Saturday, December 31, 2011

What are you doing New Year's Eve? Contest


It's December 31st. That magical day when all opportunities become new again. A new year begins and we can all start over. The new year can be a happy time or a sad time, depending on how you view the ending of an old year and the beginning of a new one.

This year I'm looking forward to beginning a new year because the old one has been quite a challenge. I've had some health issues that have kept me away from my computer. I hope for the new year to regain control of my health and to sit down at my computer and really go to town with all the stories that have languished because I haven't had the strength or energy to move forward with them.

New Year's also makes me think of romance. All the New Year's Eve parties that are full of people who are looking for someone to kiss as the clock strikes midnight. Lots of fruitful and exciting ideas for great stories, no?

This year I have the good fortune to be visiting California to see a dear friend whom I've known since I was a little girl. There will be no hot kisses in my New Year's Eve, but this year I won't be sitting home alone watching New Year's Rockin' Eve with only my cats for company...ah, the exciting life of a romance writer. So this year is going to be a good one! Grin...


So, what I want to know is...

"Maybe it's much too early in the game
Aah, but I thought I'd ask you just the same
What are you doing New Year's
New Year's Eve?"

Or what were you doing New Year's Eve? Tell me what your favorite and/or most memorable New Year's Eve was. Tell me what you're doing this year. Or tell me what your "dream" New Year's Eve would be like. I'll post the winner in the comments on January 2nd - after I get home from my long flight to California!

Oh - what are we playing for? Good question. One lucky winner will win their choice of any one of my books in electronic form (let me know your format preference). See a list of choices here: Ellora's Cave - Francesca Hawley . Short or long. Shapeshifters, Medieval, or BDSM. It's up to you!
Now, to tempt you further...here's some info about my latest release, Alpha vs. Alpha...


Alpha female Serena Goldwolf has spent a lifetime vowing never to be a submissive mate to any Alpha male. But all it takes is one surprisingly sexual meeting with Damien Blackwolf, a dissatisfied client of her shapeshifter dating site Predator-Match.com, and she’s down on all fours, wanting to be mounted by the hottest male on two legs—or four—whom she’s ever met.
Damien Blackwolf doesn’t understand why the voluptuous Serena won’t admit they’re True Mates. To convince her, he decides to bring out her baser desires by dragging her off to someplace private to get to know her…intimately. But how can he convince her of their destiny when she runs away from him? Guess he’ll just have to hunt her down and persuade her.
In a passionate battle of wills, there most definitely can be two winners.
Publisher’s Note: Previously published elsewhere but has been revised and expanded for Ellora’s Cave.

Need more to intrigue you?  Here's a very hot excerpt!

By reading any further, you are stating that you are at least 18 years of age. If you are under the age of 18, it is necessary to exit this site.

An Excerpt From: ALPHA VS. ALPHA
Copyright © FRANCESCA HAWLEY, 2011
All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.

Chapter One

“What the hell kind of outfit is this?”
Serena Goldwolf’s head shot up at the irate shout coming from the outer office of her shapeshifter matchmaking business, Predator-Match.com. She brushed her bangs off her forehead with a sigh. Damn it, couldn’t anyone in this office take care of stuff without her intervention?
The male voice continued to roar out there, and she knew her secretary wouldn’t be able to handle him because Kara was such an omega even omega males dominated her. Serena sighed again, saved her database update and headed out to confront the wolf male jerk. Serena took in the male outrage with a shake of her head. Asshole. He shook his head as if he’d heard her. Yeah right. She wished.
“I’m sorry, sir. Really.” Kara huddled in her chair, her head dipped and her eyes on her desktop. Submission in her posture and her voice.
“You people set me up with some stalker bitch! I want to talk to one of the owners, now.” A tall black-haired man with dark-brown eyes leaned on the desk, his large hands flat on the wood.
Serena took him in, her body responding immediately. Damn it. She didn’t need this shit, but she couldn’t take her eyes off him. He wore a very expensive, black Italian suit, Italian black leather loafers, a crisp white shirt and red tie. The ultimate in power wear for the busy executive. And he was so good-looking he resembled an escapee from Fashion Week. She shook her head to remind herself that he wasn’t all that…he was just a wolf like any other.
Heads hung out of office doors, watching the confrontation with enjoyment, yet no one came to Kara’s rescue. Probably glad to be out of firing range themselves…that’s what she got for hiring betas. The females all wanted him and the males would jump to follow his orders.
Female musk clogged the air. Especially from Lea Redcat, one of her business partners. Predator-Match.com was damn successful. To the outside world, their site looked like a zoo animal match service. To the shapeshifter community, it was a way to find a lover or a life partner. Since Lea was allowing this thing to escalate, it looked like Serena to the rescue. Again.
“I’m really sorry, sir. We do our best to match our clients up with the best fit for them.” Kara cringed lower behind her desk and wouldn’t meet the man’s eyes. Typical omega posture. The male frowned.
“Are you saying you think I deserve a psycho bitch as my Mate?” His quiet voice seemed to scare Kara more than his shouting had because she backed up. It wouldn’t be long before she crawled under her desk.
“No s-s-sir,” Kara stammered.
Damn that bastard. He was done scaring Kara. Unable to suppress her temper, Serena growled. His gaze flashed to her and she felt it all the way to her womb. Damn but he was hot. Life was just not fair.
She challenged him—head up, shoulders back—inspecting him from top to bottom and allowing her gaze to linger, as if she were checking for fleas. His shoulders were broad and filled his Italian suit to perfection. His broad chest narrowed to athletic hips, and she would bet money that his belly sported a six-pack, and not of the beer variety. He had the kind of face that artists wanted to sculpt and women wanted to sit on. His eyes were the piece de resistance—large, dark brown and thick-lashed beneath perfectly arched brows.
In short, he was a god—or a male model. This was the kind of male who never looked twice at Serena because she wasn’t tall and thin, or tiny and doll-like. She had yet to meet a male wolf who wanted a woman with curves, but this kind of wolf was the worst. These wolves wanted trophy bitches.
“Who are you?” His voice cut the air like a knife.
She lifted her chin when the bastard stared her down. How dare he try to intimidate her? She was an alpha female, damn it!
“I’m Serena Goldwolf and one of the co-owners of Predator-Match.com. Who are you?” No way would she back down from this one. The man needed to be taken down a peg.
He scowled at her and his eyes narrowed at her temerity in confronting him. The bastard was an Alpha from the tips of his perfect black hair to the bottom of his highly polished Italian loafers.
“Damien Blackwolf. A fucking unhappy customer.”
He straightened to face off against her, obviously waiting for his pronouncement to have some effect. He said it as if she were supposed to curtsey to him. Not only was he an alpha, but a Blackwolf Alpha. An alpha was a dominant male, but an Alpha was the heir of a clan, or the leader of one. This male had or definitely would found his own clan group one day.
“What seems to be your problem?”
On the whole, Serena was not fond of Blackwolf males—they were too arrogant by half, and this one seemed to think he was God’s gift. She had to admit he was a beautiful specimen who made her wet just to look at him, but she wasn’t about to admit that to him.
He smiled the smile of the male who knew a female was reacting to him. Shit. Her scent must be broadcasting. He licked his perfect full lips. Males were not supposed to have lips like that. Double shit.
“Your much-acclaimed psychology matching service paired me with the psycho bitch from hell!”
“Well, considering your obnoxious attitude with my secretary, it would seem our ‘much-acclaimed psychological matching service’ did just dandy,” Serena countered with a smile.
He growled and took a step toward her. She tensed but stayed where she was. The worst thing to do when a predator challenged was cringe or run, and this man was definitely a predator. If the bastard thought she was that easily intimated, he was in for a rude awakening.
She raised her brow and crossed her arms over her chest. He paused, dumbfounded, looking as perplexed as a pup trying to figure out why he tripped over his tail. Damn it, that made him adorable. Serena shook her head in disgust at herself. Alpha males were not adorable. They were royal pains, emphasis on both royal and pain.
She might be an alpha female, but she was damned if she was going to take an Alpha male like him as her Mate. When she did date, she dated betas because they were easier to manage. Serena blinked. Why was she using the permanent possessive with this one? A Mate was a partner for life, and a mate was good for a tumble. This male didn’t come close to fulfilling her needs for either role.
“Miss Goldwolf…”
“Ms. Goldwolf. I’m not some untried adolescent, Mr. Blackwolf, and I would appreciate if you would acknowledge it.”
“Ms. Goldwolf…” His sarcastic voice was deep and made her nipples harden. She pretended it didn’t affect her, but she knew he realized it did. Why did he show up here today? She didn’t need the aggravation.
He glared down at her. “This is a business, Ms. Goldwolf, and I am a very dissatisfied customer. I have friends who I’ve told about this company who could very easily withdraw their business at my request. I suggest you moderate your tone.”
That was it. Serena saw red. She stalked over to him and poked him in the chest with her finger while she scowled up into his black eyes.
“Listen to me, you arrogant wolf! You come in here, guns blazing, and abuse my secretary then threaten me. Pull your business if you want. Tell your friends to take a hike too. I don’t give a flying fuck! I will not be treated this way by you or anyone!”
Serena felt as if she were outside herself, and she watched herself in horror. She was never like this, even when she was fully in heat. Oh, she snarled and clawed at males, but she’d never attacked anyone before. She sure wanted to attack this one though. He smiled grimly, and only then did Serena realize his last speech had been a deliberate taunt. Damn it to hell. Damn him to hell…
He grabbed her waist and lifted her easily. He took two strides to the nearest wall, pushing her against it while wrapping her thighs around his hips. He pressed his erection against her wet pussy. She moaned and her head dropped back. She heard him snarl and realized she’d closed her eyes—when she opened them she saw triumph in his.
“Oh fuck.”
* * * * *

 So thanks for stopping by to visit today. I wish you and yours a joyous, healthy, and prosperous New Year.

--Francesca Hawley

Friday, December 30, 2011

Guest post with Carlene Rae Dater

Why do I write romance? I’d have to say, I fell into the genre, like so many other writers because I enjoy reading romance. To paraphrase that old saying, “Writing romance is like prostitution. First you write for yourself, then you do it for a few friends, finally you do it for everyone.” I’ve been doing it for everyone for a few years now and I love it!

What is romance but fantasy for adults? The women are beautiful, smart and sweet. The men, handsome, viral and usually rich! It’s fun to write about sex, too. I mean, let’s face it – sex is funny! I try hard to get a lot of humor in my work because everyone loves to laugh. Isn’t it fun to read, smile, get warm all over, laugh, get REALLY warm all over, sigh and have to go take a cold shower? Me too.

As soon as people find out I write romances, they assume I’ve had a fabulous sex life with a variety of lovers. When they want details, I just give them an enigmatic smile, keep my mouth shut and tell them to read my books. Why should I tell them that in reality I have a great imagination and I read a lot?

When writing the modern romance, I try to keep the tension tight, ratchet it up a bit more until the reader it literally biting her tongue with worry. Will they EVER get together? Short chapters are best. And I always, always end with a good cliff hanger. I want to write the kind of romances where, it’s two o’clock in the morning, the reader is snuggled down in bed, reading my book, she has to get up at six in the morning and go to work but….she HAS to read, just one more chapter!

I try to keep description to a minimum, too, just the exciting, sexy facts. We all know the biggest sex organ in the body is the brain. I like to tease my readers just enough to stimulate their imaginations. I don’t care if they come up with an idea completely different from what I intended. As long as they enjoy the story, that’s enough for me.

Lastly I’ve discovered that you have to write romance because you love to read it – not because you want to make money and think it will be easy. First of all, it’s not easy! Let’s face it, there are only so many ways couples can meet, court, fall in love and live happily ever after. When writing romance, you have to constantly come up new ideas, fresh characters, lively locals, and let’s not forget about all that sex! Ideas are everywhere – you just have to learn to recognize them.

So far I’ve published an erotic novella, Mysterious Gift, about a man who loses his memory but gains a gift. Whenever he touches someone, he can read their mind. The gift sure helps him when it comes to pleasing his partner. Next I came up with the idea of a woman who, Poof!, accidentally blows up a laboratory and becomes….invisible. Pity the poor guy who tries to make love to an invisible woman! A student of mine actually gave me the idea for my latest novella Blood Lust. It’s the story of a New York City EMT who can only work nights because….he’s a vampire.

Janet Evanovich once said she had to stop writing romance because she ran out of positions. Writing romance means I constantly have to come up with fun ways for my characters to enjoy one another in bed….or on the couch…in the front seat of a Ferrari….while sky diving, or….wait a minute I think I might be able to work that one into my latest novel! Stay tuned.

Carlene Rae Dater is the author of nine novels, three novellas and a non-fiction book about her adventures as a volunteer at the San Diego Sheriff’s Department. For a list and links to all of her work, visit her blogs: www.carlenedater.com, www.themysterystartshere.com, or www.manicreaders.com/CarleneRaeDater, or www.Facebook.com/CarleneraeDater

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Guest post with Shelley Munro

You Know You’re A Romance Writer When…

Hello, and a big thanks to Tina for inviting me to visit Sweet ‘n Sexy Divas today. I’ve been writing for over ten years now, and I thought about starting to write for years prior to that. I’ve always enjoyed reading romances, which made me wonder. When does a romance reader tip over into writer territory? How does someone know they’re a romance writer? This is what I came up with.

You know you’re a romance writer when…

1. You have lots of voices inside your head and you get rid of them by putting their stories on paper.

2. You spend hours locked up in a room with only your computer for company.

3. Your children know the blood rule – only interrupt mommy’s writing if there is blood.

4. You jump your husband, all in the name of research.

5. You have lots of books about sex and human relationships in your bookcase.

6. You also own loads of books about writing craft.

7. You use your husband to help you choreograph your love scenes.

8. If your husband isn’t available, you borrow your daughter’s Barbie dolls to choreograph the love scenes instead.

9. You haunt the mailbox/inbox for news of your latest submission.

10. Everyone in your family knows about rejection and understands you need both wine and chocolate to aid the healing process.

11. A trip to the local stationery shop is really exciting.

12. You love to read romances.

13. A dictionary and thesaurus are your best friends.

14. Promo is your middle name.

15. If anyone particularly irritates or annoys you, they’re immediately cast as a villain in your latest work in progress.

Can you add to my list?

While you’re thinking about it, here’s a little about my latest release: Christmas is Coming. Yes, I know Christmas is over, but bear with me. Christmas is Coming takes part in the same sexy world as Fancy Free. Fancy Free is the tale of a condom factory and the people who run it. It’s a story sprinkled with naughty fun plus much love and laughter.

Here’s the blurb for Christmas is Coming:

Christmas is coming. Give your lover the gift of pleasure…

Gaby Montgomery works for Fancy Free as a condom designer. Recently she’s been designing sex toys and testing her inventions with fellow designer Marc, but they’ve parted ways. The timing couldn’t be worse because she’s stuck without a willing test subject for her sexy products.

Gaby’s roommates Liam Richardson and Fletch Darcy both want a serious relationship with her, and now that she’s free, it’s time to make a move. But how do they decide which one will date her? Fletch finally suggests they share. Liam is skeptical but agrees the scheme might work, which allows Fletch to move on to step two of his romance plan. Fletch doesn’t just want Gaby, he wants Liam as well.

The loving is hot, their days full of fun product testing, exquisite pleasure and laughter. Everything is perfect until the outside world intrudes, putting their budding relationship under stress. This time their love and friendship might not stand the pressure.

Publisher’s Note: Want to have more fun with the characters in this book? Then pick up Fancy Free!

Shelley Munro lives in New Zealand with her husband and a rambunctious puppy. She writes hot, spicy romances for Ellora’s Cave and Samhain Publishes and sensual tales and mysteries for Carina Press. To learn more about Shelley and her books visit her website at http://www.shelleymunro.com.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Guest post with Kristabel Reed

The Lack of the Death of the Regency

And how sex enhances it.

The publishing industry has long said Regency Romances are DOA. Seriously? Are they blind, or simply hoping Regency Romances are dead?

Harlequin has an entire historical line devoted to it--Sourcebooks has a whole line and now seems to have the rights to all Georgette Heyer’s titles. In fact, Sourcebooks were one of the first to publish the What Happened Next stories of Jane Austen’s beloved books long before it became popular. (I’m looking at you, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies!)

Elosia James, Sabrina Jeffries, Victorian Alexander, and Stephanie Laurens are laughing at that DOA pronouncement all the way to the bank. Clearly that saying is proved wrong.

Our love affair with all things Jane Austen and the strict mores of the Regency era has never died and will never die. Even renowned mystery diva, P.D. James has a new book out Death Comes to Pemberley.

And those Regency stories a little left of center…such as the erotic ones I see more and more of, or my Regency Ménage Tales. The one common factor among all these is the romance (no matter how hot or not) among the propriety of it all.

Hearts and minds were lost to Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice (or at least Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen) and many romance writers and readers have benefitted from that attraction. Mystique? Or maybe just the fact that what historical romance lover doesn’t love the sly looks given between lovers during a dance, from across the ballroom, or in a horse-drawn carriage?

In Risqué: A Regency Ménage Tale, I take all that, all the sly looks, the hidden caresses, the secrecy needed to stay clear of the malicious gossip of the ton, and make my characters’ lives miserable. Why? Because a romance isn’t good until there’s angst tossed in.

What attracts you to an historical? What makes them so fascinating? Or if you don’t like historicals, why not? Comment here and be entered to win either Risqué or a $5 Barnes and Noble gift card. Two winners will be drawn at random on Friday (12/30/2011), one for the book, one for the gift card.

Risqué: A Regency Ménage Tale Blurb from Chapter 2:

Stretching languidly in bed, Alix finally decided to open her eyes and face the day. Not that she was in any rush to leave the bed.

Kane’s scent still faintly surrounded her, even though it had been a full day and night since their encounter. She shivered in remembered pleasure, fingers drifting over her breasts. He hadn’t left immediately after she’d collapsed in his arms. She didn’t recall him moving, but Alix did recall waking to his fingers doing delicious things to her body.

He hadn’t teased then, but had built her orgasm so swiftly she climaxed from his mouth and fingers alone. They hadn’t the time to indulge in all she’d wished to, and Alix frowned now as she thought of Kane.

She still wanted him. Wanted to tie him to the bed and be tied by him. Wondered if he would take her from behind, teach her that particular pleasure she longed to experience.

Sighing, she turned her head into the pillow and breathed deeply, annoyed with her foolishness. She’d told her maid, Marguerite, not to bother with the bed linens. Alix sighed again, and shrugged it all off. In the privacy of her bedroom, she could be just as young and sentimental as she wanted.

Not that she’d ever let anyone other than Marguerite see that side of her. Emily might suspect her sentimental streak, but her closest friend would never tell a soul.

Kane had left just before the break of dawn, striding arrogantly through the servants’ entrance in the rear of her St. James townhouse. A practiced rake, without doubt. Alix could appreciate his skill in stealth as well as his skill in a great many other things.

With one final stretch, Alix rose and walked naked across her room to the looking glass. Her vibrant auburn hair framed her face in a riot of curls, and the wanton look about her lingered. But the red love bites adorning her rose-tinted skin caught her attention.

Yesterday she’d received friends in her own parlor, but today she had several places to visit. She’d have to wear a higher neckline than usual if she intended to engage socially these next few nights. A bother, certainly, but not without its most pleasurable cause.

Dismissing her reflection, Alix tugged her robe on and went about her morning rituals. It was another two hours before Marguerite had her dressed and presentable for Emily’s political gathering. And she wondered if Mr. Huntington would be in attendance.

As she descended the stairs, mind still on the delectable Mr. Huntington, Beckett extended a silver tray topped by a sealed missive.

“Good day, madam,” he said with a slight bow. “A messenger delivered this note an hour ago, and the carriage is waiting for you just outside, as you requested.”

Alix took the note with a nod and a smile. “Thank you, Beckett. I’ll be out momentarily.” She dismissed the servant with another smile and diverted from her intended destination into her parlor. She closed the pocket doors behind her and stared at the linen paper, folded precisely down the center. There was no indication as to the sender and a simple wax rose sealed the note.

Opening the missive, Alix sat on the settee. She had no idea why she wanted privacy to read a simple letter, but instinct drove her to the parlor where none would disturb her.

I remember the feel of you; my tongue remembers the exquisite taste of you. Your moans and sighs were the sweetest of sounds, the most intoxicating.

Do not neglect this servant of yours.

It wasn’t signed, but Alix had no need for a signature. Kane. Heart racing both in need and excitement, Alix hurried from the parlor to her study. She quickly inked a reply and sealed it. Instructing Beckett to find a street urchin and have the note delivered immediately, Alix exited the house, the thrum of anticipation humming through her body.

I imagine your next visit, perhaps tied to my bed with a silken scarf. Under my control, my power, so I may devour every delicious inch of you.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

CONTEST and guest post with Amber Skyze!!

Writer’s block…it seems to haunt all writers at one time or another. It can be devastating especially if you have a deadline looming over your head.

Recently I read an article about the 10 rule. 10, 100, 1000, you get the idea. The theory is if you commit to writing just 10 words a day you’ll eventually spark the muse and write longer. A long time ago, way back when I first started out writing non-fiction I read many articles that touted the idea of 100 words a day. It’s something that’s stuck with me for a long time.

I don’t always make the goal, but I do have to say it does work more times than not.

100 words is not a lot in the grand scheme of things. For most it only takes a minute or two. Though, sometimes 100 words can feel like 10k, when your muse has decided to take an overdue vacation. When she threatens to make it a permanent voyage the 10 rule comes in very handy.

The article also advised incorporating the 10 rule into your editing life too. If you’re like me this comes in handy. I do NOT like editing. The issue is by the time I’ve written the book there’s usually new characters screaming at me to write their story. And in all honesty, I’m ready to move on to the next story. This doesn’t work if you want to sell!

Now that I’ve taken the leap into self-publishing editing is a big part of the process. I recently published three books and have four more to get uploaded. They all need editing. I plan to use the 10 rule for these books.

Do you have any tricks that get your muse motivated when he/she wants to take a vacation? If not you could always try the 10 rule. :0)


I’ll be giving away a copy of I Wanna Sext U Up to one lucky commenter.


Tool belt…check. Rope…check. Lube…check. Violet Wand…Check.

Beckett Manning, the host of Room Makeovers is ready to give Riley Anderson more than a remodeled kitchen. He’s about to bring her to the edge of ecstasy and back. Whether it’s hot sex in the bathtub or Riley hog-tied to the bed, he’s determined to show this brazen beauty how sexually desired she is.

A simple text leads to a case of mistaken communication and before long Riley finds herself tied to her bed and being driven to distraction. Beckett knows how to tease and torture every inch of her skin. He also knows his way around an orgasm, which keeps Riley wanting more.


It’s over, Riley. U r just no good in bed. Boring in fact. I moved my things out earlier.

Riley Anderson read the text for the hundredth time. She’d kept it to remind her of the asshole she’d spent too many years with. The words served as a reminder of her anger and resentment for the jerk who hadn’t had the decency to break up with her face-to-face. No, he had to do it over text.

“Aaargh!” Riley raised the sledgehammer again. She brought the hammer down on the kitchen cabinet with every ounce of strength her arms possessed. “This is for you, dirtbag.” She sent the iron head crashing into another wooden door. “Not good in bed? Why, because I didn’t get off on choking you until you almost passed out?”

Aside from the last year of their relationship when Terry wanted to explore darker sexual activities, Riley had believed they had a great thing going. She thought for sure he would be the man she’d marry. When she’d bought the house, it was with the intention that someday Terry would be her husband and they’d fill the spare bedrooms with children. How wrong she’d been.

The hammer smashed into the wood door of the overhead cabinet.

“Because passing out wasn’t fun? Fuck you, Terry.”

She repeatedly pounded away at the cabinets until she’d destroyed them all. “That’ll fix your ass, Terry.”

She stood back and assessed the damage. She’d managed to tear apart the kitchen in less than an hour. Her arms were sore from the weight of the tiny wrecking ball, but that didn’t matter. She’d accomplished something her ex had only promised her for the last year of their relationship. She’d started the renovation of the kitchen.

Now that Terry had been gone for nine months, she’d do it on her own. She didn’t need him to remodel. Riley was a smart woman. They’d watched the home-improvement channels so much during their relationship, she felt secure enough to do the job alone. She’d be her own fix-it handywoman.

“Guess I’d better go to the home-improvement store and get a move on this.” She leaned the wooden handle of the hammer against the cracked wood of the cabinet and wiped her hands together.

Satisfaction filled her soul.

Riley retrieved her purse and keys from the Formica countertop and headed out the door, one destination in mind. The local chain home repair store.

The ride to the store was a blur. Her only thoughts were what steps she’d need to take to get the work done. She’d have to put in new cabinets. She wanted new appliances. Stainless steel. Granite countertops were a must. Those Formica ones just wouldn’t cut it any longer.

She pulled into a parking spot and turned off the car.

“Time to buy a new kitchen.”

Confidence radiated from her as she stepped into the large store. She felt proud. She had a project to do while she was on vacation. It’d likely take her longer than the week, but it would be a start.

“Excuse me.”

Riley turned to see if the man behind the sexy baritone was talking to her. She was surprised to see a gorgeous man holding a microphone walking toward her, a cameraman following closely behind him.

“Yes,” she whispered. Dear God, please don’t be from the news. The last thing I need is to be on the local news looking disheveled.

“Hi, I’m Beckett Manning. I’m from Room Makeovers. Are you remodeling any rooms in your house today?”

Holy shit! Riley’s jaw must have fallen to the floor. She’d seen the show a couple of times. Beckett looked ten times hotter in person. When she decided it was time to change the eighties-style kitchen, she’d begun watching all those makeover shows on the cable channel. Terry had watched with her, promising they’d do the kitchen soon. Soon never came. The only thing Terry had managed to do was cheat on her with some bimbo. Years of promises vanished out the window along with Terry’s things.

Monday, December 26, 2011

CONTEST and guest post with Stormie Kent

When I’m writing I sometimes like to have a soundtrack playing. No, not the score to a movie but music that matches the mood I‘m trying to convey in the scene I am writing.
I was recently watching a new sitcom by a writer/director I love. I am a devotee from when he put out plays on the urban theater circuit. (Please Google for an explanation as giving one here would kill my flow. ;-)) His new sitcom is everything I was used to from him but I felt slightly removed. What was the issue? There was no background music to match the scenes. There wasn’t a laugh track, either.
No, I’m not a mindless drone; I just think sound can make some things better. I believe sound can influence mood. Don’t get me wrong, I often write in complete silence or with life with two energetic children and a very exuberant parent as my background noise, but when it can be arranged or I’m struggling with a scene, I need to be pumped first.
What do you mean, Stormie? I’ll be happy to tell you. Thanks for asking. (Okay, I know you didn’t really ask. Just humor me.) Except for romance, which is real I don’t care what anyone says, what I write is mostly chimera. I know you’re going to be shocked but I’ve never been on a space ship in my life. Escape a world invasion by aliens? Not me. So I set the mood when attempting to write difficult scenes with the feel I get from music.
If I need to feel heartbroken I may play songs similar to Seether featuring Amy Lee, “Broken” or “Someone Like You” by Adele. If I must write a scene where the characters feel confused by their out of control addictions to each other, I choose songs like “Bad Habits” by Maxwell.
Am I writing an intense strategic or aggressive scene? (Okay, I mean a fight. Don’t judge me.) I may play something like “Cryin’ Like a B**ch!!” by Godsmack. Maybe I don’t actually write to “Cryin’ Like a B**ch!!” but rock out for the duration of the song and laugh.  I have a strange sense of humor. Regardless, I think you get the idea.
Sweet and tender scenes require music like “Misty Blue” by Dorothy Moore or any R&B love song from the nineties. (Again, please don’t judge.) All of these scenes can be written without music on a day when I don’t need writing motivation. I mean, I’ve been in love. I’ve had my heart broken. I’ve fought. (No judging.)
Surprise, surprise, I have never been trapped on a battle ground during an alien invasion of Earth, so writing about it and getting the intensity correct required some help. I returned to heavy metal, alternative rock, and hard rock like Godsmack or “What I’ve Done” by Linkin Park.
Let me show you what type of scene I mean. I’ll start with the blurb then give you the excerpt.

Camryn is taken captive after Earth is invaded by hostile aliens. She is sold as an exotic, an expensive sex slave. Camryn is willing to do anything to survive and escape captivity. That includes convincing her master that she enjoys his touch. Then she is purchased by the sexy warrior Venn. Now she must convince herself that she can resist a male whose every caress ignites a passion she has never known.
Venn is an empathic and hyper-sensitive tribal lord from planet Ordan. He has never owned a slave, yet he cannot resist the beautiful Earth woman. She teases his heightened senses and pushes past the control he has over his emotions. Venn struggles to own Camryn’s body with scorching sex and a firm hand. And when his possession of her body is complete, he’ll try to claim her soul.

The following excerpt is for those readers who are 18 and over only.
Copyright © Stormie Kent, 2011
All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.

 “I got a call from Brad before the alien transmission was cut.” Brad was his brother, who worked at the Pentagon.
“I don’t go without Niki,” she said. She and Niki would figure out another plan if he couldn’t handle that.
“Hurts, doesn’t it?” The look Niki gave him was pure devilry.
“Hell, get in the Land Rover.” They climbed inside the black all terrain vehicle. Mark turned the key in the ignition. A loud boom sounded and the row of townhomes across the street exploded.
Camryn screamed. Car alarms blared. Flaming bricks and debris rained down around them. Fear gripped her, paralyzing her momentarily. She had a normal life. This was the stuff of movies or newsreel pictures of some war-torn part of the world.
“Drive, fool,” Niki said, leaning forward between the seats.
Mark backed up swiftly, dodging burning wood and lawn ornaments. The earth shook and the SUV skidded on the rapidly cracking ground. A portion fell away under the back tire. Mark accelerated and they cleared the hole.
She exhaled a breath she hadn’t known she was holding. Camryn had never been so scared in her life. For once she was glad her ex liked to maneuver like he was a race car driver. He maneuvered the car expertly as he dodged holes and obstructions in the road in order to navigate out onto the main street.
“Better not take the highway,” Camryn said, gripping the dash. “Too many overpasses.”
A five-story office building had collapsed in on itself to the right. Gray and black dust coated every surface, including the car. The windshield wipers left dirty grayish black streaks as they swung back and forth.
They weren’t the only drivers about. Cars swerved around each other in near misses. Camryn flinched as a red minivan narrowly missed sideswiping her door. There was a blur of brown and green. The SUV careened to a stop, the tail end flying up into the air before crashing down jarringly. They were all propelled forward. Camryn’s head slammed against the dashboard.
Hands pulled her out of the vehicle. She blinked up at a bloodied Mark until she could focus. “Niki?”
“Here.” She climbed out, clutching her own head.

Camryn turned. She couldn’t believe the size of the tree crushing the steaming hood. A whiz and a boom sounded fifty feet away. A crater opened in the ground, swallowing a truck. She looked up in time to see a streak of black wink out in the sky.
“Can an airplane just disappear like that?”
“We have to go,” Mark urged.
They grabbed their packs out of the car. She reached for Niki and, hand in hand, they began walking. Her nose stung. She kept herself from crying, but just barely. People milled about, some crying, some screaming, others appearing dazed. Families clung to each other.
What in the world is happening? The air was quiet now. Everywhere she looked there was debris. Cars were crushed in or just smoking steel shells. Gigantic craters dotted the ground. It would be dark soon, with the darkness’s own set of dangers.
“Niki, I think we have to assume these aren’t terrorists. Hairy, beastly men, aircraft faster than anything I’ve seen before…” she whispered, unable to finish her thought.
 “We just need to keep moving and find someplace safe to hole up and regroup,” Niki stated calmly.
They passed an ambulance set up on the side of the road where paramedics were performing triage. There was a long line of injured waiting. Their minor injuries could wait. They needed to find safety. The first sheriff’s deputies she’d seen that day were directing people in cars and on foot.
Camryn glanced at Mark. He had probably saved their lives. He had come for them immediately after the broadcast and gotten them on the road fast. She was slightly ashamed of the resentment she’d felt when he appeared at her door. She still couldn’t forgive him for attempting to come between her and Niki. Mark had told lies to force Camryn to hate Niki, not realizing that nothing would make Camryn hate her. When her former husband confessed to a supposed affair between the two, Camryn turned her back on him, not Niki.
He glanced up and caught her staring. He moved closer and touched her back. She stiffened but did not pull away. She wanted to.
Whoop. Whiz. Boom. Holes opened up all around them. Camryn screamed. Why is this happening? Niki pulled her along and Camryn struggled to keep up. Mark pushed her from behind.
More people and cars disappeared, swallowed by holes or incinerated in blasts. What were they supposed to do? The confusion caused people to bump into each other, accidentally pushing each other into craters or the line of fire. They weren’t safe. Everything was too loud, too fast and too confusing. Suddenly, all firing ceased. They stopped moving. Camryn looked around. Out of the hundreds of people who had surrounded her before, fifteen were left.
Breathing heavily, she hugged Niki to her. “We survived.”
“We survived again. Now we have to keep doing it. We have to find shelter or help. Someone who knows what is going on would be helpful,” Niki replied.
Camryn pulled away. Her entire body shook and she felt fuzziness in her head that she was very sure meant she was going crazy. But they were alive. That’s all that mattered.
“Where are you taking us, Mark?” she asked.
“There is a hidden barracks about twenty miles from here. It is bunkered underground, so maybe it is still secure.”
They all looked at the tractor-trailer-sized holes in the ground. The ground shook and she let go of Niki, falling to the ground. She forcefully pushed the thought away that they weren’t going to make it to the underground bunker alive. Thoughts like those wouldn’t help her keep walking.

Camryn climbed to her feet and they continued. The going was rough with the ground shaking almost constantly.

“What’s that?”
They all stopped. There was a thunderous cracking. It sounded like stone falling and the clamorous roaring of a demolition. Camryn looked back. The ground was splitting.
Camryn ran. The shaking was severe. She stumbled. She got up, balancing with her arms straight out to the sides.
The roaring grew deafening. She was flung back. She landed on her back, her ankle twisted.
Winded, Camryn lay still until the shaking subsided. She crawled, dragged and pushed herself to her knees and gasped. She knelt at the edge of a fourteen-meter-wide fissure. The earth had cracked in a jagged line as far as the eye could see.  Across from her, tugging on her hair, stood Niki. Behind her hovered an equally distressed Mark. She knew what they were thinking. She was the least likely to survive on her own.
“Don’t worry. Follow the crack. It has to stop somewhere,” Camryn called. “We’ll meet there.”
“If you see anyone, get out of sight,” Niki called back.
“You can do it!” Mark yelled.
At that moment, something inside her wanted to give up. It all seemed too hard. Whatever was attacking them could destroy buildings and eighteen wheelers. It caused earthquakes. She was just one flesh-and-blood woman.         
“Camryn,” Niki called.
Camryn focused. Niki looked as if she would attempt to fly across the gap if necessary. It was the first time in a long time that Niki had let her feelings show. Camryn always put Niki’s feelings above her own. Always.
Giving up wasn’t an option. Trembling, Camryn stood and limped away. She limped until nightfall, crying softly, glad that Niki and Mark were too far away to hear. Both of them were ex-Army. They would be okay, just worried for her.
The area had fallen silent and still. The people she passed were dead. She averted her eyes where possible. She stopped checking for pulses after the tenth corpse. She was thirsty and exhausted. The crack widened the farther she walked and what appeared to be an entire copse of trees was overturned in her path. She would have to go around. She pressed dirty palms to her eyelids. Her body wanted to shut down.
“In the morning,” she whispered.
She could no longer see Niki and Mark and she needed to sleep. Camryn pulled herself behind a fallen tree and settled against it. Finally she allowed herself to open her pack and take out a bottled water. She only drank half because she needed to ration her supplies. Who knew when she would find help? She also needed to sleep or she wouldn’t be able to go on. Camryn rested her head against the bark and waited for morning.
* * * * *
She awakened to daylight and the feeling of her hair being pulled out by the roots. Pain exploded through her head and her eyes watered. She punched and kicked. Her eyes opened and she screamed. A man had her by her long hair. He pulled her to her feet. She was in the clutch of full-blown horror. The man who held her was different than the man from the terrorist broadcast but just as terrifying.
He was huge, muscled and his features reminded her of museum waxes she had seen of the Neanderthal man. He wore a khaki jumpsuit. He leaned in and sniffed her, then gutturally yelled into the distance. Men similar to the Neanderthal came running. Camryn watched them in terror. She couldn’t fight that many men. She tried to scramble away despite still being held tightly by the hair. She pulled at the Neanderthal’s hands, scratching and kicking.
“Let me go!”
Behind the men, a craft that looked like a gray delivery truck hovering over the ground drew closer. She turned her face away as dust flew up. The craft pulled to a stop in front of them.
Another man emerged. He wasn’t like the others. He was corpulent, but it looked more like water running under the fleshy rings of his skin than fat. He was bald, pale and seemed to be sweating profusely.
“Let me go!”
He looked at her and smiled. The man spoke to the Neanderthal holding her in a language she didn’t understand. It smelled her again and seemed to reply. Then the man from the truck did something that sent chills down her spine. He rubbed his hands together.
The man pushed some buttons on his watch.
“Get off me!”
“There we are.” He stopped pressing the watch as Camryn stared. “The Trogo have captured a real prize in you, slave. This planet is an exotic treasure trove.”
She watched in fear as he pulled a syringe out of a pouch and uncapped it. She had thought herself afraid before. It was nothing to this. These men were not human.
The situation wasn’t like the black aircraft that swooped in and destroyed everything around her and then disappeared. She could talk to the man. Maybe she could reason with him or talk her way out of whatever he wanted with her. She opened her mouth, but nothing came out but a gasp. Fright had frozen her vocal cords. Was he going to kill her with whatever was in that syringe or just dope her up? Make her more biddable?
She looked around at the salivating men still snarling and snapping around her and then back at the watery blob of a man. The Neanderthal eyed her with lust. The blob simply looked delighted. She’d rather die than let them rape her. Better a swift death than a slow painful one.
“Kill me,” she managed to gasp.
The man laughed. “No, you will gain me many credits at the slave auction. I need you healthy and alive.”
“No!” She redoubled her efforts to be free.
Someone grabbed her kicking legs. The Neanderthal holding her grabbed her arm and extended it outward. She struggled. All Camryn got for her trouble was her head completely pulled back.
 “You stay away from me.” Her voice was so small, she wondered if he even heard her.
Even though she’d known it was coming, the pinch of the needle was a shock. “Ah.” She lost control of her body by degrees until finally her consciousness winked out.

I really needed pulse pounding, head rocking beats for this scene from Enslaved in Desire.  Do you listen to specific types of music when you write or read? Do you hear the soundtrack to the book? Maybe you have songs that feel like the soundtrack to your life. What do you hear?

Leave a comment and let me know, just say hi or comment on the excerpt. I’d love to hear from you. I’ll be randomly picking one commenter to give a free e-copy of Enslaved in Desire. Make sure to include an email address with your comment to enter.

Stormie Kent

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Songs Cited
Adele. “Someone Like You”. 21. X Recordings Ltd, 2011.
Godsmack. “Cryin’ Like a B**ch!!”. The Oracle. Universal Republic Records, 2010.
Linkin Park. “What I’ve Done”. Minutes to Midnight. Warner Brother Records, Inc, 2007.
Maxwell. “Bad Habits”. Blacksummers’night. Sony Music Entertainment, 2009.
Moore, Dorothy. “Misty Blue”. Misty Blue. Malaco Inc, 1976.
Seether featuring Amy Lee. “Broken”. Disclaimer II. Wind-up Entertainment, Inc, 2004.