A Spooky Story for Halloween

I’ve never seen a ghost, goblin, or witch...well, maybe a few witches...but I live in Los Angeles and we have scary stories of another kind here. Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono – the Hillside Strangers, Richard Ramirez – the Nightstalker – those are the kinds of monsters that really chill my blood. Because they’re real.

I’m typically a pretty cautious person, but these days as a wife and mom I’m not in as many dangerous situations as I was when I was young, single, and stupid. I think one of the scariest situations I ever encountered was when I first arrived in L.A. at the tender age of 18.

I grew up in northern California, but decided to go to college at UCLA. Both of my older sisters were already living in L.A., one a senior at UCLA and the other working. The summer before I started at UCLA, I attended the freshman orientation. I was taking an English class at the local community college to get it out of the way and discovered that another girl in the class was also going to UCLA in the fall. We hit it off immediately and decided to fly down to the freshman orientation together. Our plan was to fly in the day before the orientation started, where we would be staying at the dorms, and spend the night with my sister in her apartment.

I don’t know about my friend, but I felt very important and grown-up. My sister picked us up at the airport and brought us back to her place, a small apartment in a so-so area of the city. That night we ordered pizza and sat on the floor of the living room with its thin blinds on the windows. We chatted late into the night, and I was loving my first taste of freedom away from my parents.

We were still laughing and talking at about one o’clock in the morning when we heard a knock on the apartment door. We all froze and stared at each other. My sister didn’t have a boyfriend at the time and nobody had called earlier to announce a late-night visit. The knock sounded again, louder this time followed by a man’s voice, “Hey, do you girls want to party?”

I was so scared I think my heart stopped. My older sister, who was just 23 at the time, jumped up and rushed to the door. Of course, it was already locked, deadbolt and all. She yelled back at the intruder through the closed and locked door with her toughest voice, “Get the f*** away from my door or I’m calling the police.”

We all held our breaths, and then we heard the man’s footsteps clumping down the stairs. Why hadn’t we heard him walk up the stairs before? How did he know a group of women was in the apartment with no male companions? Had he been watching the outlines of our bodies through the thin blinds? Had he been listening to our voices? From where? These thoughts tumbled through my mind, scaring the heck out of me.

The stranger’s intrusion put a damper on our little party, and we went to bed soon after, but I fell into an uneasy sleep. The bright sunlight and my excitement about the orientation changed my mood the following morning. We all agreed that it was pretty creepy, and my sister suspected the man might be a neighbor across the street.

The orientation turned out to be a blast, and that girl and I stayed friends throughout our four years at UCLA. During that time, I went to frat parties, studied late at night on campus, walked to a campus job at 5:30 AM, parked my car in deserted parking structures, was propositioned by a pimp (long story), rode on the back of my boyfriend’s motorcycle with no helmet. After graduation I lived the life of a single girl in the big city—clubs, bars, parties, one-night stands—in short, putting myself into all kinds of risky situations. But nothing really was ever as creepy as that night before my freshman orientation when a lone man tried to gain entry to an apartment with three single women at 1:00 in the morning.

THOSE are the kinds of Halloween stories that shiver my timbers.

Puttin' on the Ritz for Halloween

 Would you like to do your trick or treating in the neighborhood where the owners of the Tootsie Roll Company live?

There’s where we found ourselves the first year we went out for treats in the town we now live in. Don’t get the wrong idea. We live in a nice, ordinary neighborhood. But we border a very fancy neighborhood, which is part of our school district. The whole district is walkable, even for small children. So we do it all when trick or treating.

My husband goes with a couple other dads, and takes one or two of the kids and their friends. So that first year, hubby was going with a friend who lived in the fancy neighborhood. They set off, expecting to gather a pillowcase full of finger-sized candy bars and a few bucks for Unicef.

He arrived home, somewhat shell-shocked.

“I got a Cuban cigar!”

“I got invited in for glasses of wine, and one person even brought the wine out to us!”

“The kids got movie theater size candy bars!”

Let’s see, booze, smokes and junk food. What’s missing? Well, if he got offered a lap dance, he didn’t tell me about it.

The kids were overwhelmed with the humongous candy bars. That became their new standard for a good haul. (Fortunately, they don’t eat most of their candy and I find it months later, stashed somewhere that even they forget about.)

We soon discovered that a family whose money originated in the Tootsie Roll Company actually lived in that neighborhood. They always gave generously (yes, Tootsie Roll products). Occasionally, I would find myself at the house (a very nice home). Several years ago, there might be a few extra people at the door, but no crowd. Then the word must have gotten out. In subsequent years, a crowd started growing, until finally they had to hire a policeman to handle things. I stopped going at that point, though my husband continued to take the kids who insisted. About five years ago, Tootsie folks sold the house and moved out of town. But, I guess most people don’t realize they’re gone. The new owners still, to this day, have to hire a cop. People don’t want to give up the fantasy, I guess.

One of my kids last year was allowed to go out with friends of hers from another town. She returned home all excited because a couple of Red Sox players who live in that town were actually giving out candy. She said one guy (a top player) was sitting on a chair at the end of his driveway passing out candy. Needless to say, it’s thrilling for the kids, and I give the guys a lot of credit for doing it.

But maybe they’re just like me (except for several millions). I love giving out candy on Halloween. I love seeing the neighborhood kids and the friends of my own children. I enjoy guessing who’s behind the elaborate costumes. Of course, I also love going door to door with my children. Which always presents a problem as you can’t do both at the same time.

I’m not a fan of the ghost houses. In fact, they scare me, no matter how amateur they may be. So I tend to go out with my daughter who won’t even walk on the side of the street where there is a haunted house. She won’t go in iParty during the month of October. My kind of girl.

This year I’m noticing more yard decorations than I’ve ever seen before. Some rival those Christmas houses that become neighborhood attractions (or eyesores, depending on your perspective). My neighbor puts up these huge balloon monsters that require electricity to pump air into them. In the morning, she turns off the air and they lie sadly on the ground, all deflated and looking more like trash than anything scary.

So, what do you think? Is Halloween growing more elaborate?

Debut Novel, Secret Vegas Lives, and a Contest!

By Laura Breck

Thank you, Fierce Romance, for having me here today. I'm fascinated by the awesome concept of a fierce romance. It brings to mind a love so deep, so intense, that it's almost overpowering. That's what I seek to write in my books. A romance that's spellbinding, and emotionally charged.

Modern couples face incredible challenges, and I want to show that romance can survive and grow between loving, committed couples, despite family interference, character quirks, and judgment errors. In my debut novel, Secret Vegas Lives, Antonio and Valerie are two strong people who are looking for the perfect person to share their life with, but end up falling in love with flawed, enigmatic, difficult people. But in fiction, as in real life, nothing worth keeping is easy to attain.

Here's the story: Best selling fiction crime writer Antonio Daniato leads a secret, decadent night life, but someone knows about it - and is blackmailing him. When he sets a trap to catch the blackmailer, psychologist Valerie Kane gets stuck in Antonio's web. Their attraction is immediate and intense, but neither trusts the other. Especially when evidence surfaces that feeds their doubts. When they learn to trust their hearts, they must still struggle through obstacles set by her snobbish family, and emotional pain caused by his hair-trigger anger, in order to find a fierce love. But when Antonio's outrageous secret is revealed, Valerie has to fight for him against an addiction that might be stronger than their love.

This book was a pleasure to write. Antonio is native to Italy. I've always loved men with dark hair and olive skin. And Italians are so romantic: the country, the lifestyle, the language. And at the time, I was learning Italian, so my books have a little bit of Italian-sweet-nothings in them. I absolutely adore Antonio, he's a bad-boy, Harley-riding, womanizer. The man every woman wants to tame and keep forever. And I made him very naughty, which makes sweet Valerie want to let loose with her wicked side.

Another gorgeous Italian man is Antonio's brother, Dante. He's an artist, and the hero of my second book, Scandalous L.A. Desires. Dante is notorious in L.A. for dating the most beautiful, famous celebrities. Lindsey Beauden is the president of her family's charitable foundation. When she gets an anonymous letter informing her that the inner city youth art project she's funding is being taught by an infamous womanizer - Dante - she sets out to meet him, and decide for herself if Dante is as bad as everyone says he is. (And he is!) Scandalous L.A. Desires will be released in 2010.

Okay, back to Las Vegas! I lived there for three years, and it's a wild place to visit, but a surprisingly conservative place to live. Many things are legal in Nevada that are illegal elsewhere, and making them legal requires a great deal of regulation and oversight. Antonio's wicked night life happens to be one of Sin City's favorite addictions, and I have to admit, I partook a few times myself while I lived there! Valerie, my heroine in Secret Vegas Lives, volunteers at a shelter. Since each of my books is partnered with a charity in the city in which it's set, in Las Vegas, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to The Shade Tree Shelter, a shelter for women, children, and their pets. Read more about this fabulous refuge on my website.

Here's a short excerpt from Secret Vegas Lives:

Antonio took her hand and rubbed circles on her palm, looking at her with those beautiful brown eyes. "It will be good, Valerie. We will be fabulous together. Say yes, baby, and I'll have you moaning for hours."

She was lost in his gaze, could barely draw a breath. Her womb tingled with anticipation, her mind befuddled by the image of her lying under him. Moaning for hours.

She had to snap out of it. She raised an eyebrow. "Does that line really work?"

He released her hand. "None of my lines work on you, do they?"

She sighed. Did he honestly have no idea that his smoky glances and wicked suggestions turned every inch of her body into a tingling time bomb?

"Not really," she lied and steered the conversation to the blackmailer.

They compared his and Betina's lists of suspects and came up with possible scenarios. For the next hour, Valerie didn't notice the waiter frequently refilling their wine glasses, until she started slurring her words. She was tipsy.

He must have realized she drank too much and moved their glasses to the edge of the table. The waiter walked by, and Antonio said, "Two cappuccinos, please."

"Thank you." She fanned herself with her napkin. "I didn't realize how much I drank."

"You're a lot of fun when you loosen up."

"Loosen up? Thanks. Makes me sound like an uptight bitch."

"Whoa, bella, let's keep this pleasant, okay?" His smile was teasing.

"I don't usually drink this much."

He stared at her.

She asked, "What are you thinking?"

He rubbed his chin. "I'm going to use this scene in my next book. Two people, drawn to each other sexually, but kept apart by their suspicions of each other."

She shook her head and regretted it when she felt the room spin. "Your books are not romantic at all. You should introduce a love interest for your cop-hero."

He lifted an eyebrow. "Everyone's a critic. Okay, Doctor, how should I make my books more female friendly?"

She looked at him; his face seemed to float in and out of focus, just like in her dream. A light bulb went on in her brain, and she leaned forward. "I have an idea."

"I do, too, but we'll have to go back to my place -"

"Uh uh. About the book. You could make it more romantic by having the cop dream about one of his female co-workers. Then build a romance from there."

"Might work. What would he dream?"

Her own dream replayed in her mind. "She's in her office, and he barges in wearing riding leathers, sunglasses, boots..."

"Go on."

This was dangerous, but she didn't care. She smiled seductively.

"She watches him take off his sunglasses, his leather gloves and jacket. He's wearing a white shirt, jeans, and leather chaps."

His eyes held a serious look, and he shifted in his seat.

She leaned closer. "She gets up from her chair and saunters toward him, wearing nothing but a slinky black -"

"Stop." His brows drew together. "For God's sake, Valerie." His hand fisted. "You push me too far."

She sat back, sobered by his warning. She closed her eyes. What was wrong with her? He was intensely into her, and yet she deliberately enticed him.

With the wine spinning her brain, she'd allowed desire to launch her out of control.

She couldn't meet his eyes. "I...I'm going to the ladies room." She jumped up out of the booth - too quickly. The room shifted. She blinked to focus, walked hesitantly to the back of the restaurant, and found the dark hall leading to the restrooms. As her hand touched the women's room door, an arm came around her and pulled her back against a solid wall of muscle.

"You are poison." Antonio wrapped his arm beneath her breasts. He pulled her backward into an empty meeting room and closed the door behind them.

Stop by my website, read the first chapter, and view the video book trailer. And I've got two great contests going on right now. LauraBreck.com. I blog every Wednesday at RosesOfProse.blogspot.com, and my e-book, Secret Vegas Lives is available at RedRosePublishing.com.

Thanks again to Fierce Romance for allowing me to talk about my writing today. I would like to give away a goodie bag of my promotional items to one lucky commenter. My question for you is, What makes a romance 'fierce' - and not just average, or mild?

I look forward to reading your answers!

Trick or Treat

Halloween is right around the corner. The holiday for costumes, trick and treating, haunted houses and surprises around the corner. One of the fund raising opportunities in our community are haunted houses or haunted hay fields where people pay good money to be scared as they walk through an old house or ride a hay wagon through a dark farmer's field while people dressed up as ghosts and monsters try to scare you to death.

A couple years ago, Ellora's Cave released a series of Halloween Quickies, the series was called Tricks and Treats. My very first release ever was a Halloween Quickie titled Nothing to Fear. The story takes place in a community haunted house. Here's a blurb:

Mason's dark good looks and domineering personality give Kelly all sorts of forbidden fantasies that frighten her. When she agrees to help out at the community Halloween haunted house, she never expects to be tied to a bed, playing damsel in distress to Mason's masked, whip-wielding villain.

Kelly can't run away from Mason this time. He knows she's fighting her sexual needs and he hopes that a few hours of playing out her fantasies with him will prove to her that bondage — and Mason — are nothing to fear.

Nothing to Fear is still available if you'd like to indulge your desire for a hot Halloween story. You can download it here.

Nothing to Fear is also part of a print anthology called Taboo Treats which includes a total of seven hot Halloween Quickies for your enjoyment. You can check out all the novellas in the anthology and buy a copy here.

And a quick reminder that time is running out if you haven't yet entered the Binding Ties contest for a chance at your very own beginner's bondage kit. You can enter by sending an e-mail to our contest loop:
bindingties-subscribe@yahoogroups.com The winner will be selected on Oct 29th.

Have you ever been to a haunted house or are you like me and don't really want to pay good money to be scared shitless?


Helle Hath a Series

Never more than when I’m reading romance fiction have I been a fan of series novels. When an author creates a compelling heroine and irresistible hero, readers want to learn even more about the couple long after the last page of the first novel in a series is read. We follow the lovers’ trials and triumphs, cheer the development of their dedication to each other, and keep hoping they’ll achieve a happily-ever-after. Whether a story ends with a romantic commitment or a walk down the wedding aisle, we wonder what comes next for them?

An idea that occurred one morning as the coffee brewed allowed me to bring the Devil’s daughter and her Greek lover onto the romantic scene. After only two chapters into the writing process with this book, I plotted Hellé’s continuing exploits on Earth.

After the ten-thousandth fight with her father, the Devil's daughter is forced to surrender her trident and true love in order to save Earth from devastation of a magnitude its never known.

More than a few pulses are raised when Hellé Hawthorn and her minions hit Sin City on the hottest day of summer and make their business every man's pleasure...

Click here for more information

Click here for a more explicit excerpt and to watch the video

Hellé gets more than a reunion with her lover in TO HELLE AND BACK AGAIN. While she learned how to deal with her father, The Devil, she’s faced with two formidable foes in this tale that tries more than her patience.

Hellé is damned if she does and damned if she doesn't...

The Devil’s daughter survives a battle with ball lightening and learns her days in Sin City are numbered unless she consumes a precious mineral found only in Hell—the Hell from which she’s been banished.

Three men compete for Hellé’s attention. The first evildoer controls much of Vegas’ development and vows to destroy her. A second rogue as powerful as Satan hopes to dominate her. The third, an irresistible Greek fisherman, wants her until death parts them.

Hellé and her lover, Menlikus, embark on separate dangerous journeys with a common purpose. Their lives hinge on the cooperation of two persons—one who’s betrayed Hellé’s friendship, and one she doesn’t believe exists.

Click here for more information

Click here for a more explicit excerpt

Here’s an excerpt from TO HELLE AND BACK AGAIN –

Flecks of amber shimmered inside the cinnamon-red orb as it hurtled toward me. Slender fronds filled with sparks waved around its periphery. Every hair on my head strained skyward. The sensation of thousands of fire ants skittering over my scalp competed with the sting of sections of hair being yanked out by the roots.

Caesar’s entire army might as well have marched over my chest as the flaming ball smashed against my front. All air heaved from my body and I pitched backward. My butt hit the floor and my head followed. Scalding fingers fondled my naked flesh. The cacophony in my brain built to a thick wave that foamed back and forth.

“Hellé Hawthorn.” A raspy voice coming from within the fiery phenomena whispered my name over and over.

A veil of bluish-gray smoke floated over my face. Someone or something touched my scalp. Bile bubbled up in my throat. No matter how fast I moved my eyeballs behind the closed lids, no effort coaxed a single tear.

“Hellé? Hellé? Tell me you’re okay.”

Menlikus. My lover and best friend who’d risked his life to reach me and save me from a death worse than any my father, the devil, could impose.

Despite the swarms of bees leaving their hives deep within my gray matter, his words and breathing made it past the din.

Faint drags of his fingertips tickled my forehead. Chills consumed me and I swallowed the latest flood of bitter liquid.

“I…” Lifting my arm provided a lesson in futility. I’d been turned into a barely breathing hell-born noodle.

“You might be hurt. Even near death.” He stroked my cheek. “Lie still. I’ll get help.”

“No help, just you, Men.” The high tide ebbed inside my brain and I opened my eyes. “Did you see that?”

“See what, honey?” He kissed my lips softly and ran the pad of his finger over my carotid. “Your heart’s beating pretty fast. And you’re sweating.”

I sniffed. Peppermint on his breath. Cocoa oil on his skin.

Several more breaths did the trick. His maleness filled my nose and settled on my tongue.
A slight lift of my body brought a back brace in the form of Men’s arm. “I’ve witnessed some crazy stuff as the devil’s daughter but that ball lightning beat all.” I rubbed my eye but the stinging remained.

“All I saw was you falling almost as soon as you opened the office window.” His smile rested only inches from my mouth but I resisted kissing him. “Are you in any pain?”

My heart ceased skipping the ropes of blood that pumped through each chamber. Another swallow cleared most of the acid.

Bending both legs and rotating my head brought no discomfort. “No. And I don’t believe the devil is to blame.”

Wishing you all many happy reading moments,

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

Shawna's Myspace
Helle's Myspace

Joyfully Reviewed: Secrets Vol. 27 Untamed Pleasures

We have an exciting new review for Secrets Volume 27 Untamed Pleasures from Joyfully Reviewed!

"Devil in a Kilt” by Nicole North
Shauna MacRae should be happy that she’s met the man of her dreams, but meeting Gavin MacTavish throws her back in time to the Highlands of 1651. Now, Shauna has to break a curse, fight a witch, and find a way for her and Gavin to stay together.
I’m a sucker for a tortured hero. Make him a Scottish laird, and I’ve got everything I need. “Devil in a Kilt” has more than a sexy Scotsman, though. It’s a sensual, exciting story full of romance. Gavin being a cursed shape-shifter makes “Devil in a Kilt” a little different than other time travel stories. In “Devil in a Kilt,” the guy is hot, the sex is hotter, and the story is romantic and fun...
The stories in Secrets 27, Untamed Pleasures are very different, so there’s something for everyone. They have a few things in common, though: hot men and even hotter sex. With wonderful stories and interesting characters, Secrets 27, Untamed Pleasures fulfills secret fantasies. " ~ Nannette
To read the reviews for the other three fantastic novellas please visit:

Unscripted -- A new release!

by Kristin Daniels
Today is the release of my fourth book with Ellora's Cave Publishing -- Unscripted. Every book an author pens is special to their heart, and this one -- for me -- is certainly no exception.

This book was originally born by me asking a slew of fun what-if' questions. What if an actor and an actress who disliked each other were thrown together to film a blockbuster movie? And what if that movie involved a hot and sexy love scene? Would the actress go through with it? Would the actor?

What if there was more to the story than met the eye? What then?

As this book unfolded under my fingers, a deeper connection between my hero and heroine morphed the story into something I hadn't really expected. My hero's pain was very real for me, as was my heroine's anguish. All of their feelings ran through me -- anger, pain, regret, lust, desire -- but one was always constant. In the simplest terms, Unscripted is a love story. A hot love story, LOL, but a love story nonetheless.

Here's a little taste:

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

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

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

He hopes to hell and back it’ll be enough.

Ryan glanced over his shoulder in the direction of Brynn's room. She didn’t think he could see her, not in the dim light that surrounded her, but the way he stared a minute before turning his whole body had her wondering for sure. He took a step, then another and she found herself mimicking him and pressing her palms flat against the glass, in full view, when she could go no further. Her blood burned like fire through her veins and her head spun even faster.

She didn’t want to believe him any more than she wanted to shove a red-hot poker in her eye. Because if she did, it would mean giving up her renewed anger. She needed it now, wholeheartedly relied on it to keep her focused. Even though the rush of heat tingling over her skin proved her body had no qualms in reacting to him, she hoped to hell and beyond that her heart and mind wouldn’t be so easily conquered.

But then his expression changed, darkened somewhat. He lowered his shoulders and clenched his hands at his sides again and again while his chest expanded on a deep breath. And when he licked his lips, she flinched. A tiny, angry coil inside her snapped free and she gripped the door handle.

I shouldn’t be doing this.

The thought popped in her mind, and she flat-out ignored it. It was the flash of instant need mixed with that draw, that fucking helpless draw that had her yanking the door open and stepping out onto the balcony as he ran up the steps two at a time. He came to a stop inches from her, breathing fast and hard, but so was she. With the last bit of sanity floating in her mind, she spun away, because God, she had to, but he grabbed her elbow in a tight grip before she could escape his reach. As he pulled her closer, the anticipation of a killer kiss tingled all the way to her toes. And as his lips crashed against hers, that weak expectation was blown completely out of the water. Every ounce of air whooshed from her lungs, but she couldn’t find the means to care. He was kissing her, like he had so many times before, like he had that very morning.

Body, one. Heart and mind, zero.

“Brynn,” he whispered against her lips as they clutched each other.

“Shut up,” she replied, not wanting to think about what she was doing, or why. All she wanted was for him to touch her, for him to extinguish the blaze racing over her skin.

He bent his knees to pull her closer while he dipped his tongue into her mouth. He tasted much as he had earlier. Fresh, clean. New, yet so agonizingly familiar too. She’d never get over the way he held her in his arms, or the way he kissed the living hell out of her.

He cupped her ass, and she didn’t wait for any sort of invitation. She dropped her sandals and room key, lifted to her toes and practically crawled up his body until she could wrap her legs around his hips. In a half-dozen steps, he had her pinned against the glass door.

Everything happened so fast. She couldn’t think and it didn’t matter. Her fingers found their way into his hair. His moved from her ass to caress along her thighs. When he lifted under her knees and rocked into her, she broke from the kiss and thumped her head back on the glass.

“Oh God.”

He was so hard and thick, and she’d missed him so damn much. An inferno raged between them. Even their clothing didn’t mute the fire where their bodies met.

As he kissed lower down her neck, she squeezed her eyes and turned her head. He was headed for that spot, that one little spot that always drove her out of her freaking mind. He found it in a heartbeat with his tongue, and she held back a throaty moan at the first hot, wet pass.

Check out a different excerpt on my website, www.kristindaniels.com.
Click here to get a copy of your very own!


Writing Series

I love reading series books. I’m not talking Harry Potter series (FYI, I’m a huge Potterhead, but completely different than what I’m getting at). I’m talking the ones where the story is focused on one couple, but the secondary characters come to life in the background and you find yourself itching to read their story. I LOVE that.

Karen Marie Moning was one of the first authors to grab me into series. I did a bad thing and read To Tame a Highland Warrior first, then read Beyond the Highland Mist. Although Hawk and Adrienne’s part was small in Grimm’s story it was just enough to intrigue me to go back and see how their story unfolded. As for the MacKelter series, I started with book one and didn’t stop until the last page of the last book. I looked forward to seeing the characters whose stories I had finished. I’d find myself smiling and thinking, Ah Drustan, it’s so good to see you again. Dagues, how is my dark highlander. Oh, I see life is wonderful for you guys. That’s awesome.

Cheesy, I know, but there is something in revisiting characters in later books that I love. It’s like checking in with an old friend.

I also love those series where there are two characters lurking in the background and the author, throughout a number of books, puts them together and sets the motion in place for their story. The best example I can think of is Brenda Joyce’s The de Warenne Dynasty. I loved each of these books, but there was one brother who stood out, Rex de Warenne. Man. He’d maybe step onto the page four times in each book, but in those brief glimpses, I was hooked. The same with the eventual heroine, Lady Blanche Harrington. To be honest, I don’t think these two even had a conversation until their story came to be. But the way she wrote the two of them together in a room, I had no doubt they would have a romance of their own one day. And I so looked forward to it. I found myself anticipating those little scenes between the two of them, just a look, a weird tinge when she found him staring at her, he’s jaw tightening when she was talking to another man. It all left me wanting more.

So why am I blathering on about this? I have a point. Promise.

I have always wanted to write a series. After writing numerous short stories and two novel lengths, I’ve finally come up with a series idea I want to take a stab at. In my novel lengths, I have secondaries. But it was never my intention to write their stories. I was focused solely on the couple of the book. The secondary characters were there to help aid in that progression, provide a little comic relief and fill out my hero and heroine into real people. People loved them but weren’t begging for more of them if you get my drift.

Now I find myself in a quandary. For the first time, I am writing a story with the intention of every male friend of my hero to get their own story. It’s much harder than I expected. Much harder. How much is too much? When does it start to feel like I am forcing the characters on you? Etc.

I have a newfound respect for those who write multiple books with the same characters. In my head, I thought it would be somewhat easier. I have this cast that I will get to know extremely well, know them inside and out, so their stories will just flow. Yeah, so not happening that way. Because I know I want to write the friends story, I find myself hesitating more, worried that somehow I making it feel like I WANT to write a series instead of it coming naturally and making the reader WANT more. Does that make sense?

I’ve never hesitated with secondary characters before, they’ve just blossomed on the page and taken a life of their own. So this is an odd feeling for me.

So, for anyone out there that has written a series, any advice?

Under the Kilt Contest

Hi everyone, To celebrate the Nov. 1 release of my new erotic romance novella from Red Sage, Kilted Lover, I'm having an Under the Kilt contest for the next two weeks. I'll chose one winner to receive a copy of my ebook. And one winner to receive a pair of handmade Celtic earrings (silver and peridot) inspired by the amulet in the story. Here's how to enter: In a comment below, tell me what's worn under a kilt. I'll choose two winners at random. :) Further details below.

As you may already know, there are a lot of fun answers to "what's worn under a kilt?" Like: On a good day, lipstick. Or like in the song, The Scotsman, a blue ribbon. Of course, the heroine of Kilted Lover, Leslie, discovers up close and personal what the hero, Scott, wears under his kilt.

Kilted Lover: When kilted caber-tosser Scott MacPherson tosses Leslie Livingston over his shoulder to rescue her from two armed thieves trying to steal her priceless amulet, they are thrust into a deadly but sexy adventure. Though Leslie already has a lukewarm, uninterested boyfriend, her attraction to Scott is white-hot and undeniable. She wants to lick this tall, muscular alpha male all over and explore the depths of eroticism with him. But will he want anything more than one night once the danger is behind them?
Recently, I had an interview posted at Night Owl Romance, including an excerpt from Kilted Lover and one from Beast in a Kilt.

To remind you: Here's how to enter: In a comment below, tell me what's worn under a kilt. I'll choose two winners at random. You have until Nov. 3 to enter. Please either include your email address in your comment or check back on Nov. 3 to see if you won. (Winners will need to respond or contact me within 7 days of the announcement.)
Nicole North

Monday Morning Inspiration

I love to collect inspirational quotes. I've printed out my favorites and tacked them up on the cork board beside my desk. Most of them are short nuggets of inspiration, but reading them can often give me the boost I need to keep going.
"The only one who can take you out of the game is you!"
"Take risks."
"Remember the joy!"
"Think outside the box."
"Nothing happens without a dream"
"Don't stop believin'!"

I like visual inspiration too. Like our popular "Eye Candy". I have a file full of pix of hunky guys and browsing through them from time to time can really get the creative juices flowing. For instance, I'm just finishing up a series of erotic shorts that I hope my editor at Red Sage is going to love. All the stories take place at a place called Paolo's Playhouse.

Getting together with other writers, and with readers, can get me inspired to write. Last week I, like Kristin, attending the Romanticon in Ohio. I had a great time talking with other authors, meeting enthusiastic readers, attending informative workshops, and getting the chance to meet on-line friends face to face. Oh, and watching those hunky cover models. I left the hotel fired up with the desire to get back to the keyboard.

Being a writer is mostly a solitary occupation and it can often be difficult to push away the distractions and get the pages written. I've found that any kind of inspiration that can help me get the words on the page is priceless. Especially on a Monday morning after a busy weekend.

What do you use for inspiration?


One of the Ways to a Hero's Heart

Fall and cooler weather mean lots more time spent in the kitchen preparing some hearty and heart-warming dishes for friends and family. And let’s not forget about our heroes who appreciate home-cooked meals after a hard day’s work. While my favorite things to make are pastries and desserts, a friend recently shared this delicious casserole recipe with me, and I want to pass it along. And speaking of food and guys, there’s an excerpt from ROUGHRIDER to follow. The romance’s hero and heroine are whipping up more than breakfast in the ranch’s kitchen.


2 10 oz. boxes of chopped broccoli
2 Eggs well beaten
1 Can of Cream of Mushroom soup
1 Cup grated cheddar cheese
1 Small chopped onion (optional)
1 Small can of mushrooms, drained and chopped (optional)

Cook broccoli until tender and drain. Place broccoli in a 9” x 13” buttered baking dish.

Combine other ingredients above in a bowl and pour over broccoli. Melt ¼ c. of butter in a skillet and sauté 1 ½ c. of croutons (but you can use the whole box if you like). Sprinkle croutons over top of broccoli. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Snippet from ROUGHRIDER—

“Care for some?” He passed me the carton.

I grabbed it from his grip and plunked it beside the mixing bowl. Cut the crap. “We both know what we want this morning.”

He twirled the one pajama bottom tie around his finger but not enough to separate the flap opening. “Yeah. I always have a bigger appetite about this time of day.”

The right slipper joined the left and I closed the distance between Mister-oh-so-hot-I-could-scramble-the-eggs-right-on-him and myself.

At touching his left bicep my fingers tingled. “Care to show me how to make your morning the best it can be?”

A grin parted his kissable lips and revealed the straight teeth underneath. His long tongue swiped along the lower lip before disappearing back inside.

He immersed the beaters in the mix and stirred them around. Not a drop of battered milk splashed out. “Crack two eggs in here and that’ll get things going.”

Wishing you all many happy reading moments,

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

RomantiCon -- Amazing!

By Kristin Daniels

I’ve waited all week to blog about my experience at Ellora’s Cave’s RomantiCon, held this past weekend in Ohio! As a newbie, my conference knowledge is pretty minimal, but this weekend surpassed all my expectations. And from what I’m reading on many author and reader loops, I’m not the only one who feels that way.

It all started for me last Thursday. I drove from the burbs of Chicago to Richfield, OH with only one major oops – I missed my exit right before I hit Indiana! Duh to me -- what a way to start a road trip! Thank goodness for my GPS and Barbara Biatch (my affectionate name for that mysterious GPS voice), who rerouted me. Soon I was headed the right way on Interstate 80/90 with the cruise set at a nice 72 mph (Yeah, I speed, but only a little. Shhh, don’t tell anyone!). My IPod kept me company, and, being by myself, I grabbed the opportunity to sing along with Pink at the top of my lungs.

Close to Cleveland, the trees had more red in them, It was a very pretty drive in.

One pit stop and over 350 miles later, I was there. Check in went smoothly (the entire Quality Inn, Richfield staff was just amazing), and soon I was freshening up to head to my editor’s house for dinner with four other authors. Barbara Biatch, with a helping hand from M.A. Ellis, led us through an adorable little town before we arrived at our destination. Dinner was fantastic, and the company even better.

I was able to relax on Friday morning before the conference started in full swing that afternoon. I was asked to be on a panel with EC Publisher/Editor Raelene Gorlinsky, along with authors Samantha Kane and Lynn LaFluer. It was fun and insightful. Afterwards, I attended another workshop on researching and writing m/m stories. Informative would be an understatement.

Authors Lynn LaFleur, Samantha Kane, myself,

and EC Publisher Raelene Gorlinsky.

I then met up with a critique partner in the bar (which ended up being a very popular meeting place). It was so great meeting this woman who I now call a friend, J. Hali Steele. It’s funny how you can email back and forth with someone for a while, but once you meet in person a bond forms. Hugs and smooches to her.

Whoo hooo, it’s time for the Psychedelic Soiree! Can I just say how much fun I had that night? EC’s Cavemen started us off right, and the dance contest held by Samantha Kane and Mari Freeman was an absolute riot!

On the 'Walk of Fame' entering the Soiree

Saturday boasted more wonderful workshops, and a visit or two to the Voyeur Lounge (I know what you’re thinking, and shame on you! The Voyeur Lounge was a room set up to showcase all the brilliant book trailers created by the EC authors. You could sit and chill, have a snack, chat and be entertained).

All the while, readers, reviewers, staff and authors alike are introducing themselves to one another and kibitzing. Or more like laughing! I’ve never met such smart, funny and genuinely nice people. Everyone was on the same page, and that made the entire mood upbeat, yet relaxed at the same time. There wasn’t any that “You write what?” to deal with. Again, hugs to all the lovers of Erotic Romance!

Scanned copy of my pic -- yummy!

Then came the Awards Dinner and an opportunity to be photographed with the Cavemen. Black pants, white suspenders and fedoras, oh my! The food was great, and before the ceremony started we were treated to another dance routine by the guys. And, well… Words can’t really describe it, so take a look (Sorry for the chit chat in the background. It’s a new camera and I thought it wasn’t recording)…

During the ceremony, I was lucky enough to receive a Rising Star award for having my first release with EC in 2009. Other fun, kitschy awards were handed out, too. I need to pick up Tracy Cooper-Posey’s book to find out why she won for best use of a chocolate chip cookie!

Author Samantha Kane, Ellora's Cave Publisher/Editor Raelene Gorlinsky, and Me

Me and cover model Taylor Cole

Sunday came way too soon, and by that time I was so tired I could barely see straight (I’m one of those who have a hell of a time sleeping in hotels). Regardless, I sat in on a workshop before heading over to the book fair room to set up my space. It was my first one as an author, and I couldn’t have asked for a better crowd. Everyone who stopped by was so nice (and one was really cute, too… wink…). I ended up signing several books (how cool is that? LOL!) before all was said and done.

Cover model Rodney gives me a hug!

I hugged my new friends good-bye, skipped the Bingo party and cut out early. I had a long drive ahead of me, but even knowing that, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad as I drove away. I’d met such great people and laughed like I hadn’t in a while (Sam, you just kill me!).

I want to give some major kudos to the EC staff (especially Jeania and Valerie), along with the staff of the hotel. Everyone worked tirelessly and they pulled the entire weekend off without a hitch. My thank-you’s are sincerely heartfelt.

Next year’s dates have already been reserved (Oct 7-10 at the same hotel), and I can’t hardly wait! I’ll be one of the first to sign up when registration opens next month. I hope to see you all there!

On another note -- seven days until my newest Ellora's Cave release! I'll tell you more about it next week, but for now, here's the cover and blurb:

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

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

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

He hopes to hell and back it’ll be enough.

Until next week...