Monday, April 23, 2012

Spring fever!


Guest blog by Cate Masters.


First, thanks to Natalie for inviting me to your lovely blog. It’s such a pleasure to visit with you anytime!

This has been one of the mildest winters I can remember. No snow, and hardly any rain. But it didn’t stop the winter doldrums from setting in, and cabin fever too. So like most years, I’m getting giddy about the prospect of spring! Soon the orchards behind our house will burst into bloom, and the hillsides will be decorated with their loveliness. Isn’t it gorgeous?

Now don’t get me wrong, I actually love winter. I love the snow, love that bad weather usually gives me an excuse to spend time writing. But when warm winds blow puffy white clouds across a blue sky and the sun’s beckoning through the window, I just have to get outside and absorb it all. I love it. I grew up in the wilds of New Jersey (don’t laugh!) and spent most of my childhood roaming the surrounding woods, exploring with my dog Tippy. A bit solitary, but I think that’s where my writer’s soul took root.

So it’s no wonder I related to the real-life story of mountain man Jim Bridger, a man who loved Shakespeare even though he was illiterate. He memorized passages and would travel through the pristine wilderness of the Wild West, reciting them by heart and mesmerizing those who’d listen. It captivated my imagination. There have been many books already written about old Jim, and I knew I’d never do him justice by adding another, but couldn’t let the idea go.

So Jeb Greene was born, in my head, at least. Like Jim, Jeb’s a lover of all things Shakespeare. So when he runs into Winona Young, a reading fanatic like himself, of course it makes for some literal fireworks. *grins*



A Midwest Summer Night’s Dream released from BookStrand this month! [NOTE: This book is offered at a 10% discount. Offer ends midnight CST, April 26th]. 
 

Here’s the blurb:

Open sky, Shakespeare, solitude. All Jebediah Greene needs. Alone since his teens, he’s never known loneliness, until he leaves Winona Young in California. Worse, he fears she’ll trap herself in a loveless marriage of convenience. After acting as her guide to San Francisco, how far will Jeb go to win her heart?

Reading provides escape for Winona Young. Usually. Fleeing Philadelphia, she learns her distant suitor isn’t who he seemed. Neither is her mountain man guide, in a good way. Intelligent, but mule-headed, Jeb’s impossible to speak to, in any language. Winona falls in love with the stunning beauty of the wilderness, with the simple ways of the Osage people, and with Jeb. But books can’t teach her how to tame a mountain man.

Excerpt:

Curses flew through Jeb’s head all day, but he cut them off before they reached his tongue. Stubborn woman. She’d cornered him like a fox in a hen house. Her chances were slim, but not impossible.
The mere thought of riding beside her, wind rifling through her hair… Oh, what a pickle. He sure could use the cash, but the strain of avoiding her might do him in. He’d have to ride upwind so as not to catch her lilac scent, or the constant erection hitting the saddle might kill him.

When she approached him that night as he relaxed on the porch swing, her sheepish expression said it all. “No luck?”

“Not yet. But I’ll find one soon. When I do, will you be my guide?”

Time to try a different tack. “What makes you think I’m trustworthy? I might be the kind of man who takes advantage of a lady in such a situation.”

“You are trustworthy. Mrs. Wilson said so. I have implicit faith in her good opinion of you.”

Why had he introduced the two women? Dealing with a single woman didn’t present a problem, not usually, but get two or more together, and damned if trouble didn’t brew in the kitchen right along with the coffee.

At his silence, she folded her arms, and stole glances at him. Never a good sign. He could see the spokes of her brain working behind those dark eyes.

“Perhaps you don’t have the gumption necessary for such an assignment.” She tilted her head, exposing her gracefully arched neck.

His mouth watered, longing to taste it. A laugh burst from him. “Gumption?” He scratched his chin. “Or perhaps my foresight is keener than yours, Miss Young. Do you have any idea what such a trip entails?”
“If you’re worried I can’t keep up with you—”

“You can’t keep up, you can’t pitch in. You can’t even cook, can you?”
She glanced away. “Well, I—”

“If I shoot a rabbit for dinner, how would you prepare it?”
She winced. “A rabbit?”

“A saddle can get mighty uncomfortable after an hour. What would you do after three hours? Or five?” The image of her rubbing her sore rear stirred him. Mighty tempting to offer to rub it for her. His voice cracked as he said, “If you want to be in San Francisco sooner than the coach, we’d have to make good time. Six, seven, maybe eight hours’ riding every day. And if we get caught in a storm, or held up somehow, we’d have to make up the time.”

Her jaw set hard, her lips pressed into a thin line.

“I’m sorry, Miss Young. You are not cut out for that kind of hardship.” Nor was he built to resist such temptation, the kind that carried a long-term sentence. Not that he wouldn’t enjoy carrying it out; yes, just thinking of sharing a bedroll with her heated his insides and turned his brain to mush. Another strike against such a trip; he might lead them in circles, staring at her rather than the path ahead.

She stepped closer, her eyes ablaze. “You think I don’t know hardship? You’re wrong, Mr. Greene. No, not the kind you face in your travels. I would think those hardships would be easier to bear than…” She looked away with glazed eyes. “Forgive me.”

Her sudden fury gave him pause, and aroused his curiosity. She had mettle in her bones, a steel reserve of strength in her sinewy frame. He had no doubt she’d experienced something terrible, terrible enough to make her leave her home. Her stubbornness might fade in the face of the long trail.

“I mean no disrespect.”

“Your kind never do.”

“Ma’am, believe it or not, I am not ignorant of the rules of civilization. I am well able to prevent myself from committing social blunders.”

“I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be unkind. My nerves have been on edge since we left Philadelphia. A woman traveling alone can’t take too many precautions.”

“I don’t expect you’d encounter many willing to take up the challenge of threatening you, ma’am.” He regretted his words when he saw how she flinched under their sting. He wished her no harm, but everything she said provoked him in some way.

Contest! 
To celebrate spring, one commenter will receive a carved stone butterfly necklace. Tell me what you love most about the season!


Thanks again for having me at your blog, Natalie!

About Cate:

Cate Masters loves romance with a dash of magic and mayhem! Multipublished in contemporary to historical, sweet to erotic, fantasy/dark fantasy to speculative, she sometimes mashes genres. Reviewers have described her stories as “so compelling, I did not want to put it down,” and “such romantic tales that really touch your soul.”

When not spending time with her family, she can be found in her lair, concocting a magical brew of contemporary, historical, and fantasy/paranormal stories with her cat Chairman Maiow and dog Lily as company. Look for her at http://catemasters.blogspot.com, and in strange nooks and far-flung corners of the web.

Cate loves to hear from readers! If you’re too shy to post here, friend her on Facebook or Goodreads, or email her at: cate.masters AT gmail.com


~ Natalie ~ 
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love, Mystery... and a world of surprises in between!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - Something to Live for #1

Hello world,

Oooh I'm so glad to be back to my Six Sentence Sunday posts. After a long hiatus to write and prepare for the release of two books - as well as a big house move on the personal front - I'm finally ready to get the ball rolling again! I feel a bit rusty, so please go easy on me! I'm a bit nervous about how my new releases are received.

That said, I can't wait to check out all the fantastic posts of my fellow SSSers here - I've missed them all so much!


The excerpt I'm posting today is from my new release, Something to Live for- the first installment in the Moonlight Dating Series. It's from the hero's - Alex Moncado's - POV. Alex's life has been tainted by a horrible tragedy that made its mark on him and forced him inside a mental and emotional prison. For fifteen years, he has lived under the shadow of regret. Poor Alex!

The Nautica wristwatch marked seven ten in the evening when Alex Moncado put the padlock on the outer gate to his art supplies shop. As it clicked in place, the twisted shackles around his heart responded in kind.

He swallowed, and thought how much he hated this time of year. Hated it with a viciousness that would scare off a champion gladiator readied for the fight.

Grief steam-rolled over him. At other times, it was easier to set aside the rogue waves of sorrow that gripped him now.

I hope you enjoyed it! Please take some time to visit my author friends' sites and read their excerpts! Some of my SSS friends and excerpts I love to read: Jessica E. Subject, Cate Masters, Sandra Bunino and Elise Marion. I know you'll love these folks! Especially, my bestie's post - Zee Monodee - from her upcoming release is sure to whet your appetite for more. :D

Have a happy Sunday :) x

~ Natalie ~

No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love, Mystery... and a world of surprises in between!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Touching Horror

I'm a guest on Carole Gill's page today, blogging about my particular brand of horror. Hope you'll join me there!



~ Natalie ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love, Mystery... and a world of surprises in between!

REV UP WEDNESDAY - A weekly booster shot for inspiration... Catching up with JENNIFER ST. GILES

Hello world,

Today I'm welcoming versatile author, Jennifer St. Giles, to my blog. Jennifer writes historical romance, contemporary romance, and romantic thrillers under three pseudonyms. She does a hell of a job juggling a full-fledged writing career and a hectic life in the medical field (her day job). Her determination and love for the craft shine through in this interview, and it clearly proves that it's the persistence that pulls an author forward each day. You don't give up, the rest will follow. :)

I'm letting Jennifer give her two cents now... what an inspiration! Certainly worth a read.


How long have you been writing?

My biggest regret is that I didn't keep writing when I started writing. I started a historical in my mid twenties then let life intrude. Did the same thing again in my late twenties. It wasn't until my early thirties that I wrote and decided that I would never give it up again. That determination saw me through the next nine years as I struggled to publication. My first book came out in 2004 and now eight years later with thirteen books published out I am still struggling to make all of my writing dreams come true (be able to make enough to write full time), but will never give up no matter no matter how long it takes. I love writing.

When did you decide that you wanted to write for a living (that "aha" moment)?

Early twenties when I realized authors that I loved reading touched my heart with their stories long after they were gone from this life. I knew then that I too had to give life to the stories bubbling in my heart.

What did your family say when you told them you wanted to be a writer?

My family has been very supportive. My now ex felt that romance was less than worthy, so my genre choice made any support very difficult.

What is your preferred genre both for reading and writing?

I read a variety of genres, mostly high action, thrillers, or suspense with or without romance, and I write a variety of genres. LOL As for writing, I write a number of genres from historical to contemporary to paranormal, I love story, but they all have one thing in common, a senses stirring, heart consuming romance.

Did you start by writing full time or did you have a day job?

When I started writing, I had quit my nursing job to stay at home with my three young children and home school them as well as help in a family cabin business. Now I write and work full time.

Did you take any writing courses or did you just sit and write a book?

I joined Georgia Romance Writers and Romance Writers of America. From conferences and meetings, I learned from fantastic authors how to improve my writing skills and I have read voraciously ever since I was a child.

Did/do you have a crit group or mentor to guide you?

RWA, GRW and Critique groups have been a lifeline in an solitary career.

Do you use a/several pseudonym(s) and if so, why did you choose to have one/them?

I began writing under Jennifer St. Giles (Publisher chosen) and I wrote classic gothic historicals and Paranormal thrillers under that name. When I self- published very sexy contemporary stories, I choose the psuedonym of Jennifer Saints and when I published my romantic military thrillers with Samhain, I write under the psuedonym J L Saint.

How long did it take you to make your first sale? What was your first thought when you did?

Nine years. My first reaction was that it wasn't true. LOL. I had recently had a dream that I had sold and told my friends and then it wasn't true, So when my agent called my to her house on April 1st and told me I had sold, I said no. No, really, no I hadn't. It's not true. It's just April Fool's day. LOL she looked at me as if I had lost a few marbles, but laughed and understood when I told her about my dream.

Did you sell the first story or novel you wrote?

No, by the time I had sold I had written over five full books and over twenty paritial books
How many drafts did you write of your first novel before you felt you got it right? What about now - do you still write several drafts of a story?

I edit and correct as I go along so when I hit THE END, it usually is until I get editor feedback on revisions.

Do you read industry or writing related blogs? If so, can you share some useful links?

Well, I have very limited time. Usually news that Stephanie Bond posts and Author/ Agent Deidre Knight posts keeps me informed in between the conferences that I attend.

Did you get an agent first or did you submit directly to publishers?

Agent first, after I won RWA's Golden Heart Award. the Daphne du Maurier Award and the Marlene Award all in the same year.

If you signed with an agent, how did you go about the process of finding your agent/publisher?

I applied to numerous agents over the nine years and to the Knight Agency too but had been rejected, but the one good thing about the Knight Agency is they are project based, so LOL after three tries they brought me on board and it wasn't even on my Golden Heart winner but on a comedy-mystery story that I have yet to be able to write.


Did you ever get rejected? If so, how did you handle it?

Multiple times. LOL made me stronger, smarter, more determined, and improved my game. That is after I drowned my sorrows in champagne and chocolate with my best writing buds

What, in your opinion, do agents/publishers look for in a new author in the current market? Is it all to do with talent or with trends?

LOL If I knew the magic combination I'd share. More and more I think it's luck that takes the ingredients of talent and fickle trends to make an author. Yes publishers are always searching for the next great.

What do you think of the changes going on in the book industry (e.g., e-books vs. print books, and big publishers getting involved in digital publishing)? Where do you see the industry going?

Amazon Rules! This is the most exciting time for an author in all of publishing's history because control of their career is now in their hands more than ever before. With Amazon's ability to distribute books world wide in both e-book (the future of books) and in print on demand options an author can write whatever their heart's desire is and put it up for readers to choose if they want to read it and not the publishers.

Do you think writers should consider self-publishing?

Absolutely!!!!!!

How do you feel about so many bookstores closing across the US? Do you think this trend is similar in other countries?

Very sad about book store closings. I love love books and loved browsing through them in the store. Books won't go away completely, but there are going to be unavoidable changes and who know where it will end.

Are your books available in print or in digital format?

All books are available in ebook and in print except. Mistress of Trevelyan, His Dark Desires, Wild Irish and Smooth Irish are currently ebook only.

What advice do you think aspiring authors should heed today?

Never give up on your dream and take control of your career. You be the one in the driver's seat.

What are you working on now? I have big plans for this year. I am currently enriching a short story from a Series called Tales from the Dark Domain: Aerik the Eternal: Point of No Return. I hope to write the next book in the Paranormal Shadowmen Series, then the third book in my Silent Warrior Series, military romantic thrillers.

What is/are your favourite book(s)? Do you read only books from the genre you write in?

I have so many favorites over the years, too many to write, and I read from many different genres.

Do you read when you are plotting or writing a story?

Yes, but not in the genre I am writing.

What book inspired you to write romance (or whatever genre you write in)?

I write romance because I believe if you take all of humanity down to its barest most vulnerable point the only thing that matters is giving and receiving love. It is the most inspirational, most beautiful and most fulfilling thing that one person can share with another.

What hero/heroine/character was the most fun or challenging to write for you?

I know this sucks as an answer, but I really do fall in love with each and everyone, but very dear to my heart is the hero and heroine of The Mistress of Trevelyan because the book is so much the classic gothic that I so dearly loved to read when I was growing up. That genre will always be close to my heart.

How do you juggle work, writing, chores and family/personal life? Do you have a secret to time management that you want to share with readers?

No secret, I don't manage, I'm a total mess and never have enough time to do all that my heart wants to accomplish both in writing and in my personal life. But I NEVER GIVE UP TRYING and every years I get a little better.....maybe...LOL

Do you have a ritual that you follow when it comes to writing?

LOL, A ritual of struggling to put words onto the page and doubting if they are worth anything or not. All authors doubt, but somehow the determination to reach the end eventually bring the payoff of a story I love and loved having written. It's like being pregnant, going through labor, then having a child that you'll always love.

Where do you see yourself, careerwise, in 5 years time?

I see myself selling enough books to support myself to write full time.


What's your website URL?

Jenniferstgiles.com

Are you on Facebook?

Jennifer St. Giles, on twitter @jenniferstgiles

How do you connect with readers?

Conferences and email and twitter and facebook.


About Jennifer:

Besides great kids, family, and friends, I have perseverance which has garnered me a USA Today Bestselling tag and thirteen plus books on the shelf in a number of genres (contemporary romantic suspense, historical suspense, paranormal suspense, and contemporary romance). I’ve won a number of writing awards, two National Choice Awards, three Maggie Awards, a RT Book Club Reviewer’s Choice Award, the Daphne du Maurier Award, the Marlene Award, and the Golden Heart Award to name most of them. I work with several amazing women in a charity to raise money for a shelter that helps abused and homeless women and children in the US and helps children in Sudan. I’ve revived my nursing career after a long hiatus, have renewed my license, and currently am very thankful for the day job I have in this rough economy. I know there are many more great things ahead for me. I write romance because I believe that when you boil all of life down to its essence, if you take a human being to the very core of his existence, then you will find that what matters more than anything else is to be loved and to give love. Life is all about choices and to pull from one of Erich Fromm’s quote, I choose to create and to love rather than destroy and to hate.

I hope you enjoy my stories.

Go forth, dream, believe, create, inspire, and love,

Love, Jenni


Latest and upcoming releases:

For Historical Lovers: Check out, The Mistress of Trevelyan and His Dark Desires on Amazon.

For Sexy Contemporary Romance Lovers: Check out my Southern Bad Boys in Wild Irish and Smooth Irish on Amazon.

For edge of your seat Romantic Thrillers: Check out Collateral Damage and it's sequel to be released on March 6th, Tactical Deception on Amazon and through Samhain Publishing.

Excerpts for all can be found at jenniferstgiles.com

Note from Jennifer: And if you enjoy one of my stories, I would be very grateful if you would post a short review on Amazon.


~ Natalie ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love, Mystery... and a world of surprises in between!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

REV UP WEDNESDAY - A weekly booster shot for inspiration... Catching up with DIANNE HARTSOCK

Hello world,

Dianne Hartsock is joining us today and telling us about her journey to become a published author and find a home for her sizzling reads. As always, this interview provides amazing insight into the life of an author. Hopefully, it will help readers see things a little through the authors' eyes, as well as put in perspective - in candid terms - the entire process of create > publish > promo that every serious writer goes through.

Today, I'm posting an interview with a giveaway. I'll let Dianne tell you all about herself now :).

*********

DIANNE'S NOTE: "I'd like to give away a copy of 'Shelton's Choice' to a commenter who tells me who they think the most romantic character is in any book they've read."


How long have you been writing?

I’ve always been a story teller, and was very proud when, in first grade, a story of mine was pinned up on the wall for everyone to read, the teacher liked it that much. I didn’t think too much about writing again, though, until seventh grade when my creative writing teacher surprised me by saying I had some talent and should develop it. She thought maybe I could become published one day. She had me hooked! I’ve been writing ever since.

When did you decide that you wanted to write for a living (that "aha" moment)?

Okay, THE BIG PLAN! In high school I decided I was going to be a famous writer just like my favorite authors. I’d get married to a gorgeous guy, have several incredible kids, and publish my first ‘best seller’ by age twenty five. Ha! Okay, I married the gorgeous man and had the incredible children, but the best seller… Still working on it!

What did your family say when you told them you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always been a writer. I think what caught us all by surprise is the time I have to devote to promoting everything! It’s great fun, but definitely keeps me busy.

What is your preferred genre both for reading and writing?

I love to write paranormal stories. Not so much werewolves, shifters, etc. I like the paranormal phenomenon of psychics and mind-readers, telekinesis, etc. I also write m/m erotic romances, which are super fun, and fantasy adventures.

I love to read a good medical thriller by Robin Cook, Michael Critchon, Patricia Cornwell or Michael Palmer. I enjoy the romance/mystery stories of Elizabeth Peters and the fantasy/sci/fi stories of C.J. Cherryh. I love a good Dean Koontz thriller. Oh, there’s so many others, I can’t name them all!

Did you start by writing full time or did you have a day job?

Still have the day job! I’m a floral designer at a locally owned gift shop, which I really enjoy. It gives me a creative outlet when I can’t be writing.

Did you take any writing courses or did you just sit and write a book?

I learned the most about writing from the fantastic editor I had at Wolf-Pirate Publishing. I was accepted into their Writer’s Workshop program, and let me tell you, it was an amazing process. We spent nearly a year on my manuscript, taking it chapter by chapter, then sentence by sentence, with May Bestall explaining why some sentences worked while others didn’t. She showed me how to dig into a character’s past to find out who they are and why they react to things in the story the way they do. She showed me how to develop plot and to RESEARCH! Basically, she helped me discover my writer’s voice.

Did/do you have a crit group or mentor to guide you?

I belong to the Litopia Writer’s Colony, http://www.litopia.com/, which is the most talented and friendliest group of people you could hope to meet. Their advice and support has made me believe in myself as a writer.

How long did it take you to make your first sale? What was your first thought when you did?

I’ve been writing forever without any luck. It wasn’t until I discovered ePublishers that things changed. I sold my very first story in May, 2011 and now have one novel and half-a-dozen short stories out there. My first thought? Yea!!!! Finally. :)

Did you sell the first story or novel you wrote?

Not even close! I have a drawer full of stories I need to rework one day. It seems like I learn something new every day to make my writing a little better.

How many drafts did you write of your first novel before you felt you got it right? What
about now - do you still write several drafts of a story?


I usually write a story start to finish, then go back over it until I get it as good as I can. I revised my novel at least three times. Most of the short stories only take a few reads to get them right.

Did you get an agent first or did you submit directly to publishers?

I tried for both! But was lucky enough to find a publisher on my own.

Did you ever get rejected? If so, how did you handle it?

You should see the stack of rejection letters I have! Most of the time, I got upset, stomped around the room, felt like I failed. Then I took a deep breath, filed the letter away, and reworked the story until I felt it was ready to be sent out again. Giving up was not an option! There’s a stubborn streak in me that keeps me going.

What, in your opinion, do agents/publishers look for in a new author in the current market? Is it all to do with talent or with trends?

Talent first, in any field you’re interested in. You have to be able to do the job! Trends would come next. The publisher has to be able to market your book. It’s always good to see what’s selling. Write what you love, of course! But do your research to find out who wants what you have to offer.

Do you think writers should consider self-publishing?

Why not? My only problem with self-publishing is that you have to do all the promotional work yourself. There’s no publisher behind you for support! But if you’re willing to work hard, I don’t see the problem. Also, with self-publishing, you have an initial monetary investment, which you don’t have going with a publisher.

Are your books available in print or in digital format?

All of my books are offered in digital format, and my novel ALEX is also available in print.

What advice do you think aspiring authors should heed today?

Come ready to work! Start building that platform and reader base today. Promoting NEVER ends. And grow a thick hide. Not all reviews will be pretty! But also, there’s nothing more satisfying to me as an author than seeing my books for sale.

What are you working on now?

Loaded question! At this time I’m in the middle of writing my fourth m/m erotic book in my Shelton series. I’m also doing edits on two other erotic stories. Nathaniel will come out March 2nd and I have another due out this spring. Also, I’m working on a fantasy adventure novel and taking notes for a sequel to my paranormal suspense novel ALEX. Oh, and I’m plotting another erotic for later this spring.

Do you read when you are plotting or writing a story?

I read constantly! Lately, I haven’t had the time to read like I want, but I have several books around the house I pick up whenever I have a spare minute. I also like to read a short story right before bedtime. It calms my mind and usually gives me good dreams.

What book inspired you to write romance (or whatever genre you write in)?

It was the novel Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite that opened my eyes to the sensual side of male romance. Lost Souls was the first book I’d read where two men’s love was handled delicately and sweetly. I was moved by their friendship and the care they took of each other. I decided then that I wanted to write my own love story, using this same feeling of compassion and fondness.

What hero/heroine/character was the most fun or challenging to write for you?

I have so much fun writing about Shelton. He’s such a sweet, shy, sexy man. I love teasing him and putting him into uncomfortable situations, just to watch him squirm. His boyfriend is the opposite, a definitely flirt. He keeps Shelton on his toes.

The most challenging hero is ALEX. That whole novel was a challenge to write. Alex is shy and insecure and definitely flawed, but I can’t help loving him.

How do you juggle work, writing, chores and family/personal life? Do you have a secret to time management that you want to share with readers?

My greatest challenge is always finding the time to write! I currently work full time as a floral designer. Balancing that with family and friends doesn’t leave me as much time to write as I’d like. I get up an hour earlier than necessary each morning for promos, then spend three hours in the evening for my blogs, and if I’m very lucky, some creative writing. Once in a while I’m even blessed with a full day off in which to write! Do I have a secret to making it easier? No, just hard work.

Do you have a ritual that you follow when it comes to writing?

A pot of coffee and my lap top!

Where do you see yourself, careerwise, in 5 years time?

I have a fantasy/adventure novel being considered by a publisher. In five years I hope to see it published, either with them or somewhere else, along with the sequel I have written and the next one I’m plotting out. Then maybe I can quit work and write full time! Yea!


Dianne Hartsock
Blog: http://diannehartsock.wordpress.com/
FB: http://www.facebook.com/diannehartsock
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/diannehartsock
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4850270.Dianne_Hartsock


Dianne lives in the beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon with her incredibly patient husband, who puts up with the endless hours she spends hunched over the keyboard letting her characters play.

She says Oregon’s raindrops are the perfect setting in which to write her tales. There’s something about being cooped up in the house while it pours rain outside and a fire crackles on the hearth inside that kindles her imagination.

Currently, Dianne works as a floral designer in a locally-owned gift shop. Which she says is the perfect job for her. When not writing, she can express herself through the rich colors and textures of flowers and foliage.
*********

(Book Give-away)


Shelton’s Choice (Breathless Press, Amazon)

After a year of bliss with Nevil, Shelton is offered the promotion he's been working toward at the bank. Unfortunately the new position is in another state, and Nevil doesn't want to move. As tension mounts between them, Shelton is given another challenge in the form of a besotted coworker. Torn between the pressures at work and at home, Shelton has to choose his future. That is, until Nevil takes the decision out of his hands.

Excerpt:

"Have you told him yet?"

"Hmm?" Shelton murmured, reluctant to put down the book he was reading. Only a few pages remained to the thriller, and he still hadn't a clue as to who the killer would turn out to be.

"Have you told your tall, dark, and wickedly handsome boyfriend that you're leaving?"

Shelton shot the man at his elbow an irritated glance. "What do you want, Ted?" He noticed the coffee shop was filling up and hoped his coworker wouldn't take the vacant chair at his table. Ted Pringle was personable enough, even attractive in a light blond, pansy, blue-eyed way. He was also a gossip, though, and lived to stir up trouble in and out of the office.

Ted threw his hands up. "Hey, I was only asking! We go in a few months, and—"

"Leave me alone." Shelton turned back to the book and skimmed the page to find his place. Ted touched his arm, and Shelton spun on him but swallowed his angry words. Ted's attention wasn't on him. The man looked across the room, a smile of triumph on his lips.

Shelton followed his gaze, and his heart jumped then settled into a delighted patter. Nevil stood in the doorway of the coffee shop, scanning the tables with his beautiful turquoise eyes. Wickedly handsome? Damn right he was. Even after a year together, Nevil's smile still had the power to melt his bones and leave him weak with want.

He waved the book when Nevil spotted him. A curious look passed over Nevil's face as he approached the table, and Shelton remembered Ted's hand on his arm. He pulled free, and Ted chuckled, his breath warm in Shelton's ear when he bent down and whispered, "Don't forget to tell him."

Shelton growled, then forgot all about Ted as Nevil, his eyes dancing with mischief, stopped at the table.

"What are you doing here? Sit down," Shelton babbled, feeling the warmth of a blush on his cheeks as Nevil glanced at Ted's retreating back.

"Okay, but only for a minute. I have a surprise for you, and I've already wasted enough time finding you. Off work early?" Nevil took the empty chair at Shelton's nod and leaned across the table. A teasing smile covered his face. "I may have to blindfold you."

Heat swept through Shelton at the ardent look in Nevil's eyes. God, he wanted Nevil to take him right there at the table. He agonized under the constraint of public opinion that kept him from kissing Nevil's smiling lips.

Nevil settled back into his chair. "Who was that?" he asked, nodding toward the crowd at the coffee bar.

"Just that annoying prick from Accounts I told you about."

"Gossiping Ted? What did he say? I wanted to smack his pretty face for standing so close to you."

"I'm sure he wanted to make you jealous, as if he ever could. So, about this blindfold..."
Nevil smiled and licked his lips, his look provocative. "You'll see," he teased and rose to his feet. "Come on, love, before I change my mind."

Shelton hurried after him as Nevil wove his way through the boisterous lunch crowd to the front entrance. His heart fluttered when Nevil opened the door of the car for him and kissed his cheek as he climbed into the Prius at the curb. Nevil rarely displayed his affection in public, a sure sign he felt as aroused as Shelton did. He remained silent as Nevil drove through the afternoon traffic, his body tingling in anticipation of their lovemaking.

"What about this blindfold?" he asked, becoming slightly breathless at the thought. Nevil could be so creative.

"That's for later, my dear, when I have you alone and enthralled."

Shelton snorted and enjoyed Nevil's easy laughter. Grateful to be Nevil's friend as well as his lover, Shelton's spirits soared. His days were filled with laughter and comradeship. He thrust Ted's stinging reminder from his mind. He'd keep that discussion for another day and take this precious time with Nevil.

###


Shelton in Love (Breathless Press, Amazon)

Shelton is falling hard for his best friend and roommate, finding Nevil’s dark good looks and moments of gentleness almost impossible to resist. But Nevil is more interested in affairs of the body than the heart. As Shelton’s desire for the man grows, he wonders if he can change Nevil’s mind. But does he even want to? Nevil might not stay, once he learns Shelton’s secret, and then his loneliness would be complete.


Shelton’s Promise (Breathless Press, Amazon)

Shelton has a gift he’s eager to give to Nevil. At a party, Nevil flirts with one man after another, keeping Shelton on his toes. Then Percy, an ex, shows up to complicate things. Despite his best efforts, Shelton can’t find the right moment to give Nevil his gift. Will Nevil ever let Shelton get close to him, or will Shelton have to keep the gift in his pocket all evening?

Nathaniel
Etopia Press

The prisoner lifts his head and Taden is caught in the gaze of the most beautiful eyes he’s ever seen; amazing eyes that hold him confused and thrilling. From the moment Taden rescues Nathaniel from the Sutherlin soldiers’ torture, he feels responsible for the youth. The Sutherlins have invaded the beautiful Tahon Valley, and as Taden secrets Nathaniel from their reach, he finds himself drawn inexplicably to the young man. He protects Nathaniel not only from the Sutherlins but from his own mistrustful people, who don’t understand Nathaniel’s powers and believe him to be a witch. Will Taden convince Nathaniel to stay with him and live under his protection, or will the youth sail home and leave Taden in loneliness?

Eran’s Release
Breathless Press

Raised by an abusive father, Eran shies away from intimacy until a lovely stranger walks into his life. Paul, intensely attracted to the shy, sensual young man, wonders if he can risk his heart one more time to be the friend and lover Eran obviously needs.


~ Natalie ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love, Mystery... and a world of surprises in between!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

REV UP WEDNESDAY - A weekly booster shot for inspiration... Catching up with SKYE WARREN

Hello world,

Happy Wednesday! Last night I worked into the wee hours and still trying to find my bearing as I post this. I do it, though, with a smile on my face because I always love to welcome new guests and learn their stories. The lovely Skye Warren is visiting my blog today. Skye writes dark erotica, the really hot, molten stuff that leaves you both blushing and emotionally scarred. She has had an interesting journey with self-publishing so far, and from this interview I confirmed how much hard work is involved in this decision. Yet, one has to find a balance between marketing and writing - but I do believe that ultimately, quality writing speaks for itself.

And now I let Skye give her two cents...


How long have you been writing?

About a year. I know! I’m supposed to say: “I’ve been writing since I was a little girl” and all that, but it’s just not true. I have always been an avid reader, staying mostly within the romance genre, progressing from YA to paranormal to historical to erotic. I just love romance.

When did you decide that you wanted to write for a living (that "aha" moment)?

I was finally moved to emulation (aka. writing) when I realized I wanted more broken people in romance novels. I don’t mean broken like “quirky” or “avoids commitment”, I mean broken like truly and utterly damaged. What I mean is people who are, excuse my language, fucked up. These are the tortured heroes and abused heroines, but more. And once I started writing characters like that, I realized why I couldn’t find so many of them. Not only are they hard to write, but they’re not always well received. I’ve gotten responses like, “don’t make her too broken that she can’t be redeemed.” And it’s a valid concern. But at the same time, that’s why I got into this game, to show that even people who’ve had horrible things happen to them, who’ve been beaten down by circumstances and reacted in strange or unsavory ways to survive, still deserve a happy ending.

What did your family say when you told them you wanted to be a writer?

They said, huh? Because, like I said, I hadn’t written before. But they were open to me “dabbling” and believed in my work once they read it. I’m not sure I’ve had the moment yet where I say, “I want to be a writer.” I am a writer, because I’m writing. Putting my stuff out there was nice, but not as big of a turning point as you might think. It’s fun to get reader feedback, but it doesn’t change what happens between me and my laptop at night. (Or it shouldn’t.)

What is your preferred genre both for reading and writing?

Romance! I’ve skipped around to pretty much all the sub-genres at this point, and made the occasional dip into literary. But romance is my love. Right now I focus on historical and erotic romance, but I read a lot so it helps to diversify.

Did you start by writing full time or did you have a day job?

When I started writing I had a full time job, but I got laid off. Since then I started doing contract work in my professional field, but it’s actually hard. Since I’m home and I can work on writing or marketing, it’s easy to slip into that and not get enough contract work.

Did you take any writing courses or did you just sit and write a book?

First I sat down to write a story, then another and another. I had a few book ideas, but I knew my skill level wasn’t up to writing them. A certain story I wrote resonated with me, so I decided to turn that into a book.

Did/do you have a crit group or mentor to guide you?

Thankfully, yes, many of them. I got a writing buddy early on, who worked with me on my first draft. It was okay, but something big was missing. I was just too experienced to know what. I bought a critique from an author who I really respect at one of those charity auctions and it was amazing! She pinpointed exactly what was missing, and based on her direction I did a lot of reading (it was a story structure problem). I also joined two other online critique groups, where I regularly exchange with 4-6 other romance writers. I highly, highly recommend participating in critique groups.

Do you use a/several pseudonym(s) and if so, why did you choose to have one/them?

As I worked on my manuscript, I wanted to go online and interact with other writers and readers. But I knew from day one that I wouldn’t use my real name, so I picked a pen name. I had a few novellas I wanted to get out there, sort of as a self-publishing experiment. Without any promo at all, I put up a few novellas and free short stories. It turned out really well, and now I think I’m going to make that my primary (and only) pen name when I eventually publish my full-length manuscript.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

I kept hearing about self-publishing, and how big of a deal marketing was. Hell, marketing is a big deal even if you are published. But it was all very theoretical, because I didn’t know how much money we were talking about. I interacted with a pretty famous author on twitter who joked that one day she would make a full time living from her writing. I said, what? I understand that a hobbyist may not make enough, but she had several popular books out already! So I conducted my experiment, by putting stuff out there. I didn’t do any promo, not even to my existing twitter account or blog. It was based on discovery only. What I found was that people do find you based on tags and descriptions alone. I’m only now starting some promo to see how that affects things. But it gave me hope.

How many drafts did you write of your first novel before you felt you got it right? What about now - do you still write several drafts of a story?

Usually a couple of drafts. I’ve started each book with the idea that this one will be the one where I finally get it done in one draft. I do outlining, planning, but in the end, you have to do what the book needs. And, for me, it usually needs another draft. And by the way, this is referring to big changes in plot. Small changes like line edits happen all the time.

Do you read industry or writing related blogs? If so, can you share some useful links?

Oh gosh, so many! I’ll skip the blogs since those seem to make the twitter rounds and are more easily discoverable. Instead I’ll post a few of the Yahoo groups I’m a part of. One of my online critique groups is http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Rom-Critters. And for those interested in self-publishing, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/IndieRomanceInk is invaluable.

Did you get an agent first or did you submit directly to publishers?

My novel is out on submission with agents. My novellas and shorts are self-published.

Did you ever get rejected? If so, how did you handle it?

I’ve gotten rejected and also just negative feedback. Save all the good feedback you get somewhere and go back and read through it when you’re feeling low. The other thing is take a book that you LOVE, that you think is amazing, epic, etc, and go check out the 1 and 2 star reviews for it on Amazon and GoodReads. The point is, your writing has value even if someone doesn’t see it. And even the very best writing gets horrible, raving reviews.

Do you think writers should consider self-publishing?

Sure. It’s a lot of work, but I have fun with it. My background is in web development and design, so making a website, covers, formatting my books were all either known or easily learned. Plus I’m a bit of a control freak, so this was great. But you’ll have to learn these things and/or pay someone to help you do them. It’s definitely an investment of time and money.

What are you working on now?

I have a book release coming on February 15th, so I’m working on wrapping it up and some promo. I’m doing a small blog tour for that through Sizzling PR, so that’s something new for me. I have my writing plans lined up for the next 6 months at least, but it seems that new ideas are always popping up!

What is/are your favourite book(s)? Do you read only books from the genre you write in?

Oh gosh, seriously? Just one!? For erotic romance, try Broken by Megan Hart or Generational Sins by Samantha Blair. For historical, try Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas or The Shadow and the Star by Laura Kinsale. Okay, I didn’t follow directions. That was the best I could do.

Do you read when you are plotting or writing a story?

Oh, of course. I’m always writing. And I’m always, always reading.

What's your website URL?

http://www.skyewarren.com

How do you connect with readers?

I love it when they email me.

About Skye:

Skye Warren writes unapologetic erotica, including power play or erotic pain and sometimes dubious consent. There’s struggle in the sex. There’s pain in the relationships. Her books are raw, sexual and perversely romantic.

Latest release:

Below the Belt

Black belt Abe Montgomery is focused on one thing: winning gold. All he has to do is dominate the competition at the national tournament, and the sponsorships will make his dreams of owning a Taekwondo school come true. But at the opening ceremony, Abe finds Paris, a beautiful, mysterious woman with the power to threaten his drive and his dreams.

Paris Rivera has sworn off men and martial arts. After all, her black belt cost her more than years of dedication and sweat – it was the reason she was attacked. She’s only at nationals to support her sister, and then she plans to go somewhere, anywhere, so long as she never has to see another uniform again. The uniform looks awfully sexy on Abe, though, so maybe a small fling wouldn’t such be a bad thing.

As Abe and Paris heat up, the fight of Abe’s life looms ahead. His livelihood hangs in the balance, with the power to destroy his future with Paris. But when the time comes for them to part, he may not be able to let her go.

BELOW THE BELT is a 30K-word novella of erotic romance, featuring explicit sex, graphic language and lots of story. Not for those under 18 years of age or those uncomfortable with the subject matter.



~ Natalie ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love, Mystery... and a world of surprises in between!

Monday, April 02, 2012

KICK START MONDAY: Contests & More - with J.L. SAINT

For today's KICK START MONDAY contest we're going on a ride with J.L. Saint (a.k.a. Jennifer St. Giles, a.k.a. Jennifer Saints). This lady's a Georgia Peach...and you know I have a soft spot for that old Southern charm after living in Atlanta for 11 years :). Check out her take on mottos, and comment for a chance to win!


*********
A Motto?

Do you have one that is close to your heart? Words that bring light to times of darkness? Ease to moments of pain? And flowers to sunny days? A motto you ask? Yes, a motto. From the Knights Templars’ “Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your Name be the Glory” to Dumas’s fictional do-gooder’s “All for one and one for all,” in The Three Musketeers, mottos have summarized the intention and purpose of a group or organization and led them forward with unity.

Our armed forces are among the many groups that have mottos. Un-official ones like the Navy SEALs’ “The only easy day was yesterday, to official ones like DELTA’s, de oppresso liber, Liberate the oppressed. My Silent Warrior heroes in Collateral Damage and in Tactical Deception, just released, take their duty to their country and their fellow man to heart. They put everything on the line to protect and to serve, but they aren’t perfect. The Silent Warriors are flawed. They make mistakes, have serious problems and major doubts at times, but in the end their hearts are led by the courage and the commitment in their hearts.

Over the years of living life a motto has crystalized for me. Words that guide my heart. Words that I turn to almost daily to help me stay focused on what is important to me and lead me in a positive direction. Those words are Dream, Believe, Create, Inspire, Love, and Heal. They are words that helped my through some very dark times and help me in my struggle to keep on writing despite the many obstacles in my way. And as I wrote Tactical Deception, I found a special thread of that motto weaving through the story in a unique way. Love and its healing power are consistent themes in my stories because I write about love and that’s what love is all about. But In Tactical Deception, as I delved into the mindset of destructive extremism, another theme came to the forefront. To create. Erich Fromm, once wrote…”the ultimate choice for a man, inasmuch as he is driven to transcend himself, is to create or to destroy, to love or to hate.”

My heroine in Tactical Deception, has been through several painful experiences and she could have let her hurt become a destructive force in her life, but she makes the choice to transcend her pain. To create and to love instead of destroy and hate.

So as I share with you about Tactical Deception, I’d like for you to share with me your motto in life. And if you don’t currently have one, then what would you like your motto to be?
If you get the opportunity to read about My Silent Warriors, I would love for you to comment and share your thoughts.

I WILL DRAW A WINNER A WEEK FROM NOW. PRIZE: ONE BOOK FROM MY BACKLIST (READER'S CHOICE)

Happy Reading

And Remember every day to Dream, Believe, Create, Inspire, Love and Heal.

JL Saint.

Bio

USA Today Bestselling Author Jennifer St. Giles also writes as J.L. Saint and Jennifer Saints. She is a nurse and mother of three. She has won a number of awards for writing excellence including, two National Reader’s Choice Awards, two time Maggie Award Winner, Daphne du Maurier Award winner, Romance Writers’ of America’s Golden Heart Award, along with RT Book Club’s Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Gothic/Mystery.

Twitter: @jenniferstgiles
facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jenniferstgiles
website: jlsaint.com or jenniferstgiles.com
amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Tactical-Deception-Silent-Warrior-ebook/dp/B007C6Z24O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1331670855&sr=8-1
samhain buy link: http://store.samhainpublishing.com/tactical-deception-p-6697.html


Blurb

Tactical Deception, Silent Warrior Series, Book 2

One tormented soldier. One woman. Eight snipers. Someone’s going down…

The fallout from the team’s failed mission to Lebanon is still tearing Lt. Col. Roger Weston apart. God help them all if the media gets wind of the real story. Worse, guilt is eating him alive over a decision that left a fallen warrior’s wife without a husband…and exposed to danger from her radical family.

No matter what, Mari Dalton’s safety and wellbeing—and that of her unborn child—come first.

Mari is certain God is punishing her. She loved the man who rescued her from a windowless cell in Afghanistan, and never betrayed their marriage. But she has never been able to forget her body’s reaction to Roger. Now she is the target of terrorists bent on destroying the heart of America. As Roger lays his life on the line to protect her, they uncover a plot already in motion to assassinate the President. As the world teeters on the edge of chaos, any hope for a future rests in Roger’s already blood-stained hands…and the quietly faithful woman who holds his heart.


Excerpt
Before the guilt of Neil’s death could get another strangling hold on him, Roger marched to his bedroom door. He couldn’t effectively take care of Mari if she hid herself from him. Something had to change. He knocked on the door.

No answer.

He knocked harder.

Still no answer. Worried now, he opened the door. “Mari?”

Light from the bathroom highlighted her figure at the window. She stood minus her abaya and hijab—her black gown and headscarf. She wore a long tunic over slim pants, a vision of cream-colored silk and ebony hair that fell well below her waist. Gold leaves embroidered the collar, sleeves and hems of her outfit. The effect was delicate, exotic, almost ethereal. Tears streamed down her cheeks and she had her hands pressed to her abdomen, to the child growing within her.
“Are you hurting? Is it the baby? Do you need to go to the hospital?”

“No. The baby is fine. No pain.”

Relief had his blood rushing with dizzying force, leaving him almost light-headed and his chest tightened into a knot. Emotion, pain and desire, sucker punched him in the gut and below. What kind of low-bellied dick was he?

The lowest, he decided. He couldn’t stop his heated arousal in response to her beauty, but he damn well could ignore it and remember with every shred of decency he had in him that if it wasn’t for him, Neil would be with Mari right now and none of the shit that had happened to her lately would have occurred.

She stood frozen a moment then turned, reaching for her black gown.

“Don’t. Please don’t hide from me.” His voice escaped in a harsh rasp.

She paused, looking at him, her hand resting on her heavy gown. Her golden eyes were wide with…fear?

He covered the distance between them.

“Are you afraid of me?” Their gazes met and she lowered hers.

He knew before he slid his thumb under her chin how soft her skin was. Just weeks ago, he’d lost his restraint and kissed her tear-dampened cheeks after Dugar had taken a shot at her outside the hospital. That night he’d held her bandaged hand as she’d restlessly slept between nightmares. And until helping her up from the street today, it was the last time he’d touched her.

He clasped her hand resting on her gown and brought it to his chest, placing her palm firmly over his racing heart. Her gaze reconnected with his and he asked her again. “Are you afraid of me?”

“No,” she whispered before shutting her eyes and pulling her hand away.

She said no, but he swore he saw fear swirling in her conflicted expression.

“Why then? Why didn’t you tell me how bad things were for you? I could have helped or gotten you help. And why didn’t you tell me about the shooting lessons? I would have arranged for them. Made sure you were safe.”

“You would have?” She blinked at him with surprise. “But you were adamant about me not leaving the post for any reason. Not even to go with Holly to the store in Fayetteville.”

“Going to a shoe sale in a crowded mall is different than going to a gun range. Besides, learning to protect yourself is more important than buying shoes.” Roger raked his fingers through his hair. He remembered the conversation they’d had a few weeks back. And yeah, he’d been pretty strong in his objections about them going to the mall. But then, someone had been calling in bomb threats at that time too. It had been three weeks after Dugar’s attempts to kill her and Roger would have bet money Dugar was behind the threats. He hadn’t told Mari about any of it though. He hadn’t wanted her to worry. Only to heal.

She frowned at him as if he’d grown horns. “What?” he asked. Had he said something wrong?
“So what does that mean? I am not supposed to do something, but if it’s something you approve of then it is all right to do it?”

Hell. She made him sound as if he were a bipolar prison guard. He counted to ten, hoping to ease his frustration, but it didn’t work. “No. Well, sometimes, maybe, yes. I mean—” Tension knotted his brow. What did he mean? Couldn’t she see the difference between the two outings? “We can discuss the details later. I just need to know why you couldn’t tell me about the anxiety you’re having and that you wanted to learn self-defense.”

“I didn’t want you to worry.”

Roger opened his mouth then shut it. He’d kept things from her for the same reason, but this was different. She’d put herself in both physical and mental jeopardy. Then again, hadn’t he set himself as her prison guard as opposed to a bodyguard? Had he done anything personal to put her at ease enough to be able to share her anxiety with him? No, he’d let his guilt and his need to avoid his attraction to her keep her at a cold, formal distance.

He had to change. “You can’t do that anymore. From now on, no matter what you want to do, just tell me and whether I like it or not, I will help you do it, okay? It is the only way I can assure your safety.”

“That’s it? If I want to go buy shoes then you’ll take me?”

He exhaled. “Yes. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to voice my opinion on whether it’s a smart thing to do or not. And if I really think something is too dangerous then I expect you to respect my serious concerns. This isn’t a forever state of affairs. It’s just until Dugar is caught, then you’ll be your own woman, okay?”

Her own woman? Did she even know who she was? Mari looked up at Roger, her heart racing so fast she could barely think. A few moments ago, she’d been staring out at the purple-red sunset, wondering how she could face Roger. She’d done exactly what he’d told her not to do and it had turned out so badly. She’d been sickened over how miserably she’d failed in establishing any shred of independence. Her worst fears about herself had come true. She’d had a total panicked meltdown. She’d been thrust back into the darkness of what had happened in Afghanistan. She’d hit the bottom and was surprised that she’d survived it all. Her pride was bruised, but she was okay.

Now she was not only facing Roger but…she stood alone with him, in his bedroom, wearing only her tunic and pants and she wasn’t embarrassed or shamed. She wanted this familiarity between them.
He wasn’t as mad as she thought he would be either.

It wasn’t as if her choosing to leave the post didn’t matter. She could see that he was clearly upset and worried about her. But it wasn’t how she’d thought it would be. Her father would have—
Roger wasn’t her father. Never would be. But he wasn’t the easygoing teddy bear Neil had been either. In some ways Roger was like a fierce warrior. Dangerous and remote. She’d seen the deadly anger in his eyes when it came to Dugar. She had no doubt that Roger would kill Dugar with his bare hands if he had to. She’d also seen a haunted darkness in him too. Roger had deep secrets that she instinctively knew he’d never let another person near.

Neil had been different. There wasn’t a part of him he didn’t openly share with her. It wasn’t that he didn’t keep information from her. There were things about his job he couldn’t tell her and things she would never ask him. But his soul and heart had wrapped warmly around her as accepting and loving as a puppy. He’d never said anything to curtail what she did, but then, she’d never ventured beyond the strictures of her upbringing. It was two years before he could talk her into going to the store alone.

It wasn’t until she met Holly that Mari started thinking about doing things outside of the rules, about getting an education, a job, learning to shoot a gun, and yes, one of those things was standing without her abaya before a man who wasn’t her husband, her brother or her father. A man who said she could be her own woman? What did that mean?

“Okay?” Roger angled his head to look into her eyes as he set his hands on her shoulders.
She nodded. Her tongue was tied in the gratefulness clogging her throat and in the fire burning through her senses at his heated touch. He’d made this whole big problem and the fiasco of the day all so simple. So easy to let go of and move forward. At least she thought he had. Currently her mind reeled, making coherent thought debatable. His nearness and intensity had her blood racing places her mind couldn’t go yet.

He released her and stepped back. “Hungry?”

“Yes.” She drew in a much-needed breath of air. She thought about grabbing her abaya and putting it on now. Considering the way he made her feel, it would be safer.

“What do you want to eat for dinner?” He started walking out of the bedroom, but his gaze fell on the rumpled bed and she cringed. It looked as if a tornado had struck it, she’d tossed and turned so much.

She rushed over to straighten the bedcovers. “Whatever you want will be fine.”

She didn’t dare look at him. What he must think. He’d loaned her his bed and she couldn’t even leave it neat. Leaning forward with her knees against the mattress, she fixed the blanket and threw the pillows back up to the headboard. She stood back quickly and hit a hard, hot body—an unmistakably aroused, hard, hot, male body. His arm wrapped around her when she teetered with surprise and a visceral shock wave of want hit her hard.



~ Natalie ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love, Mystery... and a world of surprises in between!