Friday, April 29, 2011

Welcome to Belinda McBride

Please welcome today's Friday Friend, Belinda McBride. Belinda writes erotic romance in multiple genres and themes, including LGBT, M/F, SciFi, Paranormal and BDSM. Her publishers include Loose Id, Changeling Press, Passion in Print and Dreamspinner Press. She lives with her family in Northern California. When she’s not writing, she’s usually playing with her Siberian Huskies.

Where in the World…

So you’ve decided to write a science fiction romance. Or a fantasy…or paranormal. Whatever the case,you’re about to step into a world where the rules are about to change. More importantly, you’re about to make the rules. All by yourself…

World building can be a daunting undertaking, but there are a few simple tricks you can try to simplify the process. Whether you’re writing about a pod of vampires in New Hampshire or a reptilian alien society in outer space, you need to outline the basic rules of existence, not only of the culture and characters, but of the basic environment in which they live.

Some writers start with a map. They look at the big picture, creating continents, islands, sites and streets. From there, they move to culture and personality. While this sounds like overkill, environment can affect the personality and physical characteristics of a society. What do the people look like? Do they have physical features that differ from that of humans? What caused them to develop that way? That same question relates to the environment. If the sky is rainbow colored or flowers are true black, be prepared with an explanation. How does their world and environment affect their personalities as a species?

In the Belle Starr science fiction universe, I developed several alien species that were featured in minor roles in the story. Each species is the product of their society and world and a lot went into their creation. For example, the Somians are a sensual twin species. They are born in same sex pairs, grow up together, and in adulthood, mate another twin pair. Every twin pair is essentially one person split into two bodies. Somians are frequently sex workers and take pride in that profession. Their planet is lush and fragrant; they love beautiful colors, fabrics and delicious food. Since their culture is all about happiness, they have advanced studies in mental health beyond any other known species.

The Valorans are their polar opposite. The Valoran species comes from a dry, less tropical environment. The entire species are intersexed, but have fallen into a natural division of those who consider themselves male, and those who consider themselves female. They are prudish, not given to emotional display and specialize in sciences based in mathematics. There is a minority of the population who consider themselves gender neutral, and they suffer some discrimination from other Valorans.

Somians think that Valorans are in denial of their innate sensual and dual nature. Valorans think Somians are frivolous and foolish. When a Somian and a Valoran come together romantically…the results are intriguing!

As you can see, a lot of work went into developing two alien cultures that really don’t take center stage in the stories they appear in. But since they’re so well developed, they enhance any story they appear in.

Back to rules. Be careful if you decide to outline a set of rules for your culture. A popular author created a species that by nature could not produce homosexuality. She put those rules into writing in a glossary and locked herself in. Imagine how interesting it was when homoerotic elements began to emerge in her stories! So know your rules, and know how to break them.

It’s a big job, wrangling an entire universe. I generally keep a page open on my computer to take notes as I write. I jot down names, places, even sounds. All this gets transferred into a ‘bible’ for that universe. Since the Belle Starr and the Uncommon Whore series share a universe, they also share a bible. I make sure to note what character originated where, as some do cross over. There are also software programs that you can use to take notes and collect photos, music and videos that influence you in the creation of your world. You can also use an external method, such as white boards (which I use) and sticky notes.

So, are you ready? Or are you lost? Best of luck on your journey, and Happy Tails!

Coming May 2011 from Loose Id Publishing….
Three women. One night. Four Doms to rope them up, ride them hard, and brand their hearts. It's Western Night at Dark Haven.

Doms of Dark Haven: Western Night.
Authors: Belinda McBride, Cherise Sinclair & Sierra Cartwright

Holly ran; Tex and Hunter let her go. She left the safety of the mountains and the support of the pack. She left two men she was in love with. Now Holly has found herself and the men have found her…working as a Domme in San Francisco’s notorious Dark Haven. Before the night is over, someone’s going to submit.

Welcome to Dark Haven, and may all your darkest wishes come true.


She took to the shadows, searching for men who were taller, more beautiful, and more fundamentally alive than the others in the club.


She sensed that Kurt and Ethan were gone, but a tall, golden man sauntered into the room. Her eyes were drawn to Tex Texiera as though he were the sun. His walk was loose and confident, yet he was alert, scanning the crowd. He wore the sort of clothing that she’d frequently seen him in at home: boots and jeans and a cowboy hat. A battered leather vest was worn over his shirt, and a lariat hung from his hip. He carried a leather bag that looked suspiciously like hers. Tex looked comfortable in his skin. Comfortable in this environment.

She swallowed. Tex fit right in here at Dark Haven. She’d never suspected that he might be kinked. She chewed her lip, contemplating Tex topping a sub. In her imagination, the sub looked an awful lot like her. She shivered and continued to study her friend.

She knew his eyes were as blue as the sky against his sun-browned skin. She knew that when he smiled, a deep line would cut into the smooth skin of his cheek, and his smile would sparkle like the sun on water. She knew exactly how he smelled and even how he tasted. Her belly gripped, and for a moment, she gave herself to the arousal that washed through her.

A moment later, the second man entered and prowled toward the other side of the room. Hunter moved like a panther, smooth and sleek, not a motion wasted. Smiles were foreign to his face, though when they were young, he’d always had a smile just for her. Hunter was compassion and courage and justice all rolled into one single beautiful package. He was tragic and magnificent and heroic. He was as dark as Tex was bright, and when she saw the feral intensity on his face, she swallowed. He was hunting.

He’d caught her scent.

Holly went still, knowing that if she moved -- if she breathed -- he’d be on to her. As the men wove between tables and through the crowd, she moved in counterpoint, working her way toward the lobby. It wouldn’t be much longer before Hunter sorted her scent from the tangle of bodies and perfumes, particularly if he went downstairs, where she’d been running her scene. It seemed to take forever, but soon enough, she was able to slip into the darkness of the evening. She kicked off her secondhand boots and hid them and her bag behind a Dumpster in the back alley.

She paused, scenting the faint trail that Ethan and Kurt had taken as they left the club. There was a third scent with theirs, but she didn’t take time to identify it.

Holly jogged down the sidewalk and ducked into another alley, then peered around the corner to see if the men had managed to track her outside the club.

And then she leaned against the brick wall, threw her head back, and laughed in delight.

They’d finally come.

Many thanks for being with us today, Belinda.
You can meet Belinda at her website and blog:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Romance by the Book

I've always been a romance girl. Even back in the day when I was buried in Nancy Drew books, some of my favorite parts were when she and Ned were solving mysteries together. And I think I went right from Nancy Drew in grade school to Harlequin in high school. I'm sure there were some inbetween stories in my junior high years, but I really can't put my finger on what they might have been. I know I read Laura Ingalls Wilder, but that was earlier on, at the end of grade school. Maybe Judy Blume? There certainly wasn't anything out there like Twilight or Harry Potter.

All I know is I fell in love with romance in high school when I started reading Harlequin American Romances. Looking back, they really were quite racy for a high schooler, and it's probably a good thing my mom didn't develop a love for the genre until much later. I'm sure she wouldn't have approved of her teen-aged daughter reading such spicy stories. Because the Harlequin American Line wasn't a 'behind closed doors' kind of read. No, ma'am. Everything was done right there in front of my young, impressionable eyes.

The more I read, the more I decided I wanted to write "one of those" someday. And, now, thanks to The Wild Rose Press, that dream has come true. In the past four years I've published three full length novels, a free read, and just signed a contract for a Christmas novella with them. I have another full-length in the works.

So why romance? Probably because it's been with me for all these years. It's in my blood. A part of me. In fact it was only probably in the past six or seven years that I've branched out and started to read other things along with romance. But no matter what, romance will always be first and foremost in my heart. I do so love the Happily Ever After.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why do I write romance?

The short answer is – because I’ve always written romance. Well, almost always. My first stories were school, pony and theatre stories. I ‘graduated’ to romance when I was about thirteen. Very chaste romance to start with, I must admit. I still remember my first ‘romance’ story which was called ‘Blind Date’. My friends thought it was wonderful, of course.

I continued to write romance stories during my teens, just for myself and my friends, until three years at University diverted my writing efforts to essay and thesis writing.

Fast forward about three years – and I’m married and have a baby girl. I’ve given up teaching and my days are filled with ‘baby-talk’ and with meaningful discussions about potty-training and other scintillating baby-related subjects with other young mums.

In the evenings, I started writing romance again – pure escapism on my part. I was writing solely for myself as I began to revise and expand a story I’d written in my teens.  At the same time, I was also devouring Mills and Boon romances from the local library and eventually I decided my story was as good as (if not better!) than some of those I was reading. I bought a second-hand upright typewriter and laboriously typed out my handwritten story, then parcelled it up and sent it to Mills and Boon.

And it was accepted. How lucky was that? First book accepted by first publisher! It was due for release on the same day as my second daughter was due (she was early, the book came later) - somewhere, I have a photo of book and baby daughter lying together on a rug in the garden.  I can't find it, so here's the book cover instead, which I loved.

Three other novels followed, plus several short stories were published – all romances of course.

And now, after a long gap, necessitated by ‘real life’, I’ve come back to writing – and of course it’s romance again. Maybe it’s because I still believe in the HEA ending (even though I’m now divorced and - I hasten to add - happily single). Maybe it’s because I like falling in love with my heroes? Or maybe because it’s simply because I AM a romance writer. I didn’t choose the genre, it chose me.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My Contemporary Romance

Why do I write contemporary romance? Because that’s what most of the voices in my head are speaking. I know, I sound crazy (jury’s still out on that one), but I always have characters speaking or small scenes playing in my head. When they get loud enough and interesting enough for me to stop what I’m doing to listen, I write them down. Usually, the characters are modern day and the scenes are ones that I’d recognize as occurring now. I sit down at my computer and, if I’m lucky, the characters or scenes will inspire me to write a whole story. If not, I add them to my ideas file.

My ideas file is quite large at this point. I’ll admit, there are a few ideas in it that are not contemporary romance—I’m toying with female pirates and an immigrant story based on family lore—but those ideas scare me because they involve a lot of the unknown (and a lot of research, which, as I mentioned last week, is not my forte).

I’m in awe of those writers who can create completely different worlds and write paranormal or fantasy. My favorite author (Lynn Kurland) writes time travel romance. I’ve gone to a few seminars on world building and while I’m intrigued, I just don’t think it’s something I could create well enough to entertain someone. I can’t get past suspending my own disbelief long enough to enable my reader to do it. So for now, the voices in my head remain firmly planted in the present.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Why I Write Romance!

I love the sheer experience of eyes meeting eyes, reluctance to break eye contact, a second glance to be sure it a mutual pleasure, and response of flirty smile.

I love the social interaction that brings two people together, a fleeting handshake and sensual frisson of mutual interest displayed in close contact.

I love restricted momentary freedom from third party companionship, and dire need to instigate some reason for third party to move away: a request for refreshment, whatever.   

I love a hero of vocal intimation whom stirs the senses yet retains air of gentleman even if rogue at heart. Every nuance of this kind of man implies intent. He wears inkling of desire on his sleeve, while he ponders how long before the lady might surrender to first kiss, to first intimate caress and to the ultimate prize of satisfying his increasing lustful craving.

I love coquettish female chat, the leading of hero down path of no return from inflamed senses: the knowing how far to lead, and when to break off and to use social etiquette as excuse to leave the hero in wont of more contact.

I love a hero left in state of extreme frustration. No matter how badly he wants the heroine, to win the ultimate prize he’s going to have to work at it damn hard: cruel tease being the essence of female character motivation in attaining heart’s desire, sometimes vice versa, as above pic.

I love aroused passions within romance novels, and the road travelled by both hero and heroine as each dances to the tune of fate. Without obstacles and emotional bombshells to tear at heartstrings, where would need be for resolution to set their world on even keel for HEA?  

I love writing in romance sub-genre’ of contemporary, romantic thrillers and historical novels. Moral boundaries of some of the characters within my historical romances are at odds with some countries regarding 21st century law and age of consent. After all, a historical should reflect period in time. Girls of fifteen were often married in Tudor/Elizabethan times and, prior. By Charles I/Cromwell/Charles II era sixteen/seventeen seems to have been considered suitable age to be wed for well brought up young ladies in society. The same could not be said of the working classes who were put to work as young as 11yrs of age, sometimes younger.

I love writing sweet tender moments between couples, indulging them in steamy sex, sometimes risqué sex scenes develop, but at all times love and romance are key, the sensuality of it all driving the characters insane for each other. ;) 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

What genre?

I have not settled on a genre of romance, and being unpublished, a genre has not chosen me.
I like blends. I'm writing a past life timetravel. I've mothballed a historical western, and half-plotted a contemporary medical.
I write sensual stories. They're not sweet, not erotic.
I like history, psychology, and magic. I like learning (therefore teaching) things in a story. I like epic dramas and tight short stories.
I've heard once you sell, readers expect more of the same. Change genres under a different pen name. I don't expect the rules to change, but I'll cross that bridge once I'm published.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Welcome to Linda Banche

Our Friday Friend today introduces herself:

Welcome to My World of Historical Hilarity!

I'm Linda Banche, and I write sweet/sensual Regency romances. Most contain humor, some fantasy, and occasionally a little paranormal. But comedy is my love, and I've created my own wacky blend of humor and Regency with stories that can elicit reactions from a gentle smile to a belly laugh.

Like many other romance authors, I read romances for years before I wrote my own. Once I tried, I quickly discovered how difficult writing is. Did I stop? No, I'm persistent--that's French for "too stupid to quit".

I live in New England and like aerobics and ducks.

So, laugh along with me on a voyage back to the Regency era. Me and my ducks. Quack.

Heroes and Heroines

Heroes and heroines--they're what romance is all about.  We follow their trials and tribulations with bated breath until the Happily Ever After, when they walk hand-in-hand into the sunset.

But what heroes and heroines are we talking about? There are as many types as there are books. But I know the sort I like, and those are the ones I search for.

For my heroes--I like nice guys. No bad boys for me. My hero is decent, intelligent, and reliable. He works hard at something useful. He builds things and people up, and doesn't tear anything down. He's kind, brave and true.

Lest he sound too much like an overgrown Boy Scout, he can use his fists if necessary, but usually doesn't have to. Why? Because he's so intelligent he can outsmart even the craftiest villain. "Nice guy" does not necessarily translate as "wimp".

I don't usually have pictures of my heroes, but I love this one I use for Richard of Lady of the Stars.

As for my heroine, she's a match for my hero. She's intelligent, independent, and somewhat unconventional. Life may do its best to defeat her, but she survives because of iron determination and sheer hard work. Like my hero, she's also a decent person. She's nice, but not too nice. No doormats or martyrs need apply. Romances require some conflict between the hero and heroine, but she gives as good as she gets and never caves in to unreasonable demands. I also like kick-butt heroines, but since I like historicals, they're a little hard to find.

Again, I don't usually use pictures, but the cover of Lady of the Stars gives a good idea of what the heroine, Caroline, looks like.

And because romance is part fantasy, both my heroes and heroines are gorgeous.

My favorite books are Regencies, but I like them a little different. Most of my heroes and heroines are neither titled nor rich. The men are usually younger sons who must (gasp!) work for a living. The heroines, although women of their time, stretch the boundaries of acceptable female behavior in that repressive era. And I like to laugh, so I write comedy.

I have four Regency novellas, all at The Wild Rose Press ( My heroes range from a mathematician in Lady of the Stars, to a baron in Pumpkinnapper (yes, I do have some titled nobility), a businessman in Mistletoe Everywhere and a tutor in my upcoming Gifts Gone Astray. My heroines so far are an astronomer (Lady of the Stars is a time travel), Pumpkinnapper's botanist's assistant, Mistletoe Everywhere's companion, and a teacher in Gifts Gone Astray.

As to what's coming up, the Wild Rose Press will release my latest Regency novella, Gifts Gone Astray, on June 29, 2011. This story features tutor Stephen and teacher Anne.

And there's a gift...

A gift is a wonderful surprise. Or maybe not.
At the Earl of Langley's family gathering, everyone receives a gift, including the servants. Tutor Stephen Fairfax expects a small token, but the present from family member Mrs. Anne Copley, the widow who has caught his eye, is a dream come true.
Until he opens it. What a gift! How did that demure lady acquire such a book? And she wants to "study" the positions in it with him? If he accepts her offer, tempting as it is, he could lose his job.
Anne has no idea why Mr. Fairfax is in such a flutter. Her present is a simple book of illustrations. The subject interests them both, and she would like nothing better than to examine the book--and Mr. Fairfax--more closely.


She glanced at the mantel clock. "Oh, look at the time! I must return to the drawing room. So much to do before the family party tonight. But, before I leave..."  She swallowed. "We had some trouble with the gifts today. Yours went missing. I apologize—"

"But I received a gift. Someone left it outside my door."

"Thank the stars." She pressed her hand to her bosom.

Stephen's gaze followed her hand, and his throat dried.

"I worried your present was lost."

She worried about me. Capital! He tore his attention from her breasts and lifted his head. "I have not yet unwrapped it. A book, I take it?"

"Yes. The volume belonged to my husband. He was a scholar, and that book was one of his favorites. Mine, too. We spent many happy hours enjoying it." Another dazzling smile curved her lips. "I selected it with you in mind."

His pulse thumped. I have a chance. "You flatter me with your consideration."

"My pleasure." She flashed another of her heart-stopping smiles. "As much as I long to, I will not ruin the surprise by telling you what the book is." She smoothed her face into a blank stare, but her glorious chocolate eyes twinkled.

So, she wanted to play games. He gave an inward smirk. He would love to play games of a different sort. But he would settle for a guessing game. For now.

Thank you all,

Find Linda at:

Thanks so much for visiting us today, Linda!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I write contemporary romance and tend to write what I know. For example, the setting of my first book This Time for Always is the bar where my husband and I met. In Wild Wedding Weekend I took Noah and Abby to some of the same places my hubby and I visited on our honeymoon. For This Can't Be Love, I set the story in our favorite vacation place in the Ozarks. Having seen something in person helps me to be able to describe it on paper. In my current WIP "This Feels Like Home", Jake is a bullrider...and although I've never ridden a bull myself, my husband has, and we love watching the sport on tv and in person, so it's definitely something I'm familiar with.

For my latest work, A Christmas to Remember (Which was just contracted by The Wild Rose Press this week!...Yippie!), I totally stepped outside of the box and took my characters someplace I'd never been before. I have to was a different experience.

My setting is a ski resort, and I've never been to one. (Too afraid of breaking my leg.) So I made good use of Google and searched maps and layouts of resorts, how to get on and off of a ski lift, and even what cuisine might be served. Having the Internet at my fingertips is a valuable resource. If I'm stuck on a point I simply open a new window, and with a few clicks of my mouse, I have the information I need. I also checked out Skiing for Dummies from the library. Wa la! Instant ski lesson for my hero to give my heroine.

Then I decided I wanted my hero to be a Secret Service agent. All I really knew about them were that they're the guys who protect the President. So I went back to Google and checked out a few books on this topic as well. (When using books for research, I find that Youth non-fiction works best for me. The text is simple and easy to understand, highlighting the main points of what I need to know, and there are usually plenty of pictures.)

In one part, the hero gives the heroine a necklace. I had an idea in mind, but found I wasn't doing a very good job of describing it on paper. Once again, I hit the Internet, did a search for a pink snowflake necklace, and I had a visual reference.

All in all, I learned a lot and hopefully added some depth and rounded out several plot points in my story.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ancient History research for a modern contemporary?

Seems like a contradiction, doesn’t it? But not when your WIP romance is set in Egypt and you’ve decided your hero is an archaeologist in the famous Valley of the Kings, the burial place of dozens of Pharaohs.

My first ‘research’ for this story came about when I asked a new friend on our Nile cruise ship last October whether it was possible to vault the rails from one moored ship to another.

I had no idea that this was going to lead me into some detailed research into one of the tombs in the KV. And that was one of my first discoveries, that Egyptians call it the King’s Valley and all the tombs there are prefixed with the letters KV and then a number denoting the order of discovery.

On a flight from Luxor to Cairo, I read an article in the flight magazine about the excavation of a tunnel which led from the burial chamber of one the Pharaohs. Hmm, maybe this was something I could use, or at least adapt, in my story.

Back at the hotel in Luxor, I scoured the bookshop, bought 3 books about the Valley and the tombs, and read them from cover to cover while I was sunning myself on the hotel terrace overlooking the Nile (and with a distant view of the hills on the West Bank which surrounded the Valley).

Internet connection was too expensive in the hotel for any website research, but once I got home, I searched for all the information I could find about the tomb, its layout, its wall and ceiling paintings, and particularly about the tunnel. It was quite exciting to find photos and even video footage of the tunnel itself.

In ‘real life’ the tunnel has proved to be a dead-end, but I decided ‘my’ tunnel was going to lead to an exciting discovery. The iron supports they had to put in to strengthen the crumbling walls and ceiling gave me another idea.

At the beginning of February, the Egyptian archaeologist who explored the tunnel was due to give an illustrated lecture in my home city about his research in the KV. How exciting was that? I booked for the event, only to receive an email a week before saying it had been cancelled. Why? The revolution had broken out in Egypt and he couldn’t leave Cairo. Most inconvenient of the Egyptians to have a revolution at totally the wrong time for me!!

As well as the ancient history research, I’ve also had to check or find out a lot of other facts. How I wished I’d made more notes during our cruise up the Nile from Luxor to Aswan, as I recalculated how long it took to get from one place to another. And I wished I’d asked our tour guide a lot more questions about his job, since I’d decided that was going to be my heroine’s job. Instead I had to find and study tour guide training manuals.

Once I got home and searched for Egyptian names, how I wished I’d written down all the names of the male and female staff at the hotel and on the cruise ship, and all the different foods we’d had at the buffets, and all the flowering shrubs on the hotel terrace, and more details about the hotel décor. As it was, I had to rely on my memory or my photographs, or else resort to googling – yet again!

I checked out flight and train times/durations from Aswan to Luxor, and from Luxor to Cairo. The first time I tried this was when the revolution was taking place and most flights were cancelled – duh! I was even looking up details about apartments in Luxor at that time too. Needless to say, I could have made a reservation for any of them at cut-price rates!

I’ve two or three chapters more to write, but I’m sure I’ll be researching more facts right to the very end.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Help Wanted

Research.  Sounds like a pretty obvious thing to do when you’re writing a book. Unless you’re me. I always thought that I didn’t really have to worry about researching my stories, since I write contemporary romance. I use settings that I know, and ideas that I’m familiar with—that whole concept of writing what you know—so to me, research was always for those OTHER writers, the ones who write historical or science fiction or paranormal.

Hah! The hero of my soon-to-be published book is in a wheelchair. It’s kind of an odd type of hero to have in a romance, but I wanted to portray a strong man with a unique vulnerability. And, I wanted to show that the biggest obstacle facing the hero and heroine is not always the most obvious one, and this was one way that I was able to accomplish it. It wasn’t until I was about three quarters of the way through with my draft that I realized, hello, I don’t know anything about a guy in a wheelchair and maybe I should actually do some research so I don’t sound like a complete idiot. Not to mention the fact that of course, research makes things sound believable. Okay, I’m a little slow, but at least I realized before I finished the ENTIRE thing.

So, to research my character, I went online to a variety of different listservs and tried to find someone to help me. Um, hi, I’m a writer, and I was wondering if anyone on this list would be willing to talk to me about their life in a wheelchair? Yeah, right. Let me tell you, asking a stranger to be willing to answer the types of questions I needed to ask is about as awkward as asking someone out on a date.  What’s even more awkward is establishing the boundaries of those questions. Exactly how much information do I want to ask? For that matter, exactly how much information do I want to know?

Despite the fact that in my other life, I’m a freelance writer for newspapers and magazines, I’m not really good with questions. I can come up with questions easily. It’s the asking and answering that I have trouble with. Am I being too nosy? You don’t want to answer that? Okay, no problem. I’ll ask you something else. In other words, investigative journalism is just not my thing.  And being on the receiving end of questions? Ugh. Why would anyone want to know anything about me? Can’t I just get away with “fine” and be done with it?

So, in general, asking questions is a skill that I really need to work on. When those questions that I need to ask are personal, well, let’s just say it’s a good thing that all the conversations were done by email, because my face turned shades of red that I’m not sure have even been discovered yet. Think about it, how often do you ask sex questions to a member of the opposite sex who is not in a relationship with you? And in my story, the sex doesn’t even happen in front of the reader! So it’s not even like I needed all the nitty gritty details. It’s even better when your husband walks in, asks what you’re doing, and you reply, “I’m talking about sex with a strange guy.” My husband is the most understanding man, EVER! J

Most of the questions I answered had to do with psychological issues and feelings—another minefield when I’m dealing with a stranger who is maybe only half convinced that I’m actually who I say I am. As a result, my questions were very long, with lots of “If you’re uncomfortable at all about answering this question, I totally understand” thrown in.

But amazingly, despite all of my HUGE misgivings, I found a very nice man who was willing to talk to me. I also found a few odd birds who were SO not going to be able to help me. But the guy I ultimately ended up talking to was very nice and we ended up forming a very nice, short-term, friendship. I think he was happy to have the chance to help me portray a character that’s not often seen in romance in as realistic a way as possible, without making him into some wimp. Whether or not he’s happy with the finished product, well, that remains to be seen. I tried really hard and could not have written the story I did without research. But, as they often say in the acknowledgements, any errors or misrepresentations of the character are solely my doing.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Research: blissful escapism!

When it comes to “do you do research for modern contemporary novels?” then the answer is a great fat NO. It’s always seemed as though characters have either lived in places I have or places I’ve visited and fell in love with: sometimes vice versa. Horses have often featured. Hardly surprising because equines are second nature to me, and they make for a great backdrop interspersed with action. Basically, I stick with what I’m familiar with.

However, a historical novel requires much research. Despite my prior knowledge of plots and period setting (1700s), there are facets of every day life I’m unfamiliar with even though I feel a great affinity with this particular period in time. Basic food, miraculously, proved little different than today with regards bread, bacon (ham) and meat, eggs, plain un-exotic vegetables and fruit, and preserving of such re salted beef, jams, preserves. But, when did cocoa (drinking chocolate) first hit these shores? When did China tea first hit these shores? When did coffee first hit these shores? When did each become commercial properties served in coffee houses? China tea became a commercial item long after having been consumed in private by wealthy elements in society. Another interesting fact: did you know people drank hawthorn flower/leaf tea beside herbal concoctions, ale, and wine?

 But, now here’s the thing, I quite got carried away with research on ladies and gentleman’s attire: not style because I’m up on all that. My interest lay in what kind of fabrics were available, where and how sourced? I adore velvet, satin, silk, and damask. With the Elizabethan era at end (see above) square necklines with their stiff upright lace collars, neck-ruffs, and below waist girdles with navel point soon fell out of favour. By 1644 and the Civil War raging in its second year, ladies necklines became softer. And, as can be seen from the images below, styles for wealthy ladies changed back and forth during the 1700s.

 Round necklines were in, so too soft voile modesty drapes for some while soft lace frills favoured by others. Sleeves became quite flamboyant with puffs, sometimes with velvet outer and slits to allow peep of contrast silk under. Skirts and bodice/girdles often stopped at the waist, and all made from a variety of luscious fabrics: velvets, satins, silks, damask and other. The Puritans on the other hand retained square necklines and adopted modesty drapes and or stiff up-to-the-neck collars. Their skirts and bodice mostly that of wool and girdles/bodice sometimes kidskin: suede as we know it today.

Why need for this much research, one might ask. But, if I’d remained ignorant of this knowledge how could I let a reader see and feel the fabric of the MC’s outfit and that of other characters? By the late 1700s/early 1800s, girdles/bodice with navel split-points were in favour. Sleeves were tailored narrow from shoulder to frill trim at or below elbow, and frills on skirts in abundance. See left hand image. 

 Ahem, history lesson over. School out!  ;)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Me and my Library Card

I haunted the library system extensively when I researched my WIP five years ago. (I had only dial-up Internet then.) My acts II and III are set in 1490 Brittany.
I read books on French history from 800 to 1700, the evolution of castle construction, and life in the Middle Ages. I read biographies of the Duchess Anne. I scoured travel guides and gleanings on Celtic culture. (Celts in Wales, Scotland, Britain and Brittany appear to be an oral culture. Archaeologists have uncovered only a few caches of gold coin and accessories, menhirs, and legends.)

I bought books on the Goddess Brigid and Druidism--some new age, some professorial.
My local bookstore sourced two Breton-English dictionaries. I joined the American Society for the Preservation of Breton, a tiny group that passionately supports the Breton movement in Brittany to preserve their language and culture. (The French Government bans the language in Breton schools.)

The Park Rapids library had a fabulous book on historical costumes. I researched castles in Brittany and chose Dinan. I studied piracy on the English Channel, the Rance River estuary, the Celtic legend of Isolde and Tristan.

For an earlier WIP, I studied steam-powered Mississippi riverboats and Army forts along the Missouri River in South Dakota. My husband collects centennial celebration books published by tiny towns in MN, ND, and SD. Great old pictures and historical information.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Welcome to Lila Munro

Please welcome today's Friday Friend, Lila Munro.  Lila is a writer of contemporary romance currently residing on the coast of North Carolina. She is a military wife and takes much of her inspiration for her heroes from the marines she’s lived around for the past fourteen years. Coining the term realmantica, she strives to produce quality romance in a realistic setting. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading everything she can get her hands on, trips to the museum and aquarium, taking field research trips, and soaking up the sun on the nearby beaches.

Her works include The Executive Officer’s Wife, Bound By Trust, All I Want for Christmas is Redemption, Destiny’s Fire, A Slower Lower Love, Salvation, Force Recon: Beacon Bayou, and Identity Crisis. Currently she’s working on sequels to several series to be released throughout 2010-2011.

Ms. Munro always works as the Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Rebel Ink Press. She loves to hear from her readers and can be contacted via her website, her joint effort website or through Facebook at You can also contact her via email at
For more information about Rebel Ink Press please visit their website at

You Are Cordially Invited…

I remember when I first started out in this crazy publishing game several months back, as I’ve mentioned several times, resources and help was scarce. However, I was told I should garner some guest slots on other writer’s blogs to promote myself. Aaa-kay! I was stumped. Not only was I a forty-one year old recent empty nester with few techie skills—I hadn’t a clue who the other writers were, what a blog was, how to blog, or how to go about getting one of these apparently coveted guest slots. Who was I supposed to ask? What was I supposed to write? How did I ask? What did I include in my material? Why did I have to do this? Where was the help?!

After melting down and regrouping I sent out an SOS to a couple of friends—“Umm, ‘scuse me (don’t forget I’m from the south), just what the hell am I doing? And how do I do it?” I remember getting an answer to how do you get those guest spots—“Well, you ask for them.” Aaa-kay! **SIGH** I wasn’t much better off, but I was determined to figure it out. So, I googled romance blogs. Several thousand entries popped up. **Tears** Alright, I told myself, simplify this—you’re not stupid, you can figure it out. So, I started with my friends list at Facebook. I watched the newsfeed a while and every so many minutes an announcement would pop up where someone was “guesting.” Hmph! Imagine that. I clicked a few and found a few reputable blog spots, clicked around the joints and found the contacts and ventured out to try my hand at garnering a guest slot. I think some of the first places I went were Tamela Quijas, Knight Series Magazine and Margie Church—they welcomed me with open arms. Later when I started putting out for reviews—often times my reviewer would ask me if I would like to post a blog along with my review—oh that was easy. **Whew**

Today I’m going to share with the newbies in the crowd a sample email I use to ask for a guest slot. First however, let me hand out a few pieces of advice. When asking for the slot, your email should look professional, it should include who you are and what you want—not what you expect to be done for you, and always say thank you. And the biggest piece of advice I have, DO NOT STAND UP YOUR HOST! The second biggest is don’t make your “in” look bad. I’ve had the sad displeasure of helping people get blog spots on my word that they would show only to have them skip out. This kind of behavior not only makes you look unprofessional, it taints the person that tried to help you as well as embarrasses them. Someone has given you a slot of time devoted to you, for you, about you—they could have just as easily given it to someone else. One of the rudest things you can do is no-show.

So, for those of you who may be lost and wondering how to approach a blog host for a slot here’s an example of how I go about it:

Dear *****:
My name is ***** and I’m a (genre) romance writer. I’m looking for places to promote myself and my work and I would like to be a guest on your blog. I’ve checked it out and it looks to be a good match for me. I would like to appear (fill in a time frame). If you have any slots available during that time period please let me know and let me know what you’d like to see, or if you’d like to interview me that would be great as well. I can be reached at (your website and email address). Thanks in advance and I look forward to hearing from you.
John Q. Writer

Very clean, very simple, to the point. And you remembered to say thanks—that is very important. Which reminds me—Thank you very much, Paula for hosting me today.

Now, I’d like to share a little bit of my latest contemporary romance, A Slower Lower Love available through Rebel Ink Press.


When running isn’t the answer,

Cait O’Kelley loved Bryce Delaney with all of her heart. But loving him scared the hell out of her. Cait didn’t want to settle for being married to a cop and having his children. She wanted more. Unfortunately, more came with a price. After leaving her small home town for a more glamorous life and working her way up the corporate ladder, a whirlwind affair with the boss’s son tears Cait's world apart. On the brink of losing everything she’s worked for, she has to make a decision.

and going back seems impossible,

After eight years of living without her, Bryce finds himself tasked with the job of watching over Cait during her weeklong stay at her parent’s beach house in Bethany. She’s come there to sort out her life and while she’s contemplating her future, Bryce and Cait discover the fireworks are still there. But can they ever go back to where they once were? As his secrets begin to surface, Bryce sees only one way to save her. He disappears without a trace leaving Cait behind to pick up the pieces and deal with a whole host of new problems that she can neither explain away or hide.

can you find middle ground?

With Bryce out of the picture, his brother, Kurt, finds what he’s dreamed of for a lifetime handed to him on a silver platter. After watching Cait and Bryce toy with each other for fifteen years, once Bryce disappears, Kurt eagerly steps up to the plate. But is he strong enough to ground Cait and keep her from making yet another mistake? And which brother will win her heart and show her that a slower lower love is enough?

Please enjoy a sample:

Cait squirmed around on her towel trying to root out a lump under her right shoulder and let out a loud sigh when she felt another shadow fall across her. Damn that kid! She shot up fully ready to march him off and leave him with his absent parents, wherever that was. But when she looked up, instead of a four foot tall tow headed boy, a six foot tall dark haired man stood over her in blue board shorts with a matching towel slung over very muscular shoulders. The sun wasn’t at its midday point yet and fell behind him shadowing his features, but Cait could plainly see that he was stacked to the nines. He sported chiseled biceps, his abs looked like a washboard, and every visible inch of his smooth skin was bronzed.

“Is this seat taken?” That voice. She couldn’t see him, but Cait would recognize that voice anywhere, even though the years had deepened it to a low, sexy pitch.

“What are you doing here?” she snapped.

“The same thing you are, Cait. Trying to relax. Do you mind if I join you?” He started to spread his towel.

“Yes, I mind. And no, you may not. Possession is ninth tenths of the law. I’ve been on this piece of sand since dawn. Therefore, in this case, the law is on my side.” She plopped back down and crossed her arms over her ample breasts. “Now go away, Bryce, my life is complicated enough as it is.”

“The law, huh? In case your mother hasn’t informed you, I’m a cop now. Your whole law thing doesn’t hold water with me. Have you forgotten our house sits just a few yards from yours? We co-own this stretch.” He continued to spread his towel and sink into the sand next to her.

“Fine, suit yourself. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that we’re here at the same time. Our mothers probably made sure of that, didn’t they? I’ll try not to bother you.” She turned on her stomach and pointed her head in the opposite direction so she wouldn’t have to look at the fine example of a man Bryce Delaney had become. Her heart had done a familiar flip-flop at hearing him say her name and that really made her mad. That was the problem with Bryce. He made Cait feel things she had no business feeling.

She hadn’t seen or talked to him since she’d left. In fact, the last time they were together was right here on Bethany Beach. One last night of fiery passion before she’d slipped out of bed before the sun rose, jumped in her cherry red Mustang convertible, and headed for the state line as fast as she could. She didn’t tell him how she felt. She didn’t say good-bye. She didn’t even leave a note. Her own family hadn't even known where she’d gone until the next day.

Cait and Bryce hadn’t wanted the same things. He wanted to settle down into a boring routine and have her stay home and raise kids. She wanted a career and adventure. Loving him only served to complicate things. Unable to see how they'd ever be able to compromise, she’d taken the coward’s way out. It seemed that things hadn’t changed much since then. She was still a coward.

In Cait’s absence, her mother diligently insisted on keeping Cait abreast of everything that was going on with Bryce in spite of Cait constantly telling her mom she didn’t want to know. Mom made it a point to include his failed attempts at relationships. In fact, it seemed that those were her favorite things to tell Cait. Their mothers had been best friends since high school and nothing went on with either of their children that wasn’t common knowledge between the two older women. Given such, there was no telling what Bryce knew about her. In fact, if she had to guess, the two moms probably joined forces and bribed Bryce into coming down here to try to reconcile with her. Or even worse, try to get her to move back. Well, Cait hated to be the one to ruin their plans, but it wasn’t going to work. Bryce was the last person Cait wanted to talk to.

You can purchase A Slower Lower Love at:

Thank you so much for visiting us today, Lila, and for your very useful advice.  We wish you continued success with your writing career.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Different Worlds

I've been wracking my brain all week to try and decide how I could move any of my stories to a different type of sub-genre and I have to admit, I'm coming up blank!

For several of my stories, the setting is integral to the plot. Moving them to, say, outer space (as much as I do love a good sci-fi story every once in a while) just isn't going to work. For most of them I guess I could move them to a different time period. The stories aren't too dependent on 'modern technology', so moving them back a century or so wouldn't change much of the plot.

The granddaughter who comes to her grandfather's cabin to find peace and solitude only to discover he's hired a sexy caretaker, although set in the here and now, would still work as a historical. Her job as a web-site designer would have to be changed, but that's a minor plot point.

In another story when the hero comes back to town to buy a local bar and finds the heroine (his high school sweetheart) managing the place, I'm thinking we change the bar to a saloon and we're in good shape.

In my marriage of convience story, the basic premise would still work in the past, although I'd have to change the fact that my couple has to get married because of a tv game show.

Maybe my current WIP could work in outer space I guess. It's a country boy/city girl story, so instead of being from different parts of the country, they could come from different planets. He's a bull rider, which leads to some of the conflict due to the dangers involved, but I guess I could make him a pod racer and still have it work.

But here's the thing...Although I could move some of these stories to other galaxies or centuries, I don't think I'd want to. There should be a reason for setting a story in outer space, and besides, I like my stories where and when they are. That's why I wrote them this way in the first place.

I will say, though, in a deep, secret place inside, I'd love to write a Civil War novel some day. I already have a premise in mind, but I'm a little afraid of the research. I want to get it right. But who knows...maybe someday...

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hopping Problems

The only 'hopping’ I’ve actually tried was moving the setting of a story. I moved one from a High School setting somewhere in NW England to a hotel setting in New York, and another from a college in Virginia to a college in the UK. The first one is buried somewhere at the bottom of a box (might resurrect it one day), the second is one I continue to struggle with. I might end up re-setting it yet again.

However, the only genre I would consider (in addition to contemporary romance) is historical. I have no interest at all in anything sci-fi, paranormal or fantasy, and am a loss to understand the current fascination with vampires. These genres do absolutely nothing for me and I wouldn’t have a clue how to write any of them.

Re-writing a modern story as historical (or vice versa) is fraught with problems though. If it was just a case of (as Ana said), ‘boy meets girl, obstacles arise, love wins in the end’, then it’s probably true that a story could be put into any historical period. But transposing an already written story into a different era would need a major re-think.

If I moved my ‘modern’ story, for example, to Medieval times, I would have to take into account different attitudes, mores, conventions and values and, more practically, transport and communication differences.

I have a strong suspicion that even the bare outline of a plot would change if the characters were dumped in a different era – if the characters in a modern story no longer had access to a phone and took days/weeks to travel from one place to another or, at the other extreme (as in a sci-fi story), had access to instant ‘beam me up, Scottie’ technology and had developed the skill of telepathy!

I think I’ll stick with contemporary romance.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Genre Hopping Characters and Author led rewrites.

The exercise for us this week is to explore the possibility of switching genre with characters already fully formed, who have their setting (backdrop) and, plotted purpose in their very existance. Maybe we're thinking new trend in reader taste, maybe it's an old manuscript we've discovered languishing in a drawer or cupboard and written yonks ago and in need of revamp. So how can we move these characters from say one genre to another and maybe a different era? 

L-hand Image: Let’s imagine a young female agent sent to infiltrate a drug-smuggling gang, her assignment that of getting close to Mr Big. She’s attended a special training course in preparation for every eventuality in respect of things she might have to do in order to achieve her goal. She’s already accepted she may end up emotionally scarred post-assignment. She also knows she must never drop her guard, even in the unlikely event of finding herself seriously attracted to her target, that of Mr. Big’s side-kick. And, she’s well aware intimacies can play cruel tricks on the unwary. But, nothing is quite as it seems.

R-H Image: Now imagine the Island of Jersey under German occupation, and a secretary with remarkable skills beyond that of mere typist. Recruited by British Intelligence prior to invasion of the island - fluent in German – she sees it her duty to respond to a request to frequent a local bar-cum-café, which a specific German officer (second in command) is known to favour. She agrees she will try to ignite interest from him and endeavour to lure him into pleasurable liaisons. She knows it imperative to remain detached despite the officer’s handsome appearance. But, the intimacies that are likely to occur might prove unbearable. However, nothing is quite as it seems.               

There you have it: the same character in genre leap from Modern Romantic Thriller to that of Modern Historical Romance, or perhaps vice versa. It can be done, I should imagine, but I’ve never written the former so have no idea if rewriting it to latter would be worth the effort!  Maybe I’ll write both, now that I’ve seen both movies in consecutive dreams and know the outcomes . . .

See, it's easy! Images often inspire my imagination, and the subconscious goes to work while I sleep.  ;)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

True Love Triumphs, but in what clothes?

The essence of romance is true love: Girl meets boy. Obstacles arise. Love wins in the end. This theme, thankfully, never goes out of style.
What does is genre, the wrapping we package around each version of our love story.
If a story genre falls out of popularity, can a story be repackaged to sell?
My first WIP was a western. Spunky daughter needs to save the ranch. (I live on a cattle farm, so I was trying to write what I know.) My craft skills were rudimentary, but my overall story arc was actually quite good. I hope to revive it soon.
If westerns are not in vogue when I do, I could turn it into a sci-fi. (Think Star Wars. It's a western set in space.) Or possibly an urban fantasy. Same story, just different packaging.
But should I?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Welcome to Josh Tremino

Please welcome Josh Tremino who talks today about Love and the Ultimate Sacrifice.

Last week, I saw Tangled for the first time. This was a great little movie complete with a blond princess, amusing animals, and a clever romance. But after I left the theatre, one moment in particular keeps resonating in my chest. This movie illustrated my favorite part of romance, the most profound and meaningful part of any relationship: sacrifice.

Spoilers: I’m about to give away the ending to this movie.

At the end of this movie, Flynn Rider is about to die. As he clutches his fatal wound, he listens to Repunzel as she tries to get her captor to let her heal him. If she does, she will lose her freedom.

After a few tense moments, Repunzel is allowed to go to him. She will give up everything for him. She will spend her life in captivity to save this boy.

I find this moment intense and fascinating. So much of romance is about sacrifice. In the smallest sense, it’s letting the guy or girl you love pick where you’ll go to dinner. Or maybe it’s about taking on an extra shift so you can get her something nice for her birthday.

If you want to go more epic, sacrifice is the moment when one character will give up what she wants most to save the a loved one. In Tangled, our princess hero craves her freedom, but she’ll give it up for the boy she loves. She goes to him, ready to sacrifice everything until he slashes away her hair, removing her magic and condemning him to death.

She will give up everything for him; he’ll give up everything for her. It’s beautiful, it’s wonderful, and it’s painful because this is love.

In our culture and life in general, love gets messed up with a bunch of other concepts. Love might get confused with friendship or sex. Love might be about meeting someone else’s expectations. But throw in some sacrifice, and it gets simple pretty quickly.

Are you willing to suffer or die? This combination simplifies the questions of romantic love. These people care about one another in a meaningful, fundamental, and nearly primordial way.

The same question of sacrifice arises in both of my upcoming novels. In Poisoned Star, Treya ultimately has to choose between her life and the boy she’s come to love. She knows that defying her masters will result in her death. For her, there is no question. There is no hope, so her decision nearly impossible.

Nick, the main character from Angels in Disguise, puts himself in the position where he will die for the woman he loves. He is part-demon and an angel’s light will kill him, but he exposes himself anyway because he must if he wants to save Jenny.

Love and the ultimate sacrifice, together they simplify a lot of questions whether it’s in one of my paranormal romances or an awesome Disney movie like Tangled.

Many thanks for being with us today, Josh.   We wish you every success with your forthcoming releases.
Visit Josh at his website:

Friday, April 8, 2011

Welcome to Cassandre Dayne

Welcome to our Friday Friend, Cassandre Dayne.  Cassandre writes highly erotic romance stories and novels in the contemporary, science fiction and paranormal flavors. Currently she has four erotic romance novels published with Rebel Ink Press and six more under contract. Her recent titles include, Treats in a Plain Brown Wrapper, Her Sinful Long Legs, Revving her Wild Engines and Shadows of Panic and Wicked Desire. A novella will also release April 20th titled Wicked Wager Among Friends - Tales from Lucifer’s Lair and her first full length novel being released on September 1st – Deception, Domination & Hunted Desire.

In addition, as her alter ego Bethany Halle, she is the host of two blog talk radio shows with Robin Falls Red River Radio. The Fire of Fantasy & Darkness airs every other month highlighting writers and other artists in the fantasy, science fiction and paranormal genres. Dare to Take the Plunge also airs every other month featuring writers, publishers, cover artists and reviewers in the erotic romance genre.

Today she tells us about creating sexy characters:

As an erotic romance writer, I often am asked, just how do I come up with the many different and very sensual characters? That’s a very good question. First of all, the story ideas come to me sometimes out of the blue. I always keep a notebook beside my bed and with me at work so that I can write down every wicked idea in scratchy format, later going back and typing a synopsis for the ones that truly burn within me. That’s when I begin agonizing over the characters. I am crazy about developing the hero and heroine in the right light. They have to have the perfect name, the sizzling look, attributes that are sexy and yet they have to have a weakness or two.

I tend to create multi-faceted characters that don’t have the perfect lives, yet they long for something else, something truly special. I enjoy including many different cultures and interracial relationships in my books. Understanding and penning their life correctly requires learning about everything from inflections and colloquialisms to popular names and family traditions. When I think I have that perfect fit, he or she will have a sensuous name, but one befitting their lifestyle. After I allow that to settle in my mind, I write down their attributes including everything from their favorite food and drink to what they drive. After all, you have to believe in their rough-hewn ways, don’t you?

Every character has a voice. They could be from the inner city or educated at Harvard and as a writer, I try and make sure the voices are distinct. Something I really enjoy doing is creating a character that has that hidden past or secret desire that if any of his or her friends or family knew about, they might not think of them in the same soulful light. In my current release, Shadows of Panic & Wicked Desire, Snake is a well educated and successful businessman, but he also has a dark craving for very kinky acts. Finding a partner in more ways than one in Halle, he indulges in her greatest fantasy and one that many men could not engage in – giving her the gift of other men to play with.

The truly exciting part about writing is having a different look and feel for my characters. Whether they are vampires attempting to live in the modern world or the computer geek turned sexy hunk on the night he works in a strip club, bringing them to life is a sheer joy. Sometimes the characters aren’t likeable in the beginning, but as you strip away the hard shell that hides the man or woman inside, you generally learn that they have been harboring something so horrendous that their soul can barely take surviving.

We all have had experiences in our lives that taunt us into near submission and I think reading about someone else and how they rise to the surface is a surprising and needed treat. While some of my contemporary erotic pieces are simply designed for pleasure and little else, every one of them leaves you with a thought about why they hunger for the passion they seek. Making them multi-faceted is what gives the story flavor. Here’s a little taste of Shadows of Panic & Wicked Desire. Tell me what you think about their interactions.

Coasting up the long driveway, he recognized several cars. He knew the invitation list and had in fact encouraged Kimberly to invite certain select individuals for his cunning scheme. She’d been more than a willing participant in his nefarious plan. He chuckled as he slid the bike next to a shining ebony Hummer and climbed off. Little Miss Halle Tremont wasn’t going to know what hit her. After she removed her helmet and fluffed her hair, Snake brushed the soft locks from her face and bent to kiss her lips, barely touching, his tongue tracing a sensuous circle around her ruby stained lips. “You ain’t seen nothing yet my gal. Just wait.”

She handed him the mask and giggled. “Don’t roll your eyes.”

“You know how I feel.”

“I know, but Kimberly insisted.”

“Hmmm…” Snake wasn’t the kind of man that wanted to wear a mask for any reason, but tonight was different. Tonight, he was going to fulfill Halle’s darkest fantasy and one that she had only mentioned in the throes of their wild passions. The only question that remained in his mind was if she could truly tolerate what he was prepared to give her. The collar was a test more than anything and while Snake toyed with introducing the lifestyle to her, the velvet collar was meant to signify that no matter what kinky events occurred, she was leaving with one man. There was a part of his mind that was excited to see her reactions. He wanted nothing more than to bring her to new heights of ecstasy, but it was her choice. Halle’s complete trust meant more to him than any kinky games. He took her hand, kissed her palm and wrapped his arm around her waist as he led her toward the front of the house.

“Come on sexy.”

“Wow! It’s amazing what she did with the old place.”

“It is a bit decadent.” In truth, the house had been turned into a sensuous inviting home meant for gatherings of the exotic nature. Snake glanced at the front porch and fought a grin knowing exactly what Kimberly had gone through to assimilate a bordello. “Ready?”

“Um, I think so.”

He kissed her forehead and moved up the steps toward the door. The party was in full swing as they walked in. The well-adorned house was an oversized Georgian willed to Kimberly by her parents. She’d completely refurbished the rather stuffy interior into a den of sin, erotic and wild. The lights were nothing but glowing orbs, the furniture rich leather and oversized pillows thrown everywhere in groups on the floor. Luscious rich velvet drapes and mocha colored bearskin rugs were strategically positioned throughout giving the effect of a whorehouse, inviting all that would play.

“I thought this was supposed to be a small party.” Halle said, looking around. “These are some incredible costumes.”

Snake eased his hand across the back of her neck and drew her in for a passionate kiss. As he eased back, he licked the edge of her mouth slowly. “You’re the one that’s incredible.”

Remember when you read any story penned by a writer, they have given every character a significant amount of thought. They can make or break your story and they provide intricate and sexy details that push the story along. Most of all, they have to give you that feeling that you want to get to know them and everything about their lives. I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about me!!

Thank you for allowing me to guest blog.

Many thanks for visiting us today, Cassandre, and we wish you every success with your forthcoming releases. 

You can find more about Cassandre at

Enjoy a video trailer:

Cassandre's books are available at:

NB We have an extra guest this week!  Please drop in tomorrow to meet Josh Tremino who talks about Love and the Ultimate Sacrifice!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Music as Muse

Music for me tends to be an inspiration for writing a lot of times. My genre of choice is country music, and as a fellow Chicago-North member once said, "With country, there's a story in every song." And it's so true. The idea for my free read "Mistletoe and Folly" came to me while I was listening to one of my favorite Toby Keith Christmas songs. My recent submission to TWRP "A Christmas to Remember" was inspired by the song of the same title sung by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton.
Right now I'm in the middle of a story about a rodeo man: a bull rider. There are plenty of bull-ridin' songs out there, and whenever I hear them, my fingers get itchy for my keyboard.

While I write, sometimes I listen to music, sometimes I don't. If I do it's usually to block noise coming from other areas of the house: the tv especially. For this I like to listen to scores from movies. It definitely has to be music without lyrics, or I'll start singing along. (Something we don't want to happen for a whole variety of reasons!) My favorites are "Pirates of the Caribbean", "Twilight", and "Star Wars".

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Music while I write?

My short answer to this is that I very rarely listen to music while I write. I find it too distracting. Which is odd, in a way, because I can leave the TV on in the background and not be distracted by that. Maybe it’s because I can ‘tune out’ the TV from my mind (most of it is pretty mindless anyway!) unless something catches my attention. I can’t do that with music.

I know some writers match the music they listen to with the mood of whatever they are writing at the time. I think I’d spend so long deciding what music was suitable, I wouldn’t get any writing done!

The only time I can recall consciously listening to music to set the mood for me was when I was writing one of my fan fiction stories which was partly set in Ireland. I enjoyed playing Irish songs as I wrote that one.

So here’s one of  my favourite Irish songs for you:

Monday, April 4, 2011

Music & Mind: emotions floating across the ether!

With eclectic taste in music, I'm nevertheless a classical music fan but of the sensual romantic kind. Take the overture for Sleeping Beauty, a touch of Romeo and Juliet, opera pieces too: La Boheme, Cosi fan tutte, and more. Yet, I love the occasional moment reflecting a smoke-filled cellar nightclub with lazy laid-back Saxophone music. All stimulate emotions in different ways, a tear here, sense of sadness, elation, love, rejection etc. All that aside, let the music speak for itself.

Morning by Andre Rieu: violin.

Romeo & Juliet

Friday, April 1, 2011

Welcome to Mona Karel

Please give a warm welcome to our Friday Friend, Mona Karel, and also a huge thank you, as she has stepped in at the very last moment to be with us today, in place of the scheduled blogger who did not deliver! Very many thanks, Mona.

Facebook and Twitter and Blogs, Oh My!
Way back when I first put pen to paper---or at least zipped a sheet of paper into the typewriter and applied fingers to keys---the main duty of a writer was, well, to write. Once you wrote, then you rewrote, you polished, you edited, then you submitted. You were accepted or rejected. Either way, you continued the process: Write, Rewrite, Edit, Submit. Your book came out, you signed a few copies at local book stores, and you went back to the process.

We now have such a brave new world. Instant communication with everyone, everywhere, all the time. For some people it’s right up their alley. For others (moi!) it’s being lost in London without a map. You think you’re speaking the language but you’re just not quite communicating.

At least that’s how I feel sometimes. And I bet I’m not alone. I fully embrace the concept of the electronic publishing world, and my Kindle is the first thing to be packed for any trip. E-publishing and small independent presses have meant life for off beat characters in stories written by clever writers who could never quite fit their square pegs into the round holes of traditional publishing.

Even in those not so long ago days of traditional publishing, unless one was of the elite in the publishing world, marketing fell upon the shoulders of the writer more than the publishing house if sales were ever going to go beyond the bare minimum. Now it’s expected, even required, that authors actively participate in book promotion.

All well and good and not impossible. For some it seems extremely possible, as they talk about throwing together a website and setting up a blog as casually as I once talked about braising pork country ribs then slow cooking in apple cider and adding cranberry salsa while cooking up brown rice in chicken broth. While others were keeping up with the digital world, I was concocting recipes. Which might have something to do with my shape, but I digress.

I admit to feeling intimidated by all the little icons at the bottom of a blog, encouraging people to F, to B, to G, thumbs up, Tweet, Twitter, let it all hang out and I have NO clue what some of them actually mean. I have finally decided I don’t need to stress over this any more.

After writing for too many decades to admit, I read the magic words from a publisher: "If you would like us to publish your book ..." My story of the immortal enforcer who is not a chest beating alpha hero, and the woman he’s been sent to punish found a home where they are appreciated. Mykhael and Kendra will make their debut in the world via the tender care of Black Opal Books
( in May. And I’m doing most what I do best to let the world know - writing about the experience and sending my words out to the world to read. I’ve created a blog for my writing persona at: Come visit and share your experiences of your experiences in this whirlwind world of communication.

Thank you so much, Mona.  Like you, I'm still on the steep learning curve about modern communication!  We wish you every success with your book, and with your promotion and marketing!