Thanks, Kate!


We all require some semblance of it, no matter that we're authors and kind of "out there" due to the nature of the publishing beast. We struggle with the dilemma of trying to maintain some kind of private life while trying to be accessible to fans, to the people who are kind enough to read our books and want to connect with us.

Magnify this on a royal scale. Literally. What must it be like to have millions of people watching what you eat (in case you're pregnant), remarking on your clothes (in case you haven't worried that you're not fashionable enough), and taking pictures of you (whether you've given permission or not)? I can only imagine, and the recent scandal involving the Prince and Princess William in the United Kingdom only drives the point home.

You've probably already heard that a member of the paparazzi snapped and sold several photos of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, including some where she appeared topless, and they've appeared in tabloids in Europe. The courts there blocked these photos from appearing anymore; however, the invasion of Kate's privacy cannot be so easily set right. As a matter of fact, I'm not sure it can ever be set completely right. How do you make it up to someone when you've completely exposed some part of her that was never meant for public consumption?

There is no way that I can think of, but I can think of something to soften the blow, kind of like Flora, Fauna, and Merriwether, the three fairy godmothers in Sleeping Beauty. There is no way to unsee the pictures that have been seen, nor is there any way to help make sense of why someone would want to see photos of someone who clearly did not want to be photographed. There is, however, something positive we can take away from this experience if we try.


Yes, boobies. I'm talking about them AGAIN. I usually do a post in October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but since this "scandal" has opened the doorway of opportunity, why not walk on through?

A dear friend recently confided in me that she'd had a lumpectomy. They'd found a lump in a routine mammogram and taken action. It was cancer. She's weathered everything really well and was scheduled for a follow-up visit last week as a pre-radiation assessment. She hoped that her most recent mammogram would be clear so the treatments could commence and she could move on with her life. It wasn't. There were suspicious spots that need investigating. While she's putting up a brave front, I know that deep inside she's worried that this cancer thing will never end, or will end only when she takes her last breath.

I hope that at least one good result comes from the royal scandal. I hope that women everywhere empathize with Kate and think about being topless, about what it would be like to be seen without anything covering their top half. I hope that thought makes them wonder about their breasts and about breast health, especially about their risk of breast cancer. Finally, I hope they get a mammogram to make sure everything is okay, just in case, like in my friend's situation, it's not.

It's upsetting that some idiot with a camera has, again, pushed the envelope of good taste. However, to make something positive out of it, please take a moment and think not about a British royal's bosom, but your own. When's the last time you did a self-exam? Had a mammogram? When's the last time you thought about your health?

I'll write about this again in October, but for now, please remember: Check your breasts. It's that important.
You're that important.

How Writing Makes Me Feel

I've started a new WIP--the second story of my upcoming Covet series with Entangled. I'm really excited about this story. It's a little darker than what I've been writing lately and it's been fun tapping into the  more sinister part of my imagination.

So far I've written around 16k. I'm still at the very beginning of the story developments. I know this in my head: I JUST started. I still have A LOT of story left to tell. I sit totally freaked out about reaching word count.

I do this every time I start a full-length novel. Every time.

This is just the beginning of the many, many ways I'll mind-screw myself before I reach the end.

Want to see how my process will go? Well here it is:

1) The Oh-my-God I'm going to finish this in 30k. How in the heck am I'm going to stretch it to 65k?

This feeling usually lasts until I reach the 35k mark and realize I've just reached the middle of the book.

2) The more upbeat feeling of This-story-kicks-ass.

This is a very brief feeling. I'm feeling pretty confident about the story. Excited about it. Then I write myself into a corner. I always write myself into a corner at some point during a book. Then its:

3) This story sucks.

Which is quickly followed by:

4)  I suck. 

The confidence takes a nose-dive as I scramble to figure out how to salvage my story. Then starts the "pleasant" voices in my head:

5) My editor is going to hate it.

6) They are never going to publish another book I write. 

7) I'm going to be the laughingstock of the writing world. 

At this point I seclude myself in my bedroom, trying to keep my roommates safe from the snapping, evil creature I've become.

7) I finally finish the damn thing. 

By the time I write The End, 'damn thing' is exactly how I feel about the story. I've been put through the emotional ringer. I'm exhausted. Could care less if I ever see these characters again. In fact, I'd like nothing more than to write a second story where they meet their destruction.

8) Now it's time to edit the monstrosity I've written.

This is a long agonizing process also full of doubts. What was I thinking when I wrote THAT? Oh God, so and so would never say that? Do I not know my characters at all? For God's sake, Abby what were you trying to do here?

9) Final read-through.

About half-way through,

10) Hey. This is pretty freaking good. 

As I get to "The End" this time,

11) My heart swells with pride at what I've created.

You'd think all the crap I go through to get to 11 would keep me from writing. But it doesn't. 11 IS the reason I write.

Writing is hard. It's exhausting. But it's also one the most fulfilling experience I've ever gone through, second only to being a parent. The moments where I want to rock in a corner don't compare to how it feels to see my creation come to life, to reach readers, and give them a little piece of myself.

So what is your process? Do you have the "I suck" moments?


Latest Pics From Scotland

Hi everyone, we're still enjoying Scotland!  Here are some photos from the last few days.
Kilchurn Castle, Argyll, from the front

One of the towers at Kilchurn

View of Kilchurn from the road

The beautiful scenery at Kilchurn and Loch Awe
The sun at sunset shining on a mountain. This is the road we're staying on.

wild red deer near the road here

Loch Awe

Loch Nell beside the cottage we rented (photo taken by my husband)
View of Clan Cottages and Loch Nell from the mountain. We're staying in the cottage closest to the loch.

Our rental cottage has a great view of the loch.

Oban Bay

Dunstaffnage Castle in Argyll, near Oban

One of the tower floors at Dunstaffnage

View from the top of the wall walk at Dunstaffnage

Mull of Galloway Lighthouse

View from the wall walk or battlements of Duart Castle

Inside the courtyard of Duart Castle

Duart Castle


Duart Castle from the other side

View of Duart Castle from the ferry

I hope you enjoyed these pics from Scotland.

Welcome to Autumn

I love summer, since in the western New York area I live in warm weather doesn't last all that long. Still, I do love autumn. The crisp mornings warm up as the day goes on. The changing leaves are a treat for the eyes and the cooler nights make sleeping much easier. So as I think about another summer gone and autumn upon us, I thought I'd share some pictures of the changing seasons.

Changing leaves in the distance.

Autumn at the Griffis Sculpture Park.

One thing I miss when warm weather is over - my back porch swing.

Usually summer is too warm to enjoy a campfire, but autumn weather is perfect.

And one reason I'm not thrilled about autumn - it leads to winter.

Some things never change. No matter what season, I'll enjoy reading romance. Writing romance. Talking with readers about romance. There are a lot of new releases this fall that I've been looking forward to. I've already read Riveted by Meljean Brooks and Archangel's Storm by Nalini Singh and Hunter's Season by Thea Harrison. I'm looking forward to The Angel by Tiffany Reisz and Reflected in You by Sylvia Day and Hook Up by Miranda Baker.

What new releases are you looking forward to?

Plaything - Paolo's Playhouse #4
Silken Canvas - coming Dec 25th

Blogging from Scotland

Hi, I wanted to share some new Scotland pics with you! I took these yesterday and today when we traveled from Glasgow to Stirling, Perth, Glamis and Stonehaven.
Looking down from the walls around Stirling Castle (click this one to view larger)

Robert the Bruce

Stirling Castle

The Wallace Monument

Glamis Castle

Glamis Castle

The Lowlands of Angus

A rainbow at dusk in Stonehaven. I took this out our hotel room window. It has to be the most amazing view I've had from a hotel room. The rainbow arched from one side to the other.

A walk on the beach at Stonehaven
Thanks for checking out my pics! I hope to share more soon.

BDSM Backlist - Chains of Desire

Acting as decoy for her princess, Hanna is captured to become a rival king’s sex slave. Chained in a spaceship, bound for a planet that deals in sex, she fears she’ll never be free. But then a sexy guard gives her hope as he makes her body soar with pleasure, even while bound in chains.

An escapee from the tranium mines, Jarrod signed onto the slave ship to make a quick getaway. The beautiful captive calls to the dominant beast in him and though it is forbidden to touch the king’s property, he can’t resist showing her the erotic ways of Master and slave, of pain and pleasure and strict obedience.

Everyone knows Masters never keep their slaves for long and they’re not allowed to fall in love. But it’s not long before Jarrod changes Hanna’s chains of bondage into chains of desire. Can they make it work against all odds?

Chains of Desire was my first full-length BDSM erotic romance. In developing the futuristic world where the story is set, I was able to develop some unique products and societal rules that I could use in my story. I have always wanted to write another couple stories in the world of Vanya and Noria. I hope as I have more time to write in 2013, that I'll take that world back out and finish the series.

Until then, here's an excerpt from Chains of Desire, which is still available from Ellora's Cave.

When he met her fearful gaze, she looked away. He cupped her chin in his hand and forced her to look at him. “You are a slave now. You must accept that. Your life will never be the same again. You are a slave.”

“No!” Her voice was soft now, barely a whisper.

He dropped his hand. “Have they told you anything?” She shook her head. Of course not. As a slave, she didn’t have the right to know a damn thing.

Her expression was still wary as she stared at him. After all, why should she expect him to tell her the truth? Jarrod understood that. Understood that she’d never trust again. But she deserved to know her fate.

“We are headed to the planet Noria. Have you heard of it?”

She shook her head slowly.

There was no good way to say it, so Jarrod stated it as plainly as possible. “You are to be the personal sex slave of King Barrus of Noria.” She gasped and backed away from him. The damn chains clattered again and he fought for self-control. “The other women will be sold to private buyers or to public brothels. There is a great market for sex slaves on Noria. Your women will bring a healthy price.” And he’d get a share of that money too.

She lunged toward him again. “You had no right to take us from our home. We are not property to be bought and sold. Not animals to be chained —” Her voice broke, but she jerked her chin up and glared at him. Unshed tears glittered in her eyes.

He let his gaze lazily sweep across her body, so she wouldn’t see how her words affected him. He’d stopped feeling guilty long ago for what he’d had to do to survive. He couldn’t help her escape her fate, even if he wanted to. All he could do was help her to survive.

“I hear you attacked the last guard. That’s why you’re chained up like an animal.” He shook his head. “Not a good idea, Princess.” No point in telling her now that most sex slaves wore cuffs and collars and chains for the rest of their days.

Chains of Desire is available both as a download and in print.

Plaything - Paolo's Playhouse #4
Silken Canvas - coming Dec 25th

Computer Frustration 101

I rarely, if ever, have catastrophic computer issues. I've been very lucky in the past in that I've not had a hard drive totally crash or a destructive virus that couldn't be cleaned up or anything of that sort. I've lost story files due to bad flash drives, but that was my own fault because I didn't save a backup file. Otherwise, I've avoided some of the major mishaps that make misery an everyday companion for some computer owners.

Until now.

It hasn't happened yet, but my computer is sending signals that it's about ready to retire whether I'm ready for it to or not. Every time I have a freeze, my husband says the same thing:

"I think you need a new computer."

Of course, that's not what I hear. I hear, "I think you need to spend tons of time and energy doing research and shopping for a computer that you will buy and take hours to set up only to discover the next greatest advancement to happen in technology not only happened the very next day but made your purchase obsolete the minute your credit card was approved."


I think back to my teen years, when the only computer I'd ever seen was an Apple 2e, which used those humongous 5.25 floppy disks that were actually floppy. Then came the 3.5 inch diskettes that weren't floppy but were still called floppy disks by some, leading to confusion for many others. I also remember computer labs in college, when there was one computer hooked up to the printer because they were so expensive and the lab attendant hovered over it like it was made of gold. You could work on any of the computers (with a time limit, of course), but you could only print from that one, and if it looked like you might try to change a word and print again, you'd get an evil glare and humiliating chastisement designed to keep you from ever stepping foot in the computer lab again. Consequently, if your print-out was flawed in any way, you had to save your work and go back to another computer, change the one tiny mistake, save your file again, and return to the computer with the printer hooked up. Then you would stand in line for twenty minutes because by that time the lab attendant's buddy was printing for the third time after taking "just a sec" to fix his five page essay.

Fast forward to the year 2000 when every computer on earth was supposed to shut down because of a little glitchy thing called Y2K compliance. Of course, no one cared if the computers that ran our infrastructure--like our gas and water supplies and stoplight sensors, etc.--collapsed into a heap. We were more concerned that we wouldn't be able to get on the Web and hang out in the AOL chatrooms, which were responsible for damaging more marriages than arguments over the TV remote.

I also think back to when I got my first computer in the late 1990s and realize that while I thought my little Compaq Presario would last forever and that I would never be able to buy another computer, it was just the first of many to come. The prices kept dropping and the technology kept improving to the point where we are today, when our computers, through their own unique way of freezing up and making disturbing klinking noises, tell us when they're ready to go through the great Final Shutdown for good instead of us telling them.

Which leads me to where I am now, typing furiously in case my machine decides to mangle this post like it did my last one. I think I've beat it this time. I think that I'm going to get to post this before my computer

Breathing again

Hey all,

I'm caught up! I can't believe I'm actually saying that. A part of me never thought I would. Melodramatic, I know, but it's been a long couple of weeks with a chaotic schedule of very, very long days.

But I'm finally on the other end of it, working on the last thing I need to complete before I'm officially ready to buckle down and work on my next Awakening book, which I can't wait to get started.

I finished rewrites for the first book, and man, can I just say I truly love my editor. Liz Pelletier, you rock, girl! 

Even though rewrites stress me the hell out, she really knows what's she's talking about. There was an entire love scene she wanted me to cut from the book. The very first one. She said if I did that it would amp up the sexual tension and conflict between the hero and the heroine and really make the second love scene explode. I was doubtful, lol. It's a love scene, who doesn't love a love scene. LOL. But I hacked it. And damned if she wasn't freaking right!

I was amazed at how cutting that scene changed the dynamics of the second love scene. Even I was like Oh. My. God. Everything in that scene was heightened: the tension, the attraction, the holy crap is he going to  ruin everything<----to figure out what I mean by that statement, you have to read the book. :) The entire scene was amplified.

So I learned something. Sometimes, even when you're hesitant and somewhat resistant on what an editor is telling you will make a book better, go with it. Cutting up your baby is hard, trying to piece it back together is even harder, but in the end, you may be thrilled with the outcome. I know I am:)


New Camera Test Shots

Everyone knows how much I love to take pics, right? I've wanted a dslr camera for years. So... I finally got one! It's a Canon Rebel EOS T2i with an 18 - 135mm lens. It's considered an entry level dslr because it's easy to use, doesn't require a huge amount of technical photography know-how in order to take great photos. I took a photography class many years ago and forgot most of what I learned about ISO, F-stops and all that, but I'm relearning it. So far, I did figure out ISO and white balance. But the great thing is this camera can be fully automatic, fully manual or anywhere in between. I took some test shots of things around the house and thought I'd share. These pictures were way huge and I had to shrink them down to upload but you get the idea.
forget me not

yellow swallowtail on a butterfly bush


closeup of coneflower

morning glory

view of the mountains

old tree

black swallowtail 

coneflowers and verbena bonariensis

moonflower twins

yellow Knockout rose
Thanks for checking out my test shots!

I also wanted to let you know that both My Wild Highlander and My Brave Highlander are now available in trade paperback!


It's My Birthday Week-Let's Have a Contest!

This past weekend I finished up final line edits on Silken Canvas, my December release from Samhain. I love this book so much and can't wait to share it with all my readers!

Brendan Cole burst onto the art scene in a blaze, creating erotic works of art from beautiful women. Recently, though, reviews suggest that his brilliance is burning out. He knows what’s missing—inspiration. He lost it the day his ex-lover and muse, Ashley Mancuso, walked out on him.
Together, they can once again create the erotic images that will silence the critics forever.
When Ashley runs into Brandon at an art gallery, their attraction is as hot as ever. Though she swore to never again take second place to his art, she finds herself agreeing to an impromptu photo shoot. Once in front of his lens, five long years of suppressing her kinky side melts away—and shakes her resolve to keep it strictly business.
One spellbinding session after another makes it impossible to resist talking of fantasies and long-buried desires. But once the images hit the gallery walls, all the fears and insecurities that drove them apart create a rift wide enough for danger to find its way in…
Warning: Contains a sexy, tortured artist, his gorgeous muse, and a string of pearls that creates one very erotic BDSM fantasy.

Silken Canvas will release on Dec 25th, 2012.

As release day draws closer, I'm planning some fun giveaways, but even though it's too far away for that yet, we can still celebrate. My birthday is Wednesday! So to celebrate, I'm giving away a $10 Samhain gift card. Silken Canvas isn't available for pre-order yet, but I have an extensive back list if you'd like to try some of my other stories. Or take your pick from some of the other talented Samhain authors. Up to you.

All you need to do is leave a comment along with your e-mail address. The contest will run through Wednesday and I'll pick a winner on Thursday. I'm planning my promo now for Silken Canvas, so in your comment I'd like to know how you find out about the books you end up buying. Facebook? Twitter? Publisher loops? Amazon suggestions? Blogs? Ads? Where should I focus my limited promotional time & money? I'd love to know!

Plaything - Paolo's Playhouse #4
Silken Canvas - coming Dec 25th

How Did They Do That?

This morning was one of those mornings that included just a little bit of magic, a brief moment of quiet discovery that added a tinge of enchantment to the day. I walked out my back door to leave for work, and something caught my eye. It looked like a spider web hanging from the roof of my garage, but then when I moved to take a closer look, it disappeared.

I thought it odd, so I walked around the structure a bit. I saw it again, but then it disappeared again. Was I seeing things? It turned out I wasn't. Some crafty spider had spun a web from the roof of my garage to the ivy hanging down the side in such a way that it couldn't be seen except if one stood at a certain angle.

How did it do that?

I stood right in front of it and still couldn't see it until I moved to the side, and this was a huge spider web. Nature's trickery and a hidden world revealed in the blink of an eye; the fragility and strength of earth's creatures at once exposed and safely secreted among humankind's dwellings. I took a moment to admire it, sort of like stopping to smell the roses only sans the flowers, and reveled in the idea that the world, as Robert Louis Stevenson put it, is so full of a number of things. Yes, a number of things, including hidden, strange worlds that harbor peculiar and fascinating life forms.

Speaking of which, have you been watching the Democratic and Republican nominating conventions? I know what you're thinking: What a terrible segue! However, not really. Being a politics junkie, I've been watching both conventions and find them to be intriguing glimpses into the lives of people who inhabit a realm I couldn't possibly imagine.

I will not divulge my personal political beliefs, but I will confess that I'm captivated by the machinations of both parties. I've watched the RNC and DNC with great interest, particularly the commentators, or political pundits, and the speakers. There have been some great speakers on both sides, but I have to say that the speakers who made me think the most were Michelle Obama and Ann Romney, and not because of their political affiliations or their background stories or their achievements or their outfits or their hairstyles, etc.

No, what I find the most interesting about them is that each had to give a speech in front of millions of people that was solely intended to woo voters to select her respective spouse for one of the most influential positions in the entire world.

How did they do that?

Who wrote THAT speech? I mean, think about it. Think about giving a speech that could influence the fate of not only your husband, but millions of people if he were or weren't elected, and trying to convince people to trust him as much as you do, to love him as much as you do. To appreciate his skills and his abilities. And you have to do this without saying anything about how good he is in bed.


I couldn't do that. I couldn't stand in front of a zillion people and encourage them to vote for my husband just because he's talented, skilled, has great character, and could lead the country like a champ. No, I'd have to mention that he knows how to please a woman. That he's romantic and caring beyond measure, and that his kisses still drive me wild after all these years. I think that's important, and so I'd throw it in somewhere between talking about how he saves kittens from tree branches and helps little old ladies across the street, and I'd probably mortify my political party and everyone associated with it in the process.

However, spilling the beans about Barack's and Mitt's individual prowess might not be a bad idea. I mean, 51% of voters are women, like me, and, like me, maybe they appreciate a man who knows not only how to balance a checkbook, bake cookies for the PTO bake sale, and run a country, but who can also make a woman feel like a woman. So, whoever dishes the best on her husbands skills in the boudoir could swing the election in his favor, and believe me, the speeches at the DNC and the RNC would be even livelier. :)

What about you? Have you been watching the conventions? If so, please feel free to share what you like the most/least about them. Or share what you'd write about your husband if you had to nominate him for President of the United States--what would you say?

Brookgreen Gardens Part 2

Last week I did a post about Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina, a few miles south of Myrtle Beach. Click here to see it. This week I wanted to show you more of my pics.

Oak Allee (click to see larger view)

(Click this photo to see larger view.)


Riders of the Dawn by Adolph Weinman

This wild bird was standing beside one of the large ponds.

I didn't see the name of this sculpture. It is a workhorse with a man behind, leading it. I loved the arrangement of trees too.

Timber Wolf Family by William Henry Turner (bronze 1990)

"The Lowcountry Zoo is the only zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums on the coast of North and South Carolina. All of the native animals in the zoo were either bred and raised in captivity or have sustained a major disability due to injury. In either case, these animals could not survive in the wild." Quoted from the Brookgreen website.

These birds in the Cypress Aviary were not getting along well. I think they are juvenile Black-Crowned Night Herons. This aviary is the only known of its kind built over an existing cypress swamp. We walked over boardwalks among the birds. I'm glad they were friendly and mostly ignored us.

This alligator was creeping after a brave vulture that always kept a few feet ahead.

Gray Fox
Unlike other species of fox, the Gray Fox is actually able to climb trees. It has strong hooked claws that enable it to shimmy up a tree like a cat. They are nocturnal animals that feed on rabbits, rodents, insects, fruit and nuts. During the day, Gray Foxes sleep in stumps, hollow trees or burrows.

The zoo featured many more animals including otters, eagles, hawks, owls, red foxes, deer, turkeys, domestic farm animals, and many others. And of course the gardens contain hundreds more sculptures than I could show you here. Walking through Brookgreen Gardens is a wonderful way to spend a couple of relaxing days.

I hope you enjoyed this tour of Brookgreen Gardens and Zoo. To learn more please check out their website.