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Seduction Of The Senses

Seduction Of The Senses -1
What draws you into a book and makes you feel you are right there with the characters? Or better yet, into the head of maybe the hero or heroine, sharing their experiences?

First and foremost, it’s well developed characters that evoke emotion from the reader whether it is a character you love or relate to and want them to find happiness, or even possibly someone you hate and want to see justice served in the end.

But there is so much more that goes into drawing you into a book than just telling a good story and developing great characters. Description brings a book to life. Description allows you see what the characters see, hear what they hear, feel what they feel, taste what they taste and yes, even smell what they smell. After I’ve completed the first draft of a book, one entire revision is done to add description, finding places where I can apply the uses of the senses to add depth to a scene.

Anyone ever hear of the old book THE SENSUOUS WOMAN written by “J” way back in the 60’s? A paragraph from the back cover blurb reads: Now “J” reveals her secret, step-by-step program that allows every woman to free her body, train her senses and realize her tremendous feminine capacity for giving and receiving pleasure. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, the book was written as an instruction manual of sorts, designed to bring out the sensual woman in you. The book included many exercises the readers can do to develop and heighten their senses and bring them in to play in lovemaking.

It’s amazing what you can come up with when you are racking your brain for a topic for a monthly blog post and just happen to pick up a dusty old book from your resource stack. Anyway, doing a bit of research, the information I came up with was interesting as well as extensive. Far too much information to work into a single blog post. So, I’ve decided to do something a bit different and break it up into five different posts, focusing on one of the five senses each month as used to enhance the written word as well as enhancing your lovemaking.

So called experts say that as a society we’ve become desensitized, our senses dulled.

Lets see what we can do to sharpen things up a bit. Just for fun, I’ll give you a few exercises to try out each month, exercises designed to heighten each of the five senses.

While this is written primarily with women in mind, you men out there might learn a thing or two about pleasing your woman. It’s never too late to go back to the basics and rekindle the passion in any relationship.

First up - The sense of touch

His hands gripped her and slid them down to his chest. “Touch me, Jane,” he instructed softly.

She needed no further encouragement. Her eyes snapped open, fascinated as she watched the play of her pearl tipped nails as they sifted through the dark hair on his chest. The tickling sensation, created by his slightly course chest hair against her palms, and the feel of his firm muscles which flexed beneath her exploring hands, intensified the heavy feeling growing between her legs.

Did you know the palms of your hands can be an incredible erogenous zone? The feel of a lover’s skin beneath your hands, exploring their entire body to discover which areas are most sensitive. Our skin has nerve endings to beg to be touched and massaged. Touch can be one of our most exciting senses, allowing you to give and receive pleasure all at once.

It’s time to bring slow, foreplay back into your lovemaking. Give your lover a sensual massage. Starting at the neck, work your way down, touching and massaging each body part. Tell your partner why you love the way their body feels and ask them which of your touches gives them the most pleasure. Take extra time exploring your lover’s erogenous zones – the obvious and those special spots that drive them wild. Ask where they like to be touched and how to touch, firm, gentle, a bare breath of a caress. Ask them to tell you how it feels. Focus on the different textures, the tactile sensation against your palms.

Now it’s your turn. Switch roles. Your turn to be the guide. Don’t hesitate to tell your lover what you want.

Next, together, explore each other’s bodies like it was the first time you’ve been together.

Exercise 1: TOUCH the snow or the grass outside, the bark of a tree, your lingerie, your sheets, the warmth of a cup containing something hot, the cool dampness of a glass containing something cold. Close your eyes and focus on how they feel against the palm of your hand. Is it hot, cold, warm, smooth, rough? It is pleasing? Uncomfortable?

If you are really adventurous, try giving the massage with a blindfold. Are the sensations you receive different? More acute? It is said that when one sense is lost, the others become stronger to compensate. Try wearing a blindfold around your home and identifying objects by touch alone. You might be surprised to find that the more you exercise your sense of touch, the sharper it will become.

You have an entire month to practice before we move on to the sense of sight.

Until next time, reach out and touch someone.


Retreat Doesn't Mean To Fall Back

A group of writer friends and I went to “The Elms” for a weekend retreat. They were having winter specials, and the rooms, though small, were very inexpensive. The Elms is a hundred year old hotel in Excelsior Springs, Missouri. It has at least two ghosts that we heard about, and was a favorite haunt of Al Capone during prohibition days.

We got together Friday night as everyone arrived and visited, drank and talked writing. Although we didn’t get to bed until after 1, I was up at 7 the next morning. We had access to the conference room, and after meeting for a buffet breakfast, there were soon as many as ten laptops humming away. Now get this, all except one person were female and yet there wasn’t any talking, just writing.

What an awesome experience! It was a chance to really get some pages done, energized by fellow writers. By 1 we were all hungry so we went to the historic downtown area and walked around, absorbing the atmosphere, visiting with local merchants, tasting wine and eating lunch. (Did I mention we like to drink?) The weather was chilly, but not so cold that I couldn’t go out and take some pictures of the pavilion, river, old stone bridge and a wonderful old church. Talk about setting material! It’s almost a guarantee some of this will appear in my next book.

We wrote again in the afternoon, interrupted only by the occasional comment or request for the correct word to use. We didn’t stop until well after 7 that evening. We even ordered pizza in so we didn’t have to be interrupted. We didn’t vacate the conference room until after 11, moving to the library lounge where we continued talking writing and sipping an evening cocktail. Sunday morning after the breakfast buffet, some of us who didn’t have far to travel were again ensconced in the library lounge (with the bar closed this time) writing away until almost noon.

Writing is usually a solitary affair and most of us sit, holed up, in our computer room pecking away as we try to envision the setting, characters and action. Taking a writing retreat puts you in a different environment, but with a specific purpose, and the results are sometimes amazing. In addition, I have enough background material from visiting with staff at “The Elms” to write at least one short story, probably with a ghost in it!!

Oh, yeah, the ghosts. I suppose you want to hear about them. One of the ghosts is a gambler from prohibition days. Not sure why he died. Another is a chambermaid. Now, the newspaper reports that no one ever died in the two fires that swept through the Elms at different times, but apparently she did. One of my friends asked why someone wouldn’t have realized she had disappeared. I said perhaps she was an immigrant and didn’t have family in the area, perhaps she was an illegal alien, or even (and this is the one I like) perhaps she was a time traveler, and didn’t really belong at the Elms! Ah, the inspiration found when visiting a different locale!

If you have a chance to get away with a few friends, DO IT! Don’t have organized activities like a conference or workshop. Plan on writing and sharing. “Retreat” definitely doesn’t mean fall back. It means forge ahead with inspiration, good fellowship and creativity. Oh, and wine. Don’t forget the wine!

Bobbie Russell
Check out some great short stories at Originally written for the Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s Day “shorts” they are great reading any time of year.


Better Know an Editor - With Dakota Rebel and Michele Paulin

So I was stumped. My blog date was coming up and I couldn’t think of anything witty to write about. I thought and I thought. “What do people want to know about? What knowledge can I share with readers and my fellow writers?” And then it hit me: Use someone else’s knowledge to make me seem smart and witty. Yay me!

Today I have a special guest with me on my guest appearance at Hitting the Hot Spot. And she has promised not to correct the grammar in my questions.

Michele Paulin is a Senior Editor for Total-e-bound Publishing. She currently has over 25 writers assigned to her and she is a very busy cookie. She is also an incredible editor. My favorite thing about her – She shows me how dumb I am without ever calling me stupid. That’s always nice. For instance, when she edited Kit and Mouse for the Bound Brits Anthology, she just mentioned that my character cannot call herself an “asshole,” then she moved on to the next item at hand. Super nice.

And now it is time for: Better know your Editor with Dakota Rebel and Michele Paulin.

1. Hello there. So I know that I am your favoritest author (mostly because I use words like favoritest and I know how much you love it.) But as far as TEB goes, what kind of writers are they looking for? What are the genres that are “hot” right now?

What’s hot? Right now…ménage is hot. BDSM…M/M...Vampires…Shapeshifters…Older women/younger men. But I’d quickly advise writers not to chase the market. Write a story you’re comfortable writing. If ménage isn’t your ‘thing’, don’t try to write it. To be honest, readers want good stories and they’ll know if you’re faking it.
I don’t decide which books I’ll take based on trends. What’s hot comes and go. What’s in demand this month might not be what readers are looking for next month. By the time you finish writing the next epic shapeshifter story, readers may want something else.
One thing I look for is writers who are already promoting themselves when they send their work. Do they blog? Do they have a website? The ebook market is tough. I need to know a writer is going to get out there and sell him or herself.

2. What elements does a story have to have for you/TEB to offer a writer a contract on it?

Of course, every editor appreciates good writing skills. Beyond that, please send me romances. I prefer a happily ever after or, at very least, a promise of happily ever after. The hero and the heroine should meet early in the story and be together at the end of the book. I want to see strong characters who are heroic and motivated in their actions. And their actions need to lend themselves to a solid plot with steamy sex.

3. I know every writer reading this right now is waiting for this question, so I will bite the bullet early. What is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to writers? What do we do that drives you absolutely batsh*t? (I promise if you tell me I won’t do it on purpose….very often.)

Well, this is a landmine of a question…I work with wonderful authors at TEB. They’re a lovely group. As long as you answer emails and don’t act like a diva, we’re all good.
Generally speaking, my pet peeve is when I read a book and the author has failed to get into the characters’ heads. As a reader I shouldn’t have to ask, “What’s he thinking?” or “Why doesn’t she have a reaction to this?” over and over. Again, I’m not speaking about my TEB authors.
(She’s being polite, this is totally about me. My character’s heads are as empty as mine. But see, she is super sweet. In my defense, I am trying to get better at this.)

4. I recently won the Irish, British, AND Nigerian lotteries (The Rebel household is VERY excited.) If you won the lottery what would you do first? What is the very first thing you would buy? (Ok, so this question is for me. Mr. Rebel said he would buy a “Forty” which for anyone who doesn’t know is a forty ounce bottle of terrible beer, usually held inside a brown paper bag to drink, and I told him that was dumb. Now I want to know what everyone would buy first.)

You won those too? What about the Yahoo lottery?
The first thing I’d do if I won a legitimate lottery is faint. Then I’d buy a new house.

Questions from the Peanut Gallery:

5. Kelly Kirch would like to know - What is a “dangling participle” and why is it so bad?

Oh, how to explain…I don’t call these dangling participles in my edits. Usually I’ll say something like, “this says the party is wearing a tutu. Is the party wearing the tutu?” Specifically, a dangling participle causes confusion. It’s when you have an –ing phrase that doesn’t agree with the subject of the sentence. An example: Wearing a tutu, the bachelor party embarrassed Bob.
See where I might ask if the party has on a tutu? Corrected this would be: Wearing a tutu at the bachelor party, Bob was embarrassed.
I think we should leave tutus, Bob and his fetish behind.

6. Molly Daniels wonders - What do you look for in a query letter? How can writers improve on them to make them more appealing to an editor? What are the most common mistakes a writer makes in a query letter and how can they fix it?

There are a few things.
A query letter should be short and well-written. Do not use descriptive writing, just give me the clear-cut facts, using strong nouns and verbs.
I often get letters full of typos, poor grammar and misused words or homonyms. Letters like that don’t inspire much hope on my part. They tell me I’m likely to spend a lot of time on the authors’ manuscripts.
Another query problem is when authors fail to check the publishing house’s guidelines. It doesn’t matter how great your story is. If it’s not erotic romance, I’m not going to take it.
Finally, when I read a query letter, I’d like to know what you’re sending me. Give me a 1-2 paragraph set-up. Then tell me about yourself. I want to know if you’re published, if you have experience, if you’ve been writing for a while, etc. If you’ve won writing awards, by all means tell me, however, I won’t reject you if you have none of those things. Include your blog and/or website addresses if you have them.
Contrary to what an author might think, I do not enjoy rejecting manuscripts. I understand this is a person’s hard work and they’ve put a lot of time into it. When I review any story, I make a list of its good and bad points. If I decide the story should be rejected, I mull it over. Occasionally for days. Why am I rejecting this book and how can I encourage this writer? I don’t use form rejections. I don’t believe any editor at Total-e-bound does. If you receive a rejection from us, look at the information we offer. You can use it to strengthen your writing.

Michele, thank you so much for answering my questions today. I am sure that we have all learned a lot about the kinds of things editors are looking for from their writers. And readers are always curious as to the kind of work writers, editors, and publishers do to get fantastic books in their hands.

Thanks for having me Dakota. Talking about my job is one of my favoritest things in the world. (Did I use your new word correctly, lol?)

Do you have a great novel full of steamy sex and a believable love story, free of dangling participles? If you are a writer looking for a good home with a fantastic erotica publisher I encourage you to check out the TEB site and see what they are looking for right now. Their submission page is always available with full guidelines.

If you are a reader looking for a fantastic erotic love story then Total E Bound is the place to be. I have the good fortune to be listed alongside some fabulous writers at TEB. There are sure to be titles available for any and all romance tastes.

Dakota Rebel


Bun in the Oven

Caught your attention, didn’t I? You were thinking Aurora Rose is prego, but alas that is not the case.

What do you absolutely drool for when you think of a sweet treat or your favorite food? Are you willing to try new dishes or a baked good you’ve never tried before? Last summer, I began my foray into the adventure of baking and cooking authentic food. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m a good cook in my own right and love making cookies but some other foods tried my patience and my skills.

Several years ago, I made cinnamon buns but they didn’t turn out too good. You could have gone to Canada to play hockey with those hard buns! I tried baking bread too but that worked out as well as the cinnamon buns. Why doesn’t bread rise, I asked myself after seeing my latest, and most dismal attempt.

So back to last summer. I decided I wanted to learn to make chile rellenos, a Mexican dish of poblano peppers stuffed with Monterey Jack cheese. Oh, might as well make some Mexican rice to go along with it. I found a recipe, heated up the frying oil to a toasty hot temp and off I went. They didn’t turn out too bad. They were edible, but the next time I made them, I made the batter thicker and eh voila! Chile rellenos became a popular dish at my house. (My spell checker is weirding out with all the Mexican words. Excuse me, while I give it a short talking too.) The rice turned out really well too, with thin-sliced onion, a can of tomato juice and saffron and cumin along with other spices.

I learned how to make Baklava, a very sweet treat made with phyllo dough, walnuts and honey. One baking dish worth will go a long way and satisfies the sweet tooth’s craving.

I taught myself to make Rocky Road Fudge, Key Lime Pie, Lemon Meringue Pie with home-made crust and Tamales, some filled with pork and others with chicken, and apple fritters. I learned to make pickled ginger to go along with sushi. Then I got very adventurous and decided to see if hoagie rolls were hard to make. I mean I didn’t want them hard as hockey pucks again. My husband, who makes delicious bread when he’s in the mood, taught me how to measure the water before I add in the yeast. So, presto! I learned one of the most basic skills for making bread - how to heat your water and proof the yeast. Those hoagie rolls turned out super - crunchy on the outside and light on the inside. Perfect!

Cinnamon buns, being the challenge they were, had been put on a back burner until I saw a recipe for a quick version, complete with brown sugar, margarine, cinnamon and raisins. I tried that version and it became an all around favorite. Then I thought, I’ve made bread a couple of times (remember heating the water to the right temperature is important), why not try yeast-raised cinnamon buns? They weren’t the nightmare they’d once been. The dough turned out easy to work with and what was best, was that my husband loved them! But I have one more baked good to conquer. Sourdough bread since I see some person from this household always making special trips to the local grocery to buy some. How hard can that be?

Oh, maybe very hard. I need sourdough starter. No problem. That’s the wonderful thing about the internet. There are recipes everywhere you care to surf. So I made sourdough starter. In case you’re wondering, it’s like yeast but it’s more like a batter that you have to treat like a pet (you have to feed it once a week) except that it lives in your fridge. Some folks, I learned, has sourdough starter back from the 1840s!

Okay, I’ve got the starter, now for the bread. It took three days to make. I am not kidding! It had to rise the first time for twelve hours until doubled in bulk. Then the second time, it rose overnight in the fridge. When I baked the loaf of bread, it was smallish but it tasted good. Now I’ve gotten smarter and more time efficient. I use yeast along with the starter and make bread in about four hours.

The joy of being able to bake and cook anything I want is liberating. The whole process, from thinking about what would taste good for dinner and the creation relaxes me in a way few other things can. Now don’t think I spend all day in the kitchen. No, I spend part of my day there and the rest, well, I spend in the dining room eating and enjoying life and planning/writing my next novel.

What is your favorite food?

My birthday is coming up early next month so as a birthday treat, and which has nothing to do with food, I’m giving away a free critique of the first 30 pages of a fantasy or romance (any genre) novel (normally a $100 USD value). The tenth (10th) person to email me from my website will receive a personalized reading and in-depth critique. Happy writing!

Aurora Rose Lynn's Website


Breathe In

Simple Pleasures…

By Sierra Cartwright

….Deep breath in. Another out…. There. Doesn’t that feel better?

Not that I’m one to talk, LOL.

As a coach, writer, business manger, I, like you, wear a dozen different hats, sometimes more than one at the same time! (You know what I mean. It’s when you are at work and you’ve got your cellular phone pressed to you ear because you’re getting a call from home. Oh, wait! There’s call waiting buzzing, telling you an important client is ringing.)

And it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of our lives…phones, shopping, cooking dinner, running the kids to school, checking email…

By the time you get to the end of the day, you fall into bed exhausted. Then the alarm shrills and you drag your still-tired body from bed only to do it all over again.

Sometimes it feels as though our lives are roller coasters where you’re strapped in. “Please stay seated until the ride comes to a complete stop.”

Well, guess what? It’s not easy, but we can stop at least part of the insanity. How? This may sound counterintuitive, but we can enjoy our lives more by scheduling some fun into our day.

As a coach, I know that time for fun doesn’t magically appear in our lives.

It has to be planned. At least weekly, maybe even monthly.

You’re kidding, right?

I have to plan even more than I already to?

If you want to enjoy life more, yes.

My suggestion? Call your BFF and put a dinner date on the April calendar now. Schedule a ‘date’ night with your SO. Buy tickets to that show you’ve been dying to see, even if it doesn’t open until July.

By having things to look forward to, we brighten our lives.

And speaking of brightening our lives, it’s spring! Plan to get outside on your break (doubly important if you’re a stay at home parent!). Buy some tulips for your desk or bedroom. Or take a bath instead of a hurried-up shower.

It’s far too easy to get sucked into our everyday lives and forget there’s a wonderful world of fun and simple pleasures out there…from birds to flowers to a coffee to a walk in the rain.

And I’m not kidding. These things need to be planned?

How? When that pesky alarm peels back your eyelids? Get out of bed. If you have little ones, let them sleep a few extra minutes while you leisurely sip your tea and watch the sunrise. If you have no one to get out the door, go outside and enjoy the brisk air.

Leave for your errands five minutes before you need to so you’re not swearing at other people on the roads. (Really, they aren’t there just to irritate the snot out of you, even if it feels that way.)

Plan a long lunch and sit on a park bench. Go home early and stop for a latte.

Be thinking, always, of ways you can enjoy your life more. Simple pleasures do not have to cost money. They can be as simple as feeding your stale bread to the ducks, or picking some lilacs, or watching a sunset or moonrise, or walking on the beach with the cool, damp sand squishing through your toes.

For those of who are workaholics, these things are doubly important. There is more to life than getting to the finish line faster than anyone else. The simple pleasures are the ones we remember. We don’t remember being at work because of the monotony. We need to break out of the mold and take care of ourselves.

Stop and take a deep breath of the warm spring air.



Didn’t that feel good?


Secrecy, Sex and Sense

“Meet Ginger. Stunningly beautiful, accomplished – talented. Her fresh perspective and congenial personality enhance her alluring physical appeal. Breath-taking beauty, inspiring conversation, and a candid personality make her an unrivaled companion. When seeking an invigorating, rejuvenating experience, Ginger is the choice for a girl-friend companion.”


Ginger’s got the three s’s: Secrecy, Sex and Sense

Secrecy is her key, sex her allure, and business sense her drive.

Men risk their careers for one night with Ginger. One night of fantasy sex – where she’ll be anything he wants her to be. Do anything he wants. Has he been a naughty boy? Ginger will punish him. Is he looking for a wild ride? Ginger will rev his motor.

Ginger blends into his world, because she is from his world. When five o’clock comes, she arrives at his hotel, dressed in her daytime business attire. She works in the New York’s financial district – the hub of the moneyed world. So does he.

She’ll risk her day job, her health, her very life, for the thousands a man will pay to have her for just one night.

Then she can slink back into his world, and no one’s the wiser…

Except for her.

Ginger believes she’s beating him at his own game.

Ginger’s got more money for one night’s work than she could make in a week at her marketing job. She also gets investment advice from a ‘client’ who is probably the wizard of Wall Street. All that money buys a summer home on Long Island’s East End, and a sporty little Porsche. A few trips, too. Maybe to the islands, Europe.

He knows Ginger won’t tell. Or will she? He gets away with it once, twice…a few times. Money for sex, sex for hire. A simple concept that can lead to tragic results.

What keeps her coming back? Is it just the money? No, I think it’s…


He gets a taste of her and he’s hooked. Like a drug, she’s an addiction, something he can’t resist. That gives her power.

He’s addicted to her, but she’s addicted to the money.

Ginger tricked the entire world – no one knows who she really is. Maybe that’s where the phrase ‘turning a trick’ comes from. No one knows what goes on behind her little two-piece business suit, but tucked away in her handbag are her little leather whips and satin-lined handcuffs.

She’s a ‘call-girl’ – a term used at the turn of the century. A man would ‘call a girl’ for sex using that new invention, the telephone. No man calls Ginger– they don’t have to. She knows when to show up, when to leave. Her service is discreet and deliciously naughty.

But one man will turn the tables on Ginger…

When death marks her door in the middle of the night.


Mark opened the door just as Grace arrived at his room on the eighth floor of the Marriott. He pulled her inside, his hand squeezing her upper arm in a tight, vise-like grip.

“Ginger,” he whispered, his mouth closing over hers, slipping his hand inside her Armani jacket. He lifted the hem of her black silk tank top and ran his hand underneath; his fingers opening the front catch of her bra. She moaned into his mouth as he rolled her nipple between his thumb and forefinger. A shot of pleasure, combined with just a hint of pain coursed through her belly and settled between her legs. “Ginger,” he tore his mouth from hers, and whispered in her ear, “I’m glad you’re here.”

“So am I,” came her response - one Grace uttered too many times to count.

He backed her up against the door and continued to caress her breasts, cupping them in his large palms, lifting her shirt so he could bend down and suckle them.

“Wait, Mark, I…” she couldn’t catch her breath. “What’s wrong?” she grasped his head between her hands, her fingers digging into his scalp. He cried out, but didn’t stop as her long, red nails scraped his skin.

Mark liked pain, but tonight, something wasn’t right. She could feel the tremors running through his tall frame, could smell his sweat. The odor of fear hung around him, its pungent smell drifting by her nose.

He stopped touching her bare breasts, easing her shirt down over her belly. Running a hand through his hair, he gazed at her, his big, dark eyes solemn and…

For just a second, she thought she saw fear in his eyes. One minute they appeared large and round, the next…they shrunk, concealing the emotion that she swore lay hidden there.

“I think someone’s following me, Ginger. I think…that someone knows what I, I-I mean, what we do here.”

It wasn’t like Mark to stumble over his words. Smooth, savvy, handsome Mark Chase, one of New York’s wealthiest financiers. His list of clients read like the who’s who of the money world.
Mark walked across the room towards the small bar in the corner. Grace thought she saw a tremor shoot through him - his body shook for just a few seconds with the same tremors she thought she felt earlier.

He poured himself a glass of scotch.

Mark never drank. Prozac was more his speed. Except, of course, when he was with her.
“You’re better than any drug,” he would tell her.

But tonight, she saw how he needed the liquor.


“I don’t like feeling this way,” he glanced out the windows, at the magnificent view of the Statue of Liberty and the blue water of New York’s harbor.

She walked over to him. “What’s wrong?” He seemed pale, and when she ran a hand down his back, she could feel the tight, tense muscles underneath his shoulder blades.

He drained the glass, gulping down the last few sips of the amber-colored liquid then turned to face her, his eyes hard. “Someone’s following me, watching my every move.”

“You need--” she stopped.

He beetled his dark brows. “What?”

She wanted to say, ‘more Prozac’ but didn’t. Even though she thought that’s exactly what he needed.

And what she didn’t need tonight was a tense, taut, under-medicated client.

You’re better than any drug, Ginger…

It was time to prove it.

“Come on,” she grabbed his hand and led him over to the bed. He followed behind, like a docile child stopping until his knees bumped the mattress. “Let me help you…relax.” She did her sexiest, best, deep-Ginger voice, knowing that what Mark liked most is that she really didn’t look the part she played. Her Armani business suit made her look like one of his own. It made it easier to relax – to be around her, knowing that she traveled in his world, understood his problems, his needs…

It was always about him.

That’s why he paid her the big bucks. Her eyes caught sight of the large wad of cash sitting on the bedside table. It would be hers for the taking when she finished her ‘facilitation.’

Ginger began a slow striptease, easing the herringbone jacket from her shoulders, Mark’s dark eyes following her every move. She tossed the jacket on a nearby chair then drew the silky tank top up and over her chest, the smooth material caressing her nipples. The cool, air-conditioned air blew across them, making them stand at attention. She gazed down at Mark’s crotch…he stood at attention, too.

“If you’re a very good boy, we’ll use my toys.”

A tiny flicker of heat leaped into his eyes.

Bare-breasted, she reached into her bag and withdrew a small whip. “Lie down,” she commanded.

He stretched out onto his back on the bed.

“I’ll make you forget all this foolishness,” she crooned. “All this talk of someone following you.”
Ginger hiked up her skirt to reveal…nothing. She wore no underwear beneath her Armani skirt. Mark’s eyes traveled to her smooth shaven mound, his gaze resting on the two little folds of flesh covering her clit. A muscle jumped in his cheek. He swallowed hard. When she placed her hand against his chest, she could feel the rapid beat of his heart.

She climbed up onto the bed then straddled him, running the little tassel on the end of the whip across his beard-shadowed chin. “No more crazy talk,” she whispered. “You’re going to be fine.”
She smacked his chin, just a little. His cock swelled beneath her pussy. Ginger ground her clit against him…then smacked his chin again, this time, harder.

She unbuttoned his shirt, taking her time, trailing the end of the whip across his chest. His smooth, hair-free, shiny pecs gleamed in the soft light from overhead.

Ginger eased the shirt from Mark’s body and tossed it aside. “Naughty boy,” she told him, bending to whisper in his ear.

She smacked his chest with the whip, heard his sharp intake of breath, watched his eyes dilate; widening each time she smacked the whip across his skin.

“More,” he begged. “More, Ginger…I want…”

“I know what you want, what you like,” she drew out the last word.

Ginger shimmied down his legs, drawing her sensitive little nubbin across his groin. He moaned, his cock growing stiff and hard beneath the elegant cut of his trousers.

She unbuckled his pants, pulled down the zipper, and eased the trousers from his hips, down his long legs. Next came his boxers, his stiff cock springing free from their silk prison. Ginger removed his socks, too. Mark couldn’t ‘perform’ while he wore them – just one of his quirks that Ginger knew well.

“Move,” she commanded. “Get up and move to the head of the bed.”

Mark crawled to the top, turning to face the headboard. She reached into her handbag and retrieved the handcuffs, slapping them on his wrists, shackling him to the headboard. Ginger leaned down and kissed his bare ass then she drew the tip of the little whip down the center, in the separation between the two cheeks of his backside.

“Spread your legs,” she told him, nudging his thighs apart with the whip. He didn’t move. “Open them,” she leaned up and whispered in his ear. “Open them now.” She almost said his name, but recovered quickly. Mark never wanted her to say his name aloud when she…facilitated.

She stuck the whip between his legs and tickled his balls with the tip. Soon, he spread his thighs. Ginger reached into her bag for the blindfold. She grasped the ends, one in each hand, and reached around, placing the black piece of silk across his eyes. Then she knotted it against the back of his.

Patting his ass with the tip of the whip, she asked. “Have you been a good boy today?”
He shook his head, ‘no.”


He moaned, pulling against his restraints, his big hands straining against the headboard.

“Why not?” Ginger purred. “Why haven’t you been a good boy? What naughty thing did you do this time?”

He hung his head and whispered. “I thought about eating your pussy all day.”

Grace made her voice sound stern. “That’s all you think about. Pussy.” She smacked his ass again, this time, leaving a small, line across his right butt cheek. Grace watched as the thin line grew puffy and red.

Again she leaned up and asked, “Do you want to eat my pussy?”

His entire body shuddered. The bed shook beneath Grace’s knees, causing her to fall against him. She took the opportunity to brush the tips of her breasts against his back.

“You can eat me,” she crooned. “but not yet.” She smacked his ass again.

She drew in a breath as she reached down and rubbed her fingers across her labia. When she pulled them away, two glistening drops of her essence lay against her fingertips. “Here,” she held them up to his lips. “Smell me. Taste me.”

Mark inhaled, pulling against the restraints. His tongue snaked out, but he didn’t make contact with her fingers. She laughed, pulling them away then slid them under his nose again.

“Naughty boy,” she crooned softly. “Now, mommy’s going to have to teach you a lesson.”

She smacked his ass again with the whip. And again. She did it two more times, watching as the thin lines turned into bright, red welts against the pale skin of his backside.

“Now that you’ve learned your lesson, I’ll let you have a little treat.”

Ginger opened the sheepskin lined handcuffs, easing Mark’s wrists from their metal shackles. Mark turned and reached for Grace, flipping her on her back, forcing her legs open. The quick, jerky motion hurt, the muscles of her inner thighs stretching in response.

For just a second, she almost panicked, for Mark usually wasn’t this rough. He must have realized what he did, though, as she felt his grip on her inner thighs ease.

He bent his dark head and began an assault on her clit, shoving his tongue deep inside her. He nipped her little nubbin with his teeth, making her cry out as her orgasm took hold. It rose up within her, a great wall of white-hot ecstasy. When it receded, she reached over and grabbed her bag, withdrawing a condom. She leaned up and placed it over Mark’s swollen cock, but before she could get it on him, he grasped her head between his hands, forcing her mouth down on his cock.

She suckled him as he held her head in place, but it strained her neck.

Panic set in once more. “You’re hurting me,” she told him. “Stop it.”

He eased off.

She felt the sting of tears, but continued. This wasn’t like Mark at all! They played their game together, and he surrendered quickly, but he never hurt her.


That night, he pounded into Grace. She could feel his big body ease, feel the tension drain from him as he came inside her. He pulled out, and Grace finished her facilitation by easing the condom off his large dick, tossing the used condom into a bag. She’d dispose of it later…she never left them behind.

As she lay in bed next to him, she wondered at the change in him.

She’d have to tell Madam Leigh. She’d probably tell Ginger she wouldn’t have to go back. All this was supposed to be was a little fantasy sex…nothing more. If the client got rough, they were dropped like yesterday’s garbage.

Ginger dressed quickly when Mark fell asleep. She grabbed the cash and left, being careful to tread lightly and not disturb his slumber.

She took one last look at Mark’s sleeping form, his tall body lay sprawled across the bed, his breathing deep and even.

Ginger glanced down at the cash in her hand. A thousand dollars.

Well, maybe she’d be back…

She wouldn’t complain, she’d just get used to Mark’s new ‘style.’
Just like she got used to a lot of crappy things in her life…

She always did.

copyright 2008 by Catherine Chernow
Note: This excerpt is unedited and may differ slightly from the final version
Coming your way this April from…


Why I think reading romance is like....dessert

I read, a lot. Books to improve my craft and for research I liken to a meal. They are the meat and potatoes of my day. I have my favorites (steak), and my not so favorites (can you say brussel sprouts)...and then there is dessert.

Those glorious romance novels! They are the icing on my cake...the sprinkles on my donutes, and the filling in my cream puffs. I only allow myself to read a couple of them a week (gotta watch my diet, you know)...but oh my...I simply love curling up with my favorite Carol Lynne, Ann Cory, and Karen Erickson novel.

I love writing them too. My total-e-bound release, To Catch a Casanova, is a fun look at what great lengths the hero will go to in order to win over the woman he loves.

Aspiring actor, Luke McArthur, has been in love with Aubrey O'Fallon since the first grade. They even dated for a while. Still best friends, Luke always figured he'd get around to proposing to her when he finally made it big. Unfortunately, Aubrey met ultra-rich Troy Fletcher. To everyone's surprise, he proposed on the first date and she accepted!

But Troy has a secret life — he's been seen picking up prostitutes outside The Sand Dollar where Luke works. Luke knows Aubrey won't believe his accusations unless he can prove them. With only four days to stop the wedding, he's desperate. He enlists the help of his transvestite friend, Charles/Cherie, and plans to have Aubrey catch Troy in a compromising situation.

But, it's soon clear Luke is in over his head...

And speaking of dessert, I was cleaning out my e-mail the other day and discovered my mother-in-law's recipe for cream puffs. My husband and I used to cook together, but since the boys came along, we seldom have time to dice and slice together. However, we stuffed the kids in bed early to await the arrival of the Easter Bunny and we cooked up a batch of his mother's cream puffs. They turned out so well, I've decided to share the recipe.

So, pop over to my website and look around. You'll find some excerpts, some news, research links for several of my novellas and a link to a recipe for Ann's Cream Puffs!


Convince Me

First of all, Happy Easter to those who celebrate it! I've cracked open my first Cadbury egg, so the holiday has officially arrived.

Now, on with the blog:

With all due respect to my friend Emma (*Jamie waves to Emma*), I'm sort of sorry to see spring arrive. I love winter. We had more snow this year than ever in history, and we managed to stay white most of the winter. Don't get me wrong, I don't enjoy driving in it, and I didn't enjoy the ice storm that left me without power for hours (no computer, horrors!) I just love the season.

Spring is nice, too. It's pleasant to be able to walk outside without a huge coat and mittens. The colors on the trees and budding tulips are spectacular. But I'll miss winter, especially when we go from 40 degrees F to 90 in a matter of weeks.

Warm weather will arrive whether I'm convinced I'm ready, or not. For a little something to warm you up, check out my latest Lust Bite, Convincing Cate, now available from Total e-Bound Publishing.

Vince Mason is sure the perfect woman doesn't exist. When he meets elusive Cate Reynolds and finds she's nearly as close to perfect as he can imagine, he doesn't want her to slip away.

Cate is attracted to Vince, but she sees one major problem--he's almost ten years younger, an age span she refuses to live with.

It's going to take one carefully crafted plan, a few well-meaning relatives, and maybe even a shot from Cupid's arrow before Vince is through convincing Cate.

Buy Now


She didn't want to face him at all, but he hadn't poured the drinks down her throat. She was a big girl and could own up to her mistakes. Cate thought she might look for another restaurant to entertain business clients after she'd paid the tab. Getting sloppy drunk and having to be taken home was not the wisest career move.

When the doorbell rang, she took a deep breath and exhaled before opening it. Her usual waiter from the restaurant stood on the landing, smiling at her. "You!" She was surprised.

Now he appeared surprised as well, and nodded. "I'm Vince."

Vince! That's why the name sounded familiar. He was the kid who almost always waited on her table. God, he looked about twelve. Cate felt about seventy. "I'm sorry, of course you are. I'm just having trouble remembering last night."

He smiled. "Guess it'll be interesting to see how big your tab is."

"Oh yeah." She rolled her eyes, grabbing a jacket and her purse. After pulling out her keys, Cate locked the door behind them and followed him to his car.

"Sorry." He opened the paint-peeled door of the old car for her. "It runs well."

She grinned and slid into the seat. "That's all that matters, isn't it?"

He went around to the driver's side and got in. "Not to a lot of people. But to me, yeah. I'm saving my money for more important things."

"Good for you." She nodded in agreement and fastened her seatbelt as he headed to the restaurant. "I really want to thank you again for last night. That's not something I usually do.." she trailed off, unsure if she should continue.

"I'm glad." He glanced sideways at her. "I'd hate to see you fall into the wrong hands."

She chuckled and watched him clench his hands around the steering wheel. They were large and strong looking, with long, slender fingers. A jolt ran through her and Cate realised she found his hands arousing. What an absurd thought! He was just a kid. "I guess you could say I had a bad night. I argued with my mother about having to work and missing my niece's birthday party. Then my clients, who I was informed were so important they couldn't be put off, never showed up. It all just hit me, I suppose. I'm sorry I acted like such an idiot."

Vince smiled over at her. "You didn't. I was worried about you, is all." He parked in front of the restaurant and they both got out.

"There's my car," she nodded to a newer-model sedan a few vehicles down. "I'll just go in and take care of my bill."

"Okay." He stood in front of her, looking as if he wanted to say something.

She felt awkward, so she leaned in quickly and kissed his cheek. "Thanks again." She pulled back.

They stared at each other. Cate resisted the urge to press her lips against his and kiss him properly. She didn't know what it was about this guy, but standing next to him had her stomach doing flip-flops that weren't drinking-related. He was just a kid..wasn't he?


CONVINCING CATE by Jamie Hill is exquisite. This is the most heart-felt romance I have read this year.

~ Amanda, Romance Junkies

5 Blue Ribbons ~ Romance Junkies ~ Read review here


Jamie Hill creates a wonderful story of a young persistent man who knew what he wanted and was very determined to get it... be warned, you need plenty of ice!

~ Alisha, Two Lips Reviews

4 1/2 Kisses ~ Two Lips Reviews ~ Read review here


Each chapter goes by quickly so that you'll be disappointed once you have finished it, for you'll want more of this book.

~Lena C., Fallen Angel Reviews

4 Angels ~ FAR ~ Read review here


Ms. Hill is a splendid storyteller, the love scenes between Cate and Vince are beautifully written, very descriptive and provocative. I found this story to be very enjoyable and a pleasant way to pass the time.

~ Mickey, Simply Romance Reviews

B- ~ SRR ~ Read review here


Spring from Emma Wildes

So, I’m ready. Don’t get me wrong, you can write a lot of books trapped inside for the winter months, but…I’m so anxious to have a chance to wiggle my toe outside the door.

Without a chance of frostbite, that is.

Flowers. Yes, flowers would be nice. Warm breezes…I’ve started to dream about those. I live on a lake and we have a dock that is the perfect place to go and sit and think about what happens next in my current project. The redbud trees are getting ready to leaf out and our lilac bush has buds, so I’m optimistic it will happen soon.

Oh, please.

Like Marianne, I am also going to the Romantic Times convention next month and I hope the weather will be kind to us all. I'm delighted for the opportunity to put some faces to the names, so if anyone else will be there, look me up. I’ll be signing books on Wednesday night and in Club RT on Thursday and Friday. It sounds like a lively and wonderful event and I’m looking forward to it.

But, I admit, I’m looking forward to spring even more! I hope the sun is shining where you are.

Emma (where it is snowing outside today)


Some days there are no words...

However, there are pictures that make you go....Hmmmmm

I suppose it's worksafe...if unusual. Who knew animals could dance like that?


Thursday Thirteen with Marianne LaCroix

Thirteen Things
about Marianne LaCroix,
to introduce myself to the TEB readers

1. My first published book was Lady Sheba in 2003. It is a werecat shape shifter based in Egyptian mythology.

2. I've had 2 Romantic Times Top Picks since then: Descendants of Darkness (2004) and, more recently, Crossed Swords (2008).

3. I am adicted to historicals and paranormal historicals. My upcoming TEB book, Warrior Lover, is a paranormal historical. It answers the question, what would happen if the Greek god of War took part in D-Day?

4. Warrior Lover is part of an anthology entitled Nectar of the Gods. Contributing authors include Ashlyn Chase, Isabella Drake, Sasha Illyvich and Annmarie Ortega.

5. I am working on a short historical for TEB's upcoming Brits in Time anthology. My story is entitled Under the Black Flag. Yeah, it's a pirate.

Okay, now some more about me other than writing business...

6. I've been married to my husband for 14 years. He is originally from the Netherlands.

7. I have twin daughters. They are 6 years old...and know exactly how to drive me crazy.

8. My favorite breakfast is a McDonald's Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit. I love those things. Definitely a weakness.

9. I live in the US in Georgia, land of cotton, peanuts and Rednecks.

10. I like to play on my PSP (portable Playstation) for some stress relief. My favorite game at the moment is Lego Star Wars Original Trilogy. I like to blast at Stormtroopers and them fall to little Lego pieces.

11. My favorite kind of music varies to my mood. I like movie woundtracks while writing. I like the 80s and 90s music ranging from Hall and Oates to Matchbox 20/Rob Thomas.

Okay, now plugs for future events...

12. I am going to RT in Pittsburgh next month! For details on the RT convention, go to

13. If anyone is in Jacksonville, Florida area March 29th, join me at a mega booksigning at the Jacksonville Marriot. Authors attending are Suzanne Brockmann (Wowza!), Alyssa Day, Caridad Ferrer, and many, many more. For details, visit

Visit me online at

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Man Appreciation Day!

I'm declaring today Man Appreciation Day. (Which for me is every day). Let's face it, where would erotic romance writers like myself be without guys? How would I spend all day fantasising about men and the many things they're capable of doing with us and with other guys and then weaving all the scenarios into a delicious romance that other people will want to read? That is worth more than I can possibly express in one blog entry.

When I was younger, I had an idea in my head that as I got older, I would burn this man-crazy thing out, especially since I am lucky to be with a man I adore. But I'm about to turn 39 next month and the feeling just gets deeper. It's not this satisfying-my-lust kind of thing more than a deep appreciation of the textures, smells, personality of a man, the way guys tease women (we love that, let's face it!). The whole person. I hope I'm explaining this clearly.

The other day I went into Dunkin Donuts to get a coffee. There was a young girl and a young guy working behind the counter and the guy was teasing the girl - jostling her out of the way, taking the carfe from her as she was about to pour coffee and then using it himself. They caught me grinning at them and I could see the girl was loving it. I said to her, "It's better that way." She nodded and I could see she understood exactly what I meant.

All that said, the pics I've posted here are of men I especially appreciate. (Is it hot in here? Someone turned the fan off. Oh, it's me.) Thanks for sharing Man Appreciation Day with me. Hugs, Sedonia


The Buzz

You've just finished a story, and you know it's good.

You're on top of the world. The muses have been cooperative. You're in the groove.

There's nothing like it, except perhaps waking up after having spent the night having mind-blowing, life-altering sex. You're smiling to yourself, every time you remember. Perhaps various body parts ache or sting or tingle, reminding you just how fabulous it felt while it was happening. Perhaps you blush a bit, recalling the outrageous scenes that you spun out of your imagination. Who would have believed that you'd be so brave and so bold?

All day long, you walk around like you have a secret. People may look at you oddly, but you don't care. You're still basking in the glow, feeling the energy sizzling through your body. You grin back at strangers, a bit goofy, drunk on the after-effects of inspiration. I just finished writing a dynamite story, a story that would curl your toes, if you only could read it, if you only knew how good it was...

Times like this make it all worthwhile. Because all too often, writing is just plain hard work. I want the story to flow effortlessly and inevitably toward a conclusion that will wring gasps or tears from my readers. In reality, though, I hack away at the paragraphs, writing and rewriting, seeking the elusive image, struggling to keep track of the details. Were the heroine's eyes blue or green in Chapter One? How did the hero get from the window to the bed without anyone noticing? Where was the gun while they were kissing?

Sometimes the words feel like huge, unwieldy boulders that I haul around, arranging and rearranging, trying to build something beautiful and true. Sometimes making my way through the twists and turns of the plot recalls the Prince in Sleeping Beauty, slashing through the forest of poisonous thorns in order to claim his beloved.

Then there are the times when I'm just plain sick of reading what I write. Don't tell me I've slipped and used that same tired old phrase yet again! Didn't my protagonist have an orgasm like a hurricane in the last scene? Why do my characters talk like they're in some "English for tourists" guide? When did that paragraph degenerate from "lyrical" to "overwritten"? Why would anyone want to read this stale, unoriginal crap, anyway?

Actually, I think that the key to being successful as a writer may lie in the ability to ignore all that snarky self-criticism and just keep on writing, building the word count, reminding yourself that you'll have a chance to improve it all later.

Still, if writing were always an effort, a job, probably I wouldn't continue. It's the delicious and relatively rare experience of inspiration that's the payoff. The exhilaration of having the words flow from my mind to the page without conscious planning. The heady sense of control as I craft sentence after sentence, knowing that each one says exactly what I intend. The sudden "Aha!" as I see how to foreshadow an ominous climax or tie an image back to a previous one, how to use symbolism or metaphor, not as an empty structural conceit but as an organic element in a harmonious whole.

I'm drunk on my power over words. I'm high on creation. Afterwards, I'm still shaking with excitement, but humbled and grateful, too, understanding that I've been given a precious gift.

I call it "the buzz", but really, it has much in common with a rare, perfect night of love, one of those nights when the physical and the spiritual are aligned and you have no alternative but to believe in magic.


10 things you never knew you that you wanted to know about Victoria Blisse

Hi, I am newly contracted with Total-E-Bound and I thought my first blog post should be an introduction of sorts. Here are 10 little known facts about Victoria Blisse.

1. I picked my pen name purely out of vanity. My real last name isn’t very sexy and so I wanted to replacew it with something with a little zing to it. I lacked creativity with the first name, though. Victoria is my first name in real life, too.

2. I sing in my church choir. I go to church regularly and have been a Christian all my life which often surprises people as I write erotic romance. I personally cannot see why one negates the other. Anyone who’s heard me sing will also be baffled by the fact I’m in the choir. I know why it is, it keeps me in the Choir stalls away from the main body of the congregation –saving their poor ears.

3. My Christmas cake is world renowned. I love to bake and right now my house is filled with the scent of freshly baked gingerbread. Every Christmas I bake a British fruit cake and send slices to my friends all over the world. They all love it, in fact it has caused fights in the past over the last bite.

4. As a teenager I collected smarties lids. Smarites are small chocolates covered in a hard coat a bit like M&M’s but flatter and rounder. They used to come in a tube that had an alphabet letter printed on the lid. I collected these lids and eventually had the whole alphabet!

5. I love Cliff Richard. I’m really fairly young (29 between you and I) but I lov e the aged rock star and have loved him since I was 11 years old. I am going to his 50th Anniversary tour later this year and I cannot wait. I saw him last year in concert for the first time and it was magical. A tear came to my eye when he sang my favourite song “Ocean Deep”

6. I am a big kid at heart. I have a collection of teddies and toys that are all my own including a cute Easter Eeyore and a Manchester Commonwealth Games Cat. I did have a Carebear, Grumpy. I got him on my 7th Birthday and I kept him in bed with me right up until he fell apart at the seams when I was 21.

7. I recently met the Bishop of Manchester. He was a wonderful man full of joy and peace. I proudly wear my “Run the Race” badge now and I got to hold his baton –the very one used for the Manchester Commonwealth Games.

8. Flash Gordon is my favourite film. I love Flash and watched it over and over and over again as a kid. I still know most of the script and watch it on TV whenever it is on.

9. I can sew. I can’t knit, I’ve tried and being left handed (I blame a lot on that) I seem to not be able to keep my stitches straight, I always end up with too many. I can sew, though.

10. I once won a poetry competition. I was ten at the time and it was the school’s Easter poem competition. I won a big chocolate egg and I’ve been writing poetry and prose ever since.

So, now you know!


Misonceptions About Romance Authors

Last month, I talked about some of the misconceptions about the romance genre, today I’d like to discuss misconceptions about romance authors. Feel free to add any I might have missed.

1. Romance authors live the life of leisure, lounging in lingerie and eating bon bons. Not sure about you all, but I’m usually wrapped in blanket and cleaning up cat puke.

2. Romance authors are rolling in money. Well, I’m sure there’s plenty of change in my couch cushions, but I’m not sure that qualifies. Granted many writers are doing very well for themselves, but many still have to work the dreaded day job.

3. Romance live the same lives as their characters. Oh if only I was a psychic, psychologist, art appraiser librarian who owned a bookstore in a medieval-esque alternate universe. What. Ever.

4. Romance authors do all of the kinky stuff they write about. Sorry to disappoint, but I can’t own up to any ménages, sex with fallen angels or time traveling Arthurian knights.

5. Romance authors write about sex because they’re not getting any and/or due to unrequited love. Most of the writers I know are either married or in a long term relationship, and the vast majority are happy in those relationships.

6. Romance authors are hacks who can’t make it I the real publishing world. Yep…that’s why romances account for over 50% of the books sold in a given year. That’s a huge market for us “hacks.”

7. Romance author who choose to publish ebooks as opposed to print books aren’t as good as print published authors. This one gives me The Rage. Absolute unmitigated rage. Some of the best books out there are in ebook format only. I say this not only as a proud epublished writer but as a very critical, voracious reader.

So what misconceptions about romance authors get your undies in a bunch?


A Year of Love

Today is steak and bj day, a very popular holiday with many men--with more celebrants every year. And yes, it's an official (if not Hallmark) holiday. Call it an antidote to Valentine's Day--I think that's what the founders claimed.

But I say hey, why not have all the 14ths of the month be some tribute to love? Why not have twelve days of the year set aside to mark love, which is one of the most powerful positive things we humans have come up with--although yes, yes, I know, I know we don't have full dibs on all the love there is. My dog is desperately in love with the dog across the street. And I once had a cat that was in love with a dog, but that was a long, sad interspecies tragedy.

Let's mark the best of us, LOVE, as often as possible.

Okay, so we have two days down--February 14 and March 14--ten to go. Well, no, wait. Father's and Mother's day. Those are tributes to love even if they don't show up on the 14th of a month. Perhaps we should have a kid appreciation day but speaking as a parent, I'd say nearly every damn day is kid appreciation day especially when they're babies and have you wrapped around their teeny, tiny lil pinkies as their love slaves.

All right, we have eight days to designate.

April 14 should be Unrequited Love Day. It makes sense since April is the cruelest month. This would be the day you'd write to the unrequited love object and say "yo, dude/dudette, what about it?" If they laugh at you, you burn all the tokens you've gathered over the year of pinin and move on, picking another new, and preferably hard to approach, love object for the next year. If you don't have an unrequited love object in your life, read a story that includes unrequited love and ponder the moth and the flame syndrome.

We'll skip May and June since they have those Love Your Parent days.

July 14 Childhood's First Crush. If you married your first love, you get to blow out all the stops on this one. Restaurants should give you discounts on your meal if you bring in a picture of you and your husband/wife as kids together. If you have no idea where that first love of yours ended up, take a minute googling them.

August 14 Dog days of summer? Easy. It's Appreciate Other Species Love Day. Buy that animal in your life a nice cat nip mouse or rawhide chewie. Take him for an extra long walk.

September 14 In honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day, this would be the Outlaw Love month. Where we celebrate all the reformed rakes as well as the outlaws who discovered thievery and love (Bonnie and Clyde) To celebrate, we'll all buy a copy of a book featuring a pirate (may I suggest Prince of Midnight by Laura Kinsale) or maybe watch an old Star Wars movie and realize that yes, Han Solo is way hotter than Luke Skywalker.

October 14 Harvest the Love. Time for a love feast and gather all the love you've harvested over the years! Invite your old boyfriends and girlfriends over to your house to meet your current love. Heh. I think maybe this one will not be as popular as some of the others, but it'll be a good way to jump-start some interesting conversations.

November 14 Quiet Love Day. All the love that isn't romantic day. The day to celebrate the love that exists but isn't written about in song or story.This is the love you feel for the cashier who always smiles and never gives you guff about having 15 items in the 12 item lane. Celebrate the love you have for the neighbors who take in your mail and newspaper when you go away. Carry a stash of Quiet Love Day cards and hand one to the person on the bus who offers you a seat.

December 14 Horizontal [snuggly] Love Day. Long dark nights means sleeping in. This holiday is all about comforters and nice bedding and maybe getting cozier with that bed partner or on your own. If you're in the southern hemisphere, you can welcome those long dark nights that're coming. For singles or those in a relationship, celebrate the holiday with pretty new pillowcases OR a new and interesting sex toy. Something to do with fun in bed alone or with company.

January 14 New Year = New Love! New chances at Love. Go on, go find someone or something worthy of your affection. If you're stuck happily ensconced in a marriage, take a new look at that old partner. Relearn that love.

* * * * *
I think a couple of my ideas are pretty unworkable (yeah, that October holiday won't fly) How about you produce a couple?


Hi from Ellie.

Hi there, Ellie here again.
I can’t believe that a month has gone by since we last got together. Now, I hope you all took my advice and got to know Rhys in my book Prince of the Three Mountains. If you did I’m sure you’re haven’t got over it yet can't wait to have more of the same, so come and say hello to Philip d' Apremont, known to his enemies as the Saracen !
He is the hero in The Price of a Sword and he has a special place in my heart. Before I wrote the Price of a Sword, I had no idea that I had the ability to tell a story. The book was gone through many changes since it first came to life on my computer, but Philip has remained the hero throughout. It is through writing his, and his feisty heroine Rosawyn’s story that I first discovered that I could write. And as they say, you always remember your first!
As I said, last time, you can keep your pretty boys in their low slung jeans and designer hair cuts just give me a real man on a horse with a sword in his hand and I’m lathered up and ready to go.
I’m sure after you read some of the positions Philip and Rosawyn get themselves into during their fight to regain her father’s land you’ll feel the same way.
Just so you can have a sneaky peak I’ve posted the first chapter of the book to get you in the medieval mood.
Enjoy and I’ll see you next month
Ellie Tremayne
North Cornwall, 1156

Rain lashed the stout wooden doors of the convent as the party of horsemen drew up. The front rider slid off his mount, dragging the smaller rider beside him down too.
“Open up!” he bellowed above the noise of the storm.
The small peephole in the door opened and a pinched, white face peered through.
“Tell the Reverend Mother her brother is here, and open up, I say, open up,” the rider shouted at the soaked wood.
The shutter snapped closed, and the sound of iron grating on iron ground out.
The other riders dismounted, and as the gate creaked open they led their horses through the high stone wall and into the courtyard of St. Neave’s convent.
The leader of the band propelled the shorter rider forward and up the granite stairs towards the main refectory. The party followed with their shoulders hunched against the sting of the icy rain. Before they reached the dining hall entrance, it opened and a nun stepped out, and the tails of her wimple swirled in the blustering wind.
“Is that really you, Hugh?” she shrieked over the storm.
“That it is, Nell. Now for the love of the Saints, let us in before we are washed away by this accursed rain.”
The nun stood back and the party entered the relative warmth of the tall chamber where the holy women took their sparse meals.
Nell grasped the head rider’s arm. “What brings you here in such weather, brother?”
“I want you to hide this for me, Nell,” Sir Hugh Noirville said to his elder sister as he yanked the cloak off the second rider.
Lady Rosawyn Liskard stood dripping water onto the tiled floor. She shivered and then glared at her captor and his sister.
“You’ll pay for this, Noirville,” she spat at him, wringing out her hair, its usual chestnut sheen now almost black with rainwater. “How dare you drag me out of bed and haul me across the country?” She ripped off the sodden cloak and dropped it with a plop on the floor.
Drawing herself up to her full five foot three inches, she glanced around. “And where, in the name of all that is Holy, is this place?”
Hugh’s gaze slithered over her and the corners of his mouth lifted a fraction.
“You will release me at once,” she commanded, forcing her voice to retain an even tone although her heart thundered in her chest.
Nell came and stood beside her then ran her crooked fingers down Rosawyn’s cheek. Rosawyn smacked the nun’s hand away and the reverend mother gasped. Hugh’s men clustered around and craned their necks to see what was happening.
Nell’s fingers grasped Rosawyn’s chin. As Rosawyn tried to jerk it from the nun’s grip, the dirty nails bit into her flesh and held her head firm.
“You’re very pretty, my dear, very pretty indeed.” Nell’s gaze travelled down and rested on Rosawyn’s breasts. “Well rounded too.”
Rosawyn suppressed a shiver and sent the woman next to her a chilling look. “Take your filthy hands off me,” she ordered.
Nell sneered. “Why do you need to hide her?” she asked, her gaze remaining on Rosawyn.
Rosawyn fixed Hugh with an unwavering stare. Behind him, his large frame made a long shadow on the whitewashed wall, and even in the low light of the entrance hall, his blond hair shone. Some would have called him fair, but Rosawyn would not.
“Stephen is dead, Nell, and Henry FitzEmpress reclaims the throne,” Hugh told his sister.
Alarm flashed in the Reverend Mother’s eyes. “Our lands in the north?” she asked.
“William holds them firm, and we must do the same here in the west.” His eyes flicked over Rosawyn.
She pulled her shoulders back, and both Noirvilles resumed their study of her breasts. She forced herself not to flinch under their scrutiny.
“Thankfully, I am married to Lady Maeve, but she is the younger sister. It is Lady Rosawyn here who threatens our family. If the King marries her to someone of his choosing, then we will have to fight for every foot of land we hold,” Hugh explained to his sister.
The Reverend Mother ran her finger along Rosawyn’s collarbone, and Rosawyn shifted her head to the side.
It was common knowledge throughout Cornwall that Nell Noirville had a fondness for the young novices in her care. It was noticeable that since she took over as the Mother Superior of St. Nevis’, the number of wealthy families willing to send their daughters into her care had sharply declined.
“Do you want her to take holy orders?” Nell asked.
“No—not just yet. Maeve is due to deliver in three months, but childbirth can be uncertain. Keep her a novice until then,” Hugh replied.
Rosawyn gave them both a disgusted look. “Go ahead! Concoct your devilish plans, if you choose,” she told them. “And enjoy your brief moment of power. But remember, the King is loyal to his friends and he will come to my father’s aid and set me free from this Godforsaken place, and I’ll have the pleasure of seeing you both hang for this outrage.”
Nell grasped Rosawyn’s upper arm and shook her. “Have a care, I am in charge here and although it would pain me to mark your soft skin,” she raised her free hand and traced the index finger along the neckline of Rosawyn’s gown and across her breast, “I will wield the birch myself to quell your rebellious spirit.” Her eyes slid over her again and her mouth curled up in a thin smile.
Fury burst out of Rosawyn and she drew her arm back. Hugh caught it before her palm slapped Nell’s cheek.
The nun gave a dry laugh. “Now then, my pretty, watch your temper.” She lifted the sleeve of Rosawyn’s sodden gown. “We had better get you out of these wet clothes.”
She grabbed hold of the neckline of Rosawyn’s gown and wrenched it apart. The fabric ripped and Rosawyn took a step back, then checked herself and raised her chin.
Although with only her thin underchemise covering her body, her instinct was to turn from Hugh’s men, but she didn’t. Determined not to show any fear, she threw back her shoulders and, ignoring the lustful eyes that gazed at her, stood unbowed. The icy air of the convent swirled around her and her nipples sprang erect. A low mutter came from Noirville’s pack of scoundrels surrounding them.
The Reverend Mother discarded the tattered gown and turned her gaze back to Rosawyn. Her eyes flickered over the erect peaks thrusting through the semi-transparent undergarment.
“That, too.”
Her fingers scratched the top of Rosawyn’s breasts and, grasping the diaphanous chemise, she rent it asunder.
A low growl rumbled from the men in the chamber as their faces took on primitive expressions. Rosawyn’s right hand shot downwards to shield the tight triangle of hair at the apex of her legs while the left crossed her breasts to conceal as much as possible.
Hugh took a step closer and his eyes grew dark. Extending his hand, he flicked her hair away from her shoulder and then encircled her left forearm. He pulled it away.
Rosawyn’s breasts bounced free, and another groan escaped the men in the chamber. Hugh and Nell’s gazes focused on her raised nipples.
“She is well endowed for one so young,” Nell said. Her hand reached out and she pinched the stalk at the centre of Rosawyn’s areola. “Broad teats too. You could be forgiven for thinking she’s feeding an infant.”
Nell continued to play with the tight tip as bile rose to the back of Rosawyn’s throat. She swallowed it and regarded the woman fondling her with disgust.
“‘Tis a pity Lady Rosawyn and her father escaped from England,” Nell said, letting go of one breast and taking hold of the other. “It would have been better if you’d married her instead of her sister.”
Hugh let go of her arm and grasped her right wrist. Rosawyn tried to keep her sex shielded, but Hugh was too strong and he forced her arm aside. Rosawyn snapped the other across to take its place, but Nell caught it and held it back.
“I am inclined to agree with you, Nell,” Hugh said as he adjusted the front of his breeches with his free hand.
Both of them gazed down at Rosawyn’s mons, and the troops behind the sister and brother jostled each other to get a clearer view. Nell’s hand left its caressing of Rosawyn’s breast and slid down over her stomach. Her fingers stroked across Rosawyn’s pubic hair, and Rosawyn shivered.
The Reverend Mother leant towards her brother.
“Do you want to take her to a cell? None will disturb you.” She lowered her voice. “I’ll hold her down while you—”
A large figure swirled in front of Rosawyn, and a cloak settled around her shoulders. She turned and gazed into a pair of soft grey eyes. She gave the nun a small, grateful smile. The motherly nun smiled back.
“Oh! Sister Hilda, I didn’t see you there,” the Reverend Mother said in a hollow voice.
The nun shielded Rosawyn from the onlookers and looked over her head to the Mother Superior. “As ever, Reverend Mother, your own zeal has made you forget the frailty of others.” She indicated the men crowded around them.
The Reverend Mother pushed a lank strand of hair back under her wimple. “Frail flesh indeed, but…” She took hold of the covering cloak. “We must mortify the flesh and purge the disobedience out of Lady Rosawyn with the lash.”
Sister Hilda drew Rosawyn closer as the Reverend Mother tried to pull the cloak away.
Hugh stepped between Rosawyn and his sister.
“Leave be, Nell,” he barked at his sister. “A dead hostage is no hostage, but a damaged one is equally worthless. Leave be, I say.” He took hold of his sister’s arm and pulled her sharply to him. “Listen to me. I don’t give the Pope’s tiara what you do to the novices here, but let me
warn you, sister. I know some of what your ‘purging of the flesh’ means. Lady Rosawyn is still a virgin, and if you take that from her or damage her in any way, you will destroy her value to me. So keep your spiteful hands to yourself or you’ll answer to me. ”
The Reverend Mother’s sallow face took on an innocent expression. “But Hugh, while she is in God’s house, it is my duty to discipline Lady Rosawyn for the sake of her immortal soul.”
Hugh’s mouth drew back in a mirthless grin. “Discipline, but not damage. You forget, dear sister, that as a lad I felt your ‘discipline’ and I still carry the scar.” He thumbed a deep gouge on his chin.
The Reverend Mother arched her straggly eyebrows. “But if she takes holy orders?”
Hugh’s gaze flickered across to Rosawyn for a second then back to his sister. “That is a different matter.”
The nun crossed her arms and the corners of her thin lips curled upwards.
“But remember, Nell. Play with her if you must, but make sure that she comes to no harm, or I’ll be the one with the hunting knife this time.” He stroked his chin again.
With her arms possessively around Rosawyn, Sister Hilda guided her towards the kitchen door beyond the cold dinning hall. “With your permission, Reverend Mother, I will take care of our guest.”
The Reverend Mother looked at her brother and he gave a sharp nod. Then he marched his men back through the echoing chamber and out into the courtyard. The oak door of the refectory slammed into place and the bolt scraped back into its housing.
A cold lump settled over Rosawyn’s heart.


12 Things I'm Passionate About

12 things I’m passionate aboutin no particular order

Writing – I’ve been writing since I first picked up a crayon and have never looked back. From poetry to short stories, novellas to novels, nonfiction to fiction, yearbooks to school papers, diaries to journals – writing brings me inner peace.

My family – they are my everything, and my biggest supporters. When all is said and done, nothing really else matters more to me

Chocolate – a dark chocolate truffle can pick me up any day, especially with a glass of red wine *see wine*

A fine bottle of wine – preference to red wine, especially with a fancy dinner, and a scrumptious piece of dark chocolate for dessert *see chocolate*

Words – reading them, writing them, singing along to them, doing crossword puzzles, playing word games – you name it if it’s connected to words, I’m in my element.

Being green – I’m very passionate about the environment and do my part to preserve it.

Food – yes food, and it’s a big reason why I’m not thin, but it goes beyond eating it. I’m passionate about baking and cooking, making sure my family eats healthy meals. I love to find new recipes and cook with fresh herbs and spices. I also enjoy pairing good food with wine and of course chocolate.

Life – This one can be a struggle for me sometimes, but I try to be passionate about life. Even when I’m being tested. Sure there are things I wouldn’t mind changing, or days where I've wished I could have done things differently, but in the end it’s the only one I’ve got. All I can do is take it day by day, and be the best person I can be.

Love – it’s the most wonderful feeling, to give and receive.

Candles – especially at dinnertime, we eat all our dinners by candlelight and it makes for a relaxing time. I absolutely love candles around my bath. When I need to unwind I light a candle. Or to set the mood *wink wink*

Beauty – and I don’t mean being vain. More like, finding beauty in even the strangest of things. The bow of ones lips, a color, a sound, no sound, a piece of wood, the curve of furniture, textures, a whisper, snow on a mountain, the way the wind rustles through bamboo leaves, the stripes on a tiger, or the lines of ones face.

Simple pleasures – Every day I try to find time in my daily routine and focus on one thing around me that brings a smile to my face. Whether it’s the wind in my hair as I drive down the road on a beautiful day, the luxurient feel of silk, a butterfly, listening to the birds chirp, laughter, a kind gesture, ice cream on a hot day, cocoa on a cold day, my husband’s hand in mine, my son curled up next to me, or hearing “I love you” at the most unexpected times. It doesn’t take much and it isn’t hard to find. Simple pleasures brighten my day.

What are some things you are passionate about?

~Ann Cory