Thank you!

On June 16th, the Many Shades blog will be closed.
The authors thank you for your readership and hope you will come visit them at their personal sites via the links to the left.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Dee's MoonBow Musings: Fun Time Wasters

Ok, even with everything I have on my plate I tend to be a bit of a procrastinator. And what better way to avoid work and deadlines than to spend hours mindlessly surfing the web. Well to make matters worse my sister-in-law gave me a Page-a-Day desktop calendar, Wacky Websites, for Christmas. The back cover description invites you to "Waste tons of time in 2009 at the kookiest, silliest, strangest, geekiest, and most entertaining sites on the Web. Learn a new dance move every week. Find out how to survive a zombie attack. Plan every detail of your Las Vegas wedding (should you dress your party as "Star Trek" characters? Or go with an Elvis package?)." I thought it would be fun to share a few of these fun time wasters occasionally, so here goes:

Have you ever wondered how your birthday or other important dates translate into different calendar systems; Julian, Hebrew, Muslim or Mayan? Actually quite interesting and you never know when you might need to know this:

Popping balloons is the perfect stress reliever; warning, Bloons can be addictive:

My motto: You can never have too many holidays, especially if you get the day off from work. Check out this site to find out which holiday you should be celebrating today. Darn, I just missed International Polar Bear Day!

Ever feel just a little jealous of the Hollywood elite, well even they can't fight the effects of time. Check out this site to see what your favorite stars will look like in 2034.

I'm a bit of a history geek so I found this site particularly fascinating.

Now go forth and waste time!

Take care,

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Please Don't Divorce Us

By A.J. Llewellyn

On my way to the Oscars on Sunday (where I worked as a seat filler) I took the subway since almost all the streets were closed and I wanted to be able to get home quickly again, I saw a lot of things...Hollywood Boulevard, where I once worked as a tour guide in the early 80s for Graveline Tours, was filled with the usual tourists gawping at the gold stars on the street, homeless people begging for change, celeb-lookalikes posing for pics...and a bunch of evil cretins posing with Proposition 8 posters.
I was shocked that this small group of people from a local church had showed up to protest
"Milk" one of them even had a very large sign, very noticeable from the street saying "Heath in Hell" a reference to actor Heath Ledger's tragic passing.
Proposition 8, the anti-marriage bill rears its ugly head again next week. And who is gearing up to fight it? Kenneth Starr.
It was a very upsetting sight and my friend Mary grabbed my hand. "Don't look," she said, breaking into a run and dragging me with her.
According to reports, Ken Starr and the Prop 8 Legal Defense Fund filed legal briefs defending the constitutionality of Prop 8 and attempting to forcibly divorce 18,000 same-sex couples who were married in California last year.
Two days after Best Actor winner Sean Penn publicly supported marriage equality for ALL, a new video has surfaced that is so wonderful...
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in this case on March 5, with a decision expected within 90 days.
The Courage Campaign has created a video called "Fidelity," with the permission of musician Regina Spektor, that puts a face to those 18,000 couples and all the other loving, committed couples seeking full equality under the law.
Please watch this heartbreaking video now. If you have the same reaction that I did, please help me spread the word by sharing it with your friends and family ASAP:
The more people who see this video, the more people will understand the pain caused by Prop 8 and Ken Starr's shameful legal proceeding. After you watch the video, please join me and over 300,000 people who have signed a letter to the state Supreme Court, asking them to invalidate Prop 8 and reject Starr's case.
Please don't divorce those of us who waited so long for the legal right to be married. Please don't vote love away...

Aloha oe,


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Adding Steam to Your Love Scenes – Lesson #1

Last week I told you all that I would be presenting the free online workshop, Adding Steam to Your Love Scenes. Here is the first lesson. There is an exercise at the end of the lesson which I would love you all to do. You can post it here for everyone to see, or you can send it to me privately at At the very least, please leave a comment so I know you’ve been here!

Set the mood for both you and your characters

So what do I really mean by setting the mood, you might ask. Most of you do this without even thinking about it. Remember when you took that long bath putting bath salts in the water and lit the candles around the tub to create that ultimate experience? Yeah, I know you do. You wanted something relaxing and at the same time exhilarating. Remember that first date with your loved one? How about that first dinner? Or first night?

No matter what you’re doing you need to set the stage in order to get ‘into the mood’ for writing, especially writing love scenes. There is nothing worse than trying to write a witty, sexy tryst when you can’t get out of the doldrums.

Here are some sure fire ways to get yourself in the mood for writing great love scenes.

1. Read books the day before in the genre for which you’re writing.

Now I realize that this may sound hokey BUT there is nothing more stimulating than reading something that gets the creative juices flowing. Pick up that latest book by your favorite author. Or even get something new and different by some one you haven’t read before. Make sure that whatever you pick up, it is in the genre you are writing at the moment. There is nothing more frustrating than to be writing a romance when that erotic love scene is rolling around in your head.

Some of my favorite authors are Morgan Hawke, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Debbie Macomber, Emilie Richards, Nora Roberts, Melissa Schroeder, Joy Nash, Jennifer Ashley and Nikki Rivers to name a few. All of those people write very different things so it would depend on what I am writing the next day just what I’d be reading.

One other thing, do your best to turn off your internal editor. You know that one where you pick apart the book you are reading. This is for enjoyment and if you find yourself editing or being critical of the book you’re reading, find another book.

2. Watch a romantic movie.

For me, I just love watching a romantic movie. And it doesn’t matter when it is as the day before you write, the day you write or even the day after you write will work. It can be an old classic like An Affair to Remember or a new classic like While You Were Sleeping or Notting Hill and it can even be a brand new movie like Sweet Home Alabama. It can even be an autobiography like I Walk The Line. There’s just something wicked about Johnny Cash when you see him as a young man. But the point is, to lose your self in the romance and the story. It’s easy to write about something when you’re feeling the same emotions.

Oh…almost forgot one for those erotic romance writers…there’s nothing so sexy as the stair scene in The Thomas Crowne Affair. It burned up the screen.

3. Listen to music while you write that all important scene.

It has been said by many, many people, and proven too, that music can set the mood. Every wonder why the Scottish took their bagpipes into battle with them? It’s because just the sound of the pipes could work the men up into a frenzy and I mean frenzy. My husband is Scottish and when we went to Scotland, we stopped to hear the pipes any time we could. When we saw the lone piper at Castle Eileen Donan, we felt lonely, when we saw the bagpipe brigade practice for the Edinburgh Tattoo, we felt invigorated. There is nothing like a good song to put someone in the mood for anything. Think about how music is used to set the scene in a movie. You know exactly what is happening just from the music. Think Jaws, think Somewhere in Time and you’ll understand exactly what I mean.

I always listen to music when I’m writing and I am definitely more productive. If you go to my MySpace, you will find a band called the All American Rejects belting out their latest hit. I saw this music in a Battlestar Galactica announcement and traced it down because I loved the sound so much not to mention the really sexy scenes depicted in the commercial. My daughter in law was so surprised that I like this band she called my son right away and told him. I love music. Any music.

My kids gave me an IPOD for Christmas last year and to be honest, I listen to it a lot but while I’m at my computer, I just turn on Itunes. I frequently spend an hour or so downloading music because I never know just what I’ll find interesting some days.

For me, a day without music is like a day without sunshine.

4. Look at phrase books.

Again, this may seem a little strange but when you are stuck in a scene and nothing seems to work, pick up a phrase book and see if it can jolt you into thinking up something on your own. The two that I use are ‘The Romance Writer’s Phrase Book’ compiled by Jean Kent I believe. This is a really, really old book. It’s from 1984 and I have two copies which are both falling apart. The ISBN 10 is 0399510028 and the ISBN 13 is 978-0399510021. It’s available from Amazon.

A new but similar book, The Millennium Phrase Book by Rebecca Andrews, is done very well.
The author has updated many things and has taken into account the change in the market. This book is published by Highland Press and the ISBN 13 is 978-0-9787139-5-9.

Sometimes, I will just look at either of these books and get lost in the phrases as I roll them around in my mind to see if they will fit the story I’m working on at the moment. And since they are phrase books, you can copy things word for word if you’d like. Me, I just get the general idea and put it into my own words.

5. Look at sexy pictures.

I’m sure that many of you are thinking by this time that I have truly lost my mind. But humans are sense oriented creatures. We have to be able to touch, taste, hear, smell and see something for it to mean anything to us. Most of us tend to be very visual creatures in this day and age with everything being in our face. Why do you think that kids are so zoned into the computer games? A lot of times our visual perceptions supersede any of our other senses. Think of the car accidents because someone is not paying attention to what they are doing. Most of those people are looking the other way because had they really been looking at what they should have been looking at, the accident or incident probably wouldn’t have happened.

Last week when I was uploading something to offsite storage, I couldn’t figure out why the link would not work correctly. I worked with it over an hour before I sent it off to a colleague who immediately fired back, ‘Why is there a CW at the end of the filename?’ I had looked at that name for over an hour and had never noticed the extra letters. Talk about a ‘Duh’ moment. Our eyes tend to see what they want to see and sometimes what they see really isn’t what is there.

So just what do I mean by looking at sexy pictures, you might ask. Well, you can get some reference books like I have, The Better Sex Guide, The Kama Sutra, and Ultimate Sex to see the really erotic sexual positions as well as some great description. These books visually show us just how sexy and erotic sex can be. Now for the tamer side, I look on photo sites like or These places have some of the sexiest pictures you will ever see. Some people are fully clothed and others aren’t but you don’t see a thing because most things are rated PG on these sites. Matter of fact, one whole lesson will be on less is more because you don’t have to see everything to know it’s sexy.


1. Give me a list of your five favorite authors and tell me why you like to read their books.
2. Give me your five top picks for most romantic movie. Again, give me a little insight as to why you think this movie is great.
3. What is your favorite music and why. Do you listen to any of the current bands? Why or why not?
4. Do you think phrase books would be useful? Why or why not?
5. Do you think as a writer you would find looking at pictures useful to writing a novel?

Hope you all enjoyed this first lesson in the workshop.

Until next week...


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My Friend V

Just the other day I received a wonderful surprise in my in box! A friend, Mari Carr, and I are collaborating on a story. I am having so much fun and Mari and I joke all the time that it feels like we are dating. She is writing the male character and I'm writing the female character. It is so nice to have someone to write with. We share ideas on where the story should go and banter back and forth with dialogue. I'm having such a great time I think everyone should try it! lol Now, back to why I love Valerie Tibbs. Heehee. You can stop blushing now V. lol

As most of you know V is a cover artist. She is great. The other day as a surprise to me and Mari, V made us a cover for our story. We are calling it Speed Dating for now. I wanted to share, one because it is a great cover and two because V doesn’t like to brag about her work so I’ll do it for her. Now...the only thing we have to do is get V to do covers at the place we want to sub! lol
It really does sum up our story. It is so cute and fun!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Looking Back

I can't believe that we're almost into March already! It got me thinking about how quickly 2008 went. I started reflecting about the incredible year we had. To say the past year has been historic is an understatement. The Downs...The housing market tanked even further and the economy barrelled head long into the crapper. The Ups....Well on a light note SNL had it's best season in almost 20 years, thanks to a historic (if not painfully long) election. The best, by far, was the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States. Wild! Either way it would've been a history making election....let's just say I'm glad Barack came out on top.

My parents are products of the sixties. I grew up hearing stories about the March on Washington and Peace Rallies in NYC. I listened to them recall where they were when JFK was shot. How they felt about Vietnam and what they did to speak out against it. I've seen the faded photos of my Dad with his bushy hippie hair, Mom with the very long hair and very short skirts. They raised their children to know that all men and women are equal. The color of your skin, your sex or sexual orientation should not determine your worth. I knew that, as a girl, I could grow up and do or be anything I wanted. There should be no limits to what one could achieve. This election was proof of everything I've been taught. Hillary, Barack and even Sarah Palin are examples of exactly that.The most interesting part was witnessing people come together from all walks of life in passionate support of Barack Obama. White, Black, Hispanic, Male or Female. It's been incredible to see him inspire the masses and move them to action. It's the first time, in my lifetime, that I've witnessed such passion infused throughout our country.

After the tragedy of 911 there was a certain camaraderie and unity that we had. However, it was fleeting and faded with time as our wounds healed. It is my hope, that Barack Obama continues to inspire, motivate and unite our country. Given the enormity of the task before him, all the problems he's inherited; he's going to need that passionate, inspiring spirit now more than ever. I, for one, still feel the fire and intend to keep the flame burning. Yes We Can! May 2009 be bright and beautiful for all of us.

Hello Valerie Tibbs!

This week we take a look at Valerie Tibbs. I asked her some quirky questions back in January and got plenty of interesting answers!

Welcome Valerie!

Valerie Tibbs is a cover artist for the following publisher(s): Aspen Mountain, Freya’s Bower/Wild Child Publishing, Pink Petal Books, Zumaya Publications. She’s also done some freelance covers for a couple of authors who had some free reads and wanted to use a professional type cover.

Valerie’s favorite color is purple and her favorite ice cream flavor is chocolate. When asked if she’s a cat, dog or both kind of person and if she’d ever own(ed) a snake or some other exotic pet her answers were ~ “Mostly cats, (I have two) but I could be both. I love animals. & No.” Concerning her preference for warm weather or cold she states, “For every day life, I’d prefer the cold. If I was going on a vacation somewhere, I’d like it warm so I could go swimming or snorkeling.” As for where she’d live if she could live anywhere in the universe, “It wouldn’t really matter to me, but if I had the money, I’d just travel all the time. I’d love to go to Australia and New Zealand.” In regard to what time of day she prefers, Valerie says, “Morning person, for sure. Much to the dismay of my 16 year old son.” Her favorite day of the week is Friday and her favorite number is 3. When asked if athletic shoes are sneakers or tennies and if a soft drink is called soda or pop, she responded: Sneakers & Soda

Here’s a scenario posed to the author: “You’re at a conference and an agent comes up to you and says, “I’ve seen your name on the web. I’m interested in taking you on as a client. You have a couple of minutes to wow me to convince me that I should.” You can only plug one book in this short amount of time. What book would you plug to land this contract and why?”

Valerie’s response: This book part doesn’t apply to me, but if someone from a major publisher wanted to hire me on as a cover artist, I would jump at the chance.

Thank you for letting me join your group! J

Thank you for the information Valerie & we’re glad you’re a member!

~ Feel free to share if you have something in common with her ~

Sunday, February 22, 2009

What Is Proper Cyber Etiquette?

By-Stephani Hecht

My mother always taught me to have proper manners. It was drilled into me that I always say thank you and please, respect my elders and always shake hands. However, in the face of advancing technology, I am finding myself more confused as I strive to keep up with cyber etiquette. What exactly is proper manners in the world of MySpace, Twitter, and blogs? Is there a handbook out there or are we all winging it as we go along?

Take the other day for example. I met a wonderful author and the very next day she friended me on MySpace. I immediately accepted and sent her a nice comment thanking her. She then sent me a comment back making some small talk. After that, I didn’t know what would be the proper next step. I sat there for minutes that stretched out into hours as I bit my nails and contemplated my move.

Do I not comment back? Then I might look like a snob. That’s just not me. Maybe snarky, at times a bitch, but never, ever snobby.

Do I comment back in hopes of keeping the banter up? Then I might look like a stalker. I know I don’t want to carry that label. That just never looks good on a resume.

Then a revelation hit me. Nobody knows MySpace better than teens and I just happened to have one of those handy. I braved the pit my son calls a bedroom to ask him. He told me to get a life. That really didn’t help my situation much, but it did give me the opportunity to go my MySpace page and put in a sad face since I was insulted.

Status: Stephani has been told by her teenager to get a life.
Mood: cranky

Things don’t get any easier in Twitter. There I am faced with the dilemma of who to send @Replies to and what to say when I do. If a big agent writes she has a cold and I reply that I hope she gets better, do I come off as an ass kisser? There are many things I want to be in life, but an ass kisser isn’t one of them. Worried, I go back into the pit to ask the teenager. This time, not only does he tell me to get a life, but he flashes the “L” sign to me. I make a mental note to take out the naked baby pictures the next time he has a girl over.

Status: Stephani is a loser.
Mood: nerdy

Then there is the whole blog issue. I love to visit blogs. They are one of my guilty pleasures which takes up way too much of my writing time. There is one issue though. I never know what posts I should comment on and what ones I should just keep my yap shut about. Blogland can be a tricky place and the last thing I want is to be caught up in the middle a great debate. Not that I don’t have opinions, I just don’t know that anybody cares about them. I am just a nobody after all. What to do? What to do? Since I’m a glutton for punishment, I ask the teen again. He tells me to stop being a dork.

Status: Stephani is a dork.
Mood: dorky

So as I finish writing this I find myself no closer to an answer then when I began. I don’t know if I will ever be able to catch up with what’s right and wrong in cyberspace. If anyone knows of an advice column I can write to for help, I would greatly appreciate it.

Status: Stephani is confused.
Mood: confused

Back in the saddle again...

Yup, I am back in the proverbial writing saddle and it feels good. A little over a month ago I joined a new critique group. Stephani and Sue are members of my Greater Detroit RWA chapter and I have known both of them for awhile now. It’s a very good fit, if I do say so myself. We compliment one another quite well. Seems the biggest obstacle we have is meshing our schedules to meet. So far we are only managing two times a month.

Yesterday was one of those times. We were supposed to go to Lansing for the Mid Michigan RWA meeting to support a member of the GDRWA who was presenting and then do our critique afterwards, but incoming weather changed our plans. A snowfall of 4-8 inches was called for so the three of us chickened out and decided to stay close to home. So we met at Big Boy, starting the critique session with food. (Always a good thing (G)) Then after some chit chat we got down to business.

We had decided at the onset of forming the group to exchange pages via email, then critique them at your leisure, print and bring to the next meeting. We take turns going through each of the pages (20 page count limit). I have to say we also have no problem getting up in the restaurant and acting something out if we feel it doesn’t ring true. For example, in one of Sue’s scenes she had the heroine looking over her shoulder. I didn’t agree, I said the scene showed the heroine as looking down the front of her shoulder. Sue was demonstrating looking over her shoulder and I insisted she was looking straight down while the other patrons of the restaurant probably thought we were insane. And I did notice after awhile, no one was seated near us. Oh well, their loss as we are very amusing!

After a white knuckled ride home that normally takes 30 minutes took close to an hour thanks to the now billowing snowstorm, I looked over the pages. Every comment Sue and Stephani gave me makes my manuscript stronger and tighter. And for that I am eternally grateful. The book I am presently working on is one I plan to shop to agents very shortly. This is a book I have wanted to write my entire life and one I hope helps me break into a New York based publishing house.

What is it about, you ask? Ok, maybe I’m making you ask at this point. The title is Tainted Bloodlines and my pitch is as follows. This is for women’s fiction and runs approximately 90,000 words in length.

All her life Catherine Cay Sterling fought to distance herself from her mother’s shadowed and sinful past. But will she be able to accomplish this before the same tainted blood that flows through her veins leads to her own demise?

See, aren’t you glad you asked? (G) Seriously though, I love my critique group and am very glad to have found them. I think critiques groups are worth the effort, but at the same time I feel that when a group doesn’t work you have to make the decision to leave it. If two people share the same comments about something in your writing, listen to them. But if one person says yes it works and the other says no it doesn’t, then review it again and make your own decision. As we all know, all opinions are subjective. What one likes another may hate and vice versa.

So while the snow has died down here, it’s still bitter cold out there and this is a perfect time for me to end my blog, grab a cup of hot cider and start writing. Oh, the picture posted at the top is one I took in Aruba last November. That's the view I would love to have out my home office window one day! Happy Sunday everyone!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Want to share this awesome review with you...

by AP Miller

"a titillating read"

Andrew is a wholesome, hardworking Christian who pledged to keep his body pure until he entered the binds of marriage. Pathrusim is a demoness, a succubus to be exact. Andrew saves Pathrusim from a small group of demon slayers, and is introduced to sexual desires he didn't even know he had. Pathrusim wants to enslave Andrew, to feed upon his purity and turn him more like her.

Good Guys Deserve Bad Girls, by AP Miller is one of the most humorous tales I've read in a long time. AP Miller manages to walk a fine line between Andrew's faith, and the supernatural beings that he meets. Andrew maintains the strength of his character, and his resolve throughout the tale despite numerous temptations. Pathrusim had me laughing so many times I believe I lost count. She embodied all the ranges of female emotions, and that's before breakfast. She becomes his every fantasy while he teaches her how to accept love.

Though Andrew initially fought against his desires, he quickly succumbed to the expertise of his succubus. Their explosive desire for one another is prevalent from their first meeting until the last word is read. What makes many of the scenes so endearing is his determination to bring her as much pleasure as she gives him. They fall in love despite their best efforts. With Pathrusim's unique abilities, each love scene is new, exciting and very hot. AP Miller's creative play makes for a titillating read, with scenes that made me wish they could go on forever.

This fast pace tale will have you laughing out loud at Pathrusim's many antics. Andrew just didn't stand a chance against falling in love with her. The prevailing message is neither religious or paranormal, but that everyone deserves to be loved, and love in return.

Reviewed by Kristy Bock
Posted February 13, 2009

You know what “they” say . . . . There are girls you don't take home to mother. There are girls you don't date on a serious basis. There are girls that are fun to be around, but that you never, ever consider for marriage. They're not nice girls. They're bad girls . . . and you should never fall in love with a bad girl.

Or so they say.

But if all that’s true, then what is it about bad girls that make good guys want them so very . . . badly?

Andrew is definitely a nice guy. He’s a hard-working, decent Christian fellow. Good with his hands, honest, honorable, and does the right thing by his family and his church.

Pathrusim is definitely a bad girl. About as unchristian as you can get, what with her being a demoness, straight from the pits of hell itself. She wants to wrap Andrew around her little finger, and enslave him for all eternity.

But what is it about Andrew that draws her to him? If she's such a bad girl, why does she want so badly to have a . . . nice guy?"


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Rosie and Genevova

By A.J. Llewellyn

The thing about the Internet that never fails to take my breath away is how close you can get so quickly to people you've never met. In November last year, I had my first book signing for Phantom Lover and as I prepare for my next book signing on the 26th for Phantom Lover II at A Different Light, I am excited to know that so many people I met last time will be there again.

Two of those are women have now become friends...I'm talking about Rosie and Genevova. I first met Rosie through my editor Heather who came down to Los Angeles last fall for the Sherrilyn Kenyon book signing in Burbank. We had talked about meeting, this was our perfect opportunity.

Rosie isn't just a fan of Sherrilyn's, she's a FAN. She came with a suitcase full of books for the author to sign. I almost fell over - and so did Sherrilyn!

Over dinner later, Rosie told me she's never read a gay erotic romance and I suggested she read Phantom Lover to see what she thought. Heather emailed her a copy and a friendship was born.

Rosie got my number from Heather and would call to tell me about which books she was reading and what she thought.

The next time I saw Rosie was at my signing...where she brought her friend Genevova, pictured with me, above.

I have no idea what it is between me and Genevova, but I think her love for her husband and her support of her children's hopes and dreams hit a chord with me. Genevova's son wants to be a writer and she spoke so highly of his efforts, I told her I would help any way I could. She has another son who is training to be a tattoo artist, which tickles me to death. She is no ordinary woman!

I found out just how extraordinary she is when Rosie called me two days ago asking if I would like to meet her and Genevova for lunch. I was so excited I drove off without my cell phone and got God. Who'd have known not one person in Valencia knows where Claim Jumper is?

The girls were waiting for me and were so sweet. I wouldn't have waited an hour for anyone except maybe my boyfriend (just kidding Herve, I would wait forever for you) and we soothed our rain-soaked nerves eating mud pie and drinking coffee.

Rosie had just bought my brand new book Hanalei Moon, which came out Saturday and I loved listening to her take on it. I was glad I surprised her with the denouement...and she has now inspired me with a plot idea for a sequel. Rosie has gone from being a little hesitant to read gay erotic romance to waiting up until midnight for my new books to be released!

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with my girls...surprised to learn that Genevova once used to be a girl gang-banger. I can't imagine her beating up anybody she's so feminine. I did say I could imagine her doing battle for her children. Her eyes darkened and she said, "Oh, yes I would."

I know that Genevova is the kind of mother I imagine mine would have been. Since I was six when she died and she was so sick the whole time, I only have moments I can hold onto. I know, just know she would have been just like Genevova, warm, devoted and totally rebellious.

Last mother's day I blogged about my favorite memory of my mother, rescuing a beaten transvestite and giving her dignity and a cup of tea. I know Genevova is just like her.

She, like Rosie is my kinda woman. And I love 'em both already. I look forward to our next meal, hopefully next week. I just have to figure out how to grab that check before Rosie does!

Aloha oe,


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Adding Steam to Your Love Scenes – Free Workshop

I have been asked recently by more and more people just how I add steam to my many love scenes. In the course of a few years, I have put together what works for me. I’m hoping to share those ideas with you all over the next few weeks in this free workshop. So please, pass the word around to all your friends. We’ll have fun!

Here’s what we’ll be covering with each week building on the previous one:

Set the mood for both you and your characters.
- Read books the day before in the genre for which your writing.
- Listen to music while you write that all important scene.
- Look at phrase books.
- Look at sexy pictures.

Use your own experiences
- I don’t mean literally…you all remember that blush first being in love…use it.
- Most women remember their ‘first time,’ so use it.
- Most women remember the first ‘real’ date they were on, so use it.

Add love scenes when the characters want to make love, not when you want them to make love.
- I’m a pantser and all of my stories are character driven.
- What is right for the characters needs to be right for you as the writer.
- Listen to your characters as they will tell you what they need.

Get some good research material.
- Good research books are invaluable.
- For erotic, books like the Kama Sutra are a must.

Details are everything.
- If a character is fantasying about a certain body part, can you imagine what happens when they actually get that body part?
- Know the temperature of their skin – hot, cold, clammy or warm and inviting.
- Know how the characters should look when making love – pink cheeks, rosy lips, closed eyes, opened eyes.
- No wandering body parts.

Don’t ever write sex to fill up pages.
- Sex needs to happen when it needs to happen and not before.
- Readers can tell when a writer has had to ‘force’ a love scene.

Remember that as a an erotic romance writer you are writing hot, sizzling love scenes and not just sex. Same goes for sensual romance.

Sometimes less is more.

Make each love scene emotional.
- At least one of the two characters has to have some sort of emotional attachment to the reason they are having sex.
- It’s not always who you think it should be and it doesn’t need to be revealed right away.

Take note of the anatomical details.
- Characters have to be anatomically compatible.
- Huge men will never fit into a small, child-like woman. Not happening.
- Know what is and isn’t humanly possible.

I hope to see you all next week when we begin setting the mood!

Until then…


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The trials and tribulations of cover art requests...

To all the authors out there, how many of you have had to fill out a cover art request form? If you're published or in the process of being published, I'm sure you have. What do you put on there? What requests do you have? Your vision of your book - your baby, that you've worked on for months, sometimes years - is going to need a "face" to go with that story. What do you really want on there? If you could design it yourself, what would you do? What colors do you want? What fonts do you like? Do you have a picture already in your mind? What would you hate?

The next time you fill out a cover request, think about all those things. It may be just me, because I am so new to the business, that I really need lots of detail. I know that there are several publishers and cover artists who really don't give the author any input on the cover, but if you do sign on with a publisher who really cares about what you want, please think about what you really want. Draw it out on a piece of paper - even with stick figures. Get a good idea of how your composition needs to be.

I've had a great introduction into these cover art requests - some were very simple requests, some a little odd (one author asked me for a dog peeing in the snow). Regardless of the request, I always try to make the author's vision come to life. There are brilliant artists out there (Anne Cain, Tuesday Dube, April Martinez all come to mind) who could create masterpieces out of some of the crazier requests. Me? Not so much. I try very hard to make the cover look like it represents the story. I need the author's help to come up with a cover. I can't see inside the author's head. More than likely, I don't even get to read the book until after it's published, so I have no idea what to do without extensive input from the author.

So, when those cover art forms come along - really think about it. Your cover artist will thank you. If not, she'll make fun of you on all her chat loops.

Just sayin'. :)


Monday, February 16, 2009

Hello Patti Shenberger!

This week we take a look at Patti Shenberger. I asked her some quirky questions back in January and got plenty of interesting answers!
Welcome Patti!
Patti Shenberger writes for the following publisher(s): Devine Destinies, The Wild Rose Press, Hard Shell Word Factory
Patti’s favorite color? She says, “I don’t really have a favorite color. I seem to keep changing my mind. Today I would say Ocean Blue.” Her favorite ice cream flavor? She says, “Plain and boring chocolate. But when I was pregnant (a million years ago) I craved peanut butter and chocolate ice cream in a Coke float about three times a week.” When asked if she’s a cat, dog or both kind of person and if she’d ever own(ed) a snake or some other exotic pet her answers were ~ “I am definitely a dog person, and we have a 13.5 yr old Shepard-golden mix who is my all time baby girl. But that being said we ‘adopted’ the daughter’s cat in April. His name is Ace, but I call him the ‘Annoying Critter Beast.” The more I ignore him while I’m on the computer, the more he plops his butt right in front of the monitor and meows. & No, I’m a coward when it comes to snakes. Most exciting thing we ever had was a guinea pig ‘Homer” when my son was younger.” Concerning her preference for warm weather or cold she states, “Sun definitely. I’m in Michigan where right now the snow is flying outside. I like warm weather, but not too warm.” As for where she’d live if she could live anywhere in the universe, “Somewhere in the Caribbean. I know I said not too hot outside earlier, but I love looking at the ocean and I could stare at it for hours. That being said, I am a non-swimmer but drown well!” In regard to what time of day she prefers, Patti says she’s a morning person. “If the clock strikes 9 p.m. you can bet I’m in bed or yawning badly.” Her favorite day of the week is “Wednesdays, because the week is half over, but also only half begun” and her favorite number is 7. When asked if athletic shoes are sneakers or tennies and if a soft drink is called soda or pop, she responded: tennis & Pop “– Pepsi to be exact. My drink of choice.”
Here’s a scenario posed to the author: “You’re at a conference and an agent comes up to you and says, “I’ve seen your name on the web. I’m interested in taking you on as a client. You have a couple of minutes to wow me to convince me that I should.” You can only plug one book in this short amount of time. What book would you plug to land this contract and why?”
Patti’s response: I smile at the agent and say, ‘All her life Catherine Cay Sterling fought to distance herself from her mother’s shadowed and sinful past. But will she be able to accomplish this before the same tainted blood that flows through her veins leads to her own demise?’
The title of the book is Tainted Bloodlines. It is not yet published, but I hope that 2009 is my year to do so and you will assist me in my quest. Tainted Bloodlines is women’s mainstream fiction approximately 90,000 words in length. This book is very near and dear to me as it is also based loosely on the life of my mother and myself. Then the agent smiles back at me and says, “I know just the publisher. Let’s talk over lunch.”
Thank you for the information Patti!

~ Feel free to share if you have something in common with her ~

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Happy Valentines Day

I was a very bad girl. Yesterday was Valentines Day and I didn’t get my husband a card. I know, how shocking since I’m a romance author. I just got so caught up in everyday life I forgot. So I hope you will all indulge me as I make it up here.


When we first got married over sixteen years ago, I had no idea that I would only grow to love you more and more with each passing day. I know you have no idea how important you are to me because I too often neglect to tell you. The last thing I want is for you to think that I don’t notice all the things you do not just for me, but for our family.

I see when you take time out of you busy schedule to take our daughter to the play park because she got 100% on her spelling test. I notice all those long talks you have with our teen son as he struggles to find himself and become a man. I cherish all the little things you do for me, such as making a fresh pot of coffee when I’m working under a deadline and am in desperate need of caffeine.

You do all these things and you never expect a thanks. That’s because you are such a giver you don’t even think twice about your generosity. You just do it because that’s who you are. A co-worker once told me I was spoiled by you and he was right. You do spoil me and the kids.

In order to make sure we could keep up with dance lessons and ski expenses, you work two sometimes three jobs and you never utter a word of complaint. You have gone without new shoes just so the kids could get the latest video games, without new clothes so they could have toys and without takeout so they could have a new DVD. You are not only my hero, but the kid’s too.

I could never live without you. You are my strength when I am weak. My joy when I am sad. My anchor when I’m adrift.

Even though I sometimes complain when you leave the toilet seat up or don’t do the dishes, don’t think for a second I would ever trade you in. You are better than any hero I can write in one my romance books and I will always love you.


Nonnie's Home!

Today I want to share with you some memories of my great grandmother who was 99 years old when she died and lived with me from 2000 till 2003. She was and always will be one of those special people that never leave your head, your heart or your side even though they are passed on.

Nonnie, as we called her was an amazing woman. She was born in 1904, had a daughter at 16, got married at 33, and then went on to care for everyone in the families kids it seemed. She could make a baby stop crying with just the touch of her hand on its head (I kid you not.) Nonnie and Papa (my great grandfather) also raised me. I was 3 months old and my mother was 17 when she was widowed. They were 62 and 64 years of age. To me, Nonnie and Papa were Mom and Dad. Always were, always will be.

“Nonnie’s home” was the phrase we said when something would happen in the house. Shortly after she died, I converted the room she passed away in into my home office. My son Brian vehemently did not want to move back into the room so he took the downstairs office and I switched things around. I painted and had new carpet installed. A couple days after the carpet went in, I started noticing spots. Black oily looking stains that popped up out of nowhere. I called the carpet place and they sent a guy out to inspect it. He professionally cleaned the spots and left. Two days later, more spots in different locations. Back he came, again he cleaned. This went on for probably three weeks. It was getting ridiculous. I started joking that Nonnie was upset that I made the room my office.

One day I was sitting on the floor in “Nonnie’s room” and started talking out loud. I asked if she had a problem with my taking over the room. No answer. Not that I expected one, but you never know. I think I babbled on for probably thirty minutes, not sure exactly what I said, then I walked out of the room. To this day, we have never had another spot on the carpet in there. I don’t know if I got through to her or what, but seriously no more spots have ever appeared on the carpet. Ok, that’s not entirely true. Occasionally, the cat will share a hairball with me.

Other times it can be dead silent in the house and all of a sudden you will hear the front door open and close. Then dead silence again. This happened when I was home alone and thought my hubby had come in from work. I yelled out his name, nothing. I went downstairs to find no one in the house but me and the dogs. This happened to my daughter. She was freaked out. It was 11:00 p.m. and she (was 18 at the time) was alone with the two dogs and was talking to a friend on the phone. The door opens and then closes. The dog’s race to the living room and it’s no one. Amanda kept her friend on the cell phone, grabbed the house phone and called me to ask when we would be home. I asked why. She said “Nonnie’s home.” After a while, it got to be old hat and is now just a laugh when it happens.

There were times near the end of Nonnie’s life that also stick in my brain. She was amazing right to the end. She would tell stories of her life; her sister’s, her family from the late 1800’s on. She could tell you what someone was wearing on April 22, 1907 but couldn’t tell me what she had for breakfast. When she was still able to get around, she was sitting in the arm chair in her room and called my name. It was summer and I was in shorts, a t-shirt and bare feet. She asked me to get my son Brian upstairs with a broom because a rat had just run under her bed. I gotta tell you for a brief minute my mind went to the dark side and I literally scrambled atop her bed. Then I realized there was no rat in my house. But first I called downstairs to Brian to bring a broom up. He does, and once in the doorway asks why. I calmly tell him, “Nonnie saw a rat run under her bed. Bend down and smack it.” The kid looked at me like I lost my mind. I smiled and said “Do it.” Nice child that he is, literally got on his hands and knees and made sure the rat was gone. Of course he now thinks his mother is on her way to the looney bin.

Another time Nonnie called me into the room to ask me what the workmen were doing to Amanda’s bedroom, which was next door to hers. After a few stammered um’s, I answered cleaning it. Nonnie said okay, and said they were very nice men who had taken the time to talk to her and tell her that her housedress was pretty. I smiled. Okey dokey. That same night after the workmen left, a little girl walked through a hole in the bedroom wall and stood by Nonnie’s bed crying. Nonnie told me the little girl was lost and could I find her mother. Then all of sudden Nonnie stops talking to me, cocked her head to one side and stated talking to the little girl. I guess the little girl left because Nonnie closed her eyes and went back to sleep.
Sometimes the adventures made me laugh, other times they scared the crap out of me. Near the end I never knew what was going to happen. Nonnie had Hospice nurses that came and went daily to check on us, and apparently this was all very normal they told us. One day comes to mind and it always cracks me up. I literally handled the day to day care of Nonnie from the minute she got up till the minute she went to bed. She had a bedside commode in the bedroom and she was using it (to put things politely). She was swinging her legs back and forth, talking to me while on the commode. It reminded me of a young child who was potty training. She was smiling and decided to tell me the story of when she went to Washington, DC to visit my great Aunt Florence, her sister.

“Aunt Florence and I decided to pop downtown and have drinks with JFK,” she announced. Ok, that got my attention. And it grabbed Amanda who was just passing by the room. My great Aunt was a mover and shaker in Washington, as well as Detroit. She knew everyone and everyone knew her.
“Really, you and Aunt Florence went out with JFK?”
“Oh yes, quite a few times, you know. They were so nice, those Kennedy boys. Such lookers. And Ted was there too. We had highballs.” Ok, now Amanda is sitting on the floor in the hallway.
“Where was Jackie Kennedy?” I ask, not so confident this wasn’t a tall tale. But if it is, it’s a good one.
“She was home with the children. She never liked to go out on the town.” Nonnie is still swinging her legs. Now every story Nonnie ever told had men in it. She was a happily married woman, but men, men, men came out of the woodwork (not literally) in her tales.
“It was such a lovely evening. We were in Georgetown. But those Secret Service men, you just couldn’t shake them. They were like ticks on a hound dog.”
Ok, now I’m beginning to wonder. If she really is delusional and 99 years old, would she remember cities and things? Amanda is in the hall demanding to know more. Then as fast as the story had begun, it ended. Nonnie got very quiet, clammed up and nothing more was said.
BUT, the very next day the news broke on television that JFK had had a mistress in the White House. Amanda and I both looked at each other upon hearing the news and said “Nonnie!” But of course it wasn’t Nonnie, she would have been in her 60’s when JFK had his mistress. But it makes you wonder. (Cue the Twilight Zone music)
I still talk to Nonnie. Don’t think I will ever be able to break myself of the habit. I talked to her every day when I was going through chemo for colon cancer two years ago. I told her about each and every book I had sold. And when I’m just sitting here like I was today, I tell her about what goofy (for lack of a decidedly stronger word) things her great-great grandchildren have done. Like the new tattoo I just learned about today that the son has on his arm, or the new dog that the daughter adopted (ok that one happened a year ago, but still). She was the only mother I knew, and the only mother I really ever had, and I miss her dreadfully. So to those of you out there who still have your mom’s, I envy you with all my heart and soul.
Till next time.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Dee's MoonBow Musings: Getting a Review

Let’s face it, competition is stiff in the publishing world. With hundreds of new electronic and print releases each month, how do you make your book stand out amongst the crowd? Well a review is one way that may capture the attention of a reader who has a smorgasbord of choices for new reading material. But as mentioned, there are hundreds of releases each month vying for a review, so getting a review for your book is sometimes easier said than done.

Here are some tips:

  • Research: Are your review inquiries targeting review sites or venues that except or focus on the genre or theme of your book? This is important to consider, sending your book to the right place can increase the odds of getting a review. For instance, although PNR Reviews will review books in all genres, our focus is paranormal romance and speculative fiction; so review requests in that genre receive priority over mainstream requests. An internet search will help you find review outlets that fit your needs. Another good source of information is your colleagues. Ask other authors where they are getting reviews for their work, take names.

  • Making Contact: After you’ve done your research it’s time to make contact with the review site. Most sites have review request contact information on their site or general contact info at least. If you have the name of the reviews editor or coordinator, use it. Speaking from experience, it’s helpful to provide your book information (title, author, publisher, ISBN, release date) and an interesting blurb when inquiring. Your blurb may be the key to capturing the attention of a reviewer who has countless review books to choose from. Keep in mind that the majority of review sites are staffed by volunteer (=unpaid) reviewers. Although you’re understandably anxious for a review, please be considerate and polite when making inquiries about the status of your review. Many print and electronic publishers regularly offer review sites their new releases for review. Don’t be afraid to request a review even if this is the case with your publisher. An individual request may help your book stand out from the crowd.

  • Name Recognition: If a reviewer has heard your name, even if you are a new author, it increases the chance that your book will capture their attention when the request comes in. Most review sites have social groups, such as Yahoo, MySpace, Facebook, etc. Additionally, reviewers are readers as well and many join promotional groups and author groups. Join these groups to get your name out there. Many offer the opportunity to participate in author chats or to be interviewed. Make yourself visible, but be mindful of the promo rules for each group you join. Investing a little time in this area will yield huge pay offs.

  • A Word About Professionalism: Be aware that when you are requesting a review, you are asking someone for their opinion on your writing. In doing so, you need to realize you may not agree with their opinion. What a reader brings to and expects from a book is very individual, and a review is simply their perspective. In my experience, there are few reviewers that give a negative review out of spite, and there may be some constructive criticism that can be taken away from this experience; or you can chalk it up to a difference of opinion. In any case, short of out right bashing or major plot spoilers, if you do not receive a positive review it is not in your best interest as a professional author to contact the review site to complain or otherwise react.

If you need any additional information or would like to request a review from ParaNormal Romance (PNR Reviews), feel free to contact me at pnr4staff (at)

Take care,

Friday, February 13, 2009

Liking the Quirks

Every now and then I witness a stranger's particularly odd behavior and smile, thinking: we are indeed the strangest creatures. But those individual quirks set us apart from each other, and can be charming if they're not harmful. It's taken me years to understand my own quirks and accept them as part of my individual makeup. And not just accepting them, but being able to laugh about them.

Oh, I can be quite quirky. Where do I start? OK, I've always been too boldly outspoken despite my occasional bouts of introverted, reclusive behavior. Perhaps the latter make the former unexpected--even shocking for those who don't know me. Picture me now, petite and generally well-behaved in a local Montreal sports bar surrounded by Canadiens hockey fans, when I casually announce that it wouldn't be such a bad thing if the Toronto Maple Leafs (our long-time rival) won the cup. Everything but the music comes to a resounding stop. I take a sip of my margarita, shrug and explain that the Leafs are a Canadian team after all, and that they haven't won the cup in forty-two years. In any case, hockey doesn't pay our bills, right? Needless to say I was the recipient of many evil glares the entire evening.

I regularly leave my closest friends blushing or gently scolding me in public. I have to be bluntly honest when it comes to dining out, for example. I won't tell a server that the meal was satisfactory when it wasn't. Especially if they'd asked. And is there anything wrong with flirting with a cute waiter if it means the service will likely be better? But I must say I love my friends for keeping me in line to a degree. Otherwise, it's all very amusing.

Another quirk I have is that I can be really sulky. Big complainer. Big baby. God forbid things don't go my way sometimes, lol. And the strange thing about it is that it comes from out of nowhere most times. Well, at least I have the decency to warn people to stay away, lol. When I go into a sulk, I hibernate until it passes. And it's a good thing I do because pouting looks silly on anyone over twelve. So, the hibernating could be a few hours or a few days. And sometimes, in my dark gloom, I experience a flash of creativity which I store in the back burner for a more productive time. Secretly, I kind of like my sulking, the moodiness, because it gives me time to withdraw from the outside elements and be with myself for a while. Is there anyone else who enjoys sulking??

I'll end with this last quirk. I personally hardly swear, but when I do--and it's usually under my breath--I use the British expletive bloody almost every time. But I'm Canadian, and none of my friends use it, no members of my family or anyone I've ever worked with uses it. I've never heard anyone utter the word in public. For example, the average person here will say, "It's freaking cold!" Not "bloody cold!" So what's up with me? Or maybe it's just a Montreal thing. Maybe people in Vancouver use it too.

The bottom line is, just like your quirks, and people who care about you should like them too.

I'd love to hear comments from readers about their quirks. Do share!

I wish everyone a happy Valentine's day!



Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Mother's Love

By A.J. Llewellyn

I was minding my own business yesterday, doing online research when I stumbled across the Youtube video of movie star Salma Hayek breast feeding a hungry baby in Sierra Leone.
I watched it and let me tell you, I am not a tit guy but I found her actions to be humbling and very, very sexy.

It was quite something to see the smile on the Oscar nominee's face as she connected with this tiny baby, patting his hand as he clutched her breast. His exhausted mother watched and I have no idea if Salma was able to communicate with her verbally, but I am sure it was a moment neither woman will ever forget.
When I think of certain people I know who have never breast fed their own kids, it struck me what a wonderful thing the actress did for motherhood as a whole.
Salma, a goodwill ambassador for UNCIEF has been very involved with the promotion of vaccines and other health programs for babies all over the world, but to me, this gift of hers was priceless.
There has been some discussion about the incident I noticed - mostly positive, thank God - but I find it interesting that I watched this video in Hawaii where in the tradition of its native people, this would be the norm rather than the exception.
Salma is breast feeding her own year old daughter Valentina.
Some celebrity moms treat babies as the latest accessories. Salma Hayek in a simple, selfless gesture showed she is, as I always suspected, not just supremely gorgeous, but a woman of subtance.

Aloha oe,


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Many Levels of Intimacy

Over the years, I have written to various levels of sensuality. Each story requires something different but in general, the levels of intimacy remain the same. You will find many articles written on this subject with good reason. For us, the romance writer be it erotic or sweet or sensual, the stages are all the same.

Everyone is in agreement that these steps need no verbal que but all lead from the first advance to intimate contact. It’s all in the body language, folks and body language doesn’t lie. If you need some lessons in body language, watch the new Fox show, Lie To Me and you’ll learn everything you ever wanted about body language. They do it right.

But getting back to us writing love scenes, it is imperative that you have these steps. Sometimes, you can skip a step if the story calls for it BUT for the most part, these steps need to happen for your reader to really get into your story. And the love scenes can make or break a novel.

Eye to body – This is commonly known as the once over. And it is usually very subtle. The gaze will drop from the upper face, meaning the eye and nose area, to the lower face then on down to the upper parts of the body. Sometimes, the person will step back to get a better, more full look at you. If that happens their whole posture will change as they glance at you up and down to see how your face matches your body.

Eye to eye – Intimacy increases the moment two people have eye contact. The more eye contact, the more soulful the looks. The looks will become more and more meaningful as more are exchanged. If a person refuses to gain contact in this sensual charged moment will send a message one is not interested.

Hand to hand – Contact is usually lingering but light. It can be disguised as being accidental or occurring in a social setting which is considered acceptable. This would be like one putting a hand under and elbow to guide someone, two people reaching for the door handle at the same time or a handshake that slowly ends. Look at the way the Victorians or those of the Regency period acted toward each other and you will see this step every where.

Hand to shoulder – This behavior can again be hidden within what is considered socially acceptable behavior. Until this point, either person can withdrawl gratiously without any real hurtful feelings. But once this boundry has been crossed, there is no going back without one’s pride being severely injured. This is just a touch to the shoulder for a variety of reasons, like getting ones attention. This is also a form of claiming ones territory and can be used to ward others off.

Arm around waist – This is the signal that one wants greater intimacy. This is the time to get out if one does not desire this relationship. Feelings will be hurt if one doesn’t respond positively to this gesture.

Mouth to mouth – No, we don’t mean the rescuitation kind. LOL! This is the actual act of kissing where chemical information is passed from one person to another. The kiss adds another sense to intimate contact and that is taste. The first sense, encountered way back in step one, is smell and pheromones are a very powerful odor. Taste can tell one all sorts of information about people like body temperature , hygiene level and a variety of other things. If the people are really involved in the kiss, their temperature will go up since the stimulation will cause sexual excitement. When people are emotional cold, they are usually physically cold as well which means they are not that interested in continuing the encounter. The more passionate a person gets, the more their temperature increases.

Hand to head – This is a trust issue. The more one person trusts another, the more likely they will allow their head being touched. Women tend to do this way before men. Caressing ones head indicates an increasing trust between the two people involved. Our heads are extremely vulnerable and only someone we trust are ever allowed to touch us there with a negative reaction.

Hand to body – This fondling can happen through clothes or under them. Some people will close their eyes as they are unconsciously gathering more information about the person they are with. However, keeping ones eyes open while maintaining total eye contact is a more powerful gesture. There one uses even more senses, touch, sound, taste and sight as well as smell. During the physical portion of our encounter, our sense of smell is very powerful as it will help us to become more in tune with our sexual partner, making us more sensitive to their unique smell. Odors are a powerful aphrodisiac which helps to prepare us for a pleasureable experience and to etch our partner in our memory. The best source are natural smells, so keep the perfumes to a minimum.

Mouth to body – This can be very stimulating and a real turn on for both parties. Breasts and necks are very sensitive for both sexes as are the lower abdominal region. Fellatio and cunnlingus can be very rewarding as long as both partners are into oral sex.

Hand to genitals – Gentle caresses are always best in this stage. If you have gotten this far, intercourse is usually immenent. One can heighten the sexual tension in the story by making the characters get this far without fulfillment. Once one gets to this step, each partner trusts each other explicitly in a normal relationship. There are some other types of relationships where trust is never achieved.

Genital to genital – This is the final act in lovemaking. Everyone is different and the emotions as well as all the senses need to be utilized when writing a great love scene. Vaginas and penises are utterly boring when none of the stimulus is present.

Now, not all of these steps need to be present in your novel. Just remember, each step is a sensual journey. Recently, I had been in the blah stage of writing a love scene. Then I saw last week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy and they reminded me of just how sensual stolen looks and accidental caresses could be. Suddenly, I was all hot and bothered again to get back to my characters.

Hope that this little journey can help you all create great love scenes.

Until next week…


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Havin' a Talk

Today I wanted to give you a taste of another blog that I am on. I share it with two critique partners and we have a lot of fun with it. It is called Playground Mystique. We created it for our muses to play. We share other things, but I think my favorite part is when we banter back and forth. So today I thought I would give you a little banter with Heather, my muse.

Heather: Everyone is so busy. Gideon is gone, Brig is off somewhere and those two new muses are just a little scary. Even you have been too busy to play. And what the heck happened to You Rang?

Jambrea: I’m sorry Heather. Things have been crazy. You know that. I think I’m done with You Rang?, its a good story, but every time I sit down to add more I just can’t.
Heather: Some of that could be my fault. I guess I was having fun with Butch and Mitch. I really like those guys.

Jambrea: I do too. Did you hear that they got a good review? If you want to read it you can go here: I know you were worried about our first solo story, but so far things are great. We had more good news. Did I tell you?

Heather: *pout* No you didn’t.

Jambrea: The One Touch, One Glance Anthology that Kensi and I are in won an award. Isn’t it lovely?

Heather: *squee* Yes it is!

Jambrea: I’m glad I could make you a little happier. Why don’t you try to find Brig. I think she is still a little upset about Ares. Cheer her up while Lil keeps CJ busy. Did you see the new story? We WANT no NEED it to be finished.

Heather: Okay, I’ll go find Brig, but you need to get to work. Didn’t you leave Sunie ready to cook a meal for Gage? You should probably get back to them so Sunie doesn’t burn her house down. I think you also left Matt and Sal alone too long. Matt keeps asking when you’ll visit.
Jambrea: Don’t worry, I’ll get to work tonight. PMan will be gone this weekend so I should be able to get more done. I promise.

Heather: I’m off.

Jambrea: Bye Heather. I’ll see you tonight.
And that is just a taste of some of the fun we have at the Playground. I hope you enjoyed it. :)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Mule Musings

This weekend I had to work on Saturday. Definitely not my favorite thing to do...but you do what ya gotta do. I was the MC for two different scholarship events. Since my day job is as a public speaker, being an MC is a natural fit...but to be honest I just wasn't into it. When it's your job to keep a 3 hour program moving along, and making sure the 700 people in the room don't get bored to've gotta bring your A-game. One of the toughest thing to do as a professional speaker is sit through bad speeches. It's dreadful. So at both events I braced myself for the usual rambling, droning, babbling obligatory speeches that inevitably occur. I am happy to say I was pleasantly surprised. Don't get me wrong....there were some stinkers. However, the official Guest Speaker at the second event of the day was great. He told a story that I had to share....especially with other writers. I don't know the official name, so I'm just going to call it "The Mule Story".

A local farmer was digging a hole for a new well. When he wasn't looking, his trusty old mule wandered over and fell into the hole. The farmer couldn't figure out how to get the mule out of the hole. After several failed attempts at retrieving the mule, he decided to bury it. He could always get another mule. The mule stood there in dumbfounded disbelief as the farmer threw shovel fulls of dirt onto him. Showered with dirt, all the poor beast could do was shake it and step on top of it. The dirt rained down on him relentlessly and the mule continued to shake it off and step on it, refusing to be buried by the farmer. As he continued to shake it off and step on it, the hole began to fill beneath his hooves.
He kept repeating his mantra...shakeitoffsteponit....shakeitoffsteponit... until finally he reached the top and climbed out of the hole.

In life, but esepcially as writers or artists, we encounter rejection or outright dirt slinging. There are times when we just want to lay down, and allow ourselves to be buried by the crushing weight of it all. In those moments, we should all be like the mule. Shake it off and step on it.

Hello Lynn Crain!

This week we take a look at Lynn Crain. I asked her some quirky questions and got plenty of interesting answers!
Welcome Lynn!
Lynn Crain writes for the following publisher(s): eXtasy Books, Loose Id, Whiskey Creek Press, Red Rose Press
Lynn’s favorite colors are fushia and turquoise. Her favorite ice cream flavor is cookie dough. When asked if she’s a cat, dog or both kind of person and if she’d ever own(ed) a snake or some other exotic pet her answers were ~ “Both. And as for owning an exotic pet, absolutely, I have three snakes now. Their names are Sandune, Psycho and Ghost.” Concerning her preference for warm weather or cold she states, “It would depend on where I’m at. I love the Carribean but I love places like Alaska as well. My favorite place is Scotland and I’ll take whatever weather it’s having at the time.” As for where she’d live if she could live anywhere in the universe, “Scotland. I love it there because it appeals to my old soul. I know I’d been there before I ever stepped foot in the place. Go figure.” In regard to what time of day she prefers, Lynn says she’s a night owl. Her favorite day of the week is Friday and her favorite number is 13. When asked if athletic shoes are sneakers or tennies and if a soft drink is called soda or pop, she responded: tennis & soda
Here’s a scenario posed to the author: “You’re at a conference and an agent comes up to you and says, “I’ve seen your name on the web. I’m interested in taking you on as a client. You have a couple of minutes to wow me to convince me that I should.” You can only plug one book in this short amount of time. What book would you plug to land this contract and why?”
Lynn’s response: Wow…what an interesting dilemma. There would be only one of two books I would plug. I’ll give both of them and you all tell me what you think.
Thank you, Miss M. First, tell me a little bit about yourself. That’s interesting. Based upon what you’ve told me I think you would be interested in my current work in progress, Where’s My Underwear, Anyway? which is set in romantic Scotland. It’s about estranged lovers who are about to find each other again. They both have secrets and the story is about their journey to find out those secrets and well as their way back to each other. The hero is incredible as is the heroine. I think you’ll like it. It’s a story that is very near and dear to my heart as I just love Scotland. Would you like me to send you a proposal package?
Thank you, Miss. M. First, tell me a little bit about yourself. That’s interesting. Based upon what you’ve told me I think you would like my Protectors of the Earth series. It’s already published at XYZ but it shows my skill at developing a very different world of science fiction and fantasy. It has gates to other worlds, alien invaders, futuristic nanites and it interweaves paranormal fantasy essentials by the way of people who are known as elementals. There are a total of seven books in the series and are very interrelated. You see the characters from book 1 in book 7 as they are all needed to defeat the evil who is trying to take over the earth. The heroes and heroines are just that because I would certainly want them on my team if I were defending the whole human race. The reviews on it were fantastic! Plus, I just love combining aspects of the two genres and even have another idea on the back burner. Would you be interested in seeing those novels and the proposal to my new idea?
Thank you for the information Lynn!

~ Feel free to share if you have something in common with her ~

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Interview with Jenna Petersen

This week Stephani Hecht and I are co-blogging to to speak. We are posting an interview with romance author Jenna Petersen who writes historicals for Avon and also writes erotic romance for Red Sage as Jess Michaels. This interview was done by a chapter-mate of ours Cheryl Smith and appears in the Heart of Detroit February issue.

Jenna will be visiting the Greater Detroit RWA chapter on Tuesday, February 17th to present a workshop on Writing Love Scenes.

So from both of us to you, enjoy!

Chick Chat with Cheryl Smith… Jenna Petersen

Jenna Petersen is a multi-published Avon historical romance author and also writes erotic romance for Avon Red and for Red Sage as Jess Michaels. She also speaks to chapters and will be discussing “The Anatomy of a Love Scene" at our February meeting. I'd like to thank her for her time and look forward to her workshop!

We as authors usually have an author or book, something, that started our love of the romance genre and inspired us to try to pen our own first novel. What made you decide to become a writer?
Well, back in first grade I actually won a Young Authors contest for my school. I always wanted to write. However, I came to romance pretty late in life. I didn’t really start reading them until after I started writing them. I really fell in love with Julia Quinn and that set me off to romance. Many authors have a first novel they’d rather not have the world see but took satisfaction in getting to “The End” anyway, just to prove they could actually complete a book. Do you have a manuscript tucked away you hope never sees the light of day?
I have about twelve manuscripts like that. I think you learn a lot about writing from writing and I definitely did that! If one of your books was made into a movie, which hero would you like to see portrayed on the big screen and what actor would you love to see play him, and why? I think Justin from LESSONS FROM A COURTESAN (July 2008) would be a beautiful thing to see on screen. I always picture him as Julian McMahon. Actually, the cover of LESSONS was inspired by an h-o-t photo of JM. As you can attest, Avon is a premier publisher of historical romance. Can you tell us how you felt when you got “the call” and how long you’ve been with Avon?
Actually, my first sale story is good. My husband had been on a very dangerous whitewater rafting trip and had gone a little… missing. I spent Monday, September 20th calling everyone in the universe trying to find him and picturing all the horrible things that could have happened to him (bad imagination… BAD!!). So he called me finally at 6pm. There had been an accident, the guide had been pretty badly hurt, but was ultimately okay. There was no signal, so he couldn’t call while they waited for evict to take the injured guy out. So I cried and he headed home (long drive). He pulled in the driveway at about 6am on September 21 and I hugged him and said, “I think that’s enough excitement for the rest of my life.”

Flash forward about five hours and the phone rang. It was my fabulous agent, Miriam Kriss, telling me I’d had an offer for two books from Avon. That was September 21, 2004 and my first book, SCANDALOUS, came out in October 2005. Since you write as both Jenna Petersen and Jess Michaels, you must be very organized to keep it all straight, and very busy. Do you ever hit a wall where you’d like to burn your computer and how to you get past writer’s block?
I don’t really believe in writer’s block. If I’m blocked I either just need to write through until I hit a “good” spot, or I’ve messed something up along the way, so I need to backtrack a little and figure that out.
The awesome part about writing under the two names is that it almost gives me a break of sorts. Generally, I write a Jenna and then move to a Jess. It gives my brain a little shift, which helps keep me fresh.
I also find that taking a break when I can between books (usually a couple of weeks before I get really antsy) or traveling with my husband and completely unplugging… that keeps the love for writing really visceral and fresh.It seems like every author has experienced a crazy fan, or dealt with someone who has made a snarky comment about their books or the romance genre in general. Have you ever had anything strange happen to you directly relating to your publishing career? Oh gosh, definitely. Amazon removed a review for my first book that basically said that I shouldn’t be allowed to live for writing such a crappy book. I didn’t feel like it was a threat, but apparently Amazon did (I didn’t report it, I figure people are allowed to have their opinion). That’s probably my best story, but there are definitely more. I’ve tried to develop a thick skin about it; sometimes it’s harder than others. But it’s one of those things you just… do. For self-preservation. Do you have an agent, and if so, do you feel having one is beneficial to keeping up the business aspect of your career while giving you more freedom to focus on the creative end? Do you think an agent is helpful when targeting a big publisher like Avon? I do and the woman is a saint. Seriously… the things she puts up with. Really, though, I think especially with the big houses like Avon or the other NYC houses, you have to have an agent. You can make a deal yourself, of course, but there is so much else an agent does. From dealing with contracts to being a buffer between you and your editor when problems arise, to helping you plan a career to moving you from one house to another… there are a million reasons to have a publishing professional on your side. Finding the right one is really the key.

There are many myth’s that go around about publishers, like if you misuse a comma your manuscript will be instantly rejected or that editors use manuscripts to prop up the uneven corners of their desks and don’t read them at all. What is the biggest myth you’ve discovered wasn’t true about editors since you became published? Before I published I was so, so scared of editors and agents. Seriously, I never pitched, I felt so uncomfortable around them. And… they are just people. Really nice people generally. Now I have nice, normal conversations about things outside of writing… and I think I would have been a happier unpub if I’d been able to do that before hand. When you aren’t working, what do you like to do for fun? Not… working? What is this not working you speak of?
No, seriously, we’ve been traveling a lot. Last year we went to China, which was amazing. We also went to Seattle, Hawaii and a bunch of other places. This year we’ll be spending some extra time together in DC after the conference. So traveling and spending time with my husband is really important to me. If you could go back to any time in history for a month, when would it be? What modern convenience would you miss most? I’d probably go back to the Regency, since that’s the period I write in. It would be cool to experience it… but only for a while. I would miss toothpaste. Shampoo. And INTERNET!! Could you imagine wearing corsets and hoops for a week much less your entire adult life? Well, luckily there wasn’t much of that in the Regency. They were much more comfortable undergarment-wise. But seriously, all the clothing stuff would be tough. I am such a jeans and socks girl.What books do you have coming up?
2009 is CRAZY for me. In January, the anthology A RED HOT VALENTINE’S DAY was released. It features a novella under my Jess Michaels name, “By Valentine’s Day”. Then on March 31, my next historical, HER NOTORIOUS VISCOUNT is out. April 21, TABOO (Jess Michaels) hits shelves. And to end the year, in November 2009 I begin a series called The Billingham Bastards with the book WHAT THE DUKE DESIRES.
So busy, busy, busy. And I’m so excited that going to Detroit is going to be part of my busy year!

Cheryl Smith is published in short romance fiction, a multiple contest finalist, and member of The Greater Detroit RWA. You can find her short stories at

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sex in the City

This is a story written by Stephanie Cohen of the NY Post on January 25, 2009 about a retirement community my God parents have been living in for the past 35 years or so. Every once in a while the newspapers head south for the winter and get tangled into this little web of geriatric sex...

Thanks for this extremely hysterical snippet Stephanie aunt and uncle thank you also for the fine publicity! And thanks for the fictional story idea!

Here is the link...

to Happy Reading,

AP Miller

Thursday, February 5, 2009

AJ and the Amazing Technicolor Building

By AJ Llewellyn

As I prepare to fly to Hawaii tomorrow in the first step of planning a new life there as a book store owner and erotic fiction author, it struck me how hard I worked to achieve my life as I know it…how I have craved security and certainty…and a place in the entertainment industry. From the time I was a small kid I was obsessed with Hollywood. I loved movies. I loved old movies, new movies…I was the know-it-all that drove my family crazy with detailed knowledge of background, scripts, producers, directors…I learned everything I could.
When I finally got to move here 25 years ago to go to school, I began my up and down relationship with Hollywood as I went about the business of trying to make it as a writer.
And then I got my first studio job. I was in heaven. I worked at Odyssey Pictures (RIP) doing screenplay coverage which in turn got me work at Paramount and other companies…in the meantime I was a prolific journalist working as a bureau chief for a group of Australian newspapers. A chance meeting landed me my favorite gig reading screenplays for an independent production company at Universal Studios. I loved it. I loved the studio, loved the work, I loved the people. I took the studio tour many times a week, a nod to the little boy in me who first took the tour aged 10, screaming at the special effects.
I still do.
I was laid off a year ago along with many others thanks to the WGA strike and again two months ago owing to the pending SAG strike. I didn’t take it too hard. I thought I’d get some freelance work and I have, but man, I miss that place. A few days ago my former boss called and said the studio needed some one to read a couple of projects and I dutifully drove over there the following evening.
I have not missed the car inspections, the scrutinizing of my driver’s license now I no longer have my own pass…but once I was on the lot, the joy came flooding back.
The Technicolor Building looked exactly the same and I love that building…I think because in Australia it took us so long to get color TV that I am obsessed with it today. I remember exactly where I was when I first saw a TV program in color. I was skiing with my family in Perisher Valley in Mount Kosiusko and the owner of our ski cabin turned on the TV when we came in and proudly showed us…the infamous “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” episode of The Brady Bunch
But I digress. I forgot how much I missed this little city within a city. I’ve missed high-fiving the security guards who patrol the lot’s cross walks give you for making it across James Stewart Way safely. I took the path to the building I was meeting at…I had a few seconds…I ran around the corner and stopped in my tracks.
The building where we’d worked was gone…a monolith was being erected in its place. I couldn’t believe how far and fast this work had gone. I found out it’s the new Tonight Show building and will be ready for lift-off when Conan O’Brien takes over the reins.
I checked on my favorite places. The Psycho house is still there, Mama waiting in the window. The Bates Motel set just below it waits…the village square so famous for the Back to the Future movies is being restored in painstaking detail thanks to a fire last year. Most people don’t know this square has been used for countless productions, most recently the TV series The Ghost Whisperer.
The sets from The Princess Diaries are gone, replaced with lavish store fronts that could be Dubai…could be London.
I took an appreciative sniff of the balmy evening air. I if I could snag this freelance position, I would still belong to Hollywood…via email, which is largely how my work has been the last couple of years anyway. I prayed to my mother in heaven for a little good luck and ran to my meeting. I called my lit agent who made a joke when I said that the offices were all the same down to framed movie posters, shelves of screenplays and the odd touch of whimsy…this particular executive favors lunch boxes.
I have no idea why they are so popular but many creative types love them…anyway, I left fairly confident of getting some work and in the fading warmth of this heady California evening, I reminded myself I haven’t strayed far from my dreams. I remain entranced. And I am still here. And so is the Technicolor Building.

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia,

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Paradise Ills

I know what you are all saying…’What the heck is she talking about?’ Well, things have been going very good for me overall recently. Writings great, family the same. But I should have known the shoe would drop, the crock would break or whatever you all say when things suddenly take a strange turn.

I haven’t been sick in 17 years since I was pregnant with the youngest…not really sick…yeah, I’ve had aches and pains. I’ve had some small bouts with a slight case of the flu, migraines and other what I consider minor ailments. Sometimes I’ve stayed in bed or did nothing as a precaution because rest works wonders for a body and soul. And anyone who has had a migraine understands, functioning just isn’t possible when your head hurts so much you can’t see. But the on the whole, nothing too bad, nothing I couldn't handle. And never do I get something which causes me to vomit. Pregnancy was the only thing which cause that problem. I’d rather die than do that!

Now, with my family it’s been a whole different scenario. My husband gets stomach issues all the time and my youngest seems to pick up everything since he was in 6th grade and got pneumonia twice in one year. And since the youngest has been diabetic, he has been ill once every couple of weeks with something.

This last time, he dehydrated himself with soccer practice and then got the stomach cramps which go along with it. Or so we thought. Since he’s diabetic, we take him to the ER only to find that he has a horrible case of gastroenteritis which is apparently going around.

No, biggie, we can handle this. We make sure with his endocrinologist about what the ER prescribed and a host of other things as well as keeping him hydrated after the IVs. Never once did I think I was on the same road. I figured I was just Mom who could handle it yet again.

That was early AM Saturday and as I sit here Wednesday writing my blog, I wonder what ever made me think I was invincible. For the first time ever, I had to ask the DH to stay at home to take care of both of us. And the only thing that prevented me from going to the hospital was the fact I kept drinking even though the first day it came right back up.

Needless to say, I’m finally on the upswing even though my out bed time is only up to about an hour and a half before I am exhausted. MOF, as soon as I get done writing this, I’m off to bed again.

We think of ourselves that way in writing sometimes. We think we can do it all, be it all. No one person can be everything to everyone. Most authors’ rise to the top is a slow hard fought battle with many obstacles in the way. Some of those obstacles can be that we’re just plain sick of writing. It happens sometimes and its then that one needs to pull back and regroup.

Everyone needs to have a writing plan, something that they can refer back to when the going gets tough. Sometimes all it takes is to look at your plan, sometimes it takes writing in a different genre, taking a small vacation or even doing more volunteer work for your local writers group. Just something that will skid you along the plateau to where you’re going upward again.

In these tough economic times, I feel people giving up on dreams and whatever makes them happy because they aren’t making money or aren’t doing something they feel they should. It’s here that I’d like to steal a quote from the movie Galaxy Quest, ‘Never give up, never surrender.’ One must always look to their dreams and their inner self to draw strength.

Life is what it is. It’s not going to change or get better unless you want it to. Remember it’s all in your hands.

Again, I can see you wondering what this had to do with me being sick. I had a plan in place no matter what happened to me. I had someone to cover me at work, I had my DH answer my emails and delegate to others what I couldn’t get done, and I did what I’m supposed to be doing. Got better. Not 100% yet, but better.

And the whole time, my little brain is working on how I can get this into a story, or how I can convince folks that a good plan, no matter what the problem, is always great to have.

Happy writing! Until next week…

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