Saturday, January 25, 2014

Male POV -- Writing it as a Woman

I had written Baby, It's Cold Outside (Carter's POV book) kind of as a one-off. I really enjoyed his character and the personality he had, and it was easy to write his version of events as I was writing Justine's. Last night I decided I was going to do that again, even though I realize a lot of my female readers DO NOT like/identify with the male POV. I know this because the reviews for Baby clearly state it (10+% of them--yipes!).

Is it because I have given Carter a different "voice" than Justine? Is it because his thought processes are not quite the same? Is romance just too geared to the female demographic? Granted, I am a woman, and I really have no personal experience inside the male brain, but I faithfully ask my husband to read and verify what I believe Carter would be thinking as being authentic enough. He has had me change wording and add a few bits here and there to make things realistic, or as realistic as male POV written by a woman can be.

So I'll admit, Carter is NOT an alpha male. A lot of romance readers prefer that alpha personality in their heroes, but I don't, and if I tried to write a story from inside an alpha's head I don't think anyone would like the result. Plus, my husband is not an alpha personality, and he's not a wimp by any means. He was a competition skateboarder back in the day, and played lacrosse (like Carter). He was even a professor at UT for a few years, fulfilling one of my own fantasies, but I digress.

Maybe I shouldn't waste my time writing the mirror of Book 3 in Carter's perspective, at least for publication. Perhaps it will sit on my computer as a self indulgent exercise (where it will have plenty of other stories for company). Or possibly it will go out to my mailing list as a bonus read after Hot to Trot is up for sale. Either way, I want to tell Carter's story, knowing there is a chunk of my readership that will never pick it up. I can't please everyone, but hopefully I will be able to entertain a few. Now, to figure out how to conquer that male demographic...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Proofing--it's not just for the book files!

I have finally taken the time to put Baby, It's Cold Outside into print. I don't know why I waited so long. Okay, I do know why, it's just embarrassing to admit how frustration can stymie all of my plans so easily. Getting Just Add Heat formatted seemed like a gargantuan task, and I had to go through three proof orders before it was just right. I have learned so much since then. Last week, I decided to bite the bullet and get Baby ready for paperback. It was a Thursday afternoon and Jim was out of town, and in what must have been an M&M fueled haze, I figured I could knock it out before bed. Haha.

While it was true that I was able to format the interior files, the cover was another story. I opened up Illustrator and after an hour of trial and error, finally got the cover template situated correctly (I usually leave this to Jim because he used to be a graphic artist). By 1:30 am I was defeated. I managed to get all of the basics done, but stupidly, I had assembled it all on one layer. Friday, I started over with a clear head and redid the entire cover by noon, this time properly, and had it uploaded shortly thereafter. Amazingly, it looked GREAT! I had gone through a moment of indecision on the Baby cover, vacillating over keeping just the partial face or putting the model's whole sexy upper half. I mean, we all know that sex sells, but eventually I decided to keep the covers for the series similarly styled. I opted to put a transparency of him on the back cover, just because I think he's gorgeous. :)

 So, fast forward a couple of days, and finally I got my physical proof copy. I was over the moon with excitement because there is just something about holding a paperback of my work that blows the ebook out of the water. Now, I went through the book page by page, searching out any possible formatting mistakes that I might have missed in the PDF file. Thankfully, there were none, and I approved that proof and sat back with a glow of satisfaction. Ahh, job well done. When Jim got home last night I proudly whipped out the book to show him my awesome new skills, and while I was admiring it I did a double take. There, as plain as day on the back cover was a glaring typo! It felt like my blood had turned to ice. I had somehow missed the first 'c' in acquaintance in the very first line. Of course I would never upload a book without it being proofed by someone other than myself, but in my cover design I had skipped that step entirely. Surely I didn't need anyone to read over one single paragraph, right? WRONG!

After letting out a shriek of horror I ran to the computer to fix the typo and uploaded the new file, but unfortunately, the book is up there for anyone in the world to see until the new cover is approved. This may be the first time ever that I am thankful not to be a super popular author. I can only hope that nobody buys a copy of the paperback until the error is fixed. On the other hand, maybe I'll become an overnight best seller, and anyone "lucky" enough to own a copy with the typo cover will have a collector's item on their hands.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Awake at Last

I finally did something I'd been planning to do for months--reworking one of my favorite stories. I took Sleeping Beauty down and expanded it a bit, and had it formatted for paperback. I don't know why I waited so long to make these changes, but I'm excited about the finished product.

One thing that struck me as odd was that I was nervous when I pushed the "Publish" button. Even though I had previously published this story, I had the same nerves I always get with a new release. Anyway, I'm hoping it will be live by my official release date of September 7, but I don't have any real control over when the book actually shows up at the various retailers, so I'm in the midst of a finger crossing session. Here's the new cover:

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Terror of a Sequel

I have been bopping along all summer, cultivating a new pen name for the YA fantasy series that I've been working on with my teen-aged son. One of the bigger things I've been working on, however, is the sequel to Just Add Heat. I've had the story mapped out in my head since shortly after finishing the first book, but I've been too chicken to commit to writing it out. Now that I have, I'm terrified of the reaction it will bring. Not that it's subject matter is controversial, it's not, it's just that I'm sure how the story will be met with readers. Just Add Heat skews to a younger crowd (more to the twenty-somethings), and I'm afraid that those readers might have expectations for a different follow-up.

Regardless, I'm not changing it. I will give you a hint about some of the story line by its title, though: Hot Mama. For an idea of some of the things I'll be covering, see my post Pregnant in Romancelvania. Besides the big issue that Justine and Carter are dealing with, there's the realization that life doesn't always go the way you expect it to. I don't know, throwing a bit of water on their happily ever after seemed like the thing to do, because who wants to read a story where the characters get everything they want? Now I'm just hoping that things will go on schedule for my projected release date in September. Putting the date out here on the interwebs is my own special cattle prod. I need to be held accountable!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Interview with Author Amanda Bretz

Today I'm excited to welcome author Amanda Bretz. Her new book put out by Total-E-Bound Publishing is a HOT erotic romance (my favorite!).  Thanks for joining me, Amanda.
Can you share a little of your new book with us? 

Sure, it’s a short erotic romance story called Tropical Heat. 

They have one night together to explore their passion, fulfil their needs and quench their desires, but will one night be enough?

Rayne Willows is an artist from the Pacific Northwest looking to shake up her boring life. A trip to Jamaica sounds like the perfect way to let loose and rekindle her passion for photography. When she meets local man Marcus Greene on the beach in Ocho Rios, sparks immediately fly. Marcus offers to show Rayne around his beautiful hometown, but during the sightseeing tour, the two quickly realize the passion they have for each other can’t be held back. They decide to make their one night together a sexy experience neither of them is likely to forget.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? 

I think I realized it way back when I was nine or ten years old. I was looking through the Sears Christmas Catalog and I remember seeing the typewriters and immediately falling in love with them. I carried the catalog around for weeks, and the pages that had the typewriters on it were eventually dog-eared. I remember thinking they were the coolest things ever and drooled over cutting-edge features like auto-erase. I begged my parents for a typewriter for Christmas, and told them I was going to use it to write a book. I justified the cost of the typewriter by telling them that I was going to make lots of money when I sold my novel. J

Now for some personal questions...

What one food will you never eat? 

Sushi. I tried it once and the seaweed was slimy and grossed me out. 

What place have you always wanted to visit? 

Portland, OR. It just seems like such a quirky, fun, hippie city.

What is your favorite thing to do on a rainy weekend? 

Cook, read and watch movies.

What is your favorite dessert? 

Anything chocolate!

Ooh, I'm with you on that one. :)

Okay, now on to my review.  I love reading erotic romance shorts and Tropical Heat hit all the right notes. This book took me on a fast ride. Amanda Bretz's wonderfully vivid descriptions had me wanting to hop a plane to Jamaica for my own three-day vacation in hopes of meeting a sexy stranger (and the resulting night of pleasure). So, who wouldn't want to be in Rayne's place? No hands? That's what I thought. 

Now available in limited release: for all e-reading devices from Total-E-Bound Publishing.

Available on  June 21st everywhere else books are sold.

Amanda Bretz is the contemporary romance author of Finding Justus, Love in Greener Pastures, Love, Simplified and Tropical Heat. She holds a degree in communication from Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Florida and has written for both print and online media.
When not writing, Amanda can be found whipping up something delectable in her kitchen, spending time in nature or getting lost in a good book.
Amanda works as a freelance journalist and is writing her fourth novel, set in historic Saint Charles, Missouri, which is where she resides with her husband, Brandon.

Where to find Amanda: 

Twitter: @realamandabretz

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Book Lovers' Buffet Sale

I'm super excited to be a part of the Bouquet of Books Sale 2013!  There is something for everyone, contemporary, historical, paranormal, fantasy, horror, erotic, YA, and more. Check it out at

The Buffet’s “Bouquet of Books” sale will be open May 1-3. More than 175 ebooks, all reduced in price to just 99 cents. Save in categories such as Young Adult, Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense, Erotic Romance, and more!

PLUS, visit the website to win gift cards to your choice of online retailers. $400 in gift cards up for grabs!

Titles from popular authors such as:

Amanda Brice
Jennette Marie Powell
Clover Autrey
Carly Carson
E. Ayers
Genevieve Jourdin
CJ Lyons
Renee Pace
Heather Fleener
Sophia Knightley
Tori Scott
Meredith Bond
Emily Ryan-Davis
Anthea Lawson
Diana Layne
Lindsey Brookes
Gina Robinson
McKenna Chase

And many, many more!

Don't miss out on your chance to load up your ereader with great books from awesome authors. 

Hosted by Indie Romance Ink.

P.S. You can get Fire & Ice (Books 1 & 2) as part of the sale!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Criminals Blow

I feel completely violated. Not my person, but my sense of security. Last night someone broke into my outside storage building. When my dogs were going crazy and barking a trail from my bedroom and out of the doggy door I could tell it wasn't the usual nuisance barking (I'm sure my neighbors just love that). I figured it was deer in our side yard or a possum or skunk digging around in the back yard. My husband is out of town, so I dragged myself out of bed to call the dogs back in. By the time I opened the back door and stumbled out to the porch, I could see the door of the storage building was ajar. I immediately began formulating the scolding I was going to give my son in the morning as I made my way across the pavers in my bare feet. As the dogs went berserk at the back fence I realized that the door was actually propped open with a flower pot so I slammed it and ran back into the house, calling the dogs as I went. Needless to say, I stayed awake for the rest of the night, straining my ears for any sounds that were out of the ordinary.

This morning, the first thing I did when my son woke up was to question him about the shed. He denied having gone in there for several days, so I made him go outside with me to check it out. That disgusting person(s) had dragged several of my husband's vintage electronics to the front near the door as well as a huge kick drum. The thing that really caught my eye was that he had dumped several plastic crates filled with Christmas ornaments, stockings and other decorations onto the floor, tossing the empty containers willy nilly. It made me sick to my stomach, knowing that he had gone through our things. It's in so much disarray that I can't even be sure if the perp actually took anything.

I live in a pretty small town, in a really nice neighborhood full of busy bodies (of which I am one), and some nights I don't even remember to lock my doors before turning in. Those days are over. I am now faced with the glaring fact that bad people are everywhere, even on my quiet street in my picturesque little town.How I long for the innocence of my former naivety.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Guest Author Elizabeth McKenna

Today I welcome Elizabeth McKenna, author of the historical romance novel Cera's Place, and the upcoming Venice in the Moonlight. Welcome Elizabeth!

Author Elizabeth McKenna
I want to start off by talking about your work.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I’ve always loved to write. I started out as an English major in college but switched to Journalism because I tend to write concise. I felt out of place with those who could write paragraph-long sentences. Unfortunately, that set me on a path of non-creative writing. A few years ago, my girls asked why I wasn’t writing fiction. I replied, “Technical writing pays the bills.” I decided to write Cera’s Place to show them it is never too late to follow your dreams (there was also a scary psychic involved, but that’s another story). No, I am not a best-selling author yet, but I am closer to quitting my day job (please don’t tell my husband that).

What are your current projects?

I’m trying very hard to finish Venice in the Moonlight, a historical romance set in 1753.  It’s a story of vengeance, forgiveness and love. Here’s the description I have been using:

After her husband’s death, Marietta Gatti is banished from the family’s villa by her spiteful mother-in-law. With nowhere to go, she returns to Venice and her only kin – a father she hasn’t spoken to since her forced marriage.

Hoping to make amends, she is devastated to find he has died two months earlier. When his lover insists it was under suspicious circumstances, Marietta retraces her father’s last days only to learn someone may have wanted him dead.

When the prime suspect is the father of the man she is falling in love with, Marietta faces a heart-breaking decision. Should she risk her future happiness to avenge the death of a man she has despised for the past five years?

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

The first few reviews of Cera’s Place ripped on the amount of sex in the story, so at first I thought – whoa – I really screwed up here. Later reviews complimented the heat level, so I finally decided you can’t please everyone. With Cera’s Place, because of the setting (a saloon) and the characters, I feel the amount of sex is justifiable. With Venice in the Moonlight, there is only one major love scene because more than that didn’t feel right with these characters.

Let’s talk a bit about you.

What is your favorite thing to do on a rainy weekend?

Watch movies or DVR with my girls.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

Mean people – especially if it is an adult in a position of authority who is being mean to a child.

Books; devour or savor?

Devour. If it is a good book, I won’t stop until I’m done. Everyone else has to fend for themselves because Mama’s reading.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be an astronaut. As a teenager, I loved the night sky and read a lot of sci fi, so the thought of going into space was very appealing. Unfortunately, I discovered I was claustrophobic in the worse way. I never would have made it!

Thanks for the interview, Elizabeth!

Looking for a good read? Check out Cera's Place  

In 1869, San Francisco saloon owner Cera Cassidy offers redemption to any woman looking for honest work. At Cera's Place, men can get a decent hot meal with a whiskey, but if they want anything more, they have to take their desires elsewhere. One summer night, a distraught Chinese girl bursts through the swinging doors with a shocking tale of murder, kidnapping, and prostitution. Outraged, Cera vows to set things right.

Jake Tanner, a scarred ex-soldier haunted by the horrors of the Civil War, is on a mission to fulfill a friend's dying wish. The trail has brought him to Cera's door. Captivated by her Irish beauty, he wants to join her fight - but will she let him?

Elizabeth McKenna's debut novel is a fast-paced adventure filled with memorable characters that will leave you wanting more. Get lost in a time gone by and fall in love today!

Cera's Place is available in print or ebook at all major booksellers

Connect with Elizabeth McKenna

A little bit more about Elizabeth:

Elizabeth McKenna is a full-time technical writer/editor for a large software company. She never read romance novels until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene).

She had always wanted to write fiction, so when a psychic told her she would write a book, Elizabeth felt obligated to give it a try. She combined her love of history, romance and a happy ending to write her first novel Cera's Place. She recently released a short story titled The Gypsy Casts a Spell.

Elizabeth lives in Wisconsin (Packers, Brewers, and Badgers - oh my!) with her understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and sassy Labrador. When she isn't writing, working, or being a mom, she's sleeping.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Real time Stats=An Evil Drug

I've never had an obsessive personality. Really. These days, though, you wouldn't believe me. I have become a stat watcher. I check my sales through most channels repeatedly throughout the day, Amazon, B&N, ARe,  etc., and it's getting to the point of addiction. It's so bad that I've got to hide my perpetually open windows from my husband as he walks by, because he actually calls me out on it. I'm ashamed of my lack of willpower. Not ashamed enough to stop stat watching, but just enough to make me feel sneaky about it.

Why do I spend copious amounts of my day hitting the refresh button on these sites? More often than not, there have been no new sales, so I don't get that awesome feeling that even a sale of a 99 cent story gives me. It's a sickness, I guess. Over the past few days (since I put up my book trailer), I've been checking my youtube views, another outlet with real time statistics, and I've added it to the folder on my bookmarks bar that I've named "Obsesso" to help remember that I am in need of an intervention.

If you are a writer with anything listed at Amazon, I don't need to tell you about the brown bar of shame that shows up on the first of the month and remains until your first sale posts. Thankfully, this month I only checked three times before it logged a sale, but there have been months when I had to wait for days before that cruddy bar was gone. It's really hell on my self-esteem. One of the main problems is that I write on the computer, so it's so easy to take a break and move from Word to internet, but that's not an excuse I can use all of the time. Standing in line at the pharmacy--check my stats on my phone. Waiting for my son's TKD lesson to be finished--check them again. I guess it's similar to how other people check their email repeatedly, but for some reason, my problem seems more tawdry. It's like I need validation from book sales to make my writing  more "real" to myself.

Oh well, admitting the problem is the first step in recovery, so I will count you guys as my witnesses. I'd like to make this post longer, but I've got to check my stats...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Just Add Heat Trailer

I've finally finished uploading the trailer for Just Add Heat.

Are these the characters you pictured?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Guest Author Interview with Heather Fleener

Hi everyone! Today I wanted to do something a little different, so please welcome a special guest, Heather Fleener. She's so much fun to talk to that I wanted to share her humor (and awesomeness) with  you. Her book Chosen (Ancients of Light Book 1) is great--I've mentioned it before, and she's on the cusp of releasing the second book in her series, Forsaken.

Hi Heather, lets start off with some authory type of questions.
Heather Fleener

What inspired you to write your first book?   

Unemployment!  Actually, Chosen had been a story in my head for about six months before I decided to see if I could write it.  I am a runner and the stories in this series began as a way to distract myself while on the treadmill.  I have a mini-movie theater in my brain.
About four months after I started writing, I lost my job, but that was a blessing because it gave me six full months to dedicate to the development of Chosen. I finished the book the day before I began a new job. Timing is a funny thing. 

What are your current projects?

I am finishing the edits on Forsaken, Book 2 in the Ancients of Light series.  It is slated for publication on Valentine’s Day, so I am in the process of doing the final tweaks to the story now. 

I am also working on concepts for the cover of Book 3, Broken.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Forsaken furthers the story of Myrrdyn’s Prophecy, Kat is also there to make Lorcan’s life ever more so interesting, and readers will get acquainted with Nicholas, the Warrior of Dark. This book introduces Ella, the gorgeous Fire Witch featured on the cover.  

I love the series because the characters build from one book to the next. While each book itself will feature a new heroine/hero and their story, readers will also see Kaitriana grow into her role as Chosen and develop in her strength as a leader. Lorcan is the now the leader of the Realm, but there is still so much more for Kaitriana to do…the Queens are rising afterall, and she is the Queen of Queens.

Do you see writing as a career?

I would love to be able to stay in the Realm eight hours a day and write. The Paranormal Romance market is flooded with talent right now, so the odds of me selling enough books to be able to do that are slim. I love these characters and writing about them is personally fulfilling.  If I entertain readers and provide them a few hours of enjoyable escape along the way, then I have done well. I anticipate continuing on in my current profession and spending my evenings and weekends writing. 

Okay, now for personal questions.

Are you a morning or night person? 

I am a night person, but I am also afraid of the dark. Seriously. If my husband isn't with me, I sleep with a light on.  All my various neuroses will be quirks of some poor character in the series.

Would you rather spend a weekend in the woods or a weekend in a luxury hotel with a spa?

Phobia #2 would be bugs, any and all types. It is also very dark in the woods at night. Put me in a hotel, please, with a nightlight.

Are you a planner or spontaneous? 

I am a planner, to the point the I have serious anxiety if I am unable to plan.  My husband proudly claims that I am the planner and that he makes the plans happen. I offered to buy him a red-silk cape… wasn't appreciated.   

Suspense or romance? 

Romance, always romance.

What is your favorite dessert?

Chocolate, in nearly any form.  Pair it with a great red wine and I will be your best friend.

Thank you for being my first guest! Okay everybody, please give Heather a "Hello and good luck" on her upcoming release!

Find Chosen at Amazon Barnes & Noble, and All Romance Ebooks and check out her website Ancients of Light

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Get Your Cupid On!

Want some Cupid with a little bit of a kick?  Just in time for Valentine's Day, it's Don't Call Me Cupid, Kindred Spirits Book 1. The Kindred Spirits series starts out with Frannie, a Cupid who wants to be a Guardian Angel, and Lang, a goat farming vampire. 

  Available Exclusively at

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Baby, It's Cold Outside

What better time than a cold winter day to introduce my latest release Baby, It's Cold Outside. It's a romance novel written from the hero's point of view. "Wait," you say. "Nobody writes a romance from the male point of view!" That might be true, but since BICO is basically a mirror of Just Add Heat, it felt like the right thing to do. Plus, Carter's voice is definitely more "guy." He thinks about things in a slightly different way, and has a dirtier mouth (well, mind, he keeps most of his colorful language inside his head). Don't you want to see the flip-side of the action every once in a while?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Lightweight and Proud

I was having a writing crisis. Okay, maybe crisis is too strong a word, but the problem was enough to cause me major anxiety. When I started my paranormal series I had a pretty clear story line that had a nice connecting theme. The main story that carried across the entire series was light and fun, and I was happy with it.

For some reason, I decided to throw in crime fighting after working on my cupid story because her character can really kick butt. No problem, right? Wrong. My decision caused me to believe every book needed some crime fighter action, and now I've written myself into an action series. I am NOT an action writer.

A friend and fellow author, Heather Fleener (her book Chosen, Ancients of Light Book 1 is awesome and you should read it!) reminded me that I should write what I'm comfortable with--lighter romance with a chick lit theme. So now I will be spending the next little while removing the darker elements that I had laced throughout the next books. You know what? I feel like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders, and now my characters feel much more natural.

I am a romance writer, and I want people to read my stories and be happier than when they started. If I can put a feel good moment in another person's day, then I've achieved my goal. I'm a lightweight and proud of it!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Baby It's Cold Outside Cover

The release of Baby It's Cold Outside (Heat Book #2) is almost here. It is Just Add Heat told from Carter's perspective and covers most of the same events, but it shows the situation as seen from the Hero's point of view. It's not very often you get both sides of the same story, but I think there are a lot of things that reading a book written in first person leaves out, which was why I wrote it in tandem with Just Add Heat. In Carter's case, he had plans that Justine's accident threw out the window and he's trying to get their future back on track, even as he's feeling frozen out of Justine's life. Plus, like the song, they've got two different takes on the same situation.

There are a few bonus scenes at the end of Just Add Heat that give a peek into Carter's mind, but just in case you haven't gotten that far into the book yet, I've posted them above under the tab "A Peek at Carter" so you can get an idea of where he's coming from. They are some "pre-amnesia"  scenes that I gave the name "Prologue as Epilogue" at the end of Baby, It's Cold Outside.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

It's 2013! Join the Blog Hop!

Happy 2013! January 1st will see me eating my black-eyed peas in hopes of a prosperous year (we do this in the South, I'm not sure about the rest of the US), but I want to share three New Year's traditions that I'd never heard of before.

3.) Germany and Austria- Pouring molten lead into a bowl filled with water then reading the shapes created like tea leaves. (I've never actually handled molten lead, but doesn't this seem a wee bit dangerous?)

2.) Denmark- Throwing breakable dishes at your neighbor's door. The bigger the pile, the more friends you have. They also like to leap off of chairs at the stroke of midnight.  (Take heed, neighbors--if you throw something and break it on my doorstep, you'd better clean it up!)

1.) Peru- Men, women, and children gather in a bullring to have bare-knuckled fights with people they have grievances with, then hug it out to start the New Year with a clean slate. (Just wow.)

I think I'll just stick with my kiss at midnight, thank you very much.

Regardless of how our New Year's traditions may differ, we can all start 2013 off right with an awesome blog hop! There are lots of cool romance writers, reviewers, and bloggers involved and tons of FABULOUS prizes waiting to be won. I'm offering three $5 Amazon gift cards, and all you have to do to register is leave a comment below with your name and email address. You will automatically be entered into the Grand Prize drawing. Almost all of the sites on the hop are giving away prizes as well, so you can be entered hundreds of times.

Click above or go to for the full list of participating blogs.

Looking for something to read that can help you stay warm on a cold winter night? Check out  Just Add Heat at  only 99 cents at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the iBookstore, and  All Romance Ebooks

I'll be drawing my winners on January 7th.

Do you follow any traditions to celebrate a new year? 

Don't forget to leave your email address in the comments!

Friday, December 28, 2012

New Year's Blog Hop

Join me for a New Year's Blog Hop! There are tons of prizes available from over 200 different blogs and that's not even counting these awesome GRAND PRIZES. I'm offering THREE $5 Amazon Gift Cards. Check back on January 1st to register for prizes and hop on board!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Pregnant in Romancelvania

I started writing this in the waiting room at my gynecologist's office. For almost an hour, I was surrounded by ladies in various states of pregnancy. One looked bored, a couple looked drawn and tired, and one looked excited. I found out, while shamelessly eavesdropping,  the excited one was due to be induced later on today (I assume her excitement was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel). Seeing the majority were noticeably unexcited, it made me wonder why pregnancy is so romanticized in romance novels.

Where is the morning sickness that lasts all day? The heartburn that makes lying flat to sleep impossible? Swollen ankles? Not in Romancelandia. These women glow and glide (not waddle) through nine months as if they weren't weighed down by at least two bowling balls. I guess if authors (myself included) depicted pregnancy realistically, we would have to call it Romancelvania, and that would pull the reader out of the "feel good" place that a good story puts them in.

Because I'd love, just once, for a heroine to go through pregnancy authentically, I decided to take a stab at portraying a few humorous actualities in an epilogue to the epilogue for Just Add Heat. I'll post it in a few days, but for now I've compiled a short-list to compare pregnancy in Romancelandia to Romancelvania:

Pregnant in Romancelandia

1. Heroine wears sexy thong until just before giving birth, as if her butt wouldn't eat them.

2. Hero finds a hugely pregnant woman the most erotic thing he's ever seen. (There are some of those guys out there, but come on, you know most are looking forward to getting his lady back to her "normal" size.)

3. All of the heroine's weight gain (and really, it's practically unnoticeable) is in her belly.

4. See #3.

5. Heroine has "cute" cravings that the hero indulges at all hours.

Pregnant in Romancelvania

1. Hero laughs at the humongous underwear the heroine is sporting.

2. While trying to have sexytimes, the heroine lets out a huge fart.

3. The heroine gains 75 pounds, eventually outweighing the hero.

4. Heroine's fingers get so swollen her wedding band has to be cut off.

5. After intense cravings for French fries at 2:30 am, actually tasting them (after hero drives to Jack in the Box in the middle of the night following 20 minutes of uninterrupted nagging ) causes heroine to become violently ill, and even smelling fries trigger's her gag reflex for the rest of her pregnancy.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Tae Kwon Do is not for Sissies

I have been plugging away at the second book in my new paranormal series for the past few months, and since the heroine happens to be a Cupid with serious butt kicking skills, I've been researching fighting methods that I wanted her to have.

For some reason, Tae Kwon Do really stuck out to me. I finally decided last week to join a class and learn how to do some butt kicking of my own. Now, I am a person who finds most aerobic activity to be actual torture. Why I thought that spending an hour punching and kicking was going to mesh with my mostly sedentary lifestyle is still a mystery to me. My legs and arms were shaking by the time I drove home. It has been five days now, and my muscles are still protesting every single time I reach over my head or climb a stair step. Every. Single. Time. Surprisingly, though, I am looking forward to this week's class. I have been trying to remember everything I learned from the teacher and other students (the majority of which were under 13 and put me to shame), and I think I've even talked my husband into letting me get a punching bag on a stand under the condition that I'm still interested in TKD on January 1st (the storage shed outside now houses my exercise bike, stair climber, and Gazelle--not much room left for storing a punching bag in a few month's time).

The most interesting thing about going to the class has been the new respect I have for my main character. I am now realizing a tiny bit of the work involved in devoting years to becoming a badass. Yeah, I know she's not real, but actually taking the extra step of trying what I'm writing about has been very enlightening, and I think I'll be able to put a more realistic tone on the training and fighting scenes. Now it's time to get researching on that world traveler character...

Saturday, October 13, 2012

HP Shock and Horror

I was going through some of my book hoard (that's another post) and I decided to pull out a few of my really old Harlequin Presents titles. I have had some of these books since I was a teenager and bought bags of these old books from the library book sale for ten cents apiece. I grabbed one out at random, Wildfire Encounter by Helen Bianchin. Oh. My. God.

I had a vague recollection of this book, mainly because the cover model looks a lot like an actress I can't place. Anyway, I started reading this story and all I could think was "Run girl, get away from this abuser!" This poor girl was treated like crap, and even worse, she was raped. Repeatedly. I think the proper term for that in these "romance" novels is "Forced Seduction," but I didn't see the seduction part at all. I know Harlequin had that theme going in the older titles, but reading this today made me sick. The "hero" --I use that term with the utmost irony, was a rich, older man (late 30s) and he was cruel and disgusting. The heroine was a virginal 20 year old forced into marriage. The sickest part of it all, though, and yes, I made myself finish it, was that the heroine actually came to "love" him through his brutish behavior.

I was reading bits of text and then screeching "WTF?" so often that my husband told me to just put it down, but I couldn't. I had to see how they could possibly have a HEA. The only thing I can figure is that she had Stockholm Syndrome. I am feeling dirty for having read it, and I'm thankful that I didn't take this kind of story for reality when I was a teenager or I would have had the most horribly skewed view of adult relationships. I can totally see why so many romance novels of the time had such a bad rap. They deserved it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Chapter Three Blockitis

There is a giant sized binder on my desk filled with stories that popped into my mind and into which I hurriedly jotted down my thoughts, not wanting to forget a word of my future masterpiece. Stories that seemed so well-developed in my head sometimes make me wonder if I was half asleep when I wrote the first couple of chapters--because that's where these stories generally run out of steam, Chapter Three. A couple of times I've gone so far as to write out a basic outline (not something I usually do since I'm a pantser), but even this wasn't enough to help these stories develop into full blown manuscripts.

 I realized today that maybe I had started some of these stories before their time. One in particular had my mind racing with possibilities and would, I think, actually fit into my forthcoming series rather nicely with only a bit of tweaking. In the past I've cannibalized certain passages, and in one case I've stolen a whole scene from a completely unrelated story that I reworked into one of my upcoming paranormal releases.

Of course, most of these orphaned stories don't have enough oomph to become full sized novels, and in reality, I really love writing shorter stories, so maybe there is some kind of mental thing going on. Still, I was paging through it this morning while I was caffeinating, and I had to wonder, Why can't I quit you?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Driving Test is Free!

Driving Test is available for FREE. You can read the PDF here. 

Kelly is taking her driving test, but she’s having trouble concentrating on the road with sexy Officer Greene giving the exam. If only there was a way for her to earn extra points…

2700 words and approximately 10 pages

Obviously it's comprised of adult content.

Enjoy my peeps!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pants on Fire

I'm a pantser. I do almost all of my writing by the seat of my pants as opposed to outlining. This has always been the case because once I've outlined every chapter I find the enthusiasm for the story has petered out. This wouldn't normally be a problem with a stand-alone title, but I've undertaken a series of paranormal novellas that required some finish line sketches. I've already written the final scenes of all three (so far) stories, and I'm 85% finished with the first, but I'm only at about 30% on the second. This is where I'm having issues.

Knowing exactly how a story ends and most of the twists and turns it takes to get there takes all of the fun of discovery when I'm typing away at 3am, excited to see where my characters are leading me. I already know where they're going, so I'm not in any rush to take the trip. I envy those writers who are able to plot and outline a complete novel and actually go back to the computer every day and fill in the story. That's too much assignment and too little art (school flashbacks--ouch!).

I'll probably be able to finish story #1 within the next week or so, but I've already hit that wall on story #2. I'm hoping that my sexy hero (a sexy 6 foot tall Leprechaun) will be enough to throw me some surprises so that the story won't end up taking months to complete. Then again, Leprechauns are some lucky devils so maybe it will rub off.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Bookstore Discomfort

Yesterday, I let myself be rushed out of the bookstore. I can see now that it was my own hang-up. I let an encounter from my past dictate how I feel a decade later. My problem stems back to one trip to the used bookstore and one incredibly douchey dude (he was even wearing a beret for butt's sake) who asked me "How can you read such crap?" when he saw my arms were full of romance novels. Where the heck did this guy get off addressing my book choices? I cannot think of one instance in my life when I shared an unsolicited opinion to a stranger, (however much I want to say something to a heavily pregnant woman with a cigarette), but I digress. This one a-hole has forever tainted my book shopping, forcing me to look over my shoulder as I select the books that I enjoy.

Fast forward ten years... I was at Half-Price Books, burning some time while my husband was picking up a hard drive. It was the perfect opportunity for me to make a quick trip for new reading material. I ensconced myself in Romance, happily perusing my favorite authors' sections while checking the list I'd jotted down at home. An employee walked over and asked me if I needed help finding anything and I smiled and told him, "No, I'm just browsing." End of story? Sadly, no.

He then walked closer to see what I was looking at. He asked me if I read anything besides romance. I nodded, but he just stood there, making me too uncomfortable to pull anything else and read the blurbs. After an awkward 45 seconds, he then proceeded to suggest two different mainstream mystery authors. WTF? It was like looking for a cookbook and this guy suggesting a book about the Civil War.

"Who are your favorite authors?"  I wasn't about to tell him anything. I could just see him rolling his eyes at the paranormal and erotica writers that popped into my mind. 

I shook my head. It was none of this dude's business and, employee or not, the fact that he suggested a book from another genre when I was clearly looking at romance didn't give me much confidence in his recommendations. He still stood there, weirding me out; I could practically feel his disdain. Didn't he have anything else to do? The store was full of customers. Needless to say, this was not conducive for a comfortable shopping experience, so I grabbed a Jill Shalvis book off of the shelf and went to check out. 

Once I was back in my car, I realized that I had let the old embarrassment from a jerk pollute my book shopping pleasure, forever feeling stigmatized by what I read (and write). Perhaps recognizing that I have a problem is the first step into overcoming it, but for now, I'll end up buying those books on Amazon and having to wait on them to arrive separately and filling up my Kindle without prying eyes; nothing nearly as awesome as dumping out my bag of books all at once. Thanks, douchey beret man. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

When "Mean Girls" Don't Grow Up

I was never the target of bullies when I was younger (thank goodness), and luckily I'm not now, but I've been noticing, over the past year, a lot of  "mean girl" behavior on a popular forum on which I have been a pretty regular lurker.

I see the same women over and over, ganging up on new posters and people who express differences of opinion. Several of these "ladies" don't post anything that adds to the regular discussions, but will dog-pile on anyone they think are "abusing" the boards. To my way of thinking, they are the ones being abusive, but I'm not stupid enough to weigh in on this behavior. I'm afraid of being "banned" or becoming a target for their vitriol.

I can easily see these same people being the mean girls while they were in school, and it is very disheartening to realize that these types of people never really grow out of it. I always assumed that when people got into the "real world" they would see how juvenile and cruel their behaviors were and change for the better. Not so. I've noticed that they have just found a new outlet. Maybe they find the relative anonymity of the internet a permissible way to offload their ugliness. I find that very sad.

Is anything going to change? Probably not, but I do know I am less and less inclined to visit those boards. That's really a shame since I've discovered many new books and authors through them over the years.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Point of View The Great Divide

I got a bit of advice from my editor about changing the POV of my current WIP from 1st person to 3rd person for greater readability. Of course, I was crushed. All I took from that comment was "Your story is no good. Do it over." Now, that's not what she told me at all, but I have always taken criticism of my writing way too personally.

I decided to take the POV question over to the romance boards at Amazon even though posting over there scares me. For some reason the anonymity of the internet makes some people much more apt to answer negatively.  Anyway, when it was up it turned into a really busy thread for a day. A full 2/3 of the respondents said they do NOT like 1st person in a romance, and most people were helpful enough to leave their reasons for why they were against it.  I was crushed for about an hour after reading that, but then I decided to try to write my current story 3rd person. It's incredibly difficult to take the immensely personal 1st and convert those thoughts into 3rd while simultaneously trying to blend in my hero's POV.

I have come to the conclusion that I need to take a few days away from the story completely to look at it with fresh eyes. This will be a great little mini-vacation for my mind.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Where's the Romance?

I don't usually like to review books, especially if it's one I didn't like, but this time I had to say something. Last week I bought Golden Vampire , a Harlequin Nocturne release, and I am still only slightly more than halfway through it. I don't think I will be finishing it at all, but I need to vent my frustrations about it.

1.) Where is the romance? I am on page 150 (of 280) and the hero (Lance) and heroine (Jesse) have only interacted a handful of times. Jesse has spent more time with her helicopter pilot, Stan, and actually clicks with him more.
2.) Jesse still thinks of Lance as a "damn freak" and a "dead thing" while pondering ways to kill him--even as she foolishly goes to his castle to sacrifice herself in place of the woman she's searching for.
3.) Lance, meanwhile, won't tell Jesse the truth about who he is (he saved her from vampires when she was a child), even though doing so would soften her attitude towards him.
4.) None of these things stop him from kissing her or of  her responding, not even as she is recoiling mentally. She also wants more from him (sexually, and somehow instinctively). Sorry, that's not romance, with her mind in that place, what she's contemplating is necrophilia. Gross.

So, I'm probably not going to read any further in this "romance" novel. To me, a romance is the hero and heroine and their relationship, not 150 pages of her hostility and his longing with no basis in their personalities or actions.

Anyway, I went over to read the reviews on Amazon, of which there were only six--five of which were five stars. Were we reading the same book? I won't be putting up my own review since I won't be finishing it, but it did make me wonder if the second half of Golden Vampire is completely awesome. Unfortunately, the first half of the book will keep me from ever finding out.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Back to Black

Seriously, my hair is going to fall out if I keep dyeing it, but I just can't help myself. Black is the new orange as far as I'm concerned. Anyway, dyeing my hair lets me completely change my look without too much of a commitment. I wish every major change was this easy. My writing is morphing into the dark side without my even trying. I spent several hours yesterday writing on a paranormal that went from light to heavy within two chapters. Although I like the story, it's not something that I'd usually write, but maybe that's a good thing. I could hardly sleep last night, tossing and turning while doing some world-building. I'll work on it a little more this evening and see if it's something I want to run with. Meanwhile, I have three partially finished stories that are begging for my attention, only to be pushed aside while I focus on my new shiny toy (ghosts).

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Why Twitter, Why?

So I gave Twitter a try. I really did. I spent hours going through tweets, and checking out who followed and who was being followed. I found a ton of romance and erotica authors. Seemed cool on the surface, I even followed some. Do you know what I discovered? Almost every single person I am following spends way too much time hawking their own products. My feed is bombarded with advertisements for other people's books. Really? Is it all some kind of opt-in advertising? It sucks.

I would feel like a douche pimping out my books like that. I understand that you have to get your name out, but does every single tweet have to be "Buy my book!" or a retweet of someone else's (who they just happen to be following)? Call me stupid, but I thought tweeting was mini-blogging, somewhere I could get cool info in snippets. One tweet promised to explain using Twitter as a sales tool, but when I opened the link, it was an advertisement for his book about using Twitter. I clicked on the book to see what it was all about, but when I saw it's ranking I immediately exited out and haven't opened a single tweet link from this "social media expert" since. All of my own titles (even those under different pen names) have higher rankings than the book that's supposed to show me how to get higher sales. Uh, no.

The thing that really icked me out, though, was the descriptions so many of these authors put on their bio. "Best-selling Author" and "Award Winning Author" turns me right off, and I refuse to follow them-even some whose books I like. I much prefer funny bios, or at least something about the person doing the tweeting. I suspect a lot of these "Best Sellers" just have a hapless intern tweeting the "Buy my book" spiel, and that's just lame.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Ahh, Long Weekend

Okay, so I've had this blog sitting here, idling away for long enough. I'm going to try to update regularly for this point onward. Today is a good day to start since I'm on a mini-vacation. The hub and I went to the beach this week, just to get away, and I'm now burnt like toast--if toast was red. This is with copious amounts of super strength sunscreen. I knew better, but still swanned around in a bathing suit instead of full cover. I don't know why I thought this beach outing would be different from every other I've had since birth. Sigh.

I'm in the midst of three different stories right now, so I will spend my recovery time trying to make one of them into my main focus.

My weekend TBR list:

Letters Around Midnight-Threesomes Volume 1  by Carla Croft

All Hallows Heartbreaker (My Immortal Knight, Book One) by Delilah Devlin

Eye of the Beholder, An Erotic Romance  by Emma Jay   (lots of 5 star and 1 star reviews-must see for myself which ones are more accurate)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sleeping Beauty is Out!

I'm happy to report that Sleeping Beauty  A Novelette has hit the stores. My impatience was starting to tick off my love, but now I can pop open that bottle of Chianti and celebrate the first book in my Fairy Tale series.