Adventures in Conferencing I

Today I’d like to blog about the greatest adventure of all...


To do that, of course, I have to blog about death. If you’re wondering how I came to this morbid topic, blame the Romance Writers of America. If not for their conference in Orlando, I wouldn’t have gotten on a plane to join the fun in happiest--and also the most humid and hottest--place on earth.

By the time you read this, I will have been in Orlando, lost among the palm trees, topless Europeans, and throngs of cheerful Disney characters (it is a small world, after all), for two days. Despite my concerns about the plane making it off the runway, I arrived at the Romance Writers of America conference intact. It’s my first RWA conference ever, and I’m enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of hundreds of writers, editors, agents, and publishers as they mingle, network, carouse, connect, interact, pitch, consult, and attend workshops and receptions.

I’m also getting a perverse thrill from watching the spouses of said industry folk come stumbling in after a day at Disney World (or is it Disney Land? Disney Planet?) with a sleeping kid swathed in all the trappings of a fairy princess draped over one shoulder, another wearing Mickey Mouse ears, a Goofy T-shirt, Donald Duck shorts, and Dora the Explorer sneakers dangling from his arm, and a third seemingly hyper-caffeinated child—there’s one in every family—chirping hello to everyone she sees and skipping ahead to open the doors for zombie dad, who is planning a hundred ways to exact payment for his good deed, if he can just make it back to the hotel room.

Aaaaaah, life!

Speaking of which, let’s get back to death. I always think about death when traveling. What if the plane crashes? What if the car crashes? What if the bus crashes? What if the boat sinks? Hopping the jet to Florida proved to be no different an experience, given we had chosen to go the cheapest way possible on Screamin’ Bebe Airlines. The only thing louder than the screaming babies was the mysterious thumping and screeching coming from under the plane, or possibly the cockpit. It was hard to tell. Before you pass judgment on me here for being too cynical, I’d venture to guess you’d think about the Great Beyond yourself if you’d been in my seat (and for the cost of a rental car to get me home, you can have it on the return flight). Heh heh heh.

It was quite an adventure, my little airplane trip (You can experience turbulence while sitting on the runway? Really?), and actually gave me a brilliant idea. As I clutched Hubby’s hand and tried to ignore the shaking, rattling and rolling of the aircraft, I pondered what my obituary would read like. What details would be included? Should I “come out” as an erotica writer after I’m dead via my obit? Would my husband remember all my family details, or, given his terrible memory for names, would I end up being the offspring of Goofy and Belle from Beauty and the Beast born in Neverland?

The ancient Greeks believed you never truly knew if a person had lived a good life until he/she died. What would the details of my obituary reveal about me? Maybe they’d reveal that I really should have an o-BITCH-uary instead, because of all my naughty behavior, or possibly someone reading it might believe me to be a saint, a wonderful person whose life on earth was to be cherished and whose presence would be missed. This person would also probably believe in a one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people-eater.

Saints and purple people-eaters aside, I firmly believe that if you want something done, you’ve got to do it yourself. So I decided to write my own obituary if I survived the plane trip. I’d just gotten started when conference chatter and some exchanges with other writers steered me in another direction.

Why not write an obituary for my characters?

We write character sketches about our characters' lives, but what better way to examine who they are than to write about them as if they’ve passed away? I think the ancient Greeks had something going for them in their philosophy, and now I’m going to write obituaries for the characters in my current WIPs. Well, except for the immortal ones, of course. There’s always a hitch in every giddy up, isn't there?

I guess even though RWA made me think about death, I've gotten something wonderful out of it--a new way to explore my characters. That's what conferences are for, and I think I've gotten my money's worth just for that alone. It doesn't hurt that I've met some great people and gotten to participate in some really neat activities, such as people watching, which is my favorite, and drinking fine wine, which is another favorite. And the adventure continues throughout the weekend!

It took me a bit to get set up, but now that I am I will be tweeting about the conference as time permits (cameobrown, if you're interested in following me on Twitter). Right now, I'm off to review my pitch materials (Guess what my next post will be about? lol).

Happy Reading!

Adventures in Writing

My novella, Beast in a Kilt, has been released in the anthology Secrets Volume 29 Indulge Your Fantasies! I’m excited! And I’ll be signing it tomorrow evening at the Readers For Life Literacy Autographing at the RWA conference in Orlando. Please drop by my table if you have a moment.

Being published is an adventure I’m enjoying every moment of. Nothing makes me happier than talking to readers, signing books, and handing out bookmarks. Maybe I’m insane, but I even enjoy edits, revisions and art fact sheets.

I love writing, imagining and creating new worlds. One of my favorite aspects of writing what I do is recreating a paranormal world in Scotland of four hundred years ago. Everything about Scotland fascinates and captivates me, especially the beautiful landscapes. Some of them are so wild and mystical, especially the west coast with the dramatic cliffs, the mists, lochs, mountains and moors. And of course castles. Scotland’s history, culture and folklore are equally captivating and inspiring. I often think of story ideas when I’m doing research and reading a bit of history about a clan, or when I’m reading Celtic legends. The legend of the kelpie inspired Beast in a Kilt.

In my story, the characters travel over some wonderful landscapes from the rugged misty coast to a castle by an inland loch where a mysterious kelpie lives (the hero of course!) :) Aside from their bedchamber adventures, Torr and Catriona experience many other adventures on their journey to love, including being chased by a rival clan, being chased by a witch of the dark arts, a combat of magic, and facing off with a barbarious chief.

I hope you enjoy Beast in a Kilt and the whole anthology!
Excerpt from Beast in a Kilt:

She moved toward him, this man she’d loved even before she knew what love was. Tentatively, she touched his hair. Silky and soft.
He stiffened but said naught. Her hands shook with reverence and the thirst to explore him. She brushed her fingertips over his ear, the upper part of his cheek, the stubble covering his square masculine jaw.
His breath caught. “Catriona? Nay,” he whispered, but remained still. He would not meet her gaze.
Look at me. She trailed her fingers down to his strong chin, the short whiskers scraping the pads of her fingers. Touching his lips snatched her strength.
Torr, I have loved you—
No, she could not say it. Instead she bent and pressed her lips to his. She knew not how to kiss properly, the way a man would like, but she wished to.
His lips pushed against hers a bit, then parted, his breath warming her. She kissed him again and did what she’d seen others do when kissing. She flicked her tongue against his upper lip. Oh, that feels nice. She yearned to taste him all over.
He groaned. “God’s bones, lass. Ye’re playing with fire.” He tugged her to him and returned the kiss with more force, sliding his tongue between her lips. And then she knew what he’d meant. Her body was on fire, her lower belly, between her legs, an aching burning need. So overwhelming she knew not what to do next except hold onto him. They would become lovers. He would marry her. It had to be.
He surged upward, taking her with him to his tall height, and pinned her to the wall by the window. Her heart raced. He wrapped her legs about his waist and filled her mouth with eager and sinful tongue kisses. Oh good heavens, what would he do next?

Stories in Secrets Volume 29 Indulge Your Fantasies
Beast in a Kilt by Nicole North
Scottish lady Catriona MacCain has loved Torr Blackburn, a fierce Highland warrior, since she was a young lass, but Torr only sees Catriona as his best friend’s little sister. When Catriona’s family promises her in marriage to a detestable chieftain, she desperately needs Torr to save her from a fate worse than death. But Torr is under the spell of a witch of the dark arts and is cursed to spend his nights as a kelpie water demon. He doesn’t believe himself worthy of the virginal Lady Catriona. However, she is determined to seduce Torr and claim him… body, heart and soul, if only they can banish the curse and defeat the enemies who have vowed to possess and enslave them both.
Chimera by Nathalie Gray
All warfare is based on deception
—Sun Tzu’s Art of war
From the overcrowded slums of a future Earth, he rose as the perfect tool of lethal justice and deception. Cold and stoical by choice, alone by circumstances, he will neutralize any and all threat to his client then move on. Blunt, direct. Nothing personal. But when his next assignment involves a popular politician who’s as smart as she’s attractive, the greatest betrayal would be to deny his heart.
Sweet-talking the Opposition by Saskia WalkerLondon-based journalist, Eliza Jameson, is on assignment on a luxurious Rhine river cruiser when she finds the perfect distraction on board — old flame, Marcus Weston. But Eliza came dangerously close to falling for Marcus last time around, and in order to play him at his own game, she decides to call the shots. Meanwhile, Marcus has his own agenda. In the ensuing battle, who will end up on top?
Edge by Dominique Sinclair
The search for the truth leads to the edge of danger, revenge and love… A beautiful hellion, the first woman trained by the Department of International Intelligence, Catlina Demarco left her life without so much as a goodbye. Deep in Mexico, she’s close to finding the man who can give her the truth of her past, or kill her.
Agent Noah Tyler, Cat’s former partner and lover, is the last man she expects to show up with handcuffs and intent to bring her back to headquarters. No one has ever left the agency alive, Cat’s no exception. Only she refuses to go anywhere with Noah, he betrayed her trust. Forced into the jungle by three armed banderos, Cat finds her and Noah once again working as partners, their thoughts as one, their bodies craving, their goals conflicting.
Hot, angry and infuriated, Catalina must rid herself of Noah Tyler before everything is lost, including her heart.
Buy or read more excerpts at Red Sage.

The Adventure is in the Journey

My husband and I are traveling from New York to Florida in our RV this week. He'll be dropping me off at the Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando for the RWA National conference on Wednesday, then he'll keep himself busy til he picks me up on Sunday. Then we're visiting his brother in Georgia on our way back home.

The trip down will take four days. I've already started a journal of our trip and have filled several pages. I knew I'd get several days worth of blog posts our of this trip. The coming weeks will more than a vacation. More than a writer's conference.

They will be an adventure.

The story starts on Friday evening, when DH and I brought everything down to the camp where we keep our RV. We packed the closets, the cupboards, the refrigerator. The forecast was for severe thunderstorms, so after a nice dinner, we hitched up the trailer to the truck, so that we could pull out first thing in the morning. We relaxed, watched a little TV. The rain started pouring out of the sky like it was coming from buckets. Greatful that we'd already hooked up, we got ready for bed.

My husband's cell phone rings at 10:30. At that time of night, you know it can't be good. It's our son. His car broke down and he and his girlfriend are stranded. They managed to get off the road, thank goodness, but the car is blocking a fast food drive-thru. It's pitch dark, still pouring down rain. "Dad," he asks, "what do I do?"

He's a half hour away. We're in bed, it's still raining. Son had called a couple 24 hour towing companies he found in the phone book but no one would come. Did I mention it is pouring? Truck already hooked up? And of course, our son doesn't have enough money to pay for a tow if he could get one.

So much for planning ahead.

Hubby goes out in the rain, unhitches the trailer in the the dark. He tells the son to call 911 and explain his car broke down, that he's stranded and doesn't know what to do. The 911 dispatcher was very nice and hooked him up with a wrecker who came out within 1/2 an hour. Hubby drove out to pay the tow truck driver, pick up the kids and take them home.

So, aside from the ball joint busting on my son's car, at night, in the middle of a rain storm, and us having to unhook the trailer and bail him out with some of our vacation money...thank God no one was hurt, he got the car off the road, we were close enough to help, and he has the use of his mother's car while his is getting fixed because she's on her way to RWA National in Orlando.

And this was all before we left...As I write this Sunday night, we've had several near accidents and a flat tire. But we arrived safely and I'm now enjoying a glass of wine and checking my emails and writing a blog post.

Two more days before we get to Orlando. I'm sure I'll have more adventure stories to relate later on!

I'll be signing at my first Literacy Signing at National and I hope all of you going will stop by and say hello.


How Do You Celebrate?

How do you celebrate the great things in your life? Me? For me, when something great happens, I want to share it with my family. Take this week for instance...

My new Quickie for Ellora's Cave, Getting Naughty, released this past Tuesday. What better way to celebrate than to hang out with my daughter. We decided to spend the day downtown in Chicago. And, it just so happens that they're filming Transformers 3 here!

We started off with a quick snack and beverage at Millennium Park's Plaza at Park Grill restaurant. It's such an odd thing when your baby is old enough to have a drink with you!

Then we moved on, taking a walk down Michigan Ave. As we approached Wacker Drive, we noticed barricades blocking the road, and when we looked down the street, all we saw was chaos. Movie magic chaos, that is. I snapped a few pictures, but we were pretty far down from the actual filming. Some of them turned out pretty good, though.

And of course we had to do a little shopping -- just a little. I got a little bummed at one point, though. We'd gone into the Hershey Store so I could pick up some of this amazing dark chocolate that I'd bought there before, and they don't have it anymore! I think I actually got a little teary eyed. Nah, I'm just kidding.

By that time, it was getting to be near five o'clock. No way were we going to tackle rush hour traffic, so hmmm, what are we to do? I know! Stop at this great little Mexican restaurant and have an early dinner! This is a tiny place, with authentic cooking and really great (strong!) margaritas. We lounge around there for a bit, getting stuffed, then decide it's time to head back to the car. Of course, we have to stop and watch the filming again for a bit on the way. I'm a little sad as we get into the car, but we both agreed it was a great day and that we have to do it again, and soon. Although next time, we're thinking of heading to the beach. Why not, right?

So that's how I celebrated the release of Getting Naughty. If you haven't had a chance yet, stop by my website or Ellora's Cave and check it out. It's a fun, naughty story bursting with heat!

Take care,


Learning Curves

Don’t you love them? I’m being sarcastic. Throughout my adult life I have went through many of life’s learning curves.

My first was becoming a wife. I moved straight from my mom and dad’s home to live in a small apartment with my future husband. Suddenly I’m no longer a kid, but an adult with adult responsibilities. I was juggling my first “adult” full-time job, coming home cooking dinner, cleaning the apartment and paying real bills. Of course, it took time to adjust, but I made it work. Eventually, I was doing it as if I had done it my entire life.

Next came motherhood. After four years together, it was no longer just me and my husband. We now had two babies (yep twins) waking us up constantly throughout the night. I was no longer working, but now a stay at home mom. My days were no longer filled with invoices and expense reports, but poopy diapers, spit-up and screaming kids. Of course, it took time to adjust, but I made it work. Eventually, I was doing it as if I had done it my entire life.

Writing came next. A huge learning curve for me since I’d never written a day in my life. POV what? Showing verses telling? Huh? You mean I can’t just write words down and you’ll buy it? I’m actually going to have to learn to write? Of course, it took time to adjust, but I made it work. Eventually, I was doing it as if I had done it my entire life.

Now I am going through a new learning curve as a single mother. I no longer have someone to shove awake when something goes bump in the night or someone to bitch to when life is being a complete ass. I’m juggling working, mothering and writing. Of course, it will take time to adjust, but I will make it work. Eventually, I will be doing it as if I had done it my entire life.

Life is full of learning curves. Once you have one perfected, she’s going to throw you another one and the process will start over again. I’ve come to accept this. It doesn’t make it easy when you’re going through one, but just remind yourself, this too will become normal.


So Much to Learn. So Little Time

This should be my motto. In thinking about this topic, I decided to talk about what I've learned in just one week. Because it's amazing how much one learns in such a short span of time. So, in no particular order:

1. It's amazing what you can do when you make the effort (also a kissing cousin to the old chestnut: Necessity is the mother of invention.)

This past weekend we had buckets of good strawberries and were having people to dinner. DD wanted to bake something with me so we decided we needed a chocolate pound cake, and here's the kicker: We had to use the ingredients we had on hand. Hubby had already gone across state lines to purchase all the items on my list for the meal.

It is not easy to find a chocolate pound cake recipe when you don't have: Crisco or sour cream, and a bundt or tube pan. Trust me on this. After an hour of searching (alas) we settled on something that looked promising and we baked it up in cute heart-shaped dishes designed for something else.

Then we found the Crisco, hiding sheepishly in the pantry.
Then we discovered the local convenience mart didn't carry whipping cream.
Then hubby went back over the state line, and very graciously, I must add. (It took an hour.)

(The pound cake was delish!!!)

2. I learned what a fox sounds like at night. At the same time, I learned precisely what 'bloodcurdling' sounds like. The foxes are cute during the day. But now I need to figure out how to get them to move. Across state lines would be excellent.

In a weird random occurrence, the two foxes appeared in the back yard while I was writing this post. They are clever. I took some pictures but they didn't come out too well through the window screen. Those foxes came right up on my back deck and sat down. They are skittish creatures, though. They stared at me watching them.

3. I learned where a man can drop trou in public and get away with it. Just this morning I was in my health club and the Tour de France was on the TV. Among the guys who run alongside the bicyclists, a fellow suddenly appeared, with his shorts around his knees (butt naked rear view, running, remember). A bit later, we saw him (from the front) pulling up his shorts. I don't know if he'd lost them accidentally or if someone had told him to clean up his act. The sound was off on the TV. But no one seemed agitated. (Don't know where his undies were.)

Also while watching the race, I learned why we saw a steady stream of bicyclists on a road we took (in a car) up the highest peak in the Austrian Alps last year. None of these guys looked like they were having fun. It was a tough, tough climb. But after watching the Tour in the French Alps this morning, I realized those guys in Austria must have been training for this event. I saw at least a hundred bikers that day, and only one woman and she was struggling.

I learned that you can win a swim race and even qualify for the state meet – without actually swimming in the race. Yes, dd accomplished this feat a few days ago. She told the coach she hadn't swum in that race, and the coach said, "Can't do anything about it now. Here's your blue ribbon for first place." I guess we're not competing in the Olympics, huh?

I learned there are many, many things I want to know, and don't. Why does a fox scream at night? Why do those guys run alongside the bicyclists? Why does a guy dress up in a strange costume to stand alongside the route of the Tour? Why do these guys ride bicycles in mountains, anyway? Why are women not as strong as men?

Any answers?

Guest Interview: David Bridger

Join me in welcoming author David Bridger to Fierce Romance today. David and I are members of the awesome Romance Divas forum and I’ve been looking forward to reading his debut romance, Beauty and the Bastard, from Liquid Silver Books since he first talked about it. The cover is great and here’s the blurb:

Saul the Bastard is a fallen angel who works as a bounty hunter for powerful urban demon families. Rebecca Drake, a modern day demon princess, is being hunted by dangerous desert demons. When Rebecca's family hires Saul to protect her, they are both unhappy with the arrangement--but before long sparks fly as they try to resist their strong mutual attraction. For the first time in living memory, Saul has someone to love; someone he is scared of losing; someone the desert demons have marked to be their next sacrifice.

You can check out Beauty and the Bastard here.

David was great enough to agree to answer a few questions today for our readers.

So first, please tell us a little about yourself.

Hi Natasha. Thank you for inviting me here today.

When my seagoing days came to an end, I crawled up onto a Devon beach and settled there with my wife and our three young daughters.

Actually, it was a bit more dramatic than that. I came home quite badly dented and spent two years paralyzed, several more years in a wheelchair, then up (and down) on sticks, before finally standing unaided fifteen years after the original injury. What kept me sane, through all that pain and distress, was learning how to write.

I'd always intended to write novels when I retired from the Royal Navy. Just didn't expect retirement to rear up and smack me down in my early thirties, is all.

But everything turned out well in the end. I love writing as much as I always knew I would. And now, with the publication of my debut novella Beauty and the Bastard, I'm an author.

I know! I don't think that will ever get old. I'm an author!

Wow, I never knew you were a wounded warrior. What else would your readers be surprised to know about you?

Every year I choose a project or two to immerse myself in though the midwinter months. There's always a stack of novels involved, and usually a DVD box set of some treasure I missed when it was on TV – Firefly in 2007/8, Deadwood in 2008/9, Twin Peaks in 2009/10, and I have True Blood series 1 & 2 lined up for 2010/11. Obsessive? Moi?

Next winter's big new project will be: learn to play the Native American flute. I've asked my family to buy me one for Christmas. Come January and February, passers-by will hear haunting notes carried on the wind from the roof garden behind our house. Unless we're being hammered by Atlantic gales, of course, in which case the notes are more likely to emanate from the chimney along with the log fire smoke.

Good luck with your winter project! I love the title, Beauty and the Bastard. Tell us a little about it.

This one is totally down to my editor, Sue Swift, who also writes as Suz deMello. I wrote the story under a different title, but Sue said it wasn't strong enough for a paranormal romance. She warned me titles weren't her strongest suit, but threw out a few suggestions anyway, and her very first one was Beauty and the Bastard. The moment I heard that, I knew it was perfect.

I think that title will attract a lot of readers. What element of story creation is your favorite? (Character? Setting? Plot? Etc.) Why?

No contest. Everything I write is character-driven. I enjoy world building and plotting, but without vibrant characters in the mix everything else is like a theoretical exercise. My characters live in my head before they make it to the page, and only the ones I fall in love with get to appear in public.

Hey, character is my favorite element too! Do you have rituals you follow when writing?

Yoga on the roof. We have a big garden behind the house, but we also have two big slobbery dogs. Those boys and their wet noses get everywhere, but fortunately they've yet to learn how to climb ladders. So I go up on the roof garden, where we have heavy pots filled with shrubs and flowering plants arranged in a vaguely Japanese fashion, and I clear my mind with yoga before my first writing session of the day.

Hmm…maybe I should try yoga. Most people think a writer’s life is really glamorous. What’s the least glamorous thing you’ve done in the past week?

Ten minutes ago I disposed of the steaming great pile of poo that our 90lb Dogue de Bordeaux pup deposited on the path immediately under my study window. Thanks for that, Elvis.

Gotta love those dogs! What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

Write. Keep writing. And keep writing.

When it seems as if the road goes on forever without a destination in sight, keep writing. There's a whole world of related activities out there, and some can be valuable, but only writing itself moves us along the road.

What can we look forward from you in the future?

I'm two chapters into writing another Angels and Demons novella. It features new characters and isn't a sequel to Beauty and the Bastard, but it's set in the same world and I love it.

I also have a novel out there on submission: an urban fantasy shifter story with romantic elements. If that gets picked up, it might become the first book in a series.

And waiting patiently on the back burner is a futuristic steampunk romantic sf adventure.

Where can we find out more about you?

My site is

I blog here
Tweet here

Come and say hello!

I’m sure our readers will be checking out you and your book. Is there a question you’d like to ask our readers?

Who are your favorite romantic characters? Are there any new types you would like to see?

Amusement Parks

Sorry this is so late. I’ve been pulling a little extra OT to get my invoice submitted to my employer today. It’s finally in, so I can breathe. This week’s theme is about amusement. I’d like to add a word to that. Parks. Yep, amusement parks. I’m a sucker for them. Love them! I live in North Carolina and spend my summers at Carowinds with my kids. I’m hoping my love for roller coasters will rub off on them and as they get older (and taller) they can join me on some of the thrill rides.

My daughter did ride her first upside down roller coaster this year. (She’s six and very tall for her age, she still can’t ride some of the super duper scary ones, but she is tall enough to graduate to super scary). When I found out she was tall enough to ride this one particular ride, I started trying to convince her to join me on it. It took three weeks, but she finally looked at me and said she’d do it. Now she’d said this before, but it was always with fear in her eyes, so I’d back down. I was waiting for that moment where she was completely confident. Two week ago, I saw it. So I grabbed her little hand, left my son (who is also six, but unfortunately extremely short for his age) with my sister and stood in line. After we buckled ourselves in, that little hand squeezed mine something fierce. I told her if she got too scared, to close her eyes. She just nodded. Not once did she close her eyes. She did scream as loud as her momma does, though. LOL. Afterwards, the smile on her face was priceless. “Momma, that was fun!” I was relieved to hear this. I won’t lie that I didn’t worry about traumatizing her, like my dad did with me. I still won’t ride the swing ride, but she’s has a feisty spirit and roller coasters are going to suit her just fine.

Now I just have to wait until the boy gets tall enough so I can do this first again with him.

I don’t know what it is about an amusement park. The atmosphere, though chaotic with screams in the background, is very peaceful to me. Wow, that sounded just a bit sick, didn’t it? LOL. But I’ve done them all: Carowinds, Busch Gardens, Six Flags, Disney, MGM, and Universal. My favorite amusement park is Islands of Adventure. If you haven’t ridden The Incredible Hulk or Spiderman, then you haven’t experienced a true thrill. My goal is to go back sometime soon to visit the new Harry Potter addition. My favorite book comes to life! How can I resist?

So do any of you have a favorite amusement park or ride?


Secrets Volume 29 Indulge Your Fantasies released today!

Hi Everyone, I'm thrilled to announce that Beast in a Kilt in Secrets Volume 29 Indulge Your Fantasies has been released today.
I'm celebrating at a release party with 24 other authors at the Romance Studio on 7/15 from 10 am to 7 pm eastern. This is a blog style party where you comment on each author's post to be entered to win their prize. I'm giving away a signed copy of Secrets Vol. 27 which contains Devil in a Kilt. Click below to go directly to my post at the party.
Remember to comment to be entered to win.
Main party page. Here you can read and comment on all the author's posts.

Beast in a Kilt: Scottish lady Catriona MacCain has loved Torr Blackburn, a fierce Highland warrior, since she was a young lass, but Torr only sees Catriona as his best friend’s little sister. When Catriona’s family promises her in marriage to a detestable chieftain, she desperately needs Torr to save her from a fate worse than death. But Torr is under the spell of a witch of the dark arts and is cursed to spend his nights as a kelpie water demon. He doesn’t believe himself worthy of the virginal Lady Catriona. However, she is determined to seduce Torr and claim him… body, heart and soul, if only they can banish the curse and defeat the enemies who have vowed to possess and enslave them both.
Thanks! :)

Guest - Jennifer Lynne : Naming the Babies

Naming the Babies
By Jennifer Lynne

It is hard enough when children come along. Reading baby name books, trying out different options with the surname, deciding on the perfect name for your soon-to-be-born bub and then realising it has just been taken by a family member…or friend… or celebrity…

Then, when you finally have THE name, you find out it doesn’t seem to fit the new little person staring up at you. And it’s back to square one.

I seem to have the same difficulty when it comes to naming the other ‘babies’ in my life, those wonderful characters in my stories that for a time become just as real as the rest of my family (at least to me!).

In naming my characters, I try to reflect the personality and style of my hero and heroine. And the name I choose for them should also sound good and fit with the overall theme and flow of the story. Quite often – because I don’t plot beforehand beyond having a first scene in my head – I am still getting to know my characters as the story progresses and it can be very hard to decide on the perfect name.

So most times, my hero and heroine start with one name but end up with another by the time the story is fully developed.

In Pandora’s Gift, my July erotic romance release from Red Sage Publishing, the story is about the power of love and its promise of hope for the future. So my heroine started life as Hope. But that was just too obvious, and as I got further into the story and her mystical qualities became more apparent, together with a potentially dangerous fascination with the dark, she became Pandora. It is a name with so many different layers, both good and bad, that I felt it better reflected the mystery and complexity of her personality and her promise. And as soon as I gave her that name, she came fully to life in my head and I knew I’d made the right choice:

“She wore a long, figure-hugging dress in a soft shimmery material that changed from a silvery green to blue and back again as she moved. Her black hair hung loose down her back and a hint of red lipstick tantalized on those delicious
lips. When she turned back for a moment, tilting her head to one side as she glanced at him, it felt as if he were looking at a magical, otherworldly creature. Unattainable. Goddess-like.”

My hero, Flint, was easier to name, I must say. He was in my head for quite a while before I began writing this story, and every time I pictured him, I could that sense that cold, hard core. But it is a hardness that comes from cutting yourself off from hope, and I knew that if I gave him Pandora and the chance at redemption, a spark would ignite deep within that stone facade. His name, from that moment on, was never in doubt:
“Flint. It was such an appropriate name, she almost laughed out loud.
There was a hardness to him, both physically and metaphorically, that spoke
of stone. An iceberg, she’d decided only minutes earlier. But that hadn’t been
quite accurate. Ice could be melted. Stone could not.
This man was pure granite.
With stone you could strike a spark to create a fire so bright it could be seen from the heavens, and with fire you could burn away the darkness. But what if she wasn’t strong enough to do this? Playing with fire was dangerous. Would she be burned in the process?
Would he?”

How do others name their characters? Is name the first thing you decide on when developing character? Or, like me, does that happen a little further along in the process? Do you ever change names part way through developing the story – and if so, does that change the essence of your character’s personality? Please leave a comment – I’m fascinated with the writing process and how it seems to be different for each and every one of us!

Melbourne-based author Jennifer Lynne is very thankful to Fierce Romance for having her to visit today! Pandora’s Gift is her second Red Sage erotic romance. The first, Seducing Serena, appeared in the popular anthology, Secrets Volume 28 Sensual Cravings. For more information – and the chance at a giveaway of Pandora’s Gift – you can visit Jen at

How Amusing!

Is there a trick to writing humor? Yes, but I don’t know what it is. I can write humor but I don’t think I could ever teach someone how to do it. Either you were born with the ability or you weren’t. Or maybe you can teach yourself. Chances are if you have a sense of humor it will come out in your writing at one point or another.

The only bit of advice I would have is this: in order to be effective and actually make the reader laugh, humor needs to be unexpected. It needs to come out of left field. Maybe the reader is expecting one thing to happen and something opposite or off-the-wall happens instead.

I don’t write comedy, but all of my published stories so far have an element of humor that surfaces from time to time, usually in connection with a character that has a sense of humor. I love to create spunky heroines who blurt out whatever pops into their heads. Or sometimes it’s just their thoughts that are funny.

I didn’t set out to write humor; it just sorta happened. My wonderful critique partners would sometimes put smiley faces or LOLs on my pages when they critiqued them. And I thought wow, she thought that was funny? Cool! I often make myself laugh when I’m writing, but I wasn’t sure other people would. And like I said, it wasn’t intentional, just a side benefit as I was entertaining myself.

I have always enjoyed making people snicker and I do tend to have a dry sense of humor sometimes. But again, my focus isn’t humor. I love to mix it up and have everything in my stories including suspense, sexy heat, action and adventure, very romantic moments, emotional (tear jerker) moments, and humor. For me, that balance of elements makes the story more real.

One thing I love doing is combining humor and sensuality. Some people think this is impossible, but sex and humor can go well together if you handle it the right way. I just make sure my humor doesn’t diffuse the tension. I was happy to see that the reviewers for my novella, Kilted Lover, enjoyed my interweaving of sexiness and humor.

The Night Owl Romance reviewer said: Scott was really the perfect male hero and Leslie's actions and words sometimes had me laughing out loud as I read.

The LASR Whipped Cream reviewer said: The novel is filled with comedy (those wild car rides and the friendly advice) as well as snippets of imagined eroticism and finally, wild lust-filled sex that had me switching from a good laugh out loud to biting my nails in anticipation.

BookWenches: In this story, Ms. North gives us a hero and a heroine who are both entertaining and sympathetic. Leslie strikes a humorous chord from the beginning with her reaction to Scott, all but drooling over him at the Scottish Games, wondering if he wears underwear under his kilt, and daydreaming about the correlation between the size of his hands and feet and that of his sexual equipment.

Do you enjoy reading (or writing) humor? What is your favorite type and do you have any tips?

For Your Amusement

This week's theme at Fierce Romance is "amusement".

I could talk about amusement parks, especially since RWA's National conference is going to be held in Orlando, at the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort, in a couple weeks. I could talk about roller coasters and fun houses and cotton candy.

But instead, I'm going to talk about romance novels, because believe it or not, whether it is a romantic comedy, or an emotional tear-jerker, or a paranormal thriller, we're writing for our readers' amusement.

The definition of amuse, according to my Webster's is "to keep pleasantly or enjoyably occupied or interested; entertain." According to the Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian, the meaning "a pastime, play, game, anything which pleasantly diverts the attention" (from duty, work, etc.) is from 1670s, originally depreciative; meaning "pleasurable diversion" attested from 1690s.

Sounds like a romance novel to me!

There's nothing better than to open the pages of a book, or turn on your computer or ereader, and get lost in the story of two people with wants and needs and problems, and experience them overcoming their obstacles and falling in love in the process. Reading a good book pleasantly diverts my attention from the laundry and the bills and any other problems I may have.

I feel the same way when I put on my writing hat. While I spin my characters' stories, I can never forget that I am writing for my readers. I'm writing to entertain them. To take them away from their problems for a little while and let them be enjoyably occupied while they experience my characters falling in love. I'm writing for their amusement.

Can't think of a better job!

And I got an e-mail last night letting me know about a new review for my novella, Bound by Design from Blackraven's Reviews. I was overwhelmed with the wonderful review. In part it said:
This is a great example of how magnificent a short story can be. The characters are easy to relate to and care about, the plot is engaging, the erotic elements certainly are erotic, and the conclusion/HEA ending make perfect sense. What a truly enjoyable story! Excellent!

I'm so glad I was able to keep the reviewer pleasantly or enjoyably occupied or interested!!


Imagining: The Perfect Escape

I know that you’ve all been dying to ask, so I’m going to tell you…

We have two baby spiders! Two!

Yes, Socrates and Plato took a while to show up, but my summer spiders are now hanging tough in the bathroom set for remodeling. I speak to them daily, wishing them well or sometimes asking how their day has been. Little things matter, you know, especially to little things.

Don’t worry. They don’t answer, at least not that I can hear, but my theory is this: Spiders, like humans, talk. They gossip and gab. Word gets around. So, I figure that maybe someday if I get into a situation where a poisonous spider is about to bite me, it’ll suddenly recognize me and think, “Oh wait, that’s Cameo. I can’t bite her. She’s that nice lady who lets spiders live in her old bathroom. Pericles loved her gnat soufflĂ©!” Perhaps they’ll even build a little shrine or even just name the wing of a spider hospital after me.

This is my escape.

Welcome to the place I get away to when the need arises, and sometimes even when not: my mind. Ever since I was a little girl, I daydreamed to my heart’s content, figuring everyone did. I’d make up stories and imagine all kinds of people, places, and things, and I still do. There were the dog superheroes, the psychic teens, and the police who wore yellow sunbonnets. There were also aliens with intergalactic recipes to die for (where do you think I got the gnat soufflĂ©?) and the Yeti-like beasts who played cards and danced the tango in Miami. It never stops.

Don’t get the wrong idea here. I don’t live in my fantastical, escapist world; however, it does come in handy. For example, when I’m sitting in a waiting room and don’t feel like reading the latest issue of Modern Breasts, Glorious Molars, or Eye Doctoring Today, slipping off to an adventure where I heroically cap the Gulf oil spill or engage in a nice little conversation with Antonio Banderas is a pleasant diversion. Also, when I’m watching some inane, completely boring movie and need to remove myself from the bad acting, horrible dialogue, or silly plot, sometimes I take the story where I want it to go. Can you blame me?

As a child, I escaped not only into my imagination to have some fun, but to various places in the house where I grew up. These were not hiding places, mind you, but right out in the open. Not like Alice toppling down the rabbit hole at all, although I did manage to find adventure in my own back yard, or close to it.
Our dining room table sat right by a window, and I would find some crafty thing to do, settle into my chair at the table, and work away for hours. If I wasn’t there, I sat on the stairway by another window and played with my dolls or read. I always had my little spots to “escape” to, places in the house where I could plant my flag and hunker down. If not there, then into the myriad of stories in magazines and books I kept in easy reach.
If I want true physical escape and have enough money saved up, I head to one of the most gorgeous places in the world--the ocean. I enjoy the islands, the beautiful flowers, the breath-taking scenery, and the friendly people, but mostly, I just love watching the water and imagining the world beneath it and all the adventures I could have there. Next on my to do list is learning to snorkel and scuba dive so I can escape under the water and see what really lies beneath its inviting, albeit sometimes temperamental, waves.

Until then, chatting with Socrates, Plato, and Antonio Banderas will have to do. Happy escaping!

Up, Up and Away - The Peaceful Escape

"Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon." Winnie the Pooh

No matter how many times I see hot air balloons up in the sky, they do always uplift me. They're so beautiful and peaceful.

The valley in Vermont where these pictures were taken is an excellent balloon-launching spot. Something about the views or wind flow or large open spaces makes it a desirable venue. So we frequently see balloons flying overhead. We can actually hear them pumping up the balloon before it launches.

This balloon festival takes place every year on Father's Day weekend. The balloonists come from all over the US and Canada. Many of the same pilots return every year.

This is my favorite balloon on the left. I love the moon and stars motif.

A new event this year was the "Balloon Glow". Once it gets dark, they light up the balloons to achieve a different look.

The balloon glow was nice, but I prefer to see them up in the air. (These balloons are tethered.)

There are all kinds of fun balloons.

Five to seven people can stand in the balloon baskets. The people are always friendly and hope you will notice them and talk to them if possible.

No one in my family wants to go for a ride. DH has the courage, but he thinks it would be dull when you're up there. Same with dd, who has been paragliding but says that's boring. I think it would be lovely, to float up there (it's not as quiet as you might think) with a bird's eye view of the scenery. But I don't have the guts.

“The balloon seems to stand still in the air while the earth flies past underneath.”

~ Alberto Santos Dumont

Escape to Roan Mountain

A hiking trip to Roan Mountain also known as the Roan Highlands is the perfect way to get away. Roan Mountain is 6,285 feet high and stands at the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. A few of the mountains here are natural “grassy balds” which means no trees or only very small shrubby trees grow on top of the mountains. They are natural highland meadows. Once you climb to the tops of these balds you can see for miles around. The Appalachian Trail crosses the top and this is one of the few places where the Trail rises above 6000 feet.

I thought these natural grasses were pretty. They look soft and feathery.

Our hike meandered through the spruce forests where large boulders covered in moss sit beside the trail. I nicknamed one the old man of Roan (after the “old man” rock formations in Scotland.) ;) (Below)
Roan Mountain is comprised of five mountain peaks divided into two sections. Roan High Bluff and Roan High Knob have spruce forests. The natural Rhododendron Gardens lies between these in Cloudland. Parts of this area are called Cloudland because the clouds are literally down on the ground. It was so foggy when we were on this part of the mountain, we couldn’t see very far. It’s a neat feeling to be up in the clouds. The below pic shows Roan High Knob surrounded by clouds while we were hiking on Round Bald.As for the Catawba Rhododendrons, this is the most massive group of the shrubs growing anywhere in the world. The day we went, the rhododendrons were at their peak, and a week ahead of their Rhododendron Festival. The interesting thing about these bushes is they appear to have been trimmed by someone, but they haven’t. The look is completely natural.

The other section of Roan Mountain is called Grassy Ridge. There are seven miles of grassy bald divided into Round Bald, Jane Bald and Grassy Ridge Bald. We hiked to the top of Round Bald. The elevation here is 5,826 feet. From here, we had an awesome 360 degree view of some amazing scenery.

(Above) A view of Jane Bald (shorter and in front) and Grassy Ridge Bald from Round Bald. And another view of it below.

This area lies in a Canadian temperate zone. The temperature at the top of Roan Mountain feels about twenty degrees cooler than down in the valleys where everyone lives. The wind blows like crazy and the air is fresh and crisp. We had to wear jackets, even in June. Alpine plants, such as rare moss and heather, which are generally found much further north and in Canada reside at the top of the grassy balds of Roan Mountain. The climate, temperature, wind, clouds and scenery here reminds me of Scotland.
Flame Azaleas are another beautiful native treat.

“It is the most beautiful of the high mountains… with Carolina at its feet on one side and Tennessee on the other, and green ocean of mountains rising in tremendous billows around her.” ~Dr. Elisha Mitchell

Binding Ties Releases July 6th!

That's tomorrow!!

Almost a year ago, the three Binding Ties novellas were released individually as downloads from Samhain Publishing. Now my novella, Bound by Design, along with Jenna Ives' The Initiation of Isabella and Skylar Kade's Maison Domine are together in a print anthology titled Binding Ties. Scott Carpenter once again designed the perfect cover to grace the front of the book. I can honestly say I fondled my pretty author copies when they showed up at my door.

It was fun working with Jenna and Skylar as we promoted our stories and I'm thrilled to say that Jenna and I will be signing copies of Binding Ties at the Literary Signing at the Romance Writers of America national conference on July 28th in Orlando.

Here's a short excerpt to tease you:

“I’m attracted to you, Jenn. You may have guessed I have a great interest in bondage myself. In domination and submission. I’m interested in seeing where this night might take us.” He released the nipple ring with a jerk and her breast bounced. He caught her gaze and she felt drawn into his presence. “So I have to ask you. Do we continue or do we end this now?”

Did she want to see where this night would go? Her body voted yes. After all, her best friend vouched for him. And she liked him already. He had a sense of humor. He was as sexy as the devil. He knew her secret weakness.

Or should she get the hell out before she got in too deep? Because, already, she could imagine getting in deep with this guy.

She could barely breathe. “I don’t know.” Jenn winced at the cry in her voice. “I’m sorry. It’s just, I wasn’t expecting anything like this tonight. I…I’m turned on, yes, but I don’t know if I’m ready…if I want to…”
He covered her hand with his. “Why don’t you tell me about your experience with bondage?” He slid his hand up and shackled her wrist with his fingers again. “Was it so terrible that you resist it even when your body craves the binding?”

She looked away from him, staring into the shadows surrounding them. She did crave it. The security of the bondage. The freedom of letting go of the control she normally held onto with an iron grip. But she didn’t want to lose herself like she did before. Could she bring herself to admit her experiences with Rob?

He cupped her chin and turned her face so he could study her. “Talk to me, Jenn. What are you afraid of?”

“Losing myself,” she blurted.

“No, you should never be afraid of losing yourself. You’ll find yourself, Jenn, if you surrender to your needs.”

She shrugged and looked down at her hands clenched in her lap.

“What happened?” He stroked her hair, soothing her nerves. “Was it recent?” His voice hardened. “Did someone around here treat you badly?”

“No. It was back in college.”

He cursed. “A boy playing at being a Dom?”

“I guess. But then I guess I was playing at being a sub.” Neither one of them had really known what they were doing. But when it was right, it had been amazing.

“I’m sorry you didn’t have a good experience.” He kissed her softly. “So basically your body responded even though he didn’t treat you right?”

“He didn’t always treat me badly,” she said, but she shivered as she remembered being tied up and left for hours while he got drunk with his buddies. “I think the power trip got to him.”

“A Dom’s first consideration always should be his sub,” Scott told her. He grasped her shoulders with his strong hands. “I want to show you the way it should be. Let me show you how good it can be, Jenn. Give me the weekend.”

“The weekend?” Was he crazy? “I honestly don’t know if I want to try bondage again, not even tonight.” Although if her body had any say, they’d definitely be having sex tonight, and she probably wouldn’t complain if there were ropes involved.

“I can smell your arousal, Jenn. I know your body is aching for a taste of bondage again.” He ran his hand up her thigh, dragging the skirt of her dress up with it. “Let me show you the way a Master should treat his slave.”

Jenn licked her lips and couldn’t move, couldn’t speak. Did she want to be his slave, even for one night?

“Let’s try something,” he said softly, seductively. “If you don’t like it, I’ll walk away from you and never bother you again.” He leaned over her and took one wrist in each hand. “Put your hands behind your back and grasp the slats.”

She nodded and leaned forward slightly to let him guide her hands behind her. He curled her fingers around the wood. “Now close your eyes.”

Jenn glanced around them and didn’t see anyone else nearby. Darkness was falling around them. She looked up at Scott, he was already difficult to see except for that white shirt. What would it matter if she closed her eyes?

“Jenn,” he said in a tone that told her he didn’t like to repeat himself. “Close your eyes.”

She closed her eyes and held on tight.

Romantic Times gave Binding Ties a 4 star review I hope anyone who enjoys emotional, romantic tales with a bit of bondage will want to check out Binding Ties.


Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th of July from all of us at Fierce Romance! With special thanks to the military and their families for all they do!

A Quickie from Kristin Daniels

Good day, Fierce Romancers!

It's another gorgeous day here in Chicago, and I'm in a great mood! Not just because of the weather, or because it's a holiday weekend (Happy Fourth of July, everyone!), but also because I have a new release coming out soon!

Getting Naughty is a Quickie being released by Ellora's Cave on August 9th. This was such a fun story to write. It's a little more lighthearted than my other releases, and I love that about it. Here's the blurb:

Tara North is tired of her husband’s workaholic tendencies, tired of not being a priority. And very tired of the lack of action in their bedroom. So she sits in the company parking lot, impatiently waiting for his coworkers to vacate the building. Why? To seduce her husband, of course.

Tara’s going to get their sex life back on the fast track to Blissville. As she strips in his office, Tara issues a challenge—how many times can Jared make her come before the cleaning crew reaches his office?

There’s only one way to find out. It’s time for Jared to
really get to work.

It's a steamy little story, so if you'd like to read an excerpt, head on over to my website. In the meantime, check out the trailer I made. I had a lot of fun with this, too!




In light of the release of Eclipse (which is freaking awesome!), I thought I’d make today’s blog about Stephenie Meyer’s series. I’m not sure if anyone here is a Twilight fanatic, but I’m a HUGE one. I was a late bloomer with Twilight. All four books were done when I started. When I read Twilight, I devoured it--couldn’t put it down. Then I moved on to New Moon. I’ll admit at the risk of being booed, New Moon is my least favorite book. I almost didn’t make it through it and was hesitant to continue on with the series. But a friend of mine insisted that I needed to continue. So I started Eclipse. Low and behold, the beginning dragged and I found myself forced to read. I really, really wanted to stop. But this friend of my kept repeating, “Esme, don’t stop, I promise you it gets sooo much better.”

At this point, I had started reading Karen Marie Monings’ Fae Series. Again I will admit, I did not like the first book. It took me forever to read it. I’d read a chapter then put it down for weeks at a time. But it was KMM, my favorite author, I had to finish it. So I did. I did not get grabbed into Faefever until the last two chapters of that book. After that? Well, I’ll just say I am impatiently waiting for the release of the last book and will most likely go to a midnight release to get it. LOL.

So with this in mind, I continued with Eclipse. Then I hit the mid-way point. Everything changed. I was no longer forcing myself to sit there and endure the words. I was actively involved in the story. I read the second half of that book that day and then moved on to Breaking Dawn (my favorite of the entire series) and had all 900 pages read in three days. I thank my friend for insisting I finish the series. Because without her pestering, I swear I don’t think I would have finished it and then would have missed out on an excellent book.

So even though I may not be one of those fans who can say, oh I loved every book. I couldn’t stop reading etc. etc. The fact the series ended on such a high note for me, I can overlook the parts that I just couldn’t get into and firmly say, I am a Twilight fan and totally Team Edward.

So my question to you—have you ever started something that you didn’t really like, but then as time passed became something you loved?

Oh and I got an excellent review from Hope C. at We Write Romance for The Panther’s Lair:

"...a sensual awakening unlike any other."The Panther's Lair by Esmerelda Bishop is a sensual awakening unlike any other. Hot, exciting, intriguing...all tied into one hot night and a thrilling morning after that you won't want to miss!
You can read the entire review here: