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Grab your favorite beverage, relax, and let me tell you a story…

After Midnight - Black Phoenix #1

Re-edited, revised edition October 2013

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Dangerously Sexy Suspense

March 30, 2012

Friday Quickie

25 quickie facts about Sarah Grimm:

Birthday? October 9
Favorite color? Pink
Favorite animal? Dog
Siblings? 1 sister, 2 brothers – all older than me
Favorite drink? Diet Coke
If you were a jelly bean flavor, what flavor would you be? Very Cherry
Favorite author? Linda Howard
Favorite dish? 40 year-old male, black hair, blue eyes & a British accent. YUM!
Ice cream flavor? Chubby Hubby
Favorite Season? Fall
Plotter or pantser? Pantser
Hobbies? Drag Racing
Dream vacation? England and Scotland
Favorite TV show? GRIMM
Musical preference? Rock n’ Roll
Pet peeve? People who lie
Favorite place to write? The kitchen table
Favorite song? Hysteria by Def Leppard
Odd family fact? We’re all pervs
Unforgettable moment? The birth of my sons
Favorite Superhero? Thor
Spicy or not? Spicy – unless we’re talking about food
Cat or dog? 3 dogs, a guinea pig, 3 orphaned mice
Favorite candy bar? Snickers
Favorite guilty pleasure? Hostess Golden Cupcakes


Summarize your book Twitter style – 140 characters or less:

Can music heal the fractured soul? Or will it tear them apart forever?

BUY LINK






To learn more about Sarah's books please visit her Website:
http://www.sarahgrimm.com

March 28, 2012

A Letter From Brice Van Sant

I’m not the kind of guy who goes in for all that mushy mumbo jumbo, love talk. It’s just a bunch of hype to sell chocolates and cards on Valentines Day. I happen to know first hand that love is nothing but a lie, an illusion that only brings heartbreak. Once a person buys into the concept, it wreaks havoc in their life Whenever a woman starts getting too close, I break it off and that’s the end of that.

Except for Suzanne. I married Suzanne. I know what you’re thinking, but it wasn’t like that either. See, she was visiting her sister who works for my company, Johnston Carmichael Pharmaceuticals. I was trying to run interference with an ex when somehow I ended up drinking a cup of her homemade herbal shampoo.

Yeah, that’s exactly what I thought too…the next day…after I’d married her. That’s when I realized that the shampoo was actually a love potion! With a product like that I could take my company to the top of the heap. But when I offered to buy the formula, Suzanne told me that she didn’t have it. She makes these kinds of things all the time—shampoo, conditioner, perfume— but never writes down the ingredients.

I’m not proud of what I did next, but I managed to talk Suzanne into recreating the formula. The only problem was our marriage had hit the papers. Half the world already knew that we’d had a whirlwind courtship (if you call one date a courtship), so all this had to be done in secret. I couldn’t let the competition know what I was onto. So Suzanne reluctantly moved into my house and pretended to be my wife while she worked on finding the formula.

This is where things get a little interesting. Who knew that having a sassy redhead underfoot could be such a temptation? And I found out just how badly a person could want something they couldn’t have. But desire and love are two entirely different things. If a man’s not careful he’ll fall into that trap. But that isn’t going to happen to me. I’m not about to fall in love. But give in to desire? What’s a man got to lose?

— Brice 

Love Potion Me, Baby

By Amie Louellen
Available now from The Wild Rose Press

March 27, 2012

Welcome Guest Blogger Velda Brotherton

Researching our historical books on the Internet is time consuming, but often fruitful. Simply Googling our subject, then checking out the sites will reveal much information. Some of it untrue. So beware. Imagine if you were reading an historical novel where the author had only checked one source, possibly not a reliable one, then wrote his entire book around that premise. There are articles online where the author has done just that. So my first step is to check the authority of the sites. Are they published by a historical society, or perhaps have all the facts vetted by historians like the Arkansas Encyclopedia online. I've written several articles for this encyclopedia that were then vetted by not one but two or three authorities on the subject. State historical sites are mostly reliable. Careful checking of anything that sounds a bit off is a good idea, though.

A friend and local historian once told me that it is nearly impossible to get all our historical facts right, simply because of the passage of time and the loss of much information. But we can do our best. It's important to check to see that our sources didn't all use the same basic source.

Here are some notes I found that never found a place in the book. "Ponies feed on cottonwood bark. Indians cut the white branches into four foot pieces and throw them to the ponies. They place one forefoot on the limb in the same manner as a dog secures a bone and gnaw the bark from it."

"Buffalo grass grows on the uplands, thick rich grass grows on the plains but only around streams. Buffalo grass blades reach a growth of from three to five inches but instead of being straight it assumes a curled or waving shape. When walked on it is like walking on thick moss."

The enjoyment of research comes in the little known facts we unearth, but each one still should be verified. There are times when we can trust our source. That was true for me when I began researching for Stone Heart's Woman. Mari Sandoz, a well known and much respected historian and writer, wrote a little book called Cheyenne Autumn. Published in 1953 by the University of Nebraska Press, the book includes information she gathered by interviewing some of the Northern Cheyenne survivors. A few requested anonymity, but her notes do include original source material which she used to support the stories. This book became my main source, but I did check many unusual facts I wanted to use. I researched other facets of real characters I wanted to include, especially George Armstrong Custer, Dull Knife and Little Wolf, and Libby Custer's role.

In addition, and we can't always do this, we drove the route the Northern Cheyenne took from the Indian Territory (Oklahoma) to Ft. Robinson, stopping at Camp Supply and a few museums along the way. I find it helps in my writing to walk the land where my characters walked so long ago.

In my research I found so many tidbits of history that I didn't use in the book. Here are a few of these "little" facts that didn't make it into Stone Heart's Woman. This is the story that convinced me to write the book. I have paraphrased some of the information to shorten it:

Morning Star, or Dull Knife, as he was known to the white man, was regarded by the authorities as a dangerous man, and with his depleted band was taken to the Indian Territory without his consent in 1876. When his people began to die on the reservation, he called them together. Every man and woman declared that they would rather die in their own country than stay there longer, and they resolved to flee to their northern homes.

From the Indian Territory to Dakota was 1500 miles through settled country. The army would pursue them and no doubt kill some. No sooner had they started than the telegraph wires sang one song: "The panther of the Cheyennes is at large. Not a child or a woman in Kansas or Nebraska is safe."

After six months his weary and starving people were surrounded by the army and taken to Fort Robinson in the Dakotas (now Nebraska). There the men were put in prison, and their wives guarded in camp. They were allowed to visit their men on certain days. Many of them had lost everything; there were but a few who had even one child left. They were heartbroken and broken in spirit.

The book begins at this point with the final battle when they make one last attempt at freedom.

Dull Knife's people had earlier separated from a small group led by Little Wolf who managed to avoid the imprisonment and reach their home.

When I gathered information on this flight, I found one post online that claimed Dull Knife and all his people perished in the battle at Ft. Robinson. This is not true according to reliable sources. Dull Knife and his people were finally allowed to go to the Pine Ridge Agency. Dull Knife was allowed to go home to Montana's Rosebud Valley where he was born. He died there in 1883 at the age of 73.

After the last outbreak at Fort Robinson when so many Cheyenne were killed, public sympathy turned in favor of those who survived. They were sent to live on the Pine Ridge Agency with the Lakota Sioux until 1884 when President Chester Alan Arthur granted them a reservation along Montana's Tongue River by executive order. Those killed in Nebraska remained in a mass grave, some of their skulls removed by army surgeons and sent East for study.

Almost 115 years later some of the people finally went home to rest. They were sent to Montana in 18 boxes containing their skulls, released after long negotiation by museums such as the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Should readers wonder where I came up with the idea that Custer fathered children with Northern Cheyenne women. The Cheyenne spoke often of a yellow haired son named Yellow Swallow and a girl child fathered by Custer. He never admitted to that, and his wife Libby, who spent her lifetime trying to save his reputation, denied them all. Custer wrote in his book that Mo-nah-se-tah – The young grass that shoots in the spring,-- was a daughter of a chief high in rank by the name of Little Rock. She never liked her husband who had purchased her for 11 ponies. She shot him in the knee, crippling him for life, then accompanied two other Indian women and went with Custer while he visited hostile tribes. She remained with the troops, imprisoned but not under guard, until the incident at Fort Hays when she returned to the Cheyenne.

Custer never mentioned in his book that she became the mother of his son Yellow Swallow, a sickly boy with golden hair, who was about nine when the breakout occurred. His existence is told in many stories by the whites and the Cheyenne, who also tell of a girl child fathered by Yellow Hair (the Cheyenne name for Custer). Mari Sandoz wrote in Cheyenne Autumn: "Then there was a light-haired boy called Yellow Swallow, the Cheyenne son of General Custer." He is referred to again in several places.

After reading this I asked myself: Could another Cheyenne woman have born him a son much earlier? To fit my timeline he would have been 18. At that time he traveled each summer to Ohio from West Point to spend time with his family.

The possibility is there, and that child became my hero Stone Heart, who is 24 years old, and totally fictional. Torn between two cultures, he chooses the Cheyenne following Custer's massacres of the Sioux and Cheyenne. He pledges to never speak a word of his white father's language.

As for the heroine, she was much easier to research. At the unmarriagable age of 30, she agrees to accompany her fiance from St. Louis into the wild, wild west where he promises to marry her. She is abandoned and left on her own in Benson, Nebraska. It's fairly easy to get her and Stone Heart together in a soddy out on the plains. A blizzard strands them there and they fall in love, but the conflicts have only begun when the soldiers searching for survivors of the battle discover them. Discovering characters and novels hiding within the truth we find in research is a most exciting experience.


Velda Brotherton writes of romance in the old west with an authenticity that makes her many historical characters ring true. A knowledge of the rich history of our country comes through in both her fiction and nonfiction books, as well as in her writing workshops and speaking engagements. She just as easily steps out of the past into contemporary settings to create novels about women with the ability to conquer life’s difficult challenges. Tough heroines, strong and gentle heroes, villains to die for, all live in the pages of her novels and books.

Visit her website: http://www.veldabrotherton.com

Check out Velda's books, including Stone Heart's Woman, here: http://www.tinyurl.com/7dr9mbn

March 26, 2012

Welcome Guest Blogger Randi Alexander

New Release, Contest, and Book Giveaway!

Thank you, Sarah, for letting me take over your blog today. I'm Randi Alexander and I write cowboy erotic romance. I'm published with The Wild Rose Press' Cowboy Kink line. My second Cowboy Kink, Her Cowboy Stud, was released March 23.

I love your tagline, Sarah. Where Dangerously Sexy and Happily-Ever-After Collide. What a perfect way to describe sensual romances. While erotica writers provide the dangerously sexy, sexy romance writers and erotic romance writers focus just as much, if not more, on the romance.

The weekend before last, I traveled to Florida to present a workshop with my Wild and Wicked Cowboys blog sister Sayde Grace. We taught aspiring romance writers to enhance both the physical and the emotional aspects of a scene.

For instance, here's the "before" paragraph, taken from my new release, Her Cowboy Stud but stripped of all emotion and sensuality:

Trace stood close, not touching anywhere but her hand. As the sun slid below the horizon, the barn darkened around them. Crickets chirruped. Trace put his other hand on the gate, corralling Macy with his arms and chest. His hip bumped her backside then pressed closer.

A perfectly good paragraph. It tells us what's happening, but it needs something more. We asked the participants to think of ways to spice it up, and we had a lot of interesting ideas coming from the group.

This is the way the paragraph was actually published in the book.

Trace stood close, not touching anywhere but her hand. She wanted more. A wave of awareness rushed down her spine. Chills wiggled through her body. As the sun slid below the horizon, the barn darkened around them. Crickets chirruped, welcoming the coming evening. Trace put his other hand on the gate, corralling Macy with his arms and chest. His hip bumped her backside then pressed closer. His scent seemed different now, more musky, with a little bit of horse tossed in. She inhaled deeply, trying to draw him closer by sheer will.

Does the second paragraph feel different to you? It lets you in on what Macy's experiencing, both in her head and in her body. (Oh, and in her heart, too!) That's the fun part of writing a romance. We want our readers to be deep in our characters' heads. To feel everything right along with them.

It's an exciting process. I try to imagine myself as the character as I write in their point of view. I "channel" the character, talk like them, use their mannerisms, become them. It's easy usually with the heroine, but sometimes the hero proves a challenge. I find myself acting tough and speaking in a low tone of voice. Sometimes I watch a cowboy movie or a military action film to be able to get into the super-macho, alpha-male point of view.

But wherever – or whoever – I am in the story, I never forget to go deep into my characters because I want my readers to love them as much as they love each other.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. As readers, what do you enjoy most when you read a spicy romance? The dangerously sexy scenes of sexual tension and physical loving? Or do you prefer the more romantic, emotional, heartfelt chapters that lead us to our happily-ever-after ending?

Trace McGonagall’s quiet life on his Houston stud ranch is shaken up when gorgeous Macy Veralta arrives to claim an inheritance left to her in his uncle’s will. Trace sees her as just another gold digger, but he also can’t resist her curvy body. When she hints at being the perfect submissive to his Dom, he has to have her.

Macy wouldn’t have been three months late to claim her inheritance if she’d known Trace was sin in jeans. The cowboy’s dominant bearing and the smoldering glint in his eyes send shivers to her toes and stirs images of being bound in his bed and disciplined at his hand. But could Trace’s perfect seduction be part of his plan to reclaim her inheritance?


EXCERPT: Over 18 only please.

Macy looked at the horse's regal head and soft brown eyes. “Can I touch him?”

“You sure can." Trace winked. "Put your hand on top of the gate.”

She set her hand carefully on the wood railing. The horse came over and sniffed her. “So, why the confusing name?”

Trace breathed deeply, but on the exhale, chuckled a couple more times. “He was a rodeo bronc. Started out with some odd French name, but when he’d come out of the gate, he’d spin more than buck. So he got the nickname. And it stuck.” He ran his big hand down the horse’s nose. “Huh, old guy?”

Not sure if she dare pet the horse yet, Macy asked, “He’s old?”

“He’s gettin’ up there. But he’s still a damn good stud. Nearly every one of his foals is high-caliber buckin' stock. The mares like him, too.” He stepped behind her, took her hand from the gate, and lifted it to the horse’s nose. “He’s gentle and slow.”

He wasn’t talking about the horse any longer. His drawl stirred hot desire down low in her core, imagining him taking his time with her, pleasing her with patient licks and decadent touches. Her skin tingled where his palm pressed against her hand, guiding her fingers over The horse's soft nose. When the horse turned, he eased her hand across the side of his neck.

Trace stood close, not touching anywhere but her hand. She wanted more. A wave of awareness rushed down her spine. Chills wiggled through her body. As the sun slid below the horizon, the barn darkened around them. Crickets chirruped, welcoming the coming evening.

Trace put his other hand on the gate, corralling Macy with his arms and chest. His hip bumped her backside then pressed closer. His scent seemed different now, more musky, with a little bit of horse tossed in. She inhaled deeply, trying to draw him closer by sheer will.

“He likes a little foreplay, too,” Trace continued, his voice dropping low and seductive.

A tiny sound escaped her lips. This man was irresistible, and she had no desire to resist. “How?” she asked, the question not quite relevant. One by one, her brain cells began snapping off, preparing for the sensual bliss of what was coming next. “What kind of foreplay?”

“Mmm.” Trace took her hand back from petting the horse and ran his palm up her arm. He did the same on the other side. “Touchin’.” His calloused fingers traced her bare shoulders, along the strap of the halter top. “Your skin is so soft.”

Every nerve ending jumped and jittered at his touch. She closed her eyes, fully experiencing the contact. Her core hummed with desire and her nipples pebbled with need.

His palms spread across her bare upper back then down her sides. “You’re so small.” His hands wrapped around her waist, nearly spanning it. “You smell so good…” He pressed his face against her hair and took a deep breath. “Flowers.”

She wished she could tell him the name of her perfume, wished she could say anything. Her thoughts flowed muzzy and thick, like honey. Inside, her muscles heated and her bones melted. When she leaned back slightly, she found him there behind her, his hard chest touching her back.

His hands spread to cover her stomach, warming her through her shirt. She prayed, willed his hands to slide upward, to cup her breasts. Her tight nipples tingled with invitation as her head whirled in anticipation.

He gently turned her to face him, his hands on her shoulders.

The spin disoriented her and she clutched his arms to steady herself. Forcing her lids open, she saw his eyes, dark and dilated, shining with desire. His face so intense, it rattled a spasm through her, centering its heat in her pussy, convulsing her deep inside, sending moisture streaming from between her lips onto her panties. “Kiss me, Trace.”


To celebrate the release of Her Cowboy Stud, I'm giving away, to one lucky *commenter, an e-copy of my first erotic romance, Chase and Seduction. Just leave a comment today and we'll choose a winner tomorrow. *Commenter must be 18 years of age or older to win.


 I'm also giving away a custom-made messenger bag and a $50 gift certificate to Pureromance to one subscriber to my newsletter. For more details, and to sign up for this contest, please go to my website, RandiAlexander.com And while you're there, you can read the first chapter of Her Cowboy Stud.

Good luck, and thank you!
Randi
RandiAlexander.com
WildAndWickedCowboysBlog
Her Cowboy Stud available at The Wild Rose Press Wilder Roses
Kindle version is available at Amazon.com

March 24, 2012

18 and Over Blog Hop Giveaway

THE WINNER IS... L Mackesy!
Congratulations! I've sent you an email.

Thanks to everyone who joined in the hop and commented.


Thanks for stopping by to enter my giveaway!
Here's the scoop...
Each of the over 100 participating blogs will run a contest for readers to enjoy!
Make sure you hit all the stops on the
hop and leave a comment.
You won’t be disappointed!

Contest starts March 22, 2012 and
ends March 25, 2012 at midnight.

Random winners will be chosen Tuesday, March 27th
and will be listed here on the blog.

One lucky reader
who leaves a comment or
follows my blog
will win a digital copy of my
contemporary romance
AFTER MIDNIGHT.



CAN MUSIC HEAL THE FRACTURED SOUL?
OR WILL IT TEAR THEM APART FOREVER?



“I’m not the type of woman men fall for.”

“I’ve fallen for you.”

Heat flooded her system. She forced herself to breathe, to keep her eyes locked with his. “No you haven’t. You …”

He pushed off the mantel and stepped in her direction. “I—what?”

“Never mind.”

“Finish the sentence, Isabeau.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Then let me.” He closed the distance between them. “You were going to say I haven’t fallen for you, weren’t you? You actually believe him? That you’re nothing more to me than convenient?”

Her pulse throbbed thick and hard. Heat radiated off his body. The scent of him filled her head. She wanted, more than anything, to press herself against him and relive the pleasure of his mouth against hers. Instead, she lifted her chin.

“Maybe.”

He leaned in close. So close his breath brushed across her lips. “You believe him, but not me?”

“You are here only temporarily.”

“Yes.”

“And I am just down the street.”

“I suppose.”

She ran her tongue over her dry lips. “So the whole thing does seem rather—”

“Don’t say it.”

“—convenient.”

Something dangerous came and went in his eyes. “Now I’m getting angry.”

His hands skimmed down her sides, slipped under her shirt and settled on her lace-covered bottom. Her breath went uneven. Searing need swarmed her.

“You want something to believe, believe this.” He pulled her into the solid ridge of his erection. She lost her concentration. “There is nothing convenient about the way I feel about you.”

“You think you’re not the type to draw a man’s attention, think again. I can’t stand in the same room as you without wanting to taste you. I can’t taste you without wanting to taste all of you.”

Oh, God. Her knees turned to jelly. A hot, wet pulse came to life between her legs.

“If you can’t see in yourself what it is that I see, feel what you do to me.” Taking hold of her wrist, he placed her hand in the center of his chest.

His heart was racing. She tipped her head back and looked into his eyes. Her bones began to liquefy.

“The way you’re looking at me,” she whispered.

“How am I looking at you?”

“Like I’m important.”

“You are.”

She swallowed hard, wanting to believe him. “Like I’m beautiful.”

His lips brushed across her temple and her eyes drifted shut. “I wish you could see yourself the way I see you. Then you would know how beautiful you are.”

Her eyes snapped open as he spun her in his arms. His hands settled on her shoulders, drawing her back against his chest. She gasped at their image reflected in the trio of mirrors that hung on her wall. When had this become a seduction?

He leaned in and put his mouth to her ear. “You have eyes like fog.” The lilting baritone of his voice washed over her and she let out a little helpless moan. “Truly amazing eyes that change color with your mood. Right now they are blue. Can you see that?”

He skimmed his hands down her arms, trailed his fingers over the backs of her hands. The shock of pleasure stole her breath. Every nerve ending in her body quivered.

“Your mouth is so sexy.” The sound that rumbled in his throat had something curling hard in her stomach. “I imagine the things you could do with that mouth.”

The mouth he spoke of dropped open as he nipped the back of her neck.

“The first time you smiled at me you stole my breath. I spent weeks trying to get you to do it again, struggling to understand what I’d done to stop you from gifting me with your smile. What was it, Isa?”

“You…noticed me.”

“I noticed you? How couldn’t I? Your hair, your skin.” Nimble fingers worked down the front of her shirt, revealing a little more of her skin with every button that slipped free. “I can’t stop touching you. Reaching for you. I imagine my hands on you, light against your dark. Here, on your stomach.”

Isabeau sucked air greedily into her lungs when his hand pressed against her stomach. She stared, mesmerized by the contrast of his pale hand against her darker, golden tones.

“Look at my hands on you.”

His growl was nearly as exciting as those long-fingered hands caressing her skin. The trembling started in her knees and crept up her body. She leaned back into his arms, using his body for support. Against her lower back, his erection pulsed.

She quivered. His name tumbled from her lips as his left hand joined his right on her stomach. Her blood hummed, her body jolted in anticipation. She didn’t realize she’d moved her own hands until denim scraped across her palms. Her fingers dug into his hips, pulled him solidly against her.

“Isabeau.” His mouth skimmed her cheek, her jaw, all while his hands kept moving, caressing. He brushed his thumb along the underside of her nipple once, twice, before his hand closed possessively over her breast. The pulse between her legs became a throbbing ache. “You’re beautiful, Isabeau.”

This time she believed him.

March 23, 2012

Friday Quickie

25 quickie facts about Alison Henderson:

Birthday?  October 6
Favorite color?  Yellow
Favorite animal?  Monkeys
Siblings?  Oldest of 4 – two younger sisters and a brother
Favorite drink?  Good Earth Original Tea
If you were a jelly bean flavor, what flavor would you be?  Key lime
Favorite author?  LaVyrle Spencer
Favorite dish?  Fish tacos Vera Cruz
Ice cream flavor?  Peppermint
Favorite Season?  Autumn – love the colors
Plotter or Pantser?  Plotter
Hobbies?  Gardening
Dream vacation?  Bermuda
Favorite TV show?  Castle
Musical preference? Classic rock
Pet peeve?  Glaring editing errors in published books
Favorite place to write?  My home office
Favorite song?  Unchained Melody by The Righteous Brothers
Odd family fact?  My grandmother once went cross country skiing in high heels and a fur coat
Unforgettable moment?  My daughter’s birth
Favorite Superhero?  Superman – got to love the classics
Spicy or not?  Spicy (but not as hot as I used to)
Cat or dog?  Cat
Favorite candy bar?  Anything with dark chocolate
Favorite guilty pleasure?  Above-mentioned dark chocolate


Summarize your book Twitter style – 140 characters or less:

When Jessamine Randall’s fiancĂ© disappears hours before their wedding, she follows him deep into the Ozark Mountains, where her greatest challenge is Morgan himself.

BUY LINK


To learn more about Alison Henderson and her books please visit her website:  http://www.alisonhenderson.com

March 20, 2012

Wrestling & Writing with Vonnie Davis

Sarah, I’ve been waiting for today, eager to be a guest on your blog. Thanks for having me. To celebrate my visit here, I’m giving away a copy of Storm’s Interlude to one lucky commenter who fulfills the requirement listed below, so read on.

I come from a long line of wrestlers. I chuckle as I write that, but it’s true. My brother, nephew and my two sons all wrestled. Mike, my youngest, went to college on a wrestling scholarship and now coaches elementary age kids. His son also wrestles both for his school and on the Maryland Junior Terps exhibition team (grandma bragging alert needed here).


Consequently my rump has spent more hours on hard gymnasium bleachers than it cares to remember. Yes, I am a Wrestler Mom and proud of it! **wink** I’ve also read a gazillion romance novels as I’ve sat on those bleachers waiting for my son to wrestle. And my son still recalls how there was always a Snickers and a Mars bar tucked into his gym bag and a note of encouragement slipped between the laces of his wrestling shoes. Odd the little things kids remember.

Needless to say I love the sport.

Last night while rewriting some scenes, trying to make them less jerky and more fluid, I was also watching the PIAA Collegiate Wrestling Scholarships. One of my favorite commercials came on—author and screenwriter John Irving, ex-national wrestling champ, comparing writing to wrestling. Makes sense, doesn’t it? How often have we wrestled with our plots, our characters, our endings? For me, too often.



John Irving says you have to earn the ending. One earns it by learning the craft and then rewriting and rewriting.

How often have you read a book and marveled at how well the story flowed, how the descriptive imagery created a mental picture or how quickly you came to care about the characters? Drawing the reader in is not easy, yet it’s something I strive for, as do all writers.

Our characters have to be flawed, just as we all are, and yet likable. Three main tools for doing that are deep point of view, internal dialog and zippy verbal dialog.


Here’s a scene from a novella I have coming out June 27th, Those Violet Eyes.


Win is a veteran, having lost part of his leg and hearing in Iraq. He’s come back to Texas to heal, find a piece of his soul and open a ranch for children with amputee limbs. Evie can’t wait to get out of Texas and works as a waitress at a honky tonk to earn “get away” money. Win has just started working there part-time as a cook. Kiera, who helps Gus run the honky tonk, tells Evie to go back to the kitchen to introduce herself to the new cook.




~*~


Evie charged through the swinging door to the kitchen and skidded to a stop. It couldn’t be. Although his back was toward her, there was no mistaking the height and broad muscled shoulders. This mystery nephew of Gus’s was the guy who’d remarked on her eyes. Her stomach did a little twitchy dance, nerves no doubt.

She ran her suddenly damp palms over her short skirt and cleared her throat. “Excuse me. Win?”

No answer.

She took a couple steps closer and noticed he was washing vegetables under a spray of water. “Win?”

No reply.

Evie rolled her eyes and stepped behind him, tapping him on the back. The metal strainer clattered in the sink and a blur of motion barely registered before steely hands gripped her forearms. Oh my God! In a flurry of movement, he snatched her off the floor and backed her against the stainless steel counter. Cold wet hands viced her arms. Her eyes snapped wide and the air whooshed from her lungs when his body slammed into hers.

Win’s eyes were narrowed, his breathing rapid through a clenched jaw and a vein bulged in his forehead. “Don’t do that.”

The man was every inch the warrior, every hard tensed inch. He held her mid-air, so close they were nearly eyeball to eyeball. As his gaze traveled over her face and awareness evidently crept in as to the sex of his attacker, several inches of his frame hardened even more.

Evie swallowed. Oh, good Lord.

He glared and his nostrils flared.

“I…I’m sorry, Win. I called your name, but…but you didn’t answer. I was only trying to get your attention.” Her lips twitched at the humor in the situation—hadn’t Keira told her the man lost part of his hearing? Evidently she’d startled him. Poor soul. She felt a portion of herself return. A portion she’d hidden for so long; that light-hearted part of her soul that teased and cajoled. “Honest, I wasn’t trying to attack you.” She placed an open palm on his defined pecs and patted. “You’re safe with me, big guy.” Just to rattle him some more, she winked.

Win’s hazel eyes flashed for a second, then he slowly leaned in and whispered in her ear, “You’re not safe with me.”

A shiver galloped pell-mell through her. He smelled of pine soap and musk. His short, spiky, straw-colored hair tickled her neck when he lowered his head a fraction. Warm lips barely grazed her skin, igniting a sensual fire in her system. Her eyebrows furrowed in question. Had he just kissed her below the ear? It was so brief, so feather light her mind wasn’t sure. Her nipples, though, piped up in confirmation. Hell yeah, he kissed you! Me next, me next!


My debut book, Storm’s Interlude, was nominated Book of the Year at Long and Short Reviews. It is available at The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

Buy links: TWRP ~ http://bit.ly/zBsUyl
Amazon ~ http://amzn.to/wWibTe

To enter the drawing for a copy of Storm’s Interlude, hop over to my blog and sign-up to follow and also leave a brief comment with your email address at the bottom of the post “Keep Your Fingers Crossed.” I’ll need your email address to notify you should you win. Good luck! http://www.vintagevonnie.blogspot.com

March 16, 2012

Friday Quickie

25 quickie facts about Gloria Marlow:

Birthday?   August 13, 1968
Favorite color?  Orange
Favorite animal?  Llama
Siblings?  2 sisters
Favorite drink?   Coca-cola
If you were a jelly bean flavor, what flavor would you be?  Blueberry
Favorite author?  Susan Wiggs, if I have to pick just one.
Favorite dish?  A really good hamburger
Ice cream flavor?   Butter Pecan
Favorite Season?  Spring
Plotter or pantser?  Pantser
Hobbies?  Reading, writing, baking, making jelly and pickles.
Dream vacation?   The British Isles
Favorite TV show?  Royal Pains
Musical preference?  The music lover in me is sort of schizophrenic - I listen most to Country and New/Alternative Rock.
Pet peeve?  Being called “baby”, “sweetie” etc. by waitresses and other people who are not my husband.
Favorite place to write?  The living room or kitchen.
Favorite song?  I don’t really have one.
Odd family fact?  My sisters were born on the same day, eight years apart.
Unforgettable moment?  The moment I became a mom.
Favorite Superhero?  Tarzan
Spicy or not?  Both are good.
Cat or dog?   Dog
Favorite candy car?  York Peppermint Patty
Favorite guilty pleasure? Dance Moms




Summarize your book Twitter style – 140 characters or less:
Sometimes the sweetest blessings require the most bitter sacrifices.

BUY LINK



To learn more about Gloria Marlow and her books please visit her website:

March 15, 2012

Taking History to Heart with Beth Trissel

Thanks for having me in your little corner of the universe, Sarah. I’m reflecting on how taking history to heart has influenced my writing, especially American historical romance Red Bird’s Song.

Back when I was doing research for the novel and read A Sorrow In My Heart, the Life of Tecumseh, about the great Shawnee Chief Tecumseh, I was devastated to read he was killed in battle in 1813 at age 45. Tecumseh was so awesome and vital to his people. I rushed out into the garden, wiping at tears, and railing against the injustice of life while aimlessly weeding. I should have seen that one coming, but there are tons of notes at the end of the book and I thought he had pages left to live.

So, what do this and my numerous other grapplings with history have to do with Red Bird’s Song? Simple, it’s historical, a poignant romance, and written more deeply from my heart then any of my other books. Many of the events depicted in the story and the inspiration behind it are true. Red Bird’s Song is based on events that happened to my early American Scots-Irish ancestors in the Virginia colonial frontier and further west. And it’s the first novel I ever wrote and rewrote and learned how to write in the process. The novel began as carefully researched historical fiction with a strong romantic element but evolved into a historical romance, still painstakingly researched and pulsing with emotion. The romance between Wicomechee and Charity throbs with tension and tenderness, passion and angst.

*A bonus for readers, at the end of the book is the account of this Shawnee warrior I discovered in distant branches of the family tree. Yes, Wicomechee really lived and he comes vividly to life along with the others characters in this adventurous romance with a strong The Last of the Mohicans flavor.

The romance between Charity and Wicomechee is also inspired by an account I read of a Scots-Irish captive who fell in love with and wed the son of a chief and was later forced back to her white family. Her warrior husband did the unthinkable and left his people to go and live in the English world, but before he could reach his true love, her brothers intercepted and killed him. Heartbroken, she grieved herself to death shortly after giving birth to their daughter, who survived and has descendants to this day, I might add. So affected was I by this heartrending account that it also played out as a profound influence in my historical fantasy Daughter of the Wind.

Obviously when writing a romance, the death of the hero and or heroine does not qualify as a HEA ending, unless you’re Nicolas Sparks. (And don’t tell me he’s not writing romance). More research, dreams, and visions helped me contrive a far more satisfying ending for Red Bird’s Song. Also for Daughter of the Wind, I assure you. After two novels, I hope I’ve worked through the affect that tragic account had on me.

Who cares that it happened over 200 hundred years ago? IT WAS REAL. I suspect I’m what some might refer to as sensitive and deeply attuned to those who have gone before us. My parting advice for authors is to draw from the events and people who touch your heart, either from the present or the past, and interweave this poignant wealth into your writing.

****


Red Bird’s Song and my other stories are available at the Wild Rose Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online booksellers. For a taste of my work, I have a new SHORT historical romance out at Amazon, The Lady and the Warrior.

For more on me my blog is the happening place: https://bethtrissel.wordpress.com/



Married to my high school sweetheart, I live on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia surrounded by my children, grandbabies, and assorted animals. An avid gardener, my love of herbs and heirloom plants figures into my work. The rich history of Virginia, the Native Americans and the people who journeyed here from far beyond her borders are at the heart of my inspiration. In addition to American settings, I also write historical and time travel romances set in the British Isles.

March 14, 2012

My Pretties

The incredibly awesome Arial Burnz
strikes again!
Check out my new bookmarks for Not Without Risk!
Aren't they pretty?

Front Back
NWR Bookmark NWR Bookmark

Must go order them so I can hold them in my hand!


March 13, 2012

Spotlight On...Michele Hart

Please help me welcome Michele Hart to the keyboard today. Welcome Michele, share a little about yourself, your genres, any other pen names you use.

I’m Michele Hart, and I write gritty, high-action, Paranormal/Sci-Fi Romantic Adventure. Love under all new moons and stars. If you like Sci-Fi detective stories, if you like angels and demons, my stories are for you. I live in Central Florida, and I’m planning my end-of-the-world celebration for December 21st. ***wink!*** I never turn down a reason to throw a party.

Tell us a little about your latest or upcoming release.

My latest release is called Gangbusters. It’s an M/F about a trio of undercover cops embedded in the black market taking down drug suppliers. The hero Danny, a cop and secret demon slayer, falls for Faith, an investigative journalist who demands to know exactly what she’s looking at. Danny shows her a war between good and evil, angels and demons, for the souls of humankind. Woooo…. ***Insert the sound of rattling chains*** Someone’s got to save the worlds, you know. :-)

Here’s a taste for you:

In the end, it’s either you or the demon that comes for you.

Daniel Tierney and his fellow I-Marshals take down the organizations producing the most dangerous substance in the Alliance. But reporter Faith Vedder turns up at the worst times, including Danny’s near-assassination. He’s had enough of her interference and requires her source of information.

Faith won’t tell him anything that compromises her Pulitzer-worthy story, not even under the magic of hot attraction. She doesn’t know she’s surrounded by fallen angels at war. Danny’s not finished making demands. She doesn’t understand until a giant, snorting, winged monster slobbers down her back, threatening to flay her.

The gangbusters can’t delay in their mission to shut down gangs until Danny learns the new criminal kingpin of their world is a man who once held Faith’s heart. In the guise of a gangland executioner named Heretic, Danny will destroy him. Even if it destroys Faith.

Angels are watching. Demons are plotting. Faith is the key.

***



Don’t stop. Read more.
Investigate steamy, peril-packed excerpts, read a tense first chapter:

Go ahead. The angels of madness are calling.


What was the hardest thing for you about writing this story?

Accepting that I had to give it to my publisher. Was that too honest?

What happened to the first book you ever wrote?

It’s a myth romance, and it’s sitting here in my hard drive. It’s too big to be given to a publisher. It had served well for teaching me my weak and strong points.

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

The hardest part is blotting out real life for concentration. I envy those who can easily do it.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I work for an action group planting edible peace gardens around the city. I love the work.

How did you come up with the title for your book(s)?

This title came before I was finished writing the previous story in the same series since the series is about crime gangs. Titles usually come to me before I begin the story or early therein. I’ve no process for it. The story tells me.

What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Be prepared for the long haul. Make yourself an expert at self-promotion. Learn to do a lot by yourself: book trailers, covers, websites. The more you can do yourself, the less you must pay others. Prepare to spend money.

Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?

Can I interest you in a sssexy and dangerous shape-shifter escaped from a prison-planet for your spring break affair? How about a brawler with a badge who can read your thoughts? Imagine yourself trapped on a space station with your high-school crush and only hours to live. Find me when you’re ready for a risky mind-control adventure battling the CIA. Feel like fighting the Mob today? Does your heart secretly desire to be frightened by demons, rescued by angels? A gangland hit man named Heretic awaits you…

Discover passion, dare, and adventure under all-new moons and stars. Investigate me. 
http://www.ILoveShape-Shifters.com/

Thanks, Sarah and readers, for having me. Peace on Earth, everyone!

Michele Hart

Read and live an adventure!

March 11, 2012

Reality is Overrated

Recently I’ve read a couple of blog posts from women who want more realism in romance. Not in how people meet, or how quickly they fall for each other. Not even in the slim chance of being kidnapped, saved by the stunningly handsome hero and riding off into the sunset. No, the reality that some women want to see more of in romance is in the hero and heroines themselves. What do I mean? A few things they want:

  • Bald/balding heroes
  • Heroes who struggle with their weight as much as their heroines do
  • No more multiple orgasmic women. Instead, give them women who either can’t or find it extremely difficult to orgasm

Now wait just one darn minute… No more multiple orgasmic women? Really?

Most romance readers are women – 91% according to RWA National – and so I’m especially stumped by this. Sure, the female reader wants to be able to put herself in the shoes of the heroine, and sure the heroine has to be real enough that the reader can achieve the transition easily. But so real that she can’t orgasm?

While I like realism in romance and enjoy reading about heroines I can relate to – women struggling to lose weight, find the right man, claim her place in the workplace because she’s just as smart and talented as the men she works with – there are some places I DON’T want to feel too much of a connection with the heroine. I don’t want a hero who farts all the time. I don’t want to think about morning breath or needing to use the restroom before I can get my sexy on. And orgasms? Bring ‘em! Lots of them! This is fiction. This is my ESCAPE! Time to immerse myself in a different world, a different place, a place where flatulence doesn’t intrude on those intimate moments with a lover (unless it’s a romantic comedy, then I’m good with it). A place where women – all women – are multi-orgasmic and no matter what, the hero knows just what she needs to get her there.

*deep breath*

Sorry. I lost myself for a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not totally against realism in fiction. There’s nothing worse than picking up a romance and cracking the spine, only to realize that the heroine is so far-fetched that you just can’t connect with her. And I have nothing against overweight heroes or heroines, balding or bald heroes – in fact, I have an upcoming book where the hero is not only bald, but he’s fifty years old! Fifty year-old heroes are a romance taboo. Guess what, I don’t care! Because fifty year-old heroes are also realistic. Fifty year-old men can be sexy as hell and Thomas Sr. is sexy with a capital ‘S’! But I digress.

Yes, I demand realism in my romances, but I also demand fiction. After all, this is romance fiction we’re talking about. Seriously folks, if I want nothing but realism I’ll read the paper. There’s enough depressing shit in there to last a lifetime. Enough that after a few pages, I’ll need my escape…wait, maybe I will go find a newspaper. Then I’ll sit down and immerse myself in a world where good always wins over evil, happily-ever-after happens all the time, and sex with the hero is both sensual and satisfying. Again and again and again…

*sigh*

Seriously, what could be better than that? Isn’t that the reason so many people chose to ‘lose’ themselves in a book?


March 9, 2012

Friday Quickie

25 quickie facts about Joanne Stewart:

Birthday? October 25th
Favorite color? lavender
Favorite animal? Dog
Siblings? Half brother
Favorite drink? coffee
If you were a jelly bean flavor, what flavor would you be? Tutti-frutti
Favorite author? Diana Gabaldon
Favorite dish? Anything pasta
Ice cream flavor? Vanilla
Favorite Season? Spring
Plotter or Pantser? Pantser
Hobbies? Writing and reading
Dream vacation? Hawaii
Favorite TV show? Bones
Musical preference? Soft rock
Pet peeve? Negative people
Favorite place to write? Kitchen table
Favorite song? “Just a Kiss”, Lady Antebellum
Odd family fact? sadly, I can’t think of one.
Unforgettable moment? When my kids were born
Favorite Superhero? Superman
Spicy or not? in between
Cat or dog? dog
Favorite candy bar? Dove Chocolate
Favorite guilty pleasure? Brownies.

Summarize your book Twitter style – 140 characters or less:

A heart shattered by divorce, a life destroyed by tragedy...can they heal each others hearts and find happiness together?


To learn more about Joanne Stewart and her books, please visit:

March 8, 2012

Romantic Mystery vs. Romantic Suspense...Is there a difference?

A couple years ago my first book, a romantic suspense titled Not Without Risk, was reviewed by a popular review site. While the review was a good one – don’t get me wrong, I have no complaints – in one of the comments the reviewer said she preferred more ‘whodunit’ in her romantic suspense. Then a couple months ago my second book, a contemporary romance with a very minor element of suspense, was called a ‘mystery’ in a review. This comment did bother me because if you picked up the story based on the fact the reviewer called it a mystery, you would be disappointed, as After Midnight is most definitely NOT a mystery.

If you’ve read the ‘Meet Sarah’ section of this blog you’ll see that I don’t write romantic suspense exclusively. However, I can’t seem to write contemporary romance without adding at least some element of suspense, no matter how small. What I don’t write is romantic mystery.

Wait, you ask, there’s a difference between romantic mystery and romantic suspense? I’m glad you asked.

A lot of readers (and authors) look at romantic mystery and romantic suspense as being interchangeable. However, there’s a big difference between the two. At its simplest, a mystery is a puzzle that needs to be solved – an intellectual game of whodunit. In a mystery, the action is more mental than physical, and although there is danger, it usually – though not always – has already taken place before the book opens. But to me the biggest difference is that in a romantic mystery the hero or heroine is the ‘sleuth’, so the story is about what happens to someone else, not the main character, and how the main character solves the puzzle.

Suspense is about a threat or imminent danger that must be resolved. Something is coming and the reader is waiting for it to happen. The suspense story is typically about what happens to the main character and brings the question, will they survive? The action is an emotional roller coaster and the reader should identify with the hero or heroine and the danger they face – becoming a participant in the ride. A suspense story is about the characters’ journey through the book, and the ending therefore needs to be emotionally satisfying, where a mystery is to be intellectually satisfying.

Since I’m talking about ‘romantic’ mystery and suspense – there will always be an emotionally satisfying ending to the romance in both the mystery and suspense. Without it, the story wouldn’t be a romance. However, the solution to the puzzle needs to be an intellectual one. That means that in a romantic mystery, it is the writer’s job to keep the identity of the villain from the reader until the end. But for the emotional read, the suspense, it is okay for the reader to know the identity of the villain. After all, the threat from an unknown is not as emotionally engaging as the threat from someone you (or the hero/heroine) know(s).

There is some crossover in the genres as a lot of today’s mysteries contain suspense. Perhaps this is where a lot of the confusion stems. I’m really not sure. Some believe the labels don’t matter, that if you are familiar with an author’s work you know what to expect. However if you’re trying to sell a book, or attract new readers, I believe the label matters. And so this is me, tossing around labels…My name is Sarah Grimm, and I write romantic suspense.

March 6, 2012

Spotlight On...Maeve Greyson

Please help me welcome multi-published author Maeve Greyson to the keyboard. Welcome Maeve, please share a little about yourself, your genres, any other pen names you use.

I’m a pretty shy, working-at-a-steel mill, obsessed-to-write stories grandma. Ha! Now aren’t you sorry you asked? I love living in the middle of five acres of woods and having a backyard that resembles a scene from Disney’s Bambi. Of course, my visiting deer, squirrels, skunks and birds don’t talk to anyone but me. My favorite genre is a kinda sorta blend of paranormal and fantasy romance. I love mixing Celtic legends and myths with a heavy dose of elemental magic.

Tell us a little about your latest or upcoming release.

I think you could sum up The Highlander’s Fury as a Scottish mythological mix of Beauty and the Beast and Zena Warrior Princess. Angela Blount of RT Book Reviews described Ciara as a kick-butt, time-traversing, mind-reading embodiment of righteous indignation. Faolan’s a dark, brooding stubborn Highlander determined to isolate himself from any type of emotion. The two fight their way into each other’s hearts and then battle the goddesses to protect the union neither of them thought they wanted.

The Highlander's Fury – from The Wild Rose Press

Angela Blount from RT Book Reviews: 4 Stars - “A satisfying blend of saucy sensuality and heartrending sincerity.”

An average day in the life of an immortal Fury?

Flex powers. Locate evil. Administer justice.

Until Ciara’s goddess mothers convince her to seduce a brooding mortal and bear the man a gifted child. All she has to do is swap places with his betrothed. A simple task−become the seductive wife, bear the man a child and train the young one in the Ways. Once the boy reaches seven years of age, they’ll swap her back with the wife Faolan thinks he selected and Ciara can resume her job of rousting wickedness from the world.

Faolan MacKay’s advisors plague him daily about his matrimonial duties as laird, dragging prospects from across the Highlands: plump dowries attached to each one.

Faolan’s lost everyone he’s ever loved. He’d rather go straight to the fiery pits of Hell than down the wedding aisle. Out of desperation, a plan takes seed. He’ll select a wife he can ignore. There’s just one problem with this foolproof theory. Nobody ignores Ciara.

Against his better judgment, he’s enthralled with the woman and to Ciara’s surprise, this strange thing called love burns hotter than her hunger for vengeance.
At the end of the seven years the ruse is up, all will return to as it was. Can the bond of love overcome the mandate of the ultimate powers?

What was the hardest thing for you about writing this story?

My characters had the rather irritating tendency of not speaking to me unless I was in the middle of doing something other than writing. It never failed. I’d be driving to the day job and a scene would unfold –complete with the perfect dialogue. I’d pull over to the side of the road and email myself the gist of the scene so I wouldn’t “lose” it before I got back home to my trusty laptop.

What do you find easiest and hardest to write?

Easiest? Dialogue. My characters include me in their conversations when they’re chattering in my head. My husband has learned to accept the fact that I “hear” voices. It used to bother him but since I’m turning them into stories –he doesn’t mind so much. ;-)

Hardest? Love scenes. I strive to find the elusive mix of sensuality and emotion. I want the scenes to be steaming hot but not “too much”. And then of course there’s always the problem of having it read like the instructions to building a doll house: Insert tab A into slot B. That’s never a good thing.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Sleep. I still work a full time day job and any free time is spent either writing the next story or visiting with readers on social networks. It’s kind of like working three jobs so I don’t average much pillow time every night.

You get stranded on a desert island, but get to bring one item of your choosing. What would it be?

That’s a hard one. I’m thinking it would probably have to be Jasper. He’s always loved the beach and he keeps me sane.

What’s next for you?

My Brava paranormal romance, ETERNITY’S MARK releases on March 27th. I’m shopping around two new paranormal romances and I’ve started another project that could very well end up being a series.


Where can we find you on the web?

I can be found “procrastinating” in these corners of cyberspace:

Website: http://www.maevegreyson.com/
Blog: http://maevegreyson.blogspot.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/maeve.greyson.page
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/maevegreyson

Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?

Does the genre of the story really matter or are you just looking for a great romance?