Backlist Eye Candy

It's another Eye Candy week at Fierce Romance! Sitting at my desk, looking at the awesome wall of covers my hubby made for me, I thought I should share some of the eye candy I get to look at every day. :)

I've been lucky to get a lot of hot male chests on my covers. Like this cover from my very first release from Ellora's Cave, Nothing to Fear.



And how about this sexy pirate from my eRed Sage release, Quinn's Curse?



And how about the abs on this sexy photographer hero on the cover of another release from eRed Sage, Dark Angel?



Red Sage has given me some excellent eye candy. Here's the big, bad Wolfe from The Better to Eat You With.



And I know this post is titled Backlist Eye Candy, but I couldn't resist including the cover from my upcoming release from Samhain, Flaunt It. You can't get much better than the back view of my bartender hero.



Actually, I'm missing three covers on my wall. I'm going to have to give my hubby a nudge to print, frame and hang my last three covers. It's not only inspiring, it's an awesome dose of daily eye candy.

Natasha
www.natashamoore.com
It's Done!
Back in December I wrote about (and posted pictures of) the space my husband was building for me. And now -- It's finished! For the most part, anyway... There's still the trim that needs to be installed inside my office, and well, the outside (my new foyer ceiling) is still just drywall... But I'm in here, and I'm LOVING it. I moved in on January 17th, and since then I've had 2 of the most productive writing weeks I've had in a long while. It feels so great to have a space to call my own, where I can let my creative juices flow. So, without further ado, here it is!

Are these not the best bookcases ever? Problem is, I have more books that won't fit on here...

My lounger. I love to sit here with my laptop. And yeah, it's a little crowded in here. I guess that'll teach me not to buy all the furniture before the room is even done! But I loved everything I picked out and couldn't find it in me to return a single thing!

This is the cool part... That monitor and keyboard there? They're hooked up to a docking station, which I attach (wirelessly) to my laptop. So with one computer, I have the luxury of using it as a desktop with a bigger monitor, or unhooking it and sitting with the laptop in, say, my new lounger.

A close-up of my desk.

And this??? THIS is my glass dry-erase board. I have great intentions of storyboarding on here, or maybe just making notes, or... hell, I don't know. But it's cool, huh?    
A closer pic of my bookcase. Thank you, IKEA... :)

And last but not least, the view from my desk... I've put blinds on the window since I took this picture. And come spring, we'll replace it with one that opens (remember this was the window high in my foyer that was mainly for letting in light and for decoration). I really can't wait until we do that. I'm a fresh air kinda girl :)  Through that door is my bedroom, which we're planning on updating so the two rooms will flow together. I suppose that's our next home renovation project! 
So, there you have it. It took eight weeks, start to finish, working mostly weekends. My husband is an amazing man, and so very talented. He poured a lot of love into this room, and I feel that love every time I walk in here.

Hope you enjoyed the tour!

Kristin
www.kristindaniels.com
www.facebook.com/authorkristindaniels
http://twitter.com/Kristin_Daniels
Zumba!
A new activity I've started recently is Zumba, the dance exercise which seems to be the latest fitness craze. I took this class at the beginning of the summer when I wanted an aerobic class and my health club didn't have much on offer (summer doldrums). So, mostly in desperation, I decided to try it.

It was so much fun!!!!!

I want to tell you that I am not a trained dancer. I'm not into the kind of music that my Zumba instructor plays (though I have grown to like it). So it wasn't necessarily a natural fit for me. But the routines engage both your body and your mind and the music makes you feel like moving. So what is not to like?

This link is one provided by my instructor. You can't get the total feeling by watching a video, but you can see that it's not as difficult as you might think.

Andrea Rowlee is a wonderful instructor - enthusiastic, talented and funny (and also considerably skinnier than she looks here).

I started dragging some of my friends to the class. Then my daughters decided to join us and they brought their friends. That's how much fun it is. Before long, half the class was there because I'd brought them. But everyone talks to each other between songs, so it doesn't matter if you have all your friends and relations there, or not.

The other thing I like about Zumba is that it's appropriate for people of all ages, and you don't have to be especially fit. There are senior citizens in the class, and some of the kids I've brought are 12-13. The moves can be complicated, but our instructor gives some mini demos at the beginning of class. More importantly, if you can't exactly duplicate the move, that's okay. Just jump around to the music and have fun. In fact, we greatly enjoy laughing at ourselves.

No men have been brave enough to enjoy our class (though they don't mind standing outside and peeking in through the windows!). My sister says she has men in her class, and I've seen them online. Zumba was actually started by a man. His story is that he arrived at a fitness class he was teaching and realized he'd forgotten his music and so he started improvising with the music he had.

Has anyone else tried Zumba? What do you think?
Driving in Scotland

One new thing I tried during the last few months was driving in the UK. As you know, they drive on the left or the “wrong side of the road” to us Americans. This was something I was excited about learning, yet also terrified of.


When driving in the Highlands, it’s easy to get distracted by the beautiful scenery or the hairy Highland cows. Sometimes it's better to pull off the road and look your fill. :) Above is Glencoe



In the end, driving wasn’t so bad. Yes, almost everything is reversed to what we’re used to. You have to sit on the right side of the car. You shift the gear with your left hand. Luckily for us, we’d asked for an automatic when reserving the rental car. Fortunately, the gas and brake are in the same place as American cars.

Before you go, I recommend that you study all the UK road signs online, just as if you were going for your license renewal in the US. The UK also has a lot of signage or symbols painted on the pavement itself.

What do you need to know if you’re a beginning driver in the UK? Study the maps of wherever you’ll be driving first. (Or have a companion do it.) In our case, I studied the maps beforehand and my friend did the driving the first day. (I was terrified, remember?) So anytime it wasn’t clear which road, ramp or turn to take, I knew based on what I’d already studied on Google maps, etc.

Use a GPS. It won’t always steer you to the right destination but most of the time it will.

Until you get comfortable, don’t speed or try to keep up with traffic. Yes, you will no doubt make some of those Scots angry, but it’s safer to not drive faster than you’re comfortable with. There is often a lot of fog or the famous Scottish mist and also rain.

Take a deep breath, and don’t worry about it. At some point, you have to gain confidence and just go for it. I didn’t want to drive through the middle of Edinburgh, or any city for that matter. But once we were in the country and small towns, where the pace is slower, I was ready to try driving for the first time. It wasn’t so bad. It was like being in drivers ed again. For one thing, you have to learn where you are in relation to the edge of the road. Most of the two lane roads are narrow and they have a curb right at the edge of the lane (see above). No shoulder, like we usually have here. So the positioning of the car in the lane has to be very precise. This to me was the most difficult thing to learn, and to deal with. Since you’re on the opposite side of the car than you would normally be, the tendency is to get too close to the curb, scrub it, or even hit it with the tire from time to time. My friend did hit it once, but nothing bad happened, just a slight jolt.

Another important thing that’s difficult to remember is which way to look when you’re making a turn from a main road onto a side road. Look in the direction you’re facing. My friend forgot this one time and we almost got smashed. But luckily the other driver slowed down in time. When pulling from a parking lot onto the road, I developed the habit of making sure nothing was coming from either direction. That way I was safe for sure, instead of having to figure out the logistics of everything again. One time I even pulled out onto the wrong side of the road but my friends' screams quickly reminded me which lane I was supposed to be in. :)

Roundabouts (aka traffic circles) are the things that give most new UK drivers nightmares. Yes, they can be scary and intimidating, depending on the size of the roundabout and how much traffic there is. In small towns, they’re not so bad. But some roundabouts are three or four lanes deep. And some roundabouts have traffic lights. No matter the size or amount of traffic, the important thing to remember is: don’t pull out in front of a car already in the roundabout. The cars in the roundabout always have the right of way. If the road approaching the roundabout has only one lane, no problem. You pull up, wait until there’s nothing coming, then you pull out and signal for which turn you’re taking. If you’re turning left, signal left. If you’re going straight, wait until you pass the first exit, then signal left and take the correct exit. If you’re turning right, signal right. Once you pass the other exits, signal left to get off the roundabout. Clear as mud?

Here’s a video that explains it more clearly.

If there are two or more lanes approaching the roundabout then you have to figure out which lane you should be in. If you’re going left, it’s easy, signal left and then take the first exit. I'll let this video explain the rest.

Learning how to navigate 3 or 4 lane roundabouts



Towns or cities are the most difficult to travel through. Two lane roads can also be a pain at times. Wide four lane roads are probably the easiest because, well, they’re wide. If you go slow, people behind you can pass. If someone in front of you is slow, you can pass.

We found two versions of the single track or one lane roads. In places like Isle of Skye (see top picture), the roads have plenty of passing places. You see a car coming in the distance and whoever gets to the passing place first stops so it’s easy to pass. But in places like rural Aberdeenshire, there are more bushes, trees and shrubbery so you can’t see very far around curves. And there are almost no passing places. Luckily we didn’t meet anyone. I really didn’t understand what we were supposed to do if we had. Scrape by and drive half on the grass? Good luck with that if you’re meeting a huge farm tractor.

The terminology is also different at times, for example, overtake means pass. And give way means yield.
Driving in the UK was definitely an adventure and something I look forward to practicing more. :)
Vonda
www.vondasinclair.com
 
Guest: Kris Tualla - Humor in an Intense Historical
Who says an intense historical can't have its share of humor?

Certainly not I.

Humor is timeless; people laughed in every era. You know as well as I do that some Neanderthal somewhere tripped on a rock, wind-milled his arms frantically, and fell on his arse in the mud. And someone was laughing. Hard.

Humor makes manuscripts more believable. Humor makes characters more real. It can keep a scene from becoming overly maudlin or sappy. Or harsh. It can start - or halt - an argument. Besides that, life is funny.

And it can get an author out of some boring situations. For example, I just finished the draft of a book that has a medieval knight staying on a Scottish border estate. He is assigned a valet as a matter of course. But I got really tired of mentioning when the man came into the room. It simply wasn't interesting.

So I stared having him just appear - and kind of freak out the hero:

The first "odd" reference:
Drew wanted to ask Jamie what specifically had happened. How Eryn could be accused of murder. Who witnessed any part of Geoffrey’s demise. When had she left the estate.
But as he stepped around the maids still scouring the bloody stones, he couldn’t make a coherent sentence.
Jamie led Drew to the room that was once Eryn’s. To the bed where he slept a full, blissful night beside her.
“The Lady moved into the master’s chamber,” Jamie answered Drew’s unspoken confusion. “I’ll have ye in here now.”
Ian began to help him undress, though that was not Drew’s intent.
Where did he come from? Drew mused. That man always seems to materialize out of air.

The second reference:
Drew pulled a deep breath and blew it out. “I believe I ken where she’s gone—”
“Elstow Abbey?” Jamie interrupted.
“Aye. And she’s canny enough to ride low and no’ be noticed. Do ye agree?”
“I do.” The steward looked hopeful.
“So now I must find out what made McDougal so angry.” Drew stood and wiped his mouth. Ian suddenly appeared at his elbow with a clean tunic over his arm. “How do ye do that, man?” Drew sputtered.
Ian looked at the garment in his hands. “Water and a brush. Why?”

The third reference:
“I’m afraid we met with some unfortunate circumstance on our travels, and this sorry apparel is all that I now own,” Drew said to the smiling steward. He pulled at the fabric. “I fear that even Ian might not be able to salvage these.”
“My lord, you do me a disservice,” Ian said.
Drew startled. He looked over his right shoulder. “How long have you been standing there?”
The valet looked puzzled. “I only just arrived, sire.”

It's not slap-your-knees funny. It's just quirky-make-you-smile funny. The key to a running gag is for it to happen three times. Less doesn't cement is as a "thing" and too often can get old. Three or four. Perfect.

Of course, intentionally funny single scenes can happen as well. This scene isn't in my book. But it could have been:

Geoffrey stomped toward his steed, having said his piece brilliantly and given the pompous knight a solid earful. He gripped the saddle's pommel and jammed his boot into the stirrup. One swift toss of his leg and he would gallop away, spitting dust on the man's velvet cloak.
He hopped up, putting all of his weight on his left leg and lifting his right - when the saddle slid under the belly of the gelding and Geoffrey landed flat on his back in a puddle of still-warm horse piss.

In A Matter of Principle I have a running gag between Nicolas Hansen and his adolescent cousin Leif, whom he has adopted. It refers to an offer made by Nicolas's ex-whore to de-flower the teenage boy, and is referred to by Leif on several occasions. His wish to accept the offer is amusing, eases tension at the end of hard scenes, and it reads believably.

I can't help it. My characters have enough of me in them, that they are always finding the ridiculous connection - and they say something barely appropriate or quirky at the oddest times.
So. Isn't it time you found a new brand of hero? Norway IS the new Scotland, after all.

For every 10 people who comment here, I will give away one free e-copy of A Woman of Choice - the beginning of the trilogy. And, yes. Commenter #11 warrants 2 copies! Comment #21? I'll give away three.

BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!

In February at the end of my blog tour, I'll give away one SIGNED PAPERBACK SET of the trilogy. Here's how you can get in on that deal:

1. Go to http://www.kristualla.com/ and find the "Secret Word" on my home page.
2. Send an email to ktualla@cox.net with "Signed Trilogy Giveaway" in the subject line. Put the secret word in the body.
3. Comment on any blog at any time in the tour to activate your entry. Each day's blog location is listed at http://kristualla.wordpress.com/blog-tour-dates-locations/

A Woman of Choice, A Prince of Norway, and A Matter of Principle are all available at http://www.goodnightpublishing.com/

A Woman of Choice - Missouri Territory, 1819
A woman is viciously betrayed and abandoned by her unfaithful husband. She is rescued by a widower uninterested in love. In desperation, she becomes engaged to his best friend. One woman, three very different men. Life is about choices.

A Prince of Norway - Christiania, Norway, 1820
American-born Nicolas Hansen has been asked to candidate for his great-grandfather's throne. His new wife Sydney isn't about to let him go to Norway and face that possibility alone. The moment they arrive at Akershus Castle, the political intrigue and maneuvering begin. Can Sydney trust anyone? Will Nicolas resist the seduction of power? Or will he claim the throne for himself? Most importantly: will their young marriage survive the malicious mischief of the ambitious royal family?

A Matter of Principle - St. Louis, State of Missouri, 1821
Nicolas Hansen has returned from Norway determined to change the world. But when he runs for State Legislator in the brand-new state of Missouri, the enemies he made over the past two years aren't about to step quietly aside. Sydney has made enemies of her own, both by marrying Nicolas and by practicing midwifery. When a newspaper reporter makes it his goal to destroy them, Nicolas must rethink his path once again. But this time, it's a matter of principle.
Nostalgia in Vermont
Vermont is a state which takes its nostalgia seriously. Covered bridges, antique homes, quaint downtowns - they preserve a lot of history. It's a very rural state and they have kept out most mass merchants. But country stores, often dating from the 1800s are everywhere, and they are a lot of fun to visit.

The first one I show is the Barnard Country Store, which is across the street from Silver Lake. It's a large store with a small dining area at the back. In front of this lunch counter are half a dozen tables, and you may well sit family style with strangers. This store was discovered by a group of our friends who like to ride their bikes here. It's about 20 miles (one way) from where we stay, and it's a mountainous ride. (Vermont comes from the French words for Green Mountains.) So my husband took his motorcycle and met them there for breakfast. (He claims the other men offered him large sums of money to trade vehicles for the ride home.)

He liked it so much he took the family next week for breakfast (via car, no I don't do 40 mile bike trips). The store is charming, crammed with food, odds and ends, original wide plank floors and a bathroom best avoided. But we were there to eat. I'm going to say it's probably not wise to eat at a country store founded in 1832. My back was to the grill, but soon after ordering, I smelled smoke.

"The toaster is on fire," my husband reported.
"My toast is in there," I said.

Sure enough, when we were "served", my toast was as black as sin. But, to make up for it, I guess, my scrambled eggs were raw. All part of the charm.

This wine room is from Gillingham's, a well-known country store in Woodstock. Woodstock is a resort town developed by the Rockefellers, and their descendants still own a large part of the town, including Gillinghams.

This is an amazing store with several different rooms each dedicated to its own specialty. In the back is a large, dark, hardware section - a place I don't venture. In front of it there's a bright and cheerful kids' room selling books, games and toys. Loads of fun.

Then there's a grocery section with lots of specialty foods, particularly Vermont foods. Finally, the wine room above and, in the front of the store, a nice home goods section where you can buy the perfect hostess gift. Everything is crowded together so it's a fun adventure to look around and see what you might find. The kids' room and the wine room are each guarded by large and lazy cats. It's a true general store.

These country stores are actually owned and operated by individuals. Sometimes I wonder how long they can maintain such individual businesses. There are no economies of scale, no computerized inventory systems, no lengthy hours of operation.

They have loads of charm.

But there are Walmarts in the state now.
Today is Jan. 18th. What does that mean?
I’m so sorry this is late! I just realized I needed to blog. Got a kid sick with the flu. UGH! Anyway, I’ve finally got a few minutes to sit down and check my email and was like “Oh crap!”

Anyway, today is a big day! Why??

Karen Marie Moning’s last book of the Fever series came out today. Shadowfever! Can you tell I am excited?

Unfortunately, I can’t sit down and read it for a few more days, which royally sucks, but I have so much catching up to do from my town being shut down for fives days because of snow and ice. (Yes, you read that correctly. Five. Days. With. Six. Kids.) Plus the crud has run rampant through the house. Stuff like this seems to always happen when I’m days away from finishing a project.

Anyway, back to Shadowfever. It’s been a long wait and if Mrs. Moning can do one thing it’s leave her readers are a major cliffhanger. Do you know how long a year is to wait for answers? It’s a long dang wait, lol.

So anyone with me? Anyone already started or, heck, finished?? (No spoilers, please:)

Esme
www.esmereldabishop.com
5 Cups for Secrets Volume 29 Indulge Your Fantasies

We have a wonderful new review from Coffeetime Romance!

SECRETS VOL 29 [INDULGE YOUR FANTASIES]
SASKIA WALKER, NATHALIE GRAY, DOMINIQUE SINCLAIR, NICOLE NORTH
ISBN # 978-1-60310-124-0
July 2010
Red Sage Publishing
www.eredsage.com
E-Book
$9.99
305 pages
Rating: 5 Cups



Sweet Talking the Opposition

Eliza is a celebrity reporter expanding her skills when she signs up to write about Rhine cruises. It is there she sees Marcus, the one who loved and left her.

Marcus is covering the Rhine tour as a favor, but when he sees Eliza, all he wants is another chance with her. The couple may have a chance on the romantic tour, but this time Eliza is making sure she does not get hurt.

This was such a great “second chance” story. I could understand Marcus’s reasons and Eliza’s worry. The sex is exceptional but the romance is always in the forefront. The background adds to the sensuality of the story.

Ms Walker is a genius as bringing the caring into carnal and her use of dialogue to show emotions is nearly perfect.

Chimera

Mayor Selene Delian is about to announce her planet’s readiness for independence. With numerous forces acting against her, she trusts her guard Agent Corinth to protect her.

Corinth loves Selene, but unknown to him, he has an implant that turned him into a sleeper agent programmed to attack Selene when given the command.
Treachery and treason surround the couple but will Corinth’s love be strong enough to save Selene.

Chimera is an interesting futuristic political sci-fi. The plot is so intriguing that the super-hot and madly enjoyable sex was a secondary aspect of the story. The characters are well developed, the action convincing and the dialogue worked well.

As a lover of politics, getting to read Ms Gray’s sexy thriller was exceptionally wonderful and her thoroughly outlined story was a page-turner from the very beginning.

Edge

Catalina has left everything, including the Department of International Intelligence, to find her father, who killed her mother years ago. She misses her old life, including her ex Noah, but nothing will stop her.

Noah knows Catalina will fight him when he accepts the assignment to bring her back. When the two realize more is at stake than finding her father, they work together. As a team, they can face anything, including the cold hard truths that will shake them to their core.

Edge is a very busy and touching story. The action is face-paced with numerous villains. It is a really adventure filled story that is touching in the way it shows how important love and trust are in the world.

Ms Sinclair is a romantic adventure writer that is setting the standard. Her characters are as compelling as her storylines.

Beast in a Kilt

Lady Catriona has loved Torr for years. Now that she has been bartered off to a hideous chieftain, Catriona knows it is time for Torr to save her and find her missing brother, Brodie.

Torr has been cursed but will protect Cat from the danger he has become. The soon realize their love is binding them as much as the witch’s curse is cursing Torr and Brodie.

How can one not love a cursed hottie in a kilt? This is a spine tingling story that has a wonderful romance within. The paranormal abounds as does noble politics. Of course the sex is thrilling as is the plot.

I love Ms North’s work, and it helped knowing her previous Secret story, Devil in a Kilt, but was not completely necessary.

The record of fantastic sensual romantic books in the Secrets series continues. There is not a book I did not enjoy, and each is good on its own. More than just the sex, which is wonderful by the way, the storylines are well developed. This book has everything a romance readers needs and more. All I need now is more room on my bookshelf.

Anya
Reviewer or Coffee Time Romance and More
Guest interview: Angela Henry

Everyone, please welcome Angela Henry, our special guest for today!

Angela Henry was once told that her past life careers included spy, researcher, and investigator. She stuck with what she knew because today she's a mystery writing library reference specialist, who loves to people watch and eavesdrop on conversations. She's the author of four mysteries featuring equally nosy amateur sleuth Kendra Clayton, and is also the founder of the award-winning MystNoir website, which promotes African-American mystery writers, and was named a "Hot Site" by USA Today.com. When she's not working, writing, or practicing her stealth, she loves to travel, is connoisseur of B horror movies, and an admitted anime addict. She lives in Ohio and is currently hard at work trying to meet her next deadline.

Welcome to Fierce Romance, Angela! Please tell us about The Paris Secret, your new book out from Carina Press.


Here is the official cover copy for The Paris Secret.

Less than twenty-four hours after fleeing to Paris, Maya Sinclair is the prime suspect in a brutal murder—and targeted by the real killer. When she's viciously attacked in the gardens of Versailles, Maya barely escapes with her life thanks to sexy French journalist Simon Girard.

Simon has been investigating the mysterious death of his brother, an art forger with ties to the woman Maya is suspected of killing. Still healing from heartbreak of his own, Simon reluctantly joins forces with Maya, who has awakened feelings within him he thought long dead.

Their search for answers uncovers the existence of a secret society, and puts them on a quest to find a missing crucifix rumored to hold the key to everlasting life. Together, Maya and Simon race through Paris one step ahead of a killer who will do anything to ensure some secrets remain buried forever...

Why did you choose Paris for the setting of this book and how did it play into the plot or characterization?

Well, I'd been dying to go to Paris for years. But I either didn't have the money or couldn't find anyone to go with me. So in 2007 I finally got up the nerve to go by myself. It was love at first sight! It's such an amazing and beautiful city, so full of history. I just knew I had to set a novel there even before I came home. And while I was touring the Palace of Versailles, I heard a story from my tour guide about a French Queen who gave birth in the palace to a child fathered by her African lover, which gave me the idea for the plot.

What an inspiring story! Visiting our favorite places can really spark the story ideas. Please tell us about your other books.

I also write a cozy mystery series featuring amateur sleuth Kendra Clayton. The series consists of four books so far, with a fifth out next year, and is set in the fictional college town of Willow, Ohio. The series is very near and dear to my heart. So much so that when my former publisher changed directions and stopped publishing mysteries, I took over the publication of the series.

A smart idea! What inspires you? What motivates you?

I get inspiration from everything. It's so hard to pin down where it comes from. Sometimes it comes from a real life situation or even from a dream I had. I'm also constantly playing the 'what if' game. For example, I'm a librarian and when I decided to write The Paris Secret my first question was "What if a librarian took a solo trip to Paris, met a hot Frenchman, and had an adventure? That was all it took. I had to answer that question. I'm motivated to write by all the stories swirling around in my brain that I just have to let out.

When did you know you wanted to be an author?

I knew I wanted to be an author when I was in my teens and writing short stories for English class. But I didn't actually attempt my first novel until I was in my late twenties.

What was the most important thing you learned just before you made your first sale?

I learned patience and perseverance! From the time I typed the words The End on my first novel to the time I was offered a contract for it, ten years had passed. That was ten years worth of rejections and near misses, and good old fashioned waiting. But I believed in that first book enough to hang in there and keep trying.

I agree with you! What do you wish you’d known before becoming published?

That publishing is a business and your work can be rejected for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of your writing. If a publisher can't figure out how to market your novel, or they already have a book on their list simaliar to yours, or the sales of your last book were low, it's likely you'll get rejected.

Unfortunately that's very true. What’s next for you?

I'm working on my very first urban fantasy novel. I'm also working on a proposal for the next Maya and Simon adventure as well putting the finishing touches on my fifth Kendra Clayton novel KillJoy.

These sound fantastic! Thanks so much for being our guest today, Angela! Would you like to ask blog readers a question?

Yes... What is your favorite city and why?

One lucky commenter will win a copy of The Paris Secret!!

Please visit Angela's website, blog and Twitter page.

http://www.angelahenry.com/
http://parissecretnovel.blogspot.com/
http://www.twitter.com/mystnoir
What's all the Fuss About
Waking up as a child on Christmas morning. Balancing on my bike without the training wheels. Earning a college degree. Seeing Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr in concert. Having my first book published. All of these events were exciting and resulted in cherished memories. How my mood soared and nothing could spoil the moments following. Synapses firing. Fingers tingling from adrenaline surges. Many sleepless nights, skinned knees, study sessions, and hours at the computer delivered the stuff of which dreams are made.

Some of my favorites are captured in these video bits. Twist, shout and celebrate your passions in life! Cheers!

The Beatles Arriving in America for the First Time --



Super Bowl Champion Colts --



Moon Landing in 1969 --




Wishing you all many happy reading moments,

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

Shawna's Myspace
Helle's Myspace
More of My Favorite Things
A few months back I posted about a few of my favorite things. I said then that I could keep going with my list, but would save a few for next time. Well, here's next time!

Let's see... Where to start...

My Kindle. Love, love, love this device. Anywhere I go, I have an entire library in my hands. I love how I can download new books with just a few simple clicks. I love it so much that when my husband asked to borrow it for a 2 week out of town business trip, my immediate response was, "Um, I don't think so, dear." The funny thing was that he seemed really shocked by my answer!





Sullivan's Steakhouse. If we're friends on Facebook or you follow me on Twitter, you know how much I love going to this restaurant. There are several locations across the country. If you're close to one -- GO! Stop in the bar and order a Knockout Martini. I promise, you won't regret it.



My new Embrace Sculpture. Thanks to author friend Laurann Dohner who turned me on to this sculpture. It arrived just a few days after I placed the order and is now waiting to be placed in its permanent home -- on my new desk in my new office. Talk about writing inspiration!

And my most favorite thing so far this (new) year:

This lovely woman in the picture next to me! That's Mari Freeman, my writing sprint partner (we're all dolled up for the 20's party at last year's RomantiCon). I can't tell you how much she's helped me this year. She's kept me on track with the sprints (which has upped my focus so much!), helped me tremendously with CSI information for my new book, and has been a really great friend. Hugs and kisses to you Mari! What time are we sprinting today??

Of course, I still have more favorite things I can share, but I'll hold those back for yet another post. See you all next week!

Kristin
www.kristindaniels.com
Exciting with an E!
What more appropriate topic for the week when I start a new adventure than excitement?

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

I've been contemplating trying to sell some stories on Amazon Kindle for a long time, and I've finally done it. It was hard, hard work, but it's been worth it and quite a learning experience for me. I'm sure there are mistakes in it, but right now I'm just basking in the glow of having tried something new.

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Like most writers, I have a body of work I haven't sold, for one reason or another, that I keep filed away for a rainy day. I love to take out these stories and tweak them, but if they don't fit any publisher's needs, what's a girl writer to do?


Publish them herself!


The result of one such effort is Music Box: Lesbian Erotica, which is comprised of two short stories--each with some kind of music connection--celebrating lesbian love and the wonderful difficulties of finding the woman of your dreams. In The Dance Lesson, Tammy's bad habits and bad taste in bed partners is challenged when her friend Mil drags her to a salsa lesson offered by a world-renowned dance instructor. He's a psychotic little tyrant, but the one saving grace is his assistant, the gorgeous Anna, whose shy innocence captivates Tammy and, if she survives The Dance Lesson, will change her luck in love for the better.

In The Finest Lick, Lea is obsessed with the idea of having oral sex with a woman but figures her fantasy will never come true. She starts dating Dag Werner, a 1980s pop star and comeback artist, and is on the road to marital bliss when he insists she meet his daughter, Dagny. The beautiful gallery owner awakens in Lea a desire that resurrects her dead daydream, and Lea must decide what she truly wants for herself--one night with the woman of her dreams or a lifetime of wondering what it would have been like.

Thanks for sharing my excitement! Until next week...

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
Guest: Caridad Pineiro - Aztec Gold
I’ve been blessed with many things in my life, including the chance to visit over a dozen countries as a result of my full-time job, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. You may be wondering what could be so bad about that? Maybe that I am really afraid of heights and hate to fly.

Despite that, I have on more than one occasion forced myself onto that plane to venture to that new place and I’ve never been disappointed. Scared, surprised and sometimes inspired, but never disappointed because as I said, it’s a blessing to be able to do this.

One of the trips that I took stayed with me and inspired AZTEC GOLD which is set in the Mexican jungle. During a visit to Mexico City, I was able to journey to Teotihuacan, a pre-Columbian city that has some of the world’s largest pyramids.

As soon as I set foot in the Avenue of the Dead, named for what the Aztecs thought were tombs along the sides of the thoroughfare, I knew I had to write a story set in a similar locale.


So I wandered along the avenue and the many paths leading in and out of it and the pyramids of the sun and moon as well as some of the other smaller tableros, ceremonial platforms with small temples atop each one. There were gorgeous murals and I discovered some of the history behind the city, including that ritual sacrifices were likely done there. My writer’s mind immediately pictured the city housing the home of one of the goddesses to whom they might have made such sacrifices.

I continued walking until I reached the Pyramid of the Sun, the taller of the two structures. Here is where I met a real challenge. Stay at ground level or risk a climb to the top to where the ancient inhabitants of this city believed the greatest energy could be felt.

Fear of heights, remember? Well, I forged ahead and climbed to the top which was actually the easier part of the trip.


The view at the top was amazing. I was able to look down on the Avenue of the Dead and the Pyramid of the Moon. Imagine what the ancients must have felt as they, too, did this. Unfortunately, then it was time to head back down, a much harder task. The lines of the pyramid are steep and you feel as if you are falling headlong down the sides. At one point I had to go down on my bum, but I did it.
I DID IT! And because I did, I was able to not only write this book, but understand a little better about the heroine, who has her own fears she has to overcome. Cynthia is a strong woman, but the deaths of her parents while on a scientific expedition have made her fearful of adventure. In AZTEC GOLD, Cynthia has to face those fears to venture out from her safe shell and find her ex-lover, who vanished months earlier while in search of an ancient Mexican temple.

But like me, Cynthia leaves her safe zone and what follows is an adventure she is never going to forget or regret.

What’s the most memorable place you’ve visited?

Thanks for dropping by!

Please check out the book video for Aztec Gold:



Caridad Pineiro is the USA TODAY and NY Times bestselling author of over twenty novels. STRONGER THAN SIN, her November release, is her 25th publication and the second book in the exciting new paranormal suspense SIN HUNTER series from Grand Central Publishing. Also look for AZTEC GOLD, a vampire novella, from Carina Press in January 2011. For more information on Caridad, please visit http://www.caridad.com/ .
Guest: Lila DiPasqua - Fairy tales. . . And a wickedly ever after
Fairy tales. . . And a wickedly ever after.
By Lila DiPasqua

Thanks so much for having me here on Fierce Romance!

I was raised reading fairy tales. I fell in love with historical romance at age fourteen. And I took my love of fairy tales, history and passionate love stories, and blended them into my steamy yet romantic Fiery Tales series!

So, why am I so drawn to fairy tales? Probably because they were the first romances I ever read. How could I help but write my own versions of these classic tales? Most are about finding love, involve a handsome hero and a happily ever after.

Now if you’re wondering, do I have a favorite Fiery Tale?

Honestly, I love each fairy tale retelling in AWAKENED BY A KISS and THE PRINCESS IN HIS BED (both out now!) equally, and for different reasons.

For instance, in AWAKENED BY A KISS: In the tale of Sleeping Beau, I just adore bad boy Adrien d’Aspe, a seasoned rouĂ© and illegitimate son of the King. Legitimized by His Majesty, he’s treated like royalty. That is until Catherine comes along and rocks his world, in more ways than one. I adore Nicolas and Anne in Little Red Writing. Anne is a writer and passionate about her books. I love how she completely unravels strong and highly ambitious Nicolas and eventually places him in the unenviable position of having to choose between love and duty. As for Bewitching in Boots, Elisabeth is clever – and hopelessly in love with Tristan. Tall, dark and handsome, Tristan. *sighs* The strong silent type. Head of the most prestigious corps in the land. And a man known for his skill at wielding his….er….sword. *winks* Not the kind of woman to sit back and wait for a man to make his moves, Elisabeth relies on wit, seduction and her lucky boots and takes matters into her own hands.

My newly released, THE PRINCESS IN HIS BED, has three more Fiery Tales I just can’t choose a favorite from. The Marquis’ New Clothes features Adam de Vey, Marquis de Nattes. He’s sexy and smart and has been infatuated with Aimee de Miran for a long time. It isn’t going to be easy for Aimee to get close enough to retrieve the important ring her cousin accidentally dropped in his pocket – especially since he has seduction in mind!

In The Lovely Duckling, I didn’t take a heroine who just needed some dressing up. Emilie de Sarron was burned in a fire as an infant. She’s put up with horrible taunts and cruel names. All her life. Worse, at her introduction into society, she was horribly teased and publicly humiliated—the hero, Joseph, regrettably a part of this fiasco. It was the final straw. For ten years, Emilie withdrew from society. Now she’s back and she’s determined to grab a bit of bliss—albeit strictly physical. Believing love and marriage are unattainable, she’s convinced that at least a physical encounter is doable. How? Well, she’s going to use the anonymity of a masquerade—orgiastic—ball in order to find a willing lover, and indulge. She never expected that the very man she gives herself to is none other than Joseph.

Princess Gabrielle is determined to help her half-brother recover his losses at an illegal game recently banned by the King—Basset—in The Princess and the Diamonds. She has no choice but to use diamonds she *borrowed* from the palace. If only the gorgeous man sitting across from her didn’t see through her disguise. If only she knew he was a spy working for the Crown, his mission to enforce the ban the King has placed on the card game and see to the arrest of those who dare to play it. As for our hero, Mathias, Marquis de Montfort, he has no idea that the woman he has thoroughly and deliciously debauched is none other than the King’s own daughter.

In the Fiery Tales series, you can always expect to find sinfully seductive rakes, strong smart heroines who will make them lose their hearts.

And scorching-hot love scenes that will leave you breathless.

I’ve written something that will feel familiar to historical romance readers, yet at the same time offer them something different and fresh! Dare to step into the world of fairy tales? Be prepared to be scandalized!

Once upon a wicked time. . . I hope you enjoy these fun, sensual stories.

Oh, and watch for my first full-length Fiery Tale—A MIDNIGHT DANCE—out August, 2011!! A sexy retelling of Cinderella, as it’s never been done before!

A MIDNIGHT DANCE
Berkley (Sensation)
ISBN: 978-0425241981
Historical Romance/Aug. 2011

Inspired by the tale of Cinderella, Lila DiPasqua weaves a steamy historical romance that offers a glass slipper, a dangerous deception, and an impoverished beauty determined to find her handsome prince...and make him pay.

Matching wits and wiles with a man of Jules de Moutier's seductive skill is not as easy as Sabine Laurent supposed. Soon, she must decide whether her desire for vengeance is greater than her desire for her one and only prince...


Read an excerpt of THE PRINCESS IN HIS BED

Read an excerpt of AWAKENED BY A KISS

About the Author:

Lila DiPasqua writes wicked & witty historical romance for Penguin/Berkley. She lives with her real-life hero husband and three children and is a firm believer in the happily-ever-after. She loves history and enjoys traveling. She has been to four continents so far. Her novels, AWAKENED BY A KISS, and THE PRINCESS IN HIS BED are featured in Doubleday as well as Rhapsody Book Clubs. To learn more about Lila and her books, visit www.LilaDiPasqua.com

You can also find Lila on:

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lila-DiPasqua-Author/138300309541247
Twitter – http://twitter.com/liladipasqua
Goodreads - http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3234450.Lila_DiPasqua

QUESTION: Let’s talk about fairy tales! What’s your favorite fairy tale themes? Do you like Ugly Duckling stories? Perhaps a Cinderella, rags to riches tale? Maybe a Beauty and the Beast kind of story? Got any favorite movies or romances novels with these fairy tale themes?

One random commenter will win a copy of AWAKENED BY A KISS or THE PRINCESS IN HIS BED. Winner’s choice. Giveaway open to the US and Canada.
My New Cover - Flaunt It
I'm so excited to be able to share the cover for my upcoming release from Samhain, Flaunt It.



Here's the blurb:

He’ll put her on display, if that’s what it takes to keep her…

Paolo’s Playhouse, Book 1

When it comes to sexy and sassy, Piper, the most popular waitress at Ben’s bar, has it all going on. Now that they’re dating, though, Ben wishes she’d dial down the skimpy clothes and flirty attitude, and her habit of dancing around the bar and flashing to her favorite song. Every teasing peek at her body, every laugh at some customer’s lousy joke, is certainly good for business—but it sends his jealousy meter into the red zone.

Sure, they’re dating, but he’s no muscled, tattooed stud with diamonds in his ears. How can he compete, especially when she refuses to even spend the night at his place?

Desperate, Ben books a room at his friend Paolo’s fantasy club, hoping an erotic night in front of a two-way mirror will get her exhibitionist streak out of her system. Praying it won’t prove his greatest fear—that she lives only to show off. And he’s not that special to her at all…


Flaunt It is the first in the Paolo's Playhouse series and will be released on March 22nd.

Can you tell I'm excited?

Natasha
www.natashamoore.com
Blinking Less, Believing More
First breath. First words and steps. First kiss. First time of losing the heart and confessing love. These are all milestones in life. Accomplishments and events all based on growth of the body, mind and emotions. Sure, we all falter and sometimes fall on our faces, literally and figuratively, while focusing on goals and filling the days, hours and minutes with precious moments. But moving forward and refusing defeat of any sort is what ultimately makes a winner--a person who's trampled past defeat and fallen into step with the promise held by the future.

While pondering my goals for 2011, I recalled the following video from Kenny Chesney for DON'T BLINK. Both moving and motivational in words and visual content, this Country hit convinced me there's no time like the present to keep my eyes open wide for opportunity and embrace every possible living moment.




Wishing you all many happy reading moments,

Shawna Moore
TO HELLE AND BACK AGAIN -- Ellora's Cave
TORMENTED (Recommended Read) -- Ellora's Cave
ROUGHRIDER -- Ellora's Cave
HELLE IN HEELS -- Ellora's Cave
Where will you be this year?
Happy New Year! I'm so excited to get rockin' and rollin' on a killer 2011! 2010 was difficult for me in a lot of ways, and I wasn't the least bit sad to see it go. Believe me, I'm ready to start off fresh.

I'm not one to make resolutions because, quite frankly, I typically fail to keep them. But, I do have some goals for this year. One is to write. Write, write, write. I took most of 2010 off, and I really missed that creative outlet. I've found I need it. It's like dark chocolate to my soul. So, this week I've spent a lot of time putting fingers to keyboard, banging out the words. I love being back in the saddle. I just hope everything stays on an even keel so I don't get knocked off.

My second goal is to attend a few conferences this year. I'm looking at three or four, in hopes I can do at least two. RT and RWA Nationals are iffy, while Ellora's Cave RomantiCon is a given. I can't give up those Cavemen! Another I'm looking at is Lori Foster's 7th Annual Reader and Author Get Together. I've heard nothing but great things about this conference, so I think I'll give it a go.

Any other great conferences you've heard of or are attending? I'd love to hear where everyone will be this year!

Kristin
www.kristindaniels.com
www.facebook.com/authorkristindaniels
http://twitter.com/Kristin_Daniels
Miranda Baker - Guest Interview


I’m so pleased to welcome a good friend of mine, Miranda Baker, whose first release debuted from Samhain on Dec 28th.


Miranda, please tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a writer, a pastry chef, a teacher and a mother. But not in that order, I swear!

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I’m a daddy’s girl – which in my world means I’m a crack shot with a .22 pistol.

Wow! I never would have guessed! Your debut erotic romance, Bottoms Up, released Dec 28th from Samhain. Congrats! Tell us a little about it.
When Johnny Delcorral the hard-bodied Dominant owner of a private sex club challenges Destiny Blake, a fierce Domme herself, to submit to him for one night, the battle is on. Warning: the title says it all!

I can vouch for the fact that this story is very hot! What element of story creation is your favorite? (Character? Setting? Plot? Etc.) Why?

I love my characters! I have a feeling the plotters write faster, but my characters control the story. They do their thing and I have to figure it out and shape it up. *sigh*

I love my characters too. Do you have rituals you follow when writing?

I have a soundtrack for every story. Frequently one song will play in my head for weeks until I finish whichever part of the story is demanding that mood music. It’s a little annoying, but I’m not going to argue with inspiration.

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

Must I ruin the image? We work so hard to make people think that we lounge around in lingerie all day drinking champagne and writing sex scenes! Oh, fine… I wiped my youngest child’s bum this morning. Now you know. I could definitely go on, too…


A mom’s work is never done. :) What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

It’s a process. It’s a journey. I’m a goal oriented, instant gratification kind of girl, so this is hard for me to endure, too – but it’s a rare writer who can produce sellable work without putting in a few years whaling away at the keyboard and learning about the craft. Bottoms Up was my fourth finished novella – and the first one I sold. You have to want it enough enjoy the journey – or at least tolerate it.


What can we look forward from you in the future?

SoloPlay, the next book in the Come Again series will be released in the spring! It’s a sex toy story about a frustrated librarian on a sexual and emotional journey. I had great fun dreaming up new toys for Alisa and Mark to enjoy!

Where can we find out more about you?

On my website http://www.mirandabaker.com I also have a blog http://mirandabaker.wordpress.com I’m on Facebook, Twitter @Miranda-Baker and Goodreads! I like to connect with readers and writers, cooks and moms and kinksters, one and all!


Is there a question you’d like to ask our readers? (To help generate comments.)

What’s the least glamorous thing YOU’VE done this week? Fair is fair!

Natasha, thanks so much for having me on the blog today! You are my hero(ine), you know – and I’m honored to be featured on Fierce Romance. Thank you so much!
A True Sacrifice
What would you sacrifice for a friend's child?

This is a story that started on New Year's Day so it's a good basis for a New Year's Resolution.

Just a little backstory: I'm organizing a progressive dinner for the high school my kids attend. There are between 300-400 families at the school so it's a big project, and everything must be standardized. No individual requests can be honored due to the complexity of the event. All of the dinners are hosted in private homes, so headcount is important.

On Jan. 1st, I got a note asking if I could make an exception for one woman who was having surgery. She wanted to sign up for the dinner early, reserve two spots, and then maybe not attend if her recovery didn't go well. Plus she wanted to be assigned to a dinner with 1 of 2 friends.

This is a nuisance because we don't allow people to make individual requests as it gets too complicated. Jane wants to eat vegetarian and be with Suzi. Suzi wants to eat meat and dine with Renee. Renee announces that she doesn't eat any mammals, including rabbits. At this point, you want to start hollering that you aren't serving bunnies!

Deep breath. You can see the potential issues.

Her request was also a problem because the hosts don't want empty seats at their table, and we don't want to turn people away and then end up with empty spots if someone can't attend.

But, fortunately, I felt we had to make an exception for someone undergoing surgery and I told her we'd accommodate her requests.

Thank you, God, or Plato. In response to a question I asked about her "joint surgery", she wrote back, explaining she was donating her "extra" kidney to the son of one of her friends! I was flabbergasted. (The son also attends this school and his parents hope to attend the dinner as well.)

To say I was speechless would be an understatement. Not only will she be short that kidney forevermore, she must also undergo a major, life-threatening surgery. I can't say that I would be able to make that kind of sacrifice. But I was so humbled by this woman's generosity.

And this brings me to Plato and my New Year's Resolution:

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. (Plato)

I hope I can remember it.

Does anyone else have New Year's resolutions? Or tell us if you could make this kind of sacrifice.
Exploring Scotland
Today I want to share more pictures of Scotland. Instead of focusing on one specific, famous historical site, I wanted to share various views that I thought were interesting or beautiful but that are not as well known. These pictures are mostly from the Isle of Skye, Dornie and just south of Dornie areas.

One of those infamous one lane (or single track) roads on Isle of Skye. The sheep claim this one as their own little trail.
I don't know why, but I love this photo of Highland cows, with a house in the background. It seems very peaceful to me. Yet, it was only seconds after this that the farmer's dogs chased us back to the car.

A view of the Skye shore with cottages. What a lovely sunny day this was.


What a cute black-faced sheep making his home in Fairy Glen. He was very friendly. The black-faced sheep is the original type raised on Isle of Skye and in the Highlands.


Another view of the shore line of Skye, cliffs and cottages. What must it be like to live there?

This is one (above) I forgot to show you before. It's a view from Dunvegan castle. I believe this is a holiday cottage anyone can rent. (Me! Me!) MacLeod's Tables are in the background. I love the blue and green colors and the contrasting black of the tree limbs, etc.

I don't know the name of this spot on Isle of Skye but it is at the pull-off for the waterfall. Anyone know this location?

A distant view of the Skye Bridge. I love the mountains in the background, and the water in the foreground.

This is Dornie, a small beautiful, quiet village next to Eilean Donan Castle.


Even when I'm riding in a car (not driving, of course) I'm snapping lots of pics.





Hope you enjoyed this wee tour of some of the not so well known sites of Scotland. :)
Vonda
www.vondasinclair.com
 
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