Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Guest Blogger Mardi Ballou - Freudian Slips and All That




Hi! Thanks to Nine Naughty Novelists for inviting me to guest blog today! It’s a pleasure to be here. Pleasure is something I pay lots of attention to. Out at dinner tonight with my DH, another couple and a single friend, the conversation took a turn to the naughty, pleasure-evoking side when my single friend, A, and I misheard a word the other woman, B, used.

B claimed she said she populated a spreadsheet. A and I heard that as “copulated.” Needless to say, we cracked up. When we told B, she cracked up too—after first denying that she’d used the “c” word. Both husbands were rolling on the floor as we all discussed the possibilities of spreading the sheets for copulation.

Dear reader, as you might imagine, some aspect of our dinner conversation may inspire a future story—or at least show up in pages yet to be written. Right now the images need time to percolate.

Funny how inspiration arrives, or doesn’t. We writers have all had the experience of people announcing they have the perfect idea for us to write and then rattling off a premise. A source like that never works for me. Actually, I don’t know any writers for whom it works.



Inspiration comes from a variety of sources—but it has to be something that resonates for me. Sometimes I can identify a single event or news item or trip to the grocery story as the source for a story. For example, the only high school reunion I ever attended (or will ever attend!) was the inspiration for my Ellora’s Cave Quickie, Reunions Dangereuses.


Other times, the inspiration source is more complex. In Sherry Amor, an Ellora’s Cave novella Francisco, a macho Spaniard, chooses to deal with a life-threatening illness by pushing his lover, Elena, into the arms of another man, Rafe without telling either of them what’s going on. To a background of flamenco music, sherry and Christmas in the magical city of Seville, the three come together in search of a miracle of love.

Even though it ends on a hopeful note, Sherry Amor is one of the darkest stories I’ve ever written. Part of the inspiration came when my best friend’s husband was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. I’m happy to report he’s doing great now. The other source was working with students from Spain. These stimuli came together and—voila! Sherry Amor.



Sometimes I have no idea what inspired a certain story. All of a sudden there it is. Byte Marks, a Samhain novella, came to me that way—and then inspired the two additional novellas in the Fangly, My Dear collection.

What inspires you, for writing or any other creativity? When inspiration hits, do you rush to write down the idea? Or do you just let it percolate and take it where it will?

By day she’s a mild-mannered language teacher. But after hours, Mardi Ballou’s wild writer persona erupts and entraps her in bondage…to her computer. Release comes only once she achieves her word count goal, at which point the maniacal chocolate monster will give her one sublime piece. And then she can spend time with her hero husband Lee, who gives great massages at strategic times. So Mardi writes what she knows— romances—hot and mainstream—for Ellora’s Cave, Samhain, NCP, Whiskey Creek, and Changeling. Also women’s fiction. Her most recent releases are, from Ellora’s Cave, Sherry Amor in e-book format and, in print, Long, Slow Ride in the Better with Age anthology and Triple Booked. The Fangly, My Dear series—Byte Marks, What’s a Ghoul to Do? and Playing with Matches—is in print from Samhain. Check out all of Mardi’s books, and more, at http://MardiBallou.com.



Monday, June 28, 2010

Summer vacation



I love making lists. Packing lists. Shopping lists. To do lists. Sometimes I even make a To Do list after I’ve done the tasks, just for the satisfaction of crossing them off the list. Why yes, I do have some OCD tendencies.
With four weeks off the day job coming up as of July 12, I decided to make a list of what I want to accomplish during my vacation. Never mind the list of things I want to get done around the house. Drywall repair and closet cleaning will only get done if I get EVERYTHING on my writing list done. What do you think the chances are? :-)


1. Polish and submit Crazy Ever After
2. Finish WIP (Nameless, at this time; 25,000 words in)
3. Start California story (goal is to have first draft of this story done by October when I’ll be traveling to California and can do some first-hand research)
4. Continue Chef story, Celtic story and Ponzi story (all nameless at this time)
5. Polish: Crush, Power Exchange, Shameless, Who You Love
6. Work on characters from Sweet Deal and submit
7. Revise Breakaway and submit

Friday, June 25, 2010

Are You Spoil(er)ed?

I have a love/hate relationship with spoilers.

Up until a year ago, I was an avoid-at-all-costs type of person, someone who'd go see a movie without reading reviews because I didn't want to accidentally find out the ending, who couldn't comprehend how someone could read the last page of the book first. I wanted the discovery, the real-time experience of seeing/reading/hearing something for the first time without prior knowledge.

Then Torchwood season 3 came along. I was absolutely pumped for it - I read the articles, I lurked on message boards, I speculated about the storyline. But as soon as it was released in the UK, I stayed away from any and all discussion of the show. The US broadcast was three weeks after the UK broadcast, and I didn't want to know what was going to happen before I could see it for myself.

But an innocuous post on a blog, purportedly about the radio plays that were running at the same time, blew my happy little bubble to shreds.

Someone on the blog posted a major spoiler, the death of my favorite character.

I clicked out of the site as fast as humanly possible, but the damage was done. I fought with myself for a couple of days, but finally went to IMDB to check, and sure enough, the actor had only four episodes (out of five) listed on his vitae.

I was crushed. I watched the show, but with an aching heart as I anticipated his demise with each episode that aired. And when it did finally happen - I was gutted.

So you'd think I'd go back to avoiding spoilers even more after that, right?

You'd be wrong.

I've become a total spoiler hound, anxiously awaiting each week's posting on the message boards for my favorite shows. I read the spoilers to reassure myself that things are going to turn out the way I want them to, or to prepare myself for situations that won't go the way I hoped.

But sometimes, as with the Torchwood spoiler, I wish I could rewind and erase what I've just found out.

For the past few days, my Twitter feed has been blowing up with news of another character death - again, one of my favorites, and half of a pairing that I was hoping against hope would end up together at the end of the show. Now, however, with this news, I'm facing the prospect of watching another favorite die, and spending the next three months knowing everything that happens on the show will end with this result.

It's not official, of course; I can't imagine the powers that be wanted to have details of how this storyline ends being blabbed all over the internet three months before the show goes off the air. There could very well have been multiple endings filmed, or dummy scripts created, in an attempt to keep the true conclusion under wraps. But signs do seem to be pointing in that direction.

So now I have to make a decision. Do I keep watching, with this knowledge in the back of my head, coloring every interaction I see between this character and the people around him? Or do I stop now, to avoid another Torchwood situation?

I still haven't decided. And as much as I wish I didn't know this particular rumor, I know I'll be back reading the spoilers tomorrow, if only in the hopes that I may find out the rumor isn't true!
So how about you? Do you read spoilers? Are you a last-page-of-the-book reader, or do you want the surprise of discovery?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thursday Thirteen: 13 Characters...

...waiting for me to tell their stories.

1. Cass Maguire (Shadow Destroyers) - Cass first appeared in Stripped Away and has been waiting not-so-patiently for me to finish fleshing out a novella all her own.

2. Nessa (Pendragon Gargoyles) - Sorcha's best friend who's more than content to continue taking on rogue immortals until I get all the details for her story worked out in my head.

3. Lucas McAllister (Trust Me) - Technically his story has already been written, but it needs tweaking so he belongs here since I'm not quite done with him yet.

4. Maxine Walker (Trust Me) - Like Lucas, her story isn't waiting to be told as much as smoothed out around the edges.

5. Darby Calder (Spellbound) - Her story in next in my Spellbound universe. Be prepared for some sweltering island heat, bad guys and a hero who gets under her skin like no one else.

6. Bryce Lancaster (Spellbound) - Darby's hero and a member of a rival witch family. The sparks will fly.

7. Briana Callaghan (Pendragon Gargoyles) - Youngest Callaghan sibling with a few secrets of her own. Nope, not telling. ;)

8. Lucan (Pendragon Gargoyles) - Former Knight of the Round Table cursed to play mercenary for a goddess. He sticks to himself for obvious reasons, but can't stop thinking about a certain feline shape-shifter with three over-protective brothers.

9. Constantine (Pendragon Gargoyles) - King Arthur's missing heir and forger of the six mystical daggers that everyone in Avalon is after.

10. Riley Calder (Spellbound) - She's the wildcard of the Calder clan who thrives on pushing the buttons of a too-sexy-for-his-own-good rival PI.

11. Dante Calder (Spellbound) - The family brooder who's so busy looking out for his twin and the rest of his family, he won't know what hits him when his heroine walks onto the scene.

12. Darcy Winchester (Shadow Destroyers) - Telepathic demon slayer who never believed in destiny...until now.

13. Linc McAdam (Shadow Destroyers) - By the time I was halfway done writing Unbreakable, I knew his book would likely be the last in this series, and I can't wait to get started on his story.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Just Like That!



The Bradfords: Book Two (Just Like That) came out last Tuesday! This is Sam’s story and I loved writing this book. It was so fun developing Sam further after meeting him in Just Right and then finding just the right girl to handle him. Because, trust me, Sam’s a handful (oh, get your minds out of the gutter! J Besides, he’s MORE than a handful that way…)

I’ve posted several excerpts (my website, Samhain’s site, etc) but I have so many favorite scenes in this book that I thought maybe here I’d just post a few of my favorite snippets. Hope you enjoy!

~ ~ ~



“Not even one?”
“No.”
“Ever?”
“Ever.”
“Are you sure?”
Danika sighed. “You don’t think I would know if I’d had an orgasm? Even one? Ever?”

~ ~ ~

“Speaking of words, just for the record, orgasm is one of my favorite words,” he said, to get her back on track.
She looked up at him from several inches below his six-foot-three-inch height. Her expression turned sly, her smile seemed seductive—if he didn’t know better. “What are some of your other favorite words?”
He pulled her in even closer, flattening his palm against the curve of her hip. “Sex,” he said gruffly. “Hard. Hot. Fast. Deep.”
Her lips parted and her breathing quickened. “Anything else?”
He dropped his voice. “Wet. Slow. Clitoris. Cock. More. Yes.”
She swallowed hard. “Good words,” she said just above a whisper.

~ ~ ~

“I think it’s like knitting.”
“Did you say knitting?”
She nodded.
“Oral sex is like knitting?” Sam repeated. “This I’ve got to hear.”

~ ~ ~

“Listen, if there are going to be any rules about Danika, I get to make them. And you are all going to abide by them.” Sam pointed to each of his friends, one at a time.
Dooley looked at Mac who looked at Kevin who looked at Dooley.
Mac spoke first. “You know us, Sam. We’re not exactly rule followers.”
He should have expected something like that. He pointed to Kevin. “He is. The Bible is full of rules. Especially the one about coveting your neighbor’s things, right Kev?”
Kevin shrugged. “She isn’t your wife and she isn’t your donkey so that one doesn’t apply here.”
He couldn’t believe this. He turned to Dooley. “Rule number one, no talking about her when I’m not around.”
“I thought rule number one was no ogling.”
“Fine.” Sam gritted his teeth. “No ogling. Then no talking about her.”
“What if we say nice things?” Dooley asked.
“No.” Sam glared at the guy who had once pretended to be his probation officer to get him out of a bad blind date. “Rule number three, no watching her leave a room.”
“Isn’t that kind of like ogling?” Mac asked, smirking.
Sam turned his scowl on the guy who had once driven with him sixteen hours straight so he could enter a poker tournament. “Next, no thinking about her after she is out of sight.”
“How will we know she’s out of sight if we can’t watch her leave?”
Sam gave up. These guys were great friends who knew him well. Which meant that this entire conversation was a huge waste of time. He grabbed Danika’s wrist and started for the door. “Time to go.”

~ ~ ~

Hope you’ll want to check out the rest of the fun scenes in this book! And the hot scenes. And the sweet scenes J. You can find Just Like That here: http://www.mybookstoreandmore.com/just-like-that-p-5929.html
Or more info, excerpts (and a CONTEST) here: www.ErinNicholas.com

Thanks for reading!
Erin

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Guest Blogger Teresa Roberts - Everything Exciting that Happens to Me, I Can’t Share at Work


The life of a writer is an odd one in many ways. A lot of the things that make us squeal for joy are somewhat incomprehensible to people who are neither writers nor avid readers.

Take this past Friday. I scooted into the office a little late because I’d been giving final approval to the amazing cover for my next book, Foxes’ Den (isn’t that gorgeous?), setting up guest blogging to promote the July 6 print release of Lions’ Pride (pre-order it on Amazon, please!), sending off a contract for a new book, and posting a really amazing compliment paid me by a top erotica editor.

I was walking on air, let me tell you. It was a great start for a writer’s day.

I didn’t tell anyone other than my boss, and only in the context of “I’ll make up the time later.”

My co-workers vaguely know I write. I think they’re even aware I’m published. They’re just not that all impressed. As a group, they’re not readers. They’re visual media people—they know more about TV and movies than I ever will. And they’re certainly not dumb. But they don’t love books, don’t pet books, don’t get excited when a favorite author releases something new because they don’t have favorite authors. So while they’ll vaguely say, “Congratulations” if I tell them about a new book coming out, they don’t ask any questions or express any curiosity.

And face it, I write erotic paranormal romances. Rather outrageous ones involving kink and/or ménages—not necessarily office-appropriate conversation fodder. I don’t know if my co-workers are really as conservative and easily shocked as they act at the office, but I don’t want to push the envelope. Some of them were bewildered that my husband and I don’t mind each other having opposite-sex friends. What really goes on in my head, let alone my personal life, might cause them to panic. While they might secretly enjoy a good naughty story, I don’t think they want to know that the quiet bookworm in the cubicle on the right wrote it.

But sometimes I wish I could share my excitement with these women with whom I spend so many hours of my life.

On Friday, while I was secretly bouncing with all the good news I didn’t know how to share, one of my co-workers had first ultrasound. She came in to work with a picture of her grape-sized soon-to-be baby and it was passed around to great squealing and cooing.

I was squealing and cooing too. Growing a new human is a huge, life-altering experience, and I’m thrilled for my co-worker and her husband. I’ve chosen not to have kids, but I get why pregnancy is a moving, exciting and scary experience. It’s easy to figure out why that blurry picture of something that’s just starting to look like a baby matters so much to the person passing it around, easy to share her joy.

I’m not grudging her a second of her happiness. I just wish it was easier to share mine.

My co-workers might say “Oh, neat” if I showed them my Foxes’ Den cover proof or my shiny advance copies of Lions’ Pride. But they wouldn’t get it in the same way we all get the excitement about a pregnancy, the pride in a kid graduating from college, the fun of a tropical vacation. It’s hard to convey how this cover flat or printed book represents the culmination of months of late nights and early mornings, passed-up parties, neglected friends and husband, underpetted cats—blood, sweat and tears. (The blood’s from underpetted cats taking drastic measures to get attention.)

A book is not the same thing as a baby, but it’s my little bundle of pride and joy, just the same.

How does one share that with a member of the non-bookloving part of the population without sounding like a nutcase? I haven’t figured that out yet—so I’ve given up trying and save my good news for people who get it, like my fellow romance writers and readers.

Teresa Noelle Roberts writes erotic romance and romantic erotica, often with a paranormal and/or kinky twist. Her Duals and Donovans: The Different series (Lions’ Pride and the soon-to-be released Foxes’ Den) from Samhain introduces readers to a world of shape shifters, sex magic, and a government gone horribly wrong. The Seasons of Sorania Cycle from Phaze features witches, warriors and…you guessed it… more sex magic. Learn more about her at http://teresanoelleroberts.blogspot.com or befriend her on Facebook.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Reviews anyone?

The Romance Studio just reviewed 2 Hot 2 Handle and gave it 5 HEARTS!




2 Hot 2 Handle
Kelly Jamieson
Contemporary erotic romance
Available from Samhain Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-60504-703-4
February 2010


Abby has a problem. She has fallen in love with Eric, and yet she is also attracted to his hunky roommate. Eric is the ideal boyfriend, handsome and sweet. Jett is literally a male model, gorgeous and extremely sexy. Commitment has never been Abby's thing so how is she supposed to deal with her feelings for two men when one may be too much to handle? Little does Abby know that the two men have a secret that may solve her issue of lusting after two men. However, can she overcome her fears enough to keep from running from both of them?

2 Hot 2 Handle is an awesome tale of a trio of people who are not afraid to make some unusual choices. It is exactly the type of book that I enjoy the most. The love scenes are extremely hot and spicy. Abby, Eric and Jett are loveable characters who have a chemistry between them that pulls the reader completely into the sensational story. I enjoyed the book enough to give it the highest rating I possibly could. I am sure other readers will enjoy 2 Hot 2 Handle just as much, or more, as I have.

Fresh Fiction made Meg's Wedding Bell Blues their Fresh Pick for June 6. What an anniversary present!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Behind the Series

So Dark Obsession released this week. *happy dance*

And now that I've got that off my chest... :)

When I started Unbreakable, the first book in my Shadow Destroyers series, I hadn't planned on it being the first in a series at all. The idea for that book simmered in the back of my mind for a long while, and the first time I saw Gage and Jordan in my head actually turned out to be very different than how things went when I started writing the book.

I originally glimpsed them standing opposite each other in a morgue. Jordan was a doctor I think and Gage a demon slayer pretending to be a cop, and she thought he was a dead ringer for the guy she loved and lost five years before. But when I started writing the prologue things changed. Those who read the book know Jordan and Gage were both cops, partners, before a demon encounter changed everything for them.

Something else I hadn't anticipated when I started out was how big of a role Gage's team would take in Unbreakable. By the second chapter I'd met Braxton and Quinn (the hero and heroine from Book 2) and the three of them had discussed their boss, Rae. The moment they started talking about how she'd want a new sword over jewelry for her birthday, I knew I couldn't wait to get to know her better.

Rae made an appearance at the end of Unbreakable and throughout Stripped Away. By Book 3, Storm Warning, she was playing a more prominent role and readers were introduced to Parker Walsh. It was clear the two had some history and a boatload of tension to complicate their already strained working relationship. But not until Dark Obsession did I get to peel back Rae's layers and really get to see the sparks fly between her and Parker.

I wrote Unbreakable in 2006 and had to wait four years to get to tell Rae's story, but she was so worth the wait. And I hope readers think so to.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thursday Thirteen - Cooking Tips

For my Thursday Thirteen, I’m heading to the kitchen. These tips may not be particularly imaginative, but they work, or anyway they’ve all worked for me!

1. Whack a garlic clove before peeling it. Big time chefs whack it with the side of a chef’s knife. People like me are a little nervous about doing that with a sharp blade. Lynn Rosetto Kasper points out you can use a flat rock if you wash it well. I just use my meat mallet.

2. Cut off the stem end of the garlic clove before whacking. Jacques Pepin does this—the peel slides right off if you do.

3. Use a piece of bread to clean your coffee or spice grinder. This is a great use for dry bread. After you grind up the beans or spices, grind up a piece of bread (take the ground coffee or spices out first, of course) and it will clean out the leftover oil and bits. Uncooked rice works the same way.

4. Put your cooking oil in bottles with pour spouts. They don’t have to be fancy—just save an old olive oil bottle you’ve washed out, buy a cheap spout from a kitchen store, and put it in there. Pouring oil in a pan is a lot faster than measuring.

5. Microwave crystallized honey. Take the top off the (plastic or glass) bottle and warm for around a minute or until honey liquifies.

6. Microwave limes or lemons before squeezing. Just for fifteen or twenty seconds. It frees up the juice. You can also roll them if you’ve got the arm strength (I don’t).

7. Fast(er) Baked Potatoes. Set your oven to 425, microwave baking potatoes that you’ve pricked all over with a fork until the oven reaches its temperature, then bake for fifteen or twenty minutes (thank you, Jacques Pepin). Note: you need to see how fast your oven reaches its temperature—Jacques says his takes eight to ten minutes, but mine takes around fifteen, which is really too long for potatoes in the microwave. Let them go for ten minutes and then let them sit until the oven reaches heat.

8. Julia Child’s never fail gravy recipe. Okay, it’s actually for béchamel sauce, but it works for gravy too. Just remember these proportions: 3, 2, 2. That translates to 3T flour, 2T butter, and 2C liquid (milk for béchamel, stock for gravy). Melt the butter until it foams, whisk in the flour and cook until it’s sort of the color of old ivory or (if you're daring) peanut butter, add the liquid while whisking. Julia says to heat the liquid. America’s Test Kitchen says it’s not necessary. I find heating it for a minute in the microwave prevents lumps.

9. Garlic presses are not evil. Alton Brown says they are. Julia disagrees. I find them very handy when I want crushed garlic, but get a heavy metal one so it really crushes the stuff.

10. To make never fail hard-boiled eggs. This is from some egg council somewhere and, again, it really works. Cover the egg with cold water in a covered saucepan. Bring the water to a full boil (if you live at higher altitudes, like me, make sure it's a rolling boil). Turn the burner off and let the egg sit undisturbed in the water for fifteen minutes. Peel and serve.

11. Get a basil plant. Put in on a window sill where there’s sun and water it regularly. You’ll get enough basil to take care of most needs and it’s a lot cheaper than the packages of fresh basil in the store.

12. Use coarse ground kosher salt. You’ll actually use less because you can see the salt you sprinkle and besides it feels neat. It’s not iodized, though, so make sure your vitamin pills contain iodine.

13. Don’t take crap about your cooking from anybody. Including me. If it works for you and doesn’t seem likely to cause food poisoning, go right ahead!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I'm out of town!

Yesterday, at 1 AM, I flew across the country, stopping off at Houston on my way from Los Angeles to Washington DC. True, I didn't sleep well. And on the second flight, the woman next to me wanted to talk while I wanted to read. But all things considered, it was a flawless flight. There were no delays, I didn't miss my connection, and they hadn't overbooked the flight. And on top of all that? I get to visit family I haven't seen in a year. Too long, I know, but I hate to travel, mostly because my past experiences have been awful.

Make me feel a little better about my travel woes--what was your worst vacation experience? Or, let me live vicariously, and tell me about your best trip!

Sorry to blog and run, but family calls!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Guest Blogger Leah Braemel - Love In a Barn


When I sat down to write a western I just assumed there’d be sex in the fields, after all, I grew up in the country. But this was Texas. With prickly pears. And rattlesnakes. Yikes, they’re not exactly romantic. Hey, I thought, what about in the barn? Now I’ve been in my share of barns so I know there are a few drawbacks. But it has been a few years since I did any up-close-and-personal research in that regard. Luckily one of my critique partners just happens to breed Arabian BLUE horses. So I emailed Sue and asked her about some of the finer points of making love in a barn. Good thing my writing was done for the day because once I got her reply I couldn’t stop laughing. First of all, she reminded me “if they drop their pants anywhere near the hay, they'll be picking hay stems out of their cracks for hours. I promise....

After I spent a few minutes snickering about just how Sue knew this little detail, I said to myself, “All right, I can work with that. If I put them in the tack room, we might be able to lessen the hay factor.” So I asked Sue if it was feasible to have Dillon lean Nikki over the side of a saddle and, um, do it that way. Her response?

…leaning over it sideways, even the best of saddles is going to be pretty painful, and probably leave a lot of damage... Bruised boobies from the swell and cantle. Probably cuts/deep scrapes from the conches and even from the edges of the leather. Her belly would be bruised from the edge of the leather at the bottom of the jockey. It's thick, heavy leather - for a western saddle, even if it's well made and soft, it's not designed to be comfortable from that direction.

Ouch. Okay, that’s not particularly romantic. Then I got to the next part of her email...

If the saddles are on free standing racks/stands, if the sex is rough, they're likely to push it over. LOL. *ahem* OH! barn cats. if she has a barn cat, it will be rubbing between their legs. Dogs, goats, horses... everything will watch, or be staring eagerly at the door when they finally walk out.

I must admit that I ended up laughing so hard I was bent over holding my stomach. For a writer, I was imagining all sorts of scenarios, however they’re not particularly romantic, LOL. Did I end up using her information? Yup. There is a scene in the barn involving a horse that sticks its head over the stall and a cat that winds its way between them. But you’ll just have to read Texas Tangle to get the details. ;) If I do say so myself, it’s turned out to be a pretty hot scene. And I’m not just talking about that ‘damned Texas heat’ either.

Thanks to her cheating ex-husband and her thieving brother, all horse breeder Nikki Kimball has left is a bruised heart, an overdrawn bank account and an empty home. When sex-on-legs Dillon Barnett and his brooding foster-brother Brett Anderson start showing more than just neighborly attention, Nikki is intrigued…and a little gun-shy.

Dillon and Brett have a history; back in high school, the two friends fought a bitter battle over Nikki. Now, ten years later, Brett still longs to be the man in Nikki’s life, but he’s determined to stand back and let Dillon win Nikki’s heart.

Society says Nikki must choose between the two men she loves. Is Nikki strong enough to break all the rules in order to find happiness?

If you want to know more about Leah, you find follow her on Twitter, or join her Facebook fanpage. You can read excerpts of Texas Tangle, and her other erotic romances, Private Property and Personal Protection, on her website or on her blog.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Wearing the Pants


I can’t exactly remember when I started wearing pants rather than skirts. I know at the time my excuse was that I was teaching classes in a computer lab, which meant bending down to look over people’s shoulders a lot. I rationalized that wearing pants made this a lot easier, and it did. But in reality, I had just come to the point where I much preferred pants to skirts.

Why did I feel this way? Well, let’s count the reasons.

1. Pants are more comfortable, assuming you’ve bought pants that have a certain percentage of Spandex in their makeup.

2. Pants don’t require panty hose.

3. Pants don’t blow up in any random wind to expose parts you’d rather not expose.

4. Pants keep your legs warm in winter.

5. Pants make it easier to walk if you, like me, have a long stride.

6. Pants look elegant and sophisticated, again assuming you’ve bought ones that are tailored.

7. If you wear pants, you never have to confront the dreaded “What length should I try” question.

8. Pants give you a certain “take no prisoners” air, which means people may take you more seriously.

9. You can pair pants with outrageous tops or with tailored shirts—they’re versatile.

10. Did I mention they’re more comfortable?

I discovered early on that Chico’s pants fit me better than just about any other manufacturer, and I’ve stayed true for a lot of years (although I just noticed that Chico’s Web site seems to have abandoned the kind of styles that made me love them in favor of, groan, leggings--bummer). I recently discovered yoga pants, which are probably the most comfortable and good-looking traveling outfit ever; I think I could sleep in them if I was in a situation where I had to.

I think some of my love affair with pants stems from the fact that I’ve never been what you might call a delicate flower. I’m tall, five-foot-eight, and I have a lot of good peasant stock in my genetic code, which means my figure has a lot in common with Rubens’ nudes. Somehow when I put on a pair of pants, I feel a lot more confident than I would in chiffon.

Over the last couple of years, though, I’ve actually invested in a couple of skirts. Now neither one is the kind you’d wear for a quick trip to Walgreen’s. One is an ankle length wrap skirt made out of Indian silk that makes me feel like I’m cruising through a gypsy camp. The other is a formal skirt I bought for my son’s wedding—floor-length gray satin with a built-in crinoline. It’s safe to say I won’t be wearing it again any time soon, but it looked great for the occasion and in the wedding pictures.

I’m not absolutely anti-skirt. But overall, I’m still living in pants. And these days, when I look around the average restaurant or airport lounge or wine bar, it seems like a lot of other women are doing the same thing. Clearly a lot of us have tumbled to the conclusion that pants make life easier.

So let’s hear it for pants, ladies! Raise a glass to Amelia Bloomer and all those foremothers who figured out what was good for the guys was good for us too!

What do y'all think? Pants, skirts, or all of the above?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Save Me From the Grays

I like characters who are layered and realistic...okay, maybe not like totally realistic, dude. I do write mostly paranormal, after all. But I definitely like my characters (those I write as well as those I only read about) to have depth and complexity. Some authors are great at this. Their good guys aren't always good, their bad guys aren't completely bad. Black is black and white is white and pianos, fancy dress balls and Oreos aren't the only places where they work well together. And, yeah, for the purposes of this small quasi-rant I think we can agree to ignore all the great black and white animals in the world. 

As Kelly pointed out earlier this week, there are a lot of different shades of gray and, when it comes to most things, I'm a big fan of the subtle, indeterminate, not-so-obvious hues. But there's a type of hero I just can't work up a fondness for. I think of them as The Gray Men.

Gray men always have this view of themselves as being One of The Good Guys. The ones who Fight the Good Fight. In fact, your average gray man is so convinced he's a good guy that he'll do things that are morally questionable--without ever bothering to question his own motives. Hey, why would he have to? He's a white hat, after all. And white makes right. Er...right?

Myself, I'm not so sure. I think most good guys, or what I consider good guys, know when they're doing something wrong--it's a hero thing. And they don't try and sugar coat it either. 

Yes, they have their reasons and they know what those reasons are. Sometimes, it's a one-time thing. They've decided that doing the wrong thing is the lesser of two evils, so they do it. It's still wrong, but they're okay with that.  

Sometimes it's built into their nature. They have a more than passing familiarity with their Shadow Side--for better or for worse. Btw, this defense works a whole lot better if we're talking  paranormal characters! 

Either way, they've got the courage of their convictions. They each tend to have their own codes of conduct, the rules they live by. And they'll generally own up to their sins and failings, if only to themselves. 

But...critical point here...they realize their choices, no matter how limited, are still choices and they have this funny idea that, having chosen (for whatever reason) to do the wrong thing, they can no longer be considered lily white. I agree. I think they're something better. They're like tasty bites of marble cake. They're interesting, complex, and I'm usually going to like them a whole lot better than straight vanilla heroes.

Same goes for the bad guys. Give me a villain who's not unrelievedly evil. One with odd quixotic tendencies perhaps, or a surprising soft spot in his soul for...oh, hell, anything  will do. His mother. Ginger kittens. Penniless, blind violin students. Or the heroine--that's always a winner. He's like a luscious, devil's food cupcake with a fluffy white center.  Yes, we know he's bad for us but, mmm. Yummy goodness.

And, just so ya know, at this point, I'm kinda thinking I shoulda titled this post: Let Me Eat Cake. But I digress...

To continue with the metaphor, the Grays, on the other hand, are nowhere near as delectable. They're convinced they hold the moral high ground while, in truth, they're so morally compromised there's no separating out the flavors anymore. Their layers have all gotten mushed together and that icky self-righteous icing they've got slathered on top...well, it's kinda sickening. 

They also tend to be tastelessly hypocritical, despising the bad guys while acting just like them.  In point of fact, they're not White Hats. They're more like Black Hats Lite. But, as happens all too often  in life, just because you've taken out the sugar and most of the calories, it doesn't mean what's left is going to either taste good or be good for you.

Damn. I think I want dessert now...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lost and Found is out!

When we picked the tag line for the Naughty Nine, “Breaking the rules between the covers”, I'll admit I was thinking of my book Lost and Found, which is out this week with Samhain.

Last week at the Bradford Bunch, I talked about this book and how it crosses genres and sub-genres, combining elements of women’s fiction, romance and erotic romance, and earlier this week I blogged at Cynthia Eden’s blog  about breaking the “romance rules”.

The Romance Writers of America provides this definition of romance:

Two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally-satisfying and optimistic ending.

A Central Love Story: The main plot centers around two individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. A writer can include as many subplots as he/she wants as long as the love story is the main focus of the novel.

An Emotionally-Satisfying and Optimistic Ending: In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love.

It’s the “struggles” that make each romance unique. We know there’s going to be a happy (or optimistic) ending, but there must be obstacles the characters overcome in order to get to that happy ending. The obstacles that can stand in the way of a couple falling in love and being together are endless. In this case, I chose to write about a very difficult one: one of the characters is already married.

Another key word is “relationship”. Relationships are an integral part of all our lives. A romantic relationship is probably the most significant because it is so deeply emotional. There is great reward but there is also great risk. Relationships fascinate me. I’ve written stories that explored relationships that get a second chance (Worth Waiting For), relationships that change (Friends With Benefits, Rigger) and relationships in crisis (Lost and Found, and my unpublished Breakaway). Certainly the issue of cheating and infidelity makes for a powerful crisis in a relationship,

One thing that differentiates romance from women’s fiction is the ending. Where romance definitions include an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending, including the relationship between the hero and the heroine as well as resolution of other plot points, women’s fiction can end with a woman not in a romantic relationship. One would assume that there should still be an emotionally satisfying ending, whether it’s happy or not.

By that definition, and without including spoilers here (!) Lost and Found is a romance. Two individuals fall in love and struggle to make the relationship work, and there is an emotionally satisfying (I hope!) and optimistic ending – but it may be different than you expect.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Happy anniversary!


Today is my husband's and my 26th wedding anniversary so today the Naughty Nine are sharing wedding and anniversary stories - leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Meg Benjamin's trѐs á propos Wedding Bell Blues! We'll draw the winner tonight.
Here's a photo of my husband and me on our wedding day, looking so young and happy. It was 1984 - the girls all had big hair and big shoulder pads, and the guys all had moustaches (and, in the case of my husband, considerably more hair!)



For your entertainment here's a clip of a wedding first dance. It's not our first dance, but I SO wish it was!



And some wedding/anniversary stories from the Naughty Nine:

holley_ding

It was my sister-in-law's second wedding; I hadn't set my target on the Hub yet.

I met my sister in law years before I met The Hub - we waited tables at restaurants next door to each other, and we ran in the same circles and went on several double dates together. I knew of her brother, but he lived in California at the time. We lost touch briefly when I quit waiting tables and she moved away with her first husband - a disaster.

Then we reconnected through friends. One night I ran into her, her soon-to-be-second husband (whom I also knew very well, because I dated his best friend for a while...) and her brother was there, and we were finally introduced (the Hub says we met before then. He's wrong.)

And it turned out that the Hub and I had friends in common, and we all started hanging out, and when the SIL got married I was invited to the wedding. The reception was in a bar/saloon where we all hung out and where several friends bartended. Halfway through the reception I took off my shoes and danced barefoot - I was wearing a very nice dress, but come on - we were in the Firehouse Saloon. It has a concrete floor.

And when the pictures came back from the photographer, my future mother in law said "Who is that dancing in her bare feet???" She was already appalled/annoyed at the whole reception-in-a-bar thing.

So when Hub and I started dating a few months after that, the SIL said "He's dating an old friend of mine. Remember the girl who was barefoot at the reception?"

I also recall that wedding particularly clearly because the groom's cousins had to kick the groom's mother out - she's a crazy, crazy bitch and she showed up with a couple girlfriends and started talking mean crap about the bride. She's still a crazy, crazy bitch but a little pathetic now so I'm less inclined to get pissed off when I have to talk to her at Mother's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, etc. She's borderline senile at this point. Her funeral is going to be a hoot (I know how awful that sounds).

And my brother in law's best friend, whom I dated for a while, is now married to my best friend. And that doesn't even begin to describe how tangled and socially (not biologically) incestuous my whole social circle is.

benjamin_ding1


My favorite wedding was one where I did almost nothing but show up and watch—which was quite enough, as it turned out. My husband was doing research in a lab at the U. of Massachusetts and one of the graduate assistants invited us to his wedding. His fiancée was another graduate student. We arrived at the church and were seated on his side of the aisle where most of the other guests were dressed in considerable finery (I was a new mom at the time and getting dressed at all was an accomplishment). The other side of the church looked a little more rough and ready. Later at the reception we began to see why. The groom, as it turned out, was a descendant of Old Money (not that you could tell from looking at him when he was working in the lab). The bride was local. The reception was held at her father’s motorcycle shop. All the bikes had been cleared out so that people could dance inside. The food was set up under the trees. Did I mention bride and groom were both vegan? The Old Money representatives looked as if they’d been transported to their worst nightmare. The locals toasted bride and groom with beer from her dad’s keg and had a great time. So did we.

forte_ding


Ah, it was hard picking just one wedding story to tell. I’ve witnessed a lot of weddings and I’ve seen a lot of crazy things go on at them. There was the wedding where the entire bridal party stopped at a diner for hamburgers in between the ceremony and reception—yes, limos, tuxes, bridesmaids gowns and all. The wedding where guests were placing bets at the reception about who was actually going to end up together in the honeymoon suite (hey, it was the seventies. ‘nuff said.) The wedding that took place on the center alter of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the heart of Manhattan and was beset with tourists who snapped photos throughout the ceremony, and had to be shooed out of the horse drawn carriage that had been hired to carry the bride and groom to the reception (at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, if you must know). Oh, and let's not forget the wedding where the minister could not remember the bride’s name and the bride had to keep prompting him to the point where, by the end of the ceremony, all the guests were chanting it right along with her.

The story I’m going to tell is none of those. It is, however, one of the funniest things I’ve ever experienced. I just hope I can do it justice.

The wedding took place on a perfect Autumn day in a small, moderately affluent community located somewhere along the coast of Southern California. If you’ve never been, picture the most idyllic Spring day you can imagine and add palm trees. It was a beautiful wedding, elegant, refined, formal…possibly a little on the staid side.

The bride and groom had been high-school sweethearts. They’d grown up in the same neighborhood and known each other most of their lives. Their friends and families (big, close-knit families on both side) were all on hand to witness their union. There was no dissension, no discord; everyone got along with one another. And everyone was in complete agreement: It was a joyous occasion. A very solemn, sacred, religious event.

We were seated on the groom’s side, several rows back and, at first, everything appeared to be proceeding as planned. Then the ceremony reached the point where the bride and groom had to kneel.

It began as a small whisper of sound —like a breath of wind ruffling the surface of a peaceful pond—and it came from the very front row, where the groom’s family was seated. At that point, we really didn’t take much notice. Then the second row became similarly affected. Heads turned. Shoulders shook. The sub-audible commotion grew in strength.

By the time the disturbance had progressed to the third row, guests on the bride’s side of the church began shooting angry looks across the aisle. My husband and I glanced at each other in confusion. Clearly, something was going on, but the source of the problem was nowhere in evidence.

Row by row, it continued; rippling inexorably backward. By this point, everyone in the first few rows on the groom’s side of the church appeared to be afflicted by some mysterious ailment that left them coughing, crying, wiping their eyes and covering their faces.

My husband is taller than I and was seated on the aisle. I was alarmed when he gasped suddenly. The odd, gurgling sound he made had me wondering if he wasn't choking. I looked at his face. It was suffused with mirth. His lips were clamped together and he was obviously trying very, very hard not to laugh.

“What is wrong with you?” I hissed. This was no way to behave at a wedding!

My husband struggled for composure. He took several shaky breaths and at last, in a strangled whisper, managed to speak two words. “His shoes.”

His shoes. Huh.

I turned the words over in my head, but they meant nothing to me. Still mystified, I leaned across my husband and looked down the aisle toward the front of the church where bride and groom still knelt, heads bowed, praying.

I looked at the groom’s shoes. I looked closer. There, in the instep, clearly visible, someone had chalked four letters.

H. E. L. P.

As I collapsed against my husband, vainly trying to stifle my laughter, I heard the first startled gasps hit the row behind me. I don’t remember anything of the ceremony after that…except for one thing. I couldn’t stop laughing. No one could stop laughing. We couldn’t even look at each other without losing it all over again and God forbid we looked across the aisle where the bride’s side was Definitely. Not. Amused.

I don’t know if this is the kind of thing you just had to be there to appreciate, but I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard at anything in my life.

kade_ding1

I have not been to a wedding since I was three, and I have only had one anniversary I want to remember (so far!). However, I have very clear ideas of what I want my wedding to be. I could care less about having a big, expensive wedding. I could care less about having The Dress. I want something down-to-earth, an event where I'm not pulling my hair out over little details, one where getting a stain on my dress while partying won't be the end of the world. And since I'm living la vida SoCal, I'd love to get married on the beach. Something simple, immediate family and friends only, followed by a great party with delicious food and dancing.

And as for anniversaries? I don't need a big celebration, either. I want a boyfriend/husband who celebrates our love all the time, not just on one obligatory day. Like my father does for my mother... I want someone to bring me flowers just because he wants to, not because the calendar says so. This is not to say anniversaries are a waste of time--on the contrary, I think they're amazing--but it seems there's so much pressure to do something elaborate and to make the day overly significant. So party and celebrate, yes. Use one day to make up for lost time? No, way. Lucky for me, Phin believes the same thing.


somers_dingMy crazy wedding story is actually from my own wedding, or the night before technically. We were just finishing up the rehearsal at the church and planning to meet at my mother-in-laws for dinner afterward. My husband, his brother and the rest of "the guys" figured they should stop and grab a beer on the way. Just one, they promised. Say it with me now, "Yeah, right."

Anyway, the rest of us all head back to my in-law's place chatting, having a drink, getting really hungry and wondering where the guys are.Then the phone rings and someone claiming to be a cop says that my brother (17 at the time) is in police custody. Now both my husband and my brother-in-law are know for making stuff up and disguising their voices. So my mom starts laughing, refusing to be suckered, and in the background she can hear the guy say, "Maybe you should talk to her. She doesn't believe me."

My brother gets on the phone (also a well known storyteller) insisting he's at the police station. My mother assumes my husband is behind it all and is still laughing. My dad takes the phone and after a minute gets that look on his face. The kind I not-so-fondly recalled from childhood and one that was clearing broadcasting he was going to kill my brother.

Or maybe my brother-in-law. Because as it turns out, it was his brilliant idea to order a beer for my brother--when there was an off-duty detective sitting at the table right beside them. *sigh* So the cop takes in my brother in and my husband goes along with them, feeling a little guilty at least. My parents then had to head back into town to deal with my brother. Two and a half hours later we finally get to eat. Karma kicked my brother-in-law's ass though. He decided to party a little too hard that night and all through the ceremony the next day he was sweating and looking ready to fall over. LOL

But the best part of the whole thing is still my mother laughing at a real cop, insisting he was making shit up.




PhotobucketMy mom and her brother decided to throw a huge party for my grandparents' 50th anniversary - nothing extravagant, but lots of guests, lots of food, lots of fun. One of the guests, though, was someone they didn't expect.

See, a year or so earlier, I'd spent a few months backpacking through Europe on my own, and in the process connected with a side of the family we'd lost contact with well over a decade earlier. All we knew was that all those years ago, my grandmother's cousin's son was working for Scotland Yard.

So on my second day in London I marched into what I thought was Scotland Yard (actually, it was a recruiting center for Scotland Yard) and asked the guy behind the counter if he knew my relative. Understand, I had no idea exactly HOW MANY people worked for Scotland Yard at the time. Amazingly enough, the man knew him, and went in the back room to call. (Probably to say, "some crazy American girl is claiming to be related to you.") Long story short, I stayed with his family in London, and came home with that connection reestablished.

And when my grandparents' 50th anniversary was held, he flew to the states to celebrate with them. I'll never forget the look on their faces when they realized who was there.

(Extra bonus? Last November I did the same thing to my parents, when he and his wife flew over to surprise them for Thanksgiving at our house.)


nicholas_ding

My favorite wedding story is not a mushy-gushy story for sure! One of
my best friends in college (let's call her Lisa) was getting married and
my new hubby and I went to the church early to help out with a few things.

Since we were busy right up until the ceremony we slid into the back pew
as they were lining up for the processional. The grandparents were seated, then it was time for the groom (we'll call him Mark) to escort his parents to their seats before the bride's mother was to be seated.

Suddenly we hear loud, angry whispering behind us. I discreetly turn to find the groom engaged in an argument with his mother. They both had hands on hips, were red-faced and their voices were rising as they argued.

Much to my shock, the next thing that happened was Mark's mother yelled, "Absolutely not!" and Mark slapped her! Seriously. Thank God the musiccovered the whole thing for most of the congregation, but we definitely heard it! Next thing we know, Mark's dad is hurrying his mother away, Mark's best man took him out to another room and the bridesmaids and groomsmen quickly lined up and proceeded in as if nothing was wrong!

Mark's mom and dad watched the ceremony from the back of the church in the pew across the aisle from us. Lisa didn't know anything about it until the reception--thank goodness (she never has liked her mother in law
much).

I never found out what they were arguing about and we NEVER bring it up with Mark and Lisa. But hubby and I still tell that story whenever someone wants a "great" wedding story! :)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Due to technical difficultes guest blogger Lindsey Faber is unable to be here today! So instead we present Teaser Tuesday...

Out today...Lost and Found

To find happiness, first you have to find yourself.

Krissa has always been the responsible one. Driven to fulfill her mother’s abandoned dreams, to make her husband Derek happy. She’s brought that single-minded determination to the one dream she has for herself—a child. Except she and Derek can’t conceive, and Derek refuses to consider using a stranger’s sperm. The result? Guilt that her desperation is causing their marital rift.

The last thing they need is a long-term houseguest, but Derek’s best friend Nate, a nomadic photographer recovering from a career-threatening eye disorder, has nowhere else to go.

Nate thought his friends’ home would be a temporary haven from the grief that has dogged his heels since his wife died. Instead he’s in the middle of a marriage in meltdown. Soon their friendship develops an underlying hum of forbidden sexual tension. When Krissa proposes a wild idea—that Nate be their sperm donor—Derek has an even wilder proposal: bypass the fertility clinic and accept Nate’s donation straight from the source.

At first, Krissa believes she’s on the fast track to having her dream. But it quickly becomes clear that when the heart gets involved—and secrets are revealed—the simplest of arrangements can become entangled beyond belief. Or repair…

Warning: This title contains a man who’s lost, the woman he finds, sizzling ménage sex, tender romantic sex, love lost and love found.


Coming June 15th...Dark Obsession

Scorching desire...fatal consequences.

Demon slayer Rae McAvoy refuses to let anything stand between her and getting the job done. Especially her ex. Loving Parker nearly destroyed her, and if partnering with him one last time means he’ll be reassigned and out of her life for good, bring it on.

If Parker was the only threat to her heart, tracking down one rogue scientist would be a snap. Except the scientist in question is Rae’s father, and his experiments are hitting much too close to home.

Parker Walsh hasn’t forgotten the passion that once burned between them, and he’s determined to remind Rae every chance he gets. But giving in to more than just lust could mean surrendering to the darkness inside him—the same darkness that once drove her away.

Riding the edge of their rising desire pushes them to the breaking point, until an explosion of passion raises the stakes even higher. Especially when long-buried secrets force them to break the last links to their past—or else be consumed by an obsession so dark it could tear them apart for good.

Warning: Contains a fierce battle of wills between reunited lovers, explosive sexual tension, sarcasm, gritty demon-slaying violence, scorching sex and a love worth fighting for.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The next 3 months will be hot as hell and humid as a rain forest...



and I don't care, because I love summer.

I first wrote this post in longhand, sitting at a friend’s swimming pool drinking beer and watching the kids play at six o’clock on a Sunday night. I could never do that on a school night – there’d be lunch to pack, last minute school work to get done, Diva would have to take a shower and get to bed…dude, I love summer.

If you’re a stay at home mom, maybe you dread it; most of the SAHMs I know do (full disclosure: I’m jealous as hell of SAHMs.) SAHMs suddenly have kids in the house and under foot unless they schedule activities, and then they spend all day ferrying the kids from one place to another. My hyper-organized sister does not enjoy summer break.

Ah, but summer is as much a vacation for us working mommies as it is for the kids, even if we do still have to get up and go to work every day. No homework! (In what grade will Diva start doing her homework unprompted and unassisted? Can anyone give me a rough estimate?) No schedules! Late bedtimes!

I don’t have it that bad; I only work part time. But even just working six hours a day, I have to maintain a tight schedule. Diva has about an hour’s work of homework every night, which takes her between three and four hours to complete, because The World’s Slowest Toddler has grown into The World’s Slowest Second Grader. Plus there’s martial arts twice a week, and I need to work out a few times a week, and I try to cook dinner once in a while, and Diva needs to be in bed by 8:30, and I need to write, and somehow we seem to go from 3:00 to 8:30 in about two hours.

But in the summer, I blow off the bedtime. Diva’s signed up for eight weeks of different day camps, and some grandma time, and a week at my sister’s, and if she goes sleepy a few days a week, what’s the harm? The hours I normally spend haranguing about homework can be spent writing. We eat supper later, we swim at the Y till 9:30, and I don’t yell quite so much. It's a beautiful thing.

I'll be singing a different tune come Labor Day, which in other parts of the country signals the approach of fall but here in Houston means we still have two months of soul-sucking sauna-like conditions ahead of us. But for now...

Happy summer!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Asker or Guesser?



I came across this post on the internet last week that I thought was fascinating. In response to a sort of etiquette question, Andrea Donderi’s theory that we are raised in one of two cultures – the Ask Culture, or the Guess Culture – came up.

In the Ask Culture, you grow up with the expectation that it's okay to ask for anything at all, realizing you may get no for an answer.

In Guess Culture, you avoid putting a request into words unless you're pretty sure the answer will be yes. Guessers put out subtle hints, feelers, and talk around a subject, in the hopes that they won’t have to ask for what they want – they’ll get an offer.

You can see the potential for conflict here (and what writer doesn’t love potential for conflict!)

I can definitely see that I grew up in the Guess culture. If there’s a pathological Guess Culture, my mother would have been it. And her mother, too, come to think of it. It would most certainly have been considered rude to ask outright for almost anything. I still feel very uncomfortable doing that. And guess what? When someone asks me for something, I sometimes (not always but often!) find that rude. However, I also find it difficult to say no, because I don’t want to offend them. And then I feel angry and put-upon.

On the other hand, understanding someone who grew up in the Ask Culture helps with this. That person doesn’t think it’s rude to ask, and in fact, they fully realize they may get a “no”. And they’re okay with that. So I don’t have to worry about saying that “no”. And if I try to avoid it (which I confess to having done when faced with someone asking me to do something I don’t want to do) they don’t understand that – they’re thinking, don’t be so passive aggressive, just deal with it!

I loved this comment: “I'm a Guess too. Let me tell you, it's great for, say, reading nuanced and subtle novels; not so great for, say, dating and getting raises.” Ha! Totally relate to that!

Apparently the subtle “Guess behaviours” like hinting and talking around something, hoping it will lead the person to offer what the “Guess person” wants, only work well with other Guess people. If you’re trying that with an “Ask person” it won’t work. If you know someone’s an “Ask person”, they won’t likely be offended if you just ask for what you want. And conversely, if you’re a Guesser, when someone asks you for something, a request you perceive as pushy or presumptuous, the very fact that they’re asking is a sign that they’re an Asker. They’re half-expecting you'll say no, and have no idea you feel uncomfortable. So say no, and see what happens – likely, nothing.

So - are you an Asker or a Guesser??