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.

Visit Nina at or join her on Facebook at
Write to Nina at

Interview with Margery Scott

Please help me welcome Margery Scott to my blog today. Margery is giving away a ecopy of her book to one lucky commentor, so be sure and leave her a comment.

Cade_200x300_72dpi_2Tell us about your current series.
I’m working on The Morgans of Rocky Ridge, a trilogy of novellas about three men who live and love in Rocky Ridge, Colorado in the 1860’s. Cade, the hero of the first novella, is a law-abiding man who goes against his beliefs to protect the woman he’s always loved. Trey (the hero of book #2), is a gambler, a happy-go-lucky ladies’ man until meets his match in Maura, the woman who owns the other half of a saloon he’s won. And Zane (the hero of book #3), is the bounty hunter who disovers there’s something to be said for a sitting by a warm fire with the woman he loves instead of sleeping on the ground and chasing outlaws.

What is your favorite part of writing?
Plotting/outling. The ‘what-if’. I love coming up with the intial idea and brainstorming the twists and turns of the plot so my characters can have their happy ending. Two of my favorite words are “and then …”

What is your least favorite part of writing?
Revision. Ugh! I’ll do most anything rather than revise, which means I revise as I go. It does make the writing go a little slower, but I don’t often have any major revisions. A read-through to tweak and polish, and I’m usually done.

What is your typical day like?
I’m a morning person, so I’m usually at the computer with my first cup of tea by six am at the latest. I check email, Facebook and Twitter, and take a look at my calendar. Without my to-do list and my calendar, I’d be lost. Then I open my file and get to work until hubby gets up. I stop and have breakfast with him, then go back to work until lunch. After lunch, I putter, take care of errands, housework, etc., checking email off and on for the rest of the afternoon. After dinner, I usually have my laptop in front of the TV. I make notes on what I want to do the next day, take care of the “business” end of writing, writing blog posts, arranging promo, etc. By then, I don’t have an ounce of creativity left in me and I’m ready to call it a day.

What genres are you drawn to as a reader?
Of course, I do love historicals, particularly westerns, early medieval and Scottish (since that is my background). Yet most of the time, I find myself reading mainstream suspense/thrillers. I love being scared, as long as the threat isn’t real 

What are you currently working on?
Right now, I’m working on Trey’s story (book #2 of The Morgans of Rocky Ridge) as well as outlining the first of a series of full-length historicals set in the fictional town of Calico Creek, Texas. Trey’s story should be available at the end of March, and the first Calico Creek book by mid-summer.

Do you have a view in your writing space? What does your space look like?
I’m lucky enough to live right on a lake, so when I’m not feeling particularly creative in my office (which has no view at all), I take my laptop, curl up on a chair in the solarium that’s surrounded by windows and overlooks the water. There’s something about watching water that’s almost hypnotic to me. My internal editor doesn’t like water  so she leaves and lets the creative side of my brain have control for a while.


Although Margery was born in the Scottish Lowlands, she now divides her time between her home on a lake in Canada and a small house in central Florida.
To Margery, writing in only one genre is like eating only one kind of candy. Boring. A late bloomer, Margery didn’t start writing until she found herself with an empty nest, some free time, and an old standard typewriter her father found somewhere she’d rather not think about. She still has the empty nest on a lake far away from the city, but the typewriter has been replaced by a computer and free time is a thing of the past. Margery writes all across the genre board as the muse and the mood hit her, but these days she tends to stick to either historical romance or romantic suspense. When she’s not writing or traveling in search of the perfect setting for her next novel, you can usually find her wielding a pair of knitting needles or a pool cue.


When revenge leads Cade Morgan to hold up a stagecoach and kidnap his childhood friend, Isabella Morrow, he discovers his feelings for her are stronger than ever. He suspects Bella feels the same way, so why is she intent on marrying another man? And what kind of future can he offer her now that he’s wanted by the law?

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Interview with Elysa Hendricks

Please help me welcome Elysa Hendricks back to my blog. Elysa has a new book out, The Sword and the Pen. She’ll be giving a copy of this book to one lucky commentor, so be sure and leave her a comment.

ElysaHendricksSword-Pen_21.What genre(s) do you write in and why?
I write across multiple genres of romance – contemporary, historical, fantasy and sci-fi – sometimes the lines as to which is which blur. Each story is written in the genre that suits it best.
THE SWORD AND THE PEN combines a contemporary setting with a fantasy element. What would happen if an author’s fictional creation came to life?

2. What is your favorite part of writing?

The best part of writing is hearing from readers. There’s nothing better than knowing that something I’ve created has made someone laugh or cry, and has helped them spend a few pleasant hours escaping from “real” life. Aside from that I love writing my favorite two words THE END. Depositing royalty checks is always fun, too.
I do enjoy doing research as well as brainstorming story ideas with other authors.

3. What is your least favorite part of writing?

My least favorite part of writing is the actual process of writing. It’s hard work and I’m never 100% happy with the words I manage to get down. I angst over each word, sentence, paragraph, and plot point. Did I handle the action well? Does the narrative flow? Do the descriptions add to the story or are they intrusive? Are the characters, their actions and dialogue believable? I always feel I can do better, so I spend a lot of time editing, revising and polishing my work.

4. What is your typical day like?

Let’s see. A typical day in my life goes something like this:
8:00 The maid opens my drapes and brings me a yummy breakfast in bed.
8:30 My masseuse gives me a massage.
9:00 – Noon I spend in my office writing.
Noon – 1:00 Lunch with friends at the club or something thrown together by my live-in chef.
1:00-3:00 More writing/research/promotional work.
3:00 – 3:30 Another massage or a dip in the pool/hot tub.
3:30 – 5:00 Out shopping or reading.
5:00 – 7:00 Dinner with hubby and/or friends.
7:00 – Bedtime Is spent with hubby and/or friends watching TV, going to the movies, plays, etc.
Yeah, right! If you believe that I have some ocean front property in Kansas to sell you. There’s never a “typical” day for me. I try to write every day, but life seems to conspire against me. I’m fortunate that I don’t haveto try and juggle my writing around a full time day job, but I still find myself struggling to find writing time and energy (at least together.) Laundry, household chores, meal preparations, and other mundane tasks seem to eat up my life. I only write during the weekdays. Evenings and weekends are reserved for spending time with my husband, family, and friends. That’s the only part of my “typical” day that’s real.

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

I spend way too much time promoting. I think I’ve tried just about everything that doesn’t cost a lot of money. Poor “starving” author here. But I’ve yet to figure out what works best. I have books I haven’t done much promotion for that sell really well and books I’ve spent hours promoting that don’t sell at all. If anyone has any secrets to share, I’d love to hear them.

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

After doing the traditional publishing route for over ten years and never earning out my meager advances I jumped into the self-publishing pond (ocean) about a year and a half ago and I love it. Being a control freak I like being in charge of my product from the content to the cover art. That said, self-publishing has a steep learning curve and doing everything myself eats up a lot of time and energy I could use for writing. It’s very easy to get sucked into the technical and promotional aspects of self-publishing to the detriment of the actual writing.

I haven’t had the success of some, but for the first time in my writing career people are reading my books and I’m making money every month, so I couldn’t be more pleased. Well, a best seller or two and tens of thousands of dollars in sales wouldn’t be bad.

7. Give us an elevator pitch for your book.

When Brandon Davis’s fictional character Serilda invades his life, the slightly neurotic sword and sorcery author finally learns what it means to live.

8. Has your muse always known what genre you would write and be published in?

My muse is a flighty, fickle little witch who lives in the attic of my mind. She comes and goes on her own time table without a thought as to how her absence impacts my work. She likes so many different genres of fiction, especially in romance, that it’s hard to pin her down as she flits from story to story like a bee from flower to flower. Still, I wouldn’t trade her in for another. She encourages and inspires me with her energy and imagination. She also does her best to banish the “evil” inner critic who lurks in the basement and loves to bash my work.

9. Tell us a little about yourself and your latest book.

My life is so totally bland, beige, boring it’s hardly worth talking about. All the exciting stuff happens in my books and that’s just the way I like it. My motto is: Boring is good. Excitement (in real life) is vastly overrated.
Brandon Davis the author hero in THE SWORD AND THE PEN has lived by this motto most of his life. It isn’t until Serilda, the fictional character in his popular warrior woman series – the one he’s about to kill off – turns up as a flesh and blood woman in his study that he realizes life is a crazy adventure worth living. And that for love any man can be a hero.

THE SWORD AND THE PEN is what I call my Xena – The Warrior Princess meets Stranger Than Fiction story. It was inspired in part by an old Twilight Zone episode – A World of His Own starring Keenan Wynn about a playwright who can dictate his characters into life. If anyone is interested they can watch the episode on YouTube at: for Part I and for Part II.
If you’d like to know more about me or my books, you can find me on Facebook:
Or check out my web site:

Here’s an excerpt from THE SWORD AND THE PEN when Brandon first meets Serilda in the “real” world.

She poked him in the arm with the tip of her sword.
“Ow!” Brandon scooted back, nearly under his desk.
“Warrior? Priest? Sorcerer?” She crouched down to rest on her heels, and stared at him. The position put her full breasts nearly in his face. “Definitely not a warrior.” She pinched his arm. “You have muscle, but not enough to wield a sword in battle. No courage, either. Priest? Unlikely. They don’t fear the sword. Only their god makes them cower. Wizard? Perhaps, but not one of any power, or else I’d be at your feet. So…you’re the wizard’s assistant most likely.” As if satisfied with her conclusion, she rose to her feet.
“Get up. I’ll not harm you. I wish to speak to your master. He and I have business to discuss.”
Brandon eyed the woman warily. Though her speech and clothing were odd, she sounded and looked extremely familiar. Why? Was she a crazy fan he’d somehow communicated with before?
To be honest, she bore a striking resemblance to Serilda, if shorter. She was five feet seven or eight inches, rather than six feet, and she was less buxom and had softer features than the character he’d ultimately developed.
Despite the trampy clothing and hard scowl, she was attractive. Short reddish blonde curls framed an elfin face. Dark lashes fringed large, cat-like green eyes. Sun-kissed skin covered high cheekbones, and her lips, though currently set in a hard line, were full and red.
“I said get up!” She grabbed his arm and hauled him to his feet.
He was surprised that, when he stood, he topped her by a good six inches and probably outweighed her by sixty pounds. That size difference gave him a bit of confidence, but the nasty-looking sword she held with such self-assurance negated it. One could never trust the actions of a crazy person.
“Who are you?” She looked him up and down then seemed to dismiss him.
“Brandon Alexander Davis. This is my home.”
Unimpressed, she laughed. “Brandon? What kind of name is that? Bran is what I eat to ease my bowels.”
Heat crept up Brandon’s neck. “Who the hell are you? And what are you doing here in that ridiculous costume?”
“Who I am and” — two spots of color stained her cheeks — “what I wear is a matter I will discuss with your master. Where is he? Has he run to hide from me? It will do him no good. I’m determined to find him and solve this.”
“I don’t have a master. I live here alone.” Damn! Why had he told her that? He eased back from the lunatic toward the phone. Could he wrest the sword away from her before then?
His size would be an advantage, but even standing at ease, the woman radiated strength and skill. The odds seemed against him. To win he’d have to hit her– hard– and he doubted he could bring himself to do so. The lessons of chivalry his grandmother had taught were too deeply ingrained. In that way, he and Donoval were of one mind. No matter how greatly provoked, men didn’t hit women.
Although, the thought of wrestling with this woman was appealing.
“No master? Do not lie to me.” The lunatic’s fingers flexed around the hilt of her sword.
“Why would I lie?” he snapped. “It’s obvious your beef is with someone else. If I knew who and where he was, why would I protect him?”
“Because you’re a coward. A powerful sorcerer inspires fear if not loyalty in his minions. But you should fear me more than him,” she warned.
“There is no him! I’m the only one here. And I’m not a coward.” Being called one triggered something inside him. Having phobias about crowds, insects and small furry animals didn’t make him a coward. Not really.
She gave him a thoughtful look. “Is it possible? Are you the one?”
“The one what?”
She ignored his question and studied him. Her intense perusal made him squirm.
“Why didn’t I see the resemblance?” she murmured.
“What resemblance?” He didn’t like the turn of this conversation. Come to think of it, he hadn’t liked the original direction, either.
“To Donoval. You are him– in form at least.” A bit of fear crossed her features, though anger quickly erased it. “I’m loath to believe it, but you are the wizard. Did you construct me so you could play God in my world? Does it give you pleasure to toy with me?”
“What the hell are you talking about? Play God? I’m just a writer trying to make a living. I write stories for people to read and enjoy. It’s just entertainment.”

Elysa.476x716x240dpi.2012_2THE SWORD AND THE PEN IS Available for $3.99 from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Sony, and for other ereaders via Smashwords.

How I started writing by Edna Curry

Please help me welcome Edna Curry to my blog today. Edna is giving away a ecopy of her book to one lucky commentor so be sure and leave her a comment.

Eccentric_Lady_FINAL_2I really don’t know how I got started writing. I guess I’ve always written in one way or another. Diaries, school assignments, letters. They sort of morphed into longer fiction.

I wrote short stories to read to my kids and then longer pieces to please myself. Eventually I tried romance novels because I read so many.

Most of my stories seemed to have a murder in them in one way or another, so I moved into romantic suspense and then cozy mysteries. I jump back and forth, depending on what idea pops up next.

Currently, I’ve been doing a Lacey Summers Private Eye series. The latest is just out, Eccentric Lady. Lacey is a small town PI who seems to get in all kinds of danger because someone doesn’t like what she does. In this novel, she tries to help a woman find out why her aunt is missing. But her aunt is eccentric and often goes off on trips alone, so no one believes she’s really missing.

My writing day varies depending on what else is going on in my life. At the moment, my husband is in the hospital and just had surgery, so I’m not getting much done besides running back and forth to the hospital. Everything else gets put on hold.

ednaspic_2Sometimes I write for 3-4 hours straight, sometimes only a half hour here and there. I try to roll with the punches that life hands me. I really hate Christmas because it seems to bring sickness and death to someone in my family every year. Bah, humbug.

But that’s just what happens in my family. Maybe yours is the opposite and only happy things happen at that time of the year. I hope so.

May 2013 bring only good things to you and yours.

The Appeal of Time Travel Romance by Susan Macatee

Please help me welcome Susan to my blog. Be sure and leave her a comment for a chance to win.

Thanks for having me as a guest today, Cynthia! Since my new release, Thoroughly Modern Amanda, is a time travel romance, I wanted to talk about what appeals to me about the genre.

When I first started to read romances, the ones that appealed to me most where the time travels. I read stories where heroines and sometimes heroes, traveled to the Scottish Highlands, Medieval England or some other long gone period. Sometimes the travelers stayed in the past to live out their lives with their new found loves and other times, they’d reunite in the present. Either way, I was fascinated by the idea of someone from my time living, interacting and finding love in a long ago era.

I’ve always been drawn to time travel stories, even as a kid. Episodes of “The Twilight Zone” and “Star Trek”, that featured time travel, as well as the show “The Time Tunnel” were my absolute favorites.

I’d also gotten hooked on the daytime soap, “Dark Shadows” That show also had episodes where characters traveled back and forth through time.

So, it was no stretch that my very first romance novel, Erin’s Rebel, would feature a modern-day heroine who traveled back to the time of American Civil War.

Before I even attempted to write this book, though, I spent years devouring time travel romance novels. I can’t begin to list all the books I read. Most have been given away long ago, but a few early books I recall reading are Believe by Victoria Alexander. This was set in medieval England. Once a Pirate by Susan Grant, was set on a pirate ship and A Blast to the Past by Virginia Farmer was set in medieval Scotland.

In a lot of the books the heroine travels from the present time to the past, but I’ve also read books, A Blast to the Past, for example, where the hero goes back in time. And I’ve read books where historical characters travel to the present. Out of the Blue, by Caroline Clemmons is a good example.

The main thing is, I think these books are a lot of fun. I love the idea of lovers from different time periods coming together, breaking apart and finally learning to accept a future with their chosen hero/heroine, but often having to accept and fall in love with living in a different century. In many cases, for the rest of their lives.

Have you ever read a time travel, whether romance or not? And what did you like or dislike about it?

My new time travel romance, Thoroughly Modern Amanda, is out today, available from The Wild Rose Press. This story is based on one of the characters from Erin’s Rebel. Amanda Montgomery was a child in that book, the daughter of the hero, but now she has a time travel story all her own.

Amanda Montgomery longs to be a modern woman, living the life her step-mother has always told her is possible. But 19th century society expects well-off young ladies to focus on finding a suitable husband and start a family. Amanda works as a reporter for a local magazine and dreams of going to the big city to work at a newspaper before settling down.

Jack Lawton wants to save an old house that’s set to be demolished, but when he sneaks inside to take a final look, he’s hit on the head with a beam and wakes up in the arms of a beautiful woman. The only problem is, he’s not in the 21st century anymore, but has somehow stepped into another time. Can he find his way back? Does he want to?

Amanda supported the workman, Jack, as they made their way to her home. She gulped as a carriage drove down the road, fearing Randolph’s presence. The last thing she needed was to have him spy her leading a strange man to her home.

But she couldn’t just leave him here. He was hurt and seemed disoriented. And his mention of a car brought back memories of her step-mother’s stories. Stories of the future. She’d take him to Erin and see if she could make sense of this.

He seemed a bit wobbly, but fortunately, not many people were out and about this time of day. The few who were, openly stared, but at Amanda’s nod, they inclined their heads and continued on their way.

She blew out a sigh of relief when they reached her front stoop. Jack lifted his gaze, then grimaced. Apparently his head still pained him but he made no sound of protest as she led him through the door.

Her father and brother would be at the bank at this hour, but her step-mother might be in. As they entered the foyer, silence yawned from the hall. If home, she’d likely find Erin in the kitchen.
She led Jack to one of the chairs by the staircase. “Sit here a minute. I’ll open the parlor doors, so you can lie on the settee, then I’ll find my step-mother.”

He sat with a thump, his tanned, work-roughened hand reaching for his head.

“Does it still hurt?” she asked.

He nodded. “A little. You have any ibuprofen by any chance?”

She frowned. “Ibu… I’m not sure what you mean.”

He heaved a heavy sigh and sank his face into both hands.

“Just a minute. I’ll get you into the parlor.”

She flung open the doors and found the parlor empty, as she’d expected. The room was hardly used, except for those rare occasions when a family member entertained guests. But Mrs. O’Leary had cleaned the small room yesterday, so there shouldn’t be any dust. She ran her hand over the settee by the fireplace to be sure.

Turning back to the hall, she strode over to Jack. He peered up at her, his eyes bleary. She lifted her hand and he settled his over hers. His firm, strong grip sent a tingle through her fingers. What would it feel like to have those hands roving over her body? Her face heated at the thought.

Thoroughly Modern Amanda, available today at The Wild Rose Press.

Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing to win a PDF copy of my new release, plus a $10.00 gift certificate for The Wild Rose Press.

An Interview with Amber Belldene

Please help me welcome Amber Belldene to my blog today. Amber is giving away an ebook of her book, Bloodvine, to be delivered to one of you after it’s release date of January 8th. Be sure and leave her a comment to be entered into the contest.

Cynthia, thank you so much for having me on your blog today! I look forward to giving away an e-copy of my novel debut Blood Vine to one of your commenters.

BloodVine_Cover_Final-2_2How did you get started writing?

Ooh. I love this question because it is such a ridiculous story. When I was pregnant with my twins I had to go on maternity leave early, and I ended up reading non-stop. I consumed more than one romance novel a day before the kids were born—hundreds of them. Sexy and romantic books were my pickles and ice cream! In the back of my mind, I began to ask myself if I could write one too. I became very analytical about what made a good plot or series. And then, one day, I got an idea and ran with it. It became Blood Vine—my debut novel, which will be released January 8th.

Why do you write under a pen name?

For a number of reasons. One is that my real name is a mouthful. The second is that my day job is as an Episcopal Priest. Personally, I don’t think there is anything un-Christian or irreligious about writing racy romances. I believe God made us for love, and that sex is one of the holiest expressions of love two people can get up to. I write in the romance genre because I believe in the hope and redemption that comes with happy endings. But, I do know that some church-goers might find my writing off-putting, and I want to honor those feelings by not being in their faces with my secondary avocation. And, to be honest, when I’m preaching, I’d rather them think about my sermons than my sex scenes.

When I started writing Blood Vine, my mother reminded me that I’d aspired to write novels as a child, and had promised my grandmother I’d do it under her name. That’s where Belldene came from.

Where do you get the ideas for your stories?

Another great question, Cynthia! I love mythology, and folklore, and of course the Bible—I love trying to put a new spin on an old story or convention. That’s how I wound up with the idea of the exile-related wasting disease that plagues my vampires. I took the convention that vampires slept in coffins lined with the soil of the place they were buried, and added to it something I’d learned in seminary from my fabulous preaching professor, who is also a classicist. She taught us that nostalgia is the deep motivation behind Odysseus’s journey. And then, boom, I had a vampire hero with a case of nostalgia so serious it could kill him.

Do you have critique partners?

I have a group of seven writers I regularly trade work with. I met all but one of them through various chapters of Romance Writers of America (RWA), and they are brilliant, unique and the greatest joy of my writing life. I can email them when I need a reality check or encouragement, and I trust them to push me to make a scene just a little bit better. I am also one of the list parents of the online critique group for the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal chapter of RWA (the mud puddle), which is a group of supportive and talented writers. Trading critiques is hard work for the mind and the heart, and I am deeply appreciative of that online community of writers.

What does your space look like?

Because I am a mom of toddler twins who works full-time, I don’t have a lot of sitting-at-a-desk time to write. Early in the morning or after the kids go to bed, I usually just sit on the couch with my laptop. I know its not ergonomic, but in the evening it puts me in the same room with my husband while he plays video games, which counts for a lot. I’m totally inspired when he kills a bunch of zombies.

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

I write in the paranormal genre, because I like the dark, mysterious and fantastical premises. The stakes and the sensuality are amped up far beyond reality. But, paradoxically, I am convinced immersing ourselves in these alternate worlds helps us understand our real human existence better. So, for examples, vampires might show us something about our appetites—both emotional and physical.

Tell us about your current series.

My current series begins with Blood Vine. This first book is about Croatian vampire Andre Maras who was forced from his homeland by his ancient enemies, the Hunters. He has grown weak in exile, as all vampires do when separated from their native soil. But for the first time in centuries, Andre has a reason to hope, and he is honor bound to share that reason with his fellow refugees. The problem is, he doesn’t know how to find them. So he hires a public relations firm to help. And when P.R. expert Zoey Porter arrives, she disrupts all his plans.

I’m preparing to submit the second book, and once I do, I’ll get started on the third story, both of which feature Andre’s hunky sons, Kos and Bel.

Tell us about your hero.

Andre is the head of a big vampire household, including his two sons and lots of staff who provide blood. Because of his wasting sickness, he lives in a perpetual state of painful longing for his home—an island off the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia. He’s been a winemaker since the days of the Roman empire, and now he lives on his vineyard in Sonoma County, the Kastel Estate Winery. He’s ancient, gruff, wounded, and fiercely protective of his people. He’s an awesome dad to his sons, which is something that I adore about him. And he is stubborn in his refusal never to love again, but not nearly as stubborn as Zoey.

Do you prefer to read in the same genres you write in or do you avoid reading that genre? Why?

It’s funny, because I hadn’t thought about it until you asked, but with the exception of authors I already knew and loved, I mostly stopped reading new vampire stories once I started to write Blood Vine. I think I wanted to immerse myself in the world I was building. So, I switched to my other favorite—historical romances. That worked out well for me, because I could study how those authors used detail to create rich historical context, which I needed to master in order to vividly paint Andre’s Croatia. My favorite paranormal worlds are like Gail Carriger’s—rooted in a real culture, with lots of texture–and that’s what I aimed to write in Blood Vine.

Amber Belldene grew up on the Florida panhandle, swimming with alligators, climbing oak trees and diving for scallops…when she could pull herself away from a book. As a child, she hid her Nancy Drew novels inside the church bulletin and read mysteries during sermons—an irony that is not lost on her when she preaches these days.
Amber is an Episcopal Priest and student of religion. She believes stories are the best way to explore human truths. Some people think it is strange for a minister to write romance, but it is perfectly natural to her, because the human desire for love is at the heart of every romance novel and God made people with that desire. She lives with her husband and two children in San Francisco.


Blood Vine

Bites are an inconvenient bliss, exiled vampires are wasting away, and the fate of their kind depends on the perfect PR campaign. 

When public relations pro Zoey Porter arrives at an enchanting California winery, she discovers her sexy new client is the almost one-night stand she can’t forget. After her husband’s suicide, Zoey has vowed never to risk her heart again. But can she walk away from the intriguing winemaker a second time?

Driven from Croatia by his ancient foes, vampire Andre Maras has finally made a blood-like wine to cure his fellow refugees. Now he needs Zoey’s PR expertise to reach them. After his wife’s death, Andre has a vow of his own—never to risk another painful blood bond. And one taste of the tempting Zoey would bind him to her eternally.


The view from the parlor at sunset stunned Zoey. A wall of French doors opened onto a narrow balcony and displayed a pink sky, flush against the verdant grapevines that trailed over gentle hills. The landscape was more than enough ornament for the room and Zoey was glad Andre had left the ivory colored walls bare.

He sat chatting with Pedro, and they both stood as she walked in. She had to look a long way up to meet his eyes. Pedro poured wine into three glasses.

“I should admit I don’t have much of a palate,” she said.

“Don’t worry, we’ll guide you.” Pedro handed her a glass.

As she lifted it to her nose, Andre watched her. “Hhhmm. It smells so earthy. It’s very unusual.”

“Yes, the grapes are from our family vines on Šolta, before they were burned,” Andre said.

“A fire?” How tragic, to lose so much heritage.

Andre sipped his wine before he said, “Yes, that’s why I—why my family came to the U.S.”
“When was the fire?” she asked.

“Eighteen forty-seven,” Andre replied. Her next question had formed on her lips when he added, “It is a very long story. Another time?”


“This wine was produced from the Šoltan vines planted when this estate was founded, and recently spliced onto the vines on my new land.”

“But,” Zoey checked to be certain she understood, “it’s the Zinfandel grape whose name I have no hope of saying in Croatian?”

“Yes, that one.” Andre nodded. “The vineyards we acquired several years ago bear a startling similarity to our vineyards in Šolta and the resulting wine tastes just like the ones we used to make.”

“Were you actually able to taste wines made by your family so long ago?”

He tilted his head. “Able to taste them? Oh, I see. Yes, I was fortunate enough to taste wine made from that vineyard.”

Why did she feel like he was evading her question?

She brought her glass to her mouth and glanced up to find him watching. She lowered her lids and concentrated. When the wine hit her tongue, she opened them wide again.

She ran her tongue along the back of her teeth, searching out words for the astonishing mixture of flavors in her mouth. “It’s as thick as blood…and it tastes like sunshine, raisins and peppery licorice.”

The flecks in his green eyes glittered. “Yes, Zoey, it does.” For the first time, he didn’t call her Ms. Porter. “Your palate is perfect.”

He looked delighted with her. She glanced away, her head suddenly light, as if she hadn’t eaten all day. Darting her eyes back to him, his face had gone neutral. She wanted the delight back.

What dreams may come…by Lynn Cahoon

Please help me welcome Lynn Cahoon to my blog. She is giving away a $5 gift card to one lucky commenter so be sure and leave a comment to be entered into the drawing.

What dreams may come…

In a scene from The Bull Rider’s Manager, Barb Carico stops by Hunter Martin’s house in the suburbs to give him a piece of her mind for missing a meeting and failing to live up to his promise of a quick, painless annulment. When she arrives, she finds a flu stricken Hunter trying to make soup for his niece who’s also sick.

Instead of running for the car, tissue covering her nose and mouth, Barb pushes Hunter aside, sends him to bed and proceeds to finish off lunch for the invalids. When she enters the kitchen, she’s in awe. Everything is top of the line, and oh, so easy to fall in love with. And for not the first time, she questions her career driven lifestyle.

I’ve been there. Trying to juggle the hard, office drone side that pays the bills with the girl who just wants to bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies or try to make sour dough bread (which by the way, isn’t that hard.)

I had two dreams as a pre-teen. I wanted to work in the fashion industry in New York City as a buyer. I love the feel of fabric, the nubby tweeds, the smooth satins, the sheer organza. Or, I wanted to get married and have 12 kids. Neither dream came to pass. I have one very gifted son (who’s now very grown up.) And I’ve worked in the social service industry, health care, and now automotive. No fabric involved anywhere.

And now I write novels part time. And my juvenile dreams are bubbling up in my fiction. Especially when I described Hunter’s kitchen, Cuisinart mixer and all. During the Thanksgiving holiday, I curled on the couch, reading a book and loving the fact I was at home. A vision the career focused twenty-something me would have found hilarious.

Your turn, what kitchen appliance are you asking Santa for this Christmas? (Don’t tell, but I think I have a brand spanking new sewing machine under my tree.)

Buy Link – Amazon

Lynn Cahoon is a contemporary romance author with a love of hot, sexy men, real and
imagined. Her alpha heroes range from rogue witch hunters to modern cowboys. And her heroines all have one thing in common, their strong need for independence. Or at least that’s what they think they want. She blogs at her website, A Fairy Tale Life.

Barb Carico’s life is all about business. Now that her best friend has tied the knot with her high school sweetheart and Barb’s new partner, she’s busier than ever. Managing Jesse Sullivan’s career and public persona can be a handful. Add in an aging mother who goes through home health nurses like candy, Barb’s hanging on the edge.

Her one salvation? Hunter Martin, prodigal son of Martin Family Dairy and, hopefully, Jesse’s next sponsor. A promise his father had already made before Hunter took over the public relations department. After his brother’s death, Hunter’s become an instant dad to his seven year old niece. More responsibility. For Hunter, the rodeo weekend with Barb is the perfect excuse to relax.

When their dinner turns into drinks and then a quick trip to a Vegas wedding chapel, both Barb and Hunter agree their nuptials were a mistake. A mistake they consummated the next evening. As soon as they’re home, the marriage will be annulled. That’s what they both want. Or at least what they tell themselves.

Upon their return, Hunter finds that distant relatives are suing him for custody of his niece. The only way for him to keep custody is to design a life that matches the promise of a perfect family. For that, he needs Barb to stay married to him. Hunter would give her anything to go along with the charade.

Barb doesn’t know anything about being a wife or mother but she needs one favor. A favor she’ll trade her lifestyle, independence, and even risk her heart to make come true.