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.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More Writers Tools

I hadn’t really decided what I was going to write about today when I began preparations for Tuesday’s critique evening. I had been really slow this week in getting it together to write anything coherent on my current work in progress when I realized I needed to do a little research. Along the way to finding the ultimate restaurant in the Edinburgh, Scotland area, I stumbled across a couple of great websites I thought all of you should know about.

First up is the blog for Harlequin Blaze located at Here you will find items from authors, special story themes and items from the editors themselves. There are also humorous stories from the authors which had me entertained for a while. So, if you are looking to write for Blaze this is the place to be. Occasionally, they give away critiques and hold contests for a chance with an editor.

Next up is an amazing set of podcasts located at . I didn’t know that all the editors at Harlequin did these in order to better clarify their positions on submitting to them and acceptance by them. They are done very well and with eighteen podcasts, there is sure to be something right up your alley.

Another great site is one called Romance University at what caught my eye here was the column about men done by a male psychologist. The first one I read was about how guys really interact with each other and women as well as how men open up to each other. After reading that column, I better understood why my DH had said to me on numerous occasions when we talked books, ‘Honey, guys really don’t act that way.’ Now I understand why. There is tons of good information on this site gals!

Next came Maggie Lawson’s website at and again, I was surprised at exactly what she had there. This woman is a NYC bestselling author yet she finds time to hold classes, puts those class notes and exercises in notes so those who can’t afford actually attending one of her workshops in person can take it like a self study type of workshop. Now some of the classes may not help me, but there is still lots of good information.

These were the best in my opinion but here’s a list of even more good websites with very brief explanations on what they are: - This is Harlequin’s Paranormal blog. Lots of interesting articles, author interviews and author ramblings. - This is the official website of RWA Futuristic, Fantasy and Paranormal chapter commonly known as FF&P. Great information so join when you can. - This is a free translation website. Good for if you are trying to translate something. We used it for Russian to English and were pleasantly surprised. - This is a free etymology dictionary and was given to me by another author friend. You can look up anything here. And I mean anything. - Paranormalty is an interesting mix of authors and industry professionals again in the paranormal field but isn’t bound by one publisher. - Fierce Romance talks about the kinky side of romance including BDSM so if you don’t know much about it, this is where you can find out. is a very interesting review site which talks about the industry of sci-fi and sci-fi romance as well as the books themselves. You can win all sorts of freebies here.

Now, I know there are tons of good places out there to learn things but very few have been as thoroughly checked out as these have been. Goes to show you just what can happen when one is bored...LOL!

Now for the fun stuff!

Celebrate my new novel, More Than Robotics and get me on the best seller list for September by purchasing it TODAY.

From now until mid-October I am also giving away one copy of a previously released elf book, newest to oldest, in anticipation of this year's Christmas release, An Elf's Love. The giveaway book this coming week is The Thing About Elves!!! Also, I will be giving a copy of the first book in my Orchid series, Fluke, to the first person who comments today only! And don't forget to leave me your email addy in today's comment so I can get you your book! It's another double-whammy week as you have the chance to win TWO FREE eBooks!!! One later!

I know you’ll love both these series as much as I love writing it! Enjoy getting ready for Christmas AND a space ride during the month of September!

All you need to do to be entered is to just comment on my blog, The Many Shades at to get into the weekly drawing. Every Wednesday is my day to post here and the contest runs from then till midnight Tuesday for the weekly portion. So come see about all the wonderful promotion opportunities I'm offer fellow authors AND the planned giveaways for all readers out there.

Hope to see you there!

Just to get you even more excited about these FREE giveaways, here's list of the previous winners! See...people really do win...and are enjoying their books right now. This could be YOU!

August Giveaway SiNn
9/2/2009 Annalisa
9/9/2009 quilting reader
9/16/2009 Susan []
9/23/2009 Laura Beck
9/29/2009 Gwynlyn MacKenzie

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you all next week!


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Books That Make You Cry

I don't think I'm alone when I say...I want my readers to cry when they read some of my stuff. lol You want them to have the emotional connection with your characters that won't let them go. I always worry that I don't have enough of that in my stories, but I always try for the emotion.

I'm thinking about this today because I just read two stories that made me cry...and I LIKED it. lol

Willow Bend by Ally Blue and As You Are by Ethan Day. Both had strong characters that had me yelling at the authors...FIX IT! lol The stories were so good and pulled me completely into them. I wanted to live in Willow Bend and be friends with Julian in As You Are. Those are the kind of stories I love and want to write.

So, how about it...what books have made you happy to cry?

Monday, September 28, 2009

A free read… part 2 (R rated)

Here’s the continuation of Holiday Spirits. Enjoy the free read!
“I’m Jenna.” I returned his smile and held out my hand. When he took it and brought it to his lips, placing a gentleman’s kiss on my knuckles, my nerves pranced not with pre-race jitters, but with deep, long forgotten desire. I gazed into the depths of his stunning eyes and sighed like a lovesick school girl. No man, with just a look, had ever ignited my passion so quickly, so strongly. The throbbing want to taste and touch the texture of his skin, brush the tips of my fingers along the contours of his muscles and follow with my tongue overwhelmed me. The moist area between my legs, which hadn’t been touched in months, pulsated in need.
My head whipped toward the new voice which had yanked me out of my sexual reverie. My hand jerked from Artim. A blond-haired, blue-eyed man with striking Germanic features and a build similar to Artim’s stood a little too close to my new attraction. The blond’s hand possessively gripped Artim’s shoulder.
“Ned, be nice to my new friend Jenna.” Artim jabbed the man in his side with an elbow.
Before I could question what the new guy meant by his exclamation, a thunderous boom exploded over our heads and lit the pre-dawn sky with sparkling and sizzling color. The hulking crowd pressed toward the start line. There was no way I’d be able to shout my inquiries above the roar of applause, the cheering from the sidelines and the slapping of soles on the pavement. So as not to get tripped up, I turned from the two men, faced the race course and joined the crowd in the slow walk. I tried not to panic, reminding myself that once the mass dispersed and we all found our groove, the snail’s pace start wouldn’t matter and wouldn’t affect my running time. At least that’s what all the training books had said.
As I focused on my breathing and quelled the urge to break out of the gate like an excited thoroughbred, I discerned Artim and Ned each taking a side. Artim grazed my right arm and a comforting sereneness filled me. All the anxiety about the race and agitation over my lazy friend broke apart and floated away.
“Thanks for keeping me company.” I glanced at him with a smile.
The bright blues, greens, reds and silvers of the flashing fireworks in the sky lit our way through the starting gate. City officials had closed off the southbound side of Las Vegas Boulevard for the Las Vegas Marathon. With a giddiness I hadn’t experienced in years, I couldn’t wait to see the colorful neon lights of The Strip for the first four miles. The crowd thinned and I picked up my pace to a jog.
Ned nudged my left arm with his elbow. “What do you plan to run this course in?”
“I’d be happy breaking five hours.”
“What made you decide to pound your body for twenty some miles?” Artim’s deep, rich accented voice rolled on my right. He pointed at the light shooting from the top of the pyramid and rattled off words in Italian to Ned.
I sighed, remembering Don’s last confession that had led to our recent and final breakup. He had admitted to sleeping with his assistant, a cute little red-headed grad student, and I had realized he was slime. I didn’t want to be with him anymore, but I still felt like a worthless clod, who needed to validate myself in some fashion, to remind myself I was a strong woman who could do anything. But a marathon? Even I questioned my sanity.
“A momentary lapse of reason after breaking up with a co-worker,” I replied.
Ned nodded.
I turned my head toward him. “What did you mean when you saw me and said ‘you’?”
His sharp crystal blue-eyed glare cut into me. Artim barked a few curt Italian phrases. Ned shrugged and ran ahead several yards.
Artim’s and my pace picked up to an easy thirteen minutes per mile.
“What about you two?” I decided to change the subject. I couldn’t worry about what Ned thought, and it wouldn’t do to let the guy’s negativity get to me. I needed to stay positive.
“For this grand parade.” Artim swept an arm out indicating all the runners. “For the festive atmosphere and merry-making.” He waved an arm at the tall casinos and their advertising screens flashing colorful displays of shows, restaurants and games. “It’s a place to celebrate the holiday season with great enthusiasm and not be chastised for it.”
“Oh, like Saturnalia.”
He turned toward me with a surprised expression. “You know about that?”
“Yes. That and other ancient holidays were part of my studies for history. I teach ancient religions and mythologies at the university back home.”
“Interesting.” Ned had slowed his pace and let us catch up. His flat statement was barely audible.
I gave him a quick glare of my own, not appreciating the disapproval emanating from him, nor his interruption of my conversation with Artim. If they were a package deal, I didn’t know if I wanted any part of it. For now, I just needed to run.
“Well, fellas, it’s been nice chatting with you but if I want to hit my goal I need to concentrate.”
“No problem. We will see you at the end.”
As the two men pulled away, I could have sworn I heard Artim say I wasn’t alone anymore, and I fought the impulse to join them in their faster pace to find out. The speed I had to race at needed to be slower if I wanted to make sure I was going to finish the marathon.
Then again, if I could keep close to them and hang back a few lengths, I’d have a nice view of Artim’s tight ass to keep me entertained.

Can’t wait to read more? Buy the book today!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Daughter Can Read!

Several months ago I blogged about my daughter and her learning disabilities. Not only is does she have a severe speech delay, but she is years behind in reading and writing. I think there is a kind of sick irony that a child of a writer can’t read. While I spend my days making books, she can’t comprehend what’s between the covers. Books are my greatest joy and her biggest frustration. I can’t count the number of times I watched her cry in despair when she would want to read the latest book, only to find the skills she need to do so eluded her. While her friends got excited about the latest Harry Potter, American Girls or Magic Tree House books, she would be left out. Forced to watch from the sidelines.

Over the summer she was given the opportunity to attend a specialized reading class. After she got done complaining about having to go to school while all her friends were at the beach, she found that she actually enjoyed it. I took her there twice and week without fail, but was disappointed when I didn’t see any improvements. I thought it was a big waste of time.

I could not have been more wrong!

This week she brought home a book from the library. It was about dinosaurs and that just happens to be one of her favorite subjects. She came to me and asked if I could read to her and I’m ashamed to admit I told her I didn’t have time at the moment and she was would have to wait until later. Then I got to feeling guilty so I went to find her.

She was in her room, sitting under a window, reading the book. I don’t mean just looking at the pictures, but actually reading the words! I stood there, not making a sound as I watched her gaze travel over the pages, her lips soundlessly forming the words. She finally noticed I was there and glanced up at me. The look of pure joy in her eyes made me cry.

“I’m doing it Mommy, I’m reading.” She pointed at the book, her finger shaking with excitement. “I know what it says.”

Now I can’t get books out of her hands. She reads in the car, in the bathroom, between classes at dance. She almost ran into the door going into school because she was trying to read while walking. It’s like a switch turned on inside her head and there’s no stopping her. She now knows the happiness books can bring to her and there is a whole world waiting for her to discover. She won’t be stopped either.

This is one of the happiest moments of my life and I shall forever remember it. It was the day my baby finally found a love for reading and there is no greatest gift in the world.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Right Amount of Information

I have two little girls, 11 year old step daughter and 4 year old daughter, and the younger one is so full of questions, as all children tend to be when they are discovering the world. She wants to know everything, and she is smart so she really wants to know details and can figure stuff out well, make inferences and connections on her own. A blessing and a curse.

I have always had the opinion that lying to kids is a bad idea. Why tell them some stupid falsity instead of a mostly true statement when they ask about something. That doesn't mean you explain things in detail that they have no business knowing about yet,but I never saw the point in out and out lying when they are just going to be embarrassed someday because of their false notions then think you lied to them. This caused stress for me when she was a baby, I didn't like the idea of making up stupid cutsie names for body parts, but wasn't sure what to call it. In the end I called it what it was, and so does she. That has caused her sister embarrassment, but I like it better than a made up word that shames things.

If possible I will often let her make her own mind, turn it around to "What do you thin?" and let her figure it out on her own. I do this with questions like "Are there really wizards?" or "Are there really trolls?" She has a great imagination and I love to encourage that.

Mostly I have run with my truth theory with both girls. It worked well with the older one, but with my younger one I am starting to wonder if I am doing it OK. She asks questions and I tell the truth. Which has led to her knowing that babies come from eggs that are already present within their bodies, hers included. And her getting a bit obsessed about death at one point, saying she did not want me or her or die. Reassuring her that everyone and everything dies, but we won't be dying anytime soon, this worked to get her mind off of it.

So a recent example of honesty gone awry is here:

Her question: "How do they take chickens and make it so we can eat them?"
My answer: "They usually cut off the head and then pluck the feathers off then take out the insides. We only eat the meat of the chicken."
Her follow up question: "You know what else is meat? People, we are animals and we are meat, do people eat us?"
At this point I am doubting my sanity for answering her but I go forward.
My answer: "That is cannibalism, people eating people and we don't do that anymore because its gross."
Her comment: "I wouldn't want anyone to eat me."

So after that conversation I thought she might turn either vegetarian, or have nightmares about getting eaten. Luckily neither happened. So in the end I was happy I was honest with her. I don't think there was any harm in it and telling her that chickens magically go from being alive to dead and we eat them, that just doesn't make sense to me. If she goes to school and starts talking about cannibalism I fully expect her teacher will call me with concerns but, oh well. I am waiting for that day anyway, my daughter is very opinionated and, as I said, I tell her the truth most of the time where other parents might try and gloss over or make up something silly about it.

It is hard, as a parent, to know when you are doing the right thing. But at least I can say I am screwing up my child with the truth instead of lies. And that I can be OK with.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

License to Kill

By A.J. Llewellyn

I'm disturbed by the rising number of men and women who kill their children before - and sometimes not - killing themselves. With so many people I know clamoring for kids of their own it sickens and angers me that some parents feel they have the right to take their children's lives. To me, it is the ultimate act of great selfishness.
Whether it's the newborn tossed in a dumpster or a pre-teen shot in bed, it is often done to spite an estranged or ex spouse.
I am furious when I hear of some parent slaughtering their babies as if they are judge and jury.
There's also a disturbing trend nobody talks about.
The people who kill their pets.
A friend of mine recently died and in my last conversation with her she told me she had put in her will that her five healthy, happy, loving cats were to be euthanized upon her death.
I loved my friend but I was outraged, and told her so.
We argued for about half an hour on the subject but she was an old lady and firm in her beliefs.
"Nobody will take care of them the way I do," she said. "Nobody."
This is very true. Nobody cares for our pets the way we do, but do we have the right to kill them?
A woman of means, I suggested she place in her will that the animals were to be found loving, adoptive families. She could even leave money for their upkeep.
She refused.
Again, I call it selfish.
If something happened to me, my first concern would be for my animals but I already have in place two friends willing to step up and take them in as their own.
It's something that horrifies me, that anybody who professes to love a life, human or animal, can snuff it out.
I argued with my friend and was devastated when she passed and her son, who inherited her estate instructed the housekeeper to feed the cats until the food ran out.
"Once the food is gone, they die," he said.
The housekeeper and I smuggled extra food in the house and after three weeks, he figured out we were disobeying his instructions. He called the vet, who, though reluctant to kill five perfectly wonderful animals, had no choice since he'd been given his own instructions and payment ahead of time.
I will forever remember the pitiful wails of those beautiful creatures as they were driven from the only home they've known.
I listened to a psychologist on the radio yesterday describing the scene that greeted a woman who went to pick up her young son and daughter when her ex husband failed to return them after a scheduled visit.
She described a scene of such brutality that the investigating officers required therapy afterward, let alone the woman who birthed those babies and was forced by the courts to let her wacko ex have access to them.
In a suicide note, the father said "Nobody can look after these kids like I can."
What about their mom?
I don't believe his words. I believe he did this to hurt her.
But again, do any of us have the right?
I say at a time when our values seem at an all-time low, giving ourselves a license to kill reaches a whole 'nother level of low.
What do you think?
Aloha oe,


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Learning Through Critique

Fall is beginning to rear its beautiful head in the Southwest at last but for me, another allergy season has arrived. Every year at this time, I have to force myself to do things due to a pounding head and general lack of motivation. All I really want to do is to curl up and sleep the day away in the hope tomorrow will be better.

And this year is no different on this front as the first day it was cooler, I woke up to the mother of all headaches. Unfortunately, I can’t take any medicine for it because then I will sleep the day away as antihistamines make me groggy and generally a slug. So if I take them at all, it will be at night as then I know I’ll sleep well.

But there is something new to my life in the form of an online and in person critique group. Now, I’ve belonged to crit groups in the past with wonderful results. So when some people from my local RWA chapter wanted to try putting one together, I thought to myself, sure, I need a little motivation and definitely more pushing at this time of year.

The reason for this is as writers, we tend to push and push and push, much like the birthing process and once the project is complete, we’re done, we’re finished, it’s over. We just want to sit back and gaze lovingly at our creation, hoping all will be well. This is exactly where I was as I had written an average of 5k almost every day. In July alone I had logged in over 90K and my brain was fried. I was kaput in a manner of speaking and this funk was lasting more that I wanted it to. So, the critique group looked to be a welcome break.

Now what to bring to the table. I looked at all my projects and the ones I had contracted I usually didn’t have time to push them through this process. So I decided to dust off some old works in progress that had stagnated over the years. Some of these were my favorites as there were three stories with strong Scottish heroes and then a cool science fiction I just loved doing the research on because it was neat. LOL!

Tossing out three of the four stories, I asked the group to give me their opinion on just what I should be working on for this group. The story they chose hands down is one I had set aside after two and a half chapters and two and a half years is lovingly known as Where Is My Underwear. And to be honest, I’m not sure just what made me put it down...other projects maybe...but this story was the one I felt in my heart could be my breakout story. Still, I had set it aside for whatever reason and this group begged me to pull it out again.

Sighing to myself, I brought it out and read every page again, wondering if I truly had it in me to complete this wonderful project. Sure, I have twenty published pieces ranging from short stories to novellas to full blown novels but believe me when I say it doesn’t get any easier with certain pieces. This was one of those because I was not sure I could live up to the promise of the book. Yeah, and I’m not saying this because I wrote this piece but I could feel it in my soul, it was that good. Others had told me it was that good and now my new critique group was trying to convince me of the same. Yet I was having horrible feelings of self-doubt and things almost every author feels at various points in their career. Did I really have the spark to create a great book?

Don’t get me wrong...I think every book I write is great...when I’m writing it. And all of them I have wonderful feelings about but only a few are ones I would call over the top and stellar. I’m a realist and I know when I’m good and I know when I’m just getting by. I also know when I write too fast and too lean, making the whole process much harder than necessary. But this work was so special, did I really want to muck up the works by trying to finish it?

Yeah, you heard me. There are some books we authors never want to finish because then that dream dies. Sure we can get another one by writing another book but sometimes a book is so special we justify not finishing it because of this or a host of reasons. But many times there is never a why. You just stop working on a project and move on.

Almost a full month passed before I wrote anything new on Underwear. I had a new book coming out and I needed to concentrate on getting everything done for it. But soon I was staring at Chapter 3 and going back over everything the crit group had told me and ninety-five percent was wonderful. So I worked on the things they thought needed improvement. Once, the first two chapters were polished, I went back to number three and suddenly, I was seeing it in a new light.

The minor problems were just that...minor...and I had completed nearly 3K in just one day. A new record since my daily average writing total had dwindled to only about 1K. Not only was I back but I learned more and more every time I go to critique. Some days we talk all about passive versus active, others we brainstorm just where to go next or a host of other things but all related to writing. Just last night, I explained things in my story I had yet to vocalize to anyone but me. Those ideas now were out there for them to listen to and digest.

And I know, they will teach me and give me even more feedback than ever. The but the really nice part, this story which is so very special to me will get completed and advance my career in more ways than I ever thought possible. All because I decided to join a critique group.

Now on to the really fun stuff...LOL!

Help me celebrate my new novel, More Than Robotics and get me on the best seller list for September by purchasing it TODAY.

From now until mid-October I am also giving away one copy of a previously released elf book, newest to oldest, in anticipation of this year's Christmas release, An Elf's Love. The giveaway book this week is An Elf’s Desire!!! Also, I will be giving a copy of the first book in my Orchid series, Fluke, to the first person who comments today only! And don't forget to leave me your email addy in today's comment so I can get you your book! It's a double-whammy this week as you have the chance to win TWO FREE ebooks!!! One later!

I know you’ll love both these series as much as I love writing it! Enjoy getting ready for Christmas AND a space ride during the month of September!

All you need to do to be entered is to just comment on my blog, The Many Shades at, that's right this BLOG, to get into the weekly drawing. Every Wednesday is my day to post and the contest runs from then till midnight Tuesday for the weekly portion. So come see about all the wonderful promotion opportunities I'm offer fellow authors AND the planned giveaways for all readers out there.

Hope to see you there!

Just to get you even more excited about these FREE giveaways, here's list of the previous winners! See...people really do win...and are enjoying their books right now. This could be YOU!

August Giveaway SiNn
9/2/2009 Annalisa
9/9/2009 quilting reader
9/16/2009 Susan []

See you all next week!!


Monday, September 21, 2009

A free read… part 1 (R rated)

Over the next few weeks, as a lead-in to my Halloween release, In the Spirit (TBR 10/15 by extasy books,) I am sharing some pages of Holiday Spirits . In Holiday Spirits we meet Artim and Jenna, hero and heroine of Holiday Spirits, and Katie and Ned, a main character and hero in In the Spirit. For a look at reviews of Holiday Spirits, please visit:
Enjoy the free read!
Chapter One
The bum. The lousy ingrate. All that time and preparation, and she copped out of running the marathon!
That my thoughts whirled with issues other than what I needed to focus on irked the bloody hell out of me. I bounced on the balls of my feet, stared up at the dark morning sky that lay beyond the bright temporary street lamps, and blew hot, moist air into my gloved, but still freezing cold, cupped hands. Current hits from various music genres blared from the speakers that had been set up along the perimeter of the casino’s parking lot, but the loud music and noise of the growing crowd at the south end of Las Vegas Boulevard couldn’t quiet my mind.
The annoying buzz of the alarm had woken me at four. I had nervously prepped myself with the appropriate clothing, small water bottles and strategically placed packs of goo, a wonderful pudding-like substance that would give me bursts of nutrition during the race. A few times during my preparation I had tried to rouse my friend, Katie, from her slumber so she could get ready as well, but she hadn’t wanted to budge. The first time I’d shaken her, she had rolled over and said, “It’s way too early.” The second time I’d nudged her she had griped, “I’m tired. The flight yesterday did me in.” The third time I had pulled the sheets off her in a flurry of impatience. She’d finally sat up, grabbed the sheets from me and flopped on the bed complaining about how cold it would be.
It was a good thing for her my stomach had flip-flopped and churned and distracted me from her whining. Otherwise, I believe I would have woken the entire hotel with an overly boisterous and irate rant.
When I came to realize the nitty-gritty of the situation, I couldn’t blame her for cutting out on the race. Between the two of us, I was the serious one about running the marathon, getting up two hours before I normally had to for work to run in the heat and humidity, the cold, the rain, the snow. She joined me when she could, but hadn’t trained as long and hard as I had. She wasn’t ready. I was…or so I thought. The way my nerves zinged around my body and how my stomach clenched on the small bowl of oatmeal I had eaten an hour ago made me think differently.
People thought I was crazy when I decided to participate in a marathon. Maybe I was crazy. But unrequited love does that to a girl. I had been a casual jogger. The kind of runner who went out and pounded pavement for two or three miles to work off the occasional burgers and fries, but that was it. My interest in picking up speed came after Don, a co-professor at the university where I taught, and I had finally called it quits. We had dated on and off for several years, but I had never felt close to him. I had never been able to give my full heart and soul to him. During my long training runs, I found my fear of commitment to him had stemmed from the fact that he couldn’t keep his dick out of other women. Though our split had been mutual, the break still hurt and I had decided to lose myself in running. Now here I was about ready to face twenty-six and two-tenths miles for the first time. People told me this event would change me, change my life. I planned to use the several hours of solitude to figure out if I was running from something or to something.
“Ow!” My hand shot to my spine. I spun to see who had jabbed my back with an elbow and found myself gazing up at pair of sinfully deep dark eyes. Suddenly I was hit with an urge for a slice of black forest chocolate cake.
“Ah, scusa.”
The tall and very well-toned gentleman placed a hand on my upper arm. An image of being held in his embrace in an enormous, plush white bed surrounded by full, fluffy white pillows, our naked skin against each other in post-coital bliss, shook me to my core. In my vision, I looked into his beautiful eyes and, in Italian, pleaded with him not to leave.
I shook my head to stop the scene from playing out and yanked my arm away from the stranger. He leaned toward me and whispered, “Please accept my apologies. I did not mean to bump you. All these people are a bit crushing, are they not?”
“It’s all right.” The words, contradictory to the ire over the situation that plagued my mind, passed my lips without thought. His rich accent had rolled off his tongue straight into my ear and lapped at the edge of my awareness so gently that a sense of calm washed over me, filling me with much welcomed peace.
My mind cleared. I stepped back and assessed the handsome stranger. He dressed in a pair of black baggy running shorts with black compression shorts poking out an inch from underneath, as if the temperature was already in the sixties and not in the sub-forties. The white bib with his number on it stood out, a glaring contrast against his black and white sleeveless running shirt. He had a great pair of muscled long legs and a nice set of arms, too—a runner’s body with meat.
Again I gazed at his face, taking in his short dark curls, his sexy eyes, the strong squared chin with a bit of a cleft. His features reminded me of the classic Roman male statues I studied in my doctorate program.
“Aren’t you cold?” I pitched my voice to be heard over the throng of the crowd, which had grown to immense proportions. All the runners stood shoulder to shoulder vying for a better spot to start the race. The jostling of all the bodies on the street was like leaving a sporting event—one big mass slowly moving in the same direction.
He shook his head. I stared at him in surprise. I was almost as cold as I was back home running in twenty degree weather in the snow even though I was dressed in my racing clothes, sweatpants and a sweatshirt bought specifically for the race. He must have gotten the same story I had from friends and family. That, since it was Las Vegas, it’d be warm, even in December. They had been partly right. The temps did feel warm between the hours of noon and two, but not at the butt crack of dawn. Then again, I did feel warmer in the midst of the crowd than I had back at the port-o-potties while standing in line waiting to relieve myself.
“My name is Artim.”
He smiled, flashing beautiful straight white teeth from behind his sexy crimson lips. Once more a wave of tranquility flowed through me as if he’d stroked my soul in a loving caress.

Can’t wait to read more? Buy the book today!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

My Family…Part 2 (the introductions)

I finally make it into Lake Worth, Florida and I’m tired. I’ve stopped at every rest area for the last 200 hundred miles - getting out stretching my legs, smoking a cigarette or two or three, did I forget to mention that I took my partners car and couldn’t smoke in it? Yeah, I don’t recommend making that kind of commitment unless you completely feel the need to torture yourself on a 24-hour drive or you’re just an idiot like me. Really.
I called my best friend Erin to tell her that I’m making good time and before we hung up, she asked. “Did you still bring your tools?”

“Of course. I need to fix a couple of things at my grandmother’s house.” I answered, not thinking anything else of it.

I arrived at her house around 6 o’clock that evening. Smoked a cigarette in the driveway and grabbed my bag. I passed the beautiful gated outside courtyard and came face-to-face with a Dr. Seuss screen door. You know the kind, it just kind-of hangs there threatening to fall off the hinges if you so much as look at it. I’m amazed that it’s still holding on for dear life. My partner would have had me put that door out of its misery at the first sign of trouble.

I stood there shocked as Erin swings open the rickety, creaking, screaming door and held it open for me. I am afraid that the door will fall on me as a last ditch effort to get repaired and I decide to replace it before I leave. I had a wonderful evening at Erin’s, ate dinner, took a much needed shower and headed to bed early after all, I was going to see my family the next day.

Before I get to the nitty-gritty of the Alvarez Clan, let me start by making some introductions and by saying that I love my family. You know who you are…

We’ll start with the Matriarch, my grandmother Mima. She’s 92 ½ and don’t deny her the half year. According to her, if you get to live that long, every bit of time counts. Mima sits in her recliner watching and listening, taking mental notes, assessing everyone’s life, then she gets you alone and speaks her peace.

I arrived and like an idiot, I said, “Heard you had 2 strokes and a heart attack. What’s that about?” As the words left my mouth, I knew I had set myself up for her candidness.

“Well,” she said, “What did you expect? If I flip cartwheels at my age, I’ll break a hip then I’ll really be screwed. I didn’t raise an idiot, you have to think things through, my love. You’re getting up there in years yourself.” Mima had lovingly spoken her peace, Puchy laughed and I knew I was home.

Mima loves a good joke, loves to eat and always gets her way, not because she rules with a strong hand. Oh no, at 92 ½ she’s learned how to work this dysfunctional family into submission. Yeah, that’s my Mima. Go Girl!

My aunt Puchy is the youngest of the three sisters and is the one who takes care of Mima on a 24-hour basis. Puchy is about as tall and thin as a string bean and as my uncle would say, if she turned sideways, the wind would carry her away. She’s also the most stubborn of the group but is one of the most caring people I know. It kills her and I quote, “It kills me that people don’t take better care of their animals. That’s how I ended up feeding 15 kittens, 3 adult cats, 2 dogs and a blind chicken.” At first, I thought she was kidding because just like my Mima, Puchy has a sense of humor. A blind chicken, really? Yup! The poor thing has to hand fed every day. When I suggested making chicken soup, Puchy screamed at the top of her lungs. “No! She’s our baby.” God bless Puchy’s caring heart.

Come back next month to meet the rest of my clan…


Thursday, September 17, 2009

I'm So Hollywood

By A.J. Llewellyn

As a kid growing up in Australia, movies were my life. I was obsessed with the classics. I was obsessed with the daily lives of celebrities and hid movie magazines inside my text books. A sure sign I was gay, yes. A sign that I was headed to Hollywood? In my mind, another yes.
When I got the chance to move here and complete my college education, I jumped at it. I threw myself into the Hollywood culture but the Hollywood I loved was frankly, gone.
The famed nightclubs are now freeway overpasses.
The Garden of Allah is a parking lot. I could go on.
Oh, there are glimpses of it, but the glamorous city I loved, the stars, the movie sets are there only when I am on a studio lot.
I discovered quickly I don't like the Hollywood of today. I love the Hollywood of yesterday, when story was important, when story mattered. Today, being famous, wearing the hot new thing, getting noticed is more important than the movies coming out of the celluloid factory.
There are many like me, who care about story still. And I have carved out a niche for myself helping to nurture story. As a writer and a script reader, I feel I am right there, able to offer input and a genuine concern into the process of movie story telling.
Sometimes though, I must take work that is So Hollywood I want to kill myself.
Yesterday, in the early evening (true Hollywood is in bed by 9pm folks) I found myself hiding out in a big white chair in the men's room of the SLS Hotel which has become the mecca for the trendsetters.
My boss, who is a Hollywood player insisted we go.
This is another thing. I discovered early on I am not into the 'scene' and yes it's still called a 'scene' but I thought hey, it's research and I found myself squashed at a table at the buzzingest of buzzing places in Hollywood at this hotel.
The owner is a Jacques somebody who has a cooking show on PBS and he prepared scientific meals.
My boss and a handful of her friends had to go and I wheeled and dealed to get a reservation and was dismayed to learn that as her new assistant I had to go.
Since I've become accustomed to a few of life's luxuries, like gas and electricity for example, I went. I was hungry, too.
I still am.
I have never eaten such an expensive or minuscule meal in my life. The appetizer of an egg sounded okay until the egg shell arrived. I believe it was a quail egg shell with a tiny bit of yellow foam at the bottom. I wasn't sure how to eat it. Each person treated it differently. My boss used a fork, some of us used spoons. None of us could really say we loved it and so the meal progressed.
"Talk about pretentious," I said after the third ridiculous non-existent food setting was placed in front of me. A spinach souffle was another bit of green foam. I felt like I was in my own private I Love Lucy episode, the one where Lucy snatches the food away before anyone can taste it. Only Fred Mertz has a drop of soup left on his tie and proclaims it to be split pea.
Last night was like that. I was so hungry I thought I would die.
I sloped off to the men's room and found this ludicrous big white chair and wondered why it was there until a famous actor ran in and looked pissed to find me there.
"You took my hiding place," he said.
Oh, that's what it's for!
We chit-chatted about the ludicrous meal, the stupid Hollywood-ites who gushed over the invisible portions and then he said, "You want to see something really stupid?"
He led me to the sinks, which have been built at a slant so that as you wash your hands you are not offended by the sight of water going down the drain.
Oh My God. Really? Is this what we have become? Even the sinks are Hollywood?
As for me, I wrestled the star for that big white chair and ultimately found myself back at the table demanding coffee, which mercifully arrived in a regular cup.
And I got my story, which I bring to you today.
Aloha oe,

Hollywood A.J.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

More Promotional Opportunities and Reader Giveaways

As I move along in my career, I find it is just as important to give back to my group of fellow writers and our readers. One of the ways I am doing this is to offer more promotional options for authors and reader giveaways all of which are free. It costs nothing to do any of these but you must schedule them with me to be included in the author portion. For the readers, you just need to show up.

First up is Sexy Saturdays. On September 1, 2009, Sexy Saturdays began on my yahoogroup, XtraOrdinary Romance ( Everyone is invited to promote their books every Saturday all day long. I’ll be popping in and out during the day to see how it’s going occasionally or to add my own promo.

Rules for posting are simple and will be sent to you the moment you join. Please let me know if you are a reader or an author or both as the welcome messages are different. If you already belong to my group, then please look under the file section and you’ll see a file there explaining the guidelines for posting and the rules for giveaways. The only items I will mention here are these: I don’t allow drive-bys by anyone and I would appreciate contributions from the authors to the weekly giveaway which start next Wednesday. The more contributions we have from authors, the more readers we can expect to see.

Every Wednesday, I plan to hold a weekly giveaway of all the things authors have donated for the week. It’s not a requirement to give a donation but remember it is a great way to get your name out there and show the readers how much you care. A PDF copy of one of your eBooks will suffice just fine as I don’t really expect anything more. It could also be a free read you have put together. As long as it looks professional and is something you’re proud of, I will put it in. And thank you in advance for your generosity. Readers need to know we care about them in these rough economic times.

On Thursdays, starting October 1st, I am doing author interviews on my personal blog at These aren’t to take the place of my weekly spot here at all but meant to enhance an author’s exposure. Blogs, because they change frequently, tend to come up in search engines more and the biggest reason I contribute to more than one. This opportunity I have named 2 For Thursdays. Each and every Thursday, I will interview not one but two authors. Each interview will take center stage on the blog twelve hours and have their two latest covers posted for the week as well. I have a set of questions you’ll need to answer for me. Again, these need to be scheduled. At this point, I am filling the spots by invitation only BUT if you want to get on the list, email me now because I will start down that list as soon as possible.

Now for readers, as noted above every Wednesday, we will be giving away ebooks and maybe more to a few lucky winners. These are random drawings and the occasional question and answer. You do need to be present to win. Also, every Saturday and occasionally during the week, we will be doing a quickie. You heard me right, a quickie. It will announced as such. These are random and will usually involve the giveaway of something from the basket or an ebook of my own.

You can subscribe here Again, my personal blog is at

Thanks and hope to see you all there! I look forward to it!

Now, the moment you have all been waiting for...the winner of last week’s giveaway is quiltingreader! Come on down and get your free copy of An Elf’s Magic!

Hope to see you all here next week when we talk more about promotion and I give another book away!

Until then...


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Oh Happy Day

Today is the day. My third release. Woohoo!

First things first. Yesterday I was interviewed and talked about Heart Song, my new release. Check out the interview at The Blackraven's Erotic Cafe! I enjoyed and Janis is great!

Second thing. If you buy my book today (which is only $1.59) and email me your receipt ( ), I will enter you in a contest to win a small notebook with my cover on the front.

Last, but not least. Is my buy link. Woohoo. Buy Heart Song buy clicking the title. :) last thing...I share a release day with AJ Llewellyn and DJ Manly. I am SO excited. Can you hear my squee?!?!? Lynn Crain is releasing with us today too! Woohoo!!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thought I’d Share…

Here’s a cute story hubby sent me via email. I don’t know where he got it from though…

They told me the big black Lab's name was Reggie as I looked at him lying in his pen. The shelter was clean, no-kill, and the people really friendly. I'd only been in the area for six months, but everywhere I went in the small college town, people were welcoming and open. Everyone waves when you pass them on the street.
But something was still missing as I attempted to settle in to my new life here, and I thought a dog couldn't hurt. Give me someone to talk to. And I had just seen Reggie's advertisement on the local news. The shelter said they had received numerous calls right after, but they said the people who had come down to see him just didn't look like "Lab people," whatever that meant. They must've thought I did.
But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me in giving me Reggie and his things, which consisted of a dog pad, bag of toys almost all of which were brand new tennis balls, his dishes, and a sealed letter from his previous owner. See, Reggie and I didn't really hit it off when we got home. We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter told me to give him to adjust to his new home). Maybe it was the fact that I was trying to adjust, too. Maybe we were too much alike.
For some reason, his stuff (except for the tennis balls - he wouldn't go anywhere without two stuffed in his mouth) got tossed in with all of my other unpacked boxes. I guess I didn't really think he'd need all his old stuff, that I'd get him new things once he settled in. But it became pretty clear pretty soon that he wasn't going to.
I tried the normal commands the shelter told me he knew, ones like "sit" and "stay" and "come" and "heel," and he'd follow them - when he felt like it. He never really seemed to listen when I called his name - sure, he'd look in my direction after the fourth of fifth time I said it, but then he'd just go back to doing whatever. When I'd ask again, you could almost see him sigh and then grudgingly obey.
This just wasn't going to work. He chewed a couple shoes and some unpacked boxes. I was a little too stern with him and he resented it, I could tell. The friction got so bad that I couldn't wait for the two weeks to be up, and when it was, I was in full-on search mode for my cell phone amid all of my unpacked stuff. I remembered leaving it on the stack of boxes for the guest room, but I also mumbled, rather cynically, that the "damn dog probably hid it on me."
Finally I found it, but before I could punch up the shelter's number, I also found his pad and other toys from the shelter. I tossed the pad in Reggie's direction and he snuffed it and wagged, some of the most enthusiasm I'd seen since bringing him home. But then I called, "Hey, Reggie, you like that? Come here and I'll give you a treat." Instead, he sort of glanced in my direction - maybe "glared" is more accurate - and then gave a discontented sigh and flopped down. With his back to me.
Well, that's not going to do it either, I thought. And I punched the shelter phone number.
But I hung up when I saw the sealed envelope. I had completely forgotten about that, too. "Okay, Reggie," I said out loud, "let's see if your previous owner has any advice."

To Whoever Gets My Dog:
Well, I can't say that I'm happy you're reading this, a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by Reggie's new owner. I'm not even happy writing it. If you're reading this, it means I just got back from my last car ride with my Lab after dropping him off at the shelter. He knew something was different. I have packed up his pad and toys before and set them by the back door before a trip, but this time... it's like he knew something was wrong. And something is wrong... which is why I have to go to try to make it right.
So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it will help you bond with him and he with you. First, he loves tennis balls. The more the merrier. Sometimes I think he's part squirrel, the way he hordes them. He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there. Hasn't done it yet. Doesn't matter where you throw them, he'll bound after it, so be careful - really don't do it by any roads. I made that mistake once, and it almost cost him dearly.
Next, commands. Maybe the shelter staff already told you, but I'll go over them again: Reggie knows the obvious ones - "sit," "stay," "come," "heel." He knows hand signals: "back" to turn around and go back when you put your hand straight up; and "over" if you put your hand out right or left. "Shake" for shaking water off, and "paw" for a high-five. He does "down" when he feels like lying down - I bet you could work on that with him some more. He knows "ball" and "food" and "bone" and "treat" like nobody's business.
I trained Reggie with small food treats. Nothing opens his ears like little pieces of hot dog.
Feeding schedule: twice a day, once about seven in the morning, and again at six in the evening. Regular store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand.
He's up on his shots. Call the clinic on 9th Street and update his info with yours; they'll make sure to send you reminders for when he's due. Be forewarned: Reggie hates the vet. Good luck getting him in the car - I don't know how he knows when it's time to go to the vet, but he knows.
Finally, give him some time. I've never been married, so it's only been Reggie and me for his whole life. He's gone everywhere with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if you can. He sits well in the back seat, and he doesn't bark or complain. He just loves to be around people, and me most especially. Which means that this transition is going to be hard, with him going to live with someone new. And that's why I need to share one more bit of info with you.
His name's not Reggie.
I don't know what made me do it, but when I dropped him off at the shelter, I told them his name was Reggie. He's a smart dog, he'll get used to it and will respond to it, of that I have no doubt. But I just couldn't bear to give them his real name. For me to do that, it seemed so final, that handing him over to the shelter was as good as me admitting that I'd never see him again. And if I end up coming back, getting him, and tearing up this letter, it means everything's fine. But if someone else is reading it, well... well it means that his new owner should know his real name. It'll help you bond with him. Who knows, maybe you'll even notice a change in his demeanor if he's been giving you problems.
His real name is Tank. Because that is what I drive. Again, if you're reading this and you're from the area, maybe my name has been on the news. I told the shelter that they couldn't make "Reggie" available for adoption until they received word from my company commander. See, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, no one I could've left Tank with... and it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq, that they make one phone call to the shelter... in the "event"... to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption.
Luckily, my colonel is a dog guy, too, and he knew where my platoon was headed. He said he'd do it personally. And if you're reading this, then he made good on his word.
Well, this letter is getting to downright depressing, even though, frankly, I'm just writing it for my dog. I couldn't imagine if I was writing it for a wife and kids and family. But still, Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as the Army has been my family. And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family and that he will adjust and come to love you the same way he loved me.
That unconditional love from a dog is what I took with me to Iraq as an inspiration to do something selfless, to protect innocent people from those who would do terrible things... and to keep those terrible people from coming over here. If I had to give up Tank in order to do it, I am glad to have done so. He was my example of service and of love. I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades.
All right, that's enough. I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at the shelter. I don't think I'll say another good-bye to Tank, though. I cried too much the first time. Maybe I'll peek in on him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth.
Good luck with Tank. Give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss goodnight - every night - from me.
Thank you, Paul Mallory

I folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope. Sure I had heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him, even new people like me. Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and posthumously earning the Silver Star when he gave his life to save three buddies. Flags had been at half-mast all summer.
I leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows on my knees, staring at the dog.
"Hey, Tank," I said quietly.
The dog's head whipped up, his ears cocked and his eyes bright.
"C'mere boy."
He was instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor. He sat in front of me, his head tilted, searching for the name he hadn't heard in months.
"Tank," I whispered.
His tail swished.
I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time, his ears lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood him. I stroked his ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried my face into his scruff and hugged him.
"It's me now, Tank, just you and me. Your old pal gave you to me."
Tank reached up and licked my cheek. "So whatdaya say we play some ball?
His ears perked again.
"Yeah? Ball? You like that? Ball?" Tank tore from my hands and disappeared in the next room.
And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I have an obsession. I am obsessed with watching my word count while typing. No matter how hard I try, I can't break myself of the habit. Sometimes it's a good thing, other times it will drive me batty (probably not a far trip for me).

A friend gave me the link for a fabulous Excel spreadsheet created by Kresley Cole and her hubby that allows you to enter your author information, the title of your book, the word count needed, and the date you start and date you need to finish by. You also have the opportunity to add little motivational sayings for when you do and don't reach your daily word count. This keeps track of how much you have written that day as well as how much more you need to write in order to keep up with your daily goals.

I am now using this on every book, novella, and short story that I write. It's a great way to keep myself on track, and also make me want to tear out my hair when I don't meet a daily number.

Right now I am in the clutches of an upcoming vacation and deadline hell. I have a novella I want finished no later than tomorrow (Sept 14) as well as ten pages of a novella I am co-authoring with Stephani Hecht for eXtasy Books, as well as get us ready for vacation, the critters ready for critter care and all the other little things that plop themselves in the midst along the way.

Yesterday I barracaded myself in the house and vowed to write. And I did. I managed 3900+ words, along with laundry, loading music on my mp3 player for the trip, email,and vacuuming. I was very pleased with my progress, but as always wished I could have done more. Of course by 6:30 last night I was totally brain dead and looking for chocolate (of which I had none). So I settled on a bowl of vanilla ice cream with chopped nuts as the topping.

Today I am off in a couple hours to celebrate the book signing of a friend. It's her first big release and she is over the moon thrilled. So I know my writing time is limited. But I will be back at it tonight. Tomorrow will bring more of the same.

But no matter what I do, I constantly am checking my word coount. I try to write an entire scene before looking at how much I've written and then adding it to the chart. This morning was no exception. I was staring at it to determine where I wanted to be by the end of tonight.

Now those of you who know me, know that I am not a night owl. Far from it, if truth be told. I am normally in bed by 8 with a book or the tv remote. That's just me. I've never been one for staying up late unless I absolutely have to. But if I am writing and on a roll, then midnight can come and go and I'll keep on going. So tonight may be one of those nights.

Well, better close and get ready to roll. Don't think anyone wants to see me show up in my jammies (G), though it would be quite comfortable. Oh yeah and gotta find my Borders coupons too, just to be safe of course.
Till next time.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

People Suck

Okay so I don't generally go out, I don't like the whole crowded bar and dance scene too often. I am a home body. But last night I had an itch and went out with a group to celebrate a kinda friend's birthday.

It was great, for a while. I relaxed, drank some beer and even had my favorite shot, chocolate cake. Then these other people showed up, people I don't really know but know some of the other people in our group.

These people were ignorant and stupid and I can't believe they exist in a civilized society. The insane racist remarks that came out of their mouths were disgusting and I was ashamed to even be sitting at a table with them.

I am not a shrinking violet so I pointed out that they were idiots, of course that just made things worse. They started getting louder, and their remarks became more off the wall.

I just don't understand how people can believe that it is alright to act like that. And it made me mad that everyone else pretty much sat around laughing uncomfortably about the whole thing, or ignored it. Why sit there with someone who is being such a racist idiot?

I wish people had the balls to stand up to people like that a little more, take them down a peg and help them to at least see that their remarks are not welcome in that setting. I don't fool myself into believing they will stop feeling the way they feel, I would just like them to realize its unacceptable in a crowded bar with mixed races to loudly proclaim your racism.

So, people suck and I just wanted to vent that to you all today. I hope you have a great one.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Venus Envy

By A.J. Llewellyn

I have come to envy my dog. It's not just that she has a damned good life, but because she has the perfect attitude to life. Recently, I've made a study of my dog, Venus, and realized by adapting her style to my life as a man and a writer, I can live a happy, fulfilled existence. And be so much more productive.
In no particular order, here are the things she has taught me, that have started to serve me well.

10. Every blade of grass has its own particular scent. Stop, sniff, then sniff some more. It all may be mowed down tomorrow.
9. Take your time and enjoy what you're doing in this moment. Good things come to the dog who does this.
8. Investigate everything. Don't listen to rumors. If you don't hunt for answers yourself, you will never know what tasty, informed things you'll find.
7. Mud holes, dirty ponds and the Venice canals are fabulous for impromptu swims. Baths with good smelling stuff...not so much.
6. Eat your food slowly and with both hands. You'll never eat this particular dish again. Nothing is as tasty as this moment.
5. Making eye contact with your loved ones is invaluable. One eye stare is worth a thousand words. Humans do understand certain "looks." No need to threaten or yell. They get it.
4. Writing is like sleeping. Don't bother me when I am doing it, or supervising it.
3. I am a dog. What's yours is mine. Period.
2. Barking at the waves crashing on the shore is the most fun thing you can do. The waves like it.
And finally...
1. Running up to strange men and sticking your nose into their crotches only works when you are a dog. It works for Venus. Doesn't for me. Take my word on that.

What about you, what have you learned from your animals??

Aloha oe,


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Queen of the Three Chapters

Recently, I was asked to do a series of blogs for another group. Since I'm on deadline this week with a couple of different stories, I thought I would just recyle what I did for them. Thanks for being so patient with me!

At the bottom, you'll see who the winner of this week's ebook is! And now to the meat of my post (LOL)!

Catchy title, huh? My name’s Lynn Crain and I’m the writer of over fifteen published books in the erotic romance and paranormal genres. My friends tell me I write the ‘weird stuff.’ This is a little look into my journey or how it all began. And it’s been long and fun and rewarding!

I’m sure those of you reading this wonder just what the heck I’m writing about. Well, like most writers my education has been long and tedious. I began writing at twelve because I felt sure I was as good as Margaret Mitchell. My first novel would be a fabulous Civil War romance with all the right characters and the right story line. But first, I need to learn about writing...after all I was only twelve.

I started many, many years ago with RWA. In 1983 to be exact. During my first few year, I learned, or thought I did, everything I could about the romance genre and how to write it. Then I entered my first Golden Heart competition and failed miserably.

So miserably that the judge there told me I couldn’t write myself out of a paper bag. At first I was sad, really sad and told myself I would never write again. But I loved writing. I had said, I had been writing since I was twelve when I sold my first poem. I didn’t want to do anything else with my life...I wanted to be a WRITER!

I allowed myself to wallow, and wallowing it was, in self pity for about twenty-four hours before I got mad. I decided then and there, I would show this person, this judge who ripped me to shreds. And I would do it the correct way. I would learn everything I could about writing and the genre of writing.

So I went to every RWA meeting and conference I could afford. I became the founding chapter president and gathered around me like minded people. I even worked for a small press publisher as I wanted to understand both sides about the business. I eventually became a member of RWA’s National Board and learned even more about the industry.

During this whole time I was entering contests. Lots of them. So much so, my chapter and those who knew I wrote started to call the Queen of the Three Chapters. And at the time, it was well deserved. I had perfected just how to put together a five page synopsis and a kick-ass first three chapters. But did I really have a book in me.

Sure, I was slowly and I mean slowly working on one but it was hit and miss. Then came the day that RWA required, heaven forbid, a full manuscript to enter the Golden Heart. Now that novel didn’t have to be pretty or anything, it just had to be done. LOL!

So, here I was, sitting in front of my old desk, wondering where to go next. Sure, I knew what to do. I understood how to get from point a to point b. It was all the stuff in the middle I worried about but if I were going to enter the Golden Heart ever again, this had to be done.

So three months out, kicking myself for not paying attention more in all those classes about the wonderful endings and saggy middles, I proceeded to complete my first book. And once it was was a labor of love...something to this day I stand by proudly. Has it seen the light of day? No, but I’m hopeful because it was the first in a series of seven called the Nevada Nights series. It’s my hope that I will complete that series one day.

But my life turned in different directions because of family and my own writing. My writing career would have to go on hold for awhile until I had more me time.

Catch me tomorrow with ‘Never Give Up, Never Surrender.’ Until then...

Now for the moment you've all been waiting for...drumroll please...the winner of this week's ebook, Giselle's Elf, is
Annalisa! Come on down Annalisa...just email me at and I'll send you your free copy of Giselle's Elf!

Now remember everyone, there is no purchase necessary for getting into my contests. All you need to do is to read this blog and give your comments!

Again, don't forget to enter next week for a FREE copy of my book An Elf's Magic! See you then and have a great week!


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New to You

I hope everyone had a wonderful Labor Day Weekend.

New to you authors. How do you find them? How do people find you?
For me, I find the best stories through a friend after she has read them. I know when I find a book that I love I shout it from where ever I can! lol To me, there is nothing better then know someone liked the book. I'm writing about this because this weekend I found a story that I LOVED! Thank you Joy! I usually like all the books I read but there are a few that are up there that pull me in and I don't want to leave. I want someone to like one of my stories that way! I love the books where I can say, 'I wish I'd written this."
Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux had me doing that this weekend. It's with a press that I don't go to a lot, but the books I have bought there have been money well spent. Dreamspinner Press is the name of the publisher and it is an m/m press.

So, how do you do it? Promo that is! lol What works for you?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

What is in a name?

Now that I have beat last week’s deadline and finished my book, it’s already time to start a new on. (sigh) No rest for the weary. People often ask me how I come up with so many ideas for stories. Or how I manage to pump a book out every month. To be honest with you, it’s not easy. However, that’s not what’s the hardest part of the writing process to me. No, the real challenge is what to my name my characters.

It’s very daunting. Give you hero a weak name and then he’ll come off as a weenus. Don’t believe me? Imagine in your head a tall, dark and handsome man. He’s built like Adonis, has full sensual lips, dark hair and smoky bedroom eyes. Maybe he’s a SEAL, a vampire or a cowboy.

Do you all have Mr. Perfect visualized?

Okay, now you find out his name is Eugene or Horrace.

Pop! That just burst your bubble, didn’t it?

My biggest fear whenever I start a new book is that I’m going to royally mess up and ruin my hero before the reader even gets past page one. So what I do before I start any new project is I sit down with paper and pencil and go name hunting.

It’s not as easy as it sounds either. First off, you have certain names that have been so overused in the romance genre that you just cringe whenever you see it pop up again. On the other hand, you don’t want to go completely in the other direction and use something so generic, it’s laughable. Can you imagine a hero called John Smith?

I usually go to the baby name website and look there. Once I get a few ideas down, I research the origins and meanings of the name next. The after I have a first and last name in mind, I Google it. My biggest fear is thinking I have the best moniker in the world, then write a book, only to find out I inadvertently gave his the same name as a serial killer or something. I’m sure we all remember that episode of Seinfeld where Elaine didn’t want to date a guy because he had the same first and last of an infamous murderer. Funny for a TV show, yes. For a romance novel, no.

Despite all this I still love. It gives me a kind of heady thrill knowing that I get the honor of creating these great heroes. I just have to make sure to give them the wonderful names they deserve.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Best Buy or Best Bust?

I recently decided to upgrade my 1990’s, 40 pound, slower than molasses on a cold day laptop and set out to do some comparison-shopping. So I went to the home of the geek squad – yes, I know Best Buy tends to be the most expensive store but who better to get information from then…the computer geeks?

My partner and I arrived at the store and the nice people wearing blue shirts welcomed us as we entered the electronic abyss. Ah, that feeling of being surrounded by so much technology took hold and for a brief moment, I felt giddy. I regress- this was a gathering information only, run.

As I wait for a sales person, I wander the aisles looking, and there it is, illuminated by a majestic warm light, I see an Acer 5516, 2GB DDR2 memory, 160GB hard drive, 15.6 wide screen, DVD +-RW/CD-RW drive, notebook. The price $279.99 and a chorus of Hallelujahs erupts in my head. She is beautiful and for that price, I must have it!

4 hours and 30 phone calls later, the sales clerk tells me that no one in Texas has this laptop.

“Okay, I’ll take a rain check. “ I said.

“No rain checks allowed on this product.” She responds.

“I’ll buy the display.” I countered.

“Can’t sell the display, the ad is still active.”

Wait a minute! Does that sound reasonable? Texas is completely sold out, and she said, that it may take a few months to receive more Acer’s like this one, but they can’t sell the display because the ad is still running?

Then she said to me, “All the stores received at least 4 laptops.” As if, that should make me feel better. “We have a comparable laptop for $399.99 if you want to see it.”

Do I look stupid? I know I’m not the best with math, but $279.99 and $399.99 is not comparable in my book. Upset and frustrated, I asked to speak to a manager, and they turned out to be as elusive as the Acer laptop I was trying to buy.

I called five other stores, not Best Buy Stores, who promptly told me the same thing and were willing to sell me a comparable $399.99 and up laptop. I want the calculators they use.

Saturday came and went. Sunday arrived with the promise of a new day and new ads both in the paper and online. The elusive Acer is listed, but I don’t fall for that ploy again. Instead, I focused on two Toshibas. One is a 2GD Memory, 160 GB hard drive for $299.99, the other is a 4GD Memory, 160 GB hard drive for $499.99. I called my brother-in-law who lives in Florida and is a genius with computers, and he sets me on the right path.

I bought the cheaper Toshiba, turned around and bought 4GB of memory for $35.99 and walla! I have a 4 GB memory, 160 GB hard drive for $335.98 and saved $164.01, Now that's a Best buy.

I sure do love a good deal!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Stranger Than Fiction

By A.J. Llewellyn

I went to a very interesting writer's seminar once, conducted by America's Queen of Mystery, Mary Higgins Clark. Her own personal life story is so fascinating it would make a great book (she finally immortalized it in a searing memoir, Kitchen Privileges) but what she taught me and those around me was to read everything and question everything. Who? What? Where?
And the big one: What if?
It has helped shape the 35 books and counting I've had published now.
I'm often asked where I get ideas and like Ms. Clark, I read. However, the stunning headlines I read, that we all read, while true, would not make believable fiction. Case in point, the current, mind-boggling abduction of Jaycee Dugard in Northern California 18 years ago. Yes, she turned up alive last week after being held as a sex slave in somebody's back yard. It is about the most horrific story of child rape and torture you will ever read.
But if you turned this into fiction and subbed it to a publisher, nobody would believe it.
The only author I can remember who turned a sensational serial killer story into believable - and profitable books - is Thomas Harris with Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs.
So I leave the headline ripping to shows like CSI and Law and Order and I choose instead, small moments of reality, which I believe give a foundation of truth to fiction, even when I am writing paranormal stories.
My new book Laid, coming to eXtasy Books on September 15 will also be shot as webisodes on Massive Studios. As I wrote it, based on an idea of director John Bruno's, I was mindful the book needed to fulfill the requirements of romantic fiction, have a strong storyline, be sexy and also be very visual.
I have been, since I was young, what I call inquisitive. My father would say I am just plain nosy.
I ask questions. I talk to people and I have found, people like to talk to me. I pick the oldest person at a party and learn wonderful things from them. I talk to people in restaurants and a chance encounter several weeks ago at a restaurant I've never been to before laid the truth-as-foundation for Laid.
I talked to a fantastic couple having a date night. I loved how they told me they made sure to do this twice a week. Their midweek meal is spent away from their home discussing problems. Their Saturday night date is strictly for pleasure.
I caught them midweek and they were both stressing. She's a realtor and we all know that particular market is in tatters.
He, the husband, is a high-end art dealer. He told me they often work together. He will provide art for the buyers his wife deals with but now he has wealthy clients begging him to buy back pieces they spent a fortune on...and these exquisite works of art end up being sold out of the country to Saudi families who don't blink at the price tag.
I was so fascinated with his stories and remembered reading an interview with Johnny Depp once. He said that the late, great actor Vincent Price told him to invest his money in art because its value rises quickly and you get to enjoy your investment every single day.
The art dealer concurred, describing one particular 18th century photo which has swapped hands exactly six times and is the most valuable photograph in the world.
It is to me, astonishing but true.
As I say, it is a small moment of life and I took it and beat the heck out of it for one of my characters in Laid. I felt it added an extra layer of depth to the character and the story.
I also felt it's not a slice of life that will likely appear anywhere else anytime soon and the art dealer was only too happy to share his knowledge with me. Inside every successful person, even in my accountant's cash register heart, I have learned there beats a frustrated writer.
For me, these encounters, these little scraps make a meal for me, and I hope, my readers. I believe in love and life and so I write about characters who ultimately find both.
I don't need to rip from the headlines. I have a deliciously full plate.
What about you, do you small moments like this inspire you in your work and life?
Aloha oe,


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Winners, Writing and More

Okay, okay...I know you’re anxious about hearing who the winning is of the basket. Well, the winner was picked this morning and I am...going to wait until the end of the blog to post...sorry. But we author’s like to create a little suspense when we write. LOL! Sorry.

This week has been an incredibly productive week. And not in the terms of writing per se BUT in terms of promotion and just getting things done in general. Then there’s the fact that I’m doing a lot and I mean a lot of promotion. I’m at Novelspotters blog all week talking about how I started writing and how I got to where I am today with my writing. I was on another loop yesterday, I have another blog coming up on Friday and then I’m starting Sexy Saturdays this Saturday on my own’ve been a busy gal.

Add to that a new wonderful in person critique group and I feel like I’m on top of the world. How could it get any better? Well...I guess a million copies sold would be better...LOL! But really, this is a pretty good place for a small press author to makes me happy!

Now promotion is an important aspect in anyone’s writing career and it’s not a bad thing to occasionally get retrospective about the journey. The path is different for each of us and it seems like it took me longer than most. Which is probably not true but that’s my perception.

And perception is a lot in life. Everyone has one and in reality, the only one that counts most of the time is your own. Still, I have to remember I’m a writer and I look at things many times through the eyes of my characters. They had a totally different perception of life. Especially if they are from a distant planet or just another continent. Part of my job is getting those perceptions right for every character I create as well as their foibles.

The creative process is so cool. Women who have had children know exactly what I’m talking about...we’ve created children...and writing is much the same. And someday, just like kids, you have to let that baby go and see them soar. Or flop...LOL...that happens occasionally too!

This month, I will celebrate the seventeenth such journey. seventeen is on its way September 15. Hence the cover...which I totally love...I saw the cover before I got my edits done and I was in heaven. It was so much of what I Martine does such a lovely job on them and I am forever grateful that she actually takes into account my comments on what I really want. That is so cool when you think that many of my other publishers don’t.

And part of my mission today is to express my thanks to each and every one of you. I consider all of you my friends whether you are writing partners, editors, critique partners or readers, YOU are important to me. I can’t replace any of you and I am so grateful to have each of you visit me from time to time and be in my life.

Which brings up the question of the week...who are you grateful for on your writing journey? Or in life if you’re not a writer?

Now...for the moment you’ve all been waiting on...drum roll please! The winner of the summer giveaway is...SiNn...come on down!!!! Congrats! And please email me privately at so I can get your particulars.

The next contests will be a series of giveaways! I am going to give away a FREE copy of each of my elf books for the next few weeks. We will work backwards and start with Giselle’s just comment this week and you’re in the drawing. If you have the particular book of the week, we’ll substitute something else! So enter anyway!

Also, if you all want to get a Christmas present from me, yes I really do give out Christmas presents, you’ll need to get me your snail mail addy soon! I usually send things out in October, so I’m building my list now.

Talk to you all soon! And thanks for being a great bunch!

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