guest blog

I’d like to welcome author, LAURA SPINELLA to the Block. Her debut novel Beautiful Disaster has been receiving wonderful reviews across the board. I read this book and LOOOVED it! (That was me singing, not dogs howling…) I am so pleased to have her visiting today.

I had an interesting email from a reader the other day. She wanted to know if I could tell her where Flynn lives. He’s the protagonist in BEAUTIFUL DISASTER, a character who is as illusive on the page as he would be in real life. Illusive, if he existed. Perplexed as to how I might answer, I posed the question on Facebook. Responses were quick, everything from the heartfelt, “Flynn lives in your soul…” to a more humorous, “Tell her he lives here and to stop looking for him!”

Characters can have that affect, taking on a life of their own beyond what the author imagined. I’m thrilled to share Flynn with readers, tickled to know that my out-of-thin-air concoction of a flawed but fascinating man has made an impression. For so many years, draft after draft, I thought it was just me. If we’re talking textbook hero, Flynn would be the Zeta in the Alpha-male line. He goes against type, the flaws being an integral part of his character. He’s the dare you never took, and he’s not without risk. So for me, there’s validation—albeit it a little curious—when a reader gets so involved they want more Flynn than the book’s 370 pages delivers, namely an address and social security number. Romance: historical, contemporary, paranormal, or erotica lends itself to the phenomenon of characters who won’t quit. There’s a privilege in writing a character that warrants a twofold reaction from readers. On one hand, they’re happy for the happy ending. Romance guarantees wait for it satisfaction, and it’s one reason love stories will forever capture the largest market of readers. On the other hand, no other type of storytelling boasts as much margin for personal fantasy. After the last page, the hero has a chance to live on. The character who garners this type of breath-gasping response can suddenly be found six rows in front of you at the Celtics game or sitting across from you on the number nine bus. Romance leads to fantasy, or perhaps it’s the other way around.

In the end, it comes down to chemistry. It’s about the emotions a hero and his love interest generate between the pages and the ones conjured up for the person turning them. I think to be an Uber-hero a character has to spill over the edges. Readers cling to the story, but also find themselves haunted by the hero while picking up their dry cleaning and waiting in the dentist’s office. I say more power to the man who can accomplish this, adding some zip to our everyday lives. Love scenes naturally channel that energy, giving romance a sexy leg up on biographies, mysteries, and science fiction. It’s an invitation to indulge, and far be it from me to deny anyone their whip cream, hot toppings, etc… Some readers like to leave it at the bedroom door, giving their imagination the green light, while others prefer more detailed encounters. It’s the kind of reading that leaves your toes cramped from curling and your husband sure that fulfilling his honey-do list has led to naughty but titillating rewards. Lucky for readers, romance runs the gamut with BEAUTIFUL DISASTER falling somewhere in the middle. It’s a character driven tale wrapped in romance, channeled by a Chapter Ten that still has me asking, “Did I really write that?”

As that writer, I’m forever interested in what moves a reader. So I’m wondering if you’d share with me a character that elicited something more than a, “Gosh, that was a good book,” reaction. Tell me about the guy. What made you wish he was more than a character in a story? Was he flawed like Flynn or did he come complete with a buffing kit for his armor? Leave a comment, between now and Friday, April 15 EDT and you could win a copy of BEAUTIFUL DISASTER—but no skipping ahead to Chapter Ten!

I’d like to welcome my guest today, Tina Donahue, who’s newest release The Yearning will be available next week, FEBRUARY 1. from Samhain Publishing. Take it away Tina:

Commanding and Cherishing…
The two C-words that best describe an Alpha hero in my mind. He’s no pushover, that’s for sure. He knows who he wants and goes after her, though not in an in-your-face kind of way. He’s impassioned yet tender. Protective. The kind of guy we all want.

In The Yearning, my first erotic paranormal set to release February 1, Jasmine needs a man who not only slakes her passion, but can save her life. Enter Mike, ex-law enforcement, who has the will, the power, the brains and the brawn to see that Jasmine survives. It’s not an easy journey for either of them, but it is filled with passion and romance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Desire compelled Jasmine forward even as a thread of panic stole up her spine. Had Violet and Lily seen them leave the floor? If not, how long would it be before they noticed? Where was he taking her?

His earlier comment nagged. He didn’t have anything planned for the next couple of days or nights.

Jasmine forced down a swallow. She’d asked about work to learn if he’d be missed immediately. Too easily, he told her he would not. Her sisters would be pleased if she lured him to their house tonight. If not, where would she end up?

Dizzy with ambivalence, she allowed him to lead her past the restrooms and a small, cluttered office. He paused at the opened back door where two club employees enjoyed a smoke and shared laughter. The young men cast them a look, then exchanged knowing glances. Sly smiles plumped their youthful cheeks as they discarded their cigarettes and moved past, returning to their jobs.

Mike brought her outside. Late-summer air, humid and heavy with the ocean’s tang, enveloped her. The dimly lit alley stretched the length of this establishment and the other businesses. Her heart jumped at the metallic clack of the door closing. She heard traffic whooshing by on the next street. Faint music pumped from the club. Laughter floated on the gentle breeze, coming from an unknown place, since she and Mike were the only ones around. She asked, “Why are we back here?”

His mouth captured hers. Her apprehension fell away, turning into stark need. She tried to slip her arm over his shoulder. He stopped her, taking her wrist and tearing his mouth free. “Not here.”

Her heels clicked on the asphalt as he led her to the adjacent building, set back from the club and closed for the night. He stopped next to a door stenciled with fading white letters stating: Delivery Only. If the same young men or others came outside for a smoke, they wouldn’t see her or him.

Without warning, images of Travis sped through her mind. Him ordering her to undress in the secluded apartment above his shop. Her wrists and ankles lashed to his bed. His frightening smile.

Jasmine’s heart crashed into her chest. She looked at Mike, her emotions torn between worry and craving.

“I won’t hurt you,” he said, reading her fear. Holding her face gently, he studied her, his dark eyes concerned. “Have you been raped?”

It never got that far. Her sisters arrived and—she shook her head, not wanting to think about it. “No.”

“But someone hurt you.”

Her mind saw the belt in Travis’s hand. She recalled its whistle as it hit the air. “He tried. I got away.”

“A boyfriend?”

She lied. “Yes.” Her voice sounded strange, strangled as she next offered the truth. “He seemed fine at first. I didn’t know he was doing meth and that he’d injured another woman. He got crazy and—” She couldn’t continue.

Mike’s thumbs skimmed her jawline, stoking her pulse, making her limp and restless for more.

“Why did you choose me tonight?” he asked.

Her smile wobbled, feeling weird. “Like I said before, I liked the way you handled that young woman. You were the perfect gentleman.”

“That may be, but I wasn’t the only one showing restraint. The bouncer was a regular sweetheart.”

Her smile widened. “I’m sure he’s a nice guy and really I don’t want to sound unkind, but he’s not you. Haven’t you seen yourself in a mirror recently?” She could scarcely hold back her wonder. “You’re freaking awesome.”

He barked a laugh. “Bullshit.”

“You are.” She touched his bottom lip with her fingers, breathless at its silkiness. Her words rushed out. “I spotted you the moment I reached the dance floor. It pissed me off when the redhead got to you first. The server told me there were a dozen other women interested in you. Could be she was lying. It might have been more. That’s why I sent you the beer. It was the only way I knew to get you to notice me.”

His eyes rounded in amazement. “You wouldn’t be putting me on now, would you?”

She reached for her purse. “I have a mirror. You really should look at your—”

“Fuck that.” He lowered his head and captured her mouth.

Throughout The Yearning, there’s an emotional connection beneath their passion, a love neither of them can resist. 🙂

**Giveaway** CLOSED

To celebrate the upcoming release of The Yearning, I’m offering a contest today. One lucky commenter will have her choice of one of my following books**:
1. Lush Velvet Nights – ebook
2. Adored – ebook
3. Deep, Dark, Delicious – ebook
4. In His Arms – ebook
5. Bad Boys with Red Roses – trade paperback
6. Take My Breath Away – trade paperback
** Winner chosen at random on SUNDAY, JANUARY 30. Winner in continental US has her choice of one of the six. Winner outside continental US has her choice of one of the ebooks

*** WINNER ***

Congratulations to VENUS who’s won a book from Tina!

Tina is a multi-published author who enjoys receiving email Tina AT TinaDonahue DOT com. You can also see all her newest releases at her website or follow her latest happenings at her blog, twitter or facebook.

I’d like to welcome my guest blogger today … JUNIPER BELL 

Sometimes you’re in the mood for long and sensual, something you can lose yourself in, something that keeps you in bed all weekend.

Other times, you want it short, hot, and to the point. You want that happy ending, but you don’t want to take so long to get there.

Yes, of course I’m referring to books. I love complex, thousand-page novels. When I was growing up, I was the girl reading under her covers with a flashlight all night. I still love books like that, but realistically, I know it would take me months to finish one now. I’d read a few pages while stirring the soup, then a few more after folding the clothes, or in the precious half-hour after my stepdaughter goes to sleep. When I was younger, I had all the time in the world. Now I’m always racing the clock to get things done. But when I read, I still want a satisfying story with character development and some plot twists.

Enter … the novella! Longer than a quickie, shorter than a novel. Long enough to get intimate with the characters, but not so long my family gets neglected. Long enough for an emotional arc, short enough to focus on the essentials of the story.

As both a reader and a writer, I love the novella form. Writing short forces you to hone your story down to its most compelling elements. It makes you choose the most interesting moments in your characters’ lives. You’re constantly asking the question, what’s necessary, and what’s extraneous? How can I bring this character to life as quickly as possible? It’s a challenge, but an exciting one.

My new book, “Doll“, is a novella.

Here’s the blurb:

Even a plaything can be pushed too far…Chloe Barnes thought her marriage to a wealthy politician would be the stuff of fairy tales. Instead, he took advantage of her naiveté and used her as a plaything to fulfill his twisted sexual needs. Ten years is enough. She returns to Bellhaven Island to sell the summer cottage she inherited, hoping the money will buy her freedom-and custody of her daughters.Fisherman Dustin McDougal never forgot the childhood crush he once had on the fairy-like Chloe. The woman she’s become has a haunted look that brings his feelings back, stronger than ever…with a mature edge. Along with all his protective instincts.

Their passion blows stronger than a Maine nor’easter, awakening Chloe to the joy of true love. Yet it may not be strong enough to free her from the past… BUY THE BOOK

The time covered in this story may be short, but it completely transforms Chloe’s life. By writing this story as a novella, I was able to focus on this one significant turning-point in her existence. Honing the story down to those few tumultuous, magical days made everything about her relationship with Dustin more intense, more meaningful … and yes, hotter.

So readers, how do you like your books, long or short? Authors, which form to do enjoy more? Or is it a question of what you’re in the mood for on any given day?

Thanks to Nina Pierce for having me on her wonderful blog!

I’m so happy to have you Juniper. You can visit Juniper on her website or her regular blog or facebook or chatting away on twitter