Friday, February 28, 2014

DARK DUKE: Scorching Regency in an Acclaimed Series...

The Third Book in the Scorching Noble Passions Series by Sabrina York Releases!

Fans of Sabrina York’s steamy Regency series have been eagerly awaiting the release of Dark Duke, the third book (following award winning Folly and Dark Fancy) in which Edward Wyeth, the Dark Duke of Moncrieff, finally meets his match in the form of a flame-haired Scottish spitfire.

Noble Passions: Follow the decadent exploits of friends and enemies as they find love and passion in the glittering world of the Regency—and its dark underbelly. Each book is a stand-alone read.

If you’re new to the series, download Sabrina’s free teaser book at http://sabrinayork.com/home-2/sabrina-yorks-teaser-book/ to read blurbs and excerpts for this popular series. Each book in the series is a stand-alone story.

Enter to win a signed print copy of Dark Fancy (Helena and James’ story—Book 2 in the Noble Passions Series) on Goodreads!  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17409083-dark-fancy

Dark Duke
Sabrina York

Noble Passions, Book Three
Edward Wyeth, the Dark Duke of Moncrieff’s life has been turned on its end. His well-ordered home has been invaded. By destitute relatives. From Scotland. How on earth can he write Lord Hedon’s salacious novels with hellions battling in the garden and starting fires in the library? But with the onslaught has come a delicious diversion. His cousin’s companion, the surprisingly intriguing Kaitlin MacAllister. He is determined to seduce her. Using her desperate need for funds and her talents as an artist, he convinces her to draw naughty pictures for his naughtier books…and he draws her into his decadent web.
But Kaitlin has a secret. She’s fled Scotland—and a very determined betrothed. When Edward’s cousin is kidnapped and held in her stead, Kaitlin is honor bound to return to her homeland and rescue her—much to Edward’s chagrin.
Because suddenly he can’t bear the thought of Kaitlin marrying another man. He can’t bear the thought of losing her at all.
A Romantica® Regency historical erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

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

An Excerpt From: DARK DUKE
Copyright © SABRINA YORK, 2014
All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.

Edward skirted the mêlée in the garden and made his way to the far end of the estate, where there was nothing but flowers and trees and a placid little pond. Nothing to attract diminutive fiends bent on mischief. He would sit in the folly until his temperature returned to normal.
Perhaps until spring.
Dear God. He’d had no idea having the Wyeths of Perth take over his house would be such a nightmare. If he had suspected as much, he would have turned them away at the start. They would probably have crawled in under the door. Through the cracks in the flue. Vermin had a way of finding entrance.
But now. Now they were here.
He had to get rid of them.
Perhaps he could send them back to Scotland.
Scotland would revile him for it, but he had little use for rocky tors, lochs and sheep.
Then he thought of Violet and his heart lurched. It would crush her to be trundled back to what she referred to as “the bleak wilderness.” She was looking forward to a glittering season in London. She was seventeen. She needed a husband. A husband of quality. That might be difficult to find in the wilds of Scotland.
And Ned. Ned was twenty. He was just starting to find his way with the ton. He’d made some friends—decent fellows. He’d even been receiving invitations to game at White’s.
The two of them—the normal two—deserved better than being lumped in with the rest.
He whacked at a rosebud as he passed. It exploded into a flutter of petals. He refused to feel any sympathy.
He couldn't send them packing.
Then what?
Hell. He was a duke of the realm. He had six houses spread throughout the empire. Why hadn't he thought to purchase a spare in London?
That was brilliant.
He would. He’d buy them their own house. Move them all, lock stock and—well, maybe not the barrels, as the older boys did like to drink. He’d move them all into their own domicile.
With Aunt Hortense. Let her manage them.
His life would once again be orderly. He would be the master of his own abode. Free to pursue the life of a wealthy dilettante.
He rounded the bend with a satisfied smile on his face. The trickle of the fountain in the pond was a balm to his tormented soul. Birds sang in the trees. The sun—well, it almost shone. It was a beautiful day.
Soon, the world would be right again.
Soon, they would all be gone.
He skipped up the steps of the folly with a lightness of heart he hadn't felt in ages. A book on the bench snagged his attention and his mood dipped, but only a bit. Someone had been here. But they were gone.
He picked it up and flipped through it and stilled.
Good God.
It was a sketch book.
The first page was an attempt at this scene. The flowers and trees, the pond and the little fountain. Not very good. But the second arrested his attention. It was a simple line drawing of Violet. And it was stunning. The artist had managed to depict her beauty, but also captured that glint in her eye, the particular quirk of her lips. Her soul.
The next sketch was one of Ned, showing a brash young man, standing insouciantly with his hands shoved into his pockets, whistling a silent tune. The next was of the twins—whatever their names were—dark heads together plotting some manner of mayhem.
It was so realistic Edward expected them to leap from the page and whack him with a cricket bat.
But it was the last sketch in the book that stole his breath. It was a portrait, in profile. His own face. But not an Edward he would ever recognize. This man was heroic, tragic, a solitary soldier. It was only a few lines drawn in charcoal, but it revealed so much about him. Things he didn't want anyone to ever know.
It was horrifying. And remarkable.
“Your Grace.”
He snapped the book shut and spun around.
Of course. What’s her name. The girl. The owl. From last night.
“Oh, you found it.” She stepped into the folly and took the book from his hands. He did not know why he let it go.
“You left it here.” An accusation. Really? He hadn't intended for it to come out like that.
She chuckled. “I had to go rescue Hamish. I was coming back.”
“What…why did you have to rescue Hamish?” This was her work? She saw him like that? And hell, she was a damn fine hand. How he would love to turn such talent to…darker purposes. What a pity she was such a prude. The kind of work he could offer her would make her rich—rich enough to quit serving as Violet’s companion.
But she would never do it. No decent woman would.
He must be crazed, truly crazed, to even think on it.
The gripping sketch of his wounded countenance lingered in his brain. If she could do that, if she could see through to his soul and bring it to life on paper—
“And then he got stuck. In the tree. So I had to rescue him.”
Lord. She’d been talking. He’d missed the entire explanation. No matter. The question had been purely rhetorical.
“How long have you been drawing?”
She winced, clutched the book to her breast. He recalled what fine breasts they were. “I… What?”
“How long have you been drawing? You’re quite good.”
“You looked at my book?” She squawked as though he’d just admitted to peering up her skirts. The lemony face returned. A beetled brow and pursed lips. It was, upon reflection, rather adorable.
“It was lying here.”
“You shouldn't look at someone’s sketchbook.”
“You shouldn't leave it where it can be found.” He crossed his arms over his chest and grinned at her. Damn, he loved her accent.
She sputtered. “I told you. Hamish and Tay—”
“Taylor. Hamish and Taylor were building a fort in a tree—”
“Yes. Yes. I know. You had to rescue him. Tell me, have they always been this much trouble?”
She blew out a breath. “You have no idea.”
They both laughed. It was a nice moment, because it seemed, for that brief flash of time, they were friends, bound in mutual misery.
And then he went and ruined it by letting his lust intrude. “So tell me, what did you think of that book?”
She tipped her head. “What book?”
“The one I gave you last night.”
She blinked several times, as though she had to try very hard to remember. “Oh. That book. I didn't read it.”
He stepped closer. “Ah. You like to look at the pictures, then?” He knew the sort.
“Look at the… What? No, your Grace—”
“Edward.” He infused his voice with a low thrum.
Your Grace. I didn't have a chance to open it.”
Why petulance curled within him, he had no clue. “What do you mean you didn't have a chance to open it?” She was supposed to have read it. Or at least looked at the pictures. She was supposed to be gazing at him, right now, with a dewy look.
She brushed an invisible speck from her skirt. “There was…a distraction.”
Well hell. “What kind of distraction?”
Her lips pursed. The look she shot him was not dewy in the slightest.
Still, he wanted to kiss her.
He wasn't sure why. She was certainly not the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. But her face had character and charm—especially when she smiled. Her figure was full—the way he liked them—but she didn't show it off to its best effect. In fact, if he hadn't known what lay beneath the thick layers of crinoline and bombazine, he would have been fooled. She was prickly as a hedgehog and smacked him down at every turn.
So why did he want to pull her into his arms and smother her mouth with his?
Perhaps because of all those things.
Then again, perhaps just because.
So he did.
He took the girl—whose name he could not remember, whose face he could not forget—into his arms and kissed her. It was a gentle buss, as kisses went, but extremely sublime. Because he’d surprised her.
Her lips were open, as though poised to speak. He took full advantage, sweeping in his tongue to dab at hers, nibbling and licking and tasting her sweet breath.
The prick at his side was not a surprise. He’d expected it.
He lifted his head and stared down into her eyes. Her expression was dazed and determined and perhaps a little dewy. “Not this time, darling,” he murmured. He took the knife from her hand and tossed it aside and then pulled her more fully against him.
And ah. She was soft. Sweet. Her breasts pressed against his chest. Her hips molded the cradle of his groin. Of course, he was the one doing the molding, but she didn’t fight him.
No. She sighed and tipped her head to the side so he could deepen the kiss. She tasted like ambrosia. A tantalizing flavor of cinnamon and woman and surrender. His ardor rose, and with it, his cock. He rubbed it against her belly.
She stiffened and tried to push away, muttering something into his mouth that sounded like “No.”
He changed his tack, running his lips down her cheek and along the line of her jaw to nestle in the crook of her neck. She shuddered. Some groan-like sound emanated from her throat. She clutched at his hair.
Thusly encouraged, he sucked at the tender skin of her neck. Nipped.
“Oh! Saints preserve us,” she whispered.
“The saints don’t care,” he responded, switching to the other side of her neck. He found a spot that delighted her even more and feasted there. In her distraction, she didn’t stop the palm skimming over her ribs to cup a breast.
He encased her. Ah. Exquisite. Full and round and pliable. He thumbed a nipple, testing its rigidity. She dipped as her knees gave way. He caught her. Swung her up in his arms and carried her to the bench.
From long experience, he knew better than to give a woman a moment to think. So as soon as he had her settled across his lap and firmly braced against the wall of the folly, he kissed her again. With one hand, he stroked her nipples while with the other, he slowly drew up her skirts.

What People are Saying About Dark Duke

“This book was freaking phenomenal…I absolutely loved every part of it. Dark Duke is a must read if you love historical with a little BDSM thrown in. Get ready to laugh and drool until the very last page.’’ –The To Be Read List

“If you haven’t dipped your toes into the joy of Sabrina York’s regency-era erotic romances, and you want a little more than just a blushing virginal bride, this is the series that you will need to dive into.” –Gaele, Amazon Reviewer

“I swear one second I'm fanning myself and checking my Kindle for scorch marks and the next I'm laughing out loud.” –Riverina Romantics

“An amazingly entertaining romp.” –PansyPetal, Amazon Reviewer

Noble Passions Series from Sabrina York

Follow the decadent exploits of friends and enemies as they find love and passion in the glittering world of the Regency—and its dark underbelly.

Book 1: Folly
2014 EPIC eBook Award Finalist
2013 Passionate Plume Finalist

Widowed and threatened with penury by her heartless in-laws, Eleanor--Lady Ulster--hatches a plot to save herself. Determined to produce the Ulster "heir", she seduces a stranger at a tawdry masquerade. Little does she know, this magnificent masked lover is none other than her husband's greatest nemesis. And God knows Ulster had plenty.

Ethan Pennington is mortified to arrive at a house party and discover Lady Ulster in attendance. He has wanted her and hated wanting her--his enemy's bride--for years. When he overhears Eleanor's predicament and her plans to place a cuckoo in the Ulster nest, he is more than willing to oblige. The opportunity to finally claim her--while taking the revenge he craves--is more than he can resist. Ethan strikes a bargain with Eleanor, promising to provide her with the heir she so desperately needs...if she will meet his needs in return. Every decadent one of them.

Book 2: Dark Fancy
The sizzling prequel to Folly

When Lady Helena Simpson flees an unwanted marriage to a revolting lord, she finds refuge with James, a charming, handsome man unlike any she’s ever known. Helena concocts the perfect solution to her problem. She asks—begs—James to ruin her. Surely her betrothed will repudiate her if she is no longer pure. And if all her efforts fail and she still ends up married to a horrid man until the end of her days, she will at least once have known true passion.

But James is not all he seems. He is, in fact, a wicked lord with a dark fancy. When Helena awakens his desire, he becomes determined to take everything she has to offer and more. No matter the cost.

Book 3: Dark Duke
Edward Wyeth, the Dark Duke of Moncrieff's life has been turned on its end. His well-ordered home has been invaded. By destitute relatives. From Scotland. How on earth can he write Lord Hedon's salacious novels with hellions battling in the garden and starting fires in the library? But with the onslaught has come a delicious diversion. His cousin’s companion, the surprisingly intriguing Kaitlin MacAllister. He is determined to seduce her. Using her desperate need for funds and her talents as an artist, he convinces her to draw naughty pictures for his naughtier books…and he draws her into his decadent web.

But Kaitlin has a secret. She’s fled Scotland—and a very determined betrothed. When Edward’s cousin is kidnapped and held in her stead, Kaitlin is honor-bound to return to her homeland and rescue her—much to Edward’s chagrin.
Because suddenly he can’t bear the thought of Kaitlin marrying another man. He can’t bear the thought of losing her at all.

Book 4: Brigand (Coming Soon)
Kidnapped and held prisoner by menacing Scottish brigand, the notorious McCloud, Violet Wyeth does her best to persevere…and resist his rakish charms. But when she realizes The McCloud is really Ewan St. Andrews, the boy who once saved her life, the boy who once kissed her and made her heart flutter, she is lost.

Ewan has every intention of marrying Lady Kaitlin MacAllister. He desperately needs the entrée into the ton this bride can provide. But when his bride is delivered—bound and gagged—it’s not Kaitlin. It’s Violet Wyeth—the girl who betrayed him and ruined his life when he was a boy. He keeps her, determined to punish her for her sins. But when he discovers the truth about what really happened so long ago, and seething passion rises between them, he can no longer hold on to his rusty grudge. By the time he realizes how much he loves Violet—that he always has—he’s lost her.

All he can do is follow her. Follow her into the bowels of hell—and partake in the torment of the glittering London Season, where the harpies are far more dangerous than a Scottish brigand.
Coming soon: http://www.amazon.com/Sabrina-York/e/B00856PDEO/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

About Sabrina York

Her Royal Hotness, Sabrina York is the award winning author of over 20 hot, humorous stories for smart and sexy readers. Her titles range from sweet & sexy erotic romance to scorching BDSM. Connect with her on twitter @sabrina_york, on Facebook or on Pintrest. Check out Sabrina’s books and read an excerpt on Amazon or wherever e-books are sold. Visit her webpage at www.sabrinayork.com to check out her books, excerpts and contests. Free Teaser Book: http://sabrinayork.com/home-2/sabrina-yorks-teaser-book/ And don’t forget to enter to win the royal tiara!

Enter to win a signed print copy of scorching Regency romance, Dark Fancy on Goodreads! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17409083-dark-fancy

Like my Facebook Author Page https://www.facebook.com/SabrinaYorkBooks
Follow me on Twitter @sabrina_york
Check out my Pintrest boards: http://www.pinterest.com/sabrinayork/boards/
Check out my Barnes & Noble Author page: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/sabrina-york

Books by Sabrina York
Brigand (Erotic Regency, Ellora’s Cave) —Coming soon

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dracula, villain as hero! What NBC's version teaches us about heroes who are redeemable!

     Dracula, that arch villain, has become a romance hero. While I am no regular reader of paranormal romances, nor even its cousins sci-fi or fantasy, I get a kick out of this Friday night version of the Bram Stoker's infamous villain.
    Always intrigued by the historical figure, the famous leader who held back the hordes of infidels from his domain by pitting them on spikes, I have read the original and a few fictional interpretations of that event. But this version strikes me for its ingenuity—and its wide appeal to many of those whom I "visit" with on Facebook and Twitter.
    I ardently appreciate this version of Dracula and thought I would tell you why. (Perhaps you agree!)
    I think Jonathan Rhys Meyers and the writers have done a smashingly good job of giving Dracula a pair of motivations that make the audience cheer for him. Aside from the fact that Meyers played that other ruthless "hero" Henry VIII of England recently, he can appear dangerously seductive. Always a good trait for a romance hero!
    Believable as a man out for revenge, this Dracula also has a soft spot for the (seeming) reincarnation of his beloved wife. Hence, we have the merging of Dracula's goal to destroy those who destroyed and turned him into the creature he is with the new goal to be united with his wife/modern-day Mina.
    True, it is no small feat for a blood-sucking vampire to find true love or everlasting happiness with that lover. But women who read (and write) romance, whether or not they are like me and avoid paranormal sub-genre, will recognize the signs that there may be a resolution to this impossible love affair.
    Jonathan Harker has been transformed here as well. A nice guy, he seemed a suitable match, if a rather boring one for Our Heroine, Mina. Yet, the writers have taken his character and shown him to be opportunistic and easily confused. Never good material for the characterization of The Guy Who Gets The Girl in the End. Now we even see him falling in with The Villains of the piece. His motives may seem "normal" yet we really don't care for him. Our affections are firmly with Our Hero Dracula…and we see that Our Heroine Mina is enthralled by him as well. 
    The bigger questions are two.  First is will her affection last? If we are to take the last bedroom scene in the season finale to be a true indicator of her desires and her love, then we can say yes. After all, heroines do not go to bed with just any old dude. And this Mina tends to be a clear thinker, seeing Jonathan Harker for what he is and is not, even if she is scurrying to learn precisely what Alexander Grayson/Dracula truly is.
    The second big question is of course, can we have a happily ever after for these two lovers. I see possibilities for that answer to be yes. Mina, in her present form, is a scientist, God bless her. And her goal, as she stated it in an early episode, is "to cure death."  If she can, viola! We have Nirvana!
    Or rather poor Dracula does…and hence, so does she.
    Marvelous resolution to a seemingly impossible problem. This is the stuff of good romance—and the folks at NBC's new version have done a darn good job of making it delicious.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Paths To Publishing: Enjoy the Process!

I can't remember when I didn't want to be an author. I've collected writing craft books and subscribed intermittently to Writer's Digest over the years, found it all fascinating, but never wrote seriously until my retirement because it seemed to me that as a new author, the cards were stacked against me from the beginning. Yeah, maybe if I worked really, really hard and wrote a masterpiece, I might be able to get it published. But it was still a bit like winning the lottery, and I had to make a living. No matter what they tell you, you can't always make your dreams come true.

But when making a living wasn't necessary anymore and I had to find something to do with the rest of my life, my writing dream popped up immediately. As far as I knew, not much had changed over the years, except that I'd heard people were self-publishing ebooks, and I found it encouraging that there were other options besides breaking into the New York echelons. I was under no illusions that my writing was anywhere near publication quality at the time, but at least when I did have something ready to publish, my hopes would not be pinned only on the unlikely chance of being discovered by some kindly New York editor.

At that time—a mere two years ago or so—self-published authors were still seen by some as sort of “cheating.” “Real” writers kept working on their craft, writing and polishing, entering contests, submitting to editors and agents, and hoping that someday they would be good enough to be noticed by New York. The writers I knew had all been working for years—as many as twelve, in one case—and had accumulated piles of rejections. When I brought up self-publishing as an option, the idea was shot down immediately. “I want to build a career” was one of the objections. Apparently, the only way to build a career was through New York.

This hardly seemed fair to me. There must be thousands and thousands of writers who have been writing in vain because New York didn't see fit to put their stamp on these authors' work. Even if you have written the best shape shifter romance out there, if New York decided that shape shifters were out, they'd never buy yours. And the problem with trends is that by the time you have something to offer, New York has decided to move on to another one, and you're stuck. Again.

The truth is, even if New York were to give you your big chance, it might not work out quite the way you expected. Well over a decade ago, I discovered a wonderful new author, Jean Ross Ewing. Her historical romances were emotional powerhouses. She obviously spent a great deal of time writing them, because there weren't many. But I subscribed to her email list and eagerly awaited the next one.

Then the email came to say that her publisher had persuaded her to change her name to Julia Ross, hoping that this new "brand" would sell better. Humiliating, but at least they weren't just giving up on her. I read all of her Julia Ross books and liked them, but they weren't the same. I think they must have persuaded her to change some things about her writing as well. But I remained a faithful fan. Until the email came that she was taking time off from writing. That was many years ago, and I haven't seen any books by her since. I don't know exactly what happened, but it appears that for Jean Ross Ewing and Julia Ross, writing really, really good books wasn't enough. Her New York dream died.

Let me clarify that I have nothing against authors who choose to publish through New York. It's fabulous that they managed to get through the door, and I hope their New York dreams come true. But the best part is…they have choices that Jean Ross Ewing did not. I know quite a few traditionally-published authors who built up a following and then switched to self-publishing, where they can control pretty much every aspect of their work. It's not for everyone. But it's a choice that more and more authors are making, and I applaud them for it.

There are also other choices—smaller publishers, and those who publish only digitally. These don't necessarily make a big splash, but they are out there looking for new content, and may be a good way to get started. It seems like authors these days don't commit themselves 100% to one publisher; they may have several, and be self-publishing on the side. I personally think such hybrid publishing is the way to go these days. But the best part is that authors no longer have to be dependent on New York; there are many, many paths to a successful writing career.

Bitter Battles

I've read—skimmed—some of the blog battles between proponents of traditional and indie publishing, and here are my thoughts:
  • The publishing world has been turned around on its axis in only a few short years. It doesn't surprise me at all that so many authors have bitter memories of their past dealings with New York. Doesn't everyone like to see Goliath fall to David's slingshot? Especially if they've rejected you repeatedly, or dropped you, or keep you tied to contracts that you want out of. Ah yes, who wouldn't want to “show them” by becoming the next Sylvia Day? I'm afraid there's no way for the traditional publishers to win this one. They'd be better off not opening Pandora's Box in the first place. Karma, you know.

  • One thing I learned in the research course I had to take for my M.Ed was that every study is flawed. Yes, even those created by statistics and research professors who know all the formulas. For our tests in that class, we had to spend four hours finding the flaws in studies published by scholarly journals. Just because it sounds good on the surface and there are tables and numbers doesn't mean the conclusion is valid. Interesting, perhaps, but I'm convinced there isn't one study that isn't fatally flawed, and if you spend hours and hours analyzing them, you'll find 'em. But no, I'm not going to do that because, well, I have better things to do with my time.

  • I have no horse in this race. I've never submitted to a New York publisher, but if one were to offer me a decent contract, I would seriously consider signing it. There are still advantages to being published traditionally, but not enough that I have to feel like a failure if that door remains closed. If it seems as though I am grinning gleefully to see New York getting hit, it's only because I'm so happy to be living in a day and age when they can't control my writing career! For those who wish the clock would turn back since the old days were better, um, maybe they were for a fortunate few. But how many thousands of others worked for years and finally gave up, like Jean Ross Ewing? These days, if you give up your dream, it's because you have lingering feelings of bitterness about not being one of the fortunate few, and/or you resent having to work harder to get there. Or you still feel the sting of the “indie” label and don't like your work having to share “shelf space” with the loads of crap out there. Well, I'm here to tell you that success doesn't come easily to most people—you have to drag yourself out of the mud to get your feet on the first rung of the ladder. And if your head is always in the clouds, you're likely to fall off before you get there.

  •  Cotillion Christmas Celebrations
    One day at a time. Enjoy this day. True writers have a compulsion to write, so do it. Do some of the other stuff too, if you can. I've found that I enjoy blogging and social media and designing promo. I especially love hearing from readers who love my stories! I don't have a crystal ball and I have no idea whether becoming a best-selling author is in the cards for me, but for now, I'm having a blast down here on the bottom rung. A few years ago, having a story in print was like an impossible dream. And here I have one—albeit in an anthology—only two years after making the decision to write seriously.
The past tends to seem better than it actually was, until you take off the rose-colored glasses and start seeing the harsh reality. But you can't go back there anyway, so why waste time mourning over it? Nobody knows the future, and that seems to me to be a waste of time too. All you really have is the present. And it's full of opportunities, if you have the courage to take advantage of them.

Susana's Releases

She's a country lady. He's a London swell. They have nothing in common. Or have they?

A wounded soldier and the girl next door find peace and love amidst a backdrop of rural Christmas traditions. 


About Susana

A former teacher, Susana is finally living her dream of being a full-time writer. She loves all genres of romance, but historical—Regency in particular—is her favorite. There’s just something about dashing heroes and spunky heroines waltzing in ballrooms and driving through Hyde Park that appeals to her imagination.

In real life, Susana is a lifelong resident of northwest Ohio, although she has lived in Ecuador and studied in Spain, France and Mexico. More recently, she was able to travel around the UK and visit many of the places she’s read about for years, and it was awesome! She is a member of the Maumee Valley, Central Florida and Beau Monde chapters of Romance Writers of America.

Web site • Email • Facebook • Twitter • Linked In • Pinterest • Google+

Susana’s Parlour (Regency Blog) • Susana’s Morning Room (Romance Blog)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Love Lost in TIme

I'm so excited to be joining the Sweet N Sexy Divas! Some of you might know me from my sexy books written as Ari Thatcher, but my attention these days is on the sweeter side of love writing under my real name, Aileen Fish.

I find myself juggling two timelines these days, one in the present, the other in the Regency era of Jane Austen, Lord Byron and Prinny, himself. Amid the various stand-alone Regency romances I've published I have a series, The Bridgethorpe Brides, which has a background in horse racing and breeding. So it's not surprising my new contemporary series, Small Town Sweethearts, is set in a fictional ranching town filled with cowboys in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains.

I hadn't realized the connection until my hero in Cowboy Cupid "grabbed his hat and gloves and stormed to the stables." There's a huge different in their boots, accents and neckwear, but I apparently love a man on a horse. How about you?

Here's an excerpt from Cowboy Cupid:

{Josh} shrugged and fidgeted with the collar on his button-down shirt.
“You look fine. You act like this is a blind date.” Rachel’s stomach knotted knowing he was so nervous about seeing Marissa again. How could the woman not fall head over stilettos for him? He’d only gotten ten times better looking since they’d graduated. His sandy brown hair now shimmered with blond highlights year-round, thanks to his working outdoors all the time. His skin was bronzed in the summer, and merely golden during warm spells in winter like they were experiencing now. When he laughed, his eyes glistened with joy. He was too handsome by half.
Josh took a corkscrew out of a drawer and went to work on a bottle of red wine. “You don’t think I’m overdressed? Maybe I should go put on a t-shirt instead.”
She glanced down at her own shirt. The lacy V of the neckline made it one of the girliest things she wore, aside from the sundresses she preferred in the summer after work. Did he think she was underdressed in comparison? She frowned at him. “Now you’re making me self-conscious. Quit fussing. You’re worse than your sister.”
A knock at the door saved Rachel from any more of Josh’s nerves. She continued to chop veggies while Josh went to greet his guest.
A squeal from the front of the cabin told her Marissa had arrived.
“Oh, my gosh, Josh, look at you.”
Whatever he responded was spoken too low for Rachel to hear. Their voices continued for a few minutes, then footsteps approached the kitchen.
Josh stopped near the dining table. “Rachel, Marissa’s here.”
“Hi, Rach. Wow, you look great! You finally got some curves. Josh tells me you work on the ranch now.”
Rachel looked up from the veggies and smiled through the seething emotions the girl stirred up. “Yes. I hear you’re going to be teaching here soon?”
Marissa held up crossed fingers on both hands, her manicured nails a bright pink. “I hope so. Mrs. Donahue is retiring at the end of the semester. I doubt I’m the only person they’re considering.”
Josh paused on his way out the sliding glass door to the deck. “But you graduated at the top of your class, and you’re from White Oak. They know you. I’m sure you’ll get it.” He stepped outside.
           Marissa set down her purse. “So, do you and Josh have a thing going now?”
~Cowboy Cupid is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble for $.99

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Monday, February 24, 2014

A Collection of Grammar Tips for Writers by Kayelle Allen

Tips for Writing 
Permission to share so long as all credits listed within the document remain intact. Credit is given where material was found online. Most of the material here is gathered from years of writing and dealing with various publishers. I hope you find it helpful. This entire post is available as a pdf handout at the end. Please click the link to download.

A while vs. Awhile (for awhile is NOT proper)

Use awhile if you could use the word for in front of it. Grammatically, a while is a noun phrase in which "a" is an article and "while" functions as a noun meaning "a short period of time"; awhile is an adverb meaning "for a while." In other words, the meaning is the same, but the structure is different: the word awhile has "for" built into its meaning.

The test of which to use is to consider whether "for a while" may be used in the sentence where we intend to place (or have placed) the word awhile – without changing anything else.
  • "I'll wait here awhile" is correct because we could also say, "I'll wait here for a while."
  • "My mother is staying awhile" is correct because we could also say, "My mother is staying for a while."
  • "I'll wait here for awhile" is not correct because we have actually used the word for twice, given that awhile = for a while: "I'll wait here for for a while."
  • "I'll be there in awhile" is not correct because we would not say, "I'll be there IN FOR a while."
  • "This may take awhile" is not correct because "This may take for a while" is not idiomatic English.
The two-word noun phrase (a while) is probably more often the correct choice than is the one-word adverb (awhile). Certainly, most misuses of a while / awhile involve using awhile where a while is the appropriate construction. ("Awhile vs A while" portion from Grammar Mudge: http://www.grammarmudge.cityslide.com/articles/article/992333/8557.htm )

Affect vs Effect

Affect for references to an influence.
Effect for references to a result.
A handy mnemonic is "A Very Easy Noun." Affect Verb / Effect Noun

Convince vs Persuade

Convince may be followed by "of" or "that" but not by "to".
Persuaded to is correct.

Die vs. Dice

One die
Two or more dice

Further vs. Farther vs. Furthermore

Farther = physical distance (think of the root FAR)
Further = metaphorical or figurative distance (further in a spiritual journey)
Furthermore = in addition, rather than distance

Less vs. Fewer

Less and fewer are easy to mix up. They mean the same thing--the opposite of more--but you use them in different circumstances. The basic rule is that you use less with mass nouns and fewer with count nouns. A count noun is something you can count. I'm looking at my desk and I see books, pens, and M&M's. I can count all those things, so they are count nouns and the right word to use is fewer. I should eat fewer M&M's. Mass nouns are things that you can't count individually. Again, on my desk I see tape and clutter. These things can't be counted individually, so the right word to use is less. If I had less clutter, my desk would be cleaner. Another clue is that you don't make mass nouns plural: I would never say I have clutters on my desk or that I need more tapes to hold my book covers together. ("Less vs. Fewer" portion taken from: http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/less-versus-fewer.aspx )

Lie vs. Lay

Lie = to recline or rest on a surface.
Lay = to put or place something.
So ask yourself which meaning applies to the sentence. Did Jane put the book on the table or did the book recline or rest on the table?
She lie/lay on the chaise by the poolside.
What is she doing? She's reclining, resting. She lay on the chaise by the poolside.
Why? She's reclining, but lay is the past tense of lie.
For lie
  • Base form: lie
  • Past tense: lay
  • Past participle: lain
  • Present participle: lying
For lay
  • Base: lay
  • Past: laid
  • Past participle: laid
  • Present participle: laying
If confused with a sentence that may use either lay or lie, an alternate method is to choose a different verb such as placed or reclined.

Might vs. May

Might - possible but unlikely "Pigs might fly."
May - possible "I may go to the store"
Exception 1: might is past tense of may. "Pigs might have flown" or "I might have gone to the store" are both correct.
Exception 2: referring to something unlikely "we may not go shopping" sounds as if you are not permitted, rather than undecided. Better: "we might not go shopping" sounds as if you are undecided. Written uses prefer "might" since there are no voice inflections to add clues. ("Might vs. May" portion taken from:

One another vs. Each other

One another refers to three or more; each other refers to two.

Was vs. Were

The word "was" is correct for things that could be true. "Were" is correct for things that could never be true or are imaginary, fanciful, or impossible. Since it is possible that he could be perfectly at home there, it is correct to say "as if he was" perfectly at home lolling there. On the other hand, if you said "He leapt across the gully as if he were a winged creature" -- he is not and could never be a winged creature (unless a shapeshifter) -- he can't sprout wings at will -- so "as if he were" is correct. The subjunctive (were) "expresses an action or state as doubtful, imagined, desired, conditional, or otherwise contrary to fact." If none of those fit, "was" is used.

Whose vs. Who's

Who's is a contraction of who is or, less commonly, who has.
  • Who's watching TV?
  • Who's ready to go?
Whose is the possessive of who.
  • Whose book is this?
  • Whose side are you taking?

Writing Directives and Concepts

Adjective order

Adjective order: number, size, color (five large red apples) no commas needed.

And then

The word "and" is only required with "then" in a compound sentence, because "then" is not a true conjunction. When appearing with only a compound verb, a comma can stand in for "and" to improve the pacing of a sentence. Sometimes "and then" still sounds better. It's an editorial call.

Commas with adjectives before a noun

Cumulative and coordinate adjectives before a noun are handled in different ways. To know how to handle them, consider these possibilities.
  • If the coordinating conjunction and is inserted between the adjectives and the resulting phrase sounds perfect natural, the adjectives are coordinate and you should insert a comma. If it sounds awkward, the adjectives are cumulative and you should not insert a comma.
    • (Comma okay): She is a loyal, loving friend. She is a loyal and loving friend.
    • (Comma NOT okay): She lives in an old brick house. She lives in an old and brick house.
  • If the positions of the adjectives are reversed, and the resulting phrase sounds perfect natural, the adjectives are cumulative, and you should not insert a comma.
    • (Comma okay): She is a loyal, loving friend. She is a loving and loyal friend.
    • (Comma NOT okay): She lives in an old brick house. She lives in a brick old house.

Commas with Too

Too at the end of a sentence does not need a comma before it. It does need a comma at the beginning, and if an abrupt change is indicated within a sentence. Ex.: Then, too, he hadn't known she would be there.

Correcting Smart Quotes or Single Quotation Marks

When applying smart (curly) quotes, look for single uses with slang terms such as 'em, 'cause, etc. MS Word generally places the apostrophe curl facing the wrong way. The curl should face toward the missing letter(s) and away from the word.

Dashes Inside or Outside Quotations (Dash = Hyphen)

Dashes "--" should be outside the quotation marks at the end of a sentence that is interrupted by an action and then picked up on the other side of the interruption. Dashes are placed INSIDE the lines when the sentence is interrupted and a new paragraph begins, such as one speaker interrupting the other. Write as this with spaces:
"Text text text" -- descriptive narration -- "text text text."

Dashes Em and En (Dash = Hyphen)

An em dash is written like this: —
An en dash is written like this: –
A regular dash is written like this: -
From Word help:
1.      When you type a space and one or two hyphens between text, Microsoft Word automatically inserts an en dash ( – ).
2.      If you type two hyphens and do not include a space before the hyphens, then an em dash ( — ) is created.
3.      To turn off this feature, use Tools > AutoCorrect Options. Unselect "hyphens with dash" in both Autoformat and Autoformat as you Type.
4.      To turn on this feature, use Tools > AutoCorrect Options. Select "hyphens with dash" in both Autoformat and Autoformat as you Type.


Ellipses do not have a space between them and the words around them, unless they are at the end of a sentence. Then they have a space afterward. In Microsoft Word, the ellipse is often replaced by an automated graphic. When sharing material in email and in certain other places online this graphic is replaced by code, making the text difficult to read. For the best results when sharing excerpts online, use a traditional ellipse rather than the automated version.


  • Mouthed dialogue is italicized.
  • Character thoughts are italicized.
  • Foreign or alien words and phrases are italicized only on the first use in a document.
  • Other uses of italics follows conventional rules, such as the names of ships, short story titles, etc.

Italicize Single Letters

Italicize single letters, except for these cases: "mind your p's and q's" and "dotting the i's and crossing the t's" and for letters representing shapes (an L-shaped room, an S curve). Do not italicize single letters used as names: John Q. Public.

Formatting Tips

Publishers differ on requirements, so go with what yours require. If you self-publish, the thing to do is be consistent. Here is what I use.

Changes of POV and Scene

  • Scene breaks are indicated by four spaced asterisks, centered on page.
  • Point of view (POV) switch is indicated by a blank line with the first three words after a POV switch in all CAPS. If formatting for an ereader, you will not have a blank line. In this case, you might prefer one centered asterisk, then the first three words after the switch in all CAPS.

Words Written as Signs or Print

For signs in manuscripts, (i.e., a "No Trespassing" sign, etc.) if the POV character is looking at and reading the sign, it would be NO TRESPASSING as it would be on the sign. If it's mentioned in passing, for example in dialogue or they drove past the "no trespassing" sign, it would be quotes and in standard font/style.
Download this material as a pdf: http://is.gd/kayelle_grammartips

Kayelle Allen 

About the Author

Kayelle Allen is a multi-published, award-winning Science Fiction Romance author of unstoppable heroes, uncompromising love, and unforgettable passion. She is the owner of The Author's Secret, an author support company, and the founder of Marketing for Romance
Writers, an online peer-mentoring group.
Unstoppable Heroes Blog http://kayelleallen.com/blog
The Author's Secret https://theauthorssecret.com