Killing Off Secondary Characters

I want to go ahead and post a **SPOILER ALERT*** for this blog. If you haven’t read Harry Potter or The Hunger Games, I will potentially spoil some deaths for you. So you’ve been warned.

I read The Hunger Games trilogy last week. I want to start off by saying I loved this series. I couldn’t put these books down and even after I did, the story stayed with me—for days afterward. That’s some good reading, folks.

When you read books like The Hunger Games, you know people are going to die. It’s just the way it’s going to be. The same is true with The Harry Potter series, especially the last book when every fan knew there was a huge possibility that one of their favorite characters may not make it to the very last page. And as expected, tons of deaths occurred. Each was hard to take, but you power through, knowing this has to happen to get to the end.

Then there’s that one death.

That. One. Death.

And an invisible line has been crossed, and you’re no longer sad, you’re devastated.

In Harry Potter that was Fred dying. I saw no reason why Fred had to die. Why Fred? Why? Out of the characters left alive, why did it have to be the one that had a twin?

I know why I feel like this. I have twins. They are each others world and the idea of one of them losing the other so young makes me feel like I can’t breath. So it’s really no surprise that I had such a strong reaction to his death.

Well, I had the same reaction last week during The Hunger Games. This death bothered me. Like really sent me into some sort of weird depression after it happened bothered me. Again it was a death I didn’t feel was needed to get the author’s point across. The point was already made. So why did we need this extra yank on our heartstrings?

So my questions are:

When does a death in a book become gratuitous? And have you ever felt an author went a little too far with one?

Esme

www.esmereldabishop.com

Time-Travel Survival Tips from Eliza Knight

                Time-Travel Survival Tips
By Eliza Knight

Thank you so much, Nicole for hosting me at Fierce Romance today! In celebration of my new time-travel release, HIGHLAND STEAM (and it is oh-so-steamy!), I wanted to give you some Time-Travel Survival Tips—and I’d love to give away an e-copy of the novella to one commenter.

Without further ado, if you find yourself whirling back through the mists of time…
 1. My husband says to pack lots of layers—but if you’re hoping to land in the arms of a hawt Scot, I’d say pack less :-)
2. Be prepared for the varying “natural” scents. Ever learned to make a pomander?
3. If you find yourself visiting the Highlands where time-travel is possible, remember to carry a survival pack that includes: toothpaste, a toothbrush, ibuprofen, anti-biotics, vitamins, tissues, I’d say tampons, but in my fantasy world, I’d never get my monthly again!
4. Don’t worry about undies :-)
5. Got a kilt?
6. Pack a sghian-dubh.
7. Be prepared to defend yourself if needed.
8. Be sure to be up to date on your horseback riding skills.
9. Brush up on your meditation skills, traveling through time is sure to mess with her you “center”
10. The term cleanliness, was quite a bit different than what we are used to in the 21st century.
11. Pace your drinking! They drink alcohol 24/7. You’ll need to build up your tolerance.
12. If you’re a lady, you might want to ask for assistance in shaving, since it will have to be done with a knife.
13. No A.C., no heat, no electricity—learn to adapt to a “natural” lifestyle. You’ll have to get used to the heat, stay near a fire—learn to light it with a flint, etc…
14. Become friends with the local healer… You’ll want to be on her nice list if you get sick.
15. Don’t eat any berries, flowers, nuts, etc… until you’ve learned which ones are good and which are poisonous.
16. Beware… There are a lot more animals roaming freely in the medieval Highlands than there are in today’s world.
17. You will probably only have two or three outfits—get used to repeating yourself. Try making some cute embroidered scarves to change things up.
18. Cellphone reception is non-existent…
19. Your emails will have to wait…
20. Don’t drink the water until it’s been boiled or comes from a pure stream!
Thanks so much for letting me share with you all! I’d love to hear some of your time-travel tips :-)

Here’s a little bit about HIGHLAND STEAM
Tragedy strikes in the Highlands, making Drostan the laird of the Comyn clan and in need of a wife to placate his people. His only choice is to trust in magic and travel to the sacred circle of stones…where he must passionately lay claim to the woman Fate brings him.
Briana is lost and alone when magic lights up the night. She meets the man of her dreams, a man who rocks her to her very core with orgasm after orgasm and somehow manages to steal her heart. The problem? The man of her dreams lives eight hundred years in the past.
To read a very steamy excerpt from HIGHLAND STEAM, please click here.
Amazon / Ellora’s Cave / Coming soon to Barnes and Noble!
*~*~*~*~*
Eliza Knight is the multi-published, award-winning author of sizzling historical romance and erotic romance. While not reading, writing or researching for her latest book, she chases after her three children. In her spare time (if there is such a thing…) she likes daydreaming, wine-tasting, traveling, hiking, staring at the stars, watching movies, shopping and visiting with family and friends. She lives atop a small mountain, and enjoys cold winter nights when she can curl up in front of a roaring fire with her own knight in shining armor. Visit Eliza at www.elizaknight.com or her historical blog, History Undressed, which was recently mentioned in a feature article in The Wall Street Journal. www.historyundressed.com
***
Thanks so much for being our guest today, Eliza! Everyone, please remember to leave a comment and your email address in some form to be entered to win Eliza's book. Thanks!

Two Great Reviews for Birthday Girl!


Release week for Birthday Girl was fun and totally crazy. Promo is hard for me to do. I'd rather sit in my office and write than put myself out there saying "buy my book, you'll love it" even though you will love, I'm sure of it!

I hopped around some blogs, had a virtual release party, some interviews and a couple great reviews!

Stacey from Sizzling Hot Books said in part:
I really thought that Birthday Girl was a well thought out, highly erotic story that showed one of many ways to put the spice back into life and that age is not a factor. I highly recommend Birthday Girl is you are looking for a romantic book with a bit of kink and a sexy ménage with no m/m.
You can read the whole review here.

And Kimber from Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews said:
"...the author has this married woman thinking of new possibilities. Natasha Moore was a new to me author and I’m looking forward to reading more of her sizzling stories. This story was VERY hot and VERY entertaining..."
You can read the entire review here.

All in all, a pretty good week. How was your week?

Natasha
www.natashamoore.com
I Wish I'd Thought of That!
Do you ever read someone's book or hear about some new product and think, "I wish I'd thought of that!"? It happens to me all the time. I am particularly disappointed that I didn't think of the Internet before anyone else, or fishnet stockings. What would my life be like now if I'd hatched a brainchild like that instead of having the brain farts I normally produce? It boggles the mind.

Speaking of which, the person who invented the word game Boggle and Scrabble--what a genius! My family and I used to have hours of fun playing with words with these games. Lots of love and laughter and learning from such a simple little thing.

As for books, I kind of wish I'd come up with To Kill a Mockingbird. I can only imagine what it must have been like to go through that creative process...WOW.

So what about you? What you would like to have thought of or created? Please share and happy reading!
Guest: Camryn Rhys - Every Time I Think Of You

Camryn Rhys grew up on the border of Canada and the US, and still hasn’t decided which country to call home. She splits her time between the Alberta and Montana Rocky Mountains, with friends and family in both beautiful locations. After running her own restaurant for several years and acquiring advanced degrees in writing, foodie romance seemed the only logical option. When she’s not watching the Food Network, she’s reading a romance novel, or if absolutely necessary, working as a consultant. Someone has to put really excellent food on the table.

Q: Welcome, Camryn! Please tell us about your latest release.
A:  Every Time I Think of You is the story of a woman with a fantasy. When she finally gets to be with Mr. Right, it’s not all she imagined. But little does she know, he’s in the middle of 100 Days of Celibacy, and he might just break that promise for her.
Q: Sounds fantastic! What inspired this story?
A: I went to a basketball game at Madison Square Garden and thought about this character who was a radio host and had a thing for Amare Stoudamire. Voila! Madison Bishop.
Q: What is the story behind the story?
A: Behind the story, Drew Wingate has signed on to do a 100 Days of Celibacy challenge for a major men’s magazine. He’s just about through his time-served when he meets Madison again, but he can’t break his celibacy vow.
Q: I like the idea of a celibacy vow... and breaking it. :) Why do you write romance?
A: I love love-stories. There is nothing better than the narrative of two people falling in love. When I read my first one, as a young girl, I knew this would be my genre forever.
Q: I couldn't agree more. How did your story’s setting impact your plot or characters?
A: Madison Square Garden is a colossal piece of sports history. Any sports fan would be excited about a love story that started there. Or they should be. :)
Q: Absolutely! How do you choose names for your characters?
A: I chose the heroine’s name because of Madison Square Garden. Her father is a Knicks fan from way, way back. From his childhood. So having Maddie fall in love in her namesake was definitely cool to write.
Q: I love that connection. Did you choose the title of your book and if so how did you do it?
A: I did choose the title. Oddly enough, I think I was listening to a song at the time and the opening scene was just so right in line with the lyrics of that song. I wish I could remember which song it was now, but I just remember thinking I should thank Pandora© for the inspiration of that title. :)
Q: I also find music very inspiring. Which element of this story was the hardest for you?
A: The ending, for sure. In fact, my editor ended up helping me significantly with the ending. Once I knew their love story was safe, I just wanted to get out of the way and let them have their HEA, but as always, easier said than done. :)
Q: Please tell us about your other books.
A: I have two erotic foodie romances out right now. The Barn Dance is a western foodie erotic set in Montana, and Off the Record is a f/f foodie erotic set in North Carolina. Next month, my second western foodie erotic will release from Decadent Publishing, Misbegotten Gaines, which is part of the Western Escapes line at DP. Sequels forthcoming for both Barn Dance and Off the Record, as well as my very first novel! Ellora’s Cave bought my Steampunk Paranormal Erotic romance novel which will likely come out in late spring.
Q: Woohoo! Congratulations! You've been really busy and making a lot of sales! What was the most important thing you learned (the thing that made all the difference) just before you made your first sale?
A: I learned that editors are people, too. They have interests and hopes. They are looking for a good book just as much as writers are looking to write them. They love to read, and they are good at their job. I sold my first book when I found a good editor who liked my book. And since then, I’ve found a line of good editors who like my books. Editors aren’t scary people who hide behind guidelines. They are cool people, just like any cool person you know. Get to know them. Follow them on Twitter. Don’t be afraid of them.
Q: Great advice! Would you like to ask readers a question?
A: What is the best novella you’ve ever read? What do you love about novellas?
I’m having a release party, so each stop on my blog tour will get a free book, and each commenter will be eligible to win a $50 Amazon gift card. So comment away, my pretties. :)
Fantastic! Thanks so much for being our special guest today, Camryn!
Everyone, please visit Camryn on the web at:
WEBSITE
FACEBOOK
TWITTER
BLOG

Also check out a free sample of Every Time I Think Of You on Kindle.
Birthday Girl Releases Tomorrow!
Book #3 in my Paolo's Playhouse series from Samhain releases tomorrow! Even after 18 releases, the excitement never grows old. I've really enjoyed writing about loving couples for this series, and Birthday Girl is another story with a married couple who visit the Playhouse for a little help.

Blurb:

For Shannon, turning thirty means getting serious. Responsible. Old. She can’t help dreading the day she has to leave her spontaneous, crazy, young self-image behind. Then there are all those unfulfilled items on her to-do list, like that threesome she and her husband, Ty, used to fantasize about. It fell by the wayside, right along with their neglected bag of sex toys.

Her birthday dinner starts out like any other…then her present arrives at the table. Marc, an old college friend, whose edgy persona tickles her in all the right places. And that’s not all. Ty’s reserved a room at Paolo’s Playhouse—for all three of them.

By the time the playroom door closes behind them, Ty and Marc’s intimate touches and wicked whispers have roused her hormones to a fever pitch. But when kiss comes to nipple clamps, Shannon’s not sure she has the courage to step off the edge of fantasy and fall headlong into reality...


Here's a little excerpt for you:


Why did seeing Marc again make her hot and tense? Was that what happened when you turned thirty? You started to lust after men other than the one you loved? Of course, it could have a lot to do with the fact that she’d had a massive crush on Marc before he introduced her to Tyler. Ty didn’t have a clue. God, she hoped Marc didn’t either.

There was something in the air, a tension that came with Marc appearing out of nowhere. A tension that seemed to add to the edginess she’d already been feeling. Maybe it was her intense awareness of the additional man standing there. Just how aware she was made her a little uncomfortable. Tyler was still so close to her that she could feel the familiar heat from his body. But Marc exuded a raw sexuality that made her shiver. She couldn’t believe she was reacting like this to a man who wasn’t her husband, no matter their history. She loved her husband. He was sexy and fun and their sex life was usually active and inventive.

But for the first time since she’d met her husband, she wished for another man’s hands on her body.

No, she didn’t. Not really. It was just a fantasy, like dreaming about kissing Brad Pitt. Something that was fun to think about, but would never happen in real life.

That’s why it was called fantasy.

She hoped Marc said good-bye and left before her breathing got any shallower. Before she squirmed in her seat and Tyler knew what she was thinking.

“Shannon, I invited Marc to join us tonight,” Tyler said softly. He sat back down beside her and took her hand. His intense gaze held her in place. “He’s part of your birthday surprise.”

“Birthday surprise?” What had Tyler said a few minutes ago? Something about trying out a fantasy they’d never done before. Her eyes grew wide and she looked from Tyler to Marc. Shannon smothered the little gasp that threatened to escape her lips.

He stroked her hair and brought his lips close to her ear. “I thought you might like to try out that ménage you always wanted.”

Tonight? With Marc?

“I don’t know.” Maybe some fantasies were meant to stay that way. Some fantasies were never meant to be acted out.

Tyler cupped her face in his large hands and rested his forehead on hers. “Think about it,” he whispered. “You’ve talked about it for years. Two men giving you their full attention. Two men giving you pleasure.”

She looked up at Marc, still standing at the edge of the table, looking uncharacteristically awkward. And still majorly hot. What was her problem? Hadn’t she been going on all night about her lack of an edgy and spontaneous sex life? Shannon glanced at Tyler and he just lifted a brow as if to say it was up to her. She smiled up at Marc and hoped he didn’t see her lips tremble. “Sit down and let’s talk.”


You can check out another excerpt at the Samhain website and pre-order at a sale price. Birthday Girl releases tomorrow February 21st.

Natasha
www.natashamoore.com
Amsterdam - Red Light District

Sex for sale – right out in public like an ice-cream store or a fruit and vegetable stand. This is not something you'll see too often.

When I traveled with my family to Amsterdam, I figured the red light district was something we might as well see while we were there. We set out one night after dinner, during the long European summer twilight.

The red-light district is located in one of the oldest parts of Amsterdam, with historic architecture, winding alleys, and dark canals. You know you've arrived when you start to see the red lit windows which stand out easily against the old, dark buildings. The main thoroughfares have some red windows, but most are located in narrow alleys, lined up one after the other, like rows of teeth.

Each window opens into a small room with a bed and a washstand visible. The window is full-length and spans the width of the room. The young woman stands in the window, clearly visible due to the red lights in the room.  The woman are more covered up than what you will see on many a public beach. The outfits are more like two-piece bathing suits than sexy lingerie (although there are exceptions). There is no actual nudity. A heavy curtain stands at the side, to be drawn over the window when the room is in use.

Although there are certainly plenty of men around (generally in groups), the area is part of a city like any other, with all types of people walking around. There are other tourist attractions present, from ancient churches to nightclubs, restaurants and shops.

I had my kids with me, all teens, and after five minutes, we'd seen enough. On our way out, we saw a particularly long, narrow alley, jammed with people, and lined on both sides by the windowed rooms. The cobblestoned alley was only wide enough for one person to walk between the old buildings.

My oldest, game for anything, wanted to walk down the bustling alley. My youngest flat-out refused to go and I was in sympathy with her. It was creepy. Generally, we didn't look at the women. Here, it would be hard to escape viewing them (hence, the popularity of this alley?)

So hubby took off after the oldest and the rest of us waited at the end. Suddenly, we saw them rushing back towards us, the oldest pale, hubby laughing.

"What happened?" I asked.

"A man stopped me," my intrepid daughter reported. "He said, 'How much?' I ran away as fast as I could."

I was horrified.

"Don't worry," my husband said. "I was right there."

That was the end of our adventure.


I guess I'm not sorry I did this, but it was a sadder and more disturbing experience than I had anticipated.

The girls we saw looked like they were from Eastern Europe. Do they do this to escape worse circumstances? Or, as reported in the research I did, are they lured into the business by boyfriends?

Wikipedia reports that many of the girls are also from Asia and Africa, but I saw little evidence of that. Perhaps they are concentrated in areas we didn't reach.

One last note: Our vacation guidebook had mentioned that there were "Pimp-free" signs in some windows certifying that the woman was working for herself and not for a pimp. I was interested to see one of these signs. Alas, I never did. Not one. Was it a short-lived experiment? Is it possible for a female sex worker to operate without the protection of a man? I don't know the answers.
The Dress for Success
Want to know a secret? I'm a die-hard romantic. Okay, so that's not much of a secret. lol I mean, I write in the romance genre so people naturally assume I'm all into weddings and such, and they're right. However, I think they'd be surprised to know the reasons why.

Many girls dream of their wedding day, planning and calculating and hoping and waiting. I did, too. But there was a difference. By the time I was old enough to actually get married, my fantasies mainly focused on the dress and flowers, with the flowers a very distant second. Oh, the groom was there, sort of a foggy, sexy, and heroic figure in the background, but to be quite honest, he really didn't show up until the honeymoon. Heh heh heh.

So I finally realized that I'd been looking forward to finding the perfect dress, not the perfect mate. That's not a bad thing, actually. It made me more aware of why I wanted to get married and made me question what I wanted to get out of the whole endeavor (and it made me realize I have a dress fetish, but that's neither here nor there). I decided I could get a dress any day if I wanted and take pictures of myself emoting like a model all over the place, but the groom...well, I wasn't looking for a stunt double for my dress anymore. I was looking for something more substantial.I had come to understand that weddings are nice ceremonies, but it's the people involved that you should really get excited about, not all the trappings.

This is why this one reality TV show, Say Yes to the Dress (I think that's the name), annoys me to no end. In it, TV crews follow prospective brides as they search for the perfect wedding dress. Simple, right? Nope. There's nothing simple about salespeople using the guise of caring about your "perfect day" to sell you the most expensive dress in the shop. Nothing really very nice about it either.


Almost every time my channel-surfing landed me on an episode of this show, the same scene unfolds. The bride and her entourage enter the bridal salon and are greeted by an enthusiastic salesperson, who chats with the bride about what she's looking for and asks her about her price range. The salesperson then carefully selects about a dozen gowns for the bride to try on while her girlfriends, sisters, mother, etc., squeal in delight and clap.

Here's the catch: Nearly every single time, the bride tries on the gowns that look okay on her, but then she tries on the special one that the salesperson chose especially for her, the one that makes her look younger, thinner, more beautiful than she actually is, and one that also does laundry, doubles as a vibrator, and volunteers in a soup kitchen once a month. Yes, this is THE perfect dress that the bride has been fantasizing about since she was conceived. Unfortunately, it's the one that is just an eensy bit out of her price range by at least a thousand dollars. The salesperson knew this but included it anyway because she just knew that it would be nearly impossible for the bride to take it off without going into hysterics. Teary-eyed, the bride stares at herself in the mirror, bottom lip trembling, until someone offers to sell a kidney to make up the difference in the price of the dress. Ms. Bride is sooooo happy! Now her day will be perfect, except her mom will miss it because she's recovering from having her kidney removed so You-Know-Who could have the dress of her dreams.

Seriously, it's aggravating to see a seasoned salesperson knowingly bring out five or six mediocre dresses that fall within the bride's budget and then throw in a dress she knows the bride will just have to have that's 1-5K more. It's a trick of the trade to get brides to spend more money, and it's unpleasant to watch. I'd like to just once see a bride call the salesperson on it, saying something like, "That dress is too expensive. Bring me one just like it in my price range. You don't have one? See ya."

I know I'm being critical, but I realized a long time ago what is really important in a wedding--that person standing beside you (no, not your maid of honor...on the other side). If you want a wedding dress, save up and go buy one. Wear it on Halloween. Wear it to a frenemy's wedding to tick her off. But don't substitute a costly gown for the thrill of having your healthy mother, both kidneys intact, watching you pledge your love to someone who would never try to sell you dress out of your price range.

Have a lovely weekend!
Writing the SUCK-nopsis

I’ve been in synopsis hell the last three days. I’m not a synopsis lover to begin with, but this one has been exceptionally hard. Why? Two words.

Paranormal world-building.

Man. I’ve quickly realized that the world I’ve written makes absolutely no sense in synopsis form. I include one thing, then it’s like if I include that, then I really need to include this because that makes no sense without that. It’s maddening, I tell you. Maddening.

I gave up today and just posted what I had to my CP’s. I feel bad for them. It’s a mess of nonsense and I know it, but I can’t find the forest for the trees right now and without their help, I don’t think I’ll be able to. I feel like I have to put in every detail.

When you have a shifter with a special gift that directly causes the inner and outer conflict for both your characters, how in the heck do you get that across without having to take a moment to explain, well the world isn’t built so she has the same gift, yeah she’s part shifter, but you see in my world…blah, blah, blah.

*Pulls hair*

So any advice?

Esme

Happy Valentine's Day!
For Valentine's Day, I want to share some of my favorite romantic sentiments and love quotes. Also below I'm posting some of the most romantic images of Scotland. Please let me know which is your favorite.



Absence is to love what wind is to fire; it extinguishes the small, it rekindles the great.
-- Comte DeBussy-Rabutin

Sunset over Broadford Bay, Isle of Skye


That love is all there is is all we know of love.
-- Emily Dickinson
Rose in the gardens at Crathes Castle.
 "Love is much like a wild rose, beautiful and calm, but willing to draw blood in its defense."
- Mark Overby
Flowers in the park at Broadford Bay
 Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be happiest.
-- Chinmoy
Eilean Donan Castle, one of the most romantic views in Scotland.
 "Love comforteth like sunshine after rain."
- William Shakespeare

Flowers in the gardens of Dunvegan Castle.
 Thou art to me a delicious torment.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

A lovely tree in the gardens at Armadale Castle, Isle of Skye.
 To laugh often and love much... to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to give one's self... this is to have succeeded.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Honeysuckle and a beautiful view of the sea at Armadale Castle.
 Love is what makes two people sit in the middle of a bench when there is plenty of room at both ends.
- Anonymous
Bench in the gardens at Crathes Castle.
For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.
Judy Garland

Ceannabeinne Beach, near Durness
Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. 
--Lao Tzu

I hope you're having a wonderful Valentine's Day and spending it with someone you love!
Vonda


My Fierce Highlander in Print!
I'm happy to announce that My Fierce Highlander is now available in trade sized paperback!

The book also received a great new review from Heather at Book Savvy Babe. This review was posted at Amazon.

*4.5 of 5 Stars*

I began reading this book late one evening, and I couldn't put it down. I quickly became absorbed in the story and every time I told myself I would put it down at the next chapter, I kept reading. Gwyneth is a widow and a disgraced English Lady. After her disgrace, she was sent to live with distant relatives in Scotland, who treated her like a commodity. [She] hates violence, especially the Highlanders who do nothing but fight. However, when she finds Alasdair and sees that he truly wants peace, the only thing she can do is help the wounded highlander heal. When her relatives find she helped the enemy, she has to run for her life with her son and hope that the wounded Highlander will help her. Alasdair is the Laird of his clan, and grateful for the help Gwyneth gave him. He agrees to help her, but keeping her with him is a difficult task, especially when her clan is willing to kill to get her back.

Gwyneth is an intriguing character. She is a Lady who has adapted very well to her life's circumstances. She went from being a well-educated English Lady to a poor relation of a dirty, mean Scottish Clan Laird. She handles the situation well, she makes due, raises her son the best she can, and she learns how to be a healer. The main issue I have with Gwyneth is that she is pretty over-protective of her son. She hates the violence so much and wants to be away from it so badly that she can overlook some of the more important aspects of life, such as a good man who loves her son.

I love Alasdair, he is a laird who puts his clan first and he is very honorable. Alasdair struggles with his attraction to Gwyneth because he loved his first wife (who died) so much. He has to let go of the past and risk himself when it comes to Gwyneth. I admire him for his dedication and his loyalty. He challenges Gwyneth to be the woman he knows she can be, the Lady.

As I said, I couldn't put this book down. The pacing is excellent, there is never a dull moment and there are so many different elements to this story. Gwyneth has a past from England and from her clan that clash with her current situation. There is always something happening, going wrong, and the attraction between Alasdair and Gwyneth progresses through it all.

My Fierce Highlander is a thrilling adventure and love story enmeshed in the times of warring Highland clans and stuffy English Lords. Historical romance readers, I highly recommend reading My Fierce Highlander, this is a highlander story worth reading. Heather at Book Savvy Babe

Thanks so much, Heather!
Vonda
www.vondasinclair.com
Vote for the SAMMIES!
Curtains up! Light the Lights! The SAMMIES are coming, all right!

It’s time to vote for your Samhain Publishing favorites for 2011. The SAMMIE Awards ceremony will be held on Saturday, March 24, 2012, starting at 2 p.m. EST in the Samhain Publishing Cafe.(http://groups.yahoo.com/group/samhaincafe/)

The categories that require your vote are:

Reader’s Choice Best Cover Art eBooks 2011

Reader’s Choice Best Cover Art Print Books 2011

Reader’s Choice Best eBook 2011

Reader’s Choice Best Print Book 2012

Please go to http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/BQG585R to cast your vote. Voters are permitted three choices per category. Voting runs through March, 19, 2012.

The survey allows each participant to vote once. The blue links for each book/cover are hot and will take you to Samhain Publishing site so you can look at the cover or read the blurb for each book listed. Cast your choice for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in each category. Then scroll to the NEXT button at the bottom of the page, this will take you to the next category. Repeat until you get to the last category. When you have voted for your choices, be sure to click on the DONE button at the bottom of the last page so your vote will count. Remember, each reader gets to vote once for the poll.

We’re asking everyone to participate by casting your vote. After all, these are the Reader’s Choice categories! Your opinion counts! Show your love! We'd love to hear from all our readers.

Everyone, mark your calendars, shop for your dazzling Red Carpet outfit and get ready to celebrate our SAMMIE winners! We can hardly wait to announce the winners. Party! Party! Par-tay!

Both Flaunt It and Risk It are up to best e-book and best e-book cover. But...wow...what competition. I hope all our Fierce Romance readers will cast their votes for your favorite Samhain stories and covers.

Natasha
Birthday Girl - Coming Feb 21
Risk It
Flaunt It
www.natashamoore.com
Shout-out

I wanted to give my critique partners a shout-out today. I just finished my latest book. Like--finished, finished. All I have to do now is a bit of editing, a blurb and synopsis, and I’m ready for it to leave my loving embrace and face the cruel world, lol.

Anyway, my CP’s have always been invaluable. We’ve been together for years, they know my writing, they know my voice, and have no issue taking me to task when I’ve screwed up a plot. It was no different with this book.

BUT I can honestly say this book wouldn’t have ever been written if it hadn’t been for my CP’s.

You see, I originally started this series I’m working on with a different character. In my head, everything made sense. It wasn’t until I posted the first two chapters of that book, I realized that it only made sense to me. I had them so freaking confused. Questions bombarding me from every directions. I don’t get its. The whole nine yards.

After some head scratching, because I really couldn’t grasp how they didn’t get it, I accepted their words of wisdom and almost shelved the series all together. But one night, not long after I’d gotten my feedback, I started thinking about how I could make it so everyone understood. A part of me really, really didn’t want to give up on this series.

Then it hit me. I’d been so excited over one characters story, that I’d totally overlooked the fact that he wasn’t supposed to be the first book. Aidan was. Aidan was how I would be able to answer every one of the questions they’d tossed at me.

I’ve spent the last five months writing this book. What was supposed to be a novella length, quickly became a novel length. The world just took a life of its own in a way in never did with the 25k I'd written in the original story.

If my CP's had kept their reservations to themselves, I would have continued on the path I'd originally taken and potentially destroyed this series. Now I’m sitting on something I’m extremely proud of and I’m looking forward to diving into the next character’s story.

So my words of wisdom for the day is listen to your CP's, lol. You have no idea what kind of story will unfold by just being open to their feedback.

So thank you Alison, Christyne, Maggie and Tina. You guys are truly the best!

Esme

Big Bad (Sexy) Werewolves
Traditionally, werewolves were villains and monsters, but modern romance novels and popular movies, like Twilight, paint them in a different light. Werewolves are still tough, fierce fighters but now they are often seen as loyal protectors, much like tamed wolves probably protected their early human friends.

When I wrote Blade of the Wolf, I played up this guardian and protector role. Ronan Graeme is an immortal werewolf and a Sgian Dubh Guardian. He is a man unlike any the heroine, Syrena, has met. She doesn’t know what to make of him at first. She knows instantly that she’s attracted to him but it takes her a while to trust him. She doesn’t learn what he truly is until after she’s intimate with him. Even when he tells her he’s a Sgian Dubh Guardian, she doesn’t know much about him. He leaves out the part about being immortal and a wolf-shifter. But soon, he can’t hide the truth from her anymore. What can she do? He’s the most fascinating man she’s ever met.

What about you? Do you love hero types who were antagonists and bad guys or monsters in the past? Do you enjoy reading heroes who are demons, vampires and werewolves?

Here is an excerpt that shows why Syrena can’t resist Ronan:

His expression turned serious. “After what happened two nights ago, I’m concerned. I think you have a stalker.”
“A stalker?” She held back an impulsive laugh. “Me? Please,” she said doubtfully.
“Indeed, lass. This is most serious.”
His yummy accent and the endearing way he called her lass almost distracted her from the grave issue at hand. “What should I do? Call the police?”
“Why don’t we go inside, out of this wind?” He gestured again toward the coffee shop entry.
Okay, maybe she would get lucky and he’d seduce her in the restroom. Dream on, Syrena. She proceeded into the almost deserted establishment where she bought coffee every morning. The appetizing mixed aromas of flavored coffees swirled through her senses. They placed their orders and took seats at a back corner table.
“I’m buying,” she said. “After all, I owe you one for the other night when you fought that man following me.”
“Nay. I insist.”
Nay. How charmingly Old World he was.
He fixed his molten gold gaze on her and consuming heat rushed over her skin. Breathe, Syrena, breathe. His appeal was complete. He was both edgy and elegant. Rough and cultured. Far out of her league. How would his deep voice sound whispering wicked, sexy words in her ear late at night? Intoxicating. A frisson of delight skittered through her.
But she couldn’t jump his bones right now. She needed to get to know him better first.
“What kind of work do you do?” she asked, wondering what would require him to be so deliciously athletic.
“Security, which is why the man following you concerned me a great deal.”
“Security? Like a bodyguard?”
“More or less. I work with a large firm and I’m scouting out the area to see if we might expand here.”
“A Scottish security firm?”
“International. We protect people all over the world.”
Should she believe him, or trust him? “What did the guy following me that night look like?” she asked.
“Short, beastly looking bloke with black hair and a beard.”
“Beastly?”
Ronan scowled. “Aye. Ugly.”
She snickered. The whole situation sounded too ridiculous. “Damn, why can’t I be stalked by a hunk?” Like him.
The corners of his mouth crooked up. His smile gentled his face, but at the same time she noticed his eyeteeth were a little longer than the others and slightly pointed. Not like the exaggerated fangs of vampires in movies. Much shorter. In fact, they were barely noticeable, but she found them unusual and a bit dangerous. Exciting. How would those teeth feel if he nibbled on her neck? Her inner thigh?
“Sorry. It isn’t funny, I know,” she said, trying to focus on the gravity of the situation. “I just don’t understand. I mean, I don’t usually capture men’s attention.”
Growing serious again, Ronan gazed deeply into her eyes, delving, disorienting her. “Why not?”
Her face heated. “I don’t know. I’m not exactly a vamp.”
“Nay, you are no vampire, thank the saints.”
Oh god, he was priceless. She held back a grin. “I meant I’m not, you know…sexy.”
He frowned. “Says who?”
“No one has to say. It’s simply a fact.”
“It is not a fact. You’re a great beauty, Syrena, incredibly sexy, and don’t let anyone be telling you any different.”
Giddiness tapped on her chest and she could hardly draw breath. Her whole body tingled with the need for him to touch her. Who was this man? And where had he come from? Scotland, sure, but what had caused their paths to cross?
“Thank you,” she mumbled, almost speechless at such a compliment from him. Their coffees were served, but she was too dazed to appreciate the fragrance of her mocha cappuccino.
Ronan—she liked thinking of him as Ronan. The name was more personal and intimate than Graeme. Ronan sipped his black Arabica.
She tried not to stare at his mouth, but couldn’t help herself. His lips were neither thin nor full, a man’s mouth, nothing feminine about it. The trace of dark beard stubble only enhanced his masculinity. How would his lips feel against hers? Smooth, hot, firm? He was probably a masterful kisser, seducing a woman in five seconds flat.
“Have you sensed someone following you?” he asked.
She forced herself to focus on his words, not the way his lips moved. “Sometimes.” Because I’m psychic. No, she couldn’t reveal that. Her weirdness was one reason guys steered clear of her. She didn’t want Ronan to think she was weird.
“Have you seen anyone?”
“No, I just have a vague feeling of being watched.” And not only by the earthbound spirits of Asheville’s former residents.
“I have an eighth-degree black belt in aikido. Perhaps I could teach you some self-defense moves.”
“Eighth degree? My lord, I didn’t know there were eight degrees. I’m sure I can’t afford your fees. You probably guard movie stars and Fortune 500 CEOs.”
He shook his head. “I’m thinking you can afford free. And I have never guarded a movie star.”
“But you seem so capable. Surely you could make a lot of money guarding rich and famous people.”
“The money’s not important. When would you like to practice self-defense?”
“You’re serious about that?”
“Aye.”
Why was he so insistent? Though his emotions were a blank wall to her, for the most part, and she was still unsure whether to fully trust him, she again sensed a protective quality deep within him, as if it were the most basic and innate component of his personality.
“If someone attacks you, you need to protect yourself.” He studied her, his gaze probing and prying into the core of her psyche. “You’re afraid, Syrena. Why do you fear me?”
“I don’t know you. I can’t…”
A new sensation poured through her—comfort, trust, friendship.
What’s going on? Her insights never came to her with this clarity and sudden rush of emotion. Her pulse roared in her ears. “Are you psychic?”
“Nay, why?”
She shook her head, unable to explain. “It isn’t important.” Her psychic abilities were wonky around him, as if she didn’t have complete control of her own thoughts. Maybe her reawakened libido was wreaking havoc on the rest of her mind.
“Please believe me when I say I only want to help you.”
His expression was so sincere, how could she not trust him? But the friendship angle of the sensation that flowed through her was wrong. The lucid dream she’d had would never allow him to be only a friend. Nope, she had a crush on him, dammit.
She craved touching him so badly, her fingers shook. Instead, she picked up her cup and guzzled a long swallow of the sweet, lukewarm brew.
What would he think if he knew about the dream? Or her attraction? She’d never experienced or even imagined such an intense level of eroticism. Granted, she wasn’t very worldly when it came to sex. She’d certainly never had a torrid affair, like she was craving with him.
“How about right now at a place of your choosing?” he asked.
“Right now?” Sex invaded her brain, sex right now. But that wasn’t what he’d meant. Mind out of the gutter, Syrena.
Copyright © NICOLE NORTH, 2011
All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.

Blade of the Wolf is available at Ellora's Cave, Amazon, B&N and other online ebook retailers.
Thanks!
Nicole
Why Do You Like to Read Menage?

My readers tell me that they want to read more menage a trois stories. Birthday Girl, my upcoming release from Samhain is a menage story. Maybe not in the traditional sense... Wait, is there a tradition for menage? In Birthday Girl, the chance for a threesome is the birthday gift Shannon's husband gives to her.

For Shannon, turning thirty means getting serious. Responsible. Old. She can’t help dreading the day she has to leave her spontaneous, crazy, young self-image behind. Then there are all those unfulfilled items on her to-do list, like that threesome she and her husband, Ty, used to fantasize about. It fell by the wayside, right along with their neglected bag of sex toys.

Her birthday dinner starts out like any other…then her present arrives at the table. Marc, an old college friend, whose edgy persona tickles her in all the right places. And that’s not all. Ty’s reserved a room at Paolo’s Playhouse—for all three of them.

By the time the playroom door closes behind them, Ty’s and Marc’s intimate touches and wicked whispers have roused her hormones to a fever pitch. But when kiss comes to nipple clamps, Shannon’s not sure she has the courage to step off the edge of fantasy and fall headlong into reality…


I can tell you why I like to read and write menage, but then I'd really like to hear from readers. Because when I write future stories, I'd love to touch on, as much as I can, the things my readers want to experience when they pick up a menage story.

One things I love about menage is the sense of the forbidden. Yeah, I guess I was one of those good girls who always wished I dared to be bad. Sex with two men at one time, yeah, pretty high up on the forbidden scale.

Then there's the chance to experience (at least vicariously) two men focused on their woman's needs. As Tyler says to Shannon, “You’ve said more than once that you wished I had more than one mouth. How wonderful it would be if you could have a mouth on your breasts and another between your legs at the same time. Remember?” Who can argue with that?

And of course, there's the emotional side of two men sharing the same woman. How can confusion and jealousy and need not get all mixed up with the desire and the amazing orgasms?

But I'd love to hear from readers who enjoy reading about threesomes. What does it for you? Why do you choose to pick up a menage story with all the other stories out there to read? Your answers may end up in my next story.

Natasha
FLAUNT IT
RISK IT
BIRTHDAY GIRL - Coming Feb 21st
www.natashamoore.com
H is for Hook-up
Happy Ending Hook-Up
 In romance novels, hook-ups often lead to happily-ever-afters. In real life? Not so much. 


How successful is the hook-up if what you want is a relationship? 


Cosmo Magazine (Oct. 2010) says less than 5% of hookups end in relationships. 


Okay, less than 5%. That's a scary number. Yes, it means some hook-ups end in relationships and you may have heard of one. But do you really want to play those odds? Would you do anything else with such a small chance of being successful? 


People do. They buy lottery tickets, when their chances of winning the big prize are much less than 5%. But would you take a roller-coaster ride when your chances of getting off alive were less than 5%? Of course not. 


And I say the hook-up game is closer to the roller coaster ride than the lottery win. Why? You have a fun ride. Where's the harm? 


The problem is that it was just a ride. It leads to nothing more. If you win the lottery, it will change your life. If you finish a roller coast ride, it's done. It doesn't change your life. 


It's the same way after a hook-up. It's over. It's done. Sayonara. 


A woman who is easy to get is a woman who's easy to leave. Men worry that if he got her so easily, other men will too. So the woman is not a challenge. She has devalued herself in the "finding a mate" game. She slides closer to being the one who's available to everyone, and therefore of little value to anyone. 


If you're going out on the town looking (even if you don't admit it) to find a relationship which will affect the rest of your life, don't indulge in a hook-up. Instead, play the odds on such an important part of your life well.

What do you all think? Is Cosmo right or wrong?
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