Another Samhain Sale!

I'm thrilled to announce I just signed a contract for SEE ME, an erotic short with Samhain Publishing. Here's a rough blurb:


She’s tired of feeling invisible.

Irritated by co-workers who ignore her and neighbors who hide behind their curtains, Lydia grows more restless and needy each day. No one knows she’s begun to burn off her frustrations by dancing to her favorite music. No one knows the dancing has turned to stripping. No one knows she dances naked on her tiny balcony, daring someone to see her.

Then she sees the curtains move at the apartment across the way.

Wes is drawn to the amazing woman he sees on the balcony, but he soon discovers she’s not all she appears to be. As they spend an erotic evening together, he tries to convince her that not only is she brave and beautiful…but she’s worthy of attention.


SEE ME should be released this fall. I'll be posting more info here as I have it.


In the meantime, look for BINDING TIES, the bondage anthology from Samhain that includes my novella, Bound by Design. It will be released in print July 1st.

Natasha
www.natashamoore.com
Kindle
So I’m probably the only person in the world who still doesn’t own one of these things. When I read an Ebook, I download it on my laptop. I’m leery of paying $300 for a device I’m not even sure I will like. I know. I know. I’ve heard. They are the best creation known to readers right now.

I can even admit the other night a Kindle would’ve come in extremely handy. I was jonsing to read. Just curl up on my side on my couch and get lost in a book. Now I have a bookshelf of books, but I wanted to read something new. If it hadn’t been my night to have the kids, the solution would’ve been simple. I’d got my butt up and driven down to BOM. As it was, the kids were with me already tucked in for the night. So I settled for re-reading my favorite scenes out of New Moon, lol. That night a Kindle would’ve been nice.

I am seriously thinking about tucking money away to buy one in the next few months. I do have a few questions. I love to read in bed, turned on my side for hours on end. Is it easy to do with a Kindle? What about outside? It’s a computer screen. Can you actually see to read it if the sun is blaring above? I love to read outside while the kids play. We have a pool this year and I know we will be spending a lot of time there. But I can’t see the laptop screen to write. So I figure the Kindle will be the same way. How is the charging power on this thing? How is download speed of the books?

I know this is a lot of questions, but there is a part of me that totally refuses to pay $300 to read a book. But I am seeing the advantages of buying one. I wanted to hear from people who actually own one and see what they have to say about it.

I really wish there was a place where you can rent one to see if you even like the damn thing. That is my biggest fear. Dropping 300 bucks and then hating the device.

Thanks all!
Esme
www.esmereldabishop.com
More This and That...
So, I've had a pretty productive week. I finished a short story that I started... Well, never mind when I started it. The important thing is that it's done! It's in the hands of a couple wonderful beta readers and I can't wait to hear what they think. Then, I'll send the baby off to my editor. That's such a scary and fun thing. It's a good thing I'm not a nail biter. My fingers would be down to little nubs :)



I finished reading JR Ward's Lover Mine earlier this week, too. Can I just say she really rocked this one out. I love all of her books, and this one was such a treat for me. I've always loved John Matthew, but I have to admit I was on the fence about his relationship with Xhex. Not anymore. The further into the book I got, the more I liked her. I'm not going to give anything away to those who follow the series, but I really recommend this one.






I hope everyone has a wonderful Memorial Weekend. Enjoy the warm, sunny days (hopefully!) and time spent with friends and family at BBQ's. But let's also not forget what Memorial Day is really about and remember those who serve and have served our country. More thanks and appreciation go out to them than I can ever say.
Take care!


Kristin

http://www.kristindaniels.com/
www.facebook.com/authorkristindaniels
http://twitter.com/kristin_daniels
Writer and Reader Resources
(A picture of a really hot guy was supposed to go here, but Blogger REFUSES to let me upload any pictures...arrrrgh!)

Yesterday's post was not only funny and entertaining, but it also brought back some great school memories. Unfortunately, it also brought back one I'd like to forget.

"People can't make money writing."

A teacher told me this once a long time ago, someone I respected so much I took her at her word and started looking at other careers. I found one, but eventually, once I went off to college, I discovered this was untrue. Even at that time when there were no cell phones and Internet access was limited to a paid service only nerdlings invested in so that they could access the best research resources while shutting down the local utility company, there were jobs in the field of "writing" that paid: advertising copy writer, journalist, fortune cookie fortune writer (yes, they hire freelancers to do that), greeting card writer, test passage writer, etc.

What my teacher was saying is that SHE couldn't make any money writing because she didn't know how. She didn't know enough about it except she'd tried to get published and failed. What she should have said was that it is really difficult to make money writing, but if you pick the right degree and enter certain career fields, you can make a living wage or at least a nice supplement to your regular employment.

This is why I'm thrilled with the World Wide Web as a writer and a reader. The vast amount of information available at least gives us--and young writers--the opportunity see that if you like to write, there are ways to turn that skill in to cash, if you so choose. I love the amount of resources and support floating around in cyberspace, especially the support of writer and reader friends on social networking sites. I get great advice on writing, wonderful book recommendations, and most of all, the support of people going through the same joys and turmoils I do. As a writer, I get to share my successes and failures, and as a reader, I get to talk about the great books I get to read, as well as the clunkers. lol

So what's your favorite writer/reader resource? Is it a book? A website? A person? Please share where you go to get book recommendations, writing advice, etc.

Happy Reading!
Frog Dissection: Has Feminism Made Any Progress?
Romance novels have, in my opinion, made great strides in portraying females as strong people who must participate in saving the day. We rarely see helpless heroines saved by manly men. But have people changed so much in real life?

I try very hard to raise my children without stereotypes and to encourage my girls to be interested in all avenues of study and to consider all types of careers. But…

Yesterday, was the day in freshman biology that my daughter had been dreading all year. They had to dissect a frog. There are 8 girls in the class and 6 boys. They always choose their own partners for lab. The boys had paired up among themselves weeks ago for the frog lab. (They weren’t going to do all the work for these squeamish girls.) The girls had wailed and moaned for weeks.

My daughter threw up before class, just to get ready. (She actually brought a toothbrush and toothpaste to school, giving new meaning to the phrase 'prepared for class'.)

She arrived in class and decided to ask the one boy who's her friend to be her partner. (Never mind that everyone was already paired up.) He said sure, but he had to admit he might get queasy and need help. She ditched him pronto (and reported that he did get lightheaded later on, thereby embarrassing himself).

She contemplated another boy, Joe. Even though she’s barely ever spoken to Joe, and he’s a nerd, she knew he was the one boy who would do the work on his own. Desperate times call for desperate measures. She asked him to be her partner. (At least she's not a shrinking violet in the boy department.) He agreed.

Joe’s original partner said, "Hey, what about me?"

Joe said, “Sorry, I’m working with her.” (Girls rule.)

Meanwhile, my daughter had abandoned her friend, a girl with whom she’d been partnered for every lab the entire year. (Did I raise her?) That girl and another began crying (!?!) when they realized they had no one to lean on. The teacher finally had to assign them to a couple of boys and allow groups of three.

The class started the job. My daughter said her goal was to do nothing and look at nothing. (This is honors biology, BTW.)

The next exciting moment arrived when a girl fainted, sliding down to the floor in a swoon worthy of a 19th century heroine. (No stigma of shame assigned to her.) They revived the girl and she and her female partner decamped for the nurse.

Now as my daughter is telling this tale, I’m thinking, Whatever happened to women’s lib? It’s 2010 and these girls are behaving no better than I did back in the dark ages, when, I am sorry to report, I somehow managed to escape dissecting the frog. How hard can I be on my daughter, when I know exactly how she feels? But I have to try. Women need to be positive about science.

I say to her, “The girls didn’t make a good showing for themselves.”
She says, “At least I helped Joe pin the frog to the board."
I say, "That's good."
She adds, "By handing him the pins."

The frog had still better be the prince, and not the biology lesson.
www.carlycarson.com
Crown photo by Simon Goldenberg
Instinctive Characterization

How do you create characters? Some people do interviews or questionnaires, others just sit down and write, letting the story unfold. Some people use astrology or other methods.

Often, the first time I see one of my characters is in a scene playing out in my head. Action is taking place, characters are talking, certain emotions are involved. I have a vague idea of setting and atmosphere. I’m usually able to catch a glimpse of the character at least. Perhaps I can’t even see the color of his eyes yet, but I sense his mood and facial expression. This is like the germ of a story idea and character.

When you do something instinctively, you do it naturally. It’s something that comes from within you. It isn’t something you force with your autocratic rational side. I’ve tried to force my characters to come into existence or to be a certain thing, and I know it doesn’t work. (At least for me it doesn’t.) In my experience, a stubborn character will only become more stubborn if you try to force him into a mold he can’t fit into. Like your mom trying to make you take piano lessons when you hate piano.

A character comes from your own psyche. Likely there will be some tiny trait from your personality in your character. In many ways, a character is an extension of you. And you need to understand your character from the inside out. You need to know your character down to his soul. The only way to dig down that deeply is to let things unfold naturally, instinctively. Your subconscious needs to get in on the process. That’s when your character and your story will “feel” right. That’s when your character will feel real.

How do you develop your characters and get to know them? Do you have a specific method or technique? Do all of them pop into your head fully formed or are some of them stubborn? If so what do you do to coax them out?



The above post is an excerpt from a workshop I’ll be teaching on characterization starting June 1.

Workshop - Instinctive Characterization: How to Create Sexy Heroes and the Strong Heroines Who Love Them
Instructor: Nicole North

Date: June 1 - 30

Fee: $25

The romance genre is primarily character driven and those characters need to feel as real as you or I. How do you create characters the reader will fall in love with? If characters don't magically pop into your head fully-formed and three-dimensional, how do you help them come to life without forcing them to be someone they're not? We'll use several tools and methods to develop characters instinctively including:

How to use GMC (goals, motivation and conflict) to create active characters
Discovering and using our character’s backstory
How do you make characters empathetic and likable?
What is a great (real life) personality test to use for character development?
How do you use archetypes?
What is a fatal flaw?
Characters and conflict
Characters and deep POV
What makes a hero sexy and a heroine strong?
Describing and naming characters
Villains
...and more

This is a new, interactive online workshop with exercises and critique/ feedback from the instructor. It is a private workshop held in a yahoo group. The lessons will come to your email inbox.

To register or read past student testimonials about my other workshops please visit my website and click on "workshops" on the menu:
http://www.nicolenorth.com/

About the presenter: Nicole North writes sensual and erotic romance novels and novellas. She is the author of paranormal erotic romance novellas Beast in a Kilt, Red Sage Secrets Volume 29, Indulge Your Fantasies, July 2010; Devil in a Kilt, Red Sage Secrets Volume 27 Untamed Pleasures, July 2009; and Kilted Lover, Red Sage, November 2009. She has finaled in over a dozen writing competitions and won several awards. Reviewers have said her stories contain "heart and heat, killer love scenes, magic and extraordinary characters." She has a BA degree in psychology but writing romance is her first love.

To register, please visit http://www.nicolenorth.com/ and click on "workshops."
Or email: nicole (at) nicolenorth.com
Thank you!!
Nicole

P.S. I donated a copy of each of my anthologies to Brenda Novak's Online Auction to Benefit Diabetes Research. Please click to check them out or bid:



Secrets Volume 29 (due out July 1)

Thanks!
Twitter and an Excerpt
I did something I said I would never do a couple of days ago. I opened a Twitter account. It’s not that I have anything against Twitter. I just don’t get it. Facebook, I get. MySpace—even though I no longer use it—I get. Twitter? A big ole black hole of WTH?

I’ve messed around with the application for a couple of days now and still don’t understand its purpose or how to use it. I’m following somewhere around 50 people right now and my thread thing is an unholy mess. How do you keep up? How do you organize it? Am I supposed to sit there and scroll through the page every time I visit?

I know the Facebook post thread is horrible. But at least there I can organize. I have people grouped into categories, so with one click I can see what my in-person friends and writer friends are up too. It works really well for me. Can I do something like this with Twitter?

I’m going to have to suck it up and learn. Carina Press uses Twitter for promos and that is the only reason I opened one. I'm not crazy, I'll use every means I can to promo. Who knows, maybe I'll learn to love the application. But right now I stare at it with a perplexed expression. I really could use a Twitter 101 course. So any advice or tips would be greatly appreciated.

In other news, I found out I get to choose my excerpt so I wanted to thrown one out there for The Panther’s Lair.

Raimond snarled, and his beast roared to life. With images of Sydney cowering against a corner wall, blood trailing down the left side of her face as the man stood over her, threatening her with his strength and presence, the transformation began.

Bones popped as he bent to all fours; a slick black coat sprouted from his pores. Sydney’s pleas for John to spare her life filled his ears, and rage engulfed him. He raced forward, sailing into the kitchen window with a caterwaul. Shattered glass flew everywhere, and the pair froze.

Sydney screamed, her face draining of any remaining color. The bastard stumbled backward.

Snarling, Raimond placed himself between Sydney and John. His satisfaction spiked at seeing the man who got off on frightening his mate whimper like a weakened fool. But whimpering wasn’t enough. This man had made her fear for her life, made her bleed.
Raimond lunged forward and pinned him to the ground. He brought his whiskered face close to the other man’s, letting his mouth open to show his sharp, feline teeth. John’s face whitened, and he screamed in manic shrieks.

The only thing keeping Raimond from ripping the man’s throat out was knowing Sydney was watching. He would never leave that kind of image in her mind.

He sniffed the man’s neck. Angry growls rumbled deep in his throat. He wanted to bask in John’s terror, hoped he got a real feel for what it was like to be defenseless, powerless to stop someone stronger. The man squeezed his eyes shut, tears rolling down his cheeks. “Please. Oh God. Please.”

Seeing he’d accomplished his goal, Raimond moved off John just as Sydney bolted from the corner. John snatched her wrist and yanked her on top of him on the floor as he pushed backward into the corner, holding Sydney between his legs as a shield. Raimond hissed, baring his teeth. Her gaze dropped to his canines. Violent tremors shook her body, and tears shone in her eyes. “Please don’t hurt me.”

The agony of her ever thinking he could hurt her, even in this form, made him cringe. Her terror erased his vengeance, and he meekly lowered to the ground, resting his head between his paws. John shoved Sydney forward. Screaming, she landed hard on her stomach, her face inches from his paws. John surged to his feet and flew into the kitchen. It took everything in Raimond not to go after him, but Sydney’s trembling frame kept him planted. No more horror for her. None. They knew who the assailant was, and the police would be called. In the submissive pose, he didn’t move a muscle, waiting for her to understand he wouldn’t hurt her. Slowly, she lifted her head, and they stared at each other, nose to nose.

“Yellow eyes,” she breathed.

Thanks all!
Esme
www.esmereldabishop.com
Guest Interview: Emma McKee

I was so thrilled to invite our guest to blog with us today. We met online long before either one of us signed our first contract. We’re finally going to get a chance to meet face to face at RWA National in Orlando this July! Please join me in welcoming author Emma McKee, whose debut novel, A Turn of the Cards, has just been released by Wild Rose Press.

Emma, please tell us a little about yourself.

My life is pretty dull. I live in the oh-so-exciting Midwest with my hero of a husband. By day, I’m an accountant for a medical practice. By night, I’m the personal body servant to two very spoiled and demanding terriers.

And I’m sure they love you for it. What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

I passed typing with a D. Twice. Thank God for computers and spell check.

LOL. I never even took typing, so I can really relate! Tell us about your recent release.


A Turn of the Cards is set in 1870s Arizona Territory. When Catrina del Santos’s hated husband is killed and the ownership of her family estate is threatened, she turns to her neighbor to the north with a proposal. For widowed rancher, Jonah Prescott, accepting Catrina’s proposal will guarantee his sick son will not need to need to return to Texas, but feels like a betrayal of his love for his beloved wife. But their relationship grows from mutual respect to friendship to love as they battle an enemy who is closer than either of them can imagine.

That sounds like a great story! And it's available as both a download and in print! It’s downloaded in my ebookwise right now. What element of story creation is your favorite? (Character? Setting? Plot? Etc.) Why?

Character, definitely. What makes a story interesting is how the people in it react to the events that occur based on their innate nature and their backgrounds.


I agree completely. When and where do you write?

I’d like to say that I have the perfect home office and a regular writing schedule, but in reality, I write in fits and starts, usually on the weekends sitting in front of the television with my laptop. When I was working on my last project, I did find a corner in a little used room in our basement and worked there in an attempt to hide from the dogs.


We all need a little corner of our own. Do you have rituals you follow when writing?

Not unless you count trying to make our Cairn terrier stop barking at my laptop. Sometimes I use bi-aural tapes for creativity and focus, but I don’t know if they really help or they just dilute the barking.


Most people think a writer’s life is really glamorous. What’s the least glamorous thing you’ve done in the past week?

Was it cleaning the doggie vomit off the carpet or wandering around the backyard in my nightgown with a flashlight because the Westie lost his stuffed monkey? Although the monkey thing might have been more pitiful than unglamorous.


I wouldn’t be surprised to see some Westies in an upcoming Emma McKee release. What can we look forward to from you in the future?


I have a novella, Three Wishes for Christmas, coming in The Wild Rose Press’s Lawman and Outlaws Christmas anthology on November 11. And I just signed a contract for a comic suspense, if there is such at thing, currently titled Family Business, also with The Wild Rose Press.


That’s great! Where can readers find out more about you?

Check out my website at emma-mckee.com.

Is there a question you’d like to ask our readers?

While I read a wide variety of books, I just realized that I will almost always pick a book where the hero or heroine is trying to solve a mystery that is at least a generation old. I wonder if any of your readers have an automatic “trigger” that hooks them into choosing a book.

Thanks for joining us today, Emma! I’m looking forward to reading A Turn of the Cards.

Natasha
www.natashamoore.com

Seducing Gracie is Here!
Today's post is a short one because...

It's all about me! LOL

Seriously, I just wanted to shout out that my latest novella, Seducing Gracie, is now available from Changeling Press. The description is below...

NYC detective Gracie Usher sets out to find a lost child and ends up in the arms of a demon whose bloodlust can only be satisfied by a sacrifice every five years -- or by a woman whose desire is as insatiable as his.

When Detective Usher stumbles into Wayland, New York, looking for a prominent business owner's young daughter, she finds instead a horrible beast who wants not only her blood, but her soul. Giving in to his desire would be much easier if she were a mere mortal, but Gracie's a different kind of human. Logic is her best friend and leading with her head, not her heart, is what she does best, at least until she meets a demon who decides he won't be complete until he makes her his... for eternity.

I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago, but now it's available. It's darker than I normally write. However, it is, at it's core, a story about two people, er, creatures, needing each other. They come together by accident, but discover they both have something the other needs or wants.

Isn't that how love is sometimes?

I wanted to write Gracie's story because I liked the idea of someone who depends on logic being faced with the ultimate in illogical. How would she react? What would she do? What would YOU do? What if everything you've ever known to be true suddenly seemed to be upside down?

I'm now into the sequel to Seducing Gracie and loving it. Taming Lucy is the story of Gracie's partner, Rick, and Sam's sister, Lucy, who is a succubus. New York City should be her playground, but when she joins her brother in the human world, she's a fish out of water. Satisfying a man's desires, she discovers, won't endear her to the one mortal she's grown to tolerate, even care about. Rick, try as he might to be a scoundrel and live up to his hard-earned reputation as a ladies' man, just can't pull it off with Lucy. The truth is, he really likes her and realizes that to win the woman he loves, he's going to have to tame a hellcat.

Could anything be more perfect? Sigh...

Happy Reading!
Pick a Skill – Any Skill
This question used to be on author interviews at Harlequin. It always fascinated me. What skill would you like to have that you don’t possess?

A butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker?
Not likely.

I find this question hard to answer because there are plenty of skills I’d love to put in my bag of tricks.

I love music, but I already play a couple of instruments, and I’m not really one you’d want to jam with. But singing – yes, I would love to do that well. But then what? Join a choir? (Okay, I’ve always wanted to be in a choir, but then it’s practicing and sticking to religious music.) So I’ll move on.

Cooking? I do like to entertain, but every time I see guests on the calendar, I panic. I want to make something really special. I want those oohs and ahhhs. But, I’m not actually interested in food. That’s a problem, no?

I finally settled on dancing. It’s great exercise. It’s a skill you use at fun events. I love to dance and so does hubby. He’ll get out there and shake it with any woman who’s not savvy enough to vaporize at his appearance. He doesn’t care what he looks like (though he does look pretty good) but I never feel…adequate. I'm not asking to be Dancing with the Stars good, but I'd like to feel confident enough that I don't have to burrow my way into the middle of the crowd so no one can see me. My shunning of the spotlight is difficult when I'm dancing with the one who seeks the spotlight.

So let’s add up the points for dancing. It incorporates my love of music and exercise. It’s in my genes because my brother owns a dance studio and my great-aunts will, up to the age of 90 and more, drop everything to dance the hully-gully or the Macarena. (Okay, that's not Dancing with the Stars, either, but they’re having a blast.) But best of all, dancing is a shared experience. It’s romantic to dance with the one you love and it’s fun to dance with your friends and family. So yes, I’ll vote for dancing as the skill I’d choose when my fairy godmother waves her wand.

What about you? What would you love to be able to do well?
Guest - Marie March - Lurid or Lusty
Lurid or Lusty
The Challenges of Writing Erotica
By Marie March

In recent years, the mind-set toward Erotica has become more progressive and well received. However, in spite of forward thinking attitudes, there still exists a puritanical state of mind towards "blue" language, sexuality and sexual slang both in print media and the spoken word. Yet, interestingly enough these rules do not readily apply to romance writers, and more specifically the erotica writer.

Though somewhat forbidden in just about every other form of literature, on the whole it is deemed acceptable, as well as expected, the inclusion of "filthy" words in the erotica narrative.

Often times, physical intimacy transforms into sensual, passionate, and in some cases extreme sexual experiences. In erotica, carnal desire translates into down and dirty verbiage intended to arouse the characters in the story, as well as the readers themselves. Since a large number of readership(s) choose these stories specifically for stimulation and fantasy, no one writing in this genre should feel ashamed purposely targeting a reader's guilty pleasure. Exploring human sexuality with honesty, an open mind and even a dash of humor, in a society often inhibited or reticent, can be a freeing practice.

Now, this does not mean your complete storyline has to read like a recent parolee's travelogue through the red-light district in Amsterdam, as riveting as that may sound. All it really means is for an erotica writer to stay true to the genre, the thoughtful use of (perceived) taboo words should have no limitations--so go ahead--write a story that will make your readers upper and lower cheeks burn!

www.mariemarch.com
Savage Cravings May 2010
Insatiable Jul 2010
Let It Bleed Oct 2010
The Selkie Jan 2011
http://wwwcelticqueens.blogspot.com
www.authorlisamcampbell.com
www.myspace.com/mariemarch
www.twitter.com/shoogabean
What are you afraid of?
Hi, my name is Anne Rainey and I’m afflicted with the following phobias:
Arachnophobia - Fear of spiders.
Altophobia - Fear of heights.
Apiphobia - Fear of bees.

Okay, I hear the first step is admitting it. Now what? LOL

Let’s get serious. I really, truly have a fear of spiders. I freak out when I see one, and I can’t get close enough to kill them, so we buy spray. I can kill them that way, because I don’t have to actually touch them. Once, when I was in high school, I was at home by myself, munching on something and watching t.v. when something out of the corner of my eye caught my attention. I turned and looked and something on the floor moved. I froze as I saw what it was. A spider. And not some baby thing either. This was like a spider on steroids or something. I freaked and jumped from the couch to the coffee table. I stood on that coffee table for (this is not an exaggeration) hours as I tossed things at the spider. I couldn’t bring myself to actually step onto the floor, because that’s where it was. After standing there for so long my brother came home and stepped on the spider, rolled his eyes and went to his room. I finally breathed again. I never told my family that I’d stood on that coffee table for literally hours, frozen by my own irrational fear. I was embarrassed and I knew they’d laugh it off. That’s the thing about a phobia. You know it’s irrational, but that doesn’t make it any less real. I wish I could overcome it, I wish it didn’t sound so crazy. I wish I could be like those people who scoop up a spider and set it outside. uh-uh, no way. Not in this lifetime. It’ll never happen. The very idea makes my skin crawl.

Now my fear of bees and heights isn’t quite as bad. I think because there are ways to avoid those. But it’s a physical condition, none the less. If I get up on a chair to change a light bulb, someone has to hold onto my legs, because I get dizzy. My feet will start to ache too. Soon, I’ll feel myself begin to sway. It’s a few feet of the ground! Nothing is going to happen a few feet off the ground! But try telling me that while I’m up on that chair.

I’m grateful I’m not afraid of more things. I’m not Monk, after all. But, it’s still frustrating to feel out of control over your own feelings.

Now, what’s your fear? Crowded places, germs, needles, closed in spaces...? And what was the worst moment in your life when your fear held you in its grasp? Have you conquered your fear? If so how?

and for an interesting list of fears, check out this link: http://www.phobia-fear-release.com/phobia-list-definitions.html
Dancing and Dating
One, two cha-cha-cha. One partner going forward, the other going back. A flirty dance filled with desire. The push-pull of steps, emotions and magical exchanges of a couple sharing common interests and exploring their attraction. Capable of creating a chemical reaction far more powerful than any conjured in a laboratory. They’re eager to learn more about each other but worried about making missteps and mistakes. After all, broken hearts definitely hurt more and take longer to heal than toes that have been trod upon. In the beginning, the signals are sometimes coming fast and furious and are confusing to the point where neither knows whether the connection has the potential of lasting or will end up fleeting.

Unlike the romantic heroes we enjoy writing and reading about, great guys are often hesitant in making that first step in the dating dance. Yet I’ve heard from many that they prefer remaining the “hunter”. These guys like maintaining some distance while surveying the situation. Facing the “music” of a potential love match is daunting for them even though we’re ten years into the New Millennium.

As an author, I adore writing Cinderella stories. From a creative standpoint, I’ll compare her bare foot to a single woman’s bare left ring finger. Her love bond begins with a slipper while a modern woman’s begins with an engagement ring. But although Cinderella and her Prince Charming may have waltzed their way into each other’s lives and hearts, in today’s society life happens at warp speed and sometimes slams couples together much as the people in a mosh pit. Love, or what is professed as love, is here today and gone tomorrow. Instead of the controlled, graceful tempo embraced by the storybook couple, dating today creates whirling dervishes who lose control of their love connection—or who never have a chance at making a connection due to erratic pacing.

Before writing this blog, I pondered some of the many dances in which couples engage from their first meeting to the moment of a marriage proposal. The melody and words of “At Last” played in my mind. What a delicious slow burn on the dance floor that song intimately ignites. I’m a woman who enjoys a varied pace throughout the relationship, but I prefer a slower dance at first. A dance where every breath, every movement, every word is felt and heard and savored. Save the fastest dances for those dervishes as I believe love belongs in a ballroom as opposed to on a break-dancing mat. I’ve always said I’m a romantic at heart but a realist in practice. True love definitely happens but it is hard won, especially if you’re tapping so fast your feet become numb. Ever try putting a shoe on a foot that has “fallen asleep”? Slow and steady, with moments of spontaneity, are what make a better love connection, in my opinion.

TORMENTED --  medium size


In my historical erotic romance novel, TORMENTED, Eve and Charles engage in many dances together in their quest for healing—both emotional and physical—and love.

A Boston socialite’s hope is blind but given sight when a handsome practitioner accepts her challenging medical case.

While shipboard in 1888, Eve Morneau is the victim of a venomous beetle’s bite. Her healing and sexual awakening are placed in the hands of a New Orleans physician, Charles Galletiére. Charles not only shuns society but also the treatment regimens practiced by his peers. Eve is pitted against more than one foe as she struggles with her attraction to Charles and wonders whether or not her cure and a romantic commitment from him are possible.

What about you, readers? Do you enjoy and prefer sexual tension and romantic build-up in the fiction you read and the relationship you cherish? Or is a whirlwind romance more of what you find exciting?


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
A Little of This, A Little of That...
I've had a roller coaster week since my post last Friday about all the RT fun I had. There were ups, downs, even a twist or two.

The weekend started with a big blech: Cleaning out the basement. This is one job I hate during any normal time, but this go-round was different. I know I've mentioned before about my mom being ill and not doing so great. Yep, you guessed it. I had to go through all her stuff. Amazing how an entire lifetime can be reduced to a few boxes. Then came Mother's Day on Sunday. Don't get me wrong, I had a great day with my three amazing kids, but the fact that my mom couldn't be there made the whole day seem a little off.

Anywayyyyy... Enough with the downers. Let's get to the highs!

I've been riding a wave of giddiness since the May 1st release of Safe Surrender! Can I just say again how much I loved writing this book? I love cop stories, menage stories, and emotional stories, and this rolls all three into one! Check it out here.

On Monday, official word came through from my editor, so... Keep an eye out for Sex, Lies, and Rock & Roll! This new book is a paperback compilation of my three e-novellas with Ellora's Cave. I'm so excited! Lily's War, Chasing Eden and Unscripted will be rolled into one book, available some time in 2010. My entire family has been doing the happy-dance all week, not only for the book itself, but also because coming up with a new title for it turned out to be a fun (and quite frankly a pretty funny) dinnertime discussion last week (I've gotten a lot of raised eyebrows when I tell people that. And for the record, yes my kids know what I write. At ages 21, 18, and 16, I think they can handle it :-). Sex, Lies, and Rock & Roll was suggested by my oldest (based on the blurbs -- my kids may know what I write, but they've never read any of it!), and I think the new title embodies all three stories perfectly!

I'm hoping to keep the upward momentum going this weekend -- It's my 23rd wedding anniversary! Hubby and I were married on a gorgeous, sunny day way back in 1987. Man oh man, how time flies. We're celebrating with a visit to Chicago and play tickets. How fun will that be?

See you next week!

Kristin

www.kristindaniels.com
www.facebook.com/authorkristindaniels
http://twitter.com/Kristin_Daniels
Quirky Inspiration
Inspiration happens when you least expect it. For me, most of the time, it happens so subtley that I don't realize what's going on until it's over (kind of like sex after a few too many glasses of wine), so I don't get to enjoy it as much, if at all. Well, this weekend I got to enjoy a little inspiration.

I was on Facebook when I ran across a link to a video by Paloma Faith, an quirky entertainer from the UK. I liked it, and when I searched on her to find out more, I found a video for a song called New York.

For some reason, listening to this song (not necessarily watching the video) made me want to learn to sing. I have a terrible voice, always have had, but when I heard this song I thought, "Wow, it would be neat to be able to sing that!" Also, I loved that lyricist decided to personify the city of New York and make it the "other woman." I found it unusual and intriguing, and thus I was inspired.

And that incident, like my husband's kisses, inspired me to write about inspiration. See how contagious it is? lol

Usually when inspiration strikes, I don't think about it until much later and I don't get to embrace the energy. However, there have been times in the past when I did.

For example (and in keeping with the fact that Mother's Day was this weekend), writing You're All I Want for Christmas was a conscious effort inspired by single moms everywhere, including mine, who struggle around the holidays to provide for their children.

I know many writers are moved to write by their favorite authors, or least favorite (OMG, even I can write better than that!). I actually have to write or I can't think, but my favorite authors and their tremendous story-telling skills inspire me to try to write different types of stories.

What inspires you? What has inspired one of your books or stories? Or moved you to action in some way? Do share! It just might inspire someone else.

Happy Reading!
Guest - Maree Anderson: Inspiration

Today our special guest is Maree Anderson. Welcome, Maree!

Inspiration: just another word for a bloody good idea!
By Maree Anderson


My first effort at writing a manuscript was tragic! I was on a bit of a chick-lit reading bender at the time, and having been told I was a relatively amusing person (okay okay, borderline sarcastic), and having dealt with some pretty awful personal crap over the years, I figured I should be able to write something witty and funny and poignant. Right?

Luckily for acquiring agents and editors everywhere, I never got past the first page. And I believe it didn’t work because there was no true inspiration behind the idea, no compulsion to shriek, “OMG, how awesome would that be to write about?! Crap, why can I never find a pen when I need one? Honey, get off the damn computer ‘coz I need to start writing this or I’ll freaking well explode!”

For me, writing didn’t “work” until an idea smacked me upside the head, complete with an opening and ending scenes, and characters that wouldn’t let me sleep because they were yammering in my head. That first manuscript ended up being a high fantasy about a blind seer -- probably about as far removed from chick-lit as one could get, LOL.

So where do you look for inspiration? How do you coax that capricious, stubborn-ass creature from the hole it’s crawled into?

Here are some sources of inspiration that have worked for me.

My very first manuscript ended up being the first in a fantasy trilogy, and the second story was inspired by a well-known saying:

“Power corrupts. And absolute power, corrupts absolutely.”

Hey, I thought, what if my seer’s daughter hasn’t inherited her mother’s powers? What if she craves power so much that when she gets everything she wished for it’s a curse, not a blessing?

The final story in the trilogy was inspired by this phrase I stumbled on while surfing the Net:

“From every human being there rises a light that reaches straight to heaven. And when two souls that are destined to be together find each other, their streams of light flow together and a single brighter light goes forth from their united being.”

That triggered the whole concept of “soul-mates” and a hero who travels between worlds to find the love of his life, and then is forced to give her up and erase all her memories of him.

An interest in crystals spawned another series of manuscripts. Some of the crystals had such raw, masculine-sounding names—wulfenite, kyanite, malachite—that they triggered stories about Crystal Warriors, men cursed and imprisoned in their namesake crystals.

A travel article about slick-rock bike tours, and Utah having the second highest incidence of lightning strikes in America, inspired me to write When Lightning Strikes. It’s a tale about lightning-riding aliens, who prolong their lives by healing the bodies of people who’ve just died in a lightning strike, and merging with their departing souls.

I spotted a magazine photo with a woman cuddled up to a guy, blissed out on his scent. I’ve still got the clipping and the article is about men’s fragrances. Here’s its by-line:

“In a world of equal opportunities, men are smelling as good as women—well, nearly”.

From that clipping, I ended up with Scent Of A Man, a manuscript about an innocent young man who exudes pheromones that make him irresistible to women.

When a friend of mine acquired an old dance card, she brought it to our RWNZ chapter meeting. The final dance on the card had the name scratched out, and you should have heard the incredibly varied ideas people came up with to explain that crossed out name! The ideas spanned multiple genres, too.

My office notice-board is covered with sayings, phrases, poems and notes. Here’s a good one from a Nora Roberts book: “The sulky stink of death”. There’re even a couple of quotes from The Economist -- not exactly my regular reading material ;-) I don’t try to figure out why they caught my eye, I just know that one day they might inspire a story.

Even Demons Get The Blues, was inspired by the TV series Saving Grace. Grace is a cop whose coping mechanisms are booze, cigarettes and sex…with her married partner. She inspired me to write a heroine who’s not at all a “nice” girl, one who has committed a terrible crime, lost everyone who mattered to her, and fills the gaping hole in her soul with booze and sleazy one-night-stands. Her hero needed to be someone with a dark soul of his own, someone who wouldn’t be put off by the things she’s done. Hmmm. Perhaps a demon? Yeah!

Leisa and Rez’s story became my first publishing credit after Even Demons Get The Blues finaled in the 2009 Red Sage Alpha Male Novella contest.

My second Demons novella, LET SLEEPING DEMONS LIE, was a May 1st Red Sage Presents release. And to celebrate that release, I’m offering one commenter (chosen at random) a chance to win an electronic copy.

Since we’re talking inspiration, here’s how this story came to be.

Naamah, a minor character from Even Demons Get The Blues, was so vivid and mouthy and “real” that it broke my heart to cut back her scenes. Hell hath no fury like a felinoid demon scorned, and knowing Naamah, I suspected she might just haunt me forever. So I expanded on a deleted scene in which Asmodeus, the Demon King, punishes her, and voilà! Naamah got her own story.

Because Naamah’s a cat-demon, I couldn’t resist pairing her with Brennan, a leonine shifter. LET SLEEPING DEMONS LIE is essentially cat-demon vs lion shifter, with some truly heinous were-hyenas thrown in to spice things up. Kick back and watch the fur fly, baby! *evil laughter*

(If you’d like to check out the reviews, or read the prologue and an excerpt from Let Sleeping Demons Lie, please visit my website and click on the links in the My Books page:
http://www.mareeanderson.com/books/let-sleeping-demons-lie)

So I challenge you to keep an open mind, and go forth and be inspired. You just never know when a bloody good idea for a story—or anything else, for that matter!—is gonna slap you upside the head.

So who’s brave enough to share something that inspired them? Doesn’t have to be writing-related, either BTW. My mom’s an artist, and we’re always swapping stories. C’mon, curious minds would like to know! (But if you’re too shy, then feel free to ask me a question instead -- I love answering questions, LOL!)

I’d like to thank my lovely hostess, Nicole, for inviting me to guest blog on Fierce Romance -- it’s been an honor!

Hugs,

Maree Anderson
http://www.mareeanderson.com/
http://www.writersgonewild.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/mareeanderson
http://twitter.com/MareeAnderson

To buy a copy of Let Sleeping Demons Lie, please visit Red Sage Publishing: http://eredsage.com/store/Let_Sleeping_Demons_Lie__Maree_Anderson.html
Chaos to Calmness
The last two months have been a wild ride for me. I had to take a break from writing because my personal life blew up. Now I’m settling into a new life as a single mother, living on my own for the first time in my life (yes, first time. I moved straight from living with momma and daddy to living with my future husband). I’m also working a full time job for the first time in six years. Talk about some major changes. Luckily, things are starting to calm down and I’m falling into a routine, which is actually giving me time writing again. I’m very glad about this. I’ve missed writing.

Before the explosion of doo, I had landed a contract with Carina Press for an erotic paranormal romance titled The Panther’s Lair. Between living with my wonderful friends who took me in (Thank you again, Heather and Jeff), looking for a job and finding an apartment and moving in, I was in deep edits with this release. I’m so proud of this story and my editor, Kym Hinton, was awesome to work with. I’m ecstatic about being part of the Carina Press family.

The Panther’s Lair is set to release on June 28th (the day after my birthday). Unfortunately, I don’t have an approved excerpt yet.



But I have a killer cover-->


See. Isn’t he hot? I know. I know. The whole cover is gorgeous, but I can’t stop looking at him. The cover artist, Angie Waters, did an excellent job of capturing the image of my hero, Raimond—a French-accented, drool-worthy shifter. Don’t you agree? He’s simply breathtaking.

I also created a trailer with my blurb:










I can’t wait to share this release with everyone. And thank you for letting me share this bit of information I have.
Esme

No More Construction Zone
...at least in the bathroom. A few weeks ago I posted about writing in a construction zone while we were remodeling our bathroom. I'm happy to say the bathroom is finished now and I'm thrilled with the results. To refresh your memory, here is our old, tiny, dark bathroom.


We bumped out 12 inches into the next room (my office) to sink in the vanity and give us a little more floor space. In the early days of de-construction, it looked like this.


We took out the big window in the shower and put in some glass blocks for light.


Now we have a beautful tiled shower (we splurged on some glass mosaic tiles) and a heated tile floor. The room is much brighter and we actually have floor space now!



Yes, the work and mess was definitely was worth it. Now just to get the walls finished on the office side...

Natasha
www.natashamoore.com
My First Romantic Times Convention
Last week I attended my very first Romantic Times Convention. I'd heard so much about this convention from my author friends that I couldn't wait to get there and experience it for myself. I just have to say that I wasn't disappointed.

My trip started off with a 6 hour drive from Chicago to Columbus, Ohio. The one thought that comes to mind about that is thank goodness for satellite radio! The music kept me sane while I jogged for position around more semi trucks than I'd ever seen in my life. But, I finally made it to the hotel (in one piece!) to find my roommates, Samantha Kane and Mari Freeman, already checked in. After a round of hugs, we were all dolling up to head out to dinner with our editors from Ellora's Cave.

I'm not going to lie, after dinner and heading to bead early Tuesday night, followed by a yummy brunch Wednesday morning, the rest of the trip flew by in a blur. Meeting authors, readers, editors, publishers... Lunches here, workshops there. Spotlights, ice cream socials, handshakes with Mr. Romance contestants (what a hardship that was!). Book expos, book signings, passing JR Ward by the elevators. Mint Juleps while sitting in the bar watching the Kentucky Derby, eating mini cheeseburgers and kibitzing with MA Ellis every night at midnight. EC's awesome Paint the Town Red party, the Fairy Ball, and the great skit during the Vampire Ball. Meeting author LB Gregg, who I now call a friend, and rooming with the 2 best girls EVAH! All this is just a quick run-down of everything that happened.

At Ellora's Cave's Paint the Town Red Party

Yummy EC Caveman!

Mari Freeman, LB Gregg, Samantha Kane, and Me at the EC Party.

Saturday's Book Signing (pictured with LB Gregg's coffee and phone!)

Go Seabiscuit!
Mari Freeman, Samantha Kane, MA Ellis, and me.

Samantha took this picture of me while we were helping set up for EC's party.
It's one of the few I've ever had taken of me that I actually like!

All in all, the trip was wonderful. Highly recommended to any author, aspiring or otherwise, as well as any reader of romance. If you've never been, I encourage you to go. For everyone else, see you next year in LA!
What I'm Reading...
I have to admit, it's not easy for me to get any real reading time in these days. It's even more rare to truly sink myself into a story. Usually, I'm rushing through a book, because there are fifty other things demanding my attention. So, when I find an author who can make me tune out all of lifes little dramas I hang onto her with both hands and I don't let go.

That's been the case with Christine Feehan's books. From the very first Dark book I was hooked. I've read every single book she's published and they're all great. However, now that she's picked up the Leopard series once more and seems to be concentrating on getting these stories out faster for us avid readers, I'm even more hungry! This series started back in 2002 with the anthology Fantasy. She had a novella in that book and it grabbed me. It was different than the Dark books but every bit as fantastic. Every bit as steamy. I worried when the series seemed to stop. Was she going to write more of these fantastic shifters?

The answer is a definite yes and I'm so thrilled. The latest and fourth Leopard book is "Wild Fire" and it's so good I'm having a hard time giving a crap about my own writing, the dishes, the laundry that's piling up. All I want to do is read!

And what a great cover, right??


Called on a dangerous assignment, leopard shifter Conner Vega returns to the Panama rainforest of his homeland, looking every bit the civilized male. But as a member of the most lethal of the shifter tribes, he doesn’t have a civilized bone in his body. He carries the scent of a wild animal in its prime, he bears the soul-crushing sins of past kills--and he’s branded by the scars of shame inflicted by the woman he betrayed.

Isabeau Chandler’s a Borneo shifter who’s never forgiven Conner--or forgotten him. The mating urge is still with her, and when she crosses Connor’s path, passions run like wild fire. But as Connor’s mission draws Isabeau closer, another betrayal lies waiting in the shadows--and it’s the most perilous and intimate one of all.

Read Chapter One

Anyone else around here reading something so wonderful that they simply do NOT want to put it down??

Cape Cod
Last weekend I went down to Cape Cod, a long island off the coast of Massachusetts. I thought I'd share some pictures. This is a typical Cape beach, maybe not as grand as some fancier beach paradises, but the atmosphere is relaxed and family-oriented.


This particular beach is where the movie "The Lightkeepers" was filmed (starring Richard Dreyfuss). I can't say I've seen the movie, but my sister and her family watched them filming it. They snuck onto the beach by muttering "Crew" to the security guard. Amazingly, it worked.


President John F. Kennedy saved a large section of the Cape beaches by establishing a park, the Cape Cod National Seashore on the outer Cape. The park has 40 miles of continuous beach and is a well loved and well-protected seashore. Except for the ocean, which continually eats away at the land. This is a picture of Nauset Light, one of the many lighthouses dotting the Cape. Most of them have been saved and renovated by private and federal funds. This particular lighthouse had to be dismantled and moved when the encroaching sea threatened its stability.





Speaking of lighthouses, they are a well-known architectural theme on the Cape. I took this picture of a fake lighthouse right near the beach. (It's part of a private residential property.)






The Cape Cod of my childhood was a laid-back, friendly and uncrowded summer paradise. Lobster, clams, corn on the cob, and ice cream were the four food groups. Your beach pail, the sand and the water were all you needed for a perfect day.






Things have changed and the Cape bustles almost year round today. But there are still some oases of calm.





Once I posted a picture of an airport and asked if anyone could identify it. Someone did. So can anyone tell me in which town the beach (top of the blog) and the church in these photos are located?
Writing from a Villain Point of View
Do you like to include the villain’s point of view in your stories? I didn’t in the past, but now I’m finding more and more that I like to include it. It seems to round out the story more. Villains are people, too, and almost like main characters. They are certainly more important than secondary characters. For that reason, it’s imperative to give them strong motivations for doing their evil deeds. What better way to show this motivation than to get inside their heads?

What’s weird about writing villain deep POV is that you need to become the bad guy in order to do this effectively. You have to become bad and think in malicious ways. Sometimes you have to plot and plan to kill your beloved main characters. Of course, you know the villain won’t succeed, at least we hope not. But a strong villain is vital because they need to give the hero and heroine a run for their money. A weak villain would be no challenge and would not force the hero and heroine to live up to their fullest potential. A strong villain can cause your hero and heroine to grow and change in interesting ways. I love it when realistic bad guys force the main characters to do drastic things they wouldn’t normally do to save their own life or the lives of those they love.

A villain who is nothing but evil isn’t 100% believable unless you show exactly why he/ she should be this way. If instead you show at least one positive thing about the villain, show a vulnerability, or delve into something he/ she cares deeply about, this can make the villain more three-dimensional and believable. Someone once said that the villain sees himself as the hero of his own story. This a fantastic way to look at the situation. The villain believes he is right and believes in his own cause.

Another great thing about villain POV is that you can use it to increase the suspense. The reader gets to see what’s going on behind the scenes that the hero and heroine don’t know. Therefore they can be biting their nails long before the hero and heroine realize they are in danger.

Sometimes I’ve been known to freak myself out when writing villain point of view. I didn’t know I could think in such evil ways. LOL I can’t say that I enjoy it as much as hero and heroine point of view, but I do love the way it rounds out my story and provides added suspense, drama and action.

Do you enjoy writing villain point of view? If so, what has it taught you? Who is your favorite villain from TV, a movie or book?
Nicole
Guest - Alice Gaines : Ferocity

Today our special guest is Alice Gaines. Welcome, Alice!

Ferocity

I love that word and its counterpart, fierce. It suggests intensity and passion. Total concentration on conquest.

I often wonder what it would be like to have a lover who brought the same ferocity that he uses in battle into the bedroom. Imagine your warrior returning from the fight – adrenalin still pumping – to take out all that extra energy on you. As gentle as he might be at other times, as polite as he can act when the situation requires, right now the heat in his blood means he can’t take no for an answer.

Okay, that sounds a bit like Bruno Tonioli critiquing a tango, but I think you get my point. This is fantasy, not reality. If I want reality, all I have to do is get up in the morning.

For real life, I want a considerate lover – a guy who’ll run a bath and pour me a glass of wine when work was rough. I want a guy who’ll listen to my worries and tell me everything will work out. Oh hell, I want a man who’ll take my car to be smogged.

In fantasy, I want the Viking warrior who’s just breached the castle walls and now charges up the tower stairs to find me at the top. Not only is that sexy as all hell, but it relieves me of any responsibility for what happens next. “I had to have hot, luscious sex with that stranger. He gave me no choice.”

My novella for Red Sage Publishing, My Lady’s Pleasure, isn’t quite that extreme. But, the Lady Josalyn has no choice but to marry the Viking Ulric, and she has the mysterious minstrel Trey to ease her way to lust with her husband through his music and his aphrodisiac potions. For a while, she has the good services of both men and ends up with a life of passion with her fierce Viking.

Close enough to fantasy for me.
What about you? Do you love fierce heroes?

P.S. My Lady’s Pleasure is part of the Three Kinds of Wicked series.
Please visit Alice's website at: www.alicegaines.blogspot.com
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