Thursday, June 30, 2011

Guest blog with Charlene Roberts

Today, we're welcoming Charlene to Sweet 'n Sexy Divas. She's talking about research and her awesome new book Under Cover of Night. It's currently available for $1.19 at Amazon. Hey, you cannot beat that!!!

Now, let's welcome Charlene.



Ah research, a very important topic. Sometimes I love it; other times, I scream with frustration.

What exactly, is the definition or "research"? Webster’s Dictionary describes research as “Diligent inquiry or examination in seeking facts or principles”.

Research is one of the most vital aspects to any manuscript. It could make or break your plot, your characters, the very essence of your story.

Depending on the genre of your story, research can be very detailed and time consuming. Sometimes I find the amount of time I spend on research alone takes the fun out of writing, but it's a necessary evil, and the results are a manuscript with a richer and deeper level of description.

However, research can also have its drawbacks. For example, since the Internet's introduction, the amount of information available online has exploded. However, you have to be careful--is the information reliable? Just because it's on the 'Net doesn't mean that it's true. A writer must always double-check their resources.

And although it sounds almost primitive, especially to the younger generation, libraries still remain an invaluable source for information. It may not be instantaneous, but you can find a hell of a lot more stuff in there!

Research isn't limited to actual historical or present day facts, either. If a writer is working on a futuristic fantasy novel for example, then the research involved in making that futuristic world believable to the reader has got to be spot on. There's nothing worse than having your readers discover flaws in your hard earned research!

Now after doing all of this wonderful research, you have to ask yourself: "Do I use everything that I've discovered?" I should hope not! While research helps a writer nail down those pesky little details, it does not mean you get to use all of them. Why not, you ask? Because you don't want your story to end up sounding like a lecture. In Regency, it's one thing to tell me that a lady of the ton wore "a silk hat with ostrich feathers". But if a writer starts telling me how the feathers are stitched (or pinned, I don't know--RESEARCH!!) onto their hats, or how the hats are made (this is called Telling vs. Showing), then I'll start yawning, you've pulled me out of the story, and I don't want to read it anymore, no matter how much time and considerable effort you've put into it. There has to be a balance between "just enough" and "too much".

So remember, you can’t get away from research. You can’t ignore it; don’t use too much of it in your story, and get the right information. Because without it, we wouldn’t have stories!

Under Cover of Night
RCMP Lieutenant Emma Parris, a former jewel thief, loves nothing more than the thrill of the chase. And the international jewel smuggler known as “The Broker” proves to be fascinating prey. But she isn’t prepared for Gerard McIver, The Broker’s devilishly handsome right-hand man, whose boyish smile and hot, muscular body may prove too much for Emma’s sense of justice.

Gerard knows that Emma Parris is more than just an innocent, naïve tourist. But he’s torn between uncovering the truth, and uncovering Emma’s delectable body…


As Emma started to dance, Gerard felt heat prickle his skin. She’s going to do a striptease, he thought in wonder. His cock swelled swiftly at the image, and he reached down to adjust himself.

“No touching.”

“But darling, I can’t—“

“I can stop if you can’t handle one simple rule.”

Gerard jerked his hands away. “I’m all yours.”

“Good.” She continued her dance, her hips swaying in time to the slow beat, her arms gently rising and falling. Now and again, she’d suggestively touch her body—rubbing her hands across her breasts, spanking her ass or using her finger to trace an outline around her pussy.

He sat transfixed as Emma sashayed across the floor, tempting him with peeks of smooth flesh as she flashed a shoulder here, her waist there. She would gaze at him coyly over her shoulder as she turned, or move so seductively close that he would unconsciously reach for her, only to grab air as she danced away, her laugh low and sexy.

Her shirt inched up, her stomach taut and the color of café au lait, and Gerard suddenly realized that he had never seen Emma completely naked.

With one smooth pull, she had the shirt off and tossed it to him. He caught it. He raised the material to his nose, inhaling her fresh scent, while he kept his gaze glued on the full breasts barely contained in the lacy coral bra, the nipples just peeking over the edge.

Emma moved towards him, her hands massaging over her globes, her fingers dipping into the generous cleavage. “Like what you see so far?” she asked.

Gerard tossed her shirt aside and lunged for her, but she jumped back, laughing. “Don’t be impatient,” she scolded, wagging her finger at him. “The best part is yet to come.”

“Fine,” he growled, sitting back. “Get on with it.”

“Hmm, someone’s grumpy.”

He deliberately let his eyes travel over her until she started to fidget under his intent stare. “I want my dessert.”

The sneakers came off next. By this time, the storm was in force, and Gerard rose to shut the windows against its onslaught. He tried to pass Emma, but she figured out his plan, keeping her distance until he returned to the sofa.

The sound of the rain pattering against the windows was a romantic counterpart to the music flowing from the radio and although his lust felt as sharp as a knife, Gerard managed to relax further into the sofa, watching as Emma hooked her thumbs into the waistband of her fitted pants. With slow, deliberate movements, she eased one side down, then the other, until the material pooled at her feet. She gracefully stepped out of them, kicking them aside, and allowing Gerard to fully appreciate the lush body that stood before him.

Her lingerie was a matched set, the color glowing against the candlelight. As she turned, he drew in a sharp breath, his hands clenching into tight sweaty fists. The panties were high-cut, only covering half of her tight ass as she wriggled.

“What do you think of my underwear?” she asked matter-of-factly. She actually twirled in front of him. “Do you like the color?”

“I—“ Gerard couldn’t speak. All he could think of was getting his hands on her, but it wasn’t going to be easy, if she had her way. “It’s very pretty,” he managed to say, sounding like an idiot.

But Emma seemed pleased. “I never get the chance to show off my girly things,” she said.

Gerard wanted to see all of her girly things.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Casey Sheridan, Guest Blogger

Let's Flirt!

My four-year-old niece has flirting down to an art. Of course, she doesn't know she's flirting, she's probably never even heard the word flirt before. All she knows is she gets what she wants when she smiles and asks nicely.

It's not so much the asking, but the way she asks. She gives her best beguiling look, bats her lashes a bit, smiles (not just with her lips, but also with her eyes) and sweetly makes her demands. If there's hesitation on your part, she'll tilt her head to the side ever so slightly, put her hand on your arm and softly say, "Please."

Works every time. And she's only four. Imagine her at sixteen.

My character Alaina flirted in order to get the attention of the car owners. When I started writing Ruby Red Metallic, I couldn't get her to flirt because I didn't know how myself. At least, I didn't think I did, so I Googled how to flirt. Let me tell you, there's a lot of information out there, most of it crap.

There was one common thread in all the information I found. It's such a simple thing. All you have to do is smile. A genuine smile. A smile that reaches your eyes as well as your lips. Not some mindless grin either, but something that says, "I like you. Let's talk."

Care to flirt with me?


Casey Sheridan wrote her first piece of erotica on a dare, and she loved it so much she never stopped. Her work has been published by Breathless Press and Cobblestone Press, and has appeared on The Erotic Woman, Every Night Erotica, and RSVP-Erotica.

Casey loves her two cats as well as reading, writing and spending time with the one she loves.

You can find her on the Web at:


Alaina knows her cars, and she doesn’t view what she does for a living as stealing. Using all the physical attributes she has at her disposal, she merely acquires the high-end vehicles for a business partner. Although the beautiful cars turn her on, she has her heart set on a particular gem. When she finds her jewel, Alaina is pleasantly surprised by its handsome owner, Scott.
Now she’s faced with a dilemma. Does she choose the man or the gem?


Alaina pulled open the heavy door of the greasy spoon diner and stepped inside. Her four-inch heels made contact with the once white, now faded and cracked, linoleum floor. The smell of stale cigarettes, freshly brewed coffee, and fried eggs swirled around her, while waitresses wearing pink uniforms and white aprons rushed past. She noticed the dented, stainless steel coun­ter and the worn red vinyl on the stools around it. The same vinyl covered the seats in the booths, strips of silver duct tape repairing the rips. The buzz of conversations and the clank of dishes filled the air.

She spotted the man sitting alone at the counter holding a ciga­rette as he handed the menu back to a waitress.

Alaina headed in his direction. She passed booths filled with pa­trons, mostly men, eating breakfast and drinking coffee before head­ing off to their jobs. Their conversations became hushed when she looked their way, and there was more than one lascivious gleam as she strolled by. One man stared at her, mouth agape, and she threw him a smile as she continued down the row of tables to where the driver of the Viper sat. “Is this seat taken?”

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Guest blog and CONTEST with Kay Springsteen!!

When Secondary Characters Speak Out

Sometimes I’ll be reading a story and one of the supporting characters makes an impact. I can usually tell about the time the author gets that swat between the eyes because that same secondary character will elevate from supporting cast member to nominee for Best Actor/Actress in a Supporting Role. The character who had previously been a brother, sister, sidekick, best friend, soundly speaks more profound words of wisdom, or a description firms up – not enough to detract from the story’s main characters, but enough to make it obvious this secondary character is waving a flag and trying to make the author notice him or her. When I end a story with a secondary character haunting my memory, I can probably expect some type of sequel because I can tell the character has made a mark on the writer as well. This is simply a writer doing his/her job—that is, telling a story that involves more than just the interactions of the two main characters.

So when I wrote Lifeline Echoes, before it was even published, my crit partners said things like, “I’m in love with one of your secondary characters,” and “These two have to have their own story!” It may be cliché that they were saying this about my hero’s brother, because the logical next story in a series that has a pair of brothers would be about the brother. I hadn’t really planned more than giving my hero a source of familial support—certainly never thought in terms of giving him a novel, but even I began to hear Ryan’s brother, Sean, speaking to me, asking for a chance at his own story. Still, it’s hardly a surprise, as I said, that a brother would become the next story.

What did surprise me, however, was that the follow-up story was not as much about the brother as it was about the brother’s love interest. Sure, they were semi-involved throughout Lifeline Echoes, but in their story, Elusive Echoes, the story actually evolved to be more about Melanie and a past she’d rather not think about than Sean. That doesn’t mean Sean has no story. He’s got his own set of issues to overcome. But where their stories converge, it’s all about Mel and how her past is getting in the way of their happiness.

Answer one or both of the questions below for a chance to win a PDF copy of Elusive Echoes:

1. Readers: Have you ever found yourself in a story and just knew one of the characters was chattering at the author to demand his/her own story?

2. Writers: Have you ever been surprised by a change-up in your story that redirects focus from one character to another?


They’re two people caught between friendship and something more; they can’t move forward, and they can’t let go.

Drawn together from early childhood, Sean McGee and Melanie Mitchell seemed destined for each other. But at age thirteen, Melanie was wrenched from the people she loved and forced onto a path she loathed. Sean was no stranger to people leaving, but losing Melanie devastated him. When she suddenly reappeared in Orson’s Folly, Sean was overjoyed. The Melanie who came home, though, wasn’t the same girl. She’s got a harder edge and she’s obviously hiding something, but Sean no longer knows how to reach her.

Returning to Orson's Folly as an adult, all Melanie wanted to do was forget the years she spent away. But she soon learned that going home didn’t mean she could return to her old life—or her childhood sweetheart, Sean. Even their mutual attraction to one another hasn’t rebuilt the bond of trust and closeness they once shared. It’s been seven years since she returned and now everything Melanie wants to forget has broadsided her. She must confront her demons and relive her past in an unexpected way or risk losing the only man she’s ever loved. But even if she succeeds, Sean might be lost to her anyway.

(Rating: PG)

Brief excerpt:

Mel sighed. She couldn’t remember a time since they’d been teenagers when she hadn’t wanted to be Sean’s girl. Yet they never seemed to get beyond a few heated kisses before he hightailed it in the opposite direction. Sometimes it was hard to tell if he really wanted to kiss her or if he was just being polite.

“Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow, then?” As always she felt a little anxious about his answer, though she usually tried to cover her anxiety with an attitude of nonchalance.

He smiled and gave her a peck on the cheek with one last warm hug. Then he rubbed the back of his neck and cast a sheepish glance her way. “Hope so.”

She breathed more easily when she caught his “yes” tell. He always seemed just a little on the shy side when he said yes to something that was important to him.

Sean waited for her to cross the parking lot again before he left. He probably didn’t know she routinely stood at the door and watched his taillights disappear.

In honor of the release of Elusive Echoes today (6/28/2011), Lifeline Echoes is on sale for the next two weeks – only $1.99 at Astraea Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Monday, June 27, 2011

Guest Blog with Author Karen Nutt

Legend of the Missing Loot

My story Wanted takes place near Flagstaff, Arizona in late 1800s, where outlaws still proved a threat. A real life hold-up in 1881 inspired the back story for my western tale, though my story has a happier ending.

The end of the line for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad was at Canyon Diablo, putting the passengers about thirty-five miles east of Flagstaff. The passengers would have to board a stagecoach taking the California-Santa Fe Trail toward Flagstaff.

The day of the robbery, the stagecoach passengers waited patiently as four mailbags were transferred from the train to the coach. A few of the passengers noticed two of the mailbags appeared to be quite heavy and thought it odd at the time, but didn’t question it.

Once all the baggage and the passengers were situated, the coach headed north out of Canyon Diablo and then west onto the California-Santa Fe Trail. In Flagstaff, the passengers and baggage would meet the next stage that would take them to Needles where they could catch the next train.

The trail along the San Francisco Peaks is steep, but the horses climbed steadily until they reach a flat divide. Before they could go further, five riders broke from the trees and surrounded the stagecoach with their six guns drawn and ready to use. The leader motioned for two of the outlaws to go to the back of the coach. They took only two mailbags and left the rest. They didn’t even bother to rob the passengers, letting them all go without hurting a soul.

Once the stagecoach reached Flagstaff, the terrified passengers disembarked and rushed to tell the station agent about the robbery. Everyone was confused why the outlaws would want mailbags.

The stage master finally learned that the two missing bags contained $125,000 of gold, silver and coins that were bound from Albuquerque Bank then to a San Francisco Bank. Wells Fargo, who had been plagued by stagecoach robberies, had attempted to fool the outlaws, by packing the gold and silver in two five-gallon whiskey kegs in each mailbag. It appeared the stagecoach outlaws had an inside source at Wells Fargo.

A posse set out immediately, but the outlaws had too much of a head start. Wells Fargo demanded the help of the U.S. Army and the patrol of the 6th U.S. Calvary to find the outlaws. Two Indian scouts were enlisted to help also. They picked up the trail and found the men holed up in a log cabin near Veit Springs. The outlaws opened fired and the cavalry returned the gesture. In the end, all five outlaws lay dead. The authorities went through the outlaws’ belongings, but didn’t find the gold or silver. Word spread fast and the next day, men arrived to look for the hidden loot. The entire area was dug up, but nothing was ever found.

For years treasure hunters have dug all over the slopes, the dirt floor of the cabin, around the spring and even in the nearby ice caves, but to this day, no one has claimed they found the missing loot.

Excerpt of Wanted


Outlaw JoBeth Riley finds the Kellys a strange lot. A little girl, who believes her dreams are tales of the future and the rugged sheriff, Jace Kelly whose kindness proves a distraction. She’s an outlaw for heaven’s sake, but Jace is bound and determined to steal her heart.

(JoBeth has just been arrested as is behind bars)

So the sheriff had a little girl. She was cute as a button with rosy cheeks and big blue eyes, a brighter blue than her father’s. As if the little girl sensed someone staring at her, she turned. Her gaze fastened onto JoBeth before widening in surprise.

She tilted her head to the side then squealed in delight, clapping her hands together as if someone handed her a present. “She’s here. She’s really here.”

JoBeth’s brows drew together in a frown. She turned to look beside her, half expecting someone to be standing next to the cot. Her gaze fastened onto the little girl once more with a frown.

“Now, Emma, don’t be making this out to be something it’s not,” the sheriff said.

Her hand went to her mouth, cupping it as if she were going to whisper, but her voice rang clear as day. “She has dark hair and green eyes. Didn’t you notice?”

JoBeth looked at Jace and by damn he turned two shades of red. Interesting. She looked at Emma again. Who did the child think she was?”

“That’s enough, Emma. We’ll talk about this later.”

“But she’s my Christmas present.” Her hands flew to her waist and she stomped her foot with indignation.

JoBeth’s brows rose on their own accord. A Christmas present, now this she had to hear.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Elaine Cantrell Guest Blogger

Losing Your Dreams

What’s your dream?  Have you achieved it yet?  Most of us have lofty ambitions and dreams when we’re young, but as we grow older, reality intrudes and we settle for something less than what we wanted.  Luckily, most of us find happiness in our new dreams and have a fulfilling life. 

Guess what I wanted to be when I was a child?  I wanted to be Miss America.  My family made a big deal out of watching the Miss America pageant every year.  My aunts and girl cousins would all come over, and we’d eat snacks, criticize the talent competition, and try to pick the winner.  Well, I didn’t become Miss America.  Instead, I became a social studies teacher, wife, mother, grandmother, and finally an author.  Am I content?  I sure am.  My life is full and happy.

But what would happen if you had a huge dream that came to pass and gave you everything you’ve ever wanted, and then you lost it?  Could a replacement dream ever take the place of your old dream? 

In my latest release A New Dream that’s exactly what happens to Matt McCallum.  Matt achieves his dream of playing pro-football.  He was a first round draft pick for the Green Bay Packers, and during his rookie year he kicked the winning field goal in the Super Bowl.  He has fame, money to burn, and a sexy fiancée.  Life doesn’t get any better than this.  And then he loses it all when a car wreck takes his career away.  Here’s a blurb and excerpt from the book.  In the excerpt, Matt awakes in the hospital and finds out about his loss.


What do you do when you lose everything?

After an auto accident destroys his pro-football career, Matt McCallum struggles to find a new dream for his life, but nothing engages him the way football did. After a stint in rehab, he takes a job managing a grocery store where he meets Violet Emerson.

Violet works in the bakery department, but her dreams carry her far beyond the doors of Chef’s Pantry. As soon as she can save the money, she plans to open a catering business. And she thinks the new manager’s broad shoulders and blue eyes are simply divine.

Thrown together at work, Matt and Violet find a common dream for their lives, but a loose end from Matt’s past returns to jeopardize their future. Will love be enough to save their new dream before it turns into a nightmare?


Matt closed his eyes for a moment and rubbed his throbbing temples. “I don’t remember what happened.”

“That’s normal. You may never remember everything.”

Matt tried to sit up, but he couldn’t muster enough energy.  “What’s wrong with me? Why is it so hard to sit up?”

“Oh, that’s because of the medication we gave you to help you rest.” She patted his arm and checked an IV that he hadn’t noticed until she touched it. “We didn’t want you tossing and turning all night.”

“What’s wrong with me?” he repeated.

“Shh, don’t worry about that now. The doctor can talk to you later when you feel better.”

Matt didn’t like the blank expression on the nurse’s face at all. I must be hurt pretty bad. “No, tell me now,” he insisted.

Nurse Whittaker stuck a thermometer in his mouth. “You have some trauma to your legs, Mr. McCallum, but the doctor says you’re going to be fine.”

Matt spit the thermometer out. “Trauma to my legs?”

“Yes, sir, and I’d rather you talk to Dr. Williams about it.”

It’s bad. It has to be. “Tell me,” he demanded.

“Mr. McCallum…”

Matt forced himself to sit up. His head spun and made his stomach turn over, but he managed to pull the sheet off his right leg. Wow, he must really be out of it. It looked like most of his leg was gone. He shook his head to clear away the cobwebs and looked again. His leg was gone!

He started to shake and grabbed the nurse by the arm. “Where’s my leg?” he cried.

The nurse took a look at one of the monitors in the room and called, “Jenny, would you bring me another dose of Mr. McCallum’s medication?”

A nurse arrived with a syringe which she injected into Matt’s IV. “There you are,” she soothed. “You’ll be comfortable in a few minutes.”

Dizziness washed over Matt. “What did…you…give…me?”

“Something to make you rest,” Nurse Whitaker answered. “You go to sleep and don’t worry about a thing. We’re taking very good care of you.”

Pretty bad, huh?  Think Matt will find a replacement dream?  Of course he will, but keeping his new dream may prove unexpectedly difficult when a loose end from his past comes back to haunt him.

If you’d like to see a video trailer for A New Dream it’s available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0ZhcFi1GuQ&feature=related

Sarah, thank you so much for letting me come today and visit with you and your fans. 

Thanks for reading!

Elaine Cantrell

Hope. Dreams. Life… Love

Friday, June 24, 2011

Interview With K D Grace

Twenty Questions With K D Grace by Sarah McNeal
Please give us your website addy, a list of your books and a short bio.
My website is kdgrace.co.uk
I’ve had stories published with Xcite Books, Black Lace, Cleis Press, Mammoth Books, and Ravenous Romance. I’ve also had stories in Oysters and Chocolate, Scarlet Magazine and Erotic Review as well as excerpts in Foreplay Magazine.
I have a writing obsession. It’s progressive and chronic and often interferes with normal, everyday functioning. I might actually be concerned if it wasn’t so damned much fun.
I live in South England with my husband, a back garden full of free-loading birds and an expanding veg patch. I walk my stories. Sometimes it takes miles to walk a story. For me, inspiration is directly proportionate to how quickly I can wear out a pair of walking boots.
I believe that Freud was right. In the end, it really IS all about sex. And nobody’s happier about that than I am, cuz otherwise I wouldn’t be here, and neither would you. Plus it’s fun.
How do you usually come up with a story idea?  Dreams?  Writer’s journal? Eavesdropping on conversations?  Newpaper?
Yes! I’ve been inspired by all of the above as well as personal experiences and mythology. I’m easily inspired. My novel, The Initiation of Ms Holly, was inspired by being stranded in a dark train in the Eurostar tunnel for four and a half hours, but that’s a bit extreme, even for me.
Who or what inspires you when your creative mojo is lagging?
Walking inspires me more than anything else, that and veg gardening. Usually if my creative mojo is lagging a walk, even a short one, will get me writing again.
Who is your Yoda—your seasoned mentor?
It’s a bit hard to say, actually. Since I write erotic romance, I read a lot of straight romance as well, though I prefer the hotter romance, and I think the person who I’d love to emulate when it comes to creating just the perfect heat and chemistry between two people, and telling a cracking good story as well, would have to be Nora Roberts. The woman is a story-teller’s story-teller. 
What importance do you place on writing workshops?  What workshops would you recommend to us?
I haven’t been to a writing workshop in a long time. I’ve been a member of writing groups, with varying levels of dedication and commitment, for a lot of years. I think there’s a lot to be gained from just the right writing group. I think having fellow writers to share the journey is one of the quickest ways to improve writing. The thing I like about writing groups is that they’re not a one-off. Every week, or fortnight or however often the group meets, you have a chance to hone your craft, whether it’s by having your own work critiqued by the group or by critiquing other people’s work and learning from their writing. My writing has improved massively because of writing groups.
What person would you like to thank for inspiring you in your writing aspirations?  How did this person help you?
Natalie Goldberg’s wonderful book, Writing Down The Bones, was probably one of the best things that ever happened to me, writing-wise. It was the book that gave me permission to write often and write badly, the book that made me understand not every sentence I write has to be perfect, that some sentences are compost, and that’s okay. I’ve written mountains of compost since then, and out of it some good stuff has grown. I think Writing Down the Bones was absolutely pivotal. I owe Natalie Goldberg a huge debt of gratitude.
The one who has encouraged me the most and helped me most personally would have to be my husband, Raymond. He’s put up with a lot over the years while I’ve pursued my writing dream, and he’s always been my staunchest encourager and best cheer-leader. Plus he’s a pretty good critic too when I need him to be. 
Have you ever used songs for inspiration?

Certain songs or music can make me think of my characters or a certain story, but that doesn’t often happen now as I don’t write with music much anymore. But I don’t think I’ve ever had a particular song inspire a story, though now that I think of it, I just might give it a try.

Do you play music when you write?  If so, what kind?  Or, do you have to have silence or background noise to set your writing muse free?

I used to have music playing all the time when I wrote, but I don’t anymore. Not sure why the shift. It just seems to be where I am at the moment. Now I work mostly in silence. I kind of like the sound of my own thoughts, and if I do seriously listen to music, I like to completely immerse myself in it.
Do you read in a different genre than you write?  If yes, why?  If you read in the same genre that you write, do you feel that it influences your writing in any way?
I read in all sorts of genre. I can’t say that I have a favourite. Mostly I read it for entertainment. The main influence I get from reading in my own genre is learning and analyzing what makes a really good story work. It’s the same thing I get out of reading in any genre. That always makes my own writing better, but I’m not afraid that by reading someone else’s story, my work will imitate theirs. I have my own ideas about what’s erotic and my own way of writing it. Some of my very favourite erotica writers don’t write anything like I do, nor would I want to write like they do. I read their stories to be entertained by their particular way of writing, and by their way of portraying what’s erotic. I write my stories to be entertained by my particular way of writing. It’s completely different.       
What is your process from idea to first draft?
When an idea comes to me the very first push is to get down a rough draft – at least with a short story, and it doesn’t matter how bad that draft is. What matters is that I have something to work with.  With a novel, I do an extremely rough chapter by chapter synopsis then I plough through a first draft. First drafts happen fast and furious because I’m always afraid if I slow down I’ll lose the momentum and lose what it is that drives the story.
When the first draft is finished, the real work begins. The first draft can often be pretty skeletal, and the final draft is fleshing out, replacing generic terms and images with more evocative, more descriptive word pictures. By this time in the process I’m trying to sharpen the picture I’ve created into the clearest focus I can manage so that my reader will be drawn in by the plot and by her senses, so that the experience will be as much alive as possible. When I’m satisfied that I’ve worked out the kinks and inconsistencies and rough spots, and when it feels like what I’ve written can actually be experienced rather than just read, then it’s ready.
Have you ever given assistance to a struggling new writer?  Has another writer ever come to your aide?  How?
Yes. In both cases it was with the recommendation of a fabulous book called Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King. It was recommended to me by several helpful women in a ‘bad girls’ writing group I was a part of back in Houston, Texas. I was pretty much the newbie, and many of them were published or well on their way to it, but their egos were always nicely stowed away before they came to the group each week so we all benefitted from each other’s experience – me probably most of all.
Several times since then, I’ve recommended this wonderful little book to people I feel have real potential, but just need an extra little push to help them hone their craft. And everyone so far has found it as helpful as I did. To me a copy of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers always felt like a rite of passage. ‘Now that you’re ready to play with the big girls, here’s what you need to know.’   
What do you consider your greatest accomplishments in your career so far?
Selling my first novel and holding the finished product in my hand had to be one of the most heady experiences of my life. But selling the second was equally important because it proved that this wasn’t a one-off, that I really AM a novelist. I still get goose bumps when I think about either.
If you won the big lottery, what would you do with the money?  Would give any of it to charity?  If so, which one?
I like my life the way it is now. The only thing I’d really want is a bigger garden. I fantasize about what my veg garden would look like in the ideal world, all set up with an asparagus bed and a greenhouse and fruit trees and soft fruit beds. Oh my… garden porn!
As for giving it to charity, I would definitely be giving some to conservation groups that protect our amazing wildlife and its habitat and to walking groups, in particular the Ramblers, who have done so much to protect our right to roam the wild countryside.
What is the best advice you want to give to a new writer?
Get it all down! It doesn’t matter if you have the most brilliant first chapter in the world if the rest never gets finished. By the same token, it doesn’t matter if what you’ve written is crap. Crap becomes compost and amazing things grow in compost. You can’t perfect what you haven’t yet written, so getting something down is the most important thing. While you’re getting it down, turn off the internal editor. Just get it written. There’ll be plenty of time for the editor once you’ve actually got something to edit.
If you could choose an animal for a mascot, what animal would it be?  What do you admire about this animal?  Do you feel you have qualities similar to this animal?  If so, what are they?
I’m a cat and a bird person, which is a strange combination, I know, but I love both – all kinds of both. I admire cats because they’re so complete within themselves and self-reliant. They don’t need people so much as they allow people to share their space. They’re quite solitary, and that makes me think of writers. So much of a writer’s journey is solitary. That’s not a hardship for me because I love being by myself and letting the worlds and the people I create surround me.
I love birds because they can fly. They touch realms I can only touch in my imagination. And, like cats, they’re exquisitely beautiful, and their song is beautiful. But I also love birds because every time I see one I think about the evolutionary sacrifices they’ve had to make to be able to fly. I think writers and artists and anyone who sets a goal and sticks to it can very much understand that there are always sacrifices to be made before we can fly. I’m also reminded, when I see the black birds hunting in my back garden, that these are the descendants of dinosaurs, and when I see how effectively a black bird hunts, I’m very glad that size is one of those evolutionary sacrifices birds have had to make.  
If money, education and fear factors were set aside, what three careers would you like to attempt other than writing?

An astronomer, an ornithologist and a concert pianist. Okay, you can stop laughing nowJ

If money, talent and fear were no object, what big adventure would you like to have?

They’d be mostly walking adventures. I’d love to walk the 635 miles of the Southwest Coast Path. That’s one of several dozen trails I’d like to walk. I love the feel of the routine that develops when my whole world involves putting one foot in front of another to get to the next place to spend the night, then starting all over again the next day. Life becomes amazingly simple and amazingly clear.

What characteristics do you like to instill in your heroes? What characteristics do you feel are necessary for a good heroine?

I think the characteristics in a good hero or a good heroine must involve a journey. In other words the character cannot remain static through the story. I am not happy with heroes or heroines who are perfect and everyone else lives in their shadows. I think, first of all both the hero and the heroine need to be abrasive enough to smooth the rough edges of the other, which already implies their own rough edges. The journey of a novel is not just the plot of A happening and then B happening until we get to the end. I think the journey of the novel is just as much, if not more, about the journey of the characters, how they cope, how they grow, how they adapt and how they expand into themselves.
If you had the power to change two things in the world, what would those two things be?

I would make people more tolerant of each other and more accepting of each other’s differences.  And I would make people appreciate more and take much better care of the world we live in.
If could have a super power for a day, what would it be?  Why?

I’d want to be able to fly because I’d like to know what birds see and what they feel when they’re up in the air floating above the world, under their own power with no fear of falling.
Synopsis – The Initiation of Ms Holly
Journalist, Rita Holly, never dreamed sex with the mysterious Edward in the dark of a malfunctioning train would lead to a blindfolded, champagne-drenched tango, a spanking by a butch waitress, and an offer of initiation into the exclusive mysteries of The Mount. Desperate to save her threatened job, she agrees, scheming secretly to write an inside exposé on the club that will make her career. But as she delves deeper into the intrigue of The Mount and the lives of its members, she soon discovers that her heart may have other plans.

ISBN: 978-1907016431
No of pages: 265
HE PRACTICALLY FELL ON top of Rita, his hand grazing her left breast in the complete darkness. She yelped and grabbed him to keep from losing her balance.
‘God, I’m sorry!’ He gasped. ‘Bloody nuisance, this, isn’t it?’ His voice was warm, melodious, by far the most pleasant thing that had happened to Rita since she left Paris. ‘Oh dear. You’re trembling. Are you all right?’
‘I’m claustrophobic.’ Her words were thin and shaky, as though she didn’t fully trust herself to let them out. ‘It wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t know where we are.’ For an embarrassing moment, she realised she was still clinging to him, but the embarrassment passed, and suddenly she didn’t care. If they were going to die trapped in a train in the Eurostar tunnel, buried beneath a gazillion gallons of water, she’d just as soon not do it alone.
He either understood, or was too polite to leave her in such distress. He wrapped his arms around her engulfing her in a muscular embrace, the scent of which was maleness barely masked by deodorant and some spicy cologne, both fading at the end of a day much longer than either of them had anticipated. ‘Don’t worry.’ In the darkness, he misjudged the distance between them and his lips brushed her earlobe. ‘It’s just an electrical malfunction. Anyway we’re better off down here than in the snowstorm up above. Sounds like all London is shut down. Who’d have expected snow this late in the spring? Never mind that, where else do you get the chance to cuddle strangers in the dark?’
He pressed a little closer to her, and she was relieved to find other thoughts, thoughts more welcome than those of their predicament, pushing their way into her head. He felt good, broad-shouldered and tall, easy to lean on.
‘Why are you huddled here in the corner rather than hunkered down in your seat?’
She concentrated on his warm breath pressing against the top of her ear. ‘I was on my way back from the loo when the lights went out and …’
‘And this is as far as you got.’
She nodded against his chest, honing in on the reassuring sound of his heartbeat.
‘Shall I help you back to your seat then?’
The train lurched forward, and she yelped again, tightening her grip around his neck. ‘No, please. It’s better if I just don’t move.’
There was a long pause. ‘Do you want me to stay with you?’

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Guest author Kate Kindle

Kate Kindle is the author of four romance shorts published in the anthology series by Victory Tales Press, here today to talk about May's release, A Historical Collection Anthology: Sweet/Sensual/

Thank you both for giving me this great guest spot on Sweet & Sexy Divas. I'm really delighted to be part of the group of authors at Victory Tales Press and today I'd like you to see one of VTP's most recent releases in its line of romance anthologies, this one released in May: A Historical Collection Anthology: Sweet/Sensual.

This collection makes number twelve in VTP's production of fourteen romance anthologies during this past year, and this month marks Victory Tales Press's one year anniversary. It was a little more than one year ago that publisher Rebecca Vickery joined with Laura Shinn, both of them authors and editors in their own right, to found Victory Tales Press.

A Historical Collection Anthology: Sweet/Sensual make number twelve in a remarkable series of fourteen anthologies her press has produced this past year. June's release of A Summer Collection Anthology: Sweet/Sensual brings us full circle. In 2010, A Summer Collection Anthology was the first of her anthology line. Most of the books have four great shorts or novellas containing inspirational and romantic stories to give the reader an uplift. These are tucked between memorable covers created by Laura Shinn, and they are good to read year round. Go to the home site of Victory Tales Press to see their large collection of offerings at http://www.victorytalespress.yolasite.com/.

See below the summaries of the stories in A Historical Collection Anthology: Sweet/Sensual:

The Devil's Wolf by Karen Michelle Nutt

When Archie Maxwell is accused falsely of killing a Johnstone, his brother, Waylon, known as the Devil's Wolf, sets out to save him. His bargaining tool is the Johnstone's daughter, Catrione. He plans to ransom her for his brother's release, but once he lays eyes on her, his plans take another turn.Lady Catrione Johnstone knows of the Devil’s Wolf and his ruthless exploits. Catrione vows she will fight him to the end. However, the myth is nothing like the man. In his arms, she forgets he is her enemy.

Will the magic of love finally bring peace to these two feuding clans or will it only inflame the hostility to a bloody end?

A Tale from the Red Chest by Kate Kindle

In the late nineteenth century, in coal mine country in America, men went into the dark mines each morning unsure as to whether they would

come out alive at the end of their workday. Their families lived in terrible poverty due to the avarice of relentless mine owners, robber barons whose goal it was to hoard coal and aggrandize themselves at the expense of the workers.

Jack Barrett and his wife, Maddy, must make a life for themselves and their children during these hard times. Although Jack loves Maddy, his ways are mysterious. He disappears at various times with no explanation to his devoted wife. People say Jack is a little crazy.

Where can he be–what is he doing? Maddy's patience is tried, but her faith in Jack is unshakable. Can the love of a steadfast woman keep her mystery man coming home? The Bible says love never fails. Join Jack and Maddy at this pivotal time in labor history–and find out how this young couple comes through during times not so different from our own.

Deirde by Miriam Newman

Born at a royal banquet for King Conor MacNessa of Ulster, Deirdre is

predicted by Conor’s own druid to be blessed and cursed with a beauty which will make kingdoms contest over her. He names her ―Deirdre of the Sorrows‖ and urges the king to slay her. But Conor, unwilling to murder a babe, takes her under his protection only to fall prey to the curse when she is nearly grown. Captivated by her youth and beauty, the aging king will go to any extreme to possess her.When Deirdre innocently falls in love with one of Conor’s chief warriors, it sets in motion a tragedy that will involve kings and countries, famous fighting men and sages alike: Cuchulain, champion of the CattleRaid of Cooley, King Fergus MacRi of Ulster, Queen Medb of Connaught, Catha the Druid and others. Join author Miriam Newman for her bardic- style version of a legend told countless times in Ireland over the centuries—a classic Irish tale of love, loyalty, betrayal and revenge.

Jason 's Angel by Cheryl Pierson

Two wounded Union soldiers will die without proper treatment. Sabrina Patrick realizes they won't get it at the Confederate army hospital where she helps nurse wounded men. She does the unthinkable and takes them to her home. Jason McCain's pain is eased by the feel of clean sheets, a soft bed, and a touch that surely must belong to an angel. But, what reason could an angel have for bringing him and his brother here?

As for me, Kate Kindle, my print book, an Aidan Bonner mystery entitled Angel's Requiem is a new release at http://www.amazon.com/Angels-Requiem-Kate-Kindle/dp/1453859802/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1308723742&sr=8-1. My blog: kindlecloudnine.blogspot.com. Stop by.

Thank you, devoted romance readers, for stopping by today. Leave a comment and you might win an 'Historical' eBook.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Have any of you ever incorporated your family history into your writing? Do you like to read books that are based, however loosely, on factual happenings?

My mom was the oldest of eleven children. She knew everyone in our family and how they were related. Because she and my dad grew up together in a tiny little town in southeast Oklahoma (their high school had a graduating class of twelve), she also knew quite a lot about his side of the family as well.

But when I was younger, I was not interested in the stories she told me. It was only later, when I was grown and had children of my own, that I began to wonder and ask questions, and by that time, her memory had already begun to decline.

If you have ever read the book, The Education of Little Tree, (by Forrest Carter) or seen the HBO movie, this story might sound familiar. When Andrew Jackson decided that the Indians were to be assimilated into the white man’s world, he put lots of plans into action that would take years to snowball and evolve into what they eventually became—a truly shameful period in the US governmental policies and procedures. One of Jackson’s plans, besides Removal, that was carried through into subsequent presidencies, was the idea of assimilating Native American children in white homes to integrate them more completely. The Native American children were taken from their villages and given to willing white families (along with a tidy little government stipend for their troubles) to raise.

My great-great-great grandfather was one of these children. We don’t know his real name. It was changed when he was delivered to his new “family”, a Presbyterian minister and his wife. Their last name was Walls. So his name was changed to Walls, and he was given the first name, David. Forbidden to speak his language, he was forced to forget all the ways of his People, and dress in white man’s clothing, go to white school. But he was never going to be white, and his place in the world was divided so drastically that he could not fit in anywhere. Eventually, the Rev. Walls sent David to medical school in Missouri. When he returned to the small town where he’d been raised, he was a doctor who rode to his patients on horseback. Later, he married and had children, but it was not a happy union and his son, my great-great grandfather, became an alcoholic whose own children, in turn, left home as soon as they possibly could. My great grandmother, his daughter, married at 13. Her older sister left home one day and never returned. No one ever knew what became of her.

I’ve often thought of these children that were abducted by our cavalrymen, and taken away to their white “families”, forbidden everything familiar and forced to adopt everything new and different, even their speech and childhood games. Can you imagine it? To never be allowed to see your mother and father again. Siblings separated and “given” to different families, their heritage and connection with one another lost forever. How many tears must they have shed? And how lonely and separate they must have felt, how isolated, even into adulthood…so that most of them, I imagine, never were able to fit in anywhere in the world.

My story in the 2011 SUMMER COLLECTION, available through Victory Tales Press, is based loosely on what happened to my long-ago ancestor.

Dr. Shay Logan has just returned to Talihina, Indian Territory, from medical school in Missouri. Shay hopes to settle down and make a life for himself, but how? He doesn’t belong to either world, Anglo or Indian He's made the acquaintance of Katrina Whitworth at the July 4th town social, and the attraction is mutual from the very beginning. Shay begins to have hopes and dreams that may be out of the question…but Katrina seems to have stars in her eyes for him as well. Will she risk everything to be with him? Katrina makes a social blunder, and Shay follows her into the woods to apologize to her, but when they return, Katrina's drunken father humiliates her. To make matters worse, her former beau shows a side of himself she had not seen before. Can Katrina and Shay have a life together that they so badly want? Here’s an excerpt for you.

As his hand started its descent, Katrina turned away. But Shay’s arm shot out, grasping Whitworth’s hand and holding it immobile.

“You will not.”

Three words, quietly spoken, but with a heat that could have melted iron, a force that could have toppled mountains.

Katrina’s father’s face contorted, his teeth bared, finally, as he tried to jerk away. He didn’t utter a word. He stared up into Shay Logan’s eyes that promised retribution, as the seconds ticked by. Finally, he lunged once more, trying to pull free, but Shay still held him locked in a grip of steel. Only when he released that grip was Whitworth freed.

“You presume too much, Doctor Logan, unless you are assuming the care and responsibility of my daughter.”

“Papa! Oh, please!” Katrina felt herself dissolving into a puddle of less than nothing beneath stares of the townspeople of Talihina. What had started as an exciting, beautiful evening had become an embarrassing nightmare. It was torture to think that she was the cause of it all. How she wished she had stayed home with Jeremy as she’d first planned, before Mrs. Howard had volunteered to keep him company.

Now, Papa was saying these things that she knew he would regret later. It was always this way when he drank too much. These accusations had gone beyond the pale of anything he’d ever said before. But Shay Logan wouldn’t realize that. He wouldn’t know that Papa would be sorry tomorrow.

Evidently, there was one thing Shay did recognize, though. She saw the very slight flare of his nostrils as he drew in the scent of alcohol on her father’s breath, and in that instant, there was a flash of understanding in his eyes.

“You’ve had too much to drink, Mr. Whitworth,” he said in an even tone. “I will overlook your behavior toward me because of that, but not toward your daughter. She has done nothing, yet you would strike her, and cause her shame.”

“She’s my daughter,” Whitworth replied sullenly.

“But not your property, Whitworth. Never that. You owe her an apology.”

“No, Shay, really—” Katrina began, then as her father whirled to look at her, she broke off, realizing her mistake. ‘Shay,’ she had called him. As if she had known him forever. As if she was entitled to use his given name freely. As if she were his betrothed.

“‘Shay’ is it, daughter? Not, ‘Dr. Logan’? Shay.” He spit the words out bitterly. He drew himself up, looking Shay in the face. “I’ll not be apologizing to her—or to you. And I’ll expect nothing less than a wedding before this week’s end. Do you understand me, Doctor?”

Shay had lost any patience he might have harbored. “You understand me, Whitworth. You will not dictate to me, or to your daughter on such matters of the heart. As I say, the alcohol has got you saying things you’re going to regret, and—”
“Threatening me, are you? Threatening me?”

“Truman.” Jack Thompson stepped out of the crowd and smoothly came to stand beside Katrina. “Let’s put this…unfortunate incident…behind us, shall we?” He confidently tucked Katrina’s hand around his arm. “I can see that the church auxiliary ladies have almost got everything set up for this wonderful Independence Day meal—” he frowned at Mrs. Beal, nodding at the picnic tables behind her. She jumped, motioning the other ladies to resume the preparation.

He gave a sweeping glance around the group of onlookers. “I, for one, am ready to eat! How about you all?”

Katrina was swept along at his side as he walked toward the tables, speaking to acquaintances and friends, laughing and…and seething with tense anger the entire time. She could feel it in his body, with every step he took and the tightness of his grip as he covered her hand with his. Katrina glanced back over her shoulder, hoping to catch a glimpse of Shay, but the crowd blocked her view.

“Smile, my dear,” Jack gritted into her ear. “I’m hoping we can still salvage your virtue, no matter what happened, really, between you and the good doctor. If I see him near you again, I’ll kill him.”



Here's the link at Amazon:


Monday, June 20, 2011

What's Under The Hoop?

What’s Under the Hoop?

I recently attended a Civil War presentation during which a female reenactor in period dress took a young woman from the audience to the front of the room and layered onto her (over the girl’s own clothes of course), the clothing a woman of the Civil War era would have worn.

Drawers—large, baggy short pants which went to just below the knee and were split for bathroom convenience. They were secured at the waist with a drawstring or buttons. As they were washed frequently, there was no decorative trim.

Chemise—was a shapeless, cotton garment which had a very wide neckline and fell to just above the knees. The chemise was worn over the drawers and under the corset. Its function was to absorb sweat and body oils and to keep both the corset and the inside of the dress clean. As it was also to be washed frequently it was a plain garment without trim.

Corset—had hooks and eyes in the front and laces in back. It was cinched up over the chemise and drawers. The image of Scarlett O’Hara having her corset tightened to a seventeen inch waist belongs in a later era. Waistlines of the period were normal in size. Also, not all women of the Civil War era wore corsets. Elderly women, reform dressers, the overweight and those too poor to afford such a fashion garment went without and without support, had sagging bosoms.

Corset Cover—also called a camisole.

Stockings—were made of cotton or wool. They encased the foot snuggly and rose to just above the knee. They came in white, black, colors and stripes.

Garters—were usually very plain consisting of an elastic band to hold the stockings in place.

Petticoat—the first one was worn under the hoop for modesty and to keep the dress clean by avoiding contact with the skin. They were very full at the hem and had a ruffle on the bottom. They were also heavily starched for more fullness. They were not trimmed either, so they could be washed and starched many times. The petticoat was held up by a drawstring at the waist. During winter they had flannel and even quilted petticoats. Victorians loved color and petticoats were sometimes made of colored fabric.

Hoops—or cage crinolines were shaped with boning made of watch-spring steel, steel bands or boning, with some low cost hoops made of rattan. Hoops came in various widths and number of bands. The smaller hoops were generally worn for evening and making social calls. Some were designed to be flatter in the front and bigger in the back. The widest hoops were worn for balls and other formal occasions. The wearing of hoops was reflective of a woman’s social standing. A smaller hoop or no hoop at all would be worn by working women. Nurses were forbidden to wear hoops as they needed to walk between rows of cots and could not have a boned sweep of a skirt flogging the wounded as she passed. Hoops were also dangerous around a fire. Laundresses, farm wives and cooks did not wear them. Instead, a simpler cotton day dress was worn with an apron and two layers of flounced petticoats to give the skirt fullness.

Petticoat—an over-the-hoop petticoat came next, to cover the hoop and give a smooth line to the skirt. Hoops can make the skirt look harsh and lumpy if it is not covered with a petticoat or flounces.

Skirt and bodice—came last. They were in 2-pieces, sewn with the same fabric and basted together. Sometimes a dress was worn where the bodice and skirt were gathered together into a single waist band. This was a functional dress used for getting serious work done. Bodices fastened in front with hooks and eyes or buttons. They were fitted tightly on the upper body and gathered into the waist band with pleats or darts. Shoulder seams hung down the arm and sleeves were full with extra fullness at the elbow with either a two piece coat sleeve or the cuff sleeve which was gathered at the shoulder and at the wrist into a cuff.

A woman would wear her hair parted in the middle and gathered into a bun. She might hold it in place with a hair net (they weren’t called snoods until the 1920’s), which closely matched her hair color. Collars were basted in place so they could be easily removed for washing. And a brooch might be pinned to the bodice if she were going out.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

In honor of Father's Day, I say there is nothing sexier than a man holding a baby!

Okay, maybe other images heat up your imagination when you think of a sexy man. But having raised our 4 kids with my husband, I feel safe making the title statement. Who we are as women is a curious mixture of hormones and life experiences, all of which combine to create what we find attractive.

Various theories abound as to what turns us women on. Some say power and wealth is what we seek in a life mate, since our ultimate goal is a good provider. Some theorize that we seek to recreate our first loving relationship with a spouse, which is good news if you and your mom are/were close, not so good if not. Biologists say that without even being aware of it, we seek out males with pheromones that smell different from our family, so that our children with that man will be healthy. Some women are attracted to men who are body-builders, some prefer thin men. Some like light-skin and blond hair, some prefer tall, dark and handsome.

Me, I can find something sexy about almost all men. I can be turned on by blonds, brunets, redheads; white, black and brown-skinned men. But to me, the ultimate sexy man is one who can lovingly hold a baby, showing his gentle, nurturing side. A man who can share himself with a helpless infant will be able to be gentle, loving and vulnerable with his woman as well. He will be a true life-partner and best friend.

Don't get me wrong, I know how attractive bad boys can be. Been there, done that, have some great anecdotes I could share some other time. ;-D But when a woman is ready to settle down, it's time to look for a man who can gaze at a new human life with the same awe and wonder that I feel. So today, let's honor the men in our life who partner with us to raise the next generation. Happy Father's Day to them all!

In all of my Reyes Family Romances, people fall in love, have hot monkey sex, get married, and get pregnant...not in any particular order. In Love Therapy, Miguel Reyes willingly takes on the role of Poppi to the 4-year-old daughter of the woman he fell in love with years ago. Alicia Torres returned to town after leaving her cheating husband; but he asks her to come back to care for him in his last days. He has sired other children with other women, yet never acted like fatherhood was more than a single act. When on his deathbed he tells his youngest child that he is her father, the most important man in her life, with childish innocence she sets him straight. And Alicia later calls Miguel to share what her daughter said about him.

"He told Juleesa that he is her father, and that she is his daughter. That he and I are her parents. He asked her if she understood what that means.”
“And she said that she didn’t really understand what that means, but that I had told her that he is her father. He asked her if she knew what a father is, and she shook her head. He said a father is the most important man in a child’s life. That’s when he lost control of the conversation. Juleesa gave him a weird look and told him, ‘No, you silly man. The most important man to me is my Poppi.’ Miguel, I was holding my breath by that point. I didn’t know what to say. But I never got a chance to say anything, because when he asked Juleesa to explain why her Poppi is so important, she babbled on and on about you.”
Smiling, Miguel asked, “She did? What did she say?”
“She said that you play games with her and sometimes you can even beat her at them. She said that you tell her stories and read to her. She said that you snuggle with her and watch cartoons with her on Saturday mornings, and you eat cereal out of the box with her, even though I tell you not to. She said that you pick her up from daycare sometimes, and you make dinner for her, then you take her to the park and push her on the swing. She said that you sing songs for her and tell her that she is your favorite girl. She said that you tell her she is the daughter of your heart and that you love her. She said that she feels safe when you let her sit in your lap, and that she likes when you carry her to bed and tuck her in.”
Alicia stopped and took a deep breath.
“Honestly, she said it all like that, in one big breath. Then she started to cry and told me that she misses you, and she wants to go home. Miguel, I didn’t know what to do or to say! She climbed onto my lap and I rocked her, and agreed with her that we would go home as soon as we could. I assured her that I would let her talk to you first when I called you tonight. I held her and rocked back and forth with her until she fell asleep on my lap. I carried her into my bedroom and put her down to sleep in my bed, since she’s been sleeping with me lately.”
Miguel took a deep breath.
“God, I miss you both so much. Just hearing how much I mean to her makes me feel good, but it also makes me ache to hug her…to hold her on my lap and tell her how much I love her.”
He sighed heavily.
“Miguel, there’s more. After I got done putting her into bed I went back in to see how Alan was doing, because he had looked so upset and gotten increasingly agitated while she was talking. He was so still when I got back into the room, I was concerned. Then I realized that a miracle had occurred…Miguel, he was crying! I have never seen that man show feelings or emotions of any kind; not any that were real and not calculated to gain him anything. He was just crying…tears were flowing, but he has limited ability to take in breaths, so it was hard for him to cry. It was probably physically painful.”
Miguel was quiet.
“I asked him what was wrong, was he hurting anywhere, and he nodded. He raised his arm and touched himself in the chest. I asked him what hurt and he gasped out, ‘My heart.’ I was worried about a heart attack, but then he grabbed my wrist with one hand and held it, while he explained that he had never realized just how important a man could be in the life of a small child. And the fact that you are more important to his daughter than he will ever be, caused him to feel deep pain and regret."

Want to read more?