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Monday, May 31, 2010

GUEST BLOG: MEGAN JOHNS

Settings

The question of what comes first, character or plot is often posed. However, for me, settings are just as, if not more, important.

I start with a pen portrait of my characters, but putting them in a particular environment really helps to stimulate my imagination so that I can develop them more fully. Setting defines the context within which the characters behave and creates an instant atmosphere. The culture, the scenery, the architecture, the people, the climate all play their part in building a mood, influencing what the characters do and hence plot.

For example, imagine a scene set in wild, rugged countryside and one set in Venice. Both are romantic , but the atmospheres they evoke are totally different and the way characters behave will differ accordingly.

I tend to write about places that I know and with which I feel a strong emotional attachment. If I can visualise a place, feel it around me, absorb its ambience, then put my characters there, it seems to kickstart my imagination and the plot follows.

In The Path of Innocence I used London suburbia, East Anglia and St Andrews in Scotland as the settings. The suburbs of London are neither sexy nor romantic, yet the very ordinariness serves a purpose in painting a portrait of a heroine with strong, parochial family values. It also sharpens the contrast with the hero who comes from an inherently more enigmatic, rural area with chocolate-box villages and large country estates. The setting of Fiona’s small, cosy suburban house compared to Roger’s large, cold, country manor fills in a lot of unspoken information about the background of the characters and we instantly know that one is the antithesis of each other.

Scotland is more readily identifiable as a romantic setting and this description of Crail Harbour taken from The Path of Innocence is the perfect setting for falling in love:

She listened to the soothing sounds of waves lapping gently against the old stone harbour walls extending like protective arms around a cluster of small fishing boats, and she swallowed a deep lungful of air so fresh that you could taste its purity. Squinting against the sunshine, now brilliant in the clear, blue sky, her gaze spun over the red-roofed cottages which crowded down to the water’s edge, some whitewashed, others the warm, natural shades of sandstone, grey flints, green and blues, all huddled together in a kaleidoscope of colours.

I do not generally write long descriptions and often a few details might be enough to give the reader a flavour of the scene, but in my mind I will have a very clear picture of where they are at.

Some places, like Italy, which happens to be the setting for my work in progress, are inherently romantic. Others that have inspired me to write include Normandy in France and Snowdonia in Wales, the former possessing a quiet charm and a certain sense of timelessness, whereas the latter with its wild, rugged mountains and fast running rivers provides a more dramatic backdrop. What happens and how the characters behave is influenced greatly by where they are.

Megan lives in the Essex countryside, UK. She is married with one grown-up daughter and an adorable, but mischievous Cavalier King Charles.

You can find out more about her on www.megan-johns.com. To read an extract from 'The Path of Innocence' go to www.devinedestinies.com.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

GUEST BLOG: KRISTY DENICE BOCK

Unleash your Inner-Goddess
by
Kristy Denice Bock


Why settle as a princess when you could be a Goddess and rule the universe? Even as a child I had illusions of grandeur that refused to be stomped out simply because my age advanced past my shoe size. I didn’t even stop with one Goddess; I went on to create six. (I actually had eight, but there was a catastrophic war… that’s a tale for another day.)

Every woman deserves to unleash her inner-goddess as often as she can. When I wrote Divine Touch, the only thing I knew for certain was that there would be no male Gods, and that the Goddesses would wreck havoc on their children’s lives. I looked around at the strong, adventurous women in my life and fashioned my Goddesses after them. I took their best features and created six super-women who can do anything, while still managing to retain the ability to act human.

There has been so many times in my life where I felt that someone up above had given me more than I could handle, or meddled when I’d much rather have been left alone. I’ve sworn Fate was out to get me, and Destiny hated my guts. After I got past the initial paranoia, I began creating a race of superior beings with more flaws than the average human.

I wanted strong empowered women with hearts the size of Montana, with quirks and insecurities to match. What would you do, if you had omnipotent powers? Would you create live and balance it? Would you destroy something that has already been created? Keeping the balance is a strong current all throughout the book. Divine Touch is about the daughter of Noxia, the Goddess of Balance. I’ve left an excerpt that shows just how much the Goddesses are willing to fight on behalf of their human children.

In keeping with my inner-Goddess, I have a Blog Talk Radio show that airs every Wednesday evening at 9pm est. The show is called Literary Goddess. I hope you’ll call in and let me know what you thought of Divine Touch and to talk about a Goddess in your life.

----------Beginning of Excerpt
Meet the Goddess’s Excerpt from Divine Touch by Kristy Denice Bock

“I tell you it is unacceptable. An Earth bound child of a God or Goddess must face the trials with nothing more than what they have gained in their mortal life,” the Goddess Edereu raged at the convening council. Noxia had to smile at the unprovoked triumph of yet another jab at Edereu.

“Are you suggesting that the Goddess Noxia has given Kate an unfair advantage?” the aged Priest asked. Noxia attempted to show the proper amount of outrage at the question.

Point.

“She is in the same dwelling as Noxia's personal assassin, the leader of the Were people, and a few others with ties to our world. I hardly call it fair to those who have had to face the trials with nothing but their mortal friends and family,” said The Goddess Edereu.

“The question remains unanswered. Do you feel that The Goddess Noxia has given Kate an unfair advantage?”

“Of course I believe she has given Kate an unfair advantage. Her assassin was awoken on the same day of her unveiling? Noxia arranged this and it is an outrage!” said The Goddess Edereu. Noxia caught the glare Edereu sent in her direction.

“Perhaps I can clear up this issue” A voice rang out from the back of the room. Noxia smiled.

“The council recognizes the Goddess Tatiana. Please clarify,” said the priest.

“As the Goddess of Earth's elements, it is only natural that a mortal soul would ask my advice in finding a treasure buried beneath the ground. It was asked in a way that I chose not to refuse. The remains of the assassin were unearthed,” the Goddess Tatiana explained.

Set.

Noxia watched as shock and disbelief spread across the fine features of Edereu's pinched face.

“The council would like a further point of clarification if you please. Did The Goddess Noxia have anything to do with the timing of when you allowed the remains to be found?” asked the Priest.

“No, if I recall…” Noxia had to smile as Tatiana paused in what could only be described as dramatic tension build. “If I recall the person I discussed the unearthing of the bones with was The Goddess Edereu. As she is the Goddess of Death and Judgment, I didn't want to offend her by taking a soul from her realm.” A collective gasp went around the room and Noxia knew then she had won half the battle she prepared for.

“Goddess Edereu, do you dispute the words of Goddess Tatiana?” the priest asked.

“I was not aware then, that the person who asked for the location of the remains, was the former husband of Noxia's daughter,” Edereu said.

“The council will recognize that The Goddess Edereu did not dispute the words of the Goddess Tatiana,” said the priest.

“Do you have any further cause for the claim made against the Goddess Noxia?” the Priest asked.

“No, I stand by my conviction that the Goddess Noxia has arranged all of this, so that her daughter will have a distinct advantage over these trials.” Noxia suppressed the urge to smirk at Edereu.

“Goddess Noxia, do you have any words to add to this discussion?” Noxia rose as all the eyes of the room fell upon her.

“If it would please the council,” Noxia said.

“The council recognizes The Goddess Noxia,” said the Priest.

“I'm deeply offended at the allegations that I would set out to break one of the fundamental laws that I wrote. I found both my daughter and my assassin trapped on a magical plane inaccessible to any earthbound creature. An attempt was made against both of their lives. I can't help but draw a connection between what transpired and what has been brought to the council's attention today. I feel that because of our antagonistic relationship, The Goddess Edereu, is attempting to ensure that Kate fails the trials,” said Noxia.

“The council will take your words under advisement, Goddess Noxia,” the Priest said
.
“Thank you,” she replied.

Match.
-------- End of Excerpt

It is my wish for you today that you’ll let your Inner-Goddess come out and play. The world is your oyster and you were born with the natural ability to shine.

Kristy Denice Bock

BIO: In the summer months of 1979…. Hahaha yeah so not getting into all that! I’m defined by the hats I wear. At the moment I’m wearing my promotion hat, it’s ill-fitting and like a pair of good shoes, it needs broken in. At any given moment I can have my mom hat on… I’m the sole parent of four insane children with marginal self-control ability, and the owner of one rat named Templeton, two fish named Thing one and Thing two, another fish named Red Fish (even though he’s silver) and Blue Fish… he’s actually blue! We seem to collect rodents in this house, I’m not sure why… we had a Ralph S. Mouse, but sadly he went in search of that big cheese in the sky. Stuart Little ate through his cage and joined his woodland friends in the fields of North Carolina! At any given time I can be found at home, connected to two computers, one to write and one to work.


Monday, May 24, 2010

GUEST POST: MARGARET TANNER

Why do I write historical romance?

Like the heroines in my novels, my forebears left their native shores in sailing ships to forge a new life in the untamed frontiers of colonial Australia. They battled bushfires, hardship and the tyranny of distance in an inhospitable and savage land, where only the tough and resilient would survive. They not only survived but prospered in ways that would not have been possible for them had they stayed in England and Scotland.

I am a fourth generation Australian. We are a tough, resilient people, and we have fought hard to find our place in the world. We have beautiful scenery, unique wild life, and a bloodied convict history.

I admire heroines who are resourceful, not afraid to fight for her family and the man she loves. I want my readers to be cheering for her, willing her to obtain her goals, to overcome the obstacles put in her way by rugged frontier men who think they only want a wife to beget sons. A chance for revenge. To consolidate their fortunes. That love is for fools. Oh, the victory for the reader when these tough, ruthless men succumb to the heroine’s bravery and beauty, are prepared to risk all, even their lives, to save her.

Then there are the brave young men who sailed thousands of miles across the sea in World War 1 to fight for mother England, the birth country of their parents and grandparents. I also wanted to write about the wives and sweethearts who often waited in vain for their loved ones to return. Who were there to nurture the returning heroes, heal their broken bodies and tormented souls.

This is why I write historical romance, even if it means trawling through dusty books in the library, haunting every historical site on the internet, badgering elderly relatives, and risking snake-bite by clambering around overgrown cemeteries.

*****

BIO – MARGARET TANNER

Margaret Tanner is an award winning multi-published Australian author. She loves delving into the pages of history as she carries out research for her historical romance novels, and prides herself on being historically correct. Her publishers are Whiskey Creek Press and The Wild Rose Press.

Margaret is a member of the Romance Writers of Australia, the Melbourne Romance Writers Group (MRWG) and EPIC. Her novel The Trouble With Playboys came 3rd in the historical romance section of this years Preditors & Editors poll.

Margaret is married and has three grown up sons, and a gorgeous little granddaughter.

Outside of her family and friends, writing is her passion.

http://www.margarettanner.com/

FRONTIER WIFE

Only in the new world can a highborn young Englishwoman and a tough frontier man, ignite the passion that will fulfil their hopes and dreams in ways they never imagined possible.

Tommy Lindsay arrives in colonial Australia to claim the rundown farm she and her brothers have inherited.

Hidden behind her fragile English rose beauty, beats the heart of a courageous young woman. She will need all this strength to survive the unforgiving heat, and the dangers lurking around every corner. Lost in the bush, capture by a feral mountain family, raging bushfires are nothing, compared to the danger she faces if she gives her heart to Adam Munro.

Adam Munro, a rugged frontier man, has no room in his heart to love a woman. All he ever wanted was a presentable wife who would provide him with heirs. He didn’t need passion in his life, not until he met the beautiful English rose living next door to him.



Wednesday, May 19, 2010

GUEST POST: LAVERNE THOMPSON

Virgin at RT CON


This was my first Romantic Times Convention and one phase kept repeating itself from day 1 until the last day, Oh My God! That pretty much sums it up. This wasn’t my first writers convention but it certainly is the most memorable.

The workshops, of course, were fantastic but what makes this stand out are the people. Lots and lots of people from the readers to the cover models, the contestants from the Mr. Romance Competition and my personal favorite the cover model for my latest book CHANCES ARE, Jimmy Thomas. All I can say is OMG. These guys were smoking. But every last one was also super sweet, like you can sit down with them and have an actual conversation. Drooling all the while of course, but still able to have a conversation.

The next fun thing was meeting some of my favorite authors. I’ve met so many that have inspired me and whose writing I truly enjoy. But I was most excited to meet Bridget Midway. I’ve known Bridget online now for about 3 years and she’s given me great advice so I was really excited to finally met her in person.

Oh and the parties were awesome too. You haven’t been to a Fairy Ball until you’ve been to one at RT, same for a Vampire Ball. We authors know how to party. So if anyone ever has a chance to attend an RT Con do it. Check out my pictures on my website lavernethompson.com and facebook.com/isisindc.


Thompson is an award winning bestselling author, an avid reader and writer of contemporary, fantasy, and sci/fi sensual interracial romances, where race is not a factor. Visit her website at lavernethompson.com to read excerpts of her books or sneak-a-peek at some of the stories she’s currently working on.


Monday, May 17, 2010

GUEST POST: ELAINE HOPPER

My daughter just told me I play God every time I write a book.
I create the characters and control every aspect of their lives. I decide if they live or die, fall in love, are happy or sad, etc.

She went on to muse, are we just characters in someone’s book? And if so, why aren’t we in Harry Potter’s much more exciting world? Or Captain Kirk’s Star Trek world? She thinks that would be much cooler than living in contemporary middle-class America without dragons, shifting staircases, nearly headless ghosts, or magic.

Then she said that my books are more like a different dimension than another world, that my stories are set in similar normal worlds.

She’s right about my Elaine Hopper sweet romances. “Always A Bridesmaid” is set in a very normal, contemporary world just up the road in small town Florida. My upcoming paranormal contemporary romance is slightly less normal. The heroine’s deceased husband won’t leave her alone. He talks to her more from his afterlife than he did when he was alive. I don’t know of anyone in real life that talks to ghosts.

That brings up the question, what’s normal?

Normal for me is middle-class Florida. Perpetually warm weather. Subtropical paradise. Middle-class neighborhoods and struggles. Full-time day job as a customer service professional, husband, kids, pets.

My normal is much different than someone who lives in New York City, London, Tokyo, or Africa. It’s far different from someone who lives in a mansion with servants and jets around the world on a whim, or who lives in a steel shack in one of the poorest slums in the world. It’s different than someone who works as a war correspondent, active duty soldier in a war zone, or an emergency room doctor.

My alter ego writes many other-worldly stories. One comes out this week in fact, on May 17th. It features a vampire clan who traveled back in time to the 14th century from the 23rd century. Another book featured a heroine and her cat that fell into a cartoon world with dragons and talking cats. Yet others feature aliens, witches, ghosts, demons, and shifters.

I’m the goddess of all those worlds. Is it possible the characters have real feelings, that my characters live beyond the pages of my stories? Is it possible that we are characters in a book?

My daughter and I aren’t the first to wonder. A recent movie was based on that theme. Still, it’s an interesting concept.

I never dared compare myself to a god. I prefer “storyteller” or “dream weaver”. Yet, we do play god with our characters. I’ve not only brought them to life, but I’ve murdered a few. I’ve even brought a few back to life. If that’s not at least magic, what is it?

“Always A Bridesmaid” is my most recently released sweet romance. It’s set in small town America and is a reunion story.

Here’s a bit about it.

Always A Bridesmaid (sweet romance) ~ released March 24, 2010 at The Wild Rose Press

Hell has finally frozen over. After nine long years, Breanna Parker has come home to be her sister's maid of honor. Just her luck that the first person she runs into is her ex-fiance, Troy Youngwolf—the man who eloped with her ex-best friend and broke her heart. Now a widowed father and sheriff of their Florida home town, sexy bad boy Troy wants another chance and won't take no for an answer. However, every time Breanna looks at Troy or his little girl, her heart breaks anew. She can hardly wait for her sister to get hitched so she can escape back to her urban family in Ft. Lauderdale. The risk is too high that Troy may discover her most closely held secret, one with the potential to destroy them both…perhaps this time forever.

“Always A Bridesmaid” is available at: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/always-a-bridesmaid-p-3940.html

“So You Want To Marry Our Mom”, my paranormal romance will release at Amber Quill Press the week of July 4, 2010.

Please visit my blog to enter contests to win a KOBO ebook reader, several sweet romances, and other goodies. Details are on my blog at:
http://www.elaineannhopper.blogspot.com

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

GUEST BLOG: PAMELA HEARON

Tomorrow (May 13th) is a very special day for me. It’s my birthday! But May 14th is perhaps an even more important day in my life. I refer to it as my Re-birth Day. On May 14th, 2007, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I’ve been aware that I was at high risk for breast cancer my entire adult life. My grandmother had breast cancer. My mother had breast cancer. I had a benign tumor when I was 22 and started having routine mammograms early on. So when the doctor confirmed what I already suspected after having several biopsies in as many years and a scare with DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) two years earlier, I wasn’t completely surprised by the diagnosis.

What did surprise me were my options. I went in expecting a lumpectomy like I had with the DCIS. However, although the cancer was Stage 0, it was in more than one area and scattered. A lumpectomy would require losing one-third of my breast, radiation, and chemotherapy. My other option was a mastectomy. I would lose my breast, but no chemo and no radiation.

My decision shocked everyone including my husband, my doctor, and maybe even me. I didn’t choose a mastectomy. I chose a bi-lateral mastectomy. Both breasts. People told me how brave I was to take such a radical approach. Let me assure you in no uncertain terms that I was not brave; I was terrified. Terrified that in three months or three years I would be hearing the same terrifying diagnosis on my other breast.

I chose an option many women aren’t aware of—a simple, skin-saving mastectomy with only a 4% chance of recurrence. The surgeon and the plastic surgeon were both in the surgery. The surgeon removed my breasts, leaving as much skin as possible (which wasn’t much). When he finished, the plastic surgeon inserted saline implants, each containing a port. For two months, I went to the plastic surgeon’s office every two weeks and he would inject more saline solution through the port. The skin stretched a little at a time until he had the mounds the correct size. I was fortunate; he was able to stretch me to my previous size. Then, we waited six months for everything to settle.

After the wait, I had a second surgery. The plastic surgeon removed the saline implants and replaced them with silicone ones followed by another wait (three months). The third surgery was optional—nipples. But I’d gone this far and was thrilled with the results, so why stop now? I took the option and loved the completed feeling I got from it. No more blank faces staring back at me in the mirror *G*.

When the post-op report came back after the first surgery, I learned that my “good” breast did indeed have cancer; it was just too small to show up yet on a mammogram. I made the right choice and have never regretted it.

I realize how blessed I am to have caught the cancer early, and I acknowledge the others who haven’t had the choices I had and have bravely faced whatever they had to endure. But there are a lot of women like me out there who could have a choice. Please help me get the message to them that EARLY DETECTION IS THE KEY. I pray that every one of them can celebrate a Re-birth Day like me!

Maybe growing up in the South didn’t have any impact on Pamela Hearon’s writing, but she has her own theories and believes otherwise. A lifetime of sultry, Southern nights surely infused her blood with a special heat—the kind that transforms simple love stories into a tales of romance and desire. And her most powerful writing happens at some of the oddest times—in the garden … in a dream … even in the shower. Unexpected moments of inspiration bring dialogues together, make characters come to life, and fill gaping plot holes.

Her writing process wouldn’t work for everybody. It is, after all, a bit out of the ordinary. But Pamela embraces it because nobody wants a book that’s ordinary.


Monday, May 10, 2010

GUEST BLOG: MARY VINE

Love Changes


When I was fourteen years old, I was in love with a rock star. His boyish good looks and toothy grin, as seen on my television screen, won me over. I continued to be smitten with him until his songs moved down the hit chart, and I moved on to other rock musicians. Even though I couldn't settle on one star, I knew I would never lose my love for the music.

I graduated from high school and moved on with my life, this time taking notice of the men around me. After trial and error, I found a man with a sexy smile and dimple in his cheek. I couldn't take my eyes off him, and with our two minds together we could solve most problems, or at least work through them.

Five months ago, I had the opportunity to attend a concert on the Oregon Coast starring the rock singer with the toothy grin. Somehow, he still had the boyish looks, but he didn't lure me in as before. What I did like was the awesomeness of being in the same room with him, while thinking about what my teen self would have thought about being close enough at one point to reach out and touch. Basically, in present time, it was surreal to see the man in person.

There was something else I noticed at the concert. With my teen years long gone, my hormones are quieter and my love is no longer shallow. I've fixed my love on my husband, and it is a deeper love than I'd ever thought possible, even without the passion of the early years. Then, I believed I'd find true love, but could not fathom the deepness of the love that I've come to know. Remarkably love changes.

I loved the concert, to go back in time is a wonderful experience, but I also liked sitting on the beach peacefully soaking up the sun with my husband and talking about nothing in particular. I no longer sit and stare at him; however, with maturing I've found other things in life that define me as a person apart from him, even though he's the one I run to with my dreams, my hopes, plans and concerns.

Undoubtedly my younger self would have gotten a kick out of knowing I'd be able to see this heart throb one day, but pretty disgusted that I no longer favor rock music. Again, love changes.


Many people, ideally, plan to go to college after finishing high school, start a career, and then a family. Not Mary, she married and started a family right away and didn’t think about the possibilities in the world around her until her sons were in high school.

When she first started writing at age 36, she was shy about telling anyone. Finally, she gained enough courage to take a few chapters to her neighbor, a retired high school English teacher. With encouragement, she kept writing and became a member and officer of a writers group. Two of her magazine articles on ghost towns in Northeast Oregon were published and she completed four fiction manuscripts, one of which is MAYA’S GOLD, and now A PLACE TO LAND, published by Black Lyon Publishing.

Mary has now graduated from college and is teaching speech and language classes to K-12 students. Yes, Mary has taken awhile to make her mark in the world, but she believes she’s just getting started and many other accomplishments await her in the future.


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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

GUEST BLOG: CINSEARAE SANTIAGO

TIPS FOR THE NEWBIE WRITER

For newbie writers wanting to jump in the literary fray, and have it tough trying to make their characters ‘come alive’ on the page, here’s three tips I use for making characters JUMP OFF that page and wave at you!

1. Develop your characters looks. Being creative as I know you are, you might have a vision already. If not, use the people you see around you, even actors. Heck, do a little gene-splicing of their looks in your mind’s eye. If you can draw, draw them. Their personalities and quirks will quickly come you while you’re working on that, so write down whatever comes to your mind concerning them.

2. Use ‘everyday dialogue’. Listen to conversations in the streets, especially restaurants. (I find the most amusing dialogue there!) Don’t try so hard to be perfect with grammar. (I’m NOT saying get careless with your manuscript!) Most folks never speak proper English; neither will your characters. The more realistic the dialogue, the more realistic your character becomes!

3. Keep a notebook handy at ALL TIMES. Our brains like to fire off little farts from time to time, and heaven forbid you don’t have something to write with! You could get inspired by something or someone at ANY given moment, and you’ll scream if you don’t have that notebook. Keep a book by your bedside, too. The muse likes to hit us over the head at odd hours of the night, and trust me, you won’t remember it by morning!


Author Bio: Author of "The ABRAXAS Series", Ms. Santiago is a digital artist, still-photographer, and Editor/Publisher of Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine (a 2nd place finalist in the Preditors & Editors Readers Poll for 2008). She also received the Author's Site of Excellence Award in December 2007 from P&E, and is a Cover Artist for Damnation Books. She lives with her husband and two crazy rat terriers, Hades and Chaos.

http://Bloodtouch.webs.com

Monday, May 3, 2010

GUEST BLOG: MEG BENJAMIN

Wedding Bell Blues

Wedding Bell Blues, my second Konigsburg book, grew out of a couple of things. First, of course, was my desire to go back to the mythical Konigsburg, Texas, which I’d grown to love during the course of writing Venus In Blue Jeans. Second was the wedding of my older son. Now this was by no means the disaster that my characters experienced in Wedding Bell Blues, but it had its moments.

To begin with, my son and his fiancĂ©e had decided to get married on New Year’s Eve since that was the night he’d proposed (giving them an entire year to work on the details). We suggested this might make it a little tough for some people to attend, but they were determined and romantic and…well, we decided, what the hell.

In Wedding Bell Blues, the groom and his attendants have trouble finding tuxes that fit because they’re all very tall. This was also true for my two sons, both of whom are six-three. They both managed to find acceptable tuxes, but it was a struggle. Finding a dress for myself became an ordeal because I never wear dresses as a rule. A good friend assured me that I had to wear a dress and that it couldn’t be black. I wore a complicated silver satin skirt with a red velvet top. The Mother Of the Bride wore a black pantsuit and looked terrific. I tried not to gnash my teeth.

Fortunately for everyone, nobody as mean as Sherice Toleffson took part in the wedding. In fact, everyone was terribly sweet. I have to admit that I don’t remember a great deal of the reception beyond the fact that I, who never dance, had to dance with my son. It wasn’t pretty.

So anyway, it was a lovely wedding, and since it took place on New Year’s Eve, everybody remembers their anniversary!

So here’s a quick snippet from Wedding Bell Blues (out in print on May 4).

“Why did you become such a nice girl in the first place, Janie Dupree?” He watched her now, dark eyes to dark eyes. “Nature or nurture?”

“I’m from Konigsburg.” Her smile turned wry. “Females here are bred to be nice. My daddy was from East Louisiana and Mama’s from Lampasas—they both knew how girls were supposed to behave. I’ve spent most of my life living up to that standard, even after Daddy died.”

“What happened to him?”

“He was killed in an accident on the highway—his truck collided with a semi. I was nineteen.” Janie shook her head. “I had three semesters at UT, and then I had to come home and help my mom.”

“Nice girl,” Pete said softly.

She nodded. “Nice girl. I always wanted to go back and finish, but I’ve never had time.”

“So now?”

“So now I’m assistant manager of the bookstore, thanks to Docia.” She shrugged. “I never thought I’d get this far. I figured I’d be a waitress for the rest of my life.”

“Gratitude’s a bitch,” He murmured.

“No. I don’t resent her. Not Docia. And not Cal. He’s the best thing that ever happened to her. I’m so happy for her. I want her to have the best wedding ever.”

Pete nodded. “Yeah. Same for him and me. Although my little brother has never had a problem finding women. Girls always flocked after him like swallows headed back to Capistrano, not that he ever seemed to notice.”

“They didn’t do that with you and Lars?”

He paused to consider. “Lars, yeah. Lars is Mr. Responsible—or he used to be, before Sherice. Women always thought he was a great husband candidate.”

“And you?” Janie cocked her head.

Pete stared up at the streetlight on Spicewood. “Nope. Nobody has ever considered me much of a candidate for Mr. Right. I’m a great candidate for Mr. Right Now, however.” He glanced back at her, feeling his groin tighten. This was definitely not the direction he’d originally planned on going. But then lately his plans had had a tendency to go south.

Part of his brain screamed at him to say good night and go upstairs, but it couldn’t make the connection to the rest of his body, particularly not when she smiled at him like she was doing now.

“I guess that’s one way to get rid of sympathizers. Jump into bed with somebody else.”

She was going to keep talking, and he was going to say something supremely stupid. That was almost a given. Pete leaned over abruptly and covered her mouth with his own.

Heat flashed through his body, sucking the breath from his lungs. She was soft and warm against him, her breasts pressed lightly on his chest. He cupped her face in his hands, angling his head to deepen the kiss.

Janie’s hands moved up his chest to his shoulders. And then she pushed, gently. She tipped her head back, staring up at his face, her eyes narrowed. “Tell me the truth, Pete Toleffson—are you doing this because you feel sorry for me?”

“Sorry?” He was having trouble focusing. What exactly was she talking about? And why had she stopped kissing him?

Her jaw firmed. “Are you sorry for me because Otto dumped me so publicly?”

Good Lord, she was serious!

It took him a moment to remember just who Otto was. “If I’m sorry for anybody, it’s Otto,” he muttered. “The freakin’ idiot blew it big time.”

Janie gave his shoulders a small shake, like a miniature Rottweiler. “I’m serious, Pete. I don’t want pity.”

Pete took a deep breath, closing his eyes. If only he could get enough blood back to his brain to form a sentence. “I don’t believe in pity sex, Ms. Dupree. Among other things, pity doesn’t really do much to get me in the right mood.”

She grinned up at him. “Are you in the right mood?”

Too much talking. Entirely too much talking was going on right now. “Lady, I’ve been in the right mood since I saw you walk into the Dew Drop my first night in town.”

He dropped his head, opening his mouth against hers again. One arm locked around her shoulders as he pulled her against him. Then Janie’s arms wrapped around his neck, and she pressed her body to his, shoulder to hip.

Pete felt as if a small rocket had ignited in his groin. He leaned back against the stair, moving his tongue into the warmth of her mouth, his fingers spearing through her soft hair. All of his senses were suddenly in play—pinwheels of light went off before his eyes, he tasted something sweet, spicy, felt the warm, wet rasp of her tongue, smelled a faint echo of lavender, heard the distant humming of the street lights—or was that him?

Janie’s fingers slid beneath his shirt, smoothing across his chest. Her palm touched the jut of his nipple and every inch of his body was suddenly like rock.

Somehow he had to get her upstairs. Now.

~~~~~


Meg Benjamin writes about South Texas, although she recently moved to Colorado. Her comic romances are set in the Texas Hill Country in the mythical town of Konigsburg. When she isn’t writing, Meg spends her time listening to Texas music, drinking Texas wine, and keeping track of her far-flung family. She recently retired from twenty years of teaching writing, Web design, and desktop publishing. She love to hear from readers—contact her at meg@megbenjamin.com.