Guest Interview: Carol Ericson

Today our special guest is a fabulous former member of Fierce Romance, Carol Ericson!

Welcome, Carol! Please tell us about your latest release.

My September Harlequin Intrigue, The McClintock Proposal, is the third book in the McClintock Brothers series, which includes Circumstantial Memories, The Sheriff of Silverhill, and the 4th book, A Silverhill Christmas, which will be available in December.
Here is the back cover blurb for The McClintock Proposal: The moment Rod McClintock spots the disheveled bride on the side of the road, he knows life is about to become a lot more complicated. Callie Price is on the run and in need of his protection. She's also the answer to his financial woes, if they're both willing to say "I do."

A marriage of convenience is Callie's sole shot at inheriting the ranch that'll help her rebuild her life. All she needs is a husband in name only. Her smoldering cowboy rescuer fits the role perfectly. Too perfectly. As they struggle to escape a killer's obsession, peril and passion tie them together. And before long, someone is putting "till death do us part" to the ultimate test.…

Sounds wonderful! I love marriage of convenience stories! How are the books in this series connected and do they need to be read in order?

The books in this series are connected through the four McClintock brothers. The fourth brother, Rio McClintock in A Silverhill Christmas is illegitimate and didn't grow up with his brothers, which is a source of much bitterness for him. The books themselves aren't connected by an overarching story and can be read out of order, although the various brothers make appearances in each other's books and they all come together in the fourth book.

What do you like best about writing a series?
The best part about writing series is visiting old friends! We meet some of the same characters across the books, and if you've read the other books there are some inside jokes about those characters and shared history. Also, series give you a chance to check in on the heroes and heroines of the previous books to see how they're doing. :) That's my favorite part about reading series as well.

For me too! What is hardest about writing a series of this type?

The hardest aspect to writing a series is keeping elements of the characters or the setting straight. At least a portion of each book is set in Silverhill Colorado and when writing subsequent books in the series, I had to check back through the previous books to make sure I had the right name for a particular cafe or street. It keeps you on your toes! And with a series that's connected by an overarching story, you have to keep the elements of that story alive and progressing through each book.

Absolutely! For an unpublished author who would like to write for Intrigue, what advice would you give?

Advice I would give to an unpublished (or published!) author targeting Intrigue would be to use hooks. In category romance, hooks are very important, elements like secret babies, amnesia, women in peril, marriage of convenience, cowboys, brides--these are all very common and desired hooks for category romance. Also, for Intrigue you need to pack a lot of action into a little book. This means almost every chapter must end with....a cliffhanger! Finally, reading a lot of Intrigues will give you an idea of the types of story lines, heat level, and ratio of romance to suspense that the line is looking for. Before I sold my first Intrigue, I read a lot of Intrigues, which was enjoyable as well as educational!

Super advice! What is your writing process like?
I like to plot out somewhat before I start writing, except for the beginning of the book. Usually the opening scene of a book just comes to me and I'll sit down and write out the first few chapters, just letting the ideas from that initial spark flow onto the page. Then I sit back, look at what I have, and start sketching out a plot. I like to use the method in Discovering Story Magic, which focuses on character development to move your story along.


What's next for you?

Next up for me is the 4th book in the McClintock Brothers series, A Silverhill Christmas, which is coming out in December. Then for 2011, it's another 4-book series for Intrigue called Brothers in Arms and it's about three ex-military covert ops team members who are pulled back into their jobs to disrupt a drugs for arms deal that involves one of their missing team members. This series is connected by one major story, the missing covert ops member, who gets the fourth and final book all to himself. The first book in the series, Navy SEAL Security, will be out in March '11 and the second book, Mountain Ranger Recon, will follow in April '11. The other two books will be out later in the year.

In addition to my upcoming releases, I'm running a contest in September. To celebrate the release of my September Intrigue, The McClintock Proposal and to launch my revamped website at www.carolericson.com, I’m having a contest! The prize or I guess the prizes are the first three books of the McClintock Brothers series, Circumstantial Memories, The Sheriff of Silverhill, and The McClintock Proposal. And all you have to do to enter is answer some fun questions from my website. I will pose the questions on the Intrigue Authors Blog at eHarlequin on Wednesday, September 1st. So drop by the blog for the questions, and then check out my revitalized website for the answers. The first person to email me all of the correct answers at carol@carolericson.com wins the three books! I will be posting the winner on the Intrigue Authors Blog on Tuesday, September 7th.

Thanks for having me back at Fierce Romance. Hope to see some new visitors at the Intrigue Authors blog for a chance to win the first three books in the McClintock Brothers series.
Carol, congratulations on your latest release and newest sales! Thank you for coming back for a visit!
There's still time to register for Turn Up the Heat!

Workshop: Turn up the Heat! Heightening Sexual Tension and Sensuality in Your Manuscript

Presenter: Nicole North

Date: Sept. 6 - 30, 2010

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

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

Fun Extras
Visual inspiration
Multimedia examples and exercises

To learn more or register please visit the workshop page.

About the presenter: Nicole North writes sensual and erotic romance novels and novellas. She is the author of paranormal erotic romance novellas Devil in a Kilt, Red Sage Secrets Volume 27 Untamed Pleasures, July 2009; Kilted Lover, Nov. 2009; and Beast in a Kilt, Red Sage Secrets Volume 29, July 2010. She has finaled in over a dozen writing competitions and won several awards. She admits sexual tension and delicious love scenes are her favorite elements of romance and sprinkles them liberally through her stories. What others have said about her works: "This author handles sexual tension very well. Her characters are completely drawn to each other..." and "Wow! Talk about sexual chemistry. This story has it in spades. You're a natural in the romantic chemistry department." She has a BA degree in psychology. Please visit her website to learn more and read past student testimonials: http://www.nicolenorth.com/

Cost: $25

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

Thank you!
Nicole

PS There's also still time to enter my Under the Kilt contest.
At The Water's Edge


I never knew how deeply I was drawn to the water until we took a vacation to the Outer Banks. Something about the rolling surf and rugged beauty struck a chord deep inside me. How deep? We try to make it to the ocean at least once a year and we sold our house in the country and bought a house a half block from a lake, with a view out the back.

A few years ago, we took a trip to Maine. During a boat ride, we took this picture of a lighthouse on a rocky cliff.



I have this picture on my desk in my office. If I can't be drinking my coffee at the beach, I can look at this picture and remember how it feels.



This is a picture of our campsite one year on the Outer Banks. We stayed on the sound side, right on the water's edge.



And even if we don't make it the fifteen or so hours to the Maine or North Carolina shore, we've been able to find campsites at the water's edge. I make it a point to do it as often as possible.



Is there a certain place you return to time and time again?

Natasha
www.natashamoore.com
Smoke and Mirrors

Once in a while it's fun to revisit one of my favorite stories that's been out for a while. Since this week's theme was magic, I thought I'd share the cover and blurb - ok, and maybe a short excerpt, from my Ellora's Cave novella, Smoke and Mirrors. The story of Alex, a magician, and Gabriella has always been one I loved, reunited lovers with a secret or two between them.

Love is nothing but an illusion.

Heiress Gabriella Winslow learned that lesson years ago when her magician boyfriend abandoned her, sick and alone, hundreds of miles from home. In the years that followed, she’s tried to forget him and the erotic bondage games they used to play. But the life she’s made for herself since then still leaves her restless and yearning for something more.

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


"...Ms. Moore creates scenes that are as spine-tinglingly erotic as they are romantic, and I definitely felt the heat level rise in the room as I read. I Joyfully Recommend Smoke and Mirrors. It’s an enchanting, entertaining reunion romance filled with lust, love, and inventive uses for scarves. Simply magic!"
--- Shayna, Joyfully Reviewed

"...Smoke and Mirrors is an erotic foray into obsession, bondage and exhibitionism. The setting, a limo and a magician's lair, along and the rags-to-riches premise are interesting backdrops for this quick erotic adventure."
--- Vee, Night Owl Reviews

Excerpt:
Alex absently rubbed Gabriella’s tiny feet and pondered his next move. He’d always prided himself on his ability to seduce the audience. But this was Gabriella. And he wasn’t sure how to proceed. This might be his only chance.

If he made the wrong move, she’d slip through his fingers like an illusion gone terribly wrong.

He was sorry he’d scared her tonight, but his body hardened again as he pictured the panic that had overtaken her earlier, the way her body had strained against her bonds. Her chest had heaved as she twisted and turned, her breasts nearly spilling out of that tiny excuse for a dress. And when her skirt had ridden up her shapely thighs, giving him a peek at her lacy panties, he’d almost come in his trousers right then.

Those had been his favorite illusions. The ones where Gabriella would be bound and perhaps blindfolded or gagged as well. And then she would struggle for the appropriate amount of time before they’d play out the rest of the illusion. Most men attended the performances just to see Gabriella struggle. Oh, they’d never admit it out loud, but Alex knew it was true. A few more months and they would have hit it big, he was certain of that. They’d been a dynamite combination.

And he’d been just as certain his career would take a nosedive without her. But Gabriella had taught him his trademark seductive moves during their time together. The sexually stimulating moves on stage that drew the women in. That still drew them in. And they brought their spouses or boyfriends. More and more each year.

And now he was about to open his own theater in Las Vegas. He was going to stop traveling and settle down. At least, that had been his plan.

Gabriella stirred beside him. “Remember curling up like this in the van?” she asked sleepily.

Alex’s fingers froze and he dropped her foot into his lap. “The van?” Rusty and noisy and leaking oil like a sieve. Alex stared at Gabriella. Was that actually a smile on her face?

She nodded. “I’d wrap up in a blanket and stretch out in the back just like this and you’d rub my feet. It was like we were the only two people in the world. Remember?”

“I remember.” Bitterness churned in his stomach. He’d like to forget they’d ever been so poor that they’d sometimes had to sleep in his old beat up van. Like to forget there was a time he hadn’t even been able to bring in enough money to pay for a burger and fries. He’d vowed a long time ago that he’d never be in a situation like that again.

“It felt like this. Warm and cozy.” Her voice was so soft now he could barely hear it. She was nearly asleep. “And when I breathed in the air, it smelled like you.”

“No,” he whispered after a moment, when her breathing had become slow and regular. “It smelled like you.”

Smoke and Mirrors is still available if you'd like to enjoy a sexy story of reunited lovers and the magic they make together.

Natasha
www.natashamoore.com
End of Summer Motivation
So... it's Friday, and it's the end of August. I've been telling myself all summer long that once the kids go back to school, I'll jump full-force back into my WIP.

I'm not going to lie... that really didn't happen this week.

Why, you ask? I'm trying to figure that out myself! I've had such a great summer, I guess I just don't want it to end. But, my WIP -- or my characters -- won't wait around forever. I hear them in the back of my head, little whispers telling me it's time to get back to work. I'm listening, I really am, but I need MOTIVATION!







Kristin

www.kristindaniels.com
www.facebook.com/authorkristindaniels
http://twitter.com/Kristin_Daniels
Magical Things
I'm a rational person most of the time. Well, at least twenty-one days out of the month. :) However, there are just some things in life that are simply magical, and no matter how hard you try, they still defy human attempts to explain their allure.

In honor of this week's theme, I've made a list of stuff, for lack of a better word, I find magical that I'd like to share. I haven't put the items on the list in any particular order of importance. I just sat down on my front porch swing and started typing a list while listening to my wind chimes. Here it is...

1. Wind chimes--I love the sound of these tinkling voices of the air currents. They're soothing and cheerful, and their calming presence always grounds me.

2. Illusionists--Oh, the irony. Magicians aren't called magicians much anymore because by now everyone knows they don't possess any magic powers at all, just the knowledge and skills to perform sleight of hand maneuvers to the Nth degree to the delight of their audiences. They're called illusionists, because that's more descriptive of what they do. Still, I find their ability to captive me with some of their illusions entertaining and fun and magical because I certainly can't do it.

3. Kissing--Of course! I've said this before, but I think it bears repeating. Kissing is an amazing activity because it can take so many forms and communicate so much or so little. While one's first kiss or her wedding kiss is often magical, any time Hubby pulls me in for a liplock, I feel that special sizzle.

4. Dancing--Whether slow or fast, ballroom or in a line, dancing is pure magic. Moving to the rhythm, becoming one with the music. Sharing that rhythm with other people. There's nothing like it!

5. Music--Music can heal. Music can send a message. Music brings people together in joyous celebration or at a time of sorrow. It's there when we're happy or sad and doesn't judge us or ask for anything in return except that we listen to it and enjoy the harmony and melody.

6. Critters--Dogs, cats, horses, etc. Unconditional trust and unconditional love, the elements of great friendship, are two of the most magical energies enjoyed by living creatures. We often share these with other animals who accept us as we are and seek only to be a part of our world. How these connections happen is a mystery, and when a rapport does form, it's pure magic.

7. The Look--You know what I'm talking about. The Look. The way a man takes you in with his eyes that let's you know he wants to get to know you. There's nothing like The Look to make a girl feel special, and it can turn a bad evening into a great one in an instant.

8. Peace and Contentment--There's a moment, usually in the middle of the night, when you wake up and realize everyone and everything you love is in its rightful place, either snoozing away soundly or counting down on a timer to brew your morning cup of coffee. That moment when all is right with the world is quietly magical and one hit of it can keep me going for days.

9. Celestial Bodies, a.k.a. the Sun and Moon and Stars--Yeah, I know these can all be defined and explained through science, but I don't care. They have always been and will always be the inspiration for many of man's more imaginative musings, and the fact that people see them for years, day after day and night after night, and still find them captivating means I can put my stamp of approval on them without a doubt. Magical!

10. A Loving Touch--Like #5 and #9, a loving touch can heal or inspire, but mostly it makes us feel connected. Anything that can connect two or more people with all our differences and dislikes is magical...and sometimes a miracle. lol

I have more items to list, but I'd like to see some of your ideas. Please share. It's magical!
What is Magic?
Magic is, to me, a word used to explain things we don't understand. The opposite of magic is science, a discipline which tries to explain precisely why things are the way they are. Think of a shaman trying to make the magic of rain appear, when we know exactly how rain happens. Is the rain the result of magic, or of science? Once you know the facts, it's hard to believe in magic as the answer.

But, as much as I believe in science, I don't think it will ever explain everything. Will it ever be able to dissect love? We now know why stars twinkle, but can a scientist tell me why we still find stars in the sky beautiful? Why do humans laugh?

All writers perform magic when they bring characters who aren't real to life in the reader's mind. The more you bring them to life, the greater the magic. Is the magic of creating The Wizard of Oz greater than the magic of writing the weather report? I think it is, though both documents are written.

Though I do write contemporaries (love is magic, right?), I also love to write futuristics and fairy tales in which I strive to combine both magic and science. So I have things in my stories that might seem magical today, but they have to be grounded enough in science that they may be real one day in the future.

For example, in The Star Necklace, I use the science of invisibility (bending light around a fixed object) to give my H/h a way to be invisible when they want privacy in a crowded area. Though it seems magical to the heroine, it is possible, based on scientific principles.

It's been said that readers will allow the author one leap of faith into what may be considered magic (for example, that humans can shapeshift). But after that, everything must have a rational basis. A man can turn into a wolf, but he then must behave like wolves do.

There are many forms of illusion besides the written word. There's music, dance, theater and art, all disciplines that can draw out ideas and emotions that aren't concretely expressed.
What is your favorite form of magic?
Guest Interview: Nathalie Gray
Please welcome our special guest, Nathalie Gray!

Nat Gray used to spend inordinately long periods camping out with five hundred men, walking when she would have preferred driving, and having her hairstyle cramped in an epic way. After twelve years in the Canadian military, Nat decided to recycle all her skills and became a writer. Seriously. After many awards, including the 2007 Romantic Times award for best futuristic, Nat is well on her way to her ultimate goal—world domination. You can browse her books or follow her on her many travels at http://www.nathaliegray.com/ .

Nat is also Kanaxa, cover artist for Red Sage Publishing and Samhain Publishing. Check out her portfolio at http://www.kanaxa.com/ .

What an exciting life, Nat! Please tell us about Chimera in Secrets Volume 29 Indulge Your Fantasies.

Chimera is about the forbidden fruit, that minute of intimacy carved from danger, that stolen glance and stubborn hope it’s going to be all right as the enemy reloads its guns. All of which are bigger than yours. Chimera is love in the face of bullets. But primarily, it’s the story of a woman who shares her sanctuary while the man she loves shares his wounded soul.

I love mixing romance and danger! Who is your favorite character in this story and why?

The story’s hero, Agent Corinth. I’ve always had a penchant for the tortured loner. I’d probably run the other way if I were met with a real-life tortured loner, but hey, this is a book. Anything can happen, right!

Absolutely! Tortured loners make some of the best heroes. What is the story behind the story?

Okay, this is best played out in pseudo dialogue form. Here we go.

Me, to most excellent editor: Hey! Wouldn’t it be cool if I had this bodyguard story on an orbital station? There’d be big honking scifi guns, love in zero-g, and a woman who smokes! (where are all the women smokers in romance books?!)

Editor: Absolutely. Have you thought about the conflict—

Me: Oooh! And then! There could be some big inner demons the dude has, you know like he has these obsessions and phobias that mean he hardly gets any sleep so he’s slowly turning into—

Editor: Erm, Nat, slow down here. Tell me more about the emotional gravitas that makes—

Me: Oh, wait! I know! At one point, he has to choose between jumping off a building to save his woman, or jumping off the building to kill the bad guy, which would tear him up inside because he’s been trained, right out of the streets, to always, always get the target. But she’s too important to him. He’ll sacrifice everything for her! Did I mention the big honking scifi guns?

Editor: *headdesk*

LOL! What element of story creation is your favorite?

Plotting and brainstorming. Absolutely. To me, that’s where the purest form of artistic creation happens. You’re not thinking about language, about the mechanics, or the gears. Again, different vibes for different authors. But me, I love plotting. Over the years, I’ve use time lines, spreadsheets, sticky notes, character sheets like I used to do while playing Dungeons & Dragons. I have to plot, you see, because otherwise I’d veer off into the ditch and completely lose sight of the main idea. Kind of like I’m doing now. But worse. Much, much worse. Tremble.

See, I find this fascinating because a lot of people say characters. Very cool that plot is your favorite! Do you have any advice for unpublished authors?

Every time someone asks me that, I want to run the other way screaming like my hair is on fire. Unpublished authors shouldn’t take advice. They should get out the machete and aim for the beautiful and scary wilderness that is publishing, baby. Yeah, it’s intimidating at first. But it’s also awesome!

Fantastic advice (or non-advice, whichever you prefer!) :) Please tell us about another of your recent releases.

2010 was/is a busy year! As such, let me give it to you bullet style!

February 2010: Metal Reign (part of Samhain Publishing space opera anthology, out in ebook, coming in print December 2010). A hero who cooks, a heroine who leads an armada, and lots of ugly aliens.

April 2010: Full Steam Ahead (Red Sage publishing). My second steampunk novel . A mouthy heroine, sky pirates, and cities built on stiles!

August 2010: The Demon’s Secret (The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance 2, Constable & Robinson UK, Running Press US). Fashion-conscious demons, sneaky angels, a hero with a gold shotgun and a heroine with an even bigger gold shotgun.

December 2010: Metal Reign in print, my lovelies!

Wow, you have been busy! Congratulations! Do you have a question for blog readers?

Yes! I always have many, many questions to readers. Here’s one; why read romance? For baguette’s sake, we know it’s not easy reading romance when people look at it down their noses (and at you the same way). So why read romance? Personally, I read romance because it takes me somewhere that’s not where I am at the moment I’m reading. And, because I like it.

Nathalie is giving away an ebook of their choice to someone who comments!

Thanks for being our guest today, Nat!

Want to tweet Nat? She’s riiiiight here, baby. @nathaliegray

Also please visit her website!
http://www.nathaliegray.com/
Evolution of Magic
When I was a kid, magic was separating a thumb from a hand. I still remember the awe as the magician wiggled his completely attached fingers in front of my face then covered his left hand with his right palm only to have the thumb detach from the hand and slide across his fingers. As I grew older, magic became more elaborate to disappearing buildings and levitating.

As an adult, I am still awed by an awesome trick, but the definition of magic has taken on a whole new meaning. Magic is no longer just tricks and illusions. Magic is hearing the pure delight of my son’s cackle when he finds something hilarious. Magic is watching my daughter create six-year old masterpieces with her artistic mind. Magic is the smell of my mom’s cooking, which smells even better now that I’ve been away from home for twelve years. Magic is the taste of an ice-cold beer after a long, stressful day. Magic is the simple pleasures in life.

What do you find magical in life?

I wanted to share a review of The Panther’s Lair I received from Night Owl Review. Panther’s received Five-stars and Night Owl Reviews Top Pick.

Steamy, sexy and full of a hot French man with an accent that will melt you in 2 seconds flat, Panther's Lair will leave you satisfied!! Poor Sydney did not have a chance against Raimond, a true alpha male! When the two main characters came together the sex was hot and so very erotic that it will leave you in search for your own man!!
http://www.nightowlreviews.com/nor/Reviews/Missyb0103-reviews-The-Panthers-Lair-by-Esmerelda-Bishop.aspx


Esme
www.esmereldabishop.com
Beast in a Kilt receives high marks!

I received a fantastic reader review from Camryn Rhys I wanted to share with everyone!

Beast in a Kilt
by Nicole North
from Red Sage Secrets, Vol. 29

Genre: Historical Erotic Romance Novella (Scottish/Shapeshifter)
Publisher: Red Sage
Cost: $10.99

What I Liked:
After reading Nicole North's first historical erotic romance novella (also a Scottish/Shapeshifter book), Kilted Lover, and enjoying it, I was thrilled to hear that her next book had come out. So I immediately bought it. Given the fact that sequels usually disappoint me (I'm looking at you, Legally Blonde, X-Men, George Lucas, Matrix, Pirates of the Carribean... okay, I have to stop somewhere, but I could really go on and on and on... Disney... okay, I'm back), I was leery of this sequel. First of all, I'm not super crazy about the time-travel elements (which this story did not have), although I thought she handled that element in her first book better than most. And second, my fear of sub-par sequels nearly kept me from buying this book.

It would have been a shame if it had. I actually thought this book was better than the first. It had all the elements of the first story that I loved: the sensuality in addition to the hot sex, a really fantastic alpha hero, and of course the Scottish Highlands. There is something magical about the way Nicole North writes erotic romance relationships. Whatever magic wand she's got in her head to make it work, she Tim-Gunn's it right out of the park. She manages to make each sex scene absolutely vital to the progression of the relationship while also integrating important character development into the non-sensual parts of the book.

With erotic romance on everyone's radar now, I wouldn't be surprised to see Nicole North on the list of authors who have won an erotic romance RITA when RWA finally adds that category. She is an excellent writer, and I hope she writes many more of these Scottish Shapeshifter erotic romances in the future.

Book Blurb:
Scottish lady Catriona MacCain has loved Torr Blackburn, a fierce Highland warrior, since she was a young lass, but Torr only sees Catriona as his best friend’s little sister. When Catriona’s family promises her in marriage to a detestable chieftain, she desperately needs Torr to save her from a fate worse than death.

But Torr is under the spell of a witch of the dark arts and is cursed to spend his nights as a kelpie water demon. He doesn’t believe himself worthy of the virginal Lady Catriona. However, she is determined to seduce Torr and claim him… body, heart and soul, if only they can banish the curse and defeat the enemies who have vowed to possess and enslave them both.
***
A huge thanks goes out to Camryn!!!
Guest Interview: Saskia Walker
Please welcome our special guest, Saskia Walker!

Award winning British author Saskia Walker first dreamed of writing her own stories when she discovered a handful of romance novels stashed away in her school library. An avid reader, she lapped up the fun, the adventures, and the life-affirming emotion of these stories, but always felt dismay when the bedroom door closed the reader out. She vowed that if she ever had the chance to pursue her dream, all the passion would be right there on the page. Saskia finally began writing seriously in the late 1990s. By that time she'd traveled the world, got herself a BA in Art History, a Masters in Literature and the Visual Arts, and she'd worked in all manner of diverse careers—but the stories in her head simply had to be written.

Her first erotic short story was signed in '97 and since then she has had several single title novel and novella publications, and her work has appeared in over fifty anthologies including Best Women’s Erotica, The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica, and the Black lace Wicked Words series. She writes across genres, but always with the passion right there on the page! Her novel, DOUBLE DARE, received the Passionate Plume award for the Best Contemporary Erotic Romance of 2006.

Saskia lives in the north of England—close to the beautiful, windswept landscape of the Yorkshire moors—with her real life hero, Mark. Mark supports her work through all its ups and downs, and somehow manages to keep her sane and grounded when fiction threatens to take over.

Welcome, Saskia! You know I'm jealous that you live so close to Scotland! :) Please tell us about Sweet-Talking the Opposition in Secrets Volume 29 Indulge Your Fantasies.

Thank you for inviting me to be here at Fierce Romance! SWEET-TALKING THE OPPOSITION is about two journalists who’ve had a fling in the past. They get thrown together again when they are both sent to cover the launch of a luxurious new Rhine river cruiser. Eliza and Marcus are made for each other and they just don’t realize it, so I had to trap them on a boat together. :-) Eliza can’t resist an on-board affair, but she’s worried she’ll fall for Marcus. She decides she can stop herself getting emotionally involved by taking charge, sexually. She establishes ground rules for their affair while on board the river cruiser. With a dominant like Marcus, however, the fun turns out to be in the tug of love over who is on top…

I love stories set on boats! Who is your favorite character in this story and why?

I adore Marcus! He was such fun to write. He’s suave and charming, and women fall at his feet. He’s a talented journalist and his special area/obsession is extreme sports. That side of him gives a brawny edge to an otherwise sophisticated, urban man. When Eliza tries to keep him at bay it intrigues him because women usually make it easy for him. At one point in the story (when they return to London) she won’t open her door to hear him out. So he abseils down the outside of the building in order to talk to her through the window. I love that about him. ;-)

Readers can find an excerpt form my story here:
http://www.saskiawalker.co.uk/sweettalkingtheopposition.html

Whew! Hot excerpt! What inspired this story?

It was just one of those crazy ideas that popped into my head. I’d wanted to try my hand at a reunion story, and this was it.

I love reunion stories, too! Which element of this story was hardest for you?

Keeping it to a novella length! I fell in love with the characters, it was hard to say goodbye. I hope readers will enjoy them as much as I did.

What is your writing process?

An interesting question, because my process is something I used to fret about. It’s difficult when you start out and you read how other writers approach their work, but I honestly believe you need to find what works best for you. After many years I’ve come to terms with the fact that 90% of the writing goes on in my head, and getting it on the page is only 10%—but it’s the hardest 10%! :-) I tend to write in short stints and while I’m doing other things the story rolls on in my head, ready for the next stint. My routine is best described as meandering, but I get there in the end.

Everyone has their own unique process and I love learning about them. Please tell us about another of your recent releases.

My big novel length publication of the year is RAMPANT, an erotic paranormal romance set in Scotland. This one was published by Harlequin Spice in April. It was an amazing book to write, because it allowed me to indulge myself by writing about one of my favorite coastlines—The East Neuk of Fife in Scotland—and draw on the incredible legacy of witchcraft and persecution in the area. My heroine, Zoë, arrives at a cottage there for a vacation only to find herself in a hotbed of erotic magic. The hero is a gorgeous, sexy academic who is secretly a white witch and a guardian of the area. RAMPANT is set in the present day, but the back story unravels in glimpses the heroine has into the past, solving an old mystery of love, loss, and persecution.

If any of your readers would like to read an excerpt, they kind find one here:
http://www.saskiawalker.co.uk/rampant.html

Sounds fascinating! I must read this! Would you like to ask blog readers a question?

I’d love readers to tell me their favorite characteristics in a hero.

I’ve got a copy of RAMPANT to give away to one reader who comments!

Thanks for being our guest today, Saskia!
Indulgence - 5 Star Hotels
Here’s something I love to splurge on – a fancy hotel. Keep the designer clothes, the gourmet restaurants. Let me borrow a luxurious home away from home with top-notch service. Even better, I love to stay in a 5 star resort and not pay a penny. Since I am married to Traveling Man, who has lots of hotel points, I do get to enjoy this benefit more than the average person.

A few years back, we visited an Iberostar Resort on the “Mayan Riveria” in Mexico. Hubby had arranged free rooms for a one-week stay in this all-inclusive resort. We always let him check in because he always makes magic. This time, he flashed his business card and they upgraded us to the Presidential Suite for us, and the Queen’s Suite for the kids. (Don’t ask why it wasn’t King and Queen, but the important part was that the two suites were adjoining and had a connecting door.)

This was my first time ever in a Presidential Suite, and it was spectacular. It had a HUGE living room, bedroom, kitchen and dining room plus 2 baths and a walk in closet. Naturally, it was right on the beach and had a private deck complete with hot tub. Every morning the maids would artfully arrange the towels in decorative designs strewn with real rose petals.

Moving on, last year, the hotel industry was in the doldrums because of the bad economy. I seized the opportunity to book another 5-star hotel for a very reasonable price. We stayed at the Sacher Hotel in Salzburg. This landmark institution was all I could have hoped for and more. The picture (upper left) is the bar, but the entire public part of the hotel was decorated like this in an elegant, but comfortable style. The main lobby is a big atrium open to the full height of the hotel (four floors) with a glass ceiling, gold and iron filigree open staircases that looked like lace, and antiques and 19th century art work.

I have to share a couple more pictures. On the left is the cafe, where Austria's famous pastries are served. On the right is the smaller dining room where we ate breakfast overlooking a garden and the river. It was so charming and, the famous Sacher Torte, for which the hotel is known, was offered every day in the buffet. I know, dessert for breakfast, but who could resist? Calories don’t count on vacation.

Does anyone have a great hotel they can recommend? I’m actually traveling right now, but staying in a Best Western tonight. Lol.
Guest Interview: Dominique Sinclair

Everyone, please welcome our special guest, Dominique Sinclair.

Having lived in Africa, Mexico and around the United States as a child, Dominique calls the desert landscapes of Eastern Washington State home. When not writing, you can find her reading, dancing (everything from ballroom, two-stepping to Salsa) and growing weeds in her garden (she's given up on the vegetables!). Dominique is also a bookkeeper and tax specialist and graduate of the Citizen's Police Academy (for research.... there was no inappropriate flirting with the handsome men in uniform...). She is also an ordained minister and performs wedding ceremonies, a job she loves! Her family consists of two wonderful teenagers (yes, you just read the words wonderful and teenagers in the same sentence!), a very goofy Burmese Mountain Dog named Sawyer (after Sawyer on Lost!).

Welcome Dominique! Sounds like you have an exciting life! Please tell us about The Edge in Secrets Volume 29 Indulge Your Fantasies.

Edge is a hot, fast-paced adventure story of Catalina, a woman hell bent on tracking down a dangerous man in Mexico. Problem is, her old lover and partner, Noah, shows up with orders to bring her back to headquarters. Ambushed and forced deep into the jungle, Cat and Noah have more than bad guys to deal with, they have raw emotion, betrayal and their intimate past to deal with. Oh, and a pair of handcuffs to get off.

I love adventure. What inspired you to write this story?

The characters are my inspiration for every story I write. They come to me in the quiet moments of my mind. Some are fleeting and don’t stay around long. Others whisper to me and beg me to find out who they are, why they are here, where they are going. I give them a voice. It was Catalina’s mother who actually inspired Edge. Her terrible death and betrayal by the man she loved. The daughter she would never know.

When it comes to writing, what motivates you?

I am motivated to stay out of the mental hospital. If I don’t pretend all these voices in my head are characters, someone is going to question my sanity.

LOL! Which element of this story was most fun for you?

The danger, excitement and sex. Enough said.

For sure! Do you have any advice for unpublished authors?

Find an easier occupation. Unless you truly enjoy being rejected, your hard work torn apart, the best of your soul laid before complete strangers to be critiqued, talked about, loved and hated. Still listening? Write. Good, bad, right or wrong, just do it.

Please tell us what you have coming up.

I am currently working on another novella for Red Sage and dipping my toe in a non-fiction book.

Best of luck with that! Would you like to ask blog readers a question?

Boxers or briefs?

Great question! Please visit Dominique's website at:
http://dominiquesinclair.com/
Workshop: Turn up the Heat!

Workshop: Turn up the Heat! Heightening Sexual Tension and Sensuality in Your Manuscript

Presenter: Nicole North

Date: Sept. 6 - 30, 2010

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

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

Fun Extras
Visual inspiration
Multimedia examples and exercises




To learn more or sign up please visit this workshop page.

About the presenter: Nicole North writes sensual and erotic romance novels and novellas. She is the author of paranormal erotic romance novellas Devil in a Kilt, Red Sage Secrets Volume 27 Untamed Pleasures, July 2009; Kilted Lover, Nov. 2009; and Beast in a Kilt, Red Sage Secrets Volume 29, July 2010. She has finaled in over a dozen writing competitions and won several awards. She admits sexual tension and delicious love scenes are her favorite elements of romance and sprinkles them liberally through her stories. What others have said about her works: "This author handles sexual tension very well. Her characters are completely drawn to each other..." and "Wow! Talk about sexual chemistry. This story has it in spades. You're a natural in the romantic chemistry department." She has a BA degree in psychology. Please visit her website to learn more and read past student testimonials: http://www.nicolenorth.com/

Cost: $25

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

Thank you!
Nicole
What Would You Indulge In?
I’m starting off this week’s theme word: indulgence. Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to indulge in anything in months. LOL. What I can tell you is what I would indulge in if one or two things happened 1) I had the money or 2) I had the time.

A) Vacation to the beach. Yep. I would love to take a long weekend, a folding chair and a book and sit by the shore for hours on end. No worries, just me and the ocean breeze. Ohh, can’t forget the mixed drink! Really, how could I relax completely without the soothing effects of alcohol? For the simple interest of fantasy, since this is stuff I wish to do, the beach wouldn’t be any old beach. No, I’d settle for nothing less than the Caribbean, where the water is so clear and blue you can see the sting rays swimming, which means I wouldn’t get in the water, but it would be pretty cool to watch. I’d lay there with my sunglasses perched on my nose, with a twenty-something, tanned and muscular cabana boy who answers to my every whim. Ah, now that is a nice image!

B) On a lesser scale, I’d love to curl up with a book. I haven’t had time to read in a long, long time. The kids would go stay with their Nana for the weekend, and my apartment would suddenly turn into a cabin in the mountains with a roaring fire in the fireplace. Snow would lightly fall outside the window (I am sooooo sick of summer right now). I’d settle down in one of those over-plush, leather, lazy boys, throw a fleece blanket over me and read for hours. Me and a book, and no interruptions. Paradise.

C)Spa weekend. Who couldn’t use a full weekend of complete pampering? Goodness knows, I could. I’d get the whole kit and caboodle. A facial, massage, mani/pedi, hell, I may even partake in a mud bath. I’d walk around in one of those white robes all weekend and take all my food in my room. I would soak up the quiet and store it away. When I returned home, I’d be so completely relaxed and happy you’d think I was Snow-freaking-White. Oh, look at the pretty blue-bird.

I spend a lot of time dreaming about what I’d indulge in. My indulgences right now is getting in an hour of True Blood or taking a bath without the kids crashing into the bathroom. LOL. It never hurts to think about it though. One day, I will have the time and money to do this and my list will no longer be fantasy but a reality. Gosh, that sounds nice!

So if you could indulge in anything, what would it be?

Esme
www.esmereldabishop.com
New in Print from Kristin Daniels
Yay! It’s here, it’s here! My first solo print book! Sex, Lies and Rock & Roll released last Thursday from Ellora’s Cave, and I can’t tell you what a thrill it was to open the box and hold my very own book in my hands! I love everything about it – from the sexy stories inside all the way down to the hot, hot, hot cover.

Sex, Lies and Rock & Roll is a compilation of three steam novellas. Here’s the deets:

Lily's War

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

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

Nobody ever said she had to fight fair to win.

Unscripted

Brynn Lang is already beyond nervous about getting naked in front of the camera for her first big Hollywood love scene, and the situation only worsens when her new co-star arrives on the movie set. No way can she rush into filming a passionate sex scene, not with the one man who broke her heart.

Fresh from a three-month stint in rehab, Ryan Manning is now clear, focused and ready to tackle this role of a lifetime. But there’s more than just dollar signs and super-stardom enticing him. Brynn’s here, looking sexier than ever. Ryan’s determined to make amends for his drunk-assed mistakes and win her back, and he can’t think of a better way to jump-start her desire than reminding her of the inferno that always raged between them whenever they touched.

But nothing’s ever that easy. Brynn’s furious and refuses to listen. This time, he’s on his own. There’s no script for him to follow. All he has is sincerity, honesty and love. He hopes to hell and back it’ll be enough.

Chasing Eden

Graphic artist Eden Foster never expected a sexy game of hide-and-seek to turn into the hottest encounter of her life. The erotic dreams she’s had lately starring to-die-for rock star Shane Tolan are almost enough to make her forget how badly she wants to design his next CD cover. Almost, but not quite. And now here he is in the flesh, ready to chase after her.

Shane likes to play dirty and he finally has Eden right where he wants her—outside on a balcony, tied to a chaise lounge and under his complete control. But he soon discovers it’s not just Eden’s body he wants, but the talented, business-savvy artist, too. Hell, he wants every luscious part of her.

When paparazzi’s naked photos from that night show up on the internet, Eden is convinced her peers will believe she slept with the rock star just to design his CD cover. Shane knows nothing’s further from the truth. And in order to prove it to her, he’s going to have to show her his heart.

You can get your very own copy here!

In other news, I received some really great reviews this past week from Night Owl Reviews. Melinda and Chris had some very nice things to say:


One thing about Kristin Daniels is she knows suspense and action with a snap of her fingers. I loved the action throughout the whole book from the gunfight all the way to the end it never stops. The chemistry between Carli and Wes is one hot thing and it will take your breath away. The thing I liked the most was through it all there is a question about Ian, like what is his story. Kristin did a great job on that making this reviewer curious of what’s next. Kristin Daniels is good at what she does. Great job. ~~ Melinda, Night Owl Reviews


This was a smoking hot read, and covered a lot of creative and erotic positions for being such a short read… The possibility of discovery, the need to be quiet, added even more to the story. And Tara got what she wanted most of all, a man who loves her and makes sure to show her.~~ Chris, Night Owl Reviews

Both books were chosen as Night Owl Reviews Top Picks!

All in all, I’d say the last week or so has been pretty good! And as summer draws to an end, I can’t wait to get back to a daily routine of writing. I’ve got a few stories already in the works, and I look forward to finishing them and sharing them with everyone!

Kristin

www.kristindaniels.com

www.facebook.com/authorkristindaniels

http://twitter.com/kristin_daniels

Guest Blog: April Morelock


Join me in welcoming a friend of mine, April Morelock, as she introduces us to her debut release from Loose Id, Best Little Spin Wash in Texas. I can't wait to read tit!

Contest and New Release

Timid, geeky quantum physicist Molly Timmons lives in a man’s world of metaphysics when she meets a handsome John St. James at a Spin Wash and Go. One dark night trapped in the Spin Wash isn’t enough. Even as their relationship deepens, they learn of a dark secret the Spin Wash is hiding… a secret that could tear John’s world apart or could save his daugther‘s life.

Molly’s the key.

Time is running out. Will they figure out the Spin Wash’s secret or will they both be lost in time?

Excerpt:

His arms flexed as he slid the basket under his arm and walked around the washers. This was ridiculous; she needed to get laid if the simple pleasure of watching a man cross the floor had her flushed with sexual need.

Laundry detergent, White Rain shampoo, and something indefinable invaded her space and filled her senses as he walked past her.

It was hard to stay put.

She closed her eyes, took in another deep breath, and repressed a moan. This was why women loved sweaty men. Pheromones trumped common sense every time.

Forcing her eyes open, she watched him move; the hard muscles flexing and bending to his will A shift of his basket and his eyes clashed with hers, darkening. With a slow perusal, he took in her lightly muscled legs, encased in short blue shorts. She mentally slapped herself, thinking of how opaque her white T-shirt must look. Her mama had told her that, even with small breasts, she should always wear a bra.
Nipples peaked, pebbling through her shirt, as he continued his inspection, gray eyes almost black. She breathed shallowly, trying to ignore the ache blooming deep inside.

Molly was past shielding herself; she wanted those eyes on her. Her lack of propriety would have had her mother screaming a blue streak. Taunting a man like that, walking out of the house looking like a slut.

God, he had to stop looking at her.

He finally jerked his gaze away from her body and leaned down to drop his basket, then pulled the detergent and softener from it, those lovely muscles moving deliciously under his tan.

He was so close, and those jeans hit him in all the right places. She had to watch every movement, mesmerized by the bending and flexing of his thighs as he placed the detergent into the washer.

He was done too soon. His strong hands worked efficiently, the muscles underneath moving like strings on a piano. Strong. Graceful. Just the idea of those strong digits strumming her body, gliding across her skin, made her hold her breath.

She needed to get ahold of herself -- and quick -- if she was going to look him in the eye. Her face was tight, the skin undoubtedly flushed and almost feverish and not just from the heat and stickiness of the Spin Wash. She was letting her imagination get away with her.


Email me at april.morelock@gmail.com today to receive great free reads; you’ll also be entered into a contest for a copy of my new book Best Little Spin Wash in Texas. Or visit www.loose-id.com for you copy of Best Little Spin Wash in Texas today!
Celebrating with an Under the Kilt Contest


I'm celebrating my new release, Beast in a Kilt in Secrets Volume 29 Indulge Your Fantasies, with a month long Under the Kilt Contest. I love to hold this contest every time I have a new kilted or Scottish story released because it's usually great fun. To enter, just leave a comment below answering this question: What's worn under a kilt? The most clever, fun or entertaining answer wins. US entries only please.

What will you win? An "I (heart) Men in Kilts" tote bag and matching mouse pad featuring one of my book covers (Kilted Lover). The tote bag will contain 6 books of your choice including a signed copy of my first anthology Secrets Volume 27 Untamed Pleasures (contains the first story in the series, Devil in a Kilt) and other goodies! You can enter once per day if you wish. I'll announce the winner around September 10th. (If you win and you already have Secrets Volume 27 you can choose another book from my list.)

Thanks!

As you may already know, there are a lot of fun answers to "what's worn under a kilt?" Like: On a good day, lipstick. Or like in the song, The Scotsman, a blue ribbon.

Beast in a Kilt: Scottish lady Catriona MacCain has loved Torr Blackburn, a fierce Highland warrior, since she was a young lass, but Torr only sees Catriona as his best friend’s little sister. When Catriona’s family promises her in marriage to a detestable chieftain, she desperately needs Torr to save her from a fate worse than death. But Torr is under the spell of a witch of the dark arts and is cursed to spend his nights as a kelpie water demon. He doesn’t believe himself worthy of the virginal Lady Catriona. However, she is determined to seduce Torr and claim him… body, heart and soul, if only they can banish the curse and defeat the enemies who have vowed to possess and enslave them both.

By the way, if you have time, please check out my new interview posted at Fallen Angel Reviews.


www.nicolenorth.com
My newsletter: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nicolenorthnewsletter/

Twitter http://twitter.com/NicoleNorth

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/nicolenorth1
How do you Celebrate?
The writing life - and life in general - is a roller coaster ride. A series of ups and downs that can challenge our plans, leave us wondering if all the work is really worth it. Rejections. Recessions. Revisions. Why do we do it??

One of the best bits of advice I was given long ago was to celebrate all the good things that happen in your life. It doesn't even have to be the big things - like book sales. Or birthdays and weddings. Or hitting a best-seller list.

You finished a scene that had been giving you fits for days?? Celebrate!

You send off that query to the agent of your dreams? Celebrate!

The scale shows you're down a pound? Celebrate! (Although, maybe not with chocolate for this one lol)

I shared my recent celebration, red hearts and black scrolls etched into my skin to celebrate 15 sales. You don't have to get a tattoo, but do something!

Do you celebrate life's little joys? And if so, how do you do it? A bottle of wine or a splurge on chocolate are common celebrations. A dinner out. Or maybe a dinner in with your loved one doing the cooking and cleaning.

However you do it, remember to celebrate the little things as well as the big ones. Your life will be richer for it, and may make those roller coaster dips a little easier to bear.

Natasha
www.natashamoore.com
Author Interview: Tibby Armstrong

Please welcome a friend of mine, and newly minted fellow Ellora's Cave author, Tibby Armstrong! Tibby's first Ellora's Cave book, Sheet Music, released this past Wednesday.

Thanks for joining us here at Fierce Romance, Tibby! Can you tell us about your latest or upcoming release?


Sheet Music is a contemporary erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave. It is about enigmatic superstar, David Tallis, and the music journalist (Kyra Martin) who is out to get his story at any cost.


Is this your first book?


This is my first published work, unless you count financial prospectuses and technical specifications. I’ve written everything from paranormal to historical novels, but always romance, with one exception.


Well, romance is where it's at! What is it that you enjoy most about writing?


Losing myself in my characters’ lives is the most compelling thing about writing. I enjoy watching them come alive through successive drafts, weaving in additional details and sub-plots that make the story blossom. I used to think that writing the first draft was the best part. Now, I look forward to editing and the opportunity it affords to enrich the story.


We have that in common! I love to edit! Clue us in on your favorite character in your book.


Ah. *smiles* David. He is such a mysterious, edgy character. I didn’t really know him until half way through the first draft. He hid himself very well, even from me. Let’s just say he made me work for everything he gave me except the love scenes. Those simply flowed from him to me to the page. Apparently, I have a bit of a crush on him!


Deservedly so! David is one hot man :) As much as those scenes flowed, can you tell us what element of this story was the hardest for you?


That would have been David’s back story. He and I agreed that he had motivations that went beyond lost love. When he revealed what those motivations were, however, I initially said, “No! Not in an erotic romance!” He just gave me “the look” and I kept writing. Nobody survives that look! *laughs* Until the day I submitted the final draft, he and I argued about his back story. In the end, he won, of course, and I like him better for it. In fact, I’d say it’s a large part of my fascination with him.


I love it when a character keeps you on your toes! For now, though, tell us a little about you. When did you know you wanted to be an author?


I don’t think it’s a conclusion I came to overnight. It was a something I considered more of a fantasy or a dream for a long time—probably since college. I remember telling my third grade teacher I wanted to write stories when I grew up, but I don’t think I had a concept of what that really meant.


Like most authors, I’ve been honing my writing skills for most of my life; but I have to admit it wasn’t until relatively recently that enough pieces fell into place and I could write a story I could be proud of the whole way through. Until then, it was all about enjoying the learning process—in many ways it still is—and believing someday I would get it right.


Ultimately, I had a critique partner, Kristin Daniels, whom I met online. She encouraged me to try my hand at erotic romance. The process of writing my first story for the genre freed something in me, and I started to consider publication as a real possibility—started to think, “Maybe someday I’ll be an author!” I really owe a lot to Kristin for mentoring me.


You have me blushing! Seriously, it was a pleasure. I had a ball encouraging you to give the genre a try. Still, the road to publication isn't an easy one. Tell us about your journey.


I’ve submitted two novels to agents and publishers subsequent to landing the contract for Sheet Music with Ellora’s Cave. Before I submitted my first query letter, I read several books on how to write them. (Confession: I have a fetish for books on writing process and the publishing business, and have been reading them for close to two decades.)


Next, I showed my query and sample chapters to an author I respected. She gave me great advice on the importance of conflict hitting the reader in the face from page one of a story. I did rewrites, resubmitted, and while the manuscript was much better, it was still rejected many times over.


In the meantime, I went through a divorce and stopped submitting my work for two years. I did not stop writing, however. In fact, I wrote more. It was during this time that I came to understand why my novel was being rejected and I worked on honing my skills.


The first time I submitted Sheet Music to Ellora’s Cave, it was not accepted for publication. Rather, my wonderful, brilliant, ever-patient editor suggested some extensive revisions. In essence, the manuscript was too short for the story I was trying to tell. Taking her advice, I added in more back story to the initial chapters, and rounded out the latter half of the novel with additional chapters. After resubmitting the novel, it was accepted, and another stage in my journey began!


Is there anything you wish you’d known before becoming published?


I wish I’d had enough foresight to have a web site up and running before I was published, because while it has been fun, I’ve felt like I was running a marathon uphill since the day I found out Sheet Music was accepted. There is so much promotional work to be done, edits to focus on, and things to learn about the business side, that it’s not easy to get it all done and have time to sleep, breathe, and eat. Of course, it doesn’t help that I’m in graduate school working on a thesis project at the same time!


You are one of the busiest people I know! Tell me, do you have any advice for unpublished authors?


I sit on the edge of my seat when I see this question posed to other authors. I continue to learn so much from the answers.


Basically, I’m still learning, but this is my advice: Listen to the experts. Rely on people who have gone before you, and never be so wedded to your story that you aren’t willing to change it for an editor or agent. These experienced individuals have a great deal of insight to offer, and chances are if they’re telling you something about your story needs improvement, they are right.


Oh! I do have one other bit of advice. Submit your work! Get it read by critique partners, agents, editors, mentors, professors—anyone who is willing and able to give honest feedback. Again, these people have knowledge that can help you improve your writing quickly. If you think that you are going to get published by never allowing your writing to see the light of day until it is perfect, you are probably going to be waiting a long time. So, get your work out there. Make mistakes. Learn. Grow. And enjoy the process.


Great advice! Now that Sheet Music is out in the world, what’s next for you?


Right now I’m working on another contemporary erotic romance with a theme similar to Sheet Music. Two chapters and an outline are out of the way, and I’m at that delicious stage where I go to bed every night dreaming about my characters. I’m writing an edgy ménage this time, which is very new for me; but once again, the characters ran away with the story and won’t be denied!


Menage, one of my favorite genres!


Tibby, thank you so much for being here and telling us about you and your book! Ladies and gentleman, you can find Sheet Music here. In the mean time, here's the blurb and excerpt:


BLURB:


Music journalist Kyra Martin faces the toughest assignment of her career—to write a cover story about enigmatic heartthrob David Tallis. Deadline looming, Kyra plans to go undercover. When she ends up under the covers with the sexy superstar instead, can both her career and their budding relationship survive?


With a closet full of skeletons to hide, and a paparazzi-fueled divorce behind him, David Tallis despises the press. When Kyra Martin bribes her way into his life, her sexy assets have him composing a duplicitous seduction. Ensnared in a media maelstrom of his own making, can David face the music? Or will he lose Kyra, along with another piece of himself?


EXCERPT:

“Name?”

David Tallis’ velvet-over-steel voice made Kyra’s stomach do a little flip that had nothing to do with nerves. Her reply was throaty, laced with all the pent-up need she’d intended to hide.

“Kyra. With a y.”

She licked her lips and stared as his strong, long-fingered hand made a flourish across the liner notes and flipped the CD case shut. He held it out to her in a graceful motion, rough-cut onyx cufflinks twinkling in the ambient lights.

She flicked a glance at the CD then met his cobalt eyes and promptly forgot she was here for professional research purposes only.

The next words out of her mouth shocked them both.

“Mr. Tallis, I’m Kyra Martin.”

“Bloody hell,” he muttered under his breath, placing his hands, palms down, on the linen-covered table.

She straightened her shoulders and fought not to close her eyes at the blunder she’d kick herself for later. She’d planned to introduce herself tonight when she “accidentally” bumped into him at the bar, not at Danny Owens’ music store opening, but there was no going back now. In for a penny, in for a pound.

“I realize this is unusual, but I was in London and I haven’t been able to get your publicist to show you—”

“Out!”

His voice rang through the upscale store, and out of the corner of her eye she saw the paid event photographer lower his camera rather than taking the perfect paparazzi shot.

Kyra felt all eyes upon her as a hush fell over the gaggle of women who had been let past the ropes for the publicity event. She calculated she had about ten seconds before Tallis’ infamous private goon-squad threw her out the door, but persisted nonetheless. Award-winning music journalism didn’t happen without a little chutzpah, after all.

Leaning forward she played the sex card, letting her cleavage peek above the sweetheart neck of her black cashmere sweater, her pearls swinging forward in a rhythmic arc.

“I’m sure we can find something to talk about that would be mutually agreeable.”

He held up a hand to stay the bodyguard who’d appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, and his eyes made a disdainful dip to the offered view.

“I’m sure we could. I doubt you’d be writing about it in Rolling Stone, however. Hustler, perhaps?” His crisp accent made the jibe more pointed than it otherwise would have been.

Kyra smiled slowly. “Touché.”

Opening her purse, she took out a business card and slid it into the breast pocket of his suit jacket. With a breathless “Call me” that would bring most men to their knees, she turned and sashayed past the line of gaping women out into the early summer rain to hail a taxi.

“The Ritz,” she directed as she slid into the gleaming black car.

Stretching catlike, she smiled at her bit of brilliance. It might not have gone off exactly as she had planned, but it was a first step. Yes, there was always a way around a publicist.

As for David Tallis, he might not have given an interview in the better part of a decade, but she refused to be cowed by the likes of him. Rather, he was an irresistible puzzle. A man, who, no matter what strings the press pulled, seemed to have no past before age thirteen. No parents. No history. All they could uncover was a prep school education in a remote area of Scotland, and an improbably quick rise to international music stardom.

Even before he’d begun refusing to talk to the press, they’d all been prepped not to mention his childhood. Anyone who deviated from the script had received the famous Tallis glare and an abrupt end to the interview.

He had another think coming if he thought he could brush her off so easily. She could tolerate living naked on an iceberg—as long as she got her story. And she would get it. She might have blown the advantage of surprise, but she hadn’t failed yet in an assignment. It was something her editors counted on, and something on which she had staked her reputation and built her career thus far.

She would be the go-to name for the music industry glossies by the time she was finished, and no one would stand in her way. Her editor had assured her that if she got this story she could write her own ticket. If she didn’t… Well, failure was something she refused to contemplate.

Leaning her head back against the seat, she rested her eyes as the cabbie made his way to The Ritz where she—and David Tallis—would be spending the next week. Behind her closed lids she remembered his eyes. They had been even more stunning than on the cover of his latest CD. When they shot his picture for the story she’d have the set draped in fabric dyed to match their Mediterranean blue.

She pictured him naked from the waist up, in a casual pose that showed readers the sensual man behind the music. His covers were far too reserved for her taste. He needed more smoke, like his voice. Something that screamed sex.

Feeling a flush spread through her veins, Kyra wondered if the cabbie had turned up the heat. She shifted in her seat and blew out a breath. It was probably jet lag combined with the stress of her opening salvo with David that had affected her. It certainly couldn’t be his famous sex appeal. She was too jaded to be taken in by someone as pampered, pompous and self-interested as a musician—especially one with a pour-down-your-spine accent and hands that looked like they could caress the clothing off her body with one deft flick of his fingers.

Her purse rested between her thighs and she rocked forward to let the leather bite into her, imagining the heel of David Tallis’ palm in its place, picturing sitting on the edge of the autograph table in front of him at the signing. He’d have her thighs splayed wide, her skirt bunched so that her bottom rested against the cool linen.

He’d grind his hand harder into her folds, giving rough little slaps as he found a rhythm that reminded her of one of his Latin-inspired numbers. She’d arch her back and he’d hold her up with his other hand to grip her shoulder.

“Come for me, baby,” he’d growl, and she’d widen her thighs.

Her cell phone rang and her eyes flew open to meet the cabbie’s stare in the rearview mirror. They must have been sitting curbside for a full minute. Had the man been watching her? Did he know what she’d been doing? A twinkle in his brown eyes told her he did.


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