Friday, March 27, 2015

Research, it's what's for lunch! Tales of what it isn't by That Wandering Gal, Cerise.

Research is always that little, idly-bitty project you do that becomes The Thing That Would Not Die...or (as hubby calls it), the Hanging of the Draperies, or The Tidbit That Makes Your Readers Love You.

The Thing TWND is the challenge that many novice writers face when they have researched their topic until the end of time and logic.  When you know absolutely nothing about what you wish to write, The Thing comes out to play. He can then inhale you like The Alien he is, and keep you absorbed in a subject way beyond his usefulness or place in the play.

And as that famous Elizabethan once said, the play's the thing. is.

I've been known to work in company with The Thing. This is especially possible with the ease of access to the internet. Pinterest, Wikis and Word Tracers, maps and historical sites of all kinds beckon and beguile. A girl could develop a cold.

Capturing all that good stuff (or so you think in the moment) becomes yards of bookmarks on your computer screen, lots of notes and pretty pix. Oh, God. What a mess. I have to constantly warn myself, "Five minute warning! Dive! Dive! Or you disintegrate." Actually, what happens is I forget why I went in the first place. Sigh. Lost in minutiae.

The Thing TWND gives you far far more than you should ever want. For this book. And lures you like fine champagne to the basis for another novel. (Dear god, let me finish this one!) He tells you how to dress for breakfast in 1820 as opposed to 1810, what climate was like in 1868 or how the crops grew. (Do I need this? Hmm. Well, yes, actually. Might provide that smidgen of verisimilitude, you know.) He tells how to kill people without a trace. How many fought at the Battle of Waterloo, and only an estimate, sadly, of how many died both civilian and military in La Grande Guerre.

Ultimately The Thing must be wrestled to the ground (or you escape him because the dog has not peed since dawn or hubby needs his dinner—and you, by George, need a damn drink!) The Thing is what you learn to do to find specific information. You read like a undergraduate fool for love about your general subject matter and then you go find the specifics.

Specifics may include:

  • an interview of an expert. (Do visit him so you can leave when you want. Do not take a friend with a similar project. Do take a tape recorder and notes. Do list him in your Acknowledgements.)
  • a visit to the library. (Do take coins in case you have to make photocopies. Do not copy the Encyclopedia. Reserve the books you need ahead of your visit.)
  • a visit to a specialist museum. (Do work with the subject matter librarian or archivist. Do tell him what you want and why. Be specific. Saves him time and you heartache. Take your camera.)
  • visit to the country or locale where you have set your novel. (Do research before going. Plan day trips which are less expensive than formal tours. Talk to the museum directors, etc. even if by email before hand. And yes, do ENJOY every minute of this one! Take Significant Other, too.)
Gargoyles of the Basilica of Saint Denis
in Paris where all the kings and queens of France
are buried!
Afterward the temptation to Hang the Draperies may afflict you. This is a disease. Treat it as such. This comes upon you when you are so marvelously imbued with delights about your infusion of Knowledge that you are certain no one else knows and, by Jove, they should. 

You become a missionary, a barn-burner, in short, a royal pain. This condition occurs in the virulent onset of the disease. Fortunately as you recognize that your various audiences are Bored To Tears, you back off. (Or they no longer do lunch with you, talk on phone, invite you to speak to their group.)

But you are still so tempted to write all that stuff into your novel that your tight little 50K mystery becomes the War and Peace of the Kill-Em genre. How to cut the Draperies? A fine editor will quickly tell you if you are pumping her full of extraneous junk.  Hire one. For your genre. Hire her by  mid-book if you suspect you are hanging too many draperies per chapter. It will be the best money you ever spent.

Finally, after years of OD-ing on all these delightful yummy kernels of truth, you realize that to use all you know, realistically, might never occur. Or needs to. That the little tickle that readers get from your books may often have to do with one bright pop of fact. One solid hunk of meat that you threw them in the midst of building character, tension, plot twist or viable denouement!
Gare de L'est famous window
This train station (where trains leave for the east) is where
American troops in WWI left for the front lines.

So here with my pix of my most recent Paris trip, I give you a few kernels from some of my travels (which I lovingly call research, baby, for the IRS, too, donchaknow.)

Here's one for you: The town of Varennes in eastern France is a peaceful place where American Doughboys walked through on their way to the Argonne. They passed the church where Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette and their two children had fled for sanctuary against the Terror. The townspeople discovered them there, told the revolutionaries who came and carted them back to Paris. There they killed all of them. A plaque stands there to commemorate the sad event. We ate across the street and those there were thrilled to have Americans who took the time and energy to visit and learn about their town.

The crossroads in Varennes where nearby lie more than 17,000 American
Doughboys and American nurses who served in the First World War.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Beaux, Ballrooms, and Battles: A Celebration of Waterloo

June 18, 1815 was the day Napoleon Bonaparte's Grande Armée was definitively routed by the ragtag band of soldiers from the Duke of Wellington's Allied Army in a little Belgian town called Waterloo. The cost in men's lives was high—22,000 dead or wounded for the Allied Army and 24,000 for the French. But the war with Napoleon that had dragged on for a dozen years was over for good, and the British people once more felt secure on their island shores.

The bicentenary of the famous battle seemed like an excellent opportunity to use that setting for a story, and before I knew it, I had eight other authors eager to join me, and to make a long story short, on April 1, 2015 our Waterloo-themed anthology was released to the world.

You are all invited to

our Book Release Facebook Party on April 1st 
our Website and Facebook Page
our Rafflecopter (ends April 18th)

Our Stories

Jillian Chantal: Jeremiah’s Charge
Emmaline Rothesay has her eye on Jeremiah Denby as a potential suitor. When Captain Denby experiences a life-altering incident during the course of events surrounding the Battle of Waterloo, it throws a damper on Emmaline’s plans.

Téa Cooper: The Caper Merchant
The moon in Gemini is a fertile field of dreams, ideas and adventure and Pandora Wellingham is more than ready to spread her wings. When Monsieur Cagneaux, caper merchant to the rich and famous, introduces her to the handsome dragoon she believes her stars have aligned.

Susana Ellis: Lost and Found Lady
Catalina and Rupert fell in love in Spain in the aftermath of a battle, only to be separated by circumstances. Years later, they find each other again, just as another battle is brewing, but is it too late?

Aileen Fish: Captain Lumley’s Angel
Charged with the duty of keeping his friend’s widow safe, Captain Sam Lumley watches over Ellen Staverton as she recovers from her loss, growing fonder of her as each month passes. When Ellen takes a position as a companion, Sam must confront his feelings before she’s completely gone from his life.

Victoria Hinshaw: Folie Bleue
On the night of the 30th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, Aimée, Lady Prescott, reminisces about meeting her husband in Bruxelles on the eve of the fighting. She had avoided the dashing scarlet-clad British officers, but she could not resist the tempting smile and spellbinding charm of Captain Robert Prescott of the 16th Light Dragoons who— dangerously to Aimée— wore blue.

Heather King: Copenhagen’s Last Charge
When Meg Lacy finds herself riding through the streets of Brussels only hours after the Battle of Waterloo, romance is the last thing on her mind, especially with surly Lieutenant James Cooper. However, their bickering uncovers a strange empathy – until, that is, the lieutenant makes a grave error of judgment that jeopardizes their budding friendship...

Christa Paige: One Last Kiss
The moment Colin held Beatrice in his arms he wanted one last kiss to take with him into battle and an uncertain future. Despite the threat of a soldier’s death, he must survive, for he promises to return to her because one kiss from Beatrice would never be enough.

Sophia Strathmore: A Soldier Lay Dying
Amelia and Anne Evans find themselves orphaned when their father, General Evans, dies. With no other options available, Amelia accepts the deathbed proposal of Oliver Brighton, Earl of Montford, a long time family friend. When Lord Montford recovers from his battle wounds, can the two find lasting love?

David W. Wilkin: Not a Close Run Thing at All
Years, a decade. And now, Robert had come back into her life. Shortly before battle was to bring together more than three hundred thousand soldiers. They had but moments after all those years, and now, would they have any more after?

About Lost and Found Lady

On April 24, 1794, a girl child was born to an unknown Frenchwoman in a convent in Salamanca, Spain. Alas, her mother died in childbirth, and the little girl—Catalina—was given to a childless couple to raise.

Eighteen years later…the Peninsular War between the British and the French wages on, now perilously near Catalina’s home. After an afternoon yearning for adventure in her life, Catalina comes across a wounded British soldier in need of rescue. Voilà! An adventure! The sparks between them ignite, and before he returns to his post, Rupert promises to return for her.

But will he? Catalina’s grandmother warns her that some men make promises easily, but fail to carry them out. Catalina doesn’t believe Rupert is that sort, but what does she know? All she can do is wait…and pray.

But Fate has a few surprises in store for both Catalina and Rupert. When they meet again, it will be in another place where another battle is brewing, and their circumstances have been considerably altered. Will their love stand the test of time? And how will their lives be affected by the outcome of the conflict between the Iron Duke and the Emperor of the French?


September 14, 1793
A beach near Dieppe, France

“I don’t like the look of those clouds, monsieur,” Tobias McIntosh said in fluent French to the gray-bearded old man in a sailor hat waiting impatiently near the rowboat that was beginning to bob more sharply with each swell of the waves. “Are you sure your vessel can make it safely all the way to Newhaven in these choppy seas?”

The old man waved a hand over the horizon. “La tempête, it is not a threat, if we leave immédiatement. Plus tard…” He shrugged. “Je ne sais pas.”

“Please, mon amour,” pleaded the small woman wrapped in a hooded gray cloak standing at his side. “Allow me to stay with you. I don’t want to go to England. I promise I will be prudent.”

A strong gust of wind caught her hood and forced it down, revealing her mop of shiny dark locks. Tobias felt like seizing her hand and pulling her away from the ominous waves to a place of safety where she and their unborn child could stay until the senseless Terreur was over.

“Justine, ma chère, we have discussed this endlessly. There is no place in France safe enough for you if your identity as the daughter of the Comte d’Audet is discovered.” He shivered. “I could not bear it if you were to suffer the same fate at the hands of the revolutionaries as your parents did when I failed to save them.”

She threw her arms around him, the top of her head barely reaching his chin. “Non, mon amour, it was not your fault. You could not have saved them. It was miraculeux that you saved me. I should have died with them.”

She looked up to catch his gaze, her face ashen. “Instead, we met and have had three merveilleux months together. If it is my time to die, I wish to die at your side.”

Tobias felt like his heart was going to break. His very soul demanded that the two of them remain together and yet… there was a price on both their heads, and the family of the Vicomte Lefebre was waiting for him in Amiens, the revolutionaries expected to reach them before midday. It was a dangerous work he was involved in—rescuing imperiled French nobility from bloodthirsty, vengeful mobs—but he had pledged himself to the cause and honor demanded that he carry on. And besides, there was now someone else to consider.

“The child,” he said with more firmness than he felt. “We have our child to consider, now, Justine ma chère. The next Earl of Dumfries. He must live to grow up and make his way in the world.”

Not to mention the fact that Tobias was human enough to wish to leave a child to mark his legacy in the world—his and Justine’s. He felt a heaviness in his heart that he might not live long enough to know this child he and Justine had created together. He could not allow his personal wishes to undermine his conviction. Justine and the child must survive.

Justine’s blue eyes filled with tears. “But I cannot! I will die without you, mon cher mari. You cannot ask it of me!”

“Justine,” he said, pushing away from her to clasp her shoulders and look her directly in the eye. “You are a brave woman, the strongest I have ever known. You have survived many hardships and you can survive this. Take this letter to my brother in London, and he will see to your safety until the time comes that I can join you. My comrades in Newhaven will see that you are properly escorted.”

He handed over a letter and a bag of coins. “This should be enough to get you to London.”

After she had reluctantly accepted and pocketed the items beneath her cloak, he squeezed her hands.

“Be sure to eat well, ma chère. You are so thin and my son must be born healthy.”

She gave him a feigned smile. “Our daughter is the one responsible for my sickness in the mornings… I do not believe she wishes me to even look at food.”

She looked apprehensively at the increasingly angry waves as they tossed the small boat moored rather loosely to a rock on the shore and her hands impulsively went to her stomach.

“Make haste, monsieur,” the old sailor called as he peered anxiously at the darkening clouds. “We must depart now if we are to escape the storm. Bid your chère-amie adieu maintenant or wait for another day. I must return to the bateau.”

“Tobias,” she said, her voice shaking.

He wondered if he would ever again hear her say his name with that adorable French inflection that had drawn him from their first meeting.

“Go, Justine. Go to my family and keep our child safe. I promise I will join you soon.”

He scooped her up in his arms and carried her toward the dinghy, trying to ignore her tears. The old sailor held the boat as still as he could while Tobias placed her on the seat and kissed her hard before striding back to the shore, each footstep heavier than the last.

He studied the darkening sky as the sailor climbed in the boat. “You are sure it is safe?”

“La Chasseresse, she is très robuste. A few waves will not topple her, monsieur.”

“Je t’aime, mon amour,” she said to him plaintively, her chin trembling.

“Au revoir, ma chère,” he said, trying to smile, although his vision was blurring from tears.

Will I ever see her again?

He stood watching as the dinghy made its way slowly through the choppy sea to the larger ship anchored in the distance, grief-stricken and unable to concentrate on anything but his pain. When the ship finally sailed off into the horizon, he fell to his knees and prayed as he had never done before for the safety of his beloved. He remained in that position until drops of rain on his face reminded him of the Lefebre family waiting for him in Amiens.

With a deep breath, he rose and made his way to the nearby forest, where his horse waited, tied to a tree.

“Come, my friend. We have a long, wet journey ahead of us.”

Setting foot in the stirrup, he swung his leg over the saddle and urged the horse to a gallop, feeling his heart rip into pieces with every step away from his beloved.

About the Author

Susana has always had stories in her head waiting to come out, especially when she learned to read and her imagination began to soar. Voracious reading led to a passion for writing, and her fascination with romance and people of the past landed her firmly in the field of historical romance.

A teacher in her former life, Susana lives in Toledo, Ohio in the summer and central Florida in the winter. She is a member of the Central Florida Romance Writers and the Beau Monde chapters of RWA and Maumee Valley Romance Inc.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Loving our Soldiers throughout History

In romance, we love our heroes, don't we? The men and women who are passionate about something—usually home and family but sometimes something even more altruistic—have to be respected and admired. Think crusaders and knights, William Wallace, the Duke of Wellington, and our modern day Navy Seals. Romance is filled with soldiers (and sailors)!

2015 is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, and to commemorate the event, a group of Regency romance authors banded together to write novellas with a Waterloo theme. Beaux, Ballrooms and Battles will release on April 1, no foolin'!

For Readers who enjoy a bit of history with their Romance…

A historic confrontation

Beaux, Ballrooms, and Battles is a celebration of the bicentenary of the showdown between Wellington’s “Infamous Army” and Napoleon’s Grande Armée. Wellington’s Allied Army consisted of a hastily organized mélange of inexperienced men from several countries who didn’t even speak the same language.

A backdrop of war

While life in Regency England continued much as it had been, the war with Napoleon was a constant source of preoccupation as young men who eagerly set off to become heroes in battle sometimes returned with life-changing injuries or worse, didn’t return at all.

Nine stories of love tested by the trials of war

A collection of sweet Regency stories of courage, hope, and the miracle of love surviving in uncertain times, brought to you by nine distinguished historical romance authors.

Jillian Chantal • Téa Cooper • Susana Ellis • Aileen Fish • Victoria Hinshaw • Heather King • Christa Paige • Sophia Strathmore • David Wilkin

Watch for the buy links on our Facebook Page and join us for our Release Day Party.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Using Place Names When You Write @kayelleallen #amwriting #reference

Tarthian Empire Companion 
All authors build worlds. Some recreate the world of Regency England. Others prefer the Highlands of Scotland, the battlefields of World War II, or fantastic starways and planets across the galaxy. Whatever you write, you create a setting for your characters. Here are a few things to consider when doing so.

Consider that place names have a history. Is it called the Mill Road because there's a mill? Is it still a functioning mill or was it torn down centuries ago and no one knows why it's called Mill Road anymore? Are any place names called by family names of current characters? Towns are sometimes named for prominent families, and that can carry over into present day and cause havoc for characters whose families might not have been on the best terms with the founding clan. Conflict is the heart of a story, and sometimes your characters can create it simply by being in a place with a history they'd rather avoid.

Record family names and places for use in future stories. A chart with meanings is handy. Like all things pertaining to world building, don't take it so far that you never write the book. Use it to build the background and develop the characters, setting, and conflict.

Compound words link known words to create a new meaning, as in my word "bagbot." A bagbot is a robotic suitcase. Although the word itself might not relay the meaning, using it in context conveys enough so the reader is comfortable with its use. For example, if a character is going on a trip, and packs a bagbot with his belongings, the concept and use become clear. When the bagbot follows him around the starport and becomes a closet when he deploys it, readers will not only understand, they'll want one.

Taken from the Tarthian Empire Companion, an illustrated World-Building Bible and Guide to Writing a Science Fiction Series, by Kayelle Allen.
For the science fiction writer, this volume teaches you how to build believable worlds, track details of your story, organize your writing, and lay out your story bible. Novice or experienced, you will pick up tricks and tips. The EPIC eBook Award winning writer shares organizational tips, links to marketing sites, groups supporting writers, science fiction groups, and more. Material from the author's 90+ page website is included.
For the science fiction fan, the Companion reveals the worldbuilding magic that makes Kayelle Allen's Tarthian Empire tick. She shares every character in every book, 10k years of future history, offers inside peeks at scenes and stories, lays out a quick tour of the Empire, and dishes up a surfeit of secrets, all in one illustrated volume.
Original art by Jamin Allen and Kayelle Allen.


Would you like the free Top Stops edition of the Companion? Top Stops is 24 pages of images and info about Tarth and other places in the empire.
Tarthian Empire Companion

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Kayelle Allen is a best-selling, multi-published, award-winning author. Her unstoppable heroes and heroines include contemporary every day folk, role-playing immortal gamers, futuristic covert agents, and warriors who purr.
Unstoppable Heroes Blog

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Ides Of March

Well the Ides of March is March 15 so we've passed it but since we are still in March I thought I'd post on it today for fun. You know I love history which is why I  write all those historical romances. The Ides of March is the day Brutus assassinated Julius Caesar.

Gaius Julius Caesar was born in 102 or 100 B.C. in the month of Quinctilis, now called July in his honor. His motto was "Veni, vidi, vici" I came I saw, I conquered. Not something you would expect a priest to say. Which is probably why, as a teenager, Caesar left his position as high priest of Jupiter.

Several events followed which shaped Caesar into a solider, politician, and emperor. His attitude about politics was greatly affected when in he married Cornelia, daughter of L. Cornelius Cinna, one of Sulla’s greatest enemies. When Sulla overthrew the Marian party in 81 BC and assumed dictatorship he tried to kill all his enemies, including Julius. Caesar decided that it was a good time to leave Rome.

So at the age of 20, he went to fight in the eastern campaigns and was rewarded with the highest military decoration Rome could bestow. An incident which revealed the type of emperor he would become took place in 75 BC. While traveling by boat to Rhodes to study oratory, Scythian Pirates, the scourge of the Mederanian, attacked and overran his ship. Caesar sent his staff to gather the ransom the pirates demanded, fifty talents of gold. During the 40 days that he was held by the pirates he often warned them that when he was free he would crucify them. He always smiled when he said it. The pirates laughed at the outrageous threat. But as soon as he was released, Caesar took a ship and a small force of men, tracked down the pirates, and hung them on crosses to die in the blistering Mediterranean sun.
Spartans - Houston Con 2014
These aren't Romans but their costumes are so cool
I had to add them

Though physically fit and robust Julius had epilepsy but instead of weakening him the malady strengthened his resolve for power and control. He also had a well-earned reputation as a ladies man. He was tall, handsome, of fair complexion, with firm, shapely limbs, and dark, unfathomable eyes. He was a sharp dresser, usually attired in a tunic with a broad purple stripe and long fringed sleeves that hung to his wrist.He seduced many illustrious women. But his most famous tryst was with Cleopatra, who came to him rolled up in a carpet. He even called her to Rome where he bestowed rich gifts upon her. He allowed her to give his name to the child, which she bore. According to many Greek writers of the time, this child looked just like Caesar. But his great love was Servilia, the mother of Marcus Brutus. He gifted her with a pearl so large and lustrous it cost six million sesterces.

Julius stretched the boundaries of Rome by conquering Gaul and invading Britannia. At home he maintained his power by defeating his friend and rival Pompey. Caesar gained so much power traditionally held by the Senate that the senators felt threatened and conspired against him.

Caesar’s astrologer, Spurinna, told him there was danger but, if he took care on the Ides of March he would be safe. At first, Caesar decided to stay in his bedroom on the 15th of March. However, his friend, Brutus, convinced him that the astrologer was wrong so he went about his daily business. On his way to the Senate, Caesar ran into his astrologer and told him "The Ides of March are come." Spurinna said, “Yes, they are come, but they are not past." Later that day Caesar was assassinated in the Pompey Theater, at the foot of Pompey's statue. He is remembered to this day as the greatest emperor Rome ever had. We still call the 7th month July in his honor.

These pictures of Romans and Celts are snap shots I took of reenactors at the Austin Celtic Festival. I have three books set during the days of the Celtic/Roman battles: Druid Bride, Druid Quest, and Timeless Voyage, you can read more about them at

The Happy Accident (With Vikings!)


While surfing the Web one day I had a happy accident. During research for an article I was working on, I stumbled across unrelated information about the gods, demi-gods, and Light Elves of Norse mythology. The lore drew me in, and I wanted to learn more.

I’d never heard of Light Elves—the angel-like beings whose sole purpose was to serve the gods and humanity. These celestial creatures lived in Alfheim (Elf Land) “the place between heaven and earth” in “the west beyond the seas” and could communicate with both deities and mortals.

The Light Elves were described as tall, blond celibate males so handsome they were “fairer to look upon than the sun.” In the middle of the night they would come to earth surreptitiously to complete the chores of deserving individuals. My creative mind went into overdrive when I pictured a handsome immortal cleaning house!

What would happen, I wondered, if a Light Elf got caught? And what if the woman who found him was beautiful? Would he risk the wrath of his god and put his tasks aside after centuries of celibacy to make love to her? If they fell in love, how would he commit to her and reconcile the distance between heaven and earth? My questions formed a story idea that became a manuscript.

In my new release, HER IMMORTAL VIKING, Gunnar of Alfheim is a warrior unjustly cast into eternal servitude and made a Light Elf by an angry god. When he falls in love with Penelope, a modern day mortal, he must find a way to link heaven and earth and cross the divide of a thousand years to clear his name and claim her.


Divine intervention. That’s all Penny asks. Freedom from overwork and mountainous debt. She sings songs of praise, chants like a yogi, and rubs her belly like Buddha until the crystal charm on her navel shimmers, all hoping to draw the attention of someone—anyone—“up there.”

In the west, beyond the seas, from the place between Heaven and Earth, an immortal hears Penny’s cries. Once a renowned Viking warrior, Gunnar has been cast into eternal servitude by an angry god. Now, while Penny sleeps, he comes to Earth to grant her wishes. But Penny is about to wake up, and so is every desire she’s ever known. To claim their fairy-tale ending, Gunnar must find a way to clear his name. Not only must his sword arm and courage stay strong, but their powerful love must cross the divide of a thousand years.

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Staying true to the muse #rewriting #WildHunt

Staying true to the muse - a lesson in creativity

A few weeks ago, I made the decision to buy back rights to two of my series-the Wild Hunt and Elemental Desire series. It was a difficult choice to make for a lot of reasons, but one I'm glad I made. I won't bore you with the details of why I took the path I did, but I wanted to share an important realization. In an effort to make a word count limit, I didn't stay true to my muse. Yes, the stories were there, so was the happily ever after, but I cut corners. The result was that I shorted my characters and their once in a lifetime journey. Having the stories in my possession again allows me the chance to expand on the books I'd originally created and give my characters the time to tell their tales the way they wanted in the first place.
Suffice it to say, I'm extremely excited about slipping back into the sexy, paranormal worlds of the Wild Hunt and Elemental Desire series. I've halted my new projects and have jumped headfirst into rewriting and reediting these books so I'll be able to rerelease them as soon as possible.
So what's coming up, you might ask?

For the Wild Hunt series:

Hunter Sacrificed - the prequel to the Wild Hunt series

Arawn, Lord of the Underworld, understands pain and suffering. Every second of every day, he shares in the agony of those who have been wronged and vows to avenge them. His sacrifice turns him into a pawn, but there’s strength in numbers. And he’ll need every one of his Huntsmen to win the greatest game of all time — the Wild Hunt.

Hunter Deceived - book 1 (originally released as Hunter Betrayed)

Every day, Harley is tempted to embrace her dark heritage. Only a promise made to her ghostly savior stops her from becoming a monster, but he’s not the hero she’s envisioned. He’s a Hunter bred to eliminate her kind. He’s also her only hope of salvation.

Calan, the leader of the Wild Hunt, was created to protect mankind from the Unseelie Court, not love one of them, but Harley is irresistible. Saving her, on the other hand, has the potential to damn him… and the world.

Hunter Forsaken - book 2

For the Elemental Desire series:

Mist Revealed (originally released as Mist Unveiled)

Cat has one love in her life—science. Facts rule her, not passion. At least it doesn’t until an unknown deadly virus claims her sister’s life. Cat’s quest for answers takes her to Greenland and drops her into the arms of the one man who sways her devotion from logic to passion. Rune stirs her lusts, ignites her desires and fuels her carnal cravings, but he isn’t simply a lover, nor is he human. He’s a weapon, one that has the potential to save or destroy her.

Rune, a child of the mist, awakens into a world hovering on the verge of destruction. Rising temperatures have released his enemies from their frozen prison without his knowledge. He searches for them but finds Cat, a human with the power to save him and the world. He hungers for her—blood, body and soul. Every moment of shared passion convinces him of the truth—she’s his greatest treasure, one he’ll die to keep.

Book 2 - coming early 2016!

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Is It Too Soon To Talk About Magic Mike XXL?

Or rather, is it too late to talk about the first Magic Mike?
Let me start at the beginning. Flashback to my 21st birthday. Some friends were going to take me out to an all-male dance revue for the big day, but I got sick. Really sick. Too sick to try to look pretty. Too sick to let naked men snatch dollar bills from between my teeth or boobs.  

It wasn’t until years later I got the opportunity to witness a Chippendale-esque (I can make up words and butcher the spelling of those words if I want) show. I had mixed feelings about attending the performance because I have mixed feelings about female strippers being objectified and disrespected by wolf-whistling guys denigrating them by tossing dollar bills. But I thought the show would be good inspiration or experience for my writing. I hung way in the back and found the spectacle to be amusing, if not inspiring. 

Flash forward to Magic Mike. I went to see it with a girlfriend, the way it was meant to be seen. I’m not a huge Channing Tatum fan. I did enjoy watching the dancing and could have stood to see more (had a disagreement with a co-worker about whether he had a dance double). I liked his sense of humor. I wasn’t into The Kid, as they called him or any of the other male dancers except Big Dick Richie. I love Joe Manganiello of Trueblood fame. And I developed a girl crush on Olivia Munn (The Newsroom). She is so pretty, smart, funny and she had amazing chemistry with Tatum. Why she wasn’t the lead female character is a mystery. The part of Joanna was actually meatier, but should not have outshone Brooke, the female love interest (played by Cody Horn, whoever she is – do I sound bitter?) of Tatum. But Olivia Munn did shine bright, stealing the spotlight just like she stole every scene on The Newsroom. 

In the end, I was a little disappointed. Better stripping movies might be Dancing at the Blue Iguana, The Full Monty and Flashdance. What do you think? About Channing doing his own dancing, about Olivia being the female lead, anything about Joe? 

Check out my ode to all things male stipper-esque.




When TSA puts Juli Falzone on the no fly list, she is stuck at home for her thirtieth birthday. Until her doorbell rings. On her porch are two hot cops swearing out a warrant for her arrest. Are they a practical joke from her well-meaning friends, the best birthday gift ever or has her identity been stolen? Wanting answers and vindication, she lets them in. Can she talk her way out of the situation or will they make her come along peacefully?



“No, Juli, sweetie, I’ve got to go,” Dara said. “But I did send you a little gift. Enjoy.” She hung up.

Juli held the phone out, staring at it, bewildered by the abrupt brushoff. A phone call from Dara normally morphed into an entirely different version of The Neverending Story. Another knock brought her to her senses.

When she opened the door, the phone still in her hand, a summer breeze blew along her skin. Two police officers stood on her stoop, their features stone-faced serious. One wore a pair of those intimidating mirrored sunglasses despite the darkness.

The taller of the two officers said, “Ms. Falzone?”


“May we come in?” the shorter—if you could call just shy of six feet as shorter—blond man asked.

Her instincts said no, don’t let them in. But she hadn’t done anything wrong and they were peace officers. Maybe a crazed killer was loose in the area and they wanted to search her backyard, secure her locks and insure her safety. But after the harrowing day she’d had at the airport that morning, she was a quart low on trust, dubious of authority figures and testy in general.

Oh, what the hell.

Opening the door wider, Juli said, “Sure.” She looked past them to the curb. A streetlight shone bright on a sedan. No other cops appeared to be canvasing the neighborhood. The uniformed duo filed in, but she wasn’t in the mood to make a pot of coffee or answer a bunch of inane questions. She’d filled her quota for the day. After closing the door, she said, “What’s this about?”

“We have a warrant.” The taller, darker man whipped out a tri-folded piece of paper like he meant business.

She scoffed. “A warrant. For what exactly?” She put on her tough girl act, but had visions of spending life in prison. “I haven’t done anything wrong.” Ever. She decided someone must have stolen her identity. First the no-fly list, now this.

“Haven’t you?” the blond said.

Dara always encouraged Juli to take a walk on the wild side. But every potential one-night-stand struck her as a prospective serial killer or would-be stalker. She didn’t want to have regrets for living a boring life, but she’d seen too many friends, family members and co-workers make tragic mistakes in judgment. Unplanned pregnancies. Bad marriages. Worse divorces. Bankruptcies. Juli avoided all of the above.

“What’s the charge?” she demanded.



Thursday, March 19, 2015

Upcoming Re-Release ~ Milestone

On 20 February 2015, Musa Publishing announced they would be closing the virtual doors and releasing all contracted books on 28 February 2015. While sad to hear, I'm thankful for the standup way the owners and administrators went about ending the company. I only had one title with Musa with plans to submit many more. Life happens and plans change, but that's okay because I'm flexible.

I had always planned to venture into self-publishing. The first title was supposed to be brand new, never-before-published. It'll have to come later. Besides, I wasn't finished with it anyway. Re-releasing the title I got back from Musa is a much better start because most of the groundwork is already laid so far as promotion is concerned. But every little bit helps...

Returning to e-shelves on 30 March 2015...

VIP Room Service (Other Related Duties #1) by Zenobia Renquist

Formerly titled Wine Service (Professional Courtesy 1). The story is the same (for the most part) even though the packaging has changed.

Zenobia Renquist
Discover Different and Unique Romance & Erotica

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Spring & New Beginnings

Do you look at spring as new beginnings? I find the days of blue sky and sun rejuvenate me. Watching for the leaves budding on trees, and flowers poking through the cold earth are still a while away yet, but I can't wait.

Is there anything you're looking forward to? A new beginning you would like to have or something to start over? I don't mean it as having regrets of the past, just something new and exciting on the horizon.
My favourite flower - Frangipani

For me, a new beginning is a new name. As I'm putting together this blog post an important conversation is happening between two people. I'm trying not to think about it because of course I want to know what the outcome will be. From now on I'll be writing as Shana Gray. I only have two titles left under Cristal Ryder, the rest have reverted back to me. So with this exciting change a new beginning was in order.

I don't have a website yet, but it will begin soon. I am on Facebook so please look for me here. I'm also on Twitter and hope you follow me. I do have Pinterest as well and post things there time to time.

Between my last post in this one I got The Call from Harlequin and I'll be writing for Blaze. It's been a whirlwind for the past month and it's going to be very busy for the next little while. So trying to do little things that remind me of spring and growth is also on the books, as well as firing up Dragon to get some words down.

Above is a photo of the clipping that I was finally able to plant today. It's been sitting in water hoping to root for the past month. There has to be some kind of root for the leaves to be so nice, right? So it's a big step for it, and I hope it continues to thrive. It's frangipani, one of my most favorite flowers.

Until next month!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Losing a Pet

This weekend, I lost my cat. It was sudden and unexpected. What was more unexpected was how difficult his loss would be. Anyone who has lost a beloved pet knows the grieving involved. Your constant companion is gone, leaving a void in your life. A usual errands-filled Saturday turned into one me immobile and stunned on the sofa, unable to believe he was gone.

The next day, I forced myself to open my laptop and work on the story I was writing, part of the Chateau Seductions series. Once I began to write, I lost myself in the story. For an hour or so, I escaped into the in the world I had created. My hero's grief at his loss was real as I wasn't just imagining how he was feeling, but actually experiencing those feelings myself.

I am trying to put into words something about how fiction allows us to escape, both for the reader and writer, but I can't seem to do it any justice right now. So I'll turn the question over to you. What do you think? As a reader or writer, does fiction help you cope with reality?

For a point of reference, the story I'm working on involves Antoine, who was introduced in Dark Velvet. A dark, tortured soul, which suits the writing mood.

~ Lisa

Lisa Carlisle
USA Today Bestselling Author of Romance and Suspense
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Monday, March 16, 2015

Grand Marais: Coolest small town in America!|main5|dl13|sec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D625610

That's right! The town where I've set my recent series of romances has been voted "the coolest small town in America."  I could have told you that.  In fact, I have, in my last 3 books.  I've changed the names of the local businesses, but reading my books will give you a real feeling for what it's like to be in Grand Marais, and staying at the various lakeside resorts and federal parks up along the Gunflint Trail that leads up into the Sawtooth Mountains.  Grand Marais is on the eastern edge of the BWCA: Boundary Waters Canoe Area. It's an outdoors man's (and woman's) dream!

The criterion for the contest was that the town had to be small (under 10,000 residents), it had to have great dining options, and it had to have a vibrant artistic community and sensibility.  Yup, Grand Marais has all of that.

And it has the gorgeous scenery of the northern shore of Lake Superior, with a peninsula that reaches out into the lake, with a lighthouse and strolling path along much of it, and beaches with tiny pebbles instead of sand, on both sides of the peninsula.  The water is bracing every day, so no matter how hot the temperatures get, you'll never want to linger in it for too long.  I compare it to the feeling you get in your arm when you're looking for that last cold can in the bottom of your cooler. But I find that a wonderful, bracing sensation when it's very family says it's due to my Celtic background, since my late father from Glasgow, grew up visiting beaches to swim in the North Sea.

So whether or not you plan to visit up there, you can vicariously experience the town of Grand Marais in my books. All 3 books are on sale now for 50% off at my publisher's site using the code: 61NF17DV2LEX. (Also 50% off at All, and 25% off at Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other eBook outlets.

For the Love of His Life:

Can a sexy Hispanic action movie star find himself in the BWCA of upper Minnesota? Will the local woman he grows to love believe someone who "lies for a living"?

Only One Man Will Do:  

She's never been satisfied with just one man.  He's not willing to share.  What starts as a fling gets serious quickly, before it turns deadly. How far is he willing to go to keep her to himself?

 Her Last Resort:
She's ex-CIA. He's ex-KGB.  Can glasnost (openness) lead to rapprochement (a bringing together), and maybe even to love as west meets east? And can she reconnect with her adult daughter?


You have until March 20 to go visit Harley's Reviews to read her review of my most recent book, Her Last Resort, and to enter a rafflecopter give-away to win eBooks of all 3!

Find out what the fuss is all about and fall in love with Grand Marais, along with my brave heroines and sexy, hot heroes.

Find out more, read excerpts, get links to reviews, at: