant? Why didn’t you give it to the valet?”
She tucked her hair behind her ear. “Because I’ve already had one car demolished a couple of weeks ago and I was hoping to last another twenty four hours before getting a second one dinged. I thought it would be a lot safer here.”
“Were you in there with friends?” He felt like he was digging the information out of her. “Where did they go? Can one of them take you to get your car?”
She sighed, fiddling with her hair again. “It was a business dinner. I can’t ask a client to take me to pick up my car that got towed. Anyway, he’s gone.”
“Not friends. A client.”
He looked at her cast then back at her face, one eyebrow raised.
She straightened her shoulders, trying to make herself taller. “My broken ankle has nothing to do with my ability to conduct business. I don’t talk with my foot.”
Josh swallowed a smile.
“Well, that kind of leaves you in a predicament, doesn’t it?”
She did that straightening thing with her body again, as if somehow she’d grow another six inches. “I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself, thank you very much.”
“Yes. Really.” She clearly put as much indignation into the words as she could. She needed to get her game face back on.
“Could have fooled me.”
“Besides, I’ve bothered you enough. I’ll just go on into the restaurant and they can call a taxi for me.”
She turned and began to clump her way back down the sidewalk, shoving his handkerchief in her pocket.
“Hold it.” Josh reached out to take her arm. “Hold it a minute, will you? You don’t need a cab. I’ll take you. And it’s really not a bother.”
How many times had he said that in his life?

Available at all online bookstores and Ellora's Cave.

Find me at,, Twitter @desireeholt and Facebook /desireeholt.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Furry Friends and Their Place In Our Hearts

Some call them critters, most call them pets, but many call them family. Some are fluffy and furry, some are hoofed, and some can run in a wheel all damn night long. There are those which are house-trained, and some fail to be no matter how hard we try. No matter how big or small, they are the animals in our lives that leave their footprints on our hearts (and sometimes even on the carpet.)

They helplessly rely on us to feed and care for them, while providing us with companionship and unconditional love. With their presence, they brighten our days, put smiles on our faces, and add a sense of purpose without even trying. As tried and true friends, they often look up to us. And in return they're the ones in our lives who will never look down on us, even when we do something wrong.

I have many pets as I live on a 100-acre farm and each one is very special to me. But this week, we've had to say goodbye to one. His name is Coconut, a stray cat that we brought home about nine years ago and he's sunk his claws into my family's heart from the get go.

In the beginning, my husband and I were not typical cat people, thinking we'd never get close to this feline addition to our house. In truth, we only agreed to keep him for rodent control. Things soon changed as he behaved more like an eager-to-be-around-people "dog" than a disinterested I'd-rather-not-come-near-you "cat." He came when called, he never shied from loud noises (and this was important with two active young girls) and he talked back to you when you happened to strike up a conversation. Needless to say, we fell head over heels for this cat.

Of course, so did my girls. And it's been so hard watching my youngest grieve for him these past few days. He was an indoor cat and she has since told me that she can barely go into a room without seeing Coconut. I completely understood her struggles because this cat was her buddy. When she was in the office, he'd jump up into her lap as she played on the computer. When she was in her room, he'd jump on her bed and take a nap as she'd play. When she was downstairs watching TV, he'd curl up next to her as if he enjoyed watching the Disney Channel as much as she did. If she was in the house at all, he was there with her. I've never known a cat to be that into a person. Like I'd said before, he was more like a dog than a cat.

As you can imagine, it's been a tough couple of days. The house has an emptiness inside that we are all trying to deal with in our own little way. Coconut may have started out as just a pet, but he ended up being loved as one of the family and we miss him very much.

I hope I didn't bring anyone's spirits down with this post. To be honest, it's difficult to write about anything else when you are consumed with loss.

So in order to lift the mood here a little bit, I'll share an excerpt from one of my books where I feature a happy-go-lucky Chocolate Lab with the protagonists as they deal with a sudden conflict from the very beginning of the story. I hope you enjoy. (And remember to hug your pets today. Give them a hug for me too, if you don't mind.)

The Fall of Rain
By Renee Vincent

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Patrick stepped into the kitchen and slid the door closed behind him, the house eerily quiet and still. By now, his rowdy Chocolate Lab should have been clumsily traipsing down the hall, all tongue and legs, trying to get to him before he could take one step off the welcome mat. “Rain?” he called tentatively. “You in here?”

“I’m fine, Patrick. Leave me alone,” Lorraine’s voice emitted from the back room. He kicked off his dusty cowboy boots and hung his hat on the hook by the door before walking toward her bedroom. As he expected, her door was shut. And when he gripped the handle, it was locked.

He leaned against the frame. “Rain, open the door.”

“I said I’m fine.”

There was anger in her voice, but through the forced gruffness of it Patrick heard it crack. His heart melted. “Rain…talk to me.”

“I don’t feel like talking. I just want to be left alone.”

Patrick rolled his eyes. No woman who’s ever said those words has ever meant it. In his experience, ‘leave me alone’ typically means ‘be more convincing so I’ll feel better about spilling my guts.’

“Fine,” he allotted, backing away from the door. “I’ll just sit out here and wait ‘til you’re ready to talk. I’ve got all day.”

“Aren’t you supposed to be horseback riding with Beth this afternoon?”

“No, we changed plans.”

“She changed plans or you did?”

“What does it matter?” Patrick asked, impatient at talking through the door.

“Dammit, Patrick, you can’t keep doing that. You can’t continue to rearrange your life with her because of me. She already hates me as it is.”

Patrick tried the door handle again, to no avail. “Beth doesn’t hate you. She just doesn’t understand my relationship with you. Give her time…she’ll learn.”

“She’ll learn to hate you, Patrick. No woman wants to be second, and with me living here, you’ll always put me first.”

There was a slight stress on ‘with me living here’ and Patrick caught it. As he heard her footsteps cross the hardwood floor of the room, he was relieved, thinking she was finally going to open the door and let him in. But then he heard the closet door slide across its tracks and the sound of her dragging something from inside.

He pressed his ear against the door, listening. A furious zipper opened and then a drawer from her dresser. “What are you doing in there? Are you packing?”

She ignored him.

“Rain,” he demanded, his voice taking on an urgent tone. “Open this door right now.”

Again, she didn’t oblige and the longer he waited, the madder he got. If he knew one thing about her, it was that she was a determined woman. If she got something in her head, no matter how idiotic it was, she was going to see it through. And if she decided to move out, then nothing would stop her.

He couldn’t let her. He cared too much to let her walk out of his life. The only place she could go was Jack’s house in Indian Hill—the Beverly Hills of Ohio—and that was the last place he’d want her to run to.

“All right, that’s it,” he warned. “I’m coming in.”

He didn’t know why he even gave a warning. It was his house and he had a right to open any damn door he wanted. Trying to cool his jets, he spun around and reached above the bedroom door and snatched the pin key. In haste, he drove it in the tiny hole and burst into the room, finding Lorraine with an armful of clothes, making her way to the edge of the bed where a heap of unfolded clothes already lay in her suitcase.

Immediately, his dog, Captain, jumped off the bed and ran to greet him, paws and all. Correcting the dog, he pushed the animal aside and ran to Lorraine. “What are you doing?”

“Patrick, it’s bad enough that I’m ruining my relationship with Jack. I’m not going to ruin yours too.”

She tried to walk around him, but he stepped in front of her and clasped her face in his hands. “See? This is the shit I’m talking about. Jack has brainwashed you into thinking the reason your relationship is on the rocks is because of you. Do you know how absurd that is? Rain, it has never been your fault. Can’t you see that? He doesn’t deserve you.”

“But Beth deserves you and I’m not going to stand in your way anymore.”

He grabbed her shoulders. “You are not in my way. You’re my best friend and I’m not letting you leave.”

He watched as tears welled up in her green eyes. Her bottom lip quivered and her jaw clenched. Unable to bear losing his childhood friend, he pulled her in his arms and held her.

“What happened?” he whispered sympathetically in her hair.

He felt her body tremble and the jerk of quiet sobs in her shoulders. He walked into her, leading her toward the bed so they could sit down. Captain followed and lay down at their feet, his head on his paws as if he, too, were saddened by Lorraine’s crying.

When Patrick took her hands in his, he noticed that her left one was absent the three-carat diamond solitaire, the only impressive thing Jack had ever offered her. But then again, Patrick never thought for one second that he forked out his own money for it. He’d bet his life that Jack’s parents paid for the engagement ring simply because they didn’t want their son to let a good thing slip through his hands.

He lifted her hand. “Where’s your ring?”

Lorraine’s lips puckered, trying to hold back her emotions. “I gave it back to him.”

Though her words were music to his ears, he restrained his joy. “Why?”

Lorraine looked up at the ceiling, blowing out a tremendous sigh. Anger laced her words now. “Because I walked in on him with another woman.”

Patrick’s heart nearly stopped. His mouth fell open, but he shut it right away so as not to say anything too rash. He chose his words carefully. “With another woman…doing what?”

Lorraine glared at him for his naivety. “What do you think, Patrick? They were in bed together, our bed—”

Her tears ran like a faucet now, her pain at a height even he couldn’t fathom. “Okay, okay...” he consoled, pulling her against him. “I get it. It’s okay. Shh…you don’t have to say another word. I’m here.”

He didn’t expect her to say anything more, but it was as if his words sparked a need to rant. “You know what Jack did when I turned to run out of the house?”

Patrick didn’t want to try to guess. He could only imagine what that scumbag did in the heat of Lorraine finding him screwing another woman.

“He chased me down the sidewalk with a sheet around his waist, saying he could explain. When I continued to run for my car, he actually grabbed me by the arm and said if I gave him just five minutes, he could be ready for our picnic.” Lorraine began to laugh hysterically. “Can you believe that? He said he just forgot about our picnic and double booked. Like I’m a flippant appointment he forgot to pencil in and scheduled a necessary fornication session in place of it.”

Patrick was dumbfounded. “Rain, I am so sorry. I—I.”

Lorraine looked up at him from the pocket of his shoulder. “Oh, don’t act so surprised,” she snapped, standing up to pace the room. “You probably already made bets with Andy that this would happen.”

He felt the pang of that knife right away. “I’d never do that to you.”

Lorraine wilted. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that. I’m just mad. And hurt. And…”

Patrick jumped up to embrace her again. “I know you can’t begin to see it now, but it is better this way. You don’t have to waste anymore time on Jack. You’re free to find the man of your dreams, the right man of your dreams.”

“I don’t think he’s out there.”

“Sure he is,” Patrick contended, stroking her long dark hair. “He already visits you in your dreams every night.”

Lorraine drew back to look at him. “Did Mr. Pride kick you while you were shoeing him?”

“Of course not.”

“Then I think you’ve just fallen off the crazy train, Patrick.”

She tried to slip from his arms, but he held her in her place. “Aren’t you still dreaming about some tall blond, blue-eyed guy in medieval garb with a sword or something like that?”

Lorraine stared and nodded her head slowly. “Yep, you’ve lost it.”

“I’m serious.”

“So am I, Patrick. Listen to yourself. You’re talking about this guy, this ridiculous figment of my imagination, mind you, as if he’s real.”

“Your words, not mine. Think about it, Rain. How many times have you awakened, gasping in the night, telling me you could feel this man’s lips on yours as real as if he were right in bed with you? You’ve had this dream ever since I’ve known you, so how do you explain it?”

“It’s called a pathetic girl’s wish for her cliché knight in shining armor.”

At that, Lorraine’s cell phone rang. She froze, a blank look invading her face. When it rang again, she scurried past him and frantically searched her purse on the bed. Pulling it out, she stared at the display.

She didn’t have to read the name to Patrick. By the look of her sad eyes, he already knew it was Jack. Holding back his growing infuriation, he grabbed the cell and threw it out of the room against the hall wall, the phone shattering in pieces. Before she could race out the door to salvage the pieces, Patrick taunted his dog. “You want it? Go get it. Go get it, boy.”

Instantly, Captain jumped to his feet and ran to the plastic fragments lying haphazardly on the floor. Without even sniffing, he chose the biggest scrap and ran away with it in his mouth.

Patrick laughed. But when he turned around to face Lorraine, she wasn’t as pleased as he was with his dog’s obedience. “What?”

“That was my cell phone. You broke it.”

Patrick couldn’t help but smile as she laid out the obvious. “I’ll buy you a new one. With a different number,” he added, pointing soundly at her. “Besides, you have nothing more to say to him.”

“Says who?”

“Says me. Now start packing.”

As Patrick walked out of her bedroom, he knew she had to be staring at him like he had three heads. He didn’t care. Suddenly, her idea of leaving was the best thing she had ever come up with. He was going to make damn sure Jack couldn’t find her.

“Pack you bags, Rain. You’re going on a trip.”

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