Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Airports 101

Okay, so I'm not going to bill myself as an expert on international travel or anything. I am pretty new to the whole adventure, but I have schlepped through Pearson International to parts Not Canada twice in the past six months, so my experience is at least recent.

First off, you want to be as comfortable and as compact as possible. I am well known in my intimate writing circles as one of those crazy authors who likes to edit. It is a good principle to apply when packing for international flights. Edit, edit, edit.

Folks, hotels have everything you need in terms of hygiene, and if you require something specific, budget a trip to the local pharmacy when  you get there. Seriously. you have to check all those liquids, and why take the chance they'll end up all over your carefully packed evening wear and cute pj's? Use what the hotel has, or buy it. Because I promise you, there is nothing quite like opening your suitcase and finding your clothes are covered in shampoo. It's a special moment of discovery, I promise you.

Pack your purse and put all your essentials in your laptop bag. One carry on, one suitcase. Trust me on this one. Sooo much easier.

As for comfort, dangling jewelry? Pack it. Don't wear it. Tight belts? Same. Doc Martins? Comfy? Yes. Convenient? um...NO.

The girl operating the x-ray thingamagigy will laugh her ass off as you struggle to unlace the 14 hole Docs and get those stinky suckers off your feet. The guy in line behind you? Will be much less amused, believe me.

Next, if at all possible, and if it's necessary, caffeinate yourself before you get there, even if it means getting up a half hour early to brew a pot or stop on the way. Trying to juggle bags and tickets and passports and a hot cup of coffee is, shall we say, less than fun. And if you haven't injected enough of the elixir of life into your bloodstream by that point, it's also bound to end in disaster. Once you're on the plane, if you're still desperate, they will give you coffee for free. Just ask for extra cream and sugar, because, um, yeah, best to mask the actual taste as much as possible.

When boarding, best get yourself through all the line ups first. Once done with the paperwork and bag checking, you're better off to have an infinity of time at the gate, where you can eat, drink, read and/or write at leisure than to, say, look at your ticket as you're sitting down to a bagel and coffee and realize our plane boards fifty minutes sooner than you remembered it did, and that you have less than half an hour to get to your gate. That scenario sucketh. (Which also brings up the point: Remember to actually look at your boarding pass as you are planning your arrival at the airport, so the above scenario does not occur in the first place.)

So I hope a few of these hints and tips will be useful to you. I can tell you, they would have been useful to me before the fact. Now? I'm keeping a list.

Happy travels, y'all! Pop in on your way out and share some of your better airport moments, won't you?

Monday, 26 March 2012

On Being on the Ball

Which I am not. At. All.

You see, way back when I was planning out my promotional efforts and such for this first part of the year, I had it in my head that I had a nice spaced-out set of releases and this was good. I planned accordingly. Then, somehow, I went brain-dead and when I got the grey matter back on line, I had it cross wired to think I had two releases in May and was frantically trying to figure out how I was going to dole out promotion evenly and fairly for two releases in one month. I wasn't looking forward to it.

This morning, I come back from running errands to see a post on my Facebook wall saying "Happy release day, love!" And I was all, like....O.o What? Release day? Huh?

Another brain short. Another reboot. and lo and behold, there is the original mind map telling me I had a nice, evenly spaced first half of the year as far as releases were concerned, just like I first thought. Except for the fact I suddenly have no promo planned for March. I have a book out and now a frenzy of OMG!!! I need to tell people!! Ack!!1.....

Mind melt. Time to go to the day job. This is my life, folks. How I will get from one end of it to the other, I do not know. How those around me, like the wonderful, wonderful Sarah, with whom I wrote this book, put up with my constantly short circuited brain, I have no idea, but there it is. Sarah, my darling, you rock hard, woman. THANK YOU!!!!!

One cop. One killer. Both dreamwalkers. Not every dream should see the light of day...
Three very different people have one thing in common-a dreamscape steeped in horror. Barry has had dreams of violent death all his life, and as a cop, he now works to solve the crimes his dreams tell him about in hopes he can save at least one victim from suffering the fate he faces every time he lays his head on his pillow. His ex-lover, Tag—now his boss—has no idea how to help him cope other than to protect his job...and try to protect their hearts from the dreams that could end up killing them both.
Layton welcomes the dream state that shows him his next victim. He's been a killer for as long as he can remember, and the land where he walks in shadow beside the horn-headed man who guides him feels more like home than the waking world. Now, in addition to seeking out those who would kill the innocent and ending their lives in his own special reign of terror, Layton is promised a bride—someone to love him forever. It seems everything he's ever dreamed is about to come true.
Jessica just wants to get her life back after her boyfriend is murdered and she is abducted. Twice. Finding herself at Leyton's mercy is a nightmare she soon finds is only the very beginning. When the horn-headed man visits her, she knows nothing will ever be the same again.
The four of them now have to find a way to navigate the real world while the dream state dictates their very lives and threatens everything they hold dear. If they manage catch a few killers and save a few innocent lives along the way, that will have to be their compensation for the "gifts" given by The Dreaming.

And now for a lovely (if possibly disturbing) excerpt from today's release: Tools of Justice.


“Listen.” Tag palmed the steering wheel, guiding the car smoothly around the corner. “Don’t worry about this.” He squeezed Barry’s hand again. “Anyone says anything about us, you let me deal with it. You just concentrate on figuring out who it is that’s getting into your head and what he wants.”
“God, you say that like it’s a normal, everyday occurrence.”
“For you?”
Barry glared at him, feeling the tension knotting at the base of his skull.
“Here’s the thing,” Tag continued mildly. “You have always had these dreams. They have to be coming from somewhere. It isn’t like you were actually there, so how could you possibly know what those victims felt unless something else is going on? I feel slightly more comfortable with the idea that someone might be orchestrating all this than with the idea your brain randomly taps into some freak radio wave that we can’t control. A person, an entity, whatever…something behind it means there’s a chance we can stop it.” He spared a quick glance for Barry. “It means I can protect you from it.”
The elusive ache at the back of Barry’s head suddenly swelled, sending him into a dizzying spiral of ferocious pain. He screamed, grabbed at his head, and doubled over. Somewhere outside himself, tyres squealed, horns blared. The car lurched and spun, and Barry felt everything tumble out and away before the vehicle came to a devastating stop.
For a long minute, he remained still, trying to work out what had happened. The world was dark around him. Night air whisked across the back of his neck, cooling the sweat, and slowly, the awareness of a horrid, shrilling blast broke through. The car horn bled sound on and on, out into the night.
“Tag?” He blinked and shook his head, which sent the world spinning around off its axis. “Tag…”
The steady drone of the horn was his only answer.
Finally managing to right himself, Barry blinked at the deflated air bag in his lap.
“Oh shit.”
His brain clicked into gear, and he looked to the driver’s seat.
“No. This is not happening. Tag!”
Gently, he touched his lover’s shoulder. No twitch of movement, no moan, no response at all. Blood dripped in a steady plop, plop off the base of the steering wheel.
“I tried to warn you, Barry.”
“Not now! Tag!” He scooted closer, reached for both Tag and the radio. “Code thirty! Code thirty! We’ve gone…” He glanced around, unsure where, exactly, they were. “Off the road under the west turnpike bridge. Send a fucking bus! Tag!”
Dumping the radio in favour of carefully prying Tag back from where he slumped over the steering wheel, Barry tried to peer around into his captain’s bloodied face. “Tag, come on. This is not a good time for you to check out on me. Please.”
“You should have listened.”
“I said… Not. Now!
“Now is all there is.”
Barry tried to shut out the voice in his head as Tag finally made a low, guttural sound in his throat. Blood bubbled out of his mouth, and he coughed, a weak, pathetic little bleat.
“Oh, God. Okay. Tag, it’s going to be okay. Just…” He glanced around. They weren’t that far from the crime scene. Where the hell was everyone? “Just try and relax.”
Outside the window, he could see only low rolling fog and tendrils of mist snaking along through the grass. Anything beyond that was gone—the road, the traffic, the light of the sirens that should have been there… It was like they’d dropped out of the world.
The mist shrouded everything, clawed up the side of the car and curled around Tag’s open window. Barry’s two worlds meshed into one, horrifying reality. He dived across Tag’s lap as he began to choke, the mist roiling up along his neck and into his mouth, his nostrils, seeping into his hair and ears.
“No! No, no, no!”
Frantic, Barry twisted the window lever round and round, but the fog was already inside with them, already forcing Tag’s mouth wider, climbing down his throat like a thing alive.
He shook Tag, tried to wipe the stuff away. It clung in clammy, sticky globs to his flesh.
“Stop it! Fuck! Leave him alone! You promised!”
There was nothing to grab onto as Tag choked and convulsed, trying to get air into his lungs. His eyes opened finally and fixed on Barry, pleading for help he couldn’t give.
“What do you want?” Barry shouted. “What? I already said I would help. I said. Don’t do this.” His voice drained to a hoarse whisper, and he dragged Tag into his arms. “Don’t. You said you wouldn’t hurt him. Jesus fuck, please. I’ll do anything, just don’t take him.”
“He will interfere, Barry. Distract you. You need to focus.”
“He is my focus.” Barry petted Tag’s hair, rocked him, tying to ease the pain and fear knotting his lover’s muscles, trying not to listen to the dying sounds he was making. “I’ll do whatever you want. Leave him out of it.”
“Can you leave him out of it?”
“What? No! I need him!” Barry tightened his arms. “You want me? You only get me if I have him. I can’t do this alone.”
“He can’t threaten us, our mission, Barry. Not even in words. You make him understand. It doesn’t stop. You have a gift. You must use it.”
“Okay! Okay, just… Let him go!”
In his arms, Tag heaved, convulsed, then the fog was withdrawing, snaking back out the window, and Tag was hauling in breath after breath, shuddering and panting in Barry’s arms.
“It’s going to be okay,” Barry whispered, over and over with each stroke of his hand through Tag’s hair.
Even after Tag was breathing somewhat normally again, Barry held onto him, stroking him, rocking, whispering his mantra.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Embarrassing Moments

Please help us welcome Randi Alexander today.

~ ~ ~ ~

I want to thank ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Four Strong Women for letting me guest blog today. I'm Randi Alexander and I write cowboy erotic romance. I'm published with The Wild Rose Press' Cowboy Kink line. My second Cowboy Kink, Her Cowboy Stud, was released today! Yee-haw!

I've got to talk about kids. Why are they so nosey? There is nowhere to hide anything that they cannot get into. I love them dearly, but it's just incredible to me that they are so curious.

When eight-year-old LittleGuy thought he was alone in the dining room, I watched him go through every drawer and every cabinet in my credenza. It took him nearly a half hour. What did he expect to find? Candy? Cash? A wooden chest filled with gold doubloons? It's a credenza. It's got tablecloths and gravy boats.

When he turned around and saw me sitting there, he said, "I'm going outside," and took off. No embarrassment, no guilt. Gotta love the obliviousness of youth.

The worst was when six-year-old Pink (her nickname because of her red hair) found my Barbies. I've been trying to write a ménage, and since I have no experience (writing or otherwise…) I bought a Barbie and two Kens to help me visualize the positions.

They were expensive! When you buy the ones that are highly bendable, they cost about twenty dollars each. And knowing how Pink treats her toys, I hide them when I'm not…um…posing them.

Last week, I was cooking supper, and Pink stomps into the kitchen, crosses her arms, and asks, "Why do you have brand new Barbie dolls under your bed?" This was accompanied by a serious glare.

For a moment, I felt guilty. Probably a leftover from my Roman Catholic upbringing. Then I thought, hey, those are my dollies!

I turned to her, crossed my arms, and with a raised eyebrow, retorted, "What were you doing under my bed?"

Her redhead-pale cheeks blushed, but to her credit, she didn't back down. She waved her hand as if to erase everything we'd just said, and rolled her eyes. "That doesn't matter," she said. "Just give me their clothes so I don't have to look at them nakies."

Oh holy crap. I'd forgotten the threesome was nakies. Buck nakies. A blush rose to my cheeks, and I mumbled something about them taking a bath because it was Saturday night, bla, bla, bla. I went to find where I'd hidden Barbie's bikini and blond Ken and brunette Ken's surfer duds.

Someday, I'm going find a big honking safe and have it installed in my bedroom closet just to so I can have a place to keep my toys. Until then, Barbie, Ken, and Ken will have to share space with the spare tire in my trunk.

Your turn! I'd love to hear your story of an embarrassing moment when kids, family, or friends found something you wish they hadn't.

Trace McGonagall’s quiet life on his Houston stud ranch is shaken up when gorgeous Macy Veralta arrives to claim an inheritance left to her in his uncle’s will. Trace sees her as just another gold digger, but he also can’t resist her curvy body. When she hints at being the perfect submissive to his Dom, he has to have her.

Macy wouldn’t have been three months late to claim her inheritance if she’d known Trace was sin in jeans. The cowboy’s dominant bearing and the smoldering glint in his eyes send shivers to her toes and stirs images of being bound in his bed and disciplined at his hand. But could Trace’s perfect seduction be part of his plan to reclaim her inheritance?

EXCERPT: Over 18 only please.

“I do sales, but mostly in the Midwest and Northeast. The company I work for has been talking about expanding into the South and West, but…” Macy trailed off, as if thinking.

Trace bet she was thinking the same thing. If she got down here to Texas occasionally, they could make it a regular thing. Even if she was here after his money, he couldn’t ignore the hot, sexy connection between them. Hell, he didn’t have to marry her. One sizzling night a month he could spend some of his bankroll on her.

They’d meet in a high-class Houston hotel. He’d pull her to him, hard and fast, and their kisses would be frantic as they ripped the clothes off each other. He’d tell her with desperation choking his voice, “I want you. Now.” He’d pick her up and press her back against the wall. He’d lift her legs and slide into her hot, wet pussy.

She’d claw his back as he pumped into her, deep and steady, making sure he rubbed her clit with enough finesse to send her over the edge with a scream. Their first rush of lust curbed, they’d fall onto the bed where he’d introduce her to some edgy sex play. Just the basics at first…

“Trace?” Her eyes held a sly gleam. “You seem to be the one who’s doing the staring now.”

To celebrate the release of Her Cowboy Stud, I'm giving away, to one lucky *commenter, an e-copy of my first erotic romance, Chase and Seduction. Just leave a comment today and we'll choose a winner tomorrow. *Commenter must be 18 years of age or older to win.

I'm also giving away a custom made messenger bag and a $50 gift certificate to Pureromance to one subscriber to my newsletter. For more details, and to sign up for this contest, please go to my website, And while you're there, you can read the first chapter of Her Cowboy Stud.

Good luck, and thank you!



Her Cowboy Stud available at The Wild Rose Press Wilder Roses

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Eye Candy without the Guilt

A few weeks ago, a swimmer friend and I were talking in the woman's locker room. Our discussion turned to swim meets which in turn led us to the eye candy one sees around pools. Not just any pools, but pools where swimmers workout. There are plenty of options for everyone of any persuasion. My persuasion is men, as is Judy's. (Name changed to protect the innocent, although she will know whom I am talking about.)

There are a multitude of body shapes around these pools. Some are hot; some are pregnant (yes, we have pregnant women. Some of which are literally within days of birth. It's very cool.); some are chunky; some are very old; some have the belly-sticks-out-further-than-the-dick-do syndrome (a lot further); some need a little help.

We do see this, and we know where we are in the different categories. However, when we are swimming, we really aren't thinking about anyone's body but our own, and we get a fantastic workout. (Hence, no guilt when we are peeking. ) In between intervals, most of us are too busy trying to breathe to notice much anything else. (g) Although once I told a guy standing on the deck, "Although your body is nice to look at, I can't see the clock. Could you please move?" (g--We are a bit rabid about leaving on the right interval. Most of us are, anyway. And if you mess up our interval, we get a little cantankerous. Think getting between a PMS-ing woman and her chocolate. Yes, we are that bad. g) So, I suppose I do notice the bodies in between intervals, but I am more interested in my workout than their body. (g) Hard to believe when you see bodies like this one below. Okay, not quite like this one, but darn close.

Ah, I digress. It's so easy to do when discussing eye candy and inserting pics of hot bodies. So, Judy and I were talking about doing another swim meet. Swim meets have hot bodies galore. I told her about the first swim meet I'd attended in some twenty years. I jumped in to warm up. A few minutes later, three reel-in-tongue-pick-up-jaw-remember-to-breathe hot men jumped into my lane. I tried really hard not to stare. I am used to hot bodies around the pool, so it should be easy, but damn! they were...pant,! It turns out they were Olympians. Yes, Olympians. Bodies of Olympians make you want to do the let-me-rip-your-clothes-off-and-attack-you thing. (Not that I did. Instead, I had to keep myself from staring because, well, it's gauche and I didn't want to look like the horny, mature lady pretending to be a fast swimmer still. Of course, they did not notice me. I'd say it was a bit lowering, but, honestly, I didn't expect them to. I am not in their class. I am not an Olympian, nor do I have the body of an Olympian. shrug)

Judy shared her first in many years swim meet experience as well. Apparently, she had her camera with her and was talking pictures of a lot of hot-bodied men without even realizing it. Matter of fact, she didn't even notice how many pics of hot men she took until her husband asked her, "Who are all these men?" She doesn't do that anymore.


I so get it, though. But I don't feel guilty. They are eye candy after all, and I'm really there to workout or compete. I admire the bodies, I might have conversations with some men (when I can breathe--from swimming hard, people), but that's as far as it goes. It's as far as it will ever go. I am happily married after all. (g)

Of course, instead of attending swim meets or going to the pool, you can just visit this blog post and enjoy guilt-free eye candy.

Note: I was just going to add a few pictures of swimmers in this blog, but I saw so many yummy ones that I had a hard time stopping myself. (g) Now, there are photos of women too because I am an equal opportunity blogger. (We do have male readers after all. g)

Amanda Beard, Olympic gold medalist

Dara Torres, Olympic silver medalist in 50m free

(She is 41 in this photo and very thin, IMHO. O.O)

And one more of hot bodies. (Michael Phelps and Inge de Bruijn)

Monday, 19 March 2012

Before her Kindle - Meet Heather Bennett, Co-Owner of Decadent Publishing

     A five year old walks into my room. Out of the corner of my eye, I see his head tilt, face wrinkled contemplatively.
     "Mommy, why is that man standing in a lake with a sword on his back and no shirt?"
     I look around and see a trade-sized romance book on my
bedside table. Ah, crap, I usually turn them over. Think fast. Think fast.
     "Ummm, well, the story is....eeerr.....about a knight and hheeeeee has to battle a sea monster."
     Five year old, a budding Lancelot at heart mixed with a large dash of padawan enthusiasm, nods. "Oh, okay, that makes sense."
     I smile. Phew, that was a good save, I thought, mentally patting my own back.
     "Can you read me that story at bedtime? It sounds good."
     Ah, crap.
That was a true story, one of the many reasons I am now ever so grateful for my ereader. I love the gorgeous e-covers, too, but personally I'm fine with them remaining out of sight. In the old days, BMK (Before My Kindle), I would typically turn the book cover over if it was a passionate clinch sort. While I enjoyed the man-candy, I wasn't terribly eager to re-visit conversations where I was forced to explain to a preschooler why the big dark-haired man was so mean he tore the fainting lady's shirt. Or why the lady was only wearing her bra and panties when there were three gentlemen standing around her in a barn. After all, my DD wasn't allowed to run around outside in only HER panties; it wasn't fair. A few of those and I either resorted to shoving it behind the bed between readings or flipping it good-side-down.

Now, however, I don't need to worry about a cover requiring me to come up with a 10 minute bedtime story about shirtless knights ("He lost it when the three headed monster LUNGED for him and tore it from his back as he struggled to get away through the murky water!"), leather pants ("Yes, he made them himself from the skins of wildebeest he slayed."), strategically placed gowns ("No, the shoulders of your Cinderella costume are not supposed to be around your elbows! I don't care how the lady on my book wore it!"), or why the people were naked in the shower together ("Uummm, I don't know. Hey! Do you want ice cream? Yay!") I don't think these explanations would fly anymore as both kids are tweeners and not as naive as I wish they were.
I love my ereader and miss nothing, really, about the BMK days of a paper book other than the sentimentality of it. I can read a burn-the-sheets
erotica novella and delete it off the device, if I wish, rather than figure out how to concealing it between sweater stacks from curiosity seeking 10 year olds until I want to read it again. I can read a Gabaldon-esque gigantabook without acquiring a case of carpel tunnel. I can take 500 books in my purse on a plane. I can hoard....errrr, I mean, COLLECT *cough*....books all I want without hiding my walls and aggravating my allergies.
Sure, I miss my flip back man-candy covers, but then they tend to get me leering or disdainful glances from neophytes anyway. This way, I can thoroughly enjoy my books, revel in the adventures and romance, delight in the escapist virtues of the genre while the rest of the world is blissful ignorant and thinks I'm modern and trendy.

AND I don't have to explain why Mommy's novel has two shirtless cowboys and one, apparently, feverish miss on the cover. ("They should give her Pedialyte, Mom. That's good for fevers.")

Heather Bennett was an avid reader of romance novels long before they were considered 'appropriate for her age'. She eventually transitioned her passion for reading into an affinity for editing where she met the wonderful author who became her business partner. They now co-own a quality fiction epublishing company, Decadent Publishing--which is known for their feverish, bare-chested man candy covers. Find them all at

Thursday, 15 March 2012

How Childhood Training Ruined Perfectly Good Adults

by Olivia Starke

I’m not someone who can deal with stupid. I don’t condone it nor do I reward it. Yet, for some ever lovin’ reason I’ve chosen to work in retail. And not just retail, mind you, but in retail management which in itself is just plain stupid. Each and every day I interact with people who push my last button, making the term postal seem like a viable option to get through the rest of the day.
(This is how I look after every shift.)

The more I’ve observed people, the more I’ve fallen back on my college major of Psychology to try to explain certain actions. And what I’ve gathered from this is that we often fall back on lessons taught in early childhood classrooms.
1)Always put your toys away with the rest of the children’s to avoid a mess. I work in a pretty small store that’s part of a pretty big national retail chain. In my store there are only two registers and one set of doors. I have observed many times when one person leaves their cart in the middle of the walkway to the exit, EVERYONE, will start leaving their carts with it—even though the cart corral is steps away.
Eventually, one last cart will completely block the exit route and you’ll have a completely befuddled school teacher, accountant, administrative assistant, etc. who can’t figure out why they are trapped. They stand and stare, trying to figure out how to get around the obstacle as if some black magic has created it, not once thinking they should simply put the carts away.
I decided long ago to allow this natural selection process play itself out. You know, for the betterment of mankind.
(When you’re not looking shopping carts multiply…exponentially.)

2) Line up behind the other children. Most days we have one cashier and one manager on duty. The cashier can only run one register at a time (DUH,) so we’ll have several signs up on the closed register saying—you guessed it—this register is CLOSED. Inevitably you’ll get the person who can’t read and will stand at the closed register, piling their stuff up around the signs despite the line of other people, and cashier, at the open register. And what happens? People will start lining up behind that stupid person. And continue to line up.
(Standing in line is the new ‘planking’)

3) Stay to the right, children, when walking down the hallway. One of our doors fell off one day, or more precisely the right side door when entering. Literally fell off the hinges, and in the usual retail rush to make sure everything is in working order for the employees to make life simple, it took over six months to get it fixed.
In the mean time we barricaded the doorwith Uboats full of soda on the outside. Signs plastered on the door it was broken please use other door. And carts, etc. on the inside (seriously we tried everything.) Yet people continued to climb over the obstacles like some Marine bootcamp training, and would come to us and ask if we knew the doorway was blocked. Not once or twice, but continually over the course of month until the dim little light bulb finally clicked on. It’s a small town and we see the same people nearly every day.

Here you have it, a day in my life. Stay tuned, in future posts I’ll let you know what life is like in the mental hospital I’m surely headed for.

Midnight Madness
Maddie takes to camping to forget her two timing ex-boyfriend. Instead of peace and quiet, she stumbles upon two hunks who put the wild in wilderness. And they have plans of their own—to heat up her sexless life. An evening of rowdy lovin’ is just what she needs to get over her broken heart.
When she joins them in a trio that leaves her satisfied and exhausted, they have one more surprise in store called Midnight Madness...

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The Booming Fantasy and Sci-Fi Markets

The movie and book business go through phases. For the last coupla years there has been a surge in horror movies, and now I'm seeing where horror erotica has begun to take off. [eagerly rubs hands together in anticipation of writing a horror erotica manuscript]

The paranormal craze is still strong as ever, too.

And now it seems sci-fi, fantasy, and a blend of the two genres is spreading into movies and publishing. The Clash of the Titans was remade and now The Wrath of the Titans is being advertised. Even John Carter has moved from prose to the box office.

Add history to either genre and it seems like viewers and readers are in Seventh Heaven. Besides, historical material has always been a steady seller.

I've been working on a fantasy romance series mixed with ancient history and Norse mythology. It's called the Fire and Ice Saga and book two debuted a coupla weeks ago. In May, a spin-off tale will be available, too. I hope you'll take the time to read and enjoy the excerpt below. Besides, everyone needs not only romance but a touch of humor. Laughter goes a long way in freeing the mind and lightening the heart. Sir Hestbone is my favorite character, so much so that I based the spin-off book on him.

Blurb and excerpt from Magic's Fiery Embrace, book two:

She is armed with a power she cannot control and defeated by a love she cannot know.

When Man and Fae are threatened by the Thorn or Ebon, the goddess Freya sends Ember, a Daughter of Trinity, upon a quest to find and defeat it. Happy to escape the palace walls and anticipating new lovers, Ember embarks on her journey. However, when she meets Sarenkesh, a Gloaming Elf, her power finally manifests. She soon realizes her magic will kill him and is forced to keep her distance from the only man she's ever loved.

In a battle high above the world, Ember draws upon the power of love to fight evil. Tricked by a deity and forced to be a slave to carnal passions, she’s faced with a choice: sacrifice herself for Sarenkesh and the welfare of others or remained enslaved by a master of fleshly pleasure.


Sarenkesh lay down next to her and pulled her onto her side and snugly against his body. "Aye, you are dangerous. Mortal and Fae can get lost in you." He captured her lips, his mouth sure, possessive. The taste of his tongue like ginger and cloves.

Ember rolled onto her back, pulling Sarenkesh with her. He pressed her tightly to the earth, his erection hot and eager against her lower abdomen. Desire pooled in Ember's loins, its intensity creeping down her legs and up into her torso. She strained against Sarenkesh, wanting him inside her. His mouth seized the delicate pink tip of one breast, and she gasped. Arrows of need sliced through her, and she arched her back, fingers burrowing into his snowy locks.

The torturou

s warmth crawled into her arms and spread upward into her neck as a fever claims its victim. She sighed and parted her legs, the delicate place between them tingling and wet. Sarenkesh shifted his position so that his cock nudged the lips of her sex. Frantic to feel his hard length, Ember shoved upward with her hips, impaling herself on him. With a surprised grunt, her lover slid fully inside her body.

His cock filled her, stretched her. Before he could thrust, an orgasm swept through Ember in an inferno of sensation. She gasped, stiffening. As she plummeted over the precipice of ecstasy, she bucked her hips, crying out, fingers digging into Sarenkesh's ass. The incredible heat that swirled through her body culminated within her fingertips and surged into her face.

Sulfur singed her nose, assaulted her tongue. Fear crashed through her mind.

"No!" She shoved Sarenkesh away, their bodies parting.

Ember rolled to her side, desperate to turn away from Sarenkesh. She staggered to her feet.


She half ran, half fell toward the creek. Flames licked out of her mouth, her nose, and shot from her eyes in red, white, and orange brilliance. Blindness overcame her, and the aroma of brimstone weighed heavily in the air. She lunged forward, falling from the low bank. Cold fluid engulfed her, the brightness surrounding her vanished, and the heat extinguished.

Arms slipped around her body and lifted her from the creek. Coughing, sputtering, Ember realized someone carried her but didn't have the strength to protest let alone move.

"Ach! What be wrong with you? Can't you wait until we get to the next town to bed a wench other than the princess?"

"She invited me here," Sarenkesh replied tersely. With Ember in his arms, he dropped to his knees on the bank.

"You risk much, elf. You woo her with your magic."

Kaedric? She frowned at his presence. What is he doing here?

"You don't know my sister," Beron said, his voice the next to penetrate Ember's dazed mind. "Father is always in fits trying to keep her apart from her lovers,"

"Is she breathing?" Dikartha asked.

"Woman, what be the matter with you?" the dwarf nearly roared. "Would she sputter and cough if she were dead?"

Gingerly, Ember opened her eyes. She blinked several times to clear the mist from her vision and finally gazed up at the twilight. Lady Evanesce's face suddenly blocked Ember's view of the sky.

"After unleashing such power twice in one day, she'll need to rest," the lady said in her quiet, calm way.

Somewhere just out of Ember's line of vision the captain of war burst out laughing. "Ach, you are lucky your cock did not go up in flames too!"

More male laughter followed.

"I will ignore your words," Sarenkesh said. He wrapped his arms wrapped around her body again, their gazes meeting.

Eyes still stinging, she blinked, and tears leaked from their corners, the burn of sulfur still dominating her senses. "I am so sorry," she whispered.

"Shh. I am whole," he said, wry amusement in his voice. "Dikartha will wrap you in your cloak while I dress, and then I will carry you back to your bedroll."

"You lit up the woods," Beron's voice came from somewhere behind Sarenkesh. "We thought you were on fire."

"Aye," said Hestbone, "as well as Sarenkesh's ass."

Kaedric's bass laughter melded with Sarenkesh's.

"Hush now," Dikartha admonished as she helped Ember into her garments. "The princess is weary."

"Aye," the lady agreed. "Let us get back to the camp and sleep. We still have a long way to travel."

Here's the amazon link, but the book is available at most e-book distributors. If you missed book one, here is the link to it. Also, the following below my question is the blurb and cover for the Fire and Ice spin-off story.

So tell me, what do you like about fantasy and sci-fi or even the combination of the two?

When a wisp of a young woman is cursed by Loki, she wields a huge sword most men would struggle to use. She is utterly untamable, but then along comes the Dwarves Captain of War...

Devoryah is cursed by Loki, and as the youngest and only girl child in a family of older brothers, she's tired of being their servant and told what she can and cannot do. As a result, she vents her frustrations through her sword and loves to spill blood. Thus, she suffers from bloodlust. Men fear her, but Sir Hestbone has a different perspective on her lust for spilled well as the power of sex and love.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Capitalism & Expensive Plastic

Know what really burns my biscuits? Capitalism bs. Big businesses that try to take over everything in the markets—and screw over the consumer as much as possible.

Point in case. The battery of my Verizon wireless box died last fall. The warranty had expired—of course—so I didn’t bother replacing the battery until recently because I’ve been without reliable transportation, so there was no need to spend the money for a new battery when I was home 98% of the time and could just plug the box in to an outlet.

Well, now that my Blazer is fixed and I have a new iPad, I wanted a new battery for the wireless so I could use my iPad when I’m out. I stopped at a Verizon kiosk in the mall and asked how much a replacement battery would be.

“Between $30 and $50, depending on the type of battery,” said the clerk.

I blinked. Surely I hadn’t heard correctly. She gave me an odd look like I was going to sprout tentacles.

“For a tiny, flat battery?” I asked, shocked.

“Yes, Verizon makes them expensive so customers will go ahead an upgrade to the latest box.”

Well, at least she was being honest, but when she quoted $150 for the new 4G box, my knees nearly gave out. I’m frugal. Hell, call me Scrooge if you want to because I’ve had to raise kids on a shoe string since…uh…wait, did I have a life before kids? Anyway, I know a lot of people whip out their credit cards and buy whatever, but I’m not like that. I worry about the electric bill. I worry about paying for my kid to go on her Washington D.C. trip, will there be enough groceries between paydays since royalties aren’t due yet, and I stress over whether or not my hubby will be able to go to the dentist since his insurance doesn’t have dental…

So I called said hubby, who told me to go ahead and buy the wireless. “Take it out of your business account, honey. It’ll come off our taxes next year.”

“I know, but $150 for a li’l box? Seriously, it’s just a piece of plastic!”

“You have to have it for your work, babe.”

Grrr. He had me there.

So, I stomped back to the Verizon store.

“Oh, so you decided to get the new 4G box, huh?” the clerk said upon recognizing me. “4G is lightning fast. You’ll love it.”

“Yes.” I sighed. “But it’s under protest.”

She laughed, but I was serious.

The clerk rang up everything. I paid my bill, signed my new contract—and then she drops the bomb on me.

“Btw, 4G won’t be available in our area until the end of the year, and if you decide you don’t want this wireless box, it’s a $75 re-stock fee.”

Now she tells me this??? AFTER I pay for the box and sign the contract??? And $75 is half the cost of the infernal box!

Steam rolled off of me as I walked away with my itty bitty plastic bag.

“What’s wrong, Mommy?” asked my seven year old.

“I hate liars and manipulators,” I answered.

“How did that lady lie to you?”

“She didn’t tell me the truth about what I was buying until after I paid for it.”

“That wasn’t nice of her.”

“Tell me about it.”

I’m sure these clerks and reps are told to do business like this but it’s wrong, wrong, wrong! What happened to a gentleman’s handshake? What happened to the solid foundation of a promise? What the heck happened to quality over quantity?

Greedy bastards.

Don’t mind me. PMS and plastic that’s extraordinarily expensive tends to send me over the edge.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

You Own What?

by Valerie Mann
For those of you who know me, I’m an author, editor, business owner, Mom, wife, quiltera generic goddess of all that's worth living for, as is any woman who manages to juggle 48 hours worth of work into 24 hours and still find time to breathe, sleep and have sex. Maybe not in that order. But sometimes all at once.

Sleep under this Star!
One thing that I am, but you may not be, is a City Slicker. I wasn’t raised in the city, but I have the citified mentality that says sidewalks are wonderful alternatives to hiking trails. I’ve done my share of tent camping, so if you want me to sleep under the stars, they’d better be Daniel Craig or Tom Hardy.  I love bug repellant the way others enjoy parfum. And cooking over an open fire? Oh, I do that, but I call the open fire a gas stove.

I have one exception to the City Slicker imageI own chickens. In the backyard of my city subdivision. The GirlsHoudini, Chicken Little (who ain’t so little) and Girlieare my lovelies.  And before you ask, the answer is no. We will not be eating the Girls. They’re hens, with the express purpose of providing eggs for the family, pissing off the cat and making us laugh.

Here is a short list of disadvantages of owning chickens:

1.   They make noise. Not as bad as roosters, there’s no cockadoodledoo-ing at 4:00 AM. But they can get loud. A well-timed snack (they like anything red) is usually enough to shut them up.
2.   They eat a lot. Never stop. Their goals in life are eat, have sex (which, sadly, the Girls aren’t getting) and laying eggs.  And they shit. A lot. OMG, do they.
3.   They’re dumb as stumps. Of course, my Girls are the Einsteins of the poultry world. But that’s still not saying much.

A Chicken Dirt Bath
Girlie does a face plant, Chicken Little kisses feather butt
 and Houdini risks her life in a hen sandwich. I told you they aren't very smart.

1.   They make me laugh. Their odd, chicken-y dumbness is so entertaining.
2.   Their eggs are phenomenal. It may sound cliché, but it’s true.
3.   They eat everything that moves. Bugs, mice, toads, anything blowing in the wind. And the resulting fertilizer is amazing. Because remember, they shit a lot.

Do I recommend owning chickens to everyone? Nah. They’re odd animals and don’t make the best pets. They don’t like to be held, forget about warm fuzzy pet bonding. And the first time you scratch their necks like a dog or cat, you’ll understand that chicken skin feels just as bad on a live bird as it looks under plastic wrap at your supermarket. Not to mention, they’re extremely self-gratuitous. They’ll be your BFF as long as you bribe them with treats. You’re just one big Pez dispenser as far as they’re concerned. But I love my Girls anyway. Our undemanding and symbiotic relationship suits me fine. 

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Breaking out the Romance: Minnesota Housewife Style

Here in Minnesota, winter is cold! I’m talking below zero temperatures, snow storms, blizzards—the works. Spicing things up when it is so cold can be a challenge, but here are a few of my favorite tips:

The right Pajamas: treat yourself to snuggy pajamas and if they are covered in little bunnies or snowflakes—that is even better. Why? Because in a pinch you can wear a solid pair of snuggy pants and pass them off as ‘work out’ clothes. Once those suckers are covered in big lips or balloons, they are night clothes—aka, sexy. Chilly Trick: trying to match pj’s with your honey takes away some of the sexiness.

 Setting the Scene: If your house is as drafty as mine, it doesn’t matter how high you crank the heat—it’s chilly. To combat the cold on a long winter evening of romance, layer blankets on the floor (you may need quite a few), pop in a movie, and make some hot chocolate for you and your honey. Chilly Trick: Sleeping Bags. Zip two together and make a sexy cocoon.

Secret Sexiness: Wearing layers is one way to combat the cold. However, a heavy sweatshirt on top of a turtle neck on top of an undershirt doesn’t exactly scream sexy. For a quiet afternoon at home, lose the bra and let your honey warm his hands in the kitchen while making soup. Chilly Trick: add a jar or two of carrot baby food to your chicken noodle soup to round out the flavor and give it more body—you didn’t expect all these tips to be sexy, did you?

When the winter gets long and hard, hopefully a few of these tips can help get your honeys that way as well.

All the best!

Stephanie Beck

Bunny Club:Book 1 in the F*ck Like Bunnies Series by Stephanie Beck
 Available now through Ellora’s Cave.

When rumors about a sex club lead them to the real thing, Jarrod and his cousin Alex think they’ve found nirvana. Filled with bubbly blondes and luscious brunettes, the Bunny Club is any man’s wet dream. Surrounded by their sexual fantasies, they settle in for an unbelievable night filled with women, sex and pleasure unlike anything they’ve ever dreamed.

When the sex turns weird and men start dying at the hands of the gorgeous women, Jarrod’s and Alex’s plans to get laid are put on the back burner in favor of escaping the Bunny Club with their lives—if they don’t die with smiles on their faces first.
Stephanie Beck is a full time mom, part time writer and ameture speller.
    She's been writing since she was fifteen. Her first novel, "Love on the Mats" was a graphic, heartwarming tale of a wrestler and a cutie coed which was lovingly edited by the c-squad basketball team on the long bus rides throughout the season. They were all sure it would be published and it still has a home in a folder...somewhere.
    Stephanie Beck loves romance and all things romantic, heartwarming and usually funny, though a more serious piece will find its way in occasionally.
     In her spare time she knits and sews, walks the dog, plays with her two wonderful daughters and tries to get her husband to act out the naughty things she researches...oh the sacrifices she makes for her craft.

Find Stephanie at