Archive for May, 2012

Ireland: The Good Bits

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Top of the morning to you. I returned from Ireland this weekend, and I’m not sure my brain is still functioning. I wasn’t sure if I even had the energy to write up a blog. BUT, I definitely do.

When I went to Ireland in 1983 on a tour with Regis College, I was taking a course on Ireland through correspondence. (I worked at Regis in Colorado Springs) The tour was about nine days long and we went across great swaths of Ireland. It was one of those tours you expect Americans to take…the whole nine hundred countries in nine days thing. Anyhoo, it was a great trip and a bad trip. Because trips often have unexpected things in them or parts that don’t go quite how you expect.

This trip was the same in that it had its good parts and bad bits. To give you a run down of the good bits:

Gorgeous views, of course.
Visiting places I hadn’t seen in thirty years, such as Connemara and the Connemara Marble factory (got a bracelet there.)
Smelling a peat fire again (which I love.)
Nice accommodations that were very roomy.
Sharing a trip with my sister, who I hadn’t seen in a while.
The bus tour guide on two trips was funny as hell and friendly.
Great food.
Southwest Airlines, as usual, had great customer service and their trademark sense of humor.
One TSA guy in the Newark Airport had a smile and was very polite.
**
Tomorrow, there are more beautiful photos so come back and see me!

Excerpt: Dangerous Intentions

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Craving more romantic suspense where the bad guys are really bad? Dangerous Intentions and the sequel Treacherous Wishes were so much fun to write because not only did I get to write hot heroes and dangerous bad guys, I also mixed some paranormal in there as well. Enjoy this snippet from Dangerous Intentions.
* *

A woman searching for the perfect man…

Wealthy magazine editor Kiley Chapman lives with the frightening memory of her kidnapping ten years ago. When she advertises for a man for a hero profile article, she soon discovers sinfully sexy bodyguard Scott Danger lives up to his name. Charismatic and confident, he erodes her resolve to stay cool and uninvolved.

A man in serious peril of losing his heart…

Security specialist and ex-Special Forces soldier Scott Danger prides himself on having impeccable restraint—a man who disciplines both mind and body. It’s questionable how long he can resist his powerful and heated attraction to Kiley—and all bets are off when he must protect her from a deadly stalker bent on destroying all they hold dear.

Two wounded souls meet their match…

The wildfire sexual attraction between them guarantees sparks they may not want to acknowledge but can’t ignore. So while Scott guards her body, and Kiley guards her heart, neither one can fight the sensual and emotional hunger that swirls between them, consuming them.
****
Caught between a fierce blazing anger, and the sensation that something hot and unbidden flared between them, she took a deep breath.
His eyes turned wolf on her. Mysterious. His gaze took in everything about her, and she could have sworn he could read her mind.
Lord, he ought to bottle it and sell it. He could make a fortune seducing women with that look.

“What do you care about?” she asked. “Winning the next verbal battle? Making your point?”

Scott dropped his hand back onto the wall. One corner of his wide mouth turned up, and Kiley pinpointed her stare onto the spot, unable to look away.

“I haven’t made many points with you.”

Her gaze flicked to his again. “Try Andrea in the magazine accounting office. She’s single, available, and not as picky as I am.”

“Picky? About what?”

“The men she sleeps with.”

With his other hand, he touched the hollow of her throat. She sucked in a slow breath as the heat from that delicate, single touch spilled hot across her skin. “What kind of men do you sleep with, Kiley?”

She rallied against the arousal tightening with hot coils inside her. She sighed. “You’re crude, you know that?”

“Add rude and lewd and you’ve got all the clichés down.”

She made a scoffing noise in her throat and pushed against his chest again. When her fingers landed on his hard torso, the sensation tantalized Kiley as nothing had in a long time. She imagined Scott’s chest and powerful arms naked for her touch. Dark hair peeked from the open collar of his shirt. Did he have a hairy chest, or did that bit of masculinity tease her unnecessarily? Blond head. Dark chest hair. A delicious combination. Almost against her will, her hand smoothed over his red polo shirt. She wanted him bare under her exploration, and the realization startled her.

He tilted her chin until she gazed up at him. She quivered under his gentle touch as his hand came up and caressed her cheek. “You sure as hell don’t want rescuing.”

Her throat felt dry and aching with tension. “I never said I wanted to be rescued.”

“You wanted a hero for your magazine article. Instead you got involved with something a hell of a lot nastier than you expected. Now you’re in over your head and you don’t want help when it’s right here in front of you. Isn’t that a little twisted?”

“A little twisted is us in this alley having a conversation like we’re on Park Avenue or something. Can we get out of here?”

“Not until we get a few things straight. You aren’t going anywhere without me from now on, is that understood? I’m glued to your hip.”

“But—”

“You aren’t to put one pretty, painted toenail out the door unless I tell you.”

“For your information, I don’t paint my toenails. For a hotshot you sure aren’t very observant.”

His brows drew together and his mouth dropped open. She almost smiled. It felt good to see this big, confident man lose street audacity. Scott looked down at her short hemline and took in the length of her bare legs and her sandal shod feet with a long, hungry perusal. His salacious grin set warmth into her belly that burned steady. His fingers traced over her throat again and into the hair at the back of her neck and her eyes almost closed at the exquisite sensation.

“Forgive me,” he said. “You’re not to put one beautiful, naked leg, or toe, outside a door without me going first. Got that?”

She simmered, but not from anger. Did this man realize what he did to her? She didn’t seem to have control over her reactions to him and her frustration level escalated.

“Okay, that’s enough. I’ve got enough material for the entire hero article just from the last two days,” she said. “The magazine spread is yours. Jackson Cole can kiss it goodbye.”

“You think getting a dumb-assed magazine spread changes anything? Do you think I’m not serious?”

“No, Mr. Danger.”

“Would you please just call me Scott? You called me Scott before. Why is it so hard for you?”

His voice went soft and husky. Intimate. It reminded her of last night when he’d gazed at her over the dinner table and tried to stare her down. He’d won the battle then because she couldn’t handle the crystal warmth in his eyes that knocked her breath away. Scott was right, though. She had broken down more than once and called him by his first name. But that didn’t mean she would continue in the same vein.

“This isn’t the fifties. I’m not Ozzie and you sure as hell aren’t Harriet. You can call me by my first name.” Scott shifted.

“Great. We’re standing in a stinking, grimy alleyway discussing movies and television shows.”

He shrugged. “All in a day’s work. You should see what I was doing last week.”

“You hole up in alleys with women every day?”

That smile came across his face and stupefied her. God, didn’t the man know his grin gave off megawatts of virile charm?

“Only with beautiful women with stubborn mouths they can’t keep shut.”

“That’s a first. I don’t think I’ve ever been complimented and insulted in the same breath.”

“Call me Scott,” he said huskily.

He could do what he liked with her, to her and at her. She wouldn’t budge on this item. “Bite me.”

He angled his head closer, his breath warm on her face. Sensual heat rolled through Kiley. “That can be arranged.”

Excerpt: Combustion

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Many moons ago my firefighter novel Combustion came out in ebook and in print. Then it went out of print in ’06 and came back a couple of years later with a new publisher (Liquid Silver Books). I haven’t posted anything on this book in a long time, so here’s the blurb and excerpt to tweak your appetite for hot firefighters! Combustion is definitely contemporary romantic suspense, but it’s also pretty sexy. So if you like your adventure hot and your hero even hotter, you might love this novel!

Oh, and what’s that photo at the very top? A fire about twenty miles away from us last week.
* *
A little heat… Former smoke jumper Autumn MacAllister returns to Montana after tragedy almost takes her life. She doesn’t expect the chubby insecure boy she once knew to have turned into a virile man with a mind-blowing smile.

A little flame…Firefighter Jack Dillon never forgot his childhood crush on Autumn, or the devastating blaze that melded their lives together. Now she’s back and creating havoc in his heart, and he can’t ignore the banked tension between them that threatens to ignite.

Combustion! Now they must combine forces when an arsonist threatens to burn their city, and an old enemy threatens to create a flashover that may consume all they hold dear.

Disappointment welled inside Autumn. She’d witnessed many relationships between firefighters and their significant others go belly up, and she hated for it to happen between Ginger and Hank. They always looked good together and Autumn knew they cared deeply for each other.

Before she could say anything more, Elliott returned.

Then Autumn spotted Todd Geraldo swaggering in their direction, his dirty blue jeans and ragged T-shirt painful to the eyes and good taste.

“Oh, hell. He’s coming this way.” Elliott made a snorting noise, and she frowned at him. “What’s so funny?”

Before he could answer, Todd arrived. “Hey. What’s up?” Todd held out his big hand. “Wanna dance, Autumn?”

“Um…no. Sorry, Todd. My feet are killing me.”

“How can they be killin’ you? You just got here,” Todd said.

So Todd the Toad had been watching her. Her skin crawled.

Right that moment she saw Jack weaving through the crowd. Her heart sped up as she contemplated possible rescue. Jack was a walking, talking dream. He wore a white T-shirt, black jeans, and cowboy boots. Jack must be crazy; it was darn right cold outside and he wore a T-shirt. Then she got a closer look at the words across his chest, a slogan she never would have expected to see on him in a million years. Red letters screamed the message loud and clear.

Firefighters Have Bigger Hoses.

“Whoa,” she murmured.

With the perfect, butt-molding fit of Jack’s jeans and the way his shoulders filled out his T-shirt, Jack qualified as one heartache inducing man. Her pulse accelerated at the same time a sultry tune started.

Todd sneered. “If it ain’t Dillon the dweeb.”

She almost retorted with fighting words. Instead, she sighed and said, “Todd, you haven’t changed, have you?”

“Why would I wanna do that?”

Jack arrived at the bar in time to stop her next comment. “Elliott.” His gaze passed over Todd with all the attention a man might pay a fly. “Geraldo.”

Before Todd could open his mouth, Jack held his hand out to her. “May I have this dance?”

Without hesitation, she gripped Jack’s hand, and he led her away. Once out of earshot, she said, “Thanks.”

He stopped before they reached the dance floor, slipped his left arm around her waist, and leaned down to whisper in her ear. “For what?”

She shivered in pure excitement as his warm breath touched her skin. “Todd. He was asking me to dance.”

Jack gave a mock shudder. “God.”

The warm, interested look in his eyes made her nervous and flustered. Her stomach did a pirouette. “Love your T-shirt.”

His grin turned wicked and he whispered in her ear again. “Well, you know what they say.” His voice deepened and went husky. “Firefighters find ‘em hot and leave ‘em wet.”

She couldn’t avoid the nuclear level reaction as tendrils of arousal stirred in her stomach. Swallowing hard, she tried to regain her composure.

As she looked into his eyes, she attempted an unrepentant grin of her own. Her heart raced and an overwhelming excitement churned deep inside.

Someone jostled her, and she bumped into Jack. Before Autumn knew it his body mashed against hers from breast to hips and each spot in between. She felt Jack inhale sharply at the same time she did. His gaze snagged hers and held. Compelling masculine approval radiated from him, and the temperature from that one glance lapped around her ankles and moved straight up the rest of her body until she felt it tingle in her breasts. Her nipples tightened into points, and she almost let out a small moan. Her senses filled with his heady scent of soap and sandalwood mixed with musk.

In Jack’s arms, she felt almost tiny. His powerful form wrapped around her in a way that protected and aroused so much, Autumn found her face aflame and the rest of her body not far behind.

Plotter or Pantser?

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

A Writer’s Journey: Plotter or Pantser

Rules?

*New writers often think there is a wrong way and a right way to create a novel. They eagerly join writing groups and devour how-to books with the idea that a gold answer on “how to write a book” will be dropped in their lap. There’s nothing wrong with this. Wanting to learn something new guarantees you’ll be curious enough to ask plenty of questions.

*In the process of learning, writers hear two words tossed around frequently. Pantser and plotter. There are plenty of pros and cons for both types of approaches to writing a novel. Contrary to what a writer may hear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with writing either way.

*What becomes a problem is when an author tries to jam a square peg into a round hole and allows someone to tell them they should be a pantser or a plotter. This doesn’t mean new writers shouldn’t learn craft. It means they have to take care that they are not writing according to so many strict rules there is no creativity left in their writing process. I’ve seen new writers become so frustrated that want to stop writing because the “rules” suck the creativity right out of them.

Plotter vs. Pantser

*A plotter needs structure when they write. They often need charts, diagrams and outlines to feel comfortable. Many times they need to understanding what the beginning, middle, and end of the book before they start writing. Not knowing things ahead of time can create significant anxiety for the writer who is a plotter.

*A pantser needs varying degrees of freedom. A pantser may have a title or an overarching idea for a book based on a time period, a concept, or an individual character. They may know one or two of these ideas up front. Or they may start with a single scene that intrigues them. They will rarely know the end of their book. (I only did this one time with one book…where I knew the ending.) Panster’s may have basic ideas about who their characters are and may do character charts, but creating a synopsis can sometimes destroy their desire to write a book. Most of the time outlining their books beforehand damages their ability to write. Writing a synopsis of their book beforehand can destroy the muse and create writer’s block.

*Many authors discover they work best combining these two ways of doing things. It’s even possible an author may be a plotter for one book and a pantser for another if it feels right.

The Controversy

*There is nothing wrong with either way of writing if it gets the job done. I have run into plotters who think pantser writers waste time. They honestly can’t understand how not outlining or plotting up front can prove productive. Whole books have been written on if you “only do it this way, your book will be easier to write.” Well, it might. And it might not. No one ever said writing a book was easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it.

*In Anne Lamott’s fantastic book BIRD BY BIRD, she describes the problem many pantsers encounter if they try and force themselves into being a plotter when it isn’t natural for them, “Characters should not, conversely, serve as pawns for some plot you’ve dreamed up…I say don’t worry about plot. Worry about the characters. Let what they say or do reveal who they are and be involved in their lives, and keep asking yourself, ‘Now what happens?’…Your characters had something in mind all along that was brighter and much more meaningful than what you wanted to impose on them.”

My journey as a writer has shown me that what is often true for one writer will not always work for another. Writing a book is wonderful, elating, fascinating, intriguing, frustrating, sometimes tedious process. With all those adjectives is a state of mind that most of us long for but find less than we would want: flow.

Writing In Flow

*Personal Definition of Flow: A sublime state of being unaware of your surroundings, steeped in ecstasy, contentment, a sense of well-being and rightness. A natural high when the entire universe seems to surge through your fingertips and onto the page. This state doesn’t materialize for most authors on an everyday basis, although it can be coaxed to emerge. What does all this have to do with the difference between a pantser and a plotter?

*Recognize what type of author you are and honor that. If you are a new author, chances are you’ve started out as a panster. This doesn’t mean that you will stay that way. It may mean you decide later on that plotting, outlining, and diagramming everything from the get go is what you need to write the best book possible. If, however, you try to do all these things and find it gives you “creative constipation” where you can’t write a thing, chances are you are not a plotter. I decided some time ago that while I am mostly a panster, I am a bit of a plotter as well.

*For example, when I write a historical I start off by interviewing the hero and heroine. I ask them questions, write down their answers. This helps me to get inside their heads. If there is a bad guy, I question him as well. I also write down what my hero and heroine look like, their mode of dress, what they like too eat, etc. (I also do this with contemporary novels). I will often read a few books dealing with that time period or around the historical event in my book. This gives me ideas about some plot points I may want to put in my book, and I write down these ideas as they come to me. I also do some research before I start writing. However, I do not use researching relentlessly as an excuse not to start writing the book. I soak my head long enough to absorb the information into my bones.

*When I write a contemporary novel I still sometimes soak my head in information before I start the book. A good example of that is my firefighter novel, COMBUSTION. I want to be accurate, so I made sure I had all firefighter resources I needed to keep my facts straight. With my SWAT series, HEART OF JUSTICE, I made sure I did the same by taping into police sources. This shouldn’t be mistaken as outlining a novel in my case.

*Stay true to your writing dreams and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t make this journey as a plotter, pantster, or a combination of both.

Recommended Reads!

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

Hey all! Earlier this week I was going through author’s web pages that I’d bookmarked on my browser and revisited some older novels that will always remain on my keeper shelf. In many cases I have the paperback/hardback and the ebook. Many of these authors were in the ebook world long before it was fashionable. Here’s some of my recommendations that I hope you’ll visit.

Sanctuary by Sharon K. Garner
River of Dreams by Sharon K. Garner
Song of Isis by Diana Kirk
Real Magic by Lissa Michaels
Captive Hearts by Lissa Michaels

These ladies write some real magic, and I think they deserve even more readers. Rock on ladies!

Print Edition! Before The Dawn

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Good morning or afternoon everyone. I’m a bit slow on the uptake, because I meant to do a mini celebration of the print release of my historical romance Before The Dawn on my blog yesterday and it didn’t happen. Anyhoooo…here is a snippet you may not have seen.


* *
A fallen woman must decide to stay down, or rise and fight…

Elijah McKinnon has been found innocent of a heinous murder, but it doesn’t erase the hellish years in prison he endured. He boards the train to Pittsburgh a changed man, certain he will never feel free until he’s wreaked revenge on the brother who ruined his life.

The passenger who catches his eye is intriguing, but he’s seen her kind before. The kind who puts on airs—and looks down on Irishmen. Still, he can’t seem to stop himself from stepping between her and a pack of ruthless cads.

Mary Jane Lawson is grateful for the handsome stranger’s help, but her journey has a higher purpose: to rise above her shattered reputation and declare her independence, come flood or famine. Propriety says she should refuse Elijah’s suggestion they pose as husband and wife—for her own protection, of course. Her practical side says it won’t hurt to pretend, just this once.

Come nightfall, though, their little charade must be carried all the way to shared sleeping quarters, where their vulnerabilities become painfully clear. And when danger past and present threatens, trusting each other becomes a matter of life and death.
* *

Once more he leaned in and kissed her. Brush by brush, he painted his lips over hers in tender strokes that heated fires everywhere. He fisted his hand in her hair and drew her to his chest, his mouth now working hers with a persistent tasting. She eased away with a moan, but his lips still hovered over hers.

“That wasn’t a proper kiss,” he said.

“Of course it was.”

“How many times have you been kissed?”

She licked her lips, and his gaze caught hold of the sight and burned like a touch. She swallowed hard. “Many times.”

He frowned. “Many times? By how many men?”

“By one.”

“How old?”

“Forty.”

“Ancient.”

“To a twenty-year-old woman, it is.”

“That’s interesting.” He kept his voice soft and non-threatening. “So, how old are you now?”

“Twenty-two.”

“I’m twenty-six.”

“Ancient.”

“In five years I’ve lived a lifetime.”

She had no doubt he had, in his own way. “The man was Professor Thaddeus Ricker, a lecturer at the university. He teaches Latin. He was very appealing and handsome, a scholarly man that women respected.” She shuddered. “But they should not have. I should not have.”

“The old man didn’t kiss you properly, and because you didn’t find him attractive, you didn’t enjoy his kiss.”

His brows knitted, and she saw sympathy and understanding there that she did not know if she wanted. Attractive? Oh, yes, she knew how she felt when Elijah stood near, when he looked at her with those hooded, searching-out-every-secret eyes. It was world’s above what she had experienced with Thaddeus. Her professor, once so dear in her young heart, seemed pale imitations of manhood against Elijah’s potent personality.

Before she could answer, his touch slid down to her throat and tested the pulse pounding there. “Sure, and there it is. Heat and madness.”

“Madness?”

“Your pulse is quick. The way your breath quickens and your heart picks up speed tells me you like our kisses.”

“I do not want to like it.” She blurted the statement with a petulance that surprised and embarrassed her.

“Whether you want to like it or not isn’t the question. Did you like it?”

She knew she hovered on making a step that once taken could not be erased. “Yes. It was…pleasurable.”

His eyes turned hungry, their intensity building with her answer. “How much pleasure?”

“New. Different.”

He drew in a deep, shivering breath and trembled on the exhalation. “Do you want an honest kiss, Mary Jane?”

She could not voice it, so she did the one thing that would answer. She slipped her hand through thick, black hair at the back of his neck and eased towards him, brought him nearer inch by inch until…

Their lips met.
**
You can get your copy of Before the Dawn at the these outlets:

Samhain Publishing
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Powell’s
Books A Million