Friday, December 30, 2011

Out with the Old and in with the New

It's that time of year again when everyone looks toward the new year and the fresh start that kicks in every midnight on January 1st. This year though I've decided to set myself up for success. 2011 was both my worst and best year in a long time and to make sure 2012 is my best yet, I'm doing away with resolutions.

Every year I make the same ones, eat less junk, exercise every day, keep my house a little cleaner etc and usually by mid February my resolutions (like a lot of peoples) have gone right out the window.

So this year I'm making promises to myself instead. Okay, so a resolution is kind of like a promise, but I've never felt all that guilty about not following through on a resolution. But if I break a promise to myself then I'm letting myself down, and down is the absolute last place I plan to be in 2012.

My 2012 Promises

1. To focus on my writing and only my writing, and not get sucked into every social media trap online. Unless someone knows how to get Facebook to write my book for me...

2. To support my loved ones through all their ups and downs, as they did mine.

3. To see as many different places in 2012 as I can manage.

4. To laugh until my stomach feels like it will split in two as often as possible.

5. To love as fiercely as I can and hold tight to every moment that brings joy to my life.

So what about you? What promises are you making to yourself this New Years?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Elements of the Perfect Facebook Post

Part of my New Year's resolution is to get back into my routine: blogging, tweeting, posting, Facebooking... but it needs to have more PUNCH to it, more value for my time.

So I've been researching, like most writers love to do, and I learned quite a few tips about getting better engagement for all that hard promo work we do. In my next few posts, I'll share these tips with you!

Many of us spend way too much time on Facebook, which is fine and dandy...unless no one is listening to what you say. If you're updating your status without likes or comments, then you need to adjust what you're saying, how often you're saying it, etc.

So (drum roll please...) I present the five elements of the perfect Facebook post.

1. Update something of interest to your followers. Basic, I know...but many of us forget this! If we want people to respond--even if it's a promo post--find an angle that will attract the attention of your readers. Kelly Jamieson, for example, has some sexy hockey players as heroes. Who doesn't love those men! And when she talks about them on Twitter and FB, people respond.

2. When you're writing your post, tag relevant pages or people by using the @ sign, like on Twitter. When you hit the @ symbol and start typing the name of the page/person you want, a drop down box will show up. Select the page or person you're aiming to tag and voila! They'll show up on your post, without the @, highlighted in light blue. Why do this? It gets your post in front of more--and more relevant--eyeballs.
Back to Kelly for an example. If she wrote about, say, the Winnipeg Jets, and mentioned them in her post using the @Winnipeg Jets, her post would show up on THEIR Facebook page as well!

3. Include a "call to action." What do you want people to do after reading your post? Questions are a good "CTA", and so is "Like this post if you xyz...". If you're promoting a new release, a good CTA would be "Check out an excerpt here: [link]". Make sure your CTA is connected to the body of your post, at least loosely. So if Kelly (my Vanna White for the day) posted a news article about the Jets, and had an upcoming release featuring hockey, she would tag the Winnipeg Jets then in her CTA say something like "Love hockey? My next book has two hockey players hot enough to melt the ice! Read an excerpt here: [link]" Though the article she posted wasn't directly related to her book, she connected them through a theme.

4. Include a link. When you do this, Facebook will automatically pull in a photo from the page, which is good. But you want a bigger photo. So after you add your link, you'll click "Add photo/video" above the status update box and upload whatever photo you want! The link will still be in your post.

5. Properly add a picture. Not only do more people respond to pictures because of the way they stand out from the rest of their Facebook stream, but when you're posting a can EDIT your post instead of deleting it and redoing it! Here's how: Write your whole post, then, while in the same status update box, click "Add photo/video" above it. It's very important that you do STATUS, then LINK, then PHOTO. Then, hit POST!

Want to see it in action? Check out today's update:

There you have it! Test this out on your Facebook page or profile, and let me know what kind of response you have! (See, here's MY call to action for this blog post!)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

On the Road. Again!

So it looks like I'm going to be moving soon. It's not really a surprise. We've moved a lot, over the years. From New Jersey to New York. From New York to LA. From Southern California to Northern California to the Central Coast. From California to Florida, back to California. Sheesh. I'm tired just thinking about it!

As my husband recently reminded me, whenever Uranus moves to a new zodiac sign (just about every seven years) so do we. So I've been putting this particular move off for about nine months now. Um, that's not to say we only move every seven years--it would actually be kinda restful, if that was the case--but seven years does seem to be when the big moves occur. And even though I suspect this move will be an improvement (at least I sure hope that's the case!) I can't really say I'm looking forward to it.
It didn't always used to be that way. Once upon a time, I actually kind of liked moving. Not the actual packing everything up and arguing incessantly with my husband part (that always sucked) but the starting over/discovering new places/reinventing ourselves--that part was fun. Unfortunately, it's been kind of a long time since I've felt that way about it.
It's just so...disruptive. Erin asked me how all this moving affects my writing. That's hard to say. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. I'd never really thought too much about why that should be the case, or what might make the difference, but now that she's got me thinking about it, I have come up with one interesting correlation. The best moves--ie the least disruptive ones--all seem to have theme songs. I put together a playlist of some of the songs I remember playing obsessively during a particular move. Sometimes I actually sang along. I'll spare you all that part!

Sad to say, this new move doesn't have a theme song yet. I think I'd better get one quick. But, for right now, I'm using this:

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Guest Blogger Jodi Redford - Out Of the Comfort Zone

First of all, thanks to the Nine Naughty Novelists for having me on their fabulous blog! I thought I’d talk a little bit today about stepping out of our comfort zones.

When I first began writing with the goal of publication, I didn’t exactly consider myself an erotic romance writer. Which was pretty funny, considering how much I loved writing really sexy scenes. I think part of my problem was that I’d read so much erotic romance over the years, that I didn’t think I could necessarily stack up to those super hot stories. Then the day came when I decided to try my hand at writing a ménage. After one my critique partners read the first draft, she emailed me, demanding to know why it took me so long to come out of the erotic romance closet.

Many of my characters have been just as guilty about dragging their feet when it comes to stepping out of their comfort zone. Lacey—the heroine from my latest release, The Naughty List—is a perfect example. For more years than she’d care to admit to, she’s been indulging in a veritable smorgasbord of kinky fantasies revolving around her two best friends and business partners, Ry and Bram. Much like how I’d at first shied away from taking a chance with my writing, Lacey stubbornly held tight to her secret desires rather than giving them voice and possibly getting rejected or hurt. And in another case of being just like me—who needed a swift kick in the rear by my CP—Lacey was lucky enough to have her best friends there by her side to convince her to take a leap of faith, and make her fantasies a reality. Yes, sometimes it can be terrifying to leave the safe and comfortable behind. But once in a while, what we find makes it oh so worth it.

Blurb for The Naughty List:
Makin’ a list, and rocking it…twice.

Perpetual good girl Lacey McGuire has two Christmas wish lists. One suitable for public consumption…and a private one that’s too hot to handle. Right at the top: wild, wicked fantasies about her best buddies and business partners Ryan Hollister and Bram Colton.

Besides the fact they’re both poster boys for Hunks ’R’ Us, they’ve been there for her through thick, thin and the heartbreak of a cheating fiancé. So what if her boys will never know they star in her sexiest daydreams? In her fantasy world, her heart will never get trampled again.

Ry and Bram are pretty sure Lacey never meant to email a list of some of her raunchiest wants. Particularly the one that tightens their shorts—she wants a threesome. With them. Although they’ve loved her for years, they made a pact to keep Lacey off limits in order to protect their friendship. Now all bets are off. And the quest to give her all she wants—and more—is on.

Warning: This book contains a wickedly hot M/F/M ménage that will heat up the holidays. Friends steaming things up in a hot tub. Bondage and blindfolds. Sexy shenanigans at a Christmas tree lot. And maybe even a glimpse of Santa…in a Speedo.

Lacey, we need to talk.

Her heart sank as Ry’s tense demand spun in her mind.

They’d read the email. She couldn’t fool herself into believing otherwise. Just like she couldn’t fool herself into thinking she’d get out of the conversation waiting for her on the other side of the bathroom door. Sucking in a deep, fortifying breath, she pushed away from the wall and prepared to face her best friends.

Two men who now—without a question of a doubt—knew she wanted a kinky threesome.
Yeah, this wouldn’t be awkward. At all.

The desire to race back inside the restroom stall and have a mental breakdown—or throw up—was overwhelming. Somehow she found the fortitude to take a shaky step toward the door. Then another. You can do this, damn it. She stepped out into the back hallway. The restaurant was eerily quiet. It was easy to pretend that she was the only one in the entire building.

If only.

Shoving her hands into her coat pockets to hide their trembling, she walked into the main bar area. Ry and Bram hadn’t moved an inch from their posts. They both watched her as she approached, their expressions unreadable. That, more than anything, disturbed her. She’d half hoped Bram would be grinning and cracking lewd comments about how she’d pulled the world’s biggest prank on them.


Wait, maybe that’s how she could get out of this—by convincing them it’d merely been a bad joke. It was a long shot, considering the incredibly personal stuff she’d included on the list, but maybe they’d take pity on her and let it go.

She offered the guys a tentative smile. “Sorry about that. You know us women and our tiny bladders.” She winced at her overly cheery tone. Why am I talking about bladders? Trying not to feel like the biggest moron on the planet, she cleared her throat. “Anyway, you wanted to speak to me about something?”

Ry stared at her for a long moment, his eyes dark and intense. She couldn’t remember ever having been under the full power of his focus like that. It took every ounce of her willpower not to shiver. Or duck and hide behind the bar. “Why didn’t you tell us, Lace?”

Although it was pathetic and ridiculous, she decided to play dumb. “Tell you what?”

Of course Ry wouldn’t let her off that easy. “You know damn well what I’m talking about. Your threesome fantasy.”

She forced a laugh. “Oh. That. I thought you guys would get a chuckle over it. I only wish I could have seen your faces when you read the email.” Not that she’d needed to be there. It wasn’t exactly difficult to conjure twin expressions of stupefied shock.

Actually, the shock she could handle. It was the inevitable pity concerning her delusional fantasy land that had her stomach in knots.

Bram sidled up next to Ry. A frown marred his features. “It was a…joke?”

“Well, duh. Of course.” She rolled her eyes for good measure. “I can’t believe you both fell for it.”

For a brief moment she swore Bram looked disappointed. Ry, on the other hand, just leveled her with his patented let’s-cut-through-the-bullshit stare. “It wasn’t a joke. I know it and you know it.”

“Don’t be silly. Do you think I’d tell you all of that embarrassing stuff if it was real?”

The rugged planes of Ry’s face softened, but the heat in his gaze didn’t abate. “There’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”

“I—I didn’t say I was embarrassed.” Oh crap. Yes, she did. She really needed to learn how to choose her damn words better. She cleared her throat, figuring it was past time for a fast recovery. “Why would I be embarrassed over a joke?”

“Because it isn’t one. But judging from how flustered you’re acting, I’d say it’s a safe bet you didn’t intend for Bram and me to ever know about any of it. And that’s really unfair of you, Lace.”

The accusation in Ry’s stare was almost unbearable. A thick ball of shame wedged in her throat. She’d always been brutally honest with him and Bram before, hadn’t hidden anything from either of them up until now. But there were some things you didn’t go blabbing to your business partners, for God’s sake—like the desire to be tied up and blindfolded for a night of raunchy sex. “C-could we just forget any of this happened?”

“It’s too late for that, Lace. You can’t expect us to pretend we don’t know. To not wonder.” Ry stepped closer, his gaze drifting to her mouth. Hunger burned in his eyes.

Her heart thumped in response. She’d imagined that particular look on his face countless times, never believing she’d see it in actuality. This had to be a dream. Or another of her fantasies. The last part of his statement registered and she blinked. “W-wonder? About what?”

“You. Us.” His knuckles brushed the underside of her jaw, tipping it ever so slightly upwards as his head descended. “This.” The husky word feathered her lips, a prelude to the lush pressure of his mouth upon hers.Disbelief and pure giddiness combated inside her while one startling thought spun through her brain in a ceaseless loop.


His tongue coaxed past her lips and glided over hers, the sensation drowning out the delirious chorus in her head. He tasted of coffee and aroused male. It was the most delicious combination of all time. Even as she was reveling in that fact, a pair of hands slid around her hips from behind. Bram’s heat blanketed her back. There was no mistaking the hard ridge of his erection nudging her tailbone.

This can’t be happening. But even as she was trying to assure herself of that, Ry reluctantly broke their kiss and leaned back. Their gazes crashed into each other for a moment before he glanced over her head at Bram. Some unspoken communication passed between the two men. Still dizzy from Ry’s kiss and confused as hell, she craned her neck to look up at Bram. Without warning, his mouth staked its own claim, taking over where Ry’s had left off.

Her senses reeled from the unexpected double whammy. Getting the daylights kissed out of her by Ry was incredible enough, adding Bram to the mix…it was a damn miracle she was still standing upright. As if her body was looking to change that status quo, she swayed, her knees threatening to buckle. Bram freed one hand from her waist and tunneled his fingers through her hair, managing to hold her steady and at the same time tilt her head for better access to her mouth. His tongue was just as insistent as Ry’s and possibly twice as bold.

A gruff, slightly irritated cough issued from Ry. Bram released her, his tongue taking its time to depart her mouth. Dazzled, she licked her lips and attempted to form a coherent thought. “I—I don’t understand. What’s going on here?” She’d been certain they’d be freaked out by the email. Having them all but devour her was the last reaction she’d been expecting, for damn sure.

Bram caressed her hip. “We want to give you that threesome, Lace. Along with everything else on your list.”

At the ripe age of seven, Jodi Redford penned her first epic, complete with stick figure illustrations. Sadly, her drawing skills haven’t improved much, but her love of fantasy worlds never went away. These days she writes about fairies, ghosts, and other supernatural creatures, only with considerably more heat. She has won numerous contests, including The Golden Pen and Launching a Star. When not writing or working the day job, she enjoys gardening and way too many reality television shows. Currently residing in Michigan with her husband and overgrown lapdog, she is a member of RWA national and Greater Detroit Romance Writers of America.
She loves to hear from readers. You can email her at and visit her online at You can also follow her on Twitter and friend her on Facebook.

Monday, December 26, 2011

National Letdown Day

Okay, everybody, Happy Day After Christmas, otherwise known as National Letdown Day. I always remember December 26 as the day when the bloom began to rub off the rose. The toys that seemed so spectacularly special the day before began to look a little more shopworn on Letdown Day. The sweater that was going to be a Life-Changing Experience, turned out to be…a sweater. And, of course, if anybody so much as whistled “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” it was cause for justifiable homicide.

Christmas, after all, is all about anticipation. It’s probably the most anticipated holiday of the year (and these days that anticipation can start as early as October). But sooner or later, anticipation becomes accomplishment. And then you’re left with “Now what?”

I know some people use December 26 as a day to return the Christmas presents that didn’t work out. In fact I have a relative-who-shall-be-nameless who does just that every year, stopping in at the stores where her presents were purchased to exchange them for something more appropriate before she sets off over the river and through the woods back to her hometown. That’s certainly one way of dealing with post-Christmas letdown—obliterate all memories of Christmas presents. Although frankly I think it’s better to wait a bit. Maybe those presents will seem more promising if you wait until National Letdown Day is over.

So what can we do to make Letdown Day a little less of a bummer? I think treating yourself to something special is a good start. After all, Christmas is all about treats too, and those treats don’t need to stop on December 26. Going somewhere other than the mall strikes me as a start. Since I’m usually in Iowa for Christmas, I frequently end up visiting places I’ve never been before. One year it was the Des Moines Art Center, which had been touted as a hidden jewel (it was, in fact, very cool). And we’ve done arboretums and historic buildings too. What you mainly don’t want to do is sit around and contemplate your Christmas presents and that pile of torn-up wrapping paper in the corner. I recommend going out to dinner too, so that you aren’t faced with the prospect of yet more reminders of meals past.

The thing is post-Christmas letdown begins to ease the further away from Christmas you get. So December 27 is better than December 26. And December 28 is better still. And, of course, there’s always New Year’s Eve glimmering on the horizon.

So what about you? Any hints for getting through National Letdown Day? Or (gasp) am I the only one who thinks of it that way?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dear Santa

Dear Santa

I hope you are well this Christmas. I know this is a very busy time of year for you. How is Rudolph? And the elves? I'm sure you will all be ready for a vacation in Hawaii on December 26.

I have tried to be a good girl this year. I wrote some stories. A lot of them have bad words in them, and sex, and some even have kinky things like spanking and ménages
à trois. They got published and quite a few people seem to like them, so I don't know if that counts as being naughty  or nice…?

Sometimes I got frustrated about things and I said some bad words and I vented to my friends and family about people who annoyed me. But I tried to be good in public.

Sometimes I got annoyed at my family. It seemed like they were always coming into my office to talk just when I was trying to write a sex scene in one of those stories I mentioned. Sometimes I got annoyed because they wanted to me to cook dinner when I wasn’t even hungry!

I think i ate too much this year and I drank some wine (see above about being frustrated) and didn't exercise enough and sometimes I stayed up too late. I will try to do better next year. Maybe. I don't want to make promises to you that I can't keep.

I don't want a lot for Christmas this year. I don't know if you can do this, but I would like a stocking full of perseverance. Sometimes I get discouraged and want to give up. And as a gift, If you could bring me enough successes to encourage me, mixed with a few disappointments to make me appreciate the successes,  that would be good. Actually I'm lying. I don't want any more disappointments. I just want successes. I know that's not realistic but hey, a girl can ask Santa for anything she wants, right? A new car would be good too.

Thank you Santa, and I hope you enjoy the pizza (I made it myself!) and beer I have left you. The carrot is for Rudolph.



Wednesday, December 21, 2011

An Early Present

Yesterday, my husband called with the news that a package had been delivered for me. "It's from Samhain," he said.

I immediately started jumping up and down - and then just as quickly stopped, because I wasn't sure how I'd explain it if any of my co-workers walked by. But the excitement stayed on throughout the day, despite my head cold, the fact that I had to work the week before Christmas while the rest of the family was off for winter break, and the sad truth that I wouldn't be home until the next day to actually open the package.

See, I knew what was inside. My author copies for Take A Chance On Me. And even though it's my fifth print title, I was still beyond excited.

For one thing, it never gets old. (And I really, really hope it never will.) Seeing my book, my name, in print - amazing.

For another, this is my very first single title book. The first time something I've written has been published as a stand-alone title. I've had stories and novellas in anthologies and collections, both by myself and with other authors, but it's the first time I've had a full-length novel published.

Excuse me, I'm getting a little verklempt.

So this package from Samhain, which I ripped into the minute I walked in the door from work tonight, was just about the best early Christmas present I could have gotten. It put a smile on my face and was a great reminder of just how much I love being an author.

And in the spirit of the season, I'd like to give away a copy of the book as well. Comment on this post by Christmas morning and you'll be entered to win!

(Print copy in the US; e-book copy outside the US.)

So what's the best gift you've ever gotten - or given?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Guest Blogger Renee Wildes - The Power Of a Dream

I believe in the power of having a dream and working hard to make it come true. My daughter Tami is a figure skater—in training. Saturday 12/17/2011, she took her last Basic Skills (8) test and passed. Out of the minors, as it were, and into Freestyle. Her regular coach wasn’t there, so she got tested by her idol and inspiration, Leah. Ask Tami who her inspiration is, and she’ll say Leah. I thought it so fitting that on Tami’s day of days, it was Leah who passed her through to the big leagues. I’m not sure which of the two of them were more thrilled.
RIEVER’S HEART came out on Tuesday, September 27. The hero, Daq Aryk, is a man with a dream—a warrior prince who dreams of peace. He loves his children, his people and his land. He’s tired of his people being cold and hungry, of warriors dying young and illness taking its toll. They’ve been professional raiders for generation,s but Aryk has a vision of their children growing up to other career options.

The problem is old habits die hard. His own people can’t see themselves doing anything else. Even Aryk’s best friend Valkyn accuses Aryk of turning his back on their fathers. The outside nations are clearly skeptical of a message of peace coming from a riever leader. The only ones to give him a shot are the elves in Poshnari-Unai. King Loren assigns his best warrior Verdeen to accompany Aryk back to Isadorikja as a helper and witness. Part bodyguard, part counselor and part spy.

Aryk has enough on his plate with stubborn clansmen and skeptical neighbors. The last thing he needs is a beautiful cadet with no real battle experience. She’s a distraction he can’t afford. Even though she makes him burn with desire, he has to focus on the mission. He’s got to no time to think of his own needs.

With everything he’s got against him it would be so easy to give it up, to just continue things as they are. Unpopular leaders can be replaced. He takes a big risk following his dream but sometimes a dream is all a man has.

Ask Martin Luther King, Jr.

How many things have changed in history because someone stood up and said, “You know what? This is wrong. I think we can do better.”

A dream can make change happen.

Everyone has dreams. What they do about them is what defines who and what they are, and can define the future for everyone else. We have to believe in the power of the possibilities of their dreams. Words like “can’t” and “never” should never enter your vocabulary. Dreams can inspire change. Dreams can affect change. Don’t laugh at the dreamers—embrace them. Join them. Become them.

Never give up. Ever. No matter what other people say, you have to believe in yourself. Don’t ever listen to the naysayers. I hope Aryk’s and Verdeen’s story can inspire you to keep your own dreams alive.

Renee Wildes is an award-winning Wausau, WI writer. She grew up reading fantasy authors Terry Brooks and Mercedes Lackey and is a huge Joseph Campbell fan, so the minute she discovered romance novels it became inevitable that she would combine it all and write fantasy romance. Renee is a history buff, from medieval times back to ancient Greece, especially Sparta. As a Navy brat and a cop’s kid, she gravitated to protector/guardian heroes and heroines. She’s had horses her whole life, so became the only vet tech in a family of nurses. It all comes together in her Guardians of Light series for Samhain Publishing – fantasy, action, romance, heroics and lots of critters!

Visit Renee At:
Twitter:!/ReneeWildes (@ReneeWildes)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fifty Years of True Romance

When it comes to romantic occasions, weddings generally top the list. But when my parents got married, only five people were present: the two of them, my mother’s father, my father’s mother, and the Justice of the Peace. My grandfather tried to talk my mother out of it. The JP lectured them on their lack of rings. They had no cake, no white dress, no rice, none of the traditional trappings of a wedding. As poor, idealistic graduate students, they had a counter-culture attitude toward the whole wedding concept.

Fifty years and four children later, they finally threw themselves a party. This past Saturday, they celebrated their 50th anniversary by inviting all their friends and family to a big bash – dinner, drinks, toasts, the works. Since they’d been building the guest list for fifty years, the guests came from all around the country – Houston, Florida, Chicago, Alaska (us.) I saw people I haven’t thought about since I was ten. Several of my childhood friends came, along with their kids. Relatives from all branches of the family attended, as did new friends my parents have made during their retirement years. Even the woman who cuts their hair showed up.

From the minute I walked into the elegant party room overlooking the harbor, all decked out in twinkle lights, with a jazz trio playing, I couldn’t hold back the tears. So many long-forgotten faces, so much love for my parents, so much joy at the opportunity to gather in honor of a longstanding commitment. My parents’ marriage, humble at its beginning, flowered and thrived over the course of five decades, four children, and upheaval both financial and emotional. They’ve proven their devotion, and their guests were overjoyed to have to chance to express their appreciation.

As the firstborn child, I gave the toast, to which all my brothers and sisters contributed. Other friends told funny, touching stories about my parents. The children at the party got together and put on a play. My brother, who is a fabulous baker, made them a wedding cake and we all sang “Here Comes the Bride.” It was so lovely, so moving, so rich with history.

I couldn’t help contrasting this beautiful celebration with the recent wedding of Kim Kardashian. Oodles of money and gobs of media attention were devoted to a marriage that lasted 72 days. I have no idea how much money was spent on wedding gifts for Kris and Kim. My parents, on the other hand, had no gifts at their actual wedding, and for their anniversary requested contributions to a group working for marriage equality.

I love weddings too, with all their hopefulness and giddy fun. But I found this anniversary party to be especially romantic. Everyone at the celebration knew they were witnessing true, time-tested love, love that’s not about outer glamour of a wedding, but about the real stuff, loyalty, devotion and commitment. In a time when everything seems so disposable, it was a joy to be part of such a truly romantic moment.

What about you? What's the most romantic occasion you can think of? 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Someone should write this story

Okay, I actually forgot I was supposed to post today BUT, I’m so excited because I have a great story to tell! Interesting how that worked out, huh? It's one of those that makes me think "this would be a great book".

As most of you know, I’m a physical therapist (and those of you who don’t know that… now you do *g*). I love that part of my life because I get to meet amazing people and see them overcome incredible things. This is just such a story…

Larry is sixty-eight and has been married to the love of his life, Barb for ten years. They live on a remote farm outside a tiny Iowa town on a not-heavily-traveled road. A few weeks ago (just before Thanksgiving, actually) they decided to go out on a particularly slick morning. The freezing rain that day had come as a surprise to all of us, including the meteorologists apparently, so there were lots of cars in the ditches.

Two weeks before Barb had seen a bracelet that she loved in a jewelry store in town. It was beautiful and, as is his habit, Larry decided to get it just to make her happy. They headed to town, bought the bracelet and were on their way home on that slick morning. Four miles from their home they came to the bridge they had crossed a thousand times. But that morning it was pure ice. As Larry tells it, they literally slid from one end to the other, praying they wouldn’t hit the side rails… because they would have gone right through and plunged to the river below.

They didn’t hit the side rails. But they did plunge into the ditch at the end of the bridge. The car rolled three times and when it came to rest neither of them knew which way was up. They were literally trapped in the car, unable to move, at all. For two hours. That’s how long it took someone to come across them on that country road and then for the ambulance to get there on the slick roads.

During those hours, they talked to each other. They said all the things they were afraid they might not get to say. They reminisced. They told each other how much they loved each other and how thankful they were that they’d finally found each other.

When the paramedics got there, Barb could hear them talking outside of the car and realized that the professionals assumed no one had survived the accident. She called out to them, assuring them that both she and her husband were very much alive.

Miraculously, Barb ended up with only a broken arm, shoulder blade and a few ribs. Larry was found to have a fractured vertebra in his neck. The amazing thing—if he hadn’t been pinned in the car, he would have moved and tried to get out and it could have caused a shift in the bone and caused him to be paralyzed or even killed him.

But they’ve recovered. It’s been less than a month and they’ll be home together for Christmas.

They’ve even kept their sense of humor about things. And we’ve caught them kissing in the hallway more than once!

Larry told us today that they lost that bracelet in the accident. The two thousand dollar reason for them being out that day in the first place is gone. Probably laying in that deep ditch on that back country road.

But Larry has the right perspective. The accident taught them what was really valuable. He said that he feels like that day they traded that bracelet for their lives because something had to get lost in the accident. And obviously he’s just fine with how it turned out.

Now isn’t that nice? Seemed appropriate for the holiday and for romance lovers!

Tell someone you love how much they mean to you today everyone!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dear Orlando

I miss you.

I miss the sunshine and hot weather. The only thing worse than leaving behind 85 degree weather is coming home to 28 degree weather. I won't mention that we had our first snowstorm on the east coast only 24 hours after we were back.

I miss SeaWorld. Loved all the shows. Even loved being talked into the rollercoaster that flips you over onto your stomach. And I really loved sitting in the soak zone and watching Shamu splash the crowd, missing me while nailing the poor sap next to me. *cough Jeff cough*

I miss the hockey players. My first taste of an NHL game has only made me want to go to another and another and another...

I miss the beach but not the conch shell that tried to eat us. Have you ever provoked the little guys that live in those shells? *cough Jeff cough* I don't recommend it.

And I miss Discovery Cove. Having rarely ventured far from home, even swimming in a man-made reef was a fantastic experience. Watching giant rays glide by inches from your body is amazing.

Just don't swim into a school of oversized piranha-like fish without anticipating that completely irrational jolt of fear that makes you choke on your snorkel when they look at you at the exact same time. Every single one of them.

What place are you missing or would love to go back to if you had the chance?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Guest Blogger Cassandra Carr - BDSM and the holiday go together, right? RIGHT!

My edgy BDSM holiday novella, Caught, released today. By far the most common question I've received in relation to it is, "How on Earth did you write a holiday novella and incorporate BDSM?"


Well, the story starts out with my heroine, Callie, coming home for the Christmas/New Year's holiday. She hasn't been back for three years, and she attends a party at the home of some of her old grad school buddies. You can read all about the party and what happens during it in the excerpt below, but basically, she runs into her old Dominant, Jack, at the party, and in a moment of either impetuousness or clarity - you'll have to figure out which as the book goes on, agrees to sub for him again. Is that where the holiday theme ends? Hell no!

During their play, Jack uses all manner of holiday-related toys and equipment to both pleasure and pleasurably torture Callie. Tickling with tinsel, anyone? He also gives her a whole mess of presents from the sex toy shop, many of which they try out over the course of a couple of scenes. The book culminates on New Year's Eve - a new beginning for Jack and Callie and an appropriate place to end a holiday story.

So, as you can see, it IS possible to mesh BDSM and the holiday season. What ideas do you have for incorporating BDSM play into your holiday festivities? Let's hear them!

Cassandra Carr is a multi-published erotic romance writer who lives in Western New York with her husband, Inspiration, and her daughter, Too Cute for Words. When not writing she enjoys watching hockey and hanging out on Twitter. Her debut novel, Talk to Me, was released by Loose Id on March 22, 2011. Head Games, Buffalo Intimidators book 1, released on November 2, 2011 from Siren Bookstrand, Caught has been released by Loose Id, and Impact is coming in early 2012 from Ellora's Cave. For more information about Cassandra, check out her website at, "like" her Facebook fan page at or follow her on Twitter at



'They’re really taking this politically correct thing too far.'

Stepping from the foyer into the living room, Callie spied a twinkling Christmas tree in the corner. On the mantel, a lit menorah burned, the candles flickering as the people nearby jostled for position as more and more guests crammed into the room. This was a boisterous crowd; already drinking like it was New Years. Advancing further into the room, she noticed the Kwanza decorations and rolled her eyes.

'Pick a holiday and go with it, people. You can’t please everyone.'

She sought out the host and hostess, old friends from her grad school days, and said hello, handing over the obligatory “Thanks for inviting me” bottle of wine. They chatted for a bit to catch up before she grabbed a cocktail and made her way toward the dining room in search of other former classmates and some food. The smells of the various delicacies wafted by, making her mouth water in anticipation. She had just gotten into town and was starving. Plopping a slice of Cheddar cheese onto a cracker, she stuffed it into her mouth and then looked up -- and everything inside her came to a screeching halt.

Jack was there.

With a beer hanging from his long, rough fingers, he leaned against the wall, casual as can be, while her world tilted on its axis. He looked so good-- still the same tall, well-muscled body, still the same olive skin, black hair, and full lips. His Italian ancestry lent him an air of exoticness, and she’d always been a sucker for that.

Her stomach roiled. The cracker caught in her throat, choking her. As she began to cough and sputter, he turned to see what the commotion was, and their gazes met. Callie watched as his eyes went dark with heat and recognition. A blush rushed up her chest through her neck and into her face. With suddenly cold fingers, she touched her burning skin.

He brought his beer to his lips and took a long pull, his tongue sneaking out to catch a stray drop from his top lip. Her gaze followed the movement. His own intense gaze never left her face. Even when his companion said something to him, he merely nodded and kept the whole of his attention on her. She took a fortifying sip of her vodka and cranberry juice, then another, longer gulp, trying to dislodge the cracker from her throat. And still he stared.

And she did the same damn thing she’d done three years ago when she’d gotten scared by his demands, his power -- she ran. Cursing herself for her cowardice, she nonetheless wove her way through the crowd, setting her drink down on the nearest available surface as she rushed past. But before she made it to the front door, she felt his hand, still chilled from holding the beer bottle, curl around her overheated arm. “Long time no see. Leaving so soon, Callie?”

He pulled her around to face him, he backed her up against the wall in the foyer. With him this close, with his touch and his smell and his sheer size surrounding her, her body betrayed her, just like it always had where he was concerned. Her nipples tightened, her pussy ached, and her breath quickened. “What are you doing here?” She sighed at her own stupidity for asking something so obvious.

“These are my friends. A better question to ask is -- what are you doing here?”

“I came back to town for the holidays, and I wanted to see some of my old grad school buddies. I guess I-I didn’t think about the possibility of you being here.”

“Is me being here a problem?”

“No,” she answered too quickly.

“I miss you.”

“I miss you too.”

'Dammit! What else am I going to admit to him?'

“I still want you. I want to touch you. I need to touch you. May I?” At her silent nod, he lightly rested his hand around her throat. Not hard enough to choke, but enough to establish his dominance over her.

'Like he needs to establish that. How could I possibly forget who and what he is?'

Callie shivered. God, she wanted him. She’d never been as scared or as excited or felt as alive as she had during the year and a half she had subbed for Jack. Seeing him again made her want to get down on her knees and give him anything he wanted. If she remembered correctly, that was everything. But could he give it back to her? Before, he’d been unable or unwilling to, and when she hadn’t been able to handle loving him without reciprocation anymore, she’d left.

Her lips were parched, and she darted her tongue out to wet them. His eyes turned black as they blazed back at her. “I want you too.” And it was the truth. She wanted him, and this time, she’d have him. If she ran away again, she knew she’d regret it for the rest of her life.

“Are you collared?”


“Seeing anyone?”

She turned the question around. “Are you seeing anyone?” A strange look passed over his face, but Callie couldn’t interpret it before it was gone.

“No. Answer me, Callie -- are you seeing anyone?”


Letting out a soft growl, Jack cupped the back of her neck in his large hand and kissed her. There was nothing gentle in his kiss -- there never had been. This kiss was one of possession, of establishing even more control. He pressed in further, molding his body to hers while he continued to plunder her mouth. He didn’t force his tongue inside; he didn’t have to.

Surrendering, she relaxed and let him take her. He let out a grunt of satisfaction and changed the angle of her head so he could deepen the kiss. He slid a powerful thigh between hers as she moaned from the sensual onslaught.

After long moments he pulled away, grabbed her hand, and led her toward the back of the house. Callie gasped when he pushed her into a bedroom and kicked the door closed. She whirled around to face him but couldn’t bring herself to look him in the eye, reverting to the naturally submissive pose of staring at his feet, her hands behind her back. She hadn’t subbed for anyone in the three years she’d been gone and was amazed at how quickly the submissive veil slipped over her again. He chuckled.

“My pet, you’re still a delightful submissive, I see.” He took a gentle hold on her chin and pulled her face up to his. “I want you. I’ve always wanted you, since the moment you walked into my classroom. I know I’m a selfish bastard, but I’m going to ask for this most exquisite Christmas present anyway: will you submit to me again?”

Callie nodded, too overcome with emotion to speak.

“I want to hear the words -- I want you to be sure.”

“Yes, I’ll sub for you,” she managed to get out around the lump in her throat.

“Good. Then you’ll be available to me insofar as you’re able to, barring other commitments. Do you understand me?”

“Yes,” she answered, the word hardly loud enough to be considered a whisper. She licked her lips again.

“Yes, what?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“By the way, I’m clean. I was tested a few months ago. You?”

“Yes, Sir, same.”

He stepped forward and shoved her to her knees. She went willingly. Callie wanted this -- she wanted to show him she could handle him this time. Keeping her eyes trained on the floor, she waited for his next move. He let her stew for a minute and then pulled her to him, undoing his pants with his other hand. He guided his already-erect cock into her mouth, and she took it, letting his essence wash over her tongue, relearning the contours of the head, the smoothness of the shaft, as he sawed in and out of her mouth with brutal strokes. He’d never been easy on her, and tonight was no exception.

He pulled his still-hard cock out of her mouth, resting just the very tip on her bottom lip. “How long are you in town for?”

Callie drew back enough to answer, “Through the first of the year.”

She looked up in time to see him smile. “Excellent. We have a few weeks, then.” He thrust all the way to the back of her throat, and she struggled not to gag. He held the back of her head with both hands, forcing her to take his dick all the way to the root, and held it there for several seconds. “Where are you staying?” He pulled out again. He had always liked carrying on conversations as Callie sucked him -- reinforcing his dominance by repeatedly pulling out and then shoving back into her mouth as he saw fit.

“With Lora,” she answered, naming her oldest friend.

“Ah, not far from me. I still live on Tremont. Is she going to let you play?”

“Lora lets me do whatever I want -- she doesn’t judge.”

“I think I’m really going to enjoy the holidays for the first time in a long while.” He went up on tiptoe and pushed back into her mouth, tilting her head until it was at the angle he wanted, and then began ruthlessly plundering her depths. “It’s been a long time since you’ve tasted my cum, my sweet. You’re going to swallow it -- every drop, like the gift it is.”

A scant few seconds later, Callie felt his cock swelling even larger, growing even longer, and then after pulling back until only his cockhead remained inside her mouth, he was coming; straining, as jet after jet of warm, salty liquid shot onto her tongue and slid down her throat. When he was finally spent, he withdrew completely and put himself back together. She remained on her knees, the denim of her jeans little protection from the hardwood floor.

Some might say she gave in too easily, but as Callie considered the man before her who’d turned her world upside down now for the second time, she knew that wasn’t true. Not at all. Her soul was at peace for the first time in years. She was a different person than she’d been all those years ago. Callie was what and where she needed to be: she just had to figure out how to hold on to the fragile sense of contentment she’d discovered tonight.

He briefly stroked the side of her face, then leaned down to touch his lips to hers. “Give me your number.” She started to reach into the purse that had fallen beside her on the floor. He chuckled. “You may rise.” Standing up with her purse, she pulled a small sheet from the memo pad she always kept with her. “Still jotting notes, I see.”

“Yes, you never know where or when you’ll find inspiration,” she answered, quoting one of his own mantras back to him. After writing down her cell phone number, she handed him the paper.

He held up it and kissed it. “I’ll be in touch.” After taking one last look at her, he left the room.

She sat down on the bed, touching the tips of her fingers to her lips. Undoubtedly he thought he’d scored a great coup, bringing her back into his fold. Little did he realize, though. Sometimes the hunter becomes the hunted.

Copyright 2011, Cassandra Carr

Caught is available from Loose Id. Here's the entire first chapter! More information can be found at or on my website at

Monday, December 12, 2011

On The Road Again

It's Sunday night as I write this, and the end of the weekend is looming. I've done the laundry, packed the lunches, tucked the kids in, and tidied up the kitchen.

I've also packed my suitcase, set the alarm for way too early, and double-checked the schedule for the week.

I won't be home until Thursday.

Last month, I started a new job, which I love. What I don't love, however, is the 90-miles-each-way commute. We're in the process of selling the house and moving, but until that happens, I'm spending most of the week in the new city, and weekends at home, while the DH holds down the fort.

Regardless of how much planning went into this transition time, there are a few things I didn't anticipate.

1. Being out of the loop. For eleven years, I held down the fort at home, working part time (from home, and with flexible hours) while doing the mom job as well. It's odd to be the last one to know about school events, homework issues, and who got to see someone puke on the carpet during reading class. (Okay, I don't mind missing out on that one.)

2. Drive-time boredom. And I mean BOREDOM. It's too early to call anyone on the way to work (bluetooth only, I promise!), and the morning radio shows can only entertain me so far. I've started downloading audiobooks from the library, and that helps, but I'm not tolerating the commute well.

3. What am I going to wear? As I said before, until recently I was a part-time, work from home employee. Jeans and sweaters were my "dress-up" wardrobe. Now, I'm in administration, around grown ups all day, and have to dress accordingly. What's worse, I have to decide what I'm going to wear DAYS IN ADVANCE. When I'm staying up there overnight, I don't have the luxury of pawing through my wardrobe in the morning, muttering to myself until something jumps out at me. I have to PLAN. What I'm going to WEAR. This is highly traumatic and requires regular doses of chocolate.

But I'm managing. We all are. And in the long run, it will all be worth it.

Now, where did I put my contact lens solution again?

Friday, December 9, 2011

He shoots, he scores!


There I am, sitting on my couch—on the edge of my couch—staring at the television with wide eyes, hands gripping the coffee table, heart pounding, mouth open. “Yes! Yes, yes, yes!” No I am not watching porn. I’m watching hockey.

When the puck goes in the net, I leap to my feet and punch a fist in the air with another yell. When the puck goes in the other net I’m more likely to scream out some four-letter words and fall back onto the couch in a slump. Why is it so much fun to cheer for a sports team? Why does it matter so much to us?

 As I've recently been pulled into the excitement of having a national hockey league team back in my city, I was reflecting on why this has been so important to me, and to my entire community. I love the game of hockey. I've watched it since I was a kid, on Saturday nights Hockey Night in Canada. As a teenager, my first boyfriend took me to hockey games and patiently answered my dumb questions about why that was a penalty and what offside means. After we broke up, I had season tickets with a girlfriend and we went to every game. When I moved to the "big city" I was excited to go to NHL games when I could afford tickets and cheer for them on TV when I couldn't afford to go. Then we lost our team, and I lost interest in hockey. I still watched the playoffs, usually near the finals, arbitrarily picking a team to cheer for to make it more exciting, but it wasn't the same. 

Now I have my own team to cheer for (whether they'll make the playoffs remains to be seen!) and I'm completely enthralled with it and have watched almost every single game this season. (This is not good for my writing productivity!). Why is that?

I wondered if cheering for a sports team fulfils some deep-seated needs inside us and I pulled out my psychology text book to look at Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. If you don't remember this or aren't familiar with it, Maslow believed that human beings have a hierarchy of needs and that once our needs are met at one level, we then seek to have our needs at the next level met.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

1.      Physiological needs - food water, shelter

2.      Safety needs - security, stability, structured and ordered environment

3.      Belongingness needs - social interaction, affection, love, companionship, friendship

4.      Esteem needs - feelings of adequacy, competence, independence, strength and confidence, and the appreciation and recognition of these needs by others.

Clearly, people who are struggling to survive - to find enough to eat, to find clean drinking water or a place to live - are not likely worried about feeling appreciated by others. Their first needs are survival. Cheering for a sports team is probably not high on their priority list.

Going back to "cave man" days, these were survival instincts and when people lived in groups this led to feelings of "us vs. them". We support the "us" and are threatened by "them."

Much later, sports developed as entertainment in mainly agrarian lives when there was less of the "us vs. them" survival feelings. People worked hard, but their lives lacked excitement and sports offered the opportunity for people to share experiences with the "us" and develop stronger bonds within the group. Sports add excitement to lives that are boring and routine, nowadays as many of us spend our days in an office in front of a computer or doing all the humdrum tasks of running a household. Also, when a lot of our world feels out of control, they offer something consistent.

Today, for most of us our physiological needs are met, our safety needs are met and sometimes our belongingness needs are met. But sports and cheering for teams off a multitude of opportunity for more belongingness. Watching football on TV with the guys, going to hockey games, and talking about the game the next day at work all offer social interaction and companionship. Supporting a team and cheering for it can improve emotional feelings of well being (especially when your team wins).

As for esteem needs, studies have shown that people feel smarter, luckier and more attractive when their team is winning, so cheering for a team can also impact a person's self esteem. We can bask in the reflected glory of our winning team and be a part of something great. We can share that excitement with others. And not just feeling the excitement, it's being allowed to show it. I've seen grown men shed a tear about the return of the Jets, or a lost playoff game. This might be even more of a factor for men, who traditionally are not encouraged to show their emotions, than for women. I'd say that having an outlet to express emotion is probably a healthy thing for men.

Of course the opposite is true as well. When your team is losing, you can feel depressed, even enraged. Again this can be a shared experience. Being alone and depressed is much worse than sharing that depression with others (right Naughty Nine ladies?). But the excitement that can be a positive thing can quickly turn negative if the team loses (especially if alcohol is involved, which it often is at sporting events). Witness the Vancouver riot when the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup last year. It's happened many other places, too. The passion that gives people all those wonderful feelings can incite them to do things they normally wouldn't otherwise. That can also include the dangerous possibility of gambling to excess.

We've seen those fickle fans who immediately turn on their team (and possibly riot!) when things aren't going well, but I've also seen die hard loyal fans who support the team through bad times and good. Why do we stick with a team when a team is losing? Again, it boosts our own self esteem to make the group look good, so even when we're losing, we'll often search for positive things to compare our team favourably against the others.

Other research has indicated that cheering for a sports team makes you feel like part of something bigger than yourself. I'm not sure I'd link my love of cheering for my Jets to my fear of mortality and the idea that the team is something that will last beyond my own life. I guess I can see that it could but it could make us feel that emotionally investing in a team is worth it because it's something that will endure.

Cheering for a sports team brings us together and makes us a part of our community. It connects us to other people and lets us share our feelings with them, both good and bad. It adds excitement to lives that are routine and boring. And it's fun!