Thursday, July 30, 2009

Summer in Wales...

It's August, it's supposed to be summer. The forecasters, back in April, promised us a 'barbecue summer', with temperatures soaring and lots of glorious sun. A lot of folk decided they'd holiday in UK this year instead of going abroad. There were going to be lots of outdoor events. The International Eisteddfod was being held in Bala in August. It would be wonderful...

Now they are backtracking. July has had double the usual rainfall. There have been floods. A local carnival was cancelled because the field was knee-deep in mud. The Brecon Show has been called off, for the first time in 50 years! 'Ah', the forecasters are saying, 'it's very hard to predict the weather.'

I've got news for them. We KNEW that! If they wanted an accurate forecast, they should have said 'Well, it probably won't snow this summer,' and they'd have been right. (Well, right so far, anyway.)

But this is Wales, where we export rain. (Seriously, we do. There are valleys flooded to form reservoirs that feed the industrial centres like Liverpool, Manchester, and Birmingham with lovely Welsh rainwater.) So should we really believe anything the Metmen tell us? Of course we shouldn't. But we do. Every year we hope that this year will bring us the summers we remember from our misty youth, when every day dawned bright and warm, and even our parents cast off their woolly layers and basked in the heat. Dads in shorts, showing pasty white hairy shins. Mums in cotton summer frocks, but with a cardie kept handy just in case. And we would strip down to our bathing suits and frolic like lambs...

I'm sure it rained back then, as well, but we don't remember it. It was always sunny...

And my three-year-old grandson, born at the end of a blazing July, has yet to experience a real summer. Oh, well, there's always next year.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Debate Continues

I'm a member of Romance Writers of America. I joined right after I finished my first novel four years ago. I wanted to enter their Golden Heart contest, a writing contest for completed romance manuscripts to be judged by other authors. I was too late ... but something good came of it. They led me to my local chapter of RWA and a wonderful group of authors who were willing to take me under their wing and show me the ropes of the publishing business. Romance authors are amazing that way. I also found the "Kiss of Death" chapter for writers of suspense (they're a scary group, always asking about guns, knives and poisons over their loop *vbg*) and the "Passionate Ink" chapter of erotic writers. Both excellent places to ask questions about my current book.

Anyhoodles, fast forward four years.

I'm still a member of RWA and I still love my homegirls and satellite chapters. But the national policies and support of the organization ... not so much. It seems "the old guard" wants to define what makes an author successful. Yes, their responsibility is to help guide a writer into making educated choices about publishers and avoiding the pitfalls and unethical practices of some people looking to make a buck from unsuspecting newbies in the publishing industry. I understand that and I commend them for taking that on.

What their job is NOT -- is determining whether a career path chosen by a writer is viable or worse ... correct.

RWA wants to define ethical practice by publishers as a model where the publisher pays an advance of at least $1000 to the author to contract their work. But no royalties are paid until the author has earned at least $1000 in royalties. The reason is that it guarantees the author at least that amount in payment for every book he/she contracts. The problem is that electronic publishing doesn't work this way.

No advances are given at time of contract, but the royalties are significantly higher than the 7% most authors make on print books. Many authors make a very good living publishing with electronic publishers. The problem with authors who publish electronically as RWA sees it, is that if authors were "career minded" rather than treating their writing as a hobby, they should not consider contracting with electronic publishers.

Excuse me?

I'm about as focused on my career as an author as any of my chapter mates. But currently my books are only electronic. Do I want to be in print? You betcha. Would I like to sell to a big NY house. Oh yeah. Would I like to have an agent working my books for me some day? In a heartbeat. Does the fact that I've signed with 2 electronic publishers mean this won't happen? Not on your life.

I have learned so much in the two years since I signed my first contract. I've learned to write tighter and created better stories. All the while collecting royalty checks that I may not have had if I waited for the publisher with advance.

I'm happy with my decision. I'd like to know I had the backing of RWA. In this age of digital everything it seems to me that the new board should look to the future of the industry and perhaps revamp the way they define a successful writing career.

Oh, and in celebration of my newest release BONDED BY NEED coming out August 7 from Ellora's Cave, I've got a new contest going on over at my
. Stop on over and enter!

Monday, July 27, 2009

New release! Hallie's Cats coming July 31!

Hallie's Cats is coming July 31, 2009 from Ellora's Cave!

I am running a contest to win a FREE COPY of my new release on my website! Drop over to put your name into the hopper! Win a FREE copy of the book, or one of dozens of other great prizes!

I am amazed that I finally got this column uploaded!
I started trying to upload at 9:30 p.m. and it barely let me in at 2:02 a.m.!

Last week, a group of my pals and I blogged about the importance of various aspects of e-publishing. We had a seven-day run of e-pub advice for newbie authors, or those who wanted to get a start in e-publishing.

We have a co-op blog over at Six Sexy Sirens. We worked in unison with other blogs around the country in a series called "Left Behind and Loving It". There are some great bits of advice over there. Please feel free to go check it out.

I also want to put in a plug for cover trailers!
So many authors really want to have a book trailer, book teaser, or cover trailer made up, but don't have the money to spend for a professional job. I always say that one picture is worth a thousand words. Book trailers, if done well, can show off your work to its best advantage. And you don't have to spend a fortune to have one. Drop me an e-mail and I will happily point you in the right direction to either create your own beautiful video using FREE software and music, or I can walk you through making one. After the first one, it gets easy! This one took me an hour.

Hallie's Cats

So don't give up! And have a wonderful day!

Fran Lee

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


There are things in life we all have to deal with. Hurt, disappointment, betrayal, unfairness. Probably disappointment is the most difficult because usually there's no possible control over the factors that disappoint us. If we're hurt, we can hurt back or heal. If we're betrayed we can seek revenge or move on. If we're treated unfairly we can seek legal redress... or not.

But disappointment frequently rests on the actions of others or acts of God or events that are beyond our control. How we react to disappointment says a lot about us.

Last week, my grandchildren, a friend and I had a special "girls day out" planned. And then my friend woke up with a vicious stomach bug. As much as she wanted to go, it was clearly impossible. Well, what's so extraordinary about that, you say? I'll tell you: it was the very grown up way my granddaughters reacted to the postponement of their day out.

Both of them immediately talked to my friend on the phone, assuring her that her health was far more important than our proposed plans. And then they found something to keep themselves quietly occupied the rest of the afternoon. Not a word was said about the plans. I thought they demonstrated extraordinary grace for a five-year-old and an eleven-year-old. I was incredibly proud of them.

Too often I've watched adults have temper tantrums when disappointments come their way. No, I'm not talking about genuinely unfair or illegal treatment. I'm talking about things like someone showing up late for an event. Or having plans not quite work out. Or realizing that the store doesn't have the dress or coat in your size.

Disappointment is temporary. If we faced life's disappointments with grace and a willingness to seek an alternative, life would be much easier both for us and those around us. That doesn't mean we have to turn into a doormat. But it does mean we can act with dignity.

Sometimes, it isn't only adults who teach the lessons.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Funny Thing Happened at RWA in Washington, DC

A funny thing happened on the way to the RITA/Golden Heart awards ceremony here in Washington, DC: Exhaustion. I did not attend the awards even though, in my opinion, hostess Anne Stuart is one of the funniest people on the planet--maybe in the entire galaxy. I met other RWA conference attendees who said they weren't going either. So that got me wondering what if… We did the awards on the first evening? Would winners glow longer? Would runners up sob longer?

And what if the Literacy signing were on Saturday night--in place of the awards ceremony? Would that improve local attendance or not? Just a thought on this Sunday morning after a full and tiring week--mostly spent networking.

I really like the idea of having the Annual General Meeting (AGM) mid-morning on day one. Did I attend? No, because I was too busy networking with old friends (Daisy, Alfie, Delores) and meeting new ones (Pat, Karen, Joann and Carla to name a few) while smoking in one of the few places the hotel allows smoking.

Regarding the AGM, I haven't heard much except that the Board is taking e-publishing matters under advisement--again. And they're working on the RITA and Golden Heart rules. Again.

Interesting that no matter how the print-published (read NYC) try to distance themselves from the e-published (read beyond cutting-edge) technology prevailed in the gifts given to selected volunteers and luncheons attendees: E-Readers!

Speaking of volunteers: My personal thanks to all of you who gave me directions as to where to go and brought me lots of water during the Literacy signing. Your warm smiles really made my evening. And a special thanks to Passionate Ink for recovering my cellphone and making sure I got it. Maybe next year I'll actually win a Passionate Plume Award. Thanks for this year's nomination and the great party!

Friday, July 17, 2009

FOOD OF LOVE--what's yours?

Dear all, Today I want to ask you what is your food of love?
We've all heard of the chocolate sauce and whipped cream. The strawberries and champange. But what else works for you?
For me, a really good wine--red or white--or even a good rose--works. But to make the day complete, I like a bit of sustenance with my wine. Especially since romance uses up some of those calories! And you need to replenish your energies, yes?
I'm going to suggest a few good additions, like a nice Spanish manchego with whole wheat crackers, grapes and sliced cucumbers (chilled). OR how about a French baguette, sliced, lightly brushed with a good olive oil and a clove (or what the heck, two cloves of garlic), toasted and served with a room temperature brie, a few slices of smoked salmon and a dash of capers.
Then there are the luscious possibilities that a good pinot noir opens up with huge garlic-stuffed olives and a small platter of sliced tomatoes with sliced mozzarella and fresh leaves (from your garden?) of basil, drizzled with olive oil, virgin, please.
Tell us what you love to serve your lover!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What in the World is a Mage?

What in the world is a Mage?

Here’s the synonyms for mage from Webster’s Collegiate Thesaurus:
Magician, charmer, conjurer, enchanter, magian, magus, necromancer, sorcerer, warlock, wizard.
Does that help? Lots of room there for an author to write about a mage.

My new series is titled Song of the Mages. The Webster definition is pretty all encompassing; I start off my first book with it. Merlin was the most renowned mage of all, so my family of mages is descended from Merlin. Stories about him are so varied he’s hard to pin down. You can essentially pick from a myriad of tales, but they all stress the supernatural powers of the Mage. This made writing about Mages lots of fun, since I felt free to attribute a lot of different fantastic abilities to my mages. What more does a writer want?

Now as to what we know for sure. Yes, there’s a little bit of fact here. That Merlin was a legendary figure is agreed. And he had a historical base. Any one who claims they know actual facts about Merlin can be questioned. Some historians place Merlin before King Arthur’s realm, although the most influential, Geoffrey of Monmouth, places him in the realm of King Arthur, and this seems to be the account that is commonly used. Geoffrey combined accounts of Myrddin and the tales of the war-leader Ambrosius, and names him Merlin Ambrosius. So there was some one who inspired the Merlin stories, just as there was a real King Arthur. We just don’t know anything much of historical accuracy about either one.

Geoffrey’s tales (written circa 1136) were immediately popular, and Merlin is now commonly portrayed as possessing supernatural powers and with phenomenal wisdom. If you search enough you can find almost any ability attributed to Merlin, and I’ve used a lot of them in my series. It’s enthralling to take a mythical figure and bring him down to earth in a concrete character. His descendants, my protagonists, all struggle with the burden and power of being a mage. After all, if you’ve got that much power, you need to use it wisely.

My first book in the new series, Damien’s Destiny, tells how Damien, Earl of Sinclair, needs all his power to save his love Toria from her rapist guardian. Damien has already been released and is available from Cerridwen Press. Damien and Toria eventually have five children, and they’re the stars of the succeeding books. Gareth’s Gambit and Jennivere’s Journey tell the stories of the first set of twins. Jason and Jonathan, come next. Twin Quest One is now being edited, and I’m writing Twin Quest Two. There’s another daughter, Vicky, waiting in the wings, and I hope one or two of the children’s friends will demand their own story next. I love to write a book when character and issue a command to me.

The varying tales of Merlin are fascinating, and numerous. He was so powerful, and yet his hands were tied by the fact he could not change destiny. It must have been a source of sorrow to him to raise Arthur, knowing he would be a great king and that Guinevere would destroy it all. Although the kingdom and the deeds live on in the minds and hearts of all who love gallantry and honor, and Arthur has become a well-loved symbol.

Do you think Arthur and Merlin have changed the world, even if they are completely fictitious? Leave a comment and let me know...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The historical romance novel

One for Sorrow. Two for Joy.

That's the working title of my historical romance. I have misgivings about the saleability of this book. It takes place in 1820, the regency period, but it's not your typical regency. There are no rakes, mysterious lords, women seeking husbands or not, no parties and balls at Almacks in my story.

The basic theme is - the stranger at the gate. It's an old theme. Think of the pretty school teacher who arrives in a mid-western town and shakes up the place. Or the cowboy who rides in and challenges the powerful interests who run the town.

Read on.

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

Sought by the Scottish authorities for allegedly stealing sheep, Ailsa MacDonald's single step leads her on a perilous journey with her father. Burned out of their highland home during the Clearances they flee over the border to England. But Scots are not overly fond of the English so
Ailsa and her father slowly make their way south to Celtic Wales. Her father's dream of taking ship from Newport or Bristol to a new life in Canada is shattered when he falls ill near the Welsh town of Usk.

I love my heroine. Ailsa is nineteen. The highland home she shared with her parents was torched when the wealthy lairds decided to clear the crofting families off the land. They brought in shepherds and herds of sheep to graze. More money in sheep than rents paid by the farmers.

My story begins when Ailsa and her father reach Wales. Ailsa is the stranger whose arrival at the back door of the Rhadyr family mansion changes their lives forever. One for Sorrow. Two for Joy is a story of courage, resourcefulness in the face of danger and eventually leads to a deeply satisfying love.

I will post the first chapter on my next Goddess blog if you are interested. My next blog is July 30 but I will be out of town. I can post it the week before if that is okay by Queen Goddess!

MAGPIES. (a centuries old rhyme) 1 for sorrow. 2 for joy. 3 for a girl. 4 for a boy. 5 for silver. 6 for gold. 7 is a secret never to be told.

Anita Birt

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

To Be or Not to Be HEA

Nowadays you can get a happily ever after (HEA) or a happy for now (HFN) ending. Personally as a writer and reader I prefer a happily ever after or HEA.
Growing up I dreamed about being Cinderella and Snow White. I didn’t want seven dwarfs, but hey seven men looking after my every need – not too shabby. Seriously though, I dreamed about growing up and finding my ONE knight in shining armor.
Let me tell you something about fairy tales, their exactly that. During high school I dated someone for three years who was emotionally abusive. After getting out of the relationship I eventually met my first husband. He swept me off my feet. Wooed me until he had me, and then surprised me one day when he hit me. It didn’t stop there. I stayed in that marriage for almost fifteen years.
During my first marriage I wrote to escape the reality of my life. I created heroines who I wanted to be, with a HEA ending. My heroines endured many difficult situations, but always came out victorious. And if they could get away with murder…well, that’s another book.
I also read. Reading was my other escape from reality. Books took me away to exotic places. Places I could only dream about.
Three years after my marriage ended I met someone who seemed too good to be true. Believe me; I had all kinds of walls surrounding me. I wasn’t going to be abused by another man in my life. Turned out he wasn’t too good to be true. He was and still is, my knight in shining armor.
Six years later we’re still happy as when we first started dating.
Writing HEA’s is easier today than it was back then, because now I’m living them. Not just wishing for them.
I don’t want my heroine to be happy for now. I want her to be happy forever. I want her to bask in the glow of that one and only true love. It IS fiction after all.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I cannot believe it's the 13th!

Nearly forgot once again, but this time I had an excuse - the Swine Flu or Influenza A - this is my first day out of bed after two days of hoping for death and one day of realizing I would live.
Soooo....what do I have to say? I don't know, maybe appreciate what you got? Seems kind of trite. I do appreciate what I have and so do most of the people I know. Life is very short and bittersweet precisely because we know it's short. Would I live forever? Nah...but if I could eat all the chocolate I wanted and still have a supermodel body, enjoy lots and lots of amazing sex, be super healthy and flit from one adventure to another while raising great kids and being flush with cash...oh, and staying around 30 years of age - I might consider living a little longer than the normal human lifespan. And if the fates could throw in a dynamite singing voice - that would be icing on the cake!
That is why I like books. Reading and writing them. Our characters can be anything we want them to be. A man trapped in a mirror can be 500 years old, a thousand years old - no big stretch. We can be vampires, shifters, were wolves, fairies, elves. No dream is too big or too unrealistic. We can disappear into J.R.R. Tolkein's world of the rings and be utterly enthralled. Or we can spend days with George R.R. Martin or Tad Williams or C.S. Lewis.
I learned when I was just a kid that the skull is merely an artificial barrier separating our outer self from our inner self. Anywhere we can go out there, we can go in here. Chances are that the universe stretches unto infinity, well, so do our imaginations. There is no limit to where our thoughts can take us.
So, since I can't do much today but hang out, I think a little Lord of the Rings is called for so I can coo over Legolas, drool over Aragorn, and shiver at the magic of Gandalf.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Nose to the Grindstone

I couldn’t think of a topic (again) so I decided to write about what’s going on in my writing life right now. I’m in the middle of a huge book rewrite. The biggest, most complex one I’ve ever done. One that made me ask, do I really want to be a writer? This is way too much work. This is what I get for writing something ambitious: my first sci/fi, my first ménage, and my first m/m. And of course there’s a rapidly approaching deadline. I think next time I’ll do something easier like a contemporary where a guy goes over to a woman’s house...

I’m happy to say I may actually pull off this rewrite and on time too. It’s definitely a better book now. So how did I do it? I put my nose to the grindstone. Well, let me back up. In the beginning when faced with the whole mess, I panicked. So the first step was to stop hyperventilating.

After that I made a schedule, writing a chapter under each day on the calendar. And I stuck to it. In order to attend the family picnic, where no writing would get done, I doubled up the day before. Some days/chapters were relatively easy while others required major surgery and lots of time. It hasn’t been easy. On June 25th my dentist told me I have to get my remaining wisdom teeth extracted and two pop icons from my growing up years died. I had a really hard time getting through my chapter that day. Concentration was zilch.

Today, I’m still chugging along, glad the monstrous project is almost over. Meanwhile, things are piling up. My group blog is doing a big promo workshop, I have to vanquish pirates, and need to do some career planning. Not to mention the social events I’ve put off. (Luckily, I have understanding friends.) And of course it’s summer and I’m supposed to be having some fun. Huh? What’s that? I feel like I’ll be stuck in this book forever and that my writing career is stuck.

Despite all that, I’m keeping my nose to the grindstone. The sooner I get it done the sooner I can hopefully move forward again. I also reward myself at the end of a book project by buying some music downloads. I think this project is worth a lot of songs.

Afton Locke
Unlock your darkest fantasies and brightest dreams...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Personal Account Concerning the RWA Uproar

Two years ago I attended an RWA conference as a first-time, published author with all the enthusiasm and confidence that a new author dreams about. Imagine my surprise at leaving the conference full of disappointment and with feelings of rejection.

I'd done what I'd always wanted to do...publish a book. Yes, it was an ebook, but still a viable means of conveying a story. I wasn't prepared for four annoying encounters that spoiled my joy at attending RWA 2007. Why was I treated like the ugly stepsister tolerated at the ball?

I remember standing in one of the many lines you find yourself in during a conference/convention. Next to me was a woman also wearing one of the coveted pink ribbons on her nametag...the one signifying a new author. We started talking and I spoke of my first book, an ebook already released at Cerridwen Press. My fellow "first-timer's" nose rose a notch and she made one of those "Oh" remarks indicating I hadn't impressed her.

Being the polite person I am, I asked about her new book...and keep in mind this was in 2007. She informed me she would be published by (insert a NY publisher here...makes no difference in this case) and couldn't wait for her book's release. I again smiled and inquired when her book would be released. With a dreamy look in her eyes, she told me it would come out in the fall of 2009.

Two years? Good Lord...who knows how long it took her to get to that point? Sorry folks, but I don't have that much time to wait around!

That conference in 2007 left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. I also had an appointment with a NY editor for a book I knew my publisher wouldn't want because it had children in it. This editor seemed bored with the whole process...and I was her third or fourth appointment of the day.

I introduced myself and spoke of my Cerridwen book and another contracted book before starting my pitch. She interrupted me with some quote about "when you finally get published". I corrected her by reminding her I WAS published and had told her before pitching. Her response? "I guess I was distracted." This woman had no interest in listening to me.

She interrupted me again to wonder if I could write another book like the one I was pitching. I told her yes. I'd written a paranormal, mainstream, and the one I was pitching was another contemporary mainstream.

She then cut our interview short by saying she didn't think I had what they were looking for. And, she added, "Isn't your book an ebook?" At that point, I figured I'd faced another "print only" purist and there was no reason to waste more of my time. I thanked her and left my ten minute interview four minutes early. My only regret is that I didn't take back my business card.

I had a long discussion with someone from my own chapter at the dreaded 2007 RWA fiasco about print vs. ebooks. Her final argument was that I should be able to make a living selling ebooks. I turned to her and asked, "Do you?" She'd had two or three books published by a NY publisher and was going through a terrible time trying to sell again. Of course, she couldn't make a living from her sales. How many really can, whether print or ebook authors?

My progress has continued with more books published, both ebooks and print versions, while this woman sat and waited. She's finally acknowledged that she's now writing a M/M book targeted for an ebook publisher. I'd say that's a major jump for someone who scoffed at ebooks a few years ago. Maybe she's tired of watching others succeed who've embraced the future of reading and the publishing industry.

I did my homework when I investigated ebook publishers. I read some books Ellora's Cave/Cerridwen Press published and found a quality publisher I thought would be a great place for me to send my work. Tired of trying to fit in tiny boxes of requirements with bigger print publishers, I opted for EC where I felt would be a good home for my voice, style, and more open to "out-of-the-box" type books.

I was right. My voice found a home and I've been extremely happy ever since.

I'm a PAN member. Got "blessed" by RWA when all I needed to do was send in the final page of my contract to verify I was/would be published. All this happened before the dreaded 2007 General meeting at the RWA conference when the proverbial s**t hit the fan about "changes" in "recognized" publishers and "accepting" published authors into PAN.

Now it looks like people are getting tired of being told by RWA exactly what criteria "published romance authors" and "real, recognized" publishers have to present to be blessed and welcomed into the RWA family. I shake my head at those stubborn people refusing to acknowledge the technological parade touting ebooks and passing before them as the wave of the future. Purists think that by refusing to acknowledge ebook publishers and their authors, the "world" of romance books will stay the same.

Not true.

One amazing thing that continues to have me puzzled through all this is the following. I can understand RWA wanting to exclude self-published/vanity presses. I can also accept them requiring publishers to be in business 3-5 years...both print and ebook publishers. Lord knows ebook publishers have disappeared...BUT so have some print publishers.

What really annoys me is their need to know what terms I accept in my contract. It's none of their business if I agree not to get an advance. It's none of their business how much money I make. It's none of their business when I get paid. This information is confidential between myself, my publisher, and the IRS (okay, and my husband, too).

I'd think that many of us at EC laugh our way to the bank when our checks come in, knowing we make more than RWA's stipulated payment for PAN recognition. In fact, we get paid faster, and I haven't gone a month without receiving a paycheck. But, then again, it's none of RWA's business what my fiances are.

Let's face it. Few profession jobs offer advances. I didn't get one when I was teaching. My husband didn't get one during his time in the military or in his civilian job. Advances and absurd "protection" policies that have spewed forth from RWA as laws to be followed aggravates me.

Right now, the only thing that keeps me a member in RWA is my loyalty to my local chapter. I've known these people for 15 years and would miss them.

It's time for change. If not this year, it will come. Even RWA can't deny or halt technological progress. Ebooks are our future. There's a new Yahoo group (over 600 members) for romance writers looking for a change in RWA:
Join those of us looking toward a better, up-to-date future for romance authors. There's room for both print and electronic books in our industry.
New release 24 July...look for "Sexy Games", by April Ash, from Ellora's Cave,

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

influencing others

I've been musing on a pet theme of mine. One I tried to teach my kids. I firmly believe you have more influence that you'll ever know. And I mean everyone projects influence. Don't think you're waltzing through life not making an impact. You do, every day. If you go around with a frown, someone who's already down might get even downer. But if you smile, even a little, even people you'll never know about will unconsciously get a lift in their spirits. I try to remember that, and while I'm not going around smiling like an idiot all the time, I'm darned sure I don't frown. And I definitely don't make negative statements. (Was that one or not?) Hate negativism in any form.

What set me off on this track was a quote from Tom Clancy. "Every person you meet--and everything you do in life--is an opportunity to learn something. That's important to all of us, but most of all to a writer because a writer can use anything." It immediately led my devious mind to my pet theme of how you influence every person you meet, as well as learn from them. And that led back to how every person influences you. As a writer and as a person.

Do you file away bits and pieces of personalities to draw on, maybe putting some together to form a new character? Or do you draw your protaganists from scratch?
I do a little of both. Sometimes a character will appear full blown and demand to be put on paper, and other times I put together traits from very different people. I love it when a character practically tells me what he wants to say.

Is it any wonder we all like being writers....What an opportunity to get so many things out of our subconcsious and onto the computer where you can examine them. What fun, and we even get paid for it! Well, a little anyway. Wish it were more, but you can't have everything...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The best Fourth of July

I hope you all had a joyful and relaxed Fourth of July.

Mine was the best.

In addition to spending the morning playing on the beach and swimming with my granddaughters in a crystal clear ocean and I spent the afternoon with my mother. At eight-o’clock at night, my husband and I celebrated both the Fourth of July and my newly released book, BABIES IN THE BARGAIN, a sweet and spicy medical romance in the genre of Grey’s Anatomy and ER, that is bestseller#5 at the Wild Rose Press. Yeah!!!

We had dinner in an overcrowded cafe on the beach, toasted my book with drinks and later sat on the sand to watch the fireworks. It was the most relaxing time I had in months.
I would like to share with you an excerpt from BABIES IN THE BARGAIN.


Contests wins: The Beacon; Launching A Star; The Suzannah;Great Expectations; Golden Gateway; Gotcha, Enchanted Words;Winter Rose; Duel on the Delta; Linda Howard Award of Excellence....

Short Synopsis:
With only one year left to complete her medical training in Neonatology, Dr. Holly Collier vows not to let anyone mess up her sacrosanct schedule. Especially not the gorgeous Dr. Marc Suarez who broke her heart seven years ago.

When a tragic accident transforms the carefree playboy into a dedicated but novice father to his nephew, Holly gives in to her maternal instincts and turns her structured life upside down for the orphaned preemie. But can she learn to trust Marc again and believe in true love?

Marc stared at the infant suckling and the gorgeous woman feeding him as if he was her own child. A perfect picture of maternal love. For a moment, he imagined her in a silk dishabille, baring a breast to a hungry child, while his knuckles caressed the baby’s cheek and the mother’s flesh in the same loving gesture.

Blonde and lovely Holly.

Mesmerized, he sucked in a deep breath and squatted beside the rocking chair, clenching its arm with itching fingers.

Paulito needed a loving mother, but even with imaginative effort Marc couldn’t picture himself married. At least not yet.

Holly could be the closest thing Paulito would ever have to a mother, if...

“Move in with me,” Marc whispered.

“What?” The bottle dropped from her hand. Her gaze shot to him, incredulous and bewildered.

“What did you say?” Her voice lowered to a rough murmur.
“Come live in my condo,” he said, with a firm tone to convince himself his request wasn’t completely crazy.

His eyes strayed over her blushing cheeks, her parted lips. He inched closer, unable to resist the sweet temptation...then jerked backward.

Conflicting feelings twitched his insides. His baby needed Holly, the best mother in the world. If she agreed to live under his roof, Marc swore he’d never take advantage of their proximity in the same house. He’d behave like a gentleman—even like a monk—to make her forget his playboy reputation. And he’d battle his attraction to Holly every step of the way, so as not to scare her away.

“Are you crazy?” Her jaw sagged and her eyes rounded, two beautiful turquoise pools shimmering with uncertainty.

“I’ve never been more serious in my life.” He stroked the baby’s scalp. “Paulito needs you and you love him.” It was the only possible way he could give his son a loving mother...and protect himself from a noose around his neck and his Abuelita’s nagging.

She exhaled, her gaze following his fingers’ gentle motion on Paulito’s head. “Of course I love him, but I have my work. I’m as busy as you, if not more.” Her lips pinched as she narrowed her eyes.

“If you move in with me, we could dovetail our shifts and share his care.”

Please, Holly, say yes.

“You and me, living together? Just like that?” She flipped her hand open. “How could you even think about it?”

“Oh, I didn’t mean to imply any...hmm.”


He blinked. The thought had filtered through his mind, but to his credit, he’d discarded it right away. “It’s just a roommate arrangement. Consider it a business proposal, cross my heart.” With all due respect and no hanky-panky, so help me God.

Marc gazed at her with deep longing. This arrangement would torture him for sure, but to have Holly caring for Paulito, Marc would squeeze every bit of lust out of his system. He silently vowed to maintain his part of the bargain if she agreed.

BABIES IN THE BARGAIN is available for purchase in ebook and paperback at:

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So how did you spend your Fourth of July?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Guarded Beginnings

First of all, to all of those from the US. Happy Fourth of July!

I'd planned something a little different for today, but the last few days have been hectic and I haven't had the time to pull it together. Luckily, I'm not left flailing for something to write about because I do have a release this month, on the 17th. So this is a bit of promo for my new upcoming book.

Guarded Beginnings

Denise Arensal is stuck on an isolated planet, trying to protect a man and his flighty sister. When help arrives, at first she’s thrilled, but then she sees the two men from her dreams. Memories of another time tell her she can’t trust them. Her fears can’t hold back her desire, she wants those two men.

Davik and Camin know she’s wary of them. They seduce and tempt her into giving them what they want—her love and trust. They entice her closer with teasing kisses and carnal games, determined to show her she belongs with them.

Denise needs to know if Davik and Camin are offering her more than just hot sex and a warm bed, but time isn’t on her side. Mercenaries have coming hunting the man the three lovers are protecting and they’ll have to work together to survive.


The entrance door to the bar swung open admitting a sharp gust of warm air, a whirl of needle like leaves and Jasi. Her friend looked shocked. Her eyes were wide and she kept glancing over her shoulder. Denise frowned as the door remained open after the black haired green-eyed woman had stepped through the opening.

A tall, broad-shouldered man stepped into the opening. Her eyes widened as they landed on his face. Short wavy blond hair just brushed the collar of his shirt. That haircut highlighted his pointed ears. She knew the sharp hard lines of his face even though she’d never met him. Almost every night, she dreamed of him and another man.

His blue eyes narrowed as they focused on her. The angular planes of his face became more pronounced as his jaw clenched. He took a slow step forward.

Denise took a deep breath, shaking her head. She couldn’t believe that he was here. She’d known they’d probably been created, but hadn’t expected to see even one of them. Or wanted to see them. Most of her dreams involving them weren’t happy.

The man stumbled forward a bit and then stepped forward and to the side as another man entered the bar. The overhead light glittered off the red-blond hair of the man striding toward her. The harsh light made the long hair seem even redder. If anything, he was larger than the blond man trailing behind him, his muscles more defined. The tight black shirt he wore made that more than obvious.

Eyes a strange color somewhere between brown and gold watched her as if he thought she might run. If her feet didn’t suddenly feel bolted to the floor she might have. Her eyes marked his high cheekbones and the slight shadow of beard on his cheeks. She stared at his lips. She’d never seen a man with lips that full.

A’Camion and Davorik—that had been the names of the men in her dreams. It couldn’t be the names of the men in front of her. Her dreams had mostly revolved around a primitive world. For a long time, she’d thought they were just that—dreams. Only in the last year had she dreamed of A’Camion, the blond and Davorik, the redhead in the prison with her. Well, a different version of her, softer, a victim. It had taken a little time, but she’d realized that those dreams were far from creations of her imagination. They were scenes from the life of the woman from whose DNA she’d been created.

Her gaze flicked past him to the four men who’d come into the bar after him. Nervousness settled low in her stomach. She didn’t want to have anything to do with them, but Jasi wouldn’t have brought them here unless they’d been sent as reinforcements.

Jasi stepped forward and forced a smile. Her shoulder length hair swung gently as she glanced toward the men. “These are the men the tribunal sent to help us. Did you know Nials contacted them again?”

“No, but it wouldn’t surprise me. He’s not exactly thrilled with having us guard him.” Denise shrugged.

Right now, she could care less about Nials obnoxious behavior. She could barely focus on anything other than the two men who now stood shoulder to shoulder in front of her. Emotions rushed through her, an illogical mass of feelings that she couldn’t control or sort through. Attraction pulsed, immediate and undeniable. Just as strong, anger rose and flared.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Gremlins strike again!

I wrote my post a few days back, and saved it, and then when I come to find it and publish it, it vanished! Oh, it's probably lurking somewhere unsuspected and will pop up when you least expect it, but in the meantime, I try AGAIN.

I confess, I am a techno-ignoramus. I am fortunate in having a son with a degree in Systems Engineering, who works with computers and just about lives for them. (At his wedding, I did mention that I was delighted that his bride had neither pointed ears or a motherboard...) So when I have a problem, I can call him and he will come fix it. Or, at least, he has been able to do so so far! He even does it long-distance -- I had a computer problem while living on the Cayman Isles, and the two (two!) 'experts' at C&W couldn't figure out what was wrong. Well, one was on his lunch break, and the other...less said the better. I called my son. He fixed the problem over the phone.

Back in the olden days, I wrote with a fountain pen on lined legal pads. Then I got a typewriter, and wow, I could churn out twice the amount of rubbish in half the time! (Except when I discovered an error in the middle of a chapter and had to retype the whole thirty pages. My, was the air blue...)

Then I got my first word-processor. That was all it was -- it didn't play games or do emails or surf the Net, it just crunched words. It was a revelation!

I've gone on from there and now I'm a computer convert. But it just makes the tedious stuff easier. When a member of a writers' group asked me what sort of computer he needed to write his magnum opus, I told him he just needed pencil & paper and his own brain. (Sorry, Dell. I love you really, bless your electronic gubbins.)

My creativity is being severely restricted by my paying job. I haven't worked this steadily for years -- covering sick-leave and holidays means I don't have much free time this month. Oh, and there's the summer activities for Cats Protection at weekends, and now that Meri the Somali is a fully-fledged therapy cat, there are his visits to make. (He is a big hit, by the way. The ladies adore him. One, who only speaks Welsh, calls him her 'Cariad' ('darling') and kisses his head. I have wondered, sometimes, what kind of human male he'd be. Sweet-natured, inquisitive -- and handsome, of course...