Devil in a Kilt - A Different Kind of Shapeshifter
Check it out! I've just received the cover for Secrets Volume 27 Untamed Pleasures! This guy definitely looks devilish, don't you think? ;)

Since this is paranormal week here at Fierce Romance, I wanted to talk about Gavin MacTavish, the shapeshifter hero of my novella Devil in a Kilt, in Red Sage Secrets Volume 27, Untamed Pleasures, to be released in July. The main part of the story takes place in 1621 in the Scottish Highlands. For the past year, Gavin has been under a witch's curse which causes him to shapeshift into a hawk at dawn and back into a man at sunset. He can't control this shifting and, to put it mildly, he hates it. When you think about it, though, it might be pretty cool to be able to shift into such a majestic bird as a hawk and fly around under your own power during the daytime. I'd like to try it at least once. LOL Writing from the point of view of a man who is also a hawk was an interesting experience, to say the least. In bird form, he's aware of his own vulneratilities, and he's aware that the humans around him fear him because of his wicked talons.

Gavin is a Highland Chief, but because of his shifting, his clan believes he's possessed by the devil and most of them have fled. This is devastating to Gavin. He just wants the curse broken and the clan to return. He takes his leadership role very seriously.

As part of my research into hawks, falcons and other birds of prey, I attended a falconry display at Dunrobin Castle in Scotland. These birds are amazing in their intelligence, strength and speed. Some are worth a fortune. I think they could even have a sense of humor--they seemed to enjoy flying low over the heads of the people in the audience and startling them. :)

Here is an excerpt from Devil in a Kilt of the first time we see Gavin shapeshift:

He glanced out the window at the Highlands and the first faint trace of dawn peeking over the eastern mountains.
It won’t be long.
A yell echoed from down the corridor, the ravings of a madman. His father. One day that would be Gavin, talking to ghosts and shadows. But likely when he sank to that level, he would have no roof over his head. Or else his sparse clan would lock him in the dungeon to die alone. Since he had no heir, his greedy, grasping cousin would become laird. His clan would rejoice when their devil laird was dead.
"Damnation! Alpin willna unseat me. The craven whoreson." Draping his plaid around his waist and holding it in place, Gavin strode from the bedchamber and down the corridor toward his father’s room.
"There ye are, lad," Crocker said, his sparse gray hair sticking out in all directions. "Thanks be to God. He’s a right lunatic this morn. Asking for ye, he is."
"What the devil is wrong with him?" Gavin stepped inside the chamber.
"I dinna ken."
"Gavin! Gavin!" his father screeched from the four-poster bed as his body writhed, his long gray hair tangled. "The lass. Ye must look for the lass. Ye must marry. For the sake of the clan. For the sake of yer very soul."
"What lass?" No lass for miles around would so much as glance in his direction. He used to have to drag them from his bed and send them on their way. Now, he couldn’t pay one to give him an hour’s pleasure.
He would like as not turn them to stone, or they would end up possessed by the devil, as he was thought to be.
Gavin waited for his father to tell him which lass he referred to, but the older man now lay still with his eyes closed, apparently asleep. Mayhap he’d meant the lass from Gavin’s arousing dreams. But she wasn’t real, and he’d never seen her face.
Fingers of dawn light gleamed over the mountains and Gavin’s animal nature surged forth, beyond his control.
"Damnation! When will it end?"
He moved toward the open window, helpless to resist the call. Just as he reached it, a moment of pain sliced through him. His body transformed, and great glossy-black wings appeared where once he had arms, and talons on his feet. Taking flight from the window, he became one with the wind, the Highlands and the bright colors of dawn.
Devil in a Kilt, Red Sage Secrets Volume 27 Untamed Pleasures July '09

What is your favorite type of shapeshifter and why? What is the most unusual shifter you have read (or written) about?
Thanks!
Nicole
http://www.nicolenorth.com/

PS There is still time to enter our CONTEST for a basket of goodies. Just become a "follower" and you're entered. :)
Love Those Ghosts!
It’s Paranormal Week at Fierce Romance!



Since the only paranormal story I’ve written so far features a hero who is the ghost of a cursed pirate, I’ll be talking about ghost stories today. Not the scary Amityville Horror types of ghost stories. Ugh! Not even those cute stories where a match-making ghost brings a couple together. But the kind of stories when one of the main characters IS a ghost.


There aren’t a lot of stories with this premise, at least not that I've found. After all, it’s a little difficult to have a happily-ever-after ending when one of the characters is already dead! But for me that’s one of the draws for this kind of story. I mean, talk about an insurmountable conflict! Talk about star-crossed lovers! How on earth are these characters going to end up happy?? But it can be done. All the endings may not be typical romance endings, but I think you can make the story work if you try.


I loved the old movie, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, in which a young widow moves into a house haunted by the ghost of a handsome, cantankerous sea captain. I couldn’t help but use a similar premise in my Red Sage novella, Quinn’s Curse. Quinn was a selfish pirate cursed to haunt the Logan’s Point lighthouse for 300 years after he dies in a shipwreck, never to touch the sea he loves so much.

Quinn stood at the water’s edge. Three hundred years had done nothing to curb his thirst for the sea. It would be so easy to say the hell with eternity and dive into the foamy waves. The tang of the air, while it should have been a balm to his soul, was nothing but a strong temptation. A lure as strong as the sirens had been to the sailors of old. The roar of the waves as they pounded the rocks was music to his ears. The call of the gulls always a reminder that they were nearing port, coming home.

He loves to play practical jokes on the residents of the lighthouse keeper’s house until the day Miranda Kent buys it to turn it into a B&B. He knows immediately that she’s special. She’s the first person to hear him in nearly 300 years.


So how do you turn this story into a romance? How do you turn it into an erotic romance when the heroine can’t see the hero? When she doesn’t even know he’s there. Remember the movie, Ghost? Is there any scene hotter than the one at the potter’s wheel??? OMG!

So I wrote a scene where Quinn and Miranda make love – only she thinks it’s a dream. It’s one of my favorite love scenes. It can be a challenge to write a romance with a ghost character, but it can be a lot of fun too.

“‘Tis a marvelous dream,” he whispered, all the while stroking her brow, her face, her neck. “Don’t open your eyes or you’ll awaken and the dream will be over. You don’t want the dream over too soon, do you now? Don’t awaken, Miranda. Keep your eyes closed.”

She nodded and reached for him again, her pale arms outstretched. What hot-blooded pirate could resist such an earnest request?


Then there’s the happily-ever-after promise we all want in our romance. How do you make the readers despair, then rejoice? It takes some planning. You need to set the story up right to begin with. I think I worked the ending out pretty well for Quinn’s Curse, but I’m not going to spoil it here. And I’m sure there are plenty of other ways to make it happen too. Use your imagination. That's what we writers do best.

So how about it? Have you read any great ghost romances? I’d love to hear about them!

Natasha
Romance with more…sizzle
www.natashamoore.com
The Fine Art of Flirting

Sexy and Flirty MySpace Comments and Graphics




As those of us who write and read historicals novels know, flirting was one of the fine arts practiced by women in the days of yore. Chaste won over brazen. Touches were fleeting yet, if performed in a certain way, stoked fires of anticipation and desire. Dare the heroine lift her skirt and give the gentleman a peek of her ankle, whether or not she was climbing the stairs? Would she become bold enough to wiggle her pinkie at a prospective suitor while tipping her teacup? Could a turn of her head float her flirtatious laughter over to the man of her most romantic dreams?

Since I’m now again a single woman, I’ve been back into the flirting game and enjoying every minute. One thing I will note, though, is how what one’s partner deems harmless flirting can be immensely hurtful to his significant other. Hurtful and devastating. After all, flirting isn’t without an invitation—be it one boldly lettered or more demurely decorated—designed to attract the attention of someone in whom we’re interested. I’m a firm believer that flirting should be more about the coy than the commando tactics. Choose your flirting subjects wisely, as we live in a fascinating but dangerous world, and be prepared for the delicious results that may follow your wild ways. Married men and men I know have significant others are always forbidden flirting territory.

For me, flirting begins with the eyes. After making brief eye contact, I know whether or not I want to continue the game or move on. If he holds my gaze, this is a sign to take flirting to the next level. While across the room is great for scoping out men with whom I may develop a deeper relationship, closer proximity allows me to trot out my flirting techniques. During a discussion of the economy or a sporting event, I slowly glide my fingers over his lower arm or touch the back of his hand while maintaining eye contact. Sometimes I press my fingers against the back of his wrist to take his radial pulse. In the event he further piques my interest, and I his, we find a place away from the crowd. If we’re enjoying a private conversation and some canapés, I tap the toe of my stiletto or sandal against his calf. Only once. If he moves closer, my flirting shifts into higher gear. When sipping from my glass, I run my tongue around the rim, again while looking him in the eye. If he whets his lips or flares his nostrils, I move closer. By now, my mouth is watering and I’m drinking in more of him than my beverage of choice. Basically it’s a dance. A progression of delightful steps that will hopefully find us on the dance floor or sharing a toe-curling kiss before the evening ends. Before we part ways I know if the flirting has simply proved a fun pursuit for the evening or will lead to future encounters with the guy who’s no longer a sexy stranger. Over the past hour—but who’s keeping track of time, anyway?—he’s told me about himself and I’ve reciprocated. He helps me on with my coat, takes my hand and walks me to my car. We make a date to meet at our favorite coffee shop or part ways wearing smiles. No matter how much I’m attracted, I never give out my phone number to a guy I’ve met for the first time. And we make a date for a future meeting on neutral territory for safety sake. What makes flirting fun is a woman never knows how the story will end. She simply hopes for more chapters in what will become a lifelong romance.

While in Manhattan recently, I flirted with several men, including the handsome guy who helped me with my suitcase at the train station. Someday the timing will be right and those playful interludes will lead to more passionate, and lasting, ones. Flirting can definitely lead to forevers!


Wishing you all many happy reading moments,

Shawna Moore
TORMENTED -- Ellora's Cave
ROUGHRIDER -- Ellora's Cave Exotika
HELLE IN HEELS -- Ellora's Cave Exotika
TO HELLE AND BACK AGAIN -- Coming April 29 to EC Exotika

Shawna's Myspace
Helle's Myspace

Introducing Fierce New Member Carly Carson

Here at Fierce Romance, we're happy to be adding another new member to our group, Carly Carson!
Welcome, Carly!! Please tell us about yourself and your story.

Carly: “Writing is like dancing. You’re never really ready, but at some point, it’s just your turn.”

I am paraphrasing a guy from Dancing with the Stars. But his words express a truth that has made a difference in my writing career. I don’t mean if you just sit around and wait, your turn will come. But if you’ve worked hard, and written a story that you think represents your best work, then you must get up on the stage. You must send it out – to a contest, an agent or editor, send it somewhere! That’s how you get in the game. That’s how I got my first story published. It’s called Scarlet and the Sheriff and here’s the blurb:

Fleeing a cheating fiancé, Scarlet breaks down on the Fourth of July in a sultry Southern town where the Sheriff is even hotter than the firecrackers. With no car and no money, she finds teasing the Sheriff a fun way to pass the time. Unfortunately, the Sheriff holds all the cards when he receives the warrants for her arrest issued by her ex. Now Scarlet has to dance to his tune – and the only song he wants to sing is about hot sex.

Click here for an excerpt and reviews!

Carly's advice to unpublished authors: Once you’ve sent your query or story out and gotten a contract for publishing, is it time to climb off the stage and relax? Nope, no way. It’s time to get on another stage. Now you have to think about promoting your work. This brings me to what I wish I had known before publication, and what is my most important piece of advice for writers. Get your domain name now. Not very sexy advice, I know. But if you want to be successful, recognize that this is a business. Enjoy the creative writing part. But don’t lose sight of the mundane business part.

Decide what name you wish to be published under. Do a bit of research. Make sure your name is not already in use by someone else, it’s not a serial killer, etc. Establish it wherever you think you might need it (with an email account, on Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc.) Domain names cost $10/year and are available at GoDaddy, Register.com and other places. A word of warning, however: Do not google your intended name all over the place. There are firms who will scoop up a name that appears frequently on the major search engines and then offer to sell it to you – even if it’s your own legal name - for money that you don’t want to spend. (This is their business! Don’t build your own trap.) Doing this work to establish a name early on will save aggravation later. Then start thinking about your website.

What am I working on now? I have an offer on a completed futuristic. I’m working on another contemporary that’s been requested. Finally, I’m pitching a romantic suspense at a writing conference this weekend. All I need are more hours in the day!

You may have noticed there’s more than one romance genre hiding in that list. I don’t recommend doing it that way, because it seems better to build a name in one genre before maybe moving on to another. My hopscotching is partly a result of contest wins and partly because I like different genres. At least they are all romances and I try to be grateful for that! I will always write romances because I love building that relationship between the hero and the heroine.

If you feel like responding to a mini-survey, please tell me this: What forms of promotion entice you to buy a book? Recommendation of friend, cover, blurb on back of book, a review, have read and liked the author previously, read about it online. Something else? Those who comment will be entered to win an ebook download of Scarlet and the Sheriff.

Thanks so much for having me. I’m thrilled to be joining the group!
Nicole: And we're thrilled to have you join us, Carly! Congratulations on your latest sale!
Flirting... That first sign of interest
Flirting: noun: Playful behavior intended to arouse sexual interest
verb: To make playfully romantic or sexual overtones

Seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? And for some, it is. Flirting just comes naturally to some people, like it’s hardwired into their DNA. But for others, the art of flirting is a completely foreign notion. They have to work at it, or more than likely, just get up the nerve to get out there and do it.

So much about flirting involves body language. Eye contact, the seductive way you sip on the straw in your drink, or the sexy tease of an easy smile… Ho boy, the smiles. Those are a must—the first thing you should pull out of your bag of tricks when you see the object of your desires. A smile can say so much, and done with a flirty edge… Well, that’s just plain yummy.

She looked up as Dean approached. A drop-dead-gorgeous smile bloomed on her face. “Captain Lucas. This is a surprise. What can I do for you?”
Too easy. Way too easy.
He leaned one elbow on the counter, removed his sunglasses and tucked them into the neckline of his t-shirt. A seductive grin slid to his lips. “All sorts of things. Would you like the list alpha­betical?” – Nameless Surrender

Ah… and now we get into my favorite part. The banter. Flirtatious banter is my all-time favorite. Yes, I still love those killer smiles, get all gooey inside at a good dose of seductive eye contact, and let’s not forget about those sexy gestures as well...

He slid behind the wheel and turned the key in the ignition. The truck rumbled to life, and when he placed his arm across the bench seat to back out, his fingers brushed her shoulder. She slipped him a look.
With an air of friendliness, he winked. The simple gesture held such undeniable sensuality, it all but screamed at her. No doubt about it, that tiny caress had been intentional. –Nameless Surrender

Boy, I’m a sucker for sexy gestures. After all, who doesn’t love to watch a well-built man run his hands through his hair, flexing his muscles while doing it, only to have him turn and look at you with a pair of luscious bedroom eyes as he gives you a smile so seductive your knees turn to jelly? (Hey, it can happen… In my fantasy world at least!) But flirtatious banter—that simple back-and-forth between a man and a woman, oftentimes laced with underlying meaning—that’s where it’s at for me.

She rewarded him with a soft laugh, which—of course—only served as fuel to the fire his libido had become. “So, Zoe, do you ever take a break? I’d love to buy you a cup of coffee, give you proper thanks for doing such a great job on me.”
The caramel in her deep brown eyes glinted, and he knew she understood the double meaning. – Nameless Surrender

So, what about you? I’d love to hear your favorite part of the flirting game. What is it that gets you all tingly inside?
Flirt Into Spring
I like to flirt, but if you asked the women of my acquaintance if I’m a flirt they would probably tell you I’m not. When most people think of a flirtatious woman, they picture someone batting her eyelashes, twisting a lock of hair around her finger, or running her tongue along her lips. I have to admit, I use these actions when I’m writing about a flirtatious character. Ah, but the art of flirtation is so much more subtle than those gestures.

To me, true flirtation is all about the conversation. And that’s why I’m a flirt! I love to talk. Not only do I love to talk, but I enjoy talking about “guy” subjects like politics and sports. When I go to the Little League baseball field to drop off or pick up my son for practice, I usually run into a few dads there and we talk…about Little League baseball. I know the kids, the teams, the plays, the coaches. The dads love talking to me about this stuff. And now I’m keeping the scorebook for my son’s team, so that gives me even more opportunity to flirt…uh talk. How do I know this is flirting and not just conversation? Umm – these are men and I just know.

And what’s so great about it all, is that it’s harmless and fun. I’m married, they’re married, I’m good friends with their wives – whom I also chat with but in a very different way. It’s not the kind of flirtation anyone would ever dream of acting upon and there are no double entendre or sexual overtones to the conversation. It’s refreshing and I like the idea that a man other than my husband might find me an interesting person.

And I know my husband does the same thing. My husband likes to talk too, and I know he practices this subtle art of flirtation with his co-worker (the lone female cop on his task force), the woman who owns the coffee place he frequents, a few of the moms. I think it makes him feel good too. We flirt with each other all the time (of course, we add in the sexual banter), and we know how to push each other’s buttons-literally and every other way!

Of course, married flirtations are different from unmarried flirtations (or they SHOULD be!). I think the unmarried flirtations are more intense. There's more riding on the banter than just a pleasurable experience. But it still should start with the conversation. It doesn't have to be super witty stuff, but it should be interesting. Your opening line in a flirtation should pique the other person's curiosity about you and make him want to learn more about what makes you tick. When you think of something "flirty" whether it's a drink or a dress, you usually think of something light and bubbly. Flirting should be fun, not a chore.

So if you’re not flirting, you’re missing out on one of life’s little pleasures. And if you need tips to get started, there's an entire website devoted to flirting: www.flirting.com (of course).
What Makes Someone A Good Flirt?
Hi Fierce Friends!
I've never been a good flirt. I'm too self-conscious. Plus I've been married for 20 + years, so I'm sort of out of practice. :) So I need your help -- this week's theme is Flirting and I'm just not an expert when it comes to enticing the opposite sex--except in my books! Somehow it's easier to set up a flirtation between fictitious characters than in real life!


But I know that isn't true for everyone -- what about you, the reader? What makes someone a "good" flirt? What makes YOU a good flirt? And what is it that makes you feel that a guy is interested in you? Is it his eyes? His smile? Something he says? Write a comment here on Fierce Romance and educate me!


I'd also like to hear what you think makes for a good flirt/flirtation in a romance novel.
So tell me . . .



What Makes Someone A Good Flirt?



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Readers Give Back

By Stacey Joy Netzel, guest blogger

Authors are nothing without readers. Sure, many of us would write regardless (me included), however at some point we need to build a fan base if we want any type of longevity in the business end of publishing. To do that, authors must:

1. Write. Damn good books. Books that make readers salivate for our next release date.

2. Submit for publication: This can be very nerve-wracking, even when we’ve published already. (It’s worse when waiting for a first sale.) The best way I’ve ever heard this described was during Christina Dodd’s keynote speech at RWA National in Atlanta, GA. “It’s like standing up on stage…pulling down your pants…and asking for comments.” (I paraphrased.)

3. We must promote. For some of us, it comes naturally. For others, it’s almost as bad as submitting. “Here’s my book, please buy it, please like it.” We can’t be too timid, but on the flip side, no one likes a pushy ‘sales’ person, either. We walk the line and hope we don’t cross too far on either side.

In the end, what makes all the work worthwhile is the readers. The ones who e-mail us to ask when the next book is coming out. The ones who write to tell us how much they loved our characters and wished the book would never end. The ones who read, and though they may not write to us, they tell their friends about this new author they’ve discovered and loved. The ones who eagerly participate in our contests, check websites, follow blogs, and come to book signings.
I’m running a contest from March 1-April 30, in which I ask “you” to pass out 20 (or more, if you want) of my bookmarks and in return I enter your name into a drawing with a total of 16 prizes. I worried I was crossing to the pushy side, but decided to give it a try anyway. The response has been wonderful! So far, readers and friends have stepped up to the tune of 33 entries from 13 different states, equaling over 880 bookmarks. I received an entry from Chris in TX, and her best friend Stephanie in SC, who regularly hand out authors’ promotion items because they’re “Glad to help!” You two made my day. :)

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the readers out there from the bottom of my heart. When you help out, when you take the time to send a fan letter, when you tell others about our books… you give so much joy back to us authors. Because, in the end, it really does come down to YOU!

Thank you!

Okay, now I’ve got 3 questions for you…answer one, or all! :)
1. What about a book inspires you to write a fan letter?
2. What author is in your hot little hands right now?
3. Who's up next?

Stacey Joy Netzel
~*~
(Stacey’s working today, but she will be around this evening to respond to comments.)
Stacey Joy Netzel fell in love with books at a young age, so for her, it seemed only natural to graduate to writing them. A member of RWA and WisRWA, she credits not only her parents and husband for encouraging her dreams of becoming a published author, but also the very talented friends she’s made in WisRWA since joining in 2004. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and kids, a couple of horses, and six barn cats. When not writing and living life in general, she loves to read and watch movies—Happily Ever After’s a must. Published books with The Wild Rose Press include: If Tombstones Could Talk (paranormal novella), Welcome to Redemption (Champagne Rose anthology with Donna Marie Rogers), Dragonfly Dreams (Christmas Novella), and Chasin’ Mason (contemporary western). She just signed a contract for a Christmas Anthology, Mistletoe Rules, that she hopes will be released Christmas 2009. You can visit her at www.StaceyJoyNetzel.com. She would LOVE to hear from you!
And the Winner Is...

The winner of a pdf download of Dark Angel is...
Sandy M!


Congrats Sandy! Send me an e-mail at natasha@natashamoore.com and I'll see that you get it.

Thanks everyone who commented. Stop by every Monday for my blog posts. And every day for some Fierce Romance!

Natasha
Romance with more...sizzle
www.natashamoore.com
Please Welcome Fierce New Member: Natasha Moore!
Hi Everyone, today I'm happy to be introducing you to another new member of Fierce Romance, Natasha Moore!!

Natasha fell in love with the written word as soon as she could read. She started writing her own stories while in grade school and passed around her own version of fanfic to her classmates long before the term was ever coined. 2008 was a busy year for her. She had a total of nine releases! She lives in western New York State with her very supportive husband--her real life hero who is happy to tell everyone that he's her inspiration. They travel in their RV whenever possible.


Nicole: Welcome Natasha!! We're so happy you've joined us here at Fierce Romance! Please tell us about your books.
[Smoke and Mirrors: Heiress Gabriella Winslow learned that lesson years ago when her magician boyfriend abandoned her, sick and alone, hundreds of miles from home. In the years that followed, she’s tried to forget him and the erotic bondage games they used to play. But the life she’s made for herself since then still leaves her restless and yearning for something more.

Now a successful illusionist, Alexander Black has returned to settle an old score. And to seduce Gabriella. With a blindfold and handcuffs and blood red roses, he entices his former lover and magician’s assistant back to his Las Vegas penthouse. Alex is an expert at smoke and mirrors. If all goes according to plan, she’ll never even know she’s his prisoner. excerpt]

Natasha: I’m fortunate to write for three publishers. I have two full-length contemporary romances available from Samhain Publishing. The Passion-Minded Professor will be coming out in print at the end of April. I have four novellas available from Red Sage, two which are in Secrets anthologies. Dark Angel, a contemporary romance with a gothic atmosphere, was released as an e-book in January. And I have five stories available from Ellora’s Cave, two included in Cavemen anthologies. The most recent novella, Smoke and Mirrors, has a hero who’s an illusionist. You can check out all my releases on my website http://www.natashamoore.com/ I’ve just signed a couple more contracts, so you’ll be seeing more from me in the coming months.

Nicole: Wow! I'm so impressed with that line-up of books and new releases! Congratulations on your newly signed contracts!
Beautiful covers too! What are you currently working on?
Natasha: I'm working on edits for a futuristic novel for Ellora’s Cave titled Chains of Desire. And I’m currently writing a bondage novella.

Nicole: No wonder you get so many done! Writing two at once. :) Why did you choose this particular subgenre?

Natasha: Well, so far I’ve written contemporary, paranormal, futuristic and fantasy, so I guess I haven’t been able to choose just one subgenre. lol I enjoy trying different things and I hope my readers enjoy it too. One thing is for certain, the stories will sizzle. Because sexy romance is just so much fun to write!
[She’s in for the Ride of Her Life. After a devastating diagnosis, sensible Sarah Austin yearns to live life to the fullest. When she talks her former teenage crush into a cross-country ride on his Harley, she thinks it’s her one and only chance for adventure, including a fun fling with love ‘em and leave ‘em Bastian.
No longer a rebel, Dean Bastian is a counselor for troubled teens and ready to settle down. He doesn’t know why Sarah is so desperate for an adventure, but he’s willing to do anything to keep a smile on her face, even pretend to still be a bad boy.
Sarah doesn’t want to burden anyone with the future she faces, but can Dean convince her that the rest of her life can be an adventure…with him? ]

Nicole: For sure! When did you know you wanted to be an author?
Natasha: Honestly? All my life. I’ve been writing since grade school. Sometimes I feel I let that little girl down by allowing life to get in the way for so many years. But I finally made it, seeing my books published for other people to enjoy. It’s the best!

Nicole: That's inspiring! Please describe your journey to publication.


Natasha: How long do you have? lol As I said before, I’ve written off and on all my life. In the early 1990s I was targeting category romance, had an agent, had a lot of requests and a lot of rejections. After my agent stopped being an agent, I let my rejections get me down and I stopped writing for about six years. In 2002 I started writing seriously again, still targeting category romance. After several more full manuscripts were requested and rejected, I revised them, submitted to five different publishers and within 6 months sold to three of them. I’ve been writing and selling consistently since then.
[Up To No Good in Secrets Vol 25 Wicked Delights - by NATASHA MOORE Former syndicated columnist Simon “Mac” MacKenzie hides a tragic secret. When freelance writer Alison Chandler seeks an exclusive interview, she threatens not only his carefully constructed lifestyle, but his longstanding ideas about love. Is their passion a distraction or the key to surviving their war of wills? ]

Nicole: Wow, that's so wonderful!! We have more in common than I realized! ;) I'm thrilled you're finally seeing the success you deserve. What do you wish you’d known before becoming published?
Natasha: How much work there is besides actually writing the book. Publicity is huge, especially with small press. Edits take more time away from the writing. And networking. And planning your career. Knowing all this certainly wouldn’t have stopped me from pursuing publication, but I would have been more aware of the time the business end takes away from writing.

Nicole: I'm just starting to find this out. LOL Do you have any advice for unpublished writers?

Natasha: Don’t give up. Keep writing. Keep learning. And be willing to investigate new avenues for your writing.

Nicole: Thanks for answering all my prying questions, Natasha! LOL Again, welcome to FR!

Natasha: Thanks, Nicole. I’m looking forward to being part of Fierce Romance.


Nicole: Everyone, Natasha is giving away a .pdf copy of her sexy Red Sage release, Dark Angel, to one lucky commenter! So please say hi and ask prying questions like I do if you want. LOL (Just kidding, Natasha.) ;)

DARK ANGEL - NATASHA MOORE: Disfigured in an accident that killed his wife, reclusive photographer, Rafael D’Angelo wants to be left alone amid rumors the car crash was no accident. Julie Brightman has been secretly in love with her sister’s husband for years. When a violent thunderstorm strands her at his secluded house, she discovers the man in the mask is not the Rafe she remembers. Trapped together, their happiness is threatened by the past that haunts them and the secrets they keep from each other.
Something Personal About Shawna
When writing a romance, we authors interview or get to know our characters in many ways. Finding out their world views, beliefs, goals, motivations, etc. Today I thought it would be fun sharing some things you likely don't know about me.

1. Something that scares me—Spiders and snakes. Cannot stand being near either of those. But I love Jim Stafford’s song about them.

2. Most interesting article of clothing—While on vacation in Vermont, I found a sassy sarong that, when worn a certain way, doubles as pants. They have delightful fringes at the bottom and have been hand-dyed in a stunning Indian-inspired print.

3. What I cannot tolerate watching on television—Reruns. Excessive violence. Most commercials.

4. Something I ate/drank that was out of the ordinary—I once indulged in a cocoa beverage infused with pepper and some other spices. Very appealing and delicious.

5. My unique hobby—Researching ancient and unique sexual positions. Finding haunted properties and visiting them while on vacation.

6. Unique talent—If I hear a person’s voice once and know their name, I'm usually able to identify them later simply by hearing them say a few words.

7. Things I love/hate—I love the awesome way I feel after a more intense cardio workout but despise sweating. I’m excited when an item I want or need is discounted, but I hate fighting crowds during special sales. This is especially true at Christmas. Love to shop but hate Christmas shopping and always have 99% of the gifts purchased well before Labor Day. Enjoy traveling but dislike doing any of the driving. Love large gatherings and parties but cannot stand crowded malls.

8. Most wonderful thing to recently happen in my life--While making my way from the train track to the upper level at Penn Station, a sexy gentleman offered to carry my heavy suitcase (says the woman who can never pack light). When he set down my luggage, he brushed his fingers over the back of my hand and maintained eye contact. Suffice it to say I knew I had to catch a cab, and catch up with my friend, but I was truly tempted to linger on that station level--and get to know him on a deeper level :)


Wishing you all many happy reading moments,

Shawna Moore
TORMENTED -- Ellora's Cave (Must-Read from Dark Angel Reviews)
ROUGHRIDER -- Ellora's Cave Exotika
HELLE IN HEELS -- Ellora's Cave Exotika
TO HELLE AND BACK AGAIN -- Coming soon to EC Exotika
Shawna's Myspace
Helle's Myspace
And the Winner is...

And the winner of the free PDF copy of my erotic romance, Mystic Charm is...
Kerribookwriter!
Please contact me at kristindaniels@ameritech.net to claim your prize.

Thanks to everyone who left comments. I look forward to my time here at
Fierce Romance!
Kristin Daniels: Fierce New Member of Our Blog
Hi, Everyone, I'm happy to introduce you to a new member of Fierce Romance today... Kristin Daniels!!

Kristin has always been a reader of romance, but it wasn’t until she discovered the erotic romance genre that she finally figured out what had been missing from all the books she'd read before. The heat, the passion, that was it! Her love of reading (any genre, any format... really just anything) led to her taking a chance on writing something of her own, and she’s been hooked ever since. Kristin calls the suburbs of Chicago home, where she lives with a hero of her very own and their three great kids.

Welcome, Kristin!! We're thrilled to have you here. First, please tell us about your books, one of which is being released TODAY! (Congratulations!)

Nameless Surrender – April 2009 from Red Sage Presents

No names. No words. Just Sex.

After months of blindfolds and secrets, after countless encounters without a single word spoken, Dean Lucas knows what his mysterious partner at the adult-only club Entice wants and gives her everything she physically desires. But now he hungers for more than just her body. He craves her heart, too.

Zoe Grant has finally found a way to let go of past betrayals, a way to sate her long-hidden desires. And the fact she doesn’t know the man’s name, has never seen his face, suits her just fine.

But, when the two are unknowingly brought together outside their mutual comfort zone, will Zoe be able to set aside her past and surrender her trust once again? And can Dean convince Zoe, nameless or not, that love knows no bounds?


Resisting Reed, Ellora’s Cavemen Anthology—Flavors of Ecstasy Volume I – March 20, 2009 from Ellora’s Cave

Are lustful thoughts of your best friend’s son a sinful pleasure or an act of betrayal?

Reed has never hidden from Marilee the decadent passions he wants to share with her. Now that she’s free from her cheating ex-husband, she’s finally able to let her resistance slip and give in to temptation. But when their relationship is exposed during an afternoon of sensual self-discovery, will Marilee lose a treasured friendship, or will she be able to keep it all, including the man she loves?


Lily’s War – Coming soon from Ellora’s Cave

Everyone knows war is hell…

Friends for years, lovers only weeks, Lily is devastated when Eric tells her to not wait on him when he’s involuntarily recalled to active duty in Iraq. Now, after eighteen long months, he’s finally come home.

But lives have changed, Lily has changed. All it took was one unexpected night in the arms of their best friend to make her see the light. Yes, she still loves Eric, but she’s fallen in love with Zach, too. Waging her own private war, she sets out to prove to Eric that what she wants—what the three of them need—is to take a chance at building a life together.

Nobody ever said she had to fight fair to win…



Mystic Charm – now available from The Wild Rose Press

Is a chance meeting true love or a mystical spell?

When Mia Bryant inherits an antique pearl choker from her late grandmother, the last thing she expected to see was a pair of sensual eyes shimmering in the largest pearl. Certain the vision was a figment of her imagination, she sets the necklace aside, pushing the image from her thoughts. Months later, when she dresses for a party, the pearl choker calls to her. Helpless to resist, she slips it on, unaware that by doing so she would soon fall for the man behind those sensual eyes.

Logan Thomas is mystified when he meets Mia. A fierce pull draws him to her, and before he can stop, they’re kissing under a full moon. But when the revealing of a magical spell has Mia pulling away, Logan knows he must convince her—magic or not—they were meant to be together…

Nicole: Wow, you have several hot stories being released close together! Congrats! (Awesome covers too!) Why did you choose this particular subgenre?

Kristin: You know, I’ll read just about anything, but romance is at the top of that list. A few years back, I was out camping with my family and—gasp—I finished the only book I had with me. So off to the local country Wal-Mart I went, hoping they had something good. That’s when I picked up my first Linda Howard book. Now please understand, Linda Howard does not write erotic romance—but the sex scenes in that book… Wow. I knew right then that I’d found something that had been missing in all those other ‘sweet’ romances I’d read before. Within a couple of weeks I’d read everything Ms. Howard had ever written, and the search was on for authors just like her. When I decided to try my hand at writing, the choice really was an easy one. Erotic romance combines a well thought out plot with steamy moments between the hero and heroine. It’s a perfect mixture for me, and judging from its popularity, I’m not the only one who feels this way!

Nicole: Absolutely! Luckily, lots of readers love a hot romance. What element of story creation is your favorite?

Kristin: I love creating my characters, and I especially love to create the hero. We all have our idea of the perfect man, and I have the best job because I can create and re-create him over and over. The male point of view is my favorite to write—alpha males in particular. There’s just something about a rugged, handsome, well-built man that gets me every time.

But the love I have for character creation is not just about me being all gooey over a hot guy. To have my characters (both hero and heroine) grow and learn to deal with whatever problems I decide to throw at them is both exciting and cathartic for me. Everyone has dark, chewy chunks inside them (thanks Jen, for the use of that term—a favorite of mine!), but to bring those to the forefront and show them being dealt with, to show the story arc from trouble to resolution, now that’s a huge thrill for me.

Nicole: Ahh yes! I'm with you there. When did you know you wanted to be an author?

Kristin: Most people who write say they’ve done so since they were little kids. Not so for me. I came about writing later, but the idea was planted when my kids were young. I’ve always been a voracious reader, and would lose myself from the everyday realities of being a stay-at-home mom in all the books I’d read. Contemporaries, mysteries, romances, sci-fi—the genre didn’t matter. My husband would always know when I was into a great book because we’d end up having soup and sandwiches for dinner. Then one day he said to me, “Why don’t you write a book, since you love reading so much?” I laughed! No way, I couldn’t do that… could I? Well, several years later circumstances changed and my kids didn’t need me 24/7. I figured, what the hell, why not? So I dabbled a little, and learned a ton. I’ve been writing for a couple years now, and I love every minute of it.

Nicole: That's so inspiring! What is your writing process or method?

Kristin: I’m not sure if this is an actual method, but I write in layers. Now, I’m not talking about writing the story and going back over it after I finish to edit. I’m talking about writing something completely bare bones, then going over it 3 or 4 (or 5 or 6, LOL) times within one day, adding, deleting, changing. I know it seems like a lot of repetition, but it works for me. I’m one of those that can’t move on until the chapter I’m working on is the way I want it. And I usually have about two different books I’m working on at any one time, so it can be pretty chaotic—but I like it that way!

Nicole: I'm a layerer too, in some ways. :) Do you have any advice for unpublished authors?

Kristin: Just keep writing. Learning how to write is a craft, and the business itself is tough. If you want to succeed, you need to take advice well and apply everything you learn. Attend seminars, take workshops, just keep at it. Know that rejection is part of the process, and don’t take it personally. Listen to that little voice inside you, write from your heart and most importantly, submit without fear. Just push that send button or drop that MS in the mailbox, and walk toward your next project. By doing that, you’ve actually done what thousands of people only say they want to do. That alone is a huge step, and one you should be proud of!


Nicole: Fantastic advice! Thanks for telling us about you and your books, Kristin!

Ladies and Gentlemen, Kristin is giving away an ebook today, Mystic Charm, to one lucky commenter! So please leave a comment and welcome Kristin to Fierce Romance. And drop by often to read her posts which are sure to be entertaining and insightful.

Please visit her website http://www.kristindaniels.com/

Now for more entertainment, her creative and stylish (and of course SEXY) book videos! :)










Body Language
I recently read an article online from Cosmopolitan about the signals men send when they're interested...or not. When writing, I'm always looking for facial expressions or body language to convey what a character is thinking or feeling. I just might use a few of these:
  • chest and shoulders positioned toward you: he's interested; whatever a man is interested in he aims his upper body toward it
  • holding a long, piercing gaze: don't get too excited; holding intense eye contact for more than 5 seconds is unnatural, so he may just be playing you
  • a half smile: careful! he may just want a no-strings fling (or enjoy if that's what you want too!)
  • lifts his eyebrows: he's soooo into you
  • touches his belt or jeans pocket: run - away from him or toward him, as he's subconsciously drawing your attention to his package
  • stands or sits with his toes pointed toward each other: he's feeling insecure (or he's five years old)
  • grins with only the corners of his mouth upturned: he doesn't want to reveal too much too soon and may be a bit shy
  • tilts his head slightly to the side when your eyes meet: a subconcious "come get me" signal - so what are you waiting for?
  • smiles with his top lip stretched wide and his teeth barely showing: sounds kind of creepy to me, but it's a polite signal that while he may enjoy your company, the romantic spark isn't there
  • a devilish smirk where he raises one side or the other of his closed mouth: do we really have to explain this one? "devilish smirk" says it all; this guy's going to play hard to get and you'd better pull out all the stops

Enjoy the montage below and see if you can interpret any signals. (I swear Johnny Depp is lifting his eyebrows at me!) Darn! My use of the montage expired - you'll just have to take my word for it that Johnny is soooo into me... In the meantime, interpret these - until they expire.

Help Me Plan My Next Book!
Hi Fierce Friends,

My Tess's Troubadours Contest is over! I drew the magic ticket yesterday, on St. Patrick's Day, and awarded the Big Contest Prize to my lucky Troubadour, Stacey Smith! CONGRATULATIONS STACEY! I appreciate all of the help my Troubadours gave me and I know that their efforts helped put HIGHLAND REBEL in the limelight on the Internet! :)

So, HIGHLAND REBEL is in bookstores, the contest is over, and the question is . . . what's next?

Well, what's next is getting my new proposal for the third book in the series done and sent to my editor. It actually should have been on her desk about three months ago, but Life intervened and I'm not finished yet. So what's the process on writing a proposal for the third book in a series?

First, I have to decide which secondary characters from the first two books to carry over into the third. One is a no-brainer -- I know that Allie Graham, sister to Ellie and Maggie Graham, will be my heroine, but who to link her up with? Alex, the handsome, cocky con artist who discovered, with Maggie's help, the tri-spiral in the floor of the Scottish cairn---or some new Scottish hunk from the past?

I've already planned to make Davey and Katie part of the new book -- Davey is a scientist who went back in time to 1734 with Ellie Graham and Ian MacGregor (HIGHLAND REBEL), and met Katie MacGregor. Their relationship was a lot of fun to write about and I know there is more to tell in the next book. So, okay, I've got Allie, Davey and Katie for sure, but I'm still not sure about Alex and some unknown hunk.

And what about Rachel? Rachel is Maggie's best friend and was in HIGHLAND ROGUE. She's a quirky, plus-sized gal with a great sense of humor and about ten million dollars in the bank. Should she go back in time with Allie in this book, or should I save her for yet another book where she's the main girl? So many choices, so little time!

So what do you -- my fearless readers think? I'd love it if you would comment here and let me know -- what would you like to see in my next HIGHLAND book?

Oh -- and HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY yesterday! Here's a few fun Irish LOLcats to make you laugh!

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Keep Writing! And don't forget . . . Love is Timeless!
Hugs, Tess

Enter Our Contest to Win a Gift Basket

Here at Fierce Romance we're gearing up to welcome four new members! Woohoo! To celebrate this and to show our gratitude to our readers, we're holding a contest. The prize will be a gift basket containing books, chocolate and other great goodies. To enter, all you have to do is become a follower of Fierce Romance. You will see the button to click on the sidebar. This contest will run through the end of April. On May 1 I'll draw a winner from our list of followers. :)

The new Fierce Romance bloggers will be introduced over the next couple of weeks. Please check back to read their interviews and get to know them!


Thank you for reading our blog!

Nicole

Accepting our Award

When we authors formed the Fierce Romance blogging community—a reader-author community spearheaded by our very own Nicole North—we decided first and foremost to make our cyber spot as fun, interesting and informative as possible.

Recently we were all pleasantly surprised and honored when Petit Fours and Hot Tamales presented Fierce Romance with a Premio Dardas award. After accepting this award we held a cyber meeting and decided to recognize other blogs we at Fierce Romance believe hold much reader appeal.



This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his/her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary and personal values every day.

The rules to follow are:

1) Accept the award, then post it on your blog together with the name of the person that has granted the award and his or her blog link.

2) Pass the award to another 15 blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment. Remember to contact each of them to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

The winners of our Premio Dardas ceremony are:

Three Wicked Writers

Jennifer’s Random Musings

Super Poster of the Year

Bookaholic’s Bookclub

Musetracks

History Undressed

Writer’s Gone Wild

Wickedly Romantic

Casablanca Authors

Shapeshifter Romance

Red Sage Revealed

Much Cheaper Than Therapy

Love is an Exploding Cigar

Vamps and Scamps

Naughty and Spice

Wishing you all many happy reading moments,


Shawna Moore
TORMENTED -- Ellora's Cave (MUST-READ from Dark Angel Reviews)
ROUGHRIDER -- Ellora's Cave Exotika
HELLE IN HEELS -- Ellora's Cave Exotika
TO HELLE AND BACK AGAIN -- Coming soon to EC Exotika

Saints and Sinners for St. Patrick's Day
With St. Patrick’s Day two days in the offing, here are some interesting tidbits:


WB Yeats, Irish poet, won a Nobel Prize in 1923
Jonathan Swift wrote one of the most-beloved children’s novels, Gulliver’s Travels
Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, was born in Dublin
Scarlett O’Hara is the Irish heroine of one of the most celebrated novels and movies, Gone With the Wind
On St. Patrick's Day, Chicago dyes its river green. Savannah dyes its downtown fountains green
Boston has celebrated St. Patrick’s Day since 1737
You may get pinched if you’re not wearing green


Many Irish immigrants settled in New York City, particularly in the Five Points district. As I’m fond of studying the Jazz Age and the social climate in New York City at that time, I wrote the erotic romance novel, SAINTS AND SINNERS. SAINTS AND SINNERS became my first published novel and will always have a special place in my heart.


SAINTS AND SINNERS

A flapper falls for a gangster's nephew and lets down her garters and inhibitions. Shopgirl Moira Monaghan longs to leave Manhattan's Lower East Side behind. Clothier Reilly Dunne desires an honest woman for his wife. Temptation abounds, and they explore their passion amidst a backdrop of Prohibition parties and police raids. The saint in Moira brings out the sinner in Reilly, but love soon delivers their destiny.

Click here for more information


In celebration of the upcoming holiday, I’m posting an excerpt from this published novel.



Greenwich Village, 1923

“Just realize, you’re about to make a deal with the Devil and there will be no turning back. I pray for mercy on you and your soul, Moira Monaghan.”

Concentrating on Helen Flynn’s words as opposed to where she walked, Moira collided with something much sturdier than the wooden counter at Bainbridge’s Department Store. The boxes in her hands shifted and threatened to spill. Oh, to be sure, the man’s blazing blue eyes could hold her captive for the rest of the afternoon. Or the rest of her life. No. Now wasn’t the time to waste on matters of the heart. If she didn’t stop dawdling and concentrate, she’d never get the window display completed.

“Here, let me help you with those.” A tall, flame-haired man flashed her a smile. His hands, rough from work, played against hers as he steadied her. His Irish whiskey voice caressed her.

She shivered at the contact with his body. Her loins flooded with warmth.

Despite her tightening grip, various and sundry empty boxes scattered over the floor.

Moira swallowed several improper words. If one of those prettily wrapped packages were damaged, the owner, Horace VanMuir, would deduct it from her wages.

“Thank you,” she said, still mesmerized by the man who’d set her heart hammering. If she managed to get the window display finished before lunch, it would be no small miracle.

Gallant to a fault, he picked up the packages and carried them to the front window. “Over here, right?” He balanced the boxes one atop the other.

Dry-mouthed and unable to do more than nod, Moira followed him. Only two steps into her journey, her worn garter gave way. Of all times. She should spend her money on a new garter belt instead of rouge and face powder. Soon her stocking would slip down her to her ankles, revealing more than was proper.

She sought refuge beside a display counter. From here, no one would see her dilemma. Moira inched her hand underneath her hemline. Her fingers trembled as she quickly rolled the stocking around itself and the overstretched garter for support. The fact her hemline rested a few inches above her ankle would buy her time. She looked up and met his hot gaze. Too late for high hopes.

“Reilly Dunne. Pleased to meet you. Moira, is it? Let me get that for you?”

His husky tone set her on edge. What did he want to get? The boxes? Surely, not her garter that had come unfastened? Had he noticed it? Her fingers froze over a spot above her knee. There. That should conceal the stubborn thing until I can escape and adjust it in private. She looked into his face. His eyes the color of a cloudless summer sky shone with mischief.

How did he know her name? “Yes, Moira Monaghan. I can fix it myself.”

As he bent and swept his arm toward the floor, she noticed her earring and heaved a sigh of relief. Time to fix the clasp on that one. Reilly wasn’t interested in her garter belt but wanted to retrieve that silly bauble. Or did he? He winked and passed her the piece of jewelry.

“Some women prefer to do things for themselves,” His smile widened. “Doesn’t hurt to have a man around in case you change your mind.”

The honeyed tone of his brogue washed over her, and her thoughts became even more muddled. His nostrils flared with each breath he took. Like a wild beast, he was.

What type of heart beat beneath his striped linen shirt and gray woolen vest? Lusty? A sort who devoured women like a pot of Sunday stew? Or did he savor them slowly like a glass of fine wine?


Click here to read reviews and another excerpt


Wear your green and smile. Here’s hoping you find a shamrock or two. Sláinte!


Wishing you all many happy reading moments,

Shawna Moore
TORMENTED -- Ellora's Cave (MUST-READ from Dark Angel Reviews)
ROUGHRIDER -- Ellora's Cave Exotika
HELLE IN HEELS -- Ellora's Cave Exotika
TO HELLE AND BACK AGAIN -- Coming soon to EC Exotika

Shawna's Myspace
Helle's Myspace
What's in a Name?
Would you name your child Viggo?

One of the most exciting aspects of having a baby is picking a name. There are entire websites dedicated to naming baby. Picking names is also one of the fun parts of writing romance novels. Sometimes when I pick a name for a character, I have to change it a few chapters into the book because that character just doesn't fit his/her name as I anticipated. Unfortunately, you don't have that luxury as a parent (although I actually know someone who legally changed her daughter's name when the daughter was about one because the name just didn't fit her!). Happily, both of my boys' names fit them, or maybe they just grew into their names. I have no idea if I'm a "typical" Carol or even what a typical Carol is. I do know that I have a name that fits my age. There were a couple of other Carols when I was growing up. Now I don't know one Carol under a certain age - certainly no children named Carol (although Caroline or Carolyn is more popular now). Names go in and out of fashion just like clothes. Mabel is for women over 65 as is Maude, Doris, Eleanor. I grew up with girls named Lisa, Sandy, Kathy, Rachel. I think there are a lot of 30-somethings named Jennifer, Amber, Jessica, Stacey. My sons' friends have names like Calista, Sydney, Maddy (short for Madeline), Eden. And boys' names follow similar trends. Last year there were three Zachs or Zacharies on my son's soccer team.

What causes trends in names? I think unusual celebrity names become popular. I swear I never heard of a real person named Liam (before actor Liam Neeson), Jackson (before singer Jackson Brown), Aidan (before actor Aidan Quinn), Peyton (before that psycho character Rebecca DeMornay played), Madison (before that movie Splash). Soaps also influence naming trends. I remember Kayla became a very popular name after a very popular soap character. What's next? Viggo? (My excuse for including Viggo's picture!)


A lot of romance heroes have extremely masculine or unusual names (the names of Scottish heroes are a whole other topic!). If they're not particularly unusual, we tend to go for the short brusque, alpha male name - Jack, Nick, Matt, Luke. I confess, my editor had to rein me in on one of my names. My Feb. Intrigue, Circumstantial Memories, features three brothers, all of whom get their very own book. The dad's name is Ralph, so the brothers are Ryder, Rafe, and... Rod. I really wanted Ryder, Rafe, and Ridge, but my editor nixed Ridge, with the comment that it was just too weird. She obviously doesn't watch soaps because Ridge is either a character's name on a soap (not one I actually watch) or the actor's name. But I loved Ridge, so I used the name for a hero in one of my upcoming Red Sage erotic romances. Have to laugh though - I read a reader's comment recently on an Amazon discussion about romance novels, and she was complaining about the heroes' names. She wrote that if she read one more romance novel with a hero named Rafe, she was going to scream! LOL Not only do I have a Rafe coming up in one of my Intrigues, I named the hero of Aphrodite's Fire Rafe. I can't believe I did that! I mean, who uses the same name twice??



Some of my favorite hero names come from Victoria Holt's books, especially the books she set in Cornwall - Conan, Petroc, Jago and then Redvers, Napier - I just loved all those names and they added to the romanticism of the books. I doubt if my editor will let me get away with Petroc...



So what are some of your favorite hero (and heroine) names? Which ones make you want to scream? Does your name suit you?
Interweaving Emotion & Sex for an Unforgettable Love Scene

I have a workshop coming up, starting April 1, called Writing Hot, Delicious Love Scenes. One of the things new writers often have questions about and which I cover in the class is how do you blend hot sex and intense emotions to create an unforgettable love scene?

Whether you’re writing a highly emotional love scene between two people who are in love, or one-night stand sex between two people who have just met, emotion needs to be a part of it. Even in erotic romance, some kind of emotion is vital. If you don’t include emotion and characterization then your scenes may be porn-like or mechanical and robotic.

Some scenes will have loads of emotion and some scenes will have a little emotion. But even with the one-night stand variety of sex, you still need some feelings and thoughts blended with the sex.

Why is this so important? You need to establish an emotional connection between your reader and your point of view (POV) character. Without this connection, the reader won’t care. And you must make the reader care or they toss your book aside.

You can add touches of emotion anywhere within a scene, whether it's extremely erotic or not. When I say emotion, I don't mean mushy-gushy type emotion. Basically, it's just little things that keep the reader in touch mentally with the POV character. If you only have physical, external reactions from your POV character, you're missing an opportunity to strengthen the reader connection and you're not staying in deep POV. So with any reaction you have for your character, examine it. Ask yourself, is this reaction from deep inside the character. Or is it something an external observer would notice?

For example, if your heroine has insecurities about her body when she's naked in front of the hero, show that from deep within her psyche. It's another opportunity to make the reader empathize with your heroine, care about her, and make her even more likable. The hero could pick up on her insecurity and say or do something to make her feel better. This would be a touch of emotion that makes him more likable. It shouldn't be cliché at all. And an alpha hero can stay alpha and still do nice things. You will hopefully make a character empathetic when first introducing them, but you also need to keep that empathy going throughout the story, building on it, making it stronger so the reader completely identifies with the heroine, and falls head over heels with the hero. This links back to who the character is inside... their thoughts and emotions.
If you're interested in learning more about my workshop, click: Writing Hot, Delicious Love Scenes. You can read past student testimonials at my website also. :)
Nicole
Is Facial Hair Sexy?
My short story, Aphrodite's Fire, is now available from eRed Sage. I love the cover and its tropical look since the story is set on a lush, private island. I also think the guy on the cover is hot! I've already discussed his tattoos on this blog, so now it's time to analyze his facial hair!

I have to admit, I don't usually write heroes with facial hair, but that doesn't mean I don't find facial hair sexy. I think if a man has a moustache, it's better if he also has a beard, but that's just for fiction. My husband has a moustache-only right now after shaving off a goatee kind of thingy, similar to the hero's on my cover. (He shaved it off because it was too gray and he was getting tired of coloring it.) But I'm reading a book now where the hero has a moustache and he keeps stroking it in an unfortunate way that reminds me Snidely Whiplash. It's kind of creeping me out.

Then there's Brad Pitt. I don't at all like him with a moustache. I don't know if he grew the frumpy-looking 'stache he has now for a role or what, but it makes him look like a dumpy middle-aged man. (Ugh, I hope David Beckham doesn't grow one of those. It's bad enough he's thinking of leaving us for Milan!)

We also have the "soul patch," that little tuft of hair right below the lower lip and above the chin. My husband had one of those too, and I thought it looked sexy. Bruce Springsteen was criticized recently for performing at the Super Bowl with a soul patch. Now I have a lot of complaints about Bruce, but his soul patch isn't one of them.

OK, probably those ZZ Top beards are not all that sexy. I'd be wondering what's hiding in there! On the opposite end of the ZZ Top beards are the stubble or scruff. I think Don Johnson in Miami Vice popularized this look - gives the impression that a man just rolled out of bed. Now THAT'S sexy! I always have at least one scene in my books where the hero shows up with a stubble.

I'm also wondering if facial hair is in correlation to chest hair (that is if the man doesn't wax his chest as so many of our romance cover models do!). My husband can grow a full beard if he wants and has a decent amount of chest hair. I dated a guy once who had a moustache but couldn't grow a beard. He also had no chest hair. Hmm, inquiring minds want to know - maybe I should get a research grant for the subject.

How about it? Do you like your men hairy or not?
Congrats to Sandy!
Sandy won a free download of Aphrodite's Fire! Congrats, Sandy! Please send me your email address so I can send you the pdf. (Then you can gaze at the cover all you want...)


Mia Varano sets us ablaze with Aphrodite's Fire

Hi, everyone, today I'm interviewing our very own Fierce author, Mia Varano about her latest hot release from Red Sage.

Nicole: Welcome Mia! Please tell us about Aphrodite's Fire.

Mia: When Rafe Kincaid, the man who broke her heart, asks bounty hunter, Cassie Cartwright, to help him reel in a date rapist who jumped bail, she reluctantly agrees. But she begins to regret her decision when their assignment lands them in the middle of a decadent house party. The danger increases when a powerful drug strips Cassie of her inhibitions. Is her love for Rafe strong enough to break the drug’s insidious control over her desires, or will she succumb to its dangerous call to passion?

Nicole: Hot cover! The goatee and tattoo look really sexy on this guy! Not to mention the muscles and the way he holds a gun. ;-)What inspired you to write this story?

Mia: This story began with a title, and it originally wasn't Aphrodite's Fire. The title that came to me was "Packin' Heat." From there I began with a couple of bounty hunters, and then I had to add some conflict, mix in a little hot sex, and then the title changed to Aphrodite's Fire. I've started writing a sequel--Aphrodite's Revenge. I love writing romantic suspense. The romance is always heightened by the danger.

Nicole: Absolutely! I love danger in a story. What is your favorite thing about this story?

Mia: My favorite aspect of the story is the decadent house party. That situation is just ripe for opportunity when you're writing an erotic romance. It's funny, I picked up a book with a story featuring a decadent house party several months after I wrote Aphrodite's Fire. The possibilities are endless.

Nicole: That's true. Sounds like a sizzling hot story! What was the most important thing you learned (the thing that made all the difference) just before you made your first sale?

Mia: Perseverance. If you want to sell, you have to keep writing. Don't worry about those books under the bed. We all have them, and they're important to our development as writers.

Nicole: Excellent advice! Everyone, this is a short interview because I want you to have time to go read this fantastic EXCERPT guaranteed to make you want to read this story.

In addition, Mia is going to give away one copy of her ebook, Aphrodite's Fire, to a lucky commenter! Mia, would you like to ask readers a question?

Mia: In Aphrodite's Fire, Cassie can't squelch her attraction to Rafe, even though she believes he double-crossed her. Have you ever had a "bad boy" in your life you just couldn't refuse?

Nicole: Ooo a bad boy question. Nice! Thanks for letting me interview you, Mia!
What Comes First -- the Physical or the Emotional?


Few moments in a woman’s life top falling in love—whether for the first, second or whatever time. When you look into his eyes. Feel his breath on your cheek as he leans closer to tell you a secret. You place your hand on top of his, and the shared warmth spreads from your fingers to your toes. The way your laughter and his rings in your ears. Your heartbeats travel toward your tongue, and the proper words play hide-and-seek in your mind. His foot bumps yours underneath the table, and you hope the delicious tingling in your body never ends.

Most, if not all, of us have experienced these feelings. When I recently pondered this special moment while plotting another novel, a debate raged within my brain. Woman are romantics. We lose our hearts far more easily than men do. We give our all, promising to love, honor and obey, until death causes a parting of ways. When we meet a new guy and experience the familiar pangs, we sometimes act on our attraction and other times we play it rather coy.

While all this mulling was taking place, I looked back on my past romances. Tried my best at figuring out which ones started as a result of an emotional attraction and which ones were purely physically-driven. Then I realized that, even if I were to ask my old love interests what they thought was the reason they gravitated toward me and a deeper relationship, they truly may not know or respond with the correct answer. And I wouldn’t have a definitive way of knowing the correct answer, either.

How do we really know what initially spurs us to approach another in whom we’re physically or emotionally interested? Is it because we think they are drop-dead sexy and our hormones start raging, or is it because, along with their sex appeal, they’ve always demonstrated a caring attitude toward us and others? Are pheromones coming into play, or is their stroking of our cheek primarily because they want our sorrow to subside, and they touch us only to remove the tears?

Ponder away, readers, and let me know your thoughts.


Wishing you all many happy reading moments,

Shawna Moore
TORMENTED -- Ellora's Cave (MUST-READ from Dark Angel Reviews)
ROUGHRIDER -- Ellora's Cave Exotika
HELLE IN HEELS -- Ellora's Cave Exotika
TO HELLE AND BACK AGAIN -- Coming in 2009 to EC

Shawna's Myspace
Helle's Myspace
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