Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Guest Blogger Jenna Ives - Snow White And Her Seven Lovers…

Taking naughty to a new level

Thanks so much for letting me guest blog today! I’m Jenna Ives and I write contemporary erotic romance and BDSM novellas. I love novellas, because with so much technology at hand these days (texting, tweeting, e-readers, smart phones, video game players, etc) it seems everyone is developing a shorter attention span. And novellas are the perfect way to satisfy a romance reader’s appetite for sexy stories without having to make a long-term time commitment!

My new novella, Snow White And Her Seven Lovers, was inspired by both Kristen Stewart/Charlize Theron’s upcoming movie Snow White and the Huntsman as well as Lily Collins/Julia Roberts’ spring release of Mirror, Mirror. It looks like 2012 is definitely the year of Snow White!

Here’s the blurb for my erotic version of this classic fairy tale, which I’ve written from our heroine’s point of view:

What’s a girl to do when she wakes up poisoned in a hospital ER and finds that she’s lost her memory, her family, and very nearly her life?

That was me. Three months ago. With no identity, no money, and nowhere to go on the day I was discharged from the hospital, I gratefully accepted my gorgeous ER doctor’s offer to move in with him and his equally gorgeous six friends – the ones who’d found me unconscious in an apple orchard. My plan was to stay only until my memory returned, and I could figure out who I was and if someone really had tried to kill me.

Together with Doc, these were an amazingly diverse bunch of guys, but there was something about each one of them that attracted me powerfully enough to want to explore it. The policeman with his clever handcuffs. The cunningly linguistic librarian. The disciplinarian teacher. The virgin computer whiz who loved to play sex games. The engineer who created shotgun orgasms. The wildly imaginative baker.

Becoming intimate with these seven men completed me in ways I suspected discovering my name never would. That is, until the fateful day a man showed up claiming to be my fiancé...

Oooh… this story has conflict plus lots of steamy sex scenes! Not only are there handcuffs, there’s also spanking, vibrators, bondage, ménage, role play, dirty talk, a strip search, a naughty little feather tickler, a sex slave and even a Prince Not-So-Charming! An erotic fairy tale, to be sure. But by far, my most favorite part of writing this story was coming up with jobs that realistically lent themselves to the seven male heroes – Doc is the obvious one (he’s the ER doctor who saves our heroine’s life) but if you read this story, I’d love to hear from you about my choices for the six friends’ occupations J Grumpy? Dopey? Sleepy? Sneezy? Happy? Bashful? Can you match up the men to the jobs in my blurb above?

Snow White And Her Seven Lovers is available through amazon: http://tinyurl.com/6ublm2a, Barnes & Noble: http://tinyurl.com/79obndh, at Smashwords: http://tinyurl.com/6qb87rh, or at my website, www.jennaives.com.

And for you BDSM fans, I also have a link to The Initiation Of Isabella: http://tinyurl.com/83d4zh7. You’ll be hot to join Bella’s sorority when you’re done reading that one!

So …Which classic fairy tale is your personal favorite?? And how would you spice it up? The most creative answer will win a free e-copy of Snow White And Her Seven Lovers!

Jenna Ives suffers from the typical problem that affects a lot of modern authors — multiple personality disorder. She writes for several publishers under a variety of names, but mostly the reason is to keep her poor sainted mother (who used to read sweet Barbara Cartland romances) from having a heart attack over how sexy modern romances have become! And Jenna certainly DOES write sexy…

Friday, May 25, 2012

Random Thoughts

So I've been thinking a lot about spiders these past few days. Which would not generally be a problem. I like spiders, after all. I even had one as a pet once--a Chilean Rose Haired Tarantula. I'm not including a picture, because I know there are other people who have problems with arachnids. I can trace my love of spiders all the way back to my first reading of Charlotte's Web. Then there's the fact that, as a totem animal, spiders are linked to writers and story tellers. What's not to like about that, right?

But none of that is the reason I've had spiders on the brain lately...and I mean that pretty literally, btw.

A couple of mornings ago I woke up with a pain in my head. Not a headache kind of pain, it was more of a, "Did someone sneak into my room last night while I was sleeping and hit me over the head with a shovel?" kind of pain. Now, let's ignore for the moment that, in my current living condition, the idea of someone sneaking into my room while I'm sleeping is not at all far-fetched. It happens pretty often, actually. And the hitting me over the head with a shovel part? Well, let's hope it doesn't come to that.

But, as I said, we'll ignore that for now. I'm a pretty light sleeper and I think I'd remember being hit over the head with a shovel. But my head ached and, as it turned out, I had several nice lumps on my head, as well. Marble-to-ping-pong-ball-sized lumps, to be more exact, in a meandering trail that started on the top of my head and ended just below my left ear.

It wasn't that hard figuring out what had really happened--especially once I got the "hit over the head with a shovel" idea out of my head. It seems the piece of tape covering the tear in the screen (by the window just above my bed) had mysteriously disappeared. Sometime during the night a spider (or many spiders--I don't really know) must have crawled in the window and become annoyed at having to traverse my head on my way to who-knows-where.

Or, you know, maybe they were love bites. It could happen.

So, anyway, now it's three days later and I'm still achy and lumpy and really not in a great mood. And, yes, I know, most people would just dose up on the anti-histamines and have been over it by now; but I can't take anti-histamines. We don't get along. 'Nuff said.

But I called this post random thoughts and so far it's all been one, elongated one. So, here's the next thing I've been thinking about: the wind. We get a lot of wind here. A lot of wind. The reason being, we're on a hill and, at this altitude, there's nothing between us and San Francisco Bay but empty air. The wind gets so strong that there are times when I can't use my outdoor office...but more about that in a bit.

Whenever I think about the wind, I think about the Christina Rossetti  poem I had to memorize back in elementary school, "Who Has Seen the Wind?" I've been thinking about a lot of childhood memories lately. Weird, random things, like buying my first bra. I got two, actually, the same garment in white and in pink. I really liked the pink one. It made me feel pretty. Even if it did squish my breasts into weird cone shapes, bisected across the middle with a not-so-pretty seam.

Odd, memories of by-gone days cropping up out of nowhere and underwear-shopping issues are two of the things I currently have in common with my mother-in-law. This morning she woke up from a dream in a rather confused state thinking she had to go to school to take her equivalency exam. The other day we went shopping for her and I made my first purchase of Depends.

All in all, my life is very interesting these days and, I must say, my muse has never been more pleased. Which brings me back around to my outdoor office. See how nice that worked out?

I have to talk about the office for a couple of reasons. First of all, it's fun. It's my new shiny thing. Second, I'm too nice to post pictures of spiders and too vain to post pics of my oddly lumpy head...oh, wait, that was me being nice there too, come to think of it. BUT no one can object to shiny new office pictures, like these...

Now all I need to do is figure out the best hours and angles, so I can avoid the really hellacious glare on the monitor.

On the other hand, if I end up having to spend a couple of hours every day writing in longhand, that doesn't seem like such a bad trade-off.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Pleasing Mr. Science

So I’m watching Bones with the hubs recently. The hubs, I should point out, is a scientist—an environmental chemist—who’s been working in his field for a good many years. This particular week on Bones the scientists at the Jeffersonian decided to use a GCMS to do some analysis. Now the GCMS (Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer) is an instrument the hubs has used for years. It’s found in every lab in the country. It’s used to determine the components in organic compounds.

The analyst on the show injected his sample into the very real GCMS, and the hubs snorted.

“What’s wrong?” I asked with a sinking heart.

“They injected twice as much sample as they should. They flooded the instrument.”

“Maybe it made for better TV,” I mumbled.

Just then the onscreen GCMS dinged. “We’ve got the results,” the onscreen scientist chirped. The hubs groaned. “Geez,” he muttered, “that’s faster than Quincy.”

Now Quincy, for the uninitiated, is the old Jack Klugman show about a genius coroner/crime fighter. It’s considered a benchmark for lousy science largely because the results of any test they take onscreen come back instantly. Needless to say, in real life it takes a bit longer since Mother Nature is a bitch.

The hubs watched the rest of Bones in somewhat grumpy silence.

The reality here is that the average TV drama isn’t going to be overly authentic in portraying a lot of things, including science. Similarly, most of us who write know that we’re going to get some details wrong in our stories if we’re writing about something unfamiliar, even though we try to do our research and we’d prefer not to make any huge glaring errors.

Many of these missed details will only be obvious to experts like my hubs, and although we may get the occasional snotty email from those experts, most of our readers will neither know nor care. Nonetheless, stuff like this will probably drive some people nuts, particularly those who know the profession or hobby or activity well. Back in the day when I played the violin, I remember being really annoyed at actors who pretended to play but whose bow strokes bore no relation to the music booming on the sound track.

You might ask if it really matters whether a portrayal is absolutely realistic? The answer is, as usual, it depends. If a movie or a book gets some basic details wrong, then that’s a problem—the producer or author missed something vital in their research and they deserve the annoyed reviews they’re probably going to get. But there are details that only experts know, and authors/producers may simply overlook those. It’s fun if they get them right, but it’s not a disaster if they get them wrong.

And I think that’s probably the bottom line about professions and activities in books and movies. People who know these professions or who take part in these activities are likely to groan. But hell, how many people in the audience have ever injected a sample into a GCMS? Perishingly few, I’d guess. The rest of us just concentrate on Booth and Bones and ignore what happens in the lab.

Then again, when my own profession shows up in TV land and they screw up the details, I’m likely to snarl. Don’t get me started about Rick Castle and the writer’s life (when does the guy have time to produce those bestsellers anyway?).

So what mistakes drive you crazy about TV shows and movies? Any glaring errors that make you want to throw a shoe at the screen? Or are you the live and let live type much beloved by authors and producers everywhere?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Guest Blogger Anna James - Promoting Your Book

Hi Everyone,

My name is Anna James and I write contemporary stories and I invite you to take a break from everyday life and get lost in a world filled with desire, passion and, course, ROMANCE! I have been writing romance stories for more than twelve years now but have only recently been published (July 2010). During the last twenty-two months I have gained substantial insight into the world of publishing and what it takes to succeed as a writer. There’s so much more to it than just writing.

So you’ve received that coveted contract. What’s next, you ask? As a new writer I assumed that once I got the contract my work was pretty much done and I could move on to writing my next story. Boy, was I wrong!!!! There are edits to be done, covers to be designed, copyrights to be filed just to name a few. And, the biggest shock of all… you need to promote your book. This was the biggest puzzle for me. I had no idea where to start. Luckily, I received some good tips from my editor. I’d like to share a few of them with you to get you started on your way to success.

Get your name out there:

1.) If you haven’t already done so, create a blog and / or website. I used WordPress (www.wordpress.com) to create my website & blog (www.annajamesromance.com). If you’re into blogging only, there are other sites out there as well like BlogSpot (www.blogspot.com). Word Press is free (for the basic version) and I believe BlogSpot is as well.

2.) Set up an author page on the social media sites. You can check out my page on Facebook as an example: Anna James – Author of Contemporary Romance Novels (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Anna-James-Author-of-Contemporary-Romance-Novels/129394040447020) I also have a twitter account. You can find my at @authorannajames

3.) Set up author pages on sites like Manic Readers (www.manicreaders.com) and Good Reads (www.goodreads.com). Add your book information and keep it updated.

Get the word out on your book:

1.) Once you receive the final copy send it out for review. Here are some sites you can contact to request a review for your book. Make sure to read the submission guidelines carefully. Many can be specific on who can request a review as well as the genres they accept.

· Coffee Time Romance (http://www.coffeetimeromance.com/)

· Manic Readers (www.manicreaders.com) This site actually lets you request a review from as many as 18 review sites at once (depending on your genre and heat level)

· The Romance Reviews (http://www.theromancereviews.com/)

· Happily Ever After Reviews (http://hea-reviews.blogspot.com/)

· Pillow Talk Reviews (http://pillowtalkreview.blogspot.com/)

You can search for more review sites on the web. Remember you need more than just one review. You want to create a buzz about your work.

2.) Join Yahoo groups and post to promote your book. Remember to read the guide lines and only post on the days when it’s allowed. Here are the names of a few Yahoo groups I belong to (I am a member of more than 30!):

· http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BookCravers/

· http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Chatting_with_Joyfully_Reviewed/

· http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cupidslibraryreviews/

· http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DarkDivaReviews/

· http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ebookChatters/

· http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EuroReviewsChat/

· http://groups.yahoo.com/group/karendevinkaren/

· http://groups.yahoo.com/group/karenfindoutaboutnewbooks/

3.) Sign up for on-line author chats – many of the Yahoo groups sponsor on-line chats. It’s a great way to connect with readers & other writers.

4.) Participate in giveaways. If the winner likes your book they might buy the next one or recommend you to a friend.

5.) Set up a blog tour to promote your book. The way I did this was to join Savvy Authors. The membership includes use of their blog tour tool. You can choose up to 10 sites. The contact emails are automatically sent to the blog owners and they will contact you and let you know if they have openings during the dates you have selected. The blog owner will also let you know what type of post they would like to see. Today I am here at Nine Naughty Novelists to share with you these tips as well as introduce you to The Bradford Sisters. So without further ado….

I invite you to take a break from everyday life and get lost in a world filled with

Desire, passion, and romance.

Meet the Bradford Sisters: Nicole, Natalie and Kate.

Guilty As Charged – Bradford Sisters Trilogy #1 Nicole’s Story

Passion ignites between Nicole Bradford and Max Paradis the second they lay eyes on each other. Nicole seems to be everything that Max is looking for in a woman. She’s sweet and loving and incredibly sexy. But looks can be deceiving. Hadn’t he learned that the hard way?

Nicole is crazy for Max. He is sensitive, caring, and his kisses are to die for. But when secrets from her past are revealed will she be found innocent, or is she guilty as charged?

Watch The Book! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZQCpU1fApE

Guilty As Charged is now available from Sugar and Spice Press: http://www.sugarnspicepress.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=10&products_id=123

Shattered Dreams - Bradford Sisters Trilogy #2 Natalie’s Story

Natalie and Reed seemed so happy when they got married just a few short months ago, but an unexpected pregnancy and a subsequent miscarriage throw their marriage into turmoil.

Natalie deals with the loss by burying herself in work. Reed is supportive but doesn’t understand why she is spending so much after-hours time with her handsome, sexy boss. And what about their dream of having a family? How can that happen when with each passing day Natalie becomes more distant?

Will Reed and Natalie find a way to work things out, or will all their dreams be shattered?

Watch The Book! http://youtu.be/wX5UBsI3k8w

Shattered Dreams is now available from Sugar and Spice Press: http://www.sugarnspicepress.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=10&products_id=149

Shattered Illusions – Bradford Sisters Trilogy #3 Kate’s Story Coming June 2, 2012

Four years ago Kate Bradford met Raffaello D’Onofrio while attending a semester abroad. Rafe ran the family vineyard in the Lazio region of Italy but the thing that attracted her to him most, besides his ruggedly handsome good looks, fathomless deep blue eyes, and well-toned body, was his love of art. It was a passion they shared.

He had been the perfect man as far as she was concerned and in a few short months she fell deeply in love. She had thought that love was returned. Then she found Annalisa De Luca in his apartment wearing nothing but the shirt Rafe had been wearing the evening before. All her illusions were shattered. Distraught and wanting to escape the pain of Rafe’s betrayal, she returned to her home in Chicago, IL.

Now Rafe is back in her life and much to her chagrin, she is still attracted to him. How can just one look from those sexy blue eyes affect her so deeply and what is she going to do about it?

Rafe D’Onofrio has just agreed to allow the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art to display his unique art collection—a collection he has always kept private until now. This after learning the museum’s new assistant curator was none other than Kate Bradford. Once he had thought himself in love with her but after her abrupt departure from his life with no explanation he convinced himself it was just an illusion. So why, after all this time, can the mere mention of her name still send his pulse soaring? And what is he going to do about it?

Will Rafe and Kate shatter the illusions of the past and find love again? Or are they too much to overcome?

Thanks for stopping by and learning about the Bradford Sisters.

Please visit me at www.annajamesromance.com to learn more about me and my books or visit me at Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Anna-James-Author-of-Contemporary-Romance-Novels/129394040447020

Happy Reading,

Anna James

Monday, May 21, 2012

Kelly Thinks About BDSM - Part One

Like many others, I've been thinking about BDSM and romance novels a lot recently. I've read some great blog posts explaining BDSM and dispelling myths about it. Many have dissected the popularity of FSOG (yeah, don't worry, not going to do that here) with much discussion about feminism and female passivity and male power and how we don’t want the power we’ve gained through equality, we just want to submit blah blah blah.
Judging from my Amazon sales, there are a lot of people who probably don't even realize I write BDSM stories. I don't know if I do them particularly well, but I've gotten quite a few good reviews for them, in particular, Power Struggle probably garnered me the most rave reviews of any of my books.

I enjoy writing BDSM stories and I enjoy reading them — some of them. We all have personal tastes, and I will admit that when I read a book where the Dom hero told the sub heroine she was going to eat healthy food or else she'd go hungry, that kinda put me off a little.

So what’s the appeal of BDSM romances? Here's my theory.

Sex makes a woman very, very vulnerable. This is true for several reasons — physically, of course, she is vulnerable —getting naked with a man who is bigger and stronger than she is puts her in a very vulnerable position. On top of that, there are STDs which women are more at risk of acquiring, plus pregnancy and the consequences of that which can lead to long term child rearing responsibility. Then there's the emotional vulnerability. Yes, women can have no strings attached sex, but the reality is that sex often causes an emotional response in women (there is a scientific, hormonal explanation for it) which results in feelings of attachment that may or may not be shared by the man.

For all of these reasons, it is important that a woman trust the man she is having sex with.

As I said, these things don't just apply to BDSM relationships but to all relationships, and this is a good part of the reason the books I write include sex — because putting characters at their most vulnerable tests them the most, creates the most tension, and creates the most intimacy.

BDSM can range from some kink in the bedroom, to a total power exchange or 24/7 D/s relationship. It can range from a little bondage and spanking to some pretty extreme (and potentially dangerous) fetishes.

For this reason, the issue of trust becomes even more important. If getting naked between the sheets makes you vulnerable, being naked and tied up makes you even more vulnerable. This heightened need for mutual trust and respect intensifies the relationship, and in a romance, means the author has to really develop that part of the relationship between hero and heroine. Nobody wants to read about a woman who is clearly TSTL by letting an asshole she doesn’t trust tie her up. And since a romance is all about the relationship, this deepening relationship can result in a more powerful and moving story.

(Note:  the Dominant person in a relationship can certainly be a woman, and the submissive a man — I'm generalizing this way mostly because all my books have dominant heroes.)

For the woman to put this kind of trust in a man, literally putting her life in his hands, this has to be a man worthy of such trust. I enjoy romances which feature heroes who are strong, honorable, courageous and loyal. Consider how important those qualities are when a woman is trusting him with her life.

Now this can happen in, say, a romantic suspense novel, or even a historical novel set in times of war, or where there are dangers like highwayman and pirates — there are definitely other ways to create situations where the hero has the heroine's life in his hands. But I write contemporary romance and like most people, my day to day life is pretty safe and I don't really need a man to protect me from dangers all around.

On the other hand…safe, sane and consensual BDSM includes the use of a safe word…meaning the woman is assured she will never truly be hurt. Having sex with a stranger, with no negotiations, maybe even drunk sex, is far more dangerous than consensual bondage with a safe word. In a vanilla life, how many women have that assurance that they will never be hurt? Which really means, in a BDSM relationship, she’s not helpless--she’s powerful…

So writing a romance that includes BDSM and the complex needs of each character that potentially could include putting the heroine's life in the hands of the hero, means that hero has to be especially heroic. This creates characters that are larger than life, truly heroic heroes that we want to fall in love with too.

My brain runneth over with thoughts about BDSM, but this post is long enough, so you can read Kelly Thinks About BDSM Part Deux at my own blog this weekend

Also I'm sharing a smutty  sexy excerpt from my BDSM book Rigger at The Good Smut Event on Tuesday May 22 - stop by to check it out, and I'm posting more about why I write BDSM there on Tuesday May 29. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

My New Favorite Website

So I've been spending a lot of time on my new favorite website lately. I love checking out the hot new items, mixing things up with my searches, saving to my account, even getting email alerts.

Yes, I'm talking about Kayak.

Seriously, I love checking out the travel deals, from business trips to family vacations. Last night I even looked up ticket prices for a trip I'm not even part of, from a city I don't live in, just because a friend said she couldn't find a price lower than $700 and I took it on as a challenge.

(For the record, I found one for $360, if she's willing to take the red eye the night before instead.)

Silly, yes, but I love to daydream about travel. (Especially since I don't get the opportunity to travel very much.) And I've got a few trips that have gone beyond daydream to reality coming up this year.

First is a business trip to a conference in California next month. Come to think of it, my LAST plane trip was to California as well. Guess it's becoming a habit! And this week I booked my flight to New Orleans for October. This is a double business trip, I suppose, since the first half is a writer's weekend with the Naughties (yay!) and the second half is a national conference I'm attending for work.

I know there are a lot of people out there who travel far more than I do, for business and on vacation. But it's still a bit of a novelty for me. Which is probably why an airfare website intrigues me so much.

Now excuse me a moment while I set up a fare alert for next spring break. Think it'll be time for a family vacation by then!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Fantasy Physical Therapy

 As you may or may not know, about two months ago I had surgery on my left knee to reconstruct the ACL. The rehab for this surgery is looooooong. And since Erin still hasn't gotten her plane ticket to come help me with the physical therapy, I've resorted to drastic measures.

Make that, drastically handsome measures. Meet my new physical therapist.

Hello, gorgeous. I know you're big and strong (though I have no idea what's going on in your pants), but I don't want to tire you out. So I'm bringing in some extra help.

I'm sure you guys will work really well together. Double entendre completely intended. But as I said, this rehab is long and hard and just keeps going and going ... anyone have a problem with one more extra set of hands?

I'm so glad we're all on the same page. It's a good page. Just look at it!

And when we're all sweaty, we'll go work out in the water ...

While someone stays behind and takes care of the laundry.

I have a feeling this rehab isn't going to be nearly long enough. Admit it ... you're kind of jealous of my knee surgery, aren't you? Erin, is it like this at your physical therapy?

Okay ... sigh ... fantasy over. Back to the exercise ball!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


One of the things about writing heroes is that you have to, you know, make them heroic.  They can't be jerks. 

Well, that's not totally true, is it?  They *can* be, and often are, jerks.  They say rude things, do things that make you roll your eyes... or worse.

What really matters is why they do it, right?  Or at least that they're sorry afterward.  Really sorry.  Grovel-worthy-sorry sometimes.  But often I can get past the jerk moments.

Almost anything can be believed or forgiven if there's a good reason.  Of course, the reason has to make sense to *me*, the reader. The author has to make me understand him, where he's coming from, how he feels.  And, as previously mentioned, (though it's certainly worth saying again!) makes him really sorry.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips is quite good-- in my opinion-- at setting up the jerk-hero, and then making you love him anyway.  Lori Foster has had a couple of these for me.  So has Carly Phillips.  But the key is that, eventually, you either forgive them... or you love them anyway.

This can be a hard thing to do.  In my current WIP (work in progress), years ago my hero kissed my heroine to push another girl away.  Two problems. One, when my heroine figured out that was the reason, it definitely took some of the wow-factor away for her.  Two, the other girl was her sister.  Yeah, I'm going to have to work to make him sympathetic.  Or really, really sorry!  (don't worry...)

Right now I'm reading Susan Andersen's Playing Dirty.  In this one, the hero made the heroine believe he was in love with her, had sex with her and then told everyone. Oh, this was in high school.  Yeah.  Now, I don't love that, of course, but I'm willing to keep reading to see what was going on in his head, willing to believe that maybe there was a good reason.  Maybe. 

But then... he also called her fat.  Publicly.  In the high school cafeteria.

Uh, huh.

Now, this is Susan Andersen.  I would give Susan my first born if she wanted her.  (Well, maybe my second born.  No, my first born.  No, second.  Oh, heck, she can have them both).  Anyway, I'm going to keep reading because this is Susan. And we haven't been in the hero's head about these past events other than to know that he's sorry and has tried to apologize a few times.  But I better see some damned good reasons here.  Soon.

Especially about the fat thing.  In fact, I'm not completely convinced that I'm going to be able to get over that one no matter what he says or thinks.  That's big stuff (no pun intended).

But wait... this is fiction.  Okay.  Yeah, I can probably get over it.

Of course, real life is different.  For me anyway.  In real life, my own real life or that of my sister, best friend, or daughter, there is no way I would forgive public humiliation.  No way.  But with fictional heroes, I'm a little softer.  Not all readers are, though. 

So, how about you? Anything that you would absolutely not forgive in a hero no matter how hunky, hot or sweet he is now?

By the way... you can get Susan's book here! :) 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Guest Blogger Debra Parmley - Writing About Difficult Subjects

Recently someone asked me how I can stand to write about women who have endured such things as domestic abuse, a spouse kidnapping their child, rape and branding. For her, these topics are taboo and she doesn't even want to think about them.

I admit my western romance novels have been described as gritty, which surprised me at first. It surprised me because I don't actually describe the scenes in which these events take place. When I write about a heroine, I always begin after these events have happened. There are several reasons for this.

First, I trust the reader to understand when the heroine states or implies a horrific event has happened, what the heroine is referring to and to supply enough of their own imagination to flesh such a situation out in their mind or to nod at it and move on through the story. Hopefully this allows the reader to stay in their comfort level.

Second, women who have survived horrific circumstances don't tend to go into a lot of detail when talking about it. They refer to it instead of giving a play by play of the action. So for me, when writing these stories, it feels more natural to write them this way.

Third, I'm writing about women who are survivors, not victims. About women who learn to take back their power, to take back their lives. So the story must center on that, or I don't want to write it.

There is a personal quote of mine and if you hang around with me long enough, or hear me speak or read an interview, it might just pop up. I believe it sums up what drives many of the stories I have written.

"It is not the things which are done to us that define us. It is the things that come from within ourselves."

That's really the only thing any of us can control and this is true of people walking the planet and of our story people. Character comes from within and character growth is what I believe makes a good story.

My first book, A Desperate Journey, is about an abused wife whose husband has stolen her son and it is about her journey to Texas to get her boy back. It is about her journey to take her power back. What recourse did a woman in 1867 have if her husband stole their son? If her husband was a bigamist who moved from woman to woman how would a woman in that time period ever find out?

My second book, Dangerous Ties, begins with the heroine who has been brutalized, branded, strung up over a mine shaft and the rope is breaking. The whole town has turned against her believing she stole the gold her fiancée absconded with.

So, yes, the west I write about in my western historical romances is a gritty place. Bad things happen there. But good things can happen too. All it takes is one good hero, one good heroine and together they can take on the world. I like to believe that's what they do when they ride off into the sunset.

Each year I donate a portion of the proceeds from A Dangerous Journey to the local women's shelter. Saturday, I was active in an event called Shimmy Mob, which is an international event held on World Belly Dance Day, May 12th. In 9 countries and 110 cities around the world, dancers performed the same choreography in "flash mob" type events to raise funds and awareness for our local women's and children's shelters. You can read more about it on my website. Or on http://www.shimmymob.com

Blurb: A Desperate Journey

Sometimes a journey of the heart is the most dangerous journey of all.

Sally Wheeler learned the hard way that men aren’t always what they seem. Now she will stop at nothing to track down the bigamist husband who stole her child and abandoned her on their failing Kansas farm. Even if it means traveling with a handsome maverick who could change her mind about men.

Free after spending seven years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, Rob Truman aims to balance the scales of justice on the man who sent him there—Luke Wheeler. His quest doesn’t include falling for the one woman who will lead him to his quarry, but Sally’s courage in the face of her fear touches his soul.

Through dangerous days and nights on the trail, neither Sally nor Rob can ignore their growing feelings for each other. Yet both are haunted by the poor judgment that, in the past, led them down the wrong road. Love—and trust—are luxuries neither of them can afford.

But as the bullets start flying, love may be all that saves them—and Sally’s son.

Blurb: Dangerous Ties

He found her dangling from a rope. Her life about the end in the black abyss of a mine shaft. Since coming west Lillian's life had gone terribly wrong. Misplaced trust had shattered her soul and a lust for gold had nearly forfeited her life. One man would bring her back from the brink. One man would save her life and give her back her heart. If he can sever the rope that binds her with the most dangerous ties.


Nevada 1860

Pain erased all sense of time. Lillian didn't know how long she'd hung, her muscles exhausted from the strain, her mind full of warnings she was helpless to do anything about.

Her throat was raw from screaming before Grady had gagged her. Now the cloth gag stuck to her dry tongue. She squinted through tired eyes at the pail of water sitting by the edge of the mineshaft. She could look right down into it, the water taunting her with how good it looked, how it would taste cool and refreshing as it slid over her tongue, down her throat. It would soothe her throat if she could just reach it.

But there was no hope of that.

They'd tied her up and left her to die of thirst. Lillian closed her eyes.

No, don't look at it. Don't think of it. Think of something else.

Pain shot from her broken right toe up her ankle and leg. The scent of burnt flesh still filled her nostrils. He'd seared the brand across the top of her breast. Memory lodged in her body where pain radiated along with heat, echoes of his laughter still ringing in her ears.

A single tear slipped out and ran down her cheek.

It hadn't mattered what he did to her or how relentless they were. She still couldn't tell them where the money was. She couldn't tell because she didn't know. And no amount of torture could change that one fact.

Lillian squeezed her eyes tight and prayed her lie had bought enough time to get away. Though how she'd ever get out of this she didn't know.

She had to get away before he returned, angrier than ever because she'd lied.

Mr. Thomas Shelton, her former fiancé, was probably well to California by now, and rich as the cream Lillian used to pour into her tea every afternoon. He'd done more than abandon her along with the promises he'd made to her. He'd left her to face the anger of everyone in town who he had robbed.

Dear God, but she was thirsty. If she could only have a drop or two of water. Lillian kept her eyes closed so as not to look at the pail again.

Mr. Shelton, the president of Shelton Security Bank and a widower, had finally asked for her hand in marriage after months of waiting. She'd thought she'd close the dressmakers shop. Fact was, she wasn't making much money. It hadn't been going well. The women living in town or in the outlying areas did their own sewing and except for a few bridal gowns and mending the saloon women's clothing, Lillian had made no other sales. Nevada was nothing like New York, where a woman needed a new gown for an event or wanted one simply because it was the latest new fashion.

She'd been foolish to follow her cousin out west, even if he was her only living relative. Carl was nothing like the boy she'd grown up with. Letters could be so deceiving and she hadn't seen him since he was ten.

Yet he'd written to her, urging her to come out west after her parents died. Convinced her it was better to be with family. Promised to help her set up a dressmaker's shop now that she had to make a living. She'd always enjoyed sewing for herself and her ailing mother and the dresses she made always brought compliments.

She'd also been drawn in by the adventure of moving west. So she'd left the town she'd spent her entire life in.

Carl had been nice enough at first, helping her set up shop, introducing the townsfolk to her. But, after the first few weeks, he spent all his time playing cards and running up debts in the saloon and the mercantile, then expected her to pay for them.

He seemed to have the idea that because he'd done this favor for her, she was indebted to him for life. It was a debt she could never repay.

Carl thought she owed him and he thought she had the money. Even her own cousin didn't believe her.

The pain in Lillian's shoulders from the pressure of her own weight pulling her down pushed away her thoughts. Her arms being stretched for so long made her jerk and flinch, though she knew it was futile to fight and she barely had any fight left. But she couldn't help pulling against the ropes even though it only made things worse.

Oh, what she'd give for someone to cut her down and a fast horse. She'd learn to ride, as if her life depended on it.

Debra's books are available on Amazon


Barnes and Noble


and through your local Indie bookstore http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781605042763

Visit Debra at http://www.debraparmley.com or on facebook and Twitter.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Beautiful Bermuda

So while the other Naughties were partying it up at RT, I was packing and moving. We had less than a week to unpack and get everything settled and then Master Chef and I were bound for Bermuda. There was no way I was coming home after vacation and deal with that kind of chaos. So it turns out cruising and I may not be a match made in heaven, but I still had a great time on board the NCL Dawn. Slushy, fruity drinks can cure just about anything apparently, even a little seasickness. Most of the time.
We spent two days in Bermuda before sailing back to Boston, but given the gusts of wind on the first day, you'd think a hurricane had been moving in. The wind was so strong we had to bend forward and hold onto each other. Needless to say everyone's excursions for the day were cancelled. Master Chef and I still managed to grab a taxi later that afternoon and get a short tour of the closer highlights. On our second day we headed to the famed Horseshoe Bay, rated one of the world's best beaches, partly due to it's rare pink sand.
After Master Chef attempted to drown me ("Don't worry," he says, "the wave will just flip you around a bit." Damn wave flipped me around A LOT.) we did a little exploring. I figured I should try to drown him (with a little help from Mother Nature) in a little pool separated from the ocean by a rock barrier. That's Master Chef's head barely visible under the wall of water that crashed over the rocks.
Once we had our fill of sand and surf, we headed back to the ship. Cabin lighting is incredible at making sunburns suddenly visible. After seeing some other peoples burns back on board (I think they may have slathered themselves in baby oil before laying out to cook on the beach) I'm damn glad we managed to put on sunblock a couple times. Unfortunately those two days in Bermuda sabotaged my hard won sea legs and within a couple hours of leaving the port, Gravol and I were on great terms. Before putting myself to bed though, Master Chef managed to snap a pic of the setting sun. Glad he did since it was the last time we saw it for the rest of the trip. LOL
I would definitely go back, maybe not by cruise ship though. Not sure where we'll go next. Any suggestions?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

RT Swag Winners

Sorry for the hold up on announcing winners from our RT Home Alone Party. Congrats to Sherry, Kog, and Jane! Send your snail mail addy's to me (sydney@sydneysomers.com) and we'll get your fantastic goody bags in the mail ASAP. Thanks to everyone who entered.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Where are my Pinterest newbies?

I know the Nine have been all atwitter (hehe, get it?) about Pinterest...but I also know there are a LOT of questions buzzing about it.

While I'm not on Pinterest yet, my evil alter ego is, and she's going to answer any questions you have about the platform!

Leave your q's in the comments. If you don't have any, PLEASE leave your Pinterest profile link so we can all follow your boards!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Whose House is it Anyway?

So, my mother-in-law moved in with us recently, and no that's not a bid for sympathy. I've always gotten along with her, which is part of what made us the logical choice when it became apparent she could no longer live on her own. I'm happy to be able to help her out, but that doesn't mean the situation doesn't have its challenges.

While she seems pretty lucid a lot of the time, we're not sure how much of that is real, and how much is an act because there's definitely come confusion going on there as well, a good part of which is centered around the question of where she lives.

See, she can't really remember the trip out here, can't remember any of the multiple conversations we had with her to discuss all the reasons why this move was a good idea.And, something that becomes increasingly clear the more she talks about it, she really can't remember where she was living before she came here.

Most of the time she seems satisfied with the idea that this is our house, although she clings to the idea that she's just visiting us and will occasionally ask about calling a cab to take her home. The last place she lived is some three thousand miles away, so I think it's safe to say a taxi is out of the question.

Sometimes, she insists that this is her house and that we're the ones visiting her. It seems it's a surprise visit, too, on our part, and  I know she's never been all that comfortable with company. So, while up until now, she's been happy to see us, I keep waiting for her to ask us to leave.

Every once in awhile, however, she becomes convinced that we're all in the wrong house. That we're trespassing (for unknown reasons, I might add). And that the police will be by any minute to either kick us out or lock us up. Last time she mentioned that I asked her to explain why she thought we'd be trespassing and she told me, "When people have no place else to go they look for empty houses to break into."

I don't know about the rest of y'all, but as a writer I have only one response to something like that, "Plot bunny!"

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


I’m a crier—always have been, probably always will be. I cry at good news, I cry at bad news. I cry when I’m touched and when I’m angry. I cry at sad movies and at happy ones. I’ve even been known to cry at commercials (and if that isn’t an embarrassing admission, I don’t know what is).

Back in the early days, when I was a teen and a twenty-something, I could usually manage not to get blubbery in all situations. But I find it’s getting harder to do these days. When I see pictures of my (very adult) kids as babies, I get the sniffles. When I talk about my dad who died when I was eleven, my eyes get moist. And don’t even ask about my mom—you’re likely to get drenched. Sometimes it seems all I need to do is think about crying, and whoomp, there it is.

I guess it goes without saying that I cry at books, some more than others. Mary Balogh gets me. So does Loretta Chase and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I’ve been known to cry at some Nora Roberts but not others (her straight romances, but not her suspense). I’ve even been known to cry at my own stuff, which is really sort of silly, but what can I say? Nothing about this is particularly logical.

Honestly, I understand how people on the other end of this must feel. It’s embarrassing (to say the least) when your conversational partner suddenly gets emotional for no particular reason, and most people have no idea how to react—whether to give me a hug or pretend my lower lip isn’t trembling.

My family has pretty much grown used to me over the years. When I start sounding teary, they usually just keep going, secure in the knowledge that I’ll pull myself together sooner or later and it’s not really their problem anyway. I kind of wish other people would follow their lead. Given the fact that society frowns on people who get emotional, it’s bad enough being a tearful person. It’s even worse to have it called to everybody’s attention.

The thing that strikes me, though, is the way a lot of people react to tears. Many people seem to find them sort of, well, scary. People edge away. They want you to stop. They’re afraid that they might be called upon to do something, and they have no idea what that something should be. I sometimes wish I could say, “Look, don’t worry, I just do this. I’m really okay. I won’t explode, so help me.” But in fact, saying that might scare them even more.

I guess Ella Wheeler Wilcox had it right: “Laugh and the world laughs with you;/Weep and you weep alone.” Sniff. So what about you? Do tears bother you? Are you particularly weepy yourself? And what, if anything, have you found to do about it?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Guest Blogger Desiree Holt - But where is the romance?

Note: Leave a comment and you might win a free ebook from my backlist.   

Okay, I’m on my soapbox. Call me crazy, but where has the romance gone in television? The good feeling? The “Oh, I love this show” feeling? I don’t know about everyone else but when I watch a television series and a couple has really great chemistry I want them together and I want them happy. I want to feel the love!!! In an ensemble series with a large cast and the story line basically about the lives of the people involved, I want one couple that’s the anchor. One couple that is sold despite everything. That you can always depend on no matter what.

I’m a romance writer right? So I want the romance! However small it might be.

Yet television seems to have this wild notion that if you don’t constantly break people up you’re not creating “conflict.” Maybe that’s because they don’t know how to write “conflict.” Or maybe it’s because they think the only way to keep the viewers coming back is to give them a weekly dose of angst.

Now I’m not saying every show ahs to have a romance. Some, like the police procedurals, aren’t even built around romance. But if they introduce couples and their private lives are only peripheral to the show, then why can’t they be happy? In love?

Oh, yeah, I know, I know, couples fight in real life and they deal with problems. That’s okay if it’s not too intrusive. But if you want to watch “real life” then tune into lone of he gazillion reality shows. Or take a look at life around you. Lord knows there’s enough angst and “conflict” to go around.

When I watch television I wan t escapist entertainment. I want to feel good. I want a break from the trash I deal with every day.

And what’s the argument when shows get complaints about splitting up key couples or not putting them together when the chemistry between them is son strong is about ignites the screen? The Moonlighting Curse. When David and Maddie got together the show tanked. Jumped the shark. Well, hell. Moonlighting was a long, long time ago and I’d like to think writers have learned a lot since then about how to do it right. How to make it work.

I must have every book written by the Dell Shannon, the queen of police procedurals. The story of the crime and the police department was primary but she skillfully wove in the personal stories of the detectives. And guess what? They didn’t break up, or if they did it was instantly resolved. They didn’t do things to hurt each other. Although I’m sure she didn’t think of it this way, her books had “strong romantic elements”.

Just like many of today’s shows, like Grey’s Anatomy. I watch shows like Flashpoint, where poor Ed has to decide between his job and his family. Why? It’s not even close to being primary to the show. Or Hawaii 5-0, where Danny and Rachel are finally getting back together and she’s pregnant with his child and he ditches her at the airport. Why? It’s not germane to the story line.

So if this bothers you like it bothers me, let me know. Let the producers know. Maybe they’ll take pity on me.

Meanwhile, here’s a taste of my new gritty erotic romance, Out of Control, where you will find romance.


Twenty five years ago Carrie Nolan was the only victim to survive the killing spree of a pedophile. Her life has been frozen in time, and not even a move to a distant city or a name change has healed the wounds that left her emotionally and sexually scarred. Determined finally to reclaim her life, Carrie returns to High Ridge as multi-published crime novelist, Dana Moretti, in hope of asking the questions that would lay her nightmares to rest. Sheriff Cole Landry, came to High Ridge to escape the horrors of Iraq and Afghanistan, but soon after the sexy author arrives and starts poking her nose into matters best forgotten, his town once again becomes the hunting ground of a ruthless killer. She's sure it's the same man, and he's not all that convinced she's wrong. Keeping Dana safe means keeping her close—very close—under his protection, under him. Between her sexual need for Cole and the danger lurking behind every stranger's face, her world is spinning out of control.


“Can I help you?”

The deep voice that spoke to her sent shock waves through her. She whirled, her knees shaking. Oh, hell. It was him. The man in the truck. Wearing a uniform, for god’s sake.

“I have to say,” he went on, “you look a lot better when you aren’t soaked through by the rain.”

Dana’s legs were shaking, keeping time with the butterflies doing the rumba in her stomach. The first thing she thought was cowboy. He had the easy, relaxed yet alert stance she’d seen on men around horses and cattle. And his feet were shod in square-toed Western boots. She was sure his hat would be a Stetson.

But the way his eyes assessed her, the analytical gaze…military. Some kind of covert ops.

A dangerous combination in a man.

Dangerous to women. And to people who were misled by his friendly smile.

He was somewhere in his mid-thirties. At least six-four, broad shouldered, and lean hipped, the khaki of the sheriff’s uniform looking as if it were custom tailored for him. His face was all angles and planes, with deep-set, whiskey-colored eyes framed by dark brows and lashes. Even in her state of high anxiety, she couldn’t miss the sexuality that radiated from him.

The ultimate alpha male.

And trouble.

I’ll bet he has to beat the women off with a nightstick. Well, for sure he won’t have to worry about me. Oh, wait. After last night, he probably thinks I’m a nutcase anyway.

She wet her lips. “I gave my card to your…to the woman at the window. I’m Dana Moretti.”

“I know who you are.” His smile, like John Garrett’s, was professional and didn’t reach his eyes. “I’ve been expecting you. Come on.”

He swung the door wide, the muscles in his tanned arms flexing with the movement.

“If you’d identified yourself last night,” she told him, trying to keep the acid out of her voice, “I might have been more willing to accept a ride. I don’t make it a habit of jumping into trucks with strange men.”

His body brushed hers as he let the door swing shut, and lightning shot through her. What the hell? She knew what unexpected lust was. She often wrote about it, but it wasn’t a feeling familiar to her personally. Certainly not in a situation like this. Maybe this was a bad idea, after all.

“So, what kind of men do you jump in trucks with?”

Find this and other releases at Amazon and Barnes&Noble and come visit me at www.desireeholt.com and www.desireeholttellsall.com ; on Twitter @desireeholt, on Facebook: /Desire Holt.

And now an App for both Apple and Android devices.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Top Ten Reasons to Date a Hockey Player

My book One Man Advantage came out last week. The hero of the story, Logan Heller, is a professional hockey player. Logan is the brother of Jase (Breakaway) and Tag (Faceoff). As the third of four boys in the Heller family, following in the steps of his two older brothers has never been easy. Logan’s always been a joker, a fun guy who never takes things too seriously, always with a smile on his face and a smart remark. Of course, Logan is hiding a lot between that carefree façade, including a deep-seated fear that he’ll never be as good as his two older brothers, both on and off the ice.

After her ex trashes her reputation in front of the media and it quickly goes viral, Nicole vows she’ll never get involved with another hockey player. Too bad her job with the Minneapolis Caribou puts her in contact with sexy hockey players on a daily basis, including the newly traded center, Logan Heller. Logan’s pretty sure Nicole is the perfect woman for him and he’s determined to have her—in and out of bed. Nicole is equally determined to never date another hockey player. But Logan has a one-man advantage…he knows what she really wants. 

Logan spends much of the story trying to convince Nicole they should be together, and at one point he tells her some of the reasons why it’s good to date a hockey player. He only gets through a few of them and although he doesn’t completely convince her with these reasons, he does soften her up a little with his sense of humor. Here's a short excerpt - this is at a Thanksgiving dinner party Nicole's friends Taylor and Fedor host:

“Fedor wants to know if you picked up any chicken wings,” Logan said.
“Chicken wings! Is he nuts? This is Thanksgiving.”
“He says he needs Buffalo chicken wings to watch football.”
“Phhht. I’ll go talk to him.” She hustled out of the room, leaving Nicole and Logan alone.
“Excuse me,” she said. He blocked the door. “I need to go change.”
He looked down at her, his mouth a flat line. “How was your date Saturday night?”
She smiled, her eyes narrowed up in fake cheer. “Lovely. How about you? I heard you went out with some of the guys.”
“I heard there were girls all over you.” Oh hell, did she say that out loud?
“Yep. That’s why I went.”
Her smile faded. Bastard.
They stood there facing each other. Nicole had to break the eye contact, she just couldn’t hold his gaze without wanting to fall to her knees in front of him. “Please. Let me by.”
After a brief hesitation, he stepped aside. She hurried out of the dining room and down the hall to the guest room. Closing the door behind her, she pressed her hands to hot cheeks. The attraction she felt to Logan hadn’t diminished and only reinforced how extremely painful her date with Paul had been. They just had nothing in common, and much as she wanted to expand her horizons and have some kind of interests outside of hockey...he just wasn’t going to do it.
She changed out of her jeans and sweater into the dress she’d brought, a sleeveless black dress that was simple, but she liked the shape of the neckline and how it fit her body. She brushed her hair and touched up mascara and lip gloss, then went out to greet the other guests who started arriving.
Taylor started music, but the guys made her turn it off until the football game was over. People filled the kitchen and great room, talking and laughing, offering to help with food. Nicole stirred gravy while Logan mashed potatoes and she had to fight to keep her eyes off his big flexing muscles as he held the pot and plunged the masher in and out. Ergh.
“So what are the other top ten reasons to date a hockey player?” Taylor asked Logan.
He shot her a sexy smile. “Let’s see how many I can remember. Um...they always wear protection.”
Nicole choked. And coughed.
“You okay, hon?” Taylor asked.
“Yes,” she wheezed. She could not look at Logan. Even so, she sensed his grin.
“They have great hands,” he continued.
Oh yeah. Oh god, yeah.
“They have great stamina.”
She bit her lip. Their sex on the floor hadn’t required a lot of stamina; they’d both been so hot for each other, it hadn’t lasted all that long. But she had no doubt he had lots and lots of stamina. Actually, so did she...
“Nic, you’re whipping the gravy into a froth,” Taylor said. “I think it’s good.”
“Oh. Yeah. Okay.” She set down the whisk. And Taylor had to go and talk about whipping. “It’s hot in here,” she said without thinking, and then she caught Logan’s smirk and her face turned scorching. “I mean, I’ve been standing over this hot stove...I need more wine.”
She grabbed her glass and downed the rest of the contents, started to reach for the bottle, but Logan was there with it. He poured some into her glass.
“Thanks,” she croaked. She met his knowing gaze, his brown eyes gleaming.

    Here are the rest of the reasons why to date a hockey player:

10. They have great stamina
9. They have really long sticks
8. They know when to play rough
7. When they play rough they do it from behind
6. They can score from any position
5. They find the opening and get in it
4. They always wear protection
3. They never miss their target
2. They have great hands
1. Other athletes only play with balls