Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Conference Call

My next book comes out this Friday - April 2 - Conference Call from Ellora's Cave. I'm quite in love with the cover, especially the guy, and hero in the story I'm writing now looks like that, too!

This is a quick fun little story which came out of a business conference I attended a few years ago. While I was there in Vancouver, staying all by myself in a gorgeous downtown hotel, of course I started thinking about what kind of trouble you could get into...far from home, with nobody you know there. What if there was a sexy guy you were going to meet up with...and then to my surprise, another sexy guy showed up in the story!

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Here's the blurb and a little excerpt!

A software conference with a lot of techie geeks sounds boring, but Kenzie’s excited about this one. She’s going to see Noah Chambers again! After meeting once, she hasn’t been able to get his sexy smile out of her head. Noah’s looking forward to seeing Kenzie again too. He knows it should be strictly business, but dammit, she’s hot and he’s kind of hoping four days in a hotel with her might lead to more than tech talk.

When an old flame of Kenzie’s shows up at the conference, and Shaun clearly has the same hopes as Noah, how to resolve the competition between the two men for Kenzie’s attention? How about by making her ultimate fantasy come true—with a hot threesome?

Reader Advisory: This book contains a scorching ménage scene with light male/male touching.

The two men sat there, saying nothing. Noah played with his fork. Shaun drained his wine glass.

“Well,” Noah said.

“So,” Shaun said.

They glanced at each other, then away. Then Noah sighed. “Kenzie’s a sweetheart. She doesn’t deserve two assholes acting like idiots.”

“You’re right,” Shaun bit out. “So stop acting like one.”

“Me! Hey, I’m trying to make an effort here. You could do the same.”

Shaun blew out a breath. “Yeah, okay. Sorry, man. It’s just...Kenzie’s a pretty special friend.”

Noah eyed him, jealousy like a rock in his gut. “I gather you two are more than just friends.”

Shaun grinned, then at Noah’s stern look, sobered. “Yeah, we hooked up a couple of years ago. We kept in touch, but it’s not anything serious.”

“Then why the hell are you acting like you own her?”

“Why are you?” Shaun lifted his chin in a challenge and Noah grimaced.

“Hell if I know,” he muttered. His reaction to Shaun showing up surprised him too. He wasn’t sure what he’d wanted to happen tonight. He’d been looking forward to seeing Kenzie, despite telling himself this was business, but from the moment her soft curves had collided into him, he’d been hot for her. He knew it wasn’t a good idea to get involved with a colleague, but...

It wasn’t like it never happened. Merritt had no rules about relationships between employees and the truth was there were lots of married couples who worked together at Merritt. There were also lots of divorced couples, but he’d only known one situation where the divorce was so bitter that they’d had to move the couple to different teams. Then Julie had hacked into her ex-husband’s e-mail and started sending offensive memos to senior executives. She’d been pretty good at covering her tracks, but really, she should have known in a business full of software specialists someone was going to be able to figure out who did it.

Anyway, he knew he should keep things strictly business, but hell, the truth was, he wanted to fuck Kenzie’s brains out. He got hard just at the thought. Then this guy had shown up, pissing him off. His insides burned with thoughts of Kenzie with Shaun.

“Look, I like her too,” he said. “I don’t know her very well, but I was hoping to get to know her better while we’re here. And then you came along and...”

Shaun shrugged. “Not my fault. I didn’t even know she was going to be here. Can’t help it if she likes me.” He grinned.

Noah resisted the urge to punch him. They were both silent for a moment, looking down at their plates.

“So,” Shaun said slowly. “You want her. I want her. What are we going to do about it?”

They looked at each other. “Pistols at dawn?” Noah suggested dryly. Shaun laughed. “Wait, I know. Arm wrestling. Go on over there.” He nodded to Kenzie’s chair. “We can wrestle for her.”

“A couple of software geeks arm wrestling.” Shaun guffawed. “We might as well thumb wrestle.”

“Hey,” Noah said, offended. “I work out.” He tightened his biceps.

“So do I.” Shaun folded his arms across his chest and leaned back in his chair. “I was making a joke.”

Again, silence. No way was Noah going to bow out. He might have struggled with his conscience on the way here, told himself he had to stay professional, but now that he’d seen Kenzie, now that he knew she was even sweeter than he remembered, he had no intention of giving her up.

Apparently Shaun felt the same.

“There is a way we both can win,” Shaun said slowly, lowering his arms to the armrests of his chair.

Noah waited. And waited. “Okay, what?”

“How about we both have her?”

Noah stared at him. Huh? “What? Like me tonight, you tomorrow night?” He curled his lip. “She’s not a doll we can just pass around.”

“No. I mean, we both have her...tonight.”

Noah’s brows shot up. “You mean...” Shaun couldn’t mean what he thought he meant. He eyed Shaun uncertainly.

“A threesome,” Shaun said. He lifted one shoulder. “You, me and Kenzie.”

“Uh...” Noah was stunned speechless. Jesus.

It wasn’t like he’d never had a threesome before. There’d been that time with the Taylor twins—Christ, that’d been hot—and he’d had his share of fantasies about three in a bed. But in his mind it was always him and two girls.

Was Shaun gay? Bi?

He was still waiting for Noah to say something.

“I’m straight,” Noah blurted.

Shaun grinned. “Don’t worry, dude, it’s not you I’m interested in. We can just concentrate on making Kenzie feel good.”

Oh, yeah. He could get into that. He shook his head, still hardly believing they were having this conversation. “You know, Kenzie might not be up for that.”

Shaun’s knowing smile taunted him. “I think she might.”

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Guest Blogger Nina Pierce - How Hard Can it Be?

Over the years I’ve had numerous jobs. And when I say numerous … I mean like over 50. Really. I’m the female version of George Plimpton. (Only he was into sports. And a writer. And he made TONS of money … but you know… kinda like him.)
Anyway, I started working when I was 15 at the local Micky D’s. This was the beginning of drive-throughs and when we used to make shakes the old-fashioned way, with a mixer. A squirt of flavoring and ice cream, then blend. That stupid machine and I didn’t get along. I can’t tell you how many times it exploded all over me. But my most memorable moment was when a container of strawberry topping slipped from my hand to the floor. It hit the tiles flat on its bottom which caused the most interesting eruption of strawberry sauce, easily 5 feet in the air. How do I know this? When it was done, it was dripping off my face and the brim of my hat, and down the front of my uniform. And all of this happened in slow motion in front of a lobby filled with the lunch crowd. FULL! Oh, yeah, that was a fun job.
Let’s see, I’ve worked at a jean store, a mortgage company, an aquarium, a frame store, a processing plant, an overnight summer camp, and a daycare. I’ve been a waitress, a “go-fer” for a game warden, a science teacher, a lab assistant, a janitor, an ed tech, a tutor, a resident assistant, a substitute teacher, and a secretary at a job recruiter and a real estate office.
Some of those jobs I didn’t really like. Being a janitor in a girl’s dormitory wasn’t really something I enjoyed. I’m not even going into the whole bathroom situation. Nor the job working second shift at a processing plant for computer components. I spent the summer straightening wire leads with pliers and boiling components in oil to watch for bubbles. *shudders* Those were long days. But the summer I worked on an island off the coast of Maine at an overnight camp was awesome. Working as a lab assistant, teaching physics labs in college was pretty cool as well. And I didn’t really suffer when I worked as a waitress. All those people to visit with … yeah, it was fun.
But I have to say this current job … this writing career I’ve chosen. Man, this is hard. Five years ago when I sat down without any idea about the publishing world I was in absolute bliss pounding out my first novel. Which, at the time, I believed was an absolute masterpiece … ummm, not so much! (I can confess now it’s hidden waaaay under my bed… never to see the light of day.)
I looooove stretching my imagination and creating plots. It’s a hoot when it all comes together. But sometimes it’s just work. Don’t laugh. Of course it’s work. I just didn’t expect it to be. And working for myself? Well, that requires more discipline than I have some days. It’s too easy to find something other than weaving new stories to fill my days. Like shopping on the internet, playing on twitter, visiting forums, or … blogging.
Writing is a difficult journey. It’s so easy to let things just slow me down or completely block up the works. To help me over this hump and support my career, I’ve joined a goal group through my local writing chapter of RWA. We’ve agreed to support each other in our writing journeys. It’s the habit of writing every day that successful authors develop.
It’s baby-steps that get a book written. 100 words in a paragraph, paragraphs adding up to pages, pages to chapters and chapters to a complete manuscript. Then voila … I’m sending a finished story to an editor! And I tell you there’s nothing more thrilling in this business than a publisher offering you a contract for your story.
So this may be a really hard profession, but it’s worth all the work. My favorite quote by Michael Kanin says it all … “I don’t like to write, but I love to have written.”

My most recent release, Healer’s Garden, a futuristic erotic suspense novel is available from Ellora’s Cave. It was a wonderful challenge to create a world that didn’t exist. A world where men are submissive to women and are used only for procreation.

Buy Link:

In the female dominated society of the 23rd century, mating with a male, even if it is to save the human race, is a distasteful task and one Healer Jahara Hriznek has successfully avoided—until now.

Brenimyn is a gifted breeding instructor at the Garden of Serenity. Forced to copulate with all females requesting his services, he yearns to find the one woman who responds to his touch. When Jahara arrives with the new class of breeders, Brenimyn’s body immediately aches for her, but convincing the stubborn healer that sex between a man and a woman is more than just an act for procreation proves to be a challenge he refuses to fail.

Jahara doesn’t want to enjoy the sinful rapture only Brenimyn brings to her body. Brenimyn has no intention of dousing the flames of desire licking at them until Jahara is completely his—body, mind, and heart. But when the government finds their loving relationship a threat to the natural order, there may be more than their stubborn wills at stake.
Healer's Garden Trailer

Nina Pierce on the web:

Monday, March 29, 2010

Are We There Yet?

I'm hoping that by the time you read this, I'll be on a sandy beach in Hawaii, soaking up the sun and reading Lucy Monroe's newest paranormal. But thanks to the wonders of scheduled posting, I'm writing this the night before we leave, and life is very different at the moment. Here's how I'll get from here to there:

1. Drop kids at school.
2. Take paperwork to office, where I'm waylaid by three separate people who've been to Hawaii and have suggestions for places to visit and restaurants to explore. I take notes on scraps of paper in my purse that immediately disappear, only to resurface three weeks after I get back.
3. Go to superstore, where I overbuy on everything from first aid supplies to snacks for the plane.
4. Bank.
5. Other office. More travel advice.
6. Another store.
7. Another bank.
8. Home for a minute, where I stuff first aid supplies and sunscreen in large ziploc bags.
9. Haircut.
10. Pick up kids from school.
11. Kids' haircuts.
12. Home. More packing.
13. Dinner.
14. Stare at packing list blindly.
15. Pack some more.
16. Unpack some stuff.
17. Pack more stuff, wondering just how much we really need to bring.
18. Head to airport hotel, with stop at bookstore on the way so everyone has reading material for the plane.
19. Collapse in hotel room after making arrangements for shuttle and wakeup call in the morning.
20. Finally get on flight, trusting that I remembered everything or, failing that, at least my husband and kids.

*collapses* I think at this point, I'll have earned my vacation!

So am I the only one who runs around like a chicken with her head cut off right before vacation? Or does anyone have planning advice to make the process run more smoothly next time around?

Friday, March 26, 2010


Some things I would never do:
1. Sky dive.
2. Eat a live bug.
3. Let spiders crawl on me on purpose.
4. Give up chocolate.
5. Have sex in public.

So you might now be wondering what brought this up? The radio talk show I listen to in the mornings. Maybe this is only new to me. I do live in Iowa, after all. I love it, of course, but we are not always on the front line of cool new trends. So, I’m willing to entertain the idea that this is old news to the rest of you. But they were talking about tattoos, piercings, etc. Including tattoos and piercings on more intimate and sensitive body parts. Yep, you guessed it, including the most sensitive of all girl parts. Then, they read a story about how the newest trend is to put little gems there. Right, down there. They said it was like bedazzling t-shirts (yeah, I’m not sure it’s exactly like that for obvious reasons)! And surprisingly it took very little Googling to find out that it’s called Vajazzling and yes, ladies, you can get do-it-at-home kits if you don’t want to go to the swanky spas

The point is, this is very, very, very likely going on my ‘never would do’ list. BUT, would I have one of my heroines do this? Hmm… that’s a pretty probably maybe. That’s the fun. They are their own people, not mini-mes and I have them do all kinds of things I wouldn’t, don’t, or can’t do.

For instance, Jaden in No Matter What is an avid runner. Not. Me.
Jaden also married a millionaire. Ahem. Not me either. (love you, honey!)
Jaden threw a stapler at her boss when he ticked her off. Wanted do, but haven’t.
Then there’s Jessica in Just Right. Jessica can shoot pool with the best. Definitely not me. Jessica also has hot sex in a store dressing room. Hmm… can’t say I’ve ever…

Anyway, the point is, that’s what great fiction is all about--- living for awhile in another world, doing some wild and crazy things or some amazingly heroic things or some super, horrible scary things through someone else’s eyes, life and experiences.

So, I think I’ll leave the Vajazzling in the books. How about you? What’s something that you love to read about but would never do? (sex on the back of a camel, for instance… Cherry Adair anyone?) How about the Vajazzling thing?! Come on, 'fess up!

Oh, and just for those of you who are curious… (and you know you are!)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

More Meet the Heroines!

It's the ladies' turn now to spill their deep, dark secrets! Drum roll please...

Jessica Bradford from Just Right by Erin Nicholas (available March 30!)
1. Favorite way to escape after a hard day at work?
Ice cream. Lots and lots of ice cream. And old tv re-runs. Nothing that requires any deep thought or action on my part!

2. What do you do for a living and how did you get into that?
I'm a nurse and the director of nursing in the busiest ER in the city. Nursing school was something I could handle doing while raising my two younger siblings and I'm very drawn to bringing calm and order to chaos. The ER at St. Anthony's is definitely full of chaos!

3. What's the first thing you noticed about Ben?
His take-charge, solve-every-problem attitude. And he has this sexy little, I-can-get-you-to-do-whatever-I-want smile. I simply can't resist it!

Learn more about Jessica and Ben at

Lara Brunner from Maison Domine by Skylar Kade (out in print July 1; ebook out now)
1. Favorite way to escape after a hard day at work?
Would it be too nerdy to say I read journals for organic chemistry? Other than that, one of the best escapes is Jax, my love and my Dominant. He's always ready with kisses, cuddles, and more of my favorite contact sport (we're keeping this PG-13, right?). Nothing relaxes me more.

2. What do you do for a living, and how did you get into that?
I'm an organic chemist. I think being an only child with socialite parents who was too inquisitive for her own good was just the right formula to point me toward that career. Besides, I think lab coats and goggles are sexy. Not to mention I spend all day playing mad scientist, synthesizing new chemical compounds, and getting paid for it!

3. What's the first thing you noticed about Jaxon?
His voice. The few times we'd run into each other at faculty events, he always seemed a little too good looking to talk to. But his voice always sent shivers down my spine. I never had the courage to chat him up, but I always loved being near just to catch his voice.

Learn more about Lara and Jaxon at

Dani from Challenging Carter by Kate Davies
1. Favorite way to escape after a hard day's work?
Don't laugh, but lately it's strip aerobics. It's a great way to explore
my sexy side, which has been under wraps for way too long. So even
though I ended up in the class by mistake, it's become one of my
favorite activities. And Carter's a fan, too!

2. What do you do for a living and how did you get into that?
(sighs) Most people would think I've got the most boring job in the
world. I'm an accountant, the money person for Carter's outdoor
equipment company. But I love it. I've always been an analytical type of
person, better with concrete numbers and calculations than with messy
things like emotions and love. Probably why I'd never made a move on
Carter in all the years I've known him. At least, not until lately.

That's the other great thing about my job. I get to go to work every day
with the man of my dreams. Even back in the days before he knew how I
felt, it was a pretty damn good trade-off.

3. What's the first thing you noticed about Carter?
Oh, man, that's so far back I can't even remember. We've been friends
for what seems like forever. I can't even remember a time when we
weren't in each other's lives. But if you ask about the here and now,
I'd tell you that every time he sees me, he gets this little smile on
his face that absolutely melts me. Nothing better than that.

Learn more at

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Guest Blogger Desiree Holt - Younger Man/Older Women-why men love it

Okay, so the whole cougar thing is hot, hot, hot. As an older woman I can certainly agree with the yen for a hot young stud, whether it’s for a day or forever. Pick one with brains and physical stamina and you’ve struck gold. I write about it a lot. And I mean a lot! You should see my gallery of young hunks I keep on my computer.

But what about the men? What attracts them and makes them jump into this kind of relationship?

First of all, older women are supposedly taboo. Usually it’s the other way around. And anything forbidden is always attractive. That’s with a capital A. Men of all ages still have that kid inside that wants something they aren’t supposed to have.

Secondly, mature women make men feel a lot more comfortable. Younger women have less experience with men and tend to be both less stable and less giving sexually. Plus, if they are attractive in any way at all, they have dozens of men chasing after them. Sometimes the competition gets fierce, and when the prize is won, it often isn’t what it promised to be. Plus, men think it’s great to be attractive in the eyes of a woman who has a lot more to compare him to.

Third, older women have less drama in their lives. Usually they’re at a point where they’re financially and mentally independent. Men looking for a serious relationship often find that younger women too immature for them. Since they are independent and mature, older women tend to give the man room in the relationship to be his own person. She understands why you need a boy's night out. She is less clingy and does not need attention all the time.

Fourth, older women know who they are and what they want. There are no mixed signals any more, no guessing games. They know how to make a relationship work and last. They’ve played the field and they know what they want, and they tend to be clear about that from the start.

Fifth, for the men being with an older woman is a sign of conquest. A definite plus factor. It gives the impression the boy is now a man, with all that implies. It’s like being giving a very high compliment.

And finally—but definitely most important—the sex is amazing. No more worries on the part of the man that he isn’t satisfying his partner. If he isn’t she won’t be shy about letting him know what she wants. And returning the favor.

The Bargain

Lara McKee‘s life came to a crashing halt the night her husband was killed in a carjacking and she lost their unborn child. Now she channels all her energy into her job as assistant to Cole Cassidy, sexy CEO of Alamo Construction. Cole’s own life is a mess. A shotgun marriage based on a lie and the fiery death of his wife on the highway have left him with a child to raise that’s a constant reminder of his first wife’s lies and deceit. Both of them have written marriage out of their future.

But Cole desperately needs someone to mother the child and take charge of his personal life. When he proposes a marriage of convenience to Lara, who still yearns for motherhood, she shocks herself by accepting. And so these two people, carrying a van load of emotional baggage, begin to build a life together under almost impossible circumstances. Conflict builds over the child, whom Lara falls in love with at once and Cole ignores.

Beneath the daily conflict, love unexpectedly begins to grow. But at the moment they dare to explore their feelings, anger over the child erupts and the night turns into a disaster that nearly destroys the marriage. Slowly, bit by bit, they begin to re build their relationship, carefully nurturing these new feelings. But it takes another near-tragedy before they can finally get past the hurdles to complete happiness and truly become a family.

Desiree Holt has lived a life of excitement that brings the color to her writing. She was a summer fishing guide, a summer field hand where she was one of only three women working, a member of a beginning ski team that skied in competition (and no, no broken bones!). She spent several years in the music business representing every kind of artist from country singer to heavy metal rock bands. For several years she also ran her own public relations agency handling any client that interested her. She is twice a finalist for an EPIC E-Book Award, a nominee for a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, winner of the first 5 Heart Sweetheart of the Year Award at The Romance Studio, and is published by four different houses. Romance Junkies said of her work: “Desiree Holt is the most amazing erotica author of our time and each story is more fulfilling then the last.”

You can find her at and

Monday, March 22, 2010

Must Love John

Last night I was planning to write about being afraid that I've forgotten how to write, but when I got channel surfing and ended up watching Grosse Pointe Blank, I was reminded of my hardcore LOVE of John Cusack. He's one of those actors that often comes across the same in most of his movies, but I think it's because he's so natural and boy-next-door or something that makes it work so well for him.

So feeling a wee bit more inspired by John, I decided to share some of my favorite John Cusack movies instead. :)

Grosse Pointe Blank is one of my favorite movies of his. Love the hitman humor and dealing with a pending high school reunion.

Favorite quotes:

[Talking to his psychiatrist about going to his high school reunion]
Marty: They all have husbands and wives and children and houses and dogs, and, you know, they've all made themselves a part of something and they can talk about what they do. What am I gonna say? "I killed the president of Paraguay with a fork. How've you been?"


Debi: You're a psychopath.
Marty: No, no. Psychopaths kill for no reason. I kill for *money*. It's a *job*. That didn't come out right.

Must Love Dogs was just an all around cute movie, and while there wasn't quite enough John in it, I loved watching him spend a lot of time saying the wrong thing in this movie.

Favorite quotes:

[Jake and Sarah are trying to buy some condoms because neither of them had any; Jake returns from a store to the car]
Jake: They're out!
Sarah: How can they be out?
Jake: I have a theory about this. Everyone in the city is having sex at the exact same time... except for us. But we will press on.


Jake: She did not see my A game!
Charlie: Sounds like she didn't see your B or C game either.

Serendipity is another favorite, and since you come across a lot of stories in romance where love is fated or destined, I think that was one of the things that really appealed to me in this movie.

Favorite quote:

Jonathan: So are you gonna meet your boyfriend now or what?
Sara: No, I think he's out probably doing what you're doing.
Jonathan: Getting a crush on somebody else's girlfriend? No, I'm sorry, I just meant I had a really nice time. You know, maybe you should give me your phone number. Just in case.
Sara: In case of what?
Jonathan: In case of life. I just had a really great time and for all we know I wouldn't be able to find you again.
Sara: Well, if we're meant to meet again, we'll meet again. it's just not the right time now.
Jonathan: Maybe we're supposed to meet on British time and we're five hours too early.

1408 Creepy. Creepy. Creepy. Not only is Stephen King a master horror storyteller, but watching John Cusack's character, a writer who specializes in disproving paranormal phenomena, get the crap scared out of him was just...creepy.

Favorite Quotes:

Gerald Olin: You do drink don't you?
Mike Enslin: Of course. I just said I was a writer.


Mike Enslin: [after the toilet paper has been turned down, and the chocolates appear] Finally! Something to for me to write about! A ghost that offers turn down service!

Con Air is another movie he only had a secondary role in, but if I was a wrongly convicted felon on a plane that's been taken over by seriously deranged criminals, then I'd want John (or US Marshall Vince Larkin) on my side. Plus this movie was just all kinds of fun.

Favorite quotes:

Vince Larkin: You with me, or do you need me to draw it in crayon, like usual?


Vince Larkin: [to Sims] We pick up Mr. Cindino in Carson City. From then until the plane hits Alabama, we've got two hours to get him to talk. We got you a seat right next to him, and he's known to be somewhat garrulous in the company of thieves.
Duncan Malloy: Garrulous? What the fuck is garrulous?
Vince Larkin: That would be loquacious, verbose, effusive. How about "chatty"?
Duncan Malloy: [to Devers] What's with Dictionary Boy?
Vince Larkin: "Thesaurus Boy", I think, is more appropriate.

So what's your favorite John Cusack movie? Any favorite quotes?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Readers's At Home Conference

Thought maybe you'd all like to know about this event! Kate Davies and I will be participating! It's a month away or so, but wanted to let you know so you could look forward to it like we are!

What do tons of authors, tons of prizes, tons of hotties and tons
of readers have in common? They’re attending the first ever
Readers at Home Conference! During the week
of April 26-30, authors and readers will converge on Lucy Monroe’s blog, to
celebrate their favorite genre – romance!

We are giving away Swag Bags to the first 50
readers who register for the conference. To register, all you have to
do is send an email to
Lucy Monroe
with your name and mailing address (for the
Swag Bag) stating your intention to attend the RAH Conference. The
Swag Bags are for conference attendees only and we are trusting that
you truly intend to attend the conference and interact with the
authors and other readers on the blog. :) Lucy is shipping the Swag
Bags at her own expense, but many authors have
donated loot for you all, and each Swag Bag will have a free book

Yes, that's right - the conference is FREE. How cool is that?

Every day there will be multiple authors visiting and guest blogging,
with new posts going live every 3 hours between 6 AM and 6 PM. Lucy
will post a hottie who is definitely hunky enough to be a cover model
and there will be daily drawings for multiple prizes
(more than 50 over the week!!!), including dozens of signed books, a
B&N gift card, a t-shirt, 3 prize tote bags filled with books and
goodies (from Sue G at BTRB and Becke Davis), free online
subscriptions to Affaire de Couer magazine and 2 more Swag Bags given
away each day. What could be better?

Hope to see YOU there!

Readers at Home Conference Sponsors
~ Guest Blogging Authors ~
Elizabeth Amber
Jules Bennett
Jenna Bayley-Burke
Leigh D'Ansey
Jami Davenport
Kate Davies
HelenKay Dimon
Diana Duncan
Cynthia Eden
Kimberly Fisk
Barbara Freethy
Tricia Jones
Nicola Marsh
Kaylin McFarren
Susan Meier
Elisabeth Naughton
Erin Nicholas
Lorie O'Clare
Rick Reed
Maggie Robinson
Patti Shenberger
Gabi Stevens
Kay Stockham
Helen Scott Taylor
Karen Van der Zee
Mary Wine
Other Readers at Home Conference Sponsors
(donated prizes, items for the Swag Bags, etc.)
Affaire de Coeur
Borders True Romance Blog
Monica Burns
Christie Craig
Lori Foster
Donna Grant
Faye Hughes
Margaret Mallory
Becke Martin
Lucy Monroe
Alexis Morgan
Laurie Ryan
J.L. Wilson

So, while a bunch of us are at RT going crazy, you can be visiting
with some of your favorite and some brand new authors - wearing casual
clothes, ditching the makeup and your shoes. Oh, that? I envy! :)
Lucy Monroe

Friday, March 19, 2010

Happy Friday!

On my way home from work, I was trying to decide what to write. Should I do something about the new piece I'm working on? Or about personal struggles that improve your character? Or about the debate between first and third person POV? Blech. It's Friday. I want to give readers something to look at. Something to think about. Something to make them drool! So, behold... Skylar's Best of the Week: Three sexy pieces of eye candy who make down time and media overindulgence such a joy.

Best New Movie to Rent/Buy:
Boondock Saints II: All Saint's Day
The sexy accents! The gratuitous violence! The... humor??? Yes, while the first movie was a drama, they've thrown in laughs to the sequel -- and it works! Surprisingly enough to the SO, I decided that this was a must-buy movie after the first half hour.
For some reason, I find humor and comedy much more soothing to the soul than drama. "They" say crying is cathartic; I just get puffy eyes and a sore heart the next day. No catharsis in that.

Best New Song: "American Saturday Night" by Brad Paisley
I'll admit I'm biased, because I think Brad Paisley is just too sexy. He can sing. He can play guitar. He LOOOOVES his wife and kids AND playing for a crowd just seems to make him so happy on stage. But besides all that *swoon*, he's got a perfect voice perfect for upbeat songs like this. He sings about how America really is an amalgam of other cultures -- a good reminder for us all. Oh, and did I mention how unbelievably good his voice sounds?
Don't even get me started on that hat and cowboy boots...

Best TV Show: Burn Notice on USA
I've been addicted to Michael Westen, the main character, since the inception of the show three seasons ago. He's smart, attractive, funny, and can out-MacGyver the man himself. As a burned spy, Michael has been released back into society -- well, thrown is more like it -- without money, job history, or much of a legal identity. All he has are his friends and the skills he's honed through decades of espionage. Its my go-to show on Hulu since 10pm is waaaay past my bedtime.

Ok, I've shared mine... have you seen/heard my "Best Of"s? What are your own? Help me expand my list of talented sexy entertainers!


Thursday, March 18, 2010

No Food Like Diet Food

As I’ve said before, I’m spending my spring trying to move from humungous to pleasingly plump. A lot of this effort revolves around my treadmill, but I’m also trying to “eat healthy,” which means removing a lot of the ingredients that make food worth tasting. I’m also reading a lot of diet books, not necessarily to get recipes (many of which induce shudders) but to get myself in the right frame of mind for my quest. However, the more diet books I read, the more convinced I become that diet experts have no idea of what food tastes like.

The most common claim you run into in these books is the idea that you can drop some regrettably fattening food from your diet and never notice the change. Substitute fat-free cheese for the real thing, they say blithely. You’ll save mucho calories and you’ll never know the difference. Now look—I love to cook, and I’m actually fairly good at it. That means I know what real cheese tastes like—sharp cheddars, nutty gruyere, tangy manchego, creamy camembert. Spread on a cracker or a slice of crusty baguette. Eaten as a square with a chunk of apple or pear. I know what that tastes like, and trust me, when you substitute fat-free cheese, you do know the difference.

If the “never-know-the-difference” thing doesn’t work, the diet food guys go for the purity card. Green beans, they say, taste ever so much better with just a squeeze of lemon juice rather than all that fattening butter or bacon. Dress your lettuce with a splash of balsamic vinegar and skip the olive oil. And don’t even get them started on the font of all evil, ranch dressing. Or blue cheese. All you have to do is get used to it, they say, and you’ll never want to go back.

All of this reminds me of the time the San Antonio Express-News sent their nutritionist to dine at Paesanos. Now everybody in San Antonio knows Paesanos, an Italian restaurant that originated in the San Antonio World’s Fair in 1968. And everybody knows their crowning achievement: shrimp Paesano. Their shrimp is rolled in bread crumbs then sautéed in butter and finally lapped in the most exquisite lemon butter sauce I have ever had on my tongue. When my younger son was ten, he said of shrimp Paesano, “This is the most wonderful thing I have ever tasted.” So the Express-News nutritionist ordered shrimp Paesano. And the Express-News nutritionist hated it. All that butter. All those crumbs. Didn’t they know that the average person wanted to taste the “natural” flavor of the shrimp—just boiled with just a splash of lemon juice, not covered in some lemon butter sauce? How, she moaned, could anybody eat this stuff?

It was then that I came to understand the basic requirement for any true diet expert—they have to have their taste buds surgically removed.

Nobody is saying you should eat shrimp Paesano every day, unless you can afford a staff to roll you downhill every morning. Obviously, it’s event food that you eat once or maybe twice a year. But pretending that it doesn’t taste great is just pathetic. It’s also the kind of thing that makes people distrust diet gurus. So let’s all agree that butter and cream and bacon and sugar are yummy. And let’s all agree that eating too much of them is going to make you balloon up like that kid in Willie Wonka. Part of “eating healthy” is knowing how to pace yourself.

Sigh. Nonfat cottage cheese anyone?

So what do you say? What do you miss most on your diet? And what kind of diet food have you found that keeps you from whimpering softly?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Review By Any Other Name

I remember getting my first review like it was yesterday. I wish I could say I handled it well, but I didn’t. My heart raced, my face burned, my stomach turned over, I agonized over each and every word—asking myself, “what does she mean by that?” after almost every other sentence.

Lord knows how I would have reacted if it had been a bad review! Luckily, by the time that happened I’d managed to develop a slightly thicker skin.

Lately I’ve noticed an interesting trend in reviews. I seem to get almost an equal amount of good ones and bad for every new book. Okay…to be honest, the balance may be slightly weighted toward the good ones, but still it’s nothing like the way things used to be back when I was Queen of the 4-out-of-5 (insert symbol of your choice) Review. It’s not just me, of course, I know a lot of authors who’ve noticed the same thing happening with their books. What one reviewer loves, the next one might hate, which brings me to the subject of today’s post.

Let me start by saying I love reviews and I love reviewers. A good review can put a smile on your face that lasts for days and even the bad ones have their uses. But, good or bad, a review is just one person’s opinion, and if there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s this: the book that absolutely everyone will love has never been written—and never will be.

Bad reviews can be frustrating—especially if you’ve been waiting and waiting for someone, anyone to review your book. Sometimes you want a sympathetic friend to whom you can whine, “she just doesn’t ‘get’ my story!” Sometimes you just want ice cream (or something alcoholic) to medicate the pain away. Sometimes—if they’re snarky—you want to write something snarky back. But, there's the bottom line: there really is a silver lining in back of that rainy, little review cloud.

Bad reviews can be oddly liberating. People generally want everyone to love them and, as authors, we generally want everyone to love us and our books. That’s never gonna happen, of course, but we want it so much we can become paralyzed and unable to write anything at all for fear of being rejected. Besides, once you  start changing your writing to try and please everyone, you end up pleasing no one—not even yourself. 

A bad review can be a godsend if you let it. It's just one less person you have to worry about pleasing…and there ain’t nothin’ wrong with that!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Guest Blogger Leah Braemel Interviews Her Hero

I wrote Personal Protection back in 2008 and I’ve since written/blogged about Personal Protection so often, I stared at the screen for a very long time wondering what I could say about it that I hadn’t said a bazillion times before. To get some ideas, I scrolled back through The Naughty Nine’s previous posts when I found a post where some of the Nine interviewed their heroes. So I shoved my computer glasses up on my head and put on my distance glasses, told Sam Watson to park his (marvellous) butt in a chair and answer some questions for me. Thinking I missed the smirk he gave me (or maybe he was snickering at the two pair of glasses I was wearing), he did what I asked.

How did a southern boy from Georgia end up in Washington DC?

“I first came up here when I joined the FBI—trained at Quantico of course. Moved around for a bit afterward. Lived in Texas for a while, spent some time in New York too, but ended back here right before … well, let’s just say when I started my own bodyguard company, I knew some folks around these parts who had the right connections to people who needed guardin’. It seemed like a natural fit for me. Not to say I don’t head back home every now and then when things get borin’ around here.”

Tell me about Rosalinda Ramos. What’s the biggest turn-on/turn-off about Rosalinda Ramos?

“How does she turn me on? Hell, woman, you ain’t got enough time in the day to hear that list.”

All right, so what first caught your eye about her?

He pulled out one of his famous—or infamous perhaps—cigars and rolled it between his fingers as he considered my question. “I think it was the first time I saw her sparrin’ in the gym. She was this little bitty thing, hundred pounds soakin’ wet, maybe a half inch about five feet and still she took down my second-in-command, Chad Miller, without breakin’ a sweat. Now you have to understand, Chad’s former FBI, just like me. He knows how to protect himself, so takin’ him down wasn’t easy.” He gestured to his cigar seeking my permission to light it, then scowled when I shook my head. He shoved it back into his pocket and leaned back as he continued, “Rosie’s real confident about herself—she knows she can handle anything anyone throws at her. She’s got a real been-there-done-that type attitude, and she has, yet every now and then you see this innocence peekin’ through that I find a real turn on.” He got a far-away look in his eyes. “That and the sexy Blue Morpho butterfly tattoo she’s got peekin’ out from her jeans. It’s pretty sexy watching its wings flutter when we’re …” He cleared his throat and sought his cigar again. “You might not want to include that last bit.”

Too late, I thought as I typed it anyway. “What does she do that turns you off?”

“I let her think it’s all the stuff she uses to tame her hair that clutter up my bathroom, but really, I love her hair, so I guess I can cut her some slack for that.”

Rolling my eyes, I groan. Sam, answer the question, what does she do that turns you off?

“Ah, hell, you wanna get me sleepin’ on the couch tonight, don’t you? All right, all right. She’s got a lead foot behind the wheel. She’s had defensive driving courses and knows how to handle a vehicle in a dangerous situation, but damn it, she’s impatient. She’s always pushing things, wanting to get there faster when sometimes the slow route’s more fun, ya know?”

(Why do I get the feeling he’s not just talking about Rosie’s driving ability anymore?)

All right, Sam, one last question then you’re off the hook--thong, crotchless panties, or nothing at all?

He just about blinds me with his trademark bright smile. “I won’t deny it’s a turn-on to know she’s not wearin’ anything beneath a dress so there’s nothing stopping me if I decide to…well, you can imagine what I want to do. But there’s something to be said for a woman wearing a nice thong with just enough lace to make me wonder what’s beneath. Make me imagine pulling it down off her …” He stared at the ceiling and drifted off for a moment. “Yup, never hurts to leave somethin’ to my imagination. Doesn’t hurt to make me have to work for the prize, you know?”

I raise an eyebrow at him. “I’m not sure Rosie will like to read that you consider her a prize.”

“I wasn’t implying she was the prize. Though she is.” He winked and stood up. “We done here? You got my imagination stirrin’ and now I’ve got a powerful hankerin’ to see Rosie.”

From where I sat, I could see there was more than just his imagination stirring…

She can cover him with one hand tied behind her back. Maybe two.

Sam Watson excels at keeping other people safe. Now a stalker is targeting him, but so what? A few doctored photos and a couple threatening phone calls are no big deal. He can watch his own back. Then again, the view from behind the sexy spitfire assigned to protect him isn’t so bad…

Rosalinda Ramos has managed to keep her attraction to Hauberk Security’s owner tightly under wraps. It’s just as well he doesn’t know. One slip—in the bedroom or on the job—will cost her her heart and her career, so she’s got only one thing on her mind. Protect Sam, whether he wants it or not.

The stakes—and the heat—rise exponentially when she discovers Sam belongs to an exclusive sex club—one she must investigate for potential suspects. Suddenly she finds herself immersed in a world that pushes her boundaries.

Sam delights in leading Rosie deep into his sexual shadows—until they go one game too far. Making him wonder if he can allow the woman he loves to take a bullet for him.

Since I’m never sure if my readers are reading my blogs at work, I worry about providing excerpts – after all, I write pretty steamy stuff. So “just in case” here’s a link to an excerpt on my website ( ). Actually because several of my readers on my blog commented about NSFW excerpts, I started up a blog specifically for excerpts so they could check them out when they were in the comfort (and privacy) their home; so if you want to read a bit more, you can go over to and read more too.

You can buy the paperback through or The Book or download the ebook on your Kindle or from All Romance eBooks

You can find out about Leah’s other books at her website, or on her blog. Or you can follow her on Twitter.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Of Pen Names and Privacy

Kinsey W. Holley is a pen name. Kinsey is the name of my sister-in-law’s dog, W. is the initial of another sister-in-law, and Holley is a family name.

When I first started writing romance a couple years ago, I submitted material to contests under my real name. When I started to place in contests, I thought – holy crap, maybe I can actually get published one day.

Then I thought – Eek! I write graphic sex! There are SO many people whom I wouldn’t want to know about this!

So I made up a pen name.

I'm not ashamed of what I write, but I will confess to a little…embarrassment. One of the sisters-in-law scoffs at this. She says that if she could write books, she’d be so proud of herself she’d tell everyone.

“Okay,” I said. “Pretend you’ve written a scene with the words “clit” and “cock” in it, and then give it to someone’s mother to read. Not your mother, because she’s imperturbable. But someone else’s mother. Or someone your mother-in-law goes to church with. Or one of the guys in your office.”

She thought about it – and agreed that maybe she wouldn’t tell everyone what she wrote.

I've told plenty of people what I do, including one of the librarians I work with. (I just can't see telling my boss. She really doesn't strike me as a romance reader.) Many of my friends have bought and enjoyed Kiss and Kin. But I'm still not ready for people I go to church with, or people Diva goes to school with, or my mother’s husband, or my mothers’ friends – or, you know, my mother – to read this stuff. I may never be. My father-in-law - my father-in-law, people – read my book. Why in God's name did my sister-in-law (that would be the one with the W. initial, not the one with the imperturbable mom) – tell him about it?

Am I being a hypocrite? A coward? If so, I’m not sure I care. Like many people right now, the Hub and I are going through a very rough patch economically; this is not a great time to be a small business owner. I am so grateful every month when I get that royalty statement. If anyone ever criticized me for writing hot romance, I'd point out that my hot romance is paying for my daughter to attend a school we probably couldn't otherwise afford, and for that reason alone I'm glad I do it.

I suppose I could write less steamy sex. But I write paranormal romance, not urban fantasy, and I think most paranormal romance readers expect a certain heat level. I don’t consider my stuff to be erotic romance because the sex-to-story ratio is rather low. I mean, the sex scenes are lengthy and graphic, but they aren’t numerous. In the full length novel I just submitted there are only two sex scenes, and it’s a 100,000 plus word novel.

I’m thinking about this a lot lately because three copies of Shifting Dreams, the anthology in which Kiss and Kin appears, showed up yesterday. I was so psyched! I didn’t even know they were coming. KnK has been available in e format, of course, since June, but yeah – as much as I trumpet ebooks and how wonderful the epub model can be for authors, there is just something magical about holding wood pulp in my hands and looking at my name on the cover:
And then Diva – a reader like her mommy – said, “Oh, a new book! What’s it about?” And I said, “Um, don’t worry about it. It’s a grown-up book.” And she said, “Is it your book, Mommy? The one you wrote?”

Because she knows I write. She knows I’ve written a book, and that it’s been published and that Daddy likes the money it’s brought in. She knows we don’t tell people about the fact that Mommy writes books. But I had to tell her about my writing, because I spend a hell of a lot of time on the laptop and I don’t want her to think I’m ignoring her in order to play video games or something. This is a money-making venture (I hope), and it will benefit her (I hope), and I want her to know about it.

I just don’t want her to read about it. Or tell anyone about it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Interview with Nara Malone

For my turn to blog this week I decided to interview my critique partner Nara Malone. Nara's debut romance novel comes out Friday March 12 with Ellora's Cave Publishing and I want to help spread the word!

Okay Nara, I’ve read your upcoming Ellora’s Cave release The Tiger’s Tale several times! But others haven’t, so tell us a little about it.

The Tiger's Tale is a story about Marie, a tiger-shapeshifter who was orphaned at birth and raised by humans, unaware of her dual heritage as tiger and woman. Humans have always shared the earth with Pantherian shifters, and while folklore is rich with stories of creatures both human and animal -- therianthropes who can shift between the two states -- humans have always believed they were a myth.

Adam and Ean are tiger-shifters who have discovered that Marie is not human and carries unique genetic traits that could save the species from the terrible wasting sickness that kills most baby girls. They have a week to convince Marie -- a woman raised with conservative views about monogamy and sex -- that she is a tiger and that as a Pantherian female, she must be part of a traditional mating triad to conceive.

The first time I read this, I thought what an ingenious concept this was for a menage story! Of course there's much more to it than the menage, although it is very hot. What inspired you to write this story?

The Tiger's Tale began as a pact between my sister and I. My father was in the end stages of heart disease, she was taking care of him, and the emotional toll on all of us was heavy. We're Texans and were raised up on my Dad's tall Texas tales. We'd both been successful writing short fiction and non fiction, so I thought writing a novel would be a good way to help us get through the time spent hanging out in medical facilities waiting for our father to undergo this test or that procedure. We joined RWA and signed up for a short story workshop. It happened to be an October workshop which took us right into Nanowrimo in November. So we signed up for that too. She finished Nano but I'm a slower writer. In January I polished up what I had, sent it off to Passionate Ink's Stroke of Midnight, and learned I finaled that spring. I will never forget going to visit my Dad at the dialysis clinic, him so small and frail, but his smile as big and bright as ever.

When I told him I was in the running for an award he just nodded and said, "It's about time someone noticed what a great writer you are. I always knew." And if that wasn't enough to make me cry, when we got home that evening, my sister handed me a folder she'd found in the safe with his important papers. It contained the curled yellow pages of a manuscript, The Horses of Hidden Valley, that I wrote with a friend when I was twelve. I can't believe he saved that, that he kept it in the safe. Smile. Sniff.

So with a final under my belt and my father's faith in me to give me courage, I went to work to finish The Tiger's Tale before the winner was announced that summer. I thought if I did poorly in the final evaluation at least the novel would be finished and any criticisms wouldn't derail my progress.

But as I dug deeper into the story, the work stopped being about a pact, or a contest, or even my Dad's expectations. These characters were telling me a story. Marie told me what it is like to land in the wrong nest and grow up trying to be something other than what you are. She taught me what it is like to find the real you and how hard it can be to embrace a version of yourself that the people who know you might not accept.

Adam and Ean taught me about a different view of women and girls, a culture where females are rare and precious. They taught me about making love with all those primitive instincts and desires unleashed.

My research led me to discoveries about human-animal hybrid research, the experiments that involve adding human brain tissue to animal brains. I started wondering what it would be like to be human trapped in a body that didn't allow you to communicate as a human. The story took over and I felt like I was just along for the ride, like a journalist recording events as they happen. As I was wrapping up the story, word came that I had won the contest.

I love how you've learned from your characters. They do become so real, don't they? What were your feelings when The Tiger’s Tale was accepted and when you saw the cover of your very first book?

The actual request for The Tiger's Tale came from an online query workshop put on at Passionate Ink by the editors at Ellora's Cave. Raelene Gorlinsky likes sexy shifters and my first page caught her eye. She asked for a partial and then later the full. The Tiger's Tale was accepted right between Thanksgiving and Christmas 2009. It was like the best Christmas present ever.

I was at work when I opened the email with my first book cover. I'm usually working on five things at once and talking on the phone and helping a customer at the counter, but when I saw that image fill the screen one line at a time, I sat in a chair with my mouth open and just stared. The phone was ringing and I heard the bells on the shop door ring when someone came in. I just sat there staring. My name was finally on a book cover. I can't think how many times I imagined what that moment would be like. I do recall thinking at the time, that it does really happen, that thing you work and struggle to achieve does really happen if you keep hanging on.

Describe the space where you write.

I have so many favorite writing places. This might sound strange, but the primary place is in bed. I wake up at about 4 AM and keep a notebook by the bed so I can start writing first thing while my mind is still close to that dream state and the internal critic is still asleep.

Another place I like to write is when I'm out on the lake at dawn in my kayak. There is something so magical about the sun coming up turning mists purple, gold, and silver. The sound of water slapping the hull, the gentle rocking motion, and even the old blue heron stalking me along the shore, carry me to another state of mind, a journey into that magic creative space. Ideas start bubbling up and I pull my notebook out of a Ziploc bag and start to write. Once I stopped in a tiny cove while the light was still low. I could barely see what I was writing. When I looked up the sun had risen enough to reveal a herd of deer scattered along the shore grazing in the thick grass. It was the perfect place to get into wild mind, that mental state I need to access the world through an animal POV.

Obviously atmosphere is important to you when you write, and nature is wonderful inspiration. When you're inside, do you use mood music or candles? Do you need complete quiet to concentrate?

When I'm writing in bed or in my office I do use things like nature CDs, instrumentals with a thunderstorm or ocean sounds playing in the background. I like the light low, but tend to be absentminded when I'm deep in a story, so instead of wax candles, I use those battery powered candles in colored jars. They flicker like a real candle, but if I forget them the battery runs down instead of the house burning down. I write the first draft or two long hand. I've tried and tried to change that habit. It saves time and paper to write directly to the computer. The words just won't come if I skip that step.

Using battery powered candles is very wise! So easy to get distracted when writing. And I learned something I didn't know about you, that you write your first verions long hand. What other projects do you have in the works?

I'm in the final revisions on the Dungeon Gourmet. I love the central character in this story, Le Marquis de Bond. I call him a blogging French Bondage Chef because he whips up great meals in the kitchen and great lovemaking in the dungeon. He shares tips on the art of cooking and the art of sensual domination in his blog.

I'm mid stage on Mind Games. This story finaled in the Southern Heat contest. It's another Pantherian story and involves a face blind heroine. Face blindness is a rare condition few people know about or understand. I have gone through most of my life thinking if I just learned to pay better attention to people I'd be able to tell them apart and recognize them. My husband heard a news report about face blindness and said they described me perfectly, so I took the test. I scored better on my first calculus test than I did on facial recognition. I got two people right. Two! I didn't even recognize Oprah. But it was liberating to discover it was a brain processing error rather than a personal defect causing my problems. I was able to see the humor in some of the situations that have cropped up in my life and while there is no cure or treatment in the real world, love finds a way to conquer all in Mind Games.

I'm working toward a second big dream that involves new ways to tell stories and the evolution of the book. It's a great time to be an author. Hopefully I'll have something unique and exciting to share about that project in the near future.

I love Bond from Dungeon Gourmet, and can't wait for that story to be out as well. Congratulations Nara on your first release with Ellora's Cave! It's almost as exciting as my own, having gone through this long process with you!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

St. Patrick's Day Party On the Ninth

Erin Go Braugh, y’all! Here at Nine Naughty Novelists, we’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day a bit early as part of out monthly Party On the Ninth. We’ve got books to give away and leprechauns to chase. And a few hunky Irishmen (and one Irish American) to stir your souls. So let the games begin!
Our March prize is a choice between a couple of Irish-themed books from two of the Naughty Nine: P.G. Forte’s Iron and Kelly Jamieson’s Irish Sex Fairy (love that title!). To enter, just give us a comment—tell us what you’d do with the leprechan swag or tell us your favorite Irish actor or just tell us you love us since we love to hear from you.
Our question for this month? What three things would you do or buy if a leprechaun gave you his pot of gold. And leading us off--
Erin Nicholas
With my pot of gold I’d buy
1. A beach house in the virgin islands!
2. Six months living and touring in Europe with my family
3. A shopping spree for my kids a the toy store!!
Kelly Jamieson
Leprechaun’s are great practical jokers, so I’d be worried that it’s not real gold. What do you think a pot of gold is worth these days? Would it be enough to rebuild Haiti and help the people in Chile? Probably not huh? Would it be enough for me to quit my day job and write full time? No? Then I guess I would buy shoes. Like these ones. These shoes would make me happy.

Kinsey Holley
With my pot of gold I’d
1. Buy land on a lake and build a compound for my family, my sister's family, and my BIL/SIL's families (we're all connected).
2. Quit my job to travel/write.
3. Donate to various children's aid organizations.
Skylar Kade
A huge pot of gold, huh? Well, first there'd be a fight between the angel and demon on my shoulder. The angel would win Round 1, so I'd invest a third of it... and buy something awesome with the earnings. The next would inevitably go to the devil because she's vicious when it comes to revenge. Since she's been nagging me to buy one, I'd get a new TV system -- flat panel, HDTV, DVR, and a PS3 with all the Blue-Ray movies and games she could want. And, not that I wouldn't be happy with their choices, but I'd flick them off my shoulders and pick the last purchase without their nagging and fighting. And I think a vacation to the Caribbean is in store. White sand beaches, alcoholic drinks in frilly glasses served by shirtless men, and no work. Sounds like heaven.
Meg Benjamin
With my pot of gold I’d buy
1. A cruise around the world for the hubs and me, maybe with the kids joining us for Italy (younger son lived in Florence for several months).
2. The year’s budget for the Jefferson County Library System—hey these guys keep me supplied with books, the least I can do is supply them with gold!
3. A remodeled basement so I don’t feel like I’m in the subway whenever I use the treadmill.
PG Forte
A pot of gold...that's a difficult question to answer if you don't know the size. Leprechauns are pretty small, after all. But I'm guessing even a not-too-big pot should hold about 5000 ounces. At approximately $1000 an ounce, that'd be $500,000. Enough to indulge in my favorite fantasy--a private cruise for all my favorite author/friends and their fans (okay, maybe not all their fans, but a healthy chunk). Maybe toss in a handful of cover models, while we're at it. If there's anything left over after that, I think Kelly's got the right idea with the shoes. Shoes are always good. Or, you know, getting "the works" at the Calistoga Spa Hot Springs (mud bath, mineral bath, steam bath, blanket wrap, full body massage and 'happy feet') that would do very nicely. That would make for a very happy Saint Patrick's Day...or any day, come to think of it.
Kate Davies
With my pot of gold I’d buy
1. A housekeeper!
2. Sponsor a big meet-up for all my online friends. I would love to hang out with everyone in real life, so I'd spring for the airfare and accommodations for a fun weekend getaway.
3. A personal assistant to handle the paperwork for my day job – no, wait, pay off all the bills so I can say goodbye to my day job and write full time!
D. McEntire
Ahhh, a pot of gold. With the price of gold these days that should bring in a pretty penny. The first thing I’d do is pay off all debts. The second thing I’d do is run like hell! Long lost relatives and those who claim to have touched the ground I’ve walked during my lifetime would come out of the woodwork with their hands out. Seriously, though. The second thing I’d do is what I’ve always dreamed of doing visiting Scotland. I just love the lilt. I could sit all day and listen. Wouldn’t matter the conversation. One time a man came to my place of employment for a presentation. Couldn’t tell you even a smidgen of what he talked about. I just listened to his voice. The last thing I would like to do is move. I enjoy living in the quiet, slow pace of the country, but worry about the future. Our land is mostly clear and needs bush hogging and mowing often. Hey, guess I’d have the means to pay someone to do it, wouldn’t I? But, then again I’d like a lot of wooded land. Horseback riding, ATV riding…ah…to dream. I’ve had my dream home in my head for quite awhile. It would be a total open floor plan, except for the bed and bathrooms, of course. There would be a second floor, totally open, with a balcony around the entire floor. Sky lights and lots of light. I’d put my office on the second floor at one end and have a game room up there and sitting areas.
*sigh* Hey, where is that little man in green, anyway?

Sydney Somers

With my pot of gold I would

1. Take a trip alone with my husband, some place warm and sunny. Sadly our last trip real together I was pregnant, suffering from morning sickness and had the flu as we drove the windy Cabot trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Not a great combination. LOL

2. New clothes would be a must. Being in mommy mode most of the time usually means that the last person I buy new clothes for is myself.

3. I'd say hire a housekeeper, but I'm going to assume it's a big-ass pot of gold so my husband could quit his job. Then HE could clean the house once and a while why I write. :)

Monday, March 8, 2010

No Pain, No Gain

I was talking the other day with a friend about our German soap opera and one of the couples on the show. They've been together now for about six months, which is eons in soap opera time, and there's stirrings of trouble on the horizon.

Some fans are complaining bitterly about it, saying that they'll stop watching if there is any conflict for these two. They have so much invested in the characters being together and happy that they won't be able to watch any drama or angst in their storyline.

But if that's the case, what's left for the characters to do? Snuggle on the couch and look cute together? Yawn. Play agony aunts for the characters who actually have something to do onscreen? Please.

The reason their couple status is so wonderful is because of the struggle they went through to get there. It was months of pain, misunderstandings, emotional turmoil, premature declarations of love, dealing with fallout from their past relationship, and miscommunication. They had to fight past all of that to earn their happy ending. But since I'd rather not have them leave the show (the only other option, after new conflict or background filler), I'm gearing up for another round. I'm trusting the actors, directors, and writers to do it right.

Because as much as I love to see this couple together and happy, I also want the actors to have a good, meaty storyline to sink their teeth into. And as much as we want relationships to be happy and stable in real life, in fiction, happy and stable is (shhh!) boring.

And honestly, that's one of the reasons I love romance. People who don't read the genre think that romance is all about the hearts and flowers and happy ever after, but what they don't get is that the best romances are nothing like that until the very end. It's the journey, the angst, the struggle, that makes the HEA worthwhile.

I'm there for the pain, baby.

The fact is, I love books that torture their characters. I love reading stories where I honestly can't see a way out of the conflict to the happy ending. I adore a storyline that makes the characters confront their inner demons, the insurmountable odds that stand in the way of making a relationship work. I want the h/h to fight for their happy ending. I want it to mean something.

And I'm not just talking about dark, painful, angsty romances. Even a good romantic comedy can dig into the characters' psyches and throw conflict in their path. If the conflict is too easily resolved, if the characters don't have to fight for their relationship, I feel a little cheated.

So what do you think? Do you read romance for the HEA, the journey to get there, or a combination of the two?

Friday, March 5, 2010

True love and flossing

I watched the Marriage Ref last night. It’s a new TV show on NBC. Anybody else see it? It definitely had some moments.

The premise is a couple who has a conflict comes to the Marriage Ref and presents their opposing sides. For instance, in one case the wife wanted to keep the formal dining room formal. She kept the tablecloth, china, silver, etc. set up in place year round. They only used the table at Thanksgiving. The husband wanted to use the table to play cards with his friends. She had a fit. So the “expert panel” (three celebrities—this week was Tina Fey, Eva Longoria Parker and Jerry Seinfeld, but apparently they change each week) discuss the issue, crack jokes and then vote for who should win the argument.

Okay, you didn’t all tune in here today to get a TV Guide version of my night (I watched The Office too in case you were wondering). But there was an interesting topic brought up. In this case, the wife liked to floss her teeth in bed and it grossed her husband out. He maintained that there should simply be some things that are always done in private. She argued that if you are close to someone (she even used the term soul mates) then you should share everything and nothing should gross you out.

Um, I vehemently disagree.

Love the husband. Don’t love watching him, say, spit toothpaste. I am on the side of the “let’s shut the door between us once in awhile” here. I don’t have to share every little thing with him.

I do not want to cuddle on the couch and watch his entire collection of The Shield, don’t want to jam out to The Best of Metallica, don’t want a big hug after he gets off the treadmill, and don’t want to see him clip his toenails. It goes both ways. I don’t want him to see me tweeze my eyebrows, do sit ups or watch me try on clothes.

We’re very happy. We’re just sometimes happy apart.

Which side are you on? Do you share absolutely everything? Does true love mean it’s okay to floss in bed?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Get to know the girls...

...the girls in our stories, that is! For the last few weeks, we've interviewed our heroes, but this week we're talking to the girls. First up:

Docia Kent Toleffson, Venus In Blue Jeans, by Meg Benjamin.

My DH, Cal, had his chance a couple of weeks ago, so now I get to give you my version. Revenge is sweet, Calthorpe!

1. Favorite way to escape after a hard day at work?

(Laughs) Go drinking with my husband! Seriously, we met at this really dumpy bar in downtown Konigsburg, Texas—the Dew Drop Inn. It’s so dumpy only locals go there, but you get to see your friends and, in my case, your lover. After a crappy day in the book trade, I love to grab a big table at the Dew Drop with Cal beside me and see who shows up. Most of my brothers-in-law drop by, usually with their wives who are also my friends. My friend Allie shows up with her fiancé Wonder Dentist. And my friend Morgan, who has the hots for my brother-in-law Erik. Believe me, Erik really needs somebody in his life. And after we have a few beers or glasses of wine, we can wander down the street to the best restaurant in town, Brenner’s, run by my friends Lee Contreras and Ken Crowder. Konigsburg, gotta love it!

2. What do you do for a living and how did you get into that?

I own Kent’s Hill Country Books in downtown Konigsburg and I run it with my friend (and sister-in-law) Janie Dupree Toleffson. How did I get into it? Well, I had this (ahem) bad experience with a jerky guy in Dallas, so I decided to get away from everything and move to the Texas Hill Country. I’ve always loved Konigsburg, and it was far enough away from my parents (in Dallas and San Antonio) that I figured they wouldn’t be intruding in my life. That hasn’t been entirely true, but they’ve stayed out of my business more than they used to. Of course, I had a few problems when a rare book dealer decided to hide some of his merchandise in my store without telling me, but thanks to Cal everything worked out okay.

3. What’s the first thing you noticed about Cal Toleffson?

Oh my, my, my—you mean besides the fact that he’s drop-dead gorgeous? Okay, his height. All the Toleffson brothers are over six feet. I’m six feet exactly and I’ve spent my life looked down at the top of guys’ heads when we danced. With Cal, even if I strap on three-inch heels, I can still look up to him, although four-inchers bring us closer to eye-to-eye. And, of course, the rest of him is in proportion. Oh my god, I can’t believe I said that!

Keara Callaghan from Irish Sex Fairy, by Kelly Jamieson:

1. Favorite way to escape after a hard day at work?

Now I'm managing the Kilkenny branch of Palladium Bank, I work a lot less hours than I did when I lived in Los Angeles. I love going home to Shane after work and cooking dinner with him and then doing things around the house – Shane apparently inherited a love of gardening from his dad and is obsessed with planting all kinds of things in our back yard, but I enjoy working out there too. Shane also seems to have inherited his parents’ love of parties and we often end up with a houseful of people. And sometimes I go visit my Aunt Maeve or help her out in her store (and come home with some new toys!)

2. What do you do for a living and how did you get into that?

As I said, I’m the new manager of Palladium Bank in Kilkenny. It’s a very small branch compared to the one I managed in Los Angeles, and I’m not on the fast track to an executive position any more, but that’s okay. My dad was CEO of Palladium years ago. My mom was a vice president at Ezron Savings and Loan. They both wanted me to follow in their footsteps. They helped me take the best courses in college and encouraged me. I was just starting my career at the bank when they were both killed in a car accident. After that I wanted to do my best to make them proud, but I probably worked too hard. Okay, Shane says not “probably”, I definitely worked too hard!

3. First thing you noticed about Shane Dunstan?

I met Shane when I was 17 and spending summer vacation with Aunt Maeve. I don’t even remember for sure what I first noticed about him, but I do remember how he made me feel – all warm and fluttery inside. It was the whole package of him – tall, dark and handsome. Actually, it might have been his eyes – he has the most gorgeous blue eyes with long dark eyelashes and when he looked at me, my heart started pounding and my hands stared shaking. (Sigh of pleasure).

Lucy Greco Cavanaugh from A Taste of Honey by PG Forte:


1. Favorite way to escape after a hard day at work?

Cooking dinner for my family. What? You think that’s work? Don’t be silly. Cooking is one of life’s essential pleasures. It’s nurturing. Plus I’m good at it. Well, I am. Ask anyone. But, you know, a hot bath, a good book and a pint of lavender ice cream—that isn’t a bad way to go either.

2. What do you do for a living and how did you get into that?

I help my husband run one of the family’s nurseries. I went to work at Cavanaugh’s right out of high school. I liked it there—they always let me do things my own way, if you know what I mean—so I stayed on. Then I met my husband, Dan Cavanaugh, and the rest is history.

Lately I’ve been branching out a bit. I now produce my own line of herb-infused soaps and massage oils, as well as organic honey, beeswax candles…well, you get the idea. Dan hates the bees, but he sure does love the honey.

3. First thing you noticed about Dan?

First thing I noticed? Wow—that’s tough. I mean, what’s not to notice? My husband is a very noticeable man. You can ask anyone about that, too.

I guess the very first thing I noticed was his size—and don’t go taking that the wrong way, all right? All I mean is he’s a big guy and when we met…well, I’d never tell him this, but the truth is he scared the crap out of me. See, I didn’t know who he was or what he was doing hanging around in one of the greenhouses after everyone else had gone home for the night.

I thought maybe he’d broken in and was there to rob the place. So, yeah, the fact that he’s tall, broad and brutally hot—that was definitely the first thing I noticed.

Oh, and, by the way, if you’re interested in reading Dan’s version of how we met, you can find that HERE.