Sunday, October 31, 2010

Baby, It's NaNo Outside - Romance University Lecture Schedule 11/1-11/5

An open invitation from RU!

Welcome to the first week of NaNoWriMo and another week of exploring how other creative talent gets it done from writing that query to getting The Call to different ways to just tell your story. Romance University has CJ Redwine, Adrienne Giordano and Amy Atwell this week.

So whether you are buckling down to produce a novel for NaNoWriMo or you're working on writing, submitting or shopping you're novel, stop by Romance University, we've got the lectures, the resources and the tips to help you make this month's writing investment your best one yet.

  • Mon, 11/1 – Crafting Your Career – Whether you're an old pro at the query or a fresh face looking to write one for the first time, C.J. Redwine returns for another installment of Query Writing 101
  • Weds, 11/3– Debut Author’s Journey – Debut author Adrienne Giordano shares the details of her The Call story. You don't want to miss this moving post!
  • Fri, 11/5 – Chaos Theory of Writing – Debut author Amy Atwell shares her thoughts on linear vs. non-linear styles of storytelling.

All Romance University lectures are generously provided by our Visiting Professors. RU is a tuition-free zone!

Best regards,

Jennifer Tanner, Heather Long, Carrie Spencer, Adrienne Giordano, Tracey Devlyn, & Kelsey Browning

PS–Permission to forward lecture schedule is granted and encouraged! Want RU’s weekly lecture schedule in a cool new email format straight to your in-box? Sign up on RU’s homepage or any of the lecture posts!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Excerpt Fun - 13th Night

Coming soon from Sapphire Blue Publishing:  Seven Souls-a-Leaping featuring my novella: 13th Night.  Check out the excerpt after the jump.

“Darian – I’m sorry.”  Her voice pled with him and he had to turn away from the sadness on her face.  “I know you’re worried.  I’m just not sure that I need to be yet.  I’m not stupid though.  We can research it. It’s what we do, right?” 
         He was such a bastard. He’d hurt her with the force of his grip and she was apologizing to him and trying to make it right.  He didn’t deserve her.   A flicker of movement behind her and Darian leapt.
         The shadow dodged him easily and laughter rolled around him like a clown in a madhouse.  He’d been to one once, when Tara was fifteen.  They’d found the spirit of a girl who’d fallen and died.  The spirit warned them of another trapped child, it had driven them to help her.  The trailed led to a so-called funhouse at the local fairgrounds.
Darian had seen less creepy places.
The mad laughter trailing the shadow reminded Darian of that funhouse, of the crazy mirrors and the shadows that weren’t there.  The shadow danced around Tara, plunging a hand forward before Darian could catch it.  She sat straight up in the chair, pen falling from nerveless fingers.
Roaring, Darian dove at the shadow again and seized it.  Ice penetrated him, chills quaking through the very essence of his being. The world twisted around him and for the first time in nearly two decades, Darian spun out of control, tumbling through the walls, falling through the unlit Christmas tree only to collapse through the floor and land on the dirt floor of the basement.  The shadow twined around him, weakening him further.  If he needed to breathe, he would say the shadow was stripping away the oxygen, but it was worse than that. It gnawed away at the essence of his soul, drinking like a vampire would and the more it took, the weaker Darian became.
In the distance, he could hear a voice.
She was calling him. 
The shadow heard it too.
It paused feeding to lift hungry eyes upwards.
“NO!” Strength burned through the icy shackles, jerking the shadow’s attention back to him.  If it destroyed what was left of him, Darian didn’t care.  He didn’t want that thing anywhere near Tara.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Join the Write Hard, Dream Bigger Mailing List

As promised, NaNoWriMo starts on Monday, so I've set up the mailing list through YahooGroups. Sign up to get daily motivators, inspirational and even some exercises to get the writing going.   Too often, as writers, we isolate because our job is a lot of working at the keyboard and staring at the computer screen, but you don't write in a vacuum.  So come hang out, introduce yourself and we'll get that ball rolling together!

Subscribe to Write_Hard_Dream_Bigger

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Entice Me at Twilight Release Day!

Entice Me at Twilight
Order Now!
Today we celebrate the release of Shayla Black's Entice Me at Twilight, the delicious fourth Doomsday Brethren novel.  I think you'll be as excited about Duke's story as I was.  It's a wild ride. 

In honor of her release, Shayla shared a fabulous little excerpt to tease you with the tale.  Don't miss out on Duke, Felicia and the Brethren -- it's a tale for the ages.

Felicia risked a glance at Hurstgrove’s profile, illuminated by the dashboard’s lights. She didn’t know what Mason had said, but she didn’t imagine it was friendly, given the way her captor clenched his jaw and gripped the wheel.

Restraining the urge to ask, Felicia winced and looked at the clock. Two-fourteen A.M.

A new day, a new problem. She’d been abducted from her wedding. By someone not quite human.

Happy New Year…

She rubbed her eyes, trying not to smear the professionally applied makeup she’d paid for hours earlier, then plucked at her veil until it came free. Draping it across the dashboard, Felicia sighed. She could feel every seam in the heavy, form-fitting wedding gown. Her hopes of a happy family and future lay in shambles. And damn it, she had to use the loo.

Exhaustion beat at her, and she felt every minute of last night’s sleeplessness as the warm car jetted through the dark night to “safety.” Wherever that was.


Shocking how gentle Hurstgrove’s tone could be. How warm. But then, she supposed it came in handy, seducing as many women as he did.

Aside from their one meeting prior to the wedding, Hurstgrove was a complete stranger. Still, he hadn’t lied about her safety. Though he had abducted her, she knew he would never harm her.

Seduce her? That, she suspected, he would try. But would he really abduct her merely to do so, as Mason had accused?

Felicia frowned. That didn’t add up. Hurstgrove couldn’t want her that badly. He didn’t know her. At most, he saw a pretty shell, but he bedded actresses and models, women clearly far more beautiful than she was. Was he so lacking in bed partners that he’d have to stoop to this length to get one? No.

Nor did she think he’d done it merely to annoy Mason. Their rivalry was obvious, but Hurstgrove would not gambled his familial connections for a fleeting affair.

It would be so easy to be angry, to wonder why Hurstgrove had done this to her. But he’d abducted her from her wedding for her, and at great expense to himself.


He might not be the most honorable man ever. He objectified women and didn’t care about resolving Mason’s animosity. But he had risked much to help her, attempted diplomacy, then took quick action when talking no longer worked. He wasn’t afraid to do what needed to be done. In a weird way, Felicia admired him for it. Beyond the fact he wasn’t human—what sort of “other” he was, she had no idea—there was more to Hurstgrove than she’d previously imagined.

What would he be like in bed?

The question came from nowhere, unbidden, unwanted. A thousand sensual images pelted her: his hand fisting in her hair, the other gripping her hip, his lips on hers, hard muscles sliding over her skin, covering every inch of her body, his shoulders bunching under her nails as he slid deep inside her…and she lifted her hips in welcome, arching her back and hissing with pleasure.

He was her fiancĂ©’s half-brother, her abductor. He wasn’t even human, yet…she couldn’t not be aware of him. Every time he drew near, her body lit up like a Christmas tree. Of course she was be grateful that he’d saved her from Mathias tonight. But it wasn’t gratitude making her breasts ache or her knickers turn moist. She should hate everything about his rich, womanizing ways. She didn’t.

Did that non-human part of him draw her in? It seemed fantastical…but she knew, in this case, real life was stranger than fiction.

Felicia took a deep breath and turned to him. “What are you?”

He stilled. “What am I?”

“Yes. I know you’re not human. Your conversation with Bram in the garage… It’s clear your normal mode of transportation isn’t an auto. He tried to simply concentrate, as if that would transport him to another location. That’s not human.”

Duke gripped the wheel tighter. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Another lie, but accusing him would get her nowhere. “I’m not stupid. You claimed I’m in grave danger from a madman I’ve never heard of and that only you and your friends can protect me. Then a lot of robed villains arrived unexpectedly and in minutes demolished a building that had stood for hundreds of years. What am I to make of that?”

Hurstgrove winced. “The evening has been harrowing. I’m sorry.”

“You’re missing the point. There are holes in your story, and I want the truth. You’re too high-profile to be a government agent. You don’t need money, so you’d be barmy to deal in drugs or arms. Nor does—”

“I would never do either!” He cast her an outraged glance. “I obey the laws.”

“Except those pertaining to kidnapping,” she pointed out, brow raised. “Besides, even if you regularly broke laws, I’ve never seen drug dealers or third-world generals crash a wedding with an army in black robes. Not a very inconspicuous way to do business. But all that is very human, which you’re not.”

“This is ridiculous, Felicia.”

“Is it? Why else would you imagine that you could close your eyes and beam yourself to…Tahiti? So I ask myself, who—or what—would imagine they could? Are you an alien? Do you have eight arms or tentacles or—”

What?” A frown of incredulity cut deep into his brow. “Of course not. Don’t be mad.”

So he wasn’t an alien. “A ghost?”

“Do I look dead?”

No, very much alive. Healthy, gorgeous, so masculine her pulse wouldn’t slow… Bad train of thought. “Answer the question.”

“This is absurd. Stop—”

“When I get the truth, I will. Should I protect my jugular around you? Invest in a garlic necklace?”

Hurstgrove downshifted, took a curve a bit too fast, and swore. “Vampires are nasty creatures, a small step up from cannibals. I’d destroy myself first.”

Right, then. “Do you turn furry during certain phases of the moon?”

He rolled his eyes. “This is preposterous. Lupines don’t eat meals with utensils. Do you think I could be a member of the peerage and photographed as often as I am if I couldn’t manage a fork?”

Did that mean he knew one? Or did he answer questions with questions simply to throw her off? “So, not a lupine?”

“Definitely not. I like to shower more than once a decade. I’m plain human.”

She wrinkled her nose at the stench of his lie. “You’re not. Zombie? Demon?”

“Christ! I haven’t risen from the grave or come from hell.” He glared at her, his patience clearly running thin. “Though I feel as if I’m there now.”

She harrumphed. “Elf? Fairy? Some other magical creature?”

“Stop. In three minutes, I’ve gone from a street thug wielding dime bags to a pale midget with pointed ears. I’m exhausted.”

Felicia sent him a mulish glare. True, Hurstgrove looked tired, but it was mostly an excuse not to answer her questions. But her nose told her she hadn’t hit on the truth…yet.

The next few minutes passed in tense silence until, finally, Duke pulled off the motorway at the only bit of civilization visible. A few scattered cottages, looking as old as the tiny village itself, squatted on a dark, narrow road. At the end, nestled in trees, a plain mid-century house appeared, only visible because his headlights reflected off the front windows.

As he steered the convertible closer, he noted a faint air of lonesomeness. He pulled up in the drive and turned to Felicia. “Wait here.”

He hopped out of the car and sprinted to the little cottage door. A few envelopes bulged out of the mail slot. A peek through the window revealed newspapers littering the floor. No one had been home for days.

Praying the inhabitants were away for the holiday, Duke returned to the car, then followed the drive around the back of the house. He cut the lights and the engine.

“Who lives here?” she asked, frowning.

No idea. “A friend. Let’s go.”

Felicia grabbed his arm as he began to climb out of the car. “You’re lying.”

How could she know that? “We’ll only be here a few hours. Come on.”

“We can’t just barge into someone’s home!”

“This is life or death. We haven’t time to be polite.”

She dug in her heels. “We’re staying in separate rooms, yes?”

It would be wiser for his self-control, but… Duke shook his head. “I’ll do my utmost to respect your privacy. But I can’t let this…man get his hands on you, Felicia. I won’t risk you. ‘Depraved’ is too kind a word to describe him.”

She hesitated, then sighed. “All right.”

Her acceptance of the situation relieved him and made him a bit proud. She was smart and practical…and driving him mad with lust.

At he walked around to help her out of the car, he murmured, “Stay close to me.”

Felicia exited, shivering as she scanned their surroundings. He slung an arm around her and drew her against his side.

Bristling, she backed away. “I’m perfectly fine. There’s no one about.”

“You’d be surprised by the things that go bump in the night.” He smiled grimly at her. “Besides, you’re freezing. Let’s go.”

The moment they stepped away from the car, the January wind whipped through them anew. She shivered in the delicate lace of her wedding dress and crossed her arms, huddling into herself to keep warm.

Stubborn woman. Duke shrugged out of his coat.

“Oh, no. You don’t—”

Felicia didn’t even finish her protest before he settled his dinner jacket over her shoulders. Almost instantly, she sank deep into the warmth of the coat.


Felicia buried her hands in the lapels and inhaled deeply. Duke was already hard, but his erection turned painful.

Cheeks red, she lifted her face from the garment and nodded. “T—thank you.”

At the door, Duke hesitated. If Felicia weren’t with him, he’d simply wave a hand and let his magic open the door. He couldn’t send her two hundred meters away now. Too dangerous. So in addition to kidnapping, less than four hours later, he’d be adding breaking and entering to his criminal repertoire. Wouldn’t Mum be proud?

He reared back to elbow out a little pane of glass above the handle when Felicia tapped his shoulder. She held the key in her hand.

“Where did you find that?”

She gestured to her feet. “Flower pot. I keep my spare there as well.”

Very smart. Duke grabbed the key and stepped forward to open the door for Felicia.

They stepped into the cozy little house with its neutral colors and masculine touches. Duke closed the door behind her and locked it. Just in case, he tried to magically secure the door…but nothing. Damn. He’d have to keep her close and take other precautions.

He passed her on the narrow stairwell, his body brushing hers at the chest, and thighs. He steadied her with his hands on her shoulders. All right, it was an excuse to touch her. The yearning to press her bare flesh against him and unleash his need for her pounded him again, growing dangerously with every moment they were together. Only thoughts of Mason and Mathias enabled him to release her and trek down the hall.

Duke opened the first door. A slightly musty scent drifted out, as if no one had slept here recently. He flipped on the nearby lamp. The room was stark, masculine, minimal, and very small. The owner had squeezed an armoire, a wooden bench, and one narrow tester bed into the room.

It was going to be a long night.

Biting back a curse, Duke ushered Felicia into the bedroom. He took another glance at the little bed. His gut tightened. “Would you like the shower first?”

“If you don’t mind…”

Duke gestured to the adjacent room, and she edged past him, flipped on the light to reveal glossy black tiles lining a stark white shower, then turned. His gaze locked with hers, squeezing the air from his lungs, until she closed the door between them.

Letting out a breath, Duke tore off his shoes, coat, tie, and shirt. He’d rather strip down and ease this aching erection, but Felicia was forbidden, and wanking off to thoughts of her would not be helpful, he knew from experience. Besides, he must stay focused on her safety.

Lifting the dark wooden blinds, he looked outside at the night around him, alert for any signs of menace. He couldn’t see a damn thing beyond the trees, but Mathias must be out there searching, waiting for him to fuck up and expose Felicia to danger.

Suddenly, Felicia opened the bathroom door and peeked out, her face hesitant. “Can you help me? I hate to ask…”

“Anything,” he vowed, crossing the room to her.

She bit her lip. “My dress…”

Then turned her back to him. A row of small satin buttons secured the lace gown from her neck to her waist—twenty of them, at least. And she wanted him to unfasten them? Unwrap her like a package?

A fresh wave of desire swamped him, nearly overwhelming. Dear God, how could he touch those buttons—her skin—and not take more?

Felicia cast a nervous glance over her shoulder again, moving the thick tumble of golden curls that had fallen from her twist out of his way.

Duke did his best to school his face and soothe her as he closed the distance between them. His heart revved, his palms turned damp. He wanted her so badly, he could hardly walk right.

She’s not yours.

With shaking hands, he reached for the first button at the creamy flesh of her neck, just below the wispy curls rioting near her hairline. Another button, then a second, a third…revealing the line of her spine and the softest skin. With each button, Duke exposed more and more of her, and his greedy gaze ate up every inch. The dress fell away, baring the delicate slopes of her shoulders, her upper back, the hint of her small waist.

His breathing turned ragged. As close as he was, Felicia couldn’t possibly fail to notice.

Two buttons left. He reached for the first, and couldn’t resist caressing one fingertip down her spine. She shuddered and looked back, wide-eyed, pupils dilated. She bit her plump bottom lip between her teeth, her breathing sounding harsh in the silence.

Dear God, she was aroused.

Grabbing the last button, he twisted it, sliding it free of its mooring. He had to get away from her before he did something they’d both regret.

The dress sagged forward, and she caught it—but not until it fell from her bare shoulders and slid toward her hips, revealing a bit of the white lacy knickers he yearned to rip from her body.

“Thank you,” she breathed.

“You're welcome.” His voice sounded rusty, as if he hadn’t used it in years.

Walk away!

But he stood, rooted. Staring.

Felicia retreated—until her back hit the portal. With one hand, she grabbed the edge of the door. To steady herself? To shut it? With the other, she clutched her dress to her breasts. Duke still saw the shadow between them, pale, plump, tempting…

His gaze jerked up to her face. She stared back.

The lust thickening his blood nearly knocked him over, and Duke gripped the door jamb above her head for support. In forty-three years, he’d never felt anything like this.

This was totally unfamiliar and beyond his control.

Duke shuffled closer. Her body heat grabbed him across the mere ribbon of space between them. He leaned in, tilted his head, his gaze zeroed in on her lips, thoughts of tasting her storming through his head.

He was about to make the biggest mistake of his life.

“Stop me,” he murmured.

Felicia stared, breathless, silent.

Heart revving, Duke inched closer, enough to see the little line bisecting that lush lower lip and smell the peppermint of the holiday candy he’d given her in the car. “Felicia, stop me.”

But she swayed closer, her eyes fluttering shut. Her hand left the door and latched onto his bare shoulder. Her touch jolted his system, a lightning rod charging through him. Thought stopped, desire flared.

Yes, he was going to hell, but he’d go with her sweet taste on his tongue.

Monday, October 25, 2010

It's All In The Delivery - A Bloody Pen Post

Just recently (like tonight) after watching a remake of an old favorite movie, and then watching the original version again, I saw just how important delivery is in a story. The movie in question... The Karate Kid, but which was better?

The new version is very identical in the set up. A young boy is moved to a new town and immediately finds himself at odds with the popular kid and unable to defend himself well in the many fights he gets into. Both boys are befriended by a maintenance man who knows the martial arts the boy wants to learn.

The teaching methods are different. The ages of the kids are different. The injuries and the pranks and the insecurites of the main boy are the same.

I love both movies, but the new version (though I was skeptical) held way more power for me. It was in part due to the actors I think, but mostly the power was in the delivery of some of the back story.

Jaden Smith's character in the new film portrayed the student in trouble supremely. His expressions from the very beginning, watching him tell his friends goodbye before he moved to another country, his struggles from the moment they arrived... He drew me in instantly and had me feeling for him.

Jackie Chan's character, though his back story was very similar to Mr. Miyagi's story in the original was delivered quite differently. From the beginning, Chan's character was more standoffish than Morita's. He seemed darker. More wounded. Hints were dropped throughout the new story that visually showed his issues, so by the time the revelation scene came, when it was time for us to learn what had happened to him, the moment was considerably more emotional. And the way Jaden Smith's character helped Chan move past his pain was touching and insightful.

Another thing that made the new movie more powerful was how Chan's character admitted what he learned from Smith's. The connection between the characters is shown well in both movies, but for me, the new version held the power of delivery. A power that brought me to tears...something the original has never done.

It's a lesson I will be keeping in mind as I work on my edits and new books.

Have you seen both movies? What did you think? Have you seen other remakes that have been the same way?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Romance University Weekly Lecture Schedule October 25-29

Empower Writers ~ Entertain Readers ~ Understand Men
Established May 18, 2009

An open invitation from RU!

We hope you'll join us for another week of creative and informative ways to assist you on the road to publication. Allie Pleiter will talk about Inspy romance. Laurie London reveals the necessary evil, the revision process. Is your muse on a hiatus? Jessica Inclan explores techniques to boost your creativity. What goes on in the mind of a teenage boy? B.A. Binns will give us tips on how to write from a teen boy's POV.

Permission to forward lecture schedule granted and encouraged! Want RU’s weekly lecture schedule in a new email format straight to your in-box? Sign up on RU’s homepage or any of the lecture posts!

Mon, 10/25 - Crafting Your Career – Join us for another sub-genre segment where author Allie Pleiter will chat about the Inspirational romance market. Allie will give away a copy of Mission of Hope.

Tue, 10/26 – Debut Author's Journey – Revisions – Our fantastic Debut Author's Journey continues with Laurie London talking with first time authors about the revision process. And don't miss the SNEAK PEEK at the cover of Laurie's debut book!

Wed, 10/27 – Anatomy of the Mind – Stuck? Try writing a poem! Author Jessica Inclan talks about how to use other writing techniques to jump-start your creative process.

Fri, 10/29 - Chaos Theory of Writing – Writing in the Teenage Boy's POV – Debut author B.A. Binns gives the deets on how a woman can effectively write in a teenage boy's point of view.

All Romance University lectures are generously provided by our Visiting Professors. RU is a tuition-free zone!

Best regards,

Jennifer Tanner, Heather Long, Carrie Spencer, Adrienne Giordano, Tracey Devlyn, &Kelsey Browning

Friday, October 22, 2010

Vampire Diaries Post Mortem - Plan B

Last night's electrifying episode upped the emotional and physical stakes (pardon the pun) across the board.  Just what is Katherine after? How will Damon and Stefan get it together to stop her?

Check back later today for the post mortem and all the details, thoughts and speculation I can muster!

Vampire Diaries Post Mortem - Kill or Be Killed

Look for this post-mortem to go up today.

Best scene:

When Mason Lockwood holds Elena in a headlock and informs Caroline that necks snap very easily.  Caroline retorts that she can take him.  He challenges her with a wanna a bet?  She replies, yes, yes I do and then opens a can of whoop ass on werewolf boy.  Have I mentioned how much I love Caroline the vampire?

More to come!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Let's Play a Game

Would you like to play a game? I am buried in revisions and more, so let's play a game today.  The game is called two truths and a lie. I'll give you two truths and a lie, you have to guess which is which.  Then in the comments, you offer two truths and a lie and let's see if I can guess yours.

So let's have some fun:

1. I married my high school sweetheart.
2. I dropped out of high school.
3. I had a fairy tale wedding.

What is the lie?  What are your two truths and a lie?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rachel Hawthorne and Supernatural Fun

Dark Guardian #1: Moonlight
We headed out to dinner last night with Rachel Hawthorne, author of the paranormal YA series The Dark Guardians. It was fun to take the mini-me to an author event, particularly one that focused on the types of books she likes to read. Ms. Hawthorne was hosted by the local library for the question and answer session.

She opened with a fun list of top items to prefer vampires or werewolves. For example:

Werewolves are great because:

  • They have a built in costume for Halloween
  • Loyalty to mate and pack is everything
  • They are warriors
  • They can fight all day and all night
  • They have a playful side
  • They come with a built group for parties

Vampires on the other hand are great because:

  • They are always the older guy
  • They have been around for centuries and are ideal as a study buddy for history tests
  • They don't shed
  • They don't get hormonal on the full moon
  • They have a great smile
  • They always look great in a tuxedo which bodes well for the prom

Fun, yeah?

What items would you add to the list? Be sure to check out Rachel Hawthorne's Dark Guardians series - another fun twist on the werewolf tale.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

13th Night - Book Trailer

Since the day she learned to put her ABCs together, Tara Conroy has been sharing a ghostly correspondence with the spirit world. One spirit, in particular, Darian, has been talking to her since she was twelve years old. His letters of encouragement, advice and conversation take a darker turn as she sends her cousin Duncan on the hunt for a killer named Jeffrey Wiles and again when Duncan's sister Sam finds herself helping track that killer's spirit. But when Darian's letters flirt on the line between desire and danger, Tara must learn what his intentions are before she loses her mind and her soul completely…

Darian Barnes ran afoul of a witch in 1929 as the stock market crashed. She blamed him and cursed him to know what it was like to watch everything he possessed disappear and be helpless to stop it. For nearly a century, Darian has existed as a spirit, always seeing, never touching or experiencing until one day he encountered Tara Conroy. For the first time in eighty years, someone could hear him. She was only a little girl at the time, but desperate for the contact, he told her stories that she could write. He watched over her, guiding, protecting and advising – always there when she needed a friend. Over time, Darian discovered that their connection left him longing for more…

Together, Tara and Darian guided her cousins against an evil man, but when that man's spirit begins to circle Tara, Darian knows he has to do something – anything – to save her.

Now Darian and Tara must find a way to bring their love into the physical world and destroy Jeffrey Wiles once and for all – because if they don't, Darian is terrified that the witch's curse will cost Tara her life and her soul…

What Makes Some Romances Work?

I went to see RED this weekend. RED for those of you who don’t know is an action adventure comedy starring Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Mary Louise Parker, Karl Urban and more. It’s a truly stellar cast and the previews intimated that it would be funny and chock full of action movie moments, but they missed out on the romantic aspects of the story. Now that may have been a conscious choice and if so, more power to them. But I have to say that RED was among one of the most romantic action adventure movies I’ve ever seen.


Because I believed in the romances in play on the screen. Without giving away spoilers and because I honestly think you need to see the movie, the film opens with Bruce Willis’ Frank Moses calling the St. Louis helpline for Social Security because his check still hasn’t shown up (by the way, you see Frank ripping up his check) as he and Mary Louise Parker’s Sarah begin chatting. The chemistry lit up both their faces, the hesitancy and almost-teenage-like longing added to it. Yet their interactions weren’t cutesy or ridiculous, they were mature.

Other relationships in the film mirrored that depth of maturity and feeling at different stages and all told, I bought every relationship, I believed in them. I could feel them. I could taste them and I didn’t need to be told they would have a happily ever after because these were the kind of couples that would make it work and have a good time along the way.

A similar moment happened in last night’s Castle when Beckett told Castle not to worry, she’d get him out of jail at the end. The offhand remark wasn’t flip or teasing, it echoed with a quiet truth. After all, Castle is the man who charged into a burning building for her.

So what makes some romances work for you in books, television or film? What element brings it to life?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Stranger than Fiction with Kimberly Quinton

My wonderful husband is a medical examiner and gave a talk to our local RWA chapter this weekend. He discussed the real work of a medical examiner versus that portrayed on popular TV shows and how reality is nothing like what you see and in some cases can be much more bizarre.

It reminded me of a quote I heard while listening to a writing craft lecture given by Dwight Swain years ago “Fiction is life with the boring parts removed.” For television’s “real dramas”, it’s the boring parts removed and the interesting stuff blown up a million fold to make every moment as exciting as possible. I assume it’s because watching TV is passive and therefore needs the constant stimulation to keep a viewers interest.

I’m sure I’m not the only one out there that watches TV as a way to “veg” and just be entertained. Yes, some shows can be thought provoking and deep in meaning or try to impart some moral lesson, but mainly I stay away from the “gritty dramas” of the small screen. I wouldn’t want to give up my Supernatural, Leverage or Burn Notice or Glee (Shhhhh Don’t tell anyone O.K.) What I think of as “fun TV” has its place in my life and always will!

But… and it’s a big one- I stay away from the CSI’s, L&O’s, and nurse and doctor shows because of the hyper-realism they portray. The cops, the lawyers, the crime scene investigators, the criminal profilers, the physicians…. are too unrealistic. Now, I know it’s because I’m married to an M.E. and come from a nursing and law enforcement family and am therefore “in the know”- I can’t suspend my disbelief long enough to watch and enjoy what the shows offer.

In contrast, my favorite movies are action thrillers where there is no way the hero should survive the first five minutes. Suspend disbelief- you betcha! I love them and have no problem “believing” in them for that short period of time.

I can also do that with paranormal and fantasy books. But with anything that is supposed to be set in my world with real humans, I want the characters to act like real people doing real things. I’ve found a great alternative to those TV dramas on steroids- romantic suspense books. I want the action, suspense and heartache and the worry I feel “watching” it unfold to be about characters that are relatable, not in a story where the need to be dramatic blocks me from connecting.

In fiction writing, we have the freedom to expose the reality behind those dramatic professions. A great book shows me the author worked hard to make sure the actions fit the characters as if they were real. It’s common among the Bloody Pen Sisterhood to ask “Is that what a real cop would do?” or “Is that what would happen if you did this or would a medical examiner autopsy this case….”

Here we are creating fiction with infinite possibilities and we are putting so much effort into making sure our portrayals are realistic. It’s a difficult balance writers strive for, and one that I think makes reading a great book immensely more satisfying than watching a movie or TV show.

Has this ever happened to you - You read a book and say to yourself “That would never happen….” And then get mad? Do you put the book down or give it a bad review?

Now, what about while watching a TV show or movie? Can you suspend your disbelief and enjoy it because it’s “just TV or just a movie” ?

I would love to hear what your favorite shows are and why and if you have ever stopped watching one because it just became too unrealistic? And do you have the same feelings towards any books?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Romance University Weekly Lecture Schedule October 18-22

Empower Writers ~ Entertain Readers ~ Understand Men
Established May 18, 2009

Greetings from RU!

We have a terrific line up of Visiting Professors this week! For starters, Lori Wilde will talk about romance writing for newbies and high concept. Get fashion advice for your characters from Style TV and learn about how Youtube and book trailers can help you promote your book. Fall is in the air, but the holidays are just around the corner. Lisa Plumley visits our campus for a discussion on writing holiday romances. We hope you'll join us!

Permission to forward lecture schedule granted and encouraged! Want RU’s weekly lecture schedule in a new email format straight to your in-box? Sign up on RU’s homepage or any of the lecture posts!

Mon, 10/18 - Crafting Your Career – Author Lori Wilde discusses her Beginning Writing Romance classes and high concept.

Wed, 10/20 - Anatomy of the Mind – Fashion For Your Characters - Associate Producer Ashley Hammen from Style TV's "How Do I Look?" will be answering fashion questions. How should my NYC hero dress? My L.A. heroine?

Thu, 10/21 – Special Feature – Jeannie Ruesch of Will Design for Chocolate discusses Youtube and book trailers.

Fri, 10/22 - Chaos Theory of Writing – Author Lisa Plumley discusses writing a holiday romance.

All Romance University lectures are generously provided by our Visiting Professors. RU is a tuition-free zone!

Best regards,

Heather Long, Carrie Spencer, Adrienne Giordano, Tracey Devlyn, Kelsey Browning, & Jennifer Tanner.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Saturday Slush Pile - More than Just Slush

It's Autumn and one of my favorite times of year - largely because it's not hot!  After melting for most of the summer, it's exciting to wake to crisp mornings and sunny afternoons.  The kids are all back in school, decorations are popping up for Halloween and in the not too far distant future it'll be NaNoWriMo, Thanksgiving and then Christmas here in the U.S.  So lots to do and so much more.

Today's Daily Dose is chock full of information, changes, suggestions and ideas, so be sure to check it all out!

Expanding the Daily Dose

After almost 17 months (can it really be that long?) since I started the Daily Dose, regular updates have become a challenge for me.  You may have noticed that the Daily Dose isn't always daily lately.  That's going to change. We're getting back into our daily updates, news, interviews, book reviews and yes, more Vampire Diaries (my love affair with this show is in full swing), but we're going to be adding a few more changes along the way.

Currently I am looking for a few good people to fill the following positions:

Full Time Daily Dose Writer - You must love fantasy, romance and pop culture.  You do not have to be an author, but you must love books, stories and storytelling,  If you're interested in writing for the Daily Dose on a full time basis (at least ten blogs a month), drop me a note with Daily Dose Writer in the subject line and tell me about you, your love of books and what you'd like to write about here.

On a more part time basis I am looking for a guest blogger or a part time blogger who is willing to cover

  • Young Adult
  • Category Romance
  • Single Titles

This would be more than just book reviews, but actually talking about what is out there, what is coming and why you love it.   If you're interested, just drop me a note and we'll chat about you, what you love to read and why you want to write about it.

Bloody Pen Sisterhood

The Bloody Pen Sisterhood will continue to blog at the Daily Dose on Mondays, sharing their insights, ideas and craft tips as well as funny stories and more.  So be sure to check those out. These are some great ladies and I enjoy what each and every one brings to the table.


November 1st is just around the corner and that means National Novel Writing Month time. I was enormously satisfied with last year's NaNoWriMo, but I want to make this year's even better.  I'll be posting craft tips daily and hosting guest bloggers throughout November for authors, authors-in-writing and more.  So be sure to check for those. You'll see I've added the NaNoWriMo tab back to the menu, so you'll be able to find the latest updates as soon as they are up.  If there is enough interest, I'm also going to kick off a Yahoo Loop designed specifically to keep you motivated throughout November.  So stay tuned for information on that sign up.   You'll receive daily motivators, goal tests and more with the loop.

Daily Dose Holiday Giveaway

With the holidays right around the corner, we're going to revisit our Daily Dose Holiday Giveaway. I've already talked to several of our great authors and more who will be providing signed books, gift cards and more for you to give to someone else this holiday season.  The holiday giveaway features a new guest author each day - some will be interviews, some will be guest blogs and others will just be features - but each guest blog will offer a gift or gift package that you can nominate someone else to win.  That's right, you're going to be providing the gift to someone you think will love it and who deserves it.  I'll post more about the rules on this later, but look for the Holiday Giveaway to kick off on Black Friday (that's the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving!)

Seismic Evil has a Tenative Release Date

In other author news, Seismic Evil, the second Chance Monroe Adventures novel will be tenatively released on December 13!  What a great Christmas gift idea for you and yours. In honor of this, I'll be giving away one copy of Prime Evil a week for November and December to fans of my new Facebook page, on the new loop or for commentators here at the Daily Dose (so lots of chances to win!)

Hedge Witch Chance Monroe is sure that she's allergic to risk. She has three problems: Because she is a hedge witch and bound to the land, Chance doesn't lead a safe existence, her abilities to literally shake the earth have inherent risks, and her ex-lover is determined to be a complication she doesn't need.   Earthquakes throughout the region damage bridges and roads, leave masses injured, and create havoc for Chance’s mental stability as well as her powers. When the earth shudders, Chance trembles. When the earth bucks from pressure, Chance bruises. When the earth cracks, Chance bleeds. And when Ava, a witch with her sights on driving Chance insane, manipulates the earthquakes to break Chance's magical and spiritual bond to the earth, Chance faces her greatest fight. A fight for her life and the land that nourishes her power. Chance has the support of powerful friends and the passion of a determined ex-lover backing her, but if Ava succeeds, thousands could die.

Even in success, Chance could die.

Seven Souls a Leaping

Also due for release in December is an anthology with fellow authors Lisa Pietsch and Kellyann Zuzulo titled Seven Souls a Leaping.

At New England New Age (NENA) Investigations, no case is too weird. The paranormal detective agency relies on the familial talents of siblings Duncan and Samantha and their cousin Tara. While Duncan and Samantha tend to the fieldwork, Tara mans the office tapping sources in both the physical and spirit worlds.  Fate takes a hand when a killer named Jeffrey Wiles begins a death-dealing spree that puts the lives and loves of these investigators on the line.  

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Vampire Diaries Post Mortem - Memory Lane

It's a time for exploring secrets, lies, passion and hatred. Katherine's agenda remains firmly focused on Stefan. She invades his dreams, crawls into his bed and seeks to indulge herself at his expense. She claims she has only returned to Mystic Falls for him.

If you hear skepticism in those words then you've been watching the same show I have been. Katherine is a schemer, she is always thinking three or four moves ahead of where she is now. It's interesting that this episode revolves around the deepening mystery or her return and the mystery of Mason Lockwood.

Katherine and Stefan

Stefan and Katherine danced the dance of information down the titular memory lane. Katherine revealed secrets of what was going on in Mystic Falls during the Founder's Ball. For example, she teased that she knew what George Lockwood was when she met him. it was his hunts that led to the rounding up of the vampires. By persecuting vampires, he could cover up his own supernatural secret.

Katherine teased Stefan about keeping the photograph of her and she pointed out that he returned to Mystic Falls to fall in love with Katherine all over again.

I have to wonder if that's not a little bit true. It was Elena's looks that initially captured Stefan's attention. But Elena is the woman Stefan believed Katherine to be - so you could argue that his falling in love with Elena was inevitable. But does he love Elena because he loves Katherine? No, he doesn't love Katherine because Elena is the woman he always believed in -- he just had to wait a hundred and fifty years for her to be born.

Stefan learned the hard way that Katherine's been dosing herself with vervain to prevent ever being caught unaware again. He learned of Katherine's deal with George Lockwood and to his own horror, he learned that he and Damon have spent a hundred and fifty years as vampires for no reason. Katherine insisted that they died for love, but since it was her plan to be captured and use the imprisonment of the vampires and their subsequent burning to cover her own escape -- that does leave one to wonder.

So my questions are now the following:

Did Emily know? Bonnie's ancestress was an exceptionally powerful witch. She devised the safety net under the tomb to protect Katherine, yet Katherine was never in the tomb and never had any intentions of being there. So was Emily another of Katherine's dupes?

Why did the Founding families turn on Emily?

Why did Emily allow it? It's very clear that Emily could have rescued herself, yet she was burned by the Founding families and they took her grimoire -- so those are some more mysteries that I would like some answers too.

And why did Katherine have to leave? What or should I say who is she running from? She didn't leave because of the founding families and she destroyed all the vampires she had made -- so why? Makes me think there is a much bigger bad out there that will be coming to town.

Fishing for Werewolves

Damon played his game with Mason Lockwood, but the genial Lockwood wolf wasn't biting. In the end, Damon acted as impulsively as always and stabbed Mason with a silver knife. He was more than a little shocked to discover that silver had no effect.

Now Mason doesn't want to play nice anymore.

Good job Damon.

Caroline's Betrayal

Katherine's visit to Caroline in the previous episode continues to play out as she tries to keep Elena from going to Stefan, but Elena arrives at the Salvatore boarding house anyway and there she comes face to face with Katherine. Katherine has already threatened to kill her if Stefan doesn't come to heel, but the face off was very anticlimactic. Katherine wants something from Elena every bit as much as she wants something from Stefan or she would have killed her already.

I am starting to think it is just narcism. She just wants Stefan to choose her. She doesn't want Damon because she can have him, but despite her protestations to the obvious, she wants Stefan because he doesn't want her.

Stefan and Elena decide to play the game, faking a break up in public so Caroline can report back.

Kudos to the writers. Four episodes in and the tension is nice and taut. I am eager for every drop of action that is to come.

Photo Credits: Bob Mahoney / The CW © 2010 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

The Vampire Diaries Post Mortem - Bad Moon Rising

In which Damon and Elena go on another road trip, but this one does not have the same bonding effect as the first one.   Thanks to Damon's compelling of the poor roadie/handyman character in the previous episode, Stefan and Damon are putting the clues together about the Lockwoods.

Damon's obsession is partly a distraction from the Katherine issue, but I do think it's also about understanding potential threats to the Salvatores and to Mystic Falls. 

Road Tripping to Duke

Alaric, Damon and Elena head to Isabel's office at Duke in order to check out her research.  According to Alaric, Isabel was officially employed by the anthropology department because the supernatural and paranormal are rooted in folklore and mythology.

At her office, they meet Vanessa Monroe, Isabel's research assistant and graduate student in comparative folklore.  Alaric spoke to her about looking at his "missing" wife's office.  She gives Damon and Elena an odd look when they first walk in, but walks them into Isabel's museum like office which is populated by dusty tomes, skeleton bits and a skull or a two.  When she slips back out, Damon wonders where she has gone.

Elena turns and finds Vanessa pointing a crossbow at her, as she gasps, Vanessa fires it and Damon flies across the room to shield Elena, taking the bolt in the back.

This is one of those significant moments that Vampire Diaries like to brush off, but Damon took a wooden crossbow bolt to the back, he could have died - for real - and he didn't hesitate to put himself between Elena and the danger.  He could have gone for Vanessa or the bolt itself, but he didn't.

While Damon can be calculating at different points in the game, this is not one of them.  Elena was in danger. He protected her.  It's not enough. Not after snapping Jeremy's neck last week.  Elena's cold anger is still in full chill, but Vanessa's reasons for attacking are definitely worth exploring.

She recognized both Damon and Elena (although with Elena she was seeing everyone's favorite psychotic: Katherine).  Vanessa also knew enough of Isabel's research to have put the pieces together (probably a big reason why Isabel never returned to her office or her life).  

Damon and Elena's interaction was fun though.

"Just pull it out. I can't reach it, Elena. Just pull the damn thing out.  It hurts."   Damon is braced for it, but you can see the pain flicker across his face when Elena yanks it out.  Her concern whittles away once he is safe too and she just drops the arrow in front of him.  Damon is already feeling better. "That bitch is dead."

"No," Elena protests. "You won't touch her."

"Watch me."

"If you do that, I'll never talk to you again."

Elena -- really?  How is that a threat? I love my Elena Gilbert, but that's reaching, even for her.

"What makes you think that has any power over me? Because I took an arrow in the back for you?  You are severely overestimating yourself."

"I forgot I was speaking to a psychotic mind that snaps and kills people impulsively. Fine. Do whatever you want."

"You're starting to manipulate me."

"If you mean by manipulate, tell the truth. Okay. Guilty."

Alaric has Vanessa contained when Elena and Damon come out of Isabel's office. Elena explains who they are and introduces Damon as "This is Damon Salvatore, the one you just shot."

Damon pipes in with a grim grin of "I'd be EXTRA nice to me right now."

Eating Bunnies

Caroline and Stefan's time together is spent working on Caroline's control and need to hunt.  Her determination that hunting defenseless bunnies is the first step towards becoming a serial killer is offset by Stefan's dry remark that she's already skipped serial killer and gone straight to vampire.

Thanks to Bonnie, however, Caroline now has a ring that allows her to walk in the sun.  Unfortunately, Bonnie's judgy little attitude has her and Caroline at odds.  I feel a bit bad for Bonnie here, sure, she's being "judgy" - but - I think she also blames herself for Caroline:

  • Caroline was in the accident because Bonnie didn't remove Emily's enchantment
  • Caroline had Damon's blood because Bonnie insisted
  • Caroline was killed by Katherine because Bonnie wasn't strong enough to take out Katherine
See -- in a warped way, Bonnie's harboring an ocean of guilt for her own actions and they all contribute to her "judgy" attitude and yes -- Caroline did kill the cute carnival roadie in the last episode.

But her time with Stefan is well spent. She's getting a grip on herself, she's getting some small measures of control. But she is very new and it takes time.  Becoming a vampire enhances all of a person's natural personality - the fact that Caroline was a high maintenance control freak is showing through.  Her ability to control herself is a gift.

Unfortunately, it doesn't last.  Stefan's reward of going to the swimming hole resulted in Caroline nearly killing Matt.  Stefan manages to stop her, but not before Mason the werewolf catches their scent.

Researching Werewolves

With Vanessa's help, the erstwhile trio turns up some interesting data about the mythology behind Mystic Falls werewolves and even a little something about the vampires.  The records come from lesser known legends:  The Curse of the Sun and the Moon.  It is an Aztec legend that traces the roots of vampires and werewolves.   600 years before, the Aztecs were plagued by werewolves and vampires. They terrorized the countryside, made farming and hunting impossible until an Aztec shaman cursed them by making vampires a slave to the sun and werewolves servants of the moon.  As a result vampires could only come out at night and werewolves could only turn on the full moon.   The werewolves cannot control their shift -- if they could, it wouldn't be called a curse.

Werewolves will attack humans, but instinct and centuries of rivalry have hard-wired them to hunt the prey of choice: vampires.   Damon is skeptical because he's never seen one, but Vanessa says that over the years vampires have nearly hunted the werewolves to extinction to protect themselves.  The bite of a werewolf is fatal to a vampire.


Elena is able to warn Stefan who along with Caroline actually run into Mason in his wolf form.  But when Tyler shows up and yells "no" to the wolf breathing into Caroline's face, Mason withdraws.  While Mason has no control when he is shifted, Tyler had control which begs the question - is Tyler an alpha and is that why he has so much trouble struggling with his nature.  If he is, then if he ever does turn, that could be a much larger problem for Stefan and Damon.


Their trip was fruitful on the werewolf front, but Elena is frustrated by the lack of information on Katherine.  Damon taunts her, but Elena seems adamant that they are still not friends. He finally hands her a book labeled simply Petrova. He tells Elena that Katherine orignally came from Russia and her family name was Petrova.  He hopes that Elena will share what she learns.  Alone at the car, Elena probes Damon for the truth about Jeremy - did Damon see the ring on his finger or not?

Damon seems genuinely contrite about his actions.  He regrets his impulsive act and wants to know if there is anyway, anything he can do that would ever earn Elena's forgiveness.  Elena wants the answer to her question.  Damon tells her no, he hadn't seen the ring and was grateful that Jeremy had it on.  Elena turns frigid on him again, revealing that she manipulated him to get the answer and Damon lashes out, hurt - that she is just like Katherine after all.

As much as I love my Damon, he is getting more than a little of what he sowed.  He is a passionate, passionate man who became a vampire and that has only increased his reckless, passionate nature.  I honestly believe he does feel bad about Jeremy and I think it will take time, but Elena will forgive him.

But getting there is half the fun.

Photo Credits: Bob Mahoney / The CW © 2010 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Vampire Diaries Kill or Be Killed

I have to admit, I am really loving this season so far.  Tune in Friday for my post-mortems for the last two weeks and of course, for this week's episode: Kill or Be Killed.  Damon is such a naughty little boy sometimes.

Monday, October 4, 2010

To Series or Not to Series with Cindy Spencer Pape

First of all, thanks so much to Heather for having me here today. If you’d like to know more about me or my books, you can check out my website or blog, links at the bottom of this post.

To Series or Not To Series?

You see and hear a lot of authors and readers talking about series, and it’s something I’ve given a lot of thought. I write mostly series, and there are definitely some ups and downs to that. Even the word series can encompass a variety of different things. As a kid growing up, I loved the teenage mystery series—Trixie Belden, the Hardy Boys, even the horribly dated Bobbsey Twins. These books followed the same characters through a variety of adventures. Then I discovered fantasy and science fiction. The Narnia books, Lord of the Rings, and so many more. Similar concept though—same main characters, different stories.

In romance, though, a series doesn’t usually work that way. For a romance to be a romance, you have to take two (occasionally more) characters from not being together, to their happily-ever-after. That’s pretty final. Although I have read a few great books where the romance continues to grow and evolve in a second book, (Jayne Ann Krentz has a couple good examples of this) that’s about the limit if each story is really a romance. So a series takes a different turn. Usually it’s a common world, town, family, or group that have overlapping stories. Each book of the series features a different couple finding that HEA. So each book as a unique hero and a unique heroine. One of the great features of this kind of series is that you get to peek at the HEA of earlier couples. It can be kind of like catching up with old friends.

From a reader’s standpoint, I love series. I love seeing that couple A is still together a few years later, maybe with children, or still helping to save the world. I still have the first romance series I ever collected, Roberta Gellis’ fabulous Roselynde Chronicles. She broke a rule in this series, too. The first two books had the same heroine. Yep. Her first HEA wasn’t so ever-after. Husband number one was much older and died while she was still in her 30’s, leaving her to remarry a man much closer to her own age. I’m not sure you could get away with that in today’s market, but as Ms. Gellis was one of the founders of the historical romance genre as we know it, she did. I had the chance to meet her at a convention a few years ago, and practically genuflected at her feet.

Series have problems though. They can go on way too long. Then they run the risk of being repetitive or jumping the shark. There are a couple of very big names that I used to run right out and buy on release day. Now I get them from the library if I bother at all. I totally respect author Linda Howard who said she wasn’t writing any more books in her MacKenzie family series, because she didn’t want to have to kill off the parents. Sometimes, you just have to let go. And who knows? If she hadn’t, we might not have had all the NEW wonderfulness she’s written since. As an author, I am learning about the pitfalls of series. Writing the last of my Crazy H trilogy or the fourth of my Heroes of Stone series was hard. There was a lot I’d written in that couldn’t be changed, so I had to write around a lot of things I might have changed if they hadn’t been set in stone by previous books. I had to really work to make this heroine different from the other two—can’t have them all blending together.

Next week, I have two books coming out from two different publishers and both are parts of series. Motor City Witch, coming Monday from Carina Press, is book 2 of my Urban Arcana series, and Just for Jess, out Tuesday from Ellora’s Cave is book 3 of Immortal Cravings from Ellora’s Cave. So yes, I’d have to say I’m in favor of the series concept, both as an author and as a reader. But if I ever drag one out to the point of absurdity, will somebody please let me know?

About me and my books:
Cindy Spencer Pape is an avid reader of romance, fantasy, mystery, and even more romance who firmly believes in happily-ever-after. Married for more than twenty years to her own, sometimes-kilted hero, she lives in southern Michigan with him and two teenage sons, along with an ever-changing menagerie of pets. Cindy has been, among other things, a banker, a teacher, and an elected politician, but mostly an environmental educator, though now she is lucky enough to write full-time. Her degrees in zoology and animal behavior almost help her comprehend the three male humans who share her household.


Motor City Witch
Urban Arcana, Book 2
By Cindy Spencer Pape
Coming October 4, 2010 from Carina Press
Buy Link

Blurb: She’d left magic behind.

Once upon a time, Elise Sutton had been a powerful witch and paranormal enforcer. Once she’d been madly in love with Fae lord Aidan Greene. But when Aidan had considered his duties more important than their relationship, the love affair ended badly. Shortly after, while on the hunt for a rogue demon, Elise was brutalized and almost killed. Months later she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. To protect her child—and her heart—Elise decided to live a nonmagical life.

Until she meets Aidan again, and he assumes Dina is his daughter. When Dina is kidnapped by a racial purity movement, Elise turns to Aidan for help. The icy facade she has built around herself shatters at Aidan’s touch. Together they have to hunt through the human and faery worlds to find Dina...and to discover whether or not they have any kind of chance at a happily ever after.

Just for Jess

Immortal Cravings, Book Three
By Cindy Spencer Pape
Coming October 5, 2010 from Ellora’s Cave Exotika
Buy Link:

Blurb: Vampire Jessamy Maitland is a classic workaholic, until her friends team up to buy her a weekend with the incredibly sexy vampire Dermott McMahon on his luxurious private island. Dermott is determined to get Jess to kick back and relax, so he’s enlisted the help of three lion shifter friends.

Jess finds herself faced with three days of no phone, no computer and four sexy, horny males, all determined to wait on her hand and foot and show her a scorching good time. Naked. Together. In ways she’s never imagined. With those odds, what’s a vampire to do? There’s nothing for it but take them up on their offer and discover that sometimes it’s okay to play.

Romance University Lecture Schedule for October 4 - 8, 2010

We've got a fabulous line-up at RU this week! We'll discuss query writing, good reasons why you should write every day, and talk about our favorite craft books. We hope you'll join us for an informative and enlightening week. Hope to see you there!


Crafting Your Career: C.J. Redwine returns for another installment of Query Writing 101.


Anatomy of the Mind: The mistress of the GIAM 100x100 loop, Joann Banker, talks about why writing every day is a good idea.


Chaos Theory of Writing: Wanna know what craft books the RU Faculty thinks are top notch? Kelsey Browning hosts a discussion on books as a resource to improve your writing. Stop by and tell us your fave and you'll be eligible to win one of the faculty's recommended books!

All Romance University lectures are generously provided by our Visiting Professors. RU is a tuition-free zone!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Blond-ism: The Biased Against Fair-Haired Heroes

First, I want to thank Heather for inviting me over to hang out with you guys. *looks around* Ah, it's so nice and pretty over here. *tamps down blog template envy* :)

Alright, so Heather didn't give me any guidelines on what to talk about--which is always a dangerous thing to do with someone who writes erotic romance. So I thought, how about a post that requires pictures of hot men? You with me? Okay, good. :)

I read a lot--mostly romance (all subgenres) and some YA--and I've started noticing a pattern. We always hear the cliche "tall, dark, and handsome" which of course is a good combination of adjectives (and I'm not giving up the tall and handsome), but I wonder if we may have taken the "dark" too much to heart. It seems like at least nine out of ten romance novels I read have the dark-haired hero. And apparently, I'm not immune as a writer either. Here are the inspirations for the heroes in my last two manuscripts:

Lex, my hero in my novel Wanderlust (romance about a rockstar), was a combo of Jared Leto (actor/lead singer 30 Seconds to Mars) and Tyson Ritter (singer All-American Rejects):

and then Reid my hero in my latest novel Exposure Therapy is a combo of these beautiful guys: (Rob Lowe and Ian Somerhalder)

So clearly, dark works. BUT here's my worry--what of the good-looking blondies out there? If I'm lucky enough to sell either of these books to publishers, the second in each of these separate series would feature a blond hero. And I love those characters too, and in my mind, they are just a sexy as the dark-haired heroes. I mean, consider the blond hotness below:

Alexander Skarsgard  and Ryan Kwanten (True Blood)

Josh Holloway (Lost)

Yum, right? Clearly, blond can be hot. So why aren't there more blond heroes out there? Do we have certain characteristics we assign to blonds that don't work as heroes? Will readers not be as into my characters simply because of their fair locks?  And God forbid someone write a red-headed hero.  (The only time I've seen it done--and boy it worked that time--was Jamie in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.)

I don't know the answers or the reasons, though I have my theories. That's why I'm putting the questions out to you guys.

As readers, do you have a preference for what color hair the hero has? Do you think differently of a character based on their hair (i.e. dark hair means brooding, mysterious - blond means light-hearted, fun-loving?) Do you think there is a bias out there? And are any of your fave book heroes blondies (mine is Eric in the Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood books)?

Thanks for letting me stop by!

Roni Loren is a romance writer whose goal is to write sexy (okay, sometimes downright naughty) stories that make readers laugh out loud, hold their breath, and fall in love--all before reading "happily ever after." She blogs on writing at Fiction Groupie and tweets like mad woman. Hopefully, you'll see her books on the shelves soon!

Feel free to stalk her: