Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Discovering the Cover

It's a stunning image, so simple, so unique and such an absolutely perfect representation of my story, DOLL. It captures so many aspects of DOLL -- the mood, the theme, the style. How did the artist -- Kanaxa -- do it?

I'd like to say I worked closely with her, providing her with brilliant suggestions and design elements. Or that I had this genius idea for a black-and-white photo, and she took the concept and ran with it.

Sadly, none of that happened. Here's my personal, particular experience with the cover art process.

At the beginning, I submitted some basic information about the story, characters and setting. I also offered up my suggestions for what the cover should look like. I had all kinds of ideas ... mostly having to do with the Maine island on which DOLL is set. I pictured looming cliffs, moody pine trees and a sexy, bare-chested fisherman. With maybe a doll somewhere in the mix.


When I saw this cover, I was blown away. There's Chloe, my heroine. In a pose that completely expresses the turning point at which she finds herself in DOLL. Torn between her past and her future. Haunted by memories, struggling to free herself for a new life, a new love. This cover says so much about the story, and yet it's so simple and unique. But would I ever have come up with it? No way.

So I'd like to give a shout-out of gratitude to Kanaxa and to all artists who lend their creativity and skills to writers like me who have absolutely no visual talents.

For more about DOLL, here's the link to Samhain Publishing's "coming soon" page, with the blurb and other details.

And on the Samhellion site I've posted a Free Read called "Doll, Interrupted" which sets the scene for "DOLL." Click here to download it.



Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Wicked Kiss by Trina M. Lee

Trina M. Lee writes delicious paranormal romances, and her new one, The Wicked Kiss, will be out on Monday! Here's a peek:

Blurb for The Wicked Kiss

When two men share the heart of the same woman, the drama escalates quickly. Alexa O’Brien’s two lovers have been at each other’s throats. The fact that one is her wolf mate and the other, a vampire bonded to her by power, only increases the tension. She fears being forced to choose between them, knowing it’s something she cannot do.

Due to the bond she shares with her vampire lover, Arys Knight, Alexa has more power than she knows how to handle. Soon, power hungry creatures are drawn to her, including Arys’ sire, Harley Kayson. Believing he is entitled to her, Harley makes it his personal mission to get a taste of Alexa for himself, whether she likes it or not. If he doesn’t kill her, she just might wish that he had.

Alexa’s wolf mate, Shaz Richardson, feels the need to prove his dominance after a nasty dispute with a fellow werewolf. The battle for Alpha Male ensues, a position left unclaimed since the death of the former pack leader. Despite fearing for him, Alexa has no choice but to support the man that has loved her unconditionally, even at her worst.

Alexa feels as if nothing remains within her control, least of all the precarious co-existence between her two men. When she learns of the one potential way to protect herself from Harley, she is faced with the biggest decision yet. This one decision will forever alter her very mortality, but can her lovers put aside their differences when it matters most?

And ... an excerpt from The Wicked Kiss

When my conscious mind became aware that somebody was in the house, I was wide-awake, on full alert.

My instinct had me swinging before I’d identified the intruder. All at once, I realized it was Arys, but he had already deflected each of my blows, catching my wrists tightly in his grasp.

“Alexa,” he whispered loudly. “It’s me. But, a word of warning. Don’t fall asleep with the front door unlocked.”

I stopped struggling against him and sat up on the futon. Arys leaned down over me; his face, more battered and bruised than it had been previously. He released my arms and stepped back as I pushed my disheveled hair from my face.

“What happened to you? That’s not from Shaz.” I reached out to brush a finger across his bruised eyelid but he caught my hand in his, kissing it softly.

“No. I saw Harley tonight. At The Wicked Kiss.” He stared at me with an intensity I felt in my toes.

Arys looked worried, almost afraid. He wasn’t the fearful type in any way. He pulled me into his arms, burying his face in my hair and inhaling my scent. I tried to pull away, pushing on his chest so he had to look at me.

“Tell me what happened.”

He studied me, his jaw clenching hard. “We had a little confrontation. It didn’t go so well.”

“You don’t say.” I cocked my head to the side, taking in his battered appearance. “Start talking, vampire.”

He reached out for my hand, and I surrendered it but didn’t abandon my stiff position. That had never deterred this vampire though, and it certainly didn’t now. Arys advanced on me, tipping my head up with a hand under my chin, kissing me with a fervor that I felt in my loins.

“That’s not going to get you out of trouble, mister. Start talking. I want to know about Harley.” I managed to pull away though I would have loved to let him continue as if nothing else mattered.

He tensed noticeably, looking away from me to stare at the gruesome horror flick that played quietly. His averted gaze told me plenty. I had to bite my tongue so that I didn’t ramble on in an attempt to pry the information out of him.

When his piercing, blue gaze swung back to me, there was an angry fire burning in their depths. He ran his hand through his always bedroom-messy hair, a sign that he didn’t want to tell me. I chewed my bottom lip nervously. If he didn’t start talking, I was going to burst.

“He’s bad news, Alexa. He wants to see what could possibly be so tasty that even I can’t get my fill.” Arys eyed me closely as he spoke. I felt his gaze like a weight. “He wants to sample you for himself. His exact words were a little more crude, which resulted in the punch in his face that started our little brawl.”

I swallowed hard around the lump that had suddenly formed in my throat. Ok, now I was a little nervous.

“You’ve got to be joking.” My hand went to my mouth, and for a moment, I thought I might throw up. “What is it with people from your past wanting a piece of me? Why? What did I ever do to them?” My voice took on a frantic, high-pitched lilt.

“Oh, Catherine was nothing worse than the jealous-high-school-girl type. Harley is like the evil cartoon villain that never dies. But worse, because he’s real.” Arys lightly touched a finger to one of the bruises lining his strong cheekbone, a thoughtful expression on his eternally beautiful face. “He seems to think you’d make a great toy. And, I know he’s egotistical enough to think he can have whatever he wants. But, he can’t have you. I’ll kill him first.”

I drew him to me, a hand tracing the line of his jaw. “We have nothing to worry about. The very thing that he wants from us is what will give us the upper hand. I’ll be ready for him.” I pressed my lips to his in a kiss that had him wanting more, if his reaction was any indication.

Arys crawled up on the futon so that he hovered over me on his hands and knees. Each of his legs was on either side of mine, and his hands came to rest on my pillow with my head caught between. The position forced me back so that I had to tip my head back to meet his eyes.

“You can’t underestimate him, Alexa.” He nipped lightly at my bottom lip. It sent a hot tingle through me, from head to toe. He had a way of always rousing the most savage energy within me. “He’s powerful and so fucking sadistic, it turns my guts to think of him touching you.”

There was a sharp pain as he bit my lower lip; the blood welled instantly. Before it could spill down my chin, he caught it against his tongue. The warm, moist touch against my wounded lip was heavenly.

“I know that, Arys. But, don’t underestimate me. I take out vamps like him all the time.” It irritated me that he spoke to me like I was defenseless.

“I’m sorry, Alexa, but you have never dealt with a vampire like him. I guarantee it.” He pressed a kiss to my bleeding lip. “And, don’t you dare make this into a damsel in distress scenario. You know it’s not like that.”

The power rose around us in response to the blood and sexual energy. It danced along my body like a strange second skin. His tongue slipped inside my mouth, and I tasted my own coppery blood. It made my heart race, and I sought to pull him closer, needing to feel him pressed against me.

“Don’t start with me,” I said, even as I gasped breathlessly. “It’s always like that with you. I’m not a breakable item that will crumble into dust at the wrong touch.”

“Yes,” he growled down at me. “You are. I’m not arguing about your safety. Nobody is safe when Harley sets his sights on them.”

Just when I loved where we were headed, he pulled back, a serious expression on his face. “I need you to promise me that you’ll stay away from The Wicked Kiss. And, watch for Harley. Seriously. Just until I know how far he’s willing to take this.”

“Arys...” I wanted him to stop talking about danger and getting killed. It was really cramping the mood we’d started.

“I mean it. Don’t make me beg.” He gave me an imploring look, and it was enough to unsettle me.

“This isn’t like you,” I commented, trying for casual. “What’s with the extreme worry? He’s not going to kill me.”

His wane smile grew sad and accepting all at once. “That’s what scares me most. Harley has a penchant for collecting things, most of them being people. Like me. If he gets his hands on you, that’s what you’ll be. Another toy. But, what’s fun for Harley is never fun for his toys.”

The creepiest chill crept over me as he uttered the words. Harley loved torture, and if he got his hands on me, I’d be praying for death instead.

“Stop,” I whispered, suddenly afraid to speak any louder. “I don’t want to go there right now. You have to leave before sunrise. Let’s not spend our time talking like this.”

A small bead of blood overflowed from my lip, down my chin. Arys’ eyes followed it, and his little finger was quick to catch it.

“Alright.” He brought the little crimson splash to his lips; his eyes glazed with the rush of energy, which he openly embraced. “For now, it’s all about us.”

This sounds fantastic, Trina! The Wicked Kiss will be available Monday, November 23 here.

I'll be chatting with Trina, Gem Sivad and Alanna Coca right here on Monday starting at 7pm Eastern time -- that's 3pm Alaska time! Stop by and hang out with us for a while, we'd love to see you!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tease me, Please me ... The Art of Excerpts.

They're enticing, tempting, mouth-watering...they make you long for another taste, no, crave more deliciousness. So you try another one, and it's even better, and suddenly you've gotta have more, you can't live until you devour another, then another... and finally, nothing will satisfy ... you have to consume the whole thing. No, I'm not talking about chocolates, drugs, or men. I'm talking about excerpts.

I love excerpts. They're like foreplay. They tease and arouse. They tantalize and pleasure you. And just like during foreplay, at some point you commit to the act. You go from "hmm, this feels good," to "hot damn, I'm going for it!"

So what makes a good excerpt? Short or long? When the characters first meet, or later on in their relationship? Dialogue or action, character development or hot sex? Speaking of sex ... For us erotic romance writers, how much should we show in an excerpt? Should it be a tease, or should we show actual, um, completion of the act?

Writers, how do you approach excerpts? Readers, what do you like to see in an excerpt? What takes you from "this sounds kinda cool" to "I gotta get this, now!"?

Personally, I don't like lengthy excerpts. I'm usually scanning them so if they're too long I tune out. But I need more than a few paragraphs to get a feel for the writer's voice. I admit I'm drawn to the "adult" excerpts. (I'm not ashamed!) And I like to see how the characters interact, so I like to read dialogue in excerpts. But that's just my opinion. Anyone else?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Wolf's Tender by Gem Sivad

I'm so excited to feature my friend and 2010 Eppie finalist Gem Sivad's new book Wolf's Tender on my blog! She's an amazing writer of historical Westerns. Wolf's Tender is her second book with Liquid Silver Books and it's coming out on Monday, November 16. I can't wait! Here's the blurb.

Blurb: Wolf’s Tender

Book One: in the Bounty Hunters series

Rough and tough Charlie Wolf McCallister knows he needs to get laid when even a spinster school teacher with a sharp tongue starts looking good to him. But, cad that he is, he operates on the philosophy that a bird in hand is better than no bird at all. And so he offers to trade service for—servicing.

When Naomi Parker's students are snatched from their school by marauding Comancheros, she can't believe that she hid like a coward and let it happen. The only way to ease her conscience, and get the girls home safely, is to hire half-Kiowa bounty hunter, Charlie Wolf McCallister. His price seems a bit steep to prim and proper Naomi, who must choose between her virtue and her students’ lives.

When one straight-laced spinster tenders her body to one cynical sometimes savage, the unexpected bounty is love.

And, as an extra bonus, here's an excerpt.

Excerpt: Wolf's Tender

“You’ve been following me all over town.” The woman didn’t even deny it, leaning toward him instead, patiently waiting as he took her measure—thin face with brown hair skinned into a tight knot, straight teeth, and nose spattered with freckles across burned skin. Deep exotic cornflower-blue eyes met his.

Charlie’s gaze came back to the eyes for a second look.

“My name is Naomi Parker.” If it weren’t for the unusual shade of her eyes, Miss Naomi Parker would be written off as old-maid material. She was a tall, skinny female, past the first flush of maidenhood, with prim and proper written all over her.

Not being a prize himself, nor considered civilized, he rarely came in contact with females of social standing, but he recognized one now. He intended to run this one off as quick as possible and get on with his bath. Knowing what he did of her kind, he didn’t think it would take much.

She held out her hand and for a moment he wasn’t sure what she wanted. Then he realized she intended it as a greeting. He grabbed the extended limb and pulled hard, rolling her down his arm, and into his embrace before she realized she’d been captured.

He pulled her against him, wrapping his arms around her like bands of steel, pulling her so close her chin brushed his bare chest. The contact sent a frisson of heat coursing through him which made no sense since her body was encased in iron, or at least something that felt like it.

“What the hell kind of contraption do you have on, Miss Parker?” His hands automatically fell to her hips, holding her against the swell of his erection, stealing a moment’s pleasure.

Accept for the slight mound of her breasts, she had the body of a fifteen year old boy—thin for his age—but a tall stripling. He noted all of this unconsciously, surprised that his cock had roused with fierce interest. Jesus, I need a woman.

His shirt and handkerchief were smashed between them. She tilted her head to glare at him as she struggled against his hold. Her hips moved in his hands and in her struggle, she accidentally rubbed against his arousal. She froze.

“Stupid to offer your hand to someone you don’t know,” he admonished her even as he blatantly rubbed his swollen flesh against her hip.

Her breasts that were, as near as he could tell, about the size of robin’s eggs, were nevertheless heaving, and she was pissed not scared, as he stared into eyes that had darkened. He wondered what color they would be when she came, and then flinched at the thought.

Jesus, all pussy’s the same in the dark. What the hell difference if she’s a dried up old prune. His cock demanded, Fuck her.

Old maid material or not, his cock was erect and urging him to make friends.

“You’re lucky you survived the raid. Think about that, instead of wallowing in guilt, and let the law take care of your friends.”

He had a cigar and the rest of a bottle of good whiskey waiting for him and minutes before he’d thought that was enough.

He’d meant to scare her away so he could climb into that tub of hot water while it still had some steam coming from it. Instead he had a woman wrapped in his arms and his body seemed determined to keep her. His cock said this woman could service him just fine—and she could do it now.

It was pleasing the way she fit up against him, hip to hip, thigh to thigh. His first assessment that she was skinny, gave way to new knowledge. She was a slender armful, her softness hidden under the iron casing she’d wrapped around her flesh. The thought of her long white legs sliding around his hips while he sank into her, filled his mind.

He let his thoughts play over the impossible possibilities for a second, before he let her go, allowing inches between them and dropping his hand that had been stroking her back.

“I’m planning on being in that tub of water in two minutes, naked as the day I was born, whether you get out of here or not.”

He released her abruptly, expecting her to hurry from the barn. Instead, she continued the connection between them, pressing her body against his, her unwavering blue eyes staring up at him. Her lips trembled for a moment, and then she repeated her request.

“I need your help.”

Way to go, Gem! This buy link won't be live until Monday, but check back then to get your copy of Gem Sivad's Wolf's Tender.

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

City Life vs. Alaska Life

Almost three years ago, I left my high-stress L.A. lifestyle and landed in Alaska. I didn't expect to stay very long, but then I met this great guy ... ;) I guess I'm here for a while.

So many things are different, it's hard to know where to start. So here's a side-by-side comparison.

City life versus Alaska life

Drove adorable VW convertible beetle/Drove Subaru down a ravine

Dated dysfunctional comedians/Fell in love with a sweet-hearted carpenter

Learned how to program my TiVo/ Learned how to run a chainsaw

Avoided vicious office politics/ Avoid vicious hungry bears

Never left the house without makeup/ Hoping to take a shower this week

Favorite designer: Cynthia Rowley/ Favorite accessory: duct tape

Thought fifty degrees was a cold snap/ Would kill for fifty degrees

Kept a running tally of celebrities spotted/ Saw twenty moose the other day

Big project: organize shoe closet/Big project: dig a new outhouse

Awesome view of neighbor's driveway/Awesome view of Grewingk Glacier

Two actress/models for every guy/Two bearded eccentrics for every gal

Obsessed with losing weight/Hey, that extra fat layer's for survival

I could go on and on. As you can see, so many things in my life have changed, but the only really important one is number two. My sweetie. I'd live anywhere with him, and I think I'm proving that on a daily basis. ;)

Peace and love,


Oh, and if anyone knows how to post in a two-column format, let me know!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Should Romance be Required Reading?

My Halloween blog was up way too long. I confess it's because I didn't want to lose my hottie photos. So--

Whew. I feel better now. If you want another hottie fix during this blog, feel free to check out my Trick or Treat Blog Hop post.

Now, moving on to the actual topic of the day. I've been thinking a lot lately about this kind of thing:

Me: "I've been writing romance, and I have a book coming out in December..."
Former Acquaintance: "Romance? You don't mean, like those Harlequin ones?"
Me: "Well, no, not that there's anything wrong with..."
Former Acquaintance: "Oh, I never read those books. They're all the same. I like mysteries."
Me, silently to myself: You mean those mysteries where someone is always killed at the beginning, the main character always has to track down the bad guy, solve the crime, and wrap up the loose ends ... before the killer strikes again?

I'm not knocking mysteries. Love 'em. The point is, I like the comfort and familiarity of the structure of romance, the fact that you know everything's going to work out in the end, the lovers will be together, nothing too terrible will occur. WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT? I know life isn't that way. I know real love is far more complicated and unpredictable than a romance novel. So what?

We need fantasy in our lives. It helps the hard parts go down easier. It helps us be optimistic. It brings comfort and escape. It brightens your mood. If you're in a better mood, you can be nicer to those around you. So, IMO, romance novels can help your relationships. Which means ... the fantasy actually becomes reality. Maybe reading about love brings more love into the world. If so, why the heck isn't it required reading?

I've always turned to romance novels during times of personal angst. In fact, I feel kinda sorry for someone who can't enjoy a good romance novel. You're missing out on a lot of fun, sweetness, emotion, adventure, excitement, and hotties, Former Acquaintance!

Hey, did someone say hottie?

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

Peace and love,