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5 Hot Heroes / 4 Authors / 4 Worlds Discover five sexy alpha heroes in four hot adventures. They were each taken, tortured and tormented. These powerful males were held against their will, prisoners of fate. What happens when they escape their captors…and fall in love? Vengeance. Desire. Destiny. Nothing can stop…Alphas Unleashed.

A Warrior’s Heart (Marastin Dow Book 1.1) by USA Today Bestseller S.E. Smith
Sealed With A Kiss, A Djinn Novella by Mina Khan
Dead Drop, A My Immortals Novella by Carolyn Jewel
Chimera Born: The Beginning (Book 1 of the Chimera) by Michele Callahan

106,000 Words

An Interview with Jacqueline Patricks

Please help me welcome Jacqueline Patricks to my blog today. Jacqueline is giving away an ecopy of her book to one lucky commentor, so be sure and comment.

dreams_of_the_queen_2How did you get started writing?

When I was 15, I read Barbara Hambley’s Darwath Trilogy and I decided I wanted to write amazing stories like that. The bug bit me hard, too, because went to college for my creative writing degree initially.

What genre(s) do you write in and why?

My main genres are science fiction, fantasy, speculative fiction and romance, but all tend to have strong romance elements to the stories. I won’t say that I’ll always write romance into my stories, but somehow it tends to end there most of the time. Mainly I love the freedom invent new worlds while playing with human emotions and psychology.
Tell us about your current series and wip.

My current book Dreams of the Queen- The Brajj #1 is science fiction/romance with lots of angst and twists. It’s not for the faint of heart or those lacking a strong imagination. It really takes readers on a psychological and emotional ride. Lots of characters with agendas and action and romance going on.

I’m currently working on Nightmare of the Queen – The Brajj #2 and another series involving fae, mortals and the end of the world called Fairytale Apocalypse. I’m hoping FA will be out late 2013 and Nightmare will be out early 2014.

Where do you get the ideas for your stories?

Most of my ideas come from my dreams, but I like to read current events and really pay attention to the normal world. I dump a lot of information into my head, then it all marinates until something original and unique percolates to the surface.

How does your family feel about your writing?

My husband is a musician, so not only is very supportive but he understands the creative drive and obsessive need to be an artist. My family is also very supportive of my writing. They have been ever since I subjected them to my horrible teen crap. My dad used to read everything I wrote in Jr. High. I remember him being cautiously supportive. Now his positive feedback is genuine. He’s constantly bugging me for updates. When is the next chapter done? When can he read it? What happens next? I know most families and friends aren’t completely honest in their feedback, but mine are brutal. So to have mine be excited to find out what happens next… that’s the best!

What was the deciding factor in self-publishing your book(s)? Did you decide on ebook or print only or both?

Self-publishing has been the best decision for me. I’ve collection my share of rejections. Gave up for a while and focused on working full-time, then fall back into writing again about three years ago. I’d forgotten how much I miss it. I love the freedom, but it’s a lot of hard work. You have to do a lot of research. Know what you’re getting yourself into and even then there’s a sharp learning curve. I had a bit of a false start last Nov 2012 when I first released Queen and had to relearn several things. But it’s stronger now and what I’ve learned I’ll do better with my future book releases.

I was always going to do a print run with my ebooks. Many of my friends and family wanted a print copy and so did it. Money aside, there’s just something about finally holding a physical copy of your work in your hands. Smelling it, flipping through the pages, pressing a flower or bookmark inside… it’s finally real unlike how an ebook will ever be. I will always do a print run of all my novel length books and anthologies of my short stories.

All self-pubbed books are rumored to be shoddily edited. What do you say to that?
Shoddy editing in self-publishing is a huge stigma. One that I and other self-pubbed authors I know are fighting to overcome. There are daily discussions on how to rise above this. One way is for authors to work extremely how to make sure their work is top notch. Get a great beta partner. Learn how to self-edit at a level of excellence. Don’t release your work too soon. Have several typo-catching readers, not editors, just friends who are great at catching typos. They don’t have to be good at grammar, just simple things like dropped words and transposed letters. Ask them to read your work very slowly. But all this is very important. I can read the first paragraph or two of a book and tell you if it’s well written or not. It’s that obvious.

Plotter or Pantser?

I am a total pantser! I start with an idea or premise, sometimes just a very simple one, and I’m off. I generally write from start to finish chronologically, but if I have an idea for specific scenes out of order then I’ll write that scene and save it for later. My brain is constantly working on ideas. While I’m only writing on two main stories right now, I actually have about six in various stages of work. Often my best scenes and dialogue happen while I’m panting my way through. I’ve had characters do things that surprised me, but I’ve realized worked better than my original idea for the scene. Improv is awesome!

Do you write under a pen name? Why or why not? How did you choose it?

I do write under a pen name. I work as a paramedic and have just under eight left to retire, so I’m trying to keep some separation in my two careers. I’ve always liked the name Jacqueline and Patricks is unusual as opposed to Patrick and I liked the feminine and masculine combination. Sort of like my writing, romantic yet strong.

What is your writing routine like?

I don’t actually have a set routine because of my full-time job. I tend to be able to write whenever I get a free moment. I’ve become very disciplined when I sit down to type out hundreds of words an hour when I’m in the right mindset. It’s all about being focused.

I’ll be attending Houston Comicpalooza and speaking on the author panels ‘Sex in Sci-fi’ and ‘Playing God-world building’. If you’re in the Houston area on May 24-26, stop by and visit!

Reviews for ‘Dreams of the Queen’

“”Devotees of the paranormal genre will appreciate Patricks’ original work […] science fiction and magic meld together perfectly. As readers’ imagination is put to the test, it’s apparent that only the strong will survive […]the dash of romance creeps in slowly, but doesn’t overwhelm or interfere with the plot that will keep fans itching for more.” InD’Tale Magazine May 2013

“The alien culture of the brajj is deftly revealed over time. Plot twists at the end are genuinely startling, and leave the reader anticipating the sequel. – IndieReader Nov 2012

You can find me at or


profile_picture_by_jinx1764-d50626d_2I started writing fiction when I was 15, and like most aspiring writers, my work was terrible, immature, cliched drivel. I went college for my creative writing degree and got used to the typical reject letters. Eventually, I needed annoying things like food, clothing and rent, so I got a real job and ended up finishing my degree in paramedicine. Since then, I’ve gained 19+ years of experience as a paramedic and spend time in the army.

Then a wonderful thing happened. I woke up one morning with the fire to write fiction again. I’d been published online by writing medical articles and was paid to write for a crafts blog, but I hadn’t felt the particular desire to write fiction in nearly a decade. I was back.


Never before had she seen a man so beautiful, so supremely confident and calm. It stirred novel emotions within her, feelings of attachment she’d never hoped to find. Or perhaps she merely imagined feelings because of her dissatisfaction with Julian. Did Jeamon represent unattainable perfection to her subconscious? How to know what was real and false? And Jeamon was not human, how did that compare? So much to understand; how could she possibly ever hope to comprehend it all?

“May I assist you in some manner, my Queen?” He remained kneeling, head bowed.


“Pardon?” His head jerked up, swiveled to meet hers.

“My name, remember it’s Cass.”

The tense lines around his eyes smoothed as he smiled. His head tilted. “Of course, Cass. Though I wonder at your constant request for informality.”

The edge of the alcove suddenly interested her, and she picked at a loose bit of rubble with her fingernail, finding the details of it fascinating. “Do you need to understand right now?” She heard the rustle of his clothing and his boots rasping on the floor as he stood.

“No, I do not.”

Several heartbeats of stubborn silence passed. She breathed—in and out—“I’m sorry about earlier. I was … I’ve been confused. About a lot of things.”

“I, too, have been … confused.”

He placed a hand on the wall, near her fiddling one and leaned over her until she looked up. Inches separated them, his face so close to hers that she could count the sparkling lances in his irises from the random plays of distant sunlight. Her breath caught when one of Jeamon’s fingers swept faintly across one of hers. The usual electricity and blue light sparked and a negative red afterglow burned in her retinas while her skin ignited from her fingertip to her shoulder.

“That… what is that?” she asked, desperate for an answer while he continued to rub tiny circles, each one causing her breath to quicken a bit more.

“I do not know,” he said, his voice a bit husky. “Does it hurt you?” He pulled his finger away. The glow and tingling ceased.

“No.” She moved her finger back, brushing his and restarting the glow and tingling. “It feels … good … different but pleasant. What about you?”

“It is…” He paused, closed his eyes and leaned his head on the wall, causing his loose hair to slide over their hands. The delicate strands were like goose down drawing over her skin, and she sighed. “Stimulating,” he said, then his eyes snapped open and he gave her a keen look. “I have never experienced anything like it.”


The scientist in her stuttered for an explanation, while the woman just stuttered. His fingers caressed hers and a mounting need to be closer to Jeamon filled her. She stepped into his embrace, rested her head upon his chest, and inhaled his soft musk. Jules was right to be angry. She’d never felt like this with him or anyone else, nor could she explain why. But she wanted more…

Sneak Peek Sunday – Heiress Bride #3

Welcome to my Sneak Peek Sunday. For today’s sneak peak we are staying with Heiress Bride. For my give away this week, I’m giving a copy of Capital Bride, the first in the Matchmaker and Co. series, in any format including paperback if you are in the US.

Heiress Bride, the second in the Matchmaker and Co. series is available now from Amazon and other retailers.

heiress_bridePicking up where we left off, Nathan and Ella have left Golden and are heading home. She’s finally removed her veil and let the sun shine on her face.

“Ahh,” she said. “That feels so wonderful.”

Nathan looked at her and smiled.

“What?” she asked.

“You seem so happy with just a little sunshine on your face. At this rate I’m going to have no trouble pleasing you.”

She laughed. “I am easily amused. After nearly a year without feeling the sunshine on my face for more than a moment, this is amazing.”

He pulled onto a driveway off the main road. Far up the road, in a little gully up against the foothills sat the ranch buildings. She could make out the two large buildings, one of which she assumed was the house and several smaller buildings.

Check out all the other blogs for Sneak Peak Sunday here

An Interview with Tara Kingston

Please help me welcome Tara Kingston to my blog today. Tara will be giving away a $5 giftcard to one lucky commentor so be sure and leave her a comment.

claimedbythecaptain_msr-1_2Tell us about yourself.

Hi Cindy! Thanks for having me as a guest today. I’m a Southern girl, Virginia born and bred, but now, I’m living in a small northwestern Pennsylvania town in a restored Victorian on a lovely, tranquil creek. I’m the mother of two sons, and we count our German Shepherd, Lucy, and Jinxie, a fluffy furball of a cat as the family matriarch and princess, respectively. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love to read and write stories of feisty heroines and adventure.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be, and why?

At this point in my life, I’d live right here in the mountains of Pennsylvania. I love being so close to nature, and my husband and I are both into outdoor recreation. Most weekends, you can find us hiking, canoeing, or relaxing by the creek with a good book.

Have you had other careers before becoming a writer?

I’m proud to say I’ve been a classroom teacher and a librarian, the second most ideal job for anyone who loves books as much as I do.

Are you a full time writer or do you have a “day job”?

At present, I’m devoting my time to writing.

Do you have other talents? Or is there a talent you don’t have that you wish you did?

I have some musical ability. I can play the piano, but sadly I can’t sing a note. I’d love to learn how to play the guitar. But the talent I most wish I possessed was culinary skill. My sons believe I use the smoke alarm as a kitchen timer.

How did you get started writing?

I’ve been writing stories as long as I can remember, but I didn’t begin to seriously pursue publication until I discovered my local Romance Writers of America chapter. Being with a group of talented writers who generously shared their knowledge and skill was a blessing. Then I joined an online RWA chapter for writers of historical romance and found even more encouragement and camaraderie among a group of lovers of history and romance.

claimedbythespymaster_msr-1_2What genres do you write in and why?

I write Historical Romance, Historical Romantic Suspense, and Steampunk with a touch of the paranormal. I wrote my first contemporary, a paranormal romantic comedy, last year. Love Potion #7 is a steamy love story that blends Bewitched with a classic battle of the sexes.

How many books have you written?

Six that have been published, and three that are in process.

Tell us about your current series/WIP.

My current Work in Progress is an enemies-to-lovers story, the first in a series of romantic thrillers set in a Victorian London where vampires have risen to power. Battled by a heroine reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Princess Leia, the vampires bring in an American bounty hunter to bring her in. The hired gun is determined to claim the bounty, until fate and his heart intervene.

I’m also getting ready to relaunch a series of Civil War-era historical romances revolving around the daring spies on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line. The Secrets and Spies series will be rereleased this summer with hot new covers and abundant adventure, intrigue, and passion.

What is your favorite part of writing?

I love getting to know my characters, especially my heroes. It’s wonderful to conjure the men of your dreams through the written word.

How does your family feel about your writing career?

They’re very supportive. My husband has prepared many a meal while I’m hunched over my laptop, tapping out a story. He’s the best!

lovepotion7_msr-1_2Love Potion #7 Blurb:

Chelsea York is a witch on a mission. Quarterback Jake Wilder’s broken one heart too many, and Chelsea’s out to give the legendary passer a taste of his own medicine. She calls upon the city’s resident spellcaster to conjure the perfect brew for her task, Love Potion #7.

Jake Wilder left the game of football for the quiet of his hometown, but he hasn’t left fame behind. When a bewitching bookstore owner engages him in a sensuous battle of the sexes, he decides to teach the woman he believes to be a gold digger why she shouldn’t play with fire.

With seduction as their mission, both set out to become the victor in their sexual play. But they both get in over their heads when struck with desire neither can deny. And surrendering to the pleasure of temptation will lead them to discover how some passions are more potent than any spell.


“To be honest, I really just wanted to get you to myself.”

The wolf’s slow smile signaled a warning. Too late. He caught her hand in his and pulled her to him. Close, so close. His clean scent swept over her like a wind-driven squall. She shouldn’t like this. She needed to reject him, not melt into his embrace. But she clung to him as though she was the one who’d been bewitched.

His mouth brushed her lips, as unhurried as his smile. A gentle sweep against her flesh, tantalizing with its sweet promise of far more decadent caresses to come.

He deepened the kiss. His tongue traced the seam of her lips, exploring, teasing, coaxing her to part for him. A ribbon of liquid heat curled in her belly. The edge of the desk seemed the only thing supporting her wobbly legs. His hands explored her, cupping her bottom, molding her to his torso. His arousal pressed to her belly, allowing no doubt of his body’s reaction to the delicious contact. Hunger stirred in her core. Hunger for this man. Hunger she couldn’t afford to feel.

One hand skimmed along her hip, possessive, brazen. Fingers curving over her fully clothed breast, he teased her flesh to life. Chelsea stifled a little moan, but a hint of her need broke through. Her nipple pebbled beneath his touch, and then, his skillful fingers released one button, then another, stealing beneath the fabric of her sensible blouse. Gentle, yet searing. Each moment of precious contact more delectable than the last. And still he kissed her, his tongue mating with hers in a subtle, sensual dance. The heat in her belly seeped through her body, and she melted to him. Tilting her hips to cradle the hard ridge of his erection, she spread her legs, welcoming the sweet pressure, craving more. Her hands curved over his biceps, rock hard beneath her fingertips, and she drank in the feel of him, the taste of him, the scent of him.
She wanted more.

Buy Links:

Love Potion #7

Ellora’s Cave:

Claimed by the Captain


Ellora’s Cave:

Claimed by the Spymaster


Ellora’s Cave:


A Southern girl transplanted to a small northwestern Pennsylvania town, Tara Kingston lives her own love story with her Navy Chief hero in a restored Victorian on a picturesque creek. The mother of two sons, Tara shares her home with Lucy, the German shepherd and family matriarch, and Jinxie, a fluffy furball of a cat who’s assumed the role of family princess. When she’s not writing, reading, or burning dinner, Tara can be found cycling, hiking, watching classic movies (and some not-so-classic flicks), and cheering on her favorite football team.

An Interview with Jill Hughey

Today’s guest is Jill Hughey, author of four historical romances, three of which comprise the Evolution Series. Her newest release is Vain. We’ll talk about that soon, but first of all, to break the ice a little, what is your favorite dessert/food?

I have a real weakness for beverages. I have to have at least one cup of decaf coffee in the morning, a cup of caffeinated in the afternoon, and I really enjoy a glass of red wine in the evening with some dark chocolate Hershey’s kisses.

VainCoverNoShade6_2Where do you get the ideas for your stories?
Usually I get one scene in my head that introduces me to the hero and heroine. For example, the first book in my series began with my seeing the hero, David, saying “I want to see her face.” He stood diagonally behind a woman who was kneeling in a room crowded with men, her veil blocking his view of her profile. Around that I created the scene where Rochelle is being interviewed by the emperor. That line of dialogue never occurs in the finished book because the story didn’t support them meeting for the first time at the palace, but the seed for my Evolution Series was planted.

Tell us about your the series.
I chose Charlemagne’s empire as the setting, during the rule of his son, Louis, because it offered the societal structure that romance readers like while being completely separate from England or Scotland, which have been pretty well covered in the genre. The empire was unstable during the 830s. There were three civil wars in one decade because Louis’s sons by his first wife did not want to share the empire with a son he fathered with his second wife.

Each one-word title in the series describes the hero. I know titles can be hard for authors to choose, but these were easy.

The first book, Unbidden, begins in 831 when Louis has just regained his throne. He is determined to place a loyal soldier at a strategic location, which sets the stage for the relationship between David, the soldier and second son of a nobleman, and Rochelle, the heroine who doesn’t really want a soldier at her estate, much less a husband.
In Redeemed, the villain of the first story, Doeg, who is also David’s brother, strives to become a more principled man. He seeks a wife only for her housekeeping skills, but the quiet widow he chooses wants more in return than he ever expected to give. Doeg is a tortured hero and probably one of my favorite creations.

Vain is set in 839. The male lead is David’s best friend, Theophilus (usually shortened to Theo). He is a nobleman in the thick of the political intrigue. He finds himself responsible for a very talented female tailor. They discover a mutual interest in fine cloth and unique garments, while trying to ignore a physical attraction that neither intends to act on. The premise for this relationship originated from the first book in which Theo says “I have my heart set on a woman who can sew. I would save a fortune.” At the time, I had no idea I would be plotting his happy ending, but that statement of his led me to lovely Lily.

Please tell my readers a little bit more about your new book, Vain.

This is the back cover blurb:
Lily had her life planned, neat and tidy as thread on a spindle, until her mother died and her father snipped at the seams of her future by abandoning Lily in their shop. A nobleman unexpectedly gives her hope when he brings fabric for a special garment. Lily survives on his first payment, and immerses herself in sewing and embroidering an incomparable tunic for him, as her tidy plan continues to unravel.

Theophilus, Lord of Ribeauville, takes his responsibility to his townspeople seriously and, therefore, does not dally with local women. Desire wars with duty when Lily glances up at him while adjusting the hem on his Easter tunic. As her deteriorating circumstances push them together, Theo and Lily learn that the path to his heart just might be through his wardrobe, though the exquisite outfit she creates is the only part of her that fits in his precarious aristocratic world.

Do you prefer to read in the same genres you write in or do you avoid reading that genre? Why?
I love to read historical romance though I do not read it when I am actively writing a story because I tend to pick up little dialogue quirks or other cues from the author I’m reading. I don’t listen to music while I’m writing either, for the same reason. I guess I am just too suggestible.

Give us an elevator pitch for your book.
A tailor’s abandoned daughter fashions a vain nobleman’s tunic, finding passion between the neckline and hem as misfortune forces her into his precarious aristocratic world.

Vain is available from Amazon (kindle and print), Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and most other online book vendors.

If you want to keep in touch with Jill, she writes a blog, has a Facebook page, and tweets @jillhughey.

Thank you, Cynthia, for letting me visit with you today! I’d love to give a Vain ebook away to one commenter.

SETUP of the EXCERPT – Lily has been searching for a way to support herself since being abandoned by her father and taken into the household of Theophilus, Lord of Ribeauville. Lily and Theo both have excellent taste in clothing, and the woman Lily has criticized is also the woman Theo thinks he is going to marry.

“I heard you were went to the market today,” Theophilus stated.

“Yes,” Lily almost cheered, so proud of her accomplishment she did not question his knowledge of her whereabouts. “I sold my cloth and bought raw wool so I can make more. I think I can take care of myself doing this.”

Her lord crossed his arms over his chest as he paced a short distance away. “I have been meaning to talk to you about your future. One of my guests may have a position for you, as a seamstress for her household.” He turned to look at her. “You would be wise to consider it.”

Lily tried to force herself to be smarter than she felt. She did not really want to leave Ribeauville. She did not want to be a servant. “It is not the woman who questioned me the other day, is it?” Lily blurted.

“No. What difference would that make?” he inquired.
Lily scuffed her foot in the gravel before the bench. “She does not like how I make clothes.”
“She likes your insolence even less,” he replied stiffly.

“What insolence?” Lily protested.

“Do not pretend you do not know what I mean. Telling her her clothes said she had a rich father,” he groused. “She recognized the insult, Lily.”

Lily stared up at the moon for a minute, unwilling to back down even if embarrassed by his chiding. “I have seen her on other days dressed very well, but you know as well as I do her tunic on Monday was hideous,” she informed him.

Theophilus gaped at her then burst into unwilling laughter.

“There was so much of it,” Lily explained. “Today’s blue looked very nice on her. I would not have added the dagging at the hem, though I can see how she might need the variety with so many outfits to decorate.”

He laughed again. “Lily, I know you have an excellent eye for clothing. It is your tongue you must learn to control.” He became stern and walked forward to stand over her where she still sat on the bench. “Rotruda is Fastrada’s friend. She needs a steady seamstress for her growing family. She will not tolerate your opinions as I have done. She will not want you to decide her necklines should not be square, even if she would be wise to let you dress her from head to toe.”

His compliments combined with the possibility of hiring out as a disregarded servant curdled her thoughts like sweet milk ruined with vinegar. How could she accept that her talents, of which her lord thought so highly, were to be used to sew mundane clothing for a family who would probably never appreciate her? If she worked quietly and without opinion they would not remember she existed, which is exactly what they wanted. Lily saw how the servants in the shed moved in and out of their masters’ daily lives like specters put on earth to haul and clean and organize as inconspicuously as possible. Some were treated better than others. Lily suspected that the very pregnant, very superior Rotruda would not be a generous mistress.

“I think I will stick to my plan of weaving. With the wool I bought today, I should be able to make enough to rent a small room. I will get out from under your feet as soon as I can, my lord.”

He reached out to touch her shoulder. His heat pulsed through her linen tunic. She scuttled off the bench to stand behind it.

“I am sorry,” he bit out. “I intended only to comfort, not to seduce.”

Jill Hughey has loved historical romance since sneaking peeks at her mother’s library years ago. She has enjoyed writing just as long. She prides herself on deep character development, and settings that take her readers on long, satisfying journeys to places they have probably never been in a book before.
Jill lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons. Her hobby is singing lessons, in which she studies classical soprano and some lighthearted works.

An Interview with Sydney Jane Baily

First, I’d like to say thank you to Cynthia Woolf for letting me be a guest on her blog. For those of you who take the time to comment, I’d like to give away a copy of my full-length historical romance An Improper Situation in digital form to two commenters who’ll be entered in a drawing.

1. Tell us about yourself.

I’m a first-generation American. My parents are both from England and all my family is still there. I’m a reserved person who fills up my cup with alone time, the same way some people need to recharge by being social and out with friends. When I was getting my degrees in history and English literature from The College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg, VA, I went to the career center and took a personality test. Apparently, I am suited to be either a writer or an undertaker. I think I’m on the correct path now. I live in New England with my husband and children. I have a sister and mother on the west coast and all the rest of my very large family are still in the UK. I love cats (currently caring for three) and have recently become a first-time dog owner and now I love dogs, too.

2. How did you get started writing:

I started writing at a young age. For some reason, I filled notebooks with song lyrics, as well as stories. I still find songs to be very inspirational. When I’m driving in the car, a song will come on that sparks some story idea and I can’t wait to get home and start writing. I finished my first novel when I was 17. It was deservedly rejected on my 18th birthday. I tucked it away and went to college, then grad school, and then I started in my career in publishing. I’ve held just about every position on the editorial side of publishing. Finally, last year, I turned my focus back to writing and in October of 2012, I published An Improper Situation, set in the 1880s.

3 Tell us about your current series/WIP.

It’s a three-book series, starting with An Improper Situation, which begins in fictional Spring City, Colorado, then moves to the hero’s hometown of Boston, MA. It features Reed Malloy, a proper Boston lawyer, and Charlotte Sanborn, a self-sufficient, if somewhat repressed, writer. It was so much fun to research. What a great time period the 1880s is! So modern and so many firsts. The sequel, An Irresistible Temptation, features one of Reed’s sister’s Sophie, who is a classical pianist, and her very sexy hero, Riley Dalcourt, part cowboy, part doctor. This story takes my couple to the opposite coast, to rip-roaring San Francisco, another great researching project for me. It should be out within a few weeks. I got sidetracked by life lately, with a trip back to England and cataract surgery, but now the manuscript is nearly ready to go. I’m so pleased with the cover from Dar Albert at Wicked Smart Designs. Here it is, a sneak preview, as well as an excerpt:


“I was about to knock but I heard the most unbelievable music . . . and it was you,” he said, wonder in his voice, his eyes fixed on her as if he hadn’t seen her before.

“Sorry, the door was unlocked.”

Sophie was blushing again for the second time in as many days. What was it with this man?

There was no need to pretend modesty. She was good and she knew it. So all she said was, “Thank you.”

Then what? What did he want? “Can I get you a cup of tea or coffee?”

“I’d rather hear you play some more,” he said, coming closer and taking a seat in the parlor.

Sophie stared at him a moment. She’d played for large audiences when performing at school, but now she found she wanted to play perfectly just for Riley. And that made her nervous.

“All right,” she agreed, sitting back down at the piano and flicking her long, nearly black hair over her shoulders. She closed her eyes a moment and decided what to play. Not her own composition that he’d stumbled upon, but something really spectacular. Of course—Mozart’s Rondo alla Turca.

She started and played for five minutes, then ten, not noticing the passing of time but occasionally looking over at him. He sat with his eyes closed, taking it in. She liked that. It was easier to play without him watching her. When she finished, after the last resonance receded, there was only silence. Then Riley’s chair creaked and he stood up and came over to her.

He took her hand and pulled her to her feet. Then he took her other hand and brought her round to face him. She thought he’d say that she played well. It was, after all, a difficult piece. Yet, as she looked up into his warm brown eyes, she caught her breath at what she saw there. She knew it was coming; she’d seen that look on a man’s face before, and she couldn’t move even if she’d wanted to.

Sure enough, Riley lowered his head and brought his lips down to hers.

Sophie stayed frozen. She should step back and slap him. She should scream at his outrageous behavior. She did neither. Instead, she leaned in to his tender kiss, and as she did so, whatever was happening between them ignited like wildfire.

His mouth slanted across hers and his lips moved against her own, while his hands dropped hers to encircle her waist and pull her closer. Her nostrils were filled with the scent of him, clean vanilla and a hint of leather. Her own hands moved up to rest against his broad chest, and she could feel the staccato of his heartbeat fierce against her sensitive fingers.

When his mouth became more insistent and opened against hers, she felt his teeth tug at her lower lip and her knees went weak.

“Sophie,” he half-whispered, half-groaned against her mouth.

If you’re interested in Sophie’s story, you can go to Goodreads, at, to read the back cover copy for this as-yet unpublished novel. I just noticed that I already have a five-star rating on the book. It’s from one of my beta readers, not from my mom, I promise.

The third book in the trilogy is not yet titled. It features Charlotte’s brother, Thaddeus, and a surprise heroine who is in the first two books. My idea of Thaddeus, a photo from the internet of a male model, is stuck up next to my computer and he glowers at me daily for not getting immediately to his story. I can’t wait. Besides, I really need to get him out of my head; he’s taking up way too much room.

4. What is your favorite part of writing?


5. What is your least favorite part of writing?

Getting started. I am a procrastinator and I always think it will be more difficult than it is. Even before doing this interview, I managed to make two cups of tea, play ball with the dog, sweep my hearth, and clean the litter box, among other time-frittering tasks. Now that I’m writing it, I am flying along.

6. How much time do you spend promoting your books? What works best for you?

I need help with this. Really. I read about writers who publish their first books and talk about ONLY getting 40 or 50 sales a month and then finally breaking through and getting 200 to 400 a month or whatever. I am nowhere close to those numbers. But at least the manuscripts are no longer languishing in my desk drawer. (Actually, there is a contemporary woman’s novel, set in Newburyport, MA, that is still in my pc somewhere. It’s ready to go, but I don’t have time to shepherd it through the process right now of getting published.) I guess the answer is that I haphazardly play around with promotion on any given day. If I have something to tweet, which is still very new for me, then I do so. I use Hootsuite to manage my Twitter and Facebook accounts. I don’t think those social media accomplish anything for me honestly in terms of promotion. I’m just not adept at them yet.

I also like Goodreads. I had a giveaway for An Improper Situation. Over 400 people entered, but after it was over and I sent off the paperback version to the winner, the other people who entered didn’t run out and buy my book. I would like to advertise on certain ebook sites, but you need a minimum number of reviews and I don’t believe I’ve reached that number yet. I think when the second book is released, then I’ll try some kind of promotional push, such as dropping the price on the first one and . . . well, I’m open to suggestions.

7. How has your experience with self-publishing been?

Love it, love it, love it. I have a micro-manager-type personality, which makes me a good editor. (Of other people’s work, that is. I don’t know an editor who can see his or her own mistakes.) With self-publishing, I can control everything, from length of novel, to release date, to cover art. I have a concept and then my cover designer shows me her manifestation of that, and she has no problem with my tweaking her design and making suggestions. Try doing that with a NY publishing house. There are, of course, downsides. No advance, no one to push you, no editorial help, no marketing assistance. And though I’ve been in publishing for over twenty years now, I’ve learned so much being on the author’s side of the desk. It’s great to be in my mid-forties and learning this new business.

8. What advice do you have for other authors wanting to self-publish?

If you do nothing else, pay for a copy editor and a professional cover. I don’t buy books with covers that look amateurish, and I stop reading a book by page four or five if I see loose, sloppy prose or typos. A writer may have the best story idea in the world, but if he or she hasn’t honed the writing craft or had a professional find the mistakes that every single one of us makes, then that writer is not putting out a professional product.

9. Soapbox topic: Be professional.

This relates to #8. I actually stopped reading two books recently. The first one just didn’t grab me plot wise by page five, so I stopped. Life is too short. The second one needed a good edit and a rewrite. When in the heroine’s point-of-view, the heroine shouldn’t describe her own attributes, such as removing the sunglasses off her “unusually colored green eyes with flecks of gold.” People don’t think of themselves like that. You need another character to bring out the description. Plus, the clichés were coming fast and furious: rippling muscles, lustrous hair, etc. Yikes. It screamed amateur.

Again, thanks to Cynthia Woolf for having me on her blog.

Facebook page:
Twitter @SydneyJaneBaily

An Improper Situation (five-star average on Amazon) by Sydney Jane Baily:

With her chestnut hair and striking green eyes, Charlotte should be the catch of Spring City, Colorado. But she wears her independence like an impenetrable suit of armor and cloaks her identity behind her famed writing nom de plume of Charles Sanborn. She’s a 24-year-old confirmed spinster who won’t risk heartbreak, until a handsome stranger awakens her yearning both for companionship and for indulgent pleasure.

Boston lawyer Reed Malloy has a solemn mission—to deliver two orphaned children to their Colorado cousin. He’s not prepared for Charlotte being utterly innocent and yet irresistibly beguiling, or for her brewing resentment and flat-out refusal to raise her kin. It will take some firsthand persuasion if he is to complete his legal duty and, perhaps, resolve more tantalizing issues.

When Charlotte forsakes everything familiar—and two thousand miles of America’s heartland no longer separate her from Reed—unforeseen influences conspire to keep them apart. The high society of the Boston Brahmins welcomes her . . . while concealed malice abounds. With the intrusion of sinister forces and scorned women—and with passions ablaze—Reed and Charlotte find themselves in a very Improper Situation.

To purchase An Improper Situation:
Amazon: (paperback) (Kindle version)
B&N Nook:
All Romance Ebooks:

Interview with Linda McLaughlin

Please help me welcome Linda McLaughlin to my blog today. Linda is giving away a $5 Starbucks card for today’s tour stop, but is also giving away a $10 giftcard of the winners choice for her overall tour, so be sure to leave a comment to be entered.

RoguesHostage_200_2What inspired your latest release?

About the time I decided to start writing, I was doing my family genealogy. As part of my research, I picked up a nonfiction book about the founding of Pittsburgh by the French, who built Fort Duquesne in the 1750s. I was surprised to learn that the French officers, most of whom were from the aristocracy and upper middle class, would strip down to moccasins and loincloth to lead their Native American allies on frontier raiding parties. I thought, wow, what a great hero that would make! And the idea for Jacques Corbeau of Rogue’s Hostage was born. While I ws still working on the book, the movie of The Last of the Mohicans, starring Daniel Day-Lewis was released and I saw it in the theater 3 or 4 times, absorbing every detail. The movie provided a lot of visual inspiration!

Do you have critique partners?

Yes, I have been with the same critique group for over twenty years. We meet once a week to critique each other’s work, and we have become the best of friends. When we started out, none of us were published, but now we all are.

What is your favorite dessert/food?

Chocolate. Dark chocolate, to be exact. :D

What advice do you have for other authors wanting to self-publish?

Do your homework so you know what you are getting into. Assess your strengths and weaknesses so you know what you can on your own and what you will have to pay for. Editing can be quite expensive, for instance, so if you can save money by learning to do your own covers or formatting, then take the time to learn. Join a group and read books and be prepared to go the long distance. It takes time to build a name and find readers. I’m still working on that and I’ve been published, if not self-published, for a long time.

What did you want to be when you were a child? Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Like any child, I had occasional dreams of doing something glamorous, like being a spy or a concert pianist, but it didn’t take long for me to figure out neither of those would happen. I wasn’t that good at the piano, and frankly, I’d make a terrible spy. Can’t keep a secret to save my soul. But the two things that I thought about most were writing or being a librarian. My parents, who were very practical people, made it very clear which choice they thought was best, so I attended Library School after college graduation. I’ve worked as a technical and public librarian on and off for many years. I put the writing dream aside for a long time, but it came back to me in my thirties and I decided to give it a try. Glad I did.

What genres are you drawn to as a reader?

I’m a very eclectic reader and enjoy most genres, though I’m a little too squeamish for horror. However, I am a big history geek, so am drawn to anything historical, whether it’s a romance or mystery or science fiction & fantasy. I like Steampunk and am a big fan of Naomi Novik’s Temeraire books, a historical fantasy series.

Do you have any rejection stories to share?

Yes. About twelve years ago, I submitted Rogue’s Hostage to a New York publisher. When I didn’t hear from them for several months, I sent a postcard asking the status of my manuscript. They told me it had been lost, so I printed out another copy of the manuscript (this was before they took email submissions) and mailed it to them again. A few months later, I received a rejection on the original submission, followed a few weeks later by a second rejection for the second submission. At that point there was nothing to do but laugh. Obviously, the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing! And they wonder why we want to self-publish.

What’s next for you?

Next up is a release of my sweet Regency romance, Lady Elinor’s Escape. Then I plan to work on finishing a Western historical and write a sequel to my December release, How To Woo… A Reluctant Bride, written under my Lyndi Lamont pseudonym. It is going to be a busy year!


Linda McLaughlin grew up with a love of history fostered by her paternal grandmother and an incurable case of wanderlust inherited from her father. She has traveled extensively within the United States and has visited Mexico, Canada, & Australia. A lifelong dream came true with a trip to England where she was able to combine sightseeing and theater with research for her novels. A native of Pittsburgh, she now lives in Southern California with her husband.

Her first book was Worth The Risk by Lyn O’Farrell, written with Anne Farrell. Now Linda writes historical and Regency romance. She loves transporting her readers into the past where her characters learn that, in the journey of life, love is the sweetest reward.

She also writes sexy to erotic romance under the name Lyndi Lamont.


Rogue’s Hostage
By Linda McLaughlin
Historical Romance

4 ½ stars and a Top Pick from Romantic Times!
Romantic Times Nominee—Best Small Press Romance of 2003!
2nd Place – Lorie Awards – Best Historical Romance!

His hostage…

In 1758 the Pennsylvania frontier is wild, primitive and dangerous, where safety often lies at the end of a gun. Mara Dupre’s life crumbles when a French and Indian war party attacks her cabin, kills her husband, and takes her captive. Marching through the wilderness strengthens her resolve to flee, but she doesn’t count on her captor teaching her the meaning of courage and the tempting call of desire.

Her destiny…

French lieutenant Jacques Corbeau’s desire for his captive threatens what little honor he has left. But when Mara desperately offers herself to him in exchange for her freedom, he finds the strength to refuse and reclaims his lost self-respect. As the shadows of his past catch up to him, Jacques realizes that Mara, despite the odds, is the one true key to reclaiming his soul and banishing his past misdeeds forever.

(Previously published by Amber Quill Press)

Rogue’s Hostage is now available as an electronic download from Barnes and Noble and Amazon and coming soon to Smashwords. For more information and to read an excerpt, go to

Excerpt from Rogue’s Hostage:

The woman gave a soft moan and opened her eyes. When she spotted him, she shrank back against the wall, arms folded defensively across her breast. His gut tightened. He didn’t enjoy terrifying women, but fear should make her easier to control. She had already proven unpredictable.

Terror, stark and vivid, glittered in her eyes. “Who are you?”

“My name is Jacques Corbeau, lieutenant in the army of France. And you are my captive.”

* * *

Mara inhaled sharply, panic building inside her. This couldn’t be real. It was all a bad dream. She would wake up soon and tell Emile about it, and they would laugh. And laugh and laugh and… She swallowed the hysteria engulfing her.

“Madame, are you listening to me?”

The Frenchman’s voice, sharp and insistent, demanded her attention. “There is not much time. My companions are not patient men. We must leave soon, but first I want you to bind my shoulder. Where do you keep bandages?”

Her mouth and throat were dry when she swallowed, but she choked out an answer. “The trunk. Under the bed.”

He squatted beside the bed, pulled out the trunk and rummaged through it. She watched his every move, unable to take her eyes off him, alarmed by the physical threat he represented.

He was a tall man who dominated the cabin as Emile never had, and his state of undress revealed nearly every inch of his lean and powerful form. Not only was he bare to the waist, but his breechclout and leggings failed to completely cover his thighs and buttocks. He had a wide-shouldered, rangy body and long, sinewy legs. He looked strong, virile, and dangerous.

A cold knot formed in Mara’s stomach. The French had killed her father and now her husband. What would they do to her?

She wrapped her arms around her waist. Her grandfather would say whatever happened was God’s will, but she rejected that idea. What kind of God allowed such awful things to happen?

Fearfully, she watched as the Frenchman shoved the trunk back under the bed and stood. He held out the bandages, and she froze. She couldn’t touch him, she just couldn’t.

The man’s heavy black brows drew together in a fierce frown, but his voice was without emotion. “Madame, I am all that stands between you and the men who killed your husband. I can be persuaded to act as your protector. It is to your advantage to do what I command.”

He dropped the bandages beside her on the bed and reached out to touch her hair. “Must I remind you, in my companion’s eyes, scalps are more valuable than live captives?”

Horror sliced through her fear. “Emile!” She shot off the bed and bolted for the door. The Frenchman caught her around the waist before she could reach it.

“It is too late, madame,” he said in a hushed voice. “It is done.”

“No,” she moaned, as she fought to banish the image of a bloody scalp, raw flesh.

The Frenchman turned her toward him, holding her by the shoulders, and spoke in an insistent voice. “Listen to me and be sensible. You must be strong now. We have a long journey ahead of us.”

Dazed, she stared at him. “A journey? To where?”

“Fort Duquesne.”

Mara gasped. The dreaded enemy stronghold deep in the wilderness. She struggled to get free, clawing at his powerful arms.

He gripped her tighter, grimacing as he did. “Stop it! What chance do you think you have against three men? Do as I say and you will live. Refuse and…” He let the implication hang in the air between them.

Live. Yes, that was what she must do. She must bide her time and stay alive. Her brother would find her and exact revenge. But for now, she was on her own.

She straightened her spine and stared into the Frenchman’s eyes. “How do I know I can trust you, monsieur?”

He met her gaze, but a shadow darkened his eyes. “You have my word of honor.”

Bitterness filled her. “The word of a Frenchman? What is that worth?”

“For the moment, madame, your life.”

This is the last stop of my Rogue’s Hostage Blog Tour. Leave a comment here with your email address to be entered for $5.00 Starbucks gift card, as well as my blog tour giveaway: a $10.00 gift certificate of the winner’s choice (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, etc). Contest ends March 3.

My thanks to Cynthia for hosting me today. Hope you have enjoyed the interview and excerpt.

Interview with Greta van der Rol

Please help me welcome Greta van der Rol to my blog today.

Morgans_Return_e-cover_sml_2Thanks so much for allowing me to guest on your blog, Cynthia. If your readers would care to leave me a comment, naming what it was inspired the virus in ‘The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy’, they’ll be in the draw to win an ebook copy of The Iron Admiral – which is an omnibus of both my Iron Admiral books. (The answer is in the post, folks – and please tell me what format ebook you’d like – epub, mobi or pdf)

What genre(s) do you write in and why?

I mainly write Science Fiction with a dollop of romance. I’ve always enjoyed space opera. Star Wars was a favorite, despite the lousy science. You just suspended belief and went along for the ride. But I would have liked a bit more spice (if you know what I mean) so I’ve added a little bit in my own stories – based on the old adage, write what you’d like to read.

Tell us about your current series.

My Morgan Selwood books are my most popular. The setting is the far distant future, many centuries after Mankind was nearly wiped out in a colossal war known to history as the Cyber Wars. Morgan Selwood is a cyborg. But don’t tell her that. She’s very much all woman – except she has a super computer in her brain, and her eyes are artificial so she can connect to any sort of computer equipment.

Her story started in a novella called Supertech when the reader is introduced to her straight out of the Fleet Academy.

In Morgan’s Choice she ends up lost in space, where she is ‘rescued’ (captured) by an alien warship. Although things are decidedly rocky at first, she develops a relationship with the alien admiral and becomes involved in the local politics. You might say this book is sort of a cross between Star Wars and Indiana Jones.

This was followed by a short story entitled A Victory Celebration, mainly in response to people who asked for a bit more interplay between Admiral Ravindra and Morgan.

And now there’s Morgan’s Return, where Morgan goes home to where she began in Morgan’s Choice, and (needless to say) soon finds herself up to her ears in trouble.

What is your favorite part of writing?

You might find this a bit odd. Editing. I love finishing a story, then going back to polish it till it shines. It’s a bit like building a house. You watch it go up, brick by tedious brick, then you get to decorate.

What is your least favorite part of writing?

The blank page.

What is your next project and when will it be released?

The next project will also be set in Morgan Selwood’s universe, but it won’t star Morgan or Ravindra. They’ll both have a cameo appearance but their story has been told. I expect the new book will be released late 2013.

Where do you get the ideas for your stories?

Often from real events in history. For instance, the plot for my first Iron Admiral book, Conspiracy, was loosely based on Hitler’s rigged-up plot to start WW2. The Nazis staged an attack on a radio station just over the German border with Poland by men dressed as Polish soldiers. They broadcast inflammatory statements which Hitler used as his excuse to invade.

In a similar vein, the virus in that book was inspired by the Black Death which devastated Europe in the mid 1300’s.

I also assume that whatever else changes, human nature never does. There will always be tribalism, religion, fundamentalists, intolerance, greed – as well as love, strength, altruism.

I mix it all up with fast-paced action, add a scoop of romance and bake until done.

Tell us about your hero. Give us one of his strengths and one of his weaknesses.

In this series the hero is Admiral Ashkar Ravindra. He’s tall, too hard to be handsome with amber eyes. He’s Manesai, not Human, although his race is genetically derived from Humans. His eyes are like a cat’s. No whites and with vertical pupils.
He is a man of wealth and power, born to be a Fleet admiral. It’s in the blood and to a certain extent hereditary. But he’s a little bit different in that he is not as hide-bound and traditional as his compatriots, which is why he keeps Morgan, an alien, around. His intention originally is to use her for his own ends but that changes over time as respect is enhanced by love.

He’s not a ‘nice’ man. At all. Perhaps his greatest strength is his ability to see the bigger picture and do what is best for his people.

His greatest weakness is his need to control. Especially Morgan, who does not appreciate control. Oh, and he also does NOT like submarines. Not one bit. All that pressure…

Tell us about your heroine. Give us one of her strengths and one of her weaknesses.

Morgan was modified at birth, when her super computer was fitted in her brain and her eyes replaced with improved artificial models. Apart from her eyes, which look like mercury, she’s outwardly a normal, living, breathing, loving woman. But Morgan differs from other Supertechs in one important respect – she’s not specially biddable. She carried the mental scars of her modification and ruptured childhood like a chip on her shoulder. She has no love for authority and despises rank.

Her greatest strength is obviously her technical ability. She can work with (almost) all computer systems, given time to learn. She also can see more wavelengths of radiation than ordinary people and can enhance her hearing.

Her greatest weakness is a pathological fear of caves and being underground. This seems from a childhood experience. In more general terms, she finds it hard to connect with people, to make friends, to trust.

Author_pic_med_2This is an excerpt from my latest novel, Morgan’s Return, which is a sequel to ‘Morgan’s Choice‘.

Morgan and Ravindra have just left the space station at the first planet they visited.

Through the ships’ sensors Morgan watched the station’s locking arms retract into themselves like some sort of huge insect folding its limbs. She couldn’t wait to get out of the place. Iniciara had been crossed off the one-hundred-places-you-must-visit-before-you-die list. What a stinking, messy, dump. She hadn’t even liked eating the food there. Who knew where it came from? What it was? She bet the half of it was synthetic, made in a factory somewhere.

Curlew shuddered and began to move backwards. The station had applied enough thrust to push the ship out of the bay and into clear space, with the ship’s systems controlling her drift so Curlew stayed equidistant between the docking bay walls. Beyond the bay, the station’s slowly-receding bulk rose before them, a metal pincushion of ships, arranged in slowly-turning tiers.

Aft and forward side thrusters fired. Curlew pivoted, then followed a traffic lane to the designated jump area for Torreno. For Morgan, that really would be almost like coming home. She’d spent many a year on the Coalition’s capital planet, some good, some not so good. Judging by the lack of traffic, Torreno wasn’t a favored destination from Iniciara. Or maybe all the traffic for that destination had already left. Whatever. Space was a very empty place out here.

“Crew prepare for shift transfer in ten,” Jirra announced.

One last check of the sensors… Morgan’s heart thudded. “Missile, coming fast, from starboard.” She’d raised the shields before she’d finished the words. “Prepare for impact.” They wouldn’t be able to avoid the strike whatever she did.

The shields fairly blazed, crackling with power as the warhead exploded. Morgan hung on to her seat, grateful for the harness, as Curlew was flung across space. Warning lights flashed. Shields were down seventy percent. If she hadn’t seen the missile coming at the last moment, they would have been history. Idiot. Fool. How could you be so complacent? And another tiny voice whispered, how could you miss it? How could you not have seen it?

Fuck. Another one.

Davaskar’s voice was calm, however he might feel. “Looks like a seeker. Run interference.”

A cloud of ionized particles spread out in the missile’s path. Morgan crossed mental fingers. Jirra was deploying the weapons systems, but they had been in lock down while at Iniciara’s space station, and they would take a few moments of precious time to be combat-ready.

“Attacking craft to starboard, on a heading to cut us off,” Jirra said. “Second missile still on track. Prepare for impact.”

Morgan braced as the alarms shrilled. The force flung her sideways, smashing her hip against the seat arm. Something sizzled, filling the air with the stink of burnt wires. Lights blinked. Her hip hurt.

Ravindra’s voice cut through the cacophony. “What’s happening?”

She felt, rather than saw, him sit down in the command chair at the back of the bridge.

“Under fire from an unknown attacker, Srimana,” Jirra said without looking up.

“Damage report?”

“Sensors blown to starboard, systems report mild structural damage to the hull.”

A blast from a beam weapon tore across the ship’s bow.

‘Shields critical’. The letters flashed a warning on every screen while a slow beep sounded a countdown.

The unknown assailant pivoted, ready for another run.

You’ll find Morgan’s Return at Amazon US Amazon UK Smashwords Omnilit

Greta van der Rol loves writing fast-paced, action-packed science fiction with a large dollop of good old, healthy romance. Her novel Morgan’s Choice was in the top 100 best sellers for space opera on Amazon for several months. But she writes other genres, too. Her historical novel To Die a Dry Death was awarded the bronze medal for historical fiction in the 2011 eLit Awards and her latest work, Black Tiger, is a paranormal romance. Greta lives not far from the coast in Queensland, Australia and enjoys photography and cooking when she isn’t bent over the computer. She has a degree in history and a background in building information systems, both of which go a long way toward helping her in her writing endeavours.

Links for books

Characters – Can’t Live With Them; Can’t Write Without Them by Sandra S. Kerns

Please help me welcome my friend and fellow Colorado Romance Writers member, Sandra S. Kerns to my blog. Sandra is giving away two $5 Amazon gift cards, so be sure to comment.

Characters – Can’t Live With Them; Can’t Write Without Them

Dream_StalkerSmall_(3)_2If you are a writer I’m sure at some time in your career you have been asked, “How did you come up with that character; character’s name, or character’s attitude?” If you are a reader, I’m sure you’ve wondered where the writer came up with the character. So I thought today we would spend some time pondering this issue.

All of the characters in my books share a trait or two with people I know or have seen, though they rarely are direct clones of those people. We take silly/serious personality traits from one person, odd physical tics from others, and emotional wounds from still others. In this way we can create an endless number of interesting and diverse characters from only a handful of people. Sounds easy, right?

Not necessarily.

We spend a lot of time working on the appearance, personality, and the motivations and conflicts of characters. Some writers even have scenes outlined with which characters will do what. After all this work what happens when we start writing the story? The characters don’t pay any attention to our plans.

Oh come on, are you seriously going to tell me that you’ve never had a character refuse to do what you wanted?

Okay, so they don’t stop, turn around with hands on hips and say, “Sandra, I am not doing that.” But they may as well when you write the scene the way you want and it feels totally wrong. You know that if you continue making your hero/heroine do things this way the entire story is going to feel forced. Your flow gets all screwed up and every word you type is forced. That, my friends, is your character telling you NO.

Now that you recognize it, what should you do about it?

The first thing I do is walk away. Granted, I’m usually walking away in a huff, gesturing wildly, and saying unkind things about the character or myself. Eventually I calm down and take a break to do something completely un-writing related. It helps to clear the clouds of frustration from my mind. When I return to my story I don’t start right back trying to force the scene. I reread it, trying to understand why it isn’t working; why the characters are fighting me every step of the way. Sometimes the proverbial light bulb will come on and I realize what I was doing wrong. Sometimes not.

When clarity doesn’t come I start writing the scene again. If the frustration with every word starts building again I stop. At this point I realize I need to talk to my character and figure out why things aren’t working. This is where some of my pre-writing work – most of which is done in my head not on paper – comes into play.

Years ago a writing group I belong to had a character motivation/conflict program with a little competition added in. The idea was to inspire us to really get to know our characters. I was writing a story with a detective as the hero at the time. I figured a good way to really get to know his deep dark secrets was to have him go to a psychiatrist. So I made up this situation where he had to go to the department psychiatrist after a shooting. Don’t worry; I’m not going to give you a list of questions to answer. To be honest, the psychiatrist (me) didn’t get a chance to ask much because the detective sat down (yes, I could see it all clearly when I closed my eyes) and pretty much wouldn’t shut up until he’d spilled what he considered his entire life story. When he finished he sat there with a smug self-satisfied look on his face and his arms crossed thinking he’d shot down every possible reason the psychiatrist could come up with to explain anything. I can still picture it in my mind and it usually brings a smile to my face because that character delivered info-dump provided me everything I needed to write his story.

Was this an in depth character outline? No, but it gave me a sense of what this character would be like if I met the flesh and blood version of him. It took him off the page and made him real for me. It’s become almost second nature for me to do something similar with all my characters now. I have honestly answered people’s questions about my characters at times with, “Oh, he/she would never do something like that.” Then I go on to explain why.

When I’m critiquing or visiting with other writers about a scene they wrote that feels forced to me, or that they aren’t happy about, I ask them to tell me why the character reacted that way. It makes them dig deeper into the characters psyche. It has made for memorable “aha” moments.

Has this stopped my characters from taking ‘left turns’ when I want them to go right? Not always. But now I realize much sooner that I am forcing my personality on their actions instead of letting their background and life lessons lead the way. Learning this has made for a much more joyful writing experience for me and I hope it will help you, too.

webpic_2 BIO

Originally from upstate New York, Sandra now lives in Northern Colorado. She writes primarily romantic suspense. Now and then she dabbles in futuristic romance just to mix things up. She belongs to Romance Writer’s of America and two of its chapters as well as Crested Butte Writers. She has won several writing awards. Not one to rest on her laurels she keeps busy writing new stories. If she doesn’t, her sister sends her a loud email asking what she’s doing and why she hasn’t sent pages for review. Feel free to stop by her website at and say hi.


Eddie stood silently absorbing the hushed sounds of the darkness around him. To some, if anyone were up at this early hour, it might appear as if he were giving thanks to the heavens. He felt a grin pull at his mouth because they wouldn’t be that far from the truth. Other than being a little chilly for him, he favored this time of day. In these early hours of the morning there were no noisy people in his way and no damned glaring Colorado sunshine blinding him. Nothing interrupted him as he prepared for the task ahead. Even the old brick building in downtown Pinecrest seemed to pause with him, as if gearing up for the attention it would soon draw.

The early morning air whispered around him, tossing the tails of his trench coat. The flapping of them around his knees changed the grin to an uncharacteristic smile. He hadn’t felt this positive in two years. Even the recent missions hadn’t held such an optimistic feel. He tipped his head back and stared up at the dark, star-strewn sky. Pinecrest, Colorado didn’t have as many street lights as other cities, which made it easier, even downtown, to appreciate the number of stars above. Eddie closed his eyes and drew all the positive power of the night’s quiet comfort deep inside. Pulling his gloved hand from his pocket, he pushed the button on the panel next to the old building’s door. A woman’s wary voice came over the speaker.

“Who is it?”

“Eddie Craven, Ms. Tibbets. I called earlier. I have the information you wanted,” he spoke into the intercom, jumping when the obnoxious buzzer released the door’s lock. All the calming effects of the previous moments disappeared. He hated the sign of weakness. In his frustration, he yanked open the door with more force than necessary.

Once inside the dark stairwell, Eddie flexed his hands several times to cool the rush of anger. It wouldn’t do to hurry this through and miss all the satisfaction because of a stupid buzzer. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, exhaling slowly. Yes, there, that was better. He took hold of the railing and paused to let the coolness of the metal penetrate the thin leather covering his hand before he started up the steps.

Eddie looked up at the landing. An apartment door stood ajar, light spilling out. He squinted. He hated bright light and the pain it brought to his sensitive eyes. The constant sunshine, especially in the summer months, was one of the reasons he had enjoyed missions outside of Colorado. The other . . . memories. Pinecrest was much too close to the worst of them. His abandonment, the group home, the pain, the …

He needed to stop the negative direction of his thoughts. He reminded himself how easy this particular mission had been. He would have to use this ruse again. Posing as a PI who specialized in finding children given up for adoption had worked like a charm. He shook his head remembering how Ms. Tibbets had pleaded with him for his help. It worked as well as when he’d worn the cleric’s collar. The memory of wearing it while he sat across the table from the cop in Philadelphia washed over Eddie. People always trusted a man of religion. The desperate were always so gullible, and Detective Dawson had definitely been desperate.

The door at the landing opened further, sending more light flooding downward. The added glare forced him to put on his tinted glasses. Another weakness he had to accept, but getting a headache would ruin the satisfaction of completing his task.

“Did you find her?” Ms. Tibbets called down from above in a voice full of hope.

“That’s what you paid me for, isn’t it?” he asked and smiled the innocent, generous smile he’d mastered over the years. Yes, he would definitely have to use this ploy again. Payment for his mission was a bonus he hadn’t experienced.

“I can’t believe it,” she said waving her arm toward him. “Come in, come in.”

He stepped onto the landing and felt the first wave of triumph. It was followed by another feeling, one Eddie couldn’t identify, but knew he’d felt before. He tried to classify it, but it evaporated before he could. Shaking it off, he focused on the task at hand.

An Interview with Nina Lane

Please help me welcome Nina Lane to my blog today. Nina has graciously agreed to give one lucky commentor a paperback copy or a kindle copy of her book, winners choice. So be sure and leave her a comment.

NinaLane_Arouse_2What genre(s) do you write in and why?

I write both erotica and erotic romance. I got started writing erotica years ago with Black Lace books, and I once had an agent tell me I have a “special talent for writing love scenes,” so I guess I took that compliment and ran with it! Because I’ve always had a soft spot for romance, I like the combination of steaminess and the quest for love, so incorporating both into one book is the ideal world. I also write historical romances under the name Nina Rowan.

Tell us about your current series.

AROUSE is the first book in my new Spiral of Bliss series. It’s an erotic romance series, but it’s a bit different because it focuses on a married couple struggling with sudden difficulties in their blissful, lusty relationship. Professor Dean West is a brilliant scholar of medieval history, and his wife Olivia is utterly devoted to him…until she discovers that he has kept a secret from her for the duration of their marriage. The books focus on how Liv and Dean overcome mistrust and doubts, not to mention unexpected temptations, as they fight for both their love and each other.

What is your favorite dessert/food?

Anything good! I love excellent Indian food (chicken tikka masala and naan bread are particular favorites), or my favorite sandwich is tomato, fresh mozzarella, and basil pesto. I also love ice cream with lots of “stuff” packed it into—chocolate chips, nuts, peanut-butter cups, fudge…yum!

Do you have a view in your writing space? What does your space look like?

My writing space is a mess! My computer is on the dining table because I need a new desk, which I don’t have yet. So I sit in the dining room with papers all over the table, books piled at my feet, and a plate of incense ashes that I haven’t thrown away. Obviously, we don’t use the space for actual dining at all! I have a dream of what my “real” workspace will one day be—a lovely, oak desk with a matching bookshelf, filing cabinet, and a real, ergonomic chair. I’ll have special paintings and photos on the walls, and a corkboard to pin up important ideas and pictures. And it will be very, very tidy!

Tell us about your hero. Give us one of his strengths and one of his weaknesses.

I love Professor Dean West. He is brilliant, sexy, strong, and he completely adores his wife. He knows about Carolingian Era politics and medieval poetry as well as baseball stats, foreign films, Russian economics, why Star Trek is better than Star Wars, and how to throw a spiral in football. However, because he is so accomplished, his biggest weakness is his fear of failure, and it’s precisely that fear that almost destroys his marriage.

Tell us about your heroine. Give us one of her strengths and one of her weaknesses.

Olivia West is both lovely and complicated. She’s determined, practical, and has spent much of her life maintaining the image of a good girl…so she’s a very willing student when Dean teaches her just how sexy a good relationship can be. Liv has pulled herself out of the darkness of her past and found a safe haven in the arms of her husband, but is now just beginning to realize that she might be lost in the shadow of Dean’s brilliance. Her need to be cared for and nurtured, a desire that Dean fulfills, has made Liv lose sight of who she is and what she might be. Now she has to figure that out.

What do you have planned for the future?

I have two more books planned in the Spiral of Bliss series, and hopefully the second one, ALLURE, will be out this spring. I’m also working on the sequel to my first book, THE EROTIC DARK, which reached #1 on Amazon’s Erotica bestseller list. Beyond that, I have a bunch of ideas but am trying to stay focused on my current works-in-progress. One of the greatest things about being a writer, and also one of the most difficult, is that my brain is constantly zinging with ideas, so I have to pick and choose which ones take precedent!


“So what exactly is it you teach, Professor West?” I asked.

“Mostly medieval archeology and architecture, though that ties into other things. Town planning, political structures, religion. I’m going to France over winter break to do some work on the architecture of Sainte-Chapelle.”

I should have been intimidated by the illustriousness of his work, but he was so matter-of-fact about it that any potential breach between us—a renowned professor and a girl struggling to get a bachelor’s degree—faded into insignificance. And I loved listening to him talk, his smooth baritone voice thudding right up against the walls of my heart.

After dinner, we had coffee and shared a sinfully rich chocolate torte. He took a couple of bites, then sat back and watched me. Warm tension tightened my belly. I swiped a dollop of chocolate from my lower lip.

“You, ah… you look at me a lot,” I remarked.

“You’re very pretty.”

I didn’t know about that, but the compliment poured through me like honey. “I like the way you look too.”

That was an understatement. One glance at him and I went all hot and fluttery inside.

He leaned forward, resting an elbow on the table. Curiosity and heat simmered in his expression.

“What is it about you, Olivia?” he asked.

“What do you mean?”

“Why are you so sweet and determined and guarded all at once?”

“I didn’t know I was all those things.”

“You are. Why?”

I shrugged and sank my fork into the torte again. If I was eating, I couldn’t talk much. I ate another bite and spoke around the mouthful. “This is really good.”

Dean’s mouth twitched with a smile, but his eyes were still curious as he sat back again. He continued watching me as I polished off the torte and scraped the plate clean.

By the time he paid the bill and retrieved our coats, I’d realized the danger of Professor Dean West. If I let him, he would slide right past all my defenses. No one had ever done that before.

We went outside into the cold. He didn’t touch me. This time, though, I wanted him to. I nudged his elbow. He looked at me, then extended his arm and waited. I moved closer, falling into step beside him as we walked back to State Street.

It felt exactly the way I’d imagined it would, pressed to his side with his body heat flowing into me and his arm strong and tight around my shoulders. I fit against him like a puzzle piece locking into place.

“Where do you live?” he asked.

“Off Dayton Street, not far from the Kohl Center. I walked.”

“Next time I’ll pick you up.”

My pulse leapt at the idea that there would be a next time.

“And this time,” Dean said, “I’ll drive you home. I’m parked by the museum.”

When we reached the parking lot, he unlocked the door of a black sedan and ushered me inside before getting into the driver’s seat. I told him my address, and we fell silent on the short ride home. The buildings of downtown passed by in a blur of light and shadows.

When he pulled up in front of my apartment, my damned nerves got tense again. I fumbled around collecting my bag and buttoning my coat.

“So, thank you,” I said. “That was really nice.”

“Yes, it was. Thank you too.”

I took hold of the door handle. “I’ll just…”


I turned to face him. His eyes glittered in the light of the streetlamps. He reached out slowly, as if he were trying not to startle a kitten, and curled his hand around my wrist.

His touch spiraled heat into my blood, igniting flashes of unbearably intimate thoughts—me in his arms, his lips sliding over my throat, his hands on my bare breasts. The air grew hot, compressed.

“I’m going to kiss you now,” Dean said.

My heart crashed against my chest, and a hard tremble swept through me. I parted my lips to draw in a breath.

“I… okay.”

He leaned across the console and lifted his hands to cup my face. His touch was gentle, still cautious, but the heat brewing in his eyes left me in no doubt as to his desire. We were closer than we’d ever been before, so close that I could see the darker ring of brown surrounding his irises.

For a moment, we just stared at each other. Then his hands tightened on me as he lowered his mouth to mine. And the world fell away the instant our lips touched.

AROUSE: A SPIRAL OF BLISS NOVEL is available now at Amazon:


Bestselling author Nina Lane writes elegant, romantic, and sometimes raunchy erotica. Her novel “The Erotic Dark” hit #1 on Amazon’s Erotica Bestseller list. Nina wrote novels for Black Lace Books, and she has published stories in anthologies such as Best Women’s Erotica and Erotic Travel Tales. Her work has been translated into both German and Japanese. She is currently working on several contemporary and historical writing projects.

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