I Love You - Without Words
No, I’m not talking about flowers and jewelry. Though they certainly have their place. I think one thing that makes characters memorable is when they do the unexpected. Particularly when revealing love, an unexpected action can have a big impact. And, when writing the male character, non-verbal cues are especially important since men are not so verbal.

In the novel Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer, they have their character use a frying pan to say I love you. Not a frying pan as in - cook for me. But one of them brains the bad guy with a frying pan early on. And at the end, the pan becomes a gift. Not romantic, maybe, but it’s different and makes a memorable point.

I read a story once where the hero restores cars for a living and the heroine married a rich man thinking that would buy her happiness. When she finally picks up the chamois cloth and starts polishing the car the hero is working on, you know she’s saying she loves him.

I also think it’s a big asset to real life romance if one can recognize how one’s Significant Other shows love through things they do that aren’t traditional talismans of love.

In my family, one way my husband shows his love is by being the family computer tech. He does not enjoy this work. But he recognizes how important this computer is to all of our lives. So, even if he’s mad at one of us, he will sit down and puzzle through any computer problem we’re having. There is nothing from a jewelry store that could say love as clearly.

Since men are generally less verbal than women, it’s critical to find ways to let them show how they are feeling about the heroine without forcing them to verbalize it. Men who talk too much, especially about emotional things, tend to lose their believability because that’s not how men usually behave in the real world. Even if the reader can’t say what’s wrong, she’ll know something is off.

If you can find the behavior that says I love you without the words needing to be said, that’s a sure way to deepen both characterization and emotion. If you can make the behavior unexpected, then you’re well on your way to a memorable character.

If you have any examples of this, bring 'em on. I could use some inspiration.
Awesome Reviews for Kilted Lover

I was thrilled to receive these two new reviews for my novella, Kilted Lover!

From Night Owl Romance

Score: 4.50 / 5 - Reviewer Top Pick

Review: Leslie went to the Scottish fest with the man that was becoming more friend and less boyfriend. She didn't expect to have such a commotion around her and the amulet that her grandmother handed down to her. When it ends up that she needs rescuing Scott MacPherson jumps at the chance to rush in and save the gorgeous red head that caught his attention. The results leave them not only fighting for Leslie's life but also trying to fight the hot smoldering attraction between them that is getting harder and harder to ignore.

Who doesn't love a hot man in a kilt........not me. This book was fabulous and not just because Nicole North manages to keep Scott in a kilt for most of the beginning of the book. I really liked this story and the idea behind it. Scott was really the perfect male hero and Leslie's actions and words sometimes had me laughing out loud as I read.

I would for sure purchase some more of Ms. North's books especially if they deal with more good looking Scottish men.


Review by Heathermh

___

From Dark Divas:
Wow, I can really get involved in stories with kilts and handsome scottish guys. Kilted Lover is a great story with love and romance to the max. Leslie could't resist Scott in his kilt and his sexy, take-no-prisoners way of taking care of her. She was threatened for her very old amulet and Scott came to her rescue, which just happened to put them together on his friend's houseboat. That's when there was some pretty scorching chemistry being put to use.

Both Leslie and Scott felt that her amulet had something to do with bringing them together. Did it? Take the wild ride of adventure and suspense in this fun, scottish romance. Nicole North is an author to watch. I enjoyed this story so much, I'm going to check out her first story for Red Sage, Devil in a Kilt.

Rated 5 Delightful Divas by Shelly!
Samantha Kane visits Fierce Romance!
I'm happy to introduce you to today's guest blogger, Samantha Kane. I met Samantha alsmost a year ago at Ellora's Cave's RomantiCon, and I'm thrilled to be able to call her a friend. She has a new release coming in July with Ellora's Cave, and she's stopped by today to tell us a bit about it.

Samantha Kane and me at RomantiCon 2009


Thanks, Kris, for having me at Fierce Romance today. ;-)

I thought I’d whet everyone’s appetite today with a taste of my upcoming release, Love’s Fortress, which will be Book Seven in my Regency series Brothers In Arms. Love’s Fortress is about Gideon North, a veteran of the Peninsular War who had his face and hand horribly burned and scarred in the war, and lost his left leg above the knee. Gideon has been in love with his estate manager, Charles Borden, since the war when Charles was his sergeant. But, because of his disfigurement, Gideon has denied that love in spite of the fact that Charles returns his feelings. Gideon advertises for a wife because he wants to have as normal a life as possible. Sarah Whitley answers the advertisement and both Gideon and Charles know immediately that she is the perfect wife for Gideon.

Love’s Fortress will be released from Ellora’s Cave on Friday, July 23.

Love’s Fortress, Brothers In Arms Book Seven

Blurb:

Gideon North wants a wife. She must be practical and hardworking. But above all she must have a hearty constitution. Horribly injured and scarred from his Peninsular War service, Gideon does not want to deal with a wife who flinches every time she sees him.

Gideon’s estate manager Charles Borden was his sergeant in the war. Inseparable, but almost always at odds, the two men agree that Sarah Whitley is the perfect wife for Gideon. Strong, beautiful, and intelligent with a dry sense of humor, Sarah bears her own marks from a life spent in the shadows.

When Sarah learns to let go of her past fears she frees both men to acknowledge the love and attraction that has always existed between them. The three become intimate immediately but the eroticism of their encounters in the bedroom does not guarantee happiness. Gideon’s defenses mire them in the past. Only together can Sarah and Charles break through to build a future with Gideon.


Excerpt:

“Jesus bloody wept, Gideon!” Charles exclaimed in frustration. “She’s your wife. I won’t do it.”

They were standing on the veranda that looked out over the gardens of Ashton Park, watching laughing guests attempt to find their way through the maze. Charles had gone through it with Mrs. North and Mrs. Westridge earlier. Gideon wouldn’t attempt it because of the uneven ground, so Charles volunteered.

Mrs. North was quiet and so serious with her honey hair and pretty brown eyes that saw too much. She made him nervous and self-conscious, which was quite out of the ordinary for him. He’d let the two women chat as they got to know one another. Watching Leah Westridge dance around her relationship with Valentine and Kurt had been highly amusing. But one thing had become clear—Gideon’s new bride was as innocent as a newborn foal.

“It is precisely because she is my wife that you will.” Gideon’s calm only fueled Charles’ ire.

“I will not interfere between you two on your wedding night,” he spit out between gritted teeth. “She is so innocent that to do so would surely cause her distress.”

“And this won’t?” For the first time in the conversation Gideon lost his control, holding his ruined hand up to scars on his face. “If you were a young, innocent bride would you want this to be what you found in your marriage bed?”

“Yes.” Charles answered without thinking it through, and then winced. Gideon’s face immediately closed down.

“You knew me before Badajoz.” Gideon turned away to look out at the garden again.

“Yes, I did,” Charles said softly, a wealth of meaning in those three words.

Gideon took a deep breath and Charles saw his nostrils flare in irritation.
“She deserves her first time with someone…perfect.”

Gideon’s observation was both reluctant and sincere. Charles wasn’t sure whether or not to be pleased. “I am not perfect.”

Gideon turned a baleful eye on him. “Do not play coy, Charles. Physically you are perfect. You are fit and strong, attractive, a male in his prime.”

Charles was amused in spite of his anger. “Shall I let her check my teeth?”

Gideon snorted. “If she wishes to, yes.”

“And while the perfectly fit and attractive me is divesting your new wife of her virginity, where will you be?”

“I do not want you to f*** her.” Gideon slowly turned to face him. “I am not a complete idiot. She is my wife. And I am able to perform my duties. I simply want you there so that she has something pleasant to occupy her while I am, as you so aptly put it, divesting her of her virginity.”

“Bloody hell, Gideon,” Charles whispered. He had to turn away. His anger was gone, replaced by despair. “You ask too much of me. You want me to be a…a plaything. Is that my value, then? After all these years? To amuse your wife, but not to touch her?”

Gideon moved closer on his crutches. “It is because I value you so much that I ask.” He spoke right over Charles shoulder, so that he felt Gideon’s breath against his neck. It made him shiver. “I would ask no other to do this. But you have seen me at my weakest, Charles, and at my best. You know me. You know I cannot do this without you.” Gideon gripped his upper arm and it was then Charles realized how stiff his arm was, how tightly he was holding himself in check. He fought his grief over the memories Gideon pulled forth. “Why is this different than the other times we have done it? It does not have to be different.”

Charles spun around to face him. “But it does have to be different, Gideon. It must be different. She is your wife. So much depends on this night.” Charles wiped his hand across his mouth and chin. “She is not like the others. She is not a whore. She is an innocent woman who has entrusted you with her future.”

“I know that. I know.” Gideon sounded as distressed as Charles felt. For the first time in a very long time he did not try to control his emotions. Charles would have rejoiced in any other situation. But not here, not now. “It is different for me. But it need not be different for you. You don’t have to care for her. But surely you can see she is beautiful? It would not be a hardship, to help me bed her.”

“Not care for her? Gideon have you gone mad?” Charles tried to keep his voice down. “Of course I care for her! She is your wife. As such, I will care for and protect her to my dying breath. And that includes protecting her from you and your idiotic notions.” He ran a hand through his hair in frustration. “She does not find you offensive, Gideon. I’ve seen her watching you. She is fascinated by you. Every word you utter is gospel to her ears. Trust me, bedding you will be no burden for her.”

“If you watched her so closely, then you saw her shudder today when I took her hand in mine.” He raised his scarred left hand. “In this one.”

Charles was taken aback. “No, I did not see that. You are being overly sensitive.”

Gideon’s laugh was bitter. “You call me insensitive twenty times a day. Now I am overly sensitive.” He turned away. “What if I can’t do it?” Gideon’s whisper was harsh. “It has happened before.”

He didn’t have to explain. Charles knew how difficult it was for Gideon to talk about that. Gideon hated to show his weaknesses. But he had them. His lack of confidence with women was one of the worst scars he carried from the war. Once again Charles silently cursed the French defenders at the fortress of Badajoz. “That was with a whore. An uneducated, coarse girl who knew nothing. It was my fault, really. I chose unwisely. Neither of us performed that night, and you know it.”

Gideon waved away his assurances and moved over to a chair against the wall. He sank into it and then leaned his head against his crutch. He looked so defeated. Charles’ hands began to shake.

“Please,” was all Gideon said. And Charles knew he was going to say yes.
You can find Samantha at her website: http://samanthakane.us
White Water Rafting
For Father’s Day this year, me and my sister took our Dad white water rafting at the U.S. Whitewater Center in Charlotte. It was a first for all three of us. I have a friend who has rafted the Gauley, so I knew somewhat what to expect and I KNEW it wouldn’t be as intense as his experience. To say the least, we still had an experience. LOL.

First, the rafting guides got all the noon rafters in this little covered picnic area and scared us to death. I had a lot of excitement before they started talking, then the nerves started coming in.

Rafting Guide: Look to your left and right. One of the three of you will fall out. (I look at my sister sitting to my left and then to Dad on my right. Hopes it’s them, not me) As soon as you hit the water you will forget everything I just told you. (well, that’s nice.) If you get trapped underneath the raft, (trapped under the raft? WTH?) Do not panic. (I’m trapped under water how am I not supposed to panic) Spiderman crawl up the raft. (Spiderman what?)

And so it went for over thirty minutes. Plus the worse case scenario: A capsize. Yeah, we’ll get to that later. So with new balls of nerves weighing in our stomachs we put on our gear and climb into the rafts. Right here is where the nerves diminish completely. It was funny, I had rumbling, churning nerves giving me that I’m-going-to-puke feeling that, in a matter of seconds, changed to Oh-hell-yeah-this-is-going-kick-ass.

We rowed into the middle of this pond and waited for our turn to enter the Adventure Rafting course. This course has mostly class 2 and 3 rapids. Rather relaxing really with a little bit of a thrill. We went down this course twice. We got soaked, we laughed, we were pumped.

So we headed to the Class 4 rapids. I don’t think this course has a name like the adventure rafting course. It should be called the All Hell Is Going To Break Loose course. The rapids are meaner, and angrier. There is a HUGE difference between this course and the laid back course we'd just completed. We start down this thing, being thrashed from side to side. Struggling just to remain seated. I wave at my mom and twins, who are standing on this platform watching us. We round a corner and, yep, all hell broke loose. I really have no idea what happened. One moment I was in the boat, the next I was out.

According to my mom, she watched us round the corner and then our raft shot straight up in the air with no one in it. She freaked, my daughter started crying. Mind you it wasn’t about me. She was worried for her Paw Paw. LOL.

Meanwhile, me and five other people have been tossed into the raging rapids. Capsized. Worse case scenerio. One they said rarely happened, had happened to us.

I’m completely submerged, trying to get back to the surface. I'm almost there when someone landed on top of me and pushes me back to the bottom. To add insult to injury, the raft hit me on top of the head. I finally break the surface without any obsticles, coughing up a lung. I swallowed a crap-load of water! This dude on the side of the rapids throws me a rope. I’m not stupid. I grabbed it and he hoisted me out of the water.

I had to take moment to catch my breath and control the shaking. I’m serious. I was trembling all over. It really was a scary moment. After the initial shock wore off, I looked around. My dad was clinging to a rock, my sister was bobbing up and down out of the current. One of the other dads who was in the boat with us is sitting on a rock and his two kids are across the rapids also bobbing. Our guide is trying to flip over our raft. At this moment, is when the adrenaline really kicked in. I was ready to do it again! What a rush, people! I mean it.

I have never had such a thrill in my life.

The guide instructed me to get back in the water and swim toward the raft. Yeah, that so didn’t happen. I was just swept in the opposite direction and some hunk of a man pulled me into his raft. Girls, let me tell you, the eye candy at this place is awesome!

I could talk about this experience all day long, but my parents will be here in 15 minutes. We’re taking the kids to Carowinds. My parents haven’t been in 25 years, so today should be fun! Just know this: If you haven’t gone rafting, DO IT! It is sooooo much fun! I can’t wait to do it again!

Esme
www.esmereldabishop.com
Guest: Lilly Cain - Location, Location, Location
Here I sit, writing at Starbucks again, and since it is summer a cool caramel frappuccino perches at the side of my table. A tiny flicker of guilt erupts into flame and I try to quench it with creamy coffee goodness. It can’t be that bad to spend a morning in the coffee shop can it? Aside from the calories I am certainly imbibing, I am people watching and catching a little jazz music. But is it really concentrated, focused writing?

I wrote most of my last novella, Alien Revealed, sitting in my sister’s camper or visiting the beach. But I wrote Dark Harmony my first full length novel here, in a corner of the loud, busy Starbucks ten minutes from my home. I’m not sure which was better. But I think the drive here focuses my thoughts for what I am about to write and the environment forces me to focus on my words. If I don’t focus I don’t write, at least not here. There are too many people moving around me, too many distractions if I don’t focus. So it’s concentrate or do nothing. I think too, that because I am focused my prose comes out a little sweeter. And no, I don’t think it is the frappuccino, LOL.

When I write at home I sit in a cozy armchair (for some reason I don’t often make it to the desk) and my cat sits nearby, watching my fingers move and waiting for a chance to attack. There are distractions here too – the cat, the kids, the TV (eek!) and the refrigerator. At least at Starbucks I am only limited to one treat because, after all, I’m not a millionaire, LOL. I’ve heard other authors refer to their offices or writing corners as their cave courtesy of author Paige Cuccaro – but mine is anywhere I am. I just need my laptop. I even got a chapter written while on a Girl Guide camping trip. Hey they had to sleep sometime, right?

Writers have to be flexible, IMO. It isn’t like people imagine – that we can only write when the muse strikes us. That we babble our words out until we lay there spent, drained. Well okay, that can happen, but most of the time authors work, day in, day out, a little each day, writing, revising, editing. And we do it everywhere, anywhere. As long as we are comfortable, who cares where we sit? Or if we use a laptop, desktop, pen and pad of paper or a voice recorder.

Where do you write? Find your focus? Drop in with a comment and you could win an electronic copy of my novel Dark Harmony from Red Sage Publishing, or my novella, Alien Revealed from Carina Press. Both had recent releases – Alien Revealed was a part of Carina Press’s launch last week and Dark Harmony came out in paper June 1!

Lilly Cain
“Stories of Darkly Seductive Fantasy and Sensual Romance”

To read more about Lilly check out her website at http://www.lillycain.com/.
To purchase a copy of her book Alien Revealed or find out about other fantastic authors, check out http://www.carinapress.com/. And to buy a copy of Dark Harmony, in print or ebook, visit http://www.eredsage.com/.


Lilly Cain is a wild woman with a deep throaty laugh, plunging necklines and a great lover of all things sensual - perfume, chocolate, silk! She never has to worry about finding a date or keeping a man in line. She keeps her blond hair long and curly, wears beautiful clothes and loves loud music. Lilly lives her private life in the pages of her books.

Lilly lives in Atlantic Canada, although she spent eight years in Bermuda, enjoying the heat and the pink sands. She returned to her homeland so she could see the changing of the seasons once again. When not writing she paints, swills coffee and vodka (but not together), and fights her writing pals for chocolate.

When not living up to her pen name, Lilly is a single mom who loves reading and writing, dabbling in art and loving and caring for her two daughters. She loves romance and the freedom erotic fantasy provides her imagination. She loves the chilling moments in her novels as much as the steaming hot interludes. Her stories are an escape and a release, and she hopes that they can give you that power, too.
Celebrating Number 15!
I've been writing romance for a lot of years. I wrote and completed and submitted a lot of manuscripts before I made my first sale. My family was there for all of it, supporting me through the good and bad, and celebrating with me when I made my first sale. And each sale after that.

My daughter kept track of each sale, keeping count and letting me know that it was the 5th sale or the 10th and so on. Early on she'd joked that after I made my 15th sale, we were going to have to go get tattoos together. Well, after writing for years, 15 sales seemed like a distant goal, maybe never even attainable. Guess which contract I just signed. Yep... See Me, my erotic short for Samhain, was my 15th sale.

So this past Thursday, my daughter and I went to Wild Side Tattoo and Piercing. Everyone there was great and when they found out I was a tattoo virgin, they did all they could to make sure my first experience was a good one. I explained what I had in mind and they drew up the perfect design. I was pretty nervous, even though I was excited. I had no idea how I was going to react to the pain, but I was pretty proud of myself. I spent over an hour in the chair and walked out with this beautiful celebration.



If you can't tell from the photo, there are 15 hearts to signify my 15 romance sales. With any luck, I'll be adding some more little hearts in the future...

Natasha
www.natashamoore.com
Happy Father's Day to all those wonderful real life heroes out there!!
Knock, knock! Who's There? R-E-A-L-I-T-Y
I've been thinking about money quite a bit lately, especially because I just got a royalty check. Money for writing. It's still kind of a thrill after all these years, to get money for my words, but I enjoy getting those checks because I can really use the money for things I need, like books, food, books, clothes, gas for my chugga chugga mobile, books, etc.

You get the idea. Coincidentally, I saw an article on Yahoo.com with the compelling headline, "Did Sex and the City Ruin You, Too?" I'm not a big fan of the show, although I did watch some episodes occasionally; however, any headline with the word "ruin" in it usually captures my interest. What got ruined? How did it get ruined? Was Lady GaGa or Justin Bieber or a crazed wolverine involved? Or all three? Is BP at it again?

So I read the article...and laughed. The entire piece is devoted to promoting books (very subtly) about women and debt, mainly due to shopping and living beyond their means, and how this may have been related to the TV show Sex and the City (SATC) and its main characters' predilections for, well, shopping and living beyond their means (although most of this happens off camera, like murders in cozy mysteries, so that we aren't exposed to the actual carnage).

You may think I am making fun of people who watched the show and bought into the idea that a woman has to own $400 designer shoes to enjoy being a girl, and you'd be right. However, I am not making fun of the show's fans who, like me, did enjoy some of what I watched. When the banter was fun and the show capitalized on the absurdities of life we all face as women (and men), I laughed, as did my husband.

No, I'm making fun of people who really felt the show's message was that, as the article states, "women have to look a certain way to be successful" and bought into it by maxing out credit cards, skipping rent, and making other ill-advised financial decisions thinking they would somehow be magically purported to the social status of Carrie and friends. I am also making fun of people who write articles about such people, although I'd do it in a heartbeat if I got the chance...for the money, of course. lol

I guess this caught my attention because I do believe that women have to look a certain way to be successful, and that's well groomed. In my world, which is usually based in reality, being well-groomed doesn't require trendy clothes, insanely expensive shoes, or a handbag that when sold on the black market could feed a family of fifteen in a third world country for a month. It requires self-confidence, clean undies, and a hairbrush whose bristles don't fall out in one's hair right before a big dance.

I also identified with the main character, Carrie, who is a writer in New York City who produces a column about relationships. Our similarities end at the writer part, though. Carrie is the opposite of a nudist like me, indulging in designer duds as if they're required to get into Heaven or something.

Because I dance, I love a nice cocktail dress. Over the years, I've become extremely skilled at finding the most bang for my buck, dress-wise, and I wear them more than once, regardless of what's in style. The worst that can happen is people think I'm shooting for the retro look, which is always in anyway. The message SATC sent was that being out of style is sooooo yesterday, and spending beyond your means to stay in style is a God-given right of the new feministic, empowered female population.

At least one of the women quoted in the article, herself a writer just like Carrie, said that even as she spent her way into debt, she didn't understand how the character on the show could afford such pricey attire on a regular basis, that it wasn't realistic. Well, no! It wasn't realistic. I actually thought Carrie's clothing and shoe addiction was like her smoking, a habit she fought with that kind of made her human. It was a flaw, not a way of life one should aspire to.

But some women did, and that's what the article is about--how SATC ruined their lives. Maybe. The people interviewed who wrote the books don't directly blame the show, but list it as a "factor" in their financial demises. They hint that without the show telling them--in voices that probably sounded an awful lot like their irresponsible best friends--that over-spending is the way to success, they wouldn't have faced their financial crises.

Hooey.

Anyway, I guess this all comes down to, when I read an article like this, that I am fascinated by the players in this little skit--all the world's a stage, you know--and I immediately think character. Given some of my new insights, will a character people love to love or love to hate evolve? Will I build a heroine who's a clothes horse like Carrie? A vamp like Samantha? A romantic like Charlotte? A lawyer like Miranda? Or will it just be a girl like me who seeks the most dependable hairbrush ever created (for under $5)?

And with that, I'm off to shop for books.

Happy Reading!
Can Birth Order Determine Marital Bliss?
For years I have known that my husband and I never should have married due to the unalterable fact that we are both first-borns in our families. Birth order studies confirm that this is the worst possible match-up. Why? First-borns are both used to being in charge of the younger siblings. So if they marry, the battle for control of the family unit will be perpetual

Good combos are first-born with last-born. Middle siblings can match up with first, last, or another middle. Two last-borns are not a good fit. (They’re both looking for someone to spoil them.)

But a couple weeks ago, I discovered that my husband and I are both superfirsts. More trouble. Being a superfirst in birth order is not as fabulous as being, say, Superman, or a superstar.

A superfirst is one who is the oldest in a large family. Yup. That one is really used to bossing everyone around. I’m the oldest of five and so is my husband. The problem is, we’ve already been married more than twenty years. So what do I do with this information now that I know we shouldn’t be married?

The only thing that saves me, if anything does, is that I have no desire to be the boss. I will make a decision when one is required, but if you beat me to it, thank you. I won’t stand around and dither. If the group needs a plan of action, and no one else steps forward, I will. I do have that perfectionist streak that says, as long as we’re going to do this – whatever this is – we might as well do it to the best of our abilities. And dh is exactly the same, for better or for worse.

And there’s the answer, for me, anyway. We got married for better or for worse. In our ignorance, we thought we could make it work. So the fact that now every psychologist we meet says, whoops, there must be lots of fireworks in your household - this comment doesn't bother us. We say yes, there are plenty of fireworks, but they are the right kind.

Does anyone else have good or bad combos?
Reviews are Coming In!
I’ve received a few reviews of The Panther’s Lair and I wanted to share:)

I just came across this one and it made me smile. It’s from Goodreads and the reviewer had never read an erotic before. She did give me four stars, so I’m glad the descriptive sex didn’t sway her opinion of the story:)

“Damaris Cardinali said: "Other than the very descriptive love scenes, this story was pretty good. I am not big on Erotica and this was my first erotica book, so I am not sure what to really write. LOL "

Marrissa from Marrissa’s Book Reviews said:

Sexy men, amazing sex, and red furry handcuffs what more could a girl want? You agree, then you need to pick up The Panther's Lair, it is hot and steamy and I am not just talking about the mind-blowing sex.

I loved Sydney. She was so full of life, and took charge of her sex life. Many women could learn a few things from her. She is a strong character who wouldn't stay in an abusive relationship.

Now Raimond, oh my, after you finish reading The Panther's Lair you will want to find your own Raimond. Raimond is such a French gentleman, he is smart, and knows how to go about getting what he wants. I loved how protective of Sydney he was. I could picture him standing there staying sweet nothings to Sydney in French. I guess I have a thing for French men, they are just too sexy with their amazing accents. I was thrilled that he find his mon ame soeur (his soul mate) is Sydney. They made such a wonderful couple.

The Panther's Lair won't disappoint you. It is definitely a must read.

Diana from Books of Secrets said:

The Panther's Lair is a very hot and steamy short story about taking risks and giving love just one more chance. It is a quick read filled with tantalizing sex (M/F, some light bondage) and tempting characters. Anyone who has had a string of bad relationships could sympathize with Sydney and her desire for a night of escape. Raimond is the delicious, protective alpha male who has no trouble satisfying his mate! I enjoyed the paranormal aspects of the story. Shifters are my favorite supernatural creatures. I admit that I was left wanting to know more about Raimond and his panther-shifting abilities! I hope the author can give us more details in future stories. I would recommend The Panther's Lair to fans of erotica short stories.

Rating: 4/5


Esme
www.esmereldabishop.com
4 Stars for Binding Ties


I'm thrilled that Binding Ties, the upcoming print anthology from Samhain Publishing, that includes my novella, Bound by Design, received a 4 star review from Romantic Times. The review said:

"Fans of BDSM will revel in these super-hot, titillating tales. Expect a lot of action tempered by love as each couple finds their HEA in these fast-paced, character-driven stories."


The cover is gorgeous too! I can't wait to hold one in my hands. Besides my novella, the anthology contains stories from Jenna Ives and Skylar Kade. Binding Ties will be released July 6th. You can check it out on the coming soon page.

Natasha
www.natashamoore.com
A Crazy Summer So Far
Is it really only June 11th? Holy cow, I can't beleive how crazy this summer has been so far! I've been going non-stop for the last 3 weeks, and for a person who really (really!) enjoys their quiet-leave-me-alone writing time... Well, let's just say I'm craving a bit of solitude!

The cause of all this chaos? Let's see, we can start off with the fact that my dad is visiting. He's been here for TEN days. Don't get me wrong, I love my dad. But... TEN days, LOL. He came in for my middle daughter's high school graduation last weekend. We spent the first 3 days of his visit party planning and shopping and cleaning (why do we do this? The house just gets trashed, and then it needs to be cleaned all over again after everyone goes home!).
The party was a huge success (that's one thing we Daniels' know how to do -- throw a great party!), but we didn't get a chance to rest after it was over. Nope, the next day was her graduation ceremony. It was held outdoors, and finished right before a storm rolled through. Talk about perfect timing! And yeah, I admit that I teared up during the ceremony. I couldn't be more proud of my daughter. I do, however, dread when she has to leave for college in the fall. Sigh.

Then, a few days later, my youngest turned 16! Man, I just can't beleive it. Where did the years go? He's morphed from this blond-haired, blue-eyed little boy into a skinny 6' tall pre-man. I have to say it really freaks me out!
The family and I spent the day in Chicago yesterday. We noshed on Itailian food at Giordano's restaraunt, then walked along the Mag Mile for a bit before strolling through Millennium Park. We closed our trip with a jaunt over to Buckingham Fountain. You know, I really love day trips to the city. Oh, and here's a big congrats to the Blackhawks for winning the Stanley Cup! Whoot!





Cloud Gate (better known as The Bean), Millennium Park, Chicago




I just loved this little guy, and how his webbed toes were hanging
over the edge. Isn't he cute?



Buckingham Fountain. What a gorgeous day in Chicago!

Well, that's been my CRAZY summer so far. Dad goes home tomorrow, and then life will return to normal. Only for a few days, though. But I'll tell you all about that next time...


Kristin
http://www.kristindaniels.com/
www.facebook.com/authorkristindaniels
http://twitter.com/Kristin_Daniels
Summer
I have one more day and the kids are out of school for the summer. The next ten weeks will be interesting. This will be my first summer working from home to pay my bills and keeping the kids everyday. Yep, that was a record scratching in the background. I’m going to have to learn (quickly) how to juggle having kids screaming around the house and my bill-paying work.

I fear in the process I’m going to have to put my writing to the side until they go back to school. I’ve been a stay at home mom for six years. I have that down. LOL. This whole all the bills being on my shoulders thing is soooo completely new. Anyone work from home? Have any tips on how to juggle the kids and work?

In other news, Carina Press officially launched on Monday. It’s been a very exciting week. The buzz has been tremendous. Now I am patiently (snort) my release date of June 28th.

If anyone is interested in reading some excerpts from the excellent releases coming out this month just follow the below link. (This also includes the first chapter of The Panther’s Lair, wink, wink, nudge, nudge.) While you’re there, check out Carina’s new website. They really did an awesome job on it:)

http://carinapress.com/blog/2010/06/launch-book-excerpts/

Esme
www.esmereldabishop.com
First Review for Secrets Vol. 29

We have our first review for SECRETS, VOLUME 29 Indulge Your Fantasies from RT Book Reviews.


**** 4 stars

Four sizzling, erotic tales take you from the past to the future. Each unique story features memorable characters, conflict and tangible passion. This highly anticipated anthology is a great add to your collection.

SUMMARY: In "Sweet-Talking the Opposition: by Saskia Walker, London journalist Eliza Jameson runs into an old flame. This time she plans to call the shots, but Marcus has his own agenda. On a future earth, Nathalie Gray's "Chimera" is the perfect killing tool. But his assignment involves a beautiful politician who he can't resist. In "Edge" by Dominique Sinclair, former agent Catalina is in Mexico looking for a killer. Her ex-partner Noah shows up with handcuffs to bring her back to the agency. Torr, a fierce Highland warrior, is under the spell of a witch in "Beast in a Kilt" by Nicole North. Though she's promised to a chieftain, Catriona has loved Torr since childhood. Catriona wants to seduce Torr and help him banish his curse. ~Reviewed by Gail Pruszkowski
Readers and Authors Get Together

I'm writing this post Sunday night and a couple hours ago, I got home from a weekend in Cinncinati, Ohio, at Lori Foster's Readers and Authors Get Together. It's a wonderful, relaxed weekend that's growing every year.


I made the six hour drive with my friend, M.A. Ellis, and when you're talking about writing and friends and what's happened in our lives since the last time we got together, six hours can go pretty quickly.

I was able to catch up with old friends I hadn't seen since last year's Get Together. I also met up face to face with some on-line friends and it was so wonderful to be able to give them a hug in person and chat without the help of the internet. And I was so lucky to make some new friends I'm already looking forward to talking with again.

The staff at the Cinncinati Marriott were wonderful. Even when they were a little overwhelmed in the bar, they were pleasant and helpful and in good humor. The food was great, and we all know for conference food that was a huge compliment.

Each year they raffle off a fantastic selection of baskets, with the proceeds going to a local charity. I'm sad to say I didn't win a basket this year, but some attendees were very lucky. There were editor and agent appointments, some publisher spotlights and a few workshops. The booksigning was a lot of fun and so were the games and parties.

Oh, and hanging out in the bar had its benefits too. :) I'm afraid I didn't have my camera with me and so don't have any pictures to post here, but I'm sure there will be some floating around the internet. I'd recommend this annual event to anyone looking for an inexpensive, casual get together for anyone who loves books.

Edited to add: Check out Barbara Vey's PW blog for more info and some great pics!

What did you do this weekend?

Natasha
www.natashamoore.com
Let's Start a Conversation
I loved the previous post about Amazon and Konrath. I love that digital publishing is changing the publishing industry and can't wait to be a part of it. But first...

Let's start a conversation.

This conversation is an extension of one my hubby and I had a few days ago, when, in the midst of fighting with a male character who seemed to want to do his own thing, I decided to vent to my wonderful significant other. He's very good about listening to me because, mainly, he isn't really listening. He knows I'm rambling about people who don't really exist, about my characters, so he just needs to listen while he's doing other things, like solving the problem of the best way of bringing about world peace.

During this particular conversation, we were (translation: I was) lamenting how men and women think differently. How men expect this and that. How men value this over that. How men WANT beautiful women.

My hubby stopped me right there.

"No, they don't," he said simply. I rolled my eyes.

"Of course, they do! Everyone knows a man wants a status symbol to show off," I complained.

That's when he told me a "man secret." You know, those secrets that men pass from man to man but refuse to divulge to women unless they A) seduce them with feminine wiles or B) bitch and moan so much the man can't stand it. The latter was probably the case in this situation.

"Look, if a guy marries a beautiful woman, he'll have to always be worried about other guys stealing her away and about having to beat the crap out of those guys," he explained with the patience of Mother Theresa.

I thought about this for a moment. It made sense. It was logical. However, it raised one very important question:

"Um, then you married ME because I'm not beautiful?" I asked.

He didn't miss a beat. I think he'd prepped for this.

"Nah, I like to worry, and I don't mind beating up other guys who hit on you," he said, smiling the smile of the truly victorious. Well, what can I say? He was. lol

It does bring up an interesting conundrum, just as Carly's post did. What do you think? Why do men marry the women they marry? I wouldn't ask, but my latest hero might be committing to his woman for the wrong reasons, and that just will NOT do.
Adventures in Publishing
Amazon and Konrath – Threat or Yawn?

About two weeks ago J.A. Konrath and Amazon announced, with great fanfare, a deal for Amazon to publish Konrath’s latest book. The “news” was that no traditional publisher would be involved in the process. Supposedly, this would be the wave of the future.

But is it?

What does it mean when Amazon “publishes” a book? Obviously, Amazon takes care of the distribution. But there are many other pieces that go into publishing a book. Who provides the cover art? Who provides the editorial guidance? What about foreign rights? Who protects the author if no agent is involved? Is this model only viable for an author who has had at least some success publishing the traditional way?

The middleman is clearly cut out. Konrath’s agent was involved in his deal with Amazon, but I’m not sure we’ll be seeing most agents peddling their clients’ books directly to Amazon. Does Amazon have a gatekeeper? In theory, publishers and agents exist to winnow the great mass of hopeful novels into the much smaller number of those which will be agreeable to the public (though one may debate how successful they winnow).

Also, no one is disclosing the financial terms of this relationship. Who is getting that middleman’s share? Possibly the buyer, as the book is selling for a very low price.

But maybe that low price is all it’s worth? It turns out none of the New York publishers wanted to publish this book. Further, it turns out, according to Publishers Weekly on May 24, 2010, that Konrath’s less than stellar sales may have been a factor in the “big” publishers refusal to take on his next book. If so, this move may have been less a rejection of the New York model than an attempt to move up the ladder of self-publishing.

Let’s not forget that Amazon is peeved with the big guys because they challenged Amazon on the price point of $9.99 for blockbuster best sellers. Amazon tried to strong-arm the publishers, but was forced to yield when the iPad appeared.

So, when looking at these facts, it’s not a total surprise that Konrath and Amazon would join forces in a “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” kind of way. However, this view doesn’t mean they are wrong. It may be that New York publishers are dinosaurs who don’t yet know they are extinct.

What do you think?

Does anyone have experience publishing with Amazon?
How to Create Empathetic Heroines


I’ve heard more than one writer say they have no problem creating fantastic, sexy, to-die-for heroes, but their heroines were either the walking dead or cardboard cut-outs.

But if you can create a living, breathing hero, then you can also create a likable, empathetic heroine. They’re both characters. Story people. But their purposes are different. In a romance, you want the reader (usually female) to fall in love with the hero. But the reader must identify with the heroine, want to be her or her best friend.

Romance heroines should have several basic admirable traits, such as:

1. Intelligence: She should have common sense as well as book smarts. She doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist, of course, unless you want her to be. But she shouldn’t be TSTL (too stupid to live.) The reader needs to see her decisions, actions and motivations as smart choices.

2. Determination: The heroine should have a goal as your book opens and she should be determined to achieve that goal by the end of the story. She should be persistent in her quest and take advantage of every opportunity that will help her reach the goal.

3. Honesty: You probably want her to be honest and truthful, so the reader will respect her. If she must tell a lie, make sure she has a good reason and explain her motivation to the reader.

4. Firmness: She should stand up for her beliefs and defend them. Also, she shouldn’t be wishy-washy or easily swayed to another’s way of thinking.

5. Attractiveness: The heroine doesn’t need to be a beauty queen, but she must be attractive to the hero, obviously.

6. Loyalty: The heroine should be a loyal friend. Her friends or the hero should be able to trust her to keep their secrets or to help them when in need.

7. Strength: She needs to be able to stand toe to toe with that strong alpha hero. We're talking emotional strength here. We don't like weak heroines, do we?

8. Compassion: She should care about others and want to help when she can.

9. Imperfections: Perfect people are not very likable or interesting. So give your heroines some flaws and vulnerabilities.

There are more possible traits for wonderful and likable heroines, but these should give you a good start. I'll be covering heroines more in depth in my Instinctive Characterization: How to Create Sexy Heroes and the Strong Heroines Who Love Them class this month.

What about you? Do you enjoy creating heroines? What would you add to the above list?

Nicole

www.nicolenorth.com

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