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It’s Party Time on Susana’s Morning Room!

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Susana’s Morning Room was born a year ago, just before my first story, Treasuring Theresa, was released on January 3, 2013. I wanted my first blog, Susana’s Parlour, to remain primarily historical/Regency-related, but I also wanted to feature some of my writer friends’ non-historical releases. And also because I read other sub-genres of romance too that I wanted to discuss from time to time.

So, voilà! I created Susana’s Morning Room to feature all sub-genres and heat levels of romance. You’ll find an eclectic mix here; the only requirement is an HEA. After I began hosting for Goddess Fish Promotions, I discovered many great new authors myself! Now I just wish I had more time to read all the books on my Kindle!

The Best Romance Books of 2013

I really can’t limit myself to one, so here are the ones that come to mind:

Diana Gabaldon: An Echo in the Bone

Susanna Ives: Wicked Little Secrets

Téa Cooper: Matilda’s Freedom

Téa Cooper: Passionfruit & Poetry

Ashlyn Macnamara: A Most Devilish Rogue

Collette Cameron: The Viscount’s Vow

Ella Quinn: The Secret Life of Miss Anna Marsh

Joanna Wylde: Reaper’s Property

Selene Grace Silver: Brianna’s Bewitching

Susana’s Morning Room Anniversary Giveaway

printbook copy2

All you have to do is comment on this post with the title of one or more of the best romance books you’ve read this year. Any sub-genre. Any heat level. A random commenter will win a print copy of Cotillion Christmas Celebrations. (Be sure to include your email address in your comment.)

Layla Chase and “Whirlwind” + Giveaway!

perf5.000x8.000.inddMy latest erotic short, Whirlwind, was recently released from The Wild Rose Press. The story came about when I read in the local paper about a national convention of tattoo artists that was being held in San Antonio. My thought about these practitioners was that they were mostly solo, creating individual designs for their select group of clients. That naïve illusion was smashed as I researched. Of course, an artistic endeavor like this had publications and websites displaying the wonderful, colorful creations. Then I needed characters who were a bit out of the ordinary and my story was born.

About Whirlwind

Hosting her first booth at a national tattoo convention is nerve-racking enough for artist Senna Whitefeather. But then she runs into another Native American—one with a smoking hot and firm body—a man she soon realizes is following her. Appreciation for art takes on a new meaning when a challenge to unveil their tattoos escalates into a passionate encounter in the back of her booth. But will Senna’s brazen attitude of going after what she wants backfire?

Unveiling tattoos with a stranger has never been so dangerous or sexy.

Excerpt

Senna lifted the plastic badge, angled it toward the security guard then turned toward her designated booth. And bumped smack into a male—solid muscle from chest to knees—and she stumbled.

Firm hands grasped her upper arms and steadied her. “What’s your hurry?”

The deep voice rumbling near her ear resonated through her bones, kicking up her heart rate, and set her further off-balance. Both hands tangled with the supple cotton of his T-shirt and held tight. All she saw before her was a broad expanse of black cloth. “I’m sorry, I wasn’t looking—” She glanced up—straight into midnight black eyes that seemed to look deep into her soul. Her gaze clung for a long moment then she forced herself to blink.

The stranger smiled and the bronze-toned skin around his eyes crinkled. “Good thing I was, or we’d both have gone down.”

With a quick look, Senna registered the slash of his dark brows, high cheekbones, and long, black hair pulled back along his neck. Another Native American. Strong features balanced by an open smile. Why did she have the sudden urge to sway forward against his broad chest? A chest that appeared capable enough to harbor a woman tied in nervous knots over today’s exhibit.

Spirit of Life, she was late.

“Again, I’m sorry.” She stepped back, away from his broad hands and fought against acknowledging the immediate loss of warmth. No time for distractions, even tall, dark and sexy ones. “I’ve got to get to my booth.”

With a dip of his chin, he swept a hand in the direction she headed. “The right-of-way is yours.”

Senna hustled down the side aisle but couldn’t resist a quick backward glance over her shoulder. The tall stranger dressed all in black had disappeared into the crowd.

Available

Amazon • The Wild Rose Press

About the Author

On a dare from a close friend, Layla Chase challenged herself to explore the steamier side of romance and discovered all sorts of characters whose stories needed sharing. She writes contemporary and historical stories from her mountain home in California that she shares with long-time husband and two dogs.

Contact

You can read about Layla’s other stories at www.laychase.com or like her Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/layla.chase.52

From those individuals who leave a comment (including an email address) I will pick one name to receive a story of their choice from my backlist.

Previous post by Layla Chase on Susana’s Morning Room

Setting Boundaries

Author Interview With Denysé Bridger + GIVEAWAY!

Today my guest is Denysé Bridger, multi-published author in several sub-genres of romance. The books she’s featuring today—Hunter’s Game and Reckless Assignation—will be awarded to one lucky commenter on today’s post.

Welcome to Susana’s Morning Room, Denysé. What inspired you to start writing?

denysé_bridgerI’ve told this story before, but in a funny way, a lot people don’t believe how I landed in the author role. I started writing seriously back in 1984, and it happened because I was so annoyed at the way my favourite television series was progressing. So, I decided I’d write my own story. I had never heard of fan fiction at that time, had no clue about fanzines, etc., so imagine my surprise when someone asked me if I’d like to publish the story? The feedback was so good, I sent it to the actor I loved in the show, too. I was shocked stupid when 13 days after mailing it, he called me during a break and told me he’d read the story and it was better than what they were shooting!! That began a 20 year “training” period, and in 2004 I won the Amber Heat contest and my first pro contract. Haven’t stopped since then!!

How long have you been writing?

As cliché as it sounds, I have been writing virtually all my life. It started with essays and stories in school, and just carried through my life. I never thought of it as a career choice, though a couple of my English teachers told me I’d make an excellent writer.

What advice would you give writers just starting out?

First and foremost, you have to understand two simply things—there is no such thing as a perfect book, you’ll never write one, so write the best book you can, and then move on to the next project. I don’t know how many people I know who want to write, but never seem to stop tinkering with their book, so it never sees the light of day. You also have to be able to accept honest critique, which goes back to the perfect book syndrome. Editors aren’t there to tear your work apart, they are there to give you honest, professional advice on how your book can fulfill all the promise you feel it has.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

I’ve never really suffered writer’s block—for me it runs the other way, I have so many ideas all the time that I know I’ll never live long enough to write them all into the books I see in my head! It’s a frustration almost as disheartening as not being able to write at all.

What comes first, the plot or the characters?

Plot usually. Then the characters present themselves. I can get an idea from anything, and then the story begins to shape itself in my mind. Once I know what the story is, the players begin to emerge.

Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

The newest release, which is a paranormal with some very wicked twists and plot points, began as a challenge from a fellow author when we spent a night visiting goth clubs and bars in Toronto. The club in the book was one of the places we went, and I was just absorbing the atmosphere to such an extent she told me to write something based on what  I was seeing and feeling… I amped it to deadly levels for Hunters’ Game.

With Reckless Assignation, I chose Halloween as the backdrop and it became a well planned seduction, with a deadly edge of thriller. The story started because I wanted to challenge myself to create something that had an almost tangible atmosphere. From the reviews I’ve seen, it worked! So that’s great!!

Are you working on something at present you would like to tell us about?

I’m finishing up one of the best novels I’ve ever written. It’s been several years in the making as I’ve left it a number of times to do other projects. But, it’s now calling out to be done, so I’m having fun getting to the end at last. The book is set in Rome and Amalfi, and is about an internationally renowned singer who is harbouring some very dark secrets that have kept him away from his home, and real love. He meets a tourist who’s stranded, and when she’s almost killed and it looks to be linked to him, he insists on taking care of her until she’s well enough to return home. Of course, he has no intention of letting her leave him when he falls for her. It’s a very romantic and sweetly sensual story. I hope people like it when it is finally released.

What are you reading now?

I have several things on the go just now, some writer’s guides and technical books, but for relaxation I’m rereading Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breed series, Opal Carew’s His To Command, and Lori Foster’s wonderful series Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor.

What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories have long been among my favourites; they taught me to pay close attention to small details that most people don’t notice, but they create the subtle nuances of tone and atmosphere. If I had to name a couple of romance authors who’ve influenced me they’d be Margaret Mitchell for Gone With The Wind, just for complex, sweeping plotting; and Lucy Monroe for the passion and tension that creates sparks and makes your heart smile.

What is your work schedule like when writing?

Chaotic, honestly. I grab what time I have to write, and then there are the blogs, promotions, etc. Every day something new comes at me, so I tend to multi-task—a lot! I usually start with the mail, then I do promo, and the afternoon is spent writing if I can manage it. If not, late at night when things settle down.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I think it changed from year to year—once I wanted to be a nurse, then a teacher, then I wanted to get into music. I never considered myself good enough to be a writer anyone would ever want to read. Still find it unbelievable, really.

What is your favorite food? Least favorite? Why?

Favourite food… is popcorn a food? I love popcorn!! As for least fav, that would be scallops—I’m not a lover of shellfish anyway, but scallops are a special kind of horrid for me… I love the smell of freshly baked bread, too—it’s heavenly. Maybe it’s a scent thing, popcorn smells so warm and comforting, too.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Depends largely on the length of the story I’m telling. I tend to want to plot and outline novels; it keeps me focused and clear on what I want to write. There will always be deviations and new things will come into play, but if I have the outline it keeps me moving in the right direction. With short stories and even some novellas, my outlines can be a few lines, or a page, usually nothing more than that. I prefer well plotted stories, really.

What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?

That I am painfully shy. I tend to be fairly open and easy-going when I interact with readers and people who don’t know me very well find it hard to believe that I tend to be very private about my life.

Is there a writer you idolize? Is so, who?

I don’t think there’s a writer I idolize, but there are several I admire greatly. Lucy Monroe, Lori Foster, and Lara Adrian just amaze me with the passion and scope of their work. The create fabulous heroes, larger than life, strong, vibrant people who make you feel their stories and fall under their spell. I think when a book leaves a reader smiling long after they’ve finished it, that’s a special kind of talent on the part of the writer. I hope I manage to do that for readers from time to time.

What would we find under your bed?

Hmmm… a few board games, and a shoebox of old photos.

Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book. Where would you most likely want to go?

Without hesitation it would be Italy. I’d love to walk the streets of the small towns on the south coast especially, then see Venice! Venice in winter would be so incredible, ice fog on the canal, Carnevale in February… It would be heaven!!

Do you have a favorite quote or saying?

Who so loves, believes the impossible….

Do you write in multiple genres or just one? If just one, do you ever consider straying outside your genre?

I write all over the place. I can’t stay in one genre, I get bored, so I love to experiment, and mix them up, combine genres that people don’t expect at times. I have so many interests, and I love different eras and styles, so it’s fun to switch it up.

What is something you’d like to accomplish in your writing career next year?

Two things, I want very much to get an agent, and I’d like to see a new novel in print. So, we’ll see!

HuntersGame_SMAbout Hunter’s Game

In modern Toronto, two vampires stalk the night, their hunting a game that is seductive and deadly. In a darkly compelling Goth Club, they find the prey they seek for their pleasures, and the night runs crimson with blood and unquenchable thirsts….

Available

From New Dawning International Bookfair

From Amazon

ARe Romance eBooks

Bookstrand

Excerpt on the publisher’s page

About Reckless Assignation

recklessassignation_msrA haunted and abandoned hotel on Halloween is the setting for a very private party between two lovers, one of them a world-class, sophisticated intelligence operative who’s trying to teach his young and innocent lady that curiosity can sometimes take you places you’d be better not to go. Amid elaborate trappings meant to scare and entice, Rick’s seduction takes some unexpected but wickedly wonderful twists. But, Rick also has a lesson to learn, when his past collides with his present, and almost destroys everything he cherishes most.

Available

From Ellora’s Cave

Excerpt

Giveaway

One random commenter will win a copy of both of Denysé’s featured books: Hunter’s Game and Reckless Assignation. Be sure to include your email address in your comment.

About the Author

Canadian born and bred, and a lifelong dreamer, I began writing at an early age and can’t recall a time when I wasn’t creating in some artistic form. My life has had several on-going love affairs that shape much of what I write, the American West, Victorian England, cowboys, a passion for pirates, Greek Gods, and Ancient Egypt. The other endless love affair in my life is Italia and all its magic, beauty, and dazzling culture. That passion spills into all aspects of my life.

My first major fantasy novel is As Fate Decrees. (Available in bookstores everywhere, and on Amazon’s international sites.) The novel relies heavily on Greek mythology, and is set in Ancient Greece and modern Athens. If you enjoy a tale of gods, destiny, and the battles of an eternal champion, this is the book for you! Not surprisingly, there’s a touch of romance throughout, of course! A visit to my website will show the diversity of what is currently available, and the mixing of genres and styles that will be employed in many up-coming projects as well. The Italian influence is in evidence with several of the more important works, as many people already know.

Contacts

Website : http://www.denysebridger.com

Blog: http://fantasy-pages.blogspot.com

Adult content blog: http://boundpassion.blogspot.com

Sensual Treats Magazine: http://www.sensualtreats.webs.com

Authors Who ROCK: http://authorswhorock.blogspot.com/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/denysebridger

MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/denysebridger

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/denyse.bridge

Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/Romance.and.Fantasy

Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/denysebridger

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4930595.Denyse_Bridger

Author Layla Chase Interviews Cowboy Garth Rutger of “Setting Boundaries” + GIVEAWAY

I’m glad to be here today and share an interview with the brooding hero of my cowboy ménage story, Setting Boundaries, published by Decadent Publishing.

How about you introduce yourself by providing the basics?

Garth Rutger

Did you grow up here in Texas?

Yep, I’m eighth generation in Texas. My ancestors came as part of the Old 300 with Austin in 1824. They made the required land improvements and even picked up one of the forfeited tracks. When farms started to outnumber the ranches, they moved west and ended up northwest of San Angelo.

Did you always want to be a rancher?

Ever since my daddy put me on the back of a horse. Mama has a picture of me and I couldn’t have been two years old yet. Hard to buck the heritage of six generations of Rutgers owning the Triple R ranch.

What do you like most about ranching?

The horses, the openness of the land, being my own boss.

Talk about your favorite setting for a date.

Screw the setting. Has everything to do with the woman.

What attracts you first to a woman?

Different attributes at different ages. When I was young, I was hog-wild for tits and ass. Then I explored wild sex. Now I appreciate a woman’s inner strength and how she works to hang on to what’s important.

Are you talking about a particular woman?

Oh yeah. Trixy’s been the only woman for me since our first dance in high school. She hasn’t always been as sure of that fact but I’m about to convince her of where she belongs. And enjoy myself in the negotiations because that woman has kept her hot body and I’m itching to make it mine.

SettingBoundariesMedExcerpt

Maintaining only a few inches of space between them, he walked in a circle around her. His green-eyed stare drew her in and she couldn’t look away.

“Did you grant me a dance at the Harvest Festival last fall?”

She moved her head, following his predatory stalking. “I did not.”

“Thought not.” He reversed direction and tightened, easing closer and brushing his knee against her thigh.

Blood pounded in her ears and she swallowed hard. Against all logic, arousal built and her nipples tightened into peaks.

“And my dinner invitation a couple months back?”

“I refused it.”

“Exactly.” With a flick of his hand, he tipped her hat and cupped the back of her head, holding her immobile. “Rejection back in high school and rejection now.”

“Shit, Garth, you’re talking years in the past. So you’re refusing to share water as revenge?” She pressed her hands against his chest and pushed hard, but his grip wouldn’t budge.

He narrowed his eyes into slits and his nostrils flared. “Do you deny you’ve given me cause?”

How to fight a choice she made half a lifetime ago? She’d dated Garth for six months before Dave’s family moved to town. Every girl tried to catch the eye of the new guy, but she’d succeeded. Little had she known that laid back, fun-loving Dave would turn into a lazy husband who expected her to shoulder most of the ranch work. Anything not related to rodeo held little of his interest.

Until his last bull ride changed her life forever.

“No.” With that single whispered word, she closed her eyes and dipped her chin. Hopefully, she’d stomach living with herself after tonight’s surrender. “I agree to your offer.”

“Louder.” Garth’s voice growled in her ear as he tangled his fingers in her hair. Lifting a handful, he inhaled.

The rasp in his voice made her shiver. “I agree. One night of sex for the water.”

“Hot, unforgettable sex.” With a chuckle, he loosened his grasp. Moving away, he set his feet shoulder-width apart and crossed both arms over his chest. “Except that was yesterday’s deal.”

Available

Amazon

B&N

Other places to find details on Layla’s upcoming projects

Website  www.laylchase.com

Facebook  http://www.facebook.com/layla.chase.52

Goodreads   http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/229815.Layla_Chase

Giveaway

Leave a comment here (include your email address) or friend my Facebook page and comment leaving your email address for a chance at winning a copy of any backlist title. Winner announced May 20th.

About the Author

On a dare from a close friend, Layla Chase challenged herself to explore the steamier side of romance and discovered all sorts of characters whose stories needed sharing. She writes contemporary and historical stories from her mountain home in California that she shares with long-time husband and two dogs.

Doing What You Have To Do: Guest Author Shay Lacy and “Sacrificed To Ecstasy”

A hearty welcome to my fellow Maumee Valley RWA member Shay Lacy, who also happens to be a new author with Ellora’s Cave. Shay has had a marvelously successful year, having released books with Crimson Romance and Lyrical Press, among others. Today is the release day for her erotic romance quickie, Sacrificed To Ecstasy.

Content Warning: If you are under 18 or offended by male nudity, you may not wish to scroll through the excerpt.

Last week was an emotional one for most Americans watching news coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings. I applaud the news services I watched for highlighting the small acts of heroism—everyday people simply doing what must be done to save a life. People who shed thoughts of self to answer a cry of pain. People who saw a need and responded. People who did the right thing with no thought of glory, fame or compensation, or risk to self. Everyday heroes. Everyone has it inside themselves to help the world in some way.

This is what my heroine does in Sacrificed to Ecstasy. One simple, everyday woman sees a need, hears a cry, feels another’s pain and responds. I love my heroine’s heart. Rayan considers the needs of other people before her own. She empathizes with people who are suffering. I love that nothing stops her from persevering. I love that she can still dream of being more than she is now. Finally, I love that she’s a romantic, wanting a man to cherish her.

Such a man I’ve given her. Take a look and tell me this man doesn’t make your heart pound.

Excerpt

“Are you alone, child?” There was a note of censure in the priestess voice.

“I was traveling with my betrothed.”

The priestess caught up to Rayan and walked by her side. “My name is Elida. What are you called?”

“Rayan.”

“Meaning dawn of the sun. Where are you from, child?”

“Elderhaven, near the plains. Raiders destroyed it six months ago. My family fled with the few other people who survived. We’ve traveled since then, trying to find a safe place to live.”

“A too familiar tale, unfortunately. If only there was someone to fulfill the gods’ prophecy that could save us.”

The brown lump in the distance distracted Rayan’s attention from asking about the prophecy. Her betrothed, Faram. She waited for a stab of grief, but felt only a faint sadness, mostly for the hopes that died with him, for a purpose to her life, for a home and a man who might love her some day. She’d run farther than she’d imagined. She hadn’t known she had such speed in her. It was amazing what a person could do when they had to.

She’d been desperate to reach the mountain to save her, and in a way it had.

When they reached Faram’s crumpled form she sank to her knees beside him. Death had twisted his facial features from plain to gruesome. Scarlet soaked the tunic on his chest around the ugly hole where he’d been stabbed. He’d tried to protect her, and to some extent had succeeded. At least she could say that about him.

“I’m sorry, child. I know there is little to ease your sorrow over his loss. But you have good memories of him.”

“I only met him three days ago, when he bought me from my family.” Rayan looked up at Elida. She didn’t want the priestess to misunderstand. “I’m not a slave. My family was starving. We had no home, no work, no food. I’m of age to marry and Faram’s wife had died. He needed someone to keep his home while he traveled. I offered myself as his wife for food for my family. It was an honorable trade.”

The priestess nodded. “Many such beginnings become strong marriages. It is a pity, though, that you did not have time to create children together. Although that hope might yet be realized. You had three days, after all.”

Rayan shook her head. “We were not yet married. Faram was taking me to his village temple to be married there. I asked him to wait until after the vows were spoken.”

Elida’s sharpened gaze pierced Rayan. “You are a virgin?”

“Of course.”

Elida shook her head. “There is no ‘of course’ in these violent times. How did you escape unscathed from your village?”

“My parents dressed my younger sister and me as boys. I begged Faram to allow me to continue the charade, but he said I was to be his wife and should dress like it.” She would not lay blame on his dead corpse.

“A virgin.” The priestess spoke in an awed tone. “Do you know Vashon’s prophecy?”

“No. We worshipped the other gods. I need to gather our belongings.”

“Yes. We should be gone from this place as quickly as possible,” the priestess agreed with startling alacrity. “We will take you with us.”

Rayan took a deep breath and dove her hands into the folds of Faram’s clothes. She wouldn’t keep what she found—she’d return it to his family. She owed it to them to report what had happened to him. She wouldn’t impose on them, but maybe they could help her find sanctuary somewhere.

The raiders had managed to steal his money belt before running her down. She’d have to ask the children if they’d found it when they searched the bodies.

She removed Faram’s ring and the few items he carried that the raiders hadn’t had time to steal—his merchant ledger, his metal fire starter, and his leather water bladder. Standing she looked around for her small bundle of clothes and the horse that carried the merchandise Faram peddled. She spotted the clothes a few feet away, but the horse wasn’t within sight in any direction. She remembered hearing it whinny in fright. It was probably halfway to the nearest village by now, if other raiders hadn’t caught it. Faram had been proud of the spirited brown beast. A more placid animal might not have wandered far or bolted. She must not speak ill of Faram now.

The children arrived as she reclaimed her bundle. With a calm moment to study them Rayan saw how poor and ill-fed they were. Their bones showed clearly under their skin. Their dingy gray clothing was stitched and patched to repair tears. She decided not to ask about Faram’s money belt. They needed it more than she did.

sacrificedtoecstasy_9781419943799_msrThe children glanced from Faram’s body to Rayan to Elida. Elida shook her head. “This is Rayan’s betrothed. His belongings are hers.”

Rayan insisted, “It’s all right. Take anything you want. I have what I need.” She tucked Faram’s belongings into hers.

The children looked again to Elida for permission. “Do so, but hurry. We must start back to the village. These raiders might have been part of a larger group.”

As the children knelt beside Faram’s body, the priestess took a protective stance with her staff held ready. She nodded toward the children. “The boy is Barnd, the brown-haired girl Davina and the blonde is Sylvan. Their families thank you for your charity.”

“I hope they will consider it enough for food and lodging for one night.”

“Child, you can afford many years of lodging if you would fulfill Vashon’s prophecy.”

“I own nothing but clothing. Faram’s things are not mine to barter. I am a simple merchant’s daughter with no shop and no merchandise. I have nothing of value to any of the gods, especially the god of fertility. My betrothed is dead and I told you I never lay with him.”

“And that is what you have to offer that is priceless.”

Sacrificed To Ecstasy is currently available on Ellora’s Cave and soon on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other major e-book retailers.

http://www.ellorascave.com/sacrificed-to-ecstasy.html

Shay LacyAbout the Author

Multi-published author Shay Lacy lives in northwest Ohio with her photographer/graphic designer husband. She loves following the man of her dreams with a camera in hand and a pen and notebook in her backpack. Sensible secretary by day, romance author by night, when not lost in her imagination, or reading a good book, she is likely researching her next book with a SWAT team ride-along or a visit to a DNA lab.

Contacts 

Website: www.shaylacy.com

FB: https://www.facebook.com/shay.lacy.7?ref=tn_tnmn

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShayLacy1

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/342562.Shay_Lacy

Guest Interview: Author Linda Carroll-Bradd + Giveaway

Thanks for inviting me to your blog, Susana.

What inspired you to start writing? After years of reading romances, I thought I knew what was involved in writing one. Ha! Following several months of rough drafts, I gifted myself with a one-day class that covered the basics. The best tip from that class was the reference to Romance Writers of America. My involvement with RWA meetings, workshops and conferences taught me how to hone my skills.

How long have you been writing? This year marks twenty years, but I wasn’t published until I’d been writing (albeit part-time) for almost ten years. (see answer to advice)

What advice would you give writers just starting out? Know that at least fifty percent of writing is revision. By this I mean reorganizing (words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters) and layering. Not many writers can get the character definition, depth of emotion, plot twists, etc. included in the first draft. 

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it? During a period of unemployment from my day job, I suffered with writer’s block. I could revise old stories but couldn’t come up with anything new. A relocation to a new state changed all that. I focused on collecting calls for submission from various publishers and wrote for six weeks solid. Those themed calls gave me a starting point for the plot, a word count and, most important, a deadline. Within a couple months, I had seven contracts in hand and the block was gone.

What comes first, the plot or the characters? Characters. I have to get acquainted with one of the protagonists before I know what type of situation will challenge him or her and who is the best archetype of character to create as an opposite. Then I can plunk them down into action and a setting and see how they react.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? A die-hard plotter who on occasion can be surprised when the characters appear to resist where I’m steering them. The few times I have tried to just sit at the computer and write, I get stalled after 3-4 chapters.

 Leave a comment here with your email address for a chance to win a copy of Dipping in a Toe.

DippingInAToeSMDipping in a Toe

Jessa Landers has a secret crush on her teens’ swim coach. A widow for three years, she’s managing her life and enjoys her freedom—except for long, lonely evenings when she craves an attentive man.

Coach Rick Grant loves being a high school teacher and swim coach. Surrounded by families has him yearning for his own romantic connection—and his eye is on Jessa.

Will Jessa protect the balance of her family life, or take a second chance on love?

Excerpt

As if pulled by an invisible thread, my gaze went to the tall, fit man with the ever-present clipboard in one hand and a stopwatch in the other. Normally an adult wearing tropical-print board shorts and a faded surfboard tee-shirt looked like he clung with desperation onto his youth. Instead Rick Grant wore the attire like a medal of honor—like he’d earned the right to promote a Hawaiian surfing competition from a decade earlier.

Maybe he had. The image of his tan, lean body balancing on top of a surfboard flittered through my mind. I pictured him, thinner but still muscular, body sparkling with water droplets, wavy hair streaked with blonde highlights, outlined against a cerulean blue sky. A heartfelt sigh escaped.

Christy stopped to turn in her ascent up the metal bleachers, and cocked her head. “You okay, Jessa?”

Caught. I whirled toward the bleachers and set a foot on the lowest step. “I’m fine. Where do you want to sit?” Heat burned my cheeks and I ducked my head, pretending the need to focus on placing my wedge sandals on each step. I didn’t want the other mothers to learn about my pathetic infatuation with the swim coach.

An infatuation I kept telling myself was wrong. Didn’t I have enough to do between my paralegal job, keeping up the house, managing the kids’ activities, and arranging visits with their grandparents? How could I possibly add dating to this hectic lifestyle?

Even if by some wild chance the man in question were to show interest…

Excerpt © Linda Carroll-Bradd

All Rights Reserved, The Wild Rose Press

authorSMAuthor Bio

After years spent in the administrative support field, Linda decided to exercise another part of her brain and write a novel. She loved reading romance and figured that’s what she’d write. Easier said than done. After years of workshops and RWA chapter meetings, she finally saw her manuscripts place in contests. Twelve years after her first writing class, she sold a confession story. From that point on, she couldn’t be stopped and is always pleased when her sweet contemporary and historical stories find homes.

With interests as widespread as baking, crocheting, watching dog agility matches, and reading thrillers by Swedish authors, Linda is the mother to 4 adult children and grandmother to 2 granddaughters. She currently lives in the southern California mountains with her husband of almost 34 years and their two spoiled dogs.

Where to find Linda:

www.lindacarroll-bradd.com

http://blog.lindacarroll-bradd.com

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Linda-Carroll-Bradd-author/440814942635289

Twitter: @lcarrollbradd

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1806413.Linda_Carroll_Bradd

Guest Interview: Author J.S. Wayne

TRRanniversarysmWin a $20 Amazon Gift Card and/or a Treasuring Theresa coffee mug!

Susana’s Morning Room is celebrating the second anniversary of The Romance Reviews with the Treasuring Theresa Lucky In Love Giveaway. To enter the contest, click the TRR graphic at right or the Treasuring Theresa graphic in the side bar.

This morning my guest is J.S. Wayne, who, in addition to writing horror, urban fantasy, and erotic romance, has established a charity for child abuse victims called Writing Out Child Abuse. 

Welcome to Susana’s Morning Room, J.S.! What inspired you to start writing?

Writing to me is like breathing. I’ve been trying to do it as long as I remember. I didn’t really get serious about it until I was seventeen, and it took me fifteen years to write something that was worth putting out in the public eye. Now consider that three years later I look back at my first novel and see how far I’ve come in terms of craft and know-how. I wonder where I’ll be in thirty!

What advice would you give writers just starting out?

The word “aspire” and all its variants need to come out of your vocabulary. If you put your ass in the chair and do the work, you’re a writer. Think of a guitar player introducing herself to a record exec: If she says “I’m an aspiring guitar player,” she might as well be saying “I’m a wannabe.” Why put that handicap on yourself?
However, note the corollary to this rule. If I had a nickel for every person who’s told me they wanted to write a novel, but, and, furthermore, and thus, and so, I would be in a much better financial position than I am now! Do the work and don’t be ashamed of it!

If you’re past this point and you’ve got a manuscript, check your publishing houses carefully. Look at hipiers.com, AbsoluteWrite.com’s forums, and ask around with other authors who have published at the places you’re considering. Don’t ever take the publisher’s word for it, and if they won’t negotiate on contracts, don’t give them a second glance. You’re offering them a product from which they can profit; don’t ever forget that. If they won’t bend on terms, there are plenty of other houses that will. Look at EPIC.org’s Red Flag list for publisher contracts for warning signs that you’re not dealing with an author-friendly house. When you see one, don’t ignore it!

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

I don’t believe in writer’s block. At all. If I don’t produce, I don’t get paid, simple as that. Artistes have time to nurse neuroses; genre authors with deadlines and bills to pay don’t. At absolute worst, I give myself a day off, away from the computer, writing, email, and any other possible distractions, but if I need longer than that to figure out why a story isn’t working, I put it off to the side and work on something else until my way forward becomes clear.

What comes first, the plot or the characters?

LOL! This is a chickens vs. eggs thing to me. I need to have a plot for the characters to get involved in, but without a character who has something to lose or gain through the plot, there’s no point. I find my best plots and characters grow organically together. It’s not uncommon for me to start with a general character idea, maybe not even a name, and figure it out as the story progresses. That way the character grows into the story, and the story shapes itself to enfold the character.

Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

My latest release was “The Chapel,” for the Cleis anthology Seductress: Erotic Tales of Immortal Desire. This story is probably one of my favorites to date. I’m well-known for liking stories and subject matter that walk the crumbling edge of taboo. What could be more taboo than a succubus seducing a priest in his own chapel? And, of course, because Cleis saw fit to publish my work, I couldn’t be prouder of it just on that basis alone!

Are you working on something at present you would like to tell us about?

I’m always working on several things, but my big project of the moment is the second Writing Out Child Abuse anthology. I’m really proud of this project, because I found some wonderful new authors: A.D. Wayy, Paula Acton, and A.R. Von all banded together to contribute their talents to this anthology. Additionally, Nata Romeo, an award-winning children’s book cover artist, created an exquisite cover for this work. I’m in the final editing stages now, and I plan to send the book on around the first of April for final review by the publisher. The title’s still to be determined, but the title is going to reflect the cover art, which features an angel.

Since I’m thinking about it, though, I just submitted a ten-thousand-word short to Changeling Press called “Even Groomsmen Get The Blues.” This is a departure from the norm for me, because it’s not a paranormal story. Even so, it was a fun story to write, and it features one of the hottest scenes I’ve ever written! I also sent off an academic paper entitled “The Ultimate Transgression: Male Erotic Romance Authors” to the Journal of Popular Romance Studies. Getting published in the premier academic journal for modern romantic fiction studies would be an immense coup for an undergraduate, so I’m crossing my fingers about this one.

What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

Every author I’ve ever read has given me something valuable to add to my toolkit. Some have shown me the value of excellent writing; some are case studies in what not to do. My top three favorite authors are Jim Butcher, Dean Koontz, and Mercedes Lackey, all of whom I regard as masters of their craft and excellent storytellers in their own right. I’ve tried to use the best of their style to inform my own voice and style, without risking outright plagiarism.

What is your work schedule like when writing?

My work schedule tends to resemble disorganized chaos married to the aftermath of a nuclear detonation to the untrained eye. It’s actually a very complicated algorithmic work scheme cooked up by a NASA burnout to make me look like a mad genius (you’ll have to trust me on this one).

Honestly, my schedule varies to take into account the rest of my life, which is busy at the best of times and only getting more so. My college schedule encompasses one one-hour day, two ten-hour days, one eight-hour day, and one five-hour day. Add to this my day job writing blogs, study time, attempts to maintain a semblance of a social life so I don’t go into a full-on Smeagol fugue, and sleep, and that doesn’t leave much time. Even so, I manage to get things done. My weekends are actually my most productive working times, but I can sometimes manage to slip some writing in around other things.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Wow…there were so many things! When I was five I wanted to be a paleontologist. When I was fourteen, I wanted to be an Air Force officer. (Thanks to my eyes, pilot school was completely out of the question.) At various times I wanted to be a comic-book illustrator (can’t draw), a rockstar (can’t play anything but the radio), and an actor (*snickers* that’s likely to happen). But my first love is and always has been writing, so I can honestly say I’ve got my dream job!

What is your favorite food? Least favorite? Why?

I love Mexican food, especially chimichangas and tacos, cheesecake, and chicken fried steak. I can’t eat fish because I’m allergic, and I don’t much care for most veggies because of the texture. You give me steak, potatoes, green beans, and cheesecake, and I’m a thoroughly happy man!

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

My dear friend Kierce Sevren actually came up with a great phrase to explain what I am: “part-timer.” I like to write more organically than a pure plotter, but I need a little more structure than a flat-out pantser, too. I like to establish signposts and checkpoints my characters HAVE to reach, but how they get there is often the most surprising and fun part of the story!

What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?

At 34, I decided to go back to college for my degree in creative writing. This is a strange feeling, being in an environment where more than half of the incoming class was just getting out of diapers when I graduated high school. Even so, I have a lot of fun with the people I hang around with. It’s nice to be in a position to help some budding writers recognize their potential and show them some of the pitfalls and problems I ran into on my journey, in hopes of helping these folks avoid them. Strange as it seems sometimes to realize I’m in college at my age, looking around, I think I’m right where I should be right now.

Is there a writer you idolize? If so, who?

Jim Butcher is probably my biggest hero at this stage of my career. I had the opportunity to talk to him on a live online chat in August of 2011, and was genuinely surprised to find out (from him) that there are days he doesn’t really want to write about Harry Dresden. This shouldn’t have come as a shock, but there it is: even our heroes are only human, and it gave me even more respect for him to have him state it so baldly. One day, I’d love to buy him a drink. If we can find a reasonable facsimile of Mac’s dark (look it up), so much the better!

What would we find under your bed?

Hebbedebbah…hmm… The less said about what’s under my bed, the better. If I don’t talk, no one can rat me out to the authorities! 🙂

Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book. Where would you most likely want to go?

I’d love to go to Northern Ireland and visit County Donegal, specifically Malin Head. I had to do a great deal of research on the area for my paranormal suspense novel Wail, and I fell in love with the area. My perfect summer vacation would be spending my days touring the Ballyshannon Highway and my nights drinking Guinness in the local pubs. If my lover was with me, that would be even better! Listening to the rain on the roof and cocking my ears for the distant echoes of wardrums, pipes, and the shrieking cry of a bean’sidhe…perfect!

Do you have a favorite quote or saying?

My favorite quote is from, of course, Jim Butcher. He wrote this in Fool Moon: “‎It isn’t enough to stand up and fight darkness. You’ve got to stand apart from it, too. You’ve got to be different from it.” I really like this quote because it speaks to all the reasons I started Writing Out Child Abuse and all the reasons it matters to me. I believe in magick…and helping an innocent who may not have any other place to go if someone doesn’t is about as magickal as it gets to me.

Do you write in multiple genres or just one? If just one, do you ever consider straying outside your genre?

I write horror, urban fantasy, and erotic romance. For the most part, I’m sticking with erotic romance, because there’s so much chance for overlap and I get to add hot sex and a satisfying romance to the mix! It’s hard to go wrong with something that’s got so much going for it, and if it ain’t broke, I don’t aim to fix it.

What is something you’d like to accomplish in your writing career next year?

Being on the New York Times Bestseller List wouldn’t hurt my feelings at all! Seriously, though, I just want to keep creating good stories that people will want to read and doing what I do best. If I manage that, I think I’ll be doing pretty damn well.

Thanks so much for letting me swing by today! I’m offering any e-book from my backlist, except for A Light In The Darkness and Seductress, to a commenter. I’ll keep it open all weekend and announce the winner at 5 p.m. Mountain time on Sunday night!

SeductressSeductress

http://www.cleispress.com/book_page.php?book_id=493

Hot as Hell

She’s beautiful. She’s enchanting. She’s your fondest dream and, the morning after, your worst nightmare. She’s sweet and sublimely submissive. She’s powerful and fully in charge. She promises safety but danger lurks in her eyes.

A succubus is a sexual vampire, a shape-shifting temptress who steals the life force from her victim—but what a way to go! Some say she visits her victims in their dreams; others say she seduces them in the flesh. In Seductress, award-winning editor D. L. King has crafted a singularly sexy and mysterious compilation that will have you lying in bed all night wondering who might visit. You’ll enjoy threesomes and moresomes in Evan Mora’s fiendish “Star-Crossed,” which casts Romeo and Juliet as the undead cruising for pretty young lovers through the centuries. “Be careful what you wish for” comes true in Angela Caperton’s tale when “The Sorcerer’s Catch” has the allure of a dominatrix demon lover. We journey down to Hell in Kannan Feng’s enticing story of the Queen of Lust, who captures her most desired prey in “Before a Fall.” Supernaturally sensual and utterly captivating, the fantasy lovers in Seductress will whisk you where you’ve never been before.

With stories by Aurelia T. Evans, Kaysee Renee Robichaud, Elizabeth Brooks, Michael M. Jones, Kannan Feng, V. K. Foxe, Evan Mora, Sasha Bukova, Jay Lawrence, Anya Richards, Nan Andrews, NJ Streitberger, Angela Caperton, J. S. Wayne, Mina Murray, Giselle Renarde, Robin Tiergarten, Cynthia Rayne, Jean Roberta, Elizabeth Thorne and Kate Dominic.

ALITDsmA Light In The Darkness

http://www.amazon.com/A-Light-Darkness-ebook/dp/B008BMUPAO

In A Light in the Darkness, the inaugural anthology from the authors of WOCA, a dark world awaits you. Spanning centuries of time, encircling the globe, and running the gamut from eerie historical fiction to gritty urban fantasy to page-scorching erotic romance, these authors unflinchingly dissect the horror of child abuse in all its forms. These authors have taken great pains to ensure the innocent are assured justice and the guilty pay for their crimes in the unique fantasy worlds they have created. Sadly, in real life, this is not always the case.

This book contains scenes of graphic violence and honest depictions of child abuse. Readers who may find such material unduly disturbing, objectionable, or “triggering” are strongly advised not to read it. Some of the newest and hottest names in fiction have lent their talents to this collection, including Gillian Colbert, Amber Green, R. Renee Vickers, Eric Keys, Phoebe Valois, and J.S. Wayne. All of these authors are united by one core belief, and with this collection, they seek to turn their talents to a greater good.

One hundred percent of all proceeds from this collection are being donated directly to Writing Out Child Abuse. These proceeds will then be dispersed to charities whose sole aim is to help survivors of child abuse all over the globe. To learn more about WOCA or their fund-raising activities, or to get involved yourself, visit http://wix.com/writingoutchildabuse/intro.

About the Author

SONY DSCBorn in Amarillo, Texas, J.S. Wayne has lived, worked, or traveled in approximately two thirds of the North American continent and has amassed a resume that could kindly be described as “eclectic.” He currently resides in Cedar City, UT, where he attends Southern Utah University as an undergraduate studying creative writing. In his laughably sparse spare time, he enjoys reading, scary movies, strategy games, and collecting obsolete weapons. He is currently hard at work on a number of both fiction and nonfiction projects and building his nonprofit anti-child-abuse initiative Writing Out Child Abuse.

His currently available projects include Shadowphoenix: Requiem; “Angels Would Fall,” “Angel Of The Morning,” “Espiritu Sancti” as part of the Red Roses and Shattered Glass anthology of dark erotica, Angels Cry, “Ancient Magic” as part of the Timeless Desire anthology, “Dead MEANS Dead” for the Lesbians Vs. Zombies series, “The Chapel” for the anthology Seductress: Tales of Immortal Desire from Cleis Press, “A Hope In Hell” for A Light In The Darkness, the inaugural charity anthology for Writing Out Child Abuse, and the paranormal horror novel Wail.

With the exception of Shadowphoenix: Requiem, “The Chapel,” Wail, and A Light In The Darkness, all of these stories and novels are currently available from Noble Romance Publishing.

Contact J.S. at:

https://plus.google.com/u/0/100659249745105966026/about

or on Twitter @jswayne702