Life has taken on a new kind of normal. As many of you know, Mr. Nina and I have been bumping around the northeast, hoping life–and more specifically, the healthcare field–would settle down enough that would could set down some new roots ourselves. Well, it’s finally happening and hopefully we’ll be able to get back on track with our career goals. And for me, that means finding my way back to writing.
One of my goals for the last couple of years is to find my way back to my SHIFTING BONDS series. And I’m excited to say it’s finally heppening. Yay Me! I’m stepping back into the books cautiously, but optimistically. Hopefully the end of 2018 into the beginning of 2019 will see these sexy shifters back out in the world!
In the meantime, I thought I’d share how I came about finding the names of my main characters in this sexy erotic suspense novel.
Being the visual person that I am, I can’t even get one sentence down without knowing exactly who my characters are. And it’s not so much who they are and where they came from, as a pantser that stuff just sort of unravels itself while I write. Nope, I’m talking about their names.
That’s right. You should see what I go through to discover who my characters are. I start with the site Baby Names. I usually have an idea of at least a letter which helps with my search. And some names are easy to eliminate. I mean you don’t want an hero named Edwin or Arthur. Neither of those names conjure up a sexy alpha hero capable of being both commanding and gentle. (But Cole … there’s a name can work with!)
The same is true when it comes to naming your heroine. Hester, Evelyn and Ruth bring to mind grandmothers, not kickass women ready to save the world. That doesn’t mean that in certain situations the name doesn’t work. I’m just talking generalities.
If baby names doesn’t work for me, I use Random Name Generator. What I like about this site is I can decide how obscure I’d like to make the name. And if that doesn’t work, I end up rifling through the phone book.
Once I have their full name and I’ve got an idea what the character looks like in my mind. I go to Female Celebrities and List of Male Actors and search out famous people who most closely fit my vision. I like to choose people in the media because I can google their images and find a couple of pictures that I can put on my character profile. But sometimes, like in A TOUCH OF LILLY, which has a very sexy alien, sometimes only the talent of my cover artist captures the character.
Once I have the pictures of my characters I put them in a document and make lists of eye color, hair descriptions and body characteristics (like tattoos) as I’m writing. Often times the characters quirky habits or their childhood backgrounds are added to the list as well. The nice thing about all of this is that I often don’t intend to write series stories, but inevitably, I fall in love with characters and want to continue their story. These photos then can be used when the characters decide I haven’t quite finished telling their story.
Probably more information than you ever wanted to know about all the hoops I jump through to meet my characters and begin writing a story, but there you have it. 😀
As I’m ringing in another, hoping there are still plenty of “firsts” ahead of me, I thought I’d share with you some of the first lines in my books. Every author knows that we have one line, one paragraph and if we’re lucky–one page to grab you, the reader and keep you turning pages. I can spend days tweaking and reworking the beginning of my stories. When you look at them individually what do you think? Does the line make you want to keep reading or not so much?
1. Jahara Khateri’s life was over. As she stared out the windows of the crowded helo-train, she knew nothing could change the course of her life. She felt the hollow reality as obvious as the barren expanse of the desert stretching between her and the horizon.
2. Nicholas Gradin III splashed three more finger of thirty-year-old scotch into the crystal tumbler sitting on the antique desk, not bothering to add ice. He didn’t need some watered-down version of liquid courage. At this moment, he needed straight up, balls-to-the-walls confidence that everything would work out in his favor.
3. Margaret Callaghan hid her heartache behind dark sunglasses and the Starbuck’s double-double mocha latte she carried like a shield. The steaming coffee hadn’t helped dislodge the hot coal of despair burning her throat or soothe the quiver of her bottom lip. Mercifully, the front receptionist’s desk of Summit Rehabilitation and Wellness Clinic was empty at this hour of the morning, giving her hope that she just might be able to reach her office and pull herself together before anyone could question her misery.
4. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust…”
How could this have happened to someone so young? Julie Tilling dabbed at the tears ruining the makeup she’d meticulously applied to her rounded cheeks. She stared at the coffin suspended eerily over the marred earth of the cemetery, not sure what to make of this farce.
5. Sara Lancaster had definitely made the wrong decision. Less than twenty-four hours ago she was sure this weekend was just what she needed. Eight hours ago, excitement had fluttered in her stomach as she’d left Boston, overjoyed to accept the invitation. Hell, just two hours ago she’d been giddy with anticipation as she’d collected her bags at the Key West airport and caught a taxi to the boat landing. But her tiny apartment and the bungalow where she currently stood weren’t merely thousands of miles apart—a whole world separated the comfortable life she’d finally made for herself and the fantasy she was standing in.
6. It wasn’t much of a noise, just an inconsequential thump in the night that was enough to rouse Professor Paul Morgan from his dreamless slumber. Still cradled in the gentle arms of sleep, his blood thick with sleeping medication, he wasn’t sure if he’d simply imagined the sound. But when another muffled bang was followed by a whoosh of air—he had no doubt the commotion coming from the first floor had nothing to do with his mischievous tabby, Zeus.
* UNCONTROLLED BURN *
7. Meghan Tilling’s body quaked with fear and the bone-chilling thirty-eight degrees of the cooler where she was trapped. She pressed her forehead against the icy metal of the door, her palm caressing its pebbled surface, trying to fight the panic lurking like a sinister shadow and threatening to overwhelm her in despair. How ironic that the annoyance of driving in a Maine snowstorm had kept her at Tilling Gardens and Plants, the business she co-owned with her two sisters. Finishing the shop’s holiday arrangements and festive decorations had seemed a better alternative to a white-knuckled drive home in the heart of a nor’easter. Except now, instead of being stranded in a ditch on the side of the road with a chance of being rescued, she was going to freeze to death alone in the walk-in cooler that was the lifeblood of her business.
8. Jesus. Even though Jonathon Brierton wasn’t particularly religious he prayed for Divine intervention. Not that he wanted any lightning strikes or halos of light illuminating the shadowed corner of the club where he’d hidden himself, but a little more help in the patience department would certainly go a long way at the moment. It went against his baser nature to sit back and wait rather than walking over and convincing the copper-haired beauty leaning over the railing across the way to put on his collar and join him in one of the private dungeons below.
9. Lilly D’Angelo wasn’t expecting a trip down memory lane when she sauntered into the dingy tavern, but the acrid stench and gruff hum of the Friday night crowd carried her back to one of the seedier establishments on Chicago’s south side nonetheless. Except for the clientele, the owner had managed to replicate nearly every detail right down to the blue haze of cigarette smoke and the soft crooning of a jazz band on the corner stage.
* A TOUCH OF LILLY (An All Romance Ebook BESTSELLER!) *
10. Deirdre Tilling slammed the spade into the soil. Her booted foot thumped down on its metal edge, driving it deeper and transferring her frustration to the wounded earth. She’d been working the flowerbeds around her farmhouse since noon. And though the sun stretched the shadows of the maples long across her lawn, painting their leaves a deeper crimson, the hours of heavy labor hadn’t helped ease the pain of loneliness.
I love creating new worlds. Granted, I do it every time I decide to sit down and write a story. But my newest sexy romantic suspense, A TOUCH OF LILLY takes place in deep space. This is a whole new world which meant I could let my imagination soar free! I thought I’d share a little bit about how I created this world and its inhabitants.
First of all, I’m a VERY visual writer. I need to see a scene before I can describe it. Usually I have it in my head, but sometimes it requires a walk around the internet. In one of the scenes the hero, Dallas is leading the heroine, Lilly into an alley. I wanted something dark and I wasn’t sure I could describe it well enough, so a quick image search and I found this picture to the left. This really set the tone for the entire feeling of the dark planet, Garalon Five (with its three moons and lack of sun).
MICHELLE G. of
She won a fun prize pack of “Nina” goodies including a signed copy of
A TOUCH OF LILLY
Every author knows that we have one line, one paragraph and if we’re lucky one page to grab the reader. I can spend days tweaking and reworking the beginning of my stories. So I thought today I’d share with you the first lines of my books (with the names removed). When you look at them individually what do you think? Does the line make you want to keep reading or not so much?
So here they are in no particular order. Can you figure out which book they’re from? (And I included a line from a book that isn’t currently available at this time.):
1.) She slammed the spade into the soil. Her booted foot thumped down on its metal edge, driving it deeper and transferring her frustration to the wounded earth.
~ Deceive Her With Desire
2.) Margaret Callaghan hid her heartache behind dark sunglasses and the Starbuck’s double-double mocha latte she carried like a shield.
~ In His Eyes
3.) She wasn’t expecting a trip down memory lane when she sauntered into the dingy tavern, but the acrid stench and gruff hum of the Friday night crowd carried her back to one of the seedier establishments on Chicago’s south side nonetheless. ~ A Touch of Lilly
4.) She had definitely made the wrong decision. Less than twenty-four hours ago she was sure this weekend was just what she needed.
~ Invitation to Ecstasy
5.) “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust…” How could this have happened to someone so young? ~ Blind Her With Bliss
6.) It wasn’t much of a noise, just an inconsequential thump in the night that was enough to rouse him from his dreamless slumber. Still cradled in the gentle arms of sleep, his blood thick with sleeping medication, he wasn’t sure if he’d simply
imagined the sound. ~ Shadows of Fire
7.) He splashed three more fingers of thirty-year-old scotch into the crystal tumbler sitting on the mahogany desk, not bothering to add ice. He didn’t need some watered-down version of liquid courage.
~ Divine Deception
8.) She sauntered into the Whip and Bull Tavern, wanting only two things—a cold beer and a hot body. ~ Bonded Souls
9.) Jesus. Even though he wasn’t particularly religious he prayed for Divine intervention. Not that he wanted any lightning strikes or halos of light illuminating the shadowed corner of the club where he’d hidden himself, but a little more help in the patience department would certainly go a long way at the moment. ~ Maid for Master
10.) She raced through the shadows, her claws digging deep in the damp forest floor. Lush ferns of summer slapped at her muzzle but didn’t slow her speed.
~ Bonded by Need
What do you think? Do you have a favorite? Do you think any of them missed the mark?
And my latest book news? Well, I’m happy to announce all of the books in the Dangerous Affairs, sexy romantic suspense series, BLIND HER WITH BLISS and DECEIVE HER WITH DESIRE and CHEAT HER WITH CHARM are now available in audio format. What a kick-in-the-pants to hear someone else reading my stories! I hope you’ll check them out:
One of the reasons I love reading and writing romance is falling in love with hero even as he chases down a criminal, fights his internal demons and of course … falls in love with the heroine.
But my sexy romantic suspense sci-fi A Touch of Lilly has TWO heroes to love! Dallas, a human FBI agent and his sexy humanoid partner, Thaegan aren’t expecting the human bounty hunter they interrogate will become their willing partner …
Dallas swigged the last of his Regent’s ale. Anyone who’d been watching would believe the human’s alcohol consumption would have him waxing the floor with his face. The fact he staggered away from the bar barely caused a ripple of interest. But when he bumped into the Braugtot alien disguised as a human female on the dance floor and made a rather lewd body motion—several aliens took notice.
“Baby! How about you dump this loser Ka’al and come home with me?” The words slurred from Dallas’ mouth as he wrapped himself around the Braugtot’s body. From the smell he even wondered if it was really female. But whatever the sex, the jealous Ka’al reacted just the way he’d hoped.
“Rrracht narctch, rraollk.” She’s with me, asshole. Beefy hands grabbed his shirt and flung him through the air. Dallas landed unceremoniously on the nearest table, breaking up a quiet conversation between two Xericks.
Sometimes he hated this part of the job. Dallas came up swinging. A left hook to one head and a right uppercut to the second and the male Xerick went down, taking out several unsuspecting Drikspa dancers. Dallas ducked as a chair flew.
Alcohol, male hormones and boredom created the diversion they’d hoped for. The fight spread like a virus through the tavern. Dallas avoided a tussle between two Ka’als, took down another Ickbata and made his way toward his partner, hoping Thaegan had managed to stop Lilly before she got through the door with their man. A very unladylike scream from the front of the bar confirmed that the alien had things under control in that area.
Dallas pushed his way to the door, watching Grebetz slip out onto the street, a Xerick close at his heels. “Gamma Team. Phase two. Znedu loose. Track him and report.” It was all he got out before meeting up with Thaegan and Lilly.
“Roger that,” echoed in his ear.
“I’ll let you up if you stop fighting me.” Thaegan had the woman face down on the floor, her arms behind her back. The Ka’al was more than twice her size, still Lilly kicked and bucked, trying to work herself free. As the fight around them escalated, Lilly’s body stilled, but not her mouth. Dallas didn’t know many dialects, but it was clear Lilly knew the word asshole in all thirty-two common languages of the Nebulae Galaxy and several more he’d never even heard of. He had no doubt the words she strung with it would have gotten him several weeks detention from the nuns at St. Christopher’s Academy back home.
He bent low and met her eyes. “Lilly, we have no intention of hurting you.”
The fear in her eyes softened to confusion and immediately hardened to anger.
Well, didn’t this just suck? Lilly had no idea how’d she’d gone from mentally counting her reward to a face plant on the sticky floor of the tavern. No amount of maneuvering had budged the three-hundred-pound Ka’al holding her down. And now the man who would star in her nightly fantasies for the next month stared at her with an amused expression.
Though Lilly knew fighting wasn’t going to get her anywhere, she screamed her frustration and kicked out, trying to dislodge the monster holding her down. She only managed to slam her foot into a table leg, which just pissed her off all the more. Dallas didn’t do a very good job of hiding his amusement.
“If you know the asshole doing chiropractic on my spine, could you kindly ask him to let me up?” she asked, her tone dripping with sweetness.
Dallas nodded and the Ka’al stood, hauling Lilly to her feet in one effortless move. The alien’s mahogany skin glistened with the coppery sheen of a man under stress. His muscular chest, barely covered by the deeply V’d tank top, heaved. Holding her down had taken no effort, but the energy she’d tried to use on the Znedu was still high and the Ka’al was paying the price of touching her.
Lilly’s body pulsed and throbbed. Her nipples were oversensitive and her sex tingled. There was no way in hell these two guys weren’t also feeling the effects of the current snapping in the air. If the residual energy she’d pulsed through the Znedu hadn’t done it, then her anger at being stopped at the door would be enough to have these males dropping to their knees. If only the Ka’al would let go of one of her hands, she might be able to do a little more work up close and personal.
Lilly leaned toward Dallas and yelled over the confusion, “I didn’t need saving this time either, but thank you again.”
I think finding the right profession for my heroes is one of the toughest jobs. (Get the pun?) I mean there are stories like “Deceive Her With Desire” or “A Touch of Lilly” where a profession like being an alphabet guy just flows naturally from the plot. But sometimes that’s just not the case.
In my novella, Divine Deception, Nicholas Gradin is a chemical engineer. It just seemed to be a natural offshoot of growing up on a vineyard and learning to mix wines. And although I think he’s pretty irrisistable, an engineer in and of itself just isn’t sexy.
But I have to say there are just some heroes I can’t resist:
Demons (Fallen Angels)
They just scream alpha to me. Totally in charge. Totally ready to square off with a fiesty heroine and rock her world.
So what about you? Are there any heroes that make your knees go weak just because of their day job?
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?
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
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!
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.
9. Puh-lease, you didn’t think one of my badboy heroes wouldn’t be wearing a kilt? Have you ever visited my blog?
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.
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 … 😉
12. What fun is a romance without a hero who makes himself comfortable while he’s waiting for his woman to come home?
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.)
I am very blessed to have found an awesome cover artist in Dar Albert of Wicked Smart Designs. She’s helped me design all the book covers for my self-published books. Not only is she talented, but she’s also patient through the design process.
Since I’m sooooo in LOVE with my covers, it won’t surprise any of you that I entered two of my covers in the Houston Bay Area RWA’s JUDGE A BOOK BY IT’S COVER contest. Covers are judged by a panel and separately by readers. Voting for the Reader’s Choice Awards is open now. Click HERE to vote.
A TOUCH OF LILLY is entered in the Science Fiction category.
IN HIS EYES is entered in the Romantic Suspense category.
There are some amazing covers. What I love about this contest is that you judge each cover individually on a scale of 1 to 5, not against other covers. You also don’t have to vote for all covers, though they do prefer you judge all covers in a category.
If you have time … it’s totally worth checking out the covers and voting!
It’s been a month in the making … but the time has FINALLY arrived!!! Beginning tomorrow I start on my a whirlwind tour of frivolity, fun, and just general trouble making across the Internet. 14 days. 13 stops. Random prizes. One Grand Prize of a $25 Gift Card, three signed print books, book bag, t-shirt, and general “Nina” stuff for one lucky commenter across all blog stops.
Yep, it’s a marketing free-for-all for A TOUCH OF LILLY. There will be interviews and excerpts, reviews and some interesting insights into me (scary place, this brain of mine LOL!). I hope you can join me!
Here is the schedule:
July 29: Illustrious Illusions
July 30: The Reading Addict
July 30: Deal Sharing Aunt
July 31: Books and Other Spells
August 1: Erotica For All
August 2: Tina Donahue Presents
August 2: Friday Finds
August 5: Beyond Romance
August 6: Wickedly Wanton Tales
August 7: Wicked Readings by Tawania
August 7: Smoldering Heat
August 9: Words of Wisdom from The Scarf Princess
August 9: Literal Hotties Naughty Books Reviews
The posts have been written. The prizes have been ordered. Looks like we’re a green for launch!
Ready. Set. GO!