A Perfect Affair by Judith Gilbert & Interview

Hi, today we have my friend and critique partner Judith Gilbert visiting with us. Her book, A Perfect Affair, was released today.

VS: Hi Judith, welcome and congratulations on the release of your book!! Lovely cover! Please tell us about A Perfect Affair.

JG: This is a heart-touching story full of hope and new beginnings. After losing her father ten months ago, divorcee Katherine Cahill goes back home to Houston and fights to return the joy of Christmas to her mother and young son. At the same time she secretly battles two men, her two-timing ex-husband who blackmails her, and a growing attraction to a Texas attorney hell-bent on sharing his bed with her, but not his heart.

Jared Randall swore he would never get involved with another divorced woman after the fiasco when his fiancee returned to her ex. Then he made two colossal mistakes--rescuing ice princess Katherine Cahill from her mother's roof and playing Santa. His cobwebby Santa brows get him in trouble, thanks to his promise to Katherine's young son.

VS: Sounds both fun and emotional. Having read some of your manuscripts in the past, I know it will be awesome! What inspired you to write this story?

JG: Katherine, the heroine, was inspired by two people I knew who went through very bitter divorces, often dangerous for them. I wanted to write about a heroine who would take on her ex-husband when he attempted to blackmail her and would cleverly turn the tables on him, even adding a taste of revenge, a la Katherine's way. Readers and reviewers have said they absolutely love the revenge scene and high five Katherine's audacity. It's an, "I-wish-I-had-thought-of-that moment."

VS: Nice!! Please tell us about your favorite character in the book.

JG: Jared, because you can't help falling for a man who tells a grinning five-year-old Matt, "I bet your dad will be proud," sees the boy's demeanor change, the anger and sadness in Matt's eyes, and cares enough to put happiness back into his life. Poor Jared, no matter which way he turns he steps in it. He has to learn he can't play Superman with Katherine, jump to solve her problems, but learn when to help and when to stand back, even if she's in danger, and trust Katherine to find a way to whip-butt.

VS: He sounds like a true hero. Do you have any advice for unpublished writers?

JG: The difference between a published and unpublished author is perseverance. Don't give up. Per Olin Miller, "Writing is the hardest way of earning a living, with the possible exception of wrestling alligators." If you don't already know this, the costs of PROMO/Marketing is the responsibility of the author, so expect to shell out money to build a readership. One of the things you should concentrate on is writing faster and still maintaining the quality. Set daily goals, whether it's words or pages, and keep tract of your actual daily output. How long does it take you to produce a novel? You need to know how fast you can produce a novel when you get published because you'll be selling on proposals and giving your editor the date you'll deliver the complete novel.

VS: Would you like to ask blog readers a question?

JG: I'm hoping The Wild Rose Press will also give me a contract on another orphan of mine: Blood Hunt: The Legend by J Gilbert, the darker side of Judith, so I can get the other three books in the Blood Hunt series out for my readers. The Legend has witches, vampires, shapeshifters, FBI and the Army to contend with. The second book has the addition of a Demon from Hell. Think of your worse nightmare. If you had the power to pick a name for this Demon from Hell, what would it be?

VS: Great question! And I definitely hope TWRP offers you a contract for Blood Hunt: The Legend. I have read most of this story in the critique group, folks, and it is fantastic! Thanks again for being a guest here. Please visit Judith Gilbert's website at: www.authorjudithgilbert.com

All Work and No Play by Lila Dupres & Interview

Today we have my friend Lila Dupres visiting with us. Her contemporary novella, ALL WORK AND NO PLAY, was released today from Ellora's Cave Torrid Tarot Series.

NN: Congratulations on the release of your new novella and thank you for being here! What a beautiful cover! Please tell us about ALL WORK AND NO PLAY.

LD: Julie Preston worked hard raising her younger sister Emily after their parents died, and creating a career. She gave up simple pleasures like love and relationships. So when a friend drags her to a singles bar, Julie’s ready for anything. She meets a gorgeous guy and they spend several passionate hours together. There’s real chemistry there, but Julie regretfully sticks to her promise: a one-night stand, no strings.

When Julie hires a tutor to help Emily pass English, she’s shocked to find he’s the man from the bar. Seeing him in her house makes it hard to keep her hands off him, but he isn't looking for a long-term relationship since he’s a singles bar patron. Right? How many miles can Julie jog before she gives in and jumps him?

NN: Sounds hot!! Please tell us how you use the Tarot in your writing.

LD: ALL WORK AND NO PLAY is a story in Ellora's Cave "Torrid Tarot" series. In my story, Julie's friend Tanya is a Tarot aficionado and constantly compares Tanya to various cards; most recently, the Eight of Pentacles. As the title suggests, this is the card of "all work and no play," and Tanya thinks Julie needs to loosen up and enjoy her life. Julie strives, throughout the story, to be more like the free-spirited High Priestess, who goes by her instincts instead of the "rules" of life.

I also sometimes use Tarot to develop characters, plot lines or scenes in my stories. If I want to get to know my main character, I draw a card for him or her to see what his or her major personality trait is. I then turn over a few more for other traits. I do something similar with plot lines, or sometimes will lay out an entire spread, such as the Celtic Cross spread or a yearly 12-card spread. Tarot can give you lots of interesting ideas you might not come up with on your own; at the least, it will get your imagination working.

NN: That's so intriguing! Maybe I need a Tarot deck. What element of this story was hardest for you?

LD: Writing a love scene between two people who had just met was tough. I wanted the scene to be romantic and tender, and believable. I wanted the reader to feel, "If I were in that situation, I would make that same decision." And naturally, I wanted the reader to fall in love with the hero, just like the heroine. ;-)

NN: Absolutely! And I'm sure they will. Do you have any advice for unpublished authors?

LD: Perseverance is the most important trait of a writer who moves from unpublished to published. Never say die! Read everything you can get your hands on, not just for pleasure, but for ideas on what works and what doesn't. Study and improve your technical skills, i.e., grammar, spelling and punctuation. Work with a critique partner or group who can spot errors you might miss. And finally, perseverance. :-)

NN: Great advice! Do you have a question you'd like to ask blog readers?

LD: I'd love to know what are your favorite paranormal elements in paranormal romances you read. Do you like to read about ordinary characters with psychic abilities like reading Tarot, crystal ball, palms or crystals? How about people who can sense and communicate with ghosts or supernatural beings? Or do you prefer stories about supernatural beings themselves, i.e. vampires, werewolves, ghosts, witches? Tell me what you'd like to read next!

NN: Thanks again for being here Lila! Everyone, please visit her site at: http://www.liladupres.com/

Welcome new member, Shawna Moore!

I'm thrilled to say we have a fierce new author member here at Fierce Romance! Welcome Shawna!! I met Shawna a few years ago at a small local writers' conference and we have been friends since, and sometimes critique partners. Shawna is a joy to know.

I interviewed her on a previous post about her latest book and enjoyed reading all her responses. But I had a few more questions for her so you could get to know her better...

NN: Shawna, when did you know you wanted to be an author?

SM: Ever since childhood, I've enjoyed creating enchanting worlds and imaginary characters, As an only child this proved such fun and presented endless possibilities. My first skit was performed in the family's living room in front of an assortment of stuffed animals and Barbie dolls. They proved quite a patient and captive audience :) More toys served in starring roles, and I provided the voice-overs. Family and friends were treated to other performances, and my parents always encouraged my creativity. Long before I started Kindergarten I discovered a favorite pastime in reading. Mom bought me several books each week and we also visited the local library each Saturday. She and Dad also told me stories every night at bedtime for many years. Mom's love of reading introduced me to the beauty and miracle of the written word. Before the completion of my first novel--a historical romance which is unpublished--she succumbed to terminal lung cancer. But we shared so many wonderful moments during her illness. I treasure those moments more than anything else. Each day I serialized the completed portions of the historical romance for her. She adored reading romance fiction and I also embrace the genre.

For as long as I can remember, I've jotted stories and musings in tablets, diaries and a variety of other media. By the time I reached junior-high school, one of my dreams was of someday becoming a published author. During my high school years I served as Editor and Features Editor of the school newspapers and won several writing competitions. Though I worked in medical offices in a variety of capacities after college graduation, I always longed for a chance to write that first book. After 15 years of working outside the home, I was blessed with an opportunity to devote myself full-time to the writing career, and I've completed and published multiple novels, novellas and short stories during that time.

NN: That's fascinating. In your writing, what inspires you? What motivates you?

SM: Life and love inspire me. I'm an avid observer of my surroundings and the people with whom I come into contact. Immersing myself in the beauty of nature. Strolling local malls where the scents of coffee shops, chocolatiers, and leather-goods stores stir my senses and spur my creativity. Listening to conversations of those around me. Seeing the wonderment in childrens' eyes and the bloom on their cheeks as they sit on Santa's lap or listen as a story is told. Indulging in delicious food and taking time to savor every bite. Watching the orchestrated dances of lovers as they pass.

I've always been a self-motived person. My love of and enjoyment derived from what I do keep me motivated, along with the strong sense of accomplishment when a task is completed. For at least five days a week, for eight to ten hours, I concentrate on my writing, editing, plotting and promotional activities. Nothing short of an emergency will find me deviating from that schedule. I take my writing job as seriously as those jobs I held outside the home when I worked in the corporate world. My timeclock is an imaginary one, and I allow time for breaks and aerobic walks when necessary or desired. I do everything possible to meet daily goals, knowing life sometimes interrupts. The following day, or as soon as possible, I make up for the lost time.

NN: Whatever you're taking, I want some! :-) What was the most important thing you learned (the thing that made all the difference) just before you made your first sale?

SM: There are several related lessons, but here's the primary one--the only element of my writing career over which I have control is the writing process.

I must defer to other elements beyond my control. Publishing is a challenging, subjective and competitive business. There are so many talented writers and only so many openings in publishing schedules. Timing of submissions can play a major role in making a book sale. The American and global economy impact sales. Lines close or fold into others at a publishing house. So many other variables. But writing is a pleasurable pursuit--one I wouldn't trade for any other.


A few months ago I was in my town’s public library. I picked up a flyer announcing a book fair, featuring authors signing their books, storytelling for kids, and other activities. I scanned the list of authors and their book topics and discovered not one romance author listed, although there were authors of books on dogs, planning weddings, and some other pretty obscure topics. I bellied up to the counter to check out my book, brandishing the flyer to the librarian. “No romance.” She looked up and said, “Excuse me?” I said, “You don’t have any romance authors scheduled for the book fair.” She looked down her nose (well, sort of – I may have imagined that part) and said, “Oh, I don’t read that stuff.” First, was I asking her what she read? Second, how condescending is that? I may have even been checking out a romance, and the library sure is full of them. So I looked down my nose at her (and believe me, if you’ve seen my nose that’s some feat) and said, “Too bad. I write that stuff.” With a smug smile on my lips I watched Miss Thang get all flustered. “You do?” she squeaked. “You should talk to the coordinator about participating in the book fair.” I told her I’d do it next year, since my books weren’t published yet. Then I walked away with my head held high.

If we expect romance as a genre to get some serious respect, we need to seriously respect it ourselves. So the next time someone scoffs or smirks when you tell them you write romance, get fierce and let ‘em have it right between the eyes. (Wait until I tell that librarian I also write erotic romance!)

Roughrider by Shawna Moore & Interview

I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and ate more than you should've. I know I did. :-) Today I'm thankful to have my friend as a guest here--sizzling-hot erotica/ erotic romance author Shawna Moore.

NN: Welcome, Shawna! Wow, what a sexy cover! Please tell us about ROUGHRIDER.

SM: Rabid curiosity clashes with criminal minds and escalates the drama in a small town where love and loyalties are harder won than any rodeo trophies.

Roughrider is an edgy romantic story pivoted by sex and suspense. Two childhood friends are the central characters. They’ve never dared admitting or acting on their mutual attraction and basest desires. Kimberly Taylor is a hard-working woman who operates a Western Outfitting business. She’s feisty, a perfect foil and irresistible conflict for Jack. Kim’s ready to take a break from her business, begin her sexual odyssey and let her playful side emerge, Jack Dodson’s latest life changes are forcing him to become more serious about how he approaches reality and fantasy. A decade has passed since their last meeting. I decided the best way to give Kim a well-deserved vacation and force her to face her unspoken, unfulfilled desires was by returning her to Jack’s hometown of Mesa Junction and putting her directly in the path of her ultimate temptation. This story is all about finding that special person with whom you can share some of your most intimate secrets and indulge some of your wildest sexual fantasies. She knows she'll always have a friend in Jack, but she wants more. The only way she'll ever find out if he feels the same way is by revisiting the small town where love and loyalties are harder won than any rodeo trophy. That’s how Kim and Jack will have a chance at turning a platonic relationship into a passionate one.

NN: Sounds smokin' hot! What is the story behind the story?

SM: I’ve always enjoyed watching older Western movies on television. While checking out shows one afternoon, I came across a movie about cattle driving. An idea for Jack’s hero sprang to mind as the commercials aired, so I muted the television, grabbed a writing tablet and jotted ideas. Needless to say, I turned off the television before the movie resumed and wrote the first several chapters without taking a break.

During my childhood, my grandfather shared his Zane Grey novels with me, and my mother was an avid reader of romance fiction. Among her favorites were cowboy heroes featured in category romances.

NN: I always find it interesting to know what sparked a certain story idea. Please tell us about the hero of this story.

SM: Jack Dodson has suffered some major setbacks and losses. As a result, he realizes money and fame aren’t driving forces in his life. He’s a rugged, salt-of-the-Earth-type guy who’s left the rodeo circuit behind and is focused on settling down with a steady ranch-managing position. He lives as hard as he loves, works as hard as he plays, fights for justice and for those he loves. He is very much a protector, and he has also very closely guarded his romantic feelings for Kim. Kim proves her caring and concern when she gives her curiosity free rein in a troubling matter involving Jack and his mother.

NN: How are the Ellora's Cave Exotika books different from their other erotic romance books?

SM: Exotika is Ellora’s Cave’s line for erotica. As such, Exotika stories may or may not include a romance. They focus on a woman’s positive sexual experience and gratification. Of note, both of my Exotikas, HELLE IN HEELS and ROUGHRIDER, feature a romance. In erotic romances, the romance is at least fifty percent of the storyline and there is always the happily-ever-after readers have come to expect and adore. In Exotika erotica, you’ll find edgier stories where the heroines may explore myriad avenues for their sexual pleasure, and the endings may or may not include romantic commitment. Bolder, sexual scenarios are included as are multiple sexual partners in some of the stories. The focus doesn’t have to be on monogamy as it does in erotic romance. I enjoy the creative freedom of writing Exotika/erotica and Romantica/erotic romance for Ellora’s Cave and letting the characters and plot dictate which of these lines fits their fictional circumstances.

NN: Do you have a question for blog readers?

SM: During the holiday season, we all have so many things demanding our attention. What is your ultimate way of de-stressing when a bit of spare time comes your way?

Mine is preparing a warm mug of cocoa, putting on a pair of plush spa slippers and curling up with a romance, women's fiction or erotica novel. Transporting myself to the fictional world created by a fellow author and living vicariously through the characters is always a pleasure and sloughs off the stress of the season.

My beloved mom used to say I was born asking questions. But I also love answering them. If you have any questions for me, or topics you'd enjoy discussing, feel free to post them to the wonderful Fierce Romance blog. Blessings and bounty to all this holiday season!

NN: Thanks so much for being here, Shawna! I've enjoyed it! Everyone please visit Shawna Moore's website to learn more about her hot stories.
PS... you still have time to enter my November contest. Just post a comment on my November 15 blog entry below or join my mailing list. Thanks

Unlikely Romances

We were having a discussion on the Red Sage Readers loop about how a romance makes any story a better story, and how sometimes a story doesn't feel complete or satisfactory without a romance. This led me to think about some of my favorite movies that aren't billed as "romances," and yet the romance or love story is integral to the plot and the characters' actions.

One my favorite recent movies is Apocalypto. Yes, the story is violent, bloody, and gory, but at its core, it's a love story. The hero, Jaguar Paw, has a strong will to survive after his Amazon village is ransacked and destroyed and he is taken captive by the Mayan city-dwellers. During the attack on his village, Jaguar Paw is able to hide his pregnant wife and his son down a well. He knows he must come back to them to rescue them, and it's this love for his family that drives him to amazing feats of valor and cunning as he escapes the Mayans and makes his way back to his wife and son. His wife is no slouch in the bravery department either as she protects her son in the well. It's an amazing and gripping story of the will to survive and how love inspires this will.
Another favorite of mine, Braveheart, just happens to be by the same director, Mel Gibson. Again, he gives us a bloody, violent movie, but at the heart of it all is a great romance. Wallace wanted to keep a low profile when he returned to Scotland, but after the English murdered his wife, he had to avenge her death. The ending was incredible when Wallace is being tortured and he's able to tune it all out and focus on his dead wife moving through the crowd. When the King of England's daughter-in-law is discussion Wallace with her lady-in-waiting, the lady says, "I heard he did it all for his woman." Ahhh, romance.
So do you all think I'm nuts labeling these violent action movies "romance"? How about it? Where have you found an unlikely romance?

A Highlander For Christmas by Sandy Blair & Interview

Recently I finished reading A Highlander For Christmas by Sandy Blair and now it has a home on my keeper shelf. This book has everything--a sexy Highlander, a lovable modernday heroine, strong emotion and humor by the boatload. A couple places were so funny I literally laughed so hard I cried. I highly recommend this book! I bet you're wondering what exactly the story is about...

Welcome To My World
‘Tis the season to be jolly—but Boston antiques dealer Claire MacGregor isn’t looking forward to a solo Christmas, or cocoa for one, or trimming the tree by herself. But company’s coming. Claire is fooling around with an old puzzle box and when it opens...a gorgeous, studly laird appears. Thumbs down: Sir Cameron MacLeod is centuries old. Thumbs up: he doesn’t look it. And Cameron is tall, dark, and lusty—very lusty.

Come Away To Mine
Who is this lovely lass? And where is he? Before awakening in the 21st century in Claire’s bedroom, the last thing Sir Cameron MacLeod remembers was readying for war with a rival clan. Despite her strange clothes and odd ways, Claire is bonny and brave. He’s about to find out that love is a many-splendored thing indeed...

I'm happy to say Sandy agreed to stop by and answer some of my questions...

VS: Welcome, Sandy! Great cover! Do you have a review or two you could share with us?

SB: Sure. Here are but a few from print and on-line reviewers.

“A Highlander for Christmas is a sizzling, sexy time-travel romance generously spiced with Sandy Blair’s delectably sharp sense of wit.” ~ Chicago Tribune

“A HIGHLANDER FOR CHRISTMAS is beautifully written, and comes with a high recommendation. Sandy Blair is an author well worth getting to know.
~Romance Reviews Today, Jane Bowers

“Blair's readable style and brisk pacing add flair to a story sure to entertain busy readers in the mood for a short holiday charmer.”
~ Bookloons.com

VS: Wonderful reviews! What is the story behind the story?

SB: I was ½ way through A WARRIOR IN A KILT when my editor called and asked if I could change it to a Christmas story. I said sure, I’ll throw in some holly. “Uhmm, no,” she said, “You’ll have to change XY and Z to make it lighter fare.” (She’d seen the story line, knew I had a tortured hero.) Rather than make the changes she suggested (which would have taken a great storyline in a totally different direction,) I thought for a minute then said, “How about this...” and gave her my Boston antique dealer plot line, which had been percolating at the back of my mind for awhile. She said, “Great! Run with it.” And so A HIGHLANDER FOR CHRISTMAS came to be.

VS: Wow, that's interesting. Who is your favorite character in this story and why?

SB: Cam is definitely my favorite. Favored since birth, he plays as hard as he fights when the opportunity presents itself, hasn’t a modest bone in his body, is a man of his word and definitely a reiver at heart.

VS: I certainly agree with that. He was my favorite character in the story too. Thanks for being here with us, Sandy! Everyone, please visit Sandy's website at http://www.sandyblair.net/ and click here to read an excerpt.

A question for those of you who love to read time-travels, do you prefer books where a modernday person travels back in time, or one where a person from back in history travels to today? Or some other arrangement like time-traveling into the future, or someone from one historical era traveling to another? Me? I love them all and love variety.

One Wish by Calista Fox & Interview

Today we have Calista Fox visiting with us. She's sold several stories to Red Sage for the Secrets anthologies including IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT—Vol. 13 (July ’05), INTIMATE RENDEZVOUS—Vol. 17 (Dec. ’06), MIDNIGHT RENDEZVOUS—Vol. 22 (Dec. ’07), FOREVER MY LOVE (July ’08), SECRET RENDEZVOUS (’08) and a Single Title Release by Red Sage Publishing: OBJECT OF DESIRE. Her new story from eRed Sage has just been released. And she has a wonderful contest going on.

Nicole: Welcome, Calista! Please tell us about ONE WISH.

Calista: Jillian Anderson is at her wits end when it comes to the crazy mishaps and constant problems she encounters when she takes over her uncle’s bar, the Old Age Saloon. She’s up to her eyeballs in debt and bad luck. To make matters worse, Jillian has a bad case of unrequited love for bad boy Luke Parsons. They set the sheets ablaze at night, but by the light of day, Luke is as elusive as the eternal bliss her uncle had promised her when she took over the saloon.
But Sedona, Arizona, is a mystical place to live, and when a playful genie hopped up on spicy, tequila-laced pickles offers her one wish, Jillian finds she has to open her own heart in order to win Luke’s. Does the genie hold the key to bringing Jillian and Luke together forever?

Nicole: Mmm... a bad boy and a mystical place. What could be better? And I love the cover! What inspired you to write this story?

Calista: I was in this really great bar in Sedona one hot afternoon when the story idea struck me. I was having a drink and people-watching with a friend and I overheard some interesting conversations that really got me going. If you’ve ever been to Sedona, you know it’s a beautiful place—a town that’s surrounded by tall red-rock canyons. Some towns have a personality—this is one of them. It’s quaint and laid back, but there’s a great energy in Sedona and it’s probably because of the “mystical vortex” it’s famous for! UFO chasers, crystal worshippers, spiritual advisors and “new agers” are abundant there. So too are writers and artists, because it’s a very serene, tranquil place. (One of the country’s best spas is located at the Enchantment Resort, by the way. It’s called Mii Amo. I highly recommend it!)

Nicole: Sounds beautiful and makes me want to visit Sedona. Let's get back to the hero... what do you think is so appealing to readers, as well as writers, about the bad boy hero?

Calista: I think women love bad boys because they’re elusive creatures and because they play by different rules—and get away with it. Everything about them is sexy because they’re forbidden fruit—hard-to-impossible to tame or mold into what you really want or need in man, but so damned irresistible! I’ve been a bad-boy addict since junior high. Nice guys always wanted to date me and I’d always pass them over for a bad-boy, even knowing my heart was going to get broken!

Nicole: Sigh! I know what you mean, they are so hard to resist. Would you like to pose a question to blog readers?

Calista: Absolutely! What a great way to hear readers’ opinions! Let’s see… I would like to know what elements of an erotic romance story entices a reader to buy the book, particularly if they aren’t familiar with the author. Anyone?

Please visit http://www.calistafox.com/ to enter Calista's fantastic contest. You could win a basket full of goodies from Sedona ($100 worth)!!

November Contest - What kind of paranormal?

The paranormal romance subgenre is booming now, as I'm sure you know. On bookstore shelves these days you'll see vampires, werewolves, witches, fairies, psychics, dragons and all kinds of other unusual creatures in different combinations.

My novella, "Devil in a Kilt" (Red Sage Secrets Volume 27) has a few different paranormal elements. The first and most obvious one is time-travel. A modern day woman holds a sword and is transported back in time to 17th century Scotland. I've always loved a good time-travel romance, especially if the story has a bit of humor and is handled differently from the norm.

The second paranormal element in my story is the shape-shifting hero. He's a sexy Highland chief who's been cursed to change into a hawk at daybreak. At first I thought shape-shifting characters would be hard to create and write. How do you go into bird point of view? Once I started writing it, I found it was no problem at all, especially when the bird thinks just like a man. So what if he has feathers instead of fingers half the time? At least he's a man at night. ;-)

The curse brings us to the next paranormal element, magic--wielded by a witch of the Dark Arts. Almost anything is possible with magic, so it's important to create whatever limits you want on the paranormal world you create. If you have "rules" and motivation or reasons this helps the reader suspend disbelief and totally buy into your story. For example, the witch can spy on them from a distance because she has a crystal ball. She can turn herself into whatever animal she wants because she knows all the spells.

What is your favorite paranormal element to read or write about and why (what do you love about it?) To enter this month's contest all you need to do is answer this question by posting your comment here before Nov. 30. All those on my mailing list
will be entered into a separate contest. You can enter that contest by joining. One prize is 2 books from my TBR stack and the other prize is a pair of sterling silver and semi-precious stone handmade earrings (made by me) just in time for the holidays. I won't tell you which prize goes with which contest. Make a psychic guess. ;-) I'll pick the winners the first week in December. Thanks in advance for entering!

How Did You Come Up With That?

Writers get this question a lot. How DO writers come up with the stories and characters that populate their books? Do they have some master file of ideas that they peruse when the urge to write a book hits them? Do they do extensive research on different topics and select one that nobody has ever written about before? I think not. If most writers are like me, the ideas for their stories come from bits and pieces of life - overheard snatches of strangers' conversations, news items, a random phrase. Anything can stimulate those creative juices.

I developed the idea for my Harlequin Intrigue, The Stranger and I, from a news story. Here in Southern California, our border with Mexico is in the news a lot. I heard a news story about a tunnel underneath the border that the Border Patrol discovered, which was huge and high tech. It even had lighting installed! Terrorists using those tunnels to get into our country is a real and frightening possibility. I started thinking about what would happen if a woman traveling in Mexico stumbled across such a tunnel and wasn't even aware of its significance? I began writing The Stranger and I with the first scene where the heroine, Lila Monroe, witnesses a murder at the entrance to one of these tunnels - and the story took off from there.

For something less frightening and more fun, I got the idea for my erotic novella, "Hot on Her Heels," coming in Secrets Volume 24 in July '08, from my friend. She told me that she had taken her 80-year old mother to Las Vegas for her birthday, and they attended an all-male revue, The Thunder From Down Under. Her mom had a blast, and the men from the show paid particular attention to her - sitting on her lap and letting her stuff bills in their g-strings! I turned that scenario into a story about another feisty old broad who gets taken advantage of by a hot dancer in a Vegas strip club, and the private investigator who infiltrates the club as a dancer to recover her stolen diamonds.

So you never know. Your lunchtime conversation about your sister falling into a fountain on her recent trip to Italy could be overheard by some imaginative writer at the next table and turned into a romantic comedy! It all starts with "What would happen if....."

How about it? How did you come up with the plot for your latest romance?

Celebrity Entertainment

I have some entertainment for you today...

(Hilarious) First a showdown between Fabio and George Clooney. Who do you think would win in a fist fight? Yes, please cast your vote, and if you're so inclined, watch the news footage.


And then, Enrique gets bitten. Whew!!! Wouldn't he be a sexy paranormal hero? Some of the girls in this video are from the CW show America's Next Top Model.

Enrique... yum! Okay, I've got to go watch that again.

Hot Mama and interview w/ Jennifer Estep

She can melt steel – and men’s hearts …

By day, Fiona Fine is a successful couture designer, catering to the high society players of Bigtime, New York. By night, she’s Fiera, a superstrong superhero who can create and manipulate fire with her bare hands. Fiera, along with the other members of the heroic Fearless Five, make life miserable for the ubervillains who want to take over the city.

But Fiona’s personal life isn’t so fine. She still misses her fiancĂ©, who was killed by ubervillains a year ago. But men admire Fiona’s smoking assets, and she decides to get back in the dating game – especially after she meets Johnny Bulluci. But this notorious playboy has plenty of secrets to go along with his sexy smile. And, with two new ubervillains in town who are intent on raising hell, Fiona’s love life might just crash and burn …

Hot Mama Details
Release date: Nov. 6, 2007
Pages: 356
Price: $14
Format: Trade paperback
Publisher: Berkley Books
ISBN-10: 0425217345
ISBN-13: 978-0425217344

To enter the Twelve Days of Bigtime contest, you can either post this info (including the cover) OR Fiona Fine’s letter to the media. The choice is yours.


VS: Congratulations on the release of your new book, Jennifer! Your stories sound fascinating, unique and very different from most of what's out there. How do you come up with your highly original story ideas and characters--do they come to you in dreams and demand to be written or do you pull out your hair while brainstorming (or maybe something in between)?

JE: Thanks! I appreciate the congrats. I've always loved superheroes, but one thing always bothered me about them -- how come all the girlfriends/love interests like Lois Lane never seem to figure out that their boyfriends are really Superman? And I started thinking what would happen if a reporter did figure it out and went around exposing the secret identities of heroes and villains -- until she fell for one herself. That was the basis for my first book, Karma Girl, and the beginning of the zany world of Bigtime, N.Y. Basically, I'll hear a voice in my head. A character with her own point of view and story to tell. Or see a movie or TV show and think "What would happen if the character zigged instead of zagged?" Honestly, just about everything inspires me. I just wish I had time to write all the characters and stories in my head! :-)

VS: How wonderful to have so many ideas! What was the most important thing you learned (the thing that made all the difference) just before you made your first sale?

JE: To be patient. The publishing world moves at its own, slow, steady pace. Like all unpublished writers, I've spent months waiting on agents and editors to look at my work. As a published author, I've spent months waiting on contracts and cover art and reviews. None of these things are in my control, so I just have to be patient and realize things will happen when they happen, and not before. I still have trouble with it, though. I basically write to keep myself busy while waiting on other things!

VS: Oh but the waiting is the hardest part! Do you have any advice for those pursuing publication but not yet there?

JE: Keep on writing, keep on submitting, no matter how many rejections you get. It took me about seven years and seven manuscripts and hundreds of rejections before I sold my first book. But if you work hard and long enough, it will happen for you, too. To quote the movie Galaxy Quest -- "Never give up, never surrender!" :-) Thanks for having me!

VS: Thank you, Jennifer, for being a guest here! Everyone, please check out Jennifer's fun, entertaining website for more info about her books. www.jenniferestep.com