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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April 25, 2011

Welcome Guest Blogger Mona Risk

Years ago, in a different life as director of analytical chemistry, I won a contract to refurbish a military laboratory in Belarus. During my fifteen visits to Minsk, capital of Belarus, I worked with colonels and generals, was invited to their homes and became friend with their wives.

My new book, PRESCRIPTION IN RUSSIAN highlights the hospitality and warmth of the gorgeous and gallant Belarusian officers who sing, toast with vodka and make you forget the frigid weather of a Belarusian winter.

The first time Colonel Eugene invited me and two of my colleagues to his home, I was surprised by the lovely reception prepared for us. Col. Eugene lives with his wife and two daughters in a small two bed-room on the third floor of an apartment building. The entrance door is through a courtyard on a back street. The colonel led me to a narrow dark elevator where only two people could fit. My two companions climbed the stairs.

In front the apartment, I stared at the door. It consisted of double set of doors lined with thick leather, with an empty space between the double doors. Eugene unlocked the door with a sculpted bronze key and explained that such doors were excellent for sound proofing and privacy from KGB eavesdropping. Later one of my companions added. “These doors are a special privilege for high ranking personalities.” Too bad I don’t have a picture of such doors.

Natasha, Eugene’s wife, had prepared a lavish reception in her small living room that doubled into dining room. A hand-embroidered tablecloth covered a long table set with lovely china.

At night, the girls used the multi-purpose room as bedroom after removing the folding table and opening the sofa. Our host introduced his daughters, Katia, a student in medical school, and Daria, still in high school. Like their father, the girls spoke fluent English and served as interpreter for their mother.

I sat on the worn-out burgundy velvet sofa under the bay window. Eugene removed shot glasses from the cherry wood wall-to-wall unit and filled them with the traditional vodka and handed us the full glasses.

Natasha set several plates of home-cooked hors d’oeuvres on the table, orange caviar, sausage, raw ilk, (yes raw, a delicacy) and black bread. With a bright smile, Eugene raised his glass. “As you well know by now, in Belarus, we greet our friends with a toast. Nazhtrovia, moy drouk, my American friends.”

I cautiously sipped my drink until I got used to the fiery liquid. My cheeks burned and my eyes tickled but toasting was unofficially included in my job description.

Later the girls helped their mother with the dinner, stuffed cabbage, roasted chicken, potato pancake. Eugene poured more vodka. I made sure my glass remained almost full. After dinner, he brought his guitar and sang Russian songs to entertain us. Natasha and the girls joined him after bringing a delicious dessert, some bread pudding, and strong coffee that reminded me of Espresso or Turkish coffee. We stayed past midnight singing and drinking.

We regularly ate at Eugene’s place or at other officers' homes and always had a blast. By the way, most of the women were named Natasha.

An American Pediatrician

A Russian Surgeon

A man with four adorable sons who badly need a mother

Can attraction and love overcome guilt, duty, and a clash of cultures?

“Mona Risk writes heroes with heart, heroines with spunk in stories and settings that are simply unforgettable!" -- Roxanne St. Claire, Killer Curves, National Bestseller. 

If you like to travel and love to read, come and enjoy my international romances. I will take you around the world through stories that simmer with emotion and sizzle with heat.

BABIES IN THE BARGAIN winner of 2009 Best Romance Novel at Preditors & Editors and winner of 2009 Best Contemporary Romance at Readers Favorite.

Rx FOR TRUST, winner of 2010 Best Contemporary Romance at Readers Favorite and 2011 EPICON.
Rx IN RUSSIAN just released by The Wild Rose Press


April 24, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday 4/23

This week I’m offering something a little different. You see, I received my galley of After Midnight and it's been sent to production. That means I'll have a release date soon!

Believe it or not, I'm more excited about this one than my first release. It's a story that is near and dear to me. The story of Isabeau, owner of Izzy’s Bar, child prodigy, piano phenom—a woman who is hiding behind a lie of her own making.

She fought the flash of understanding, of connection she felt with him. She couldn’t soften. She couldn’t change the past, and she refused to relive it. Not even for a man who would understand her on a level no one before him ever had. “The girl you’re looking for no longer exists.”

“What girl am I looking for?”

As always, thank you for stopping by my blog each week and leaving such wonderful comments. I appreciate each and every one! Don't forget to visit the Official Six Sentence Sunday site for a list of all the participating authors.

April 21, 2011

Welcome Guest Blogger AJ Nuest

To Pseudonym or Not To Pseudonym, That is The Question…

While recently perusing my most cherished writer’s loop, I came upon an email from another author that stated how some publishers – namely inspirational publishers – require their authors to use a pseudonym. Fairly new to the world of publishing, this fascinating little piece of information left me baffled. Don’t get me wrong. I completely understand and respect each author’s decision to use a pseudonym. If one writes across genre lines, especially in both the children’s and erotic markets, I can see how using a pseudonym makes sense. But to have a publisher require it in order to publish a manuscript? To base their decision on what the author has previously published rather than the strength of the current work? That just sorta stuck in my craw.

I was born Amy Jo Steiger. Up until I turned eighteen, I was called Amy, Amer by close friends, and Ver by my family (long story, my father is the King of Nicknamelandia, but I digress). After graduating high school I went to college and most of my friends called me Amy Jo (spoken with a southern twang) because they thought it was quaint. Others, though, had a hard time remembering this moniker, and after a few months of being introduced as Mary Sue, Bobbie Jo, and Peggy Ann, I finally took charge of my own name and introduced myself as AJ (easier to remember, especially after all those Kamikaze’s). Ten years into being AJ Steiger, I met a handsome young man by the name of Scott Nuest, and the rest, as they say, is history.

After all this, I think I’ve earned the right to bear my name. Whatever genre I choose to write (and I write many), I put my entire heart and soul into the story. To then have a publisher tell me I need to make up a name for the cover sorta irks me. What about you? Am I being too stubborn? What’s your whole stance on the pseudonym issue?

by AJ Nuest
Available at The Wild Rose Press

Haunted by nightmares, tormented by guilt, Jezebel came to Redemption Ranch to escape the past—except now she's stuck in the middle of nowhere with no redemption in sight. When her mother pushes her into riding lessons with local veterinarian Matthias Saunders, Jezebel balks. Sure, the doctor is gorgeous, but he’s completely obnoxious and knows how to push every one of her buttons.

Only her deep connection with The Reverend, a gentle stallion who guards her darkest secrets, has her agreeing to spend any more time with Dr. Saunders. Caring for the stallion is the first bright spot in her life in months, and if being around the horse means she has to deal with Matthias Saunders, then so be it. Surely a city girl like her can handle one country vet—even one with disturbing blue eyes. Can't she?

Jezzy stopped. “I thought I was having a riding lesson.”

“You are.” He nodded toward the empty paddock. “Go in.”

“Go in?” Jezzy propped a hand on her hip. “You sure you know what you’re doing? Because it was my understanding that an actual horse is needed for a riding lesson.”

“Don’t you think it would be wise at this juncture to leave the understanding up to the professionals?”

Jezzy rolled her eyes. “You’re making this way too easy. Professionals? Please. Don’t get me started.”

“Why not? Getting you started is exactly what I’m here for.”

Jezzy’s jaw dropped. She didn’t quite know how to interpret that remark.

He held out the rope. “Now go in. And take this lead line with you.” Steely blue determination glinted in his eyes. There was no way he was going to give in.

Jezzy snatched the lead line from his hand and stormed through the gate, then turned when he closed it behind her.

He put a foot on the bottom railing and rested against the gate, facing the horizon. “Take the chair to the center of the paddock and sit down.”

“And just exactly how is that supposed to teach me to ride?”

He cocked an eyebrow. “You want out of the deal?”

Jezzy’s fist clenched tight around the lead line. What she wanted was to march back to the fence and smack his face.

AJ Nuest lives in northwest Indiana with her loving husband and two beautiful children. She is the author of two contemporary romance novels.

Find AJ Online:

April 20, 2011

Virtual Book Tour: The Showboat Affair

Today it's my pleasure to host fellow The Wild Rose Press Author, Gwyneth Greer. Gwyneth is in the middle of a blog tour promoting her new book, The Showboat Affair. Welcome, Gwyneth. 

Guests, Gwyneth will be giving away a copy of The Showboat Affair in any format (including print) chosen by winner, pink laser flip-top mirror with engraved info about book, and a $10 gift certificate to Bath and Body Works to one randomly chosen commenter.

Recently, reading an interview, I was struck by the author’s thoughts on revising. In a nutshell, he feels that books it’s possible to do too much revising and end up making something right, wrong!

As someone who used to write strictly for my own entertainment, I’ve had to learn to look at my manuscripts with a critical eye. It’s no secret that the first draft always stinks! But does it simply emit a bad odor or does it smell to high heaven? Is it unpleasant or malodorous? Could it be described as a stench or worse?

A dog who’s tangled with a skunk gets a bath in tomato juice. What to do with a manuscript that has clearly tangled with the literary equivalent of Pepe LePhew?

Every author has her means and methods of dealing with the dreaded first draft. Letting it sit for a while is good advice—but if it stank when it was put away, it’s still going to stink when you get it out again. Maybe it’s just that the writer’s sense of smell has dulled—or maybe it’s sharpened with purpose.

I let my first drafts sit for an indeterminate period. If it’s something I’ve done for NaNoWriMo, I’m just too tired to deal with it anymore. Inevitably, it comes out again, and I wonder how I could’ve ever penned such drivel. It’s tempting to hit the ‘delete’ button straight away! But I don’t, and sooner or later, I get back to work.

The second time through, the process goes something like this:
(1) Fix inaccuracies in timeline.
(2) Do a complete turnaround for boring characters/get rid of same altogether.
(3) Change repetitive words.
(4) Tighten sentences.
(5) Throw out flowery description.
(6) ‘Listen’ to the dialogue with an ear for realism.
(7) Double-check facts worked into the fictional narrative.
(8) Get rid of scenes that don’t drive the plot.
(9) Put back scenes I think are too brilliant to be cut.
(10)Get rid of the scenes again and/or write new ones.

Then I do it again. And again. And again.

Finally, in fear and trembling, I write the dreaded synopsis and submit.

The interviewed author also commented that something “doesn’t have to be perfect to be good.” He’s right.

Writing a book is a lot like raising a child, I think. You (and your blessed editor) do the best you can and hope for the best. But somewhere along the way, when someone says, “Your son/daughter is SO nice,” you smile and know that making the decision not to shred the child/manuscript was the right one!

My latest effort with The Wild Rose Press is The Showboat Affair written as Gwyneth Greer. Visit my website (www.judynickles.com) to read the first chapter free!

by Gwyneth Greer

Available from The Wild Rose Press

Despite over thirty years in a faithless marriage to wealthy investment broker Rand Kingston, Jean is shocked when he asks for a divorce. Encouraged by her former housekeeper-turned-best-friend, she determines to rediscover herself as an independent woman and move on with her life. Nick Cameron, prominent attorney and long-time widower, would like to figure in her plans. The opposition of their adult children surprises them. Then, a series of chilling near misses makes them wonder who really is determined to keep them apart—and why.


The peal of the doorbell startled both of them. “This could look bad,” Nick said.

“Not if it’s Selina. Maybe it’s her. She went to look at some of those ice cream parlor tables I was telling you about last week.” Jean eyed him critically. “Button your shirt.”

“It’s pretty rumpled.”

“Button it anyway.” She brushed past him on her way to the door. “Maybe you should disappear.”

“Are you serious?”

Jean sighed. “No.” At the front door, she peered through the viewer and let out her breath in dismay. Juliana stood there, her jaw set, looking primed for battle. Jean unlocked the door and opened it. “What brings you here so early, Juliana?”

“I had some errands over this way. Aren’t you going to ask me in?”

Jean stepped back. “Yes, of course. Come in. I have a guest.”

Juliana’s eyebrows met her hairline. “A guest? I am interfering with your sleeping arrangements then.”

Jean made a quick decision not to defend herself. “Come in the kitchen. I’m making waffles.”

Nick rose hastily as the women walked in.

“You must be Nick Cameron,” Juliana snapped.


“My mother’s lover.”

“Juliana!” Jean felt the blood drain from her face. “How dare you!”

Nick’s eyes flashed, but his voice was courtroom courteous. “I spent the night on the sofa.”

“Of course, you did.”

His mouth twitched. “But if I’d spent it in your mother’s bed, it would have been her business, not yours.”

April 18, 2011

Welcome Guest Blogger Loreen Augeri

My book, Tormented Hearts, is about a tortured hero. The manuscript I just finished editing deals with a tormented heroine. I can’t decide which character I most like to write and read about.

I enjoy the suffering hero because I want to reach out and comfort him and help him heal. I long for the heroine to make him whole again. I hope the reader will experience the same feelings when reading my books.

As a female, I can relate to a tortured heroine. I imagine I am her and I experience every emotion she encounters. Since it is a romance, I know everything will work out in the end and the hero and heroine will live happily ever after.

Who do you prefer reading and writing about, a tortured hero or heroine?

Tormented Hearts is a novel in the English Tea Rose line of The Wild Rose Press. Join me at www.loreenaugeri.com to learn more about me or Tormented Hearts.

Loreen Augeri

available now The Wild Rose Press

The world of Brett Armstrong, the Earl of Tremont, collapses when his wife and unborn child die. Determined to punish himself for the part he played in their demise, he turns his back on society and retreats to the country. Hard, physical labor during the day and mind-numbing gin at night help to keep at bay the demons that threaten to devour him. Until Catherine Hammond creeps into his world. Not wishing to resurrect his dormant emotions and the resulting pain, Brett struggles against the sensuality she exudes and battles to defeat his rising desire.

Abused by her aristocratic husband, commoner Catherine Hammond flees from his cruelty. Her hope is to hide and create a new life. She vows to never again associate with the upper classes that have heaped unbearable pain upon her family. Escaping without funds, Catherine is forced to work as a servant in the Earl of Tremont's household. His tantalizing, amorous advances ignite a fire within the cold regions of her heart, but she refuses to fall in love with a man who may destroy her.

As she stalked past him, his fingers grazed her shoulder to halt her. A sizzling warmth pierced her skin and swirled throughout her body. Catherine restrained the gasp that fought to break from her lips. She’d prayed the sensations she experienced last night resulted from the lingering effects of the dream and lack of sleep, but they seared her again.

Brett jerked his hand back as if she scalded him, and it hovered in the air above her shoulder. Unsure, she turned to him. The pulse in his temple beat at a frantic rate, and the muscles in his jaw clenched. It affected him, too. She delved deep into his eyes, and the turmoil that appeared to tear him in different directions caught and captured her.

She yearned for the heat of his fingers to engulf her again, to feel his body pressed against hers like last night, the whisper of his breath on her cheek, the exquisite thrill of not being alone. Her gaze fell to his appealing, moist lips. Not thin and dry like Lord Wallingford’s.

Brett leaned toward her and then withdrew. He swallowed, and his Adam’s apple bobbed before he cleared his throat. “You can stay here with him.”

She blinked as the strange immediacy to be embraced faded away. What had she been thinking? She never wanted another man to touch her. Ever. Especially not one of his station.

April 17, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday 4/17

Welcome to Six Sentence Sunday.
This week: intimacy leads to new realizations for Justin. And a promise.

Her face tipped up.

Justin gazed into her green eyes, hot with emotion. The smile upon her lips stole his breath.

“I can do my job, Paige,” he promised her, determined to make his words truth. “I will do my job. I’ll find this guy before he hurts you.”

Make sure you check out all the sixes at the official Six Sunday Site. It's tons of fun!

Interested in joining in the fun? Published or Unpublished, if you're a writer, you're invited. The rules are simple:
  • pick a project – a current Work in Progress, contracted work or even something readers can buy if you’re published
  • pick six sentences
  • post ‘em on Sunday

See? Easy.

April 14, 2011

Welcome Guest Blogger Rachel Leigh

Why Erotic Romance?

I write both erotic and mainstream (under a different name) romance but inevitably it’s the erotic romance that gets the most interest. And this isn’t just from the hot-blooded males, believe me. Women love erotic romance, I think, because it provides more heated escapism than mainstream romance ever could.

And for the writer of erotic romance? The escapism is amazing…even orgasmic, you could say! ; )

Whenever I mention my erotic romance in a bar or out with friends, people automatically ask about the sex scenes and the graphic language but that is not why erotic romance writers write it and more often than not it is not why erotic romance readers read it.

I love creating sexy, passionate characters to star in my erotic romances. I love giving those characters sexy, passionate conflicts and ultimately sexy, passionate love scenes where they can act out their fantasizes, unleash their pent-up frustration and ride the wave! The motivations of these characters, their hopes and dreams are ultimately what makes the story fiery hot and incredibly sexy.

For me, the secret to great erotic romance is not so much the sex scenes themselves (but obviously they help!), but more the sexual tension beforehand, and the passion inside the characters. What makes them tick? What’s their problem/conflict? What do they ultimately want in their lives? And how is the hero/heroine the one to make them happy?

These are all questions I ask myself when coming up with a new idea for an erotic romance story. Once I have these questions answered, I usually have two passionate individuals who NEED to be together in order to live their best life…happily and erotically.

The heroes and heroines of these stories have a job to do that is even more vital than the heroes and heroines of mainstream romance – they have to have a tangible electricity that is so hot it singes the page. Readers want to be turned on, to be squirming in their seat as they are reading, reaching for their own partners after reading and unleash their frustrations…yummy!

This is what happened to me when I was writing Explicitly English and I hope it does to you when you read it - erotic romance is there to be enjoyed whether that be alone or with someone else… ; )

 Rachel Leigh

Laura Markham needs to forget - just for awhile. Be someone else for change - live as her parents will never have the chance to. And for Laura, that means leaving the City for the English countryside and doing just what the hell she feels like…wherever she feels like doing it…

British stockbroker, Stephen Cambridge knows by going home to his country retreat two days early, he's likely to surprise his contracted interior designer. And when he finds out she's the woman who performed the solo masterbation show for him on the inward bound journey, Stephen will do anything to further convince her to miss the outward bound train and stay with him forever...

I love to hear what makes an erotic romance steaming hot for you…what do you want in an erotic story?

Rachel x

Find Rachel Online:

April 11, 2011

Spotlight On... Kat Henry Doran

My guest today at Off the Keyboard is author Kat Henry Doran. Welcome Kat, can you tell us about yourself?

I live in Upstate New York, close to Lake Ontario, with my husband and three children. In my professional life I am a registered nurse and have been privileged to work in a number of different clinical areas of nursing: the OR, labor and delivery, clinical instructor, long term care, nursing administration, forensic nurse examiner and my last position as malpractice nurse investigator. Each job taught me something new about the human body or spirit. I am now retired. For fun, I provide child care for two of my grandchildren a couple days a week.

Wow, what a career! Tell us about the book you’re here to promote.

Embraceable You was a February 2011 release through The Wild Rose Press as part of the Class of 85 reunion series. It is the story of two people who come together for one night and discover things about themselves they previously had been quite reluctant to address. It's a honey of a story.

What was your first reaction when you got your cover art?

I have received some terrific cover art on other books; this one is very special because of the way the artist depicted the damaged, tough as nails heroine being held by the reluctant- caretaker hero. I rarely let my emotions get the better of me; this puppy brought me to tears.

It is a stunning cover. How did you start writing?

I did some writing in nursing school which received some attention from the instructors—of course I quickly and defiantly ignored their suggestions that I pursue writing. Years later I sat down to write a 'let me catch you up on my life' letter to a friend from my OR days. 27 pages later [no kidding; I used all the kids' notebook paper] I sat back and said, 'Hmm. Do I have something here?' That was 1983. My first book was published in 2004.

Which comes first, plot or characters?

The germ for a story idea which quickly evolves into the plot. I get my ideas from every day things in life, in the newspapers or on national TV. Once I know what I want the story to be about, I do preliminary research on the topics I want to cover. Then I go to work on inventing characters.

What are three things you wish you’d known before you began your writing career?

Goals. Motivation. Conflict. If I get them down, and it's not always easy, I'm set. The rest of it: POV; pacing; tight, snappy dialogue can always be fixed, but without the GMC I haven't got a prayer.

What is the most interesting comment you’ve ever received on one of your books?

This is from a well known review site, print and electronic: “. . .characters are all portrayed in brutal detail with their flaws for all to see so that you can't help but be drawn into the story. . .” To this day I'm not sure if the reviewer liked the story or not, but she got the gist of it and that's most important to me.

Who, in your life, is your biggest source of inspiration and why?

Anyone, man or woman, who experienced profound adversity, such as criminal victimization, then went on and survived well. That's the best revenge any of us can get against the bad guys.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

I love to cook; I am a Food Network junkie. I never miss a Public Television auction if it features the Bee Gees or Gershwin music.

Thanks for visiting with us today.

Sarah, this was a lot of fun. Thank you so much for inviting me.

Where can we find you on the web? 

My website:  www.Kathenry.com

My blog:   www.wildwomanauthor.blogspot.com

EMBRACEABLE You (A Class of '85 story)
  by Kat Henry Doran
Available at The Wild Rose Press

Award winning photo-journalist Dru Horvath travels the world, documenting human rights abuses. This vocation helps her avoid risking her heart. Everyday working stiff Rory McElroy, a two-time loser when it comes to women, wants nothing to do with another relationship, thank you very much.

But when Dru comes back into his life, Rory’s not sure which poses the greater threat: protecting her from third world thugs who want to silence her permanently—or allowing the one woman who captured his heart years ago to embrace him forever. 

Suddenly, Dru remembered the back-up phone tucked inside the double zippered pocket in her satchel, right beside the extra flash cards and rolls of antacids. Hot damn. All was not lost. With a grin, she hefted the bag over her shoulder and turned toward the bathroom. “I won't be long.”

Before she made the first step, he slid in front of the door, blocking her access. “Give it up.”

Down to her last strike, she pulled the affronted female card. Granted, she used it maybe once in a decade, but Fiona was probably tearing her hair by now. “I beg your pardon?”

Leaning forward, he brought them nose to nose. “Play much poker, Horvath? Your face just lit up like the Fourth of July, which tells me you've got something more stashed in the tote. Unless you let me search it, it stays with me.”

Clutching the canvas bag to her chest, she sneered, “The only thing in here is my outfit for tonight, McElroy. If you think I'm parading around naked in front of you, one of us is a couple fries short of a happy meal.”

His response came in the form of another gimme motion with those thick, blunt fingers. “I'll close my eyes if I encounter any lacy unmentionables.”

She knew the instant he found the back-up. The screw-you look morphed into a smirk. “It's not wise to mess with Homeland Security, sweetie. Those guys eat small animals for breakfast.”


April 10, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday 4/10

Thanks to everyone who drops by each week to read my six! We're still with Justin and Paige from Not Without Risk. This week, we're in Paige's head as she discovers Justin --just back from a horrowing crime scene.

Paige hadn’t known sorrow had a scent. That it could pulse off a person like perfume and emanate throughout a room. Be drawn into her lungs and set off an answering ache inside her. She hadn’t known, until she stepped into the living room and discovered Justin before his front window.

He stood with his back to her, his spine rigid, body held perfectly still as if he had a board strapped between his shoulder blades, making it impossible for him to relax his stance. Like so many times in the past few days, he had his left hand securely tucked in his pocket, while his right clenched and unclenched against his thigh.

Okay, so the picture isn't quite right, but I didn't think you'd mind.*grins*

Don't forget to stop by the Official Site and check out all of this week's snippets.
I know everyone truly appreciates your comments.

April 7, 2011

Welcome Guest Blogger Vonnie Davis

How many books do you have under your bed or on a shelf or on discs? I’m not talking about your TBR pile, I’m talking about your OMG CBIWT (can’t believe I wrote that) pile. My first efforts at writing books reside on my computer. They’re simple works, really.

By simple I mean…ah…well, let me put it this way. Have you ever seen someone on TV, a newscaster on location for example, talking seriously about a topic and in the background are two loons jumping up and down, arms waving like windmills and mouths forming the words, “Hi Mom!” Those idiots are my first couple books. Every time I turn on the computer, those documents pop-up and wave, “Hi Mom!” I groan and click on something else, choosing to ignore those ill fated stories.

Why don’t I simply delete them? Believe me, I’ve thought about it many times. I mean, what good are they? My female characters aren’t the most likable. There’s more head hopping in them than bed hopping at my ex-husband’s house. Oops, sorry. My claws came out there for a moment. Bad claws. Bad claws. They contain many weaknesses of craft—craft I’ve worked hard to learn over the last couple years.

Their existence on my computer reminds me of where I started. And every time I feel I’m all that and a bag of chips as a writer, I go back and reread the first few paragraphs of those stories. I thought I was all that when I wrote them, too. Now they exist as my humbling tool, my attitude adjusters. They remind me I need to keep learning, striving and improving. Those stories are flawed. Even now my craft is flawed, but it’s getting stronger.

Not because I’m a great writer, but because I pay attention to what other new writers are doing. They are my benchmark. I notice their unique voices, the compelling power of their characters and the seamless way they weave their stories…and I smile in wonderment. Envy, too, if I am to be honest.

They say the learning curve of a writer is continual. I hope mine is. As writers we must keep learning, especially as industry standards change and evolve.

My first book comes out July 15th. The process taught me a lot. Mainly it taught me I can work, make every effort and achieve. Isn’t that a wonderful feeling when you do? A dream achieved is a miraculous thing, a wondrous thing, an OMG WTW (where’s the wine) thing. That heady momentum drives us to try harder, to learn more and to exceed our expectations.

Here’s an excerpt from Storm’s Interlude coming out in July from The Wild Rose Press:

After several minutes, Storm asked if she was getting the feel of her horse. She nodded. “Think you can keep up with us?” His white teeth shone in the moonlight. He tugged on the brim of his hat and kneed Lightning who took off like a bullet.

“Let’s go, Kelsey! The race is on.” She leaned over the Appaloosa’s head and enjoyed the exhilaration of the wind blowing through her long hair as her mount ate up the ground. To her credit, Kelsey did her best to catch up to Lightning as the black stallion galloped across the range and then up a hill.

Storm reined his mount to a halt when they reached the top of the rise. Several large live oaks and cottonwoods dotted the landscape. Storm was laughing, obviously pleased with the ride. He leaned down and patted his horse, murmuring praises to Lightning, who nodded and snorted in response.

Rachel was laughing, too. She hadn’t enjoyed herself that much in ages. Oh, the freedom of riding a horse; she’d forgotten the exhilaration of the ride.

Storm took his hat off and resettled it on his head. “Pretty good riding for a Mississippi Mouse.”

She felt her smile slide off her face as if it were ice cream melting off the cone. Was she really so mousy? First Phillip. Now Storm. Her stomach twisted and sank. She bit her lower lip and looked away. First, the sad thoughts of her selling her home depressed her, and now this. Her emotions were too close to the surface tonight; they had been since their earlier conversation about Drew.

Storm brought his horse around so it was facing the opposite direction from Kelsey, which put him side by side with Rachel. “What’s wrong?”

She raised and lowered a shoulder in a half-hearted shrug. “Just coming back to reality, I suppose. I was feeling rather attractive earlier tonight in my new clothes and ‘ho-red’ heels. Your remark about my being mousy brought me back to earth.”

Storm muttered an oath. “I never said you were mousy. Good God, woman, you have to know you’re a knockout.”

“It’s okay. It’s something I’ve heard plenty of times before from a guy I used to date. You only reinforced his opinion.” Didn’t she feel like the fool? What possessed her to confide in this man?

He stared at her for a moment and then reached out to place his hands on her waist. “Come here.”

“What?” She felt a sense of panic. What was he going to do?

“Slip your feet out of the stirrups. Come on, now.” For reasons she couldn’t explain, she did as he asked. He lifted her from her saddle and settled her in front of him. Lightning danced to one side a couple steps, and Storm calmed him with a few words. His strong arms held her against him as she sat sideways on the horse. “Who was this yahoo who said you were mousy?”

He brushed her hair from her forehead and peered into her eyes. Oh Lord, she was in big trouble. If she hadn’t made a big enough fool of herself earlier, her reaction to him just now was practically virginal, which she was not. Yet the force of his blatant sexiness made her feel inexperienced. “Tell me, now.” His voice was gentle, yet commanding.

She looked away and sighed. “I recently broke up with a man who insisted I was plain and mousy. It’s no big deal.”

Storm’s one arm was around her back, supporting her. His other hand went to her neck and pulled her face closer. “The man was twenty times a fool if he didn’t appreciate what he had, who he had. I’ve always had a hankerin’ for mice, myself. Had several as pets when I was growing up. Believe me, I meant no disrespect by calling you a Mississippi Mouse. On the contrary.”

His dark eyes glistened in the moonlight and his gaze dropped to her lips. “You pull at me, Rachel. God help me, I can’t resist one more taste.” His lips touched hers and fireworks went off. A groan escaped. He turned her so they were chest to chest and his arms banded around her, holding her tight. His tongue flicked at her lips. “Open for me, mouse.”

“No, I’ll die if I do.” She’d known men before, but this one was too powerful, too magnetic, too…hypnotic.

“I’ll die if you don’t.” He captured her lips again and kissed her slowly, so slow she felt the earth rotate or her heart turn over, she couldn’t tell which. His hand went to her breast and covered it. Her nipple rose up to make acquaintance with his palm. He groaned and pulled her closer. How could anything so wrong—kissing an engaged man—feel so wonderful? Wonderful didn’t begin to describe how she felt in the security of his arms. Mercy, this man knew his way around a pair of lips.

Vonnie Davis is the author of historical romance and romantic suspense. Her debut novel, Storm's Interlude, releases on June 15 from The Wild Rose Press. 

If you'd like to know more about Vonnie or her writing, visit her blog. http://www.vintagevonnie.blogspot.com

To see the book trailer for Storm’s Interlude, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvzCgLEgTL0

April 3, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday 4/03

Yay! Another Sunday is here. You know what that means, it's Six Sentence Sunday! Before I post my six, I want to thank all of you who stop by and comment every week. You make my day.

Now, because some of you asked so nicely, here's more from my romantic suspense, Not Without Risk. It's a totally different part of the book from what I've been posting. 

We're in Justin's head in this six. He's just returned home from horrific crime scene...

His hands fisted at his sides and his blood churned over the senseless destruction of human life.

Unbidden, the images returned. The tricycle in the driveway, wedged beneath the front bumper of the family sedan. The blood trail that led through the living room, into the baby’s room—to the young mother sprawled on the floor in front of the crib. Gut shot and bleeding to death, her only thought had been to protect her child from the monster unleashed in their home.

The child’s father.

Her husband.

Interested in joining us in Six Sentence Sunday? See the site for information on how join in the fun. And don't forget to check out the master link list for more excellent snippets!