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Plotus Interuptus with Christine Price

My special guest today is fellow Carina Press author, Christine Price. Here’s Christine’s official bio – Christine Price lives in Edmonton, AB, with her husband, two cats and a slightly idiotic Anatolian shepherd. Though she probably wouldn’t consider herself a “girly girl,” Christine is in love with cooking and baking, and she has recently tried her hand at cake decorating. As a public service, she’d like to warn people about the potential threat posed by twenty pounds of rolled fondant and a slightly inebriated best friend. In her free time, Christine enjoys wine, good movies and even better books. Her first work, Soul Bond, was released in April 2010.

Today, Christine is talking about her adventures in writing…

In Darkness Bound In Darkness Bound is my first novel-length publication. And I learned a lot from writing it. For example, the importance of fully developing a climax and the “Great Ah-hah Moment.” Actually, the first draft of IDB was at least 20,000 words shorter than the finished manuscript and missed a lot in the way of character development. Overall, the novel is waaaaay better for the revisions. But I also learned something that never would have struck me before now. Instead of going into the lengthy summation of the discovery, or doing an interpretive dance (which would be a little difficult without the use of a webcam and YouTube) allow me to provide a brief script:

Me: So?

Beta Reader: Okay, I liked x, y and z. But I don’t get what’s going on with w.

Me: Well, here’s the plot point.

Beta Reader: Huh… you should probably put that in somewhere.

Me: I did. It was on page 120.

Beta Reader: OH! … … But that’s the sex scene.

Me: Yeah.

Beta Reader: You may want to rethink that.

What my Beta Reader didn’t come right out and say was that a major plot point in a sex scene isn’t always a great idea. This was a realization I had to come to myself.

So why is it? Well…when people read romance, they want to lose themselves in the romance. The erotic passages are especially important. They establish the intimacy between the characters and heightening the sensuality in the relationship. Readers—myself included—use their imaginations during these scenes. There are also readers who prefer to read for the plot, and tend to skim the sex scenes entirely.

See where I’m going with this? No matter what the motivation for reading, I think that there’s a chance that if you include important plot points in a sex scene they’re going to be missed. This by no means goes for everyone who’s ever read a romance novel. But I’ll admit I’ve done it. In my favourite romance book of all times, I skimmed through each sex scene because I wanted to get on with the plot. When I went back and read it over (for the second, third, fourth, fifth and twentieth times) then I appreciated the sex scenes. If there’d been any important developments during those flitting pages of eroticism, however, I totally would have missed them.

I guess there’s not really a moral to my story. (Well, not to anyone other than me anyway). My novel helped me with several key points in the development of my writing. One of them just happened to be this one. As I continue writing, it’s one that will stick with me.

Maybe.

Contest: What are your thoughts? Plot in a sex scene – yes or no? Are you a skimmer? A “lose yourself in”-er? Or neither? Post an answer to Christine’s questions in the comments section and go into a draw to win a download of In Darkness Bound

Here’s the blurb for In Darkness Bound:

Data Collection by Dalhousie, Dr. Donna L.

Patient 331

New, confused. His powers unknown.

Patient 289

No longer viable in the test pool, he remains in isolation.

Patient 77

Reclassified to staff status. Useful, malleable.
Confined in a sterile research facility and treated like a lab rat, Chris is alone and terrified. His special powers are his only escape, allowing him to psychically connect with other patients.

Alone in his cell for longer than he can remember, Vance is hungry. When newcomer Chris makes a mental connection, Vance is intrigued and soon wants more than just conversation.

Chris and Vance seek comfort with each other, and with Simon—the only staff member who’s shown them a hint of compassion. Their relationships develop during stolen moments, and they turn their thoughts to escape. But as Dr. Dalhousie’s madness spirals, more than cell walls threaten to keep them apart…

Purchase from Carina Press

You can visit Christine at her website or chat to her on twitter.

Shopping and Separation Anxiety with Jenyfer Matthews

My special guest today is author Jenyfer Matthews. She’s talking about a very special challenge she’s facing this week as well as her new release, Separation Anxiety.

You know how it is, you go on vacation and you buy things. Maybe you’re even going to a place where you expect to shop so you travel light going.

Now imagine that you live in a country that not only doesn’t have good malls or decent mail service, but where you can’t even find quality socks when you need them. That’s me, in Egypt.

I’m an American who has lived abroad for eleven years (where does time go??). It wasn’t so bad when I lived in the United Arab Emirates – Dubai hosts an annual Shopping Festival, after all. But even there, in the land of shopping malls, there were still things you couldn’t find easily, like good socks or books (gasp).

Every summer I come back to America with light suitcases and a long shopping list. I’ve got it nearly down to a science now. Each child has their own ticket and we’re allowed two checked suitcases apiece, each weighing 50lbs. I’ve gotten very good at packing things – for instance, I pack all the heaviest items in the smallest suitcase, on the theory that it won’t go overweight because it will be full before I get too much in there anyway. In all my years of bringing back a year’s supply of miscellaneous stuff for a family of four, I’ve only once had to pay an overweight charge. Not bad on average, all in all.

This year, however, I’m worried.

I not only have several large but light, bulky items, but I also have a couple of very heavy things including a Separation Anxietymuch-larger-than-I-expected jewelry chest and a lidded cast iron soup pot that once belonged to my grandmother. Unique challenges to my packing skills to say the least. I travel back to Egypt on Sunday so I’ll have to get back to you on how it all goes.

I’ve traveled a lot in the last decade so I suppose it’s no surprise that I would write a book where the heroine starts traveling after a major life crisis. I have to admit that I when I wrote SEPARATION ANXIETY I was indulging in a major fantasy exercise because not only wasn’t my character dragging two small children in her wake, she shopped as she liked and simply shipped her excess and unneeded items home ahead of her. Bliss.

I’m happy to say that SEPARATION ANXIETY is available in multiple digital formats from Smashwords.com as well as other major ebookstores, including Sony and Apple. SEPARATION ANXIETY is also available in paperback from Amazon.com.

BLURB

Sometimes running away is the first step toward finding yourself.

Aurora has spent her entire married life transforming herself from a regular, middle class girl into the perfect society wife. Life seems perfect until she is unceremoniously dumped by her philandering cliche’ of a husband just before Christmas – and their tenth wedding anniversary. Devastated and unable to face the social ostracism or the holiday parties, Aurora and her best friend Kat plan a trip to Amsterdam for a weekend…then decide to keep going. Aurora attempts to drown her sorrows with wine in Amsterdam and Frankfurt, finds her anger in Athens and Cairo, and reclaims her sexuality in Dubai. By the time she and Kat reach Bangkok at the New Year, Aurora is ready and eager to move on with her life.

Planned as a way to escape her pain, Aurora’s travels instead become a journey to a new sense of self and a whole new world – post-divorce.

EXCERPT

I am standing in the kitchen debating on whether or not baking some gingerbread would be overkill when I hear a car door outside.

My stomach flips and I run to the window to peek outside. It’s Bryce.

I press my hand to my stomach and try to slow my breathing. Hyperventilation and hysteria is hardly the alluring look I’m going for.

I go back to the kitchen, check my lipstick in my reflection on the window, and finger comb my hair. I whirl around and try to appear casual when I hear Bryce’s key in the door.

“Aurora?” Bryce says as he lets himself in.

“Good morning, Bryce,” I say, walking toward him and giving him a big smile. “Good to see you.”

He looks at me with some suspicion as he stands uncertainly in the foyer.

He’s not as impeccably presented as usual. His shirt is wrinkled and he doesn’t look as if he’s slept much. He certainly doesn’t look like a man who is happy with the decision he’s just made. I can feel my hopes rising just looking at him. This might be easier than I expected.

“Don’t just stand there,” I say, “This is your home, come in. I made some coffee. Sit down and have a cup. Can I get you some breakfast?”

“Thanks, but no,” he says, putting his hands in his pockets. “I really don’t have much time. I have an early appointment this morning. I’ll just go up and get my things.”

My smile fades. He’s deviating from my mental script of how this will go. He’s supposed to sit down, have breakfast and snap out of whatever spell Audrey has him under. “What? Just like that? Can’t we even talk about this? About us?”

I hear him sigh. “We already talked last night. What more is there to say?”

“We didn’t talk last night!” I take a deep breath and try to regain my composure. Bryce doesn’t like scenes so screeching at him will hardly win him over or gain his ear. I start again. “We didn’t talk. You made an announcement. I’d like a chance to discuss things with you. Privately.”

“I don’t really have much more to add, Aurora. I’m in love with Audrey and it doesn’t seem…kind to draw this out any more than we have to. I think it’s best to make a clean break.”

“So that’s it? After ten years together? How is it ‘kind’ to just walk out on me with no warning? Aren’t we at least supposed to try counseling?” I ask him as I follow him up the stairs to our bedroom.

Bryce is pulling suitcases from the back of our walk-in closet. “I don’t want to go to counseling.” He pauses to look at me. “I’m sorry.”

I stand there, stunned. He’s not repentant or regretful. He hasn’t realized his mistake. He’s merely uncomfortable with the situation. With me.

How has this happened? Yesterday things were normal. I was buying him an anniversary present. How can he be leaving me today?

He turns and begins to put things in the open suitcases. Shirts, pants, suit jackets, ties. I cross my arms and watch him silently. He picks up a small satchel and turns to cross to the bathroom. He squeezes my arm as he passes me. He is still my husband but already his touch seems foreign.

I can hear him opening drawers and dropping items into the bag. When he comes back out I want to catch his eye — to make him look at me! — but he’s looking down.

“You can’t leave without at least talking to me,” I try again. “You owe me that much at least.”

“I can’t see how talking about this will be helpful to you,” Bryce says, opening a dresser drawer and tossing socks and underwear into his suitcases. “I don’t have much time and endless discussion will only serve to hurt you more.”

“Oh my god — is she outside?” I ask. “Is she waiting for you in the car?” I run to the window to look out, trying to see into his car.

“No. I wouldn’t do that,” Bryce says. “I wouldn’t bring her here. This is hard enough as it is. On all of us.”

I can’t help but wonder whose feelings he is trying to spare because it certainly doesn’t seem to be mine.

It’s getting hard to maintain my composure when things are spinning so far out of my control. But this doesn’t make any sense to me. The situation does not compute. I have to have better answers than he’s giving me.

“What…” My voice breaks. I clear my throat and try again. “What did I do wrong? What do I need to do to fix this?”

Bryce sighs again. He stops packing for a moment and puts his hands on his hips. Finally he looks up at me.

“You haven’t done anything wrong,” he says. “Things just…happened. I’ve changed. I want different things. Neither of us is getting any younger and life is too short not to take happiness where you can find it. None of this was your fault. It’s not you, Aurora, it’s me.”

When I don’t answer him, he turns and starts packing again.

I can’t believe it. It’s been a while since I’ve heard it, but I’m pretty sure my husband of a decade just dumped me with a string of clichés and the old it’s-not-you-it’s-me line.

CONTEST – Jenyfer is giving away a PDF download of Separation Anxiety to one lucky reader. All you need to do to enter the draw is comment on this post or ask Jenyfer a question.

Can Murder Be Cozy?

I have a special guest today–author Amanda Lee who writes cozy mysteries. Amanda is the lady next to you in the grocery line or car pool. She has twins: one boy and one girl, she’s a baseball fan, she likes to decorate cakes, she rocks at Guitar Hero…oh, and she likes to think about murder. But it’s OK! She only writes about murder—a lot.

So what exactly is a cozy mystery? That’s what I asked Amanda…

Amanda Lee Cozy mysteries take place in a small town or confined setting where all the characters know each other. Think Desperate Housewives meets CSI.

Characters are integral to cozy mysteries. Cozy writers use hobbies, professions and even obsessions to make their characters unique. I have an interest in cake decorating, so I infuse my hobby into a profession for my character. Even though I’m a novice cake decorator, I have the knowledge to make my character an expert.

Judith Skillings and her husband own and operate a Rolls-Royce and Bentley restoration shop. Not surprisingly, her cozy mystery heroine works in a classic automobile restoration shop. Ellen Crosby introduces readers to Virginia’s wine country in her mysteries. Camille Minichino has a Ph.D. in Physics. She writes the periodic table mysteries. Sheila Lowe, a graphology expert, pens cozy mysteries wherein the heroine is an expert handwriting analyst.

Some cozy writers add a paranormal bent to their books. Alice Kimberly, author of the Haunted Bookstore Mystery series, employs the ghost of a murdered P.I. to help the heroine solve crimes. Madelyn Alt writes the Bewitching Mysteries, and Victoria Laurie writes the Ghost Hunter Mysteries.

Since many cozy mysteries are series books, the reader has time to develop “relationships” with the books’ main characters. The reader watches the characters grow and interact from book to book. While these might be the most unlucky people on the planet—murder victims are turning up around practically every corner—they’re still falling in love, making new friends, caring for pets and pretty much happily going about their lives. Diane Mott Davidson’s character Goldy has gone through quite a lot of changes since her first book, Catering to Nobody. There we met a divorcee with a young son. Now Goldy has remarried and little Arch is all grown up. In that way, cozy mysteries are rather like a soap opera; only you have to wait a long time between installments. Which reminds me of Lost . . . although my series doesn’t have a dark cloud monster or a plane crash. At least, not yet. :-)

One reviewer said of Murder Takes the Cake, “I could identify with Daphne’s relationship with her family. I think this was the part I liked best. Daphne has a cautious and teeth gritting relationship with her mother, a loving warm one with her father and her sister.” I was surprised that this is what she “liked best” about the book. I’d intended to give the characters depth through their relationships, and I’d tried to make those relationships realistic. In fact, the publisher even asked me to tie up the heroine’s relationship with the stray cat at the end of the book. I couldn’t do that and remain realistic. The cat in book is based on a real cat, and it took me months to establish a relationship with her. The fictional relationship will progress in the next book, as will all of Daphne’s other relationships.

It is really cool how readers of cozy mysteries become attached to characters and loyal to authors. In fact, every year cozy readers gather in Arlington, Virginia for the Malice Domestic “Fun Fan” convention to celebrate cozy mysteries and their authors. It’s quite a coup for an author to win an “Agatha,” the teapot awards given by Malice Domestic. And the convention is a terrific experience. As a fan as well as an author, I was thrilled to meet Dorothy Cannell and Harley Jane Kozak at the Malice Domestic convention a few years back. Both are delightful ladies with great senses of humor. Naturally, I told them I love Ellie Haskell and Wollie Shelley, respectively. And I do. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do next.

The Quick and the Thread

The Quick and the Thread by Amanda Lee

Marcy Singer has big plans: a move to the breathtaking Oregon coast, opening an embroidery shop called The Seven Year Itch, a fun grand opening. What she doesn’t plan on is the shop’s old owner showing up—DEAD—in her shop. Some people think Marcy killed him. Some people think she’s the next victim. All Marcy knows is someone has to uncover the murderer before she’s forced to flip the sign on her shop door to CLOSED permanently. And it looks like that someone might be Marcy.

Purchase The Quick and the Thread: An Embroidery Mystery today!

Just Thought You Should Know:
Amanda Lee is also Gayle Trent, author of the Daphne Martin Cake Decorating Series that includes Dead Pan and Murder Takes the Cake. To learn more about Amanda you can visit her website or blog.

CONTEST: Win a copy of The Quick and the Thread – comment on this post, ask Amanda about cozy mysteries or a question about her book and you’ll go into the draw to win a copy of Amanda’s book. Note – contest is only available to those who live in USA or Canada.


Women on Writing

Click to find details of other stops in Amanda’s blog tour.

Would a shuttle driver make a good romance hero? with Rebecca E. Grant

My special guest today is fellow Carina Press author, Rebecca E. Grant. If you enjoy a contemporary cowboy romance, check out her latest release, Liberty Starr. Today Rebecca is talking about one of my favorite things–the romance hero. Tall, dark and a shuttle driver?

What do you think—would a shuttle driver make a good romance hero?

I hope you’ll leave a comment about your idea of a good romance hero here on Shelley’s blog today. All commenters will be included in the drawing for a free copy of my contemporary cowboy romance, LIBERTY STARR.

While you’re thinking about that question, last week I was taking an 8:00 AM shuttle bus from the Walt Disney Dolphin Hotel in Orlando where the Romance Writers of America conference had just wrapped up, to the airport. It was crammed full of romance writers. I should have been exhausted—we all should have been exhausted. But the energy on that bus was high—even though the temp topped out at over 100—the humidity was beastly, and the hour was early, after a late night—all because it was a great conference, and romance writers love what they do!

Even the ride to the airport was fantastic. I had the best seat on the bus—first seat on the passenger’s side with a bird’s eye view of our driver—a fabulously sexy, man from the Caribbean with amazing eyes, a tall, slender body and the sexiest…well, you know…sexiest everything!

I will admit I was unabashed about staring blatantly at him because physically, he was the perfect model for a romantic hero. He must have felt me watching him because he turned around and gave me a slow smile.

“Hot,” he said.

Too bad he was talking about the weather.

“Yes.” I agreed. “And that was a lot of luggage you slung under the bus.”

He ripped a paper towel off a roll he took from under the seat and wiped his forehead and the back of his neck. “I’ve never seen so much luggage. Must’ve been a lot of free giveaways at this conference.”

I smiled and nodded, seriously not trusting my voice—he was that good looking. He turned away and picked up a gallon jug of water, snapped the cap off and took a long pull. I watched the way his mouth fit over the opening of the jug—the undulations of his throat as he swallowed, and couldn’t help but imagine what his mouth would feel like—taste like.

He caught my eye in the mirror, lowered the jug and said, “Vodka.” He winked.

I chuckled. It wasn’t original, but it was entertaining. Encouraged, he picked up the microphone and treated us to a running diatribe of interesting facts and stories about the area. He was so engaging, someone called out from the middle of the bus, “you should do stand-up.”

He smiled at me through the mirror and said, “What do you think this is?”

About half-way to the airport he asked me, “What conference was this?”

This time I grinned—I haven’t met anyone yet who is indifferent to a romance writer. “Romance Writers of America.”

He reached for his jug, swallowed spectacularly again for me, and asked, “All of you are romance writers?”

I nodded.

“How do you conduct your research?” He asked. Again, not original—what romance writer hasn’t heard that one? But he was beyond sexy. He was compelling.

I decided to play with him a little. “Exactly as you imagine.”

He took another swallow and was momentarily quiet. I could see his mind working. Finally, he picked up the microphone and began to talk again, this time tailoring all his fun facts and stories to romance writers. Much of it centered around how romance authors conduct their research—and where. He was just short of crossing the line, with extraordinary timing, and an engaging laugh.

Needless to say, it was a fast ride to the airport, and I’m confident his tips attested to the fact that not only was he relentlessly sexy, he had a razor-sharp wit.

So, back to my original question. Do you think a shuttle bus driver would make a good hero?

When I got off the bus he asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” (only slightly different from the research question, but this time I knew he was serious).

I was serious too, when I answered, “Sometimes they come to me in dreams. Sometimes they just show up when I put my fingers to the keyboard. And sometimes,” I grinned, “it happens when I’m taking a shuttle to the airport.”

“Really? I could be a character in one of your books?”

“Trust me,” I told him. “You already are!”

Liberty StarrThanks for joining me at Shelley’s blog today. Don’t forget to leave a comment about your idea of a compelling hero, and why. You might just be the lucky winner of a free copy of LIBERTY STARR.

Click here for an excerpt from LIBERTY STARR
Click here to read reviews of LIBERTY STARR

Visit my website to read excerpts from books coming soon.

All the best to you,
Rebecca E. Grant

Love is Unstoppable!
www.RebeccaEGrant.com
http://blog.RebeccaEGrant.com
follow me on Twitter: @RebeccaEGrant
or visit me on Facebook

10% off coupon—use code
CARINA10 at checkout
Valid through 10/31/10

Oooh, Baby! with Kris Starr

Thursday Thirteen

Greetings, all! Kris Starr here. I write erotic romance and erotica, and I am so very happy to be hanging out today at Shelley’s blog – thanks, Shelley, for the opportunity!

Lovely by Kris StarrI am also thrilled to be a Carina Press author along with Shelley and a bunch of other absolutely fabulous folks. There are some great books available from CP, so if you haven’t checked ‘em out yet, do so! My novella is called Lovely, and it’s an erotic historical set in Paris in 1900.

But I’ll get to that shortly.

Lovely launched on June 21st, and as some of you may know, I got the best launch-day gift ever. On June 22nd, I gave birth to a gorgeous baby girl. So needless to say I am slightly brain-dead as a result, and I hope you can forgive me if this blog post meanders into the realm of “WTF is she talking about??”

Shelley suggested a baby-related TT, and I figured, that’s a great idea, and hey, how hard can it be to come up with thirteen baby items?

Um, remember that brain-dead comment from earlier?

Yeah.

But I did plug along, so without further ado, here’s your Thursday Thirteen!

1. Your brain somehow atrophies with the birth of your child. Or disintegrates. Or completely vanishes. Or, or…something. Whatever it is, I forget.

2. Time becomes like something out of an episode of Star Trek – before baby arrives you’ve got more of the damned stuff than you know what to do with. You read books! Spend time on your hobbies! Linger over lunches with friends! After baby arrives you can barely squeeze in five minutes for yourself to have a shower, toss in a (neverending) load of laundry or unload the dishwasher – and which activity you choose can be determined by whether you have any underwear left, just how gross your hair has become, or if there are any plates in the cupboard.

3. You no longer have anxiety dreams about appearing naked in your high school chemistry class, late for your final exam – you now dream about forgetting/losing/dropping the baby.

4. Five straight hours of unbroken sleep is the most decadent, delightful thing on the face of the planet.

5. You can no longer go anywhere without fifteen minutes of prep time before you go out the door, and you now must lug seventy-three extra things with you. Every single time. Because if you don’t have extra diapers, wipes, burp cloths and clothing with you, you’re screwed.

6. It’s only when you’ve got the baby bundled up in a wrap/carrier that she spits up all over herself…and you.

7. Along the same vein as #6 — all known infant bodily fluids (drool, poop, pee and spitup) now become a part of your regular, everyday life and you are guaranteed to get at least one of them (more likely two or three) on you on a daily basis.

8. And along the same vein as #6 and #7 — you thank whatever higher power/spiritual being you believe in that you have access to a washer and dryer and are not required to scrub baby clothing and other items on rocks in the riverbed.

9. Just as you sit down to dinner, the baby begins to fuss. You forget just what hot food and/or eating with the rest of your family feels like.

10. Forget makeup, hairstyling and dressy clothes. Now it’s sweats and tees, ponytails or headbands and that “natural” look. For all occasions.

11. A receiving blanket or burp cloth becomes a fashion statement that goes with anything. Trust me. Bunnies, daisies and hearts are hot this season.

12. Sex? What’s that?

But most importantly…

13. There is nothing more beautiful or precious on this planet than the sweet, tiny angel asleep in your arms, and you realize every time you look at her just how lucky and blessed you really are.

And that none of the other stuff matters in the least.

Now, to Lovely…

As mentioned earlier, Lovely is set in Paris in 1900, and it’s the story of a prostitute named Angelique. Here’s the blurb:

They call me Lovely. But I know I am not.

Once I had another name. Now, as Angelique, I do what I can to please les messieurs. What would they say if they knew I felt no pleasure? To them I am wanton, insatiable. I alone know the truth.

So I am mystified by my reaction to my latest caller. Alexandre. Handsome. Well-bred. With an air of innocence that intrigues me. And true pain in his eyes. A mere kiss on the hand inflames me as never before. In moments this man disconcerts me like no other, and soon I can think of nothing, no one else. And yet, he barely touches me.

I know my true purpose is to mend his wounds, but I wonder what lustful appetites are buried deep within him. I will do what I can to discover his secrets…

Lovely is available now from Carina Press.

Well, the baby is starting to fuss in her cradle, so that means it’s time for me to wrap up. Thanks again to Shelley for having me, and I hope you’ll swing by my blog or shoot me an email and say hello or let me know what you thought of Lovely! You can also follow me on Twitter (I don’t Tweet much yet – I’m still trying to get the hang of it in general. That brain thing, y’know?).

Cheers!
Kris

Kris’ Bio:
Kris lives in the wilds of Northern Canada with her two daughters and science geek husband. She spends her time attempting to control household chaos, indulging her crafty side with various knitting, sewing and miscellaneous handmade projects, and creating stories for Carina Press and Ellora’s Cave. Kris has been writing since the age of ten, beginning with a Nancy Drew-style mystery story featuring herself and a couple of her friends. Future leanings became clear, however, when she started penning naughty stories for high-school friends, featuring Scott Baio, Rick Springfield or any member of Duran Duran.

Kris’ blog
Twitter ID
Kris’ email

CONTEST: Everyone who comments on Kris’s post will go into a draw to win a download of Lovely. Tell us about your baby memories, comment on Kris’s baby thirteen or about her new release, Lovely

No Problem, Man! by Lisabet Sarai.

I’m thrilled to welcome author, Lisabet Sarai as my special guest today. She’s discussing two of my favorite topics–travel and paranormal romance. I’m always ready to travel, be it virtual or the real thing. Add a little of the woo-woo factor and I’m hooked. So sit back and enjoy the sights and sounds of exotic Jamaica with Lisabet.

I want to thank Shelley for having me as her guest today. When I asked her what sort of topics she preferred for her blog, she suggested I browse through previous entries. One thing became immediately clear―she’s as much of a travel fanatic as I am! So I thought that I’d talk a bit about Jamaica, which just happens to be the setting of my upcoming release Fire in the Blood.

As I’ve shared in other blog posts, my husband seduced me in a Burmese restaurant with tales of his own international adventures. Jamaica was the first foreign destination we visited together. This was almost thirty years ago and I haven’t had the chance to go back, so readers should recognize that my impressions are a bit dated. Nevertheless, I suspect (from my research and reading) that the country has not changed that much, especially not physically.

We got a cheap deal on a package―round-trip airfare and a week’s hotel in Montego Bay. Actually, the resort where we were booked was a good ten miles outside the city. It had a lovely beach but was quite isolated from Jamaican culture. Fortunately, the tour was cheap enough that we felt comfortable using the hotel as a base of operations and making overnight excursions to locations elsewhere on the island. We also took in some tourist activities around Montego Bay. I recall a trail ride into the mountains above Montego Bay (brilliant blue sky, blazing sun, the smells of horse and growing things). I vividly remember a night-time swamp cruise that concluded with a party on an island―reggae music, dancing and lots of Red Stripe beer!

We took a bus eastward to Ocho Rios, famous for its waterfall. Jamaica Ochos Rios That side trip also included a tour of an old plantation, buried in the forest. I remember the sense of the past hovering over those quiet ruins. The country has a bloody history. Britain, Spain and occasionally France all had commercial interests in the island, with its rich soil and strategic location. Slaves labored to produce sugar, coffee and other valuable commodities. Frequent revolts led to draconian responses from the Jamaicans’ colonial masters. Fugitive slaves called Maroons waged guerrilla warfare from the inaccessible, jungle-clad heights.

Later in the week, we traveled to Negril, the westernmost point on the island, where sheer cliffs of lava rock plunge into the turquoise sea. These days Negril has been developed into a major tourist destination, with five star resorts and so on. At that time, it was quite remote, with a couple of thatched roof bars looking out over the ocean and a few simple cottages. After more than thirty years of travel, to every continent except Australia, I still recall the scenery and atmosphere at Negril as extraordinary.

In addition to our sightseeing, we also met some local people: an American woman (whom I’ll call Jill) who was making her living as a performer (dancing with a live boa constrictor!), her Jamaican boyfriend and their social circle. We had the chance to hang out with Jill and her guy in their simple two room house made of concrete blocks, near the railroad tracks in Montego Bay. They didn’t have much, but their whole attitude was laid back. There was always music playing. There was always the scent of ganja in the air. No one seemed to worry about the future. “No problem, man,” was the response to every concern.

Fire in the BloodI started writing Fire in the Blood in response to a call for Halloween vampire stories. I wanted to create something really different. Almost all my stories are set in specific locales―atmosphere plays a big role in setting the scene for me. I thought back to our long ago trip, the sparkling sun of Jamaica and its dark history, and decided that a Jamaican vampire might be just the thing. When the publisher read the resulting tale, they asked me to expand it into a stand-alone book, which will be released on August 16th. The book is all fiction, of course, but it incorporates snippets of my own experience: a trail ride into the mountains, a ruined plantation, a naked midnight swim in the volcanic grottoes of Negril. I like to believe these contributions make the book more vivid. I hope that my readers will agree.

Here’s the blurb for Fire in the Blood
M/M/F vampire erotic romance from Total-E-Bound.

Maddy and Troy hope that a carefree vacation in tropical Jamaica will re-ignite the passion in their five year relationship. On a scenic mountain trail ride, Maddy’s horse bolts and carries her deep into the jungle. Injured and lost, she is saved by a seductive giant of a man whose mere presence kindles unbearable lust. By the time she understands his dark nature, it is far too late for her to escape.

Bitter and alone, Etienne de Rémorcy haunts the forest around the ruined plantation of Fin d’Espoir. He has sworn to never again taste taste human blood, but when slender, raven-haired Madeleine begs him to take her, he cannot resist.

Troy is hugely relieved when Maddy makes her way back to their hotel after her ordeal in the mountains. But he finds her greatly changed―fiercely passionate in bed, restless and disturbed at other times. The tall, elegant stranger he meets on the beach holds the key to her transformation―and soon has seduced Troy as well. Even Etienne’s most potent magic can’t extinguish the fire in Troy’s and Madeleine’s blood.

You can read an excerpt here.

Fire in the Blood goes on sale Aug 16 at Total-E-Bound

Bio

LISABET SARAI has published six novels, two short story collections and dozens of individual tales. She also edits the single-author charity series “Coming Together Presents” and reviews erotica for Erotica Readers and Writers Association and Erotica Revealed. Visit Lisabet online at Lisabet’s Fantasy
Factory and Beyond Romance.

Do you have any questions for Lisabet? Have you visited Jamaica before? Do you like vampires?

A Sea of Suspicion and Marine Biology with Toni Anderson.

My special guest today is Toni Anderson, a marine biologist turned writer. After my recent cruise, I’m fascinated with the sea, and I begged Toni to tell us a little about marine biology as well as her recent release, A Sea of Suspicion.

Thanks for having me on your blog, Shelley. Shelley wanted to hear a little about my previous life as a Marine Biologist and how it connects to my writing, so here we go…

I was born and raised in the old-fashioned, land-locked, rural English county called Shropshire. Every summer my family would take off in their old Ford Anglia (6 of us in all) and we’d go camping at Black Rock Sands, Porthmadog, North Wales. My dad helped us to trawl through the rock-pools at the base of the cliffs and spawned (pun intended) a lifelong love of the ocean and its elusive inhabitants. Career choice seemed like a no-brainer when I spotted ‘MARINE BIOLOGY’ in the UCCA handbook. I headed off to the University of Liverpool who had a field station on the Isle of Man (now sadly closed :-( ) where me and my Honours class spent our final year. It sounds kind of idyllic? A whole year on an island studying marine life with like-minded people? It sounds romantic and idealistic.

It wasn’t.

The Isle of Man is smack-bang in the middle of the Irish Sea and is one of the windiest places on Earth. I spent most of the time in fleece, Gortex and welly boots, my hair frizzed within an inch of a 1970’s afro. It wasn’t romantic. It was cold, wet and claustrophobic. Thirty students living in one another’s pockets for nine months made it an oddly lonely experience as we all worked hard to get our degree. My then boyfriend couldn’t label his limpets for his Honour’s Project so I foolishly said I’d do it for him (having small nimble fingers), which meant endless 5:00 a.m. starts to catch the low tide (I am so not a morning person). My own Honor’s Project died over Christmas which cut the experiment a little shorter than anticipated.

Sea of SuspicionIt should have put me off science for life, but I guess I’m contrary because I was completely hooked on that type of smelly, slimy, destined-for-failure research. I headed off to the University of St Andrews, Scotland, and began one of the most fun and emotionally rewarding periods of my life. I spent 4 fantastic years in the Gatty Marine Laboratory, working my proverbial backside off, partying when time and money allowed, before graduating with a Ph.D. at the age of 25.

Marine Biology requires a practical disposition where you aren’t afraid of blood, guts, stinky smells (usually seaweed) or big men in woolly jumpers. Things wriggle, jump and escape (even when dead). Stuff gets spilled. Illegal aliens come into the lab using false credentials and spread seriously nasty chemicals around like talcum powder. Personalities clash and explode, people use one another, cheat, bitch, moan, despair, comfort, love. People come from all over the world to collide in a melting pot of human drama. It’s awesome!

I loved research. LOVED it :-) . I went on to the Institute of Aquaculture, Stirling, where I had the best boss ever, and then onto Canada. It allowed me to meet the most wonderful people while chasing fish around the world. But when I had kids I realized I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t put everything I needed to put into research and have enough left over for babies. Science isn’t a nine-to-five sort of career. So I pursued another dream of mine, to write, and I knew I had to set a romantic murder mystery in the Gatty Marine Lab.

That story, SEA OF SUSPICION, was just published by Carina Press :-D

Blurb

Marine biologist Susie Cooper traded her life in America for a dream job on the rugged Scottish coast. Now all she lacks is the right man to start a family with. After their first meeting, she knows sexy Detective Inspector Nick Archer isn’t what she’s looking for. He’s the type of guy whose idea of commitment is staying the whole night.

Nick has returned to St. Andrews for one reason only—to fulfill his vow to find his wife’s killer. Relentless in his twelve-year quest for justice, he has no problem using Susie to get close to his primary suspect: her boss. But the passion between them smolders, and as it ignites, Nick finds himself torn between his past and his present—with Susie.

When one of her boss’s students is murdered, Nick’s investigation draws Susie into a web of madness and betrayal. They will have to learn to trust each other if they’re going to catch a killer…and come out of this alive.

Read an excerpt of Sea of Suspicion here

Available from Carina Press and all other ebook stockists.

Thanks so much for having me, Shelley—any questions welcome :-) . By the way, SEA OF SUSPICION has its own Facebook page and I’ll be running another contest there in the next week or so. For travel adventures check out my blog

CONTEST: Either ask Toni a question about her book, writing or marine biology or tell us about your favorite beach destination and you’ll go into a draw to win a download of Sea of Suspicion. We’ll draw the winner tomorrow.

The Hohokam Indians and CAPTIVE SPIRIT with Liz Fichera

My guest today is fellow Carina Press author Liz Fichera. She’s here to talk about her wonderful historical romance, Captive Spirit and the inspiration behind her story. Don’t forget to check out her trailer and comment to enter the draw to win a copy of Captive Spirit!

Inspiration can come from the strangest places.

I forget where I was when I learned about the Hohokam Indians but I most definitely remembered the history behind Phoenix’s original inhabitants. It stuck in my brain like a seed. And it’s also what inspired me to write my historical romance novel, CAPTIVE SPIRIT.

Captive SpiritYou see, around 300 BC, people from the ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures traveled north to settle in the desert valleys formed by the slow moving Gila and Salt Rivers in what is now known as Arizona in the American Southwest. They existed peacefully as farmers and master canal builders until around 1500 AD when their population vanished for reasons unknown. The Pima Indians called these people Hohokam, “Those Who Have Gone.”

Now, that just begs for a story.

Why would a thriving population in the rugged Sonoran Desert—with upwards of around 50,000 people at its peak—all of a sudden vanish into thin air? Why would people abandon masterfully built canals, some reaching 10 miles long and still in existence today, and plentiful crops like cotton, corn, beans, and squash? The Hohokam Indians abandoned their pithouses, their ball courts, their ceremonial burial grounds, their whole lives. Why?

There are some cool photos in the CAPTIVE SPIRIT book trailer on my web site, particularly of ancient petroglyphs, some of which were taken minutes from my home in Phoenix. Maybe the Hohokam were trying to leave us a message? It still intrigues me that they once existed in the spot where my neighborhood now sits.

Of course, there are all sorts of theories why the Hohokam Indians vanished—famine, war, internal strife, drought, disease, floods, climatic changes, migration with other tribes—but no one can say with certainty what happened. One thing is certain: The mystery continues, teasing storytellers like me.

CAPTIVE SPIRIT contains all of the things I love to write about—Native American characters, legends, epic themes, suspense and, of course, a love story. Here’s a short tease:

Sonoran Desert. Dawn of the sixteenth century.

Aiyana isn’t like the other girls of the White Ant Clan. Instead of keeping house, she longs to compete on the Ball Court with her best friend Honovi and the other boys. Instead of marriage, she daydreams of traveling beyond the mountains that surround her small village. Only Honovi knows and shares her forbidden wish, though Aiyana doesn’t realize her friend has a secret wish of his own…

When Aiyana’s father arranges her marriage to a man she hardly knows, she takes the advice of a tribal elder: Run! In fleeing, she falls into the hands of Spanish raiders and finds herself being taken over the mountains against her will. Now Aiyana’s on a quest to return to the very place she once dreamed of escaping. And she’ll do whatever it takes to survive and find her way back to the people she loves.

* To read the first chapter of CAPTIVE SPIRIT, click here.
* To see more photos of the Sonoran Desert and Hohokam petroglyphs, check out the CAPTIVE SPIRIT book trailer and don’t forget to crank the music.

About Liz:

Liz Fichera is an author from the American Southwest by way of Chicago. She likes to write stories about ordinary people who do extraordinary things, oftentimes against the backdrop of Native American legends. When she’s not plotting her next novel, you can find her on Facebook or her blog, discussing writing, books, hunks du jour, LOST reruns or the best brands of chocolate. Her debut historical romance novel CAPTIVE SPIRIT is available from Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and wherever digital books are sold. Please visit her web site because it can get real lonely in the desert: http://www.lizfichera.com/.

Anyone who leaves a comment or asks a question today will be entered to win one free digital copy of CAPTIVE SPIRIT. The winner will be announced tomorrow.

Consent to the Cowboy with Abby Wood

My special guest today is fellow Carina Press author, Abby Wood. Abby is here to tell us about her recent release, Consent to the Cowboy. This is another book I’m looking forward to reading and one that is locked and loaded on my Palm reader. I’m thrilled to have Abby visit today, especially since she’s talking about some of my favorite things–rodeo and country fairs.

Thank you for having me here today, Shelley. It’s a pretty exciting time around my house lately. Not only has Consent to the Cowboy been released at Carina Press, but it’s also county fair time in my part of the country. To celebrate, I’d love to give away a copy of my book to one lucky person who leaves a comment today.

For me, county fair means rodeo time! These are small time rodeos where town favorites compete for the championship. Year after year, we attend and cheer on our favorite rider. From barrel racing, calf ropin’, bull ridin’, and team ropin’, every highlight of the rodeo draws a big crowd. Heck, if two hundred people show up, that means almost the whole town attended. We start’em young too. Our four year olds are sat atop the back of a calf and let loose within the ring. We grease up pigs and encourage our children to go catch their dinner.

Consent to the CowboySpirits run high, beer flows fast, and words take on more meaning. It is the one chance to meet with your neighbor who lives five miles away and get caught up on how their crops are growing, how many heads of cattle they are planning to run through the winter, and to catch up on the local gossip.

Behind the fencing, personal bets are taking place. Although, that’s not what we call it…it’s bartering. I’ll give you one goose for three laying hens if O’Reilly wins the next round! We always come home with new animals. Gotta watch out for some of them seasoned farmers though, they’ll hoist a mean rooster off on the innocent adults who have just begun their journey into country livin’.

The rodeo also means a stressful time for the women. We find out who is the best cook, the best pie baker, and who canned the most over the summer. We brag about how many nights we stayed up listening to the lids popping on the dill pickles sitting out on the counter, and we’ve sworn our man not to utter a word about the steak we burnt last week. Bad news like that stick in other women’s memories for a long time and you’ll forever be asked to bring a jello salad to the next potluck. You have to earn the right to bring a main dish, ya know.

I’ve attended quite a few fairs. Some are more centered around carnival rides, entertainment, and businesses trying to sell their products. I really enjoy them, but it’s the small local fairs that feel like a family reunion and gathering spot for the neighbors that I love the most.

Do you go to any fairs in the summertime? What kind of fair do you have in your area?

In Consent to the Cowboy, the first chapter takes place at a small town rodeo. You can read the first chapter of the book here.

Here’s the blurb for Consent to the Cowboy

Surrounded by beer-swilling, skirt-chasing cowboys her whole life, barmaid Daphne Norris has no intention of ever settling for any of the men in her Podunk hometown. So when bronc rider Will Hanson sends shock waves to her core with just one glance from his striking green eyes, no one is more surprised than her.

But Will is no ordinary cowboy, and he can see that Daphne is no ordinary small-town girl. He can sense in Daphne the quiet strength and devotion needed to satisfy a man like him, a man who needs to be on top, in every aspect of his life.

Daphne hasn’t ever succumbed to her submissive desires before, and Will awakens her in ways she never imagined. While she’s not prepared to give him her heart, she agrees to Will’s offer of three days of intense pleasure, and then she’s walking. But Daphne falls hard and fast, and now she has a decision: return to a normal life, or give up everything for Will…

Purchase Link

Multipublished author Abby Wood lives in the Pacific Northwest. A huge animal lover, she enjoys the many animals on her farm and the wild ones that roam the forest. In her free time, she loves to ride motorcycles, garden, go fishing and play tennis. She loves to write stories that allow readers to escape into a brand-new world.

You can find out more about Abby at www.authorabbywood.com, visit her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AbbyWoodFanPage and follow her on Twitter at @MsAbbyWood.

Contest: Don’t forget – Abby is giving away a copy of Consent to the Cowboy. Just answer her question and one commenter will be chosen as the winner.

A Chat With Leah Braemel

My special guest today is Leah Braemel, a friend and fellow author at Carina Press and Samhain Publishing. Leah has a new release out called Texas Tangle. It’s currently locked and loaded on my reader, and I can’t wait to find time to read it. Meantime, I asked Leah a few probing questions about herself and her writing. I think she deserves a medal – any woman who lives in a household of males is definitely braver than me!

Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.

That’s good that you asked for me to tell a little, because there’s not much to tell. I’m the only Canadian-born member of my family – my mother, father and sister are all English. I’ve been married for 32 years and hope to last another 64 (only half-kidding on that one) and have two sons who have just finished school (one high school, one college) but still live at home. Oh, and I have a cat, Spike, who is very disgusted that my lap is often taken by my laptop instead of him. (If you noticed, they’re all males, even the cat. So no frilly stuff in this household. They won’t even allow flowers on the wallpaper, the upholstery or the curtains. Plain colors only please. Talk about testosterone poisoning.)

As for my writing…I wrote my first story when I was around seven. My sister and I were addicted to a brand new science fiction show called Star Trek. (Yes, this is during its first run, before it was known as “The Original Series.” My sister was so enamored of it that she started writing her own scripts. That was the first time I twigged to the fact that people wrote books, that I could write down the stories that I’d tell myself when I went to bed each night. I wrote down one of my ideas and showed it to my sister who was my very first critic. She was also my last critic because after that horrific review (which was probably dead on the mark) I vowed to never show anyone my writing Ever. Again. And I didn’t. For close to 40 years. Oh, I wrote lots of non-fiction manuals for my job, and I wrote newsletters and articles and such, but my fiction I kept hidden and didn’t dare show anyone until the mid 90s. I can’t remember why I trusted that particular friend with my writing but she told me I should try to get published. But I blew her off. “Everyone’s trying to get a book published, I wouldn’t stand a chance” I told her. And I kept that stance until about 2004 when I met a lady on line who was trying to get published. I showed her a bit of my writing and she also encouraged me to get published. She became my critique partner, but after opening her first critique I wondered how the heck she thought I could get published, there were comments made on every line. Of course, she was right on the money and soon I’d learned about showing versus telling, and passive verbs versus active verbs. Then she did the unthinkable. Because I’d been waffling about actually submitting any of my work to an editor or agent, she issued a dare. Next thing I knew I was registered for the 2007 RWA conference and had an appointment with an editor who asked to see a partial of my story.

Texas TangleYour new book, Texas Tangle, is a ménage a trois. What attracted you to write a ménage a trois?

Hmm, that’s a good question. Texas Tangle wasn’t supposed to be a menage until Brett walked in as a secondary character. Then one thing led to another, LOL, and the story demanded it. Menages are always a challenge to me because although I do know a few couples (triples?) who have had them in real life, they’re not generally socially acceptable. After Private Property came out, I had a reader mention that she’d loves to read about menages that end up turning long term, so I played around a bit with Texas Tangle to see if I could find a situation where I could see it being an obvious solution that all parties could live with.

Where did the idea for Texas Tangle come from?

Partly from a trip to Texas I took a few years back, and partly because I love the rural way of life (I was raised on a farm.) As for Nikki’s being robbed, that’s drawn straight from real life — being robbed, excuse me, burgled, steals more than your belongings, they steal your peace of mind. I’ve known quite a few women very similar to Nikki and a couple like both Brett and Dillon, so when I started writing the story, they just seemed naturals for that setting.

What do you tell people when they ask you about writing love scenes or ask the inevitable question of your husband – do you do all that stuff?

It sometimes depends on how I’m feeling or how they ask. Most times I laugh it off and say I have an active imagination and my husband grins and says he loves being my research assistant. There have occasionally been people who are a little more judgmental in their questioning so I have to bite my tongue and not ask them if they would ask Jeffrey Deaver or Harlan Coben how many people they’ve killed in real life researching their stories. (Not that I’m comparing myself to Mr. Deaver or Mr. Coben, of course.)

What is your favorite thing to do on a lazy Sunday?

Depends upon the season — throughout the winter, sitting inside by the fireplace, curled up beside my hubby watching a movie. In the summer? If it’s too hot, then I’m sitting inside curled up beside my hubby writing while he watches golf.

What tip would you give to an aspiring writer who is just starting their writing journey?

Write! Seriously. You can’t find your voice until you’ve written for a while. And if you do plan on getting published at some point you have to have something finished to submit to an editor. That can only be accomplished by writing until you can type those two lovely words “The End.” (Then the editing begins, but that’s another story.)

If you want to know more about Leah, her website is at http://LeahBraemel.com and her blog is at http://leahbraemel.blogspot.com. They can also follow her on Facebook or on Twitter.

And here’s an excerpt from Texas Tangle

Brett reached for Dillon’s front door then stopped. Why couldn’t Dillon have been home? At least that way he knew he could control himself. Even though he’d stayed away a full month, he still hadn’t gotten her out from under his skin.

Get it over with. Give her the news, then stay far away.

He lifted his hand and after a moment’s hesitation, knocked on the door. Maybe he’d get lucky, and she wouldn’t be here. Maybe she’d gone into town with Dillon.

The door creaked open, and there she was, wearing one of the white shirts he’d left behind, a pair of cut-offs beneath. She’d left the top three buttons undone, giving him a tantalizing view of her cleavage. His cock punched against his zipper at the thought of unbuttoning the rest of the buttons, of spreading the fabric wide and tasting her nipples.

Why didn’t he just cut off his balls and hand them to Dillon on a plate?

“Brett?” She looked startled to see him. “Come on in.”

He followed her into the kitchen, watched her fiddle with the coffee maker. Nikki never fiddled and, more importantly, she wasn’t looking at him. He made her nervous. Did she worry he might try something on her again?

His fists clenched at the thought that he might have scared her, made her think he might take what she wasn’t willing to give.

“I didn’t mean to drive you away.” She made a gesture of impatience. “I’m sorry, I’m being selfish. I just…I’ve missed you.”

The heated blood racing through his veins headed south when she smoothed her hands down her front, tightening the fabric over her breasts, accentuating that she wasn’t wearing a bra.

Did she realize how beautiful she was with the color high in her cheeks when she blushed? Longing spun his senses until he felt like he’d been caught in a twister, especially when she turned those soulful eyes on him. The lost tone in her voice cut right through him, pierced defenses he didn’t know he’d erected.

Purchase Texas Tangle from Carina Press

Leah is giving away a download of her ebook Private Property to one lucky commenter. All you need to do to enter the draw is either ask Leah a question or tell us what you say to people who give you a hard time about reading romance. The winner will be announced on Wednesday 14th of July.