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Monday, April 30, 2012

Interview With Cover Model JASON BACA!


I am SO honored to have cover model Jason Baca join me for my inaugeral blog here! He has very graciously agreed to provide one lucky commenter an autographed photo, so please join us and comment away!

Everyone talks about “The Call,” that initial contact stating “you’re in.” What was YOURS like? The first call/first job? Who did you tell first? How did you celebrate?
Jason – Well I didn’t get a call but instead…an email. But yes, it was a very exciting email to receive. I told a bunch of people but I didn’t want to get too excited about it until I saw the actual cover of the book with me on it. I knew how they could very easily drop me if the photos turned out bad.

What’s the best (& worst) things about the job?
Jason – The best thing about this job is that I can do all the things I enjoy such as biking,weight lifting, and running around and it all qualifies as things I should be doing for this. I mean, I need to stay in shape for these covers. It’s the perfect job for me.
The worst thing would be that a lot of people view me as narcissistic which I am anything but. I do take care of my body and live inside a balanced diet but I am not that term. I consider myself a very down to earth individual. 

 What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your job that you’d like to set straight?
Jason – That I am that character they read in the book or that in their minds, they view me as that knight in shining armor. I am someone inside, someone that has all the feelings and senses like a normal person. You may even find that our lives are comparable. I do enjoy pizza and ice cream when I’m allowed to have it.

 What would a “typical work day” be for you? What-all is involved?
Jason – Well I bring myself up from bed, stretch and drink 16 ounces of Pure Spring Water with fresh cucumber slices. After I finish stretching, I enter my bathroom for my shower and cleansing session. I consider this morning ritual to be a spa or deep skin therapy session that I will conduct on my own.  I make sure to take a hot shower so that my pores open. I use Shea Butter body wash then Olay’s Exfoliating Spa Scrub. Then I use St.Ives Moisturizing Body Wash to rehydrate my skin. This will also penetrate deep into my pores. For my face I use Clean & Clear’s Morning Burst. I follow that up with a deep action cream cleanser and then finally an Even Tone Cleanser.
  After the shower I use an anti-aging eye balm around the eyes. Then I use a dual action moisturizer followed by Clinique’s Dramatically Moisturizing Lotion.. Then finally Finishes Pore Perfecting Moisturizer.
   On these days that I have shoots I make sure not to miss a single step in all of this. I want my face looking its absolute best. I know that I want a person to be lured over to where my author’s book is because of my face and body. They will be singing “For you are a magnet and I am steel.”

What was your most memorable/proudest moment?
Jason – Well it was actually in high school baseball when I hit the game winning homerun. It was a walk off homerun that was something I’ll never forget.

      Any funny “blooper” moments you’d like to share?
Jason – Sure there have been some good ones. The one that stands out to me was the time when they had me in a crouched position in the studio and the overhead lighting came down on me from like 8 feet up! Yeah, it didn’t feel so great that’s for sure.

What advice would you give a “newbie” looking to break into the profession?
Jason – Just to not give up hope with all this. It can be a very frustrating journey but it can also have its joys. Hey if this was an easy career then everyone would be a cover guy on a book. Pursuing a career such as this requires great patience because it’s not something anyone can do.

8  Athletes are “ambassadors of the sport.” We in the industry also represent not just our professions but the industry as a whole. Every time we meet people, we leave an impression, not just of ourselves. When you meet people, what message do you hope to portray? What impression do you hope to leave?
Jason – Well first of all, when I meet people I do not blurt out what I do for a living. I always let them figure this stuff out on their own. I hope that I leave an impression that I’m a nice guy that is down to earth. A person that doesn’t think he’s better then the next. It’s funny because after they realize things then they are like Wow... You are a nice fellow…

 Are you planning on any “public appearances” this year where fans can meet you?  RT? RWA?
 Jason – There is a STRONG possibility that I will be making an appearance at a couple this year. There is also a Silicon Valley Romance Convention that I heard about though they haven’t been in touch with me which I find odd since this is where I live.

Do you have an agent where someone may book you for a cover?

Jason – Yes actually, they would go through Halvorson Model Mgmt. Here is the website - http://www.hmmodels.com/model.asp?modelID=395

    Do you have stock photos that can be used by independent romance authors or self published authors?
Jason – Yes, anyone that would like to use photos from past shoots that didn’t get used can go through this website - http://www.theauthorsredroom.com/stock-photography/jason-baca/

Greetings from Your Newest Diva!

I was SO happy to be welcomed to the family, and I've been trying to decide if I'm Sweet or Sexy! <LOL> I guess I'm kind of sweet and kind of sassy, and I write sassy and sexy. In real life I'm a typical Midwestern working mom in central WI. Two middle-school kids and a full-time day job, balancing two horses with figure skating and flute lessons. Always running somewhere, usually feeling a half-step behind! In my house, coffee is almost a religion. Dark roast, with cinnamon.

I'm a practical, boots-and-jeans kind of gal. Writing always supercedes housework! (Horse work also supercedes housework...)


As a writer, I write award-winning fantasy romance for Samhain Publishing in a series called the Guardians of Light - Duality, Hedda's Sword, Lycan Tides, Dust of Dreams and Riever's Heart. I'm a Tolkien & Joseph Campbell groupie, and have developed a reputation for solid world-building.  I like strong, sassy heroines and complex beta heroes. I love putting a lot on their plates and challenging them do the ONE thing they thought they'd never do. I don't give them what they want, but in the end they always get what they really need.

I'm a plotter, not a pantser, and I edit as I go, even in rough drafts, which makes me slow. I constantly tweak and layer. I SUCK at NaNo! <LOL>

The make-or-break in romance is character chemistry, not just of the hero and heroine. I like a broad palette of characters. At every encounter, no matter how small, interactions are fueled by conflict. Everyone risks something to lose, everyone has something to learn. They fight and challenge. They listen and bend and grow.  For the hero and heroine, it's a dance. Eyes, a glance. Hands, a touch. Voice, a whisper. It's retreat and chase. It's opposites and the unexpected. It's the staus quo turned on its ear. Duality isn't just a title, it's a concept I blend with the Hero's Journey throughout the series. My guiding light.



I look forward to hanging out with you and sharing my little corner of the universe in the months to come.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Earth Day Re-Discovery

A few days before Earth Day, I had thought about what I would celebrate. I've tried to do the usual; take transit, walk where I can, using less water - that kind of thing.

This time, I made the effort of using as little electricity as possible. And that meant....no computer for the day.

I thought this would be a no brainer. I use the computer at work everyday so hey, for one day, I'll take a break. ACK!!

I had to keep myself busy, or my fingers would be typing www.facebook.com real quick. So I did a lot of reading (which was great; I'm almost caught up on my TBR pile!), cleaned my apartment (and threw out/recycled a lot of stuff), and took a nap (which was heavenly!)

But I had also wanted to get some writing done. So out came the pen and lined paper - and you know what? I miss writing long-hand. I used to do this a long time ago, and I still have some old stories kicking about, with scratch marks and little notes in the margins.

I'm going to continue doing this; once a week for a start. Just sit down with pen and paper and slowly build a story in one of my school notebooks. Maybe I need a break from the computer; this should help.

Char

Friday, April 27, 2012

Doris Day: Daisy, Dames & Divas, Who are we?


All pix in the blog from http://www.dorisday.net

Marathoning? Watching Doris Day movies a few weeks ago, I got my popcorn, my beer and sat myself down for hours. I laughed, I roared in delight and by the end of Doris's 88th Birthday Week, I chomped at the bit to write this ditty.
Watching lovely blonde cutie Doris for more than 10 movies, I was struck as never before by how influential these images of her were in my life. While her too-sweet-for-words looks and voice sometimes made me wince even as a kid, this week I was enthralled by her range. But I am also struck as never before by how much she marks the specific years of her work as an icon of that moment in time.
Note that the following week, I watched Doris's polar opposite and contemporary artist, Rita Hayworth, Bad Girl Personified. I hope to have a few thoughts on her persona, too. Later.
Going from band singer to movie star, Doris started her career as the "sweet kid next door" who can get the man. With laughs and a ploy here and there, Doris sang her way through charming feel-good flicks of the post-war era of the 1940s. With a note of drama here and there, she remains in each script the Girl who is Normal, Sweet and Deserving of the Hero. Even in such dramatic pix as The Man with the Horn (1951), Doris portrays the foil to sophisticate Lauren Bacall opposite an alcoholic trumpeter played by Kurt Douglas.
But in 1955, she gets the role of blues singer Ruth Etting in Love Me or Leave Me, starring with ever-so-bad bully James Cagney.
I remember seeing this as a kid, being told by my father that "Ruth was a great singer and this guy she married was a bum."
Watching this the other night, I recalled this from my Dad with a smile, but wow, was I looking at Cagney as more than just a bum. He was the villain, the thug, The Man Every Woman Wants to Hate. And he was the guy we women now put on our Watch List: The Abuser.
And as we watch Ruth deal with this man, we see why Betty Friedan did so well so quickly with her theories of the need to rise up and break the chains that bound women.
Cagney blusters, bullies and brow-beats. He struts and manipulates and totally cows Ruth, first as a singer whom he "discovers" and gets her her first gig. But then later, he builds on that, makes her beholden and ensures she remembers it.
The astonishing facet to me, of course, is that with this portrayal of a woman living in the 1920s, Ruth Etting never questions that he has a right to bully or berate her. (At least this is true in the script. I have no knowledge of how the real Ruth felt.) And this makes me cringe, point my finger and say, wow, Ruth, you never thought you had options?
Answer?
No. She did not. And she, sadly, was not alone.
The rule of the 1920s and as we can see in the portrayal of 1950s housewife Betty Draper in MadMen, many women thought there was no way out.
They took what they could get, paid for it with a devotion that was half dead and then paid other prices in self-esteem, drugs, alcohol and who knows what effect upon their children.
Fast forward to the movies at the beginning of the 1960s. Gee, golly, what a difference for Doris and the rest of us!
Three comedies of hers with different leading men had me laughing like a loon. Yes, they had cute but not wildly unique plots and scrumptious leading men. James Garner in the Move Over, Darling and The Thrill of It All (written by Carl Reiner, no less!) were 2 great choices. Rock Hudson is a hoot in Pillow Talk. Less thrilling than either of those two simply because he acted this in such a flat, poker-faced manner was Cary Grant, age 58 at the time to Doris's 38, in That Touch of Mink.
While I leave it to you to watch these yourself, I will say my conclusions about what is happening to women in the first three years of the sixties is phenomenal.
I know. Because I remember those years VERY WELL.
In the Rock Hudson movie, we see Doris as as professional woman who works her butt off to succeed in business and she is foiled mightily by a scheming no-good wily man who is her rival for the same accounts.  The plot is terribly funny and in the end she loves him, he loves her. AND WOW, we wonder why!
At no time in the movie except for the last ten minutes does this man show any redeeming qualities. Yes, he is handsome. A HUNK, A CATCH, right? He is rich, successful, and the fact that he has been unprincipled toward her and his clients seems to matter not at all! SHE LOVES HIM! If I wrote this in a book, captured this man's essence in words, I WOULD BE REJECTED. And justly so, too. He is about as worthy a hero as Vlad, the Impaler. But of course, that is what he reps, isn't it? A Romantic Vlad.
We will pause for a moment of shuddering here....
In the Thrill of It All, we get Doris with James Garner. A delight visually, this couple can bring on the laughter. But the substance of the plot?
This flick left me rather agog that I had watched this then...and now! (No wonder we American women are conflicted, yes, still!)
Why?
She is his wife and mother of his two charming children. He is a noted OB-GYN. Quite by chance, she becomes a spokesperson for a product that sweeps to her onto billboards, fame and money. When hubby Jim gets fed up with her celebrity, his bright idea to bring her back to home/heel/submission (do choose a word you like here) is to get her pregnant again.
He actually has a moment in the film where he sits at his desk and recalls one of his patients telling him that there is no finer calling in life for a woman than to have a baby.
Okay, then!
While I had three of my own babies, and loved every moment of being pregnant and their early lives and bringing them up to adulthood, I must say that they rank up there with a few other events in my life.

  • My enduring relationship with my husband, now more than 45 years.
  • My enduring relationship with my writing profession, now more than 32 years.
  • And my enduring relationship with my devotion to my intellectual stimulation, now more than...well, let's say...lots of decades!

Doris, you did right by me at the time.  But not all of what you taught us was the whole picture of what a woman can and should become.
On to Rita Hayworth!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

COME ON. BREATHE.

Hello everyone Where am I?
In bed of course, with the laptop and wondering what to write for my monthly blog at Sweet ‘n Sexy Divas blog. This laptop and bed thing is becoming a bit of a habit. Somehow though, it works because each month I get an Oprah 'aha' moment and lo and behold words spew forth from my brain cell to my fingertips and finally the printed page. And each month I live in hope that on the journey those words join up in some semblance of coherent thought. And today’s coherent thought....a timely reminder about the journey we're all on. Specifically I’m talking about the journey of a writer, but it could be the journey to Olympic stardom, or the journey to get your exams at school. Just think of a child and the stages they take to getting up and eventually running. First it's actually sitting up, then shuffling on the bottom, and crawling. Then you get excited when you see them haul themselves upright, wobble a few times and plop back down on their well padded diaper clad bottoms, only to try and try and try a gain – a bit like that spider story and Robert the Bruce. Then the baby frowns, cries a bit, pulls a bit harder and hey presto they’re up, wobbling, but they take a step, then another and another and suddenly they're running, your baby is entering the school running races, marathons, they're at the Olympics. Good dream huh. In fact that trying stuff is just like a writer’s journey. Each book we write has a journey. Our characters journey, the way they cross the barriers of hardship and challenges to get the end desire (to run/succeed/fall in love). Then there is our own journey in writing that specific book, finding its soul and essence, falling in love with the characters we are creating, struggling through the dreaded sagging middle. It's a journey in itself. But what about the journey of a newbie writer. Once upon a time we picked up a pen (or finger to the keyboard) the moment after we’ve finished the best book we've ever read. It inspired us. Or maybe the book was the worst we've ever read – and that inspired us too. We can do this. We can write better than this. We WILL write a book. It'll be a best seller, the next GREAT (insert your country of choice here) novel. And we start...and stop and start and stop. But we do finish. We hit send and that baby flies off into the big wide world only to come crashing back to earth and us with it when we get a rejection. Oh, stupid publisher, what do they know? But silly us or hard-headed, determined us, we do it again, and again and yes, you guessed it, and again. And repeatedly those babies fall into oblivion of the dead manuscripts that don't get past first base or maybe they do, the publishers love the partial, they might even ask to see the full manuscript, ask for revisions – of course this isn't overnight as we all know this is over months and months and yes more months (years – eeek) and then the letter comes. It's not a thick envelope. I used to know if I had a rejection or a revision letter before I even opened it depending on how thick the envelope was. Thick was usually 2 page and rejections didn't take up more than a brief paragraph or two! So this becomes our journey – we write, we submit, we get hopeful, frustrated, cheesed off, and we keep going on the treadmill. Then hey presto we've got A CONTRACT. How exiting. The dream. The call. Success. But wakey wakey sweetie, you gotta get up the next day and do it all over again and again and yep again. Remember it's a journey. But what happens to real life while you're on this wonderful exciting and frustrating journey? Sometimes other parts of our lives get left behind, forgotten, as we concentrate on the holy grail of a contract, we forget about real life. The other day I was sitting in my office at home and outside I saw a Monarch butterfly float passed. I stopped, entranced by this vision of beauty. That boatful little creature made me realise what I had been missing. I had forgotten to stop and witness life around me. Then there were the family of qualis wandering around my yard. (oh they are sooo cute). Then there are the piles of books on my to be read pile. Why are there piles? Because I am a writer who ashamedly has forgotten why I started to write in the first place. I have forgotten to read books. I keep thinking I don't have time, that I must must must keep sitting at the computer and writing and wring and editing. I have forgotten to fill my well. Well...(pardon the pun) next week I go into hospital for surgery. I’ll be there a while (hence I wont be around to answer your comments as I’ll be under the surgeon's sharp blade), but I digress. When I got told the date of my surgery a week ago I thought great, I’ll take the laptop and I can write xxx number of words a day and that'll be bla bla bla... you get the idea. STOP JANE! When will you stop, breathe and rejoice in the journey.... So the laptop is staying home and instead I’m taking a pile of books and I’m going to go back to basics AND read – because reading was the thing that started me on this wonderful, exciting, rewarding, always challenging journey in the first place. But ...i must say, one thing i hope to get cracking on, maybe inspired by what i'm reading is the kind of sequel to He's the One. Zane Harper really needs his story told. Happy reading (and writing) everyone Jane Beckenham www.janebeckenham.com ps Many thanks to Abbey Macinnis who inspired this little post in a very timely manner when she sent me this link about our journeys.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Humor


After participating in a humor workshop at Romantic Times last week, I started thinking about why different kinds of humor appeal to different people.

I may have finally figured out why men like the Three Stooges, but generally women do not. Boys are allowed—sometimes even encouraged—to hit. Girls are taught hitting is wrong. Not all boys hit, of course, but a shiner or broken nose probably caused little concern for their parents. After all, boys will be boys.

And don’t we all enjoy seeing those in authority make fools of themselves like the Keystone Cops? But what about the Marx Brothers and their less physical, more sophisticated comedy plots? Do they appeal more equally to men and women or more to one sex than the other?

Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin?

What about today’s kinds of humor? Bill Maher and his ilk? GCB and the B in Apartment whatever? What about homosexual jokes, bathroom humor, or racial comments like the Italian Stallion or the Jewish mother who wants her daughter to marry the doctor?

I guess all of it boils down to whatever floats your boat. For me, not all that’s advertised as humor is funny.

Dee Brice
Erotic Fantasies Where Nothing is Forbidden

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

An HEA for my M/F/M

The story of Vegas Miracle is one that many publishers will automatically reject. At its core is a marital infidelity. I know that some publishers are pushing boundaries a little with this but truly, for the most part, the standard formula remains.

If you don't know me, allow me to introduce my self: I'm Liz Crowe. And I write Romance for Real Life.
The kind that offers second chances, forgiveness, bad behavior and good, and characters you might encounter in your every day life.
I've been busily getting some new branding elements down to match my new slogan. This "hop vine tattoo" image I will be using on everything, including book spines from Tri-Destiny, business cards, book marks, websites the whole shooting match.  The vine tattoo itself graces the bicep and shoulder of a couple of dudes I've written about and of course, shows my love for my 'day job' that of owning and marketing my craft microbrewery.

It's incorporated into my new banner too...that will be on my new website and blog soon!



Vegas Miracle is hands-down one of my favorite stories. I like these people so much it's about as close to total HEA as I'm willing to go even.

It will be re-released on May 1 with my new publisher Tri-Destiny and YOU my sweet 'n sexy compatriots are among the FIRST to see the the kick ASS new cover by my ass-kicking new artist who is responsible for my branding banner, and all new covers for the super-hot Realtors series!
Love this gal....now for Vegas Miracle:

Blurb...


Ryan and Grace Sullivan have all the outward indications of a happy life: money, success, an undeniable physical attraction that quickly evolved from whirlwind relationship to marriage. But lately, Ryan's become moody and distant. As their relationship starts to crumble, Ryan discovers something about himself he can't admit just as Grace realizes the young man she encounters at an invitation only party, Henri Christophe, a celebrity chef with the most successful restaurant in Las Vegas, is her husband's lover. But Henri holds a secret himself. He wants to be more to both of them.

Trying to make their unconventional arrangement work, Ryan's deep-seated fear of relationship failure continues to thwart everyone's happiness. When he finally walks away instead of confronting the emotional connection the trio share, he returns to find their lives flipped inside out. A sought after hotel and resort consultant, Ryan has yet to meet a problem he couldn't solve. But when it comes to his own heart, he may be too late.


And the excerpts in order of heat, beginning with PG-13 through Holy Hell Can I Read this At Work?:

PG13 Excerpt

            Staring out into the bright, sunlit lake, Grace wasn't a bit surprised to find the fine male specimen who’d just been flirting with her standing at her elbow.  He brushed past, slipped off his deck shoes and walked into the shallows and she gripped the weather beaten railing to keep herself from following him.  She wasn’t quite sure how to approach him but the pure chemical pull of the man was nearly too much to bear.  So she started walking barefoot in the opposite direction.
            "So how does one go about getting a book published?"  Every nerve in Grace’s body zinged in unison as Ryan’s arm grazed hers.  He'd caught up to her and ambled along, hands in pockets, well inside her personal space bubble. 
            "You mean you don’t already have an agent and a nice fat advance to write your memoirs?" Grace held both hands up as if framing a photo.  "How I made millions off stupid tourists and traveling salesmen?"   
            Ryan chuckled.
            "Do you need an agent?"
            He seemed honestly interested so she regaled him with her own personal journey seeking agents, getting rejected, the round robin of query letters, partials, rejections, more query letters.  By the time she finished and had him gasping for air after laughing so hard at her description of the "predator editor" loser who’d actually asked her on a date, they were a good two miles from the party.  The sun was a glowing ball of pink and purple as the evening clouds closed in and Grace’s skin pebbled from the chill.  As if it were the most natural thing in the world, Ryan put an arm around her and pulled her close.  She sighed, molding into his side, still trying to convince herself these last hours hadn't been a dream.   Grace had never felt so completely at ease with a man. When she stopped and turned to face him, going up on her tip toes, their lips met as if they'd been lovers forever.
            The kiss started gently as Grace wasn’t usually the type to instigate, but as the afternoon wore on, she knew in her soul she had to at least taste him...just once.  If he was shocked and pulled away then that would be that.  But he didn’t.  Ryan let her lead, let her part his lips with hers then let her break away first.  Grace knew her flushed skin and glowing eyes betrayed how she felt but she no longer cared. 
            "That was nice," Ryan muttered before pulling her back and slanting his mouth over hers, his kiss very much an alive sort of thing, questioning her without words.  She answered him by wrapping her arms around his neck, nearly off balance by the effort to stay on her toes to reach him.  He tasted of gin, like summer, like a man.  And his subtle cologne suffused her nose, making her dizzy while his soft, urgent lips possessed hers. She moaned as his lips broke free and trailed down her jaw and neck to the tops of her breasts.
            His arms encircled her but his hands started to roam up her sides, brushing against her breasts.  Grace felt her pussy clench in near agony. But when she heard laughter from above them, she pulled away and took a step back.  Ryan stood, and put his hands in his pockets again.  In the waning light, Grace saw clear evidence of his desire as the zipper of his thin cotton shorts bulged.  She tried not to stare.
            "Sorry," he grinned.  "I, um, don’t usually..."
            She laughed at the absurdity of him saying the words that were on the tip of her tongue but a strange panic settled in her gut.  This man was bad news.  Never settling down, always traveling to strange cities and hotels where female staff and clientele were bound to be lying in wait for him.  Yet that wouldn’t matter if they just had a quick fling. Would it?  She had no desire to get married for crying out loud.  And he obviously was commitment averse. So why not?
            Grace’s heart fluttered.  She was falling for a guy she'd just met.  No. That was ridiculous.  She’d had a few boyfriends but had never once jumped into bed with a man after just meeting him like she was poised to do with Ryan. 
            "Something tells me you have more experience with this sort of thing than I do though."  Lame, it was all she could come up with in her lusty haze.
            He sighed and looked up at the darkening sky while Grace bit her lip and waited. 
            "Maybe, but something about you, Miss Almost Famous, has me as nervous as a middle school kid.  It’s sort of pissing me off if you must know."           
            Grace giggled, nervous energy getting the best of her. She covered her mouth with one hand but in the next second she gasped as Ryan crossed the sand between them and began running a finger tip over her lips. 
            "Something about you," with each word he pulled her closer until their lips were millimeters apart.
            "Kiss me again," she whispered.
            "With pleasure," Ryan obliged. 


R Excerpt
(m/m)
Ryan closed his eyes at the sound of the key in the lock and he didn’t move as Henri entered, made a tsk-tsk sound over the mess in the foyer, grabbed a glass and the bourbon decanter and joined him on the balcony.   The sound of liquid splashing into the glass and the hiss of the fabric as Henri eased back into his chair brought no response from Ryan.  He remained standing, staring at the night sky, unable to form words as his lover of nearly two years sat and watched him in silence.
"Just what, exactly were you hoping to accomplish by fucking my wife?"
Henri stood and leaned over the balcony, mirroring Ryan’s stance. 
"I thought it was why you brought her.  But I'll say, you were right.   She's amazing."  Henri sipped his bourbon and looked at the tall blonde beside him. 
Ryan turned to look into Henri’s deep brown eyes, the eyes that held him the moment they met in Cannes two years ago.    That compulsion, the weekend they shared together, led him places he never imagined he’d go and now he couldn’t give it up.   He shook his head and looked back out over the Detroit River, remorse and dread twisting his gut in knots.
He shut his eyes once more as he felt Henri’s hands on his shoulders, kneading, smoothing out the tension in his muscles. 
"You can’t distract me.  I’m hugely pissed off at you."
"I know, but at least you won’t be tense so you can really focus on the anger.  Now sit so I can reach you properly."
Ryan sighed, suppressing a smile at the man’s ability to defuse.  It was a talent he wished Grace had. Her tendency was to ramp up the ante, to find the sore spot and grind her heel into it until Ryan lashed out, making the whole thing much worse than it usually was.  Sitting, pouring himself one final splash of bourbon, he let Henri work on his shoulders and upper back, groaning as the knots untied and his neck lost some of its rigid stress.  A haute cuisine chef trained in Paris, Henri paid for school by using his first degree in physical therapy to massage the stress out of his colleague’s backs and legs after hours spent on concrete floors in kitchens, bent over stoves and ovens wreaked havoc. Henri made a tidy sum of cash loosening everybody up.
"Ow, Jesus," Ryan yelped when Henri’s knuckle dug into his trapezoid. 
"Shut up already," the young man’s voice was airy, relaxed.  "Let me work."
After about twenty solid minutes spent over Ryan’s shoulders and upper back, Henri leaned down to his ear.
"She’ll be okay."  Ryan turned and frowned, wincing as the freshly released nerves in his neck sang out in protest.
"You don’t have to treat her with kid gloves, Ryan.  She’s a grown woman, a successful author. She's used to being on her own.  Just because you swept her off her feet in an admittedly really romantic fashion doesn’t mean she needs to be coddled like some hot house rose."
"I think I know how to handle…"
Henri took his hands off Ryan’s shoulders. 
            "You know what, I don’t think you do.  And that’s part of the problem."
            Henri flopped into his chair and propped his bare feet up as Ryan stared at him. 
            "I hardly think a guy who managed to stay married about thirty minutes is qualified…"
            Henri held a hand up.
            "Don’t be condescending.  I never claimed to know anything about women.  I just think I have a handle on this one—you know, they one we want to share our lives with?"  He raised an eyebrow at Ryan. 
            Ryan pushed Henri's feet off his lap and stalked back inside the condo.   Henri continued to stare out into the dark Michigan night. 
            "How did she get home?"
            "I took her."
            Ryan stuck his head back outside as he unbuttoned his shirt and yanked it off. 
            "Great."
            Henri rose to his feet and took the two steps between them quickly, hands on Ryan’s biceps, pinning the taller man against the French doors, his dark eyes angry and hurt.  Ryan glared at him.
            "Park the attitude all right?  I’m just trying to fucking help you get over yourself long enough to salvage your marriage.  If you stepped out of your God damned pity party for half a second you’d see that, you ass."   
Ryan’s body reacted to his lover’s closeness as it always did.  His scalp prickled and his fair skin flushed but he set his jaw and pushed back on Henri’s strong chest just enough to make him take a step back.    Henri crossed his arms but didn’t move out of Ryan’s space.  Drawing himself up to his full six feet, six inches,  he opened his mouth to retort but watched as his arms reached out and pulled Henri to him.  The young man resisted at first then let himself be drawn closer into the circle of Ryan’s strong embrace.
            "I’m sorry," Ryan muttered into Henri’s hair, reveling in his familiar scent and the feel of his body.


Vegas Miracle
XX Excerpt
m/f/m

            Ryan’s throat was tight as he rode the limo in from the airport, the familiar outlines of the Aria, a second home to him now, rising into view.  The lobby was full as Ryan strode through, not stopping to chat with anyone as staff members scattered out of his way, familiar with the stormy look on his face that signaled ass chewing's if he was interrupted.  His normal penthouse suite was completely dark when the elevator doors parted.  Anger and disappointment surged in Ryan’s gut.  They weren’t even here.
                        The swish of a match being lit to his left and the sizzle of a large candle wick startled him.  He smiled. 
                        "Welcome home, Ryan," Grace’s voice was near his other ear, the sound of her pouring relief over his soul.  He let her take his hand.  "We have something for you."
                        Henri followed and put the candle on the bedside table as Grace put her lips over Ryan’s and he melted into her, moaning at  the simple touch, more relieved than he wanted to admit that they were even talking to him, much less kissing him.  He felt Henri’s lips on his neck, his hands unbuttoning his shirt.  Keeping his lips on Grace's, he let Henri undress him, pulling off his shoes, socks, and unbuckling his belt and slipping his trousers down and off. 
                        Suppressing a small thrill of panic, he muttered against Grace’s lips.
                        "What’s all this?"
                        "Shhh," she whispered.  "No talking."
                        Ryan felt his 'always in control' self balk and he shifted as he sensed Grace settle between his legs.  His cock was painfully stiff.  He’d not gone without sex for nearly three weeks in a long time, having had either Grace or Henri nearby.  But he'd even denied himself masturbation while he was gone this time.  Part of him too exhausted by the end of each sweltering, frustrating day in Brazil to consider it, the other part punishing himself for leaving them so soon after they'd discovered each other that night in Vegas. 
                        He’d resisted his usual impulse to buy things, to shower them both with ridiculous and expensive gifts.  It was time he owned up and got real.  Just like they’d both said.   Open up, let himself feel, really feel, risk getting hurt.   He was at risk of losing them both if he didn’t.  The time he’d spent alone in the Brazilian hotel room staring at the ceiling, drinking beer, trying to come to terms with his shortcomings had brought on a serious bought of self-awareness.  It was, in a word, terrifying.  But he was willing to go there, if the people he loved required it of him.  He was eager to share, but was feeling overwhelmed by their greeting. 
                        He felt himself flex and get even harder as Grace swallowed him.  Then Henri was at his side using his fingers to press against the base of Ryan’s cock.  Someone cradled his balls, sending a coil of desire to his brain.  But wait, this was wrong, he was supposed to be the giver. Ryan mumbled as he felt the tip of his cock touch the back of Grace’s throat again.  Lips lapped at his erect nipple and Ryan fought against the thought that it was all too much.  He shouldn’t be giving in like this.
                        Reaching out to touch Henri’s cock, he gasped when the lips on his nipple bit down. 
                        "Ow, dammit."
                        "We’re doing the touching.  You’re going to give in to us tonight, Ryan.  Just lay back and enjoy it."
                        Grace kept her exquisite suction on his shaft as Henri’s lips sucked and pulled at his nipple and kept pressure against the base of his cock, the circle of thumb and forefinger like a fleshy cock ring. 
                        Ryan gritted his teeth as he felt the familiar sensation of blood pounding in his ears and flushing his skin a deep red that signaled the coming of a monster orgasm. 
                        "No, I can’t," he muttered.
                        Grace released his cock and moved down to pull one his balls into her mouth,  tugging at his core as Henri’s ring of fingers moved up to tease his head.  Encircling it, using just enough pressure as Grace moaned when his balls contracted between her lips, Henri pinched Ryan's swollen erection and silenced him with a slice of exquisite pain. 
                        "Please, I . . .  I just want to,"  Ryan fell back onto his elbows and let his head hang back, his entire body on fire with both a need for release and a desire to maintain control.  The twin monsters of his entire soul fought as bright lights started shooting across his vision.   Ryan wanted to bring the pleasure to each of them.  He didn’t deserve this.  They deserved more from him. "Oh, Shit.”  
                        Henri lowered his lips to the tip of Ryan's cock and sucked hard.  Grace put a fingertip against the flesh between his balls and anus.  Blood boomed in his ears as he fisted a hand in Henri’s hair and fucked his beautiful mouth.  Hips thrusting, he grunted with the effort of not coming.  He wouldn’t do this, he’d hold back, pull them off, and bury his face in Grace’s delicious pussy while she sucked Henri’s cock. He wouldn't be the one to release first.  He just couldn’t.
                        In an instant Grace was beside him, whispering in his ear while licking at his lips in an attempt to comfort him.  
             "Fall, Ryan," she whispered.  Ryan groaned as Henri swallowed him. 
            "Let us catch you.  We love you.  It’s okay.”
She slipped her tongue into Ryan’s mouth in a show of ownership before moving back down to his chest and picking up where Henri left off there.
"Just. Let. Go”   Her teeth tugged at his tender flesh, triggering stars behind his eyes as he desperately tried to control his climax.    

I'll be doing a little mini tour to celebrate the re-release of this book. If you have a blog and are willing to host, let me know in your comments!
Liz

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Boy Who Forgot: A Mom's Mini Story

I wrote this one day after driving up to the high school AGAIN to drop off something my son had forgotten.  He's graduating this year, and today we're heading out to reserve a tux for his prom on Friday. Yes, THIS Friday.  He decided to go.  Then he decided not to attend.  This morning he decided he DID want to go, and texted me with the "news".  Ah, the teen years.  




A Teen Tale: The Boy Who Forgot


Mike ran out the door after his brother Chuck on a dark, cold morning. They ran towards the bus, trying to make it before the driver slammed the door and drove off. 


Mike mumbled "Man, it's fricking dark out here. I can't see crap."


He tripped several times, but was finally on the bus, sitting in his seat. As soon as his breathing slowed, he realized how quiet it was. It's NEVER quiet on the bus. What the hell was going on? It was also still dark. Usually he at least saw the lights of someone's iPhone.  Wait, his eyes must be closed because he was so tired.  He tried to open them. Nothing. He heard his brother voice.


"Mike?" whispered Chuckie. 


 "Yeah, what Chuck?", snapped  Mike. 


 "Where is your head, bro?" he whispered. 


 "My head? What the hell are you talking about?" Mike yelled.


 "You have no head. It's like it fell off your neck or something. Man, this is REALLY freaky." said Chuck. 


 Mike tried to open his eyes again, and nothing happened. He slowly reached his hands up to where his head was suppose to be.  Nothing. Wait a fricking minute, he thought, "I was talking to Chuck wasn't I?


 "Chuck?" he whispered. 


 "Yeah, Mike?" said Chuckie. 


"You can hear me, so how I can be without my head?" 


 "Well, it's kind of weird, but I'm hearing you in my mind." 


 "Oh." 


 He realized then that all he could hear was Chuck's "voice", but nothing else.  Damn. No head. No ears. No mouth. Damn, his mom was SO going to kill him. 


 "Mike, mom just called me and said I had to tell you something." whispered Chuck. 


 "Great. Was she mad?" asked Mike. 


 "Well, she was actually giggling. But you know mom, she's always had a warped sense of humor.", Chuckie said. 


Chuckie snickered, but it had an edge of hysteria to it. Mike felt his brother grab his arm, and squeeze. 


"She wanted me to tell you, word for word  "I KNEW one day you'd leave your head at home. Didn't I always tell you that you would forget your head if it wasn't attached? Get your butt back home, so I can put your head back on your body! Geesh, Michael, what am I going to do with you?


 "Moms. Why do they always have to know everything? It really sucks," said Mike.



Brenda Hyde has been a freelance writer of home and garden articles for over 20 years, and now she's working on a series of cozy mysteries while blogging about her characters in the fictional town of New Harvest, Michigan. Visit her at http://harvestmoongazette.blogspot.com/ or her book review blog at http://moonsanity.blogspot.com .

Sunday, April 22, 2012

It's EARTH DAY!

This 1971 booster button comes from my personal collection. It's the first official button offered in the Philadelphia area to raise environmental awareness. I wore it because a cute boy at school gave it to me and kept it because it's pretty. I guess motivation to protect the environment comes in many forms. ")

Happy Earth Day! Best~ Adele

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sweet N Sexy Soulful Quotes

Hello romance fans and Happy Saturday! Today I'm excited to feature books from authors of my special interest RWA chapter, Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. This fabulous group focuses on the very popular - you guessed it - Celtic genre. From hot Scots to irresistible Irish warriors (and everything else in between) this clan is one of my very favorites. I encourage you to check them out.

Now, the books I feature are from authors who were not afraid to be soulful, sappy, and/or suggestive when it came to their heroes. So, grab a seat, and pick up a pen and paper (or fire up your eReaders) so you can add these to your TBR collection.

Happy reading!

She'd been off-limits to him before simply because she didn't know who she was, but now she was off-limits because he had to keep focused. He couldn't be a professional if he kept thinking of her as a woman, a companion, a lover.

When Malcolm entered the room, Heather stiffened, but didn't turn to him. "Heather." He set his hand on her shoulder. "We can go."

She slid out from under his fingers. "I'm not going anywhere with you."

"Going to solve this mystery on your own then, are you? Going back to your flat, then?"

"No, but I...." Whatever thoughts raced through her head, she refused to share them. Instead, she sipped more of her cofffee and kept her gaze focused on the far wall with the window. Outside, darkness crept over the horizon, squeezing out the orange and reds of the late afternoon sky.

"What's wrong?"

"Every time I close my eyes, all I can see are your fists pounding into that man."

Malcolm crouched before her and lighty bumped his fist on her knee. "He was there to hurt you. I wasn't about to let that happen." When she said nothing, he continued. "Heather, I'm still the same man."

She shook her head. "Oh no, you're not. Where I come from B & B owners don't have moves like that, don't know how to handle weapons like experts, and don't talk in code like spies."

"I'm not a spy."

"But you're not just a B & B owner either."

"No, I'm not."
~ Alexa Bourne, Her Highland Champion


She reached out and clutched Ciaran’s arm, immediately realizing her mistake. He felt like a rock underneath his tunic. She became aware of his strength and the warmth of his flesh. She lowered her gaze, but when she looked down, his kilt was parted and showed part of his muscular thigh. It was torture and the room was getting so warm.

Carried away by her own response, she failed to notice that he was still looking at her, waiting. She tingled as he spoke her name. Tenderly, his eyes melted into hers. She could not find her voice. She could barely breathe, and she hungered from the memory of his mouth upon hers. Praise the saints. What was the matter with her?

He leaned in close and whispered in her ear. "Lass, your eyes show me what ye are clearly thinking. I suggest ye remove your hand from my arm and your eyes from my kilt."
~ Victoria Roberts, Temptation In A Kilt





"I could not prevent this terrible thing from happening, but I will hold her now, and keep her safe. If the Almighty sees fit to take her this night, he will have to pluck her from my arms. If she lives, my face will be the first thing she sees when she awakens.”
~ B.J. Scott, Highland Legacy











His smile widened. “Come and meet Peki.” He opened the short stall door.

She hesitated outside the narrow space.

“You’re not afraid, are you?”

“Not of the horse.”

Jack chuckled. “I’ll be on my best behavior.”

“For a warrior or a soldier?”

“Myself.”

Keeping her eyes on his broad back, she said, “I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.”

“Come discover.”

She slipped inside the pen bedded with clean straw and turned almost in awe at the horse towering above her. She patted his sleek neck. “He’s beautiful. You could start a new line with him.”

“Yes. He’s the finest I’ve ever known. But God help me, Karin, so are you.”

A current charged through her at his words and the emotion behind them. She swiveled, lifting her eyes to the intensity in his. “Why do you need the Lord’s help?”

“You have no idea,” he said huskily.
~ Beth Trissel, The Bearwalker's Daughter



Renee Vincent is an award-winning author of historical and contemporary romance.






Friday, April 20, 2012

Party On, Wayne



Hello fellow Sexy Divas!!

I got back from RT 2012 in Chicago this week and I have to say I had a BLAST! I'm still recovering from the book signings, parties, after parties and late night chatting sessions in the hotel room.

There is something electrifying about having the opportunity to hang out with writers and readers, the chance to talk shop and actually have people around you who are not only interested in the same things, but EXCITED about them too.

There were so many highlights for me, and I thought I'd share a few of them here with you.

The Girls
I got to share a room and hang out with the charming and talented Delphine Dryden, Cara McKenna and Ruthie Knox. Yes, that's right, four women sharing two beds. We got cozy and none of us snored!! The late night/early morning conversations were worth their weight in gold to me. Plus, I got to spend valuable face time with my friends.

The Signings
This year I participated in both the E-Book Expo and the Book Fair. There is something crazy and fun about being in a room with hundreds of other writers and being able to spend time with readers. I actually had people come up to chat who've read my books. I know, I know, but it still strikes me a odd even after having been published for six years. I loved every second of it, even though it was very loud.

The Workshops
You haven't lived until you've had a chance to play Erotic Pictionary. I haven't laughed that much in my life! I got to co-host the Carina Press Bingo reader session, laughing as I tried to make up sentences from the random words we selected from a bag. There were so many informative session that I wasn't able to make, but had heard about. Next time I go, I want to try and do more.

The Pitches
RT provided lots of opportunities to pitch to editors and agents. I found myself getting in line more than once and even walked away with some requests! Now I need to get back to the hard work of cleaning up that submission and sending it off. :)

The Parties
The parties at RT really are the highlights of the week. From hip hop dance parties (I wore electric blue hammer pants), to flapper dresses, highland fae and cocktail parties, there was something for everyone. The Carina Press cocktail party, followed by the Harlequin dance was probably my favorite event.

Yes, the week is as exhausting as it sounds. I'm still recovering from the week! That said, I'd go back in a heartbeat. Maybe I will too!


Multipublished author Christine d'Abo loves exploring the human condition through a romantic lens. She takes her characters on fantastical journeys that change their hearts and expand their minds. A self-professed sci-fi junkie, Christine can often be found chatting about her favorite shows and movies. When she's not writing, she can be found chasing after her children, dogs or husband.

Christine is published with Carina Press, Ellora's Cave, Samhain Publishing, Cleis Press and Berkley Heat. Please visit her at www.christinedabo.com and come chat with her at Twitter Christine_dAbo.