eye candy

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writing2Hello, my name is Nina. I am the world’s worst speller. I will be suffering from this until the day I die … or stop writing … whichever comes first. My family thinks it’s hysterical that I went into this line of work.

But that’s not what this post is about.

When I was in 7th grade we had an assignment to make a list of as many homonyms as we could discover. (Words that sound alike, but are spelled differently). I am a competitive cuss and I went through the dictionary scouring for words that sounded the same. I had a reeeeally long list when I went into school the next morning proudly passing in my homework, confident I’d have the most. But it wasn’t to be … David Zobel had the most! How dare he? Of course he was the state spelling bee champion that year, perhaps that had something to do with it. He had a humungus vocabulary. I came in second. Man, did that stick in my craw!
 
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I thought I’d share with you not only 13 facts about Christmas, but how about my gift to you … a wee bit of the eye candy? I promise there’s no calories in these tasty treats!

1. At Christmas, it is traditional to exchange kisses beneath the mistletoe tree. In ancient Scandinavia, mistletoe was associated with peace and friendship. That may account for the custom of “kissing beneath the mistletoe”.

 
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This is a short story I wrote a few years ago. I’ve always loved it and thought I’d post it again for your holiday enjoyment. (It’s based on the “8th day of Christmas”)

Meghan dropped down in the small stool, tipped back her cowboy hat and laid her forehead against the soft belly of the Jersey, less than pleased she was here doing the evening milking—again. The youngest of eight sisters, she always seemed to get stuck finishing the barn chores. She never got to do anything exciting, like ride out into Mistletoe Canyon and find the missing cows. Resigned to her duty, she gripped a teat in each hand, rolled her fingers with a vengeance and sent milk pinging into the bucket between her feet. The cow let out a soft bellow.
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I love summer and though the calendar says it’s over, the weather in New England continues to stay hot. And I love it! All that steamy heat means shirts must come off! *fans face* What better way to cool off those hot bodies than with a little cooling water? So, with the help of a google search of wet, sexy men … I bring you 13 pieces of delectable eye candy. And as if their hot bodies weren’t sizzling enough … well I threw them all in a little bit of water for you. And because I think I should … I’ll share with you few water/rain facts. (Aren’t I nice making this a science lesson and all?)

1. Roughly 70 percent of an adult’s body is made up of water. And roughly 95% of women think it looks better on the outside.

(Jake Gyllenhaal)

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I can not tell a lie. I LOVED December in New England. Oh, not because it was winter–just the opposite in fact. Christmas Eve it was nearly 70F! I don’t ever remember that happening in my lifetime. But there was no hoping it could continue. But to make myself feel better, I thought I’d share with you some facts about snow. I’m not sure how the guys snuck in there. But try to suffer through the pictures if you don’t mind.

1. Almost 15.5 feet (475 cm) fell in Alaska over a 7 day period in 1957. (Well, with weather like that, you might as well crawl in bed and stay there.)

2. Snowflakes start as ice crystals that are the size of a speck of dust. When the crystals fall they join up with other crystals to form a snowflake which usually has six sides. (And six well-defined abdominal muscles is also a very pretty arrangement.)

3. In the early 1900s, skiers created their own terminology to describe types of snow, including the terms “fluffy snow,” “powder snow,” and “sticky snow.” Later, the terminology expanded to include descriptive terms such as “champagne powder,” “corduroy,” and “mashed potatoes.” (And I’m sure they’d name this one “yuuuummmy”.)

4. Each year an average of 105 snow-producing storms affect the continental United States. A typical storm will have a snow-producing lifetime of two to five days and will bring snow to portions of several states. (I don’t know ladies, do you think there’s enough of this guy to spread around?)

5. Snow at the North and South Pole reflect heat into space!! That happens because the ice acts like a mirror with the heat of the sun, and the heat bounces off the ice and into space. (Mirrors always seem to bounce spectacular views.)

6. Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is the only permanent snowcap within sight of the equator. (Of course if you’re looking really close, you may find something even more appealing within sight of the equator.)

7. There is NOT a law of nature that prohibits 2 snowflakes from being identical. (This is also true of humans.)

8. The largest piece of ice to fall to earth was an ice block 6 meters (20 ft) across that fell in Scotland on 13 August 1849. (If this guy was around … it would have melted quickly!)

9. Practically every location in the United States has seen snowfall. Even most portions of southern Florida have seen a few snow flurries. (This poor darling seems to be in desperate need of some ice … come visit me pretty boy.)

10. In Australia, snowfalls are common above 1,500m in the Alps during the winter, but there are no permanent snowfields anywhere on the continent. (It’s probably better if these gentlemen don’t worry about cold weather anyway.)

11. I heard once that snowflakes were pieces of clouds shaken loose when the angels danced with God. (Well, if that’s who’s dancing, who am I to be upset about some snow?)

12. Snow can be further classified into six basic patterns called: Needles, columns, plates, columns capped with plates, dendrites, and stars. (And these gentlemen can be classified as tall, dark, and dangerous.)

13. When cloud temperatures are at the freezing point or below, and there is an ample supply of moisture in the air, ice crystals form around a core particle. As water vapor condenses and freezes, the complex pattern of a snowflake is born, one molecule at a time. A snowflake’s hexagonal shape is born at the atomic level. It is here that water molecules bond together into … (Yeah, yeah whatever … bring on the eye candy!)

I know, I know. I disappeared. But I had a good reason and it can be summed up with 4 simple letters. L. I. F. E.

You know sometimes it just gets the best of you! But I’m working toward a much better 2014. And until then I’ll try to bring my blog back to life! Here’s one of my favorite free reads that at some point in time will definitely require a story of its own!

Meghan dropped down in the small stool, tipped back her cowboy hat and laid her forehead against the soft belly of the Jersey, less than pleased she was here doing the evening milking—again. The youngest of eight sisters, she always seemed to get stuck finishing the barn chores. She never got to do anything exciting, like ride out into Mistletoe Canyon and find the missing cows. Resigned to her duty, she gripped a teat in each hand, rolled her fingers with a vengeance and sent milk pinging into the bucket between her feet. The cow let out a soft bellow.

“Don’t take it out on Clarabelle, it’s not her fault she needs milking,” her sister Michelle said from the stall behind her as she leaned in and begin expertly milking the Guernsey at her hands. “Besides, having you ride out at night just didn’t make any sense. Marissa and Melinda will find the cows and have them back here before Maria and Mary have trimmed the Christmas goose.”

“I’m that transparent now am I?”

Mia laughed, patting the tawny hide of the cow standing over her two stalls over. “I’m surprised you didn’t trip on that pouty lip as you dragged your skinny ass into the barn. Besides, even Santa’s elves don’t take a break from their chores on Christmas Eve until every last train is painted and every dolly packed.” Her oldest sister and her twin, Molly seemed happiest at the Arizona farm, content to tend cattle, breed horses and gather eggs for the neighbors.

Twenty-five head of dairy cattle, two bulls, twenty-seven prize thoroughbreds, a dozen pigs, countless dogs, four geese, two swans and more chickens than Perdue could cook in a month—that was the Morgan farm. Molly and Mia had been running it with a few local hired hands since their dad passed away from lung cancer five years ago when Meghan was just starting her freshman year of high school. He’d lost his high school sweetheart, and her mother, in a freak rodeo accident when Meghan was only five. Fiercely independent, her sisters had insisted on keeping the sprawling acres of land even when it meant every last minute was spent isolated from the rest of the world, earning a living.

As soon as she had enough saved, Meghan was shaking the dust of Peartree Point from her boots and heading east to some college that didn’t include “community” in its title. There was nothing that could keep her here on the family farm.

* * * *

Marissa nudged her chestnut mare, guiding her carefully down the slippery slope of Mistletoe Canyon, praying she could find the pregnant cows. Melinda’s horse nickered beside her, the billow of air pluming from its nostrils emphasizing the steady drop in temperature. The sun had set an hour ago, clouds rolling in, shrouding the full moon in a wash of black and gray.

“Molly just radioed from the other side of the canyon. She’s got nothing,” Melinda said.

“I’d hate to have those cows calve tonight out here. I’m not sure the newborns will survive the squall coming in.” As if her words had summoned them, snowflakes floated lazily from the sky.

“Tell Molly to meet us on the other side of the ridge. We’ll join up by route 17. If we don’t find them there, we’ll go home and pick up the search in the morning.”

Marissa kicked the mare into a trot and gave the horse her head. They’d ridden this section of the land so often the horse knew instinctively how to maneuver safely over the rocky terrain even in the shadowed night. Ten minutes later as the snow fell in earnest, the canyon walls opened up. She could see the lights of the gator up ahead, but Molly wasn’t alone.

A motor home loomed over the gator, her pregnant cows tethered to its grill. Oh hell no! Some yankees looking for Santa in a cowboy hat weren’t going to ruin her Christmas.

* * * *

Ayden stood his ground. In a short sleeved T-shirt, freezing his ass off, he was feeling more than a little desperate. The feisty blonde before him might be small in stature, but her attitude was rivaled only by the storm swirling around him. He hadn’t had a chance to explain himself when two horses thundered across the plain, their riders dropping to stand with the woman in front of him.

“We have a problem here, Molly?” the brunette from the horse asked.

The blonde tipped back her cowboy hat, exposing a heart-shaped face with rosy cheeks and full lips. Even pursed in displeasure, they looked damn kissable.

“No problem here,” she responded. “I was explaining to this man that the cows he’s stealing belong to the Morgan farm.”

“I’m not stealing your damn cows. I’m—”

His brother Aaron chose that moment to poke his head out the door. “Can they give us a ride Ayden? It’s fucking…”

Active splitting Aurora Borealis arcAlex plowed into him from behind, the two of them tumbling out of the stranded motor home. “I do not want to spend Christmas stranded in fucki…”

“Well, hello.”

“Please forgive my language, ladies.”

Ayden rolled his eyes as his brothers’ surly demeanors morphed into flirtatious charisma the moment they realized their rescuers were female.

“You look…” The third woman pointed first at Ayden then to Aaron. “And you…” Her finger moved to Alex. They got that reaction a lot.

“We’re triplets. Aaron, Alex and I’m Ayden Williams. And as I was saying we’re not stealing your cattle. We held on to them in hopes—”

“Their owners would rescue us.” Aaron finished.

“I’ve got the three duffles and a backpack of electronics.” Even at 20, Abraham, his youngest brother had the boyish look of a high school kid. Only his well developed physique hinted at his age. “They agree to take us to town?” he asked as he jumped down from the motorhome.

His twin Acton came down with as much enthusiasm. “Awesome, they brought horses.”

A whistle cut through the air, halting all the verbal confusion. Ayden turned back to the blonde. “One person.” She poked Ayden in the chest. “Why don’t you tell us what’s going on and why the lost cows that are keeping me from Christmas dinner are tethered to your motor home.”

Adam, Andrew and Anderson joined the rest of his brothers and he held his hand up, turned back to them and mouthed “Shut up.” He had hoped to negotiate the ride into town before his Good Samaritans realized there were eight hungry cowboys in need of rescuing.

* * * *

IMG_9207Meghan loved Christmas. The lights of the nine-foot Douglas fir standing proudly in the great room winked at her through the dining room door. Marie had started the fire while they’d been milking the cows. Presents in festive wrapping paper were scattered around the base, ready for the morning’s festivities.

“Are you sure there’s eight of them?” Marie asked, carrying the last of the crystal wine goblets and setting them around the additional place settings.

Mary balanced a tray of serving dishes, arranging them along the length of the table. “I think Mom and Dad always planned on a very big family. There’s plenty of room for all sixteen of us.”

The responsibilities on the ranch were so demanding, Meghan barely had time to do more than think about dating. Now eight men were being delivered to their doorstep.

“They’re brothers,” Mia said. “Molly said they’re buying the Fitzpatrick spread next door. I didn’t get any more than that over the radio.” Mia and Michelle carried more food from the kitchen. No one was worried there wasn’t enough to feed them all. They’d learned early on, that leftovers were never wasted. Mary and Maria had cooked enough food to feed a small country.

Footsteps pounded across the front porch. The wide door opened, the fresh scent of a Christmas snow carried in with all the men entering the foyer. Meghan would have to rethink that whole moving to the east coast thing.

It seems Santa did deliver on Christmas wishes after all.

Okay, I’m going to come right out and say it … I’m a beach bunny. Ya know, like a snow bunny, only warmer and in a lot less clothes. 😀 And it’s really hard for me to watch the summer winding down. (And just like every year I’m wondering … where the heck did it go???)

Yep, I grew up on the coast of Maine. I worshiped the sun so much that I never lost my tan lines in the winter. Seriously. I didn’t know until I went off to college and didn’t have quite as much time in the sun, that a white bikini in the shower wasn’t normal. LOL! (Of course back then I was too young and stupid to worry about the ozone layer and skin cancer. *eyeroll* Foolish youth.)

Those hours lounging on a towel shaped my romantic fantasies. There is nothing sexier to me than a man without a shirt, a pair of jeans and bare feet. The bare feet are a must. And if he was sitting around the bonfire at the river, laughing and hanging (and maybe doing a little flirting), well I was in definite lust.

I learned to sail on the ocean and snorkel it’s waters. I got my first kiss at the beach. (Probably shouldn’t mention it was during a game of spin the bottle. Yeah, pretend I didn’t say that.) Held hands for the first time walking along the sandy shore in the blue wash of a full moon. And yep, after I met Mr. Nina … a little nookie a time or two in the privacy of the dunes.

I’ve enjoyed sunsets and starry nights. The soft brush of an ocean breeze and the crisp bite of the ocean waves. The ocean is the most romantic place I’ve experienced. It’s no wonder the smell of salty air makes my heart go all squishy.

I’ve set a couple of my books at the ocean, the scents and sights always an integral part of my stories. My sexy romantic suspense novel, Deceive Her With Desire (book #2 of the Dangerous Affairs Series“) takes place on the Maine coast. Please enjoy this excerpt:

Cautious, and working to keep his jangled nerves from pumping his legs in a dead run, Ayden strolled to the shelter of the dinghy. The noise grew louder. Ayden realized he wasn’t moving away from the sound. He was aimed right toward it. What a fool. It was a beautiful fall night. No doubt lovers were using the upended craft for a little private party of their own.

Turning on his heel, he started to walk away, when the noise came again. It wasn’t the moan of sexual pleasure. It was the keening sound of sadness. Someone was crying. And from the quiet hiccupping, it was female.

Ayden shot a longing look over his shoulder, debating between the refuge of the path and the complications under the boat.

Chivalry won out and he stepped warily around the bow.

The redhead sat on the wooden slats, her bare feet digging restlessly in the sand, her face cupped in her hands. Between shuddering breaths, she sputtered angrily into her bent knees, but her tears and her fingers kept the words from him.

“Uh-hmm.” He cleared his throat, not knowing how else to get her attention.

“Holy shit…” She tried to jump to her feet, but banged her head on the iron rigging attached to the upside of the boat and fell back down. “Crap!” Her hand flew to her head.

“I’m sorry, you okay?” Ayden reached for her, but she shook him off.

“I’m fine.”

She looked up at him. Even in the pale light, he could see the sadness in her eyes.

“Actually, I’m not all right.” She pushed herself up, ducking her head away from the oarlock. She brushed the sand off her ass. “You scared the living shit out of me.”

Biting back a smile, Ayden watched her glistening tears turn to fury. That he could handle. An angry woman was one hundred times easier to placate than a despondent one.

“Again, I apologize.” He held his hand out as a peace offering. “I’m Austin Schaeffer.” How easily that name slipped off his tongue.

“Deirdre Tilling,” She shook the hand he offered.

Her grip was surprisingly firm. Ayden liked the touch of her palm against his skin. Not all soft and pliant, but callused and rough. He wondered how it would feel running up his back.

She was a beautiful woman. Her breasts swelled enticingly just above the bodice of her dress. Her long, muscular legs that he’d admired in the great room, started somewhere around her neck. No wonder Jameson had been seducing this lovely creature.

Jameson. Right. He mentally shook his head. Focus, Ayden. Tonight was about gathering information, not sexual conquests. But then again, there was that two birds and one stone thing.

So what about you? Do you have fond memories of the ocean? or perhaps another spot makes your romantic knees go weak? Tell me about it.

I’d like to share with you something that came from one of those foolish emails that gets forwarded so many times you’re not sure where it began. So I’m afraid I can’t give any particular man credit for this. But as a public service announcement I thought I’d share with women what some silly men actually believe to be true. Now here are 13 “rules” from the MAN BOOK (and since all of them–in a man’s opinion–are all equally important they are all numbered 1). Please ladies be gentle with the comments. There are men who read this blog.

1. Learn to work the toilet seat. You’re a big girl. If it’s up, put it down. We need it up, you need it down. You don’t hear us complaining about you leaving it down.

2. Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one:
Subtle hints do not work! Strong hints do not work!
Obvious hints do not work! Just say it!

3. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

4. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That’s what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

5. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.

6. Christopher Columbus did NOT need directions and neither do we.

7. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.

8. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine… Really.

9. Don’t ask us what we’re thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as baseball or motor sports.

male torso w handsXSmall

10. If you ask a question you don’t want an answer to, Expect an answer you don’t want to hear.

11. Crying is blackmail.

12. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all comments become null and void after 7 Days.

13. You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done. Not both. If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.

As a writer all I have is my words. Words to bring the reader into the setting. Words to convey danger or passion. Words to make the reader fall in love with the characters even as they fall in love with each other. It’s not like a movie where a well orchestrated soundtrack strokes the viewer’s emotions, carrying them … biting their nails into the epic battle … or sighing with satisfaction into the first kiss.

Each word and phrase should create a visceral reaction in the reader. A reader whose emotions are involved in your story is a reader who continues to turn the page. No needy pet, ringing phone or burning dinner will pull a readers who’s emersed in your story from finishing the chapter. Hell, if you’ve done it really well … finishing the book. (Oh, come on, it’s happened to all of us. Raise your hand if you stayed up all night just to finish a book … yeah, I see you out there.)

As authors we have all kinds of tools in our writing kits to create our story and bring our characters to life. Dialogue, both spoken and internal is an immediate way to portray a character. The words they choose and how they’re spoken take a two dimensional character and give them depth. Are the words strong and bold or nervous and tentative? Are they quick to respond or thoughtful and use few words? We must think about all of that. A CIA agent might see the sun setting and think only of the convenience of night’s arrival and how that will help them hide their actions. An artist type would take time to notice the colors, how they mix with the clouds and take a moment to enjoy the scene.

What the characters are saying and what they’re thinking is important. But you can add another layer by including how your characters act and what their body language communicates. Especially if what they’re saying isn’t really how they’re feeling. Let’s look at some body parts and actions and the emotions it conveys.


HEAD
Lifted and tilted back = arrogance
Ducking head = submission
Head in hand = boredom

MOUTH
A smile quirked to the left = lying
Tight-lipped smile = keeping a secret
Licking lips = nervousness or attraction
Biting lip = shyness, insecurity
Trembling lip = sadness

EYES
Long, hard stare = anger
Furrowed brows = confusion
Slow blinks = hiding, avoiding scrutiny
Rubbing finger over eyelids = working to deceive
Wide eyes = surprise

ARMS AND HANDS
Clenched fist = anger
White knuckles = strong negative emotion (nerves, anger)
Steepled fingers = confidence

LEGS AND FEET
Dragging toes = reluctant
Tightly crossed legs = in a woman it’s protection
Crossed ankles = won’t compromise in an argument
Shifting weight from foot to foot = lying

Everything your characters do, every thought you share with the readers creates memorable characters. From the dating dance to the first kiss to the ultimate night of passion we offer our readers cues to the emotions of our characters. Skip the body details and you miss the opportunity to make your characters jump off the page and into the hearts of your readers.

So are there any body language moves I’ve missed that you really enjoy in a story? Any that are overused? And tell me some of your most memorable characters and why you just can’t get them out of your head and heart.


WELCOME! I’m so happy you found your way here. This weekend, over 40 authors are offering fun, and prizes and lots of sexy spring love in our “Fool for Love” blog hop. If you’ve stumbled upon my blog without finding your way to the “bus”, then click HERE to join in all the fun and see what fun other authors are offering.

Since writers are always looking for the hero that will grab a reader by the heart, I’m wondering what romance hero tugs at your heartstrings every time …

1. Cowboys are one of my favorite heroes. Just a few weeks ago one of those sexy men walked into my dreams and decided perhaps I should write a series set out west. Who doesn’t like a sexy man in a hat and chaps and a reeeeaally slow smile and eyes just for you?

2. And who can resist a man in (or out) of uniform? Like say … a fireman? My vampire firefighter, Reese Colton in SHADOWS OF FIRE is one of those sexy men you want showing up at your house, but not when he’s on duty … maybe just a social call?

Buff FiremanXSmall

3. Oh, yeah … why choose one hero when two can be so much naughtier! I’ve never written a book with twin heroes … but seriously … why not?

4. *sigh* That durn horse of mine is always running off and the neighbor is such a hero for bringing him back. I’m a lucky gal! (Actually, I call that good training!)

5. My favorite hero is that alpha male with soft gooey center only the heroine sees, like Cole Takoda in my SHIFTING BONDS series. This wolf shifter is both the police chief and the keeper of the heroines heart … what more could a woman want? Tattoos are just a nice perk.

6. And this guy is so bad … you know he’s going to be really goooood! That scars tells me he’s wounded and ready for some healing. He reminds me of Dallas Sawyer, the futuristic FBI agent in my sexy ménage A TOUCH OF LILLY
Dallas
7. When I’m feeling down, I would love to have a musician to sing to me. Damon Corey in BLIND HER WITH BLISS is a concert pianist who pays the bills as a bad boy shock jock. *sigh* Yeah, that’s a lethal combination!
BL Couple
8. And when you’ve had enough of the city, a hero like Nicholas Gradin from DIVINE DECEPTION will take you for a ride on his motorcycle through the vineyards of New York to forget all your troubles.
NicholasXSmall

9. Puh-lease, you didn’t think one of my badboy heroes wouldn’t be wearing a kilt? Have you ever visited my blog?
scottish kilt guys

10. I grew up on the coast of Maine. I love the beach. And a man bare foot and bare chested in just jeans walking at the beach … oh yeah, it makes my knees weak every time! Rainmaker, the FBI agent in my novel IN HIS EYES spends a lot of time hunting down a serial killer on the beach.
paul_logan_01

11. And then there’s a hero like Jonathon Brierton in MAID FOR MASTER, the real estate magnate who will push you to limits you didn’t think you’d enjoy … 😉
Bondage women

12. What fun is a romance without a hero who makes himself comfortable while he’s waiting for his woman to come home?
a man's place is in the kitchen

Now get out the Windex and paper towels and clean off the monitor and your keyboard. I only offer the eye candy and prizes, you need to clean the drool up off your own chin! LOL!

So what type of romance hero is your can’t-resist-must-read-because-he-makes-your-knees-weak-and-your-heart-race-and-make-you-seek-out-your-man-must-buy-the-book hero? Curious writers want to know.

**** THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED ****
Anyone commenting on this post between now and SUNDAY, APRIL 6 at 4pm EST will be eligible to win a gift pack of goodies including a signed copy of DANGEROUS AFFAIRS. One winner will be chosen at random from the commenters on this post. Thanks so much for visiting! (Shipping to US residents only. An international winner will receive a $15 Amazon gift card in lieu of prizes.)

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