Saturday, January 29, 2011

Being an author means you have to be Superwoman...

Sometimes we burn out totally...
And sometimes we need to take a sabbatical...
And sometimes we simply go I have over the past few months.

I have found myself struggling to just write anything at all...while all of my good pals on this group have been pumping out book after book.  I feel SO lame. But I am back in the saddle now...slowly but surely putting words on paper.  I can understand Julia's dilemma...and her spot will still be waiting when she comes back.  Take a break, love, and a few deep breaths.  And please stay in touch.

Fran Lee

Friday, January 28, 2011


Forgive me all.

I have a great deal going on in my personal life, and in my professional life - something's gotta give. Right now it's my Friday blog here, in addition to some other stuff I am reluctantly putting on hold. I will try to be back ASAP! much love and best wishes, Julia

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

This has been a busy week of doing everything but what I thought I should be doing. I was tantalizingly close to finishing a WIP when the flu came to visit in our household. I had a very bored, nosy ten year old trying to read over my shoulder all day long as I tried to write. So, I gave up trying to finish the final love scene until the coast was clear.
I didn’t write a Wednesday blog either (oh dear how lazy can I get?) lol

Today I want a share a quick excerpt from “Nice Package”. Nice Package does take place the day after Christmas, but it’s a story that can be enjoyed anytime of the year. It’s really about a couple who stop the hectic routines of work and parenting long enough to reconnect and recharge as lovers. (Hey, where’s my Nice Package?)

This scene takes place after a lot of naughtiness has already happened in the kitchen. Cora is beginning to realize that Jim’s new game has a few strict rules….

“The living room looked lovely. The lights were dimmed low and the fire had burned down to a scarlet smolder that seemed to be releasing more heat than light. The Christmas tree she and the boys had so carefully trimmed glittered in the corner.

He led her toward a padded leather ottoman set conveniently near the fire. “Sit.”

She sat on the ottoman, feeling the welcome warmth of the fire on the side of her face.

He walked toward the Christmas tree and pulled a large, elegantly wrapped box from behind the tree. “This is for you.” The ruby foil wrapping on the box gleamed brilliantly when it was dragged into the firelight. The huge loopy bow on top looked velvety soft.

“More?” She sighed sweetly at the sight of the beautifully presented package. Jim had already given her a couple of nice presents that morning. It had been a lean year and both had agreed to concentrate on the boys’ gifts. This big gorgeous box was completely unexpected. She had no idea what it might be, and frankly she didn’t care. It was enough to be getting time alone with Jim and a bit of much needed loving attention. Still, she couldn’t wait to get her hands on the box and open it. Surprises thrilled her. “I see you saved a treat for last.” A bright smile warmed her face. I’ve been good. Give me my gift. She leaned forward and eagerly reached toward the box.

“No.” Jim gently stopped her hand. “The box won’t be opened until tomorrow and even then you will not be allowed to look inside to view the contents. Only I can open this box.”

She gasped in disappointment. That didn’t sound like very much fun at all. Her hopes plummeted.

Jim’s fingertips gently tapped the lid of the box. “Inside this box is everything I need to make all your favorite naughty little dreams come true—surprises, tension and even a few of the desires you might think I would never allow.”

“Oh,” her voice dropped. Her heart sped as her imagination went berserk. She harbored more than a few naughty little desires, and she wondered which ones would fit easily inside a box. Her hands gravitated toward the package in utter fascination. “Please, Jim, just one tiny peek?”

He slowly shook his head. “Absolutely not.” He moved closer and dangled a black blindfold in front of her face. “This is just the beginning.”

He quickly wrapped the blindfold around her head and tied it off, making sure she could not peek from beneath. He carefully tucked the edges of the blindfold under. When he was satisfied she could see nothing, he pulled something from underneath the ottoman that made a clangy metallic sound and brought her wrists behind her back. He quickly buckled her wrists into a pair of fur-lined cuffs and snapped them together.

“There.” He paused. “That ought to keep you from peeking at the box while I’m gone.”

She tipped her head from side to side, searching for even a fleck of light. There was none. Her world was black. The cupped edges of the blindfold blocked all light. A moment of panic washed over her. She rose, slightly hovering above the ottoman. “Jim, where are you going?”

His broad hands gently pushed her down onto the seat. “Stay seated. Don’t move. I’m going upstairs to take a quick shower and rinse the dish soap from my skin. I’ll be right back.”

She didn’t want to be left alone blindfolded. “Jim…”

Even shackled and blindfolded Cora can’t be trusted alone. That’s all I’ll say! Lol

I hope a few of you will give yourselves a “Nice Package” and enjoy a few of the thrills Cora’s discovers.
Thank you.

XXOO Katalina Leon

Katalina Leon “Nice Package” Ellora’s Cave Moderne Line
PS Coffee Time Romance is hosting an all day chat for Ellora’s Cave authors tomorrow, January 27th! This chat includes lots of prizes, contests and a long list of many terrific Ellora’s Cave authors. Drop by and pour yourself a steaming cup of chat! (Click the pink icon on the upper right to visit Coffee Time Romance)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Cover Art

I'm excited about my new cover. Who doesn't love Jimmy Thomas?
In Love Revisited I went back to take a look at where my characters Scott and Delia from the story Rein Me In are today. The story appeared in the Spank Me Twice anthology with Noble Romance. I don't have a release date yet, but they're thinking sometime in February.

I was pleasantly surprised to see me, along with Tara Nichols, Jude Mason and Keta Diablo are up for Best Anthology of 2010 over at Love Romances Cafe. For our book Spank Me Twice. If you feel so inclined I'd love your vote.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Like cowboys, ranchers, Rangers, Sheriffs?
I have 2 for you, one a Texas Ranger with a Problem and the other, his buddy, the sheriff.
Come on over to my blog for a nibble of my newest cherry, TWO TOUGH HOMBRES, out today at
This week, I am writing THREE TOUGH HOMBRES for my editor...and all of you who have loved the first in the trilogy, ONE TOUGH HOMBRE.
Yeah. It does appear I have a one track mind especially when it comes to mouth-watering Texas lawmen.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I have 7,900 words in one wip and 3,000 in the other!

And I still cannot find this new latest collection in the Cougar Challenge print series on my publisher's website!!!

I am firmly back in the saddle and working my way to a submission by the end of next week. But the mystery continues as to why I can find the Cougar Challenge collection, Needing a Cougar, on foreign book seller sites, but not on my publisher's. Hmmm.  Inquiring minds want to know. the way...I am holding my first 2011 chat over at the LoveRomancesCafe loop next Wednesday, January 26th. You are all welcome to drop over and try to win my latest print release, Dictated by Fate!

Authors and fans are welcome to come on down...authors are invited to do excerpts and enjoy the ambiance.  And if no one shows up, I will keep my book.  :P

The chat will begin at 8:00 pm EST, 7:00 pm Central, 6:00 pm Mountain, and 5:00 pm Pacific. It will continue until 11:00 pm. or I run out of willing participants.  Snort!

Fran Lee

Friday, January 21, 2011

The fabulous author, Nina Pierce!

When the Muse Takes a Holiday!

I’ve been banging my head on my keyboard trying to come up with a blog post that was, if not profound, at least pithy and witty. I gotta tell you, five days into an eight day blog tour … I got nothing. Today the well is empty. And all the chocolate and wine in the cupboard doesn’t seem to be prompting my muse into action. (Actually, she’s sleeping quite peacefully on the couch next to me.)

Which of course, got me thinking about how difficult this whole writing gig really is.

I’ve had no less than fifty jobs in my life. Everything from nature educator to waitress, 4-H camp counselor to jeans salesperson, real estate secretary to girl’s dormitory janitor and nothing, I mean nothing (not even a classroom of twenty-5 year olds) was as HARD as writing books (nope, not even the college shower drains).

Even when I was teaching at a local science center, there were days I could show up without really “showing up” for the job. I’m a great teacher (without a self-confidence issue ;) ), it’s a natural for me. I knew my lessons inside-out, backwards and upside down. Which meant, even when my mouth was going and my hands holding up specimens, sometimes my brain was writing the grocery list or thinking about last night’s…okay, well, let’s not go there. The point is, I didn’t have to be engaged to be good at my job.

But writing? Ah, there’s an intellectual challenge that requires all cylinders be firing at full capacity. You can’t show up to your keyboard with half your brain thinking about what you’re going to cook for dinner. Well, you can, but the results will be less than stellar. Reviewers don’t like less than stellar. Editors tear apart less than stellar. And the readers? Yeeeeah, you just don’t want to go there.

But for all the head banging, sweat inducing and hair pulling moments, there isn’t any other profession that’s given me such a kick-in-the-pants thrill as seeing my name on a book. *sigh* And trust me when I tell you…it never gets old! My favorite quote by Michael Kanin, “I don’t like writing, but I love to have written”, sums up my love/hate relationship with my new career.

So what about you? Have you ever had a job that you LOVED, but was really challenging? Have you ever tried your hand at writing? Curious writers are dying to know.

Nina did manage to wrangle her muse and pen her newest book “Maid for Master”. This novella is a contemporary romp into the world of BDSM. It’s available from Ellora’s Cave (buy link:


When lust and deception collide…will her complete submission be enough to bind their hearts?

Treat herself to a carnal weekend at the hedonistic retreat, XTC Resorts? That’s not something Claire Calderwood, a three-time loser in the relationship department would ordinarily do. But at forty-one, having a successful cleaning business is no longer enough. She wants a chance to let go of all responsibility, submit to a stranger’s sexual demands and satisfy her darkest fantasies.

Jonathon Brierton has known his best friend’s sister long enough to recognize her submissive nature. He would like nothing more than to have Claire bound naked and at the mercy of his flogger as he teaches her the sensual art of obeying her Master. At thirty-something, he’s a successful real estate developer, owner of a BDSM resort—and hopelessly in love with the older woman.

When Claire follows him to his resort, Jonathon is certain he can keep his identity secret long enough to convince her that being restrained in his stocks is something that will satisfy them both. But lies, deceit and broken hearts may not be so easy to overcome.


“Are you too focused on your next conquest to be good company?” Ethan Jacobs, the manager of the XTC Resorts here in Key West, didn’t really need an invitation and slid into the padded chair next to Jon without waiting for an answer. His crisp white shirt and the knife-edged creases of his black dress pants were in sharp contrast to the yards of leather and miles of naked flesh displayed by most of the patrons of Paradise Cove. “You weren’t exaggerating, my friend. She is exquisite.”

He didn’t need to ask whom Ethan referred to. The manager had personally checked Claire and Jon into their separate suites earlier in the day. “And scared,” Jon said. Even from this distance he could see it play across the tremble of Claire’s lips and the nervous fingers toying with her hair. He’d expected that. It just grated that he could do nothing at the moment to help her overcome it.

“But she’s here tonight and completely mesmerized by the scene in the public dungeon.”

“Only step one, my friend.” Jon pulled his gaze from Claire. There was no sense torturing himself. It would be a half-hour or more before the Doms and subs in the open arena below would finish playing out their scenes. Their interactions were intense, and he had no doubt the private rooms one floor below would be filled with eager players following the show. He intended to be in one of them with Claire. He had the room already reserved and set up for her. Until then, he needed to bide his time. “And there is the small detail of her not knowing exactly who I am,” Jon added quietly.

Ethan stared at him, the questions etched in the deep V between his manicured brows. “I’m pretty sure she mentioned you were on vacation together.”

Jon lifted his glass of tonic water, the ice long melted. “Correction, she booked a vacation to Paradise Cove with her fiancé.” He gulped the last of the tepid drink but couldn’t dislodge the lump of guilt clogging his throat. “The man conveniently broke off the engagement at the last minute and cancelled his trip. I slipped in, managed to convince her to keep her plans and allow me to tag along.” He set the glass down. “But Claire believes she’s here with Jonathon Brierton. She knows nothing of Master Xavier.”

Ethan fell back in his chair, his baritone laughter rolling in rhythm with the pounding beat of the background music. “That would explain the whole ‘pretend the boss isn’t here’ charade you’re trying to pull off this weekend.”

Their easy friendship relaxed the knot in Jon’s shoulders. “It didn’t occur to you I might actually just want a vacation?”

“At one of your own fetish resorts? Hardly.” Ethan scoffed.

**Giveaway** Nina’s giving away a box full of goodies, including her erotic suspense novel, “Healer’s Garden” to a random commenter from all the blogs she visits during her tour between Jan 17 and Jan 25.

Nina Pierce is an award-winning author of erotic romance. Her stories fall in all genres from contemporary to paranormal. When she’s not sitting at her computer creating stories of lust and love, she’s spending time with her real life hero and husband of twenty-six years, her three adult children and a menagerie of aging pets. You can keep up with all her latest books on her website ( or her blog ( or follow her on twitter ( and facebook (

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pampering Jessica

I love my new cover!!!!

Pampering Jessica releases March 30th with Resplendence!


David has been planning Jessica’s birthday weekend for months. His wife of almost twenty five years is having issues with turning fifty and he vows to do everything in his power to remind her how incredible she is and how much he loves her.

Jessica’s birthday wish is to spend quality alone time with the man of her dreams, her husband. When David presents her with a gold gift bag full of sensual surprises, Jessica is more than eager to enjoy every one of them. What she doesn’t realize is that her husband has much more in store for her special celebration.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Yearning for a great paranormal romance?

You're in luck!
It’s my honor today to play hostess to my lovely friend Tina Donahue. Tina is one of the hardest working and most gracious romance authors anyone could hope to meet—and her writing is wonderful! Today, Tina is going to be sharing something special, a first peek at her first paranormal novel, and her first offering from Samhain Publishing, “The Yearning”.
From what I’ve read “The Yearning” is absolutely going to be a steamy success but the good news doesn’t end there. This week Samhain has contracted Tina’s second paranormal novel “Unending Desires” so we have more good stuff to look forward to on the near horizon.
Now, I’m going to allow Tina and “The Yearning” to speak for themselves.
(Don’t you love that book cover?)

When an Alpha Hero Meets His Match

In The Yearning, my February 1 release from Samhain Publishing, I wanted to ratchet up the action and suspense between the hero and heroine. Jasmine may be the proverbial damsel in distress, but she’s not taking it lying down. Oh no. From page one, she sees Mike, wanting him to slake her passion. What she doesn’t know is the hidden power he possesses and that he’s not about to be any woman’s sex slave.

The battle between them is sultry, sexy and downright moving.

Here’s the blurb and an excerpt to show you what I mean:


To break this curse, they’ll have to turn the heat up. Way up.

Jasmine Dante prowls Key West’s nightlife, fighting a losing battle against a jealous rival’s curse that forces her to seek carnal pleasure, no matter the danger. Weakened from lack of sleep, driven by insatiable lust, she spots a man who stirs her desperate craving, and begins yet another dance of seduction.

Except the dark stranger who returns her direct stare is no ordinary lover. Inside his powerful body lies a raw sexuality that just might be enough to break her curse. There’s only one way to find out: imprison him in her bed and feed on his passion.

Former U.S. Marshal Mike Stearn is many things, but he’s no woman’s sex slave. The deadly telekinetic power he ruthlessly suppresses comes alive again at Jasmine’s touch. Beneath her bold, potent sensuality he senses vulnerability and desperation. He may be in handcuffs, but she’s the one who’s enslaved.

As Mike resurrects his power to free himself so he can find the curse’s source and defeat it, Jasmine revels in his masterful rule. Her ravenous yearning evolves into rapture as she surrenders to his hunger, her darkest needs—and the emotional connection that lies beyond. Unless the curse takes her life first…

Warning: Tons of steamy sex, smoldering passion and a to-die-for love story with a hot Alpha hero who finds himself imprisoned by one sultry and desperate babe.


(In this scene, Jasmine has Mike’s gun, intending to put the weapon in another room so he won’t have access to it. When he tries to get it, she has other plans…).

Carefully, she pushed to her feet, inhaling deeply as his fingers trailed from her neck to her breast. “You like?” he asked.
“Oh yeah.”
“There’s more as soon as I put this down.” He reached for his Glock.
Instantly, she stepped back, keeping the weapon from him. “I’ll put it away so we’re both safe.” She left the hall.
Mike stopped himself from calling her back, figuring she wouldn’t return. His weapon scared her, he saw it in her eyes, and she didn’t want it anywhere near them. He, on the other hand, didn’t want her to stick the pistol in an umbrella stand or a closet. It should be at his side. Placing his hand on the wall, he hurriedly toed off his mocs, then stepped out of his briefs and jeans.
Naked, he padded down the hall, halting at the opulent front entry. If he hadn’t known better, he would have thought he’d stepped back in time. A sparkling crystal chandelier hung from the beveled ceiling. Nightlights shaped like candles glowed near muraled walls depicting ocean scenes from long ago, complete with racing sailboats and couples in dated dress. Floral arrangements of pink carnations and white roses, fresh and aromatic, filled clear glass vases on the mahogany accent tables. On either side of the front door were long, narrow windows. Tall ferns stood in front of each, discouraging anyone from looking inside. An antique sofa in blue velvet was to the left, near an opened white door. A wedge of brightness came from within the room and shone on the polished flooring.
Glancing over his shoulder, Mike didn’t see Jasmine on the winding staircase leading upstairs. He went to the opened door and nearly ran into her.
“Oh.” She jumped back, hand to her long neck.
“Sorry. Didn’t mean to frighten you. I wondered where you’d gone.” Inside the room, an office, apparently, he saw a banker’s lamp, its green shade glowing faintly from its small bulb. The light fixture sat at the edge of a large desk, possibly an heirloom given its elaborate gold handles and carvings. Placed squarely in the middle of it, with no chance of falling off, was his gun. He suppressed a smile and looked at the other side of the office, surprised at the racks of bridal gowns adorned with lace, pearls and other finery, each as ethereal as a cloud. Other racks held evening dresses in hues he’d never seen: fluorescent blues, pinkish greens, outrageous reds. “Do you design women’s clothes?”
She didn’t respond.
He turned his head to her.
Something behind him had caught her attention. He glanced around to the foyer. It looked unchanged to him, unless one of the candle nightlights had gone out.
“I inherited the business from my parents,” she finally answered. Her voice sounded anxious. She flicked off the light and started to close the door.
Mike put his arm in the middle of it, stopping her. “Does my gun make you uncomfortable?”
“Not if it’s in there and we’re out here.” With one hand planted on his bare chest, she pushed him back with surprising strength and closed the door. “Now, where were we? Oh, yeah.” She circled him. He turned. Suddenly, she advanced. Not expecting it, he instinctively withdrew a step. His head jerked to the side as his shoulder hit the muraled wall. Sinking to her knees, she embraced his cock in her baby-soft palm, put her other hand on his ass and pressed her face into his groin.
Holy fuck. His hands went to his temples and dug through his hair, his fists yanking it. Unmindful of her deliberate sexual torture, she filled herself with his scent. He growled. She countered by running her tongue down his stiff length, wetting and heating it in a way her pussy never could. With her mouth, she had full control and used it well.

Her lapping strokes on his shaft and suckling kisses on his crown added a level of intensity and intimacy he didn’t think he could endure for long.

“Aw, shit.” His shoulders bunched to his ears at his cock’s ruthless need.
Reaching the most sensitive part of the head, she drew her tongue over the wrinkled skin on the back. The muscles in his chest tensed at the sensations raging through him. Before he could catch his breath she slipped him inside her mouth, taking him so deep the tip of her nose nearly touched his pubic hair. At the intense heat, his knees buckled. He struggled to lock them. They cracked. Unconcerned, she slid him in and out of her mouth, her tongue swirling over his width, while her fingers fooled with his balls.

What happens next? Well, let’s just say his gun is the least of Mike’s worries…at least until Jasmine brings out the handcuffs. J

The Yearning will be available February 1.


To celebrate the upcoming release of The Yearning, I’m offering a contest today. One lucky commenter will have her choice of one of my following books**:

1.    Lush Velvet Nights – ebook
2.    Adored – ebook
3.    Deep, Dark, Delicious – ebook
4.    In His Arms – ebook
5.    Bad Boys with Red Roses – trade paperback
6.    Take My Breath Away – trade paperback

** Winner chosen at random. Winner in continental US has her choice of one of the six. Winner outside continental US has her choice of one of the ebooks

Heather Peters - With A Twist

Hello, sorry I missed last week. I've been going through some personal and emotional times right now. I promise to do better in the future. Today I'm handing my blog time over to Heather Peters. In Sept she lost her beloved husband. Since she's having a hard time still I'm going to give you a little taste of her new release from Red Sage.

Forty year old Ava Denotti needs a hefty dose of self-confidence. Can she get it from the twenty-nine year old former fiance of the woman that ran off with her husband?
Tattooed, Bad boy Shane Sullivan is determined to make up for the time he wasted with the wrong woman. He's finally given the opportunity to pursue an attraction that's always been forbidden. Sexy Ava Denotti is all woman, and he wants her- in every position possible, and he wants her bad.
The two kicked to the curb ex’s proving the end of one relationship can often be the beginning of something so much better. And falling in love can be a sweet revenge.
He took her hand and cradled it inside his own, and Ava experienced instant warmth. "That's me, Shane Sullivan, Britney’s former fiancé, and now very happy single man. It’s good to see you again, Ava."
Ava took note that he’d made it a point to inform her of his availability. But what would he want with her, a forty-year old divorcee with a weight problem? Oh, what the hell? What was a little harmless flirting with this gorgeous guy?
Ava stared at the black T-shirt tucked into jeans worn with age and comfort. He embraced her hand a little longer than appropriate, yet she didn’t mind.
What would it feel like to have those large hands caress and touch her breasts, to have those long fingers buried inside her pussy until she exploded into shards of ecstasy?
"It’s good to see you again, too, Shane." Her voice came out in a croak.
"Can I buy you a drink?" Yes, definitely a touch of the Irish in that lyrical voice.
"This just happens to be my bar, so in honor of seeing you again, the drinks are on me."
His eyebrows rose, and he smiled. "In which case, I’ll have a double scotch rocks if you please."
Elena wriggled her eyebrows and threw Ava a mischievous grin. "Another Cosmo for you, boss?"
"None for me, thanks, but Shane will have a double scotch rocks, on the house."
Elena winked at Shane. "The man knows what he wants."
Shane answered the bartender, but his eyes never left Ava’s. "I do indeed."
He leaned one well toned arm on the bar and faced Ava. "Well, I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve enjoyed the view all night and couldn’t help but overhear. If you don't mind me asking, what are you doing all alone on your birthday?"
"I’m not alone," she laughed, leaning into him, then waving her hand to encompass the remaining customers. Play it cool, and don’t make an ass of yourself.
He smiled and a flash of white teeth assailed her senses. "Well, not anymore." He saluted her with the glass Elena placed before him.
"I'm enjoying the atmosphere. I don’t need a date to have fun."
Shut up, Ava, you’re rambling.
"Good for you." He threw back his head and downed the shot in one swallow.
Even his Adam's apple is sexy.
His eyes were framed by the longest eyelashes she'd ever seen, and they bore into hers, freezing her to the spot.
"Ever since that party, I haven’t been able to get you out of my mind."
At her suspicious look, he continued. "I'm not handing you a line, Ava." He shrugged. "But I was engaged at the time and you were married. I may be a lot of things, but I don’t carry on with married women."
Ava’s heart fluttered. Oh he was good, very good. Elena re-filled his glass, but it was Ava who took it, lifted it high to toast him, and took a sip. Her throat burned as the liquor made its way down her throat and added to the fire in her pussy. She faced him once again.
"You’re hitting on me, aren’t you?"
"Yes I am. And guess what?" She shook her head as he placed one muscled arm on her thigh.
The warmth of his flesh penetrated the fabric of her dress and Ava hoped he hadn’t felt her shiver. Her nipples began to ache and the place between her legs grew moist.
"All I could think of since I've been here is what would it be like to have your gorgeous legs wrapped around me while I fuck you. I’m a man who says what he means. And I mean to have you, tonight, now, anywhere, you name it."

Ava flushed heat. Had he just said he wanted to fuck her? Yes, he had. So now what should she do.
Am I so desperate that I'm actually considering having sex with a virtual stranger? Have I lost my mind?
Her hand flew to her chest. "I think you're serious."
Shane nodded. "Yes, I am." He leaned in, his whisper, seductive. "Want to know what I think? I think you’re wet right now. I bet you're wearing a thong, maybe a sexy garter belt. My mouth is watering just thinking about what's under that dress. Are your nipples hard? I could make them harder with my mouth. Just the thought of sucking you has me so stiff I can hardly move."
He demonstrated by placing his hand over hers and sliding it discreetly over the hardened bulge in his jeans. He was long and thick. Ava swallowed. Solid, firm, like the rest of him. Her attempt to maintain her balance failed miserably.
"I'm getting the impression you want me too or you would have either slapped me or kicked me out of your bar by now."
Smart, as well as sexy. "You’re right."
Was she going crazy? Could she actually be contemplating taking him up on his invitation? Tall, charming and delicious he might be, but he was also younger than her by at least ten years.
It doesn’t seem to be bothering him. He's just being nice to you and probably feels sorry for you on your birthday, that’s all.
Still, amidst all her doubts, her body gravitated toward him. She wanted that gorgeous mouth of his sucking on her throbbing clit. Her blood raced through her veins as she imagined his cock buried deep inside her, making her scream with pleasure.
She was hot and flushed, and he raised an eyebrow, as if waiting for her answer. Go for it, Ava.
End your birthday with a bang.
She took a deep breath and swallowed hard. "Are you asking me to be bad, Shane?"
His lips curved into a sexy confident smile. "I'd be willing to bet that when you're bad, you're very very good."
He moved his body slightly, and Ava nearly missed the way he'd worked one long limb between her legs. She was suddenly aware of the ensuing quiet surrounding her.
The word 'no' never entered her foggy, lust filled mind. "Okay."
He led her to the tiny table for two in the shadows of the bar, sat so close to her their thighs touched. He placed one arm around her shoulder, the touch so commanding that Ava shivered with anticipation.
Why not.
"I hope you’re not driving home in your condition?" He interrupted her thoughts, concern clear in his voice."No, I live close by..
He didn’t smile. His gaze bore into hers, intense, as if one track minded. "I want to be with you Ava, tonight."
Oh God, what a line. "I’m not that drunk, you know," she whispered, held captive now by his intense blue gaze that sent white hot shivers down her belly to her center. His nostrils flared slightly.
"Exactly how, um, tipsy are you?"
She couldn’t help but smile. "Maybe a little bit. Do you often succeed with this sort of come on? Or do you keep choosing clichés until some unwilling woman falls into your clutches?"
He was undeterred by her smug replies and leaned in so close she could smell the scotch on his breath. God, he's so sexy.
"I have another one," he was still, very close to her, and Ava was mesmerized by his stillness, the intensity of his eyes, the heat of his body.
She tilted her head. "Let's hear it."
"Let me take you away from all this."
"Are you my Prince Charming, coming to rescue me on your white horse?"
His lips curved, his voice lowered to a sexy growl. "You don’t need a horse to ride, princess."
He nuzzled her and, his breath warm on her neck, and she exhaled sharply. The game had become a test of wills, and she leaned away from him.
"I don’t know you," she murmured, hoping he didn’t notice the nervousness in her voice.
"Yes, you do. It’s been," he made a point of looking at his watch, "nearly ten minutes since you bought me a drink."
One large, lazy hand traveled its way up until it stopped just short of the Promised Land.
Don’t stop."What do you want from me?"
If he moved even an inch, she’d come.
" I’m seducing you. How am I doing?"
She nodded, her breath catching in her throat. "Actually, very well."
His whisper lifted a lone strand of hair from her face. "I’ve come to one conclusion."
She held her breath. "And that is--?"
"I want to push you up against a wall, lift your dress, and bury my fingers in your hot, wet pussy.
I want to go down on you until you come. I want you to go down on me and make me scream."
He licked her ear, and chuckled when she shivered. "And I want to push my cock so far into your pussy, you'll bite your lips so no one will hear you cry out my name. Are you game, Ava? Are you willing to take a chance.
She swallowed and looked at him. Say no, and go home. Even though you’ve had a miserable day, don’t take a chance on a stranger.
He leaned in just enough for his breath to touch her mouth, and he kissed her again, his tongue teasing hers, making her tremble with want.
"So, where can we be alone?”
"I have an apartment upstairs."
Ava wanted to cry. Shane finally noticed her extra pounds and regretted his planned seduction. Her heart sank to her stilettos, until she felt him take her by the hand.
"I can’t wait that long."
Ava had just enough time to look back at Elena, who winked wickedly. "There's that's room in the back that's empty." The pretty barmaid pointed the way.
Ava opened her mouth, yet no words came forth. No, they couldn’t go in there. That room was for…
Before she completed her thought, she found herself being led to a part of the bar that was under renovation. A.J. was turning an old storage space into a game room. The area was empty except for the brand new pool table in the center of the room, sitting under a rectangular tiffany lamp.
Shane closed and locked the door behind them. He lifted her effortlessly and placed her on the green felt surface of the pool table.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cliches that murder me

Disclaimer: Pix has NADA to do with topic.
Just nice CANDY for your Monday pleasure!
I have a thing for cliches that make me pause in my reading and say, urgle, this doesn't fit.
Like the Regency lady who sits on the shelf likes books. No pun intended. She's too smart to fall in love, or just too wise and she challenges ALL men in her path? Really?
Or the pirate who got that way because Daddy rejected him. HUH? A pirate is supposed to be a lawless creature of the high seas, without conscience or morals, or mores. How could he care if Daddy was a bastard, hmm?
How about the contemporary woman who is responsible in all else, but falls for the cad who never seems to fall for anyone? Perhaps because he is incapable?
I dunno, but I like characters a little more intelligent, integrated, noble and wise.
How about you?
Got any cliches that just do not work for you?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I have a new print book out...
And I am ordering enough author copies to give one to every indie bookstore in my area...

I always wondered how authors got onto the NY Times Best Seller list, and one of those best selling authors gave me a little hint that sounded amazing silly.  She simply said that her books were not selling.  The bookstores didn't think the book would sell, so no one ordered. Then she took one of her books in to the owner of a small book store, and she asked him to have his wife read it.  A small gift.  The wife raved about it. The book seller order a dozen copies on consignment. 

If one book sells in a week from each bookstore, that actually constitutes best seller status.  However, since my publisher is not a big NY house, I will settle for just selling one book each week from each of the ten book seller locations. LOL!  I know I will not make much on trade paperback sales, because they are so expensive to print, but if I make a couple of bucks off each book that sells, that'll make me happy as a clam.  I fully expect to have to offer a discount, and pay about 25% of my own profit to the book seller for acting as my sales partner, but people will be buying my books.  If they sell well, the book store will order direct from RP or EC.

Of course, this is all pie in the sky right now, but it's worth a try!  Wish me luck!


Fran Lee

Friday, January 14, 2011


I'm not lazy - I'm crazy busy.
So sorry SSS and followers.
I'll be on my game...I hope, next week.
love, Julia

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A New Toy and Other News

My hubby and daughter surprised me with a Kindle for my birthday. I was thrilled to pieces!! No more being tied to my computer or printing out books on paper. Being techno-challenged, though, I was a tiny bit concerned it might be difficult for me to learn to use it.
Well, a different "problem" has reared it's head - my apparent lack of self-control!! I'm like a kid in a candy store! I had no clue that I would be able to order books with touch of one button, no matter where I am. I figured it would have to be plugged into my computer, or that I'd have to go through the checkout/download process, or wait more than a minute to receive a book. It is a darn good thing that e-books are reasonably priced!
In other news:
Edits are finished for my next release, Pampering Jessica, coming March 30, 2011 with Resplendence!
Oasis of Pleasure is nominated for a CAPA in the Fantasy Erotic Romance category!!
My sci-fi WIP is coming along nicely. I'm excited to see where the characters want to take me!
Have a wonderful weekend~

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

So Far So Good...

2011 is off to quiet but lovely start for me.
Actually “quiet” isn’t the best description. Last week, my son was assigned a slide trombone in the afterschool band, and I’ve been getting ambushed a lot in the hallway by some very loud, brassy noises that are definitely meant to scare me.

I’m also finding that being a little bit scared—as in tingly scared can be a lot of fun, and that’s the real topic of today’s blog.

I’m branching out this year and writing a few romantic-paranormals. Writing romantic paranormals has been great entertainment for me and I hope readers will enjoy them too.

Several of my long tortured WIPS are actually close to completion and will soon be released from my “carousel of chaos” into my editor’s hands in the next few weeks, and hopefully one more each month will follow throughout the spring.

Everything is still in play but it feels good to see projects finally being finished and making their way toward the light of day.

I’m also close to completing a romantic historical that already has a sequel planned. I’m really looking forward to sharing the themes and details with everyone when things are finalized. 

I want to get the attention of Ellora’s Cave fans and let them know Coffee Time Romance is hosting a huge chat and gift giveaway Thursday January 27th at Coffee Time Romance. I’ll have a thread started and so will many other great Ellora’s Cave authors. Please drop by on the 27th, pour yourself a steaming cup of chat, and join the fun. I’ll post more details closer to the actual event.

Next Wednesday, I’ll be hosting the wonderful “Mistress of intimacy” Tina Donahue. Tina will be sharing a first taste of her first paranormal novel “The Yearning” from Samhain Press. You don’t want to miss this!


Monday, January 10, 2011

Like Weddings? I do! And so do Allie Standifer & Desiree Holt

Got a great wedding story? Funny? Sad? Happy? Wonderful?
Last fourth of July, Allie Standifer, Desiree Holt and I partied. Dined. Drank. And talked about the most favorite things we loved.
WEDDINGS turned out to be one of them.
So full of hope.
But a damn drag for those who go partnerless--or hoping to soon be partnered, or wishing they could find a great partner!
So, 'pardner', these 3 Texas gals have a series for you, WEDDING BELLES.
A quartet of books, the first of which is Allie's debuting Jan 12, then mine 2 days later, and Desiree's Jan. 19. the 4th book, SOMETHING BLUE byall 3 of us, is soon to pop in the schedule at EC.
We've got one of the bridesmaids who wishes to god she wasn't. A Mother of the Bride who longs for a younger man and donchaknow, he's The Best Man. Then the Bride. She shouldn't have any challenges, should she? Oh. MY. She. Does. She longs for one last night of...
Well, you must come and see!
Here's nibble of Allie's SOMETHING OLD.

Adair knows he screwed up when he left Brina and fell under the weight of family pressure. None of the women acceptable to his parent’s and other relatives have moved his heart or body. Seeing Brina again simplifies everything in his life. He wants this woman he tossed so carelessly away. He’s determined to do whatever it takes to win her back in his life and bed.

During an impromptu to meeting in the hotel bar, Brina has a few drinks to deaden her nerves and need. It works until Adair walks in, looking as sexy and desirable as ever. He bullies and dares her into a private suite then seduces her right out of her objections, clothes and into his bed.
And an excerpt
: (copyright 2011, Allie Standifer, all rights reserved.)

Midnight dark eyes look down at her and a shiver of suppressed desire ran across her arms. “Brina, I’m taking you someplace where we can talk. I know you don’t owe me the courtesy, but I’m asking you for it none the less.”

His low tone and words stopped her struggling like nothing else could have. The Adair she’d known would have demanded, cajoled or bullied his way into getting what he wanted. Hearing the actual words come of his sinfully delicious mouth filled her with enough curiosity to follow his lead.

“Thank you,” he said then removed his arm from around her waist to press the elevator button. At once she felt the loss of his touch. It had always been this way between them, instant and electric chemistry with even the simplest of glances or touches. Her body aroused from the mere sight of him. Aching to be taken in the way only Adair could.

As they stepped into the empty elevator Brina moved away from him as far as the small space would let her while her mind ran wild. Hadn’t she just complained about wanting a man, at least for the wedding? Raine had told her to grab life with both hands before she found herself old and alone. Even Zoe, her sweet little sorority sister, had encouraged Brina to live a little this weekend.

Sneaking a side long look at Adair’s tall lean frame with his thick jet black hair curling over the top of his white dress shirt, his tanned skin standing out against the pale material she knew she wanted him. The physical aspect of their relationship had always been great, better than great. What would it be like to have all the muscled power directed at her again after all these years?

But she couldn’t…wouldn’t go there again. Having him walk out of her life the last time nearly destroyed her. She’d given this man her heart, soul and trust and he’d left without a backward glance.

But we want him, her aroused hormones whined. If it had been any man other than the one standing stiffly next to her she might have entertained the thought of having a weekend fling, but he was who he was and no amount of wishing would change the very nature of his personality.

Besides, the weak horny part of her nature cajoled, if you fuck him and leave him maybe you’ll finally be able to get on with your life.

That voice, she mentally decided, definitely had a point. Maybe it was time to turn the tables on Mr. Lord of all he surveys Al’Hassan. She could screw his brains out, leaving him panting and weak in bed while she walked away this time.

Oh yeah, it was time to see if Adair could take what he so easily dished out."
What is your favorite wedding story?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

After a great start at 2,000 words, I've bogged down to 500 per day.

This sweet little widget was made during my continuous writing...

However, I actually have only written one book since it was made. Woman on Fire. One book in seven months is not good. Not when you are relying on the income from your books to pay bills.  Looks like there will be no trip to Romanticon this year...not unless I get my fanny in gear.

I was writing all day, and erasing as fast as I wrote, so this post is late arriving.  Forgot all about it being Saturday until I got online.  Gaack!
I'll be sitting hre writing until I get going again. 

Fran Lee

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Come Back To Me

A Review
From Basia's Bookshelf.

Summary: This positively sings with emotional authenticity. Cara is a haunting example of what can happen to victims of sexual violence as well as an example of how they become survivors. I knew before I started reading this that it was going to be a tough read; I didn’t expect that it was going to put me through such an emotional wringer, one that’s going to stick with me for a long time. This is an absolute recommend.

My Rating: A-

Please head over and read the entire, and very beautiful review at:

Lily Harlem is here today!!

Let me introduce my very special guest, Lily Harlem.

Lily Harlem is an award winning author of erotic fiction and lives in the UK with a workaholic hunk and a crazy ginger cat. She writes for Ellora’s Cave, Total-e-Bound and Xcite as well as featuring in numerous UK and US anthologies. Her stories are made up of colorful characters traveling on everyone's favorite journey — falling in love. If the story isn't deliciously romantic and down and dirty sexy, it won't be written, at least not by Lily!

The Art of Kissing

After the dizzy excitement of the weeks just gone and all that Mistletoe action I thought I’d ponder the lovely pastime of kissing. Not just a peck on the cheek kiss, no, but those lovely, deep, sensual mating of mouths between lovers - or potential lovers.

Kissing is so physically romantic and I adore writing the kissing scenes into my books. The characters kiss because they are ridiculously attracted to one another and are compelled to satisfy a hunger which is as natural as the need for food. I hope my readers enjoy the kissing action too, especially the first kiss between a couple after the build-up of sexual tension. I like to write in first person so I can give a really detailed perspective of what it is like to kiss that hot, but bad, hockey player, or the kinky control freak neurosurgeon or darkly secretive rock star. (Hired, Shared, Mattress Music!)

Olden day scientists believed that lovers found kissing pleasurable because when the two lips met an electric current was generated. Of course we now know this to be completely untrue but studies have shown that when two people embrace and kiss, hormones are released into the blood stream which immediately induces a sense of euphoria when you feed on the sweetness of your partner’s mouth.

But not all kisses are happy events. Works of literature like "Romeo and Juliet" have portrayed kisses as dangerous or deadly when shared between the wrong people. Some folklorists and literary critics view vampirism as symbolic of the physical and emotional dangers that can come from kissing the wrong person.

Even so anthropologists report that 90 percent of the people in the world kiss. Most people look forward to their first romantic kiss and remember it for the rest of their lives. Parents kiss children, worshippers kiss religious artifacts and couples kiss each other. Some people even kiss the ground when they get off an airplane!

Fast kissing facts -
The science of kissing is called philematology.
A one-minute kiss burns 26 calories measuring energy-producing potential of food.
Kissing releases the same neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain) as intense exercise, like parachuting or distance running. The heart beats faster and breathing becomes deep and irregular.
Saliva crawls with microscopic bacteria (single-cell organisms) that enter from air, food, and dirty hands. Between 10 million and 1 billion colonies (groups of bacteria) are swapped with each smooch! But saliva also contains antibacterial chemicals that kill most bacteria before the germs are exchanged in a kiss – Phew!!!
A simple pucker uses two muscles, the upper and lower orbicularis otis surrounding the lips. A passionate kiss uses all 34 facial muscles.
Until the 1400s, kissing under mistletoe was a big commitment. Such kisses often meant that a couple was engaged.
The Romans even came up with three different categories for kissing: Osculum was a kiss on the cheek. Basium was a kiss on the lips. Savolium was a deep kiss.

A Light Hearted Look At Bad Kisses

The Roto Rooter: Their tongue ventures so far down your throat that it actually begins to choke you.
The Rooster: They begin to kiss you, then suddenly pull way . . .lean forward, then draw back!
The Swordfish: They operate their tongue much like a swordfish uses it's snout, in a blunt and violent manner.
The Grouper: As they kiss you, their lips (which could require their own zip code) completely engulf yours.
The Deep Sea Diver: They rarely come up for air.
The Lizard: Their tongue darts in and out of your mouth like a reptile probing for its next victim.
Frozen in Time: They never change the position, posture or angle of their head. It is as if they have mastered kissing cryogenics.
The Squid: They seem to excrete an awful flavor. All you can think of is how to slip them a breath mint.
The Wrecking Ball: They kiss like a battering ram. Whoa, look out, here they come again!

I hope you don’t encounter these types of scary smackers and instead may all your kisses be delicious, perfect, sensual, erotic and sweet not just in 2011

but forever more.
Lily x

Very enlightening, Lily!! Now I'm ready for a peaking into your new release, Hired.

One hundred grand to babysit bad boy Logan “Phoenix” Taylor on a paradise island—seriously, how bad could he be?
Frankly, it didn’t matter. Not when it would make my dreams of going to nursing school possible. I wasn’t even expected to talk to him, just hang out in a luxurious villa on a private beach and study. Simple, right?
But I hadn’t counted on Logan being so deliciously bad that he was oh so good. And when the temperature cranked to boiling point, he knew just how to satisfy the deepest, darkest part of my soul and give my body exactly what it needed. Amongst the sand and waves, we transported each other to an exquisite world of pleasure where only we existed, only we mattered.
But the heady mix of emotions and lust couldn’t keep things from spiraling out of control back in reality, where I had to keep the truth that I’d been hired to entertain him a secret at all costs…even if it shattered my delicate heart. Even if it cost my destiny.

An Excerpt From: HIRED
Copyright © LILY HARLEM, 2010
All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.

A palm tree overhead creaked ominously and I scurried closer into his side, wrapping my other hand around his thick biceps as I glanced upward.

“It’s okay,” he said, releasing my hand and circling my waist with his arm. “It won’t fall on you.” He dragged me against his body, urging me more quickly through the sand.

I found myself taking two paces to his one and within minutes we were climbing onto the deck. Shifting sand danced around the table and chair legs. The pillows and cushions from the bed had rolled to the floor and were tumbling about in the golden dust and lodging in leaves and branches. The parasol clattered against the table, the pole lifting up from the floor and threatening to take off into the sky.

“You grab the cushions,” Logan called over the noise of the flapping shrubbery. “I’ll anchor down the parasol.”

Unlocking the door to the living area, I grabbed three pillows and chucked them inside. I went back for the other three then tumbled in, half shutting the door behind myself. My hair was wild, my cheeks stung and my heart pounded as I caught my breath.

I watched Logan close the umbrella and secure the pole into place. He glanced around, shading his eyes with his hand, checking for anything else that might blow away, then headed my way with a train of dry, flat leaves skittering past his feet. I opened the door wide to let him through. He stepped in, still squinting against the dust, as I pushed the door shut with a loud click. The world went silent. After the howling wind and the roaring sea, the quiet of the house was acute and heavy and fell around us like a dense cloak.

Leaning back against the door, I pulled in a deep breath. “Made it,” I gasped.

“Yeah,” he said, stepping up close—real close.

When I looked up, his cheeks were stained red, several grains of sand hung in his long lashes and his hair was tousled and dusted with gold. “Is that everything tied down?” I asked, trying to ignore my breasts heaving against my halter-top.

“Well, almost everything,” he said with a decidedly carnal grin.

I swallowed and flattened my palms against the cool glass door behind me. “What else do you need to tie down?”

The right side of his mouth creased upward and his brows gave the tiniest of twitches. “I’d quite like to tie you down,” he said, his gaze coming to rest on my mouth. “To the bed.”

Licking my lips, I tasted salt. My stomach knotted as excitement, anticipation and sin collided in a delicious tangle.

“But I guess that’s moving a bit fast,” he murmured, bending his head lower. “We only just met.”

“A bit fast for me,” I agreed, absorbing the burning heat from his body as it radiated against mine.

“Brooke.” He raised one hand and rested it against the wooden doorframe by my left ear. His body moved in closer still. The gorgeous spiced aftershave he wore invaded my nostrils and settled not just on my tongue but somewhere else deep inside me. “Do you remember when you walked out of the water yesterday?” he asked in a low, rumbling voice.

“Yes.” How could I forget the toe-curling embarrassment? He’d stared silently toward me as I’d ambled up the beach, trying desperately to look cool and unflustered. I felt my cheeks warming further at the memory as my stomach twisted.

“It was a million times better than any Bond movie.”

“It was?”

“Hell, yeah. If they had you as a Bond girl it would be my favorite film by miles. Not just 007, but in general, any film ever.” His mouth slid upward in a grin. “You just about blew my mind.”

“I did?” My eyes widened in surprise. He’d liked what he’d seen, and I thought he’d been unimpressed with my curvy attributes.

“Oh, yeah, and other parts of my anatomy.”

He ducked his head, his lips a whisper from mine. I could almost taste the salt on his mouth.

“Well, we wouldn’t want that would we, Logan?” I murmured.

“Wouldn’t we?” His brows raised.

“Sounds painful.” I swallowed, my throat felt tight.

“It’s already getting painful.” He shifted his weight to the other foot. We were so close now my breast brushed against his chest and my nipples, which had tightened to hard pinched peaks, scraped against him.

I reached up to touch his jaw, his bristles catching on my fingertips. Our gazes connected and I rose onto the balls of my feet and pressed my mouth to his.

He opened up and took immediate control of the kiss. He tasted so good­—man and ocean, wind and sun—he tasted of everything I was missing in my life and had been for so long. My hands moved to his shoulders and squeezed hard muscles through his soft cotton shirt. The tip of his tongue probed farther into my mouth, shooting desire into every fiber I possessed. My tongue searched for his and began to explore his mouth.

Logan groaned and let go of the doorframe, cradling the base of my skull in his palm and winding his other arm around my waist. He pulled me close and as the length of our bodies touched, right in the very center of my abdomen, he pressed his steely erection forward. He was right, he was painfully hard.

“Damn, you taste good,” he murmured, trailing a gentle kiss across my cheek.

I tipped my head back and let him explore the base of my ear, the angle of my jaw and the hollow of my throat. “I taste like salt,” I said.

“You taste of the beach and flowers and coconut,” he whispered between kisses. “The most delicious combination of flavors I’ve ever experienced.” He pulled back slightly, slipping his fingertips under the shoulders of my cardigan and easing it down my arms. It fell to the floor and he slid his palms back up over my elbows to the base of my neck. Each tiny section of flesh he touched came alive with sensation and pricked with greedy little goose bumps searching out his caress. I found his mouth again and ran my fingers into the collar-length hair at the nape of his neck. I pulled his head to mine harder. I wanted more. Much more.

His big fingers were busy, fiddling with the knot at the back of my halter-top. It was cleverly designed with a fitted bra, it had cost a fortune but was well worth it. I felt it slipping free and pulled back from the kiss, crossing my arm over my chest and gripping my opposite shoulder to hold it in place.

“What’s the matter?” Logan asked, his eyes heavy with desire and his voice thick with lust.

“I’m…I’m big,” I said in a rush then felt silly for saying something so insecure and obvious.

“Me too,” he said, a provocative grin playing on his mouth. “Relax, Brooke, it’s all good, trust me.”

Buy link
Lily Harlem

Lily loves to hear from readers so feel free to stop by her website and drop her a line. While you’re there check out her free reads and other published works. Also in honor of the newly released Hired, the first in Lily’s Hot Ice series, there is a yummy selection of hot hockey players to feast your eyes on!

Thanks so much for dropping in, Lily!


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

"Guilty Survivor"

It’s my honor today to welcome back a familiar friend to Seven Sexy Scribes, Marianne Stephens! Marianne has been busy with many new projects but the one we are going to be talking about today is very special. Marianne has ghostwritten a first person account of Tamerla Kendall’s harrowing personal experiences in the Bosnian War 1992-1995.

Blurb: Tamerla Kendall is the woman you see rooting for her son at sporting practice. You might meet her in a grocery story. Perhaps you’ll see her planting a garden behind her home. Or, talk to her at school or work. She’s a student, worker, wife and mother.

Surviving a dark past is hidden by her façade of an everyday, average life. Reading her memoirs will reveal her true struggle to survive in a war zone, and is a testament to her courage.

Bosnian Croat, Tamerla Kendall, lived through the carnage and chaos in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War (1992-1995). Hers is a story of courage, fear, ingenuity, and survival. Difficult choices she made then still disturb her peace of mind and life today.

She made a few trips out of Sarajevo, only to return to keep the family restaurant business operating. One carefully planned, secretive trip was made to remove her daughter from the dangers of fighting, but this created a heartbreaking rift in their relationship. For her second trip, Tamerla masqueraded as a United Nations Protection Forces soldier and rode in a tank. A uniform and travel assistance came from a Ukrainian general.

Her hopes for a return to normalcy at war’s end diminished as corruption and religious zealots took control. She married an American, and this marked her as an outcast by some she’d trusted. When her life was threatened at gunpoint, she faced a critical decision concerning her family’s safety in her beloved country.

Katalina Leon: Marianne how did you meet Tamerla?
Marianne Stephens: Mutual friends introduced us. My friends knew that in 1999, I had a ghostwritten autobiography of a speaker from a women’s shelter published, and Tamerla was looking for someone to write her story.

Katalina: What were your first impressions when Tamerla told you her story?

Marianne: I was amazed at what she’d been through. We hear stories of people living through wars, see accounts on TV and in movies, but I’d never met someone who’d actually lived through a war. Her courage and drive to survive are impressive.

Katalina: What made you feel compelled to help Tamerla tell her story?

Marianne: Biographies are always written about celebrities. Tamerla is someone who could be your next door neighbor, shopping in your grocery store, or worshipping in your church. She’s a “real” person; someone you can relate to. Mothers will understand the angst she went through in deciding how to keep her children safe. Anyone running a business will know how she felt about saving her restaurant for her family’s future. She’s that “average every woman” you know, and not the politician or entertainment persona you read about. 

Katalina: What was the greatest challenge to writing this book?

Marianne: Keeping focused on her challenges, hardships, and ability to adapt while making hard decisions. I found myself trying to turn her story into a romance book, so had to stop all romance writing to concentrate on the serious issues Tamerla faced.
Katalina: I know there are a lot of political difficulties faced in Guilty Survivor, but it’s also a deeply human story. What part of Tamerla’s story gave you hope?
Marianne: Her love for her family and the decisions she made regarding them showed her true selfless intent on saving her children from harm. Regardless of the fact that by getting her daughter out of harm’s way she created a rift in their relationship, she made the hard choice to move her to safety. As her daughter gets older, she’ll hopefully understand her mother’s reasons for leaving her where she would be safe while returning to Sarajevo. With her son being half-America, his life would have been in as much jeopardy as hers after the war and Americans were not well-received or wanted.

Katalina: I realize we have to speak in generalities but what would you say was the greatest divisive force fueling the hatred of the Bosnian War? What happened to erode their former tolerance?

Marianne: Ethnic differences, greed, and jealousy. Those in power wanted to control everything, while other groups wanted more power for themselves. Tolerance disappeared and many senseless murders of those from all warring factions occurred. Tamerla feels that the war made them all targets and victims.

Katalina: What mental image from Guilty Survivor will stay with you?

Marianne: The scene where Tamerla dresses as a United Nations soldier to cross all three checkpoints creates a vivid image I won’t forget. Having to disguise herself and pray she wouldn’t be caught, had to be harrowing and stressful.

Thank you Marianne. I wish you and Tamerla Kendall all the best with this important book.

     Here’s an excerpt:
My second trip to Kiseljak was more difficult and done with me masquerading as a soldier. I’d called Commander Ivicarajic of the Croatian army to ask for help in crossing the border in November of 1992. I made a deal to transport some food supplies for him. I would be allowed to cross over into Croatia this way.
I then spoke to United Nations’ officer, Vladimir Sidorenko, (from the Ukraine) and asked him for help in getting across the border lines. He came to Restaurant Meli often and was known to help the people in Sarajevo.
He told me to go to the UN barrack area at night, sleep there, get up at 4:00am and
dress like a UN soldier in a Ukrainian, UNPROFOR uniform (United Nations Protection Forces) he provided. Part of the deal was that I’d bring supplies back with me for his troops. Desperate to visit my family and encouraged by his plan, I agreed.
I arrived at the UN barrack late that night. A blue and green military uniform and boots were provided for me and I slept in a military bed but was given a room and bathroom just for me. Other soldiers knew I was a woman but keep my secret.
The uniform was big, as were the boots. I used cloth and tightly circled it around my chest to hide my breasts. I stuffed paper into the boots so my feet wouldn’t slide out. I put on the uniform and looked at myself in a mirror. Even without makeup, I was afraid I’d be noticed and discovered to be a woman.
I pushed and pinned up my hair high on my head and pulled the cap down low enough to hide my hair and almost cover my eyes. The less seen of me the better. Even without using perfume, soap, or deodorant, I still thought I smelled like a woman. I practiced lowering my voice when I spoke, although the plan was for me not to speak at all. Would I pass as a man? Sound like one? Go unnoticed among other soldiers?
For one crazy instance, I imagined myself as preparing to go on a secret mission. I thought about spy movies I’d seen or books I’d read where people had to wear disguises. Not only had I found many avenues of keeping my restaurant operating, thanks to the war, but now I found a new talent. I would have my first performance as an actress.
I did not have to walk from checkpoint to checkpoint with other soldiers, but got to ride in a tank. I remained silent, even in the tank, and the other soldiers inside with me ignored my presence. Maybe it was their way of following orders to treat me as another soldier, and keep from staring. If they didn’t look at me, I really wasn’t there.

“Guilty Survivor “ Tamerla Kendall and Marianne Stephens.

Available January 26 from Secret Cravings Publishing.
Other Links:

***Secret Cravings Publishing Grand Opening Contest Prizes include:
Registration for Romantic Times Booklovers Convention
Registration for Lorie Foster's Reader and Writer Get Together Weekend
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Thanks for having me here today to talk about “Guilty Survivor – Memoirs of Tamerla Kendall”!