Thursday, April 30, 2009

Crystal Skulls

I had never heard of "crystal skulls" until I read about them in The Times Colonist, a Vancouver Island newspaper. "Mysteries of skulls revealed" was the heading. According to the article people have reported "powerful visions, intuitions, past life recalls and messages from the unseen at these types of encounters with the mysterious artifacts."

"Berkeley's Kirby Seid presents the ancient crystal skull in conjunction with the Light Labyrinth, a psychedelic experience with light and sound projected through giant crystals that can facilitate mystical journeys, spiritual healing, deep meditation and altered states of consciousness."

Wow! How come I have lived so long and never come across the story of the crystal skull, where it was found and who found it? I decided to investigate and Googled "Crystal skull." Lots of fascinating information there but, and this is the best part, the ancient skull isn't very ancient. The tools used in carving the skull were not available until the 19th century. The stories of who found the ancient skull were scams.

What has this to do with writing? Not a lot, the whole crystal skull thing intrigued me but the $100.00 fee for a whole day workshop seemed a bit steep. A psychedelic experience is not high on my list of something to do and the list of possibilities struck me as a bit over the top. Think snake oil salesmen, The Wizard of Oz, is a prime example. "Buy a bottle of .... and you will be cured of ..." Fill in the blanks.

"Messages from the unseen." I don't know what it means. Sounds a bit like Humpty Dumpty in Alice Through The Looking Glass. I'd quote it but my Alice books are downstairs.

The final paragraph in the article. "This technology was developed by engineers from Apple Computers and San Francisco's science center, Exploratorium."

If someone has experienced the Crystal Skull/Light Labyrinth show, please leave a comment. I am intrigued. There are story possibilities here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Hi, I'm so happy to be here at Goddesses of Storytelling. This is my debut post and I thought I'd take a minute to say hello! I'm Nina Pierce. I write erotic suspense stories for Ellora's Cave and Liquid Silver Books.

I like my heroes alpha and my heroines to be kick-ass women who make their lives challenging, but oh so hot!

I'm pretty chatty by nature and promise not all my monthly posts will be about my books. But my first novella with Ellora's Cave, Divine Deception, was just released yesterday. I'm so excited I hope you don't mind if I share it with you!

Nicholas is returning to the family vineyard after nearly a decade away. A quick trip to the lawyer to collect the trust fund that's rightfully his and he can wash his hands of the alcoholic father who disowned him years ago. A romp or two with the cellarmaster's assistant shouldn't complicate things.

Francesca has given her heart and soul to Mill Tavern Vineyards, working tirelessly in its wine cellars. Now the greedy son of her stepfather is coming home to take it all from her. Manipulating her way into the playboy's bed may be the only way to save her home.

But hot sex quickly becomes an affair of the heart as Francesca and Nick get tangled in lies and deceit trying to discover the truth behind the failing vineyard.
And the book trailer:


The moment he’d arrived on the property, Nick had lived up to his playboy reputation, letting Frankie hit on him in the field. The lame excuse about Joseph had been as obvious as the erection tenting his Levis. Frankie had no doubt he knew the man was terribly ill. Well, she’d gone for broke and melted in his presence like some love-struck teenager drooling over her first crush. It had been almost too easy. Everything was moving in the right direction. It pissed her off that her body hadn’t gotten the memo about remaining aloof. Though her lips had barely feathered over his, he’d left her panting and weak-kneed as he strode back to his Harley.

She turned back to her lab table and the grapes that needed to be assessed for sugar content. “Well, at least he’s not too hard on the eyes.”


She wheeled around at the sound of Nick’s voice. As if her thoughts had conjured him, he stood there, all six feet of solid danger wrapped in black leather, sucking the air from the room.

“Mr. Gradin, I didn’t hear you come down the stairs.” She was pleased the words were delivered evenly and without a nervous stutter.

“Please, call me Nick.” He slipped his hands into his back pockets and tipped back on the well-worn heels of his biker boots. A silver hoop earring winked at her from below the short crop of hair. Dark spikes, highlighted with bronze framed a strong face and accented the growth of beard shadowing his jaw. He oozed confidence. A sense of superiority sparked in the gold of his eyes but she needed to ignore it or it would just piss her off. Anger wasn’t the angle she was looking for here.

“Have you come to assess the wines?” she asked coyly. “I was just going to do that myself.” Frankie shot a quick glance at the grapes in the baggie then back to him. “Well, after I do the sugar levels on the fruit from the vineyard. I’m thinking we can begin the harvest next week. The pinot noirs are right on schedule. I’m planning on getting the netting out in the next couple of days to protect the grapes from the hungry birds.” The words were tumbling out too fast for comfort and she bit down hard on her tongue to keep it still. A seductress shouldn’t be nervous.

The man stared at her, a smile curving his arrogant mouth. A mouth accented by full lips that could probably bring hours of sinful enjoyment to a woman’s flesh. Well at least her business would also be pleasure. That thought brought a smile.

“There should be a shiraz we’re looking to bottle in the next couple of weeks?” His gaze traveled slowly up the tall rubber boots, over the stained apron covering her thighs and tummy and lingered on her breasts. She held her breath not wanting him to see how hard she was finding it to fill her lungs. With tantalizing seduction, he dragged his eyes to meet hers. “If you wouldn’t mind, I’d love to have a sample.” He arched a thick brow. The double entendre was not lost on Frankie. He was making this so damn easy.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The older you get, the better it gets

I spent last week at the wonderful Romantic Times Booklover Convention, where I was blessed to meet many of my readers. Everyone had their favorites of the stories I;'ve writen, but so many, many of them said the one they loved the most was Teaching Molly. When I wrote the story, I thought of myself, at a crossroads in life in my forties, hardly knowing who I was and certainly having no idea what to do about the duture. And then a truly wonderful man came into my life, turned it upside down and amde it better than I ever hoped. So whoever said that love and romance are aonly fro the young has a lot to learn. In Teachning Molly, I tried to tell the story of a woman's sexual awakening, her self-realization, and the knowledge that "the older you are the better it gets"

Molly Gerard was facing her mid-forties divorced, unfulfilled and wondering if the things she read in her erotic romances could actually happen. To her. When she meets Nick Trajan, the first thing that comes to mind is wow! The second is the recognitions of the ten year difference in their ages, a difference. When she accepts an invitation to spend the night with him, she wonders how she’ll compare with his younger women, but the night is so erotically satisfying she tries to push the thought from her mind. Nick is immediately taken with this lush, mature woman whose appearance belies her inexperience. He wants more than just the one night with her, but Nick lives the D/s lifestyle to its fullest. When he introduces Molly to it, will she run? But Molly eagerly steps through the door he opens into this new environment. Her only problem is the fear that Nick will see her as a middle-aged woman and find her wanting. His problem is convincing her that age is not a factor in what he feels for her. That he wants to be her master forever.

In the soft light from the lamps he’d turned on, she got a much better look than she had at the Emersons. Now she could see the amazing silver color of his eyes, the thick, sooty lashes that framed them and the hint of mystery reflected in them. The slightly rough planes of his face and the thin white scar that ran along the left edge of his jaw—just enough to keep him from being too handsome and diluting his potent sexual appeal.
In his black cotton V-neck sweater and black jeans he looked like a sensual devil come to draw her into the unknown. She barely controlled the shiver that skittered along her spine.
He leaned gracefully into the corner of the couch, one arm along the back. “So, Molly Gerard, I’m curious as to why you think Daffy Dina has you on her ‘pity’ list.”
Molly dropped her eyes to the drink she was holding. “A story too sad to bore you with. And far too embarrassing.”
“I don’t think so.” His voice was pitched low and seductive. “Nothing about you could be boring. And you never have to be embarrassed in front of me. Ever.“ He took a sip of his drink. “So tell me, Molly, what’s the problem? You mentioned no husband. Widowed or divorced?”
She sighed and swallowed some of the brandy, hoping the burning liquor traveling down her throat would give her courage. For whatever. She let out a slow breath. “Divorced. Publicly and humiliatingly.” Her short laugh held no humor. “Traded in for a buxom blonde half my age. The most effective way to point out my glaring shortcomings as a wife, I guess.”
She’d hardly noticed that he’d moved closer to her in tiny increments, until his hand reached out and gently twisted one of her gold-streaked curls around an index finger.
“Age is relative, Molly. There are women in their twenties who I wouldn’t take to a dog show and women in their forties that I’d give my left nut to drag into the bedroom.”
Her laugh sounded false even to herself. “Pardon me for being crass but looking at you I’m sure you don’t need to resort to old ladies to fill your time.”
“You’re right.” He had inched even closer. “I don’t have to resort to anything. When I see a beautiful, sexy woman, I don’t ask for her birth certificate. Age isn’t what counts. Do you know the minute I saw you, I got so hard I wasn’t sure I could walk?”
Molly felt her face heat; she was sure she was blushing. Craig had never spoken so blatantly to her. Maybe that was the problem.
“I’m forty-five years old, Nick. I’m a refugee from a bad marriage and I think any high school teen knows more about sex than I do.”
“Is that so?” He was close enough now to take her glass from nerveless fingers and set it on the table next to his. “What a blessing. That just means I don’t have to worry about measuring up to anyone else’s performance.”

Find Teaching Molly at

Monday, April 27, 2009

Baring It All

It is the season of Bare Love for me with the fifth book now available in e-book and the first four all available in print. Yeah. I'm really excited by this and wanted to share the blurbs for all five books with you. First, let me tell you the His Bare Obsession, the first book in the series, is the first book that I wrote...ever. It was a labor of love. And I was extremely lucky to have Ellora's Cave like it and accept it for publication. With that one book an entire new world of possibilities was opened for me and I've never looked back. So thanks to all of you who take the time and money to read one of my stories. Without you I would cease. And thanks to everyone at Ellora's Cave and my newest publisher, Total E-Bound, who continue to take a chance on me. I am honored by your continued faith.
Having waded through the mush lets move on to the lust.

His Bare Obsession by Lacey Thorn

It was just another day in the small town of Legacy for sexy gym owner Moira Madigan and her best friend Cass until they investigated a noise and stumbled upon the body of the latest victim of the killer who was preying on the women in their town. Now being stalked by this madman Moira is put under the protective custody of Detective Gil Daniels. He’s tall, dark, handsome and just about the sexiest thing she’s ever seen. Good news is he’s crazy about her too. Bad news is so is the killer and he’ll use anyone to get to her. Can she trust the Detective to keep her body safe or only to bring her the ultimate pleasure a woman can have? Sex with Gil Daniels is better than anything she’s ever dreamed of and she just might be falling in love. Now she just has to survive meeting his family and avoid the obsession of a killer and she just might find that happily ever after.

Bare Confessions by Lacey Thorn

“Secrets and lies… Everyone in the world deals with these every day of their lives. To protect themselves. To protect someone else. It is all in the way that you look at the situation.”
Katie Daniels is struggling to deal with all that surrounds her, losing her teaching position and the tiny fact that she shot and killed a man. Katie finds solace at Knowledge Is Power, the health club owned by her brother’s fiancée Moira Madigan, and with her brother’s best friend Detective Ben Marcum. Katie has been in love with Ben for years a secret she has kept quietly hidden until now. Secrets and lies are all around her but the one Ben is keeping may just be the biggest of all. Detective Marcum is hiding more than anyone knows, even his best-friend and partner Detective Gil Daniels. Will Ben trust Katie with the truth? More importantly will he trust her with his heart? Can Katie break down the walls of protection Ben has erected? Will their bare confessions stir the fires burning inside them or blow them out for good?

Both books now available in print in the volume titled, Bare Beginnings by Lacey Thorn.

Bare Seduction by Lacey Thorn

Bare Love 3
After her mother’s funeral Cass returns to Legacy for Moira’s wedding to Detective Gil Daniels. First on her list of things to do is Moira’s bachelorette party. Cass is having a great time and is talked into demonstrating walking on her hands, a feat she can only do if she discards her dress which she willingly does. That’s when the fun begins. Walking down the large hallway on her hands in nothing but her red lacy underwear and high heels Cass smacks into two very big, very sexy men and turns her whole life upside down.
Doug and Damon are enthralled by Cass. They want her, in their bed, in their lives, in their future. She is the perfect balance of strong and submissive and both men will do anything to convince her that she belongs with them.
But someone doesn’t agree. Someone wants Cass gone and is willing to do anything to see that she stays away from Doug and Damon, commit any act to scare her into walking away. Even murder.

Bare Devotion by Lacey Thorn

Bare Love 4

Ally wants one thing, to stop the man who killed her mother from killing anyone else. What she finds is more than she ever imagined. Blake, the fire marshal in Legacy, has finally met his match in the woman he mistakes for a pyro-maniac. But the fire they ignite together is sure to burn them both in the flames of passion.
Catherine Daniels is fighting flames of her own. The time has come for her to decide what she wants...Life with the man she is coming to love? Or letting him walk away because of her fears and uncertainties? It is a decision that she struggles with every moment…Until the night she may lose the ability to choose at all.

Both books now available in print in the volume titled Tres Bare by Lacey Thorn.

Running Bare by Lacey Thorn

Bare Love 5
After coming face to face with the woman he believes to be his niece, Jack Madigan sets out in search of answers on the brother who died long ago. His search leads him to a town know as Hidden Falls and a woman that will set his world on fire and his heart beating as is hasn’t in years. Is it possible to love more than once or is this just a lust he can’t seem to shake?
Julia White has missing persons cases stacking up on her desk at the Hidden Falls Police Department. But then she has a one night stand with a stranger that she can’t get out of her mind, and he shows up in her home court. Is she a fool to want to grab onto him with both hands and never let go? He makes her feel things she’s never felt before and sex with him is better than anything she’s ever experienced in all her thirty-five years.
Hidden Falls, the place people go to disappear. And some discover more than they ever imagined.

And for fans of the series...YES! There will be stories coming for Shep, Chetan and fan favorite Griff. No one will be left out. This is one series that I can't say good bye to. I'm hoping that you won't want to either.
So keep reading, keep dreaming and remember...
It's your world...unlaced.

Lacey Thorn

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Well...It's the 26th again...

I'm Baaaack!

Now, I love eye candy as much as the next gal, so you don't even have to ask me what's gonna be on this blog today! In the last week, I have interviewed two hot guys for my column, and I created photo montages for each interview out of the photos that would not all fit on the columns.

So these are my gift to you...ENJOY!

And there will lots more where these came from! So far, I have rounded up another half dozen of the hottest men in Romance. One is even a writer who does cover modeling. How's that for a change? So by next month on the 26th, I'll have another set of goodies to show you. Take care...and keep on bloggin'!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Science of Kissing

Hi there, I'm Madison Blake, and it's my turn to post today. And seeing that I'm in an august company of writers makes me tremble...a lot. I'm in awe.

So. I'm a relative newbie at Ellora's Cave, having my first story "Perhaps Love" published last May 15, 2008. Not quite one year old yet. *grin* Since then, it's been a thrilling ride (and Perhaps Love is out in print in the Erotic Emerald anthology!), and for that, I have to thank my wonderful editor, the fabulous management and authors at EC, especially the froggies. Thanks, everyone!

Oh yes, before I forget, my latest book "Psychic Heat" was released last April 17! It's a paranormal menage set in the future. I won't say anymore, so go check it out!

Recently, I've come across an article on the science of kissing. Interesting, huh? The article traced the possible origins of the kiss and explored why people kiss, especially when a single passionate kiss transfers up to 250 colonies of bacteria.

When you think about it, it's a little...icky.

I remember in "Pretty Woman", Julia Roberts wouldn't let Richard Gere (sorry, forgot the characters' names) kiss her on the mouth, because for her, it was way way way more intimate than sex. Not that I agree 100%, but when you think about it, a kiss is usually the first step between people who are saying "I like you. You're not a stranger anymore. You're a friend, maybe more than a friend." You're letting the other person into your personal space, where he has the power to hurt you, while at the same time, you're making yourself vulnerable. It also works the other way around.

One theory as described in the article was that kissing evolved as a way of communicating good intentions. When you kiss, his teeth are very near you (your lips, your tongue!) and there's the inherent power to deliver physical hurt, but it's like he's saying, "I won't hurt you, in fact, I'm opening myself to you."

Another theory has it that kissing began as a way of screening potential partners by scent. Something like rubbing noses and allowing the person to smell the scent released by your body. Hmmm...definitely an interesting way to decide whether someone is a worthy candidate. I can just imagine the conversation going this way:

An extremely attractive man comes up to you at your friend's wedding. "Hi gorgeous. What's your number?"

"May I have a sniff before I tell you?"

But hey, I watched "17 Again", and Matthew Perry's wife wanted to smell his younger self (played by Zac Efron) to establish if he was indeed her husband. So, is there any truth to this theory?

The article goes on to reveal that a far simpler explanation is that our lips are supplied with a lot of nerve endings, making them particularly sensitive. So when you kiss someone you love, you experience a rush, causing you to like the activity so much you'll do it over and over. That rush is the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is "responsible for those crazy feelings you experience when you're swept off your feet".

In addition, I believe (and this theory's all mine) we also associate kissing with feelings of warmth and love, belonging and security and safety. Cherished. To convey these feelings as much as to feel them in return. After all, you don't kiss--really kiss--someone you hate, do you?

What about you? Why do you think kissing is such a popular activity?

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Hang out with me on my personal blog and my group blog with five other authors at the Six Sexy Sirens blog. Visit my website and join my quarterly low-volume mailing list for updated news on my books and contests, etc.

*Source: Cosmos Magazine (Issue 15)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What's your guilty re-read?

I've been on a cleaning streak lately, trying to declutter. One of my projects is going through all my book shelves and trying to free up space. (This is where the virtues of an electronic reader are very pronounced).

As I roamed through my piles of books (most of them romances), I realized how much I've loved re-reading them.

Here's my list of guilty rereads:)

Gentle Rogue by Johanna Lindsey

(I gotta post the classic Fabio cover with the girl who would barely keep her assets covered. But she looked like she was having fun:)

This is the classic hero and heroine bickering even when they shout that they love each other. Throw in a girl pretending to be a boy, a rogue hunk of an ex-pirate captain and you get an awesome story! I have all the Malory books, but this one is my fave (Tender Rebel being a close second)

Beyond Eden by Catherine Coulter

I've looooved early Coulter - the medieval's especially, but this contemporary story I can read again and again. I think because it has all the classic things I consider perfect for a romance novel - a heroine who must "find" herself", a tough yet sensitive hero who has this innate ability to understand the heroine, danger and suspense, exceptional emotional story.. Love that book!

In Death Series - specifically Glory in Death by JD Robb

This one with the original silver "foil" cover. I love all the In Death series, but Glory is still my favorite. This is where both Eve and Roarke break down to admit they can't be without each other and that scene where Eve is "wearing the damned thing" - meaning her thumb sized diamond - is priceless.

Son of the Morning - by Linda Howard.

I absolutely adore Linda Howard, but that novel is my favorite of hers. Combining time travel, history, magic and an intense love story along with mysticism and some amazing love scenes, this book grips me every time I read it.

Three Muscheteers (the Russian Version) By Alexandre Dumas.

Whoever translated this was a genious. I re-read this book nearly every year - and have done so as long as I can remember. I LOVE that book. I tried to read it in French - maybe it was my fifth grade reading level - but it just wasn't the same. (plus the French version was about half the size in both height and width, so that has to say something.)

What's your guilty re-read?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dust bunnies and other stuff...

Recently the house hunk's hours at work have been cut down to 32/four days a week. He and his work partner made a deal where they have alternating four day weekends. Now any woman who has spent very much time with her significant other underfoot can pretty much figure out what comes next.

The hunk and I have had discussions about my need to work--even if he's home for four days in a row! Day before yesterday he took a notion to clean the bedroom. Now I suppose I should make it clear that the bedroom is his room. His office, his closets, his workshop, etc. All that I do in that room is sleep...and the "usual". My clothing, computers, belongings are all in other rooms. So I really don't have much input about that actual room.

Anyway, he decided to do a deep cleaning and rearranging. It took him most of the day. It was fine. He was entertained and I actually, almost had a chance to write--except for one thing. He had to show me every little pea-pickin' thing he came across that belonged to me.

Chapstick. Dirty sock. Single slipper. Bag of cough drops. You get the idea.

A prudent man would collect everything in one place and then drop them off on my desk. But as we know, few men are prudent. They work in a more linear fashion. So each item necessitated that he interrupt my work to deal with the very important item.

The second problem with his cleaning program was that he piled everything on the bed so he could vacuum. As I mentioned earlier in the week, my life comes to a screeching halt every day because my brain takes a break. Normally I deal with this disconcerting problem by taking a nap. I take a nap on the bed. That very same bed that was piled high with clothes hampers and other junk.

When I don't get my nap, I tend to get cranky from fighting to stay awake and reasonably coherent. By six o'clock, I was exceedingly cranky. You may imagine my reaction when he announced that he was done with the bedroom and would like to discuss which room he would begin on next.

Fortunately, he went back to work yesterday. Otherwise I might have had to bury him in the back yard. That would have been tough. It was raining all day and there was about three inches of water in our backyard "lake". Most inconvenient.

As a precaution, I drew up a "honey-do" list for the next time he's home. I figure if he's short-listed for another month that the house will be spotless.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Monstrosities of Logic

Have you told a story which required additions to its core for the purpose of believability? I'm not speaking of a lie, but for the purposes of this description, we shall go with that.

Say your supervisor wishes to add after hours work into your schedule. You've taken on the role of two additional coworkers per company-wide layoffs and a temporary pay reduction. You are "a team player" but more is asked. Turning down the additional work puts you in line for termination. Accepting isn't an option. If you have an excuse, you may simply swerve for a day. Make the excuse good enough and you bypass not just this request but future requests on your time.

ie/ So sorry boss, mum is in hospital. I must go for a visit immediately after hours. You understand as your wife has been ill.

Problem. You now have sick mum. What to do when holes are found? "Mia, you went to the bar with L. I saw you. Thought you had to go to hospital after work. Is Mum better?" You grab verbal cement to seal hole. "They put a tube down her throat and she's very sore. I promised to go Saturday instead." Then boss wants to know what the tube is and why (note: tears and loud sobbing only work for a short while). You make up a disease and suddenly you have logic leaps to rectify.

Similarly, writing can create these monstrosities of logic. Claimed by Darkness was one such. One hero, a vampire, falls for another.
What keeps them apart?
Hm. Ah-ha! Other hero is godlike to the vampires.
Um. Because he's the answer to prophecy and becomes a werewolf.
But if he's a werewolf, won't that create mating issues and aren't werewolves and vampires generally unfavorable toward one another?
Yes, I see what you mean. Right, werewolf "god" is also the answer to werewolf prophecy and prophecy dictates he unite both races!
Bugger. "God" is a scientist and-um-and he creates a hybrid of the two races.
You said four chapters past that vampire blood is toxic and werewolf blood from a full wolf can sicken a vampire. How will you combine them if both bloods are predatory and toxic?

You see the problem? We play cat and mouse with our fictional realities, do we not? The "what if" questions that fill out the story are the same that will destroy it if the author is unable to find the appropriate fictional cement. It distills, hopefully, into a story wherein the reader can suspend her disbelief:

"Mum is in hospital with tube down her throat. She is very sore because a vampire mosquito bit her uvula. Without locating the exact miscreant mosquito, she will labor indefinitely on the shadow edge of death. Therefore, sir, I cannot take on any work which would delay my time. The creature was last seen at the bar on Hennepin Ave where I will look for it every Friday night until exhausted. Selflessly, I shall care for my ailing mother in hospital all other days after I have devoted my day to you and this esteemed institution. I'm sure you understand as your wife has also been ill."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Straight from the Horse's Mouth...

Romance is not a genre generally associated with male readers, yet I managed to find a man who admitted to reading romance and he agreed to talk with me, as long as he could keep his face hidden with a paper bag. I asked him a series of questions. His answers were quite enlightening.

How did you become interested in romance novels?
It's very simple. My wife had a few titles laying around and I had nothing else to read.

Are you a frequent reader of romance or do you consider yourself more of an occasional reader?
Occasional probably is more accurate. I get a little self conscious if I read it too often. As a man, I feel like I should be doing something more serious and challenging with my time. I do like it as an escape when I am on vacation or if I've just finished a more heady tome.

What romance authors are you familiar with?
Not many really. I have read most of Linda Howard's stuff and several Karen Marie Moning books before she changed focus from her Highlanders and began to write more urban-type fiction. I've also read some of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. I've read a few others, but I can't remember the author's names.

Do you ever suggest or recommend that other men read romance novels?
Not actively. I wouldn't want them to get the wrong idea. However, since this is anonymous I will say that reading romance can be good for men. Men can be pretty unimaginative in the bedroom, or so I'm told, and reading about a really steamy affair can add nuance to their approach, pace and execution. Some people may use porn for that purpose and I suppose that can work, but romance does more than simply suggest new positions. When a romance book is well- written, it helps create a state of mind that can get you better in tune with your partner's experience and expectation. Also, some good fresh fantasies always help to spice up the lovemaking.

What makes a romance novel or story appealing to you?
Interesting characters. They have to be believable and face challenges that make sense. I am willing to grant quite a bit of literary license to an author, but there has to be a core of plausibility even if the basic premise is very fanciful. For example, I read a novel recently about a woman who fell in love with the ghost of an old highlander lord. That part was fine. Her trying to teach a bunch of old Scots to surf the coast of a Scottish isle was not. Do you get my point? Imagination is great but don't try to tell me that a character is a brain surgeon when she is portrayed as a weak and vulnerable lightweight. That is inconsistent and ruins the story.

Is there any specific genre that appeals to you more, such as, romance/suspense, fantasy, time travel?
I can think of examples of all of these formats that I have liked. There always has to be
some tension in a story to hold my interest and romance/suspense is good for that but I am particular about plot. I have no problem with using coincidence as a plot device but a story that hinges on a smart person doing dumb things and overlooking obvious warning signs for the sake of the story doesn't work for me. I am a real sucker for a well crafted time paradox story but it has to be clever and original.

What’s your take on the concept of the alpha male, the independent, hardheaded, stubborn, protective, possessive hero portrayed in probably 95% of all romance novels?
A little boring really. I don't feel competitive with a strong male lead. In fact I enjoy identifying with them but I prefer more complexity in my characters including some weakness and vulnerability and even insecurity. Like a really strong leader who secretly feels unloved by his father and wants to prove himself. I can relate to that. Or a macho leader who secretly is yearning for true love instead of sexual conquests, or who secretly has the soul of a sensitive poet. I don't like characters who are cliches.

Along the same line, how do you like your heroines? Weak and helpless and in need of saving or feisty and independent?
A little of both. The feisty and independent character can be just as trite as the weak and helpless (but gorgeous) woman. Again I prefer a more balanced characterization. The aggressive personality with secret fears and insecurities or the perceived vulnerable damsel that stands up for herself if the situation demands it.

Do you prefer sex scenes or love scenes? What’s the difference?
That's a good question. I prefer love scenes with sex I guess. The sexiest scenes in my experience are those where the main characters have had a slow buildup and finally are going to do it when, bang, something happens that stops them in their tracks and a)starts an argument or b)makes them run for their lives or c)requires them to quickly pursue other priorities. Then when they do finally do get together the consummation is that much sweeter for the extra anticipation. Romance novels really are made by these first sexual encounters. By having an almost encounter then the real event makes things hum a lot longer. When it actually happens it should be fast and explosive. Save the long, sensuous interludes for later when everything is sorted out. That's my take anyway. I don't like literary casual sex without context at all no matter how many exclamatory verbs are used. It just doesn't make it for me. Naked body parts sliding around are not sexy. How they characters feel about what they are experiencing is sexy. If the sex is engaged in mindlessly with lust as the only object it just does not achieve the desired effect. Not for me anyway.

What kind of writing do you stay away from?
The kind where the adjectives outnumber the verbs and nouns combined for one. As I stated before, I am not interested in stories with weak plot structure or so many characters that they are hard to keep straight. I also try to avoid romance novels that are too long. 250 to 300 pages is fine, 400 or more is definitely too big of a commitment. Lastly I avoid writing where the author clearly doesn't know and understand what they are writing about. How can I tell? It is usually pretty obvious. The story doesn't make sense and is unbelievable or I know first hand that the author has the facts wrong.

I had so much fun with this interview! So listen up ladies...straight from the horse's mouth!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Minerals galore

Minerals play a prominent part of my life, since my DH is a retired scientist who has long had minerals as one of his main interests in life. We missed the big show at Tucson this year, which is the largest gem and mineral show in the world. It takes place every February, and is a true experience. The whole town is taken over by exhibitors, some of them with expensive (and I mean expensive to the point of amazement) as well as old rockhounds who bring in the raw blocks of minerals they've just dug up. Every hotel and motel along a certain stretch of the highway is occupied. Some have big tents with elaborate exhibits, and some have each room occupied by a single exhibitor who can afford to enter the big shows. They make their beds in the morning and spread their wares out in their rooms, mostly on their beds.

As I say, we missed it this year, but found a very small mineral show was scheduled to come to Escondido, a small town close to us. So we went, expecting very little. It was in an old armory, not a big place at all. We paid our whopping $2 entry fee and took a chance.

To our great pleasure we found one of the most beautiful small exhibits we're ever seen, including a new rock called Moldavia. A brilliant olive green that postively glowed. I've put it at the right on the top of the page.

There also was a beautiful aquamarine that would make about twenty gorgeous rings. I'm adding the photo of that too so you can the rock in its natural state, growing out of a bunch of shale. Doesn't look like the $4,000 price tag, does it?
Minerals in their natural state are so different from when a jeweler gets done cutting and polishing them. Come to think of it, that little rock would probably makes more than 20 rings.

Drawing on my husband's knowledge and and a few interesting books I made my second mage book revolve around the hero, Gareth, who collected minerals and used them as part of his magical powers. He knows the particular ability of each stone to influence the wearer., and uses them to help people.

Did you know know turquoise conveys peace and serenity? At one time only the shaman of a native American tribe was allowed to wear it, as its power was considered so great. Amethysts also exert a calming influence, and Gareth has huge amethysts sentinels on each side of his door that his guests pass between. I hope the cover for the book takes my suggestions and include the glowing amethysts guests see as they enter. I used other minerals too for different purposes in the book.

Always something to learn, isn't there? I have a wonderful time learning about minerals. It doesn't hurt that these shows always have great jewelry exhibits also which I can drool over.

If one comes near you, do go. You'll love it!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What is Writer's Block?

According to my Oxford dictionary, "Writer's Block is a periodic lack of inspiration afflicting creative writers etc." That led me to ask, "what is inspiration?" There are so many definitions I shall pick one or two. "Inspiratiion. The prompting of the mind to exalted thoughts. Undisclosed prompting from an influential source to express a particular view point."

That didn't feel particularly inspiring so I shall return to Writer's Block. Had I suffered from it? Is it over? 2008 was a very stressful year for me and slowly my daily writing dried up. I poked away at a couple of historical romances, one completed requiring revision and the other close to finishing. Nothing worked. What to do? I still had creative ideas. Why couldn't I write?

A close friend gave me, Judy Reeves' "A Creative Writer's Kit. A Spiritual Companion & Lively Muse for the Writing Life." Judy is the author of A Writer's Book of Days.

I followed the daily prompts and studied the cards filled with helpful advice. I started writing again! Here is a sample I found wonderfully helpful.

"What a great freedom to write stream of consciousness, to let the pen fly like a dervish while you hang on for the ride nabbing thoughts as they appear out of some wild, flamboyant place in your mind." (copyright Judy Reeves)

Don't you just love that? I put it right to work on a Gothic short story I had promised to write and immediately freed my muse. I was "over thinking." I'm not a plotter nor do I write a synopsis before starting a new story. I let the story write itself until it's well underway and then give it some guidance.

Question of the day. Have you ever suffered from writer's block? If so and you recovered your writing life, how did you do it?

Anita Birt

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

As a relatively new author I feel pretty lucky. My first book, Mistletoe Studs was published on Dec 26, 2008 and in 2009 I will see three more books published. Not bad for someone who just started submitting a year ago. Yes, I’ve written for years. Everything from poetry, short stories and articles. I never feared submitting to magazines or Chicken Soup for the Soul series, but my erotic stories. Oh, I cringed with fear when I thought about sending out my books to an editor. Fear I’d be laughed right out the door. That little voice inside my head kept saying ‘who do you think you are trying to write erotic romance?’
One day I hushed that voice and submitted three manuscripts to Ellora’s Cave for the Birthstone theme series. I figured, if I’m going to submit, I’m going to go straight to the top dog! After a six month waiting period two were rejected. One of them was Mistletoe Studs. The other has seen been contracted with my other publisher Aspen Mountain Press along with the sequel to Mistletoe Studs – One Tasty Night.
But that one…that one special story that didn’t get rejected is being released from Ellora’s Cave tomorrow. Yes, Splashing Good Time will be available tomorrow and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I just love Nathan Donovan. He’s sexy, smart and isn’t afraid to fight for what he wants – Reese Collins, an older woman. And ladies he knows how to please his woman!
So my advice to anyone starting out – submit your work. You can’t get rejected if you don’t send your story out, but you can’t get accepted either!
I’ll leave you with a taste of what you can have tomorrow!

Reece Collins is growing tired of her Wednesday ritual of masturbating to the sight of the so-called “pool boy” and her battery-operated friend is leaving her unsatisfied. She craves a no-strings-attached torrid sexual encounter. Problem? The only one offering is ten years her junior.

Nathan Donovan has lusted over his client forever. When he happens upon her in a very compromising position, his desires swell as he plunges headfirst into the deep end to save her. One brief encounter leaves him yearning for more, but when she splashes cold water on his plans, he has to choose between walking away or spanking some sense into her.
“You look hot!” she told her reflection. “Irresistible hot?” Only time would tell. Strolling over to the window she dared a peak outside. He wasn’t here yet. Would he come? Certainly Steve sounded convincing enough. The fifty dollar bill she planted in his palm was enough encouragement to make an actor out of him. She stood by his side while he made the call. If she hadn’t known better, she would have believed him. She sent him on his way after the call. No need for him to stick around for the fireworks—hopefully of a sexual nature.
The undeniable sound of tires crunching on gravel, alerted her Nathan was here. And from the hurried sound of the truck coming to a stop, he wasn’t pleased. Silently she prayed her idea wouldn’t backfire. Hurrying from the room she descended the stairs, hoping to greet him at the pool.
“What the…” she heard him scream.
Too late. She wasn’t quick enough. Nathan knew and he wasn’t happy. Reese slowly opened the door and walked casually over to the pool where Nathan stood looking at the water, obviously trying to figure out where the emergency was.Whipping around he demanded. “What’s going on here?”
Lost for words Reese stood frozen in her spot. She hadn’t expected such anger. Yes, she tricked him into coming over. Maybe having Steve tell him the pool had turned an ugly color green that he couldn’t get rid of was a bad idea but she believed he’d be happy to see her. Boy was she mistaken.
“I-I-I put Steve up to it,” she confessed. “I didn’t think you would see me any other way.”
“Maybe if you picked up the phone you would have found out.” The disgust in his voice evident.He was pissed at her. Her plan was slowly crumbling before her eyes. She couldn’t risk losing him a second time. He couldn’t walk away out of her life. She loved him. God help her she loved him more than any man she’d ever loved in her life.
“Would you have come if I had?” she challenged.
Looking away he shrugged.
“Then I was right to do what I did. I needed to see you, Nathan. You’ve been avoiding me. I’ve missed you.”
She watched him looking at the water. Was he searching for answers? Maybe there was hope for them after all.
Closing the gap between them, she touched his hand. “Please Nathan, look at me.”
He did as she asked and immediately her heart sank. Pain, deep pain, filled his eyes. Gone was the sparkle she loved so much, replaced with pain that cut to the core. Pain caused by her foolishness.
Touching his face she whispered. “I’m sorry.”
“What’s done is done.” He tried pulling free but she refused to let him walk away.
“I never meant to hurt you.”
“I’m fine.”
“I wasn’t trying to compare you to Vince. It may have sounded that way at the time and I’m sorry. I love you for who you are, not because you’ve proven him wrong. It doesn’t matter to me what Vince thinks, or anyone else for that matter. The only thing that matters is what’s in here,” she said pointing to her heart. “And here.” She placed her hand over his heart.She felt his heart beating rapidly through his tight black t-shirt.
He covered her hand with his.“Do you honestly believe you’ll be okay with what others think about us? Because as you’ve pointed out before I’m much younger than you.”

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Day Away

Generally, I’m glued to my computer every day. It’s my day job. It’s my writing job. I rarely take more than a few hours away, let alone a day. It’s unhealthy and I know it, but…

Anyway, Friday, I went to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. It’s one of my favorite places in the world, but it’s been about eighteen years since I last visited. Way too long! The last time I went, I took my fiancé and my little brother. It was over my brother’s Christmas break and there was a snow storm while we were there. This time, I have two kids—one a teenager—and I’m married to that fiancé. I wanted to share this place with my kids, all the wonder of it. There are so many ways to stretch the imagination and the brain. I wanted them captured by the magic just as I had been the first time I visited as a tenth grader.

And they were.

Days like Friday remind me that I need to take more time away. My job and my writing need my attention, but my family, spending time with them, is even more important. I have cool kids. I like to be with them.

So many of my friends are just like me. Their lives are tethered by the electronic leash. The computer. The internet. Email. You know there’s a problem when a few hours away makes you jittery. You wonder who’s emailed, what should you be doing that you’re not. Nothing!

We all need to take a step away and breathe and step outside—without laptops. From now on, I’m making more of an effort toward that direction. And maybe, I can start revisiting more of my favorite places in the world. There’s a legacy to be passed on, and if I don’t do it, who will?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Do you have a secret fantasy?

Shannon Gregory did. Tired of her waning sex life with her lover, Miachel, she wondered if she would ever find a man who could fulfill her erotic dreams. Finding cock Robin on the INternet, they talked for weeks, getting to know each other behind their secret IM names. When he invited ehr to meet him in person, to go on an erotic treasure hunt, she nearly said No until he wrote the magic words: I Dare You.

Brand new from Ellora's Cave

She met him online in a desperate bid to save her faltering sex life. Connected only through the computer, unable to see or hear him, nevertheless Shannon Gregory let herself be drawn step by step into the world of BDSM. As she learned the role of the submissive, each night she performed the most intimate acts for him then described them in details that became less and less embarrassing. She could almost feel his hands on her, his fingers and tongue stimulating her, and she, spent each day aroused, wet and throbbing as she anticipated each ‘meeting’. Now he wanted to meet her in person, on a treasure hunt that he promised would end with the most erotic, sexually fulfilling night she could imagine. Did she dare take the challenge?

Her watch showed one minute shy of seven when Shannon walked into the Hot Java. It was crowded, as she expected it to be on a Saturday night. The first stop for people on the hunt before they hit the bars. She took a seat at the end of the bar, prepared to order a coffee until she could figure how who to ask about her package.
She’d taken great pains to prepare for the evening, shaving every bit of excess hair from her body, soaking in the tub for hours, then massaging her special lavender cream into every inch of skin. Even her insides were squeaky clean. And she’d taken great pains with her makeup—not too much, not too little.
She was indulging in one of her favorite pastimes, imagining what Cock Robin looked like, when the perky server behind the counter approached her.
“Are you Misty?” she asked.
Shannon nodded. “Why? Do I look like a Misty?”
The girl laughed. “No but you look the only person in here about to jump out of her skin. You came for this, right?” She reached under the counter and brought up a square white box, fairly large, with a note taped to it. “Would you like a coffee? It’s on the house” she winked. Already paid for.”
“Um, no, thanks anyway.”
“Suit yourself.” She lefty to wait on another customer and Shannon opened the note.
Go into the ladies’ room, take off every stitch of clothing and put this on. Only this.
Shannon was afraid to open the box in front of strangers. Who knew what the hell was inside? She hitched herself down from the stool and headed for the restroom, which fortunately at the moment was empty. She locked it, set the box on the counter and opened it. A thin red silk coat nestled in the tissue paper. She touched it with her fingers and found the fabric the softest she’d ever felt.
Take off your clothes.
She jumped as if she’d actually heard the words spoken aloud. With trembling hands she took off everything she was wearing, folding it into a neat pile, and pulled on the coat. It had no buttons, only a very wide belt. She’d have to be very careful when she walked.
Beneath it in the box lay another note.
I wish I could see you in that coat, the silk clinging to your body. But soon enough, Misty. Soon enough. Pack up your clothes and get moving. Your next stop is Hampton Jewelers. I’m sure you know where it is. Hurry. They close soon.
Hampton Jewelers? She knew the store. It was a half hour’s drive away. What the hell could he have waiting for her there? Surely he wasn’t already buying her jewelry.
“I’m on my way to Hampton’s,” she told Marti.
“Maybe he’s buying you a diamond,” her friend said with heavy sarcasm.
“How harmful can a jewelry store be?”
“Just give me a call when you leave.”
She waved to the server as she pushed through the front door, tossed the box on the backseat of her car and headed for the jewelry store.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Varying Elements of Alpha Males

Hello all, this is my first time writing on the Goddesses blog so let me introduce myself. I’m Ava and I write erotic romance (big surprise there!). There are a few reasons why I choose to write in this genre rather than any other. Creating hot, hunky alpha males is one of the very main factors.

All of my heroes tend to be alphas, but please don’t get me wrong. My definition of an alpha male is one who is confident but not arrogant, protective but not overbearing, successful but not necessarily hugely wealthy. He knows his own mind and he goes after what he wants. He’ll do anything for my heroine. He can be a cowboy, a werewolf, a vampire, a businessman (or a combination of all the above).

He’s also well-equipped, sometimes abnormally so, but that’s just part of the fun ;).

Anyway, I usually have a certain man in mind when I’m writing a book. A face or a piece of clothing that takes my fancy and urges me to write. Below is a picture of a cowboy that inspired me to write a western. You can probably guess why I found him so inspiring.

And last night, I saw Duplicity in the cinema. It stars Julia Roberts and Clive Owen, the man below. As soon as his gorgeous face appeared onscreen, I was desperate to write about a secret agent. The cut of his suit drove me wild through the whole movie. And I wanted him to be one of my heroes.

Align Center

So tell me, what makes an alpha hero for you? If you write, do you use images of models or actors to inspire you or is it purely imagination? And readers, what’s your favorite type of hero? Are you a werewolf gal? Or do you prefer a man in a cowboy hat and breeches?

And by the way, I really enjoyed Duplicity. It’s a lot of fun and not just because Clive looks so devilishly handsome in it.

Enjoy your weekend everyone!


Coming Soon from Ellora's Cave - Cyr's Revenge
Available Now from Liquid Silver- His Lying Eyes
Available Now from Loose Id - Beauty and the Beasts


Thursday, April 9, 2009

How Dreams Are Like Books

I don’t usually leave things until the last minute, but I had no idea what I was going to write about today until I woke up this morning. But first, more about me…

My first book, Cicada, a paranormal novel with light bondage, debuted on 19 November 2008. I have a futuristic ménage in the works. I like to write about otherworldly fantastical things that help people escape from everyday reality, so expect paranormal, fantasy, and sci/fi from me.

Check out my web site for Cicada excerpt, reviews, and video trailer.

Cicada Blurb:
Marian, a science teacher on summer vacation, moves into Jon’s house. He’s been dead for a hundred years but he vows to break the curse on himself and win her heart. He seduces her, entices her and is determined to show her who’s boss with some sexy rope tricks—but he intends to earn her love at the same time.

Anyway, when I woke up from a very strange dream this morning I realized dreams are a lot like books. There was a protagonist. Me. (But there was no hero, love, or sex, so it must be a women’s fiction book and not a romance.) I was trying to drive as many miles as I could to make headway on a very long trip (goal). But it was getting late and dark. I also had to stop and get dinner but couldn’t find anything to eat (obstacle).

My first stop was a convenience store where the proprietess tried to tempt me with a sandwich made from their “special” bread. To me it just looked moldy, so I passed (refusal to take the easy way out). As I drove around the labyrinth of a parking lot, I ended up on a dirt road while it got darker and I got hopelessly lost (raising the stakes). Like a stubborn heroine, I forged ahead in pursuit of my goal.

Then I ended up in a town and, using intuition, turned left (scene and sequel - I realized being lost really sucked so I decided to buy a good GPS very soon). I parked at some big building and went inside, which was full of people. There was some sit-down buffet in there that wouldn’t be served for hours and looked pretty paltry anyway -- lots of lettuce and gelatin stuff. I finally left but since I made no note of where I parked, I also lost my vehicle (raising the stakes even more).

Like all good writers, I was really torturing my heroine, making her consider if she still wanted to pursue this stupid goal. (But at least I had the decency to give her comfortable shoes.)Unfortunately, I woke up before it was resolved. But like all good books, it left me with questions. Where the heck was I going that was so all-fired important? Why was I alone? Why did I leave so late? Why didn’t I think ahead and research where I was going or at least pack a sandwich using fresh non-moldy bread?

Maybe I have dreams like books because I’m a writer. (Or maybe I just eat too much chocolate before I go to bed.) But I did have a dream once that inspired a whole novel. The muse works in mysterious ways. Until next month…

Afton Locke
Unlock your darkest fantasies and brightest dreams… (check out my Thursday Ask Afton column for relationship advice)
*where I am blogging today about long-distance relationships* (newsletter)
Cicada - available from Ellora’s Cave - paranormal/BDSM erotic romance

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Revenge is Sweet

RAISE your hand if you've never considered a way to exact revenge and "get even" with someone. If your hand is up, you're either very forgetful, have a selective memory, going through a "senior moment", and lightning will soon strike! It's part of human nature to feel mad and want to even the score...even for a "saint" like me!

Dating, romance...and being dumped or used. All stuff we go through in the game of love. Initially, you feel hurt and are embarrassed by questions like "Where is ...?" asked by friends and family. You may make excuses, tell fibs, change the subject so you don't have to admit a breakup has occurred.

Most times, you go on and finally tell people your version of the story. Doesn't matter if it's exactly true, but its something you'll stick to and feel better about yourself for saying. You can analyze and justify it in your head, and that's how you cope.

More power to you. Getting rid of a loser, even one you thought you loved, is better than being with one. I'll now tell you my story of revenge against an ex-boyfriend, the first and only time I ever "got even".

If you believe that, I have a bridge in New York I'd like to sell to you!

I dated Ron in college for months. I knew he was on academic probation but he didn't seem to be able to pull up his grades. Ron finally got word that he'd flunk out if he didn't leave, so he quit school. We were to spend his last weekend at the college together before he headed home and either went into the military or found a job.

We had plans; lots of couples stuff to do starting on a Friday night. He called me an hour before coming over to my dorm to let me know that an "old ex-girlfriend" surprised him by coming from a nearby college to say goodbye so if I didn't mind, he'd see her that night and see me the next day.

What could I say? Annoyed but trying to be reasonable, I agreed. We'd have all day Saturday to spend together. And, we'd spend Sunday morning before his bus left since he had to vacate the dorm that day.

Saturday morning came. He called again. His "ex" was still there, and wouldn't leave until late that night. Would I mind waiting to see him until Sunday?

Hell, yes, I minded. I remained calm as wheels in my head started turning. Ron apparently was dumping me for his "ex" and I didn't matter to him. Crushed at first, anger swiftly took its place and the word "revenge" planted itself in my brain. I had to do something to "get even".

Once again...but this time through gritted teeth...I agreed to his suggestion. But I was already formulating a plan in my head, one that would get the message through to his "male-ego" brain. Maybe he'd take note and not pull this type of "dumping" act on another female.

His plan was to leave at 11:00am on Sunday. The bus only came twice on Sundays...11:00am and 11:00pm. We were to meet after church at 10:00am at a spot on campus we liked to go to for coffee. We'd then go back to his dorm and I'd help him carry his stuff up "the hill" and into town to the bus stop.

I never went to meet him. He called at 10:15 and I said I was on my way. He called again at 10:30 and I told him the same thing. His final call came at 10:45. It was too late for him to catch the morning bus, but now he'd spend the rest of Sunday with me and take the 11:00pm bus. Since he had to vacate the dorm at noon, he figured I'd let him leave his stuff in my dorm room and help him carry it to the bus stop that night.

Now was my turn. I knew I'd delayed him from taking the earlier bus. I knew he'd have to wait 12 hours for the next bus. I knew he'd have nowhere to store his things. With a nonchalant tone in my voice, I told him I would be busy the rest of the day but wished him a happy life and promptly hung up. I had visions of him lugging his stuff to the bus stop and sitting there all day...and that was my act of revenge. I had to quell the curious streak urging me to go "peek" and see if he waited there hopefully full of regret.

That's my version...and I'm sticking to it! So, what's your tale of revenge or "getting even"?

Please visit my websites at and Join my newsletter list for a chance to win prizes every month. Just email or to join.
Marianne/April blogs at
Books available:
"Second Sight Dating", ebook and print, "Street of Dreams", ebook, and "Gone to the Dogs", ebook, all by Marianne Stephens and available at
"Strip Poker for Two", ebook and print, by April Ash, available at

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

how do you write a book?

How to write a book? This seems to be the question I get most often when interviewed. It's also a hard question to answer, but I'm gonna be a big girl and try. First of all, I don't think any writer writes with the same method. Most of us are divided into plotters or pantsers. You know, meticilous plotting as against writing by the seat of your pants. I'm a combination of the two. I generally have the first two or three chapters in mind and get that set down pretty quickly. Then things get tough. I have to think of what else these two people are going to do. You and I both know they're going to end up in bed together, not just once but hopefully for life, but you can't make it too easy. They generally start out far apart and you have to get them together in spite of all the obstacles. And the more obstacles the better. You have to throw every roadblock you can think of directly in their reluctant paths, and then work them through it. Somehow.
I once asked Mary Balogh, one of my favorite writers, if she ever got stuck in the dreaded middle of the book. Usually I know the beginning and the ending, it's the middle that gives me fits. Her answer was simple..'make it worse'. That generally gets me over the hump and writing again. Although sometimes I make it so bad for my romantic pair I stay awake trying to figure out what the hell to do now.

I have a good friend who sends me quotes of the day from authors. She sent me one I've discovered is very true. Sometimes a character starts telling me what he's doing and practically walks up to me shaking his finger so I'll listen. When that happens I've learned to do what the bully says. Sometimes he tries to take over the book, and you have to listen.Here's a quote from William Faulkner. "It begins with character,usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along with a paper and a pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does." That doesn't happen often to me, but when it does it's pure joy to know you've created a living character..

Another good quote, this one from Robert Frost. "no tears in the writer, no tears in the reader." If I don't choke up ocassionally I know I haven't written the book I want. You've really got to feel what you're writing to make it come across. If your love scenes don't hot you up they simply aren't working.

And now one last quote, this one from Alexander Pope. "True ease in writing comes from art, not chance. As those move easier who have learned to dance." So the best thing is simply to write and write. Learn to dance. Even when you're in some kind of slump. Force yourself to write, and then throw it out if it's no good. At least you're writing.

What have I missed? Do comment and tell me your own thoughts on writing.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Travels and Inspiration

Since I am one of the first authors to blog, I guess I can start by introducing myself. We moved to sunny Florida five years ago and never regretted the cold and the snow. Over the years, I traveled to over fifty countries for business or vacation and I like to set my stories in the fascinating places I visited. My romantic suspense books, TO LOVE A HERO and FRENCH PERIL are available as ebook and paperback at Cerridwen Press. My medical romances, BABIES IN THE BARGAIN and PRESCRIPTION FOR TRUST will soon be released by The Wild Rose Press.

Of course, I am avid reader. Aren’t we all? Now that I write, I read much less than the book- a-day I was addicted to. But let me tell explain the events that led me to write my first book.

In a previous life, I was a chemist mixing solutions, dipping my gloved fingers in dirty waste, running complicated equipments and declaring your drinking water safe enough to drink. My life became more interesting in 1995 when I won an international contract to refurbish laboratories in Belarus. That’s when I pulled several maps and opened the Internet to discover where exactly Belarus was and to learn as much as I could about this country.

My fear of the unknown subsided when several officials from Washington, DC, announced they were accompanying me and two managers from my lab to introduce us. I was carrying a large purse and two carry-ons, one with official papers, and the other with my supply of drinking water for the week, apples pre-washed with safe American water and a box of crackers I planed to survive on. No wonder I was slim at the time. We landed in Minsk without problems, excitement bubbling through me.

Things deteriorated as the passengers pushed each other toward an old wobbly escalator, my two managers preceding me with as much luggage. My first step on the damn escalator sent me flying and screaming straight into my companions’ back. One caught my carry-on and the other saved my neck.

It was freezing cold in Minsk, but we were so well received by everyone, officers, directors, chemists, journalists. I worked with colonels and generals, was invited to theirs homes and became friend with their wives. I traveled fifteen times to Minsk over the course of three years and appreciated the Belarussian hospitality. During the inauguration of the lab we were featured on their national TV several times. Needless to say, I fell in love with Belarus.

My contract also encompassed business trips and lab refurbishments in Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan. I enjoyed visiting Moscow and Sergei Possad, in Russia, and I didn’t mind a tour of Kiev in the Ukraine. Unfortunately, the lab where we worked was located in Ouman, a small city where running water was available for two hours in the morning and the evening. You had to save water in a pitcher to flush the toilet and store your supply of drinking water in another pitcher. It’s the same water that sat in the rusty pipes for ten hours prior to use, so it didn’t matter if you mixed them up. I also filled an aluminum bucket—they call it tub there—and heated the water with an electric wire for my weekly bath in a freezing room!!! I couldn’t wait to get out of Ouman.

In winter, Kazakhstan looked like the North Pole. A white desert stretching to the horizon. The capital Almati is a modern city surrounded by mountains. The spring offered beautiful sceneries. I have gorgeous pictures of hordes of wild horses running free in the country side. I could have enjoyed Kazakhstan, but Stepnogorsk, the god-forsaken place where we worked, was infested with mosquitoes that delighted on sucking my blood. So I spent more time smacking and squashing the pesky suckers than admiring nature.

Stepnogorsk boasts of one large avenue but very few paved streets. Is it any surprise that I broke my knee while strolling through the so-called streets? I listened to local advice and rubbed my knee and leg with vodka to disinfect and numb the pain, but I refused to be treated by “a good doctor from the old communist regime”. When I almost got arrested at the international airport of Almaty for carrying a lovely little icon I bought in Moscow and still had in my suitcase, I swore to God I would never come back to this place.

It was in Belarus that I learned the many uses of vodka. Shot glasses of vodka were shoved in my hands to celebrate contracts and party. Bottles of vodka were generously passed around when we walked in the freezing cold. When I ran out of apples and crackers, I had no choice but to share the official dinner, sitting at the right of a general who gallantly filled my plate with greasy morsels. My stomach revolted. Before dessert, I excused myself and made a beeline for the nearest restroom and later locked myself in my hotel room, wondering if I was going to die alone in a Belarussian hotel. Not to fear. The general sent two colonels with a bottle of vodka and orders to cure me with as many drinks as they deemed necessary. After four treatments of vodka, I forgot my stomach cramps, my headache and even my name.

People were genuinely nice but totally ignored the meaning of deadline. Patience and resilience were necessary virtues when working in Eastern countries. After so many trips and adventures, we accomplished our mission and I had incredible stories that needed to be shared.

Five years later, I took an early retirement to write my first book, TO LOVE A HERO, The sizzling romance of an American scientist and a Belarussian general, blossoms amid a web of intrigue and a clash of two cultures. Through my novel, I lived again my fantastic trips to Belarus. My fictitious story highlights the hospitality and warmth of the gorgeous and gallant Belarussians officers who sing, toast with vodka and make a woman feel like a goddess.

TO LOVE A HERO is available in paperback at Cerridwen Press.

Short Synopsis:
Admired by men and adored by women, Major General Sergei is a true hero in his country. When a lovely American chemist stumbles at the airport straight into his arms, Sergei has more on his mind than patriotic duty.
On her first international business trip to Belarus, a Russian country dominated by male chauvinism and intrigues, Cecile finds more chemistry than she bargains. Can she betray his trust to save his career? Will her love cost him everything he values?

SIMPLY ROMANCE REVIEW: Outstanding Read. Ms. Risk hits a homerun with this story. I definitely recommend TO LOVE A HERO , and while you're at it pick up a bottle of vodka! Nazhtrovia!!
SATURDAY BLURB SPECIAL, Beyond her Book Blog on Publishers Weekly, June 28, 2008 Read by Joysann I found myself googling Belarus for some of its history, and that means I enjoyed the story a lot.
TWO LIPS REVIEW: Mona Risk tells a poignant yet beautiful and sweet story of two people falling in love, who must fight their attraction...
REVIEW YOUR BOOK: Mona Risk is a talented author. She knows how to weave intrigue and romance into her story. Fans of romance and suspense will enjoy To Love a Hero.
NIGHT OWL ROMANCE BOOK REVIEW : To Love a Hero by Mona Risk is a wonderful & adventurous story of love overseas.

Please visit my website

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Ah-haa! Excerpt

I've been struggling to come up with a topic for my blog day. It wasn't that I couldn't think of anything. I had too many ideas and couldn't settle on any one idea. I thought about maybe writing about my favorite and least liked hero types. I thought about talking about what inspires me. If I was really desperate, I thought about putting up a picture of my kitty Siri cause you can't beat cuteness, even though the cuteness masks a bit of mean kitty.

But then, I found this great review for Primal Pursuit and received an acceptance for Vampire's Witch from Ellora's Cave. Instant inspiration plus massive celebration. Vampire's Witch is set in the same world as Devon's Vix, short story in Ellora's Caveman: Season's of Seduction II. So I thought I'd give you a little excerpt of Vampire's Witch.

This is a bit with just the heroine, Serena. When I get a release date for it, I'll give you a spicier taste with the sexy hero, Marcus Castillo.

"Damn it, that’s impossible. It practically goes against the laws of nature!" Serena stared straight ahead at the white, textured wall not really seeing it. She felt numb, her mind in total shock from the words the doctor had just said.

Doctor Alexander waited patiently, his head tilted to the side, green eyes compassionate. When she finally glanced at him, he was frowning. The trim man looked like he wanted to roll his eyes. "You’re not the first witch who’s been bitten and begun the change."

She knew he was right and maybe her reaction was a little over the top. He dealt with all kinds of ailments in the groups of paranormal beings. She’d never expected it to happen to her. Grimacing, she admitted she hadn’t even thought it was a possibility. He probably didn’t see this as anything out of the ordinary. It wasn’t like she was the first woman to be transformed into a vix after a bite, but for her it was catastrophic. This was something extraordinary, at least for her. She wasn’t just a woman. She was a witch with a family who just wouldn’t understand. Not very many people could even be changed into a vampire. What were the chances of a single bite changing her? She hadn’t thought that they were even minimal.

"Your case is very advanced. You’re almost fully transformed. I can give you some meds, but it will only slow it a little. It’s too late for the meds to do as they were meant to do and practically halt the progression. All it will do is give you a little time to think, to adjust." Doctor Alexander walked over to one of the cabinets and pulled out four pill bottles.

Crap! Serena stared at the wall aware of what he was doing, but her mind raced. All her magical abilities wouldn’t help her now. She couldn’t cast a spell or perform a ritual to push back the changes in her body. She couldn’t have done it even if she’d guessed right after the bite that she’d be one of those who would change. At least, she didn’t have to worry about Doctor Alexander telling the Vampire Council as some other doctors did. He was one of the best doctors for witches in the city. He was extraordinarily discreet.

"How long until the transformation is complete?" She asked. She was amazed at how calm her voice sounded. A vampire witch. Who had ever heard of that? The two groups very seldom even mixed. Although not by the vampire’s decree. Witches just tended to keep to themselves.

"Maybe two months." Doctor Alexander leaned against the wall near the exam table. His gray-streaked black hair looked a little ruffled as if he’d run his fingers through it one too many times. He began rattling off instructions on taking the pills.

Serena tried to pay attention, but part of her mind was still focused on what she’d just learned and the changes it would make in her life. She didn’t know what changes she’d have to make as a whole and the drinking blood thing made her want to gag.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Cat's Whiskers

Cat's Whiskers
Wednesday, 1 April 2009
All Fools Day?

Hmm. Why did I pick the 1st of the Month...? Well, because I won't forget that date, for starters. And my memory isn't improving with age...

A few notes about myself and writing. I've been writing from the time I could first hold a pen. Telling stories to friends, to my sister, so I guess you could say I got the bug early. I started writing seriously when I first met Chris, who is my writing partner. Together, we wrote The Strings of his Harp, which metamorphosed into Nettleflower. This was published by Cerridwen, and was followed by Tribute Trail, and War Trail, the first and second in the Trails Foretold series. We're working on the third in the series right now!

A bit about Nettleflower -- I'm a great history fan. Not for the dates, but for the people. And so we set Nettleflower in a period that isn't much written about -- the years before the Norman Invasion, in Anglo-Saxon England, on the borders with Wales. Although Cerridwen list it as a romance, it's primarily a historical novel, with romance included.

It's a fascinating period of history, although many people seem to think that English history begins in 1066. Wrong! Anglo-Saxon England had an unrivalled culture and society. The Invasion turned the clock back a hundred years... William the Bastard (and that's how he was known, honestly!) was an armoured thug with a brain. Very dangerous.

I do have plans for a sort-of sequel, which will cover the years from 1063 to 1069. Have you heard of Hereward the Wake, the guerilla fighter of Easy Anglia? Bet you didn't know that there was an equivalent guerilla in the West. He was known as 'le sauvage'. and rumour has him marrying a fairy-woman... Maybe I'll eventually get around to actually writing the thing...

On a personal note -- I live in scenic North Wales, with my husband and three cats. And any cats I am currently fostering, as I am a volunteer for the UK cat charity, Cats Protection. My own furry darlings are Meri, a Silver Somali, Rufus, a Usual (or in US, Ruddy) Somali, and Cleo, a tortie/tabby/white Maine Coon. (I call her my 'tapestry cat') I am passionate about cats. Be warned -- I'll be posting a lot about them! One of them, Meri, recently qualified as a Pet Therapy cat, which means that he and I will be visiting residential homes and the like. It's going to be interesting...