Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Zing Me Baby!

No lie, my boyfriend snagged me in part because of what I thought was an ingenious one-liner. He said, “If I said you had a beautiful body would you hold it against me?” Of course my reaction (especially on our first date) was no! I wasn’t about to get physical with a stranger. After my shock wore off, I realized the second meaning, which of course also needed to be answered with a no. (I know when to take a compliment!) So imagine my surprise when I discovered this is one of the bad one-liners he and his buddies used to toss out and laugh about. Plus I discovered it’s an old Bellamy Brothers song. Not quite so charming now, is it?

Every guy has a batch of one-liners or atleast an arsenal of comebacks…and this includes the fictional variety. I mean who can forget “I’ll be back” from Terminator or Wesley from The Princess Bride’s unselfish “As you wish”?

So I set out to find my stable of guys’ best zingers or come-ons.
From TIES OF VALOR & Prince Awyn Shandar:

“I’m not a prisoner?”

“Not at present. The matter has not been officially decided. Our first concerns were to see to your well-being. A matter I handled personally.”

If his comment had been designed to make her blush, then it succeeded. Heat filled her cheeks in a sign she knew he couldn’t miss. It wasn’t because of his gender. She’d been down to her skivvies with plenty of men. It rankled because a stranger had stared at her virtually naked and she didn’t know a blasted thing about him. “Thank you.”

“It was my pleasure.”

Her skin’s sudden warmth radiated further. Her weakened state was to blame. Any other time she never would’ve given in to such feminine emotions.

(Now that the local Chick-fil-A has started using this when they gopher around, it’s lost some of its zing for me.)
Surprise widened her eyes. She hadn’t expected the caring answer. Her lips trembled. Zara pressed them together, gaining her composure. “What am I going to do with you?”

He sucked in a lungful of air and then exhaled in a rush, saying, “Love me?”

“I do.”

Rocked by her words, he stepped back with his legs weak. “How can that be?”

(For me this was close to par given the moment when Buttercup here’s the Dread Pirate Roberts’ utter, “As you wish.” as he tumbled down the mountain.)
From JUST ONE LIFE & Kendron Valdemar:

“Are you lost?” a deep voice asked, causing her to turn to face the owner. “Or just looking for someone?”

“A little of both I fear.” Gwynan couldn’t tell him who she’d come after, because then he’d wonder why, since they’d never met. “It seems the person I was to meet has left.”

Would you care to join me then? I usually don’t do this but I’d love to buy you some ice cream.”

(Can you tell Kendron’s a nerd? But he’s a hot one with magical powers galore!)
From ALL I EVER WANTED & Ravin Seacrest:

“Why are you here?”

“To find you.” It was what he’d wanted and longed for only that morning. Though now after the fact, Ravin wished he’d added a little something to make it less painful for himself. “You are my woman.”

She grunted in response, not sharing his sentiment. “How did you get in?”

“I do not know. One minute I was in my village, and the next here,” he gritted out as he sat up. The room spun for a brief moment then righted itself. The shooting twinges had stopped. All that was left from his journey was a dull ache in his head. Oh, how he craved a few Queen of the Meadow blossoms right now. Better yet a healer.

“Do you mean the city of Oakes, about twenty minutes away?”

“No Haines.”

“Like the underwear? Good one. I suspect you’re wearing that brand now, huh? Besides, it’s not a good story considering I’ve never heard of a town by that name near here,” she asserted. Her eyes flashed at what she perceived as a false answer. “Tell me the truth.”

(Possessive straight off the bat isn’t he? It’s got to do with his ‘I’m handsome, and it’s a curse’ complex. I know I let this go long, but I figured you’d get a giggle out of the underwear funny.)
From LOVEMAKER & Eric Ross:

“Man, look at this stain.” A strawberry curl bounced against his forehead as he agitatedly blotted himself. “My dry cleaner’s never going to get this gunk out.”

“It’s surprisingly washable and…edible.”

“Excuse me?”

She clamped her mouth shut, stymieing the urge to mutter more product info. Now wasn’t the time to play love counselor extraordinaire.

“You want me to lick it off?”

(Here my heroine Afra was creating some trouble of her own. And her answer should have been, “Yes, Adonis. Can I watch?”)

“Need some help testing that toy?” He’d come here to nab a live guinea pig, and man, oh man, had he hit the jackpot. Kendall couldn’t believe cheesy lines like that worked. He wasn’t so sure she was buying it.

He had to admit he was a little jealous, even though he’d come into the situation knowing his subject would have a partner.

“Sure. I could use a hand.”

Had he been dreaming the last few seconds? “What?”

“I’d be delighted. Mr.…”

“Ken…Ken,” he looked around wildly. His gaze landed on the sign boasting SEX TOYS. “Sexton.” No, it was supposed to be Singleton! Well, it was too late now. He’d just have to go with the flow.

(Hmmm…was Kendall’s mind really on finding a new test subject or how much fun he'd have while saying it was work-related?)
Do you have any fabulous one-liners in your books, a snappy retort from a favorite read, or an unforgettable movie line? Throw it out there and let’s see what you’ve got!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Neat Science Factoids

On a number of my loops, readers ask where I get some of my ideas. Well, they come from all over the place to be honest.

I like to read; books, magazines, email, blogs...cereal boxes, license plates, LOL Usually my preference runs to our genre of fiction – the SF/paranormal/futuristic romance but you have to ‘fuel’ up sometimes on some of the science-y aspects. For those I rely on magazines like Scientific American or World Science (an electronic zine I’ve subscribed to). While they don’t provide me with the science I need for a particular project (unless there’s a lot of serendipity going on), they do plant ideas in my mind for future work. Today, I thought I’d share a few factoids I’ve recently come across.

Shades of Planet of the Apes?

Most of us have probably heard that chimps are primitive tool-users. It’s been documented they use sticks to draw termites from nests (crunchy snack food) or rocks to crack open tough nuts. But now, it seems that chimps in Senegal have been witnessed using spear-like sticks to hunt. They sharpen the sticks with their teeth, then poke the stick/spear into hollow tree trunks where other smaller primates hide. One was seen pulling out a bushbaby that had been caught by the spear.

Are these chimps moving up the evolutionary ladder? Maybe so. It appears that older male chimps, who do most of the hunting, aren’t as quick to use these spears. The spear hunting is primarily done by younger adolescent male and female chimps...who were taught to hunt in this fashion by their mothers! I’ve always said women are the moving force behind civilization and advancement.

If Aesop was still around, he’d have another fable to write.

Most of us have read or been told the fable of the Ant and the Grasshopper (you remember...the ant was busy all summer long harvesting and storing food for the long winter months while the grasshopper simply sang and enjoyed the warm weather with somewhat dire consequences.

It’s been found that the Western Scrub Jay stores some of its food and carefully watches over its shoulder to see if any other bird is spying on its caches. If it is, the Jay relocates the food. Scientists, using 8 Jays, developed some behavioral tests to see how much forethought went into this hoarding practice. They found that these birds selected a variety of foods to hoard and if, during the test, given the opportunity would stash food in the compartment labeled ‘No Breakfast’ to ensure they’d have something the next day. Test results indicate the birds not only chose to guard against food shortages, but tried to maximize the variety of food for their diets. Pretty clever for a ‘bird brain’, don’t you agree?

Just think what one of us could do with these ideas. Wow, the worlds we could create!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Hero Archetypes

Writing in science fiction, paranormal and fantasy genres allows for an eclectic mix of hero types. Who is your favorite?

The Swashbuckling Space Captain: In my opinion you can’t miss with the hard riding, savvy space cowboy. I love a man who can fire a blaster with one hand, and clutch the heroine to his muscular chest with the other while swinging into the cockpit of his custom built spaceship. There’s something about a man who’s at home among the stars, can speak a few alien languages and isn’t afraid to have his molecules scattered by a particle beam.

The Alien Prince: Arrogant almost to a fault, and just as sexy, the alien prince/king/planetary ruler can light any heroine’s fire. He’s rich [usually owns a planet or two] and a bit lonely even though women throw themselves at his feet on a daily basis. He needs a woman who can stand up to him and isn’t afraid to break the rules. Whether the heroine is a hapless traveler who’s been presented to him as a gift, or she’s the ruler of a rival clan, she’s bound to have a good time with His Majesty.

The Vampire: Dark and brooding, he can be charming and beastly – often at the same time. He’s a tortured soul – assuming he actually has a soul, and it takes a special heroine to save him from his own demons. My favorite are the anti-hero vamps – the truly bad boys who are just longing to be redeemed by the love of a good woman.

The Magician: Whether he’s a fully trained wizard or just a run of the mill warrior who’s been touched by magick, I’d follow him anywhere. He has power, charisma and usually a predetermined purpose that’s been written in the ancient scrolls. He needs a heroine who can spell cast and isn’t afraid of zombies or animated skeletons – usually she holds the key to his destiny as well as his heart.

This is only a short list of hero archetypes. Can you think of any others? Who’s your favorite?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Shaking the Tree: Or Mixed Genres

I think I've probably wrote on this before, but I've recently found a new love for mixing fantasy and sci-fi.

What's made me embrace this topic in the last week or so? The novella I'm writing that is a dragon story in a high tech world. I know, most dragon stories are medieval in nature, or if urban fantasy are about shifters - me I took the road less traveled. While the technology of my world would most likely be called futuristic rather than sci-fi, it is still not the tried and true method of dragon story telling.

I think anytime you mix genres you're bringing something different to the table and opening up the possibilities for unexpected and fresh plot twists. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Keeping it fresh?

I'm not talking about taking romance and putting it into another genre, that's already happened and it's here to stay -thank the Gods of Creative Thinking. What I'm talking about is taking elements by diametrically different genres and marrying them in an unexpected way. A story of Wild West cowboys on another planet? A Medieval romance that takes place inside the internet. With enough creativity and solid characters you can pull off anything and make it an exciting ride.

I'd like to throw out a challenge to the other star-crossed authors: Pull two odd elements from other genres and put them together and see what you come up with. I'll be really interested to see what the talented ladies here can come up with.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Speculating on Speculative Fiction

Something spurred my brain into thought-mode the other day. In a review of Alien Communion over at Dear Author.com, Jayne made a remark that she couldn't envision a heroine leaving her own planet, never to return, for a strange, alien culture, all on account of great sex.

For whatever reason, it made me think of my first SF/Fantasy Con (Marcon 28). As a wide-eyed college freshman who'd led a very mundane life up to that point (the only RPG group I knew about refused to let girls play, and the local department stores carried only Jackie Collins books and Sweet Valley High serials--I didn't even know about cons until college opened my eyes. Hooray for higher education!), seeing a gathering of people who wore pointy ears, bumpy foreheads, carried lightsabers, wore weird clothes (my own thrift-store weird suddenly looked horridly mundane) made me feel like coming home. I sat in on my first Mars Society panel, listened to a real physicist talk about faster than light technology--seriously, to an audience who listened seriously, ear jewelry and headgear notwithstanding.

But one thing stood out to me. Back then, I lugged around a kit bag with just about everything I could stuff into it for living. I had a change of clothes, extra toiletries, notebooks, emergency snacks, enough contact lens stuff for a month, a towel (because I'd read the Hitchhiker's Guide by then), and a first-aid kit. I did this because I spent half my time functionally homeless--my roommate had a boyfriend, and the room was way too small for three of us, even if two were stuck together half the time. So I spent much of my time as a couch-dweller, sleeping on other people's couches and enjoying semi-private showers when I could.

But there was also a part of me--the outcast part--who'd been nursing a small teenage fantasy of being "found" by my tribe. If you're an outcast, or have ever been an outcast, you know what I'm talking about. The place where you fit in, the secret door leading to somewhere fantastic, or the visit from a stranger who holds out his hand and says, "Come with me, we've been waiting for you all along." And you know in a heartbeat, that you'd go without hesitation, whether you had that kit bag or not. Because that place beat the hell out of anywhere here, hands down, and without trying.

At that first Con, I met people who walked around with kit bags like mine, and who did so expressly because they dared to hope and dream that today would be The Day, when the aliens arrived, when the Door in the Hedge opened up, or the Stranger appeared and held out his hand.

My long, drawn-out point to all this is that, at the Con, no one would bat an eyelash--glittered or otherwise--at a heroine leaving for Parts Unknown with nothing but the skin on her back. But I could see how an entire segment of the population would need to be sold on this idea. And that's what got me to thinkin'. Speculative romance fiction, especially SF romance, arrives at an intersection of audiences and with that, comes the intersection of expectations. For example, it's not-unheard of for me to have to read a William Gibson or a Tim Powers two or three times. Once for the story, and others to go back and understand the terms, language, and concepts introduced. I remember reading Count Zero about four times, just because I couldn't take in all the tech, the African mysticism, and the action all at once.

Now, I'm not about to class myself anywhere near the Greats--I write my little stories because they're fun to write and because the characters won't leave me alone until I do. But I wonder sometimes, at the differences between audiences of Romance and of SF, if their expectations aren't divergent enough to sometimes cross wires completely. A lot of the SF I read has conventions that are understood by the target audience. The SF story presents the story in a framework where the outlandish is somewhat expected. The reader expects to have to stretch his or her imagination into the gray area between what is realistic versus what is believable via the setting and circumstance.

Romance, too, has conventions that are understood by its target audience, but those conventions are vastly different. Romance contains emotional cues that provide a terrain map of sorts to the story, and which form a contract with the reader, so to speak, that says within the genre framework, certain elements will produce certain outcomes falling within a specified and expected range. The reader stretches his or her imagination into the same gray area between realistic and believable, only through the emotional circumstances, rather than the setting.

Without being familiar with the genre conventions, does a reader miss out on enjoyment of the story? Should a writer attempt to introduce the conventions in the story, hand-feeding the reader through expectations? What do you think?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Best-laid Plans

What is it they say about best-laid plans? Oh, yeah…they never work out! Which is a given in most cases for me when I try to plan anything. So, let’s just chalk my Valentine’s Day up as just another day. I should’ve known things weren’t going to go well when a song with these lyrics popped up on my top 3 request list for the local radio station:

Why weren't we able, to see the signs that we missed/And try to turn the tables/Now the story's played out like this/Just like a paperback novel/Let's rewrite an ending that fits/Instead of a Hollywood horror

The gift I ordered for my sweet on the 9th got backordered and didn’t ship until the 13th. Which of course means it didn’t get here in time. Then my bf ended up having to work the night shift and didn’t get home until 10:30ish. So all that planning I did drawing a huge heart out of purple, gold and pink foiled candy with a big spin-the-bottle button (ideal for foreplay) in the middle went to waste.

The upside is that he loved the Transformers (he’s a huge fan) valentines I hid for him to find while I was at work. He found one in his wallet (when he fished for tip money, since our dining rendezvous was my treat) that made him blush. Of course it made me think—That wasn’t even the racy one! I guess in some ways, this is proof positive that when life deals you lemons, you make lemonade. I’d just make sure to sprinkle in a little sugar to lessen the punch.

Along this vein, I decided to share a scene from JUST ONE LIFE where the heroine doesn’t get what she bargained for during her one night with a wizard.
“Now,” Baquer asserted. “We must do it now.”
“But do we have the right to give up her innocence?” Kamali questioned, wringing her hands as she paced beside the table.
“Oh, I do not think she will mind,” Nitesh chimed in. “I think it’s exactly what she wants.”
Isaura smiled, giggling at what was about to take place. “She is in love. Why not give her the chance to fulfill her desires.”
“He has proven he cannot defeat the minions spell alone, and by joining with her in body he will realize his foolishness,” Adish stated, turning the women’s romantic ideals to base fact.
“She is his match.” Dalit stirred the water in the cauldron with his finger to create a miniature typhoon. “If it does not happen now, it shall later, provided they survive the coming days. But if this is their only moment, why should we deny her?”
“Aye, let them get it on,” Horace announced in a gruff tone, staring at the clear surface ready for the show.
“Ewww,” the women and Dalit sounded in reaction.
“That is crude Horace.” Kamali eyed him with a bit of malice. “She is not a toy to play with, not a thing to feed your lustfulness.”
“Time is wasting.” He motioned to the bowl. “If we do not decide quickly it will not matter, because the window twill be lost.”
“Who believes this is in the best interest of the mission?” Kamali watched as everyone raised their hands in vote, leaving her the lone nay. “Then it will be done. May she be ready for this.”
She sat on the cold tile floor, waiting for her transformation, curious as to why it was being done now. He had arrived and gone to bed. How was she to talk with him if he had no interest in anything but rest? Plus how was she to explain her appearance in the middle of the night…morning since it was now just past one.
She was almost positive he had been drinking by the way he’d stumbled about. She’d almost run to him when he called, then remembered that she was only his cat. A cuddly replacement for the woman he really wanted.
And now the Ancient Ones had decided to answer her plea.
What where they thinking, she wondered as the tingling grew, making her warm in the chill of the darkness. Light radiated from her after she was made human again, making the cloak that lay around her sparkle like the stars in the heavens.
She rose from her crouched position, the pain cast aside by her curiosity as she leaned over to stare in the mirror. A circular golden brooch, whose matching stick pin held the mysterious rune symbol, had replaced her collar necklace. Her wet and pouty lips sparkled with glitter, as if touched by the cosmic curtain far above. Intrigued by the new makeup, she drew back the cloak’s sides, expecting to be dazzled by the surprise that lay beneath. Shock stunned her at the discovery of what they’d chosen.
She looked up toward the ceiling, mumbling, “You can’t be serious?” Oh, but they were. Staring into the mirror over the sink, she examined the slip of celestial material covering her breasts in a modern day brassiere held together by twisted silver strings at their valley. When she swiveled to the side, her flesh peaked through at the edge, laid bare for his eyes by risqué cutouts! Her gaze dropped to the center of her sex and found a small triangular V held in place by matching silver cord. A draft of air slipped up along her rear. She placed a hand there. These breeches bore no back! It had been replaced by another slip of the string.
Perhaps they’d secreted information from Victoria Secret. She remembered the pages from Kendron’s stash, a little ill at what they’d chosen. This was more revealing than anything she’d have selected from those pages, but more importantly it was sexier than the lingerie Livie had come calling in.
Nervously she opened the door, willing it not to creak and rouse him from his sleep just yet. She made her way across the floor timidly, soundless as her furry counterpart, and stood staring through the open curtain at his prone form lying naked atop the covers. The dark hair she’d yearned to feel beneath her fingers beckoned to be touched. The stubble she’d wished would graze her skin instead of catching in her fur prickled from a new day’s growth. The sensual fullness of those lips she’d longed to taste moved ever so slightly as if calling her to him. Kendron’s chest was sprinkled with dark hair, his nipples like small, buff pebbles in the cool air. Undoubtedly, it had caused the part that proclaimed him all man to rise from its nest of curls.
Fear trampled up her spine…fulfilling any of her cravings would mark her as brazen. Could she do this? She’d never seduced a man, never…done the deed. Sure she could flirt to entice, but given the seriousness of the moment she worried she wouldn’t be good enough. She knew for certain she wouldn’t follow Livie’s course. If it was to happen, she’d find her own way, and let him guide the course with his will intact.
The woman in the machine sung of magic and love, her words in the olden language she called her own. It was a sign she welcomed with a smile as she stepped around the bed to stand in the moonbeams pouring in from outside.
“Nan?” Sleepily, he stirred and rubbed his eyes.
“Aye, but a dream,” she breathed, hoping he’d play along. If she didn’t have to justify anything that happened later, this would be all the better. She stood cloaked in the sparkle of the moonlight, silently urging him to believe as she took long strides to evoke a sense that she floated forward. Her fingers reached out to feather along his rough cheek. “A figment of your imagination.”
“But I can feel you.” He reached out, catching the hand she’d meant to pull away, and caressed the sensitive skin of her palm. “And feel you.”
“Such are the ways of magic.” Pray that such things could be made real by witches like him.
“Then it is a welcome spell I’m under,” he whispered, then pressed her fingertips to his lips as he rose on his elbow.
Fondling the silkiness of his dark hair, she delighted in the sensation of the soft strands against her skin. She marveled at his eyes which seemed dazed by the sparkling of her robe, the dark center accented by twinkling stars of their own as he let himself go. He wanted this as much as she.
“Will you join me?” He scooted over to give her room.
“One thing first.” With a smile she loosened the pin at her throat to let the lengths of cloth that hindered his view fall. She wanted him to see what she’d brought to the party. Unfortunately to regain her necklace, she had to keep the pin with her. She raised her hands to her hair and drew back the sides to fasten them at the crown with a motion that jiggled her breasts.
Temptation flared to life in his gaze. “You are beautiful. Like a fairy.”
An image of his mother’s treasures came to mind. In this instance she didn’t mind being compared to a magnificent creature of myth. “Perhaps I have enchanted you,” she flirted as she slipped her hip onto the bed, still a bit unsure of what she should do. She paused, turning her head away to think clearly.
Surprise stilled her heart when his hand cupped her shoulder, but the way he kneaded her soft skin spawned pleasure. His lips found her ear and gently nibbled the lobe before continuing a gentle trail along the side of her neck. The gasp that sprang free from her couldn’t be stopped, nor did she want him to. Her fear faded with each inch he covered with kisses. She lay back, giving him access to the rest of her.
So do you have any Valentine horror stories or things that simply didn’t follow your well plotted course? Feel free to vent here!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Valentine's Kisses

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Sexy & Romantic glitter graphics from www.sexiluv.com

You’ve exchanged the boxes of candy or the gifts of jewelry or flowers, read the romantic cards (or if your SO is like mine, the funny romantic cards :D) What then?

Then you exchange a Valentine’s kiss. It can be as simple as a buss to the cheek or forehead. It’s often the anticipation that makes or breaks a kiss.

Groaning, she attempted to stand, then felt his big hands slip under her arms. Just like that, she was on her feet. He stood close enough she could feel the heat pour off his body and smell the slightly exotic scent that fit him so perfectly. His hands rested lightly on her shoulders for a long moment before his fingers trailed down the length of her arms, tangled with her fingers, then made a return journey. One of his hands, warm and slightly callused, moved to her neck. Focusing on the crisp hair peeking out of the deep V of his collar, she held her breath, once more aware of the curious tension that coiled deep in her body. If she looked up, she was sure he would kiss her.

ALTERED DESTINY (Available in March)

“Nae, let’s try this again, shall we?” He performed well enough to do away with the foolishness so he swung into the saddle. Reaching for her, he ordered, “Put your foot in the stirrup, Annie. I’ll help you up.”
“Liane,” she corrected, her gaze latched onto the bared length of his thigh. Her tongue wet her lips and sudden visions of other uses for that tongue gushed through his mind. It was all he could do to stay mounted. On the horse. Not Annie. She looked up. “What if I just walk alongside?”

But between two lovers, the simple kiss will often turn into something deeper, more intense.


"Liar." He pulled her into his arms and pressed his mouth to hers. Stiff at first, she slowly melded to him, her lips becoming soft and warm. He slanted his mouth on hers for better access, and then traced her lips with his tongue. When her mouth opened, when her tongue met then danced with his, when her arms wrapped around his neck, all the hunger he felt for Keriam crashed through him like a hit of lightning.
He dropped his hand to her firm buttocks and pressed her intimately close. Her soft moan echoed through his blood like thunder. He slid a hand under her shirt, reveling in the warm satin touch of her flesh. Drawing his hand forward, he cupped her breast, thumbing her nipple through the fabric of her undergarment. Unbidden, a soft growl purred in his throat.
She tasted sweet. And warm. And so uniquely Keriam he thought he would die of it. When she arched her back, pressing against his erection, he thought he would lose his mind.
He wanted to lose himself in her, wanted to stake his claim to her, wanted to wipe every memory of Marc Cooper and any other man from her memory.

ALTERED DESTINY (Available in March)

She made a breathless sound. “Don’t be silly. You don’t want to kiss me.”
“Silly?” One hand drifted up her arm to encircle the supple column of her neck while the other settled on her waist. He leaned forward, slowly, letting his body brush hers. Desire rippled over him and he lowered his head until her warm breath danced over his skin. His lips met hers, slowly, smoothly, until she softened beneath him. Then he kissed her in earnest. Her lips were sweet and her reluctance soon vanished as he pulled her closer, pressing her against his body, chest to hip to thigh. Her hands settled on his waist, holding him close, as a low moan vibrated in her throat. Her warmth filled him. Her taste satisfied him yet made him hunger for more. His blood roared in his ears and it was all he could do to pull back, to release her. He nodded, slowly. “Aye, silly.”

For one brief second, their eyes met…and held.
“You!” her low contralto voice echoed his startled exclamation.
Anything can happen.
Rose’s lips parted in a broad smile. Clay didn’t have a chance to respond as she grabbed the front of his shirt and pulled him into the room. The door swung shut on its own as she looked at him and he looked at her. They weren’t aware of moving toward each other until they were in each other’s arms.

No matter how you celebrate Valentine’s Day, I wish you all the love and kisses that you desire.

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Sexy & Romantic glitter graphics from www.sexiluv.com

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Everyone Says I Love You

Love is of course the essence of romance novels. The creation of love, the ‘falling’ into it, is what makes the story important for me. I want to feel what the characters feel, and be swept away in the moment. To celebrate Valentine’s Day, I’ve assembled a collection of important moments from some of my books [These are all Jennifer’s books, btw. I did a search and apparently, Bernadette’s characters don’t get quite as mushy. Her characters prefer to say things like, “Harder!” “Faster!” and “Now!!” But anyway...;)]

Love is in the air today and in the following scenes.

Bonfire of the Vampires:

“Abby....” Jake was back. The animal he’d become sank back into the darkness, sated for now. Fear contracted his chest as he brushed errant strands of damp hair from her face and skimmed her cold cheeks with his knuckles. “Abby?” Had he taken too much? He shook her and her eyelids fluttered. Her languid gaze turned to his.

“I love you, Jake.”

He gathered her in his arms and placed one hand between her breasts. Her heartbeat was slow and irregular. Her skin was sticky from the blood of his wounds. She looked like she’d been through a worse ordeal than he had, yet her lips curved in a seductive smile.

“Abby. I took too much. I’m sorry.” He cradled her and gathered the cool satin sheets around her body, cursing himself for only being able to produce the illusion of body heat.

“Let me sleep a while, Jake.” She sighed and clung to him even as she released her inner hold on him. He rained kisses on her closed eyelids and her pale lips. “I’ll be okay, Jake. I promise.”

“I love you, Abby,” he said. What was left of his heart contracted with the fierceness of it. He loved her too much to do this to her again. Whatever strength he had gained from this one fevered coupling would have to be enough to fight Gideon and win.

The Concubine’s Tale

The warriors that held them drew close together, and for the first time since he’d left her in the cave, Khanu felt Nayari’s fingers brush his arm. “I love you,” she whispered, her voice raw.

“I love you, my wife. We’ll be together on the other side of the sky. I promise you that.”

In Khanu’s ear, the warrior that held his arms tightly behind his back whispered barely audible words. “Forgive us, brother. Your sacrifice will be remembered by Pharaoh.”

Conjured in Flames

"What can I give you? Rodan--" Gillian reared back and took his face in her hands. "I don't know if I can give you a child." She studied his face for a moment, and he lost himself in her earnest brown eyes.

"I want you. Nothing more or less." He hesitated only a moment, hoping his words would sink through her incredibly thick feminine skull and into her obviously addled brain. He wondered if he should tell her that her ability to render him speechless was enough of a challenge for him. No woman had ever been able to do that. "I love you, Gillian. And I want you now."

Flight of the Valkyrie

She would hold on to every memory she had for as long as possible, and her last thoughts would be of Jordan.

His face loomed above her. Behind him she saw the brilliant sky of Talek. She felt warm sand under her and the weight of his body above.

“I love you,” he told her. She smiled and reached up to clasp her trembling arms around his neck. He pulled her into his embrace and cradled her against him, smoothing her damp hair away from her face.

“Don’t let me go,” she said. “I only have a little time left.…”

The Rebound Guy

She’d never felt as free or as sexy as she did with Eric. Was it because she knew him so well and trusted him to care about her feelings and her needs? She’d dated plenty of men, a few of whom she thought she loved, but none she’d ever trusted as much, or felt so certain with.

Though she’d spent the day wondering how to deal with their sudden intimacy, she’d never actually been afraid Eric wouldn’t call her, that he wouldn’t want to see her again. Deep down, she’d never really doubted her friendship with Eric could survive a night of passion.

One question tickled the back of her mind now, as he claimed her, his body taut above her: Would this ever be anything more?

She took him in and let him love her, and long after he fell asleep with his arms wrapped around her, she whispered the words, “I love you.”

The Soul Jar

He paled and his smoky eyes were stark. Silhouetted against the brilliant blue of Cairo’s night sky through the suite’s picture window, he was all sharp angles and long lines. Bree wanted to smooth those edges, to make it right by kissing him, but she didn’t dare give in yet. She needed to hear everything he had to say.

His chest swelled with a deep breath, and he took a step closer to her. “I’ve never loved anyone else the way I love you, Bree. Believe me when I say, I only wanted to protect you, but if I had it to do over again, I’d never let you go. I hope one day you’ll be able to forgive me.”

Bree concentrated all her strength on remaining on her own two feet and not falling into his arms. “I do. When I told you I didn’t hate you, I meant it. And even when I did hate you, I still loved you. I never stopped loving you.”

For more info on any of the books listed above, click on the titles!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I'm back!

Oh man, I missed my last entry or two because of visitors (love 'em, God bless the pair) and because I'm tech challenged and couldn't get on the blogger, even when the others tried to help me! And it's taken me a half hour to get here!


Soooo....anyway, here I am.

Valentine's Day is tomorrow. I wonder about Valentine's Day. Is it the only time of the year when it's acceptable for a man and woman to prclaim their love? To send cards? No. Anniversaries have the same thing. So what makes Valentine's Day so different?

I think it's because there's the mystery of the Secret Admirer. The card and flowers from "Your Secret Admirer". I mean, how exciting, or scary, depending on your POV . That being able to send someone you like a card or flowers or something and they don't know who you are. Or you don't know who they are.

It's titillating. Admit it. I'd be stoked if I got flowers and a card from a secret admirer. The Only thing I get at the moment is a bill! Not Bill, but bill. *sigh*

LOL. But you know what touches me the most? When I see an elderly couple walking hand in hand down the street or out for a walk. Holding hands, showing that their love has endured the years and what life has thrown at them. For a split second I can see the young couple, so freshly in love, hope for the future, a little scared maybe...and then the years have passed and they're still together, having endured and come through it. And still holding hands, as much in love today as they were years ago.

Now that's romantic.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Ooo, L'Amour

This week's theme here at Star-Crossed is Valentine's Day. Traditionally, V-Day has been a high time in the world of romantic fiction, as no other holiday celebrates romance so directly, and so much the way some of us really like it--with tasty chocolate and fine jewelry. :P

Seriously, I am not that big a fan of fine jewelry--when Mr. Xandra was fixing to propose, he asked me what stone and setting I'd like in an engagement ring, and I told him a Pentium in a silicon setting with a square-cut, 102-key accent offset by an ergonomic oval cabochon, all surmounted with a true-color cubic cathode ray tube. Mr. Xandra had to call the jewelry store to find out what a cabochon was and what square-cut looked like, but he knew where to find the Pentium, and that's where I wrote my first full-length novel, where we both had many happy playthroughs of Full Throttle (a Lucasarts adventure RPG classic), and where we constructed some of our earliest dynasties of Civilization (Sid Meier's, that is).

Valentine's day is the one day (okay, season, judging by the two-week inundation of commercials for the local naughty stores, the full-service spas, and the jewelry store marketing blitzkrieg ordering you to celebrate her love with the addition of many pounds of precious stones to her appendages) where romance is acknowledged by the mainstream media, where romance writers are let out of our pink ghetto to do the morning radio show rounds about spicing up your love life, and which shade of pink best screams "romantic."

Me, I want to see something more. I want to see socially-conscious people taking to the streets on St. Val's day in full protest mode to say that Yes, Love is a worthwhile pursuit. That wishing for a happy ending isn't a sign of early-onset dementia, and that celebrating love is a damn fine reason for a party. So much of this world is a dystopia that celebrating something that makes people happy should not only exist, it should be mandatory. I want to see love in its funky forms. The matching collars for Lycanthropes with little heart-shaped studs. The His'n'Hers toasting glasses that have little warmers in them to keep the Blood Which Is The Life at a toasty 98.6. The shelves of "Sexy Grimoire" gift books with sexual enhancement enchantments sold in the local occult gateway. And the spiffed up audio cards that say "I Love You" in five human languages, Klingon, and Wookiee, complimentary on your spaceflight to the romantic getaway destination of the Lagoon Nebula.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

He haunts her dreams....

My new paranormal release is available today from Amber Heat!

The Demon Of Pelican Bluff
By Jennifer ColganISBN-13: 978-1-59279-674-8 (Electronic)
Genres: Shapeshifter / Fantasy / Dark Fantasy / Paranormal / Psychic Phenomena
Heat Level: 2
Length: Novella (29k words)
Normal Price: $5.00 Each
Sale Price: $3.75 Each

Description: Something is on the prowl in Pelican Bluff, Minnesota. When the mayor of the small town calls in cryptozooloist Laurel Jensen to investigate strange sightings of a winged, demon-like beast roaming the forest, she can’t resist. It’s not her passion for the unknown that draws her, though, it’s her need to come face-to-face with the creature that’s been haunting her dreams. Laurel has seen the beast, too. He calls to her, eager to lure her into his clutches and claim her for his own. Certainly not a run-of-the-mill cryptid, more than a clever hoax, the beast is real, and it’s searching for the perfect mate. National Forest Service Ranger Cade Morrison draws the thankless task of escorting Laurel on her search for evidence of the beast’s existence. Cade knows the mayor is looking for publicity to attract tourists to the Bluff and he doesn’t want any part of it. But he does want part of Laurel Jensen. Or maybe all of her. Too bad he’s not willing to share her with The Demon of Pelican Bluff.........Find Out More!

Buy The Demon of Pelican Bluff

This novella is available as part of the Beast Master Vol. 1 Amber Pax from Amber Quill Press.

You can purchase this title alone or as a collection with:

Deadly Desires by April Reid
Dragon Fire by Sherrill Quinn
Fire Breather by Marie Harte
Nellie's Rogue Stallion by Deirdre O'Dare

Friday, February 09, 2007

Got Romance for V-day?

Every Sunday I post a new Romantic Tidbit on my About Skylar page (www.maseysplace.com/about_skylar) to give readers ideas to express their feelings. So in honor of the romantic holiday speedily approaching where Cupid zings some arrows into lovers, I pulled out my top 14. You don’t have to use these word-for-word, but hopefully the notions will give you food for thought about something special you can do to “show” your love.

Love Notes: Write 3 reasons why you love your partner on three separate pieces of paper. Place your love notes where she/he will find them unexpectedly during the week. For instance, how about a saucy invitation stashed in the freezer over top of the ice cubes? Or maybe a compliment tucked in a suit coat pocket to make his/her day a little brighter!

Florida RT Con Recap: Turn one room of your house into a tropical paradise. Got a back porch made for sinful escapes or want to liven things up in the boudoir? Deck the stage luau style with hibiscus leis, crank the ukulele music and serve up an appetizing coconut drink or two. For some special entertainment do a hula dance for your honey, them teach him/her the moves to create a story of your love.

Wolverine's X-ample: Simply say "I love you." Those three little words often go unsaid, so make sure your honey hears them today. If an ultimate bad boy can break down and gush to his heart's desire, what's keeping you from showing the power of your love?

Come-hither Code: Does your partner secretly wish he/she was a spy? Here's your chance to give him/her a mysterious assignment. A code can be made any number of ways, but the simplest is the Caesar Cipher. For example A=Y (where the 26 letters of the alphabet are moved over 2 spaces) to create ECR DCGQRW! If you want to burst the ho-hum pen on paper boundaries, spell out your missive in lipstick on the bathroom mirror for a bedtime tete-a-tete where you hold the key. Or you could drizzle a syrupy hint on his morning waffles to kick-start his day and have him rearing to go for your unsupervised night-time interrogation in the bedroom. GET FEISTY!

Snail Mail Me: Send your partner a puzzling message via the USPS. You can set it up to be something simple, like four hastily jotted sticky notes that reveal I Love You Joe! when placed in the right order. Or go all out and use whole lines of text that won't make sense until they're lined up with the other halves. This could be an invitation to a movie or a romantic dinner you've cooked up. To build tension you can mail one each day, or for fun send them out at the same time. Chances are they won't all get there at once. If you're a spend-thrift by nature (or necessity) and can't spare the 39 cents for stamps plus mailing supplies, try postcards with scenic adventures or hearts on the flipside. If you opt for the Plain Jane variety from the post office doodle something yourself. The gesture will make those paper scraps extra special and heartfelt.

Grill Him/Her Up: When you serve up burgers to your beau/babe add a fun message in mustard and/or ketchup. For example: Luv U, Hot Stuff, Kaboom, Hot 4 U or U R Hot. If you're not up on your squeeze bottle cursive spell it out by carving letters in the cheese patty. Get creative using those condiments to tell him/her you want to make fireworks of your own!

Sweet Serenade: Compose a short song for your honey. It doesn't have to be more than a chorus, and can even be structured around a familiar song (Happy Birthday, Row Your Boat) with substituted words. Comedy, like that shown in restaurant ditties are passable, but the emotions conveyed should be true renderings!

How Do I Look: Tired of your loved one looking like a bag lady or street waif? Then this week's your chance to polish them up until they shine. Pick out an ensemble for them. Men if you want to go the extra mile choose your lady's makeup and jewelry to accessorize her transformation. And if either sex wants to splurge, take your work of art out on the town. Any cat-calls or looks of admiration they glean (even if it's from you) will reinforce their new selves and may have them pulling the switcheroo for good. Since you had a hand in laying the foundation, don't forget to offer your services to keep their renovation on course!

Read to Me Baby: Got a favorite keeper? Get your hubby or beau to recite a random passage (maybe he'll even pick one that's dog-eared). Or if you want to get in on the game take turns bringing the hero and heroine to life by speaking their immortalized words.

Movie See, Movie Do: Need an activity to fill a few hours of your day? Act out a scene from your favorite movie. You don't necessarily need props, but it would make the adventure much more fun if you wanted to record it for posterity's sake. In fact try scoping out a similar locale in your hometown to provide the backdrop for your home-movie masterpiece. That way five+ years down the road you can look back and see how much you lived, laughed and loved.

Ring Around the Posey: Give your gal or guy a small bouquet of flowers. You don't have to break the bank, just a simple $3-$5 bundle from your local Wally World will do. What matters is that you're acknowledging how special your partner is to you. You don't even have to tell them why, since you might not be able to pin down exactly one reason you love them. Say, "Just because." It's that simple. But remember not to snag blooms under guard, like those huge roadside arrangements, that'll garner you a staggering handwritten receipt in the form of a ticket.

Candy Striper: What's the way to a man's heart? His stomach is the tried and true answer. But how about mixing up those hearty meals with something sweet. It's always more fun to cook together, so why not come up with some creative candies to share during pillow talk later? And
if you have leftover chocolate, use the warm, paintable medium to slather something besides a plastic mold. *wink, wink*

Cheap Date: Does your partner complain about the cost of taking you out? Why not grab a quick bite courtesy of the fast-food dollar menu? True, it's likely not to be the most fabulous meal you've ever had (unless you're a french fry freak like me), but it will give you a chance to spend time together. Another bright side is that neither of you have to cook or clean the dishes, which leaves ample time for after-dinner activities.

Pet Name for V-day: Need a pet name, but aren't ready to gag over Snuggle Muffins? Why not incorporate something you like to do as a hobby such as Rose Petal? Or link in your job like Plow Guy on MEN IN TREES. Maybe you have an interest in little furry animals which would be good for Bunny or Puff. Whatever it is, make sure it represents you, unlike my brand--Pookie--which tons of people use!

Did you single gals think I forgot you? Here are 2 ideas to make your Valentine’s Day one to remember:

Gala Glamour: Know how girls used to play dress-up in their mother's clothes? Well put on your big girl finery, like a sparkling tiara from your beauty pageant days or that one-timer bridesmaids' dress that's lounging in the back of your closet. Even if you don't have anywhere to be, get dolled up (or decked out you guys) then go for a spin to the local Mickey D's for a Happy Meal.

Bibbity-Bobbitty Do: Every woman wants (or wanted) to be Cinderella. Why? Because they wanted a wish to come true via the Fairy Godmother. Today select one simple dream you'd like to make reality and fulfill it all by yourself. It might not be as magical, but it will make you feel empowered (and love yourself).
Are you a romantic movie buff? Make sure to check out my Valentine’s Contest at www.maseysplace.com/contest for the chance to win a giftbag of romantic goodies.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Undue Influence

So I've got a huge list of futuristics on my TBR pile that I'm itching to read and am afraid to touch. Why? Because I'm afraid of undue influence.

It's not that I'll steal plots or plagiarise writing. It's the fear that some detail I read somewhere will be absorbed into my subconscious and appear in my writing without my knowing. So if my heroine is inexplicably being obstinate and rude, it might be because she's being influenced by Cherijo, the protagonist of StarDoc - who's alive and kicking in my imagination.

No-one's immune to a case of unconscious hijacking, but I'm usually hyper-aware of being unconsciously influenced and make a conscious effort to veer away. On the other hand, I'm also conscious of the old adage 'There's nothing new under the sun'. The same way that Star Wars may have influenced some of my scenes, it may have influenced a ton of other writers in different ways. Some may be writing works of breath-taking genius, whilst others are churning out the same old derivative pap.

I've read enough romance novels and science fiction and fantasy books to understand the conventions of each genre. But when does a 'convention' become copycatting?

While striving to avoid undue influence I've often developed a major cause of writer's block. I've often been frustrated by a story idea having to be thrown in the bin after a similar story being released by another author - who no doubt picked it up from the same idea store I raided in the nebulous ether.

So when does the striving for originality become an exercise in futility? And finally, does it really matter? Isn't the author's individual style and voice the only thing that really sets us apart?

Answers in a postcard to.... Just kidding! But I would really like to know what you think.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Various Thoughts on a Frigid February

Courtesy of SparkleTags.com
Courtesy of SparkleTags.com
Is everyone gearing up for the big romance week? For that special day, February 14 -- Valentine's Day?

Guys and gals, it's almost here. And we'll be doing a big week of Valentine's Blogs next week so make sure you stay tuned. In the meantime, don't forget to buy or make your sweetie something nice and heartfelt...or just plain sexy. A little thought goes a long way!

In the meanwhile...I feel pretty accomplished this week. My writing buddy and I turned in another Triskelion Interludes story set in our Great Escapes storyverse (yep, I created a new word :D this one means a universe we created just for the story, LOL) Once more, we'll see our two 'ghosts' helping two lonely souls maximize their love potential. How's that for capitalizing on the coming romantic theme? Keep your fingers crossed the editor likes it enough to buy it because, in my humble opinion, it's even better than the first one!

I also feel accomplished because I just figured out how to display both the covers of my books. See it in the sidebar? How cool is that! LOL Yes, little things like that make me feel good :D

And, on my day job, I successfully solved a problem setting up a new workstation for my guys. Well, okay, I did have to call the support staff at one point but that's neither here nor there.

You probably don't care but I've started my countdown to Spring. 42 days! Yes, I know we can still have snow and ice after the equinox. I don't care. Just knowing that the end is in sight is good enough for me. We've been having zero and below zero temperatures here and I'm heartily tired of it. I want to see spring green. I want to ditch the heavy winter coat and gloves and boots. I want to be warm...without turning my thermostat up to 70 (though I'm sure the gas company appreciates that). I want to see my daff's and hyacinth's blooming and be able to go from my house to my car without the mad rush through the dark, frigid morning air. I want Spring!

Oh, and for those of you who live in the U.S and have Daylight Savings Time...did you know it's coming early this year? Yep, instead of the first Sunday in April, it's now scheduled for a Sunday in the middle of March. I think, it's the 18th but don't quote me. The changeover will be later in the Fall too. I'm not fond of this idea but then, I'm not fond of the DST at all anyway. I'd like the politicians to pick one and stop this ridiculous switching back and forth. But then...they don't listen to me anyway.

42 Days to Spring!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The advantages of a blackout

I would have posted earlier today, and probably on another topic, but mid-morning, as I was carting a basket of laundry throught the house, I became aware of an unsual sound. Actually it was a lack of sound that drew my attention.

My computer was no longer whirring and sighing, the fridge wasn't popping and pinging, and the gentle hum of the washer and dryer in the basement had stopped.

Except for the ticking of the battery operated clock in the kitchen, the house was completely quiet.

Apparently someone hit a utility pole a few blocks away and so, for three hours, I was cut off from all my 21st Century technology. With the exception of my cell phone, I had no means of communication. No e-mail to check, no laundry to do...nothing left but a pen and paper and the half-finished chapter Eight of my work in progress.

It was wonderful.

I'm not used to complete peace and quiet in this house. There's always something going on. Either the dish washer or the laundry is running, the various appliances are buzzing and churning, and if the kids and husband are home, there's at least one television on and a video game being played. Too much quiet can be a bit overwhelming, I discovered, so to combat the possibility that I might sink too deeply into the zone, I tempered my creative time with intermittent bursts of housework.

I finished the chapter and straightened up the house in those three quiet hours and I have to be honest, when, shortly after 2:00 PM the electronic hum started up again, I was mildly disappointed. Not that I was looking forward to figuring out how to make dinner sans my electric can opener and my oven, nor was I pleased about the prospect of having to eat all the ice cream in the freezer and do my editing by candlelight, but for a while it was nice to listen to the quiet and let myself think.

Now it's back to work - no excuse to let the laundry sit or consider going out for dinner. It was definitely nice while it lasted, though.

P.S.: Visit my blog for info on my latest contest!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Posta Culpa/Posta Trade-a

This is my "mea culpa" post ::blush:: . See, I was supposed to post on the first, but I moved on the 30th and well, I missed my post day. So I traded days with Angela. But I have a really good reason. See...I've moved to Neverneverland.

My new house is five miles exactly from my old house. My new house is one mile from the little green sign that says "City Maintenance Ends Here." And my new house also occupies a nexus of nullspace heretofore unbeknownst to all of mankind. Except the little old ladies who work at the county courthouse and have those big folders of plat records and old farm deeds and the like.

That little green sign wasn't kidding when it read "City Maintenance Ends Here." It should have been "Civilization Ends Here" because in spite of being not-that-far from that sign, I've gone from having screaming high speed internet provided by a civic entity (the city itself has a telecom utility that offers cable internet), to...two Dixie cups and a string. I've moved to the only two square miles on the entire planet where The Borg Time-Warner does NOT go.

I'm not sure how this happened. I'm about five miles from three different city centers. Okay, they're town centers, but they have their own zip codes and at least one police cruiser apiece. So why can't I get The Borg Time-Warner to assimilate me hook me up to the internet via high-speed cable?

Of course, the tradeoff of majestic views and a beautiful new home with closets that contain quantum singularities. And a kitchen that has enough room for me to cook and feed my perpetually-starving army, with countertops that register hardness on the Mohs scale and enough cabinet space to enable me to toss all the boxes I used to keep small appliances in. And once the water softener goes in, I won't have to take a hard hat into the great new oversized shower.

Now with all this nifty new stuff in my new house, I can't help but compare to some of my settings. Living quarters in the future all seem like they'd be small. In the universe I created for "Hounded" space is at a premium in artificial habitats, so people live in very small quarters, in exchange for having common areas. I can see the implications of that on both a grand and a small scale. As anyone who lives in a house with small bedrooms knows, the smaller the room, the less room you have for your stuff and your free time. So you spend your leisure time in a common area, like the family room or more likely, the kitchen (since everyone who's ever had a party knows you have to chase people out of your kitchen--it's an instinctive thing to go to where the food is).

In many cultures, especially ones in temperate or hotter climes, the dwelling itself is used for sleep and privacy and little else, while the cooking and the chores are all done outside, facing the common area or the road or the village center. It's how I picture most of my future living spaces, as well. Maybe it reflects a wish, in that people don't use technology to eventually supplant community. With the internet, large rooms that can be wired for all manner of entertainment, and communications that allow us to connect without connecting, it can be easy to stay in your room and be a hermit without the hermit-ness, but you also lose the sense of community that can come from sitting on your front porch and watching what the neighbors are doing. Maybe helping out when they need it and getting help when you need it. Getting to know the people who share your physical space, because when it's at a premium, it helps to like the people sharing it with you.

Still...it's awfully nice to have high-speed internet for my community in etherspace.

I don't know how it always happens....

...but it always manages to be my day to blog when I have to work. Since I work nights, I'm sleeping during the day and then limited computer access makes me a day or two late every time.

So, this is a day late - again.

Now...if I could only find a topic.

Winter blues. That's a good one.

How does it pertain to writing? Glad you asked. If there is going to be a time of year when my creative energies lag, it's going to be in the winter. Now that we're deep in the middle of winter, I have to say, I'm having a little trouble staying focused once I sit down at the computer to write. It's not that I'm discouraged, or have writer's block, I just have a need to decompress after a year of continous writing. I'm still doing work, but not as quickly as I did say...two weeks ago.

Currently, I'm working on my follow up to Fatal Error, titled Mind Games. Lots of chase scenes kind of wears a writer out. So, I've been concentrating more on my reading lately. Trying to renew my creative juices. Just finished Angels & Demons by Dan Brown. I liked it, it moved faster than I thought it would. Then I read Prior Bad Acts by Tami Hoag. - I have to say...after reading that novel, it reconfirms my stance that she is one of the best suspense writers out there. I fell in love with her work when I first read A Thin Dark Line years ago. After that book, I had to pick up everything she ever wrote. For me, her characters are so real and flawed and believable. They stick with you days after you've put her book down. They are gritty and messy, and damn...I want to write like that when I grow up.

I've also been picking up sci-fi books by authors I've never read before. I read Distraction by Bruce Sterling a few weeks ago. Great book. Different. I was looking for a book without a love story...as I wanted something completely separate from the romance I write, but wouldn't you know it, there is this quirky kind of off-center love story in the book that so totally works. It was absolutely charming. I've also picked up Forty Signs of Rain by Kim Stanley Robinson. I am about a day or so away from starting on that one, but I'll let you know. Apparently he wrote the Mars trilogy, that I still have yet to read. I see it in the library whenever I'm in there, and keep thinking...yeah, that's on my 'to read' list...(That's different from a TBR pile.)

I think as writers it's very important to also be readers. One of my goals this year was to expand my reading boundries. Thus, the search for sci-fi that is not necessarily romance, and the suspense and intrigue without romance. I think if I see how other writers tackle that aspect of a story, I can incorporate it much more easily into my own stories.

I don't think I could ever write a book that didn't have some romance in it. I'm just not made that way. I have written books where the romance takes a back seat, or wasn't the central focus, and that's ok.

So, what have you been reading and is it for research, pleasure, or other?