Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Romance Today

My mom’s reaction when it was confirmed what I’m writing and an email I got on one of my author loops... well, it got me thinking about the romance genre as a whole--and erotic romance in particular--and how it’s perceived by those not in this industry (and, unfortunately, by a few people who are in this industry but are caught up in their own issues of what's "romance" and what's not).

First, I want to set the record straight. Romance authors don’t write “trashy novels”. We write the most popular fiction in the world. (Well, in the U.S., anyway. Sales statistics bear me out on this.)

Jenny Crusie, in one keynote speech she gave, said (and I paraphrase), “The stories we write are not real, but they are true.” (Take that, James Frey and Nasdijj!) What did she mean by this? Romances aren’t real because the characters and situations are fictional. But they are true because in them we explore basic human truths of life, love, and struggle. Romance novelists and readers simply choose to look at the world in a positive light, and so the books have happily ever afters at the end, or at the very least, the promise of an HEA.

Finally, life is hard. We have no guarantees of happiness. Even the founding fathers of the United States of America were wise enough to know that and so protected not our happiness, but our right to pursue happiness. And because our lives sometimes are so hard and emotionally draining/unsatisfying, I want my entertainment (be it books or movies) to have happy endings. (Can I tell you how incredibly irritated I was with City of Angels? I mean, here the angel gives up his immortality to be with the heroine, and then she dies?!?!? WTF is up with that?!?!?)

So. I do not write trash. Okay, Mom?

I write frickin’ good entertainment!

Monday, January 30, 2006

OMG, My Mother Knows!

And she wishes I was writing children's books.

This would be why I hadn't broken the news to her yet. I didn't want her to be disappointed in me. Even if I am almost 43 years old, she's still my mother.

And she wants me to write books for little kids.

Oy vay.

I haven't actually talked to her. This was relayed to me by my sister. I told Mom I was writing romances. She asked my sister, "Is she writing that stuff like your father reads?"

My sister: "Well, yeah, kind of." (She says to me, "I couldn't lie to her." Well, duh. I don't expect my sister to lie to our mother. But she could at least get it right. I so do not write what my dad reads.)

Yeah, don't get excited. My dad does not read romances. My dad reads male erotica (or is it porn?) like the Longarm books by Tabor Evans. There's quite a bit of sex in the books, but no romance. The sex is there for titillation only, as a tool for arousal.

I don't write erotica. I don't write porn.

I write erotic romance. Emphasis on the romance. R-o-m-a-n-c-e.

Even so, can you imagine me writing children's books?

Oy vay.

(Oh, and make sure you go over to Indulgence today and check out the free second installment of All's Fair.)

Friday, January 27, 2006

What Women Want To Hear

A couple of days ago I had a two-part blog about the differences between men and women. Let's move on to what kinds of things do women want to hear from their men in bed?

Women are verbal creatures at heart. While we might know our man loves us, we still want to hear those three words: "I love you." It's also why we read erotic romance and erotica and love men with foreign accents. According to Ask Men, we react the same way to these things as a man will when he sees a woman with large breasts (because men are visual creatures at heart).

If your man can paint a verbal picture, he can turn you on, and big time. Here are some tips that Ask Men gives on the best things to say once a man has a woman where he wants her:

"I want to make you feel good." A simple and effective way to relax her and reassure her that she made the right decision to go to bed with him.

Most men like a woman to be vocal during sex, because that way he knows when he's pleasing her. But sometimes women feel awkward or embarrassed about being so loud. A man saying, "I love the sounds you make when you orgasm" will help her relax and let go.

He should compliment her, but be sure he selects a body part she's proud of. She'll know if he's 'faking' it. He can say something like "I love how (hot) your (body part) is."

"I love the way you taste. I could stay down here for hours." When a man says this, it reassures his woman that he enjoys giving her oral sex and that there are no, um, nasty smells coming from that area. And the tip here: it's best to say this in a rough, exhausted tone of voice. (Service done well is service most appreciated!)

"That feels so good. I love it when you (insert action here)." The man should encourage his woman to touch him, and let her know what works for him. Or "You're so good at (insert action here)" works as well.

"Your skin is so soft and smooth." God knows we spend a lot of time shaving and smoothing stuff on our skin to keep it feeling silky. We appreciate it when our men acknowledge our efforts and that it's a turn-on for them.

"I've never felt this way before." Men and women like to feel special and unique, especially in a relationship. If a woman does something to her man in bed that has never been done quite so pleasurably before, he needs to tell her. But he shouldn't overdo it by adding something like "It's the best I've ever had." (That could detract from the whole making-her-feel-special thing, because this suggests she's just another in a long line of bed partners.)

The guys should choose their words wisely. Well-spoken words (even dirty talk) can heighten a woman's arousal. Poorly chosen words will break the mood and send him home without gettin' any.

P.S. I'll be taking the weekend off from this blog, but you'll get me twice on Monday. I'll be posting here, of course, and posting the second installment of All's Fair over at Indulgence. If you haven't read Jenna and Kate's stories, get over there now and read them. They're great!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Blogs, Blogs Everywhere

I am now on five blogs.



First, there's Reflections, my blog. Then there's Indulgence, my author group's blog. Then there's Torrid Temptations, the blog for Whiskey Creek Press Torrid, and NCP Authors from New Concepts Publishing and, finally, I'll be SExing at some point or another over at Silver Expressions, Liquid Silver Publishing's blog.

This means my surfing to other sites will become scarcer and scarcer. I just don't have the time... correction. I don't want to take the time away from my writing to be gallivanting all over the Internet reading all the wackiness that is other people's lives.

I'm a little overwhelmed. Especially at the thought of blogging over at SEx. The blogs there are funny and irreverent and smart. On my good days I, too, am funny, irreverent and smart. But I get intimidated easily. It's the Pisces in me, I guess. Or being the youngest child. The Peacemaker.

Ah, well. We shall see.



Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Do Women Prefer Masculine Faces?

In recent years, scientists have turned to the theory of evolution to explain why some faces are judged to be more attractive than others.

According to the laws of evolution, the attractiveness of an individual is directly related to his or her value as a mate. In other words, a "high-value" mate is one who best enhances your chances for successfully reproducing. In our evolutionary past, scientists claim, someone who noticed the cues to the value of a potential partner and thereby selected a high-value mate would leave behind more children, and those children would tend to inherit genes for attentiveness (i.e., they paid attention to who was the most handsome).

Thus attention to attractiveness is part of our evolutionary design.

What does good looks have to do with anything? Scientists believe that one link between good genes and attraction could be the shape of the masculine face.

Boys and girls, until puberty, have similarly shaped faces. At puberty, however, hormones kick in and masculinize or femininize the faces and produce distinctive faces of mature men and women. Testosterone provokes the growth of certain facial features--such as the jaw and cheekbones--so boys' faces grow more than girls'. Female faces remain relatively childlike. High levels of estrogen in growing girls prevents the growth of facial bones, and leads to increased thickness of lips and fatty deposits in the cheek area.

Theoretically, then, men with more 'masculine' faces should be more attractive, because there are certain evolutionary costs connected to developing such characteristics. It all comes back to the testosterone levels associated with the male face-shape. Testosterone decreases the effectiveness of the immune system, and so only healthy individuals with strong immune systems can afford to produce the hormones required to create masculine characteristics. (If a male doesn't have a strong immune system, his body would not release enough testosterone to give him a more masculine facial shape.)

The quality of our immune systems is linked to our genes. So it tracks that an attractive masculine face should reflect the attractiveness of underlying good immunity genes (and thereby somewhat guaranteeing a child of the union would be healthy).

There have also been some studies done of chimps and gorillas in correlation to this idea. Male primates' canine teeth generally are longer than females. Which makes sense, as their teeth would be used in fights for dominance and fighting for the right to mate. Longer teeth often reflect which males are dominant.

Scientists have found that as primate faces became broader, their canines were shorter. Longer-faced primates have longer canines. The study of chimps and gorillas found that there was a development of broader-faced males with shorter canines in chimpanzees (which evolutionists claim our are closest primate relative), suggesting a move toward attractiveness versus brute strength when females selected their mates. Broader faces with prominent cheekbones were picked preferentially by females.

This leads scientists to believe that we had the same "move" in our own evolutionary history (as evidenced by contemporary movie stars like Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Viggo Mortensen), where mate choice was more important than competition between males.

Hmm. You'd never know that by watching American football or Canadian hockey, now
would ya?

Take a look. Are these faces attractive to you?

P.S. I'll be over at Fallen Angels Reviews tonight, along with the other authors from Whiskey Creek Press Torrid. 9 p.m. EST. Come over and chat with us!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Men And Women Are Different - Part 2

Yesterday I blogged about the different way men and women use eye contact and body movement. Today, we'll talk about the different ways they handle touch and space.

Women tend to associate touch with warmth and initiate types of touching that express support, affection and comfort. Women are touched more than men and are touched more gently than men. (You ever see two guys hug each other? They're pounding on each other's backs the whole time.)

Men, on the other hand, initiate touch toward females more, they're touched less often than women and more harshly than women (the pounding on the back I mentioned above), and many times use touch to assert power or express sexual interest.

As far as space (i.e., personal space), women tend to approach others closer and prefer side-to-side interaction. Men are more likely to invade others' personal space, especially women, and they prefer face-to-face conversation.

Interestingly, I picked up the January 31st edition of Woman's World today, and there was a short article by Barbara Smalley titled How to Talk So Men Will Listen. One of the things this article spoke to was this: men perceive face-to-face interaction as an act of aggression, which automatically provokes their fight or flight reaction (mostly the flight one). Now, while this would seem to contradict what was said above. But, as men are more likely to invade others' personal space (a sign of aggression), face-to-face would suggest aggressive behavior, too. If you don't want to immediately put a guy on the defensive, sit next to him instead of across from him. And, apparently, the average man can process up to 600 words per minute while the average woman speaks only about 125 to 150 words per minute. Since their brains compute words faster than we speak them, they have plenty of time for their minds to wander. So say what you've got to say and say it fast!

Hope these two days can help you, either with dealing with the men in your lives, or in writing about them in your books.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Men And Women Are Different...

... and, of course, we all knew that! But I found some information as to the different way we communicate and interact, and it was so fascinating I just had to share.

First, there's our body gestures (facial expressions, posture, etc.). Women tend to use facial expressions and body language that signal approachability and friendliness, but they tend to use less and more restrained gestures. Because of socialized rules that tell women we're supposed to be more expressive and non-confrontational, we tend to smile even when we're not happy. (It's polite.) We're more likely to be interrupted if/when we smile, even as we're attracted to those who smile more. And apparently women tilt their heads to the side more often. (Looking like a confused little puppy, perhaps?)

Men, on the other hand, use facial and body motions that indicate more reservation and control and use gestures more. They convey emotions less through smiling because of social norms that tell them they're to be emotionally neutral. They're more likely to interrupt people who are smiling. (Hmm. See the correlation? Women smile more and women get interrupted more by men.) Men's posture is more relaxed than women's and they nod their heads a lot (kinda like a bobble head.) :)

Let's move onto eye contact. Women rarely stare and engage in more eye contact while talking. This confused me a bit: they signal interest by maintaining eye contact, but tend to break eye contact more and are generally the first to avert their gaze upon the initial gaze. When eye contact isn't maintained with the other speaker, women are likely to be interrupted.

Men stare, perhaps to challenge power or status, and they signal interest by staring. They generally don't make as much eye contact as women do and will maintain eye contact until the other person averts his/her gaze. (Remember the old staring game? I'm a master--guess I've got some boy genes there somewhere.) :)

Tomorrow we'll talk about touch and space, and the different ways men and women use them.

P.S. Go over to Indulgence and check out Fire and Ice, the first installment of Kate's story. It's terrific!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Wrestling With GMC

You've heard me whine about this before. GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict.

When Suz and I were up in Sedona for our mini retreat, she helped me work through the GMC on the werewolf story I'm trying to rewrite for Ellora's Cave. I'd gotten stalled about 17,000 words in and knew it was because something wasn't right with my characters. So, over the course of two days, in intermittent bursts between shopping and taking in the sights, we talked about it.

Suz: "What's your heroine's internal goal?" (Yeah, you see why it's not so easy. You've got internal and external goals, both of which need motivation and conflict.)

Me: "She wants to prove that she can take care of herself."

Suz: "Why?" (I really came to hate that word!)

Me: "Um, because."

Now, of course, my critique partner wouldn't let me get away with that. So as we worked it out, it came to light that the heroine's mother was very needy, married five times, and the heroine had determined that she would never be that dependent on anyone.

Suz: "Okay. So, the heroine wants to prove she can take care of herself because her mother was too dependent, but she can't because...?"

Me: "Because she has a werewolf on her tail and doesn't know how to take care of herself in this situation."

There. See how that works?

Moving on. Suz: "What about her external goal?"

After several "she wants to do this because, but can't because" sessions where we kept tossing bad ideas out, we settled on this:

The heroine's external goal is to get information on repelling werewolves.

Suz: "Because?"

Me: "Because she has a werewolf on her tail."

Suz: "But she can't because...?"

Me: "The hero, who's allegedly an expert on werewolves, won't cooperate and share the information." (The reason for this is tied into his internal goal to keep his secret... that he's a werewolf.) See? More conflict right there. She's trying to get rid of a werewolf and is going to end up falling in love with one.

That's how it works. We did the same exercise for the hero, for one of the secondary characters, and for the villain. While the GMC for the villain and secondary character will remain mostly in the background, information used only by me, it's there to help me write much more clearly. Let's face it, even the villain needs to have logical reasons to do what he does and if I understand his reasons, I can write with that in mind. It's a little too cliched, in my opinion, to have him taking action merely because he's insane.

This exercise was the best thing. I think I'm going to have to wrangle Suz into helping me do this every time. It's true what they say: two heads are better than one!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Head On Over to Torrid

I'm blogging at Torrid Temptations today. So go on over and say hi!

And, just in case you miss coming to Reflections, here's some eye candy to keep you company:

See you back here tomorrow!

Friday, January 20, 2006

My Editor Loves Me! and Other Ramblings

I just have to share this, it's the coolest thing. While working with the Senior Editor at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid on the edits for DRAGON'S BANE, she shared with me that she's requested to be my editor for all my works. My writing is clean and she likes my style.

She likes me. She really, really likes me! LOL

So far, my tendency to be a 'that' whore is keeping her busy. Luckily, 'that' is one of her pet peeves, so she's catching the ones that I missed. I am also a comma whore. Not sure how it works, because I tend to put commas before 'and' when I don't need them and leave them out in other places where they should be. Lucky for me, she's catching those, too.

Also, I got the banner for Zodiac: Pisces yesterday. Rae Morgan, with whom I share the book, sent it on. Isn't it pretty?

New subject: Yesterday I spent the day at Love Romances. It was fun! I loaded lots of blurbs and excerpts and might just have gained another fan or two. :)

Amy Smith is the winner of the cool Western-style candle and a download of Careful Wishes. Yay Amy!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Writing The Book Is Only Part Of The Job

Today I'll be spending the day over at Love Romances. It's my first ever author day anywhere. I plan to post my bio, some excerpts of Careful Wishes, my first WCP Torrid story due out in the March Torrid Teasers, and blurbs on my other WCP Torrid books coming up this year. I've got five questions--you only have to answer two correctly, and I've got the answers sprinkled in my blurbs and/or on my website--and those who answer two out of five correctly will have their names tossed in a hat for a cool prize. Immediately, the winner will receive a lovely vanilla-scented candle in a Western style complete with an old-fashioned picture of a cowgirl. The winner will also receive a free download of Careful Wishes when it comes out. That's delayed gratification, I'm afraid, because the book, as I've said, isn't out until March. But March will be here before we know it, right?

So, get on over to Love Romances, join the group, and join in the fun today. I'll be there all day, so you can pop in and out. I'll repost the questions at the end of the day and select the winner and announce it here at Reflections tomorrow. Jenna will be at Love Romances on the 29th for her author day, so you might as well sign up now and practice with me!

And so the marketing/promotion efforts begin. And here I thought the writing part was hard...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Real Vampires?

I watched a re-run of CSI a couple nights ago, where the murder victim was a vampire. Vampiress? Female vampire. She wore fake fangs that had been custom made and belonged to a vampire "court", where she and her homies fed off the energy of each other. She wanted more. She wanted to drink blood. The other girls were all "ew". (Yeah, I'm with them!) The bad guy had real fangs that he'd allegedly been born with. Once he bit into her neck, puncturing her artery, he held a container and collected the blood that was still being pumped out.

So, being the curious person that I am (while I enjoy reading and writing about fictional vampires, I know next to nothing about people who claim to be real ones), I got on the Internet. This is what I found:

There are three basic "types" of vampires: those who feed off blood, those who feed off energy, and those that do both. Blood Vampires can get their nourishment from different sources (i.e., donors, blood from a rare steak, etc.). If this type of vampire doesn't have a regular donor, he/she will be in a consistently "thirsty" state of mind.

Apparently, there are a lot of sub-types of the Energy Vampire: empath, elemental, sexual, astral and others. Some energy vampires will claim that they can only feed off of one specific sub-type, regardless that energy is energy. (To me, this would be like a blood vampire saying he can only drink O negative. But, hey, what do I know? Nuttin.)

The "dual-feeders" use both blood and energy interchangeably.

From what I can determine, most blood vamps use medical equipment (think phlebotomist, here) to draw the blood, although some vampires (and some donors) prefer the good old-fashioned bite. Either way, the donor is facing potentially serious infection and/or death. If instruments are used and they aren't properly sanitized, the donor can be infected with any number of bloodborne pathogens (can you say HIV/Aids, Hepatitis, Septicemia and Spongiform Encephalopathy (the human version of mad cow disease--called Spongiform because of the effect it has on the brain.) to name a few. And if the vamp decides to bite... well, let's hope he/she misses the major arteries (located in the neck, groin, inner thigh, wrist, upper arm and so on). Otherwise, the vampire's gonna have a very dead person he/she needs to try to explain. And if the vampire bites, well, the human mouth has more germs than any other animal in nature. Ick.

Jeez Louise. Talk about complicated. Give me my fictionalized vampire hero any day of the week and eight ways on Sunday. Whether he's hampered by daylight or garlic, he doesn't have to worry about infecting his donor with some kind of nasty disease or infection.

Maybe that's part of the allure. He is dangerous, but--from a medical perspective--he's safe. :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Pisces: Redemption Cover And Release Date

Check this out:

Is that a gorgeous cover, or what?!? I'm so excited about this book. Well, I'm excited about all of them, but this will be my first book. Which is a little strange, as it's the last story I submitted in 2005. The last will be first. :)

What makes it even more special is it comes out the day before my birthday. Yes, I'm a Pisces. Purple is my favorite color (go figure, since Amethyst is my birthstone).

I'm sharing the spot with Rae Morgan, who's been absolutely super, bringing her promo expertise and contacts to bear with this newbie. We're working on a giveaway that will knock your socks off. But I can't say any more, 'cause it's a secret. Sssshhhh.

Man, I love that cover. Makes me wanna write a mermaid story...

Monday, January 16, 2006

Go Check Out Indulgence

Today is Jenna's first installment of her story My Funny Valentine. Go on over to Indulgence and read it. It's great. Her hero, Kelly--known as Duke because Kelly's such a girly-girl's name--is grrr. That's all I can say. Duke = grrr.

Speaking of grrr... I watched back-to-back X-Men last night. Ooh, Hugh, baby. Talk about the grrr-factor. Every movie I've seen him in, I've liked him. Not necessarily the movie, but him. I think the only movie I really didn't care for was the one with John Travolta and Halle Barry (can't remember the name offhand). Dress him up as an 18th century Duke (Kate & Leopold) and I'm there. Slap a hat on his head and tell him to go hunt vampires and werewolves (Van Helsing) and you can't pry me away. Put black leather and Wolverine claws on him--whoa, ya'd better look out cuz I will bowl you over if you get in the way. I can't wait for X-3!

Another item of note: I'm now part of four blogs. Reflections (where you are now), Indulgence, Torrid Temptations (for WCP Torrid authors), and now NCP Authors (for New Concept Publishing authors). Eventually I may be added to Liquid Silver, although with the number of participating authors, they certainly don't need my blabbering over there.

Well, that's it for me today. Go over and read Part 1 of My Funny Valentine. You're gonna love it!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Pain Of Time Share Sales

As I've written in previous posts, I just spent three days in Sedona, Arizona on a mini writer's retreat with my critique partner. Of course, we got very little work done. It's so beautiful up there, it's hard to stay inside and work (the place we stayed wasn't conducive to working outdoors).

Let me talk about this. Back when I was working for the credit union, we (the company) purchased some "Get Up and Go" packages to give to members (customers). One of the perks to being the VP of HR was that the VP of Marketing would often give 'extras' to the executive staff. So I got one of these packages for a 3 day-2 night stay at my choice of places. I chose Sedona, because it's close enough to drive, so the only expense I'd have would be gas and food.

Once I made my reservations, I was asked if I'd like to sit through a time-share presentation and they'd upgrade my hotel room to a room at the resort (which shall remain nameless to protect the innocent). I figured 2 hours of my time was worth 2 free nights at a resort in Sedona.

Thankfully, the sales person was very personable (which she would have had to be, right?) and explained things well. Every time I said no, she came back with another, cheaper offer. At the last of it, I was hard-pressed to say no, it was such a good deal. But, as I explained to her, every single extra penny I have is being clutched in my miserly little fist because I want to be able to support myself with my writing. I don't have the time or money for vacations right now. :)

The sad part: the room they booked us into had one of the most uncomfortable beds I've ever slept in. It was a small suite, complete with kitchen with dishes, etc., which was nice. But the cushions of the sofa were worn out and the sleeper sofa, according to my CP, slept just as bad as the bed did. If this was what they were trying to sell me, fuggetaboudit.

The really great part: it was in beautiful Sedona. The weather was gorgeous: sun and 70s during the day. Unfortunately, I didn't get to any of the vortexes. You have to climb up on top of big rocks and/or hills (I'm talking a couple of miles worth of climbing and/or hiking) and I'm just not in that kind of physical shape. So I don't know if you really can feel anything from these energy vortexes. One day I hope to. If you ever get a chance to go to Sedona, do it.

One day I'm going back for at least a week, and I'm going to book myself in a place that at least affords a patio with a table where I can sit outside and work. Although all those red rock formations can be distracting. And if I end up at a place on Oak Creek... well, it's a dirty job, but somebody's gotta do it.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


I was originally going to post this yesterday, on Friday the 13th. But, I had other things to talk about yesterday... I'm still jumping up and down about New Concepts! But, for now, let's talk about Friday the 13th and other superstitions:

Are you a superstitious person? When you and a friend walk around a pole on opposite sides, do you say "Bread and butter?" When you spill salt, do you pick up a pinch and throw some over your left shoulder? Or when you're talking about something good or lucky, do you say, "Knock on wood?" and then rap your knuckles on your head? (Or other handy wooden surface.)

I have said "bread and butter" in the appropriate circumstance (not just with dinner), I have "knocked on wood", and as a kid, I used to hold my breath when we'd pass a cemetary. (Take my word for it. It's much easier to do when you're in a car than when you're walking. Cars move faster.)

What about Friday the 13th? The number 13 in and of itself is considered to be an unlucky number. Add it to a Friday and you've got impending doom in your day. Does this day fill you with dread, with the feeling that if anything unlucky could happen to you, it will happen to you today specifically because it's Friday the 13th?

Where do all of these superstitions come from? I'm glad you asked, because I just happened to have spent some time doing some quick and dirty research.

When you're walking with a friend and are separated by a pole (or other object that you each walk around on opposite sides), you say "bread and butter" to preserve your relationship until you meet up again.

In ancient times, salt was a highly-prized commodity and very expensive. If you spilled salt, you immediately had to throw some of it over your left shoulder to appease the evil spirits that lurked there and thereby keeping them from inflicting you with sickness.

Knocking on wood was done to frighten the wood sprites that may be listening so they wouldn't steal your good luck.

And the cemetary thing? To keep the spirits of the dead from entering my body, of course. :)

And the big one. Friday the 13th. Why is it considered with such dread?

First of all, the number 13 is considered by many to be unlucky, especially in the U.S. where it's not uncommon to find hotels with no 13th floor. During early Christianity, because 13 was considered by many Pagans as a holy number, Christians associated it with evil. And, thus, helped deter people from following their pagan ways and pointed them to the path of righteousness.

So, we put a Friday on the 13th and we're filled with dread. Why? There are a lot of opinions on it. Some are tied into Christianity (Adam and Eve were expelled on a Friday, Christ was crucified on a Friday, there were 13 at the Last Supper...), some are from ancient civilizations such as the Babylonians.

The fear of Friday the 13th actually has its own name: Paraskevidekatriaphobia. Say that five times fast. Hell, say it even one time fast and you're doing better than me! Considering that the word Friday comes from Norse for Freya (or Frigg), the Norse goddess of love and sex, I (of course) tend to side with the following explanation:

It seems that there was a banquet in Valhalla, of which there were 12 guests. Loki, God of Deceit, intruded, becoming the uninvited 13th guest. In Norse mythology, Balder was the god of light and beauty. The most beloved of the gods, he was the son of Odin and Frigg, and the husband of Nanna, goddess of the Moon. Balder was killed by Loki’s treachery during the banquet. Through Loki’s interference, the return of Balder from the possession of Hel was an impossible task. To return Balder, Hel demanded that all living things beg for the god’s return. All respond except a giantess, Thokk (Loki in disguise), whose refusal to weep forces Balder to remain in Hel's domain. And so, Friday the 13th becomes an unlucky day.

What about you? What superstitions still hold you in their thrall?

Friday, January 13, 2006

Yay Me!

While I was in Sedona being inspired by the magnificent red rock formations, I went to the Activity Center of the resort at which my critique partner and I were staying (don't get excited--I got two nights from a Get Up and Go package I got from my former employer and the upgrade to the resort was for sitting through a 2 1/2 hour time share presentation, which is a subject for a whole 'nother blog). At the Activity Center, I checked my email. Imagine my shock to see an email from Andrea DePasture at New Concepts Publishing telling me she loved my submission Atonement, and wanted to send me a contract.

No, my shock wasn't that she loved it. It's a great story and one that I had a blast writing. My shock was regarding the turnaround time.

Here's how it went: On Saturday 1/7 at around 2 p.m., I sent an email query with a synopsis to Ms. DePasture regarding Atonement. On Sunday early evening, I opened an email from her asking me to send on the manuscript, which I did. Wednesday morning, January 11th, I checked my email and found one that Ms. DePasture sent around 2:20 p.m. on Tuesday the 10th, telling me she loved Atonement and would be delighted to send me a contract.

That's four days almost to the minute from query to acceptance. That's unheard of. Four days.

I was equally delighted to give her my snail mail address for the contract.

Ay carumba. That's seven contracts in five months with three publishers.

Somethin' tells me I'm into somethin' good...!

Monday, January 09, 2006

See You On Friday

I'm outta here until Friday -- I'm goin' to Sedona to see if any energy vortexes can blow up my mm-mm and inspire me. LOL

In the meantime, if you miss me and really need the fix, I'll leave various flavors of eye candy here for you to come back again and again to enjoy.

Here's Apple: Try some Blueberry: Have some Cherries: And, last but certainly not least, try Strawberry:Yummy fruity flavors... See you on Friday!

Check Out Indulgence

Go on over to Indulgence today and check out the first installment of my free story, All's Fair.

That's all I've got here today. Go read my story.

Well, here's some eye candy to enjoy first. Since Nick's a cop, I thought this guy ties in nicely with All's Fair. Enjoy him a bit, then you can go read my story.

This will be my last post for a few days; my critique partner and I will be at a mini writer/plotting retreat in Sedona until Thursday. I'll see you all back here on Friday!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Tomorrow At Indulgence

The first installment of my story, All's Fair, will be up tomorrow at Indulgence, the group blog of Indulge Authors (Jenna Howard, Kate Lang and myself). All's Fair is the story of Rissa Mazziolli and Nick Thorne, two people who have been in love with each other for years.

What's the problem then, you ask? To put it bluntly, Nick.

You see, Nick's a homicide cop with nearly 20 years on the force. He's rough, he's tough, he's emotionally scarred. At 40, he believes he's too old for 29-year-old Rissa. He knows she deserves someone gentler and with less baggage than him.

Rissa isn't buying it for a second. She's put together a battle plan to win her man and will use every sensual weapon in her arsenal to ensure victory.

New installments of All's Fair will be up every third Monday. In between, you'll get to read about Andi and Duke (Jenna's story) and Sasha and Frank (Kate's story).

Bookmark our blog. Visit our website, Indulge Authors, where your fantasies come to life.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Blogosphere

Blogging can be addictive. Just ask my buddy Jenna. She went crazy there for awhile, doing more blogging than writing. Yesterday she came to a momentous decision. Well, two, actually. The first thing she did was take her counter off her blog. It was freaking her out, seeing who was coming to her blog (or, more accurately, who wasn't). Then...

No more random blogging. No more not-so-random blogging. She's on a schedule with her own blog, only going to blog 3 days a week and not on the weekends, and has deleted the option of people posting comments. (You can email her instead.) Because it's very addictive running back to your own blog several times a day (or every 5 minutes) to see who's commented. Then, you need to come up with something witty to say in response.

I understand how she feels. It's a very addictive, mesmerizing thing.

At this point, I'm going to continue to blog every day--weekends continued--unless otherwise restricted. (I'm going to be with my critique partner in Sedona for three days next week doing a mini-writer's retreat/plotting camp, so I won't be blogging Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.) My blog is my way of sharing my journey with others and is something I need to do for myself.

Blogging is not the weakness for me that it evidently was for my poor Jenna. My weakness... clicking on my frickin email every 5 minutes to see if anyone new has emailed me.

Somebody help me.

Friday, January 06, 2006


What is it about a guy in jeans and a cowboy hat that turns our innards to mush? A guy who's all sweaty and grungy because he's been mucking out horse stalls or hauling hay... How did these hard-working men get to be so romanticized?

Let's look back in history for a minute or two. In most Western towns, you had two types of people: townfolk and cowboys. Townspeople made their living in the towns (usually from cowboys, miners, etc.). Cowboys made their living with cows. (Duh.)

Most cowboys were paid badly and made only one trail ride before they decided the cowboy life wasn't for them. Roughly 25% of cowboys were African American, 12% Mexican. The rest were white, Anglo Saxon. The average age of the cowboy was 24. He owned his saddle, but not the horse he rode--and he rode that horse day and night.

After up to four months in the saddle, often wearing the same clothes day after day, eating at the chuckwagon and drinking nothing but coffee and water, the cowboy's job was finally done. He got paid, made his way into town and whooped it up.

Businesses profited when cowboys came into town, but all the cowtowns soon became wilder than their residents liked. Most towns had ordinances against wearing/carrying guns in town. Cowboys who insisted on carrying weapons faced fines or imprisonment. Some towns resorted to hiring gunslingers to make sure laws were enforced--think Tombstone and the Gunfight at the OK Corral.

One newspaper of the time, the Cheyenne Daily Leader, reported, "Morally, as a class, cowboys are foulmouthed, blasphemous, drunken, lecherous, utterly corrupt. Usually harmless on the plains when sober, they are dreaded in towns, for then liquor has an ascendency over them." Oh, and most of them were medium-height and wiry. One newspaper account, describing an 1875 Wyoming roundup, described the cowboys as "rough men with shaggy hair and wild staring eyes in butternut trousers stuffed into great rough boots."

Ooh. Sexy.


It's amazing what 150 years will do for an image, ain't it?

Course, it might have something to do with big, calloused hands and strong, muscled thighs from riding horses and working all day. Unfortunately, I don't actually know too many cowboys. But just like millions of other North American women (I don't know about other countries, but I know that U.S. and Canadian women sure do love their cowboys!), I am infatuated with them.

For erotic Western romance, check out the Westerns at my new publishers. Liquid Silver Books has Beth Williamson, Charlene Leonard, Sable Grey and Pepper Espinoza. Whiskey Creek Press Torrid has Shawna Moore, Sarah Winn and Chancie Moore. You can also try Cheyenne McCray's Wild series, Sarah McCarty's Promises series, and Patrice Michelle's Bad In Boots series, all at Ellora's Cave.

As far as television shows, I confess to watching reruns of Bonanza week after week and lusting after Pernell Roberts, who played Adam. Alias Smith & Jones was also a huge favorite of mine (I'm still sad about Pete Duel, even after all these years). I liked all the Mavericks; Bret (James Garner) and Bart (Jack Kelly) better than Beau (Roger Moore). High Chaparral--I was totally in love with Manolito. And let's not forget Big Valley. My favorite character? Rough, tough oldest brother Nick (played by actor Peter Breck).

Do you like cowboys? Why? What is it about these bad boys that strikes such a chord?

P.S. I finished the first draft of my futuristic vampire at 3 a.m. this morning. Went to bed at 10:30, still awake at midnight, so I got back up and finished the damned thing. Now I have about 500 words to play with to go back in and add more sensory details, then send it off to my critique partner. Woo-hoo. Another one almost ready for submission.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Just A Little Bump In The Road

So, I'm working on my vampire futuristic (or is that futuristic vampire?) to submit to Amber Quill for their contest, right? I'm clicking along, trying to keep up with my characters... Rhys and Kass just had sex in public as part of a claiming ritual. I'm ready to send Rhys off to charter a ship to get them off the planet and Kass over to a hotel for a much-desired bath. (Just before the sex they had to trek 2 hours through a desert, then all that hot and sweaty sex, so, yeah. She's ready for a bath.)

All of a sudden, I've got another voice in my head. "Hey, you're not gonna leave that like it is, are you?"

Me, thinking I recognize that deep voice but I haven't heard it that often yet so I'm not quite sure: "Um, leave what like it is?"

Him: "That scene with Rissa. You have to let me say something. You can't just leave it in her point of view. It's not fair."

Ah. Nick. Now, to you this might sound a bit whiny, but it's said in a gruff voice from a homicide detective who's a little cranky because he wants Rissa but thinks he shouldn't have her. Not can't have her, shouldn't have her. There's a big difference, would you agree?

Nick goes on: "I have something to say."

Me: "But--"

Nick: "I have something to say." Stubborn SOB, ain't he?

Me, caving in: "All right, all right. But you can only have about 350 words."

Nick: (snorting) "Figures Rissa'd be so mouthy. She always did talk too much, even as a kid."

Me: (thinking I'll get him on this one) "But she's not a kid anymore, is she, Nick?"


Oh, boy. Nothing's worse than an alpha male who gets quiet when he's pissed.

Me: "Um, Nick?" No response. "Nick?"

Nick: (one dark eyebrow raised) "You like livin' on the edge, darlin'?"

Me: "Um, not really. But..."

Nick: "But nothin'. Rissa's my problem."

Well, she's sorta my problem, too, since I'm the author, but I don't think I'll remind him of that. No, I think I'll just let that one quietly slip by.

Nick: "Besides, you're the first one opening up this blog story over at Indulgence on Monday, right? So you want to make sure you don't screw it up. Right?"

He's right, of course. Dammit.

I guess Nick will get his say, after all. He's a man of action, not words, so I think he'll be able to say whatever he needs to say in the amount of words in which he's allowed to say it.

Men. Even the ones inside my head are pains in the ass.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Modern Technology

While working on my current wip yesterday, I kept flipping back to check emails and do some blogging (which I just about always do when I'm supposed to be writing). And I was struck, not for the first time, how much computers and associated peripherals have changed the way we live.

I have people that I consider to be good friends that I've never met in person. But they understand me, they have similar souls. I know that, when I get to meet them in person, it will be the icing on the cake, so to speak. (Mmmmm. Cake. I'm having some, um, issues with my low-carb diet. Can you tell?)

These people I would never have met had it not been for my computer and the internet. They're all over the country, plus a few in Canada. I've "talked" to people in the UK and Australia. (My brother has regular email correspondence with someone in Norway.) Every once in a while, I have to ask for clarification on a word or phrase. Even though Americans, Canadians, Brits and Australians all speak English, sometimes it's not the same English. (My friend Jenna used the word 'toque' in Winter Wishes, her story that's available now in the Winter Wishes Anthology at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid. (Go over and buy a copy!) Based on the content, I made an assumption of what a 'toque' was, but I'd never heard the word before. My friend Sara, who actually just moved to town back in November, told me recently that she'd been to an Outback restaurant and laughed over the word 'bonzer'. Means 'good', like a 'bonzer meal'. Except, in Australia, it's b-o-n-z-a. Not with an 'er'.)

The biggest group of friends are the folks that I met through Jan Springer's EroRom class in February of last year. (Wow. It's been almost a year. That's amazing!) They live in Illinois, New Jersey, California, Texas... you name it. Like I said, all over the country.

And I get a chance to correspond with authors that I might otherwise never have the opportunity. If you blog, they will answer. Most of the time, anyway. :)

I can't imagine going back to life before computers and the World Wide Web. All the people I would never have known if Al Gore hadn't invented the Internet. (I say that with tongue planted firmly in cheek!)

How has the Internet changed your life?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A Political Rant

Forgive me for this post, but this is something I have to share.

I live in southern Arizona where, like parts of Texas and southern California, we have regular incursions over the border. Now, believe it or not, sometimes these incursions are in helicopters with armed Mexican military landing on private AMERICAN land. I haven't figured that out yet.

But the incursions I'm talking about right now are those of illegal immigrants, who consistently risk their lives by trusting in coyotes (smugglers) and walking through the desert without enough water. It's not uncommon for them to be stranded by the coyotes in the middle of the desert.

What I heard on the news last night, though, really frosts my cookie. An illegal who was picked up in California and deported 8 months ago because he was a sexual predator was just picked up again. This time, he's going to be thrown into prison so he'll be off the streets and unable to hurt anyone.

That's great, right?

Uh-uh. He's going to be tossed into an AMERICAN prison, where he'll get three square meals a day, free cable, and access to workout rooms and libraries and all the drugs he can snort.

Which means that I, as an American taxpayer, am footing the bill. 'Cause I'm relatively certain that we ain't gonna be billing Mexico.

Man, Vincente Fox must be dancing a jig. That's one way to cut expenses. Ship all your deviants to America, where they'll be housed for free. (Free to Mexico; not free to the U.S.)

I don't have a solution other than to ship his ass back to Mexico, where he'll just make his way back over the border again.


Monday, January 02, 2006

Come visit me at Torrid

I'm blogging over at Torrid Temptations today. Come on over and blog with me--I've got a really cool prize.

Well, I think it's a really cool prize. Everyone who comes over and comments at Temptations will have her name thrown into the hopper to have her first name used for the heroine in my next submission to Whiskey Creek Press Torrid (or his name used for the hero, as the case may be!).

So go on over here.

What are you waiting for? Go here now.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Indulge Your Fantasies

2005 saw three wannabe authors realize their dreams. Jenna Howard, Kate Lang and I all signed our first contracts. Jenna has two books available right now; my first book will be available next month and poor Kate has to wait until July for her first book to come out.

Because we're with the same publishers, we decided to pool our resources and start a group promo: Indulge Authors, where your fantasies come to life.

Our website should be up and running by tomorrow. Someone (and we won't mention any names... she knows who she is) left the disk with the website stuff on it at work. But you can go sign up for our reader's group and check out our blog. Actually, do more than just check it out. Bookmark it. We'll be running a group of serialized stories every week, starting with the backstories today -- introducing our characters. Go over and check it out. Really. It's gonna be great!

Tomorrow I'll be blogging at Torrid Temptations. Please come over and blog with me. One random winner will be immortalized in words -- if you are chosen, your first name will be the name of the heroine in my next submission to Whiskey Creek Press Torrid. So... come on over and play with me.

Happy New Year everyone! 2006 is gonna be great!!