Hike to Old Man of Storr

The Old Man of Storr is a geological formation on Isle of Skye, Scotland. It is said to have formed because of a landslip. So basically an ancient landslide which revealed these interesting rock pinnacles. Ancient volcanoes were also involved in the formation.

The first time I visited Old Man of Storr, I only got to stop beside the road and take the photo above and a few more like it. It was amazing because the mist floated quickly and continuously behind the Old Man pinnacle like a low cloud. I also took a video of it. This mist allowed the Old Man to stand out nicely from the background cliffs.
Since my first visit, I'd always wanted to go back and hike up to Old Man of Storr. I was thrilled to be able to do this on our trip last May. We started at a parking area just off A855 north. It is about 6 miles north of Portree. A large forest, a conifer plantation, stands between the car park and The Old Man of Storr so you can't actually see it from there. We walked for a long time up through the forest on a well used path. I'm guessing about two miles up. It's very steep in places and you have to climb up make-shift steps of rock at times. It seemed we'd never reach the top. It must have taken a couple of hours. But when we did finally emerge from the forest, this is the view out over the Sound of Raasay. Toward the north (above) and toward the south (below). Loch Leathan and Loch Fada lie below the forest and the road.

By this time I was tired but we were not yet to Old Man of Storr. Below is our first view of the famous rock formations although it is difficult to pick out the Old Man from the rest of the cliffs at first. The trees at the top were smaller.

 It was cloudy during our hike and we were afraid the entire time that it would start raining. That would be typical of Scotland, but it didn't rain. Whew! The wind blew harder the higher we climbed.
 This whole area is incredibly steep and rocky and also beautiful. Above you can see the scree caused by erosion and the footpath to the right.
 When we climbed higher it was easier to see the details of the individual rock pinnacles. Needle Rock is on the right hand side. Old Man of Storr is slightly right of center.
 Old Man of Storr is 150 - 160 feet tall. In person it seemed much taller and more massive to me than it appears in photos. A person would look almost like an ant beside it. :)
This shows part of the pathway and the spectacular view over the Sound of Raasay. This area is on the east side of the Trotternish Peninsula on Isle of Skye so it looks toward Isle of Raasay and the Mainland.

I hope you enjoyed this virtual hiking trip to Old Man of Storr. :)

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It's Not the Age. It's the Attitude...

Birthday Girl, the 3rd story in the Paolo's Playhouse series from Samhain, is now available for pre-order. It releases February 21st, but right now it is on sale for only $1.75 from the Samhain website.

Here's the blurb:

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

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

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

And here's part of an awesome 4 heart review from Stacey at Sizzling Hot Book Reviews:

I really thought that Birthday Girl was a well thought out, highly erotic story that showed one of many ways to put the spice back into life and that age is not a factor. I highly recommend Birthday Girl is you are looking for a romantic book with a bit of kink and a sexy ménage with no m/m.

You can read the full review here.

Coming in May will be the final Playhouse story, Paolo's story. And to give a little tease, here's the blurb from Plaything:

Julianne’s the epitome of a successful businesswoman. But where her boardroom reality is full of decisions, her bedroom fantasy is the exact opposite—allowing a lover who knows what he’s doing to strip her of the need to make any decisions at all.

When she reads an ad for Paolo’s Playhouse, her long-ignored need twists inside her, too sharp to ignore. Trembling, she picks up the phone, and Paolo’s charm, lyrical accent and empathy soothe her fear just enough to agree to be the Playhouse’s bondage toy. One look at Paolo the following night, and she wishes she’d struck a different bargain. To be his alone.

Paolo can’t take his eyes off the brave and beautiful woman with hair like the fire he sees in her soul. Her sexual need to be bound matches his own powerful need to be the one to bind her. Tonight and always.

Except Julianne agreed to only one perfect night. Now he must convince her it could be the first night of many for them—if only she will trust him.

I can't wait to share the next Playhouse story with everyone. Feb 21st will be here before you know it, right? Now it just seems too far away.

Have a great Monday!

FLAUNT IT - Available now
RISK IT - Available now
BIRTHDAY GIRL - Coming Feb 21st
PLAYTHING - Coming May 8th

Reading Recommendations

So I've been on a reading hiatus for a few months and feel so out of the loop. My daughter stepped on my purse back in October and broke my Kindle. I didn't believe I would be able to get it replaced since it was a Christmas gift from last year. After my SIL urged me to at least call and ask, I finally did and was sent a new one. Man, I was super excited.

The new one got here, downloaded a couple of books and then it broke. Defective. Seriously?

After working with the Amazon troubleshooter team to figure out why it kept rebooting, and rebooting and rebooting and then completely froze, they finally admitted defeat as well and sent me a new one.

Now I have one that seems to be tip-top (knock on wood) and I'm ready to download some books.

Currently, I'm reading Angela Campbell's Cry Wolf and I'm loving it. Such an awesome concept. Tabloid journalist goes to a small town in search of the werewolf the towns folks claims to have seen. Excellent. Lots of smiles and laughs with this one. Now to just get the time to finish it!

So tell me what have you read recently that you highly recommend?


Secondary Characters Who Demand Their Own Stories

When I was writing My Fierce Highlander and the hero’s brother, Lachlan, stepped on stage, he instantly came to life. I knew he would need his own story. He was such a rake and a rogue and the fun-loving, adventurous type. He loved teasing Alasdair, his more serious older brother. I thought, won’t it be fun when the tables are turned and Alasdair can tease Lachlan? Here is Lachlan's second scene in My Fierce Highlander where he is still a secondary character.

A knock sounded at the door, then it opened and a tall man stuck his head in. He grinned.
“Lachlan, come on in, then.” Alasdair motioned the kilted man forward. “M’lady, I would like for you to meet my brother, Lachlan.”
The man’s tawny, golden-brown hair was long as a pagan’s and hung halfway down his chest. His amber-brown eyes, several shades lighter than Alasdair’s, held her own in a startling, direct manner. Waves of magnetism emanated from Lachlan. She suspected no lass he set his sights on would retain her virtue for long.
“Mistress Carswell is the MacIrwin fairy I told you about who saved my life.”
Both men grinned at her—a devastating picture, to be sure, with their virile good looks.
Gwyneth’s face heated with the ridiculous comment. Fairy, indeed.
She stood and curtsied. “’Tis a pleasure, sir.”
“I assure you, m’lady, the pleasure is all mine.” He bowed. Coming forward, he grasped her hand and pulled her upright. “Alasdair, I believe your words were ‘bonny MacIrwin fairy,’ and I must agree with you. Ne’er have I seen such lovely blue eyes.” Lachlan kissed her fingers.
Good heavens! What silver-tongued charmers these MacGraths were. Heat rushed over her.
Alasdair cleared his throat, and Lachlan released her.
Gwyneth’s gaze locked with Alasdair’s, which harbored a glare, and his brother stepped away to stand at the mantel. Something unspoken had passed between the two men. And something possessive in the way Alasdair watched her now held her captive.
Oh dear.Her knees going slightly weak, she reclaimed her seat.
“I’m forever in your gratitude for saving the life of my beloved brother,” Lachlan said over his shoulder. She glimpsed a hint of a smile and wondered the reason for it, though she thought she knew. My Fierce Highlander copyright 2011 Vonda Sinclair

This scene shows his character in a nutshell. Lachlan's smile at the end of this excerpt tells us he's gearing up to give his brother some needling over his possessiveness of Gwyneth. Very noticeable and telling since he hasn't been possessive over a woman in over two years. Lachlan appears here and there throughout the story. It seems he always has good luck in many areas of his life, especially with the women. But is there such a thing as too much good luck?

Once it's time for Lachlan to show up in his own story, My Wild Highlander, what better way than we catch him at one of his favorite pastimes? Too bad the heroine, Angelique, is there too. Oops! :)

London, England, 1618 
"Lady Angelique! Come back, sweeting!" ancient Lord Chatsworth called.
Sacrebleu! Angelique Drummagan rushed down the corridor, eased open a door and slipped inside a dark drawing room, one of many within the maze of Whitehall Palace. She prayed Chatsworth would pass by. He fancied himself her suitor and did naught but drool on her hand every time he was near.
Heavy breathing and moans sounded from across the room. She turned and froze, her eyes searching the near darkness. Who was here? Only the shifting moonlight glinting off the Thames provided any illumination, revealing chair backs and settees.
A high-pitched giggle pierced the air from several yards away, in the vicinity of a sitting area near the cold hearth.
"Shh."A long moment of silence stretched out, broken by sounds of kissing.
"King James wishes her brought before him forthwith," a muffled male voice said outside the closed door.
"She vanished in this passage," Chatsworth said.
A pox upon the old lecher! And the king, too. Angelique crept across the Turkish carpet and slid behind the brocade window drapery.
"Ooh, I'm impressed with your swordplay skills, my laird." Lady Eleanor's voice, breathy and excited, shattered the quiet of the room. She was the one moaning and giggling?
The harlot."I'm not a laird, but I do thank you for the compliment."
A Highlander? Angelique would recognize that tongue-rolling speech anywhere.
She had never known Eleanor, countess of Wexbury, to dally with anyone below a viscount. What was she doing with a barbarian? That's what her mother—God rest her soul—would've called him, or any Scot. And Maman should know; she'd been married to one.
Eleanor cried out with carnal pleasure. Angelique's face burned hot. She couldn't comprehend how a woman found pleasure in the act. Never again would she entrust her body and heart to any man. Since men were naught but faithless pigs, she knew she only had duty before her, not happiness. Not love. That had been a foolish child's dream.
Eleanor gasped for breath and the Scot made a growling noise. The height of pleasure, some said. Surely the French term le petit mort—the little death—was more accurate. Nausea gripped Angelique even as shocking excitement quickened her heart beat. A dark, hidden part of her wondered… No, never again. I cannot marry and be subjected to a man's lust. She pressed trembling fingers against her throat and found it damp with perspiration.
The door opened and lamplight reflected off the white walls.
"Lady Angelique?" Dryden's nasal voice echoed through the room. He was the most vexing of the king's courtiers.
The two lovers became silent.
"I know you're in here. I heard a noise."
From her position behind the draperies, she noticed the light moving across the floor.
A thump sounded, then rustling.
"Sir Lachlan? What in Hades are you…?"
"I was but…resting," the Scot said.
"Have you seen Lady Angelique?"
"Dryden, the lamp, if you please," Chatsworth said.
"What is it?"
In the silence, the light shifted again, growing brighter as it moved in her direction.
Mon Dieu, do not let them find me, s'il vous plaît. Angelique's pulse roared in her ears. She detested Chatsworth, and now, to be discovered lurking about in a dark room while a Scot coupled with a lady harlot would be exceedingly mortifying. They might even accuse her of spying on them.
Dryden yanked the drapery aside.
"Parbleu!" Angelique blurted and pressed a hand to her mouth.
Dryden sent her a vile grin. In the background, Chatsworth scowled, then shot a murderous glance at the man they'd called Sir Lachlan, who stood in a darkened corner.
Where had Eleanor crawled away to? Angelique couldn't see her beneath the carved furniture in the dimness.
"You and Sir Lachlan?" Dryden snickered. "His Majesty will likely find this interesting."
"Non! I was not—Lady Eleanor was—where did she go?" Embarrassment flamed over her. Now, they thought she'd been with the Scot? Never."No need to lie, mademoiselle. Come. The king wishes to see you." He ushered her toward the door. "You, too, Sir Lachlan."
"Indeed." Dryden waved him forward.
The Highlander stepped into the light. The giant was more than a foot taller than she, broad shouldered and wearing a belted plaid, leaving the bottom portion of his muscular legs bare. She'd seen few of these barbaric articles of clothing since she was nine years old and her mother had taken her from Scotland.
His face was ruggedly masculine with a square jaw and hard chin, enticing to a woman's baser instincts, but not refined. This was the same man she'd seen leaving Lady Catherine's bedchamber the night before. Then, he'd been wearing trews. Dallying with two women at court? Or perhaps more? Lecher.Amusement sparkled in his eyes before he bowed. "M'lady."
"Sir." She curtsied.
The Scot's darkened eyes fixed upon her in a too-knowing way. To cover the heat rushing over her face, she strode from the room.
Feeling like a prisoner headed for the block, Angelique walked beside the Highlander through several rooms and dark-paneled corridors, taking two steps for his every one. Dryden and Chatsworth followed. She would not be surprised to feel the prick of a sword at her back. Glancing around, she found the men empty-handed.
They passed through four doors, guarded by numerous courtiers and royal servants before reaching the antechamber with its gleaming ebony furniture upholstered in the finest red velvets. Numerous candles lit the room and glimmered off the gold leaf.
What did the king want? He'd sent for her two days before at Hampton Court Palace, though he hadn't been ready to meet with her until now. She disliked leaving the comfort of the queen's household, but King James was her guardian and she must do as he bid. Chatsworth and Dryden had been searching for her before they found her in the room with this Highlander, so the summons could have naught to do with him. Why had they asked him to accompany them?
They neared the king's private rooms and an usher opened the carved door. "Lady Angelique Drummagan and Sir Lachlan MacGrath," he announced.
The four entered. The men bowed, and she curtsied deeply before the king.
The scrawny, aging monarch, wearing overblown clothing in colorful silks, occupied an ornate chair on an elevated platform. Buckingham, his favorite courtier, a regally handsome dark-haired man in his early twenties, stood next to him, along with several other members of the aristocracy.
"You have found her." King James turned his rheumy, unsteady gaze toward the tall man beside her. "And Sir Lachlan, I'm so glad you have joined us once again."
"Your Majesty, 'tis a supreme honor." Lachlan bowed.
Dryden whispered something to another courtier, who whispered to Buckingham. And he proceeded to murmur into the king's ear.
The frail monarch's eyes widened. "The two of you have…met?"
Angelique's face heated. "Non. Not in truth."
The king frowned at his courtiers but his expression lightened when he looked at Lachlan. "It matters not. This is my ward, Lady Angelique Drummagan, the new countess of Draughon in her own right." He motioned toward her. "My dear, meet Sir Lachlan MacGrath, a hero to whom we owe much."
The cursed MacGrath took her hand and kissed it. "'Tis my great pleasure to make your acquaintance, m'lady." His rich baritone and the Scottish burr appealed more than it should have.
She stiffened.
In the bright candlelight, she saw he was a most visually interesting man. His tawny hair was too long by far and not of the current style. His eyes gleamed like a tiger's eye stone. It was not the color that arrested her, but the expression—assessing and sensual. She had come upon many a rogue like him in France, and barely escaped marrying one.
She jerked her hand away but remembered her manners just in time and curtsied. Not too deeply, because he didn't deserve even that. "An honor, Sir Lachlan."
A tiny grin lifted one corner of his full lips. Though she already loathed him because he was a Highlander and a debaucher, something about him defied her to look away.
"Through his cunning and sharp wits, Sir Lachlan has saved the life of our dear marquess of Buckingham and broken up the den of conspirators," King James said. "We knighted Sir Lachlan a fortnight ago but we believe he deserves an even greater reward. Do we not, Steenie?"
Buckingham nodded.
"He will also receive a title." King James gave her a toothless grin. "Earl of Draughon."
What? Her late father's title?
The shock and silence threatened to render her senseless on the floor. What had the king meant?
"Yes, my dear, I have finally found you the perfect husband. He is Scottish, as you are. He is pleasing to look upon and…"
"Pray pardon…Majesty." Fearing she would faint, she quickly curtsied and fled the stateroom as if Lucifer himself chased her. She would die before she'd marry a Highlander whose favorite pastime was lifting skirts.
Lachlan watched the lovely red-haired lass dash from the room. What the devil had just happened? Had the king said something about a husband? And the earl of something? He shouldn't have drunk so much sack earlier.
He shook his head, attempting to clear it. Facing the king, Lachlan could hardly believe he stood once again in His Majesty's opulent private chambers—Lachlan, a Highlander and a second son with no title, nothing but a canny wit and a sword. During the past several weeks, while he'd been at court, enjoying every moment of the drinking, feasting, hunting and other, more carnal, pursuits, he had not been caught in such a compromising situation. And now His Majesty wished to leg-shackle him to a prickly lass? It made no sense. Clearly, Lachlan had overstayed his welcome and should've already departed for his clan's Kintalon Castle in the Highlands.
"Well, then," King James said. "Has there ever been a bride unafraid of the holy state of matrimony?" He grinned. "A toast!" He motioned to his courtiers and servants, who scrambled about for drinks.
Future bride? Lachlan shook his head. Nay, he could never marry. He loved women too much to settle with only one.
"Your Majesty, pray pardon… what are you saying? You wish me to marry Lady Angelique?"
"Yes, yes. I understand you two already know each other, in a sense." James winked.
"Upon my honor, I did not touch her. She happened upon me in the room where I was napping." Had she already been in there when he and Eleanor had arrived, or had she slipped in later? And who had she been hiding from?
"Very well." The king glared at Dryden. "He did not touch her."
Lachlan accepted a crystal glass of the king's prized Greek wine.
Marriage? God's teeth! 'Twill be a disaster."So, what say you, lad?"
Damnation, he should say naught. He should keep his tongue trapped firmly betwixt his teeth, but given the dozens of aristocratic gazes burning into him, including the king's, he could not play a mute this late in the day. Marriage? He could not entirely grasp the concept, except that it might be torture. But he could not offend the king by refusing. Besides, he had mentioned an earldom, had he not?
"I…I don't rightly ken what to say, Your Majesty, except I thank you. I'm overcome by your generosity." Lachlan bowed. Saints! What did I utter? He was afraid he'd just agreed to get married.
 My Wild Highlander copyright 2011 Vonda Sinclair

When you're reading a book, do you love it when secondary characters get their own spin-off stories? What about those of you who are writers? Has a secondary character sprang to life on the page and tried to take over?

Thanks for checking out my blog post and excerpts!!

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Snow White and Her Seven Lovers - Jenna Ives-Guest Author

Snow White And Her Seven Lovers…

Did that surprising twist on the classic fairy tale title get your attention? Hope so, LOL!

I’m Jenna Ives and I write contemporary erotic romance and BDSM novellas. (I’m published with Fierce Romance’s own Natasha Moore in the Binding Ties anthology from Samhain, with my sorority-inspired story, The Initiation Of Isabella.) I love novellas, because with so much technology at hand these days (texting, tweeting, e-readers, smart phones, video game players, etc) it seems everyone is developing a shorter attention span. And novellas are the perfect way to satisfy a romance reader’s appetite for sexy stories without having to make a long-term time commitment!

Since novellas are by definition short, I’ll share my secret for writing erotic novellas with you: as the story opens, I immediately put my characters into a situation where they either have to have sex for a particular reason (there are many fun ways to do this – try coming up with some creative situations yourself!) or else create an event where your characters are forced to stay together for a certain plot reason. Voila! Instant tension! And in an erotic romance, that means the sexual sparks fly!

My new novella, Snow White And Her Seven Lovers, was inspired by both Kristen Stewart’s upcoming movie “Snow White And The Huntsman” as well as Julia Roberts’ spring release of “Mirror, Mirror.” It looks like 2012 is definitely the year of Snow White!

Here’s the blurb for my erotic version of this classic fairy tale, which I’ve written in first-person from our heroine’s point of view:

What’s a girl to do when she wakes up poisoned in the ER and finds that she’s lost her memory, her family, and very nearly her life?

That was me. Three months ago. With no identity, no money, and nowhere to go on the day I was discharged from the hospital, I gratefully accepted my gorgeous ER doctor’s offer to move in with him and his equally gorgeous six friends – the ones who’d found me unconscious in an apple orchard. My plan was to stay only until my memory returned, and I could figure out who I was and if someone really had tried to kill me.

Together with Doc, these were an amazingly diverse bunch of guys, but there was something about each of them that attracted me powerfully enough to want to explore it. The policeman with his clever handcuffs. The cunningly linguistic librarian. The disciplinarian teacher. The virgin computer whiz who loved to play sex games. The engineer who created shotgun orgasms. The wildly imaginative baker.

Becoming intimate with these seven men completed me in ways I suspected discovering my name never would. That is, until the fateful day a man showed up claiming to be my fiancé...

Oooh… this story has conflict and lots of steamy love scenes! But by far, my most favorite part of writing this story was coming up with jobs that realistically lent themselves to the characters – Doc is the obvious one (he’s the ER doctor who saves our heroine’s life) but if you read this story, I’d love to hear from you about my choices for the six friends’ occupations :) Grumpy? Dopey? Sleepy? Sneezy? Happy? Bashful? Are the real-life jobs I’ve chosen for these characters believable?

Snow White And Her Seven Lovers is available through amazon.com, bn.com, Smashwords.com, or at my website, www.jennaives.com.

So…. which classic fairy tale is your favorite?? And how would you spice it up a little?

Celebrate Life

I'm filling in today because I missed last week, and I was going to continue my soapboxing from yesterday. However, I received some unhappy news recently that a dear family member suddenly passed away, and I lost my steam somewhere between ranting about bra straps showing and jeans that don't fit the human body.

We writers thrive on using life experiences in our writing, both the sad and happy, and that's what I'm doing today. I don't want to leave you with a bummer post on a Friday, and I won't. Any loss has the potential to bring back memories of loved ones and past events, and this loss is no different. We were close when we were younger, and now I find myself remembering the good times we shared and enjoying a quick trip through the past. Too long gone perhaps, but never far away.

So to celebrate life this weekend, please take a moment to remember someone or something wonderful. If you'd like to share a special memory in the comments section, please feel free to do so. Most importantly, enjoy your trip down Memory Lane!

Is Dressing Sexy What You Really Want?

Welcome to the new year! I didn't think it would happen this fast, but I've got my first "soapbox" piece ready to go, thanks to an article I read on Yahoo! via ABC News the other day about a high school student's racy senior photo. Ready for some proselytizing? I promise it relates to writing and reading...sort of. :)

This story caught my attention because as a romance/erotica writer, I'm responsible for creating female characters my readers can relate to and connect with, such as Heidi in You're All I Want for Christmas and Emerson from The Dragon's Queen. I've also written characters that are so totally polarizing that I get reviews from people who hated them or loved them with few in between, such as Professor Rumani Gladstone in Ride 'Em, Girlfriend!. Part of creating those characters is understanding how sexy they are, what being sexy means to them, and how they express their sexy side. So now I'm an expert on the subject.

HA HA HA HA. I'm totally kidding here. However, I do have some opinions about what sexy means, and the more I see young women trying for the effect--and failing--the more I cringe. There are several sides to sexy, but today, in light of the article being about clothing, I will focus on fashion.

First, let me throw out something here. I've read that women really dress to impress other women (not men!), not to attract them, but to let them know who's in charge and in the alpha female position. I'm beginning to believe this because over and over again I see surveys where men are asked what they think makes a woman look sexy. Typically, if she can rock a fitted pair of jeans with boots and a white T-shirt, she's considered sexy. So why all the skin-bearing fashions and magic bras? Perhaps it is, indeed, to intimidate other women. Perhaps some women just like the feeling of their bazongas hoisted as far from the evil pull of gravity that man-made contraptions will allow.

But I digress.

I think many young women believe that to be attractive they must dress provocatively because that's what men consider pretty and feminine. From my interactions with men, however, I've learned that pretty and feminine usually do not derive from sexy couture, but pretty and feminine couture. Women who dress sexy usually only get one response--leering. In other words, if you dress sexy, you pretty much come across as sexy only, but if you dress in a pretty and feminine way, you'll come across as pretty and feminine and sexy as well. The whole package. If you're hoping to find a partner interested in a relationship and not a fling, the whole package is what you want to project.

Now, if you just want people to see your "hot" side, then dressing that way is for you. Just know that when you dress this way, the kinds of relationships people will want to have with you will focus on sex. In contrast, when you dress pretty and feminine, the relationships people will want to have with you will be focused more on you as a woman than on just sexual desire, although that would be part of it as well.

I realize I sound like an old fogey here, but when I hear girls complain that guys only want them for one thing and they can't understand why, it's sort of sad, especially when I see some of the clothing they wear. If you want a relationship, dress like it. If you're dressing in skimpy outfits because you want men to think you're pretty, then you're missing the mark. Pretty is pretty and it can be sexy, but sexy is just sexy and will net you pretty much a relationship based on the oldest indoor sport known to mankind.

I don't know the intentions of anyone in the article, but I do know that in this day and age there seems to be a disconnect between the freedom to express ourselves in fashion and understanding the messages we send when we do so. No young woman wants to send a message she doesn't mean, and every girl wants to be pretty, but that can be achieved with a beautiful smile, a positive attitude, and a sense of humor (and apparently great-fitting jeans, boots and a white T-shirt). :)

Happy Reading!

What is your Hot Button?

No, not that hot button. LOL. What topic raises your hackles?

Many, many moons ago I used to be a hairdresser. One of the first things I learned in hair school is there are two topics you never discuss with a client: politics and religion. There is a reason for this rule. These are two very sensitive subjects that can bring very passionate, very different reactions out of each person.

Now, before anyone starts gasping behind their hand and whispering that Esme has blogged about a no-no topic, let me be clear that that is not my intention. In this day and age, those are not the only topics that get a person’s defensive attitude revving. There is a wide spectrum of sensitive issues out there that if not handled in the way the reader believes, it’s throw the book against the wall time. I’m simply curious as to what is your topic?

Mine is how some heroines with weight issues are portrayed. I get self-image issues, trust me on that, and I honestly love a book that digs deep into the struggle of self-image. However, once in awhile, I come across a book that really pisses me off. Mostly because the woman’s issues make her completely inadequate in everything she does in her life. I can’t grasp that. I have self-image issues. Horrible ones actually. But that doesn’t mean I’m not confident in every other aspect of my life. Where does it say that just because you don’t like your belly or are carrying around extra weight that you hate, that you have to fail in everything else you do? That you can’t be a strong woman in your career? You can’t refuse to beaten down and fight for what you believe in? It’s a stereotype that is hard for me to swallow.

So what is yours?



Guest: Eliza Knight + Something Wicked This Way Comes Book Giveaway!

Eliza Knight is the multi-published author of sizzling historical romance and erotic romance. While not reading, writing or researching for her latest book, she chases after her three children. In her spare time (if there is such a thing…) she likes daydreaming, wine-tasting, traveling, hiking, staring at the stars, watching movies, shopping and visiting with family and friends. She lives atop a small mountain, and enjoys cold winter nights when she can curl up in front of a roaring fire with her own knight in shining armor. Visit Eliza at www.elizaknight.com or her historical blog, History Undressed, which was recently mentioned in a feature article in The Wall Street Journal.
Q: Welcome, Eliza! We always love it when you visit our blog! Please tell us about Highland Tryst in the Something Wicked this Way Comes anthology. And do you have a review you could share with us?
A: Highland Tryst by Eliza Knight:
Having sworn off love, Kari Howard isn’t adverse to a little lust when a hot Highlander lands at her feet. Literally. Fin has traveled through time, and given what he’s packing under his kilt (good Lord!), Kari expects the sexy Scotsman to make her quake. But she doesn’t expect Fin to shake her very foundation…or cherish her for who she is.
From Black Raven’s Reviews: I was so enthralled with the HighlandTryst that I wished he lived in this century. Ms. Knight’s writing is smooth and relaxing but has a powerful sexy edginess that draws the reader into the story making you feel as if you are one of her main characters. Highland Tryst is a great adult bedtime story. I know I had pleasant dreams.
Q: Awesome! What inspired this story?
A:  I love funny, sexy, time-travels with Highlanders. It’d been awhile since I wrote the last one (Take it Off, Warrior), and when I saw the call for SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, I thought there was no better opportunity than to write the story that had been niggling in my mind. HIGHLAND TRYST was born. It’s a quick fantasy—totally out of the realm of reality, where a jaded, modern day gal gets the man of her dreams—literally he drops at her feet.
Q: This sounds like fun! I love time travels, especially those involving Highlanders, and can't wait to read this. How did your story’s setting impact your plot or characters?
A: The setting in this story, the beach of Ocean City, MD, is actually quite important because it helps the hero realize his skills as a good swimmer and life-saver can transfer into this new world. Additionally, I wanted it to be near a university, which Salisbury University is right near there (about 15-20 min) and is used fictionally in one scene. There is also a hospital close by (about 10 minutes away), which I needed since my heroine is an E.R. nurse. I grew up visiting Ocean City several times a year, and actually we have a house near there now so we visit the area several times a year.
Q: How do you choose names for your characters?
A:  I chose the heroine based on one of my good friends, who asked me to write a story for her. HIGHLAND TRYST does not have anything to do with her real life, and is purely a work of my creative mind, although I did toss in a few jokes she’d recognize! As for the hero, his name is more of a joke between my husband and I. There is a street we drive by often called MacClintock, and we shout it out every time—yes we are dorks. And I really just liked the name Finley.
Q: That's so neat that you used your friend in the story. Did you choose the title of your book and if so how did you do it?
A: The title of the book was originally TRYST WITH A HIGHLANDER, but alas, it didn’t work for the publisher, so they shortened it to HIGHLAND TRYST.
Q: Which element of this story was the hardest for you?
A: The hardest part for me when writing a time-travel is trying to figure out how they will stay together. It has to be major. We’re talking about transcending time. The hardest part about writing a short story is making their love and attraction believable. I love the idea of love at first sight and soul-mates, but readers don’t always, so trying to mix that element with real life chemistry and character traits can be tough when you only have a certain number of words to work with.
Q: Yes, I can see how that would be difficult. What’s next for you?
A: I’ve just finished another short time-travel and now I’m working on a full-length time-travel. I’ve yet to write one (although I have several other romance/historical fiction novels under my belt.). I really want the length of a novel to explore all the aspects of a time-travel. I’m excited, the characters are great and the first scene is vivid and filled with tension!
Q: Sounds fantastic! Would you like to ask readers a question?
A: I’d love to ask readers a question!  Do you like time-travels? What aspect of a time-travel draws you in?
Eliza will be giving away an e-copy of SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES to one lucky commenter! When you comment, please remember to leave your email address in some form so we can contact you if you win. Thanks!
Please visit Eliza Knight online: 
Thanks so much for being our guest today, Eliza!!

Guest Author & Giveaway - Jennifer Lynne

Celebrating a special anniversary

Hello and Happy New Year! Thank you to Fierce Romance for having me here today.

When writing my December indie-release, Platinum Passion (Gods of Love #1), I researched wedding anniversary symbols and meanings and found that the earliest references date from the Middle Ages. A silver garland or wreath symbolizing the harmony needed to make a marriage work was given to the wife by the husband on their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. On the fiftieth anniversary, a gold garland was given (though with shorter life spans back then this occurred less frequently than silver).

In the Victorian era, this practice became more widespread, and certain materials with specific symbolic meaning became associated with each passing year of marriage. Crystal, for example, became the celebration for fifteen years of marriage.

On a personal note, I remember my parents' fifteenth anniversary – their last together before my father passed away. I was twelve years old and had discovered that this was a "crystal" anniversary, so I saved my pocket money to buy them a pair of crystal goblets, which my mother still has to this day. I am glad that I was able to contribute to their celebration in that way.

Giveaway Question
I would love to hear whether you've ever celebrated a special event or anniversary, and if so, how? I'll be giving away a digital copy of Platinum Passion to one commenter on this post. Leave a comment between now and 18th January 2012, and go in the draw to win.

I hope I can tempt you with a taste of Platinum Passion, an erotic ménage romance novella that focuses on a long term marriage that has gone off track and needs a helping hand from Pothos, the ancient Greek god of sexual yearning. The twentieth wedding anniversary – the one celebrated by Jeannie and Jake in Platinum Passion – was traditionally associated with china, though in recent times the theme has changed to platinum.

Pothos, one of the erotes and an aspect of Eros, brings a platinum night of passion to Jeannie and Jake as a unique twentieth anniversary gift from the gods of love.

Platinum Passion Excerpt:
He tilted his head and studied her. “A good choice. I, too, enjoy the beach. So base, and raw, and elemental. Especially at night, with moonlight silvering the water.” He leaned forward and warm breath tickled the hair near her ear. “Close those gorgeous blue eyes, little one.”

She did as requested, and a moment of dizziness assailed her before she felt fingertips graze her cheek. “Okay to look, now,” he said.

She did so, and gasped when she saw where they were standing. The long, sandy curve of beach near Port Douglas in north eastern Australia was straight out of her imagination. The air felt balmy against her skin, despite the fact that it was the last night of winter. It had been a cold, wet evening in Melbourne, but here, in the warmth of the tropics, her flannel nightie was instantly too much.

She stared wide-eyed at their suddenly exotic setting. The full moon bathed everything in a flattering silver-blue sheen. She bent down and grabbed a handful of sand, wanting to feel the reality of it, letting the still-warm grains leach out between her fingers. The texture in her hands and between her bare toes recalled the delicious memory of her wedding night, Jake’s firm hands caressing her body in eager anticipation, his weight pressing her down into the small sandy depression beneath the palm trees, as their kisses mingled and youthful passion made them forget they were still in a public place, however dark and deserted it might be.

It was the only time they had ever made love on the beach, the night they had both given up their virginity, and it had made her cry with joy afterwards. Jake, she remembered, had caught her tears on the tip of his tongue and then kissed her with salt-flavored tenderness.

“How?” she stuttered. “It’s two thousand miles from Melbourne! Where, I might add, it was freezing.”

He laughed. “The power of the gods is immense. Tonight, this country shifts from winter into spring. And the influence of the erotes is strongest at the changing of the seasons. I plucked this location from your place of yearning. It called to me, that yearning of yours.”

“The influence of the…erotes?” She stumbled over the unfamiliar word. “Just who the heck are you?”

He raised his head proudly. “I am Pothos,” he said, and it was as if the statement vibrated the air around them. All of a sudden he seemed taller, stronger and more otherworldly. He looked like a god of old, shimmering with power, the golden skin alight with moonbeams and his face a study in supremacy as he stared at her down his nose. She felt a frisson of fear touch her heart in tandem with the mounting desire.

If I touch him now, will I self-combust?

Like a moth with a death wish, she stretched out her fingers anyway, ran them over his chest that did indeed feel like satin, and felt the charge of an electrical current coursing through her veins.

Her lips parted and she let out a gasp.

Power. So much power.

But then he shook his head and grinned, and the momentary spell was broken. She dropped her hand and surreptitiously rubbed her still-tingling fingertips.

“I am the one who has been sent to fulfill your fantasies, Jeannie. Yours and Jake’s. This is the night your marriage gets back its passion. Twenty years. It is worth celebrating, and tonight will be my platinum anniversary present to you both.”

He stepped forward and swept her into his muscular embrace, then bent his head so that his lips were only a whisker away from hers. “So”—his breath heated her mouth—“are you ready to begin our celebration of passion?”

Platinum Passion summary:

Three people. One erotic fantasy. And a twentieth wedding anniversary like no other.

Jeannie yearns for the return of passion in her marriage. Jake wants new excitement in the form of another man, in a way that won't upset the balance of his relationship with his wife. Pothos is one of the erotes and an aspect of Eros, the Olympian god of desire. This couple's distinctive yearning has called to him, and by the power of the erotes he intends to rekindle the flame of Jeannie and Jake's passion in a night of desire that could be the ultimate platinum anniversary gift.

And when the gods of love decide your marriage needs a boost, they never do it by halves.

Platinum Passion is the first in a series of stand-alone stories with the erotes as a common theme. The erotes are Pothos, god of sexual yearning, Himeros, god of sexual desire and Anteros, god of requited/unrequited love. All are the children of Aphrodite and aspects of the primal god of desire, Eros.

Platinum Passion (Gods of Love #1: Pothos) is available at:
Amazon | Smashwords | All Romance ebooks

About the author
Jen is a multi-published author who writes sensual and erotic romance from her home in Melbourne, Australia. She lives in hope that readers will continue to enjoy her novella-length tales of love and lust!

Find Jennifer on the web at:
Website/blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Wonderful Reviews from The Pen & Muse

PenMuseDenise at The Pen & Muse Book Reviews recently reviewed both my books. I was thrilled that she gave them each five stars at Amazon. Thanks so much, Denise!!
My Wild Highlander by Vonda Sinclair.

"If you love highlanders, steamy love scenes, great characters, and action then you will love My Wild Highlander by Vonda Sinclair. One of my favorite historical romance authors, I couldn’t pass it up when she asked me to read her work. Lachlan MacGrath is such a great hero character, he encompasses compassion, lover, and warrior all in one. He is a man of his word, no wonder he’s well loved among the women! Lady Angelique and Lachlan compliment each other although Angelique finds it hard to love such a man until she gets to know him. Angelique is also hiding a very hard past and Lachlan wants to know more about her without hurting her. It’s such the perfect story for two people with different pasts coming together. I don’t want to give away the rest of the book, so you’ll have to read it. Those who love historical romances with lots of passion, heart, amazing characters, action, and lots of love will love Sinclair’s My Wild Highlander."  Denise at The Pen & Muse

About the book: Lady Angelique Drummagan, a half-Scottish, half-French countess, has suffered much pain and betrayal in her past. She wants nothing to do with the sensual Scottish warrior that the king has ordered her to marry because the rogue could never be a faithful husband, but she has little choice in the matter. Dangerous, greedy enemies threaten her from all sides and she’s in dire need of his protection.

Sir Lachlan MacGrath, known as Seducer of the Highlands, possesses a charming wickedness and canny wit which has earned him much popularity. After the king decrees that he wed the fiery hellion, Lachlan discovers there is one woman who can resist him—Angelique. Can he break through her icy façade and melt her heart, or will the dark secrets lurking in her past not only cost them their future together, but their very lives?

My Wild Highlander is available at:

Barnes & Noble
All Romance eBooks
iTunes/ Apple

Review of My Fierce Highlander by The Pen & Muse

"If you love highlanders, steamy love scenes, great characters, and action then you will love My Fierce Highlander. You will instantly fall in love with Laird Alasdair MacGrath! He’s a great warrior, person, and of course he’s a highlander! Alasdair is driven to end two-hundred years of feuding with the MacIrwins and to protect the women who is healing and protecting him, Lady Gwyneth. Lady Gwyneth has a past of her own and her own son, due to the feuding this past will appear to damage the both of them. So who will she choose? The man she loves or her son? For any woman it’s a hard decision to make and this is a story you won’t want to miss! Beautifully written by Sinclair, you will be transported back in time to witness a great love story of courage and sacrifice. Be sure to catch Sinclair’s other Highlander novels, I sure won’t! She is one of my favorites for a reason!" Denise at The Pen & Muse

About the book: Gwyneth Carswell, an English lady banished by her father to the harsh Scottish Highlands, wants nothing more than to take her young son away from the violence of two fighting clans–her own distant kin, the MacIrwins, and their enemies, the MacGraths. She risks everything to rescue the fierce MacGrath warrior from the battlefield where he’s left for dead by her clan. She only knows she is inexplicably drawn to him and he wants peace as she does. When her clan learns of her betrayal, they seek vengeance. Dare she trust the enemy more than her own family?

Laird Alasdair MacGrath is driven to end two-hundred years of feuding with the MacIrwins. But by taking in and protecting Lady Gwyneth and her son, he provokes more attacks from his mortal enemy. As the danger and conflict surrounding them escalate, Alasdair and Gwyneth discover an explosive passion neither of them expected. With the arrival of a powerful man from her past, a horrible decision confronts her–give up her son or the man she loves.

My Fierce Highlander is available at:

All Romance eBooks
iTunes/ Apple

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Inner Conflict

I love inner conflict, though I’ll admit that a great kidnapping scene and the hero rushing in to save the day will get me every time. Yes, I’m a damsel in distress, hero on a white horse, Rapunzel let down your hair, sort of reader. Hmm. Maybe this explains my current obsession with Once Upon Time. I love that show and all its fairy tale references. Have you seen it?

Anyway, what I love even more is inner conflict, the fight with one’s self. I’ve seen really bad inner conflict that I didn’t connect with, and some that was freaking awesome that made me feel awful for the characters. Because, you know what?

I really get being torn. Swearing you’ll never do something AGAIN, but meeting that one person that makes you want to take back every vow you’ve ever made to yourself. It’s a tough road, full of past experiences that made you make the decision in the first place. Fighting yourself shouldn’t be easy. It should be one of the hardest things you’ve ever had to do.

I think that is where a lot of inner conflict fails for me. I’ve seen too many stories where it starts with a fantastic inner conflict, that I truly jive with, only to have the hero or heroine do away with their self-made promises too quickly because they’ve met the love interest and it’s an instant switch from great inner conflict to outside conflict.

I’d really prefer to stay with the inner conflict. Even better is a perfect combination of the two.

I have a few vows I’ve made to myself over the last two years, and I won’t share them because I have an idea for a contemporary I’d like to write using them, but to my core I feel like I will never go back on these vows. I have my reason why I’ve made these decisions. They’re deep rooted with a lot of dark chewy soil keeping them planted. But it does make me think, being a romance writer and all, what would happen if I did meet the man who could make me want to rethink my current stance. All I know is right now he’d have to be one hell of a dude to get me to.

So my advice to newer writers, don’t shy away from inner conflict. It really is a potent plotting device. The only thing is: it can’t be shallow. Not something that leaves the readers wondering why in the world she was still harping on it, it wasn’t a big deal.

If it’s stopping your character from her HEA, it IS a big deal. It’s your job to dig deep, and truly understand every crevice of why your character is the way she is, everything that happened in her past to make her who she is. Once you get that, and can transcribe that on the page, the readers will be riveted.



Scotland from the Water

One rare sunny day while we were in Scotland, we did a Seaprobe tour on a glass bottom boat called the Atlantis. We sailed from Kyle of Lochalsh. I forgot to take a photo, but I found the one below of the Lochalsh Hotel where we boarded the boat.  From what I understand, this is the same slipway where ferries used to take visitors from the mainland to Isle of Skye. Now of course ferries aren't necessary because of the Skye Bridge, completed in 1995, seen below in the background. The settlement of Kyle of Lochalsh is believed to have been here prior to 1600.

This is an incredibly beautiful and scenic area. We explored Kyle Akin, the area between the Scottish mainland and Isle of Skye.
We cruised underneath the Skye Bridge (above). The 70 foot tall lighthouse sits on Eilean Bàn ("white island"), a small six acre island with lots of wildlife. The lighthouse was designed by David and Thomas Stevenson and was built in 1857. Thomas was the father of Robert Lewis Stevenson. The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1993.

We saw dozens of seals! This was the first time I'd seen them in the wild.
The Sky Bridge from a different angle. It curves in an interesting way.

When we went down into the glass bottom boat, we could see what was under the water. Lots and lots of jelly fish of all sizes also kelp and crabs.
This is the ruins of Caisteal Maol, a keep built in the 1400s, although there were earlier fortifications on this spot. Part of this castle collapsed in 1949 and even more of it in 1989. When some repairs to the walls were being made in 1951, a hoard of coins were found in one of the walls.

I hope you enjoyed this virtual trip of Kyle of Lochalsh and Kyleakin. :)

P.S. I have a new Newsletter, if you'd like to sign up.

Guest Interview: Julia Knight

I pleased to welcome a fellow Romance Diva, Julia Knight, as our guest today. Thanks for joining us at Fierce Romance!

Please tell our readers a little about Julia Knight:

Well, for starters I’m a Brit – born and raised in a sleepy little Sussex village, henc the apparent spelling mistakes in this interview. No matter how often I move away, I always end up coming back. I’m a big fantasy and historical fan too, to geek levels.

What would readers be surprised to know about you?

That I’m a biker chick maybe. I have all the leathers, and the tattoos.

We’ll have to compare tattoos someday! Tell us about your latest book(s)

The Viking’s Sacrifice is a historical about, well, Vikings! Here’s the blurb:

Viking raiders destroyed Wilda’s home. She witnessed the murder of her mother and would have been killed herself if it weren’t for the Viking boy Einar, who saved her from his ruthless brother. The blood and murder left Wilda cold and shorn of feeling.

Eight years later, the heathens return for Wilda. As a captive in the Viking village, she finds protection and silent comfort in the man who once gallantly saved her.

Einar has been cursed to silence by his brother. With the dark net of his brother’s power cast over their village, silence is a small price to pay for his family’s safety. But Einar is immediately drawn to Wilda, and the need to protect her from his brother awakens his Viking courage. Can Einar break his brother’s curse in time to save the village and the woman he loves?

This sounds great! I love the tagline on your website: Fantasy author. Excitement, adventure, and dollops of romance. What made you choose fantasy as a vehicle for your romance? And do you ever write in another subgenre?

Well, it kind of happened by accident – I thought I was writing fantasy but it turns out it was romance. I love the fact that the plot doesn’t have to be just about the romance; there’s a world to explore and other things going on too, other plots. I write historical too when the muse takes me. Again, it’s like exploring another world.

I love getting lost in another world when I'm reading. What are you currently working on?

Just finishing up edits of the second Pirates of Estovan books – fantasy pirates.

Mmm. Fantasy pirates sound very interesting. What do you wish you’d known before you became published?

Just how addictive this writing malarkey is. Now I can’t stop.

We wouldn't want you to stop! Most people think the life of a writer is glamorous. What’s the least glamorous thing you’ve done in the past week?

Heh, one of my ‘real’ jobs is as a bar maid (or ‘wenching’ as I prefer to call it lol). Gosh, so glamorous holding a bucket for a drunken someone to be sick into. Not.

So you're a real wench, huh? Well, you're also a "real" writer. What can we look forward from you in the future?

Well, the aforementioned second pirate book (as yet untitled, but due out in the summer) and perhaps some more pirates after that.

Where can our readers find out more about you and your stories?

My website, http://juliaknight.co.uk has all the details, or you can follow me on twitter @Knight_Julia.

I know I'll be checking you out :)Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?

As I said above, I love fantasy and historical romances because there’s so much opportunity for external plot to complement the romance. If you read genre romance, which one’s your favourite and why?

The Viking's Sacrifice is available now from Carina and Amazon and all good e-book stores.

When to Walk Away...

Brrrrr. It’s cold. Our heating went out two days ago, just in time for the coldest days, so far, of this winter. We’re on a first name basis with the heating and air guys, lol, but it looks like we’re finally going to have to say goodbye to them. Our landlord just approved a fancy smancy new heating and air unit. I’m thrilled about the air part. Summer here is miserable. Miserable! And window units don’t do much to hold back the oppressive heat. So I may be shivering in my footy pajamas, but I have comfortable days of summer on my mind. So excited.

Anyway, I’ve been stuck on a scene for a few weeks now, so when the holidays came up it was pretty easy for me to say, “Kids are home. Noise level is up. I’m taking a break from writing.” That’s exactly what I did. I haven’t written anything really since Thanksgiving. Mostly because of this one scene that was just meh, and I mean meeeeeeeh. Nothing was working. It was boring. And nothing I added in seemed to make it any better.

Some writer power through and write anyway. Others go back and rework what they’ve already written because somewhere they’ve painted themselves into a corner.


I walk away.

I’ve learned that some scenes just aren’t ready to be written. Eventually it will be, but at that point in time, it’s just not going to happen and forcing it causes more harm than good.

Sometimes I walk away for only a few hours, sometimes its a few days, and then I have the rare occasion that I take a break for weeks over a scene. Here is what happened and the end result:

After staring at the screen in disgusts for days, I finally closed the project. I mean seriously closed it completely out. I usually keep my current project open 24/7 on my desktop. I didn’t think about the project at all. Honestly because when I did it was with frustration and those I hate this story, it sucks vibes. That’s just bad thinking and doesn’t help cleanse any bad writing mojo. So I just don’t think about it when I get like this.

Monday, a new day, a new year. It was time to revisit old Aidan. I opened up the project and went down to the dreaded scene. I started reading. Huh. This wasn’t complete crap. In fact, it wasn’t crap at all. You say what, Aidan? Really, you want to do that?

And just like that the scene was written.

If I do say so myself, it’s a pretty rockin’ scene now. If I’d powered through, it wouldn’t have been anywhere near the scene I have today. If I’d tweaked the previous chapters, again, it wouldn’t be the same scene.

So I’m okay with walking away when I need to because I know my characters won’t stay silent forever.

Wishing everyone a wonderful New Year!


Guest: Vanessa Holland - Bound to You

Today our special guest is my friend, Vanessa Holland! I'm excited that her first book, which is awesome by the way, has just been released. And yes I would say the book is awesome even if I didn't know Vanessa. That's how fantastic it is! I literally couldn't put it down and I'm still thinking about the characters.
Q: Welcome, Vanessa! Please tell us about your latest release.
A:  Thank you for allowing me to be here!  My new book Bound To You is a contemporary romance.   
A night of passion has forever bound Jenna Morgan to a man she thought she would spend her future with.  Instead, he dumped her with barely a word of explanation and left the state.  Three years later, she’s a single mom struggling to provide for her son and young sister, and harassed by an obsessed stalker. 
After leaving home three years ago to run his aging grandfather’s ranch in Texas, Sam Strickland returns to Tennessee to discover a child he didn’t know existed.  He thought he was saving Jenna’s future when he left home, and left her behind.  He never dreamed he’d return to see a child with eyes the same shade as his own - and Jenna in serious trouble.
Sam thinks his only dilemma is whether he can earn back the trust of the woman he loves and commit to the responsibility of fatherhood.  But Jenna’s life is more complicated than he could have imagined and he finds himself involved in a dangerous situation that could threaten his new son’s life.
Q: Why did you choose to write romance?
A: I enjoy writing romance because I love exploring characters, learning all I can about them and bringing them to life.  I love watching my hero and heroine fall in love and exploring the complexities of their relationship.  I also love knowing that no matter what trials I put my characters through in the end everything will turn out all right.  I’m all for happily-ever-after endings. 
Q: I definitely fell in love with your characters in this book. What do you enjoy most about writing?
A: I think I love the art of creating most about writing.  Building a world from scratch and working to make that world as vivid as possible. 
Q: Why did you choose your setting and why was it perfect for your book?
A:  I chose to set my story in Tennessee because I was living in Tennessee as I wrote the story and was continually amazed at the scenic beauty there.  I wanted to bring out some of that beauty in my story.  As a native west Texan, Tennessee was like a new world for me and I wanted to relive my years there.  Not only is Tennessee a beautiful place I met some really wonderful and interesting people there. 
Q: I agree. Tennessee is very scenic and you created a wonderful sense of place in Bound to You. Which of your characters is most like you? Least like you? And why?
A:  I don’t think any of my characters are most like me, but they are all a little like me.  Except, perhaps, my villain – I hope.  J 
Q: LOL I agree. How do you choose names for your characters?
A:  Names usually come to me when I envision a character.  Strangely, if I find a character isn’t working, sometimes changing their name will make all the difference. 
Q: I've been known to do the same thing! It works. Please tell us about your favorite character in the book.
A: My hero Sam is my favorite character.  No matter what is thrown at him he tries to keep a positive attitude and face his problems head-on.  He has his issues like anyone, but tries his best to stay upbeat and consider those around him.  I suppose I created him with the image of my ideal man in mind.  He’s also nice to look at.  J
Q: He is definitely a hottie! I'm a big fan of Sam! Which element of story creation is your favorite?
A: I enjoy all elements of story creation, from character development and creating settings to thinking up plots.  Characters have a way of taking on a life of their own and I always enjoy seeing who they will become.  They often surprise me!
Q: What inspires you?
A: Music inspires me.  I like to find a few songs that inspire me and play them on a loop on my iPod.  I use different songs for different stories.  Then when I hear those songs it helps me get back into the mood of that book. 
Q: I know what you mean. I love finding music that inspires me. When did you know you wanted to be an author?
A: I can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t making up stories.  I grew up on a farm and ranch in Texas near a very small town.  Entertainment wasn’t easy to come by so I spent a lot of time reading and writing stories of my own.  Seeing one of my stories released as a book is a thrill to be sure. 
Q: I'm thrilled about it too! What is your writing process or method?
A: I simply take an idea and go from there.  I’ve tried many different methods but have found flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants method works best for me.  Once I have a solid first chapter written, I usually find the story will take off on its own.  From there, I write a rough draft, working out any problems with plot or character development, and then once I finish the story, I go back and polish and edit.  I’ve never been able to plot out a story ahead of time because until I get to know my characters I really don’t know what they will do.  I love the way they surprise me along the way. 
Q: That is one of the best parts about writing, discovering who the characters are deep down and how they're going to act and react. Do you have any advice for unpublished authors?
A:  Keep writing and writing.  Some days, I don’t feel creative at all and I stare at a page thinking it’s pointless to even try.  But if I stick it out, the creativity will come and pretty soon I’m writing away.  Also, don’t worry about what other writers are writing.  Your voice is original.
Q: That's great advice! What’s next for you?
A: To keep writing.  My next book is almost completed and I hope to see it published soon.  Thanks again for having me here today!
 Thanks for being our guest, Vanessa!! Everyone, here is an excerpt from one of my favorite scenes in Bound to You.
Jenna nodded toward Ethan.  “Does he look familiar to you?”
“The boy?” Sam asked.  “Well, he looks a lot like you.  You say I know his dad?”  He turned his gaze to her and she froze beneath the interest that seemed to gleam in those blue depths.  “Yeah, I saw you with your boyfriend.  Didn’t know there was a kid involved, though.  You need me to leave?  I will, just say so.  I’m no angel, but I don’t do that.  I don’t break up families.”
Surprised by his wild assumption, she had to struggle to follow his direction.  “Are you talking about Brandon Stewart?  Because Ethan is not his son.”  That fact needed to be made perfectly clear.  “And if I wanted you to leave you wouldn’t have to ask.”
“Ah,” Sam said, glancing away with an embarrassed grin on his face.  “Okay, then, who is it?  Somebody I oughta know?”
“You know him,” she said, “very well.”
He turned toward her, dropping his feet to the floor, gripping the arm of the wicker chair, and frowned sharply.  The confident smile fell from his face.  “What are you saying, Jenna?”
Watching him intently for his reaction, shaking so violently his face blurred slightly, she said, “He has your eyes.”

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