Thursday, February 28, 2008

I Like To Look At The Pictures

Please note that some of the contents of today’s blog are not intended for those under 18. In fact, now that we mention it, the contents of this blog are never intended for someone under 18. If you’re under 18, why are you on this blog on a school night? Go study something.

Today’s blog was inspired by two events that involved the sharing of inspirational pictures among very serious professionals. Okay, even I can’t say that with a straight face. First a friend of mine slipped a pic into an email as part of a joke I'll explain later. Secondly, a bit back, an author I know shared with some of us that a fan had sent her pictures of rather sexy men as inspiration. This author refused to share. Hmmphf.

Today another author shared a picture of a rather delightfully formed male. It wasn’t nudity, exactly. A nice bare chest, an open pair of jeans and a strategically placed hand and you have a nice pic. I’m a firm believer in the tease. Show me a bit and my imagination will do the rest. And do it better. It won’t matter if you’re too ripped, and yes, in my humble opinion a man can be too ripped. If he looks like he spends every waking moment at the gym he’s going to be too tired to do anything else. Not to mention the over stuffed, can’t put his arms down, can touch his knees together look is not one that appeals to me. Flawed can be very good.

Back to my original intent. I seem to receive a lot of emails like the one today. For some reason people seem to think it’s a good idea to send me pictures of attractive men. I don’t know why, but they do. And no, I’m not complaining. I was asked, when I was doing my profiles on my male characters, how I came by all these pictures. That’s one way, diligent searches of Google images is another. Today, I’d like to join the ranks of the unselfish and share the pictures that I’ve received in the past. Some famous men, some not. But all very pretty so I’ll intersperse them through out this post.

I have, however noticed in these pictures, which I would assume are designed to appeal to either straight/bisexual women or gay/bisexual men, that the poses are often not quite erotic if you think about them too much. They often fall into one of three categories:

1. That can’t be comfortable
2. What exactly is he surprised at?
3. Is he afraid it’s going to fall off?

That can’t be comfortable relates to photos where the location of the shot just doesn’t look like someplace I’d find erotic. Say…oh, I don’t know…a pile of straw or hay. Straw and hay that have been baled are not soft and sweet smelling like grass. They are itchy and can smell damp and moldy if not stored correctly. So I look at those pictures and think to myself…ouch! Also, sex on a beach looks good on celluloid, but let's face it, there are too many damp crevices involved for that to be a good idea.

What exactly is he surprised at refers to pictures where the man seems to be examining his manly parts with surprise or amusement. Exactly what is funny down there? Care to share with the class? And while we’re on the topic I have been told unequivocally by my brothers and male friends that it is never ever a good thing to laugh at the manly parts. So what is it? Someone drop a feather down your pants? You’ve been swimming in cold water and are astonished that it really does shrink? It looks different than it did yesterday? What? Share.

Often men in such “sexy” pictures are seen holding their manly parts. Now perhaps this is because he has just looked and been surprised and needs a tactile confirmation of what he saw, or perhaps it is because he’s afraid it’s going to fall off. I can’t think of a single occasion when I’ve seen a man in real life grab the merchandize that it wasn’t an insult, crude or an expression of fear. Of course if he has delayed reactions it could be a sign of pain because he didn’t grab fast enough.

I do appreciate, however, the photographers and models willingness to accept that contrary to popular belief women do like to look at pictures of male beauty. Not only do we enjoy it aesthetically, but we also enjoy it on an erotic scale. Granted we are not the visual creatures men are, but we still like an illustrated classic as much as the guys.

I was working on an article a couple of years ago on writing slash. Slash is a term used in fanfiction to refer to a same sex relationship. The purpose of the article was to help those who were writing same sex relationships without a base of personal knowledge to understand there were basic differences in arousal and reactions based on gender. It truly was fascinating.

Researchers tested the arousal of straight men and women and gay men and women using self-reported arousal as well as measuring physiological changes. Arousal does not mean reactions to actual sexual interaction and activity, but the body’s “interest signals”. The beginnings of erection, the dilation of the pupils, the start of lubrication, increase in rate and shallowness of breathing, and increase in skin surface temperatures were the arousal indicators tested.

The first result was one that might be surprising. Men have long been labeled with the stereotype of being easily aroused. The truth is that men, gay and straight, had a more defined parameter of what they found arousing than women. For example, most women showed some evidence of arousal outside their sexual orientation while men didn’t. Women who had reported no interest in alternative lifestyles showed higher rates of arousal when exposed to images of said lifestyles than did men.

The thing I found most interesting in the studies I looked at for the article was how polar opposite males and females were in what senses or avenues of arousal most affected them in all but one area. Males showed significant arousal to visual and tactile stimulation (viewing erotic images and casual touch). Women, not as much. Women were significantly aroused by auditory stimulus (voices, sounds of lovemaking) and by cognitive stimulation (stories, appeals to imagination and that lovely running commentary in our heads). Men, not as much.

What did we have in common? Olfactory responses. Both sexes showed significant reactions and arousal rates to trigger scents. Not the same ones, but reactions to scents were equal.

Just a bit of useless information.

And now to the pic that a friend sent me today. It's a bit of a running joke among us. I save pics of Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale that I'll slip into emails, she slips in pics of Gerard Butler. I'm a moderate fan of this guy and think he's adorable and a better actor than he often gets credit for. (We won't discuss Dracula 2000, everyone's got one they need to bury.) So, for my final offering I thought I'd share the picture that Anna sent me today.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

No Particular Place to Go

"Riding along in my automobile
My baby beside me at the wheel
I stole a kiss at the turn of a mile
My curiosity runnin' wild
Crusin' and playin' the radio
With no particular place to go"
~Chuck Berry

No this particular bit of rumination isn't about cruisin' and parkin' with your sweetie. Though that is a thought for another time. Where did you and you're darlin' like to go? Was there a cruising strip in your town?

But as I said, what I'm thinking about tonight isn't steaming up windows on the side roads or in the cemetary, at the drive in or lover's lane. This is about an entirely innocent kind of cruising that is interconnected to some of the best memories I have of being a child.

My father and mother divorced when I was barely 2. I never knew him. I still don't, the last time I saw him I was 8 or 9 years old. I could honestly pass the man on the street and not know it was him. I doubt he would know me either. My stepfather is my dad. He and my mother married when I was 3 or just about to turn 4. Their marriage didn't last, but he didn't bail on me or my younger sister when the divorce occurred. He stayed in our lives and had visitation rights for us as well as my second sister, his biological daughter. I was about 8 when they divorced.

Money wasn't good for either of my parents. My mother turned to public assistance. Once a month she'd get a check to help cover the costs of raising three daughters that my dad's child support didn't cover. This is not a dead-beat dad story or a story of a father who didn't care, my dad paid child support the best he could, it just wasn't enough.

Back to the memories I mentioned earlier. Once a month, just after the check arrived, my mom would load us into the car and we would spend that Saturday or Sunday afternoon at the grocery store buying the non-perishable food for the entire month a head. We all helped collect boxes at the local bag your own. We all helped box the food, load it into the car and carry it inside. We helped put it away.

We usually got finished in time for a bit of play. In my case that meant reading a book or hanging out with my best friend Marcy. Just as the streetlights started to come on, we'd all make sure we were home. We knew what the first weekend of the month would mean. It was a ritual.

Mom piled us into the car with a blanket or two and we'd go fill up the gas tank. She'd drive us into town and to the local ice cream store. Maybe Baskin Robbins in the fall, but in the summer it was The Custard Cup. Ah, the Custard Cup. The bastion of quality soft serve ice cream in our home town. It was an institution that stretched back years. Each of us with our ice cream, my mom would turn on the radio in the car, roll down the windows and take us for a drive.
We drove through the fancy neighborhoods picking out the houses we'd one day live in. The holiday season always saw us cruising the streets looking at the lighting displays while we drank shakes from McDonalds.

Then mom would head out of town onto the country roads and we'd feel the wind wipping throught the windows as we drove down the country lanes. Then, sometimes, she would pull off on to the side of the road on an old blacktop road and cut the engine. We sat quietly and looked off to our left. There was the screen for the local drive in. There was no sound, but as we sat there finishing our treats, eyes growing heavy, heads nodding, we drank in the images on the movie screen. Actually going to the drive in was a rare treat, but it did happen. But more often than not, if a family show was playing, we'd sit there and watch several minutes of it, wondering what was happening.

Then my mother would start the car and drive us back home, waking up weary grouchy children to stumble into the house to stand grumpily in line so we could have our dirty faces and hands washed before finally falling into bed.

I'm not sure why those nights were such wonderful memories. Maybe because they take me to a time and to moments when it was just us girls. My mom, me, Staci and Carla. Just us. No drama from my mom's boyfriends. No picking and nagging little sisters. No one who wanted to hurt me or anyone I loved. Just us girls.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Medical Woes

I admire and respect doctors who do their jobs well. I admire anyone who does their job well as long as their job is not to screw over me or anyone else, i.e. most politicians and the IRS. It’s tax time. Can ya tell? I hate inefficiency and people who have or perpetuate systems that screw with people, particularly in very important areas of life. Like doctors.

I’m mentioned before that my SO and I have decided to try to expand our little family with something that doesn’t require annual rabies shots. Lots of other kinds of shots, but not rabies. Since neither of us are spring chickens we decided to seek a bit of help from our local women’s clinic.
Testing over, we were told the importance of following the natural woman’s cycle carefully. Appointments must be made and kept. A sonogram must be completed between days 3 and 5 of the cycle and again between days 12 and 15. Every thing must be timed exactly.

So today the call is made. It’s day one, let’s schedule the sonogram. Well, day 3 is Wednesday and the doctors office confesses they don’t have a sonogram tech on Wednesday, or Thursday during the day. So the sonogram will have to be at 9pm on Thursday. A joke you ask? Nope, I’m not smiling folks. Then the doctor must be seen so that she can prescribe the helpful little Clomid pills. (Yes, those of you who read Access Denied, those Clomid pills really do exist.) But the doctor isn’t available until Friday and the pills must be started on day 5.

Now why is this a problem? Because Friday is a very important children’s lit conference, one that had to be committed to seven months ago. Can the doctor read the results and call in the prescription? No. It must be face to face. Why? Is there really a big black market for Clomid?

When you sign on to treat fertility issues and everything must be timed so carefully, you would think you would plan a bit better, be a bit more flexible. Grrrr


Not what I wanted to hear on a Monday morning. I hate mornings. I am not a morning person and never will be. No amount of “oh but look at the fresh clean day full of promise” crap will ever make me be a morning person. I like sleep. Sleep likes me. I am one of those people who can fall asleep any time, any place. I can sleep longer than my dog, and if you own a dog you know that’s saying something.

It doesn’t help the cause that I have to get up around 4:30 each morning to make myself presentable to leave the house before 6am so I can drive an hour and a half to work. The ride home is two or more hours, so I guess I’m getting off easy.

This morning I’m in the shower trying to become remotely coherent. My eyes are still closed and I’m doing the “If I don’t open my eyes, I’m not really awake” thing trying to fool my brain into thinking I’m still asleep. Not that it’s ever worked. My SO comes into the bathroom and mumbles something that sounds like it could be an alien language. I give my usual, “I haven’t had my coffee yet, so don’t bug me” one syllable grunt.

When I finally climb out of the shower I find my SO standing there with a face that looks like someone inflated it like a balloon. Another lovely allergy reaction to goodness knows what. I shove a bottle of benedryl at the poor dear with orders to take it, run downstairs and fire up the computer. Sounds like an odd reaction I know. But at that point I have only seconds left before the window on the computerized subfinder program my school district uses shuts down and starts calling subs.

How does this fit with a rant about doctors?:

Because upon calling the allergist’s office, I discover that there are no doctors available today. Evidently Monday is the new Thursday and no allergist in their group works on Mondays. They will however be happy to page someone and get a prescription called in for prednisone (without seeing my SO) or we can go to the emergency room.

*head to desk*

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Proud Romance Reader

Don’t let anyone ever discount romance novels or their readers. I confess to you shamefacedly that I was once a closet romance reader. I once allowed myself to be embarrassed by my penchant for the genre.

It wasn’t always that way. I think my love of romances, stories about love and the relationships between people, began in what might seem an unlikely place. It began with the chickenpox. I got the chickenpox when I was 9 or 10 years old. My Aunt Jo had me and three of my younger sisters as my mom was having gallbladder surgery. Surprise! We all three developed the lovely virus.

To keep us entertained my grandparents brought us books, coloring books, crayons and other things to do with little hands so they didn’t scratch. In between oatmeal baths and being doused in nasty smelling calamine lotion, I dove into the book my grandfather had brought me. Little Women.

Now it may seem odd to some to give a 10 year old Little Women. First of all I’d always been a strong reader. Growing up wasn’t pony rides and party dresses for our family. Reading helped me forget. Secondly, it was just my grandfather’s way. He was always bringing me books that were supposed to be way too advanced. It was he who planted the idea in my head I could be anything I wanted.

Back to romances. I loved the story of Little Women though I frankly think Teddy got short changed. Amy? I thought Jo was crazy for refusing him until Professor Baer came into the picture. Even at that age I understood the difference.

In middle school, my friend Trina introduced me to Harlequins. Back then the girls were always virgins and the couple never had sex until they were married. And the sex was vivid descriptions of kissing, his hands touching her back or face and then of course she would nearly faint as he “showed her the greatest of all pleasures a woman could know, one only a man could give her.”

When exactly did romance develop negative connotations? And why? Why when I sit in a café or at the lunch table do I feel compelled to put a book cover or a sticky note over the cover of the book? When, how and why did I let society do this to me? Why should I feel embarrassed?

Well, no more. I’m not going to hide my books. So come on now, throw out those old book covers, stop bending back the covers on the books. Be a romance reader and be a proud one!

Of course trying to read erotica in a public place will still make me blush. I’m still recovering from the decision to read Anny Cook’s Chrysanthemum while in a hotel restaurant. I guess I’m a work in progress.

So recommendations then? Yep, I finished two good ones yesterday.

Time for Love
by Kelly Kirch
From Cerridwen Press
This is a great Regency era with a time travel twist.

Sarah is transported back in time and into the life of a Regency era widow who is supposed to be acting as the chaperone to a young cousin in her first London season. As difficult as that may be, it’s complicated by her growing attraction to a known rake, Lord Hayworth. He’s sexy, seductive and obviously attracted to Sarah. Unfortunately he’s also very much promised to her young cousin.

Sarah and Drake are great characters. You want to cheer for them. Well done, Ms. Kirch!

By Anny Cook
From Ellora's Cave

Anny Cook has become one of my favorite writers in the past year since I signed my first contract with Cerridwen Press and discovered the wonderful world of ebooks. Honeysuckle is a hot, steamy sequel to Chrysathemum. I don’t think I’ve run across something that has made me laugh and fan myself so much.

Honeysuckle doesn’t believe one man could ever be enough, but it seems to be her fate as her father seeks to marry her off. Enter two gorgeous men who see in Honeysuckle exactly the woman they’ve been dreaming of. Peter and Dick Hieney have waited all their lives for a woman like this and aren’t about to let her get away. More than woman enough to keep them both on their toes, she goes with them. But convincing her to marry them amidst a plot to end the rule of King Arthur, while battling an evil sorceress, and the temptation of beautiful studdly men who just happen to be unicorns? That might not be so easy.

And its given me a new crush. They may be twins but I could choose. The sign of great characterization. They came alive as individuals. (Oh, and the ending is priceless. Poor Blessing. Poor Peter.)

Friday, February 22, 2008

What kind of books do you write?

Since I received my first book contract the question I've been asked the most is "What kind of books do you write?" Now on the surface that doesn't seem like a difficult question, but it is one that has left me hemming and hawwing for answers.

Maybe it's because my first book, Access Denied, was not like the rest of the stories I tend to have in my head. It was a futuristic, soft science fiction story set in a world where almost everything is controlled for you. But this book is an anomaly among my stories. So if I tell you that I write futuristic, soft science fiction and you pick up one of the other books you will think me mad.

Most of the other stories that have been/are being published fit into the paranormal genre. I have a series that isn’t a labeled series because I only recently figured out what to call it. In the little world I’ve created, a race of shape-shifters have come to our dimension seeking peace. They are forced to tie their life energies to those of indigenous animals to stay in this new haven they call Semira. Measure of Healing follows my Cougars and Mating Stone (and the coming sequel, Lovers’ Stone) follows my Bears. There are 13 races in all. So I write paranormals or fantasy—but then again…

Seeing Me is due out in March. Again, it is neither a science fiction story nor a paranormal. Granted it is filled with fantasies, but that’s not its genre. It’s a contemporary story about a writer who meets a man that has women all over the world panting. The best part is, he seems to be very interested making her pant. So I write contemporary…or not.

And my Works in Progress (WIPs) are no help either. One is the final installment in the Stones trilogy. One is the sequel to Measure of Healing that takes us to the world of the Wolves. One is a story about a young woman who goes home to the small town she fled and finds not much has changed, but what has is the boy next door. One is the retelling of a popular myth. And finally one is a completely different piece about dragons and healers and warriors.

So I give up folks. Don’t ask me what kind of books I write because the answer you’ll get will be the same one I give to my students when I’m in a contrary mood and they ask what kind of book I brought for the day’s read-aloud.

“The kind you read.”

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Stayed up all night reading…

It’s been a while since I’ve done that, but I finally wrestled the latest Sherrilyn Kenyon book away from my SO who loves the paranormal adventure and vampire butt-kicking but skims over the “icky parts.” Needless to say I enjoyed Dream Chaser a great deal. It’s the last taste of the Dark Hunters before Kenyon finally delivers on the one we’ve all been waiting for: Acheron’s book.

I liked the hero, Xypher, this time around much better than I have the last couple of guys. But since my favorites include Zarek, Fury, Wren…yep guess I like them seriously screwed up. Bring on the borderline-sociopaths with a soft spot. But hide it deep. Odd since if you asked me my absolute fav. Kenyon guy I’d go hands down for Vane. Any guy who looks at a size 18 woman with serious drooling, ‘gotta have me that lust’ gets my vote.

After basking in the good story afterglow for a bit, I started trying to figure out the twists and turns she’s given us. Kenyon doesn’t seem to do anything incidentally or accidentally. I admit it. I’m friggin’ dying to know how Kyle Peltier, a young Katagari (Were), is walking around in broad daylight when he should barely be able to hold a human form at his age in the daylight. Just a couple of books ago he was still shifting back to animal form when his brother threw meat at him because he couldn’t control it. Is she pulling a Vane/Fury on us?

But now that I’ve done the basking and the wondering I’m going to do what was recommended in a recent workshop. I’m going to dissect this and figure out how she does it. Or that’s the theory anyway. How does she create pacing that keeps you turning the pages at 2am? How does she manipulate the plot so as to keep you hooked and sucked in for book after book after book?How does she create her characters so realistically and yet perfectly that you want to knock down the heroine and take him for yourself? (I’m telling you, Vane’s mate would be in serious trouble if he was corporeal. Zarek’s is a goddess and even I’m not that stupid.)

If I figure it out, I’ll let ya know.

Now an excerpt from a little Were story. Measure of Healing is available through Cerridwen Press.

“Now,” [Brie] turned from him, walked up to the wall just outside the boy’s room and placed her hand on it. “If you’re here to help, here’s the first thing you can do for me.” She turned to look at him.

“What?” she seemed to have completely abandoned the antagonistic posture of just moments ago. Her mouth was actually turned up at one corner in what was almost a grin. He moved over to where she stood. He saw a rectangular shape drawn on the wall in pencil.

“I need a two way mirror here,” she pointed to the drawing.

“I don’t have my tools with me,” he shook his head puzzled, “I left everything in my father’s workshop.”

It was her turn to look confused. He explained. “Unless you have the equipment we’re stuck. Besides, I’m not sure the kid would appreciate us remodeling around him.”

She laughed. “Cougar, I wasn’t asking you to install a two way mirror, I was asking you to create one. You know? Magic?”

So she knew about the magic. Very few of the gifted humans knew that any of the Weres could wield magic. It was one of the rules of the council. They weren’t to perform magic before humans. Rules were broken all the time but this was one the Cougars were hesitant to break. In the back of his people’s minds lived the fear that some day the council would find a way and a reason to take the magic away from those Weres who had refused to relinquish it. It would lead to war as the Cougars would not let it go easily. So far their Domini had clung to the right for all Weres, insisting that those who turned their backs on the magic were fools. The current Dominus had told the council to go to hell when they suggested the Cougars cut back on the reliance of their people on the powers they had brought with them into the human world.

“Right.” Alejandro ran his hand through his hair and shook his head He pressed his hand to the wall and focused. Slowly he drew the outline of the area with one finger. As his hand moved a trail of silver lay in its wake. Once the outline was completed, he placed his hand in the center of the box and the interior changed. It was now transparent and he could see the room on the other side. The boy slept quietly in his box.

“Thank you,” Brie gave him a soft smile. “This will make it easier.” She turned away from him and walked to the end of the hall. “Why don’t I show you were you’ll sleep, then we can find you something to eat.”

He nodded. He was starving and exhausted. He’d had little time before her arrival that evening. Just enough to throw some things in a bag, gulp down a bit of dinner and be ready. He’d had to spend most of the day at his father’s office dealing with one of the more unsavory construction companies his father was forced to sub-contract with by the economic conditions.

The Ramirez family was in demand for their work on hardwood flooring and custom cabinetry. Given the nocturnal nature of his animal side, he usually spent the bulk of his days sleeping and late afternoons and nights in the workshop making the cabinets, railings and scrollwork that was ordered. He still worried that his brothers would have trouble keeping up with the orders. Eddie had promised to help but he had a job now that took him away from the family and the last thing Alejandro wanted was for his father, at seventy-two, to have to try and pick up the slack. His two oldest nephews were showing an interest in the business and were earning money for the college years that were fast approaching by working part-time but the family agreed their schoolwork came first.

He followed her down the hall. She entered a large room with a king sized bed, a dresser, night stand and large wardrobe. The furniture was a dark mahogany that matched the wooden trim running along the ceiling and floor. A wooden chair rail circled the room separating a plum striped wallpaper on the bottom and a pale mauve paint above. The wood had been laid in alternating strips of mahogany and cherry. He ran the palm of his hand over the door jam and the nearest section of the chair rail. Someone had known what they were doing. She crossed to the wardrobe and pulled out a small stack of clothes from a drawer that she left open. He half watched her as she moved to the closet and pulled out a blanket and pillow. He walked further into the room, running his hand along the wall. Then he moved toward the bed and his palm stroked the wood.

“Stop that!” she said sharply.

Alejandro’s eyes widened in surprise. She was glaring at him with a peeved expression. “What?” he demanded.

“Stop scent marking my house. You rubbed against the wall in the boy’s room, now you’re marking this one. I swear if you spray something I’ll neuter you myself.” She stomped out of the room.

He looked up at his hand where it still lay against the wooden post of the bed. And he laughed. He hadn’t realized he’d been doing it. He’d rubbed his back on the wall in the boy’s room on purpose. He wanted Tomás to know he was there. But he’d been rubbing his palm along the surfaces of this room, her room, absently. The palm of his hand where, like the pads of the cougar’s feet and along his spine, he had oil glands that left his mark upon what he touched. His amusement faded slightly as he began to wonder at just how much about him and his kind his little doctor seemed to know. He left the room and followed his nose to find her. She was making up a bed in a smaller room. It was so small it fit only the single bed and a narrow dresser.

She looked up at him, still irritated. “What have you got in that thing?”

He frowned, “What thing?”

She stood up from smoothing the blanket and pointed at his bag where it hung from his shoulder. “What, you keep all your cash in there? The secret map to a treasure chest heaping with gold? Why are you still carrying it? What’s in there that’s so special?”

He lifted an eyebrow at the sudden return of animosity and sat it down on the floor inside the door. “Nothing special, just your basics.”

She walked passed him, picked up the bag and headed down the hall. “Hey,” he went after her, “that is mine you know.”

“Cats,” she muttered under her breath. Reaching the larger room she placed it on the bed. “Then you’ll probably want it in your room.”

Realizing what was happening, he shook his head. “No, thanks little doctor but I’m fine in the other room.”

She smiled at him with a wicked light in her eyes that set him on edge. “You don’t think I’m sacrificing a good night’s sleep for you, do you?”

“No. Now why would I think that? You’re only trying to give me the bigger room, your room.” Alejandro gestured with his hand. “You’re sleeping in here. I’ll take the other room.”

Her eyes narrowed. Brie was well aware it wasn’t exactly nice of her to deliberately confuse the poor man but all things considered it was damned satisfying. “I thought you said you were going to cooperate with me?”

“I said I wouldn’t interfere in your treatment of Tomás.”

“Well, that’s exactly what you’re doing.” Her hands rested on her hips. “I need to be in that other room. It’s closer to him, it has a vent between the two rooms that will allow me to hear him, allow him to hear me and allow my scent to reach him even when I’m not in the room.” She moved to the door. “So be a good boy and sleep where you’re told. I’ll get the rest of my things moved in the morning.” Pausing she looked back over her shoulder. “Meet me in the kitchen when you’re done. I’m going to put something on for dinner. Hope you don’t mind but I’m a strict vegetarian.” She flashed him a wicked “you’re so screwed,” grin and left.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Some Days Are Like That...

This was not a good day. In fact, it was one of those days when very little good occurred.

The day started off badly at lunch. We went to a restaurant that we occasionally frequent. It was not our first time there. In fact we go about once a month. And yes, I'm going to call them out by name. Provinos in Kennesaw, Georgia. The food that was ordered came out badly. As the name would suggest it is an Italian restaurant. The dish that was served to me had burnt cheese on top and the "lasagna" that was supposed to be part of the combination amounted to three half noodles and some tomato sauce. It took 15 minutes for us to get the attention of our server, one who had waited on us before. She had a large party and us in her room. I finally had to go have someone track her down for us.

When I asked her to remove the dish, uneaten, she did so. The "proprietor", as he was later identified to us, came over to the table and asked about the issue. I explained the problem and he rather snottily says "No one else has had a problem, just you." He then, very put out, asks if he can bring me something else. I told him that fifteen-twenty minutes ago when the problem was first notice, perhaps, but not now as my SO had finished eating and we were ready to leave. He then says that the server is a sweetheart who has been with him from the beginning.

Now the only complaint I had against the server was the fact that I spent the extended period of time waiting for her to reenter the room so I could flag her down and eventually had to go ask someone to find her. As the "proprietor" walked away he nastily says, "I'll be sure to reprimand her."

My response across the room was, "And you'll be a smart-ass while you do it too, I'm sure."

Ultimately you would have expected the dish to have been removed from our bill, right? No. It wasn't. I informed the server who he sent back in to deal with us and the bill that he, not her, had just lost them two semi-regular customers as we won't be back and we will make sure to tell everyone we know about how we were treated. So, I'd suggest everyone else try the Olive Garden across the street.

But the day was not over.

Have you ever wondered what happens when there is a severe weather warning while you are in a large department store? Unfortunately today I found out. Now, where I grew up, if the civil defense siren went off it meant there was a tornado coming and you had a matter of seconds-minutes to get to safety. Where I live now the blow the blasted thing for any type of weather "emergency".

It has been a rainy day. The rain was actually so heavy that we could hear it from inside, pounding down on the roof of our local WalMart. And while we were shopping at Wally-World the sirens went off. Mind you they did this just after I'd finally convinced the SO that you actually needed to try on clothes before you bought them so I don't have to make return trips and exchange them. So while my dearest was in the dressing room....Sirens!

Okay, that part was funny.

The announcement came over the intercom that there was a severe thunderstorm warning. No duh! We've been listening to the severe thunderstorm boom thunder and pour rain, while watching the lights flicker. So what is the response? The customers are rounded up along with the staff and asked to crowd around the fitting rooms. I looked at my SO in shock. They must be kidding. They weren't. Finally, the warning was downgraded to a watch and we were allowed to resume our shopping.

Our natural response after such a run of rotten luck was to seek out that Mecca of peace and revitalization known as the book store. My SO had just learned about the must read "Ghost Hunting" by the tv guys. That's okay. While hanging out in the paranormal section I ran across an encyclopedia of werewolves. Guess what went in my half of the shopping basket?

And on a completely unrelated topic.

I don't watch television. I don't have cable or satellite. My television operates only to play dvds.

Thanks to Blockbuster, I finally have gotten a chance to see the first three episodes of the first season of The Tudors. I love this time period in history. I adore it. I devour biographies of that time period and the Elizabethan era that followed. I’m not so much on the romanticized historical fiction set there, but the history fascinates me.

Well, the series is quite enjoyable if taken as fiction. At least they’ve gotten the names of the characters correct. I keep having to explain the historical inaccuracies to my SO who will tolerate this particular obsession and who has even agreed to go see The Other Boleyn Girl with me later this month. (I suspect this has more to do with Natalie Portman than an interest in the film itself.) But with some suspended disbelief it is quite interesting.

There is just one troubling point…I really doubt that everyone walked around naked or half naked at King Henry VIII’s court. Good heavens I know Henry was a lusty fellow but I doubt the women of his court ran about naked to this degree. Of course I know there are those who would not complain if Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Henry Cavill ran about naked a bit more.

You must admit, sometimes fiction beats the hell out of history…

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Five You Shouldn't Miss

I've been reading a lot of really great books lately. Elyssa is the Review editor for an online magazine known as eMuse and I get to go along for the ride. It's wonderful to get to read so many terrific books even if I don't always get to do the reviews for them. (It's a bit of a conflict of interest since so many are Ellora's Cave and Cerridwen Press books.)

But on my blog I get to say what I want and be as biased toward anyone I feel like. Even my fellow froggies. Yes I said froggies. If you frequent Anny Cook or Amarinda Jones' blogs you'll know our editor maintains a group for her writers called the frogpond, and we are her froggies.

So now, the best, last, five books I've read. Some are EC/CP, some aren't. Some are ebooks, some aren't.

Playing to Win by Shelley Munro
Cerridwen Press

Kate Alexander's world is set spinning when professional rugby player Lance Gerrard shows up at her door demanding to know why she has sold a story to the local paper claiming he was the father of her son. Only Kate didn't tell the story. In fact, Kate doesn't know who Jamie's father was. But one look at the boy convinces Lance his definitely a Gerrard. While the two try to unravel the truth of Jamie's past, a stalker set's their sites on eliminating Kate.

Ronan's Grail by Bronwyn Green
Ellora's Cave

Ronan, knight in the service of King Arthur, bastard son of Lancelot of the Lake, finds himself thrust into the future by Merlin's magic with the imperative: Find the grail. His search takes him to the time and place of Morgan Foster. A impulsive act of body art has Ronan convinced she is the Grail. This very hot tale of a clash of cultures and a passion that is more powerful than any magic dreamed of hinges on the ability of love to overcome time.

Winter's Daughter by JC Wilder
Samhain Publishing

Synnamon Angelov lost everything the night her mother was killed. The police cover up denied her justice and scattered the Angelov children like the wind. Twenty years later Syn has come home to demand justice and to reclaim the family's home and the magic contained there. Police Chief Matthew Whitefeather knew little about the old story of Syn's family and believed even less until her arrival creates massive upheaval in his quiet little town. Once he hears her story, his honor won't let him rest until he redeems his department. And helping the beautiful woman may be his goal, but his desire is to have her in his arms.

Nightwalkers: Jacob by Jacquelyn Frank

I came late to this series. I kept picking it up and putting it down and was reluctant because it seemed like the same old thing. Another paranormal hunter. Woohoo. But I was wrong.

Jacob is the Enforcer for his people. It's his job to protect humans from those among his race that would prey upon them. Touching humans, interacting with humans was prohibited. Mating with one was forbidden and called down the wrath of the Enforcer and a punishment so terrible that centuries could not erase it. And Jacob was perfect. Never had he been tempted. Until now. Until Isabella. When he reacts instinctively and saves her life, the simple touch between them sets off a fire storm that will sweep through his people and rip away all that they thought they knew about themselves.

Chrysanthemum by Anny Cook
Ellora's Cave

Imagine the story of King Arthur was nothing like you thought. Imagine that instead of dying, he was actually kidnapped and taken back to his home planet of Came-a-lot. (Yep, I spelled that right.) And the whole story had been cleaned up and stripped of all its erotic glory for the world he left behind. Now, while Arthur is way on his annual dragon and virgin roundup, his son Gareth has found his own virgin. And blast it all, if he- a royal- wants to marry her, she has to stay that way until the wedding night. Enter the dragon Percival who himself seeks a virgin. He captures Arthur and demands that Chrysanthemum, possibly the last virgin in all of Came-a-lot, as ransom. Now, sex and hilarity ensue as Gareth must save his father and his bride.

Up next on my list to read?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

More than one kind of Vampire

Eternally Yours Contest

“My darling I could spend eternity lost in your eyes.”

What could you spend an eternity doing? What is your passion? Your hunger? Your deepest desire?

Each day beginning February 5 and running through February 14 one of the ten authors will complete the line, "My darling I could spend eternity…" on either their blog or website. Collect all ten answers and e-mail them to with Eternally Yours in the subject line to win some hot, romantic books. There will be three lucky Valentine winners.

The prizes –
1st prize--5 books
2nd prize--3 books
3rd prize--2 books

Entries must be in by February 16 at midnight EST. All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.

Sandra Cox
Mona Risk
To Love a Hero
Brynn Paulin Tribute For the Goddess
Bronwyn Green Mystic Circle
Cindy Spencer Pape Stone and Earth
N.J. Walters Seduction of Shamus O’Rourke
Elyssa Edwards Mating Stone
Amarinda Jones Shades of Gray
Kelly Kirch Time for Love
Anny Cook Honeysuckle

Tonight’s Guy:

Occupation: You’re joking, right? Sexual vampire…walks through your dreams… get the picture?
Age: 110 (looks to be about 25-26)
Story: First appears in Mating Stone by Elyssa Edwards from Ellora’s Cave. Will also appear in Lovers’ Stone due in July ‘08 and his book is a current WIP that is not yet contracted.

Tarris is a unique being. He is an incubus, part of a race of sexual vampires who feed of the erotic energies of others. Found orphaned as a small child when simple happy feelings fed him, he was taken in by a Were who raised him along side his own sons. The boys grew closer than mere friends. Closer than simple brothers. When Tarris reached maturity and his body threatened to transform into the creature that terrifies and hunts women to the point of madness, his Bears closed ranks. A series of rules were divined to keep him from transforming. Rules he doesn’t dare break for fear of becoming the vile predator he despises. His Bears help him feed safely, sharing their partners with him. And more importantly they’ve sworn an oath that they will never allow him to turn.

Only now as he watches his Bears find mates of their own, something aches inside Tarris. Something he shouldn’t feel, shouldn’t want, haunts him. Born one of the soulless ones, he should never hunger for love, family, or that one person who would be his. But against all reason something inside him yearns for what his Bears have. Someone who is his and his alone. A mate. But the only way to find it just may be to break the very rules that protect him. The very rules that keep him safe. For if he turns, the two men who have been closest to him his entire life, just may be forced to keep their terrible promise.

Excerpt from Mating Stone:

“I suddenly feel as if I have a headache,” she admitted. “Suddenly I’m very sleepy.” Mark nodded curtly, opened the door and led her into a large bedroom with an enormous comfortable bed and a fire burning in the fireplace. Two armchairs faced a television set. An old kung-fu movie was playing and she was fairly sure the guy kicking major butt was Bruce Lee.

Her eyes widened as a man stood up and looked at them. Holy hell! Mark was gorgeous. She adored Mark. Mark made her toes curl and her insides melt. But this man was beyond anything she’d ever seen before. He was desire, he was sex.

His long blond hair hung almost to his waist, flowing loosely around his shoulders. It wasn’t a brash platinum blond but shone like polished gold in the reflected firelight. His eyes were the most blue she’d ever seen, they almost glowed. No one had eyes like that unless they were retouched by special effects experts. It must be a trick of the light, she decided.

He was inches taller than Mark and wore only a neat pair of black slacks. His feet and chest were bare. Sarah felt something very warm begin deep inside her as she looked at that chest. It was tanned and smooth. The way the flicker firelight cast shadows highlighted the definition of the abs and tempted Sarah. The sharply etched muscles seemed to demand she trace them. With hands, lips, tongue, whatever was handy. He didn’t speak but watched her for a minute before smiling. Her body reacted to that smile shamelessly. He broke eye contact and shifted his gaze to Mark.

Sara drew in a sharp breath. What is wrong with you? Mark is standing right behind you and you’re ogling some strange guy. She groaned inwardly. You’re ogling his friend, a guy he called more than a brother.

Mark’s hands came up to rest on her shoulders. She turned to steal a glance at him and saw him smiling down at her. “It’s okay Sarah. Tarris often has that effect on people, men and women. He’s one of the most beautiful beings you’ll ever see.”

She flushed bright red and covered her face with her hands. Mark’s voice came from close to her ear. “He says you are beautiful too.”

Looking up she saw the smile had widened on Tarris’ face. He nodded his agreement with Mark’s words. “But you didn’t speak.” Sarah frowned.

Tarris shook his head, his lips parting to show her straight white teeth. A shiver ran through her and sank deep into the pit of her stomach.

Mark stepped around her. He grabbed his friend in a firm embrace and the two exchanged the manliest hug Sarah had ever seen. Arm still draped around Tarris, Mark turned to her. “Tarris doesn’t speak like you or I.”

“You’re mute?” she asked and he nodded in reply. “But you can hear?”

Tarris nodded again.

“Do you use sign language?” Sarah had learned a bit of finger spelling at summer camp.

The long hair caught the firelight and shimmered as the handsome head shook, the blue eyes crinkling with amusement.

“Don’t worry, he gets his point across,” Mark said wryly, tightening his arm around his friend’s shoulders. A silent laugh shook the blond man’s shoulders. Mark turned to him. “Sarah’s head is feeling funny.” The tone of his voice was as odd as the look he gave his friend. The blue eyes opened wide as if in innocent surprise but his grin twisted up his face revealing a single dimpled cheek. “Right,” Mark said. “Sarah, why don’t you lie down. Tarris and I will have a little talk while you rest.”

“Mark it’s okay, My head will be fine.”

Tarris looked at her intently and gestured toward the bed. She didn’t need Mark to interpret. He too thought she should lie down.

“I can’t just take a nap,” she reasoned with them. “In the middle of your family’s party.”

“Sarah this “party” will go on for hours. No one will notice. Lie down, my love and rest.”

I don’t…” She was halted by Tarris coming toward her quickly. He reached out and touched her hand. The world swayed and she found herself being swept up into two strong arms. The scent of his skin swirled in her head. He smelt overwhelmingly masculine. An indistinct combination of sandalwood, odd spices, a burning fire and the musky smell of a man’s neck as a woman curled her face into it in the afterglow of hot, passionate sex.

“Show off,” Mark snorted from where he’d already taken a seat in one of the chairs. “It’s probably the heat of the room, Sarah. Tarzan here thinks it should feel like Miami in August. Thankfully it’s winter or he’d be wearing even less.” Tarris smiled down at her gently and shook his head. His expression was playful and said clearly that Mark was positively silly and was not to be believed. He laid her carefully on the bed and slipped off her shoes before pulling a soft blanket from the foot of the bed over her. A charming curve to his lips, he reached out to brush a strand of hair from her forehead. His touch corresponded inexplicably with the thickening of the fogginess in her brain and her eyes felt heavy.

“Sweet dreams, Sarah-mine,” Mark’s voice sounded far away as she drifted off to sleep.
(Sorry, I don't know who the guys are used for Tarris. Just pretties.)

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Eyes Have It.

Eternally Yours Contest

What could you spend an eternity doing? What is your passion? Your hunger? Your deepest desire?

Each day beginning February 5 and running through February 14 one of the ten authors will complete the line, "My darling I could spend eternity…" on either their blog or website. Collect all ten answers and e-mail them to with Eternally Yours in the subject line to win some hot, romantic books. There will be three lucky Valentine winners.

The prizes –

1st prize--5 books
2nd prize--3 books
3rd prize--2 books

Entries must be in by February 16 at midnight EST. All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.

Sandra Cox
Mona Risk
To Love a Hero
Brynn Paulin Tribute For the Goddess
Bronwyn Green Mystic Circle
Cindy Spencer Pape Stone and Earth
N.J. Walters Seduction of Shamus O’Rourke
Elyssa Edwards Mating Stone
Amarinda Jones Shades of Gray
Kelly Kirch Time for Love
Anny Cook Honeysuckle

Today's Meandering Thoughts:

Whenever they do one of those romance/sex surveys men and women often say the first thing they notice about someone is their eyes. I don't necessarily buy that it's the first thing that people notice, but I do believe it's in the top 5, maybe even the top 3. Eyes are important.

We communicate so much with our eyes that we don't say with our words. Mothers can usually see in a child's eyes when they are sick, worrried, afraid or even lying. Eyes are a crucial part of smiling. The broadest display of teeth and curled lips in the world falls flat if the smile doesn't reach the eyes.

And with the one you love, eyes are such important ways of communicating. A look from a lover can tell you they need a bit of coddling, it can tell you they are ready to share a laugh, it can tell you they want more for desert than the chocolate cake you just served up. The best moment of all is when a lover looks deep into your eyes and says:

"My darling I could spend eternity lost in your eyes."

Tonight's Guy:

Tonight's hero is special. Not only because he was able to see beyond what the world saw but because in writing him (which means living for several months with him wandering around my brain) I fell in love with him. I adore all my guys, but James is the one who stole my heart.

James Edwards
Occupation: Surgical Nurse/sometime musician
Story: Access Denied by Jacqueline Roth from Cerridwen Press

James is not a happy person. One of a select few human beings chosen to survive a planetary disaster that wiped out all life on the Earth's surface. When the selection process began he tried to put the tragedy that scarred his soul behind him and begin again. Only once he finds himself inside Sanctuary, that new life falls apart. Now more angry and hurt than ever before, James is withdrawn from the world around him. His rage and pain eat away a little more every day, but to James' thinking it's not killing him fast enough.

Trapped in Sanctuary's family planning program which seeks to pair up single residents to form strong family units, James is forced to spend consecutive three month trial periods with women the Committee choses for him. And he's seriously pissed off. But inside this caustic and rude exterior is a man who has a keen love of family. When he gives himself to someone, it is all of himself. Without reservation.

Excerpt from Access Denied:

He knew she had left the room. He couldn’t feel her there anymore and the soft smell of her was fading. He ran his hand through his hair and a low groaning growl emerged from his throat. He should come with a warning label. There should be a stamp on his forehead warning everyone that if they tried to be kind to him, got anywhere near him, he was bound to screw up and hurt them. Or get them killed.

What had he just done? How had he let that happen? One minute he’s holding a picture of his dead wife and weeping for her like a lost child and the next he’s holding Leah and wanting nothing more than to hear her whisper that she wanted him. That she cared for him. That she didn’t hate him for what he had done. For the way he had failed at everything that mattered in his life.

But that was it, wasn’t it. He failed at everything and even sweet Leah couldn’t change that fact. He couldn’t even manage to be her friend without doing something stupid to ruin it. He dropped onto the edge of his bed and buried his face in his hands, elbows resting on his knees. A sick feeling of premonition swept through him. He had seven weeks left with her. She was trapped with him for seven more weeks. That was plenty of time for him to manage to completely ruin any chance she’d even want to remember his name once this was over. No, by the time he was done screwing up, even Leah would bolt and run without a backward glance.

James stood up and flipped the light off. He pulled off his shirt and pants and dropped them in the laundry chute. They would be back in forty-eight hours, delivered while he was still at work. He took a pair of pajama bottoms from the drawer and pulled them on, tightening the drawstring waist. No fancy closures here, just simple comfort and a barcode label sewn into them identifying the owner. He’d not bothered with clothes for bed before Leah but had decided before she even arrived he didn’t want to forget and find himself nude and meeting her coming back from the kitchen in the middle of the night.

He stretched out on the bed and pulled the blanket up over one shoulder as he faced the wall. Tomorrow was going to turn out to be a damned difficult and uncomfortable day. Not only did he have to face Leah again but tomorrow night he would be up to his ears in her friends at a noisy club, celebrating her birthday. And after tonight’s performance, he was fairly certain he was going to be the last person she wanted to celebrate with.

He had kissed her and she had fled. If he had ever doubted the sincerity with which she had addressed him those first days, he doubted no more. She didn’t want him. That’s fine, he heard the part of him he was learning to hate scoff. Come on, you don’t want her anyway. How many times have you told her that? This is Leah. Fine, she’s nice and all but damn, you can do better.

James lay there staring at wall letting the thought turn over in his mind. “No,” he finally whispered quietly to the empty room, “but she can.” The light brown eyes closed and when he eventually did drift off to sleep, the last thought that occupied his mind was the way she had felt pressed to him. He had never imagined her body would feel the way it did against him. Nor had he ever imagined the reaction it tore from his. That body, his reaction and a pair of green eyes followed him into his dreams.

(Gerard Butler is standing in for James not because I saw him in the part when I was originally writing this, but because that lovely voice of his and his scruffy appearance just seemed right in retrospect. Sorry no bare chested shots, but there don't seem to be any of this guy that aren't the screaming 300 mode.)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Seeing Double

First the Contest and it's a great one.

Wanna Win Free Books?

Eternally Yours Contest

What could you spend an eternity doing? What is your passion? Your hunger? Your deepest desire?

Each day beginning February 5 and running through February 14 one of the ten authors will complete the line, "My darling I could spend eternity…" on either their blog or website. Collect all ten answers and e-mail them to with Eternally Yours in the subject line to win some hot, romantic books. There will be three lucky Valentine winners.

The prizes –

1st prize--5 books
2nd prize--3 books
3rd prize--2 books

Entries must be in by February 16 at midnight EST. All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.

Participating Authors:

Sandra Cox Silverhills
Mona Risk To Love a Hero
Brynn Paulin Tribute For the Goddess
Bronwyn Green Mystic Circle
Cindy Spencer Pape Stone and Earth
N.J. Walters Seduction of Shamus O’Rourke
Elyssa Edwards Mating Stone
Amarinda Jones Shades of Gray
Kelly Kirch Time for Love
Anny Cook Honeysuckle

Tonight's Guy:

Luke Ursine
Occupation: Has a degree in architecture, but spends his time rehabbing old homes.
Age: 154 (looks 28-29)
Story: Appears first in Mating Stone by Elyssa Edwards from Ellora’s Cave. His own story is told in Lovers’ Stone to be released in July ’08.

His own brother refers to him as Lucas “screw the whole world and everyone in it” Ursine. And for a good many years that’s been the side of him the world, especially his twin brother Mark and his clan, have seen. The breach between the twins goes back decades and is wrapped inextricably around a family tragedy that claimed the lives of the two people who meant the most to them both. Luke can’t forgive Mark for his part in what happened, but he has never forgiven himself either.

Intelligent and wicked, Luke delights in rubbing people the wrong way. The only person left in his world he’ll listen to is his aging human grandmother, Giselle. He still does exactly what he wants, but he’d do almost anything to keep from upsetting her. Anything but let Mark challenge their grandfather for power. Anything but let Mark ascend to the role of Amar of the clan. Not even his respect for Giselle will stop him if Mark tries to take power.

Excerpt from Mating Stone:

Her heart was fluttering and she willed her overly vivid imagination to stop before it got carried away imagining all sorts of bizarre scenarios. “What is going on here? Why did you lock that door?”

The brown eyes rolled and he gave an amused snort. “Woman believe me, this is where you want to be right now.”

“Why? What’s happening out there?”

Luke closed his eyes, boredom pouring from him. “Don’t play stupid with me. You know what’s happening.”

“I’m sorry but I don’t,” the fear was growing and starting to fuel a flame of anger. “What is Mark doing and why do I need you to protect me?” Her heart was pounding so hard she could hear it thud, especially when her own ears heard just how frightened she sounded.

One eye opened and looked at her. Luke sat up, swinging his long legs back to the floor and stared at her as if she had a puzzle written across her face. “It’s not possible,” he muttered softly. “Mark isn’t this stupid.”

“What are you talking about?” she demanded.

Luke stood and began to pace the room. He paused, “She’s wearing the pendant. He has to have told her. He wouldn’t hide this from his mate.” Luke shook his head slowly, “Would he?” he seemed to be talking to himself so she stood silently watching him as he began to pace again. After several minutes he stopped at the far end of the room and turned to look straight at her. Faster than she had ever seen anyone move, he closed the distance between them, grasped her left hand and turned it palm up. The oath he uttered was loud and coarse.

She tried to control the tremble of fear that was making her knees weak and shaky. She bit down to keep her lip from quivering noticeably. Luke stared into her eyes for a long moment. “You really don’t know what’s happening, do you?” The awe in his voice gave way to a flash of fury as he thrust her hand away and dropped back down onto the sofa. “By all that’s holy, you really don’t know.” Sarah watched him shake his head. “Oh my brother, you’re not only a fool, you’re an unmitigated ass to boot.”

“Mark isn’t a fool or an ass.”

She was rewarded by a derisive snort of angry mirth. “Little Sarah you have no idea who or what my brother is or you’d already have run away screaming.”

The remark made no sense and she decided he was trying to confuse and frighten her. “So now that we’ve decided I don’t know, would you please answer my question? What is happening out there? What is Mark doing?”

The anger seemed to vanish as if he squelched it deliberately. The lazy smile was back.
“What’s he doing out there? Being the noble, idiotic, idealistic fool he has always been.”
Sarah felt her jaw clench. He was the most infuriating man. He was deliberately wicked and argumentative not to mention he seemed to have mood swings that made any woman’s PMS seem tame. No wonder Mark disliked him. He shook his head in disbelief at his own thoughts and muttered so softly she almost missed the words, “Giving it up and he hasn’t even mated to her, hasn’t told her…”

He wanted to be difficult, she could be difficult to. She’d keep at it until he answered. “All I’m asking for is a straight answer. There’s something you think I should know but don’t. What don’t I know?”

“More than you can imagine.” Sarah gave a high pitched grunt of frustration. A soft chuckle escaped the man’s throat and he held his hands up in concession. “Okay, little Sarah, you win. I’m going to answer your questions but don’t blame me if you don’t like what you hear…”

(Christian Bale is also used for Luke, since he and Mark are twins, in honor of my friend Llew who thinks he makes a perfect Luke.)

Saturday, February 9, 2008


Eternally Yours Contest

What could you spend an eternity doing? What is your passion? Your hunger? Your deepest desire?

Each day beginning February 5 and running through February 14 one of the ten authors will complete the line, "My darling I could spend eternity…" on either their blog or website. Collect all ten answers and e-mail them to with Eternally Yours in the subject line to win some hot, romantic books. There will be three lucky Valentine winners.

The prizes –
1st prize--5 books
2nd prize--3 books
3rd prize--2 books

Entries must be in by February 16 at midnight EST. All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.

Sandra Cox Silverhills
Mona Risk To Love a Hero
Brynn Paulin Tribute For the Goddess
Bronwyn Green Mystic Circle
Cindy Spencer Pape Stone and Earth
N.J. Walters Seduction of Shamus O’Rourke
Elyssa Edwards Mating Stone
Amarinda Jones Shades of Gray
Kelly Kirch Time for Love
Anny Cook Honeysuckle

Friday, February 8, 2008

Mating Stone release day!

The day is finally here. My first book for Ellora's Cave is now available. Mating Stone is part of the Jewels of the Nile series and as a February release should, focuses around an amethyst.

Sarah has found the perfect man and best of all, he loves her deeply. Before introducing her to his family he proposes and presents her with an amethyst pendant, a stone she doesn't realize is more than symbolic. When his brother reveals Mark's secret, Sarah must decide if she loves him enough to accept him even if he's not exactly human. And Mark must decide how far he'll go, how much he'll give up to claim Sarah as his mate. Is he willing to abandon his birthright? Is he willing to kill his own brother to keep it and Sarah?

This story is the first in a series of stories that follow the men introduced within its pages. Mark Ursine, eldest and the heir apparent. Luke Ursine, younger brother and twin to Mark. Past tragedies have turned sibling rivalry into hate but standing between the two Weres is Tarris. An orphaned incubus, he was taken in by their father and raised among the shape shifters. Only he seems to be able to bridge the gap between them, or at least prevent all out war.

Tonight's Guy:

Mark Ursine
Profession: That's a long story.
Age: 154 (looks about 28-29)
Story: Mating Stone by Elyssa Edwards from Ellora's Cave.

Mark is part of a race of shape shifters that found their way to our world before humans had mastered the use of fire. Respectful of the sentient creatures they believed had great potential, the shifters kept to themselves so as not to intefere with their evolution. When disaster collapsed the energy source that allowed them to remain in phase with our world, they tied their spirits to those of animals so that they could survive and remain. Mark is decended from a group that chose to unite with the bear. They do not choose which species of bear they become, that is determined by birth and largely influenced by family bloodlines.

Mark becomes the great brown bear, also known as the Kodiak. When tragedy, his guilt and his brother's blame drove him to distance himself from his family, he didn't realize his time in the human world would introduce him to the one person above all that he could love with his heart and soul. As the oldest it is he who must replace his grandfather as Amar, the leader of their clan. But will his brother Luke allow him to succeed without a challenge? Will his people accept his choice of mate? And once Sarah finds out what he is, will she still want him?


God she’d missed him.

Mark rose from between her thighs licking his lips wickedly and smiling in a very smug, self-satisfied way. And with damn good reason. He kissed her and helped her slip down off the sideboard before holding her against his chest. “So passionate, my love.”

Passionate was not a word anyone had used to describe Sarah in the past. But with Mark it was true and even she knew it. She moved her hand down to stroke him. He was hard and ready for her and she was shocked when he grabbed her hand and stilled her movements.

“My family will be waiting,” he said softly. This was the second reason for splurging on the green dress. Tonight she’d meet Mark’s family. She had to admit this was moving very fast yet it seemed right. So exactly right. He kissed her again and smiled into her face. “After tonight, we will have all the time in the world.”

She readjusted the bodice of her dress as he lifted her panties from the floor and knelt. He held them out for her as she stepped back into them. He kissed her again as he slid the fabric almost reluctantly back up over her hips. She tried to smooth down the skirt of her dress, just certain it was wrinkled beyond help.

He caught her chin and tilted her head up. “You look beautiful. But before we go, there is something I want to give you,” Mark smoothed his hands over her hair and tucked the wayward strand behind an ear. Sarah couldn’t help but smile. He stepped back slightly and closed the last buttons on his shirt and quickly tied his tie. He brushed at his jacket and drew in a deep breath. Looking even more incredible than before, he reached into the pocket of his jacket and pulled out a large, flat, dark blue box. Sarah’s eyes widened. Mark was always giving her little things, whether they’d been apart minutes, hours or not at all but that was a jeweler’s box and it looked more than a bit expensive.

He put the box in her hands and gestured for her to open it. When she did, her jaw dropped. Lying on a bed of black velvet was a large amethyst. The stone was simply set and hung from a delicate box chain. She looked up at Mark. “Mark, this is…”

He cut her off. “A gift, Sarah.” Something about his voice was thick and odd. “It is something I want you to have, something I hope you will accept,” his eyes gazed deep into hers. “Darling, my family…our traditions are different from most. A lot about us is different from what you’re used to. We don’t give rings, my love. When a man in my family asks a woman to join her life to his, he gives her a stone like this, her birthstone. And this stone,” he drew in a deep breath, “this is my promise to you. My pledge, Sarah-mine.”

“Mark, are you saying… Are you asking…” she couldn’t finish the sentence. Was he asking her to marry him?

“It can’t be a surprise to you that I love you, Sarah. I know that you feel strongly for me. I can see it in your eyes when you look at me, feel it in your touch. I want you to be mine, to be my wife, my partner, my mate. I want you by my side, my love. This is what I had to go away to do, I had to find the stone and have it set for you.” He caressed her cheek softly.

“This is so fast,” she murmured. She wanted to scream yes with all that was in her but it was so fast. And Sarah never did anything fast. Her whole life had been about slow and easy. The word impulsive just wasn’t in her vocabulary. Not until she’d met Mark.


“Sarah, I know this is fast for you. I know that you… Sarah for me this is much simpler. I know exactly what I want and I know it will never change. But I want you to be sure. I don’t want you to answer me yet. It’s not fair to ask you to make up your mind when you haven’t even met my family. I only want you to think about it and I wanted to give you this so there is no question in your mind or anyone else’s where we stand. I want you and my family to know I am yours and you are mine. No gray areas.”

She looked up at him. She loved him. She really did love him and for some stupid reason, not a part of her believed he didn’t love her. She wanted to marry him. She wanted to raise a family with him, grow old with him. She wanted every silly romantic cliché and she wanted it with Mark. She swallowed hard before speaking. “But doesn’t my not answering you leave a lot of gray area?”

“You’ve answered.” He kissed her softly on the lips and then on the forehead. “With your eyes, Sarah-mine you’ve answered.” He smiled down at her. “But I want to give you the option to change your mind once you’ve seen the true level of insanity that spawned me.”

“Everyone thinks their family is weird, Mark,” she reassured him.

“Mine isn’t weird, Sarah. They’re… well, you’ll see.”

(Christian Bale is being used for Mark in honor of my friend and constant supporter Llew. He's not exactly my Mark, but pretty damned close.)

It's contest time!

Eternally Yours Contest

What could you spend an eternity doing? What is your passion? Your hunger? Your deepest desire?

Each day beginning February 5 and running through February 14 one of the ten authors will complete the line, "My darling I could spend eternity…" on either their blog or website. Collect all ten answers and e-mail them to with Eternally Yours in the subject line to win some hot, romantic books. There will be three lucky Valentine winners.

The prizes –

1st prize--5 books
2nd prize--3 books
3rd prize--2 books

Entries must be in by February 16 at midnight EST. All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.

So, who has it today? Sorry, not me. Keep looking.

Sandra Cox Silverhills
Mona Risk To Love a Hero
Brynn Paulin Tribute For the Goddess
Bronwyn Green Mystic Circle
Cindy Spencer Pape Stone and Earth
N.J. Walters Seduction of Shamus O’Rourke
Elyssa Edwards Mating Stone
Amarinda Jones Shades of Gray
Kelly Kirch Time for Love
Anny Cook Honeysuckle

And finally, I have to take a moment to do a little girl squeeee. I'm attending a writing workshop this weekend. This post is being made by courtesy of in room Wi-Fi.

See I grew up without money. We had a lot of times we went without food, running water, electricity, heat and clothes. It sucked. Today when I checked into my hotel room it was the most amazing thing. This is a moderate scale hotel. It's a Hilton. All I can say is when I saw the clean room, big bed, cool furnishings, etc. I felt like I was a little girl. All I could do for several minutes was walk around grinning and saying, "Cool."

Nerd moment over...or at least the part I'm sharing is.