Inspiration works differently in all of us
by Kristin Daniels

Isn't it funny how the same thing can inspire people differently?

So, I was in my car the other day, just driving along, minding my own business, when a song comes on the radio. It's a newer song, and I'd heard it before. But until that day, I guess I'd never really listened to the words (or maybe it was because I was alone in the car and could actually hear them this time!). I immediately saw this song in my head. I know you all know what I mean... It was as if the song became a movie in my mind. And right then, I was inspired.

I saw a woman sitting alone, and at that moment, very lonely. She wanted to call her man, an ex I'm assuming. She's tired of missing him, tired of being by herself. It's late, and she wants company. She wants his company. Throughout the song, you feel the history between these two. She wants to call him, he wants to call her, but they both feel that if they do, it would be like losing a battle, losing control. But that doesn't matter to either of them, because you see, they need each other.

A story began to form in my head. Their background, what led them to the point where they're both wanting so desperately to call the other. What led them to needing each other for comfort (or some really hot... never mind. That's the erotic writer in me, LOL). What-if's started firing in my head. And words starting flowing on the page. I love it when that happens.

Later that day, I went online and looked up the band. I wanted to see the video for the song, just to see if what was in my head was anything close. And for the most part, it was (which just inspired me even more). Until the end. The end was completely different than what I had in my head. The song obviously inspired the director differently than it did me. Cool, I thought.

A day or two after that, I was chatting with our very own Esme (Hi, Esme!). I told her about the song, which I promptly bought from iTunes after that first day, and how I couldn't stop listening to it. She knew the one I meant. I told her I started writing a book inspired by it. She said she'd been inspired as well and had her own plot line swirling in her mind, and wasn't it amazing how different our ideas were. Again, I thought that was very cool. It just goes to show that there are no original story ideas any more, but the way an author shows the movie running inside their own head, well that can be very, very different.

See for yourself. Watch the video. Listen to the words. What do you think is going on between these two? I'd love to hear your ideas.

Book Signings - Love 'em or Hate 'em?
I had a book signing a few weeks ago at Borders for my January Intrigue, The Sheriff of Silverhill. It seemed like I had to scale several mountains to get this signing organized even though I had done two signings at this Borders before for two of my other Intrigues. It's my local Borders in the same city where I live, a suburb of Los Angeles. I had scheduled the book signing a good two months in advance and wanted to combine it with a fundraiser for my son's 8th grade trip to D.C. Figured this would be a good way to get people to come in, especially the parents of those 50 or so kids going to D.C. in the spring.

I thought I had everything arranged, but when I called the store about three weeks before my signing to check on the fundraiser, I discovered the manager I had worked with was no longer with the store and her replacement knew nothing about the signing or the fundraiser! After going back and forth with three managers and Harlequin, we managed to get the books ordered and I pushed back my signing one week. The new manager couldn't get an answer about the fundraiser, and I was holding off sending out my mass email to friends and acquaintances until I knew for sure about the fundraiser. Finally, by the time the Friday before the book signing on Sunday rolled around and I still hadn't gotten a positive response about the fund raiser, I figured I'd better send out that email. I got a few responses from friends assuring me they would be there. Ha!


On the day of the signing, the store had set up chairs opposite my signing table as if I were going to give a talk or something. Uh, I don't think so. I think I saw a movie once where an author was giving a talk at a book store to one person - that would've been me! My husband's friend was there early and he stayed for the entire two hours. He and my husband use my book signings to catch up. This is great for me because at least I'm not all alone and we all sit there and chat so it gives the illusion that there's something exciting happening at my table.


I had one stranger buy my book - kind of a weird dude who kept saying "someone told me to buy your book." Really? Someone from the Lost island or something? Another woman chatted me up about writing. She was a writer, but not a romance writer. Anyway, in the end, she told me she couldn't afford to buy the book! So that left my friends and acquaintances. I guess the novelty of having an author in the community has worn off for most people. At my first signing I sold about 50 books; at the second I sold about 25, and this time I sold about 10. At this rate, I'll sell 5 at my next one! A couple of my friends who assured me they would be there were no shows. Later they told me, "the time just got away from me."


OK, I'm not bitter. Really! Of course, I did grumble to my husband that if any of these people ever ask me to buy something from them I'm gong to "let the time get away from me." Sigh - really you shouldn't have to depend on friends/acquaintances to make your book signings a success, but I'm thinking (hoping) it has something to do with my location. In L.A. we routinely get big name authors and big name celebrities posing as authors showing up at stores, signing books and hawking their wares. What's one little HQ Intrigue writer in the middle of big, bad L.A.?


My next Harlequin Intrigue, The McClintock Proposal, comes out in September. I'm just not sure I'm up for another book signing. On the plus side, the store orders a lot more copies than it normally would and I sign and sticker the leftover stock and leave it in the store. Also, it's a way to notify those friends/acquaintances who do want to buy the book that there's another one in the stores. And best of all? It gives my husband and his friend a chance to catch up...


So how about you? Do you enjoy having book signings? Do you get a good response? Do you go to book signings that don't involve your friends or chapter mates?
Unromantic Gifts of Love

This topic is an offshoot of my editor’s blog, which got me thinking. The question is: what is a gift of romantic love that you received which others would not think is romantic?
My husband is really good about giving me flowers and jewelry. He goes above and beyond, which maybe I take for granted. Though those gifts are memorable, here’s a non-romantic gift that really touched me.

A few years back, when I decided to try writing seriously, I entered a Harlequin contest called Round Writing Robin. (I don’t think they do it any more.) One of Harlequin’s authors would write the first 1,000 words, and contestants could submit an entry of 1,000 words for the next scene. So I wrote up an entry and sent it in about 1 minute before midnight (the deadline), because I had to agonize over it. That was Wed. night. Imagine my surprise and delight when, first thing Friday morning, I had an email telling me I’d won that week’s competition. This little win was my first affirmation that a professional liked my work.
What my husband did was to frame not only my entry, but also the comments from all the other contestants/followers who had, for 2 weeks, played an enthusiastic guessing game about who had won (I wasn’t allowed to tell) and saying nice things about my entry.

Today, I wouldn’t have those nice comments if he hadn’t made that effort. Now there may be women who’d rather have the Hope diamond, I don’t know. But for me, that was truly a gift from the heart.

Does anyone else have a gift that truly touched them, but might not seem romantic to the world?

 
5 Hearts for Kilted Lover

I have a new review for Kilted Lover from The Romance Studio!

Overall rating:



Sensuality rating:

Very sensual


Leslie Livingston plans to enjoy Charleston's Scottish Games when her Celtic amulet draws the attention of two thugs. Now she's being tossed over the shoulder of the kilted, virile man she'd been admiring earlier. Scott MacPherson can't stand back and let thieves attack the hot little red-head. Evading bullets he gets her to the safety and now that the danger has dialed down, the heat between them turns up. But will one night of erotic exploration be enough for them?


I loved this story! I can't say how much I enjoyed everything about this fantastic novella. In fact I've decided to do a little research and head out to some Highland Games this summer to find my own kilted hottie. Swift action made time fly by as I read -- suddenly I was sad to say good-bye to one of the sexiest heroes I've ever met. Scott is the perfect man, he rescues a damsel in distress from two armed bad-guys after effortlessly completing the cabertoss, all while wearing a kilt! Leslie is a refreshing mixture of goddess and good girl. This author is at the top of my must-read list, I hope she provides me with an endless supply of sexy Scottish studs.
Contemporary erotic romance

Available from Red Sage

ISBN: 978-1-60310-395-4

November 2009
Reviewer: Theresa Joseph
Kilted Lover is also now available on Kindle!

*******
In March I'll be teaching Turn Up the Heat! Heightening Sexual Tension and Sensuality in Your Manuscript

Date: March 1 - 31, 2010

Description: Editors want to buy spicy-hot romance stories now more than ever before. How do you do it? In this class we will discuss all aspects of sexual tension and sensuality and how they relate to the developing romance in your story. You'll learn tips for successfully building sexual tension over the course of the hero and heroine's relationship from first glance, through climax, to happily ever after. Several examples will be used to illustrate different nuances of hot romantic chemistry and how to employ them in your own story. Learn how to avoid clichés and use sexiness in fresh new ways. Strengthening sexual tension will take your story from ho-hum to so hot and delicious your reader can't put it down. We'll do exercises for hands-on learning. (Please be aware this course contains explicit and frank discussions of sexuality.)

**Topics covered**
Using the five senses more effectively
Sexy talk
Word choice
Meeting
First kiss
Foreplay
First love scene
How to rebuild sexual tension after sex
Why point of view is important
Hot characters
Combining physical attraction and emotion
Body language
Differences between romance and erotic romance
Revising to make a sensual romance manuscript spicy or erotic

Fun Extras
Visual inspiration
Multimedia examples and exercises

Cost: $25

To register please visit: http://www.nicolenorth.com/ and click on "workshops" on the menu.

Thanks!
I'm Overwhelmed!
Really. Somehow I've agreed to do too much in the next few weeks and I don't know how I'm going to get everything done. Right now, thinking about it all, my stomach is turning and my mind is whirling.

I'm a big believer in paying forward. I've been helped so much by other writers as I worked toward a writing career, that I'm happy to help when I can. So I will be mentoring a writer for the next three months. I'm really looking forward to it and hoping that I can help her with what she needs to get a request for a full from her dream publisher.

I've also entered many writing contests over the years. At the beginning, I learned a lot from the comments the judges wrote on the pages. As time went on, I began to final and win. I even can attribute one sale directly to a contest final. So I try to judge at least a couple contests every year. I still have three Rita (the contest held by Romance Writers of America for the best published book) books to read and score. And I just got six entries for the Stroke of Midnight contest held by the Passionate Ink chapter.

I'm readying a proposal to enter in the Lories Best Proposal contest, held by the From the Heart Chapter. It's my first single title attempt, so I am looking forward to getting comments back. The deadline is March 5th and I still need to write the synopsis.

And I'm taking an on-line workshop on Mythic Elements, which is really interesting, that runs for four weeks. So far, I've read the lessons, but haven't been able to do any of the homework. Oh well, maybe this week...

My heart is pounding as I list all my committments for the next few weeks. I don't regret any of them but I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. Of course, I still have the day job, the house, the family, the current wip.

I realize this sounds like whining and I really don't intend this post as a rant. After all, all of these committments were my own choice. I just want to know if anyone else overbooks their life like this or is it just me???

Natasha
www.natashamoore.com
Heroes Who Melt More than Snow and Ice
Stories are much more than tales waiting to be told. Plots eager to unfold. Scenery details prepared to engage a reader and transport them to another time and place. Conversations that give clues as to motivations and impending conflicts.

My favorite part of the fiction-writing process is creating the characters that “live” on those manuscript pages. Most of all, I enjoy the research involved in creating heroes. Each trip to the mall, grocery store or local home-project place brings an opportunity to observe the guys in the aisles—some of whom eventually serve as prototypes for storybook heroes.

If I were to ask romance readers what “makes” a hero, I could guess some of their responses. Some would say a hero is a man who fights for his family and his beliefs. Others would suggest he’s a lifesaver in more ways than one. A good number would contend he is someone who defeats the enemy.

Whatever the cause or circumstance, I know a hero is a man who doesn’t mind sacrifice—in some form or another—when it comes to those he loves. Selflessness in the name of love, respect and honor.

Several snowfalls snarled or suspended highway travel recently. Thawing and refreezing in between the storms also made for slower travel on foot. Suffice it to say, my hero melted more than the ice and snow layers—he melted my heart. Whether armed with the shovel or a snow blower, he cleared my driveway without delay and before completely clearing his own. During a recent spree of vandalism in my development, his help was timely and treasured. His loving actions spoke far louder than any words and showed me how much he cared.

And his kisses certainly warmed me from head to toe better than any mug of coffee, tea or hot chocolate ever could.

Share your thoughts about heroes, readers, and how they’ve made a wonderful difference in your world at one time or all the time.


Wishing you all many happy reading moments,

Shawna Moore
TO HELLE AND BACK AGAIN -- Ellora's Cave
TORMENTED (Recommended Read) -- Ellora's Cave
ROUGHRIDER -- Ellora's Cave
HELLE IN HEELS -- Ellora's Cave

Shawna's Myspace
Helle's Myspace
Reminiscing
I have no idea why I want to talk about this. Maybe it’s because I’m close to finishing a manuscript. Maybe it’s the news I received that I can’t share yet. Maybe it’s helping my mentee (Hi, D!) this week with her manuscript. I can’t pinpoint why but I’ve been looking back on my writing journey and how far I’ve come in five years.

When I decided to write, (yep, that’s what I did, just one day said hey, I love to read why not write). My naive self thought it was that simple. Don’t laugh. I told you it was naive.

I sat down and wrote my first chapter, POSTIVE I would get raving reviews. Oh, Esme you have so much talent. The editors will be lining up at your door.

Then I received my first crit. Hello, rude awakening. I knew NOTHING. What is this POV thing? What was the difference between that and deep POV? It seemed really unfair that there were two versions of the same dang thing.

Show verses Tell? Huh? What was wrong with the overuse of dialogue tags? A reader has to know who’s talking!

I’ll never forget that first crit. I knew I had a lot of work to do. The question was did I want to pursue this? I don’t really know why I decided to bite the bullet and move ahead. I wasn’t one who’d written all my life, I didn’t have a passion for it, I didn’t feel like I had to write. Maybe it was the challenge. I was a stay at home mom to infant twins. My day was filled with crying, feeding, burping and changing. A huge change from a woman who’d worked in an office and had always been busy. Writing became what I did to keep me busy. Brain exercise.

I started off buying a writing book. Yeah, mistake. I’m sooooo not one of these people who can read a book about writing and actually have the information sink into my head. It was a complete snoozefest for me. So I pushed the book aside and have never picked up another one. I learned to write by writing. Probably the long way to take, but I’ve always learned by doing. I took every crit to heart, worked hard to correct my mistakes, grew that thick skin.

Now I’m sitting here five years later, looking back at where I started and I smile. It’s been a long journey, one that is far from over, but I’ve come a long way from the woman who thought, hey I’ll write a book and they will come. I know it’s not that simple. I know you have to put every bit of yourself into each book. I’ve experienced the hardships, the rejections, writer’s block. I can’t say that it’s gotten easier, because in truth it hasn’t. I still feel the butterflies as I press send, the sting of rejection, the doubt. It’s still all there, but with one major difference.

I have the passion to write. I have the need. It’s become a part of who I am and I can’t imagine it not being a part of my life.

It’s funny the direction life takes you, but I’ve ended exactly where I’m supposed to be.

So what do you look back on? What makes that small smile come to your lips? Or have you shaking your head at how naïve you were?

Thanks for letting me share that.
Esme
www.esmereldabishop.com
Reunions
We all love reunion stories of reunited high school sweethearts or long-held secrets finally revealed. While there was no romance at the high school reunion I attended last weekend (at least not that I was aware of!), there were lots of good memories and old friends.

My high school closed a few years after I graduated, and I suppose that’s why we’ve had a hard time getting together those “official” high school reunions. We had a ten-year reunion, which I attended, and we had a twenty-year reunion, which I did not attend, but then we kind of stalled. But this year with one of the girls from our “core group” coming out to California from Virginia to visit her father, a few friends decided to put together something small at the family restaurant of one of girls. Well, word got out and the “something small” turned into something a little bigger, and we had about 75 people show up.

On the way to the reunion, I picked up my friend and we made a few stops along the way. We went by the house where I grew up and while she was taking pictures of me in front of the house, the owner drove up. When I told him I had grown up in the house, he invited us in to look around. Wow, talk about memories! If those walls could talk. I was happy to see that the current occupants are a young couple with two young boys. When I left I told him that my parents had raised four kids in that house, and I hoped that he would raise his family there too (the house had changed hands a lot since my mom passed away and we sold it in ’87). Next stop was my elementary school and more pictures, and then onto our high school, which is now a private school. We pointed out other friends’ houses to each other and other important landmarks like the A&W Rootbeer place, which is now a Thai restaurant.

We got to the restaurant where the reunion was being held a little early and helped our hostess put the finishing touches on the décor, which included blue and white frosted cupcakes that spelled out JETS. I don’t live in the area anymore and I hadn’t seen most of those people in over 25 years, but it seemed as if time stood still. We all gravitated to the same general groups that we did in high school. We told old jokes and shared our memories of crazy high school times. A few people brought their old photo albums and yearbooks. Two of our teachers even showed up for the event, and somehow they didn’t look so old anymore!

Our little group closed the place down at about midnight, and then my friend came back to my hotel with me and we talked until 4:00 AM! I’m sure we could’ve talked the whole night through, but I had a plane to catch the next morning and had to drop her off at her dad’s place.

We both marveled at how easily we all slipped into an easy camaraderie. I guess there’s a reason we were all such good friends in high school. I’m so glad I went!

Do you have any great reunion stories? Love ‘em or hate ‘em?

Leaving you with a picture of me and my crazy girrrl friends…(I'm second from the right, giggling like crazy!)


Chocolate - Junk Food, Health Food or Aphrodisiac?
The 12-step chocoholics program: Never be more than 12 steps away from chocolate! (Terry Moore)

We all know that chocolate has saved our sanity. I don’t have to explain that, do I?

But can it do more?

Chocolate originated in Central/South America (as far back as the Mayans, and possibly further), and the finest chocolate still comes from Venezuela. Cacao beans were so important in South American societies that they were used as currency, and chocolate was considered fit only for the gods (and their representatives on earth).

Dutch and Swiss manufacturers experimented with transforming chocolate from its original use as a beverage into the chocolate bars and candies we know today. Of course, in turning chocolate into the desserts we love, they added sugar and fat to improve the taste. These additions make chocolate a calorie dense food. (Not that I need to tell your waistline that.) Hence, its reputation as junk food.

Recent headlines, however, have suggested that chocolate may in fact be a health food (please, God.) Can it help to lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and promote a healthy heart? Cocoa does have the same antioxidants as red wine. There is some evidence that it can lower blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol. What surprised me most is that candy companies (who fund a lot of the research, so beware) are actually working with drug companies to develop a chocolate based drug with cardiovascular benefits. Personally, I'd just as soon have them say, "Eat a chocolate bar and call me in the morning."

Chocolate does contain substances which have the same effect on the brain as marijuana does. The amount is too small to get you high, but maybe it can improve your mood? It also contains phenylethylamine, which is a stimulant released when falling in love (and if that word doesn't take the romance out of things, I don't know what will). Perhaps the best chemical part of chocolate is that it liquifies at a temperature just below your body temperature, which is why it melts so delightfully in your mouth. Does chocolate really need to do more when it tastes so good?

Well, if it were an aphrodisiac, who would complain? The Aztecs thought it was, which is one reason why Montezuma drank 50 cups of chocolate a day. However, three studies done in 2006/07 found that women preferred eating chocolate over having sex. Which would suggest that the appearance of chocolate on the scene will lead to less sex, not more. (Let’s not tell the guys that or we’ll never get a box of chocolates again.)

Though no link between arousal and chocolate has yet been proven, chocolates have long been associated with romance, and a wise man will remember that. Unless he is a cynic like Ogden Nash: “Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker.”

Carly Carson

Writing and Pulling Hair?
I blogged about this over at Three Wicked Writers, but I want MORE opinions. So, figured I'd blog about it here too.



Recently, I happened to discover the hardest part of writing, at least for me. You see, I'm struggling to finish a proposal for my next two full length books. The synopsis part is hard enough, but trying to figure out exactly what I want to say about this series, which I didn't know was going to even BE a series when I wrote the first story, has been like pulling teeth. Nothing puts you in a crappy mood quite like writing a word AN HOUR! Ugh!


Okay, it's not quite that bad. But I did figure out that thinking long and hard before I started writing it has proven more effective than sitting and staring at a blank document. Once I had a few ideas of what I wanted say about this series, the words came easier. Soon, I had something that I actually liked. There's still more to do before I can turn in the proposal, but at least the document isn't collecting dust anymore!


While I was working on this over the last few days it occurred to me that maybe I'm in the minority with writing outlines/synopses. Maybe other writers don't struggle through these things the way I do. So, it got me to thinking, what IS the hardest part of writing for you? What aspect of creating a story do you find the most difficult? And how do you get yourself through it?


For me, I finally had to bite the bullet and ask a few of my fellow authors for help. While I have created synopses before, working up a proposal for two books in a series is foreign territory for me. Much to my delight, several authors came to my rescue and offered up their thoughts, support, and their own outlines/synopses as a guide.


Today, I'm here to say that I love this business. Romance authors are some of the kindest people! It's so great to see that there are so many willing to help out. To take their time, even though they have deadlines of their own to deal with, makes me feel extremely appreciative!


So, I ask you...what part of this business do you hate the most?

Oh, and btw, chocolate and wine, not necessarily together, really does help! LOL
And because I'm in the mood, here's a hunk to drool over! *grin*



Sexy...Politicians?
I don't know how this happens. I really don't. It's just my karma, apparently, to get the oddest blogging days. Like Super Bowl Sunday and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday. And today--Presidents Day. I mean, yesterday was Valentine's Day--great post, Nicole!--and tomorrow is Mardi Gras, which holds some sexy promise. Even the Chinese New Year started yesterday, which is very exciting, but I can't really post about the Chinese New Year on Presidents Day, now can I?

Don't get me wrong. I like Presidents Day and MLK day, and I loved Super Bowl Sunday (let's just say that no matter won, I got the prize...tee hee hee). These are very important days in American culture, but they're just difficult to connect to anything sexy and/or romantic.

Yes, there's romance in politics, and I'm not refering to sex scandals. George and Laura Bush, Barack and Michelle Obama, Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter, John and Abigail Adams, George and Martha Washington--all these couples have carried an aura of romance throughout their tenure as first couples.

However, we also have JFK and Jackie, Bill and Hillary, and other couples whose relationships have been tabloid fodder for years. Needless to say, having a relationship in politics looks anything but easy...or sexy.Throughout the ages, we've had politicians whom many considered attractive or blessed with sex appeal, including our last and current presidents, some governors (Sarah Palin and Arnold Schwarznegger), even some senators (check out the photo of Scott Brown in Cosmo). However, I think if we did a poll, most people would probably say they like to think of a politician, especially a president, as focused on leading the country and working for his/her constituents as opposed to being like the hero/heroine of a romance or erotic novel. Therein lies my problem.

As I bemoaned when I posted about the Super Bowl, there aren't too many heroes in romances who are athletes, and there are even fewer who are politicians, if any. Most of the time, politicians are the bad guys, or, even if they're the good guys, the hero is usually working to serve and protect him/her (like a bodyguard or secret agent). While intellectual power is sexy and physical power is sexy, a man with both intellect and physical power is even sexier.

For some reason, romance and politics just don't mesh. That's not too say that politicians can't or don't have good marriages or love relationships; they just have realistic ones. Real relationships are tough gigs and take a lot of work, even when two people are desperately in love. While that can be subtext in a romance, I think many readers, like me, don't want it to be blatant.

As ever, writing this post got me to thinking. Besides politicians and athletes, who else should I probably not use as a hero in a novel?

1. Cannibals (whether fine and young or not)--Big no-no. While the potential for conflict here is exciting--should I propose or make her into a nice souffle?--I don't think this would be believable.
2. Zombies--While vampires sucking your blood during an encounter can be tre sexy, having a zombie chomping your fingertips off instead of kissing them would just kill the mood.
3. Writers--I just added this to see if anyone was reading, but now that I think about it...
4. Lemur shape-shifters--I do have a lemur shifter who appears in one book, Disappear, but he's not the lead. The lead shifter was a tiger...grrrr! Happy Chinese New Year!

That's all I can think of right now. It seemed for every idea I came up with, my Muse kept challenging me with a "Yeah, I bet you could it." So I'm off to see if I can, indeed, turn a neurosurgeon with a nervous twitch into a romantic lead. Feel free to share any heroes you would never, ever write. Until next time, which will probably be the Anniversary of the First Ball Bearing...

I am Cameo Brown, and I approve of this blog post.
Valentine's Day: The Romance Holiday
"The most difficult thing to explain in life is the simplest truth called love." Ramanathan Srinivasan

"No three words have greater power than 'I Love You.'"


"Love is much like a wild rose; beautiful and calm, but willing to draw blood in its defense." Mark A. Overby



"Long after moments of closeness have passed, a part of you remains with me and warms the places your hands have touched and hastens my heart for your return." Robert Sexton


"Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same."




"The power of a glance... It is in this way that love begins, and in this way only... Nothing is more real than these great shocks which two souls give each other in exchanging this spark." Victor Hugo



"No disguise can long conceal love where it exists, or long feign it where it is lacking." Francois La Rochefoucauld

"It is the passion that is in a kiss that gives to it its sweetness; it is the affection in a kiss that sanctifies it." Christian Nestell Bovee



"What did my hands do before they held you?" Sylvia Plath


"Love is the emblem of eternity: it confounds all notion of time, effaces all memory of a beginning, all fear of an end." Germaine De Stael
Happy Valentine's Day from everyone at Fierce Romance!
New eRed Sage Website!
To celebrate Valentine's Day and the new eRed Sage website and blog, the Red Sage authors are touting our heroes at the new blog. I've chosen Ridge and Brandy from my story, "Triple Threat," in the multi-author menage series, Three Kinds of Wicked.

Drop by the blog for a chance to win "Triple Threat" and find out for yourselves why this couple sizzles!
Click on the image for a quick trip to the eRed Sage blog.
New Review from The Romance Studio

I have an awesome new review for Devil in a Kilt in Secrets Volume 27 Untamed Pleasures from The Romance Studio.

Devil in a Kilt by Nicole North
Shauna MacRae has been fantasizing about a sexy Scottish stud and before she knows what's happening, she's thrust into the past after touching his 400-year-old sword during modern day Highland Games. Shape-shifting, Gavin MacTavish and his clan have been cursed by a vengeful witch and he believes Shauna can free them. Can love conquer the evil that threatens them?

I loved the third story in this collection. The heroine was so easy to identify with and I admired her gumption. The paranormal aspect enhanced the time-travel element of this titillating adventure. The witty banter between the couple is fantastic and I love how well this modern woman and Highland hottie mesh together. I love my heroes a little on the dark side and putting him in a kilt couldn't make me happier. This story had it all -- an enticing Scottish laird, an intelligent, capable leading lady, a wicked witch, steamy sex and true love.
This was an enjoyable erotic anthology. The four diverse stories include tales of fantasy, bondage, time-travel and history, ensuring it will have something for everyone's tastes.

This is my first venture into the Secrets collections and I will be sure to check out all the volumes I've missed. If you're a fan of spicy happily-ever-afters this is a good choice for you.

Anthology Overall rating: 4 1/2
Sensuality rating: Explicit
Reviewer: Theresa Joseph

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Kilted Lover came in 2nd in the Preditors & Editors Readers' Poll 2009, Erotica Novel category. Secrets Vol. 27 came in 4th in the Preditor & Editors Readers' Poll 2009, Anthology category.

Please visit Romance University Friday, Feb. 12, where I'll be talking about how to write love scenes and I'll be giving away a signed copy of my paperback anthology, Secrets Volume 27 Untamed Pleasures!
Thanks!
Nicole
Guest Interview: Arianna Skye

Today, we have as our special guest Arianna Skye talking about her first book which was just released.

At a young age, Arianna Skye discovered her love for the written word. She wrote her very first book about the woes of peer pressure at the tender age of ten. All twenty pages of it. When she was fifteen, she read her first romance novel and was hooked. Soon after, she knew this was what she wanted to write. At the age of eighteen, she wrote her first romance novel, a two hundred page handwritten manuscript, which she threw away. Bad Arianna!

After college and a slight detour into the world of technology, Arianna began her career as a technical support and help desk representative. Yes, she’s a geek. Deal with it. Then in 2006, she discovered writing again and found what she’d been missing. That, and she was getting sick of all those voices in her head nagging her for so long.

Historical romance had always been Arianna's first love, so it was only natural that her first work would be a regency. However, as she discovered new genres, she realized she had an affinity to the paranormal. She set the regency to the side and started plugging away at a fantasy erotic romance. Wings of Desire, her first complete novel, is an award winning manuscript, taking first in the 2008 Passionate Ink Stroke of Midnight contest.

Arianna was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan and still lives in one of its small suburbs. Besides writing and reading, she enjoys a plethora of activities, ranging from swimming, arts and crafts, and messing around on her computer. She’s a geek, remember?

Welcome, Arianna! Please tell us about your new book!


Here’s the blurb:

A fairytale, but not the kind your mother used to read you!

Rhiannon Kinsley's life goes from boring to downright crazy when a freak lightning bolt strikes her laptop. To make matters even more bizarre, strange words and symbols flash across the computer screen and she hears a mysterious voice. Time to call the men in white coats! Then Cerne Silverwing, an intriguingly sexy man, appears. He insists she’s a faerie princess whose fate will determine his own. What a crock! Now she knows who really needs those white coats.

With the Dark Faerie forces threatening his kingdom, Cerne kidnaps Rhiannon and brings her to Fey, a land where magic knows no bounds. He's performing a duty to save his kingdom and nothing more—a duty that will bring him his wings and the strengthened magic that comes with them. If he doesn’t unite with the princess as her consort, those wings will never grow. But this princess grew up in the land of laptops and instant messages, and she’s convinced they're both crazy. Despite their differences, the two are thrust together to defeat the whip-wielding Dark Faerie Queen before she takes over the kingdom. Passion and peril aside, will Rhiannon and Cerne discover their true destiny?

Sounds awesome! Please tell us about your favorite character in the book.

My favorite character? I have lots of them, each for different reasons. Rhiannon for her snarky and sarcastic attitude. Cerne for his stubbornness. Korrigan for her ability to remain strong despite the torture her sister puts her through. My favorite character to write was Lilith. She was EVIL. It was fun to push the envelope with her cruelty and even greater fun to see her get her comeuppance.

Sounds like a wild and interesting cast. What element of story creation is your favorite?

I love the world-building. In a fantasy type settings you can really let your creativity soar (no pun intended.)

That's true. What element of this story was the hardest for you?

To be honest, this was one of those stories that seemed to write itself. I was a fairly new writer when I started it, so I guess I learned how to get a better grasp on GMC.

I love those stories that write themselves. What inspires you? What motivates you?

Many things in everyday life inspire me. A tree shedding leaves, a terrible snowstorm, or even a creepy bush that looks like a demon (which actually ended up in one of my books). It’s even more rewarding to find a way to incorporate these inspiring things into the story. As for motivation, seeing the words THE END motivates me. There’s nothing more rewarding than finishing a complete manuscript. Actually there is… selling that said manuscript. :-)

That bush sounds scary. :)What is your writing process or method?

I am a plotting pantster. I start with a loose plot but the characters usually follow their own journey to arrive at the final outcome. That’s when I know the story is good. If I have to force them to do something, then I need to re-evaluate what’s going on.

That's an excellent way to look at it. What's next for you? Can you tell us more about your newest big offer? Hint, hint! ;)

Wow, Nicole, you certainly don’t beat around the bush, do you? *chuckle*

I try not to. LOL

Well, I suppose it’s time to let the cat out of the bag. I was recently offered a contract to publish a series of four humorous paranormals from Sourcebooks under my other pseudonym Sidney Ayers. The first one will be available sometime in Spring of 2011. It’s funny because the book is actually set in the winter, with the backdrop of Christmas. It is not a Christmas themed story though. We are currently negotiating a title, so that’s all the information I can give you all.

That's wonderful! Congratulations!! And thanks again for being our guest today! Everyone, if you'd like to buy Wings of Desire, click here. Arianna loves hearing from her fans! You can connect with her on Twitter and Facebook or send her an email.

Arianna's photo above © 2009, Doodledoll Photography
Today's Gonna Be A Good Day
Like millions of Americans, last night my husband and I went to some friends' house to watch the Super Bowl. Now none of us are die hard football fans. (My hubby is eagerly awaiting the NASCAR season to start - Daytona, next weekend!) But it was our friend, Jack's, birthday so along with our drinks and salsa and chips, we had birthday cake. I had a little more wine (yes, wine, I know beer and football are supposed to go together - but I'm not a beer drinker, never have been)than was probably a good idea the night before a work day.

We had a good time. We cheered on the Saints and laughed at all the Super Bowl ads. OK, we groaned at a few too. And noticed the unusual amount of ads featuring people in their underwear. What does that say about the marketing people in this country???? I won't bother to post the CareerBuilder.com ad here, it's everywhere on the internet this morning. But casual Friday will never be the same again.

So I'm here at my computer early Monday morning, trying to string a few coherent sentences together after our little Super Bowl party. And now I have to go to the day job and wish I could be home working on my latest wip. So, this morning I leave you with the wish that this will be a good day for you. And ya know... I gotta feelin' it will be!


Natasha
www.natashamoore.com
Since it's game day--meaning THE Super Bowl, as Hubby puts it (like there's any other)--I know what you're all expecting, but I simply could not find any pictures of hot football players to post. I looked, but when I searched, I ended up with bikini-clad chicks holding strategically placed soccer balls over parts of their surgically-enhanced anatomies. Gack. This tells me two things. 1) More guys search for sexy pix of football players than women do and 2) Every other country in the world uses the term "football" to describe "soccer" except the USA.

Because of this, I thought I would write about another sport instead, one filled with passion and romance, and one with which I am intimately familiar. So today I'm posting a little about competitive ballroom dance, one of the most beautiful and artistic sports known to humankind. Can you tell I'm biased? lol

Yes, ballroom dance is a sport. It's called DanceSport, and there are organizations that govern it and everything, just like other organized sports. The nice aspect of DanceSport is that even after a couple quits competing, they can dance socially for the rest of their lives if they want. That's what my husband and I have done.

We started out just interested in social dance, but because of the lack of dance opportunities in our local area at the time, we thought we'd try competing at the novice level, which is for beginners. It gave us the chance to travel to competitions and hear great music, and we did get to dance socially as well because there are sometimes intermissions where everyone is invited to get up and dance and enjoy themselves.

We competed for three years in some rhythm dances (swing, rumba, cha-cha, mambo), moving through the different levels as we learned more patterns, and we loved learning the intricacies of dance, meeting other dancers, and, really, just getting to be involved in a competitive sport. I think most people would love to try a competitive sport, win or lose, just once. We weren't as concerned about placing as we were just getting to participate and be a part of it all. There are some issues with the competitions sometimes, including the judging, and the expense can be overwhelming if you compete at the higher levels. However, if you just enjoy dancing and want to see it from a different perspective, DanceSport may be an option for you. There's quite a bit to learn about it, but overall I'd say it's one of the best experiences I've ever had, and I now have something that I can pass on to others, too. Occasionally, we talk about going back and competing in some smooth dances (foxtrot, waltz, tango, quickstep), but we've not decided yet.

By the way, real ballroom comps don't have much in common with Dancing with the Stars. For one, there are pro/am (professional/amateur) couples AND am/am couples (where the partners are both amateurs). Couples compete according to age and level, which means people of all ages can participate and compete with people in their age group. I've met and seen people in their 80s competing, which was really nice. Another difference is the judges are the only judges--the audience doesn't get to vote.

I'd get more into it, but right now I have some more snacks to fix for the Big Game. If you are interested in ballroom, feel free to drop me a line and ask me questions. If you just want to experience some dancing in your reading, may I suggest my erotica novella, Ride 'Em Girlfriend? Although it's not about dancing per se, it has a scene in it where hunky cowboy Randy Stide teaches Professor Rumani Gladstone how to rumba and tango...while naked. Gooooo team!

A little ink, anyone?
by Kristin Daniels

About three years ago, my oldest daughter came to me and said, “Mom, when I turn eighteen, I want a tattoo.” Now, most mothers would probably freak out, say no way, over my dead body, or any combination of the above. But what did I say?

“Cool! I’ll get one with you!”

You see, I’ve always found tattoos fascinating, but up until then, I’d never had the courage to get one. Those “It’s PERMANENT!” and “You’ll regret it!” mantras had been drilled in my head for so many years. So why the change, and why then? Maybe it was the fact that I was turning forty just a few months after she turned eighteen. Or maybe it was that I finally decided what was wrong for someone else, wasn’t necessarily wrong for me.

But here’s the kicker – I hate needles. Yep. HATE them. The fear stems from my childhood (as all good fears do). My sister would throw a fit whenever the time came for our immunizations or any other time she’d need a shot. So, naturally, I followed in her footsteps.

Then, a few months after my sister passed, I was doing a little surfing and typed her name into Google (we were estranged for a while, long story). As a fledgling graphic artist, there were articles here and there about her on the web. I came across a picture (one I’d never seen before), and sure enough, she had a tattoo. And not just any tattoo. My I-hate-needles sister had a half sleeve. I kinda sat back, stared at the photo, and said, “Well, hell. If she can do it, then I can do it!”

That first trip to a tattoo studio is a strange one. My daughter loved it, but I was a little apprehensive. We’ve all seen pictures of tattoo artists with full body art and piercings, which was something I wasn’t quite used to. And after that experience, I’ll be the first to say never judge a book by its cover. The men in that studio were absolutely awesome. They were friendly, caring, and made us feel right at home.

BUT…

Holy moly did that tat hurt! I got a tribal star on my hip, right above the bone. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best choice of placement for a first tat. But I love it. The inside of the star is purple, a color that symbolizes so much for me and my family (the pancreatic cancer my sister passed from, the Alzheimer’s my mother has, and ADHD that runs in our family). Yep, that first one meant a lot.

video

My daughter video taping my first tattoo. Sorry for the language, but it hurt!

And now I can say, Hi, I’m Kristin Daniels, and I’m addicted to tattoos. My average is one a year now. After the star, I got a four leaf clover on my left ankle (my mother had a real one that she carried with her everywhere), and the next year it was a small Celtic Tree of Life on my upper back (just like the one my hero Shane has in Chasing Eden!).

I just got inked with my fourth one last Saturday. It’s gorgeous! The artist, Rich Cseri of Waukesha Tattoo Company, drew the cherry blossoms and ‘smoke’ on my ankle by hand. I was in the chair for an hour and a half, but the end result was well worth it. Although, I’m thinking the pain from this one might’ve cured my addiction. We’ll see.

In the meantime, if anyone else is up for a little ink, you can always count on me to hold your hand!

Surprise! You're not a Historical Writer
When I first starting writing, I wanted to be a historical romance writer. It was my dream to have my name sitting among other well-known historical writers like Mary Hawkins and Brenda Joyce. Then I started to write one. I quickly realized I sucked at them. I didn’t have the patience for the research. My respect for historical writers increased drastically when I saw the amount of research that went into one book. Holy cow. Since I’m not big into history, I know throw the tomatoes, research was a chore not a pleasure. So I accepted that historical writing just wasn’t for me.

What was I going to do now?

In my quest to find the genre where I belonged, I wrote a time travel short story. I felt a little more comfortable here. I could throw in contemporary slang and was freer to write the way I wanted. I liked having a heroine who wasn’t restrained by the expectations of society. One who could toss out a curse word and actually shock the hero because ladies do not speak like that. One who didn’t have sit properly, but could slouch in her chair. So I was getting warmer.

Then I dabbled in paranormal. I enjoyed letting my imagination go. It was fun trying to put a new spin on things. That is where the idea for The Feline Fugitive came from. I got to bring in oddities that would never happen in real life. Very cool. Getting even warmer.

Then I tried fantasy. Again fun, but something was missing.

What could it be?

I’d tried every genre I could think of. I wasn’t even going to attempt Sci-fi. That would be a complete disaster. So what else could I write?

Contemporary.

I actually grimaced. I hadn’t read much of those. And the idea of writing about everyday life didn’t appeal to me. I was more a wanted-to-be-swept-away-to-far-away-lands type girl. But what the hey, right? I tried everything else.

So I started a contemporary, which lead to a full novel. I’m now working on a second contemporary novel. I never in all my years believed I would love to write contemporary. But I do. The contemporary genre is where I’m supposed to be. My writing is the strongest in this genre, and I feel the most comfortable here. So now I have a new dream of being a contemporary author.

I still love my historicals, but I’ll leave the writing to the professionals. I’ll just enjoy a good book from time to time.

So, how about ya’ll, when you first started out were you aiming for a certain genre, only to find you really sucked at it and needed to switch gears?

Esme
www.esmereldabishop.com
Is Valentine's Day a Hallmark Day?

Is Valentine’s Day a Hallmark Day?

A. No, because we’re women, and romance writers, so we believe in romance.

B. No, because it’s an American Greetings Day.

C. No, because it’s a religious holiday.

D. All of the above.

Ha! You all picked D, right?

Start with the name - Valentine. There were one or two of them dating from Roman times. What everyone seems to agree on is they were both martyred priests and there’s no sentimental love story attached to either of them. (There’s irony for you; Valentine’s Day is named after a Catholic priest.)

Go back even farther. There was a pagan holiday known as Lupercalia (yes, based on wolves, but I won’t digress there). The festival of Lupercalia was a fertility celebration in which the unmarried men would draw the names of women from an urn. The woman chosen had to be their sexual partner for the next year. Interesting, if disturbing.

When Christianity took hold, the Christians co-opted many pagan holidays and the feast of Lupercalia (held on Feb. 15) was one of them. The Catholic Church moved the date to the 14th, associated it with the saint Valentine, and King Henry the Eighth (he of the steadfast heart, you know) actually made it a holiday by royal proclamation in 1537.

Fast forward to the 20th century and the American Greetings Card Company
“provided” this story: On the evening before Valentine was to be executed (for being a Christian priest in Roman times), he wrote a note to his “beloved” (remember the Catholic priest part) who was either an anonymous young girl or the daughter of his jailer (your choice). The note was signed (so says American Greetings; no one has ever seen the mythical note), “from your Valentine”.

I have to say, I think all of us could have made up a better story.

But what I find interesting is that a pagan fertility celebration, having been interrupted by a martyred saint or two has now returned to a celebration of romantic love. I was also surprised to learn that people have been exchanging Valentine’s Day cards for centuries.





These are from Victorian England.





So, now what? Well, here’s where women who love romance enter the tale. Where there’s a card, a gift must follow. Correct? So if your sweetie is looking for an idea (and what man is not?) what could be better than a hot story to get the home fires burning?

Carly

 

February - The Month of Love
As lovers of romance, we don't need an excuse to celebrate love. But the rest of the world likes to use February, as the month of Valentine's Day, to talk about love and romance. Here at Fierce Romance, we like to talk about those subjects all the time!



Red Sage is kicking off a brand new, up-to-date website to help you to more easily access their erotic and emotional stories of love and romance. There were admittedly some problems with the old site and I just want to point out that anyone who wanted to buy a copy of my November release, The Better to Eat You With, (or any other Red Sage title) but had a problem accessing the link, I'm happy to let you know that the glitches are fixed. You can now get your very own copy of my twisted take on the Little Red Riding Hood tale. Be sure to check out the new website.



And don't forget to stop over to the Red Sage Revealed blog. All month Red Sage authors are blogging about their hottest heroes and heroines and giving away free books as well!

Nothing is more romantic than a kiss. It's so intimate, lips brushing, breaths mingling, bodies only a heartbeat away, or maybe pressed up against each other. I love romantic movies and movie kisses get me everytime.

I'm up for some good romantic movies to watch this February, um and the other 11 months of the year. I'm ready to add to my Netflix queue. What movies would you recommend??

Natasha
www.natashamoore.com
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