romance

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Welcome one and all. This weekend I’m doing something a little bit different. I’m participating in a blog hop with all kinds of authors offering all kinds of prizes. If you happened upon my blog first, please do start HERE and join in on the fun to be eligible to win a Kindle 4!

Since this is a Halloween blog tour, I can’t resist sharing some candy …

I have no doubt this tooshie is popular on our hop today. But isn’t he worth another look?

Ah hem, okay, back to our regularly scheduled tour … Participants were offered the opportunity to “roll” a scene generator and challenged to use the words offered in one scene. Of course working it into a Halloween theme gets me extra points. (I totally made that up! *vbg*) But here are my characters: VETERINARIAN, DEMON, BOUNTY HUNTER and I somehow I had to incorporate the personality traits SMUG, OBSESSIVE, SHIFTY and it all had to take place in a SALON. LOL! I’m always up for a good challenge. Leave me a comment to know what you think and you’ll be entered to win a set of my romance trading cards(which you can check out HERE) and an ebook of BLIND HER WITH BLISS, the first book in my Tilling Passions series.

Please enjoy my story …

I slammed into the salon, the cheery bells announcing my arrival.

The day had dawned way too early after a night that had ended way too late. But calves didn’t arrive at the convenience of veterinarians. It felt like I’d no sooner fallen exhausted into bed when the alarm screamed at me to begin another day at my practice. I’d started my morning under a cold spray of water from a water heater my landlord had yet to fix. Add the burned toast and grinds in my watery coffee and I’d barely been coherent enough to change the flat tire I’d no doubt acquired at Old Man Corey’s farm the previous night.

“What the hell, Delanie Shepherd? You look like something one of your horses trampled. And I wouldn’t call a flannel shirt and jeans much of a costume.” My best friend, Peggy sauntered out of the back room, the sexy demon costume hugging her curves, reminding me I’d forgotten to buy candy for the trick-or-treaters who would be knocking at my door tonight.

“Don’t give me a hard time. I’ve had a crappy morning and I’m already running late. I told you I’d pick up little Oliver on my way to the office.”

“Of course I remembered. I’ve got my little guy. We’ve done some special bonding this morning commiserating about his surgery.” Peggy was obsessive about her ten cats. As responsible as she was, she always felt neutering was cruel form of toruture. “Why don’t you give me thirty minutes to work at trying to give that hair of yours a little style and maybe find you a sexy doctor’s costume you can wear for the day?”

The bell over the door rang.

“No time this morning. I’ve got shots to give and testicles to remove. Busy. Busy.”

“Ouch! I’m glad I’m not one of your patients.”

A low groan rumbled in my chest. That toe-curling Irish accent could belong to only one man. So not who I wanted to run into after I’d barely gotten two hours of sleep. But I pasted on my best I don’t care smile and turned to find Heath McTabbit in all his six-foot-something-mouth-watering glory standing there in a Hans Solo getup. The Bounty Hunter costume made the local pediatrician appear even more dangerous. The smile he flashed seemed to reach down and grab the pit of my stomach, pulling it into a hot lump in my throat.

“Are you emasculating all males you come across today or targeting specific ones?” he asked.

“Only males with shifty eyes who have no control over the libidos.” I shot back.

“Dr. Heath,” Peggy cried. “I’m so glad you could stop by this morning to pick up our basket of goodies for the children’s party this afternoon. Let me get that for you.” Peggy disappeared into the back room.

I rolled my eyes at my dear friend’s obvious attempt at matchmaking. Happily married, Peggy hated that I hadn’t found my Prince Charming. “I think Peggy’s arranging more than hair today.”

Heath stepped closer to me, the heat of his body buffeting me through the thin flannel of my shirt. The fresh scent of his cologne assaulted my nose, making my knees go weak. “I for one am glad she did. You seem to avoid me every time we’re in the same room.”

I backed up, only to find he’d trapped me between the free standing hair dryer and the wall of his body. My heart hammered in my chest and I suspected by the way his gaze dropped to my throat that he could see how he affected me. “That’s not true. I do not avoid you. I’m just…a busy woman.” A lie. There was something about my younger brother’s best friend that I found unsettling. Heath McTabbit never missed an opportunity to single me out at parties. But our five year age difference made me feel awkward and uncomfortable. In our small town, I had no desire to be the grist for the rumor mill that never stopped.

He toyed with my hair, his mesmerizing blue eyes raking my face. “Prove it. Find some sexy costume and join me at the Halloween dance tonight.”

“Heath…” I dragged his name over my tongue, trying to make my lips form the word no even as my head screamed yes.

“Stop worrying about other people, Delanie. Don’t think what’s right. Think about this.” His mouth came down hard on mine, not some soft exploration, but a full on assault that had my eyes falling shut and overwhelming me with the dizzying softness of his lips. He tasted and nipped before slowly easing back enough to talk, his breath feathering over my swollen mouth. “Say yes, Delanie.”

My lids fluttered open, my mind overwhelmed by his heat. His taste. His smell. “Yes, Delanie.”

The smug smile lighting his face, stole what little breath I had left. “Then it’s a date,” he said dangerously quiet in that Irish brogue that promised wicked tricks and sinful treats.

Peggy’s squeeing brought me back down to reality. “Well it’s about time you two figured this thing out.” She held up a basket of cookies and the cat carrier.

Peggy may have been wearing the demon costume, but when Heath winked, I was sure I’d just made a date with the devil.
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Enjoy the rest of your blog tour!

****  CONGRATULATIONS TO MY WINNERS  ****

Julia Barrett
(Blind Her With Bliss and Romance Trading Cards)

Donna
(A set of Romance Trading Cards)

****  CONGRATULATIONS TO BLOG HOP PRIZE WINNERS  ****

DJ – Grand Prize of the Kindle
Jessica Sutton – Winner of my “Bonded Souls”

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR EVERYONE WHO JOINED IN THE FUN!

I want to welcome all the readers who found their way here from the Summer Reading Trail. I’m so happy you’ve found me along the Flirtatious Footpath. The story I’m sharing with you is specifically a free read written for the Summer Reading Trail. The rest of the story will be posted in July.

If you enjoy it and would like to read something longer, please click on the cover of any my books on the right side of the blog and it will take you directly to a publisher’s website where you can learn more about them.

And without further adieu, please enjoy part 1 of BRIDGE TO LOVE:

In the distance the festival continued, but Vral barely heard the raucous laughter and tribal drums over the soft moans of the woman in his arms. Mahgda would be upset he’d been gone so long. It wasn’t polite for the bridegroom to miss his own promise celebration and no doubt his betrothed would be looking for him.

Didn’t matter. This whole wedding was a farce. He didn’t love the Nargien female anymore than she loved him. Though Mahgda was certainly going to reap benefits beyond her wildest dreams, Vral would save the realm, but lose his self-respect in the bargain—hardly seemed a fair exchange for the first born son of the Demekleis king.

But duty often involved personal sacrifice and Vral seemed to be paying the ultimate price.

As he hurried to his sleeping chambers, the female snuggled deeper in his arms, her porcelain face nestled in the curve of his shoulder. Human. Though it hardly seemed possible, her long limbs and slight build confirmed his suspicion.

A scholar of ancient civilization and artifacts, Vral had chosen the tiny planet in the Milky Way Galaxy for his Prothemesis. Few academics chose to receive the highest honor, but the hours poring over the ancient texts had not only kept him out of the local gangs, but had piqued his interest in Earthlings. In the end, there was very little he didn’t know about the humanoid planet—or its inhabitants. And this woman, warm and soft in his arms was definitely one of them.

But Earth was a thousand light years and countless galaxies from the planet of Cabonon. The starbridge between their worlds had been destroyed during the last great cycle. Both Earth and Cabonon still bore the scars of the apocalypse. The former had lost Atlantis, a great catastrophe for sure, but humans had prevailed and their race had continued, albeit without the peace the Atlanteans would have guaranteed. But Cabonon—his home planet–had been completely decimated.

A dark evil had descended the day the starbridge collapsed, sending Cabonon into a blackness so complete, even the light from distant stars couldn’t penetrate its atmosphere. Vral hadn’t known anything different from the heavy weight of despair all Demekleis people slogged around. Tempers were quick, insults quicker and peace between tribes something only the elders remembered.

Hence the reason for his loveless betrothal to the Nargien warrior.

On a sigh, Vral pushed aside the oversized strands of the baen tree covering his sleeping chamber, whispering commands as he passed through the sitting room. Luminescent organisms woke from their slumber, a soft, amber hue lighting the dark recesses of his simple abode. It was one of many symbiotic relationships the Demekleis people had developed with the fauna of their planet.

“Vral!”

Normally, the sound of his brother’s voice wouldn’t send icy rivers of guilt through his veins. But as Vral hastily laid her on the bed and covered the woman with a blanket of soft ferns, he implored the Gods not to let her choose this moment to wake.

“Vral, where the hell are—” Wesphel stepped into the bedchamber. “Ah, here you are.” Three years younger, his brother had not come into his male maturity. The boy was still a head shorter and his cyan skin hadn’t developed the cobalt hue of Vral’s. “Where have you been? That Nargien wench sent me to find—”

“Well you’ve found me.” Vral stepped between his brother and the bed, shielding his curious gaze. “I just wanted to…” Vral searched for some believable excuse for coming back to his chambers. “Grab my daknier.” He swiped the small knife from his dressing stand, bent and slid it into a weapon’s band beneath the leg of his trousers and slapped his beefy fist on his brother’s shoulder. “Shall we go?”

A low moan keened from beneath the covering.

Wesphel broke from his grasp and shot around him before Vral could stop the foolish boy. “I’m not sure if Father would be proud you’ve bedded one last female or displeased that you’ve broken your promise of fidelity.”

He pulled back the coverlet before Vral could stop him. The human female bolted to a sitting position, her blood curdling scream echoing off the walls. The noise startled the luminescent organisms who shut down, leaving them in total darkness.

* * * * *

Annemarie’s throat burned from screaming. But she forced herself to stop and swallow her fear. It wouldn’t do for the daughter of a naval officer to lose her head in battle. She wasn’t sure where she was, but it sure as hell wasn’t Pennsylvania. She’d had only a brief glimpse of the blue alien trying to probe her before everything had gone black.

Instinctively she jumped away from the creature, grabbing the taser from the large side pocket of her cargo pants as she went. With her back to the wall, she waited for her eyes to adjust, wondering just where she’d landed and how the hell she’d gotten there. It seemed a long way off from the crystal cave she’d been excavating.

“Hush, dear friends, safety is yours.” A decidedly male voice spoke quietly in the dark, the baritone timbre stirring something deep inside Annemarie. Not fear exactly, but a definite awareness. She hadn’t expected the creature could have such a soothing tone. It seemed so incongruous to the harsh angles of his face. “If it pleases you, we could use some light.”

She patted her pockets. Save for a wad of notes, two stubby pencils and an old stick of gum, Annemarie had nothing. “I…I’m sorry I don’t seem to have my flashlight. Matches either.” She wasn’t sure why she dared respond. The blue creature that had been in her face wasn’t any friend of hers. But when the ceiling began to glow, she suspected he hadn’t been talking to her. Mesmerized, she watched the rock above her grow brighter. The light rolled and pulsed as if the ceiling itself were alive.

“There, now if we can all remain calm.” The voice floated from a second creature, bigger, bluer and uglier, who seemed to materialize out of the shadows. There was no way in hell the small taser in her hand was any match for the monstrosity moving toward her. The scream ripping from her lungs, was all very girly, but it seemed a natural reaction to being cornered.

They were plunged into darkness once again and Annemarie dropped into a fighting stance. Even though the Tai Kwon Do lessons she’d been taking at the YMCA for the last year weren’t going to get her very far, at least they weren’t going to stick probes in her orifices without a fight.

“Seriously human we’re not going to get anywhere if you keep scaring the Photinus.”

“—I have no idea what a photo-whatever is, but I need you to stay back!”

“—Human? Did you say human, Vral? For the love of all the Gods where did you find a human?”

Her words rolled over a higher pitched voice, probably the smaller of the two. But their distress came through in the volume of their voices, the sound bouncing off the walls as if amplified by the tight quarters.

“Stop now both of you.” The honey-rich command of the bigger male brooked no argument. “The creatures living in my ceiling are Photinus. And they would happily share their light and heat if the two of you would stop scaring the living shit out of them.”

A low hum filled the air, a sweet melody of notes that wrapped around Annemarie, slowing her breathing and steadying the rhythm of her heart. Once again light filtered into the room.

“I—”

“She’s—”

“Enough,” the big male said. “Seriously, if we are plunged into darkness again, because you two fools can’t keep your voices down, I will walk from here and leave you both to fend for yourselves and find your own way out.” His gaze pinned first one than the other, both of them shaking their heads and holding their hands up in surrender. Annemarie had no desire to be lost in a dark cave with an alien species of unknown origin.

“Fine.” He shot an imposing look at the male behind him. “Wesphel, stand there and shut up.” When he turned back to Annemarie, his expression softened. “I have no intention of hurting you human.” His voice was warm and lilting, inviting her to relax. “From your reaction I suspect you’ve unknowingly opened the starbridge between our worlds and I intend to find out how and why.”
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SEE YOU IN JULY!

I feel like I was hit with a real epiphany last week. It’s going to sound really silly since I’ve been reading books for like forty-five years or so. Granted, many of those years were spent reading required books for English or text books. (Yep, I’m one of those that read every page of the assignments in college … what can I say?) But through the years it’s been mostly just me and whatever books I found at the library. But this interesting lightbulb moment had to do with my reading habits.

You see for the last month or so I’ve been pushing myself through this book that the world LOVES THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. It’s the beginning of a series and people can’t get read the three books fast enough. Me? Did I mention I’ve been slogging through it for the better part of November? I wasn’t even invested in the story until 200 pages into it. Then the next 300 or so were really good as they actually solved a murder and went after a very bad guy. But then … it just kept going … and going … and going. I gave up. With about 60 pages to go I had no desire to finish it. What’s wrong with me? Why don’t I like this book? My extended family is filled with readers but none of them live close enough for me to ask what made them LOVE this story. Because I just can’t figure it out.

Now I don’t consider myself a slouch in the brains department. I enjoy many genres of books. I’ve read through most of the John Grisham novels in the library and really enjoyed them. And this weekend while I was traveling I was enjoying an Iris Johansen audio book in the car. Lots of intrigue and murders and mystery and a love story. Yep, the main characters are running for their lives (as they do in most Johansen novels) and the sexual tension was electrifying. I cared what happened to the characters. In the book I slogged through last month … not so much. The main characters could have fallen off the face of the earth and I would have shrugged and thought “another one down”.

And there was the epiphany. I REALLY enjoy a story with some intense action and … romance. Stop laughing. Really. Stop. It’s not that funny that a romance author could be so daft about her own choice of reading material. I know, I know, this shouldn’t have been like this ZOMG! moment, but it was. I mean all my books don’t have to have the main characters falling in love … they can already be married … no, I’m just kidding. I’ve read and enjoyed stories that don’t center around a romance, but there was something that made me connect and stay engaged. But then that’s a Writing 101 basic. Create characters your readers want to cheer on to the end.

I’m just wondering what other people found so engaging with the Tattoo story. Because it bummed me out that I missed it. I do understand not every book is everyone’s cup of tea, but I usually enjoy the stories my family recommends. So what about you … have you tried a story that the world LOVED and you didn’t enjoy it?

Oh, and just one aside since I’m doing a sort of review blog … Mr. Nina and I saw THE TOURIST with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie this weekend and LOVED IT! If you like a little suspense with your romantic comedy/action movies than I can’t recommend it enough!

I’m cracking my knuckles, sharpening the virtual pencils and pulling out the new legal pads. Yep, I’m ready to start a new project. Both exciting and daunting.

This project is a little easier as it’s a story about characters that already exist. Characters I created and came to know through the process of writing about them already. That makes that tiny piece of the story process easier. But … and here’s the biggie … it means finding out more about them. Delving deeper into their relationship. Pushing them harder. Throwing them into new situations that will test their bonds and ultimately their commitments to one another.

I’ll share with you that’s it’s one of my menage stories that’s begging for another chapter. So far all of my menages have been m/f/m, meaning there is no sexual interaction between the guys. But I know readers are seeking out menages where there is also a relationship between the men. And I’m wondering if my guys want to go there. Do they want to take their brotherly bond to the next level?

I’ve been querying authors. (Because authors are amazing, giving people and always willing to help out.) With very few exceptions their response has been “let your characters lead the way”. And I get that. Truly I do. But anyone who reads this blog on a fairly regular basis knows that my characters rarely, if ever, “talk” to me. They don’t wake me in the night screaming that they aren’t getting page time. Lord knows, I wish they would. I’d be happy to trascribe for them. But that doesn’t happen to be the way it works for me.

Now don’t get me wrong, my characters are very real to me. Just the way the worlds I build become real. But here’s the cold, hard truth. Their mine. They follow my rules. They behave and think and love the way I want them to. For me (Please read that again “For ME”) they become, do, say, react the way I think they should. That doesn’t mean I don’t wrestle with every scene to be sure it fits that character I’m molding, but their reactions to situations and other people in the story are up to me.

If I really want my guys to do more than fall in love with a woman, if I want them to want more from each other, then I will work them towards that end. I will throw them into situations that strain their relationship. Cause conflict if you will. It’s all about believability. It’s about bringing my readers along so that when the big moment happens, when characters, whether male or female, declare their love and devotion to one another everyone–characters and readers–sigh with the satisfaction that all the troubles and hurts and hard work brings the ultimate satisfaction.

Every writer is different. We all approach a new project differently. Our writing processes don’t come from instruction manuals with easy to follow illustrations. A seamless, believable, well written story is hard work. But work that is rewarding beyond even this writer’s description, especially if readers absolutely fall in love with your story.

So here it is … Nina’s insatiable curiousity … do you think two guys who have done nothing more than share women in the past can now take their relationship to the next level and admit thier love for one another? And would you want to see that in a story?

I would like to welcome NANCY LENNEA today.

Hi Nancy, why don’t you tell us a little bit about you and how you got into writing.
I grew up with problem eyes so reading and writing were a chore. I remember taking a remedial reading class as a senior in high school. It helped. I wrote poetry. I concentrated on art and graduated with a teaching degree. It wasn’t until I worked as a 9-1-1 emergency medical dispatcher that I found the urge to write a book like the hundreds I loved to read. That urge occurred four years ago. I have sold two novellas and three full-length books since.

Wow, what an inspiring story. Could you tell us about your most recent book?
DESTINY’S MOUNTAIN is a romantic suspense set in the mountains of northern New Hampshire—about midway between Boston and Canada. I have filled it with stalkers, a murder, secrets, assumptions, mountain rescues, ghostly voices and a romantic happy ending.

Oh, all the elements I enjoy. But I’m especially interested in the romance element. How did you come up with your characters?
I am a plotter. I get the spark of an idea, a setting, a conflict, and how it all works out before I even see my characters in my head. Destiny is single, industrious, lives alone, and loves to hike on her mountain. Unlike me who has lived at home, with college roommates, then with my boyfriend-turned-husband. I guess I am industrious since I have always worked, even when the boys came along. I do love the out of doors, though hiking is not on the top of my list any longer. A brisk walk along the ocean—or in the grocery store—is thrilling, these days.

Sounds like you’re a busy woman! If you were granted super powers what would they be and what would you call yourself?
I would have the ability to fly, and to fly fast. I would not share my secret name. I have two identities as it is and that is enough to juggle, what with two websites, two blogs, and two publishers.

LOL! We won’t force it out of you then. Why don’t you tell us about your writing process?
I work whenever my husband is at work. Sounds silly, but the guy demands attention. When we moved to North Carolina, we agreed I would write full-time and he would pay the bills. It works, so far. I have used various methods to get my books started. As I said earlier, I am a plotter. For my current work in progress, I have sticky notes stuck to a piece of poster board. I find using Alex Sokoloff’s Three Act Play method works for me. At a glance, I can see the action—from love scenes to black moments. I can see where there are holes and where a character needs more mentioning. I drink iced tea and coffee (unsweetened) and try not to snack while eating. I take a break for lunch and in mid-afternoon to check e-mail, snail mail, Facebook, or read my latest paperback or e-book. My radio is stuck on my local country music station. Sometimes I’ll slip Taylor Swift’s Fearless CD into the computer. Her Love Story is my favorite song.

A plotter with scheduled writing time, you put me to shame Nancy! But inquiring minds want to know what happened to the first novel you ever wrote?
I sent it out to agents and a few editors. When rejections came, I placed it in the closet while I sent out my second book. Three and a half years later, I took it out of the closet. I discarded the first 77 pages, used what I learned at workshops and in on-line writing courses, and listened to my critique group. Then I rewrote my synopsis, polished my query letter, and sent it out. This first manuscript became my latest release, DESTINY’S MOUNTAIN!

You’re killing me here! I’m so impressed that you went back to that first book, many writers don’t. That brings me to the editing process. Do you have a routine you follow when going through it?
After I complete the manuscript, I read it several times (make that eight or nine times) while submitting chapters to my critique group. My mom is a great editor and catches errors such as when I use threw instead of through. When I think it is perfect, I print out the entire manuscript and read it aloud. Then I fix it (again). When sold, I go through three or four edits with my publisher. It is amazing what those editors will catch or change.

Thank goodness for editors. With all the books and stories you have out there, I’m curious who/what you attribute your success to?
I dedicated DESTINY’S MOUNTAIN to the men and women of New Hampshire 9-1-1. My co-workers encouraged me when I decided to write a book. They helped critique the story and offered plot points. I even named my heroine after one’s daughter! I am proud to belong to my local chapter of Romance Writers of America. The monthly meetings are instructional and the camaraderie is wonderful. They offer guidance and hope.

Support groups are invaluable. Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
I would like to leave them with this short blurb and excerpt. DESTINY’S MOUNTAIN is filled with fear, tension, and danger but I make Destiny and Jacob’s romance the most important aspect. I love happy endings! I also write paranormal romance as Nancy Lee Badger and you can find out more about my alter-ego at www.nancyleebadger.com. You are welcome to friend me under that name on Facebook, too.

BLURB
In a quirky college town surrounded by the mountains of New Hampshire new art history professor, Jacob Oliver, hikes a trail on a crisp September morning. He contemplates his life. Divorced and forced out of his job with the Boston Police due to a horrific accident, he spots a naked woman beneath a majestic waterfall. Escaping, he falls and reinjures his knee.

Destiny Blake hears a noise. Someone is on her mountain. She finds a handsome man sitting in the mud. Love blooms and lust consumes them after she helps him to the safety of her cabin. Soon, assumptions pull them apart, leaving her vulnerable to the unwanted attentions of other men.

When Jacob decides he cannot live without her, he must save her from a madman who chases her up her mountain through the cold, snowy darkness of a November night. Ghostly voices push Jacob onward, and urge Destiny to fight back. Pain, hypothermia, and death threaten before the sun rises. Can Destiny and Jacob make it off Destiny’s mountain…alive?

EXCERPT
The strange man groaned, then turned away from her. Destiny assumed his injury caused him pain.

She crossed her arms over her chest, stood in front of him, and stared at his chiseled profile. Lines on his forehead and at the corner of his mouth proved he suffered.

Beautiful…what a strange term to use concerning a man, especially when some might say his chin is too square and his hair is too long.

She wanted to kiss his pale lips to return some color to them. A sudden yearning to rub his arms and warm him back to life made her heart thump. An image of him lying in her bed with his brown locks feathered across her plump pillow snapped her back to the present. Waving off such lusty thoughts, she leaned over and ran fingers across his scalp, checking for other injuries.

His hair glided over her fingers like a curtain of moist silk. She swept bits of twig and grass from the strands, and then ran her hands down both arms as she searched for wounds. Under the shirt he’d ripped on the blueberry bush, his arm shook, but except for superficial scratches, she found nothing. She stood and found her voice once more.

“You must be chilled from sitting in the mud, so we best get moving. Your hiking boots will support your ankles as we head down the trail,” she said as her gaze again swept over his muddy jeans. She gasped at the bulge between his legs.

Josie had once told her that trauma victims sometimes suffered an unwarranted erection. This man may be hurt worse than she realized. She had to get him down her mountain, fast.

Her gaze roamed back up to his face in order to get things rolling, but his eyes locked on hers. Silence surrounded them both. He must have seen her slow perusal of his body.

“Jesus,” he groaned.

She bit her lip, internally seconding his words. She arched her eyebrows when he adjusted his position on the log. I wonder if he’s in pain from parts of his body other than his knee…or groin.

Oh Nancy, this book sounds so wonderful. Thanks so much for coming over to share. While Nancy and I settle back to enjoy some pampering from the cabana boys I’m sure she’d be happy to answer any questions you may have for her. On any regular day you can find information about Nancy’s books from her website and her blog.

So I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Not exactly sure why, but I’ve given up trying to figure out why my brain goes where it goes.

Anyway, the question is … Can an author write any genre without upsetting readers?

To clarify, what I’m wondering is … Can a man write romance women will love? Can a woman pen an action story that will have men talking? Do readers buy books based on the author’s gender? What about ethnicity?

I don’t know the answer. I’m just wondering.

Part of this came about because of some statements Nicholas Sparks made about his books and romance. Now don’t hang me up by my thumbs, but I enjoy his books. (Though I was quite unhappy about his comments regarding his “unique” storylines and how different they are from romance. That prompted this post, which he totally deserved.) Anyway … I like the way he writes and from the success of his stories, so do millions of people world wide.

But he’s a man. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve heard women (mostly writers) comment that a man can’t write romance. I beg to differ. My dear friend, Roscoe James writes the most amazing erotic romance I’ve read. His characters come alive. Their love stories resonate with emotion. His sex scenes are poignant and beautifully written. I laugh. I cry. I fall in love all over again even as his characters find their “happy-ever-afters”. There are many men writing romance and doing it well. Many, fearing the skepticism, skirt around the raised eyebrows by using pen names. I can’t say I blame them.

I know many women who write wonderful m/m erotic romance. One even … who’s gay! Yet their romances are best sellers and have won awards. Now granted, this may fall into a slightly different category as these women are writing romance for other women and not gay men. Still, I understand several female writers have a gay male audience. They’re not being told they can’t write m/m love stories.

And what about the caucasian author who wants to write the story of an African American heroine or vice versa? Will readers immediately turn from these books because the author can’t write that type of story?

Here’s my take on it. At the heart of writing is an author who’s a true actor. We “put on” the hats of our characters and play the role. Essentially, we crawl into their skin and listen to their thoughts. If we don’t, the reader won’t identify with that character and the story will fall flat. When I write from the hero’s perspective I have to think like a man, move like a man, talk like a man. Readers would be very unhappy if my male characters acted like women. Or my villians were boyscouts. Listen, I’ve never murdered anyone, but one of my favorite stories (still unpublished) involves a serial killer who does some really nasty crap. And as much as Mr. Nina would like to act out every scene in my erotic novels, let me just share with you … it hasn’t happened yet.

No one stopped Dustin Hoffman from playing “Tootsie” or Robin Williams from not only “Mrs. Doubtfire” but what about the robot he played that lived hundreds of years? Amazing stuff. I believe writers do the same thing. So why can’t authors cross all lines? Religious? Ethnic? Gender?

But that’s just the way I see things. I’m curious as to how you feel about it. Have you ever refused to pick up a book because you felt something about the author would prevent them from writing a story in that genre? If you found out your favorite romance author was the opposite sex or different skin color or … whatever … would you stop buying their books?

This week I’d like to welcome Catherine Bybee author of BINDING VOWS

Wow, thanks Catherine for chatting with us! The cabana boys are serving drinks and giving massages. *wink wink*. Feel free to relax. And if you have any questions for Catherine, she’ll be answering them in between Holiday drinks in the pool house!

Here’s the blurb…
Travel to the twenty-first century Renaissance Faire, deflower the Druid virgins, and go home. Only his job is not so easily accomplished with the virgin in question, Tara McAllister. Time is running out. The evil is closing in on them both.

Tara finds Duncan irresistible after what was supposed to be a mock Hand-fasting binds them.

When Duncan whisks her to his home in Scotland she could accept that. But, can she forgive him for taking away her modern life when she finds herself in the sixteenth century?

And is it love they feel? Or something else?

I’m having a battle of conscience with my membership in Romance Writers of America. On the one hand, there is nothing they offer that I use. I don’t read the RWR (for various reasons that are really dumb, still, I don’t). I don’t visit their website. I can’t enter their writing contests because I am considered published and can’t enter their Golden Heart, but my e-books are only “sorta” published and don’t qualify for the RITAs. I don’t go to National convention, but this has to do with finances and health issues, otherwise I would go there. I’m not part of their PRO loop because I wasn’t “fed” by things that went on there.  So, I know, you’re wondering why I bother.

Well, this is where the dilema kicks in …

I LOVE going to conferences, most of them sponsored by RWA chapters. I adore the writers that belong to the Maine chapter of RWA. And I am also part of the suspense chapter of RWA, Kiss of Death. These small chapters support and feed me… replenish me when I think my writing has sucked the marrow from my muse. And an agent mentioned that belonging to writing organizations (not necessarily RWA) shows you are serious about writing as a career.

Now RWA is very smart. You can NOT belong to any of their chapters unless you are first a member of their organization. Okay, that makes sense though it really irks me. Which means I fork out big bucks so I can hang with some local romance authors who totally understand how difficult it is to become and remain an author.

This weekend I am hanging with my homegirls at the MERWA writer’s retreat. Boo-yeah! Really, I can’t even begin to tell you what these conferences do for me. They are worth every penny as I chat about writing and learn from authors who have walked this path before me. It’s refreshing.

I am really hoping to return refreshed and rearing to start a new project which has kind of stalled. So for now, RWA gets my hard-earned money so I can enjoy the company of some amazing authors.

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