Welcome to 2015


So this post is a long time coming. Part of the reason I’m such a bad blogger is because I never know what to write about. I do have some new book reviews coming, and have plans to host more authors as well, but with the holidays kicking everyone’s butts, time has flown by and here we are almost halfway through January. In any case, I thought I’d do a New Year’s type post, with a look ahead as to what’s coming, as far as me and my books are concerned.
I’ve already posted about Warrior’s Possession being released sometime this summer. Additionally, I’m hard at work on the next Magiste book, and this one takes us back to 13th century France. I’ve had to do quite a bit of research, since my main characters will be traveling to the New World, and that journey is way ahead of Columbus’. Most of the research has been along the lines of ships of the time, and the various Papal Inquisitions that took place during this time. The Spanish Inquisition that most are familiar with is still a couple hundred years away, but there were several others that came before. The Spanish Inquisition was by far the most far-reaching and long-lasting of them all, but the one started by Pope Innocent III was focused on the Cathars. The next pope continued the Inquisition, supported by King Louis IX, and it is during his reign that this book takes place. I’m having fun with the Marchand ancestors – they are quite the dark Enchanters, though the hero in this book, Henri Marchand, has some very conflicting feelings about that. He has his heroic side, such as rescuing the heroine, Chantal, but he also has his dark side, so it makes for lots of juicy emotional torment for him.
My Viking tale is also completed, and for now is being reviewed by a couple of agents. It’s another tale that I call true to the time, and there are scenes that can certainly make some folks uncomfortable, but hey, what’s a Gianna Simone book without a little questionable content, right? One agent in particular had requested revisions so I could resubmit and I did complete those and found she was absolutely right and it made the book so much better. I’m hoping one way or another to have some news about how Norseman’s Revenge is faring sometime in the spring.
On the personal side, I spent much of the fall traveling to various colleges with my daughter. She has applied to the top four on her list, and has already been accepted to her number one choice, the University of Scranton. Some days, I am dreading her leaving, and others I’m ready to take her out there right now! I suppose that’s typical of being the mother of a teenage girl, though I somehow managed to escape karma with her – she’s a really good, hardworking kid (I was a rotten teenager, rebellious and always in trouble). My son, on the other hand, while also a super kid, is going to more of a handful, I can tell already, but for now he’s only 10 and still loves his mommy. He’s become quite the hockey player this year – and his team just had a special event sponsored by the NJ Devils (I know, we’re NY Rangers fans, but the Devils sponsor a lot of NJ youth hockey events). They actually got to play on the ice at The Rock after the first period and he and all his teammates were thrilled beyond belief.
In other news, I am actively seeking a part time job – we need the money, though being unemployed does give us an edge when applying for college financial aid. But I need hours that will allow me to be home for the kids after school and still give me enough time to write, while bringing in some extra cash. The local bookstore didn’t want me, but since I’ve been out of retail for almost 30 years, I’m not surprised. 
So that’s the recap – stay tuned for more info on my books, some reviews and more. 
Happy 2015 – here’s hoping it’s happy, healthy and prosperous for everyone.

Happy News! Warrior’s Possession is coming in 2015!


I got word today that Warrior’s Possession has been accepted by Pink Flamingo Publications. This is the story of Gillian Marlowe and Royce Langley, and is a prequel to the first two Warrior’s books. A sort of “this is how it all began” story. 
This particular book is very dear to me. I first created Gillian and Royce way back in the early 1990’s, and it was my very first stab at writing a medieval-set book. When I first decided to redo the story, I pulled up the file and almost ran screaming from my desk! The story and the characters were still amazing, but the writing, well, that’s an animal of a completely different color. I knew this was going to take a lot of work, but once I dug in and started cleaning up, deleting and rearranging, everything came into clear focus and I realized that this was the way this book should have been written in the first place. The original story stood at about 120K words (eeek!), so before I could update in a realistic fashion, I had to cut. And cut. And cut. By the time I was done, I had removed nearly 90K words. Then it was time to write all the new juicy stuff that makes the book what it is now.
Yes, I’ve kinked it up (of course) and I drastically reworked the plot to make more sense. I’ve learned a hell of a lot about the craft of writing in the last 20+ years, and it really shows when I compare the two versions. I also added a bit more realism for the time – I’ve done so much more research since these two first popped into my head, I realized a lot was lacking. At one point, I even have the actual words spoken by a historical character in a scene. So keeping track of all that over the years really paid off.
Here’s a brief blurb about the story:
“Ordered by King Edward to wed Royce Langley, the Earl of Montchester, Gillian Marlowe feels as if she is being sacrificed. Tasked with ridding the border along Wales of rebels, Royce finds subterfuge and secrets everywhere, even with his beautiful wife. She tries his patience, defies his orders and places herself in danger. To keep her in line, he spanks her, binds her to his bed and uses sexual games to torment her. Discovering she enjoys it only confuses him. He’s sworn never to fall for a woman’s wiles, but his wife fascinates him and stirs a desire deeper than any he’s ever known. When he learns the traitor is a close friend, he and Gillian work together to crush the rebel leader and save each other at the same time.”
Some secondary characters from previous books also show up in Warrior’s Possession, and there are a couple of those who also have their own books. I hope to be doing rewrites for them soon, but it will likely be a few more months before I can give them serious consideration. Right now, I’m hard at work on the next Magiste book – a historical set in France – and thee next Viking tale is starting to take shape, outline-wise, as well.

I will post updates about Warrior’s Possession as I get them and as we get closer to release day. It’s been a long time coming, but I am very much looking forward to seeing Gillian and Royce in print!

A Mid-October Update


October has sure turned out to be a very busy month! Along with the college admissions/visit journey we’ve been on at home, there’s been a lot of fun things going on in the writing life.
For starters, my fellow HVRWA members and I participated in a Wine & Sign event at Palaia Vineyards in Highland Mills, NY. That was Saturday, October 4, and despite the gloomy weather, we had a fantastic turnout, and everyone sold books – we had something for everyone who came by that day. It was so much fun, we’ve decided to look into doing similar events in other area wineries, so keep an eye out for details as we plan.
Here’s the whole crew just prior to the start of the event:
Our Fearless Leader, HVRWA Chapter President Elf Ahearn:
And some of our other prolific members:
The biggest October event was the NJRW Put Your Heart in a Book conference. I attend this every year, and it is always a great time. I think all my fellow attendees had just as much fun as I did. It really was a fabulous time – a good chunk of my local RWA chapter attended, which always makes it more fun, because we all know how to trigger each others’ silly spots! We all know what couple of words will set one of us off into a tizzy of delirious laughter.
The thrill of being a finalist in the Golden Leaf this year added to the excitement. Alas, neither I, nor my fellow finalist, critique partner and friend, Elizabeth Shore, took home the coveted award. Still, as they say, it was an honor to be nominated. But I really do mean that – having my book chosen as one of the best in the category says a lot, and tells me I’m doing something right.
Special thanks to Tara Andrews who managed to get a shot of this:
Truly, though, as always, this conference is a wonderful experience, on so many levels. I posted last year that the hotel services were very strangely a little under par – this year, they were on the mark (or above it) every time, so that was great. I’ve been to this hotel many times over the last 20 or so years, so last year was truly an anomaly. Though I must be honest – $9 for a glass of wine was a bit much. A lot much. Even when I was working FT, I learned a long time ago how to work around that, but this year, it was on the outrageous side.
So what did I like? Everything! The PAN retreat, the Editors Panel, the workshops – everything offered was just what I needed, whether I knew it going in or not. I gained some really valuable info, which has me re-arranging a few things.
I also got to meet several people in person who I’d only previously met online. Yeah, there’s a bit of fangirl in me. I doubt it will ever go away completely!
I made some good connections, discovered some new opportunities, and learned a few techniques (some that will make life a whole lot more manageable, if I do them right). So stay tuned, I hope to be able to be sharing some upcoming events – I promise they’ll be a ton of fun!
One event on the horizon that I can share now is that a few of my critique partners and I are participating in a Book Talk at the Washington Township, NJ library on November 20. We’ll be talking about our books, writing craft and the romance fiction industry, holding a Q&A, plus we’ll be signing our books. I’ll have more specific details about that later on, with links and how you can get in on the fun!
October is also a big birthday/anniversary month in our house, too, and it reminds me of how truly blessed I am to have such a wonderful family, fantastic friends and a rich full life in general. I am truly thankful for that.

Janet Lane Walters with Horu’s Chosen


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Janet’s back – with an excerpt of her latest release, Horu’s Chosen, Book 2 in her alternate Ancient Egypt trilogy. 
 
Blurb:

Seth, an undercover cop has been betrayed by his handler. To escape he calls a number on a flyer and is transported to an ancient Egypt he doesn’t understand. He must rescue the Daughter from the evil priests of Aken Re.
Merin is the Daughter. She must find the man who by wedding her will become Pharaoh. She plots to escape the priests of Aken Re and flee to those who years ago saved her life.

Can Seth and Merin find a way to defeat the priests? Is love the answer to their problems? Can they join with the Warrior of Bast and of Horu to bring unity to the Two Lands?

Horu’s Chosen Excerpt:
For a week plus two days Seth became a regular at the center. As well as martial arts he shot hoops with the younger boys and did his share of kitchen duty. He listened and watched. He found a spot in the alley that allowed him to look and listen to Father Joe’s meetings. Slowly he put the facts together. A few more days and he’d call his handler.
As he crouched at his listening post, Amara waved frantically. He went to her and saw the fear in her eyes. “What’s wrong?”
“Ramos is here.”
“You sure?”
She nodded. “Saw him and the man who wants me. There’re with Father Joe. I ran.”
Seth pulled her close. “Avoid the center.”
“What will I do?”
He fingered the flyer he’d carried for weeks. Maybe Tira had escaped by calling the number. There’d been no sign of her and no reports of her body being found. If Ramos had her killed, the body would have been displayed as a warning. He removed the paper. “Don’t know if this means much but a friend dropped it. She was in danger and has disappeared. If things get too hot call the number.”
“Be careful.” She darted away.
Seth returned to his listening post. He peered through a small spot in the grime-coated window. A man slouched in a chair across from the priest’s desk.
“Way I see it, quid pro quo,” the priest said. “I give you the hotshot undercover cop and you keep away from the center. You and your men.”
“How do you know he’s the one?”
The priest laughed. “Bob Tolena gave me the name.”
Seth stiffened. Betrayed not once but twice.
Ramos chuckled. “Why the offer?”
“Better to sacrifice one for the many.”
Seth’s nails bit into his palms. So he was to be the sacrificial lamb. No way. He wondered how the priest could believe this would keep the center safe. If Ramos wanted in, he would find a way.
“His name?”
“Seth. Not sure that’s his real name but he’s here every morning at the martial arts sessions. He helps with the boys and in the kitchen. Send a man by in the morning and I’ll identify him.”
“What if he doesn’t show?”
“Then I’ll learn where he’ll be. Bob will tell me. Says the kid is becoming a liability.”
Seth’s gut tightened. His hands clenched. Damn, trouble had found him.He straightened and sped down the alley away from the center. He needed a safe place. He ducked into a doorway and hit a programmed number.
“How can I help you?” a woman asked.
“Read your message. I need a way out.”
She gave him an address. “When you reach the door, knock once, wait and knock twice. We’ll be waiting.”
Seth pocketed the phone. He crept from the alley and caught the first bus to arrive. Several changes later he reached his destination. As he mounted the steps of the brownstone his cell vibrated. He checked the number. No way would he answer. Let Bob Tolena and the priest wonder and worry. He dropped the phone and crushed it with his heel. Then he knocked in the sequence he’d been given.
The door opened to reveal an elderly woman with dark eyes and steel-gray hair. “How can I help you?”
Though Seth felt foolish he recalled the words he’d read on the flyer. “Need an escape. The answer is in my stars.”
She moved aside for enough for him to enter and led him down a hall where bright photographs caught his attention. He paused before one showing a hawk soaring over golden sand. He touched the bird with a finger.
“So that’s the one to interest you. Why?”
“The hawk is free.”
“And you?”
“Trapped and betrayed. I must escape.” Or at least hide here until I can come up with a plan.
“Join my sister and me for a meal. We were about to eat.”
“Don’t want to put you to any bother.”
“We have plenty. While we eat you can tell us about yourself and why you’re here.”
They entered a large room. On one wall he saw a large double wheel. When he looked closer he saw the object was a giant horoscope chart. Had he wandered into some New Age establishment?
A second woman, less gray and wrinkled, brought several bowls to the table. Seth helped himself to wild rice and a chicken and vegetable dish. His cup held a tea flavored with mint.
Though Seth had intended to speak only of the past two years since he’d become a cop and gone undercover, tales of his early days emerged. The loss of his mother, his grandmother’s bitterness and the multiple foster homes found light.
Until Pete and Marge Blaine had taken a troubled teen into their home and encouraged him to hit the books he’d been lost. Their deaths in a car accident two weeks before his graduation from the academy had made him an easy recruit for the seamy side of life.
For some reason during his investigation of Ramos and the man’s focus on Tira’s sister, Seth had come to see Tira as one willing to work hard to escape poverty. Amara was another who needed an escape. Three orphans, all misfits and in danger. He placed his fork on the plate. “A friend, Tira, came here and vanished.”
The older of the women nodded. “She came and found the place where she was needed and she thrives.”
Would the same thing happen for him? Dare he hope? He drew a deep breath. “Is there a place for me?”
The second woman rose. She filled a glass with a dark red liquid and set it before him. “Tell us when you were born. Try to give the time to the closest minute.”
He knew the time. Every day until her death his grandmother had told him of the day he’d caused his mother’s death. She’d called the death “God’s Punishment.” “August fourth at six twenty-five AM.”
The oldest woman took his hand. “You are a Leo, a ruler born. Energetic and proud. You place your faith and trust in others. When they betray you, you feel anger and this keeps you from trusting others. You can infuse people with courage.” She walked to the wheel on the wall. The other woman joined her.
Seth frowned. What was happening here? He watched the women place objects on this wheel. An urge to flee tickled his thoughts. He had no interest or faith in Astrology. He never read his daily horoscope in the newspaper. He was about to speak when the women returned to the table.
The oldest one smiled. “You can leave here and go to a land where your skills are needed. You can bring peace, prosperity and justice to the inhabitants. Will you go?”
“Is this a joke?”
“Just an offer,” the younger woman said. “If you accept you will be given a task to accomplish. Failure could mean your death.”
Seth shrugged. “Wouldn’t be any change from what I face here.”
“You will be transported to an ancient Egypt. Once there you’ll learn what you must accomplish. You won’t about to speak of this world or of anything that doesn’t fit the time, place and culture of the land you reach.”
A desperate desire to believe her words were true filled his thoughts. “What if I succeed?”
“You will discover your home and heart. If you agree to go you can never return. Will you take the chance we offer?”
Seth sipped the savory beverage. Had Tira fallen for their line? He pondered his decision and thought of what awaited him if he returned to the city streets. Betrayal. Torture. No justice. His cover had been blown. He was weary of slinking through garbage-strewn and rat-infested alleys. He met the woman’s gaze. “I’ll go.”
“Finish the drink.”
He tossed the liquid back and stared at the horoscope wheel. The heady beverage hit his stomach. Liquid fire flowed through his veins. The wheel spun and the scene faded.


Here’s where you can find Janet on the web:

Twitter: @JanetL717
Get a copy of Horu’s Chosen here:
And here’s a review of Horu’s Chosen from RT:

Following on the heels of The Warrior of Bast, this story is filled with magic and fascinating characters. Those interested in ancient Egypt will find this an enthralling tale. A satisfying ending is presented for the hero and heroine, with a promising lead-in to the next story.

Presenting Janet Lane Walters


Today I am delighted to welcome Janet Lane Walters to my blog. I’ve known Janet for many many years, and she is a special mentor to me. In fact, when I hit some dire straits writing-wise a few years back, she was one of the ones who talked me down from the ledge.

Janet’s taught me a lot – I appreciate her honesty and her willingness to help (not just me, but everyone she sees that spark in), and the time she has devoted to supporting so many of my fellow authors. I can honestly say I would not be where I am if it weren’t for Janet’s support, encouragement and guidance. If you’ve never read one of her books, you are seriously missing out. Janet writes in just about every genre – I think science fiction and horror are the main genres she doesn’t write in. But you can find Janet’s name on anything from YA fantasy, to erotic romance, to romantic suspense (Code Blue has one of the creepiest villains EVER!), to cozy mysteries, historical romance, well, you get the picture.

I’ve got Janet in the hot seat today – and don’t forget to check out her latest releases, a fantasy romance trilogy set in an alternate Ancient Egypt. Books 1 and 2 are out now I believe, with Book 3 soon to follow. Here’s the cover of Toth’s Priest:

When did the writing bug first hit?
Hard question to answer but I’m sure the bug was always there. From the age of six or so, my friends and I spent hours on the porch making up ghost stories. In high school I learned to write by reading and often tried my hand at stories. The real surge to write didn’t come until after marriage and was living in a small town in Oklahoma where the library was scant. I read every Zane Gray in their library and began searching out books on writing. I took some courses and finally had a short story published several years later. I’ve been published for 46 years and still cranking out the stories.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I am a plotter but I also do a bit on free writing. I start with an outline that is rather scant more topics with information on what should go into the scene. Then I do the rough draft and if surprising things happen, I look at my outline again and make the changes. My rough drafts are usually about a third of what the book ends up becoming wordwise.
Do your characters come first, or the story?
This is a hard question to answer. Often the idea for a plot comes first but sometimes there are characters who leap into view and I know they need a story. My process is sort of an amalgam of the story and they come together in a kind of rush. I really don’t think the two can be separated. And though the characters and plot come together until I finish the rough draft I really don’t know what the final parts will end up being.
What was the most valuable piece of advice you received when you first started your pursuit of publication?
When I began writing centuries ago, I went to an all day conference with a writer who said. “First you must finish the book. Then you must rewrite and revise as many times as it takes.” I wish I could remember the name of the writer but I can’t. That’s the advice I give to others. Until you finish the book you can’t know what to keep and what to delete.
What’s the same mistake you still find yourself aggravatingly making from your early days?
There are a lot but the main one is forgetting to put in all the details of setting. The first editor comment I ever received was “Your characters are living in a vacuum. I always have to do a draft that makes me look at setting, setting setting.
When you hit that brick wall (as all writers eventually do at some point or another), how do you get through it?
I’m not sure I ever hit this wall. That may be because I work like a painter and keep layering the story with four or five re-writes and make changes as I go along There are times when I start a story that is going nowhere. I just put it aside and may come back to it again or not, depending on what I want to do at the time. I will worry a story until it’s finished unless I decide I don’t like it.
What was the first book you loved so much that to this day, you can still pick it up and read it and savor every word again?
Actually there are a lot. I’m a re-reader and have read many books again and again. Have read Pride and Prejudice many times. Every time a new book in a series comes out, I start from book 1 and read up to the new one.
A giant asteroid is about to hit the planet. What do you want to be doing at the moment of impact?
Writing, what else?
What was your favorite childhood game/toy? What happened to it?
There were a number but one of them was playing football with the boys. Growing up where there were 2 girls and fifteen boys on the street meant one had to play boy games. The boys didn’t want me to play after I began to develop. Snowball fights were another fun game with building forts and planning war strategy. Grew up during WWII so life was much different then. Unfortunately one has to grow up and the body ages.
Do you believe in ghosts and other supernatural creatures (vampires, witches, werewolves)? Have you ever encountered any?
Perhaps I believe in witches. Perhaps I am one. I’ll never tell. Once heard a ghost running down the street in front of our house. She stopped running when the man she was running after died.
Coffee or tea?
Love coffee if it has lots of cream and chocolate. Rum is my choice of alcoholic beverages but I’ve been known to drink many things. Do not like Scotch one bit but that’s another story. I can do both chocolate and vanilla, depends on where it’s to be found.
What was the craziest out-of-character thing you’ve ever done?
A very hard question and I’m not sure I should answer this since my character changes from day to day. I’ve lived a long life and have done many things that might seem out of character but since my character changes who knows if they were crazy or just reacting to the moment.
What’s the one thing you had the chance to do but didn’t, and wish you could go back and do it this time?
I have always wanted to visit Egypt but have never had the time or the money.
What was the worst vacation you’ve ever had and what caused it to be the worst?
My honeymoon. We were strapped for cash so we went camping. Unfortunately my husband had no idea about camping. The first night we ate our meal cold since the fire never got started. The second night he pitched the tent in an area were there were springs. I ended with pneumonia and the rest of the trip was miserable.


Here’s where you can find Janet and her books online:
Twitter: @JanetL717

Her Everything by Tara Andrews



As promised, Tara Andrews is back today with an excerpt of her latest release, “Her Everything,” which is part of the 1 Night Stand series from Decadent Publishing. Check out this sexy cover, and take a taste of this tempting tale
Blurb:
Rachel Turner made a mistake—a couple, in fact.  Ruining a surprise meeting with the front man to her favorite band is just the beginning.  But agreeing to switch places with her famous sister may spell the end of both of their careers. With rumors flying and an unexpected invitation from Madame Eve, Rachel hopes she can put the mistakes behind her.
Attending an event to support a charity close to his heart, Mark Travis wasn’t looking for love, or even company—and definitely not with a fan.  But when he puts in a hasty bid at a silent auction and wins the services of 1Night Stand, Madame Eve has something different in mind.  A single evening with a woman she claims can fulfill his needs.  But one night might not be enough.
Come morning, will Mark and Rachel’s unexpected one-night stand give them more than they bargained for?
 
Excerpt:
On the dance floor, Mark tugged her waist to pull her close. With one hand clasped in his and the other resting on his shoulder, she followed his lead. He danced with the same confidence and style as he walked—sure, commanding, and…so incredibly hot.
Thanks to the four-inch Louboutins Rachel had borrowed from her sister, the top of her head barely reached his chin, but high enough, if she dared, to rest her temple against his cheek. Though tempted to find out if the stubble along his jaw was as soft as it looked, she didn’t dare. But, oh, how she wanted to. At least they were close enough that the spicy scent of his cologne surrounded her.
A love song played, its lyrics about longing the perfect fit for her one-and-only dance with the man she’d admired so long from afar.
“You didn’t come back.” His voice, rough and low, vibrated against her cheek.
She tilted her head to meet his gaze. The intimate proximity allowed her an up-close-and-personal view of his brown eyes, their color reminding her of the amaretto she favored.
His hold on her shifted, bringing them closer, the difference slight, but welcome. The nerves at her waist sizzled under the weight of his palm, while his thumb rubbed the exposed skin of her back. She shivered again from the simple touch, and an answering heat flared in his eyes.
“I…I got called away to help my sister.” She stumbled on the near lie. But, truth be told, she never dreamed Mark would give her a second thought after she’d left, his disinterest so plain to see.
“Sasha?”
So he knew who she was then? “Yes, she’s my sister.”
“Your twin.”
Rachel allowed him to spin her before replying. “That’s correct.”
“I didn’t realize at first. The glasses threw me off, as did your hair.” He smiled then. “Even so, you two are not identical.”
Aside from her and Sasha’s obvious style differences and voices, very few people were able to tell them apart. A knot formed in Rachel’s throat. She didn’t like where his comment appeared to be leading or the way his movements slowed and his brow furrowed.

             He met her eyes. “Was that you on stage tonight?”

I don’t know about you, but I cannot wait to read this! Here’s where you can get a copy of Her Everything:


And here’s where you can find Tara:

 

 

Tara Andrews in the Hot Seat Today!


In the spotlight today is Tara Andrews. Tara is a critique partner (and friend) who is celebrating her second release – Her Everything, part of the 1 Night Stand series from Decadent Publishing. I haven’t gotten a chance to read it quite yet, but it’s on my TBR pile, and I will also review it when I’m done. I do have to say I loved Jill and Blake from Long Overdue, so I have no doubt I will enjoy this one at least as much!
Tara’s a busy lady – she has a FT job and is the mom of two adorable tykes, and best of all, she believes in Happily Ever After. Perfect, since we get to read the stories and characters living in her head. Like him! Yum! 😉
 
And now, take it away, Tara!
When did the writing bug first hit?
I began writing in seventh grade, right after I moved to New York from Virginia.  At the time I was writing really horrible, first person fan-fiction.  Of course, I didn’t recognize it as fan-fiction, I only leaned of that a few years ago.  What can I say, I’m always the last to know.
What inspires you to write?
 
Music!  I do get a lot of inspiration from music.  Whether it’s a backstory inspired by lyrics, or the way a tempo sets a scene up in my mind.  It’s no wonder music plays a role in my newest release, Her Everything.  Sister to a pop star meets front man to her favorite band.
What was the most valuable piece of advice you received when you first started your pursuit of publication?
Join my local RWA chapter.  The advice was given to me by Karen Hawkins through Facebook messaging.  I wish I did it years earlier.  The experience and support offered by this group is invaluable and really has helped me develop as a writer.
Where’s your ideal writing space?
I used to write at the kitchen table, which offered too many distractions (and not to mention calories).  Recently I set up a desk in my bedroom – a room with a door!  Ideally, sure, I’d love to have a small office to transform into a writer’s dream, but I’m enjoying the peace and quiet – so that’s pretty darn close to ideal in my book.
What was your favorite childhood game/toy? What happened to it?

The very first thing that popped into my head was my Texas Instrument Speak & Spell.  Picture a Home Depot orange, 2 inch thick tablet with a built in handle.  The raised letter buttons took up about 2/3 of the front, leaving room for 3 inches of black screen that displayed blue, block letters.  Its robotic voice spoke the letters of the word you spelled correctly or told you to ‘try again’.  I loved that toy so much I must’ve worn it out.  One day it just stopped working and the newer version I got as a replacement (with its flat, boring letters) just wasn’t the same.
Coffee or tea?
Coffee!!!
Which childhood memory is your favorite? Why?
I’m not sure; I’d have to ask my sister.  LOL.  Seriously, I have a terrible memory when it comes to my childhood.  My sister would ask me something like, do you remember mining for gold on vacation?  Uh, no.  Then, after many attempts to prod my memory, I’d either relent with an ‘oh, yeah’ (more like ‘yeah, right’), or she’d finally give up. 
Aside from a specific memory though, I had a dog named Bowser, a miniature German Shepard with a curled tail that hinted at a touch of Husky.  I just loved that dog!  I would have to say he’s my favorite memory.
Chocolate or vanilla?
Dark chocolate.  Preferably Lindt. 🙂
What’s the one thing you had the chance to do but didn’t, and wish you could go back and do it this time?
Part of me would have liked to have gone right to college following high school.  But I also think things turned out pretty well for me professionally from working my way up through the ranks.  I do think I missed out on a lot of college experiences, though.  I think that more than anything makes me wonder, what if?
How would you react if you lost your cell phone?
I would be fine… for about an hour.
Do you believe in ghosts and other supernatural creatures (vampires, witches, werewolves)? Have you ever encountered any?
Can’t say I believe in vampires, witches, or werewolves, but aliens… now that’s a different story.  Never encountered any, but there are a few ancient astronaut theories out there that make me go hmmmm.

Beer/Wine or liquor?

Amaretto and soda is my favorite drink.  An old boyfriend of mine got tired of ordering beers for me I’d never drink, so he introduced me to this little gem.  It’s, coincidentally, the drink my heroine orders in Her Everything.  She also notes the hero’s eyes are the color of the amaretto she favors.  And he is just as yummy!
Here’s where you can find Tara on the web:
And here’s where you can get Her Everything:
And don’t forget to stop by tomorrow to read an excerpt from Her Everything!

Hot Bayou Nights

I reviewed Hot Bayou Nights recently, and I can’t tell you how excited I am to have Elizabeth here the last couple of days.We have a lot in common – we’re both Gemini’s, correct me, Liz if I’m wrong, but we’re a year and a week apart, right? We’re critique partners, and this fall, we’re both Golden Leaf finalists. Not to mention, we have a blast with each other whenever we’re together. Even when we’re just walking to our cars after critique, we end up standing around talking (on Broadway no less, when we should probably just head to the bar around the corner so we don’t risk getting hit by a car!)

Anyway, I loved this book – when I first heard what it was about and that snakes were involved, I thought, you have to be kidding me. And then I heard some of it. When the book finally came out this year, I grabbed it right away. I’ve made mention of the fact I read while on various machines at the gym – this works out well for the most part – the workouts go quicker than I realize, and lately, I find myself going so fast the machines are telling me to slow down! I like the end results there, no matter how slow the progress.

But I’m rambling again, because the point I’m trying to make is that a book with freaking venomous snakes had me enthralled from the first word I heard and read.So here’s a taste of the book for your enjoyment:

When corporate consultant Carla Saunders’ work takes her from the skyscrapers of Manhattan to a research facility in Louisiana filled with king cobra snakes, she sees her dreams of a job in Paris sinking into the swamp. But unexpected desire burns hotter than a sultry bayou night. The snakes terrify her, but lust for a scorching hot research scientist has her dreaming less about the Champs Élysées and more about being coiled in his arms.
Obsessed with finding a cure for multiple sclerosis, Jackson Rivard’s got zero time for relationships. But when a lush, efficient business advisor sweeps into his lab, zero spikes to a hundred before he can shut off the engine. In theory, no-strings-attached sex is scientifically feasible, but having an ex whose fangs make a cobra’s seem modest brings new meaning to the phrase “once bitten, twice shy.” How can he protect his heart when Carla’s charming it out of hiding?

 Here’s the steamy tidbit sure to leave you anxious for more:


Hot Bayou Nights 


“Don’t look at your feet,” he whispered into her ear. “Look at me.”
She did as he asked, raising her chin to look into Jackson’s blue eyes, and then she was lost. Her breath whooshed out as he trapped her in his gaze, like an insect in a spider’s web. Except unlike the insect, Carla never wanted out. She felt as if she could drown in him. Helpless, her mind drifted to thoughts of what he could do to her. His lips on hers, fingers skating across her naked skin, his body flush against hers on the bed while he held her down, sucking her breasts, his rock hard cock pressed against her thigh. She could reach down between their bodies and take him in her hands, stroking him, teasing, making him even harder. She would hear the ragged panting of his breaths against her skin, ready for her. His fingers would drift downward to slip between the wet folds of her pussy, mercilessly stroking until her hips arched up, so hot for him, and then he would enter
The music stopped, dousing her fantasy like a bucket of cold water. Jackson stepped back to look down at her, smiling.
“Did you like it?”
Ooooh yeah. “Definitely. A lot.” She prayed like mad that she bore no telltale red face from her little mental visit to his bedroom and plastered on a giant smile. She needed to pull herself together and pay no attention to her trembling knees or the throbbing pulses between her legs. Jackson Rivard was dangerous—to her career, her fear assignment, her sanity. She had to remember that.

Here’s where you can get a copy for yourself, and find out more about Elizabeth:

Hot Bayou Nights Buy Links: 
Amazon:
The Wild Rose Press:
Elizabeth’s website:
Facebook:
Blog:

Welcome Elizabeth Shore!


Today I am very excited to welcome Elizabeth Shore to my blog. I’ve known Elizabeth for several years now and she’s a very good friend as well as one of my most excellent critique partners. In addition, she is a fellow 2014 Golden Leaf finalist for her erotic contemporary romance, Hot Bayou Nights. Today I’m putting her in the hot seat to answer a few questions – about her, writing, and just about anything else you can think of. 
And don’t forget to come back tomorrow to read a steamy excerpt from Hot Bayou Nights! Now, on with the show!
When did the writing bug first hit?
I can’t remember ever not liking to write, so I guess the answer is that the writing bug hit me in the womb. Haha! Seriously, I do remember when I first had the idea for writing romance. I was listening to a talk radio show and on it was a discussion about writing. The host of the program had brought up something about the romance industry and how those editors are always looking for new writers. It was a lightbulb moment, really. I suddenly thought, I could do that!
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a plotter. I think about my characters, and the story around them, and how their relationship develops, and then eventually I come up with an outline. However, it’s not at all chiseled in stone. I firmly believe that if you know your characters well enough they’re going to tell you where they want to go and whether or not you’ve taken a wrong turn. It’s perfectly fine to stray from the outline when your characters lead you that way. But I like having an outline just to remind myself what I’m thinking about for any particular story. I can’t write every day because I have a full-time “day job,” so when I can write I don’t want to spend huge amounts of time reminding myself where I left off and what I’m intending to do.
Do your characters come first, or the story?
I’ve had it go both ways. I’ll see or hear about an interesting person and start thinking, “I wonder how she’d react if this or that happened” and suddenly I’m thinking about a story. Alternately, I’ll envision some kind of story and think about fascinating characters that will add dimension to the plot.
How much of your personal life inspires your writing?
My personal life is pretty unassuming, which is why I find myself thinking up fun stories! But certainly one’s own life is influential in writing. We authors all bring something of ourselves in every story we write, I think.
What (else) inspires you to write?
I’m really pretty fascinated by people. Everyone has a story, and the more time you spend getting to know people the more you find yourself inspired by stories you could write. So, without wanting to sounds like a bad cliche, I’m pretty much just inspired by life. 
What was the most valuable piece of advice you received when you first started your pursuit of publication?

Join an RWA chapter!
Where’s your ideal writing space?
In my office, fingers on keyboard, cat on lap.
What’s your average word count per day/week/month?
I try to aim for 3,000 words per writing session, but there are many times when the words just don’t come. So I really just try to focus on writing something that I think won’t end up in my virtual trash heap.  
What’s your favorite time of the day for writing?
I’m definitely a morning person. Everything is so fresh and filled with promise in the morning. My mind is clear and I’m ready to go. I love the nighttime, but not for writing … 🙂
How do you set your writing atmosphere – with music, lighting or something else?
I have to have something to drink by my side at all times, generally coffee. Sometimes I don’t even drink that much, but there’s something comforting about having the steaming cup there, like a faithful friend. I like my office to be filled with light, and filled with music. Depending on what kind of scene I’m writing, it’s either soft classical or really loud metal. Hey, I’m a Gemini.
What’s the same mistake you still find yourself aggravatingly making from your early days?

Wordiness. Why write one sentence when a paragraph will do?
When you hit that brick wall (as all writers eventually do at some point or another), how do you get through it?

One time when I was young I refused to eat the food on my plate at dinner. My mom, in an effort to make me understand about not wasting food, wouldn’t allow me to get up until I ate at least some of it. I kind of apply that same effort toward brick walls when I’m writing. I just sit there, refusing to get up, until I’ve written at least something. That something more often than not leads to something more and I start knocking away at those bricks.
If you had the chance to do one day in your life over again, which day would it be? Why?
I wouldn’t re-do any days because I like to live in the present. That said, it would be lovely to have the chance to speak to my mom again. We were very close and she died before I got published. I’d love to show her what I’ve been up to and hopefully know that I’ve made her proud.
A giant asteroid is about to hit the planet. What do you want to be doing at the moment of impact?

Spending time with someone I love and who loves me while eating Ben & Jerry’s peanut butter cup ice cream without one single twinge of guilt.
Coffee or tea?

Coffee. Lots of it.
Beer/wine or hard liquor?
Beer. Gotta make my home state (Wisconsin) proud.
Chocolate or vanilla?
I’ll stick with the aforementioned peanut butter cup.
What was the craziest out-of-character thing you’ve ever done?
Modeled nude for a sculpture artist.
How would you react if you lost your cell phone?
Egad. Even the thought of it makes me twitchy. So, I guess I’d get twitchy!
If you had the chance to offer advice to yourself as a newborn baby, what would you tell yourself?
Treasure this gift of life you’ve been given and leave the world in a better way than it was when you entered it.
What’s the one thing you could never live without? (besides air, water, food)
Love.
Great interview, Elizabeth! Thank you for coming by this week. I gotta tell ya, some of your answers surprised me – and inspired a few more! lol But I knew damn well what you would say for some of the other questions! (cough – cell phone – cough)  😉 
And of course, congratulations on being a 2014 Golden Leaf Finalist. I’m looking forward to celebrating with you. 
Here’s where you can find Elizabeth and Hot Bayou Nights:
Hot Bayou Nights Buy Links: 
Amazon:
The Wild Rose Press:
Elizabeth’s website:
Facebook:
Blog:

Exciting News!


I am way beyond ecstatic to share the news that Claimed by the Enchanter, Book 3 in the Bayou Magiste Chronicles, is a finalist in the paranormal category of the NJRW Golden Leaf contest. And I am in good company – my pal and critique partner, Elizabeth Shore, is a finalist in the contemporary category with Hot Bayou Nights. Notice a theme here?

To say I’m excited would be a huge understatement. Many of you are aware of the struggles I went through with a previous publisher, and because of that, this book sat collecting dust for some time while I had to work through all that BS. When the time finally came that I could submit the book to Sizzler Editions, I also wrapped up the nightmare with the other books in the series. When Enchanter was finally released late last summer, with the other two books revised and ready to go, I felt finally, these tales were told the way they were meant to be. Enchanter was the final piece of this trilogy and it killed me to have it sitting on the sidelines for as long as it did.
I really enjoyed Reggie and Cameron. She was a bit like me in some respects, though I suppose all my heroines have some piece of my soul in them. But she was a bit of a wild child, which I was at the same age (and sometimes still am!), she loved horses, though she had the money I didn’t to really make a go of that, and she liked kink. Putting that all together was a hell of a ride, and I had a hard time letting go of her. Cameron is probably one of the nicest of all my heroes, but he was still a very strong Dom, and he wasn’t above using a few underhanded tricks to get his way. For the right reasons of course.
So now the book has been recognized by NJRW as one of the best in paranormal romance fiction. How freaking awesome is that? NJRW is one of the foremost and well-respected chapters of Romance Writers of America. Just to final is a huge honor, in my opinion. Their annual conference, where the Golden Leaf and Put Your Heart in a Book winners are announced, is on a par with RWA’s national conference, and I attend just about every year. This year will be super fun, for obvious reasons, and I really hope this means a lot more people will get a chance to know Reggie and Cameron.
Kindle readers can get a copy of the book here: 
If you don’t have a Kindle or the Kindle app, check out the book page at Sizzler Editions to see where you can get your hands on a copy in every format: 
And of course, I’m including a snippet here, to share some of what the judges thought worthy of recognition. But before I do:  SQUEEEEEEEEE!
Ahem. Now that I’m composed again, here’s the cover, blurb and an excerpt from the book:

Regine Marchand loves being in control—and the role of domme is the perfect way for her to exert that control. An accomplished equestrian, she has her goals of championship in sight and no one will get in her way. Her life and future are in her hands, she doesn’t need to depend on anyone for success and happiness.

Cameron McIntyre is fascinated by the cool façade Regine displays, but he senses the depth of her passion lurking under the surface; despite her protests, he recognizes her desire to submit and be dominated. But when he is forced to suspend her from competition due to performance enhancement spells used on her horse, he worries he may drive her away, instead of into his arms. Believing her innocent of the charges, he vows to help her uncover who set her up while convincing her that submission to him is what she truly wants and needs. Submitting to the tall Irishman brings a new level of pleasure Regine has never known, at the same time making her question everything she knew about herself.

Regine is unaware that an enemy from her past has targeted her for revenge. Together, she and Cameron must discover who wants to knock her out of competition for good, possibly killing her in the process.

And now for the excerpt:

Despite her position in the furthest corner from him, the way-too-small elevator gave her no space, and his presence seemed to surround her.  She watched him warily. What game did he play now?
“You have the most incredible eyes.” His voice remained just above a whisper, deep and with a hint of danger that sent a shiver along her spine.  “They’re almost silver, like shards of deadly ice.”
“Remember that.” She lifted her chin.

“The ice? A sexy biscuit like you? I doubt that.”
“No. Deadly.” Why did she take such delight in knowing he found her attractive?  She pulled her gaze from his. Big mistake, as it landed on his lips.  Full lips, above which, to the right, lay a tiny scar.  She wanted to lick it.
He chuckled, the sound oddly loud in the quiet of the elevator. “I have no doubt you would be deadly, in the right circumstances.  Bet I could disarm you. Leave you helpless as a kitten.”
“You might try.”
“Retract your claws, kitten. No need to draw blood.”
“According to you.”
He smiled, an almost feral grin, and her heart beat in a strange uneven rhythm.
“That doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy feeling those claws on my back, when I’m fucking you so hard, you see stars.”
She gulped, once again at a total loss for words. She lifted her chin, her gaze still held by his.  He stepped closer. She backed up. He repeated his step and so did she, but found any further retreat halted by the wall.  The movement of his arm drew her attention and she realized breathing came a little easier when free of his piercing gaze.  Until she realized what he’d done.
The elevator ground to a halt after he pushed the button, but the expected alarms didn’t sound.
“What are you doing?”
“Testing a theory.” He inched still closer, and she held up a hand.  Unfortunately, because of his proximity, her hand came up against his chest.  A solid, muscular chest, with a heart beating under her fingertips.  She drew away as if scorched.
“Enough nonsense.” She winced at the tremor in her voice.
“This is anything but nonsense.” He angled his head, moving in for a kiss. She started to turn away.
“Don’t move,” he ordered.
She froze, once more caught by his gaze, the knowing glint in his eyes pinning her.
“You take orders well.”
Before she could protest, he covered her mouth with his.  His lips burned.  She lifted her hands to his shoulders, but instead of pushing him away, she tightened her fingers, as if trying to hold on.
He moved slowly, tasting and nibbling, but made no move to otherwise deepen the kiss.  Giddy sensations started deep in her belly, uncurling through her body, settling with a pulsing ferocity in her clit.  When he drew away, she blindly followed, not willing to give up the delight building within.
His chuckle rang in her ears, and her eyes fluttered open.  His smug smile quickly cooled the heat blistering through her veins.  She lifted her hand, intending to slap him, but he caught her wrist, then did the same with the other when she again moved to strike.  All too soon, her arms were pinned behind her back when he pressed his full length against her.  Her heart threatened to explode out of her chest.
“Hitting a dom will get you punished.”
“I’m no sub,” she hissed. “Let go of me.”
He gave a nearly imperceptible shake of his head and she tugged against his grip.  Her attempt seemed weak against the iron hold he had on her.
“I will have such fun taming you.”
“You can try, but you’ll never succeed.”
One dark eyebrow arched, and she attempted once more to free herself.  She couldn’t and remained helpless in his grasp. Liquid pooled between her legs, and her clit ached, needing to be touched.
“It’s obvious you like it when I subdue you.  I have so many ways I’d like to do that.”
Her breath hitched, and his lips curled in a knowing smile.
“So the kitten does like to be caught. I thought so.”
“No, I’m a domme. I get off on being in charge. I do not want to be controlled.”
“Surely you know the sub is the one with all the true power.”
He ran a finger along her jaw and she fought to keep the shiver suppressed.  She failed.
“You have an exquisite fire, one that should be stoked and not extinguished.”
She closed her eyes, wishing she could leave.  Damn her body for reacting this way. She got off on dominating, not submitting.  Then why was she wetter than she’d ever been before?  Her breasts hurt with the need to be touched, suckled.  She groaned, wishing she’d never decided to come to this party tonight.
“Look at me.”
His words held a stern order, and despite her intentions, she obeyed.  She caught his stare a split second before his mouth crashed down on hers.  This time he was forceful, demanding entry with his tongue.  She had no will to resist and allowed him in, her knees buckling as the rush of desire overcame her.  He continued to hold her captive against him as he tasted her, finding every spot that left her a panting puddle, ready to melt at his feet.
Abruptly, she found herself released, and the car once again began to move.  She didn’t dare look at him when she tried to right her coat over herself, patting her hair, and trying with little success to steady her racing heart.
“I can’t wait for the chance to really teach you how to submit:  To me.”