Friday, April 30, 2010

Puttin' on yer weinie shoes!

The male animal and his shoe size!

My husband has this pair of shoes that give him the illusion of small feet. They were super expensive shoes and it's just plain weird how these shoes manage to shrink his feet from a size 11 and 1/2 down to an 8 or something.

I was in bed the other morning and he walked over to my side and asked, "Do these shoes make my feet look small?"

I looked down, blinked a couple times, looked again, blinked a couple more times and then said, "Yeah, but...I don't get it. How can a pair of shoes shrink your feet?"

"I don't know," he replied, "but I can't wear them. You know what they say about men with small feet. I don't want anyone thinking..."

"What?" I teased.

"You know...."

I laughed. "Honey," I said, "You don't need to worry."

"Yeah, but nobody else knows that!"

Now you know what goes on in our house. I recently spent the weekend with my husband, his two brother and all his many male cousins - I kid you not, I gave birth to the only two girls in that family - and all they talked about was hand size, foot it width or length? Is it the distance between your extended thumb and the end of your pinkie? Men...

"I have long fingers," somebody said.

"But I have a wide palm," said another person.

"I have big feet."

"Yeah, but my toes are longer than yours."

All weekend.

On another note - sorry about the late post!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Crazy Busy

All of my creative energy is currently focused on edits! Why, oh why are there only 24 hours in each day??
I do want to take a minute to announce that Possessing Eleanor received a Reviewers Top Pick from NOR!!
Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I Declare War on E-Pirates!

Let’s pretend we are at a friend’s house and she turns her back or leaves the room for a moment. A secret door opens in the wall and a stranger walks into her home and steals something precious, useful and valuable to her. The stranger disappears and the door closes. When our friend walks back into the room would we tell her what just happened? Of course we would! This is the exact situation that is happening to our friends who are e-authors. E-authors are being picked cleaned by pirated books and internet share sites.

With the good comes the bad. Any published e-author knows how much work is involved in promoting an ebook and how wonderful it feels to have a “Release Day”.

Sadly along with the traditional excitement of releasing a new book and waiting to get reader feedback or reviews comes a new tradition- Release-Day e-pirates! Actually the e-pirates show up before anyone else.

Literally within an hour of its release the requests went up on a pirate-share sites for “Beautiful Stranger”. By sundown the Downloads had begun. I raised the alarm to my publisher and copied and emailed pages that contained other Ellora’s Cave authors, including Amber Skyze’s new release “Pretend with Me” and many others...

It’s very frustrating to me that pirates are allowed to monetize their sites with lots of advertizing while openly encouraging a black-market of stolen content to be traded. Why can’t these guys be flagged and deprived of their revenues especially the blatant repeat offenders?

Intellectual property is one of the few things America is manufacturing these days and we should be doing a better job of protecting it. The pirate-share sites are an intolerable part of an unsustainable business model. The music industry stood up on its hind legs and roared and the publishing industry had better do the same. It’s time. There’s no tomorrow on this stuff. It’s time to demand basic protection and rights as artists. As it stands e-authors are the lowest on the totem pole and they are the golden goose.

The vast majority of readers are honest people but apparently a few of the readers we are reaching with our promotions are the same ones who are asking to illegally download our books on release day. I turned in a file-sharer who was offering a dozen current Ellora’s Cave titles on just one page. A campaign against e-piracy should be launched with the same fervor we promote our books. Too many people believe e-authors are paid royalties up front. They don’t understand or care that a single stolen book proliferates on the web and starves sales to the author. E-pirates need to understand they are stealing from someone who works hard and needs the money and often doesn’t make much money on ebooks to begin with.

Kelly, who fights pirates for Ellora’s Cave said her computer constantly, gets infected with malware and viruses galore from some of the share sites. So I ask the casual “e-thief” is it worth the time, hassle and expense of fixing your computer just to get a “free” download of a great book that was a bargain to begin with? There really are advantages to being honest…

The internet has given the world a whole new level of freedom but freedom comes with responsibility. Sharing files is stealing. Be responsible toward your fellow human beings. Let’s not use the web to steal from or abuse others. Report e-piracy when you see it.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Amber's Ramblings

Okay, so I don’t have a HOT topic to talk about today. I spent the weekend celebrating my grand daughter's 1st birthday (today) and my youngest daughter's 13th birthday (tomorrow). Two parties, tons of family in town, non stop running.

I DID write THE END on Spend The Night With Me, book two in the Freedom Fantasies series. I know I need to add one scene, before sending it off to my editor. Hoping by Friday the latest.
Play With Me, book three, will be submitted at the same time.

Still waiting to hear about Submit With Me. It’s a short-short 7k. It’s a role playing story like the others in my series.

I did receive a few good reviews over the weekend I’d like to share:

Body Shots:

Title: Wild Lickins
Author: Amber Skyze
Genres: GLBTQ
Site Date: Feb 23, 2010
Online Link:
Score: 3.25 / 5

Off to edit! Have a fun week.

Monday, April 26, 2010


WARNING: DON'T LOOK BELOW IF EASILY OFFENDED! Now that I have your attention (did you already scroll down to peek?), on with my "HUG A FRIEND DAY" blog!

Friends. Everyone wants them and some may be lifelong people you can count on. Friends can commiserate, cry, laugh, with you and share your good and bad times.

Do you keep in touch with friends? Now with the Internet, it's easier to send messages and keep up to date with what's going on in their lives. And, finding old friends again can be great!

New friends are wonderful, too. Finding someone who shares your interests makes you more at ease in their presence. I love all my new reader and author friends...I can talk to them by email and meet people in different countries. I know authors and have fans all over the world.

Now...Hunk friends. Not too many I personally know, but fantasizing is a great stress reducer. The older I get, the more tantalizing a sexy guy becomes and gives me that "AH" feeling of my wicked days-gone-by. Oh, sure...I was a wild woman in my younger days, chased the guys, let them chase me, sometimes got caught...but those stories haven't been told yet, and may never be.

These guys would make wonderful friends I'd love to hug...repeatedly. What do you think? Just look at the muscles (especially the one on the far right) and imagine being embrace in a "friendly" hug...hopefully lasting all night!

So, maybe I should write a series of "Hugging Hunks" Romance Adventures? I could give them names, personalities that suit my romance story plot, "expose" their attributes...and your naughty mind is thinking of what each one holds in his hand...but I'm, of course, talking about those muscles, sculpted torsos, great smiles, etc. SURE!

Visit and htttp:// for information about my books.
"Anything You Can Do" by Marianne Stephens,, received a 5 STAR, REVIEWER TOP PICK, from Diana Coyle, Night Owl Reviews (
AYCD is in the top 10% of Romantic Comedies Best Selling List (
Photos: Flickr: noemimanlang's photostream, and IranNuts.gif

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Wow...I actually remembered it was Saturday...

Usually I forget about my blog day until it is too late to post, so I did this post Friday evening and made sure it would post at midnight. LOL!


I want to thank some people today, and I want them to know why I appreciate them so very much.

First, I want to thank the many wonderful people I have met since becoming a published author. Six of them co-host this blog with me. Thanks, ladies, for being caring and generous and tolerant of my odd humor and silliness. You have given me so much friendship and understanding, I would be lost without you.

I want to thank Regina, who has fished me out of the pond by my heels when I have jumped in over my head a few times. I want to thank Syneca for giving me a whole new reason for writing. (I must do her fabulous covers justice!)

I want to thank Julia for keeping me grounded whenever I blow a gasket. I want to thank Wendy for being one of the kindest reviewers on earth. I want to thank my other Wendy for being patient! I want to thank Patrice and Annmarie and Cathy and Virginia and Marianne and Kathy and Teri and Margit and Becky and Shannon and April and Kim and Theresa and Julie and Tina and Helen and Grace and Sue-Ellen and Anne and Martha and Valerie and Courtney and Annie and Heather and Jessica and Tiffany and Leigh and...*gasp*...Terra and Frank and Edwin and Bill and Chrissy and James and Bobby and Ryan and Raelene and Rodney and Will and Howard and Desiree and Cindy and Patricia and George and Afton and Dan and Heath and Pauline and Phil and Brynn and Bron and Anny and Jayne and Andrei and Angela and Angelo and Jan and Melissa and Mia and Maddie and Kat and Tessie and Aleka and Nora and Nina and Sheri and Kresley and Carol and Pam and Tatiana and Adele and Ann and Pete and Justin and Rob and Kaenar and Sam (several of you!) and Mari and Edith Celia and Madeline and Mike and Melinda and Michelle and Megan and Francesca and Patty and Patti and Pat and...gasp...okay. If I go through the entire list, I won't have room to tell you how much you have all helped me. I have not met a single person in this wonderful business who has not made me feel welcome, appreciated, and at home.

If I missed anyone's name. my apologies.

So whether you are a publisher, an editor, a reviewer, an author, a reader, a model, or one of the many wonderful support staff who help run the show, I want to thank every single one of you for having made my recent career change to author a smooth and delightful one!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I have a bone to pick with Silhouette Nocturne

Books? Or Advertisements?

Today I received a book I ordered via Amazon, Vampire Vendetta, by Alexis Morgan. I like Alexis Morgan. Her Paladin series is a fun read. The alpha heroes make for a good quickie. I just finished her latest, Defeat the Darkness, and it was okay. It was good enough that when I received her email informing me she has a new vampire love story out, I thought - why not? I missed her first vampire book but I ordered Vampire Vendetta. I can tell it's going to be another quickie and I'm sure it will keep me entertained for a few hours.

So why do I have a bone to pick with the publisher, Silhouette Nocturn? Because stuck to the binding, between pages 160 and 161, was a thick packet of advertising. When I tried to pull it, thinking it might just be shoved in there or perforated for easy removal, I had to rip it out. Along came pages 160 and 161. The damn cardboard ads were glued to the book binding.

A. Do I really want advertising in my book? If a pub wants to advertise, print up the ads and stick them at the end of the book - I discovered ten pages of ads in the back of the book after the story ends, in addition to an ad on the inside of the back cover. At least those ads are printed on the same paper as the rest of the book and they don't interfere with my reading pleasure.

B. Don't stick cardboard in the middle of my book! How distracting! That's why I tore it out in the first place. I stupidly assumed it would be perforated and easy to remove. Silly me. Now I have a brand new book with a bent binding, a hole in the middle, ragged remnants of cardboard, and two taped pages. Dang!

This is the first time I've ever purchased a book that's had a big fat packet of advertising stuck in the middle of it. Has this happened to you?

A Different Perspective

“So why can’t your heroes be more like me?” Spoken like a too-full-of-himself, macho dude, right?

Could have been, but in this case, the question in one form or another has been posed to me a lot recently, by men who are close friends. They’ve either read my work, or talked about it enough amongst themselves to feel able to offer an opinion. Of course any time the subject of my books comes up, there first must be a great deal of good-natured teasing, but to the best of my knowledge, none of them had ever read a romance book before. They have honest questions and insights that I find very helpful.

Wait, I don’t want to paint an unrealistic picture of my buddies. These are guys talking sex; it’s not like they go all Socrates or anything! They inquired as to why the heroines can have physical flaws and insecurities and the heroes have to be all wash-board abby, male yummy goodness (my words, definitely not theirs!). Amid the jocularity of them pointing out each other’s flaws and bragging about their individual assets, I quickly realized this was a real issue with them and I think a very valid one.

I understand the rules of the genre, but their comments really got me thinking. I purposely create heroines who have certain body issues and insecurities because I can relate to that character. I don’t want to read or write about a woman who is the epitome of our gender; she makes me feel inadequate! If we’re going to entice men to read our genre, maybe we need to lighten up a bit on the studly perfection.

There’s this guy, Rick. He’s probably in his late fifties but I’m a terrible judge of age. His hair is more grey than brown and a touch too long to be considered fashionable, but I like to think it’s the perfect length to hold onto. His eyes aren’t ‘the deepest cobalt blue’, or ‘the color of the sands sweeping across the desert’ but they light up with emotion when he laughs. (The little crinkly lines at the corners are so cute!) He’s only an inch or so taller than me, but I don’t ever wear heals so who cares? Rick’s definitely not ripped, muscular guy, he’s just…regular! He has ‘curves’. The words ‘chiseled’, ‘god-like’ and ‘massive’ don’t spring to mind when he walks into the room, but to me, he still looks damn fine in a t-shirt and jeans. And his hands – long fingers, roughened by years of hard work, you have no idea how I’ve fantasized about what he could do to me with those!

His back aches after a long day. He has bills to pay, a house to take care of, grown children, an ex, emotional baggage, and a genuine love of lounging around on the weekend doing nothing. He talks about retirement – hey, it’s allowed, nobody’s getting any younger, you know? I’m pretty sure he’s never gone on a covert government mission, headed a multi-trillion dollar corporation, lived in a castle, or shifted into another species, but there is something about him that pushes all of my buttons.

He is my next hero, a wink and nod to my male friends. Will a publisher accept him? Only time will tell.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"Beautiful Stranger" is available today

Beautiful Stranger

It’s been too long since my last book “Adult Education” was released and I’m delighted to finally have a new book to offer.

“Beautiful Stranger” is set in New Orleans and bayou La Fourche. This story was fun to write and very close to my heart because my husband grew-up in New Orleans and we still have lots of friends and family there. Our friends have a “Shack out back” that’s very close to the Cajun fishing cottage described in the story… That screened-in, semi-outdoor shower where my character’s Lily and David spend so much time is a real thing and it’s lovely to stand in during miserably hot nights. I can assure you the big iron bed with the mosquito net and the ghosts that drift through the bayou are real as well.

While I was putting the finishing touches on the first draft of “Beautiful Stranger” the Saints won the Super Bowl and as my character Lily’s confidence grew and her heart healed, the city of New Orleans seemed to experience a similar healing. The joyful emotion in our home during that time is difficult to describe.

“Beautiful Stranger” is part of Ellora’s Cave Sophisticate Line and that aspect is also close to my heart. I’m the child of an older woman-younger man marriage. My mother was a very beautiful, glamorous woman ahead of her time. She fearlessly entered into a love relationship with a man eleven years her junior who was mixed- race and from another culture entirely. She did it when it simply was not the thing to do and she had zero support for doing it but I’m so glad she did… Thank god for shamelessly defiant women! R.I.P. —M.

I’ll end by saying “Beautiful Stranger” is really about letting go of fear and truly enjoying the unexpected surprises life can offer.


“Beautiful Stranger” Katalina Leon Ellora’s Cave Sophisticate Line. Available now!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pretend With Me

Coming Friday April 23rd! Book 1 in the Freedom Fantasies series.

Meet Jed and Paige in the excerpt below. WARNING it contains strong language some might find offensive. DO NOT continue if you don't like X rated material. :)


After threatening divorce, Paige gives up her fantasy of hot sex with two men, especially when Tommy, the other man she wants to have sex with, is the reason for her divorce threats. When Paige confesses she’s considering leaving Jed to her best friend and owner of Freedom Fantasies sex club, life takes an unexpected turn. Paige finds herself pretending she’s having a hot, sordid affair.
Paige appreciates all the pleasures she’s unable to find at home. Being spanked in the corner, tied to the bed or getting it on in the shower, Paige experiences more orgasms than she thought possible. To heighten the excitement, her pretend lover brings in a friend…


She puttered into the kitchen. She grabbed two glasses from the cupboard and filled them with ice water from the filter. She was ready to head back into the bedroom when she ran smack into Jed.
He was still naked and wore a look of mischief.
“Bend over the table.”
“I said bend over the table.”
She put the glasses on the counter and bent over the table as he instructed.
“You’ve been a bad girl.”
“I have?” She thought she’d been pretty damn good in there.
“You’ve been coming without me.”
So this was about her using the vibrator again.
“You weren’t interested in fucking me.”
“Are you being indignant?” He ran his finger down her spine, until he reached the crack of her ass.
“No, I’m just being honest.”
“I think you need to see what happens to bad girls.”
She didn’t think her body could take any more, but it fooled her. She felt her juices pooling at her lips.
“Maybe I do.”
“It’s about time you realized the error of your ways.”
“I’d do it again if my husband was neglecting me.”
She heard a drawer open and him rifling through it. What was he looking for? Something to spank her with? It had to be the reason he had her bent over the kitchen table.
“I’m going to teach you a lesson about using the vibrator without me.”
Her face and body were pressed against the cold table. He held one hand on her back.
A smack crossed her ass.
“Ouch!” It was a wooden spoon. She’d been spanked by it before. She’d know it anywhere.
“Count for me, Paige.”
She didn’t want to count. She wanted to fight him, refuse her punishment.
He slapped her cheeks again.
“Didn’t you hear me?”
“Then why aren’t you counting?”
“Two,” she spat.
“Don’t go getting all incensed, Paige. I can spank you and put you to bed all wet without another orgasm. I don’t think you’d like that.”
No, she wouldn’t like him heating her cheeks and leaving her hanging. He always gave her relief after spanking her.
The spoon met with her ass again.
“That’s my girl.”
He continued slapping her ass until he reached twenty. Her skin burned. She needed relief.
“Oh my wife loves to have her butt spanked,” he said, gliding his finger against her wet pussy lips.
“I need you, Jed.”
“And I need you,” he said, brushing his hard penis against her hot ass. “The redness of your cheeks makes me so fucking hard.”
“Fuck me,” she pleaded.
“Oh I intend to, but not just yet.”

Monday, April 19, 2010

Humorous Day - For Funny Scenes, Read My Books!

Yep, Maxine says it all. Reading books can be better than reading fact, making it something with a touch of humor can make such a difference in your life. Putting a smile on your face when you read/see/hear something funny brightens the spirit and can ease stress.

I strive to incorporate humor in my books, even if mystery, danger, or suspense fill the plot. It's that "Ah" feeling you get when laughing at a funny scene or hearing the hero or heroine say something humorous. And, sometimes, that quick smile brought to your face can suddenly catch you off-guard as a serious turn in the plot surprises you.

In "Anything You Can Do", humor plays a big part in the book. How can you throw a clueless male in with a bunch of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, and not find something to laugh about? I had fun writing this, and used some teaching memories to challenge the hero's sanity.

In "Gone to the Dogs", humor mixed with suspense. I loved writing this in first-person and being in my heroine's head the entire book. Having triplet adversaries, using strange names for the company and drink, and adding people with rhyming names challenged her sanity and made the heroine's story funny.

In "Street of Dreams", humor came into place as my hero and heroine struggled to acclimate to their time-traveled year. Knowing a major blackout was to come but having a stubborn hero not willing to listen, placed the heroine in a funny scene. She refuses to enter an elevator she knows will stall because of the blackout, puts a smile on her face, and waves to the hero in the elevator as the doors close. Then, she ambles down the stairs.

In "Second Sight Dating", the hero and heroine shared funny scenes as she tried and failed to "match" him with dates. Their double date at what they thought would be an animal benefit dinner, turns into a night of dining with dogs. Getting through their evening with dressed-up, howling dogs, only adds to the humorous scene when the hero's date and the heroine's date ditch them.

In "Strip Poker for Two", funny scenes mix with the hero and heroine's sexy encounters.The heroine immediately makes you smile as she blurts out her added condition for a "LOVE" contest. Bring underwear?

Did she really say that? Recalling their youthful memories of the hero's tuba-serenading days as he tried to win the heroine's heart, will make you grin.

In "Sexy Games", testing adult role-playing games done by the hero and heroine turn funny, especially when they play "The Stripper and the Nerdy Professor". "Teaching" the hero about pole dancing/lap dancing and stripping for him quickly catches your attention and their funny banter changes to lusty passion as their "game" continues.

So, find something to laugh/smile/grin about today...maybe a scene from one of my books? How about these funny scenes?

Okay...I couldn't stop laughing at this one. Seems like there's a story here. Maybe the heroine is a divorcee and her son crashes her bridge party with his "headgear". How will she explain her sudden interest in "adult toys"?

This sign gets my creative mind churning. What do a hero and heroine do upon reaching this SPEED HUMP?

Enjoy Humorous Day!

Visit or for information on books above.
"Anything You Can Do", romantic comedy by Marianne Stephens, received a 5 STAR, Reviewer Top Pick from Diana Coyle, Night Owl Romance!
And, it's in the top 12% of Romantic Comedies, Best Selling List, at
Photos: Flickr: Nevada Tumbleweed and's photostreams

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Newspapers, my transition to the web

Two months ago, we decided to cancel our morning weekly newspaper.
Ours was shrinking in size and useful content. I saw Wire stories reprinted and chopped to death. I saw too much advertising and said, hmm, I will try doing without this.
Sure, I get my news every time I log into the net to collect far too many emails, and I can choose to read the entire story of a header, if I like.
Know what I miss?
The feature stories that give me in-depth coverage of topics that really inform me about where I live.
For example, (you see my author mind working here), I have HUGE files on Texas-related topics that I use often to give me perspective on things like:
cutting horses
trail rides
drug smugglers
how the Border Patrol works...among other things.
Now? I'm not clipping new feature stories to go in my files and I note how seldom I open my file cabinet to stuff stories inside.
But (happy, happy!) I am off to get my Sunday New York Times from my driveway.
Got to get my news fix.

Friday, April 16, 2010

On Vacation!

Sorry! No time!

Head over to my site: or visit Mandi at Smexy Books to read her review of Beauty and the Feast - the good and the bad! She liked the book. Not quite her cup of tea, but still...
I'll think of you while I'm flying around Thunder Mountain and surfing at Newport Beach! love, julia

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What a Way to Start a Day!

I'm a very bad waiter. Not the working in a restaurant one (although I suspect I would suck at that job!), but the "what do you mean I can't have what I want right this minute" one! I want more of Lily and David's story - Kat, can you help me out???

No problem, Tessie! This scene takes place before dawn and I love it because making lazy love when you’re half-asleep is so wonderful. The day’s still early so jump back in bed with David and Lily.

Excerpt “Beautiful Stranger”

He reached toward the nightstand and used his free hand to grab a condom. He tore the foil with his teeth and quickly sheathed himself.

“There’s no rush,” she whispered as she took hold of him and gently guided him inside her. She wanted this to last, but he seemed eager to be inside and unwilling to wait. Her breath caught from his first slow thrust.

His hands wrapped around her shoulders to brace himself. A slight whimper crossed his lips as he entered. He gently rubbed the side of his face against hers. “You feel so good.” His voice was husky whisper.

His morning beard stubble slightly rasped her skin but she welcomed the sharp sensation. The abrasion acted as a gentle reminder that even this slowly shared moment was painfully fleeting. She arched against him and focused on the lush feeling of his thickness stretching her and sliding easily inside. The breathtaking sensation was gorgeous. Her eyes shut and her head slowly rocked from side to side, luxuriating in the intense feeling. His hands slid up her arms and firmly gripped her wrists, pinning them to the mattress. The sensation of gentle compression on her wrists was soothing. It grounded her wilder, more-chaotic feelings and made it possible to simply be.

“This is so beautiful, Lily.” He moved slowly inside her.

The sweet tone of his softly murmured, ecstatic sounds nearly broke her heart.

He pushed deeper and held himself there, panting softly. His face brushed against her hair. He barely moved, daring only to take the tiniest strokes. His muscles felt like a coiled spring.

Her fingertips gently smoothed the waves of his hair. Her legs wrapped around his hips as he moved slowly inside her. She let him press deeper and occupy her. Her body gently caressed him with every restrained movement he made. The breath hissed out of him from struggling to hold back.

“This is good,” she whispered. He deserved encouragement and reward. She tilted her hips upward and stroked her body against him. He bumped against that tricky spot inside her that made her crazy. She bit down on her lower lip and concentrated on feeling only that as he slowly slid against her. The movement was so gentle and restrained, her heart pounded. Part of her wanted to unleash herself and frantically grind against him to feel the pleasure-pain of thrusting against his cock, but he pinned her beneath him and insisted on moving slowly and tenderly. It was his will the tension and sensations build slowly. He seemed to be exactly in the same place she was. He too was caught on the edge of abandonment. The feelings became so intense they had to be tempered. She felt light-headed and realized she was holding her breath.


Thank you so much Tessie for generously sharing your blog day with me!

“Beautiful Stranger” will be available April 21st from Ellora’s Cave Sophisticate Line.

And thank you, Kat, for giving us all another sizzling excerpt!!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

(Here’s another excerpt from “Beautiful Stranger” Lily is in the backseat of David’s sedan while David plays chauffer and drivers them to bayou country. He’s watching Lily’s naughty show in the rearview mirror…)

She tugged her skirt higher, exposing a length of shapely leg.

His eyes flickered between the road and the rearview mirror, watching everything she did with utter fascination. “How’re you doing back there?”

“I’m fine, honey, just keep your eyes on the road.” A lazy smile crossed her lips. There was such sweetness about David. He made it so easy to relax and let go. The warm leather seat caressed her bare legs. She loved the feeling. She closed her eyes and slowly stroked her thighs. The hard-working, good girl in her had finally worn out her welcome. Tonight she was a wanton, demanding pleasure. Her fingers dipped between her thighs and parted her folds. The backseat was too dark for him to actually see much of anything but she pretended he could. Certainly he could see her enraptured face and that would be telling enough. “Don’t you dare look back here.”

“Like hell I won’t.”

She knew asking him not to look guaranteed his full attention. She had an audience now. Her fingertips slowly stroked her wet clit. “Oh that’s nice,” she whispered. “I prefer to feel your hard body moving inside me, but I’m happy to do this until we get to the damn cabin. My slick fingertips feel so good but I’d rather have you taking me to the edge.” She leaned against the seat and gave into the rising sensations. “I can’t wait for you to come inside me again. I loved it. You wouldn’t believe how hot and wet I feel right now.” She paused. “How hard are your balls?”

The sedan served onto the gravel shoulder. David jerked the wheel back onto the road. The sedan roared back onto the pavement. The squealing tires threw gravel into the air and landed with a harsh ping, ping, ping onto the sedan’s glossy paint job. “You’re a danger, Lily!” he laughed.

Danger. It sounded good. Meeting David had been a great idea. She was finished playing it safe. She was ready to mix fantasy, reality, dreams and danger. This was what she wanted. It was exciting to feel how drenched she was just from thinking it. This was what her mind and heart needed. Her body certainly wanted it too. She gently stroked herself with a lazy fingertip, letting the excitement build slowly. Her eyelashes fluttered shut as her thoughts drifted toward a favorite fantasy. A stranger has kidnapped me. I don’t know where he’s taking me. All I know is he wants to fuck me senseless and I’ll have to submit to whatever he wants…

She glanced at David’s reflection in the mirror. “Hi, sweetie.”

He smiled. “What are you doing back there? What’s that sly smile about?”

The warm expression in his eyes engaged her. Her finger stroked her clit as she drifted back to her fantasy. He’s definitely a rogue. He looks dangerous. He’s probably the leader. He certainly looks like the ringleader. He could take me captive in his shack and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. I could remain his obedient sex slave for weeks, maybe months; many hard, hard months… I’ll have to willingly surrender to his heated demands as he uses my body again and again for his selfish pleasure. I might have to endure long days and even longer nights of slavish devotion to ecstatic pleasure. I can’t even imagine being pinned beneath his big body and fucked hard, knowing I can’t escape and he may never get enough of me. A man like this probably needs to fuck often. He could demand I kneel, tangle his fingers in my hair, and force me to suck him off and fondle his balls for hours. If he asked me to worship him I’d have to do it or he might spank my ass ’til it burns. He might even decide to proudly display my naked body and share me with a few of his handsome friends as a sexual prize. Damn, that sounds good. How could I endure being tied to a bed and taken again and again by David and his muscular, sexually-skilled, well-hung friends until I lose my mind… Laughter burst out of her.

David turned around with a smile on his face. “Sweetie, what’s all the giggling about?”

“Nothing.” Her face burned. She didn’t dare confess. She watched his eyes in the rearview mirror. A slight smile curled the edge of her lip. That was a damn good fantasy. It left her heart pounding. She parted her thighs further. Her fingertips brushed back and froth across her clit. She was so sensitive it almost hurt to touch it but she did anyway and moaned softly so David could hear.

He tried to keep his eyes on the road. His nostrils flared and she realized he could smell the faint musk of her aroused scent and it was too distracting. He squinted as he readjusted the rearview mirror so he could see everything she was doing. “When we get to the cabin, you watch out, girl. I’m not going to waste a minute. You have a lot of nerve to think you can tease me like that and not pay the price.” He smiled.

She smiled back. Please make me pay the price. Please… She tapped her toe gently against his shoulder just to have a moment of physical contact with him. She could hardly wait to feel him inside her again. Why did the damn cabin have to be so far away? Her fingertips toyed between her thighs. Her flesh was on fire. She knew she could come again with no effort but she wanted to enjoy the slow torment. She slid a slick finger inside her and slowly stroked in and out while he looked on with fiery eyes.

“That’s it. I can’t take it anymore.” He pulled over to the side of the road and parked the sedan alongside some brush. He turned the engine off and jumped from the driver’s side to the backseat. He toppled her onto the leather upholstery and climbed on top of her. His tall frame filled the backseat.

“Lily, you’re not safe to drive with.”

(It’s true. Please be careful if you do decide to pull over to the side of the road and have torrid sex-remember anyone could drive by-and guess what, in “Beautiful Stranger” they do…lol)


“Beautiful Stranger” available April 21st from Ellora’s Cave Sophisticate Line.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Author Bashing - How Far is Too Far

I started off today with another idea for the blog, but felt I wanted to touch on another subject – Author Bashing. I’ve seen a lot of author bashing over the last year and yesterday good friend Helen Hardt and I became targets.

It all started with a Google alert. I opened the alert to see my name was mentioned on a website I’d never visited and I was curious to see why my name appeared. Well, let me just say it wasn’t what I was prepared for. The person, who remained anonymous, took to bashing pen names. Let’s assume for argument sake it’s a she. She compared Amber Skyze and Helen Hardt to stripper names and said they were only suitable for Vegas strip clubs.

Her comments were nasty and rude. First of all Helen’s name has sentimental value, along with the fact her first name is HELEN. She posted her feelings yesterday on her blog, if you care to take a peek -

My last name also holds a special meaning for me. Ten years ago I own and published a romance magazine Romancing the Skyze. It was my baby and I enjoyed running it for a few years until I got sick. I was hospitalized for a few months and the recovery was even longer. I had to stop publishing my magazine. So when I needed a pen name I knew Skyze had to be part of it.

I know Helen attempted to leave this evil person a comment. I chose not to engage her. Though I visited the site this morning and there are NO comments. The funny thing is, she inadvertently brought more traffic to my blog. Oh and she also said that people weren’t buying our books because they’re too busy laughing at our names. Well, I guess I’m laughing all the way to the bank with my royalty checks…because they’re proof people ARE buying my books. J
So in this case bad publicity is good publicity.

That’s not always the case though. I’ve seen friends have their books released and some nameless bitch go to the publisher’s website and give them low ratings. I’ve seen book reviews where the reviewer gives brutal comments. I was a reviewer before I was published. I’d NEVER EVER think about bashing an author. I would give an honest opinion if I didn’t like the story, but I wouldn’t resort to things like – “this author is too stupid to live and should quit while she’s ahead” or “this book is the worst piece of crap I’ve ever read, don’t waste your money”. I’ve seen worse, but I’m toning it down a bit.

Writer’s have feelings. They’re human. Some mothers, grandmothers, wives. They’re normal everyday people who enjoy writing. While I know we need thick skin in this business there’s no reason for personally attacking authors. The Internet has given way too much leeway for people to spout viciousness.

Have you ever been a victim of some idiot’s rantings? How did you deal with it?

Monday, April 12, 2010

"Anything You Can Do" Reviews!

"Anything You Can Do", ( romantic comedy by Marianne Stephens, received a 5 STAR, Reviewer Top Pick from Diana Coyle, Night Owl Romance!

"I have to say that this was a fabulous story from start to finish. Ms. Stephens wrote an engrossing storyline that makes her readers eager to turn the page and find out what will happen next with Allison and Jeff."

"These characters were well rounded individuals with plenty of spunk and sexiness. I found myself having a crush on Jeff and I really wanted something to spark between him and Allison. This author is an extremely talented writer and she knows how to entertain her readers right to the very last paragraph. This is a story that I would highly recommend to any reader and I assure you that you’ll enjoy it as much as I did! Great work, Ms. Stephens!"

Review by Rebecca,The Pen & Muse: "Loved, loved, loved the hero in this book." "I found Marianne Stephens' writing to be engaging and her plotting to be coherent and smooth." I thought the premise was cute, and the ending fulfilling. If you enjoy contemporary romances with a little steam to them, I think you will enjoy this book very much." For full review:

AND, it's in the top 12% of Romantic Comedies, Best Selling List, at

"Anything You Can Do":
Hunky CEO vs kids in childcare for a week, all for a dare to prove he can do anything the tantalizing daycare owner can do!

Video Link:
Visit: for more information!
Visit: for erotic romance books

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Painting with oils...and making a life

A very good friend of mine is a celebrated landscape artist. With a career that spans 62 years, he has lived for his art, never compromising on the means to earn money, sometimes to the dismay of his wife of 50+ years.
Having written freelance stories about him for various publications, I have had the opportunity to watch him paint in his studio many times.
A small home that he has gutted out in the center of a small Texas town, his studio is a treasure trove of his paintings, all sizes, scattered over the walls, and his watercolor on-site sketches fall over the tables and the easels, his desk and even on the two chairs he allows himself. He bought this house more than twenty years ago, just as his studio. He and his wife live elsewhere in town. He has replaced the old windows with huge ones as long as the house and put in skylights as well. To walk in there requires (especially in the Texas summer) a pair of sunglasses.
But I can never keep them on for long, no matter the brilliance.
The colors he uses demand you see them. Really absorb them. Savor them.
To watch him--and his method, is to learn how he views the world from the inside out, not the outside in--as I think most of us view the world. He sketches an outline to provide the focus of the work. This he does with a bunched up paper towel that he rolls into a point of sorts. Then he proceeds to shadow in what he's going to create. His blank canvas becomes a ghostly apparition of what is to come.
He works rather quickly on this outline. To get the flavor, he says.
I think he's right to do that. An idea, a concept lives in my mind as the kernel of a story and it becomes a useful thing, a vibrant thing only if I am true to the original concept.
Not easy to keep that focus.
Sometimes your focus must change, he tells me.
True. An idea so fleeting, so delicate can escape you like smoke.
Like the smoky sketches on his canvas.
He works then from the ghosts to bring them to life with the larger elements first. His plains of Texas scrub and rock. His gargantuan recreations of Big Bend's ghoulish mountains where dinosaurs once roamed. His rivers, silver and twinkling, rushing around the bases of huge cypress trees. He is a genious with the uses of colors to bring to life on the canvas those milli-seconds of our human observations of nature.
Satisfied with his grand view of the landscape, he'll correct how the sun hits the land. Or show how the thunder rumbles over the sky. He'll pick up a finer brush and begin the delicate work of finite details. The Texas wildflowers of bluebonnets and red spiky paintbrushes, the white cowmilk flowers, lovely blooms on ugly prickly stocks. But he is an impressionist, not a realist. He works quickly going with his flow. He'll drop in stones to the streams, sometimes--as often happens here-he'll dry up those creek beds. Make them pray in the dust for rain.
He will occasionally put in a few deer to reflect the reality of his subject. He never draws people. He wants to make a statement, he says often, that the land deserves his study. So many study people. That is not his mission in life.
I often think of him. His devotion to his art. His talent. His skill. At eighty-two, he declares that he is better than he ever was. He has improved with the years. He knows that his dedication and his persistence have made him a better artist. Becoming a better artist has made him a better man.
So making a living was never his goal. Instead, he has made his life from his talent, his dedication and his knowledge that he had his own brand of truths to reveal to others.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

So how many jobs do you do?

I'm a cooker a baker a candlestick maker...

At least that's how it feels some days. When I pull up the list of things I do every day, even I'm impressed! Really and truly, how much time do you actually have to write? I'd like to know.
I've heard some writers claim they can bang out 30,000 words in a few days. No way can I do that! A great, exceptional, outstanding day for me is 5000 words. Usually it's more like 500-2500 per day.
Anyway, the day job has been a major emotional drain lately and after going back and forth for several months, I made the decision to quit while I'm ahead. This will be my last weekend until mid-May, when I've volunteered for a three day weekend and after that, I'm done.
I'm going to write full-time...well, I will do other things, but writing will be my profession. Let's hope it pays off!

We Have A Visitor!

I’m delighted to have multi-published author, Taylor Tryst, as my guest today! She has graciously agreed to discuss a topic very close to my heart: writer’s block. Taylor and I have both been struggling with this problem for quite a while, and I’ve asked her to share her experiences and insights. Welcome, Taylor, the blog is all yours!

Back to Basics
Okay, I’m contradicting myself here, but trust me when I say that there’s a method to the madness.

There was a huge stink with authors who were members of Romance Writers of America over the last year or so, and since I had moved, and had previously discontinued my membership, I was just adamant that I no longer needed to be a member of RWA or my local chapter.

I mean, I live six hours north and probably wouldn’t be able to attend but one or two meetings a year. I’d dropped my membership due to my location, and I was successful enough on my own.

Or so I’d thought.

Sure, in the beginning of my career I’d joined the local chapter, Midwest Fiction Writers, as well as Romance Writers of America. I began going to local meetings and reaping the benefits of being surrounded by published authors as well as other writers who had the same goals and desire to reach publication. I always found the meetings themselves to be very inspirational. The vibe was incredible and infectious, the published authors so generous with their time and knowledge.

Then I moved north six hours and without the local meeting, I decided that it no longer benefited me to be a member of either group due to my inconvenient location.

Several years flew by and the unthinkable happened. I hit a bout of writer’s block of epic proportions. I couldn’t write, I couldn’t edit, I couldn’t even sit down and read my own work.

I asked for the advice of my peers, and tried like hell to follow it. The advice was brilliant. From writing and inspirational tricks to the suggestion of just relaxing and taking a short break, I tried it all.
Nothing worked, however. Not a damned thing. I’d lost something, and I’d drifted so far off course that I didn’t know if I’d EVER find my way back.

Serious issues from the real word had my head spinning. Medication regulated my mood, and every day that I didn’t write I felt the world of fiction slipping away. I’d worked hard to become a published author, I dreamed, I struggled to work full time, to be a hockey mom, and yet I managed to survive and write. Even after a painful divorce from a 14-year marriage, my professional self flourished.

So I was stumped when I could barely punch out an email, and when sitting down at my laptop brought tears to my eyes. I began to contemplate taking a break that might be permanent. I imagined the end of my career, the dousing of my dreams, and of walking away from it all. Could I turn my back on what had once been my only desire? What had once been my only saving grace?

I honestly didn’t know.

I’d sit and stare at my work in progress, the words blurring into a series of endless letters that made no sense. I began to loathe my computer, some days being so depressed that I couldn’t even work up the gumption to check my email.

I decided to do the only thing that felt right at the time. I made the decision to forget about writing, to stop putting pressure on myself and to take a mental vacation from it all. That decision was heartbreaking, but looking back now, I realize that it was the right one to make.

I began reading romance novels again, romantic suspense, and paranormal romances, which I’d always loved. I started watching movies with my mom, and I focused on all of the little tasks I needed to accomplish that had always taken a backseat to writing. I began spending time with my horse, haltering him, brushing him, and actually relaxing outside of myself for the first time in years.

I tackled major spring cleaning, jobs around the house that needed to be tacked but always fell to the wayside. I cleaned out the junk drawer, threw away old paperwork and ten year old receipts, and in that process I began to notice something happening.

It started in the car one day. On a trip out of town, I began to think about my book and their plots. Talking them over with my sister, tossing ideas around. Hmm, I hadn’t done that for over a year, and it felt so wonderful that I began to feel an itch.

I changed bedrooms and found my writing paraphernalia in boxes. I put up pictures, quotes that were writing related, and instead of giving me anxiety and dread, they made me smile again.

I found stacks of ‘how to’ books on writing, and actually picked them up. I began reading The Heroes Journey by Christopher Vogler. Oh my God, it was a revelation. Archetypes and plot lines. Dramatic function and the employment of crisis and climax, which are two different things by the way…lol

It all began coming back to me, and made me crave more. Made me crave the basics that I’d once been fascinated with.

Recently, I found myself cruising the internet. I ended up on the Romance Writers of America’s website checking out the new fee structure, thinking about re-joining both RWA and Midwest Fiction Writers. Will I make it to many meetings? Probably not, but maybe one or two this summer. It’s a six hour drive but just the thought of being surrounded by other authors, being inspired by the sheer drive of a group of unpublished writers with the common goal of writing for publication makes the drive to write return tenfold.

What’s the point of my rambling today? Well, I guess it’s that I’m going back to the basics. All of the things I did when I began this journey eleven years ago are suddenly relevant again, and I’m feeling hungry again.
I booked the hotel room for the RomantiCon conference that Ellora’s Cave is hosting in October. I’d planned to go last year, but life got in the way, as it often does.

I told myself that I’d go this year, but only if I began writing again. Kind of a treat to myself if I could make some progress, you know.

But then I remembered what an old friend had said in the beginning of this journey. I’d met her at my first MFW writers meeting and she said, “You have to invest in yourself. You have to act like a professional if you want to be a professional, and be taken seriously.”

I realized then that I’d been neglecting my ‘professional’ self for years. I moved, and I let personal issues overtake my professional life. Depression and health issues rocked me to the core and left me groggy, left my mind cluttered and my thoughts unclear. I was left feeling less like an author and more like a lost soul. I let myself drift away from the publishing world and sank into despair. We grew apart, my professional self and I, almost like a failing marriage, we just moved in different directions.

Saving a bad marriage or relationship takes work. It’s an investment. Self help books and date nights, fancy lingerie and deep conversations about feelings, sort of like trying to save a career.

My point here is that it’s about finding those elements again, the fundamentals that helped create this opportunity for me for me in the first place, and implementing them again. About making them matter, and that’s just what I intend to do, take the ‘Heroes Journey’ literally, one step at a time, to translate it into one word at a time, one paragraph at a time, and hopefully one book at a time.

Thanks for listening, and hey, I think this counts as having written, right?

Absolutely, Taylor! Thank you so much!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Beautiful Stranger is coming!

Excerpt from Beautiful Stranger:

David held her hand tightly. His fingers interlaced with hers. They laughed as they ran to the car.

She felt as if she were running away from her common sense and she didn’t care. The situation had gotten way beyond her control and she was ready to accept it for what it was. Where lust and attraction were concerned, there was no such thing as common sense. She should have known. She laughed. She knew now it was adventure and daring she needed all along and here it was. Spontaneity was what she had dreamed of for so long. All she had to do was give in and enjoy it. Why not turn up the volume and take the ride? This weekend was special. David was special. Whatever happened was meant to happen. Brave words.

The car was parked in a dark corner of the lot far from overhead lights and other people. As soon as they reached David’s sedan, she leaned against the warm hood of the car, pulled him against her and kissed him.

He pressed his body against her and eagerly returned her soft kiss.

Her hands gently stroked the sides of his face. “You’ll have to think for both of us. I’m officially turning my brain off and my body on.” She would be an idiot not to make love to this man as soon as possible.

He smiled. “Then we’re in trouble. I’m not thinking clearly.” His body pressed between her thighs as he kissed her.

Her lips parted for him. The tip of her tongue teased his. Their warm breath mingled. Her hands slid into his back pockets and cupped his muscular butt. Her fingertips did a little exploring through the cloth. She was pleased to discover he had the exact type of solid, sculpted butt she loved. She pressed her hips against him to savor his solidness. His hardness brushed against her thigh. Her breath caught as she felt an instant rush of heat at the thought of thick, slick penetration. She couldn’t wait to feel him moving inside her. “How far away is your ‘someplace private’?” she whispered.

“It’s a bit of a drive deep into bayou country,” he answered breathlessly.

Her heart sank. That was bad news. She wanted him right now. Her eyes skimmed across the backseat of the old sedan. “What do you think?”

His eyes flashed. “You want to get caught, don’t you?”

“Maybe.” She felt daring. This part of the parking lot was secluded, so why not take advantage? The thought of making love to him in the backseat was irresistible. Her heart pounded.

He pressed his body against her and kissed her while struggling to unlock the car door with one hand. His hand fumbled to insert the key without looking but he finally got the door open.

She slipped into the back of the sedan and pulled him beside her. Her fingers sank into the luxurious leather. She leaned across the seats and inhaled the crisp scent of upholstery crème. Her eyes fell to half-mast. There was such a strong sensuality associated with this scent. Roomy, bench seats upholstered in buttery leather practically beg lovers to take advantage of them. Her hand patted the polished leather approvingly. “Nice ride, David.”

“Thanks. I rebuilt a man’s roof and he reupholstered my car. I’m glad you didn’t see it before.” He laughed as he slid across the seat and pulled her onto his lap.

She hiked her skirt up and straddled his lap, facing him, being careful not to crush the impressive bulge rising in his trousers. Her hands cupped the sides of his face.

He tipped his face upward to gaze at her. His eyes glistened. “Sit down, girl. That’s exactly where I want you. I do wish we were somewhere private. I want to take my time with you.”

“This is perfect.” She gently rubbed the very tip of her nose against his while breathing in the clean scent of his skin.

His fingertips gently brushed a fallen strand of hair from her brow. An enraptured expression lit his face. “I used to dream about you,” he whispered. “I can’t believe you’re really here.”

She couldn’t believe it either. She was in the backseat of a beautiful old car parked beside a bowling alley, and she was in heaven. It was an unexpected but wonderful turn of events. She smiled. This was where the new Lily would begin. The neon-pink Rock’n Roll Bowl sign cast a faint rosy glow into the car. Her fingertips glided across his jaw. “I’m really enjoying my visit to New Orleans.”

A mischievous look shone in his eyes. “Are you enjoying anything in particular?” his weight shifted beneath her as his hips tilted upward. The fabric of his trousers strained.

She gently ran her thumb across his full bottom lip. She kissed his softly cushioned lips and traced her fingertips across his chest. “I always enjoy the food,” her voice fell to a faint murmur.

“Reason enough,” he unsnapped the top of his trousers, “to move back.”

“David, I have to go home on Monday,” she whispered.

His gaze locked on to hers. He looked directly into her eyes as he stroked her hips and pushed his hardness against her. “Then promise to stay with me ’til Monday.”

(I think you can see where this is going... I love the back seat.)


Tuesday, April 6, 2010


A lot of writer’s I know say that sometimes their story comes to them in dreams. I’m not one of those lucky people. I tend to dream about people trying to kill me or harm someone in my family. Wouldn’t make for a very romantic story.

I’ve been stuck lately. Not sure why. Not really stuck, because I re-read one of my wips and thought, this isn’t half bad. I was excited to get back to writing it…until I opened the document. I also started my cougar story as part of the cougar challenge. Wrote the first ten pages and feel I’m off to the right start. Still when I open this document – nothing. I just stare at the page and type nothing.

The other night I dreamt of being with another man, other than my DH. He was a very sexy Italian. I was standing on a stair, he was ground level. I wrapped my arms around his neck and the words I love you were on the tip of my tongue. Yet, I was too scared to say them. I feared they wouldn’t be returned. But I could feel the love radiating off him as he hugged me. He held me like he never wanted to let me go. And then he whispered those three magic words and my heart melted. I remember squeezing him tighter and returning his sentiments. Then I woke up.
BUT…I was left with an overwhelming feeling of love all day long. That giddy, toe curling, feeling you get when you first fall in love. The feelings have stayed with me the last few days. I want to use them when my H/H get to the point they confess their love for one another, but I have to get there. I have to write a few more scenes before they can realize their love for each other.
How do I get the words to flow so I can finally use one of my dreams?

And thanks to my fellow blog mate and friend Kat for letting me know Pretend With Me was on the coming soon page at, last week. It totally made my day. Look for my new release April 23rd.

Monday, April 5, 2010

National Read a Road Map Day - Can You Find "LOVE"?

Happy National "Read A Road Map" Day! I thought I'd skip going into the boring details of checking road maps...don't you use a GPS system now?...and branch off to a different tangent on this.

Let's a road map and find your way somewhere. Isn't the journey to LOVE kinda like that? Don't you have to follow a "path", go in a certain "direction", to find true love?

Romance books use a road map/path/directions to get their heroines to their heroes. It's called a PLOT...and it's never an easy journey. There are always bumps in the road, detours, obstacles, slowdowns, wrong turns...just as you might find if following a map to some unknown destination.

Usually, you manage to find your way...just as our heroines manage to find that "happily-ever-after" ending despite all the setbacks. Flat tire? Run out of gas? Or, Hero's ex-wife shows up to create havoc? Heroine thinks hero is cheating on her? All detours of some type. A road map may not be able to help sometimes, but a crafty plot written to guarantee happiness can set the hero and heroine back on course to romance and love. 

Why don't we send our heroes and heroines on a fantasy journey using a road map and find "LOVE"?

How many cities in the United States are called "Love"? I did some searching on the Internet and here's some that I found:

Love, AZ
Love, IL
Love, KY
Love, MS
Love, TX
Love, VA

Now, you can also find variations for the word "Love" in cities around the country:

Lovers Leap, CA (tragic idea!)                                                Lover, PA
Love Canal, NY  (not very appealing)                                      Loving, GA
Love Hill, AL                                                                          Loving, KY
Lovejoy, GA                                                                           Loving, NM
Loveladies, NJ                                                                        Loving, OK
Lovelady, NC                                                                         Loving, TX
Lovelady, TX                                                                          Loveland, CO
Love Lady, TN                                                                       Loveland, IA
Love Lake, MO                                                                     Loveland, OK
Lovely, KY                                                                            Loveland, WA
Loveless, AL (sad!)                                                                Loveland, OH
Love Point, MD                                                                      Loveland Park, OH
Loveville, MD                                                                         Loves Corner, IL
Loveville, TN                                                                          Loves Park, IL

Most of those sound like interesting places to check they live up to their names? Does "LOVE" define each city and hold some type of special magic for those seeking romance? Maybe I should have checked "Romance" for city names. Or, things to do with love and romance.

I actually did find a couple that might interest you. How about Horneytown, NC? Or, Romance, AK? And then there's my favorite, Intercourse, PA.

I've actually been to Intercourse more than once. Quaint little Amish city...mostly a tourist spot. Will you put that on your list of places to visit? Check your road map (or let your GPS system find it for you!).

Story idea: What if I have my heroine visit cities with "Love" in their names, and looks for "Mr. Right"?

Hmm...sounds like a good idea!

Photos: Flickr: Andii, Amanda "Bake It Pretty", lorigami's photostreams.
Also: Mapquest: Intercourse, PA

"Anything You Can Do", by Marianne Stephens:
Diana Coyle, Night Owl Reviews: Reviewer Top Pick: 5 out of 5 STARS!
Top 7.5% Best Selling Romantic Comedy at

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Inspiration comes in many packages

Shocking to me is the way inspiration for a story comes to me.
Usually in little pieces.
Last week in Washington D.C., I met an old friend who reminded me of a double date we'd been on when we were young and unattached, crazy and rather blind. Result? I get to rescue the gal from a guy who is hitting on her with another...guy. This opens a story.
My family and I went to a very very very French restaurant and I was reminded of a cafe I was in two years ago in Paris. Setting for a new story, anyone? (Food and wine--mussels in garlic and white Bordeaux to go with!)
Then, reading this blog, I saw Fran's entry of the blind-folded man who is (OMG) over 50! Go see this a few entries below! (!!!???) This guy inspires the pants off me.
And then there is the latest book I am reading. Donna Leon's mystery series set in (sigh) Venice. I wanna gooooooooo again and since I just finished a book set there, I need to find a new angle! Suggestions??????
Ciao, my lovelies! Off to work!
And for your own inspiraton, I offer one of my pix that I keep on my desktop.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I Been Thinking...

Not necessarily a smart thing to do...

but maybe worthwhile. I recently wrote a post regarding the ages of our heroines and I realized something - here comes a general statement - while many romance heroines may be in their twenties, we are not necessarily writing for the sensibilities of twenty-something year old readers. We may be writing for women over thirty. Our heroines tend to reflect thoughts, feelings, insights and the awareness of a more mature woman, perhaps reflecting us and our thoughts, feelings, insights and awareness.

Over the past few years, I've also noticed something else - once again, this is a generalization that may not be entirely accurate but is related - the younger the reviewer of my works, the more they seem to like what I consider fluff. I mean, I don't generally write fluff, but I've noticed that say...a work that means the least to me, well put together but not especially deep, will get a great review from a young twenty-something reviewer, while a work that is of far more significance to me, that I feel is far more complex and contains depth and symbolism, seems to go right over the same reviewer's head. I'm not saying that reviewer is shallow, I'm saying I find it interesting that they really like a work of mine that I consider sort of, well, shallow.

That's about it! Call me Ishmael....

No, I don't take this personally. My philosophy is to each his own. I find it curious.

Sharing Good News Today!

I'm so excited to tell you all that my vampire book, "The Lady's Not a Vamp", has been contracted by Ellora's Cave!!
You might remember from previous posts of mine that 'creative productivity' has NOT been my middle name for quite a while! The last book I contracted was back in June 2009. I was beginning to fear I had 'lost' whatever it was I 'had' a year ago!
The email with the good news also included the fact that I had to come up with a new title before the contract could be finalized. I immediately had a chest pain! In my opinion, the only thing more difficult than coming up with a title is writing a blurb!
I agonized, jotted down some words, crossed out words, researched other titles, agonized again, and then the lightbulb went off over my head, and I sent a cry for help to our own Katalina Leon!!! She not only recently experienced the same thing with "Owned by Rome", but has been my sounding board, cheerleader and overall support system for writing and subbing this story from the beginning.
We had a blast!! I sent my ideas and she countered with her own. We moved the words around, mixed them up, put them together and took them apart. And there was much silliness in the process - there are lots of vamipery type words that we tried just for the fun of it! "The Lady's Not a Vamp" is the hybrid of one of her suggestions and one of mine and was our first choice on the list sent to my editor!
Thanks so much for everything, Kat!