Using Dialogue - before it uses you!

Hi Fierce Friends!

Here's the next installment from my In A Nutshell Workshop. It's on Dialogue. I hope it's helpful to any aspiring writers out there! ;))


Dialogue is one of the most effective ways to keep your story moving, to show characterization, to reveal plot twists and to keep your reader interested. But there is a lot more to dialogue than He said, She said. A few pointers:

1. Always let your reader “hear” an important scene. In other words, don’t tell about a conversation between grandmother and Joe--let the reader hear and see it by letting them read the actual conversation.

2. Don’t over use “ly” words. It is common when learning to use dialogue to say things like “I can’t go,” she said brokenly. Or “Do you know?” she asked questioningly. It is always better to let the words themselves convey the emotion, “Do you know?” she asked. (this is obviously a question and no need to say questioningly) and “I can’t go,” she said, her voice breaking as she whispered the words.

3. Use dialogue without having to say, ‘he said, she said’. Look at these two different ways of handling dialogue:
“Why didn’t you tell me he was coming?” Lorraine asked.
“Why didn’t you tell me you wanted to know?” John answered.
“I wish you’d go away and never come back!” she said.
“Too bad wishes don’t come true,” he said.

B. “Why didn’t you tell me he was coming?” Lorraine glared at the tall blond haired man, hoping he could feel the full brunt of her anger.
“Why didn’t you tell me you wanted to know?” he countered, leaning back against the bar, lifting the full bottle of beer to his lips. He smacked after he drank, a habit that had always irritated her in their years together. Now it just served to remind her of all the reasons she had left John Campbell.
“I wish you’d go away and never come back!” Her hands were balled into fists and for the first time in her life, she really thought she could do violence.
John set the beer bottle down and walked toward her, his blue eyes devoid of warmth. She took a step back from him, but the wall was behind her and there was no place to go. He leaned down, his full, repulsive mouth almost touching hers.
“Too bad wishes don’t come true,” he whispered.

You can see from these examples how much more you can do with dialogue, weaving description and action around the conversation.

In the next example, take the paragraphs and re-write them, using dialogue. Use your imagination, you can add to the characters in any way you want.

Example 1
Jack had walked into the room, hoping that Mary would be there. She was. He began to tell her just exactly how much her betrayal had hurt him. She didn’t seem to care. Her response was as cool and calculating as ever. He poured himself a drink. When had he lost her? When had she stopped loving him? He didn’t understand. She began telling him then, how his drinking was what had driven her away. He retaliated by explaining he drank because of her. They argued a little more and then she turned and walked out of the room, leaving him alone with his drink.

Example 2
“I wish you could come home earlier,” Mary said.
“Why should I come home earlier?” Jack said. “All you do is complain about what I do.”
“Do you want a cup of coffee?” she asked.
“Yes, I like your coffee,” he answered.
“Are you mad at me?” Mary wondered.
“Yes, I’m mad, can’t you tell?” Jack retorted.

Short but sweet, eh? Try out these ideas in your dialogue and I hope you will see a new energy and immediacy to your writing!

Keep Writing! Hugs from Tess!


Educating Eva by Bethany Michaels

Bethany Michaels is a born and bred Hoosier recently transplanted in the South. While she loves her adopted city of Nashville, Tennessee, she still misses the winter snow…sometimes. Bethany lives with her husband and four small children and squeezes in writing between nights as a full-time transportation planner and days as a full time mom. When she’s not writing, working or taking care of her family she likes to…sleep.

Nicole: Welcome Bethany! It's so nice to have you here today! Please tell us about your story Educating Eva in Red Sage Secrets Volume 23, Secret Desires.

Bethany Michaels: Striving to make her mark as a scholar, Eva Blakely attends an infamous house party to research the “Mating Rituals of the Human Male.” The notorious rake Aidan Worthington is only too happy to provide her with all the “research” she can handle. Dare she accept his offer?

Educating Eva was my first stab at an erotic romance and my first historical. I love Regency romance and had a ball putting an erotic spin on it.

Nicole: I'm a major fan of historicals so I can't wait to read this! Do you have a review you can share with us?

Bethany: Here's one from JERR. “Having read most of the Secrets anthologies, I had high hopes for this one and was not disappointed. Exotic new worlds, vampires, witches, erotic fairy tales, Regency romps—this book had it all. Each of the stories was well written, varied and kept my interest throughout. The female characters were all intelligent and strong-willed and actively contributed to the resolution of the plots. The male characters were quite different in personalities yet sexy and equally interesting. And the sex scenes in each story were well detailed and very hot. My favorite story was Educating Eva. Aidan’s subtle seduction of Eva was the best kind of mental foreplay and was extremely arousing. I also really enjoyed the erotic retelling of Beauty and the Beast in Reflection of Beauty. There’s something about a tortured male who finds happiness through love that always works for me. Pick up this volume of Secrets—you won’t be disappointed. Laura Scott, Just Erotic Romance Reviews”

Nicole: Wow what a fantastic review!! What inspired this story?

Bethany: I’ve always been kind of a ‘nerd’—bookish and a little introverted rather than a super-outgoing party-girl type. Some of my favorite romances star similar heroines, the type of lady who is not the belle of the ball and really has no desire to be. So in writing an erotic romance, I thought it would be fun to have a very intelligent, very logic-minded woman like that approach a naughty house party from a ‘research’ angle then get totally caught up in the physical and eventually the emotional aspects of her research subject. I had a blast writing a heroine with such an unromantic view of men fall head over heels in love with the least likely man she can imagine being with.

Nicole: What a fun, sexy premise! Please tell us about your favorite character in this story.

Bethany: I really relate to Eva, but as I was writing, a couple of the secondary characters sort of came to life on their own, too. Lilah, for one. She seems like such a wench, but she has her reasons. I plan to write her story soon. Lady Kempe, the owner of Ivy Hill has an interesting past, too and deserves her own happily-ever-after. I have just the men in mind for each of them. The men, of course, have to be hot and sexy and the kind of guys you’d want to spend a night or two with. :-)

Nicole: I can't wait to read those too. Do you have any advice for unpublished authors?

Bethany: The shift in thinking that helped me most was deciding that writing was going to be a priority for me. With four small children (five counting Hubby!) and a full-time job, time is at a premium. Everybody is busy with work, family, and other commitments. Most people don’t just have a bunch of spare time lying around they’re trying to fill. But if you want to write, you have to make the time. No excuses. For me, writing time is my time and I make sure I get at least a sliver of time each day to work on it, even if it’s half an hour on my Alphasmart at the McDonald’s Playland with about two dozen kids (including mine) throwing french fries screaming like banshees.

Nicole: Wow, you are busy! What’s next for you?

Bethany: A Regency-set erotic romance called The Secret Confessions of Lady H. Lady Amelia Holbrook is a very merry widow whose journal filled with her erotic exploits has gone missing. She suspects the thief is one of her former lovers and when she recruits long-time friend Grayson Turner to help track down the missing book, she begins to see him in a whole new light. This will be Red Sage e-book and released in a three-part serial format. I don’t have release dates for this project yet, but when I do, I’ll post it on my website at I also write light paranormal erotic romance and am working on a story about a demon sentenced to hard time on Earth and correspondence-course private investigator hired to discover his secret.

Nicole: Those sound fantastic! And congratulations on your recent sales!! Would you like to ask blog readers a question?

Bethany: I love erotic historicals and there seem to be a lot of other readers who do, too. What do you think makes the historical setting so sexy? Is there one time period you think works better than others?

Thanks again for being our guest here today, Bethany! Everyone please visit Bethany's website at Bethany Michaels. Click to buy the book or read wonderful excerpts from all the Secrets Volume 23 novellas including Educating Eva.

A Woman Never Forgets Her First

While growing up I wrote lots of stories based on bears, bunnies, puppies and many woodland creatures. Though I proved prolific during my childhood, the stories I wrote during my teen years are the ones I remember well. Lots of angst. Unrequited love. Keeping up with fashion trends. Trading tales over burgers and fries or at the high school’s cafeteria table. First dates with fellows I once thought were the sexiest in the world. These elements and more filled my creative-writing tablets and all resulted in short works of romance fiction. I’d always embraced Cinderella stories and applauded when Hollywood heroines got their dream guys. I loved filling typewritten pages with heroes and heroines fulfilling their passionate fantasies.

In the case of this blog, the first to which I'm referring has to do with romance fiction. The first tale I ever tapped out was one where a couple met over a chocolate milkshake. The heroine accepted her order at the fast-food counter, turned and promptly collided with a good-looking guy. His soft drink sloshed over the floor. To make amends for her clumsy moment, she offered to share her shake with him.

Next week I’ll divulge the story’s ending, but I’d enjoy hearing your opinions as to what happened next. Did chocolate bring these two together, or did their chance at a teenage romance fade faster than the ice cubes on the restaurant’s floor tiles?

Wishing you many happy reading moments,

Shawna Moore
ROUGHRIDER -- Ellora's Cave
HELLE IN HEELS -- Ellora's Cave
TORMENTED -- Coming soon to Ellora's Cave
Shawna's Myspace
Helle's Myspace

Writing Short

Yes, I'm short, but I don't mean that kind of writing short. :) The other day we had a call for short stories from one of my editors, and I had been wanting to unload my computer of short stories I've already written. But three of the ones I like best--because they're paranormal--have already been published, although I do have the rights back. I just sold "Trick or Treat" to True Romance.

So I was looking at some of my other stories--really great beginnings, however, they already have too many plot threads to turn into short stories. So what makes a short story a good read, but still short? I was just talking to an author friend who says he always has too much story to tell to write them short. And another who said she loves writing short, but can't wait for the day to write long.

I write both because I love the variety. To take a single plot line, a few really great characters and make a story come to life is the ultimate goal for a short story. Or several plots/subplots, lots of twists and turns and write a full length novel.

But I'm lazy. I have tons of story starts, and several short stories. I want one of them to work. After editing Deidre's Secret all day yesterday, editing a partial for another editor, a blurb for yet another, and working on Allure of the Wolf, trying to wrap my mind around another story--and make it short, isn't working. I hate it when I have no control. I'm the writer, right? It's my story.


One that I was working on last night, that's already over the word count for a short story limit--is great. I love it. I've trimmed some of the extraneous stuff and not so extraneous stuff, but the problem is still, I have too many plot threads. Too many, and there's not enough time to tie up all the loose ends. And I love the way I've started it, so, that means it'll just have to be a longer story.

Back to the drawing board. If I'm going to do this, I'm going to just have to give in, bite the bullet, and---heaven forbid, start a new story.
Terry Spear
The Vampire...In My Dreams, coming to bookstores August 26!!!

Workshop: Writing Hot, Delicious Love Scenes

September 1 - 30, 2008, online

Instructor: Nicole North

Fee: $20

Do the love scenes or sex scenes in your romance novel lack that magical spark and sizzling heat that makes the reader go WHEW!!? The romance genre has exploded with bonfire-hot romance and erotic romance novels and novellas over the last few years. In this workshop we'll explore the many aspects of fantastic, hot and delicious love scenes, whether you write mildly sensual romance or erotic romance. We'll look at the best ways of writing those all-important love scenes that take your characters to the next level of their relationship.

Topics covered:
Leading up to sex
Interweaving emotion and sex
Differences between romance and erotic romance
Choosing your words
Kissing during sex
Sexy dialogue
Humor during sex
Sexual positions
Personalizing your love scenes
Sexy settings
Seducing the reader
The hero
The heroine
Historical vs. contemporary love scenes
Determining placement
Progression from one love scene to the next
Oral sex
Avoid sex cliches
Sex and conflict
Written and multimedia examples

The lessons and examples contain graphic language and frank discussions of sexuality.

This is an interactive online workshop with exercises and feedback from the instructor on your written love scenes. Workshop will be conducted via a Yahoo group. Lessons will arrive at your email inbox. Click below to register:
Writing Hot, Delicious Love Scenes

Nicole North
Devil in a Kilt, Red Sage Secrets Vol. 27
Beast in a Kilt, Red Sage Secrets Vol. 29

If You're Going to San Francisco....

I've been so busy getting ready for the RWA Conference in San Francisco next week, I haven't even checked out the blog! And look what I missed - LOL Cats, Goin' Down with Tambra, a hunka-hunka burnin' cowboy, and an explanation of urban fantasy (kind of reminds me of a cartoon my boys used to watch with gargoyles - can't remember the name of it - but there was a romance between a human and one of the gargoyles).

Anyway, I'm looking forward to San Francisco next week (and will not be blogging next Thursday). As coincidence would have it, my August Intrigue, A Doctor-Nurse Encounter, is set in San Francisco. It's a great setting for a book - the fog, the bay, the hilly streets, the Queen Anne houses, the different neighborhoods.

One of my favorite tourist stops in S.F. is Alcatraz. The boat ride on the bay is chilly but beautiful, and the island itself has a definite aura. We took the tour with the headphones where different voices tell you about the history of Alcatraz and some of its infamous residents, complete with voices and clanging jail cells in the background.

The rest of Fisherman's Wharf is touristy but fun - Pier 39 with all its shops, all the seafood restaurants and the shellfish and sourdough bread on the street, and Ghirardelli Square a little further down. The cable cars offer some great views of the city, and a walk up (or preferably down) Lombard Street is interesting - can you imagine living on that street with hordes of tourists walking and driving up and down?! Chinatown has a lot of little nooks and crannies to discover. If you buy a bag or two of fortune cookies, the ladies who make them will let you take their pictures.

This time we also plan to take a walking tour of one part of the city. The tour is called "The Gold Rush City" and explores the history of S.F. and its beginnings as a Gold Rush town. Since both my boys studied the Gold Rush in California history in 4th grade, I think they'll get a kick out of this tour.

After I spend a few days sightseeing with my family, they're returning to L.A. and I'll get down to the serious business of the Conference--that's what I tell my husband anyway, although I think he's catching on as I pack the cocktail dresses and five-inch stiletto heels. LOL

How are you all spending your time in S.F.? Any sightseeing plans or will it be all "business"?

A Funny Thing Happened On My Way To Blog


















See ya next week -- I hope -- Fierce Friends, with a new blog!

Tambra Kendall tells us about Goin' Down

I'm so pleased today that we have Tambra Kendall visiting with us!!

Tambra Kendall knew from the time she was 12 years old she wanted to write romance. All those summers spent at the public library reading historical romance provided her love of the genre. In 1994, she joined Romance Writers of America and began the long journey to publication.

Ms. Kendall teaches online creative writing classes for Earthly Charms and various RWA chapters. She is a CTM, a Competent Toastmaster, and speaks to local writing organizations on the craft of writing.

Ms. Kendall writes highly sensual, erotic paranormal romance for Whiskey Creek Press, Aspen Mountain Press and both erotic and sensual romance, under the pen name Keelia Greer for Red Rose Publishing.

Nicole: Welcome, Tambra! Please tell us about your upcoming story.

Tambra: GOIN’ DOWN ANTHOLOGY BOOK TWO features my contemporary erotic romance short called The Erotic Touch. All of the stories are themed love in an elevator. There really is a great variety of stories in this anthology.

Story Blurb:
THE EROTIC TOUCH in Goin’ Down Anthology Book 2 from Aspen Mountain Press
When a sexy lingerie boutique owner finds more than a good time inside an elevator, her hero gives her not only her darkest fantasy but also his heart.

Nicole: Sounds fantastic!! Love in an elevator--very cool... or HOT in this case!! :-) This isn't your first published work. Please tell us about your others.

Tambra: I’m thrilled just as if this were my first publication. I have five other titles with Whiskey Creek Press Torrid and one with Red Rose Publishing.

Nicole: What element of story creation is your favorite and why?

Tambra: How character and plot are woven so tightly together the full picture of the story comes to life

Nicole: That's a fun part. What was the most important thing you learned (the thing that made all the difference) just before you made your first sale?

Tambra: Learning the basics of the craft of writing. This means-show don’t tell, plotting, point of view and when and how to shift smoothly.

Nicole: What do you wish you’d known before becoming published?

Tambra: How to bring all the elements of fiction writing together sooner!

Nicole: What’s next for you?

Tambra: I have a submission with Red Sage and I’m working on a Nocturne Bites submission.

Nicole: Good luck! I hope you receive several contracts! Thanks for being with us today, Tambra! I enjoyed it!

Everyone please visit Tambra Kendall's websites:

A question for all of you: If you read erotic romance, do you prefer anthologies or full length novels?

Second Helping of a Cowboy Hunk

MySpace Comments - Cowboys and Cowgirls

It’s summertime and my creative thoughts often wander to ranches and the sexy cowboys who work on them. Sweat glistening above their brows and on their hard bodies. Muscles bulging as they heave those hay bales or polish tack. Sunshine playing over the chiseled features of faces wearing a bit of sexy stubble. We definitely adore and admire these salt-of-the-Earth guys and their hardworking ways. But once we start mulling their dedication to ranch duty, we also realize they likely live and love and hard as they work. Can these guys who live for the thrill of the outdoors embrace commitment? Will they make time in their busy schedules for romantic moments?

In my contemporary erotica romance tale, ROUGHRIDER, Jack Dodson is tired of life on the rodeo circuit and ready to settle down to workdays co-managing a local ranch. What he doesn’t count on is the return of his curvy childhood friend, Kim Taylor. She’s into carefree while he’s thinking career. Though it’s summertime in Mesa Junction, Texas, the heat in the family kitchen is driven up many more degrees when this couple submits to some of their wildest fantasies. A woman never looks at breakfast the same way once she’s had a second helping of cowboy before her first cup of morning coffee.

A woman's rabid curiosity clashes with criminal minds and escalates the drama in a small Texas town where love and loyalties are harder won than any rodeo trophy.

Roughrider Medium cover

Click here to read an excerpt and for more information

Click here for reviews and another white-hot excerpt

ROUGHRIDER – Are you ready for the ride of a lifetime?

Click here to watch the promo video for ROUGHRDIER

Click here to watch the storyline video for ROUGHRIDER

Feel the heat in erotic fiction,

Shawna Moore
ROUGHRIDER -- Ellora's Cave Exotika
HELLE IN HEELS -- Ellora's Cave Exotika
TORMENTED -- Coming soon to Ellora's Cave
Shawna's Myspace
Helle's Myspace

What is Urban Fantasy?

Urban Fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy that takes place in contemporary times. Which means, gargoyles, and demons, and yes, werewolves, oh my, live in our times. Just think, you could be conversing with a werewolf or a vampire even on the Internet and never realize it. You thought some of the people out there were scary? Well, in an urban fantasies, you don't know the half of it.

How can us poor humans face a world like that? In the past, these fantastical creatures were often evil. Now? Lovers. Werewolf lovers. Vampire lovers. Gargoyle lovers? Even half human/half demon lovers. Yep, it takes all kinds to make the world go around.

And that's what's fun with having an imagination and sharing it with the world. No longer are the princes just plain cursed...the prince who is a bear by day, the prince who is a the princes are vampires, and princely ghosts, stone princes, and well, yes, even frog princes of a much sexier nature.

What are your favorite kinds of urban fantasies and why?

To Tattoo or Not to Tattoo

I got my cover for my upcoming Red Sage Presents story, APHRODITE'S FIRE. I love it, as I do all the Red Sage Presents covers. The story takes place on a tropical island and the hero and heroine are a couple of bounty hunters working undercover at a house party for swingers and swappers. Let the games begin!

The hero as depicted on my cover has a tattoo, and I think it's kinda sexy. Tattoos are becoming so popular today, it's almost hard to find a 20-something without one! Many years ago, I dated a Brit, who had tattoos down both of his arms and on his chest. It wasn't as common then, and he got a lot of looks. He said he got the tattoos in England when he was young and regretted them.

I don't think people would give him a second look today. So many musicians, actors, writers?, and athletes have tattoos, including my fave, David Beckham. And of course, tattoos aren't just for men anymore. Women started with the delicate flower or butterfly in a discreet spot like a wrist or ankle. Now some women have full-on tattoos down their arms or on their backs. I think at my former hair salon it was a prerequisite to be tattooed. Even one of the moms from my son's baseball team this year had tattoos down one arm (she's a pediatric nurse!). My son's soccer coach had tattoos on his legs (which he must've shaved). Several of my sons' teachers have them too.

So what's with all the body art? How's it going to look when these illustrated people reach 80 years old? Are those of us who remain untouched by the tattoo artist's needle going to be the odd ones out? If we stare at someone's tattoo long enough will it come to life and tell a story? (OK, I stole that from one of my favorite Ray Bradbury collections, The Illustrated Man.)

How do you feel about tattoos? Do you have any and can you tell us where? (Shhh, we won't tell.)


Hi Fierce Friends!

I’ve been teaching writing workshops since I was first published in 1993 and many of my students have asked me about having Writer's Block. I didn't even believe in Writer's Block until a couple of years ago, but boy am I a believer now! Now I know that even seasoned writers butt their heads against a wall from time to time, and I’ve sure had my share of days like that. After my father passed away in 2006, I had a really hard time focusing on getting out my next book. I had never experienced real Writer’s Block before in my life, and when it hit me, it was pretty devastating. What to do, what to do?

Well I moaned and groaned a lot. Whined a great deal. But finally I came up with a way to get myself jump-started and believe it or not, it really helped me on days when all I could seem to do was stare at my computer in despair. So for any of you who are struggling out there, here it is, in a nutshell. It’s not a magic wand to wave and isn’t good for the long haul, but is a realistic way to get started when you feel stymied by fatigue, stress, the lack of a muse, indigestion, unpaid bills or crying children.

copyright Tess Mallory 2008

1. Choose a scene you have already planned. Write the dialogue first. No descriptions, no action, just words in quotes and ‘he said, she said’ or in this case, ‘George said, Elaine said’.

“I know that dog is around here somewhere,” George said.
“We’ve searched the entire yard,” Elaine reminded him.

(Note: Try to write an entire page of dialogue before moving on to the next step. )

2. Next insert brief character actions and revise.

“I know that dog is around here somewhere,” George said as he stared down at the ground.

Elaine shook her head. “We’ve searched the entire yard,” she reminded him.

(Note to New Writers: A person ‘looking’ or ‘gazing’ is an action. Notice how I rewrote the second sentence, putting Elaine’s action at the beginning and changed ‘Elaine’ to ‘she’.)

3. Now, insert a brief description of setting.

“I know that dog is around here somewhere,” George said as he stared down at the ground. Fido’s favorite squeaky toy lay at his feet, just a few inches from the red and blue doghouse in their backyard.

Elaine shook her head. “We’ve searched the entire yard,” she reminded him.

(Note to New Writers: Little details like the squeaky toy I put in make the characters seem real, as well as the setting.)

4. Insert brief description of people from ONE POV.

“I know that dog is around here somewhere,” George said as he stared down at the ground. Fido’s favorite squeaky toy lay at his feet, just a few inches from the red and blue doghouse in their backyard.

Elaine shook her head. “We’ve searched the entire yard,” she reminded him. With a sigh, she turned toward her husband. His dark brows were knit together in concern and he dragged one hand through his too-long brown hair.

(Note to New Writers: Once you start a POV in a scene, this is the POV you should stick to. You would not, after this last sentence, write a sentence from George’s POV giving a description of Elaine. What did I change in this version? Why? )

5. Insert character emotion into the scene.


“I know that dog is around here somewhere,” George said. He stared down at Fido’s favorite squeaky toy lying near his feet, just a few inches from the red and blue doghouse in their backyard. His thin lips pressed together as he kicked the ground with the toe of his work boot.

Elaine shook her head. “We’ve searched the entire yard,” she said. With a sigh, she turned toward her husband, hands on her hips. His dark brows were knit together in despair. He dragged one hand through his too-long brown hair in dramatic concern and she closed her eyes.

“If anything’s happened to that dog—“ he began, then broke off, almost sobbing.

Typical. He was the one who had left the gate open, but she’d be the one left picking up the pieces.

(Note to New Writers: Notice the rewriting that has happened in the this scene. Why did I change the things I did? How did I add emotion?)

Until next time -- Keep Writing!!

Writers Block Cat

Cameo Brown explores Second Nature

This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.

Hesitating Won't Make It Happen


We all have wants, dreams and desires regarding the material and immaterial. For years I’ve dreamed of wearing a certain style of black cocktail dress. A dress with a halter bodice and alluring pleated skirt like the style Marilyn Monroe made a timeless couture classic. While I might be short in stature, my dreams are statuesque.

So many times I’ve browsed racks where similar dress styles hang, but I never dared trying on those sexy garments. Yesterday while shopping, I spotted the perfect match to the dress of my dreams. My husband urged me to model the dress and added some compliments that headed me toward the fitting room, the dream dress in hand. As soon as I adjusted the halter ties, stepped from the cubicle and caught my reflection in the mirror, the same warm fuzzies that happen when I sip a sinfully delicious cup of cocoa filled my entire body. Both of the boutique’s associates and hubby agreed the dress was made for me. If I’d hesitated and let the dress remain on the rack, I never would have experienced the ego boost or added a stunning piece to my wardrobe. What made the purchase even better was the fact my flirty dress was discounted to an equally dreamy and perfect price.

After the purchase I pondered a recent happening that found me making another dream become fiction-writing reality. Over lunch at my desk, the idea for a new erotic paranormal romance struck. For the next hour I plotted the first meeting scene, major turning points, black moment/climax, romantic ending, and rough-sketched the main characters and two secondary players. Excited doesn’t begin to convey how I felt during those feverish minutes. Though I’d originally hoped to continue working on plotting a different short erotica story, there was no way I could risk losing this story from those daydreaming moments.

When we write our stories, we give our characters some of our same flaws, passions, and moments of hesitation. Basically, there’s a bit of me in every heroine I’ve created. The paranormal heroine I’ve most recently brought to fictional life has already hinted she wants at least one spin-off of the initial story. Though I usually only plot one new story at a time, my going against my writing norm not only brought me a great deal of happiness but also will possibly yield the bonus of connected stories. Oh, and a moment of confession—I still remember the first time I asked a handsome stranger to dance. Talk about tough. There could have been a million butterflies waltzing around in my stomach that evening. And someone turned up the thermostat before I could blink. Where was a ceiling fan when a girl most needed one? The outcome—a couple romantically-intense years and many blissful moments. Though we parted ways, the parting was amicable and I’m glad our partnership continued past the dance floor if only for a finite span of time.

My advice--dare to dream! No matter what stands in your way, always strive to make your most precious dreams become reality.

What about you, readers? Have you ever pushed past a moment of moderate to profound hesitation and been blessed with a positive outcome?

Wishing you all many happy reading moments,

Shawna Moore
ROUGHRIDER -- Ellora's Cave Exotika
HELLE IN HEELS -- Ellora's Cave Exotika
TORMENTED -- Coming soon to Ellora's Cave
Shawna's Myspace
Helle's Myspace

Heroes in the Dating Game & 3-D Character Online Workshop

What does a hero need to do to garnish the heroine's attention? to her about what she finds interesting. Approach her with confidence but not too quickly. Lean in and act interested, but back off if she leans away, her space invaded. Ask her for a date for something she expressed an interest in. Keep eye contact, listen, and lighten the tone of conversation. Be positive and fun.

Sound like a hero? Nope. LOL Sounds like the dating game. So what's wrong with the hero in this scenario? For fiction, NOT real life, the woman wants to be pursued, sought after, approached quickly, not left to linger, and often the conversation is confrontational and not sweet and light. There's no fun in reading about that.

:) So for dating tips, these are great ideas! For writers, forget it. We have to have conflict between the hero and heroine! That's what makes fiction fun to read. I think of Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Lots of conflict, lots of fun, and lots of sexy make-ups afterwards. :) For fiction, sure it's great. But marriage? Nah.

So what do you think? Do heroes in real life and heroes in our stories have double standards?

Terry Spear
Heart of the Wolf, Don't Cry Wolf
Still time to sign up for the 3-D Characterization Class- just email me @
Starts Jul 14-Aug 8 (4 weeks, 3 lessons per week, critiquing of your work, $20)

Jul 14-Aug 8 2008

What a Character!!! Jump from Cookie Cutter to Great 3-Dimensional Characters in Your Writing!
How many times have you heard how important it is to have 3-dimensional characters? That the publisher wants character-driven stories, not plot-driven? To show, not tell? But how easy is it to really write characters that come alive on the page? Some writers have a natural ability to concoct terrific characters who are full of life. Then there are the rest of us who need some help. In this workshop, Terry Spear will show the difference between average characterizations and those that will get noticed! In this online class, which features lectures, discussion, practical exercises, and handouts, she'll teach students how to captivate readers with engaging characters.
Terry Spear has published in many genres, including romantic suspense, contemporary, paranormal, and under the name Terry Lee Wilde, young adult paranormal and fantasy romances. She's the author of Winning The Highlander's Heart (Vintage), The Vampire...In My Dreams, Deadly Liaisons (Samhain), Heart of the Wolf, April, 2008, Don't Cry Wolf, April 2009, Betrayal of the Wolf, Allure of the Wolf (Sourcebooks), Deidre's Secret, Relative Danger (Wild Rose Press). She also writes nonfiction for numerous genealogy, WWII, teen, and family magazines, and has had romantic fiction published in magazines. Currently, she's working on her latest werewolf adult novel, Allure of the Wolf.

You Can Be My Hero

Typically, heroes in romances are Alpha males - strong, silent, protective, and all-powerful. They know what they want and aren't afraid to take it (and the "it" is usually the heroine). Oh sure, there are the occasional Beta heroes, who are more sensitive and less demanding than their Alpha counterparts, but somehow they fail to sweep me away in the same way as the Alpha. (Having just written that, however, one of my favorite Beta heroes of all time is Freddy from Georgette Heyer's Cotillion.)

Along with their standing as Alpha heroes, our guys also have those "Alpha" professions. One of the most popular, of course, is the cowboy. Now I'd be hard pressed to tell you what cowboys actually do all day, but they sure look good in those chaps, tight jeans, and hats. Besides, you'd have to be strong to rope cattle, although I doubt they do so shirtless.

Another popular profession for heroes is a fireman or a cop. For these professions, you have the whole "rescue" thing going on. Never mind that according to my husband, who's a cop, firemen hang out all day at the station baking cookies and watching TV. The general public isn't aware of this shocking fact, are they? Cop heroes always work for romantic suspense novels because why else would some guy run around looking for clues and putting his life in danger unless he was getting paid for it?

Doctors also work as good Alpha heroes. They already think they're gods, and they really can save the heroine's life, unless they're podiatrists or something.

Finally, we have the ever-popular "secret agent man." He can be CIA, FBI, private eye, or a member of an elite secret ops organization. I love these heroes. They work outside the boundaries of the law and the government. They carry cool weapons. They usually speak foreign languages. And they're always willing to give it all up for the love of a good woman.
What are your favorite types of heroes? Do you prefer Alphas or Betas? Do you have a particular profession you like for your men? Who are some of your favorite heroes?

Been a While Peeps

Dear Fierce Friends! I'm so sorry I haven't been blogging lately! My computer collapsed and I have also been battling the Nausea of the Ages. I'm better but my computer isn't. I have more hope for the computer than my tummy. :) So instead of a blog today, I must once again resort to my wonderful LOLcats. Enjoy and I'll be back soon, I hope, with some tidbits of the writing life. In the meantime these kitties explain how I'm feeling right now:







See you all next week!!! Hugs!

Calista Fox brings us Jaden's Wicked Witch

I'm thrilled to say I'm interviewing Calista Fox today about Jaden's Wicked Witch. Welcome, Calista! Please tell us about your new release from Ellora's Cave. (I love the cover, by the way!!)

Calista: Hello again! Thanks for having me. My latest release from Ellora’s Cave is a fun novella about an immortal sorcerer and a very naughty witch (the best kind, IMHO). ;-)

Here’s what the story is about:

Jaden is a sorcerer from the realm of magik, accustomed to using swords and wizardry when confronting his enemies and completing the tasks assigned to him by the realm's highest authority, the Oracle. But when she sends Jaden to the material world to persuade Devinia Sparks, the Oracle's rebellious daughter, to understand and accept her true destiny, Jaden quickly learns this conquest requires a different tactic—the use of his body and his powers of seduction. But Devinia turns the tables on him when, after their first encounter, she leaves Jaden wanting so much more. Returning Devinia to the realm of magik means that Jaden will lose her. With the fate of their world hanging in the balance, he must choose between the woman he lusts after and his desire for a peaceful world...

Nicole: Sounds wonderful!! What inspired you to write this story?

Calista: I had some residual elements floating around in my head from the witch/vampire story I wrote for Secrets Volume 23 (“Forever My Love”), which comes out next month. So I put them into this story and submitted it for a quickie Autumn-themed feature. But my editor really loved the plot and the characters and asked me to expand the short story to a novella. So I got to develop the plot a little more with the added word count. I’m not an expert on witchcraft, but the research has been fascinating and I’m still learning a lot! (There’s a sequel in the works!)

Nicole: That's so interesting, the way the story came about. Please tell us about your favorite character in this book.

Calista: I really like Devinia, the heroine. She’s strong and feisty with a solid moral fiber. She’s incredibly responsible yet loads of fun! I also love her counterpart in the coven, Yasmine. She emerged as a strong character as well, so I’ve decided to give her a sexy romance of her own in the second story!

Nicole: Everyone will be looking forward to that one too! Which element of this story was hardest for you?

Calista: Great question! The witchcraft stuff was tricky because it had been a while since I’d written “Forever My Love” (the witch/vampire story), so I was a little rusty on some of the details I wanted to add. But I centered the story more around the romance than the elements of witchcraft, so I think it worked out okay. Another tricky part was the world-building. I had to invent the realm of magik. Turns out, it was incredibly fun to create an alternate universe!

Nicole: I agree, world-building can be so much fun. Are you a plotter or a pantser and why?

Calista: Definitely a pantser! I can’t stick to a synopsis or outline to save my life!! LOL I like to start with a basic concept, a title and the names of my hero and heroine. Then I let the story and characters guide me. It’s a good tactic for me—I rarely ever get hung up or stuck staring at a blank page. And when I do, I have a great critique partner, Rachelle Chase (from Secrets Volume 13 and author of “Sin Club” and “The Sex Lounge”). She’s great at letting me know when I’ve chosen the wrong fork in the road!

Nicole: I think a large percent of writers are pantsers. Would you like to ask blog readers a question?

Calista: Sure! Who’s your all-time favorite witch (from movies, TV, books, etc.) and why?
Nicole: Thanks again for being with us today, Calista! It's been fun! Everyone, Jaden's Wicked Witch is available now at Ellora's Cave. Also please visit Calista Fox's website.

The Spirit of Seventy...Two

MySpace Comments - USA, United States and American

As the holiday weekend winds down, I’ll share a memory from a Fourth-long-past with you all. This particular Independence Day from my childhood likely started with a breakfast of cereal, toast, fresh fruit and a glass of milk. Mungo Jerry possibly played on the radio, singing the classic, “In the Summertime”. The front doorbell rang, mom answered it and returned to the kitchen with two of my friends. Despite my protests, she assured me that finishing my breakfast wouldn’t hamper any of our fun. Before anyone could say frosted flakes, I kept my clean-bowl promise and headed out to our backyard with my friends. Our sneakers came to rest beneath the crabapple tree. We discussed how we’d spend our morning—the morning events we’d planned several days earlier. A quick trip by bicycle to one friend’s house a few doors down eventually found our handlebars decorated with pint-sized American flags conveniently attached to wooden sticks. After a short ride down the street, another friend’s father fitted our bicycle tire spokes with red-striped and blue-striped white straws. As our energy soared so did the temperature, so we returned to my house for some tropical punch (you know, the delicious brand featuring the little island guy). My father was in our garage and revealed a surprise for us. He had these cool metallic plastic streamers in red, blue and silver that he tied to our handlebars. While he finished his handiwork, I retrieved a souvenir from our recent visit to Philadelphia. We kids were now ready for our Spirit Ride. No sooner did our tires hit the street than we started our patriotic campaign on wheels. Flags waving and tires clicking, we recited over and over the opening lines from the Declaration of Independence. From time to time I reached into my woven bicycle basket and clanged the scaled down reproduction of the Liberty Bell. We made umpteen trips around the development, proclaiming our patriotism and having a lot of fun. When our ride ended some time later, we were treated to ice cream bars and Mom’s announcement that no rain was in the forecast. That meant no rain to ruin the town’s fireworks for later that evening. After a break to play with our Barbies and GI Joes, we got permission to make several more trips throughout the neighborhood and promised to return in time for the multi-family barbecue.

Many years have passed since that memorable Fourth, but I remember the moments well. The tang of lighter fluid and charcoal. Sizzling burgers and steaks. Our laughter and shouts. The hiss of the sparkler as it caught a flame. The burst of tropical fruit juice as it exploded on my thirsty tongue. The clang of the vacation-memento bell. Bet Paul Revere never had so many fond memories after his historical ride but we kids surely did.

Wishing you many happy reading moments,

Shawna Moore
ROUGHRIDER -- Ellora's Cave
HELLE IN HEELS -- Ellora's Cave
TORMENTED -- Ellora's Cave
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Helle's Myspace

Happy 4th from Wilde and Woolly Bears!!

Hope everyone had a wonderful 4th!!!

Eagle Scout Bear pictured at left, center--Patriotic Patrick featured in Teddy Bear Review Magazine, and Texas Patriotic Bear, right, featured in Texas Monthly Magazine. :)

The 4th means so much more to me than fireworks and hot dogs--my son is in NYC this weekend with fellow AFROTC cadets taking a break from his AF training and watched the fireworks there. But he and others like him who have served in the Armed Forces, are on Active Duty, or are in training, I salute you. For that's what the 4th is all about--freedom and independence, and our soldiers making it possible. :)

Terry Spear, retired from the US Army Reserves

Heart of the Wolf, Winning the Highlander's Heart, The Vampire...In My Dreams