Guest Blogging

I’d like to welcome JD Favor to my blog. JD is the author of the The Edge of Texas romantic suspense series…

I’m so excited to be here today, Nina. Thank you so much for inviting me. I’m celebrating the release of BAD VIBES, the third novel in my romantic thriller series: THE EDGE OF TEXAS.

The setting for this series is about 25 miles north of the Mexican border on the lower Texas coast. South Padre Island is a beautiful semi-tropical resort separated from the mainland and the small coastal village of Port Isabel by the two-and-a-half mile Queen Isabella Causeway spanning the Intracoastal Waterway.
BAD MEDICINE was the first of THE EDGE OF TEXAS romantic thrillers and it’s FREE today. I hope everyone has a chance to download it.

BAD MEDICINE is followed by BAD KARMA, and BAD VIBES picks right up where BAD KARMA leaves off. BAD VIBES is the story of Deputy Darla Calhoun. She’s both depressed and angry over her husband’s suicide some six months previously, but she has to carry on for the sake of her twin 4-year-old sons. She is a member of the tight-knit law-enforcement team under the leadership of Sheriff Rafael Solis (the hero of BAD MEDICINE).

Darla arrests a vagrant, hanging around the marina, but after he’s cleaned up, she discovers a hunky, hard-body with a smoldering gaze hidden beneath the filthy rags. He turns out to be a federal agent working undercover. He’s after a gang of human traffickers using the Intracoastal Waterway to bring sex slaves into the United States from Mexico. Rafael assigns Darla as liaison officer to work with the feds, bringing her face-to-face with the “Iceman”, Mike Burke, the undercover agent she arrested. Darla, Mike and his partner tear up and down the Intracoastal Waterway in pursuit of the human traffickers, but when two local women disappear, the search becomes personal.

After a failed mission Darla and Mike are left alone on the boat, which leads them to an unplanned night of passion. The following excerpt takes place the next morning.

EXCERPT:
The sound of weaponry being discharged caused Darla to awaken with a jolt. She was lying naked in Mike’s arms.

It was the starter’s pistol for the regatta that had awakened her. She knew what it was immediately and sank back down into the warm embrace of the man who had made love to her in the wee small hours of the morning.

She gazed into his eyes. It was like staring into a reflection pool, deep and fathomless. She couldn’t read him at all, but he smiled and pulled her closer. She had been starved for tenderness and as unlikely a source as Mike Burke had seemed, he was proving to be a wellspring of affection. He stroked her hair with one of his large, yet surprisingly gentle, hands. She rested her cheek against his chest and closed her eyes.

She judged that she had only been able to grab a couple of hours of sleep, and considering the probability that this day would unfold to be as demanding as the last, she should run to her bunk and burrow her head under the covers. But Mike was stroking her bare skin with his fingertips.

His touch stirred her passion, a passion that had raged out of control earlier and, once awakened, lurked just under the surface, ready to rage again. The raging thing was new for Darla.

He kissed her forehead next to her eyebrow. A sweet gesture in any other setting, but considering that the full extent of her nude form was pressed against his, it was definitely a sexual act. She soaked it up like a sponge, lifting her lips to his.

Resistance is futile.

Mike’s kiss deepened. He seemed to have some kind of radar when it came to reading her. He knew how to make her senses sit up and beg, and he knew how to deliver.

His gaze alone could arouse a deep longing within her. A need for something she didn’t have or perhaps never had…that sense of belongingness that comes when two halves come together to make a whole. It seemed that when Mike was touching her and kissing her; when his body was speaking to hers, she felt that oneness she had read about in romance novels, but never truly experienced. And he seemed to take his job so seriously, the job of pleasuring her.

She wanted to tell him how much he thrilled her, but the words couldn’t seem to come. She felt tongue-tied, unwilling to admit that she had been starving and that he was giving sustenance not only to her body but to her soul. His ardent attentions restored her sense of self as a woman.

He kissed her, and then kissed her some more, as if he couldn’t get enough of her. His lips and tongue caressed every part of her body. She thought if she were to be swabbed for DNA, Mike Burke would be found guilty. But he wasn’t acting guilty. He was performing the act of making love the same way he did everything else; competently, thoroughly and in great detail.

His hands were on her thighs, gently caressing them with his fingertips. Her heart pulsed in her ears. She wanted him to touch her and to kiss her…and yes, she wanted him to make love to her with such single-minded intensity.

He grazed the inside of her thigh lightly with his tongue. She tried to play it cool, knowing where this was leading, but she couldn’t contain her grin. He pressed his tongue into her wetness, found his objective and proceeded to torment his target until she was gasping for relief. When waves of desire roiled low in her belly, he kneaded her with his finger and then when she couldn’t stand it anymore she pulled him toward her and embraced him by wrapping her legs around his hips. Not very subtle.

“Are you ready for me?” he whispered.

She wanted to scream, ‘Oh, hell yes!’ but managed to nod her head, not trusting herself to speak. When he guided himself into her, she felt all the sensual impact of their joining. The image of oneness returned, but she brushed it determinedly away. This can’t last. This is going to break my heart again.

But Mike couldn’t hear the lecture she was giving herself, so he was taking care of business in his own unique way. With each thrust he was bringing her to a higher and higher crest. Her body was filled to capacity by the man she was trying unsuccessfully to resist. He was hitting all the right parts. She lifted her hips to meet his thrusts and then when the first wave of orgasm hit her she latched on and rode it with him through the last swell.

He relaxed against her, but held her close, one hand under her hip. At least he was breathing hard. “Darla… Honey, I…”

Her breathing and heart rate were out of control, but she loved being held. She loved that he didn’t give her a peck and roll over. She loved…Mike…Oh, my God! I love him.

He found her lips again. It was a good kiss. It wasn’t a “Thanks for the sex” kiss or an “I’m done with you now” kiss. It was an “I’m just getting started” kiss.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Pick up the books in order:
BAD MEDICINE
BAD KARMA
BAD VIBES
BAD DREAMS (currently under construction)

I hope everyone has a chance to visit South Padre Island and the Lower Rio Grande Valley. In the meantime, you can visit through my series and keep up with the happenings. My goal is to entertain…and keep you up nights. 😉

J.D. Faver lives near Houston, Texas. She writes contemporary romance and mystery/suspense. She writes daily, but finds time to enjoy her family and friends. Her many hobbies include cooking, sailing, gardening, and painting. She’s active in writer’s organizations in the area. She belongs to National RWA and is a member of all three Houston area chapters. She is owned by two cats and a small, yappy rescue dog. Her idea of a great day would take place on a beach somewhere. Find out more about her books by visiting her website or following her on facebook or twitter.

Wai … what? You didn’t know Mondays are set aside for everything sexy and sensual? I mean, don’t you put on your sexy lingerie on Mondays to do the vacuuming and dusting? No? … you’ve been missing out. LOL!

Actually, I’m talking to you writers who swing by my blog. Today I’m over at Savvy Authors sharing my secrets of how to write a sensual love scene between your characters.

Whether it’s a sweet seduction or a rip-your-clothes-off-in-the-kitchen love scene there are certain elements that draw your readers closer to your characters and others that throw them out of the scene. I hope you’ll stop over and share your tricks and secrets of writing the perfect love scene.

Welcome author Tina Donahue. I’m so thrilled about your coming release and I’m so pleased you came by to tell us about it.

Thanks for the welcome Nina. To say I’m excited about my first series for Ellora’s Cave, Appointment with Pleasure, is putting it mildly. Book One, Claiming Magique (coming August 31), is so hot, not to mention romantic. Hunt (my hero) is to die for. And Magique certainly gives him a run for his money. 😀

I’m also offering a contest – the tour winner will have her choice of THREE of my backlist ebooks. So, read on!! And leave comments at each of my stops (check my BLOG daily for details and your chance to win)! The more comments, the better your chances.

BLURB:

A man at the center of power…a woman who won’t be ruled…
They call her Magique.

Sought out by the District’s elite, she’s no ordinary call girl, deciding who will pleasure her for the evening. Her preference is for several men at once. Games of bondage and submission heighten her arousal and desire to have a strong male take her…to be adored.

Lobbyist Hunter Prescott was only looking for a good time, not a woman who unleashes a hunger so deep it changes his world. He won’t stop until Magique is his alone, a prisoner of his lust, powerless against his growing need for her body and heart.

With this man, resistance isn’t allowed. For this woman, he’ll create a world of sensual delight and yearning like none she’s known. Proving that only with trust and true surrender will she find unparalleled rapture.

EXCERPT:
On the other end of the room was a wet bar. And Magique.

Hunt stepped closer, unable to help himself.

Her back was to them. She made no move to turn around despite David’s nervous throat clearing.

Her hair was glossy and black with blue highlights, worn so long the ends dangled over her ass. From his vantage point, Hunt could see her right leg. She wore strappy gold heels, three inches high. He estimated her to be about five-seven or eight without them. Her dress, a simple sheath, was of an amazing gold material, slightly shiny and so snug she might as well have sprayed the damn thing on.

It wasn’t gauzy lingerie, but it did reveal her every curve.

Adrenaline pumped through Hunt, making it difficult for him to stand still. His mouth went dry.

Her figure leaned more toward a Victoria’s Secret model than the waiflike look of high couture. The dress’s left strap had fallen down, making her seem more accessible, oddly vulnerable. Light glanced off her bare shoulder and arm as she moved, lifting a glass, tipping a bottle. Her skin was an ivory shade, looking delicate and seductive as hell.

He pulled at his tie’s knot, needing to loosen it so he could breathe more easily. The air, so fresh a moment before, seemed suffocating now. His fingers ached. He’d been making fists. To control himself? Damn right.

He longed to cross the room and turn her around so she’d notice him, her expression saying she not only approved, she wanted him more than the others, her actions affirming her reckless desire. Burying her face in the hollow of his throat, she’d take her time smelling his skin, gauging his excitement. He’d fight a sigh at her tongue licking his Adam’s apple, her thumb running over his bottom lip. What other choice would he have except to draw her finger into his mouth, gently biting the digit? The small intimacy would have her sagging into him, her weight and exquisite warmth making Hunt feel invincible, prepared to protect her from any harm.

David made a strangled noise, no doubt appreciative of the temptation she generated and his own shameless thoughts. Tim whistled softly.

At that, she turned.

Hunt stared, not even trying to hide his surprise. She was…amazing…striking…dazzling. He couldn’t settle on one description. Although she wasn’t classically beautiful, she would easily stop men cold, making them sneak another peek just to see if she was real. She had the kind of looks that grabbed a guy by his balls, keeping his attention.

Surely no more than mid-twenties, she wore her long hair parted on the side, framing her oval face. Her features were a mixture of European and Asian—Vietnamese, Japanese—Hunt couldn’t be certain. She didn’t appear to be wearing much makeup, just mascara and lip gloss that somehow made her even sexier. Her lips were full, a dark-rose color, the bottom one jutting out slightly in a gentle pout. Her almond-shaped eyes were a velvety brown, her manner dignified, damn near regal as she regarded Tim, then David and him finally.

Hunt’s pulse jumped at the flicker of heat in her gaze.

BUY from ELLORA’S CAVE.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*** CONTEST is CLOSED***

To celebrate the release of Claiming Magique on August 31, I’m offering a contest. One lucky commenter during this blog tour will have her choice of THREE of my following ebooks**:

Adored – RWA award-winning; EPIC 2011 Finalist; 4 Stars RT
Deep, Dark, Delicious – EPIC 2011 Finalist; Holt Medallion Award of Merit
Lush Velvet Nights – EPIC 2011 Finalist; Golden Nib Award
In His Arms – SIX 5 Star Reviews; 4 Stars RT
Sensual Stranger – 2010 Book of the Year (erotic); 4 Stars RT
The Yearning – Top Ten Bestseller
Take Me Away – #1 Pick, Miz Love Loves Books
Unending Desire – Best Book Rating LASR
SiNN – Nominated for Book of the Week LASR

** Winner chosen at random on SEPTEMBER 13 from all
comments from all blog tour posts **

****   WINNER CHOSEN FOR TINA’S BLOG TOUR   ****
Congratulations to DARCY
whose name was chosed as the Grand Prize Winner

Come on over to SAPPHIRE PHELAN’S blog and check out how my story began!

(Probably more than you’ve ever wanted to know about Nina. LOL!) And be sure to stop by next week. I’ve got a post updating my self-publishing journey … lots of interesting things to report.

And I was pleased this week when I found a 4.5 STAR review for CHEAT HER WITH CHARM from The Reader’s Round Table. Mar had this to say:

Loved, loved, loved the suspense in Cheat Her With Charm by Nina Pierce! I was impressed with the plot, the set up, and the well written story line that really had me hooked from the beginning …

Cheat Her With Charm stands alone on its own merit, but if you have a chance to read Deceive Her with Desire and Blind Her With Bliss, do so! These books also include quick paced action, snappy dialogue, and characters that won’t let you put their stories down.

w00t! w00t! Thanks Mar!!

And before you leave how about if you tell me what you’re reading? Would you recommend it to other visitors?


Welcome to my tour stop with Nina Pierce. Woman, thank you so much for having me this week! Readers, I hope you enjoy meeting my two characters, Colt and Alexis, from Master’s Email and thank you for stopping in to read!

Come get into the tub, we have lots of room and lots of bubbles! Champagne is flowing, too, so grab your glasses. We have a sexy bartender who will keep your glass full til Saturday night! At the bottom, be sure to get in on the contests – drawing is SUNDAY, AUGUST 26! If you’ve already entered the Grand Prize contest, there’s no need to do that again. I have your entry already.

My hot couple for you to meet is Alexis and Colt from MASTER’S EMAIL who enjoy their Dom/sub relationship. Colt owns his own security company, specializing in video surveillance. Hmmm…kind of helps him with his hobby! Alexis is his live-in who loves performing for him and has slowly learned her way into the submissive world.

Welcome to the tour you two and thanks for answering a few questions for our readers.

Tonya: Colt, how is Alexis doing as your submissive? Was it hard to get her to join your lifestyle?

Colt: Alexis is a hottie in her own right and the more time we spent together, her sensual side came out. That’s when I discovered she liked being pinned down to the bed when we made love. Sparks happened, one thing led to another and….my ties came out! * he squeezes Alexis’ knee * She’s the one who brought them into the bed!

Alexis: * blushing * Colt! How can I not want to be tied down when I have such a handsome Master. He just brings out my bad-girl side. I’m really prim and proper, honest!

Tonya: Us prim and propers have to stick together! I understand you now write for an online BDSM magazine, doing articles and a reader column. That must be easy when you also live the lifestyle.

Alexis: It does help and I love writing for them. Colt keeps me full of ideas to write about so I have lots of material for my readers and now have quite a following for the magazine.

Tonya: Colt, does Alexis misbehave on purpose so she has to be punished?

Colt: * laughing * Yes she does! She knows part of the punishment is being videotaped so even though she says she doesn’t like the camera on…she’s not being honest. Her performances are top notch! Personally, I love re-watching the tapes…she just gets me so heated up and I get to see her body over and over in the positions I love…with her tied and immobile! But she loves it, don’t you, pet?

Alexis: You are so bad! I do have to admit that being restrained and forced to do what he says, within my limits, is exciting. When he blindfolds me, my other senses become stronger. Not knowing where he might touch me and how….mmmm. One has to experience that in order to understand. I hope your readers will allow their partner to blindfold them. It’s an easy way to get started. Now if your hands are also bound and you’re blindfolded….look out because you’re in for the night of your life, ladies! (Click HERE to read a VERY naughty excerpt)

Tonya: I’ve tried to tell my readers that. We have to ask for what we want and that means you guys out there, too. Slowly ease your partner into the blindfold or hold their hands over their head while you make love to them. Tell them they aren’t allowed to open their eyes until you say so. Colt, you have an addiction to watching Alexis by camera. Do you also enjoy watching her perform with another Dom? Doesn’t that bother you?

Colt: The other Doms understand that this isn’t about swapping. It’s about the sexual experience you give another person who enjoys being manipulated. Some do it for sexual pleasure; some do it because they need pain in order to enjoy the sexual experience. Watching another Dom train Alexis so she can experience what he has to offer her puts me over the top. She enjoys it or it wouldn’t have been included in her contract. Right, hon? Then there’s Master Buck whom she’s learned to obey!

Alexis: I do have limits included, too. Don’t use needles on me or a cane to make me bleed or mark up my body. Otherwise, pretty much everything else is fun to experience so I go with it. Some of the other Doms are very good at what they do. They push your limits to experience even more and Master Buck is great at what he does. He’s totally professional in his training but you WILL learn!

Tonya: Do you truly enjoy performing for Colt?

Alexis: Just knowing that the cameras are motion activated throughout the house gets my juices flowing. To know that he could be watching me at any given moment is fun. So I will stop in front of one and give him a little show that he can watch as many times as he likes.

Tonya: Are you afraid someone else might see the videos?

Alexis: I trust Colt when he says that no one else has access to the videos he stores in his files. I’m fine with that.

Tonya: Colt, have you taken Alexis to any bondage parties yet with other couples?

Colt: Funny you should bring that up…I did receive an invitation to a party in Palm Springs. Alexis doesn’t know them so it’ll be fun to introduce her and let them get to know her body.

Tonya: * wicked laugh * Have you attended any of those parties in Palm Springs? I hear they have a huge mansion in the hills where those parties are held.

Colt: It’s been awhile since I’ve been there so it’ll be nice to rejoin old friends!

Tonya: Thank you both for being here with us this weekend. Readers, I hope you enjoyed meeting Colt and Alexis. Stay tuned to my website for information on upcoming stories. You never know where these two will show up! Now, don’t forget the contests below! Who wants a gift card?

CONTEST: If you’d like to get in on the contests during my tour – July thru September – follow me to each stop and get your entry in. My schedule is listed on my blog’s left sidebar. There’s a contest for this blog stop listed below and don’t forget to also click the link for the Grand Prize drawing to be held Oct 2nd!

And don’t forget to enter the GRAND PRIZE drawing for a $50 GIFT CARD.

Click the Rafflecopter Link for other chances to win.

Thanks so much for being here today Tonya. Alexis and Colt’s story sounds very hot. You can find all the buy links for her books on her website. You can also keep up with Tonya on her blog, Facebook, and twitter.

Last week I couldn’t bring myself to blog. I just couldn’t do it. This is going to sound really silly, but earlier in the week I’d read a blog by RONI LOREN who was actually sued for using a copyrighted photo on her blog.

I have yeeeeears of photos on this blog. Let’s face it, it’s so much more interesting if all the words in a post are broken up by pictures. It’s fun for me to find and include cool pictures in my post. I’ve always been very careful not to use photos with watermarks or anything that obviously belonged to someone else. But I’ve never worried so much about whether someone is going to come after me because I googled an image and used it.

I honestly believe that 80% or more of the images we find on the internet have been posted by people who don’t mind if we use them. But what if like this poor author some photographer claims I had no right to the picture posted? Roni (and many authors I know) went back and actually removed every photo from their blog sites. *sigh* I just don’t want to do that.

I mean, it’s not like I don’t understand intellectual property and being pirated … of course I do. (Been there. Done that. Cried as I watched my book being pirated in the thousands.) My issue is trying to figure out what sites freely allow people to use their pictures. Until I figure that out, I’m using photos I’ve paid for from stock photo sites. But here’s the thing, I already threw this out on my facebook page and a couple of artists said they like it when people use their pictures … with attributes and links of course. Again, how do I know who doesn’t mind and who will sue?

Of course this is spilling over to Pinterest and facebook. I really believe status updates with pictures get read more frequently than those without. I mean come on, they’re more interesting. I haven’t really seen people slowing down with their e-cards, inspirational or humorous sayings or LOL Kats. It seems like only authors have stopped posting all that man candy that makes me stop on a post and sigh.

Now why did this affect my blogging … because I’m a visual person. I’m actually motivated by the pictures I choose. I was so bummed I couldn’t include a picture with my posts last week that it stifled my muse. Silly I know … but hey, it’s how I’m wired.

So what now? I’m not sure. What do you think? Is this going to change how you blog? Will you find it less fun to visit blogs without fun little pictures to add to the posts? You know me … I’m curious about this stuff.

Today I’d like to welcome dear friend and fellow author Pam Champagne. A Maine author, Pam writes romantic suspense novels with enough danger to keep you riveted to the edge of your seat and sweet love to keep you turning pages late into the night. Take it away Pam …

Thank you Nina for inviting me to your blog to promote my latest release, Missing In Action.

Many of you weren’t around in the sixties and early seventies when our country was at war with Vietnam. The memories of those years still haunt me. Too many good friends and classmates were lost. I was not one of the war protestors flooding the streets. Perhaps I shouldn’t say this, but like Nina, I tell it how I see it. I’m ashamed of U.S. citizens, like Jane Fonda, who supplied the enemy with propaganda. It was a scary time.

When I was in college I used to go every day after classes to Chelsea Naval Hospital where the badly wounded were brought in by the dozens. I’d read to them, talk with them and listen to stories of their wives and girlfriends back home. Sometimes they’d just want to hold a warm hand.

In later years, I became involved in groups who pressured the U.S. Government to account for those still listed missing in action. Time has a way of making memories fade and many families and relatives wanted closure to the extent they accepted government proof of their loved ones deaths. Most of the so-called “proof” wouldn’t stand up in a court of law. Bone fragments near the site of a crash or a battle that even forensics couldn’t identify the DNA.

Hence, came the idea for my book, Missing In Action which is available at Amazon. And the really good news? It can be downloaded FREE July 11, 12 and 13th.

BLURB:
Zoe Zanardi was born with a gift. She paints pictures of people she’s never met. One day an unseen force draws her into an antique shop where she finds an old POW-MIA bracelet. Through the bracelet, she discovers her biological father, a pilot, missing-in-action, during the Vietnam War. Zoe is convinced the bracelet is communicating with her and her father is still alive somewhere in Southeast Asia. She is determined to travel to Vietnam to find him, with or without the help of Chad Stone, a private investigator and former CIA agent, who turns up at her mother’s house one day with information about her father. Coincidence? Or is there more to her father’s disappearance? Are Zoe and Chad mere pawns in a deadly game?

EXCERPT:
Zoe burrowed further under the damp sheet in a futile attempt to recapture her dream. She’d been on the beach back in Maine with the waves lapping her toes in the sand. A safe, secure haven.

“Zoe! Wake up.” The harshly whispered command did its job. She wasn’t home on the beach. She was in a hotel in Vietnam with a man hot enough to burn the morning bacon and who seemed to have the morals of Sushi before he’d been castrated.

She bolted upright. “What do you want?” she rasped, pushing her heavy hair out of her eyes. “What time is it?”

Chad backed away from the bed and glanced at his watch. “Four o’clock,” he whispered.

“In the morning?” she croaked. “Why are you waking me so early?”

His low voice had a hint of huskiness. “We’re leaving.” He tossed some clothes on the bed before putting his mouth to her ear. “We’ve got to get out of here before they realize we found the hearing devices.” Chad walked around the bedroom, checking under chairs, under the beds. “I’ve tucked what we’re taking into one backpack. Leave the other one here.”

Wide-awake now, she sat up. “What about Sam and Kiko?”

Chad barely glanced at her as he continued checking under furniture and behind pictures. “Keep your voice to a whisper. We’re leaving without them.”

Zoe’s heart pounded. Didn’t Chad realize that Kiko and Sam wouldn’t just give up and go home? “Sam can have us arrested with one phone call. He’ll put out an APB or whatever they call it here.”

Chad’s gaze finally settled on her, the gray of his eyes dark, but calm and determined. “That’s why we won’t be traveling on main roads. I’ve got a destination. Once we arrive, we’ll have new identities.”

Not traveling on main roads? New identities? Zoe swallowed hard when she saw Chad push a handgun into the backpack. Where had that come from? Zoe continued sitting in bed as she scrutinized his changed appearance. He’d shaved his beard, making him look more like the man she’d met.

“Come on,” he said. “Get dressed. We’re walking out of here in five minutes.”

No matter what he looked like, this definitely wasn’t the man she’d first met. Zoe scrambled from beneath the covers and threw on her clothes. One quick trip to the bathroom, and she was ready to roll. On their way out the door, she leaned down and grabbed her sketchpad from the coffee table. She ripped off the drawing of the War Crimes Museum and tossed it on the table. It might buy them some time.

Chad touched her arm. “Good thinking. Let’s move.”

In the hall, they moved passed the elevators and headed toward the exit stairs. Chad led, pausing to glance over his shoulder a few times. Making sure she stayed close? Zoe figured she wasn’t doing too badly for a woman who normally couldn’t function without at least two cups of strong black coffee. Must be the adrenaline.

Their footsteps sent an eerie echo spiraling down the stairwell. At last they reached the bottom, and he stopped her with his hand. He disappeared through the exit door. Zoe waited on the bottom step, the only sound she heard was blood pounding in her ears.

The door creaked open. Chad waved her outside. As soon as her feet hit the sidewalk, he grabbed her arm. “We’re going to a safe house. There’s a car waiting there.”

Zoe matched his long strides with little problem. Every now and then, he’d lean close ask if she was all right. To an onlooker, they’d look like two tourists.

She soon lost track of the turns they made. The street twisted and curved through one of the strangest neighborhoods she’d ever seen. Row after row of houses made from old tin cans. They must have been left over from the war. Most labels were in English. The cans had been flattened and nailed onto some sort of wood then fit together to make outside walls and preserved with lacquer. The sight was odd and colorful, adding new meaning to recycling.

At one of the entrances, Chad stopped and knocked. How did he know which door he wanted? They all looked alike. Perhaps he recognized it from the can of spinach above the doorknob. She almost giggled at the thought. A few doors away dogs started to bark.

A light went on. The door opened enough to allow them to slip inside. Zoe stayed behind Chad, not sure what to say, if anything at all. A Vietnamese man, whose age would be anyone’s guess, came forward. “I’m Tahn. Sgt. Jack say you come.”

Chad shook the man’s hand. “Have you got the Jeep? And maps?”

“Jeep not far away. First, you come with me.”

The two men left the room through a door on the far wall. Zoe whirled around when someone touched her arm and met the eyes of a young, doe-eyed woman. “Tea?”

Zoe smiled. “Yes, thank you.”

The woman waved her to the table. Zoe sat down and accepted the minute cup handed to her. Steam curled upwards, releasing the sweet scent of green tea. Zoe sipped the tea while she glanced around the shadows of the tiny room. Sparsely furnished, the single room served as a combination kitchen and living room and den.

Her mouth watered at the smell of food that preceded her host, who’d returned to place two more dishes on table. “Rice and pho. You eat. It good.”

Having had nothing to eat for longer than she could remember, Zoe grabbed the chop sticks and wolfed down the rice. She ate the noodles and bits of meat from the pho, a type of soup, before picking up the dish and drinking the broth. Probably wasn’t the proper way to eat it, but at this point, she wasn’t too concerned with manners.

“This is very good.” Zoe smiled at the woman seated opposite her.

“Thank you.”

Now that her stomach was full, she wondered exactly what type of meat she’d eaten. Bile rose in her throat, but she swallowed it and concentrated on the tea.

“We do anything for Sgt. Jack,” the woman offered, a smile lighting her face.

Sgt. Jack. That must be Chad’s friend. The one helping them to escape. The word escape brought a chill to her overheated skin. She and Chad were on the run in a foreign country. Not only a foreign country—a communist country.

A small hand extended across the table. “I’m Bi’hn.”

“Zoe.”

Bi’hn raised her hand and stroked Zoe’s hair. Her face seemed sad, almost as if someone had died. “So pretty.” Bi’hn picked up the scissors next to her plate.

“I don’t understand—” Zoe broke off when Chad returned to the room.

“Chad, I…” She trailed off and took a box he held out to her. A picture was worth a thousand words. Even though the instructions were in Vietnamese, she didn’t need a translator to know she held a box of black hair dye. Her gaze flew to his face.

“It’ll make for safer traveling.”

Zoe dropped her gaze and nodded. Bi’hn touched her arm. Sighing, Zoe followed her to do the deed.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Missing in Action is a story near and dear to my heart. Do you have memories of this turbulent time in history or stories of soldiers bravely defending out country today? I’d love to hear them.

Thanks so much for having me Nina.

Glad to have you Pam! To find out more information about Pam’s books, please visit her website or follow her updates on facebook. And don’t forget to download Missing in Action!

Welcome guest author Natalie Owens! I’m so pleased to have you hanging out here at the Block! I can’t wait to hear about your latest release…

Thank you, Nina, for giving me the opportunity to showcase my work!

My latest release is a short story, called SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR -– the first book in my Moonlight Dating Series. It’s a story about two people who find common ground in the most unlikely of situations and discover the healing power of physical intimacy to temper the trauma of guilt and regret. The main characters have both suffered terribly in their past – and their meeting can be seen as happenstance … a chance in life to turn things over and start living anew. Something to Live for is short, emotional, sweet and hot, and ultimately, I think, it’s a ‘feel good’ type of story :).

Considering the premise, one has to ask the question: Can sex heal? I mean, truly be a healing force in life? When we think of sex, we generally picture entwined bodies slick with sweat, feverish caresses and wild arousal—but touch can do more than arouse. Touch is therapeutic. Touch can temper old wounds.

Think of a baby, for instance. When a baby is sick or distressed, a gentle, comforting touch can calm it down until the discomfort ebbs.  The more enduring the touch, the better the child feels.

Once I read something to the effect that we are all connected to the land and our surroundings through the way we express and experience both physical and spiritual relationships. By reaching out to others in physical and emotional ways, we share with them our substance, our very being. This happens also when encounters are consummated on a purely physical level—even when our emotions are not deeply engaged, we are still giving something of ourselves to that other person.

So, in this sense, I believe that sex CAN heal wounds and past hurts because of the self-expression it entails. It is an act that shifts our energies and fulfills basic needs.

For my hero and heroine, Alex and Melita, intimacy comes at a price because intimacy requires trusting, and trusting is not easy. Extreme guilt and trauma can live with a person for years, and sometimes only the strong emotions that a sensual connection can bring could let the light in.

A lingering kiss, a molten caress, a devastating climax—all these mean much more when so much is at stake.

BLURB:
Fifteen years ago, one fateful day bound the lives of two perfect strangers…

Melita Saari-Quinn is living the consequences of a traumatizing psychic event that turned her adolescence upside down. Now, disillusioned with her job as a psychotherapist and desiring a change from her lackluster existence, she hopes that something out of her ordinary sphere of existence – something totally uninhibited and spontaneous – will renew her zest for life.

Alex Moncado seems to have it all – good looks, a successful business, and a fun life in “party central” of the Mediterranean: the island of Malta. Except for one day in the year when he can’t help but remember a tragedy that never should have been. One day he’d rather forget, because if he doesn’t, the guilt will consume him.

Can one passionate night together banish the ghosts of the past and give two lost souls a second chance?

Only Fate can tell…

EXCERPT:
The bedroom was rather small, too. It was decorated in neutral, shabby chic white furniture, which made the large brass bed with the fancy burgundy and white counterpane stick out like the fabled Gulliver in Lilliput.

Melita placed her tray on a nightstand and was suddenly reluctant to look across the bed, where Alex switched on the lamp. A spate of shyness caught her in a firm grip and she found herself defensively crossing her arms and shuttering her gaze.

But Alex stood close to her now. He uncrossed her arms and clasped her chin between his thumb and forefinger. Gently, he made her look straight up at him. He held her, strong and secure. Left her no quarter, no chance to look away.

“Don’t be ashamed to look at me. I want to be able to see your face, to see how my touch makes you feel inside,” he said, a statement that would have had her on the floor, at his feet, were he not holding her up with a powerful arm and his amazing dark gaze.

She squinted a little. “Are your eyes a dark brown?” He was a good half head taller than her. She wasn’t short herself, but she had to stand on tip-toes to get a closer glimpse.

“Hazel,” he responded, “but there are moments when they turn several shades darker, even black. Depends on my mood.”

She smiled and placed a palm against his cheek and jaw. How she loved the masculine feel of day-old stubble that prickled her skin…

“And what mood are you in now?” she teased. Her voice sounded distant to her, almost as though someone else was saying the words, or she was hearing them through a speaker with the volume down low.

“I’m in the mood to love you,” he murmured.

His words, on the other hand, rang in her head like the resounding peal of a giant church bell.

In the mood to love you.

“Yes,” she managed, only that. Her eyes burned and filled with moisture. It was difficult to swallow past the emotion that gathered in her throat.

Yes, even if it’s only for tonight.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So tell us what you think … touch can definitely soothe and calm, but can sex heal?

Natalie loves to hear from her readers. You can keep up with her latest news by visiting her website or follow her facebook, twitter and goodreads.

I am so pleased to welcome my dear friend, Evie MacKenzie whose debut novel HIGHLAND PAWN was released last week at Ellora’s Cave. Take it away Evie …

First, I want to thank Nina for inviting me to her blog. She’s a wonderful person and a fantastic writer, and I’m honored to be her guest. (It’s all true, but I won’t turn down any brownie points I may earn from it!)

With the recent release of my erotic romance novel “Highland Pawn” from Ellora’s Cave Publishing, I figured I would share some background on how the story came to be.

I have always been fascinated by Scotland and its rich history, most notably the decade leading up to the Battle of Culloden in 1745. It was an era when kilts were permitted, bagpipers played freely, and many of the men wore their hair long. (*sigh*) In my opinion, it was one of the most romantic periods in Scotland’s history. It was also one of the most turbulent as the Scots distrusted the English and vice-versa, often resulting in bloodshed on one or both sides. Talk about fodder for conflict! There was no doubt in my mind this was the time period I wanted to write about.

Alexander MacKay, the hero in “Highland Pawn”, marched onto the page and demanded to be noticed. With the imposing frame of a Highland warrior, his long, dark locks and ruggedly handsome features he quickly had my attention. Alex was fiercely protective of the people who mattered to him and he made a formidable enemy. Though he refused to acknowledge he had a softer side, his actions hinted at those emotions. I couldn’t help but fall in love with the man.

Maggie Fraser was no less insistent when she introduced herself. Her determination to help her family came before her own concerns and desires, and it stirred something inside of me. She wasn’t fearless but she was brave. Not to mention hot-tempered, much to Alex’s chagrin. The two of them together made for fascinating writing. I was anxious to see where their relationship was going from one page to the next.

Happy reading!

BLURB:
Maggie Fraser is willing to do whatever it takes to save her family’s estate, even gaining the cooperation of the ruthless Duke of Westingham. She possesses what he desires most—a maidenhead ripe for the plucking.

Her journey takes her to a dangerous part of the Highlands, a voyeur’s paradise known as Bare Brook. When she finds herself in a bind, the devilishly sexy Alexander MacKay comes to her rescue. The kilted warrior is not only the duke’s biggest adversary, but also her greatest weakness.

Alex is on a mission to destroy the Duke of Westingham when he’s forced to play Maggie’s protector. To say the alluring Miss Fraser is a distraction is the understatement of the century. She wants him to teach her how to seduce and please a man, and the fire between them burns out of control. When he learns she’s saving herself for the duke, he’s more determined than ever to kill the man. But his actions could destroy her family and drive a permanent wedge between them.

EXCERPT:
It had been a day since Alex had taken her from the cave and, on the whole, she seemed to be doing much better. He wrung out the cloth he’d dipped in the brook and placed it over her forehead, more as a comfort than as an aid for healing.

“Thank you,” Margaret uttered, bringing her hand to rest on the cool, damp fabric. “Not just for the cloth, but…for everything.”

He hadn’t said as much as a word to her about the incident since she regained consciousness, but he could no longer hold his tongue. “Ye willna leave my side again.”

“But I—”

He effectively silenced her with a glare. Rarely did he have need to give orders to someone of the fairer sex, but when he did, his decree brooked no argument.

“Until I return ye safely to your da, ye will stay by my side, Margaret Fraser. I’ll turn my back while ye tend to your womanly necessities, but—God as my witness—I’ll not let ye be taken again.”

Alex had to look away from those haunting green eyes of hers, lest he give his thoughts away.

Never had he been so worried for someone in all his life. Just the thought of what might have happened to her made his hands shake with rage. The Highlands were no place for a lady to wander by herself, and this incident proved it.

“I see,” Margaret stated quietly. “I suppose we should get it over with, then.”

Alex turned back to her. “Meaning?”

“Meaning,” she began with a grimace, “if I don’t find a cluster of bushes or trees in the next moment or two…”

With a slight blush, Alex helped her to her feet. “Well, I guess ye’d best see to it, aye?”

Maggie straightened her skirts, never once taking her eyes off Alex’s broad back. To her surprise, he’d been a gentleman of honor and allowed her privacy. Well, as much privacy as five strides of distance granted, anyway.

“Are ye decent yet?” Alex asked, hands braced on his hips as he shifted back and forth.

“Yes. You may look, MacKay.”

His shoulders relaxed before he turned to face her. “I wish I could have afforded ye more privacy, but given the gravity of the situation…”

Maggie waved her hand. “Think nothing of it. Besides, I’ll be saying the same to you afore the day’s out.” It was nearly impossible for Maggie to keep a straight face when he arched an eyebrow. Apparently he hadn’t thought that far ahead. “If I can’t leave your side, MacKay, then I’ll be right there when you’re…um…relieving yourself too.” She blinked innocently. “I’m correct, aren’t I?”

Realization donned in his eyes, and he quickly drew back. “I, uh, I…suppose ye’re right.”
It was difficult to tamp the impish grin that wanted to take over. “And when you wash in the brook, I’ll be there as well.”

Maggie swore she saw the corners of his mouth start to turn upward before one of his big, bronzed hands reached up to stroke his stubbled chin. “Really, now? I hadn’t thought of that.”

Maggie gently raked her bottom lip with her teeth, a move that provoked a heated look from her opponent. “That could prove interesting, could it not?”

Alex stepped closer. “Have ye ever bathed with a man, Margaret?”

Her pulse raced as their gazes met. There was a hungry look in his eyes, and he appeared ready to pounce. To keep her hands steady, she clasped them in front of her. “Does my brother count? When we were bairns, they used to bathe us together.”

His blue eyes sparkled in the sunlight. “Nay. It doesna count.” He waited for her answer only a moment longer. “Well?”

Maggie lowered her lids coyly. “I don’t believe I shall answer that question, MacKay. If I say I have, I’d be painting myself the strum. If I say I haven’t, well… Would I appear too innocent, I wonder.”

Alex laughed, and she wondered how he’d gotten so close without her noticing. His earthy, masculine scent enveloped her like a favorite blanket. “Oh Maggie, I imagine ye fall somewhere in between.”

His chest was partially exposed, and he was near enough to touch. Her fingers itched to reach out to him, but she held back. “Perhaps I do.”

It was Alex who breached the invisible barrier, twirling a lock of her hair around his fingers. She sucked in a breath as he wove his way through the thick mass of tresses. “Ye are dangerous to a man’s self-control, Margaret.”

The flutters in her stomach intensified as he leaned closer. Breathless, she responded, “Why would I wish for you to restrain yourself?”

She felt rather than heard the feral growl that reverberated in his chest as he took possession of her mouth. The sweet shock of his tongue fully engaged with hers made her knees weaken in response, and she gripped his shoulders to keep herself upright. His arms tightened around her waist as he deepened the kiss, and an errant hand found its way to the curve of her buttocks.

Wetness pooled between her thighs as he dragged her firmly to him. With authoritative hands, he guided her so that her pelvis was grinding against him in a slow, tantalizing rhythm. Before she knew it, her body assumed the natural cadence, allowing his hands to explore elsewhere. His fingers lightly traced the path of her spine, invoking a tingling sensation that made her want to press against him even harder.

Cupping one of her breasts, he teased the nipple to the point of delirium.

“Maggie,” he whispered after dragging his lips away from hers. “Ye’ve no idea how long I’ve wanted to touch ye this way.”

BUY FROM ELLORA’S CAVE
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
*fans face* Whew, nice excerpt, thanks for sharing Evie. So I’m curious people, have you had characters from a story haunt you and not let you go? Talk amongst yourselves for a bit while I go take a cold shower …

I’d like to welcome guest author blogger Rayne Hall. Take it away Rayne …

Readers don’t like wusses.

Heroes – male or female – may be frightened, but they may not be wusses. Often, the difference lies not in the hero’s actions, but in the words you’ve used.

You may have created a spunky, heroic, brave heroine, but the reader still perceives her as a wimpy wuss, because you’ve unwittingly used certain phrases which signal “wimp” to the reader’s subconscious. I call this the Wimp Effect.

It’s best to avoid those words, or at least, to use them sparingly.

THE WIMP TEST:
See how your hero performs in your WIP. Every time your protagonist does one of the following things, she or he gets one Wimp Point.

* Sighing, exhaling, breath taking. Each time the protagonist heaves a sigh, sighs deeply, takes a deep breath, inhales, exhales slowly etc, that’s one Wimp Point.

* Shrugging. Shrugs may be intended to convey arrogance or indifference, but they also signal weakness. One Wimp Point for each shrug.

* Hesitation. Each time the protagonist hesitates, however good the reason, that’s a Wimp Point.

* Visceral responses to minor triggers. Visceral responses to real danger are great! But if the protagonist shudders, trembles, jerks and gasps at something harmless like the sound of a banging door, this gets a Wimp Point.

* Indulging in negative-passive emotions. It’s ok to feel sadness, grief, loss, worry, anxiety, helplessness. However, these should be dealt with quickly. The protagonist should experience them, but not dwell on them. Each time such an emotion is described for more than one sentence, it gets a Wimp Point.

* Tears. Each time the protagonist weeps, spills tears, wipes a tear from his eyes, gets moist eyes, or has a tear sliding down her cheek, earns one Wimp Point.

* Thinking. Thoughts should be very short or implied in the action. Whenever the protagonist thinks for more than one sentence, that’s a Wimp Point. If he thinks aloud, or holds conversations with himself, the Wimp Points double.

* Nervous habits. Each time the protagonist bites or chews lips, cheeks or nails, clenches fists or teeth, freezes, gulps, swallows, clears a throat, drops a jaw or stares in disbelief, that’s one Wimp Point.

* Tries and attempts. Each time your protagonist tries/attempts/endeavours something, that’s one Wimp Point. When he tries something in connection with an emotional response (“He tried not to shudder”, “She tried to suppress a groan” “He couldn’t stop himself trembling”), the points double.

* Feeling. Every time the word “feel” is used (“He felt xxx”, “Feeling yyy, she did zzz”) earns one Wimp Point.

* Finding themselves. Every time the protagonist finds himself in a place or situation (“He found himself in a dark alleyway”), or finds himself doing something instead of doing it (“He found himself shaking all over”, “She found herself staring at a house”), this earns one Wimp Point.

* Involuntary actions. Each time she does something involuntarily/unconsciously/instinctively/ without meaning to/against her will, gets one Wimp Point.

* Each time the protagonist’s body parts (instead of the protagonist) do something “His legs stepped forward.” “His hands took the weapon.” “Her eyes watched the rat.”… gets one Wimp Point.

HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?
How many Wimp Points has the protagonist earned? Aim for no more than three in the scariest scene, and no more than ten or fifteen in the whole book, although it depends on the genre. Romance can be allowed a little more; thrillers fewer. Females are allowed a few more points than males, but not many more.

Some writers accumulate a dozen Wimp Points in a single paragraph, and are surprised when readers think their heroine is a wuss.

Here’s an example of how a paragraph with many Wimp Points might read:

Henry Hero stared in disbelief at the dark river, and couldn’t help himself swallowing. He found himself shaking involuntarily. Part of him whispered, “No man has ever crossed this water alive. Go home while you can.” Another part of him yelled, “Just do it. Be the First.” He chewed his lower lip, hesitating. A cloud crossed the sky, making him shudder. Then he took a deep breath to steady himself, and exhaled with a sigh. “I have to do it,” he told himself. “The Delectable Damsel needs me.” His feet stepped towards the shore.

SOME WIMP POINTS ARE OK

Each of the “Wimp Effects” is ok on its own, if it happens just once. A single sigh, a single swallow, a one-off burst into tears are fine.

It’s when the Wimp Points accumulate that they become problematic, and they accumulate quickly. Novice writers often have twenty or more Wimp Points in the first chapter, because their characters shrug and sigh constantly. This establishes their protagonists as wusses before the scary action begins.

The hero Odysseus weeps several times in Homer’s famous ancient epic The Odyssey. Does this make him a wimp? Definitely not. The weeping shows him as a sensitive human, and it works because he doesn’t do anything else to earn Wimp Points. He doesn’t sigh, shrug, inhale, exhale, bite his lips and clear his throat. If he did all those things on top of the weeping, he would come across as a wuss, no matter how many cyclops and monsters he defeated.

It also depends on the character. A timid character is allowed the occasional Wimp Point, but not many.

Examples:
Spunky person: “She halted.” (0 Wimp Points)
Timid person: “She hesitated.” (1 Wimp Point)
Wimpy wuss: “She hesitated, chewing her lips, and heaved a deep sigh.” (3 Wimp Points)

Spunky person: “She braced herself.” (0 Wimp Points)
Timid person: “She swallowed and braced herself.” (1 Wimp Point)
Wimpy wuss: “She swallowed. Then she took a deep breath, exhaled slowly, and braced herself.” (4 Wimp Points)

HOW TO AVOID THE WIMP EFFECT

Wherever possible, cut down on Wimp Points.

* Delete sighs, shrugs, inhales, exhales, lip biting, cheek chewing, swallowing etc.

* Don’t let your protagonists do a lot of thinking, and never let two parts of their psyche engage in a conversation.

* If the plot demands that the protagonist hesitates, express it with different words (He halted , He paused, He waited)

* If the protagonist tries to do something, express it without the words try/attempt/endeavour. Instead of “He tried to pull it out” write “He pulled at it with all his strength”.

* Describe negative-passive emotions intensely but briefly.

De-wimpifying your WiP can be fun. Enjoy the process.

Which wimpy habits have invaded your writing? Tell us about them. If you have questions, please ask.

I’ll be around for a week and will reply.

Rayne Hall is the author of thirty books in different genres (mostly fantasy, horror and non-fiction) and under different pen names, published by twelve publishers in six countries, translated into several languages. Her short stories have been published in many magazines, e-zines and anthologies. Currently, she tries to regain the rights to her out-of-print books so she can republish them as e-books. She is the editor of the Ten Tales series of short story anthologies. Find all her books on Amazon

After living in Germany, China, Mongolia and Nepal, she has settled in a small Victorian seaside town in southern England. Rayne holds a college degree in publishing management and a masters degree in creative writing. Over three decades, she has worked in the publishing industry as a trainee, investigative journalist, feature writer, magazine editor, production editor, page designer, concept editor for non-fiction book series, anthology editor, editorial consultant and more. Outside publishing, she has worked as a museum guide, apple picker, tarot reader, adult education teacher, trade fair hostess, translator and belly dancer.

She teaches online classes for writers including: Writing Scary Scenes, Writing about Magic, Writing Fight Scenes, The Word-Loss Diet, Edit your Writing (and more).

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