Monday, January 31, 2011

Growing as a writer

Today’s the last day of the contest Erin Nicholas and I are having to celebrate the release of our print books earlier this month – Just Right and Love 2 Love U. Head on over to The Romance Studio to find out more!



Love 2 Love U has been out for a few weeks now but I never really did blog about it here. It’s a print anthology of my three novellas, Love Me, Love Me More and 2 Hot 2 Handle. All three stories got good reviews, especially 2 Hot 2 Handle, which also was the #1 seller at the Samhain bookstore for quite a while after release. That story really felt like a turning point in my writing where it was getting stronger and better, although I think my writing has grown a lot more even since then.



Pushing myself as a writer to try different things helps me to keep learning and growing and improving. 2 Hot 2 Handle was my first ever M/M/F story so I did struggle a bit writing it. Sometimes stories just flow out of me and sometimes I have to really work to get them out. Other stories that have been a struggle for me were Rigger, because it was my first BDSM story, and Power Struggle, because of Dev. In Rigger I had to get inside Shayla’s head and really understand how she would feel in that situation which, being completely honest here, I have never been in. It was even more difficult to get inside Dev’s head in Power Struggle – a guy who deep down inside wants to dominate a woman, but secretly feels it is wrong and bordering on abuse. That’s a powerful internal conflict, especially when he’s confronted by a strong woman who knows what she wants him to do to her.

But I think the struggles we have with our writing are what help  us learn and grow and improve.

I’ve been pushing myself to learn and grow more as a writer lately. I’ve done workshops and I’ve read and re-read some craft books. I’ve worked harder at planning my stories out - I've even started using an Excel spreadsheet for my plotting and it worked great! I’ve tried wrting about some different things – a Beta hero (who knows if I was successful, we’ll see!); another BDSM story with the most mature hero I’ve written yet (Gabe is 40), a strong, masterful dominant who walks away from the life; and I’m trying to write a historical romance set in a unique time and place – now this one’s definitely a struggle! Though I’m kind of looking forward to the first scene where the hero has to get the heroine out of her clothes…it’s going to be quite a feat!


Other writers – how do you keep developing yourself as a writer? Or do you even think about that?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fact Checking

I used to write non-fiction - articles for the local papers, creative essays, stuff that required diligent fact-checking in order to make sure the information included was accurate. It's made me a bit of a stickler, which is probably a good thing.

Because what I didn't realize before delving into fiction was that it required even more research than the non-fiction I'd been writing before. And I'm talking about contemporaries, not historicals. I'd need to find out about proper police procedure in domestic violence situations. Or where runaways tend to go when they want to stay hidden. Or exactly how early a fishing charter captain has to get up in order to be on his boat on time.

I'd always thought of fiction as being "easier" because you got to make everything up. But for me, it requires just as much a grounding in reality as the non-fiction article for the paper - but more subtly. Just info-dropping facts and figures into a novel doesn't work, either.

But even the most diligent researcher trips up sometimes, or a source turns out to be unreliable. (Not related to fiction, but this happened to me over the weekend. ABC News posted an article on their website, stating that Silent House, a film I've been tracking, had just sold to Lionsgate following their Sundance premiere. I read the paragraph three times just to be sure that's what it said, before posting it on Twitter and Facebook. Turns out? The article was wrong - the reporter had mixed up information about this film with the previous movie by the director/writer team. Unfortunately, I found out too late to retract it before news of the sale spread like wildfire.)

In this instant media age, incorrect info can blossom just that quickly, making it harder to be sure what you've discovered is accurate. I try to look at multiple sources, taking a "trust but verify" approach.

Do you have trusted sources when it comes to research? Where do you go to get "just the facts"?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Gemini Syndrome


Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini (sign of the Twins). Or maybe every writer feels this way – or every person! – but I often feel that I’m living two lives. One is the life everyone sees, the other is the life that goes on in my head, and that comes out in my writing. (I certainly wouldn’t want it lurking inside my brain making me crazy.) The two lives are not entirely separate. Things that happen in my real life tend to make their way into my writing. And when my writing thoughts take over, I can become alarmingly spacey in my real life. I’m the same person, of course. It’s just that I’m living two parallel lives. Call it the Gemini Syndrome.

I also live two lives geographically. Mostly I live in Alaska. But we also own land in Hawaii, so we spend some time there every year working on our place. I’m in Hawaii now, as a matter of fact, for just a few more days. Talk about completely different lives! In Hawaii I go around in flip-flops and sarongs, eat papayas and avocadoes. In Alaska it’s snowboots and long underwear, potatoes and salmon. (I indulge in avocadoes from Costco because I can’t live without them.)

When all my worlds collide, it can be very disorienting. While I’ve been in Hawaii, I’ve been working on edits for my next book, which is set in Alaska during the winter. It’s very odd to be sitting in the jungle rewriting lines about the glaciers.
Sometimes I think it can actually cool me down on a hot day, but maybe that’s just my imagination. One of the book’s sexiest scenes takes place in a sauna. Now there’s something we don’t really need here in the tropics. Who knows if that sweat running down my face is from the steamy Hawaiian heat, or the fictional steam in the sauna…or the steam from the sex scene, for that matter?

We’re scheduled to fly back to Alaska a few days before GO WILD releases, so I’ll be able to look out my window at the snow while posting excerpts about it. That should make things easier. Maybe once I’m back, I’ll write a book set in Hawaii, just to really confuse myself. Then again, I’m a Gemini, the split personality of astrological signs, so I ought to be able to handle it. Or at least one of me can.

Do you like reading books that take you to a different place, time of year, world, whatever? Or do you like it when the world outside echoes the world you’re reading about (or writing about)?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Naked Man



I should write about the release I have coming out in March (Anything You Want, Samhain, March 15th ). Or I should blog about something writing related like how I develop my heroines. I could write about something profound like… well, no maybe I couldn’t.
But I’m in the mood to talk about something just silly and fun and what came to mind was an episode of one of my favorite shows “How I Met Your Mother”. Definitely a show to be used as a guide, no a *Bible*, for relationships and romance (can you hear the sarcasm?! :))

This episode is called The Naked Man. It starts out with Ted meeting a guy who claims that his “move” works two out of three times. He uses it when a first date is definitely not going to turn into a second date. He basically waits until the woman leaves the room, then he strips down and waits. She comes back in, is startled, laughs and then is so impressed by his bravado (and feels little sorry for him) so sleeps with him.
The best part though is when the gang is trying to list 50 reasons to have sex. Here are twelve that they mention:

1. Because you can’t get to sleep
2. Makeup sex
3. Breakup sex
4. Revenge
5. Rebound
6. A friend just told you about a new position
7. Nothing good on TV
8. Hotel room sex
9. Curiosity (“I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have sex with a really tall girl”)
10. He said he loved you but you’re not ready to say it back
11. To change the subject
12. To condition good behavior like shaving and good dental hygiene

I’m going to add:
• to distract him from being mad about the Visa bill
• he’s going to be gone on business for a week
• there’s something really sexy about a guy who’s coaching his son’s Little League baseball team

K, so now it’s your turn. What other “excuses” are there for having sex? (and yes, being in love, is still the big #1)!


And, okay, here's the cover for my upcoming release! :) (March 15th!)

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Guest Blogger Lise Fuller - Just the Facts, Ma'am


Although this statement is attributed to that wonderful character Sergeant Joe Friday in the old TV series Dragnet, his actual words were something like “All we want are the facts, ma’am.” No matter. That truncated statement became the signature of the show. Thing is, in its time the show was extremely popular and it’s said that much of its popularity was because they did just what they said – stuck to the facts. Sometimes they even used real cases. Talk about reality TV!

Now, I love facts. I love history. And in a fiction story, good solid facts are crucial, especially when you jump into the fantasy or sci-fi worlds. “Really?” the average person might ask. My answer? Absolutely. Even though a work is fiction, even though much of the story is based on a writer’s made-up world, it’s the small, solid facts that ground the reader in reality so that they can bridge the gap between the "real" that the reader knows into the fantasy world that is created. Thus, in its way, facts launch the reader into the story and allows that reader to become a part of the tale.

This is why I believe solid research is so important. Additionally, facts help to explain that old adage for writers – write what you know. Now, it isn’t always that large picture where facts are needed. It can be the little things, the small details that make such a difference in the texture of the story. For example, the rough-hewn feel of newly cut timber, the scent of cedar. These woodland descriptions could be used in an elfin story, and although elves are fantasy, the portrayal of the surroundings are something that the average reader can sense for themselves, thus giving the reader a more tactile sense of the story.

This is why I love facts, and why I believe fact and fantasy go hand in hand. Forsooth, in a good story, who can tell the difference?

Blessings to all and thanks for reading. Always enjoy your adventures!

Lise Fuller, Aka Elle Amour

www.lisefuller.com

www.elleamour.com

Author of romantic adventure.

Lise Fuller is an award winning author. After writing and producing a neighborhood play at the tender age of six (earning all of twenty cents), she took a sabbatical of many years before she found the love of creative writing again. Now, having earned her MBA and CPA, raised four children (three as a single parent), Lise brings her adventurous spirit and extensive experience to her captivating stories. Lise has traveled to several countries, studying the culture and enjoying the native way of life, and has explored our world from the watery depths of the Caribbean to the heights of the Rocky Mountains. Having married her hero, an ex-82nd Airborne paratrooper, she devotes her time to writing, training her new German Shepherd pup, and her own personal accomplishment--body sculpting. Some comments on her work include

- It's the BEST I've read...in a very long time!

- The emotion! Fast paced and sexy.

- You just know it's going "to be Hot."

- Great hooks! Drew me in right away.

- You have a great voice. Love your characters!

Lise is always happy to hear from her fans. Please visit her website at www.lisefuller.com or email her at lise@lisefuller.com.

Friday, January 21, 2011

My new TV love: NCIS

I'm a huge fan of police procedurals, that lovely acronym soup of SVU, CSI, and now, NCIS. At first, I wasn't big on the dynamic between Gibbs, McGee, Ziva, and DiNozzo, but they grew on me--quickly and without fail, like a fungus. A really expensive lovely truffle fungus.

What pulled me through until that point, however, was Pauley Perrette. Her character, Abby, is the NCIS lab tech-science goddess. And she. Is. Awesome! The contrast between her bad-ass punk-goth look and her sweet, nerdy side is so fun to watch! Oh... and her farting hippo stuffed animal. Too funny for words. Yes, I am juvenile.To give you a sense of her character, which I *hope* is a reflection of Pauley as a person, more pictures are in order.


Have I mentioned that she likes wearing collars? This appeals to the BDSM author in me--I'd love to write a character like Abby!
Abby and Gibbs, the leader of their NCIS team.

So tell me: Are you a fan? Or is there another show that just does it for you--investigative or otherwise?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ending Badly

"Everything ends badly. Otherwise, they wouldn't end."
Tom Cruise as Brian Flanagan in Cocktail


Everyone loves beginnings. In fact, I think many authors, perhaps even most authors, lavish more time crafting the perfect opening than they spend on any other part of the process. There are contests and memes devoted to the best opening lines, the most memorable opening lines, the most classic opening lines--you name it. Ask anyone who really cares about books and I'll bet they have a favorite. Endings, on the other hand, rarely get the same respect and I'm not altogether certain why that is. 

As a reader, I would think the end of a book is at least as important as the beginning. Maybe more so. After all, it's what you take away with you. It's the last impression you're left with, the last glimpse  you're allowed of characters that you've--hopefully--come to know and love. Yet, too often I find myself unsatisfied with the way a book ends. Even good books! Too often they just...end.  I don't know how many times lately I've reached the end of a book and kept scrolling downward, certain that there must be more. 

I suppose this is in part because writers have it drummed into their heads that beginnings are what sell books; and in part because, while there are plenty of writing classes that focus on creating powerful openings, I don't think I've ever seen one that focuses on powerful endings. 

As a result, too many endings seem forced, disconcerting or simply too abrupt. And so,  if I may paraphrase a line from The Princess Bride, there's a shortage of perfect endings in the world. Which is a shame, really, because there's very little that's better than the satisfaction you experience when you close the book on an ending that feels just right.

So what about you? Do you have any favorite or memorable ending lines? Any books that ended perfectly, or badly? Or don't you care?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Our Friend, the Keyboard


A few months ago, another writer’s loop had an extended discussion about the joys of writing longhand. One writer announced that she wrote all her preliminary drafts with pad and pen, and she was convinced that it freed up her writing imagination. Others chimed in. Yes, indeedy—buy yourself a good felt-tip pen, or even a good ballpoint. Grab a legal pad, curl up in a comfy chair, and let ’er rip. Freed from the technological bad karma of electronic control, you’ll have that novel completed in no time at all.

To this I must respectfully reply, “Bullpucky.” I love my computer, and there’s no way in hell I’m going back to a pen, no matter how extra special that pen may be.

Part of this determination stems from the fact that I remember what writing was like before PC’s were widely available (yes, kiddies, I really am that old). I remember taking notes on three-by-five cards in the library, then writing out drafts in longhand, then copying those drafts on your electric typewriter (which had a correcting ribbon if you were lucky). Then typing out another draft after you’d marked up the first (and let me tell you, typewriters were nowhere near as easy on the hands as a computer keyboard).

And writer’s cramp. Oh yes, my dears, I remember writer’s cramp. I tried every shape of pen I could find looking for one that wouldn’t make my hand feel like a claw after a couple of hours of writing.

When the price of PC’s finally dipped to something we could afford, I rushed right out and grabbed one (a Mac—and I’ve stayed true every since). It didn’t have much memory, no hard disk, and you had to save everything on three-and-a-half inch disks, but oh, what a difference it made! No more Whiteout, no more writer’s cramp, no more hours spent with only a few pages to show for it. Having done books on both typewriters and computers, I’m here to tell you there’s no going back.

Having said all of this, however, I have to admit something else. I find it a lot easier to revise in longhand than on the computer. Particularly when parts of the story need to be reorganized, it’s just easier for me to see how to do it when I can lay the pages out and scribble the inserts (although if they’re longer than a paragraph or so, I may end up doing them on the computer again). Whenever I revise a draft, I print the whole thing out, then curl up on the couch with a stack of pages beside me, adding, deleting, and moving things around with a red pen.

Now, I’m not entirely happy about doing it this way. I wince at the amount of paper it takes (I print on both sides of the page, but still) and the number of printer cartridges I buy each year (they’re recycled, but still). On the other hand, I still do a more thorough job of revising using this method than I did when revisions meant retyping the whole freakin’ thing all over again.

So I gotta say, if other writers find the romance of longhand gets them going, more power to them. But I’m guessing few of them have ever had to write without a computer at all. To me this is sort of like people who extol the thrill of riding bikes everywhere because they’ve never really lived without a car. I’ll go on drafting everything on my trusty Mac, unromantic though it may be. You will force me back to a pen only if you can pry my keyboard from my bleeding fingers.

So what about you? Pens, pencils, or wireless keys?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Guest Blogger Kaily Hart - What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done?


So, what is the most daring thing you’ve ever done? For yourself or your significant other? For any reason? I had a terrible time this holiday season trying to come up with something to get my hubby. I have this issue every year because he is just so feakin’ hard to buy for. He doesn’t really have hobbies as such, has everything he could possibly need for the interests he does have, and is just very…particular about things. Also, he spends a lot of time coming up with unique and special gifts for me, especially for our anniversary, and I hate feeling at a disadvantage. Guys have a way of leveraging that, you know J, not that I’m complaining.

I found myself in this same situation last year for his birthday. I wanted something extra special, something memorable, something he’d never guess and something he wasn’t likely to put away in a cupboard and never think about again. I wanted to knock his socks off. That’s when I came up with it. THE idea. I was going to go and get some nice photographs done of myself, have them made into a book. You know, sexy and suggestive photographs, lingerie type pictures. It sounded great in theory. I’m still not exactly sure how it made its way from idea to reality, how I got the courage and determination to actually go through with it, but I actually did it!

I found a specialist photographer I was comfortable with and it really wasn’t as costly as I thought. I even ended up having some nude and implied nude photos taken. I was THAT comfortable LOL. I looked on the photographer as I would a doctor—that this was part of his job and he’s probably seen every size and shape and variation imaginable. Another surprise —I had fun with it. The photo session was just really great fun. I mean, who doesn’t like being the center of attention, especially when you have someone trying to make you look as good as possible? The result? It was fabulous. The pictures turned out great and hubby loved them! He was so surprised. It’s by far the most daring thing I’ve ever done, or even thought of doing. I’ve included one of the more *cough* discreet ones below. It’s one of my favorites, actually. Now my only issue is coming up with something just as good this year!!


So…come on, what’s the most daring thing YOU’VE ever done?

About Kaily

Kaily Hart, a seemingly straight-laced mother of four left corporate America and a high-powered, lucrative career to be a stay at home mom. Ha! That lasted about four weeks, during which time she realized she had a deeply repressed dream—to write. And romance at that! By day, Kaily plays conservative wife and soccer mom, but at night crafts hot and steamy tales of romance and love with gorgeous heroes who wouldn’t dream of leaving the toilet seat up. Ever. She’s smart and sassy, at least in her own mind, and is trying her best to bring the alpha male solidly back to contemporary romance, one hot story at a time. Two years ago she never would have thought she’d be doing this, but now that she is? Well, you couldn’t pay her enough to do anything else.

Kaily’s books, PICTURE THIS and PAY UP are available now from Ellora’s Cave.

If anyone would want to contact me (which I would love by the way) or just keep up with what I’m doing, you can find me all over:

Web – www.kailyhart.com

Blog - http://kailyhart.blogspot.com/

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/kaily.hart

Twitter - http://twitter.com/kailyhart

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Promoting Your Books - A Post for the Authors Out There

Bestselling authors could easily afford to do their own promotion. They don’t have to, of course. Their publishers are happy to do it for them, because they’re bestsellers. Charlaine Harris talks about how weird it was, when the Sookie Stackhouse books took off, to have her publishing house suddenly flying her around the country, putting her up in decent hotels and booking signings for her to do. Up until then she’d had to do it all herself, driving from bookstore to bookstore and begging to be allowed to set up a table and sign something.

The rest of usually can’t afford to spend a lot on promotion, and our publishers, both print and electronic, don’t spend much on it either. My publisher, Samhain, sends out advance copies for review, runs ads in journals, and promotes at conventions. But the principle responsibility for promoting my work falls on me.

I decided I’d spend money on promoting Yours, Mine and Howls, my first full length novel, but I would limit it to $500. If the book sells well enough in the first couple of months, I might spend a little more, but that’s in the future.

So where to spend the money?

First off, there are two things I decided I wouldn’t spend money on: bookmarks or book trailers. I know a lot of authors do bookmarks and other printed material, but I tend to assume that bookmarks get thrown away (at least, the ones I find in goody bags and that type of stuff do).

And though some would disagree, I think book trailers are mostly viewed by other authors. I’ve never decided to purchase a book based on a trailer, and I don’t know any readers who really pay attention to them. I did one for Kiss and Kin, and I had fun, but it was very time consuming.

So I decided to spend my very small budget on web site ads and in Romantic Times. I purchased a spot in a co-op ad with four or five other authors for the RT convention issue. I signed up with Coffee Time Romance for a year, where I’ll be doing chat sessions and having the cover of Yours, Mine and Howls featured on the blog. And I’m doing a small, rotating ad in March over at Smart Bitches Trashy Books; I’m also on the waiting list for a larger ad space. I may also purchase ad space at the Romance Studio.

And that’s it for paid advertising, for now. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to promote your book that don’t cost anything.

The most important method, in my opinion? Reviews. A lot of authors are afraid to send their work to reviewers – I’ve even had writers tell me “I want to stay under ___________’s radar – I don’t even want them reading my stuff because their reviews scare me.” I understand the feeling, but that’s a bad idea. Readers read reviews, and even negative reviews provide an author exposure to readers who might not otherwise hear of them. I’ve heard plenty of people say their sales spiked after getting reviewed on Smart Bitches or Dear Author – even negative reviews drive higher sales. So send your work to all the romance review sites you can find – you need the exposure.

You can’t ignore social networking as a form of advertising. Social networking can help you build readership because it allows readers get to know you as a person and as they do, they become interested in your work. I’d had a lot of people tell me they started reading one author or another after reading their blogs or Twitter streams.

You don’t necessarily need a Facebook site and a Twitter account and a Goodreads account and yadda yadda yadda. You don’t need to do all of them, but you need to do some. I don’t do Facebook – it just doesn’t grab me. I have a personal account under my real name and I very rarely check it. I did have a Facebook account under Kinsey Holley, but I started to see crossover between my real life friends and my author friends and it freaked me out – my romance career isn’t known to everyone and I want to keep it that way.

I’m very active on Twitter – I’m rather addicted to it, actually. And I have a Goodreads account. Goodreads, by the way, offers paid advertising campaigns. At present they won’t allow epubbed authors to participate in free book giveaways – that’s a promotional activity reserved for print authors. I’m hoping Goodreads changes the policy soon.

The main thing about social networking is, you have to do it correctly or you’ll end up alienating more people than you acquire readers. If all you tweet about is your books, and you don’t take the time to form relationships and have conversations with people, you’ll find yourself being unfollowed.

Same thing with Goodreads. I’ve heard of authors contacting total strangers on Goodreads to push their work – i.e., “I see from your bookshelf that you like to read paranormal romance. You might be interested in my new book, Hot Werewolf Lovin,’ available now from etc etc.” That’s a terrible, terrible way to promote yourself. It’s rude and intrusive, almost stalkerish. On Goodreads you can set up an author page, including a feed from your personal bog. The more you participate in Goodreads, the more visible you’ll be to potential readers.

I know some people think blogging frequently will attract readers – I’m not sure. I do know that if you have a blog, you must make it easy for visitors to find information about your work. If they have to hunt for it, they’ll get bored and go somewhere else.

Lots of people say that the most effective method of promotion is to build a backlist – your readership will grow book by book. That’s very good advice, if a little frustrating for slow writers like me. One of the benefits of a backlist is that you might get picked as a free read one month in the Kindle store. Some publishers won’t allow Amazon to do give aways of their books. That’s very shortsighted. Our own Meg Benjamin had a book in the free Kindle store a few months back and the sales of all her books skyrocketed.

I recently did something different to promote Yours, Mine and Howls. I don’t know yet how effective it will be.

The book’s hero, Cade MacDougall is a single father werewolf. As the book opens, he’s about to lose his fifth nanny in four years. Several allusions are made to the previous four nannies and why they didn’t last. So I decided to write short stories about each one – mini prequels, if you will, about the previous nannies. I posted them on my blog at roughly one month intervals starting in September. The last short story, about Nanny No. 4, Mrs. Lawrence, was posted January 10. I got some compliments on the stories – several people stopped by to read them and said they were looking forward to reading Yours Mine and Howls when it came out.

Then I went one step further. I put all the stories together in a clean manuscript and uploaded it to Smashwords and Scribd. It was free to do at both sites – Smashwords is picky about formatting, but if you’re familiar with Word it’s not a problem. So far the mini-book has been downloaded over two hundred times at Smashwords and read by about a hundred people at Scribd. I don’t know whether or how many people who read the Nanny Accounts will buy Yours Mine and Howls, but I know my work’s now been seen by a lot of people who wouldn’t have found it otherwise.

There’s one danger to doing the free reads like I did – I had to make sure that the nanny stories, which are lighter in tone than the book, stayed true to the way the characters are portrayed in the book. By the time people buy Yours Mine and Howls, if they’ve read the Nanny Accounts they’ll already have an image of Cade and Michael and Becca’s characters. And, of course, if people didn’t like the Nanny Accounts, they won’t want to buy the book. But that’s a risk I thought worth taking.

Promotion is not something I enjoy doing; maybe it’s because I’m southern, but it feels pushy to talk about my work or encourage people to buy my books. I’ve never worked in sales because I don’t like forcing myself on people, and that’s what it feels like I’m doing when I promote my writing. But I’m not doing this as a hobby, and if I want to sell books I have to get them in front of potential readers. We’ll see next month if my ideas work or not.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Why my heroines are always beautiful

I’ve read a lot of books and blogs and articles about creating characters. I’ve read that readers don’t want to read about heroines who are perfect – they should have flaws and be someone readers can relate to. Much of the advice centers around the personality of the heroine – making her three dimensional and likeable enough that the reader wants to spend time in her head. As for physical characteristics, I've heard that readers don't want to read about someone who’s too perfect to be true.

I always put a lot of thought into my characters’ physical appearance as well. Often I try to find photographs of a model or even actor who I think looks like my character. I won’t necessarily describe the heroine in great detail, but will give enough information so the reader can form a picture in her own mind.

I recently realized that all of my heroines are physically attractive. Why? I don’t actually know, except that for me romance is a “fantasy” and in my own fantasies, starring me, I’m slender and fit and beautiful. Hey, it’s a fantasy, I can be whatever I want. And I guess when I get inside a character’s head as a reader, I want to be beautiful.

For the most part, I think my heroines are somewhat oblivious to their looks. I’ve never written a heroine who thinks she’s gorgeous. On the other hand, I’ve never written a heroine who is convinced she’s ugly. Or fat. I’ve never written a plus-size heroine who worries about her weight; but I’ve also never written a heroine who’s slender who thinks she’s overweight or a heroine who worries about the size of her thighs as the hero is stripping her naked. That’s not sexy to me. I find it sexy when a woman is confident and secure – not conceited, but not overly concerned with how she looks. I do think I will write a heroine who worries about her thighs at some point. That’s just reality. But maybe because I’m kind of like that – my thighs are fat, my stomach isn’t flat, my boobs are too small – a sexy fantasy for me is to be a woman who’s unconcerned with those things.

But I think the real reason my heroines are beautiful is because they are most often described through the hero’s eyes. I try not to use that “heroine looking in a mirror” cliché and have her describe her own looks, but for the most part my heroines don’t think a lot about their looks. But some of them do see themselves differently than the hero sees them.

Here’s an example from Taming Tara, my latest Ellora’s Cave release. This is Tara, comparing herself to her sister Sasha:

She introduced Joe to Sasha, who looked him up and down with unabashed appraisal. Tara couldn’t help but compare her faded jeans and cotton tank top to Sasha’s silk dress and sexy sandals. Sasha was just totally different, her hair highlighted to a much paler blonde, flat-ironed to perfect straightness, her lips shiny bright pink.

Tara had always felt dull and boring beside Sasha, but it didn’t usually bother her. Tonight, however, she wished she compared more favorably to her younger sister seen through Joe’s eyes. Damn him. Why did she even care what he thought?

And here’s Joe looking at Tara and Sasha in another scene:

Her sister stood by her side in a sparkly red dress, her hair pale blonde, her skin tanned, the nails on the hand clutching her martini glass long and manicured. Her full lips, so much like Tara’s, were red and shiny and she wore a lot more make-up than Tara did. They did look alike, but Sasha’s vivid sexiness did nothing for him. It was Tara’s understated beauty that drew his eyes back.

And another example from my soon-to-be-published (stay tuned for details!) Breakaway - this is Jason meeting Remi for the first time:

Jason looked down at the tiny little blonde standing there with her hand on his arm. Was she even old enough to be in the bar? Amusement tickled inside him. He was used to girls hitting on him, went with the territory, but this little pipsqueak teeny-bopper blonde was hands-off material. Not even close to his type, anyway.

Later the same evening, after Remi discovers Jason just broke up with dark-haired super model Brianne Haskett, this is her point of view:

“What I mean is, I’m not normally attracted to cute little blondes.”

Cute little blonde? Yeah, that was her. How she wished she had mile-long legs and big boobs and full lips like Brianne Haskett. Stephanie Seymour. Laetitia Casta. All those other Victoria’s Secret models who looked like that.

No, she was teeny weeny, skinny, flat-chested, with wispy blonde hair.

But Jace seemed to find her attractive.

And still later that night, the attraction between them has developed even further, and this is what Jason thinks of her now:

And the top and the skirt came off too, both down over her hips and legs, leaving her lying on the couch in her lingerie and yes, her panties were black lace, too, a tiny triangle held on by a slender black ribbon over each hip. Her skin was incredible—creamy smooth everywhere, her body dainty and perfect.

He had to just stop and stare, breathing hard.

“Jace?” She put a hand out to him and he lifted his gaze to her face. Uncertainty shadowed her eyes, her mouth soft and pouty.

“You’re so fucking gorgeous,” he muttered. “I have to look at you.”

Her eyes widened, then drifted closed and the corners of her mouth tipped up. “Thank you. I’m not…”

He lightly rested his fingers on her mouth. “Don’t even say it.” He didn’t know how, but he knew what she was about to say, and he didn’t want to hear any comparisons between her and anyone else, because there was no comparison. Jace himself was a little taken aback at how stunningly beautiful he found her.


What I like (and what I often write) is a heroine who is not overly concerned about her looks but perhaps a little insecure, and a hero who thinks she is absolutely, breath-takingly gorgeous. He’s attracted to her, if not immediately, as with Jason the first time he sees Remi above, but certainly as he gets to know her. He can’t keep his eyes or his hands off her, she’s so beautiful and sexy.

So what do you like in terms of heroines and their looks? Big and confident? Gorgeous but insecure?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Trying Something New

I've got a new book coming out next month, and the promo planning is in full swing. Blog tour, Twitter and Facebook, my newsletter, and for the first time, a book trailer. Although I've never had a book trailer before, I decided to have one made for this new book.

Of course, as soon as I made the decision, there was a discussion on Twitter about how book trailers don't actually sell books. But you know what? I'm still excited about this one. Part of that is the style of trailer - I haven't seen one like this before, so I'm hoping it will be buzz-worthy. I also love the videographer I'm working with, and have been really impressed with her work in the past.

I also know that research shows people need to see a name or product multiple times before it sinks in - and if this trailer can help put my name and my book in front of people who may not have heard of either of us before, that can only be a good thing.

(Not my trailer, but one I loved!)



So in about a month, I should have a book trailer to share, and a few weeks after that, the book to go with it. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Jungle Love

I just found out (thanks to the autoreminders) that it's my turn to blog, but luckily I have a super-convenient and hopefully fun topic .... my very first wedding pix! They're just snapshots, nothing professional, but I hope you get the flavor of the occasion. Our wedding was on our land in Hawaii -- a jungle love wedding.





















My three lovely flower girls.


Fresh coconuts! (When mixed with fresh-pressed sugar cane juice, lilikoi and rum, truly sublime.)

My new husband getting emotional. And that's my adorable nephew and ringbearer.

I have a lot more photos, but I don't want to bore you! It was a completely beautiful and moving occasion, beyond anything I could have imagined.

With aloha -

Juniper

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner---or, uh, Nook.

You've waited for this moment for months. After reading the installments of The Zillionaire Vampire Cowboy's Secret Werewolf Babies, commenting, and tweeting-and racking up those points--we have a winner!

Our lovely reader will receive one B&N nook and a selection of stories from the Nine Naughty Novelists.

Drum roll please....

The winner is--jeanette8042

A huge congrats to Jeanette! Please email us at ninenaughtynovelists@gmail.com so we can send your prize.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Just Right is in print!



Just Right, the first book in the Bradfords series, is out in print!! (And I got my print copies delivered on my birthday!)
All three books in this series came out in 2010 and I’ve had such a good time with them. Now having them coming out in print in 2011 will prolong the fun!


For today, I thought I’d share the usual blurb and an excerpt (and a giveaway!) but also thought maybe I could include some trivial tidbits that you wouldn’t otherwise know about this book.


• It’s first title was Letting Loose
• Originally Jessica (who is an ER nurse) was a police officer
• It got me my first 1st place contest win (in a synopsis contest of all things!)
• I have five deleted scenes between Mario and Sophie—two of the teens featured in the story. The scenes show their romantic relationship develop too. (The book was over 100,000 words long with those scenes )
• Derek Jeter, of the New York Yankees, was the inspiration (physically) for Ben
• When I wrote Just Right I had no idea it was the start of a series.
• I wrote a huge amount of Just Right on an Alphasmart when I was between computers
• In the book, there are quotes painted on the walls at the youth center where Jessica volunteers. One is from Mark Twain (Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest) and another is from Ralph Waldo Emerson (… to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.)—I had both of these quotes hanging in my locker in high school.


I really want to give a copy away today so how about this—everyone who posts a favorite quote in the comment section will get entered into a drawing for a copy! (I'll draw a winner on Wednesday! Don't forget to include your e-mail addy!)

And without further ado, the blurb and an excerpt (one of my favorite scenes) from Just Right. Thanks for reading everybody! Erin

Just Right, available now from Samhain

To save one good man, she’ll have to let her inner bad girl out to play…

ER nurse Jessica Bradford is a good girl. Okay, a reformed bad girl, but she’s done her late father proud. Now she’s one step away from landing Dr. Perfect, aka handsome, sexy, heroic Ben Torres—the hot fudge and cherry on top of her hard work scooping out a respectable life.

Ben learned the art of sacrifice from his missionary parents, but when a drunk driver he saved kills three people, he quits. To be precise, the fist he plants in the man’s face gets him suspended. And the first dish he wants on his newly empty plate is Jessica—preferably naked.

Jessica can’t believe the Ben she’s found drowning his sorrows in a bar is her knight in shining scrubs. And he won’t be pried loose until she bets 48 hours of her time in a game of pool. She loses. And the next morning she stands to lose much more.

The Chief of Staff’s recommendation for the promotion she’s been after rides on her ability to keep Ben out of trouble until things blow over.

Except “trouble” is all Ben wants. And despite herself, Jessica finds that she’s more than willing to go down with him…

Warning: Contains hot love in a store dressing room and in the front seat of a car—at the expense of a very nice strawberry patch, unfortunately—oh, and hooker boots. Can’t forget the hooker boots.

Excerpt


I’m in.”


Ben turned to see Jessica standing next to Hank, shoes off, holding a pool cue.

“Do you know how?” Ben asked, smiling at the picture she presented. This wasn’t the type of place he’d ever pictured her in, but she seemed to be adjusting… almost getting comfortable. Interesting. Very interesting.

“As bad as you suck, I’m not sure it matters if I know how,” she said. “But yeah, I’ve played.”

“Well, by all means,” Ben said, gesturing at the table. “Show me what you’ve got.”

“I think we need to establish what the stakes are.” Jessica rubbed the little blue square of chalk over the end of her stick as she watched him.

He shrugged. “I’ve only got about fifty bucks left.”

Jessica moved into position to break. She leaned over the end of the table, her skirt riding up on the backs of her thighs, positioned the cue between her first two right-handed fingers and lined up her shot.

And he just might let her win if it kept her standing like that.

“If I win, you let me take you home, finally.” She looked at him over her shoulder and smiled knowingly when she caught him studying her posterior assets.

“Okay.” This pool game suddenly seemed like the best idea he’d had in a long time.

Jessica looked smug as she turned back to line up her shot again.

“Don’t you want to know what I want if I win?” Ben asked, blatantly taking in the view.

“Sure. What do you want?”

“The next forty-eight hours with you.”

She stared at him over her shoulder, then straightened and faced him. “What?”

“If I win, you spend the next forty-eight hours with me.”

“Just like that?”

He shrugged. “Yeah. You drive me home and then you stay.”

“I’ve… um. I’ve got… stuff… to do.”

“Call in sick.”

She didn’t hesitate. “I’m not sick.”

Ben shook his head. “And you won’t lie about something like that, right? It would be irresponsible.”

Jessica raised her eyebrows. “Of course it would be.”

Ben sighed. It was typical that the first woman he wanted to sleep with in far too long to remember was a good girl.

Ben rested a hip against the pool table and regarded Jessica. “So, what happens when you really want to spend the whole day in bed?”

~ ~ ~

That annoying little flippy-thing happened in Jessica’s stomach again. It had been a long time since she’d wanted to stay in bed for the reasons Ben was implying. But, yeah, he had a point. If that happened, what would she do?

She cleared her throat. “I could put the stuff off until later, I guess.”

“I want you to spend the whole day with me, Jess,” Ben said seriously. “Two days, actually. Forty-eight hours.” Then he shrugged. “I can probably find someone else that would be interested though. Since you’re too busy.”

Jessica frowned. Come to think of it, she did feel ill when she thought of Ben with any other woman.

“Fine. My stuff can wait.”

Ben straightened and looked at her for a moment before he asked, “But you won’t lie about being sick, right?”

“I’m not sick,” she repeated. “But I’ll take care of it.”

“I’m sure you will,” he said, almost to himself. But before she could ask him what he meant he said, “So, it’s an enthusiastic yes?”

“It’s a reluctant ‘fine’.”

He grinned. “Good enough.”

Jessica broke the triangle of balls apart with a resounding clack… and went on to sink five of her seven balls before even pausing to survey the table.

Ben was staring at the pocket into which yet another striped ball had just fallen when she turned to smile at him smugly. It was worth all the irritation to see that look on his face.

She walked around the edge of the table to position her next shot. As she pulled her cue back she was confident that she would only need one more shot after this. But as she started her forward motion, Ben leaned over.

“Look at this picture,” he said softly. “A long stick, hard balls, you bent over the table…”

She missed.

Jessica stared at the ball that had bounced off the edge of the table and rolled back toward her. Damn. That should have been an easy shot.

Ben laughed and came around the corner of the table. He nudged her aside with his hip against hers.

“Okay, big shot. Let’s see if you can win without me letting you.” She slid over only enough to let

him line up his shot and crossed her arms.

Ben lined up the shot and Jessica watched and heard the balls smack together, then the dull thud of them falling into the pockets: two balls in the same shot, in the two corner pockets on the opposite end of the table. It was a brilliant shot. The shot of someone who had played a lot. Not the shot of someone who had been losing money at the game. Not the shot of someone who had been drinking heavily.

He continued shooting until no solid balls were left on the green surface.

“Game over,” Ben announced as the eight ball was still rolling down the shoot. He tossed his pool cue onto the table and lifted the beer mug, finishing off the last half.

She was still staring at the table.

“Let’s go.” Ben took her hand and started toward the door without a word to any of the people he’d spent the better part of his night, and wallet, on.

“You could have done that all along, couldn’t you?” she asked, grabbing her purse off the sticky tabletop as they passed and then tripping along behind him.

He glanced back at the table. “Yeah, probably.”

“Why didn’t you? With those guys? Why drop all that money?” she asked as he pulled her out the door and into the parking lot.

He shrugged. “No motivation to win.”

Jessica suddenly realized that she might just have her hands full with Ben Torres. Still stunned over how he’d finished the pool game just as she’d been completely convinced he could barely walk a straight line, Jessica stopped at her car door and inserted the key to unlock it. She might have her hands too full with Ben Torres she amended. And not in a good way.

Buy here!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

To Bloodsuck one last time...



Rock is still a cowboy and still a zillionaire, but the babies are no longer a secret!

The happily ever after has been posted and we must say goodbye to Bloodsuck, Texas but before we go...


This story has been a part of our group for the past several months and it was the final proof that this group of nine has great chemistry! So, we wanted to do a little wrap up by giving you all a look Behind the Scenes (that’s where things get really interesting you know!)


Oh, and we have a nook to give away!! (you'll have to come chat with us later to find out who won!)
SO here is some Behind the Scene of the Zillionaire Cowboy’s Secret Werewolf Babies.

You might be asking, how did all of this come to be? How indeed? Some of it was the question “what are we going to post on the blog on Thursdays”? Some of it was that one member of this group can throw out a random funny comment or idea and someone else picks it up and runs with it and then someone else adds something to it—and pretty soon you have something amazing happening. And some of it was that at one time, way back in the beginnings of the Nine Naughty Novelists, we had talked about doing a serial story. But I think that some of us were at least a little serious about it. Like it would be a serious story.


We should have known better. You get the nine of us all together on a chat, with some wine in hand, and no rules and look out! It didn’t take us long—at all—to realize we wanted to do a tongue-in-cheek-affectionate-poke at the genre we all love and write. We threw everything out there at first and a few ideas stuck. For instance, making it a paranormal with vampires and werewolves seemed to stick from the beginning (some of us—won’t name names—weren’t as excited about this concept as others! ) We did agree, however, that we wanted to include every romance cliché we could. And don’t forget the purple prose!


Here each of the 9 share what they liked best and least about writing the 18 part serial!
But, there’s also a really fun chance to learn even more about the serial, its creation, the nine of us and how we manage to get anything done as a group --




We’re hosting a chat today! Yes, TODAY!



You can find us the Oberon Chat Room where our hostess is our very own PG Forte: http://www.oberoncalifornia.us/Chat_Room.html

It’s scheduled for 3 pm EST (2 p.m. CST) so come on over! I can guarantee it will be fun! We’ll be chatting about this serial, some ideas for our next serial and who knows what else?! (I’m guessing wine, sex, and chocolate will all come up at some point—maybe all together!)

But first, what did we like best and least about writing the Zillionaire Cowboy’s Secret Werewolf Babies?


Erin Nicholas: What I liked best was that it actually worked! I didn’t know if we’d ever get all our details and ideas ironed out, but then seeing the final product as it was posted bit by bit—wow! It was really fun to write something that had no rules, no real limits (except that Rock couldn’t go out in the sun, stand the sight of blood or sparkle… things like that!) You could just let your sense of humor and imagination take you! My least favorite part was probably the pressure of doing as good a job as those before me and not writing into a corner for those coming after me.
Kelly Jamieson: I have to say I loooooved the brainstorming sessions we had when we were
planning this! Anyone who reads this and thinks it's funny, OMG, you would've died laughing at our sessions! I laughed out loud sitting at the computer so much my family thought I was completely losing it. But I was afraid of writing about vampires and werewolves because I know
NOTHING about them (and so funny to see one of my exact questions in the story: How does a man who's undead get a hard on? I was scratching head about how to write that sex scene. Does his blood heat? Er...no. Does his heart race...?) I also had dumb questions about werewolves, like can they shift at will, or only when there's a full moon? But the great thing about trying out something new in a story like this is, it's just for fun! We could be as crazy and inventive as we wanted (hence Buffy's"lycanthrope fertility lunar cycle"!!

Kate Davies: Favorite thing - reading what everyone wrote. I loved every installment, and thought we challenged each other to get better with each chapter. Hardest thing - Felt bad about making everyone wait for my second installment! I got lost in the schedule and didn't realize it was my turn already. Everyone was very understanding about it, though!

Meg Benjamin: Oh my, it’s hard to believe it’s over! I mean we’ve been living with this baby since last summer. So my favorite moment? Probably when PG posted the first chapter. None of us knew whether this would work or not, whether people would read it or not, whether people would like it or not. I spent that first day going back again and again to look at the comments, absolutely floored that so many people had dropped by to read and have fun with us. It was just such a kick to see. And the hardest part. Well, I could say it was the fact that one of us (naming no names, of course) had this obsession with adding Klingons to the cast of characters, but that got overruled during the planning phase. I think the toughest part, all in all, was keeping all the details consistent. We could all keep track of the big stuff—Chastity’s mis-sized boobs, Rock’s horse, Buffi’s golden retriever characteristics—but little things could trip you up. Like when I wrote my chapter about Chastity and the pups and I gave them the wrong color eyes and hair. Fortunately for me, we posted each chapter in advance and more sharp-eyed Naughties caught it before it was posted. But each week we’d be trying to remember something like whether Buffi had her clothes with her when she went to sleep in the dogbed—and if she didn’t, where could she get them (answer: she’s a werewolf; she keeps emergency clothes in every room of the house). Seriously, y’all, this was just so much fun!

Kinsey Holley: What I liked best was reading everybody else's chapters. Least: trying to write my own! I swear, I was paralyzed trying to make it funny, parodic, sharp, humorous...it was WAY harder than writing straight romance. I don't think I came even close to PG's stuff.

Skylar Kade: Until we wrote the serial, we were more of a group of writers who blogged together. During all of our group brainstorming sessions, I feel like we really came together as friends and writers. Though we came up with and discarded a million ideas before settling on what became the ZVCSWB, all the polls and debates and discussions just brought us closer. At the same time, there was a lot of pressure to write something funny and in-line with this bizarre story line, especially with all of the talent we have in the Nine, which was my least favorite part of the serial--trying to overcome that anxiety and write a damn good story.

PG Forte: What I liked best about writing ZVCSWB: Going first. lol! No, seriously. We didn't really plot the first half--not very much, anyway. We just started with the characters and a basic premise--which is so not my thing. Writing the first chapter meant I didn't have to angst over the lack of planning...much. Also, I love writing beginnings anyway, so this was perfect. And I felt very lucky to have been the one picked to introduce Rock and Buffi to the world. Best of all, there were no fantastically funny previous chapter(s) to try and live up to.
What I liked least about writing ZVCSWB: Going first. 'Cause, as it turns out, what that really meant was every subsequent week someone else posted a chapter that blew mine out of the water, showed me up and left me thinking, "Damn. That's how it's supposed to be done!"
Really, though, there's nothing I like least about it--other than the fact that it's over! And Kelly's absolutely right: those planning sessions!! OMG, I don't know when I've laughed so much.

Juniper Bell: Best: I loved how the characters came to life as if they didn't know (or care) that they were in a parody -- or that they had nine authors instead of one. They were just themselves, and I love them for it. Buffi and Rock and Chastity were so much fun! I miss them! Least: It was a challenge being the newest NNN and jumping into the middle of the creative process with everyone. I had major performance anxiety, like a rookie being brought in to pitch during the 9th inning of the World Series. :)

Sydney Somers: What I liked best: The brainstorming process (it's such a shame Buffi wasn't half Klingon LMAO) and reading all the brilliant lines everyone else came up with every week. What I liked least: Writing the last chapter. I wasn't all that eager to bring Rock and Buffi's story to a close since I'd miss writing and reading about them, and I was pretty sure there was no way the ending would measure up to all the incredible chapters that came before it.

And finally, to get you in the mood to talk about Zillionaire Cowboys and such, a little poll for you (we love our polls at NNN!)

1. What should we do for our next serial?

Regency with pirates and ninjas

Runaway cruise ship

Other: (you can’t just answer “other”, you have to give us an idea! )

2. Was this one too short, too long or just right?

3. Which character did you love the best and why?

4. Favorite line from the story.

5. Is a zillionaire more or less wealthy than a frakillionaire?

I think I can speak for the whole group when I say we LOVED doing this thing and you all were what made it great!! Thanks for reading week after week, commenting, and keeping us going!

Stick around… who knows what we have up our sleeves!

Erin for The Naughty Nine

Friday, January 7, 2011

Chat with the Naughty Nine

We're celebrating the completion of the Zillionaire Vampire Cowboy's Secret Werewolf Babies and talking about our favorite and craziest parts of working on the serial and awarding our grand Prize, the Nook. Join us at 3pm EST this Sunday, January 9th. Hope to see you there. http://www.oberoncalifornia.us/Chat_Room.html

Interval Training Times Two

Like most people out there, a New Year means setting up resolutions (that most of us end up struggling to keep) and like most other years, working more regular exercise into my day is right at the top of the list. I've taken a different approach this year, though, one that follows a similar pattern to my writing--Interval Training.

They say (they meaning a number of bloggers, health writers and fitness experts) that Interval Training is a more efficient way to burn fat/lose weight with the added bonus of giving your heart one hell of a workout. It's pretty simple really, instead of say jogging for 45 mins every day, you jog for just 20, but instead of running at a steady rate the whole time (which your body apparently adapts to and may lead to the plateau effect with weight loss) you mix things up. You jog regularly for a couple minutes, then for the next minute you sprint, then slow back down for another few minutes, until you've caught your breath, then sprint for another minute, repeating the intervals until the end of your twenty minutes.

The awesome thing about cardio (especially using interval training) is that not only does your body have to be always adjusting and not adapting when it comes to calorie burning, your body will continue to burn calories better for hours after the workout.

I find writing works the same for me. Sure, I try to have a steady daily word count, but my muse seems most inspired when I go from writing 1000 words a day to having two or three day sprints of 2000-3000 words before slowing down again. It even works in smaller chunks when I get my timer out and really turn off that internal editor and do a writing sprint.

I'm hoping that making this connection between exercise and my writing approach will make it slightly easier to stick with in the long run. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

So how about you, what different approach are you taking to exercise this year? Anything that failed miserably in the past that you've learned from? Anything you've found that works really well for you?

And as an added bonus, I'll draw a winner from one of the comments left today for an ebook of Trust Me, my latest release.

*** Contest is now closed. Congrats to Zina whose name was drawn via the awesome random.org Thanks for playing everyone!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Zillionaire Vampire Cowboy's Secret Werewolf Babies - Chapter 18

I wanna Rock and roll all night.

Rock felt himself smiling as the world seemed to spin behind his closed eyelids to the drumming beat of Kiss. The taste of perfection lingered on his tongue, sweeter than a Texas sunset and drowning out everything but the flavor of something so foreign and yet so familiar...

Something he ached to sink his fangs into.

The world screeched to a halt like the sound of his Kiss record being snatched off the turntable after Babs Braveheart had gotten her hands on it. Better the record than him, who she’d come to stake after his herd had flattened a section of her fence.

Funny how he hadn’t thought of that busted record or the smell of garlic from the homemade necklace Babs had worn that night in decades. Now that he thought about it, he couldn’t quite remember what triggered the memory to begin with. It was damn hard to think at all when he felt hotter than a billygoat with a blowtorch and his gums ached like Buffi had hit him with her meat mallet.

Both of which should have been enough to silence the Kiss song stuck in his head. Instead he heard himself singing the words aloud like he was having some kind of out-of-body experience. He knew it was him—and damn he could sing—but it felt like he couldn’t stop singing along any more than he could stop craving the flavor that was already fading away.

He needed more. And he really needed to replace that Kiss album.

“Rock? Rock!”

“I wanna Rock and roll all night—” He hissed out a breath at the sudden stinging pain in his cheek. “Tarnation.”

“Rock, baby? Are you okay?”

He opened his eyes and saw his gorgeous lupine lover leaning over him. He gave her a lopsided grin, thinking he’d wipe away the water on her cheeks—had it rained?—but somehow he missed touching her.

Laughing at his sudden lack of coordination, he closed his eyes. Christ, he needed to take a piss. “I wanna Rock and roll all night and party every day.”

“Are you…drunk?” Buffi’s disbelief had him trying to sit up, though he rather liked lying there feeling the world dip and spin and… Sweet heavens he was hungry.

He glanced at the deep valley between Buffi’s breasts and was instantly harder than the time he’d been roped into being part of the test group for Viagra for vampires. Not that he’d ever had a problem in that department, as those cheerleaders could attest to.

No, it wasn’t sex he was hungry for. There was something else he was craving. Something…

He saw the shattered glass on the floor, and the drops of…blood? His stomach clenched even as he realized that the red liquid’s consistency didn’t match the B-word. Neither did the smell. Beneath the coppery fragrance that usually had him seeing stars was a richer, full-bodied scent that had his mouth throbbing like his fangs had burst clear through his gums.

Whatever it was on the floor—he needed it. Now.

Vaguely aware that he was still singing and had forgotten part of the second verse—Buffi was likely too distracted by his throaty baritone to notice—he rolled onto his belly and shimmied over to the broken glass. He dipped his fingers in the liquid.

“Wait—”

“Can’t.” Too late, he lifted his fingers to his mouth and sighed at the exquisite taste. Before he could stop himself, he licked every drop off the floor with the same enthusiasm his wanton wolf would attack a bowl of water after a run, only without the drool—he hoped.

Twice he had to spit out a sliver of glass, but he didn’t care, not when it tasted better than anything his temperamental chef Marcel had ever dreamed up.

Feeling a little dizzy again, he grinned, then remembered he still needed take a piss. He should go find the boys—his boys—and teach them how to take a leak like a man. Assuming they were potty-trained. God, he hoped so.

Yeah, he’d do that, right after another drink from the bottle of wine Buffi had snatched off the tray next to Vince Yardley. Poor guy looked white as a ghost. Maybe he needed to have a drink.

Looking both relieved and confused, Buffi leaned over him, her gaze sliding between him and the bottle of wine clutched in her fingers. She sniffed the contents. “I definitely smell blood, and some kind of poison.”

“Billy Bob Bobson,” Rock growled, the tip of his fang dragging across his bottom lip when he snarled. “He and Chastity were trying to poison you. He must have cut himself in the process.” After three tries Rock made it upright. “I’ll protect you from the likes of him. You and our boys.”

Her eyes widened. “You mean, you believe they’re yours and forgive me for not telling you about them sooner?”

“Not even the fact that you occasionally drink from the toilet would stop me from making the four of us a family.”

Her face broke into a wide grin before she scowled. “You sure this isn’t some lame-brained attempt to get your hands on the winery?”

“I swear it’s the truth. Cross my heart and hope to die a painful, sun-blistering death.” Which he’d come awfully close to on the ride back to his ranch and his return ride to save the woman he loved.

Buffi cocked her head as though she could tell by the sound of his voice if he was sincere.

She hesitated only another moment, then flung herself at him. “I’ve never seen such a reckless, selfless act as deliberately drinking a glass of poison meant for me when you could have just as easily tossed it aside. You really do love me, don’t you? Rock? Rock!”

His gaze had drifted down to the bottle she still held at her side. “I think I need another drink, Buffi.”

She leaned back, bringing the bottle up for closer inspection. “But it has blood in it. Are you sure you can handle that?”

He nodded, waiting a second for the fleeting nausea to pass before he spoke. “It’s more than just blood now. It’s hemovino.”

“Blood wine?” She glanced at the contents of the bottle. “I suppose it is.”

“You know what that means right?”

“That now you’ll able to drink blood?”

“Of course not.” He took the bottle and brought it up to his mouth. “Now it means I’ll be able to drink blood.”

Buffi gave him a strange look that he quickly dismissed. Sometimes understanding this female was as hard as nailing Jello to a tree. Assuming this was one of those times when he was just better off ignoring the puzzled look on her face, he whooped and swung her around in his arms.


“Need a ride?” Chastity turned her head just as Billy Bob pulled his car up alongside of her.

“Go away.” She strutted forward, dragging her Louis Vuitton suitcase behind her. It was full of every expensive gift Rock had given her that she could round up, plus a few other items she’d liberated from Rock’s house.

It was the least she deserved for being passed over for that hussy Buffi. She’d bet the scheming home-wrecker was already banging Rock like a screen door caught in a hurricane. Although Chastity refused to think about what kind of kinky things the pair of them had been up to, for Buffi to end up pregnant with dog boys.

She shuddered and continued along, wincing at the blisters on her heels. She’d only reached the end of Rock’s driveway and already she suspected her five-inch heels wouldn’t survive another mile, much less stopping and wasting time with the likes of the vampire hunter responsible for her losing her gazillionaire cowboy.

“Chas, baby—”

“Leave me alone.”

“You know I can’t do that after all we’ve been through together.”

She rolled her eyes, then staggered when her right heel snapped. She limped along anyway, even when her suitcase tipped off its wheels and she dragged it behind her.
The car stopped and she heard the mini Cooper’s door flung open. “Chastity, just listen to me.”

“I have nothing to say to you.”

He caught her arm and swung her around. “Well I have something to say to you.” The harsh, possessive tone of his voice seemed to surprise him as much as it did her.

She blinked up at him, letting go of her suitcase to push him away. He didn’t budge, his chest impossibly hard and muscular beneath her palms. Despite her better judgment—which she did have no matter who thought she was one fry short of a happy meal—she ran her hands over his chest.

Pleasure speared through her dewy womanhood, and she purred like a stray feline in heat.

Billy Bob glanced around. “What is that god awful sound?”

She tried to pull away.

“Chastity.” Billy Bob caught her by her breasts, gently cradling them the way she’d seen men cradle women’s faces between theirs palms at the climax of all those romantic movies she loved to watch.

Her heart sped up at the tenderness in his eyes.

“We belong together. It doesn’t matter to me if you’re as sharp as a cue ball or have slightly uneven boobs or that your master plans are about as useful as a trapdoor on a canoe.” He tugged at a strand of hair stuck at the corner of her mouth. “I’ve fallen for you, Chastity. Run away with me. We don’t need vampires or cowboys or expensive things that aren’t nearly as breathtaking as you. All we really need is each other to be happy.”

“Oh, Billy Bob.” She leaned up and pressed her lips to his. “You had me at, ‘Need a ride.’”


Two Years Later

“I shouldn’t be surprised to find you out here.”

Buffi lifted her head off her paws and wagged her tail when she spotted Rock step beneath the grape arbor. She glanced once more at the moon-drenched landscape stretched out in front of her where they’d expanded the thriving vineyard to accommodate their new cliental. Who knew there were so many vampires out there with the same affliction Rock suffered from? They’d started out catering to that group exclusively, then branched out as much of the vampire race embraced hemovino.

With a happy woof, she circled Rock, then shifted back to her human form. His gaze instantly heated at the sight of her naked body, and she took a playful step away from him.

“Are the kids all sleeping?”

“Just got the twins down. They had to help me hogtie the triplets to their beds after their bloodshakes. Good thing those troublesome vixens are as adorable as their mama.”

Buffi propped a hand on her hip. “Bloodshakes? At this time of night? I swear those girls have you wrapped around their chubby little fingers.”

“Not as much as their mama does.” He stepped up behind her and ensnared her wrists faster than the calves he roped from his brief stint on the rodeo circuit a few months back.

Buffi held the twins responsible for that that short-lived fantasy. Monk had been stung after stirring up a hornet’s nest and had tried to buck Rock off his back. Stubborn vampire that he was, Rock had rode it out and the boys had looked at him like he was some kind of rodeo god ever since. Of course Rock had taken their adoration to a whole new level, but after witnessing a few too many bloody injuries on the circuit, he’d thankfully hung up his bronco buckle for good.

“Don’t tell me you came out here to try and seduce me, Rock?”

“Good looking zillionaire vampire cowboys don’t try anything. They get ‘er done.”

Buffi rolled her eyes. “You’ve been watching Larry the Cable guy again, haven’t you? You didn’t let the twins watch this time, did you?”

His callused hands slid up her stomach, distracting her. “Do we really need to waste time talking about appropriate television programing when we could be playing ride the fangy stallion?”

She sighed dreamily. “I love it when you talk dirty to me.”

“I’m just getting warmed up, darlin’.”

“Good, now shut up for a second and kiss me.”

“Yes ma’am.” He spun her in his arms and captured her mouth in a sizzling kiss that stole her breath.

“Mmmm,” she murmured against his lips. “I like the way you say that.”

“Ma’am,” he repeated again, coaxing her down to the ground and covering her with his rock-hard body.

She looped her arms around his neck. “I love you Rock Fangsworthy.”

He grinned. “You always say that right before I give you the best eight seconds of your life.”

“I really mean it, Rock. You’re the zillionaire vampire cowboy of my dreams.

THE END