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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

GUEST BLOG: ANNETTE SNYDER

Thank you Judy, Marianne and LASR for letting me blog during such a special holiday.

Easter is an exceptional time for me. I’m not a religious person but I consider myself spiritual and that’s where my idea of celebrating Easter stems from. My family traditionally eats a delicious meal of ham, with asparagus and sweet potatoes, followed by an array of yummy desserts. With lunch beginning around one, we continue to graze until supper with fine conversation and perhaps a nap tucked in. After the kids, grandkids, girlfriends and boyfriends head home with their leftovers packed in to-go containers, my husband and I sit and appreciate the returned quiet. I usually read or write something and he watches football. Easter is the best time of year for those inspirational movies and my favorite, The Ten Commandments, is one that I try and watch. As a child, I remember seeing it in the theater the year it released and I fell in love with the dramatics of it.

I also love the Easter season because, to me, it lends a feeling of rebirth and rejuvenation. Most people celebrate Easter because of Christ, and I do too, but I feel that since Easter is the onset of Spring after the long Winter season, I find myself re-energized and ready to take on the rest of the year. Isn’t that a little of Christ’s message anyway? To be reborn into a new light? However you celebrate, I hope the holiday brings you peace and happiness.

That’s exactly where the ideas for my novels come from. I love stories that end happily ever after with a great element of romance. My characters overcome obstacles and become better people for their efforts. Eureka Springs is a novel demonstrating that premise. Ruth Seidle, a critically obstinate character in a previous novel, vows to turn her life around and become a better person. She attempts to change the way she lives in effort to make her future different from her past. John Vickers survives heartbreak and promises to move his life in a positive direction for his sake and the sake of his daughter.

Here’s the blurb:

With an excuse of managing inherited property, Ruth Seidle runs from her ruined reputation. She vows to begin a new life without married men, undisclosed lies or destroyed friendships. Who knew her choices include so much of her hidden past?

John Vickers buries a history of adultery the day he lays his unfaithful wife to rest and, with his infant daughter in tow, begins life in a better direction void of betrayal and deceit. Can he overlook the past to view the positive side of a bad situation and build a better future for his family?

When Ruth crashes into John’s life, can she gain faith in her own devices and be the person she promised?

Can John put previous experience aside and trust the best is possible even when his heart’s involved?

You can find this novel, along with all my work, at my website www.annettesnyder.com, www.whiskeycreekpress.com, www.growne.com or www.fictionwise.com and its affiliates. My novels are also available at several Nebraska stores. You can also request any of my titles at your favorite bookstores.

I grew up far from movie theaters or shopping malls and spent my time reading romance novels I bought with my babysitting money at the local grocery store. Most of the time, I enjoyed them yet sometimes the endings annoyed me and I’d think, “I would end that better.”

I never considered writing as more than a hobby until I finished my first novel, and third release, Travis Pass. Once Travis Pass was complete, new ideas kept coming and now I find myself looking at life as if it’s filled with millions of stories.

Whether writing historically, contemporarily, or humorously, my work centers on life in small towns and the amazing bonds people form with their neighbors.

Monday, March 29, 2010

GUEST BLOG: ELIZABETH CHADWICK

This guest blog is part of Elizabeth Chadwick's Virtual Book Tour. In addition to being entered into the LASR weekly contest, commenters on this guest blog will also be eligible to win one of two copies of The Scarlet Lion.

10 things most people don’t know about me

1. I own a Tudor chair that has been passed down through the family.

2. I hate rum

3. I play darts for a mixed team at a traditional pub in central Nottingham.

4.. When I was eleven, I had a broad Scottish accent (which I have since lost)

5. I married a man who is related to a famous British Rock N Roll star from the 1960’s

6. I adore guinea pigs but I am allergic to them

7. I like to make cross stitch bookmarks in my spare time.

8. I have had a personal guided tour of the Houses of Parliament and the House of Lords and I’ve seen all the secret bits that aren’t on the tourist trail.

9. I love rock music in all its formats but I’m particularly fond of metal. My favourite band at the moment is Seether.

10. I love walking in the rain as long as I’m dressed for it.



THE SCARLET LION BY ELIZABETH CHADWICK—IN STORES MARCH 2010

A page-turning novel of honor, intrigue, treachery, and love, continuing the story of England's greatest knight of the Middle Ages, William Marshal. Bestselling author Elizabeth Chadwick, "an author who makes historical fiction come gloriously alive" (The Times of London), is known as a writer of uncommon historical integrity and accuracy.

By 1197 William Marshal's prowess with a sword and loyalty with his heart have been rewarded by the hand in marriage of Isabelle de Clare—heiress to great estates— and their brood is growing. But their contentment and security is shattered when King Richard dies. Forced down a precarious path by the royal injustices of the vindictive King John, the Marshals teeter on a razor-thin line of honor that threatens to tear apart the very heart of their family.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elizabeth Chadwick (UK) is the author of 17 historical novels, including The Greatest Knight, Lords of the White Castle, Shadows and Strongholds, A Place Beyond Courage, The Winter Mantle, and The Falcons of Montabard, four of which have been shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Awards. She won a Betty Trask Award for The Wild Hunt, her first novel. For more information please visit http://www.elizabethchadwick.com/, http://livingthehistoryelizabethchadwick.blogspot.com/ and follower her on Twitter http://twitter.com/Chadwickauthor!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

GUEST BLOG: BRIEANNA ROBERTSON

One day not too long ago, I was wallowing around at home like a couch potato and I started watching an episode of the TV show MADE on MTV. This zombie-loving, pink-haired girl wanted to be made into homecoming queen because deep down she always wanted to fit in. My first reaction to this is the same reaction I always have: "What? WHY? Ugh there are enough horribly shallow people in the world as it is. Fly your freak flag proudly!" But I know that the reason that reaction is typical of me is because I have ALWAYS been okay with flying my freak flag.

I was raised to embrace my individuality, my creativity and my imagination. For some reason I have yet to figure out, I was the world's most amazingly confident little kid and teenager when it came to embracing myself. I give credit to my mom for this. She raised me to love myself, to accept myself, and to never listen to what ignorant people said. So, because of my healthy self-esteem, I went through school wearing gothic, lace up shirts with blue sparkly tights, or reggae wear, or my letter jacket over a tie dyed dress, or button up shirts that were a size too large and looked like a Picasso painting. I was involved in the arts, yet I played volleyball. I was a drama geek and a smart kid and I had friends from football players to the nerdiest nerds. I defied all stereotypes and absolutely loved high school because of it. I never had to endure the awkward pressure most kids do.

To this day, I am an advocate for individualism. I am anti-trend and anti-conformity. But I do understand that not all people grow up with the same kind of confidence I had. This is one of the main reasons why I write what I write. Because whether it is a story about a road trip with friends, or a fantasy novel about an assassin, there is one thing you can always find within a Brieanna Robertson novel, and that’s the message to always be true to yourself.

Being successful, or being popular, or what have you, has nothing to do with being trendy or looking like the latest model on Cosmo. And it’s not just an issue teenagers face. There are many adults I know and have known who still don’t know who they are or what they really want at 40.

To me, life is too short to play a game of pretend with yourself. Be who you are. Like what you like. Don’t be afraid to fly your own freak flag or you’re going to end up repressed and depressed and may have a mid-life crisis. It doesn’t matter if anyone else says it’s okay for you to be who you are. No one needs anyone else’s approval. You only need your own approval. And it doesn’t matter if everyone on the planet thinks you’re insane for being a dreamer. Dream your dreams. Fly your freak flag. And do it with gusto.

In my book, Better Than Chocolate, the main character is a musician who was teased and picked on in high school because he was different. In the dedication I wrote: "To everyone who dances to the beat of their own drum. The artists, the musicians, the eccentrics. You are the beauty of the world. Sing your song proudly." And I mean that. Those who have the courage to stand up and be who they are have my undying respect. There are far too few true individuals in this world. Those who decide to step out of the box are true gifts and should be treasured.

This is a philosophy I told to in my life, as well as in my writing. One of the books that displays this theme boldly is my fantasy romance Warrior’s Rise. Check out the blurb and excerpt below. It is available in print and ebook at www.purplesword.com

Logan Savage is a man’s man. His idea of a good time has never included watching over and entertaining a bunch of kids at a summer camp. Especially when that camp happens to be full of kids with a love for mythology and medieval fantasy. In other words—a bunch of geeks. Unfortunately, in order to avoid a jail sentence for assaulting a cop, that’s exactly what he has to do. Head counselor and owner of the camp, Willow Avaris, is a nice surprise. Beautiful, fiery and sexy… Too bad she loathes his very existence. Plus, the kids are making his life a living nightmare. Could the summer get any worse?

Bravery and strength were things Logan always thought he had in spades, but as the summer goes on, and strange, surreal events take place around the camp, Logan is forced to look within himself and figure out what’s important to him. It’s safe to remain the self absorbed, shallow man he’s always been, but can he find the courage to reach inside and embrace the true warrior he was destined to become?


EXCERPT:

“Helloooo?”

Willow jumped at the unexpected voice and smashed her head against the bottom of her desk. She swore, covered her head and extracted herself from underneath the piece of furniture, shooting a contemptuous glance over her shoulder at the intruder.

He bit his lip as if to stop a smile. “Sorry about that.” He let his eyes graze brazenly over her body and, before she stood, she noticed them linger on her backside.

Scowling, she asked, “And you are?” She snarled and flung her papers on the desk, put her hands on her hips and turned to face him.

He grinned. “Logan Savage. I‘m looking for Willow Avaris.”

She gave an agitated sigh. Great. She could already tell he was going to annoy her. He was tall with an athletic build and light brown hair that hung roguishly in front of his face. He was undeniably good-looking and he knew it. Arrogance was etched into every line of his body. He stood like the world owed him something. It made her jaw clench in irritation. “Ah yes, my parolee,” she jeered as she turned back to her desk.

He frowned. “I‘m not a parolee,” he corrected. “I never did any prison time.” He snorted. “I mean, not like I killed anybody.”

“Right,” she grumbled. “You just felt like hammering your fist into someone‘s face.” He opened his mouth to speak, but she held up her hand and negated him.

He frowned again and folded his arms across his chest as she continued to search through her scattered papers. “So, you are Willow Avaris?” he asked.

“Unfortunately. I own and run this camp.”

He nodded and glanced around the office before resting his eyes back on her. She saw him smirk out of the corner of her eye, and she bristled as he sidled up next to her.

“What are you looking for? Need some help?”

He was standing entirely too close. Sexual energy pulsed off of him like he was radioactive. Thankfully, she spotted the last paper she had needed to retrieve. She added it to her pile, turned and plastered the stack against his chest, pushing him back a few steps. “No, I don‘t,” she stated. “Those are yours. It‘s the rules and a list of suggested activities. You are in charge of your own lesson plans, but there are suggestions in case you get stuck or can‘t think of anything creative. There‘s also a map in there. I circled where your cabin is. You‘re a big boy. I‘m sure you can read a map, right?”

His smile was gorgeous, but so egotistical she almost gagged. “Honey, I can find my way around anywhere. I don‘t even need a map.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Good for you. Now, breakfast is at seven every morning. Lunch is at noon and dinner is at six. Lights out is at nine, but that rule is only really enforced with the younger kids. The older ones kind of do whatever they want. I put you in charge of some of the older ones as I didn‘t think having a felon watch over the little ones would go over necessarily well with the parents.” She handed him another paper. “This is your list of kids. They‘ll be arriving on a bus in about an hour. At that time all of the counselors will call role and take their group to their assigned bunks. That‘s also on the map.”

Logan looked over the list. “How old is older, anyway?”

“Your age group is fourteen to eighteen.”

“Why do I only have five?”

She sighed. “Because I said so. Now, go take your things to your cabin. The kids‘ll be here before you know it.”

He raised an eyebrow, then put his hand to his forehead in a salute. “Yes, ma‘am,” he mocked.

She glowered at him, then turned her back, dismissing him. She bent back over her desk to try and organize the chaos spread out across it.

“Hey, one question.”

She suppressed an aggravated growl and looked up at Logan. He‘d almost made it out the door. So close… “What?”

He scratched at the back of his head and looked genuinely puzzled. “Where are the strippers?”

She did a double take, then stood straight and placed one hand on her hip with a frown. “I beg your pardon?”

He pointed down at the papers in his hand. “Well, this is fantasy camp, right?”

She just stared at him. Was he serious? The befuddled look on his face told her that he actually was. She cleared her throat and gave him a level, flat stare. “Medieval fantasy, Mr. Savage.” He still looked confused. She sighed. “You know, dragons, wizards…?”

He blinked rapidly, then scrunched up his face. “Geek camp?” he cried.

She did growl then, and if looks could have killed, he would have at least been seriously injured. “They are not geeks,” she spat, “and I will kindly ask you to refrain from calling them that. They are a bunch of children, most of which have either bad home lives, or not many friends to speak of.”

He snorted. “Gee, there‘s a surprise,” he muttered sarcastically.

“Mr. Savage!” she snapped. “This place is somewhere where these kids can come to be around other children like them. It is a place where their creativity is embraced and praised. If you can‘t respect that—”

“Okay, okay, lady! Cool your jets! Dang!” He held his hands out and rolled his eyes. He ran a hand through his hair and huffed.

“Didn‘t you even read the papers the judge gave you?” she asked.

He frowned. “Uh… I never really got past the part that said Fantasy Camp.” He shook his head. “I got really wasted and kind of threw up on them.”

She stared at him. “Lovely. You‘re a real winner, aren‘t you?”

He met her eyes and grinned.

She sighed and turned her back on him, hoping, praying he would leave. He didn‘t, of course.

“Hey, speaking of fantasies,” he said. “I‘d really like to know some of yours.

She looked up at him. He was chewing on his bottom lip and smiling. It would have been cute on anyone but him. She sighed again, then smirked and swaggered up to him. “You know, it‘s funny,” she said. “I have one about you, actually.”

His green-gray eyes sparkled and he looked smug and victorious. “Oh yeah?”

She nodded. “You and me, alone, in the desert.”

“Mmm, I like it so far,” he purred, taking several steps closer to her.

She smiled up at him. “You, in a straight jacket.”

He looked taken aback for a minute before he raised an eyebrow. “Kinky…okay.” He grinned again.

Her smile was sickeningly sweet and she knew it. “Buried up to your neck in the sand. With your jaw wired shut. And buzzards circling overhead.”

He opened his mouth, then frowned as if trying to process her words. He held one finger up. “I‘m not sure I understand the point of the buzzards.”

The breath she expelled sounded like a mix between a growl and a hiss. “Let me put it in terms you‘ll understand. You have five seconds to vacate my office before I kick you wear it counts. Capiche?”

He raised his eyebrows and backed up. “Capiche!”

~~~~~


You can also find the rest of my work at www.brieannarobertson.com.

If someone were to ask me what I am, it could be summed up in one, simple word: Dreamer. Ever since I was a small child my imagination has run wild. I have been telling stories for as long as I can remember, creating grand worlds in my head and going on adventures that were invisible to others around me. Am I eccentric? Yes. Am I proud of that? Absolutely.

I write about the things that inspire me, both in this world and in realms only seen with the imagination. My heroines are sassy and strong. My heroes are sometimes shy. I have an obsession with music (and musicians) and a fascination with wings. I believe true love does exist, and sometimes it is found in the strangest, most unexpected places. I also believe that family and close friends are the glue that hold people together.

Above all things, I believe in being true to yourself and seizing the day. Life is an amazing gift. Make your experience as beautiful as you possibly can.

Monday, March 22, 2010

GUEST BLOG: CLAIRE ASHGROVE

The Romance of Horses

While I was considering what to write for this blog, I veered far away from the subject of horses. To those who know me well, I’m always rambling about horses. I’m quite sure many are tired of the subject. But as it usually happens when I try to steer away from a subject, I come full circle back to it. It occurred to me, why avoid it? When it all boils down, horses brought me to where I am today. And not just as themes to write about. My two earliest trainers taught me that to accomplish my goals, I had to work for them. They inspired me in life, not just in riding. They taught me not to give up. To believe in a dream. Things I have applied across the board.

So here we are…

Have you ever stopped to consider some of the most memorable classics come from horse tales – Black Beauty, The Black Stallion? Have you been moved by real life horse struggles – Barbaro, Eight Bells, Ruffian? Can you recall the name of The Lone Ranger’s horse by heart? Have you crowded around the television to watch the Belmont and cheer on the favored contender, only to be disappointed the horse didn’t win?

I have a theory on why these four legged-creatures affect us so powerfully. Two or three actually. First, most little girls are infatuated with horses. As little girls grow up, they become women who enjoy romance novels. The girlhood infatuation with the ‘pretty horsey’ is still present, and thus the combination works well. That’s really probably a stretch, but I like to believe it.

Second, and more practical, horses possess majesty. There’s a mythical presence to the solitary grey horse in a lush green field. A breathlessness that accompanies seeing a horse run with the wind. A sense of awe and strength when the movies portray a battle-seasoned warhorse. Overwhelming sorrow when a horse who’s aided the hero surrenders its life.

All these emotions are powerful places to pull reader sentiment. But it goes beyond just pulling emotion when horses are utilized in a story. Horses create a secondary character, beyond the human characters we put into our stories. The reader sees the horse react. They witness the sheer strength and elegance the horse has retained through the centuries.

The audience roots for the horse. Take Seabiscuit for instance. While he was a phenomenal racer in his own right, what made the movie so compelling was the horse’s rise from a terrible beginning. Barbaro would be just another significant racehorse who might have possibly won the Triple Crown. His injury affected the world. His battle to overcome won the hearts of thousands. Remove the horse’s struggle in The Horse Whisperer, and we have a movie about a teenage girl learning how to cope with a life-altering injury. Compelling on its own, but it doesn’t pack the same punch.

In each memorable story about a horse, the horse has a purpose and usually a goal all unto itself. The owner(s) might have a need to see success, but there’s a reason the horse must succeed beyond the impact to the hero, heroine, or sometimes villain. Usually, it’s an underdog story. I believe this is because, at the root of human nature, we can identify with the underdog.

For those who are active in the equine community, they know all too well the significance of a horse’s success. These people can bond with a horse novel because they’ve walked in those shoes. Almost every horse owner holds a dream. Maybe they know there’s no chance of ever seeing it come true. In the novel, however, they achieve that coveted win, their foundered companion walks sound, the foal born with devastatingly crooked legs grows straight.

There’s romance in the horse’s life, just as there’s romance with the hero and heroine. Combine the both, and you get more than a satisfying love story. You get a satisfying life story.

In my forthcoming release, Waiting For Yes, Bahadur Mamoon has a life struggle. He’s beautiful. He’s majestic. He’s the epitome of an Egyptian Arabian stallion…

He’s also deadly.

Any conscientious breeder would never reproduce a neurological defect, but Gabrielle refuses to give up on Mamoon, if only to prove her father wrong. Yet, the story goes beyond Gabrielle’s goals and the destruction of her dreams if she fails. The one man she loves, the only person capable of helping Mamoon, would sacrifice everything to have the stallion destroyed.

Mamoon’s future isn’t just about show-ring success. It’s a fight to stay alive.


Bio: Claire has been writing since her early teens and maintained the hobby for twenty years before deciding to leap into the professional world. Her first contemporary novel, Seduction's Stakes, sold to the Wild Rose Press in 2008, and she continues to write steamy, sexy stories for the Champagne line.

Writing, however, isn't her only passion. When she's not sitting at the computer ticking out plotlines, she raises and trains Oldenburg, Thoroughbred, and Arabian horses. Time allowing, she competes in the sports of Show Jumping, 3-Day Eventing, and Dressage. Many of her favorite barn friends make cameo appearances in her horse-themed novels.

Claire lives on a small farm in Missouri with her two toddler sons, fifteen horses, one goat, and five dogs. She credits her success to her family's constant support and endless patience.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

GUEST BLOG: MELISSA BLUE

Feeling Your Story

The smile Cadence bestowed upon him was undoubtedly the most brilliant he’d ever seen and for a moment, Curtis was certain heaven had opened its gate just enough to let a glimmer of light shimmer upon the mere mortals and sinners. For half a heartbeat he dared to believe she was one of the lost angels his grandmother had so oft spoken of. Surely she was one of them, fallen from the heavens, adrift on the earth to help lost souls find their way. No one had ever smiled at him that way, and when she plied him with those huge amethyst eyes, he wasn’t just lost…

He was wrecked.

Oh, but she shouldn’t look at him that way, as though he were some sort of hero, because he wasn’t. She shouldn’t look at him with all the innocent trust in the world glistening at the surface of her eyes because it was downright dangerous. And it was dangerous because, even though he knew he shouldn’t, he liked having her look at him that way. He wanted it. Craved it. Deep down in the farthest reaches of his soul he wanted to be her white knight, and it made him remember when he hadn’t been a total bastard, and it made him want a whole world of things he couldn’t begin to dream of having.


For many reading romance is the ultimate escape. We can lose ourselves in a story filled with love and emotion guaranteed to end well. Readers search for a story that tugs at the heart strings and authors strive to achieve that effect. Author Nicholas Sparks is without doubt a master when it comes to emotional story telling.

I’ve been told that my stories are emotional and asked what my trick is. To be perfectly honest I’m not sure I have a trick, but here are a few simple techniques I try to implement in my stories.

A good vocabulary is a must. I don’t necessarily mean big, impossible words that no one understands—nothing turns me off of a story faster—but rather a diverse word bank. For example there is more than one way to say “bad guy”—brigand, thief, thug, felon. On the same note use diverse sentence structure to make the story flow interesting.

Small details often help to make your characters relatable. Do we want to read about a glowing goddess of a heroine? Sure. As long as she’s a klutz.

Now I turn the floor over to you… As a reader what sucks you into a story? What makes your heart throb? As an author how do you work to achieve believable, heart wrenching emotion in your stories?

When murder suspect Cadence Jamison disguises herself as a boy and stows aboard the Heavenly Mistress Captain Curtis Langston may find his two past occasions for rescuing her more than he bargained for.

Bitter and Cynical after service in the Confederate Army, Curtis believes himself no more deserving of another's love than capable of returning it. Content to drift through life free of emotional and therefore romantic complications the once carefree and mischievous rogue may be forever gone. But when Cadence appears in his life Curtis finds himself smiling again, smiling and dreaming and feeling more like himself than he has in five years. Drawn with almost unnatural force to the sweet and innocent goodness Cadence offers, Curtis blunders again and again to resist the pull of what a life with her could be.

Can Cadence show this wounded soul how to love again? Or is he doomed to be forever unforgiven, haunted by the ghosts of his past?


Angel and the Unforgiven can be found at www.champagnebooks.com and for more information visit my web page at www.melissalynneblue.com.

Happy Reading!

Melissa

Author Bio:

A Registered Nurse by night, Melissa battles the stresses of life and illness by enjoying uplifting tales of love and romance. A firm believer in true love united with an enduring fascination with history has prompted her pursuit of romance writing. She lives in beautiful Big Sky Country Montana with her husband and children.

Monday, March 15, 2010

GUEST BLOG: CLARE AUSTIN

You’ve waited for it. You’ve yearned for it. You’ve been tempted to skip ahead and get right to it.

The love scene. It’s all about how it feels.

As a writer, I want you satisfied and coming back for more. But, how do I get there? And get there without embarrassing both of us!

At the top of the list of questions readers ask romance novelists, along with “are you the heroine in your book” is “how do you write love scenes”?

Whether your reading taste is for sweet romance or hot and spicy, at some point you look forward to physical contact between the hero and heroine. It’s as natural as …well, as natural as sex.

I write contemporary romantic fiction. My books are aimed at adult readers, mainly women, but many men have read and liked my stories. I make no apologies for the sexual content, explicit descriptions or high sexual tension in my writing.

But, I do have rules.

The level of the relationship must be part of a strong story line. No, they do not have to have pledged everlasting love to get to the point of intimacy, but something in that first physical encounter will change them both, forever. This isn’t just romantic hogwash that just happens in novels. Every time people bond sexually, there are changes, commitments spoken or unspoken, hurts, joys and revelations. There are often disappointments. It is because we are human. Often men and women have very different responses to a pair bond and the character of those bonds are never the same. Some are brief, some everlasting, many fraught with confusion and heartbreak. But no one walks away from even the most casual sexual encounter without a reaction. It’s how we are made.

When I write a love scene, I want my reader to feel something and that something isn’t all physical. Sure, if you feel a tingle…that’s a good thing. But, I also want to evoke an emotional response. This isn’t going to be a “how to” manual. Most of us have done the deed; we don’t need to be told how to put “this” into “that”. (Although I think we have all read the scene where we close the book and wonder if the writer has ever done this herself!). What we haven’t experienced is the different emotional and physical responses other people have. My characters are those other people.

They react within their character parameters.

I like to explore the way intimacy feels, in our hearts and minds as well as in our bodies.

The language I use to express those feelings is crucial. People, characters, think in their own voices and with their own vocabulary. It’s important to keep the characterization throughout the book and be wary of making a love scene that feels tacked on as though it is not part of the story but an expected interlude to sell a book. The scene must advance the story. It needs to be a natural progression of a relationship.

Writing convincing intimacy is not easy. For many authors, it is the most challenging part of a book.

I want to create a scene that fits the story, characters, language and genre. Most of all, I want to express feelings: good, bad, elated, awkward and possibly earth shattering.

In my new release, Angel’s Share, the main characters had been lovers in the past. Years, distance, pain and sorrow have come between them. They knew one another before, but now they have both changed and the path to intimacy is a rough one. They need to learn afresh what loving one another is like.

Here’s a taste of Angel’s Share:

Time was meaningless. It might have been hours or only minutes before his lips found hers.

Kerry’s body responded with a shudder reaching deep into her core. Could she lose herself in Aidan? Could he take away the hollow darkness and fill her with light and joy? Was it worth the risk to let her mind and body slip past reality and fly into timeless space in this man’s arms?

Kerry wound her fingers into the hair at the base of his neck and leaned back to look in his eyes. She wanted him to know it was her decision, fully her choice.

“Aidan, make love to me.”

His eyes searched her face. “Are you sure, Kerry?”

“Yes.” She could feel his heart crash against his ribs.

Kerry watched his hands as he worked her out of her blouse and then her skirt. Aidan’s perfect hands—they reminded her of a DaVinci sketch. She had watched him once as he stitched up a wound on a small boy, the way he tied the sutures, agile and sure. It amazed her how those hands could soothe or ignite a fire in her.

He moved with deliberation as though unwrapping a long-awaited gift. Aidan laid feather light kisses on each inch of flesh he exposed until she lay naked in the aureate stream of afternoon light that shone through the window.

“I didn’t think it possible, but you’re more beautiful than I remember.” His fingers traced a burning path from the curve of her jaw to the tip of one breast. Kerry’s nipples tightened. Aidan kindled a flame only he could quench.

She found the buttons of his shirt and loosed them one by one. Against the heated honey-hued skin of his breast, tethered by a cord, lay a golden circlet. It caught the light and seemed to be alive with possibility. Kerry touched it, sought the magic of its connection with their past and allowed herself to hope.

“You still have this?” she asked, not so much in surprise as wonder.

“I was never able to leave you behind. I tried. I ran half way around the world to forget you.” He stood, stripped and tossed his clothes on a chair beside the bed. She reached for him and ran her hand along the muscle of his thigh and beckoned him back to her.

Aidan’s body had always had a classic elegance. Now, he appeared stronger, more mature, lean and catlike. The subtle transformation frightened and excited her beyond all caution.

He smiled as though he had read her face. “I thought about you, dreamed of you, longed to touch you again,” he whispered and then kissed her mouth.

Aidan was a great kisser. Was it instinct? He could be light as the touch of a dragonfly wing or demanding as a warrior battling for the heart’s prize. His lips were an indulgent combination of firm plea and gentle urging. The taste of him—clean, warm, and spicy—was ambrosia to her starving spirit. With his tongue he explored the flesh of her neck and trailed kisses down between her breasts where her heart beat a rhythm that surged through her to places she’d forgotten she owned.


Angel’s Share is the second book in The Fadό Trilogy and is available in paperback and e formats, along with the first in the trilogy, Butterfly, from www.thewildrosepress.com, most online book sellers and your local bookstores.

Please go to my web site www.clareaustin.com to learn more about my upcoming releases.

Clare Austin has been courting a love of literature since reading The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins in primary school. Now, inspired by a belief in a happy ending and a passion for lyrical prose, Clare spins her own tales of romance with a touch of humor and pathos.

Clare makes her home at the foot of the Colorado Rocky Mountains with her husband, their three horses and Maggie the Cairn terrier.

www.clareaustin.com

Butterfly, the first book in the Fadό Trilogy, available

Angel’s Share, the second book of the trilogy is currently under contract with The Wild Rose Press for release March 2010.

Hot Flash, release from The Wild Rose Press, July 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

GUEST BLOG: LAURIE RYAN

The End

Each time I type those words, I always take a few moments to imagine my characters ten, fifteen, even thirty years later. It may not relate directly to the “happily-ever-after” of the novel. Still, there’s a real satisfaction in seeing that hero and heroine still committed to their marriage after the passage of time.

For instance, take Claire and Dion from my recent release, Stolen Treasures. She’s stubborn and tired of taking orders and he’s quiet, but used to having his orders followed. Thirty years from now, I guarantee you that Dion does what Claire wants without argument. And Claire doesn’t ask for something that she knows Dion wouldn’t want to do.

Recently, I attended a family bridal shower. One of the things we were asked to do was write some words of wisdom on making a marriage last. Do you have a suggestion to add? What I wrote will probably never make it into a romance novel. Yet anyone who has been with their partner in life for more than a few years will relate. For my husband AND myself, the secret to longevity, IMHO, is this:

Being able to listen to the same story over and over…and over again and make it seem each time like it’s the first time you’ve heard it.

I may weave new stories into books, but my past life is static and so is my husband’s. Yet we still (mostly) enjoy discussing them, laughing over our mistakes and reveling in our growth.

So whether the romance in your life (or in your books) has been around for years or is a budding promise of the future, remember how important the stories are. And, if you can, write them down. It might just make a great novel.

Laurie Ryan lives in the Pacific Northwest with her sexy he-can-fix-anything husband and their gray tabby, Dude. When not writing, she enjoys scrap booking and long walks, rain or shine. And especially, curling up with a good book and a cup of cocoa on a cold winter’s day.

Stolen Treasures is a story about two people who are destined to capture each other’s heart as they chase after a band of modern day pirates.

Stolen Treasures is available at: http://www.bookstrand.com/node/805444.

You can learn more about Laurie on her website: http://www.laurieryanauthor.com/index.html

Monday, March 8, 2010

GUEST BLOG: CLARE AUSTIN

Angel’s Share The second book in the Fadό Trilogy

My first novel, Butterfly, has been available now for seven months. It has been a wild ride, with ups, downs, twists and turns that leave my head spinning. It has also been gratifying, fun and a dream come true to have my book on bookstore shelves and in the hands of readers in America, the UK, Ireland and Australia. I even have a copy in the Barraba, New South Wales, Public Library. Fancy that!

Now, the second book in my trilogy, Angel’s Share, will be out any day. This book taught me some serious lessons about creating a series and writing in the genre of romantic suspense.

First, the fact that Angel’s Share even exists is primarily due to my inability to say a final goodbye to the characters in Butterfly. I loved hanging around O’Fallon’s Pub in Boston, listening to Irish music, having a pint with Flannery, laughing at her stories and Jamie’s lame Bodhrán player jokes.

As my novel developed, so did the idea of the Fadό Trilogy. Pretty simple, right? Three siblings…Flannery, Kerry and Tynan Sloane…three books. Unfortunately, the reality was far more complex.

As I began to write my story of Kerry Sloane and Aidan Kennedy, the characters told a very different type of tale. Butterfly is a primarily a romantic comedy. Angel’s Share is darker, more serious and, get the tissues ready because the tears might flow.

The story had to stand by itself, be understandable and enjoyable to anyone who might pick it up and not just fans of Butterfly. It had to keep the kind of tension and pace romantic suspense readers expect and still give them a tender love story.

Each book in my trilogy will introduce new characters while involving the main characters from each previous book. This is where I found out why writers of series books use story boards, calendars, genealogies and copious notes.

I was in Ireland when the idea for Angel’s Share came to me. We had been in Donegal and drove east across Ulster and into the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland. It is a very peculiar feeling. All of a sudden, without crossing a visible border, you are in another country with pounds instead of Euros. All the signs are in English with none of the Irish language place names. The Union Jack is ubiquitous. It was not the first time I had been in this troubled and divided land. It is mostly quiet and peaceful now. But, when my hero, Aidan, was growing up in the streets of Belfast, it was a war zone.

Ireland is a land of complex history and without giving a long dissertation on the Troubles, as those most violent years are called, I will only say that Aidan Kennedy is a man in conflict, ensnared by his past, and haunted by the memory of the woman for whom he would give up everything except revenge.

We met Kerry Sloane in Butterfly as Flannery’s older, more serious and infinitely wiser, sister. What we do not find out in the first book is that Kerry has a past not even her sister is privy to. She covets a secret, a painful tragedy she keeps hidden deep in her heart.

I hope you all enjoy Angel’s Share as much as readers have loved Butterfly.

The third and last book in this series is my current “work in progress.” I call it Selkie’s Song. It features Tynan Sloane, Flannery’s big brother, and Murran Murphy, a political activist so busy saving Ireland from the Celtic Tiger she has no time for love. It takes the trilogy back to the west coast of Ireland, encompassing the mystery, lore, and romance of one of my favorite places on earth.

You can read more about my upcoming releases at my website www.clareaustin.com

Butterfly and Angel’s Share are available in paperback, Kindle and most e formats from online booksellers and from www.thewildrosepress.com. You can also ask for them at your local bookstore.



Clare Austin has been courting a love of literature since reading The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins in primary school. Now, inspired by a belief in a happy ending and a passion for lyrical prose, Clare spins her own tales of romance with a touch of humor and pathos.

Clare makes her home at the foot of the Colorado Rocky Mountains with her husband, their three horses and Maggie the Cairn terrier.

www.clareaustin.com

Butterfly, the first book in the Fadό Trilogy, available

Angel’s Share, the second book of the trilogy is currently under contract with The Wild Rose Press for release March 2010.

Hot Flash, release from The Wild Rose Press, July 2010

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

GUEST BLOG: TERI WILSON

To Spanx or not to Spanx…

Today I had the opportunity to be a guest on a local television talk show and talk about my book. OK, maybe that is a slight exaggeration. I was really there to talk about my dog. I have a confusing art imitates life vice/versa thing going on with my latest book and my new puppy. Bliss is my 7-month old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Bliss is also the name of the Cavalier puppy in my newest book, Cup of Joe. To make matters even more unclear, there is a Cavalier on the book cover that bears more than a passing resemblance to the real-life Bliss. Everyone thinks it’s my dog, but it isn’t. The real Bliss is cuter. (Really, she is!)

Anyway, we were invited to be on the show as part of a segment about celebrities and their pets. I was supposed to discuss celebrities who own Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. There are quite a few – Courtney Cox (my fav), Liv Tyler, Lindsay Price, Teri Hatcher, Julianne Hough (from Dancing with the Stars) and of course Charlotte onSex & the City had that wonderful Cavalier named Elizabeth Taylor. The host also talked about my book and it was on-screen for a good 2 minutes. Yay!

Let me just say that I’m not accustomed to being on television. Let me also say that the other two people who were participating in this segment are both about a size 2.

I am not a size 2.

I’m not gigantic or anything, but come on – who looks skinny when they’re standing between two stick figures? Last week, when I thought about the TV segment, I drew comfort from the fact that people watching would be looking at the dogs. I mean, if I were in the audience, I would be looking at the dogs. Late Sunday afternoon, though, my confidence in this theory began to waver and I was reminded of a conversation I had with my husband a while back.

I think I’d been reading People magazine or perhaps something more along the lines of US Weekly or In Touch (hey, don’t judge me!). The magazine quoted a star singing the praises of her Spanx undergarments. You’ve heard of Spanx, I’m sure. They’re these really tight things all the celebrities apparently wear underneath their clothes to look even skinnier than they already are. So, I’m reading the article and I say something about it to my husband. Here’s what happened next:

Husband: “Why don’t you get some of those?”

Me: “Excuse me?”

Husband (starting to look a bit nervous): “Well, I mean, if all the stars wear them…”

Me: “They’re on TV. I’m not on TV. I don’t want to walk around in some tight contraption that makes me uncomfortable.”

Husband (his head is now breaking out into a sweat): “I’m just saying…”

Me (huffing indignantly): “What?”

Husband: “Nothing.”

Me (possibly raising my voice by now): “If I’m ever on TV, I might consider it. But until then, I would really love it if you refrain from telling me I should wear Spanx.”

So, what did I do on Sunday evening? Yes, I went out and bought some blasted Spanx.

They weren’t cheap, but they were worth it. Honestly, I’m not sure if I actually looked any different. I did, however, feel all tightened up and skinny. Maybe the magic of Spanx is in their ability to boost the wearer’s confidence. I’m not sure.

I thought I looked pretty good on TV, even between the reed-thin women on either side of me. But I think the Spanx must have gone to my head because after I got home I ate an entire chocolate bunny. My dog watched me do it, too. It was sad.

Lesson learned: Internet promotions are less stressful. I’m wearing sweatpants right now, the Spanx are tucked away in a drawer and I have not consumed any chocolate critters. (Yet.)



Teri's son once wrote in a third-grade paper, "My Mom loves dogs and Jesus." He may have gotten the order reversed, but the sentiment was right on target. Her romance stories are often filled with happy endings, splashes of humor and a loveable critter or two. After all, Cinderella never would have lived happily ever after without a little help from her animal friends!

Teri has been honored with numerous awards for her writing, including the Grand Prize in the 2009 San Antonio Romance Authors Merritt Contest, the 2008 Pet Sitters International Humor Writing Award and the 2006 Westminster Kennel Club Angel on a Leash Writing Award.

To learn more about Teri and her writing, visit www.teriwilson.net. She loves hearing from readers!

Monday, March 1, 2010

GUEST BLOG: ALLIE BONIFACE

Pole Dancing: Not Your Average Workout…

Yes, you read the title of this blog post right: I’m talking about pole dancing. As in the activity where women spin, slide, climb, and perhaps even gyrate around a vertical pole, bolted to the floor, as a form of…

Well, entertainment, certainly. I mean, I know what you’re probably thinking: seedy strip club. Salivating men. Naked women hanging upside down. And yes, pole dancing has its place in many of “those kinds” of establishments around the country. But listen up, ladies: pole dancing is also gaining popularity as a form of exercise and a good ol’ boost of self-esteem. I didn’t believe it either. I had my doubts when my closest group of girlfriends wanted to take a one-hour pole dancing lesson a couple of months ago. I hemmed and hawed. I made excuses. Finally I agreed, only because it was what the birthday girl wanted to do for her Big Day, and because I figured I could stand anything for an hour.

Guess what? It was actually a lot of fun. Here’s the thing: it’s HARD. You need a lot of upper body strength to lift yourself off the ground, let alone attempt any kind of swinging or spinning around the pole. You also need lower back strength, to get yourself up the pole once you’ve slid or spun or otherwise gotten yourself to the ground. You definitely need strong core muscles as well. You’d be surprised at how much your stomach and back muscles work in the simplest motions.

Finally, and most important, you need ATTITUDE. Yes, you’ll feel silly. Maybe somewhat self-conscious. Awkward and in pain, even (many of the girls were bruised the next day). But there are definitely moments when you feel sexy. That’s what it’s all about, really: feeling good about your body – whatever shape your body’s in – and showing it off. I don’t think women do enough of that. We become so busy with our jobs and our kids and our responsibilities at home that we put ourselves somewhere at the bottom of the list.

Two of my contemporary romance novels are releasing in audio book format this week, and both my heroines are in need of a shot of sexy self-esteem. Lost in Paradise’s Ashton spends most of her days dressed in baggy t-shirts and shorts, until her gorgeous downstairs neighbor, Eddie, peels them off to show her the desirable creature she is underneath. And One Night in Memphis’ Dakota travels hundreds of miles to flee a crazy ex-boyfriend…trying not to be noticed along the way. Quiet Ethan is the one who protects her, saves her, and then teaches her to stand up for herself, which is downright sexy in its own way. Hey, maybe in my next book, I should have my heroine take a pole dancing lesson or two…what do you think?

Here’s the thing: when you feel attractive, you feel better about yourself. You remember the woman you are behind all those other, everyday demands. It’s like wearing lacy undies or getting a pedicure – or yes, indulging in the reading or writing of a romance novel. In those moments we steal for ourselves, we can imagine that we are the strong, sexy, heroine in our own story – and isn’t that why we live and love in the first place?

So the next time you see an ad for a pole dancing lesson (or a lap dance or striptease) in your local paper, don’t just dismiss it! Call up your girlfriend – the one you can do anything with and not feel silly or embarrassed – and give it a try. You might just be pleasantly surprised. I bet you’ll laugh. I bet you’ll feel a little sore the next day. And you might even go back for more!



Allie Boniface is a romance novelist and high school English teacher living with her husband in the northern New York City suburbs. She’s had a soft spot for love stories and happy endings since the time she could read, and she’s been caught scribbling story ideas on scrap paper (when she should have been paying attention to something else) too many times to count. When she’s not writing, shoveling snow, or grading papers, she’s traveling the United States and Europe in search of sunshine, back roads, and the perfect little pub.

Visit Allie’s website at www.allieboniface.com to find out release dates and all the latest news, or hear what’s on her mind today at her blog, www.allieboniface.blogspot.com.