Tink...tink...tink...anyone out there? Hi! I'm Barbara Donlon Bradley - Author - editor and slightly crazy - ask anyone in my family. I hope to use this blog to talk about writing, editing and whatever pops in my head. Hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Writing Down the Bones: Digging Deep with your Characters

I found another wonderful unnamed handout about building your characters and it made me think. 

How well do we know our characters anyway? We’ve all been told to know the characters worst fear. That normally is part of the plot so is their deepest desire but does that make the character three dimensional? The author asked some great questions to help you kick start your character development.

What does your character’s bedroom look like? What color is the spread on the bed? Is it neat or messy? What decorates the walls? What is on the night stand? Any books? What are the titles? Do they have any ailments that might make them keep medication on that nightstand?
What does your heroine have in her purse? Why? What size is it? How much did she pay for it? Is it heavy or light? You can ask the same thing about your hero. What does he have in his pockets? Does he carry a briefcase? If so what is in it?

What about the bathroom? What type of towels do they use? Toothpaste? Mouthwash? Are there perfumes in there? How about their brand of deodorant?

What is the make and model of their car? Or is it a truck? What do they have in their trunk? Is it a stick or automatic? Are their tags up to date?

How do they handle new people? Do they judge them off of their looks? Are they a good judge of character? Does meeting new people put them on edge?

Does your character scare easily? Are they shy? Afraid of physical contact? Or one of those people who violate personal space? Do they make eye contact? Talk loud? Talk too much?

This should give you a good jumping off point. I’m sure you can come up with a lot more questions to make your characters three dimensional.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

My Latest Guest: Ashley Ladd!

I want to welcome Ashley Ladd. First I’d love you to introduce yourself.

Tell us about your latest release.

My latest release is ‘Spooky Sojourn’ a ghostly paranormal in which the heroine, Deanna Thompson, is the new manager of a purportedly haunted hotel. She doesn’t believe in ghosts and she is determined to find the culprit(s) responsible for driving guests and employees away from the hotel. She hires Harry DeVeaux, a paranormal investigator, in the hopes of proving there are no ghosts. Immediately, sparks fly. But they often disagree and often argue as he knows ghosts exist and she thinks he’s crazy for believing in them. Still, she can’t help fantasizing about the hottest man she’s ever met and she wonders if she’s crazy for doing so. When bowling pins and kitchen knives start flying through the air and her brother’s car explodes, she starts to rely on Harry more and more.

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?
The Mummy. He’s completely head over heels in love with his girlfriend, so much so that his love survives his death. He’ll do anything so that they can be together again. In his mind, he’s her hero.

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?
Haley in ‘Purrfect Justice’. She’s a mild-mannered secretary by day but by night, she dons a Cat Woman costume and really kicks criminal ass. When she was coming home from a Halloween costume party one night she was listening to the police scanner and heard that the policeman she’s in love with was in trouble and she flew to his aid. She saved his neck and it became a habit – in costume. She even borrows her girlfriend’s motorcycle and she jumps it over a police car to escape being caught when they try to pin her down. She’s a lot of fun.

3.) What genre do you write? What made you pick that one?
I love contemporary erotic romance, especially rom com. Within that I write a variety of pairings: mf, mm, mfm, mmm, mmf

4.)What are you working on now?
‘Gaycation’ which is an mmf about an erotic romance writer who hasn’t come out of the closet about what she writes to her family, friends, or employer. When she uses her vacation from work to attend a gay conference to get more ideas for her books and her big boss, the man of her dreams, also shows up, she gets way more than she bargained for.

5.) What got you to start writing?
I started writing when I was about six—as long as I can remember. I’ve always loved the written word. I loved Superman and Lois Lane and I wanted to be a hot shot reporter like Lois.

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?
Everywhere. Listening to conversations. Watching and reading the news. Watching people including my kids. Dreams. Fantasies. Songs.

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?
That my friends and coworkers are afraid to swear around me or tell dirty jokes and stories. They think I’m too sweet and innocent for that stuff. It cracks me up. I tell them I really don’t mind but they insist that I’m a goodie two shoes. If only they knew…

8.) Do you have any special talents?
I type 96 wpm. I’m a good aim with a bow and arrow.

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?
That I should open the bedroom door and write hotter. That’s when I started to write romantica.

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?
Captain Jack Sparrow – about anything that came to his amazing, crazy mind. He’s so fascinating and sexy and funny I’d never get bored.

11.) What song would you say describes your life?
Everywhere by Tim McGraw

12.) If you could come back as any animal – what would it be?

A cat! I must be part cat already. I’ve probably been scratched enough that our blood has mingled and I have cat DNA.

Ashley Ladd lives in South Florida with her husband, five children, and beloved pets. She loves the water, cats, and playing on the computer.

She's often incorporates humor and adventure into her books. She also adores very spicy romance, which she weaves into her stories.

Someone’s trying to kill Deanna, but is it the ghosts she doesn’t believe in, the rich socialite who might be a murderess, or someone else with a beef against The Gilroy Hotel and Resort that Deanna has just been hired to manage?  The Gilroy’s owners want the ghosts, or whoever is causing the trouble at the hotel eliminated, and they are pressuring Deanna to do the job as quickly as possible. Harry DeVeaux, paranormal investigator comes highly recommended to do the job and against Deanna’s better judgment, she hires him.

Although Deanna thinks Harry’s crazy for believing in ghosts and Harry thinks Deanna has a closed mind to the possibilities of ghosts and they highly annoy each other, sparks fly. Deanna can’t help but fantasize about Harry and inspired by a romance convention visiting her hotel, writes her fantasies in a private blog that Harry finds, hacks, and reads. Ooh la la!

Deanna reread her fantasy, barely able to believe she’d penned it, wondering if she should delete it. Did she really want to make out with Harry, a perfect stranger, on a public beach? Did she really want her words on the Internet, even in a supposedly private blog under a make-believe name?
Well, it was confidential, right? As long as she didn’t give anybody the web address or password or tell them about it, it would remain secret.

Enough fantasizing! She had to get back to work. Dragging the files out, she familiarized herself with the ghost sightings as well as Lynette’s and Grant’s history. By the time she finished, she knew how they’d died and the theories about their suicides-slash-murders. She also knew that everybody was afraid to point fingers at the now very influential and powerful Roxanne Cambridge-Anderson. Could Roxanne be behind the haunting nonsense? Did she want the hotel shut down? But that made no sense. The rumors portrayed Roxanne as a murderess. It wouldn’t be in her best interest to keep their legend alive.

Deanna’s temples began to ache the harder she thought about everything, so she decided to go to sleep. Hopefully she’d awake if any hi-jinks took place in the bowling alley.

About three a.m., deafening booms awoke her. Light brightened lane fourteen and all but one pin lay scattered on the wooden floor.

Groggy, Deanna tried to gather her senses. She looked around then, to her horror, she saw an iridescent figure of a man on lane fourteen picking up a glowing ball. Collecting her presence of mind, she grabbed her webcam, pointed it at the ghostly shape and turned it on. Shaking, she tried to hold her computer steady. Not believing what she was seeing, she knew there had to be a rational explanation. Perhaps some machine was projecting the image onto the lanes. Perhaps a real person stood in front of her in glowing phosphorescent powder.

Whatever or whoever it was, picked up the ball, and knocked down the spare pin. Then the ‘apparition’ bowled three strikes in a row.

Unexpectedly, he turned and glared at her, fire shooting from his eyes. Pins flew from all the lanes at her. Her heart racing, she ducked under the score table.

Buy links:
How you can contact Ashley:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Random Thoughts: Can you have distractions while you write?

We all have different ways to get ready to write every day. Some have an office to work in, desk clean, no distractions. Once the door is closed they are ready. Others have a particular place, the dining room table, a chair in their bedroom, a computer desk in a spare room. I sit in a recliner in the living room.

Some will play music while others need silence. I put on a TV show or movie I don’t need to focus on and off I go. When my son was little (he’s now twenty), he understood I wanted to write but didn’t understand that popping his head in every five minutes asking me if I was done yet kept me writing longer. My husband was just as bad. So I invested in a laptop to see if that would give me more time to write without interruptions. It worked. When I sat with them they totally ignored me. It taught me I have less distractions in the middle of the mayhem I call my family then I do locking myself away.

How do you handle distractions?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Meet My Latest Guest Kasey Moone! #Phaze

Welcome Kasey Moone. First I’d love you to introduce yourself.
I’ve been writing interracial erotic romance for about 5 years now. I actually started writing literary fiction then switched to romance writing because I enjoyed it better. I’ve always been a huge romance fan, and when I started writing in the genre, I knew instantly it was the genre I was supposed to explore. What else…I’m a die-hard romantic at heart and I love writing!

Tell us about your latest release.
Campus Touch is a story that I am self-publishing through Amazon, Smashwords, and AllRomance. It should be out sometime in November, if not sooner. It is the second book in my Edson College series, which a paranormal series that follows a group of hunky werewolf cousins in a prestigious college in Michigan. They are all very rowdy, funny cousins, and they all find their better halves (or lifemates) on campus. It’s a quick, action-packed story that I think readers will enjoy. The story focuses on a white male and a black female. The first book in the series is entitled Campus Prowl and is available at Amazon and AllRomance.

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?
Wicked Witch of the East. She was the first villain that really frightened me as a child. Guess I haven’t gotten over it.

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?
That’s a hard one! Definitely Anelle Franklin from my first story Her Snowbound Knight. I like her because she’s tough but vulnerable, and of course she’s the first character I ever written in the romance genre that made me want to explore the industry. She’ll always be my first love. Her and her handsome man, Jasper Madison.

3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?
Interracial erotica. I picked interracial because I believe love crosses all boundaries (race, religion, political status) and I want to give a voice to couples that may be underrepresented in the romance industry. I also think it’s fun writing about two people from different backgrounds. An interracial writer can explore important topic.

4.) What are you working on now?
An interracial, contemporary romance called Small Talk. Then it’s off to another book in the Edson College series!

5.) What got you to start writing?
I started writing when I was 12, and wrote my first novel too! It was called Trouble in Rainbow Land. LOL. I started writing because I was always a quiet kid, sort of a loner, very imaginative and creative, I liked making up stories. I was a bit of a fibber—and sometimes that would get me in trouble. One day I channeled that energy into actually writing stories and the rest is history. I studied writing all throughout school, and even have a graduate degree in it. It is truly my passion. I can’t imagine doing anything else and I hope to do it full-time in the near future.

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?
Small moments. Something totally insignificant will happen, and I’ll brainstorm in my head for a few moments to try to figure out if a story could come from it. Sometimes I get it from watching movies, television shows, conversations I overhear. But it’s usually something totally random that has me rushing to my notebook to record it.

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?
I’ve lived in nine different places in my lifetime. And no, I was not running from the cops.

8.) Do you have any special talents?
Double jointed. Used to dance professionally. Excellent listener. Can remember random movie quotes.

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?
“Write with your heart in the first draft, and with your brain in the second.” For some reason, that always stayed with me. One of my instructors offered this advice to me in school, and it’s helped me not to be so critical of myself in the first draft. Note: I used to have a terrible inner critic.

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?
Muhammad Ali. I love his confidence. Don’t know what I’d ask him though.

11.) What song would you say describes your life?
Nelly Furtado’s “I’m Like a Bird”  -- because I’m a bit of a free spirit, very independent, creative, warm. I like my freedom.

12.) If you could come back as any animal – what would it be?
A mighty Lion. Leos rule.

Henrietta “Rita” Evans has always been known as the quiet, black girl on campus, some folks even nicknaming her “Mute” in jest. And she doesn’t expect much out of her Winter Break at Edson College, but an equally quiet environment. Until a member of the white campus elite starts running behind her dormitory late at night. Starts warning her to stay away from him and the woods. Starts making her feel more alive than she’s felt in a very long time…

Something is happening to Sal. Something he can’t control. Something threatening his last year of college and family’s werewolf heritage. And what’s worse, a quiet, mocha beauty can’t seem to mind her own business, tempting him at every turn. Who cares if she has the sweetest lips he’s ever seen? Who cares if her scent drives him mad? He has to keep her at a distance, for much more is at stake than the heat blazing between them.

And if he doesn’t put it out, they’ll both burn…
Campus Touch, Second Book in the Edson College Romance Series
Preorder Soon!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Meet my latest Guest! Marilyn Gardiner!

I want to welcome Marilyn Gardiner. First I’d love you to introduce yourself.

I’ve been writing nearly all my life. My first novel was written under the covers, at night, with a flashlight. I was eight years old. I still have my handwritten notes and to my horror the plot sounds a lot like Anne of Green Gables! I have been printed in every kind of magazine, newspaper and publishing house you can think of, starting out with children’s stories and inspirational pieces. My husband is a minister, and we have two grown daughters, five grandchildren and five greats. I live across the street from the library, which makes it convenient to always have books on hand. I rarely leave the house without a book in hand, and there are books in every room in my house.
More about me can be found on my webpage: www.booksbymarilyn.com

Tell us about your latest release. 

My latest release was a story about a wagon train going west along the Oregon Trail. Comanche Moon won first place in the latest EPIC contest—historical romance category. I love to do research and writing. This book was a joy. I also have another historical romance: Like A River My Love. The setting was on the Ohio River in 1778, traveling with George Rogers Clark to Kaskaskia in Illinois. I was born and raised in that country, and writing about it was like reliving my childhood.

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why? 
I find it hard to pick one favorite villain. I want my villains to be complex, with both faults (some truly horrific) and a compassionate streak of some sort. Humans are a bewildering mix of experience, temptations, challenges and decisions…villains more than others. Villains are fascinating to me.

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?
My favorite character in my own work is Jenny, the heroine in Comanche Moon. She is faced with enormous problems and feels inadequate to cope with them. She has no choice, however, there is no one else to take charge of her little daughter and herself. She grows, rather she matures, out of sheer necessity, kicking and screaming all the way, but she emerges as a strong and capable young woman – and she finds love in the bargain.

3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?
I write in whatever genre my story chooses. I have two historical romances, a four-book series of romantic suspense, one inspirational, several action-packed mysteries and two classified as “women’s literature.”

4.) What are you working on now?
Right now I am finishing the rewrite on the story of a coal mining disaster in W.Va. and how the lives of an entire valley were forever changed. Title: Thine Is The Kingdom, a symbol for the mine tipple which dominates the entire valley and the lives of the people who live there in a thousand ways.

Then, I have another finished book waiting for me to correct. Night Travelers is the story of four women, in four generations, living under one roof all summer. Each has her own problems and solves them in her individual way, yet at the bottom of their soul they are surprised to find they are much alike.

5.) What got you to start writing?
As I said before I was very young when I began to write. When I was about ten my grandmother informed the entire family (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc) that one day I was going to write all the books she never could. She only had a sixth grade education, but was an avid reader. Sometimes I think I write for her. I often have a grandmother in my books. Cicada Summer is my latest short story, available as a download through Amazon—cheap, cheap, cheap. Grandma Livvy is one of the central characters in this story.

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?
From life. My own experiences and what I hear or read about. Television, newspapers, conversations that I have had and those I’ve only overheard. Every word I hear is grist for my writing mill. I research a lot and have been in an unimproved cave, where the worst thing was having to crawl beneath a low ceiling and not knowing what I was putting my hands in on the floor! For another book I had to know what the banks of a large river looked like and what it felt like to be on a river, in Like A River…so I pleaded with a nephew to take me out in his boat and  took a ton of notes. I’ve traveled extensively in Great Britain, and in Jamaica, and all over the U.S. Often I have put myself in danger wanting to know what was going on. Fires, tornados, floods, etc. My husband gets quite upset with me. Having grown up with my curiosity, my children take it for granted.

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?
I live a very ordinary life.  I have flown an airplane (with the pilot beside me), I have sung, sometimes professionally, since I was twelve years old. My best friend was my accompanist for many years, and we had a lot of fun. Music and writing/reading are the two passions in my life. I enjoy knitting. Although the first sweater I knitted was for my husband and one sleeve somehow grew three inches longer than the other one! My husband and I have taken in too many troubled teenagers to count, for various lengths of time. I am profoundly grateful to have been a solid presence in the lives of young people who had very little or no stability at all in their lives.

8.) Do you have any special talents?
Music and writing are, I think, all I know. I was a secretary for the years my husband was in school. That was four years of college, plus a couple more while working for two Masters degrees and a PhD. I gathered many experiences during those years, most of which show up in my books.

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?
A speaker at a conference once told me…”White! Write! Write! Hell, in the teeth of the storm, write. Success comes from applying the seat of the pants to the chair!” I have taken that advice seriously. I keep regular office hours. And I take my writing seriously. It isn’t a hobby, it is my passion, and I respect it.

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?
I’d love to talk with Ghandi, with some of  the women in the Bible, with Harper Lee, Maya Angelou…with so many people who have been effective in the lives of others—and Wilbur Smith, a fabulous word-smith.

11.) What song would you say describes your life?
“As Time Goes By.”   I am at that point in my life where the years seem to fly by at warp speed. I’ll never live long enough to write all the books that are in my head.

12.) If you could come back as any animal – what would it be?
I can’t make up my mind between an elephant and a hummingbird. Basically for the same reason. Because of their size they enjoy total freedom.


Spring has come early along the Oregon Trail. Jenny Nation, her husband and five-year-old daughter are only three weeks into the trip by wagon train when Daniel is killed. Frozen in grief and fear, Jenny must make up her mind whether to press on with the train or turn around and go back to Independence. She chooses to go on, knowing she’ll have to drive the wagon alone, care for the oxen, hunt for food, and possibly fight Indians. Through stultifying heat, terrifying storms, walking beside the oxen, a buffalo stampede, and the kidnapping of her daughter by the Comanches, Jenny refuses to give up. “Every step brings me closer to Oregon,” she tells herself, over and over again. Jenny somehow finds romance with the train’s guide, Zane Thatcher. To keep Jenny—a lone woman—from being thrown off the train as a burden, Zane agrees to be responsible for her. However, it isn’t easy because Jenny insists on being independent and they argue at every juncture. In spite of it all, she faces the challenges of the trail with growing confidence, courage, and humor. “Every step…Oregon. Every step…”

Saturday, October 11, 2014

My Latest Guest: Margo Bond Collins!

I want to welcome Margo Bond Collins. First I’d love you to introduce yourself.
Hi! I am the author of the new urban fantasy book, Sanguinary. I also write contemporary romance and paranormal mysteries. In my day job, I'm a college English professor and I teach online, though writing fiction is my first love. I live in Texas with my husband, our daughter, and several ridiculous cats.
Tell us about your latest release.
In Sanguinary, there are only fifty years left before vampires rule the world.

When Dallas police detective Cami Davis joined the city's vampire unit, she planned to use the job as a stepping-stone to a better position in the department.

But she didn't know then what she knows now: there's a silent war raging between humans and vampires, and the vampires are winning.

So with the help of a disaffected vampire and an ex-cop addict, Cami is going undercover, determined to solve a series of recent murders, discover a way to overthrow the local Sanguinary government, and, in the process, help win the war for the human race.

But can she maintain her own humanity in the process? Or will Cami find herself, along with the rest of the world, pulled under a darkness she cannot oppose?

You can order copies here:

Also available in paperback.

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?
Grendel's mother in Beowulf—she's so horrible that she doesn't even get her own name, and she is so protective of her son that she goes out to avenge his death by being even more horribly violent than he was, thereby both participating in and violating the rules of what was a very masculine warrior culture.  She's hideous, and I adore her.
2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?
That's a difficult question! I like all my characters in different ways—even the villains in my books are real to me, and because I understand them, I love them just a little bit. In Sanguinary, I adore Reese, the sarcastic cowboy-turned-vampire, for his heart and wit. And Cami, the detective and narrator, is analytical and professional, but she's moving through a world she doesn't really understand, and she's often at a loss, as I think most of us have been at one point or another.
3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?
Urban fantasy, romance, and mystery. I've always been drawn to the supernatural and paranormal in my own reading. As a literature professor, I love to teach the old tales of the supernatural: The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Odyssey, Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Dracula.  When reading for pleasure, I prefer fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal romance. So I guess it was inevitable that I would end up writing supernatural characters.
4.)What are you working on now?
This is the year of the sequel for me! I'm writing the second Night Shift novel (a sequel to Sanguinary), as well as sequels to several other books (Waking Up Dead, Legally Undead, and Fairy, Texas). I'm also writing a couple of novellas for anthologies.  This week in particular, I'm working on the second Hometown Heroes contemporary romance novel, the sequel to Taming the Country Star.

5.) What got you to start writing?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been making up stories. The first story I remember actually writing down was basically fan-fiction of The Wizard of Oz. I wrote it in long-hand in a yellow legal pad. I’ve been writing ever since. But about ten years ago, a friend suggested I join in National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo.org). Until then, I had always written short stories. That year, I finished the first draft of what would eventually become Legally Undead—it was my third published novel, but it’s the first one I wrote.

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?
Most of my ideas come to me almost in passing, when I see something that catches my attention. In the case of Sanguinary, it was a color. My husband and I have season tickets to the Dallas Opera, and the interior walls of the Winspear Opera House—the ones that separate the lobby from the theater itself—are a gorgeous dark red. As we were walking out one night, I glanced back and saw that the tint of the outer glass walls turned the inner walls to a blood-red. At the same time, I saw a woman in a dark red dress of the same color. And of course that led to thoughts of vampires and murder (doesn't that happen with everyone?! Or is it just sicko writers?)—and the story spun out from there.

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?
That I am terribly shy in person—at least at first. (Readers would probably be less surprised to discover how snarky I am inside my own head.)

8.) Do you have any special talents?
I can recite all the monarchs of England in order . . . (not all that exciting, I know, but it's what I've got).

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?
The very best advice I ever got was just this: keep writing new things. Always have a work in progress. Finish writing a piece, do a quick edit, and submit it somewhere for publication. Then move on to the next project. Don’t wait to hear back—that way lies madness! If it’s rejected (and often it will be; that’s the nature of writing for publication), don’t let it get you down. Just send it out again and go back to your work in progress.

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?
Aphra Behn (d. 1688) was the first woman to make a living writing in English. She was also an actress and a spy for the King Charles II. Virginia Woolf once said that every woman writer should leave a flower on Behn's grave (and sentimentalist that I am, I've done just that). I would love to tell Behn that she changed the world, and that 350 years later, people are still reading her works and performing her plays and learning about and from her.

11.) What song would you say describes your life?
"Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield.

12.) If you could come back as any animal – what would it be?

A jaguar. I love their languor and grace, and I respect those claws.


"Hey, Bradley." I beckoned the crime-scene tech, who had finally arrived and was snapping on gloves. "Is that a piece of paper under the vic's head?"
He bent down over my shoulder to get a clearer view from my line of sight. "Looks like it's tangled in her hair," he said. He pulled a pair of long tweezers out of his kit and snagged the sliver. "Yep. Looks like it has a word written on it . . ." We both peered at the brownish, spidery writing.
"Sanguinary," I said. "Is that written in blood?"
"Maybe. I'll get the lab to run a basic analysis on it. If it's blood, we'll be able to let you know pretty quick if it's human and if so, what type. DNA will take longer."
"Sounds good." I stared at the woman a little longer. Her dark hair—almost the same color as mine—spilled out around her, matted with dark, coagulating blood. The two bloody marks on her neck shone like black stars on a white background.
I knew that if I lifted her dress, there would be other puncture wounds all over the body, and strange symbols carved across her skin—pentagrams within circles and other ritualistic signs. Exactly like the others. Ten murders in the four weeks since the beginning of September—all centered in downtown Dallas, and many with affluent victims whose families demanded action.
The department had been in a barely suppressed uproar.
I stood up, my knees popping a little. Five years ago, they wouldn't have done that.
And five years before that? Vampires hadn't existed, except in books and B-movies.
It took time for the world to believe. We hadn't even realized how to fight back when they'd first shown up.
This victim's ragged, bloody fingernails suggested that she had tried to resist, but obviously failed.
The red dress she wore would have originally matched the color of the relatively scant splashes of blood surrounding her, but those stains had dried to a muddy brown, the same color as the writing on the paper caught in her hair.
Her clothing suggested that she'd been at the opera that evening, though the manager, roused from her bed, swore that the building had been cleared and empty when she left.
One black, high-heel shoe lay several feet away, toppled over onto its side, the heel broken, as if she had stumbled out of it when it failed her as she ran from a pursuer.
I'd heard the word before from vampires I had taken down—whispered as a threat, shouted as a warning: the Sanguinary is coming, the Sanguinary will kill you all.
The Sanguinary is here.
It was why I was about to go undercover among the vampires.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Suz deMello Has a New Release: Kinky Toes

Writing Kinky Toes by Suz deMello 

            This short story was the first I wrote about a form of sexual desire in which I have no interest whatsoever. Okay, I like a pair of pretty shoes as much as the next girl, but I’m not sexually aroused by feet or footwear. The first time a man sucked my toes was after a hot and sweaty bike ride, and candidly, I thought the experience a little disgusting. Not for me—I wasn’t doing the sucking—but for the guy. Nevertheless, he seemed to really enjoy it, despite the unsanitary nature of the activity. (He was a doctor, too, which made what he did even more puzzling).

            But each to his own, I say, and if someone indulges a fetish and doesn’t hurt anyone else (except with consent, of course) who am I to judge?

            I wrote Kinky Toes during a time when I was exploring ways to keep the writing fresh by focusing on fetishes I hadn’t previously written about. Queen’s Quest (http://www.ellorascave.com/queen-s-quest.html) is another story from that period, and it posits a society in which exhibitionism is rampant and public sex perfectly acceptable—the conformation of the futuristic planet I invented is such that birthrates are low, and anything to get new births is encouraged.

            I’m neither an exhibitionist nor a foot fetishist, so both stories were a departure for me. I didn’t know anything about foot or shoe fetishes, so I had to research both subjects.  Kinky Toes is the result.

Here’s what it’s about:

Genre: contemporary erotic romance
Shelbie Nathanson resents Rick Saldano's ascension to C.O.O. of her family's shoe company, a job she's wanted all her life. But she can't resist his red-hot, sexy style of lovemaking... one that focuses on her passion: shoes.

Here’s a snippet to sharpen your interest:

In the cab, Shelbie became even more aware of Rick, if that were possible. He was big. Not fat, but solid, sizable, with broad shoulders and an obviously muscular body beneath his suit. She couldn’t help sneaking a peek at his crotch. The suit’s fabric had pulled tight as he sat, tight enough that she could guess that six-foot-two Rick’s body parts were proportional.

Her mood had definitely changed.

He leaned closer, hesitated the tiniest fraction of a second before he brushed his lips against her cheek. Shocked, she jerked away, but he didn’t move, his gaze still pinned to hers.

She didn’t move either. The air felt thick, as though the very atmosphere were holding her in place. They sat staring at each other until the cabbie harrumphed. “Where to, folks?”

After giving the cabbie an address she didn’t recognize, Rick didn’t say anything during the cab ride. Rigid with a tension she couldn’t define, Shelbie didn’t have a word to say either, not even when he picked up one of her feet and rested it in his lap, atop his very substantial hard-on. She wiggled her foot and the stiletto heel slid across the bulge in his pants.

He sighed, so she did it again. Then again. He clamped his lips tight shut, apparently stifling a groan as his erection swelled even more.

He slid one finger along the exposed arch of her foot. It didn’t feel ticklish, exactly, but was tingly, the kind of tingle her pussy liked.

He inserted his finger into her toe cleavage. The spot between the big toe and the next was tiny, smaller than his index finger. His abrupt thrust hurt a little, and Shelbie had a mad vision of the time when she’d lost her virginity. Her pussy had been too small for the tool her then-boyfriend had wielded.

She had that same feeling now, an ache as something big intruded into her body’s smaller space. She tried to pull away but he persisted, twisting his finger until he’d pushed in as far as her shoe would allow.

He sawed his finger in and out and she bit down on her lower lip to avoid moaning aloud. She flung her head back, panting as he rotated his finger.

They arrived outside a row of brownstones near the park. He slipped his finger out of her toe cleavage and gave her foot a squeeze. An awkwardness she hadn’t felt since teenage sex overcame her as she dropped her feet to the cab’s floor. Rick paid the fare, ushered her out of the taxi and into the building…his building, she supposed.

The moment they were alone in the elevator, she sprang at him and pressed her lips against his. He wrapped his arms around her and held her tight as his tongue invaded her mouth. She sucked at him hard, shoving her hands into his hair. He tasted and felt divine.
Her body was aflame, all light and heat, and he picked her up as though she were made of insubstantial fire, weighing nothing...

Like what you read? There’s more! Buy the short story at:

About Suzie:

Best-selling, award-winning author Suz deMello, a.k.a Sue Swift, has written seventeen romance novels in several subgenres, including erotica, comedy, historical, paranormal, mystery and suspense, plus a number of short stories and non-fiction articles on writing. A freelance editor, she’s held the positions of managing editor and senior editor, working for such firms as Totally Bound, Liquid Silver Books and Ai Press. She also takes private clients.

Her books have been favorably reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Booklist, won a contest or two, attained the finals of the RITA and hit several bestseller lists.

A former trial attorney, her passion is world travel. She’s left the US over a dozen times, including lengthy stints working overseas. She’s now writing a vampire tale and planning her next trip.

            Find Suzie’s books here:

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Writing Down the Bones: Let's Talk About Cliches

Well I knew one day it would happen. A couple of weeks ago my excel program that I have my interviews lined up on crashed and I thought I got it right but somehow I ended up with no one to interview today so I'm posting one of my Writing Down the Bones. Hope you enjoy.

We’ve all used them. I know I have, not on purpose mind you, but they creep into my manuscript from time to time.

You know, phrases like ‘crazy as a loon’ and of course the new one everybody loves ‘bless her heart.’ Personally I like the real meaning behind it.

Most publishers don’t want them. You’ll find editors taking them out of your work.

So what is a cliché? Any phrase that has been overused.

I always think of the phrases my grandmother used to use when I was a kid. ‘The acorn doesn’t fall too far from the tree’ or ‘if wishes were fishes we’d all have a fry.’ You see them in writing all the time. Well, maybe not these but you get my drift...

There are so many I thought it might be easier to post the sites that list them.

I hope these help you figure out what to use and what not to use..

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A New Release By Beverly Ovalle - Triple D Dude Ranch #rhacafe

Triple D Dude Ranch
By Beverly Ovalle
Published by Secret Cravings Publishing
October 4, 2014

One look ignites a smolder between Dan and Blaire, one touch sparks a wildfire that burns out of control, hotter than the Texas sun.

Blaire is a freelance photographer on assignment. She is heading home to Texas, armed with her camera to do a photo feature for the Tribune. Taking photos of the dude ranch, she gets an eyeful of an uninhibited cowboy through her lens. The summer heat of Texas has nothing on the heat he generates in her.

Dan was expecting a photographer but not the sexy urban cowgirl that arrived. He knew it was hot out, he just hadn’t expected the hot and sexy woman to make him burn the minute he caught sight of her. One look and he had to quench this fire inside.

One touch between Dan and Blaire sparks a wildfire that burns hotter than the Texas summer and is just as hard to put out.


Graduation had her moving to Chicago. After a couple of years of living and working there, she realized that Chicago couldn’t give her the life she thought she’d wanted. What she wanted was right here in Texas, so when she got this assignment she packed her bags, subletted her apartment, and headed home.
The GPS announced she was there. Looking around, Blaire spotted the driveway; it was hard to miss. The wrought iron arch over the drive simply proclaimed Triple D Dude Ranch. She frowned. The drive was just as dusty as the road and there was not a hotel in sight.
Sighing, Blaire put on her signal and pulled over. She stopped and grabbed her camera. A picture of the arch, with the wrought iron words showcasing the name, would be a perfect shot. Blaire opened her door and groaned as the leather made a sucking sound as she peeled herself off. Maybe she shouldn’t have shucked her panties at that last stop. She hadn’t thought about peeling herself off the leather seats, only how infernally hot the day was. Stepping out, she looked both ways before she minced to the opposite side of the road. The heels of the unfamiliar and recently purchased cowboy boots and the long drive had made her a bit wobbly.
Blaire lifted her camera, uncovering the lens and holding the cap in her hand. No dust on the lens, she was glad to see. It wouldn’t have surprised her at all if there were. She felt like every crevice of her body had grit in it. Her cute Western outfit might never be the same. She felt wilted from head to toe. Lining up the arch in her lens, Blaire cursed as she dropped the lens cap on the ground. One of these days she’d remember to attach it with the string to the camera itself.
“Damn it!” Bending over from the waist, she picked up the cap from the ground; after all, it was a good opportunity to do one of her daily stretches. Blaire tucked it in the pocket on the front of her cute little denim skirt as she stood, like she should have in the first place.
Lining up the arch once again, Blaire could see that the dust continued, the drive a little smoother than the road coming in. Shaking her head, she snapped a picture. Moving around, she tried to capture it from different angles. She could always delete the ones that didn’t work.
Finishing, Blaire decided she’d had enough of the arch. There had to be at least one good one. She started back to the car when she heard a noise and whirled around.
Her breath caught and she instinctively lifted the camera for a shot. Holy hotness! That was          a real cowboy. Her eyes widened as she looked through the lens, quickly snapping a picture.

Author bio:
Beverly Ovalle lives in Wisconsin with her husband Edmond of 25 years and two Chinese Water Dragons. Having her own Dragons is expected as she is dragon crazy and anyone that walks in her house can tell. Her son Nicholas visits when he is on leave from the Marines.  Her daughter Susannah visits from time to time to make sure us ‘old’ folks are alive and kicking.

Beverly has traveled around the world thanks to five years in the US Navy and has worked for the government in one capacity or another for the past 30 years. Beverly and her brothers have travelled most of the continental United States as children due to the station wagon from Hell.  Still active with veterans, she is adjutant for her local AMVETS.

Beverly has been reading romances since her Aunt introduced her to the gothic romance in the fourth grade and is still reading every chance she gets.

Contact Links:
LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/BeverlyOvalle

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

I have a new Guest! E. Ayers #mfrwauthor

I want to welcome, Elizabeth a.k.a E. Ayers. First I’d love you to introduce yourself.

Let me say thanks, Barb, for inviting me. Barb and I can actually share a pot of coffee, except our schedules make that near impossible! I’ll even tattle on her and tell ya’ll that she’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet in this business! She’s extremely organized, highly efficient, has a brilliant creative mind, is probably one of the best sci-fi writers today, and has an unbelievably hectic life. I’m honored to call her a friend.

Aww, thanks E! You got me blushing.

I try to live a very boring life, except I’ve never succeeded. I like peace and tranquility, and somehow obtaining it is elusive. I live in a pre-Civil War home that is way too big for just me, but I love this old house. Well, most of the time I do, actually only when everything is working the way it should, which probably means three weeks out of the year – if I’m lucky. The rest of the time I curse it.
I have a computer room that is centrally located and it’s where I stay. It was the large formal dinning room. I can close it off from the rest of the house and hibernate in here. There’s plenty of light from two big windows and a third skinny window on the north side. The room is constantly in severe need of a good cleaning, and it needs re-arranging. The problem is if I’m in here, I’m at the computer writing, editing, making covers, or doing something related to publishing. That doesn’t get the room clean.

I’m widowed with two grown daughters and now grown granddaughters. The youngest grandchild just graduated from high school. I keep telling my oldest daughter that I had her when I was two. She swears I don’t have to lie about being in my forties, because she’s only twenty-nine. Yes, I raised her right!

I’m too young to be a widow and too old to try to train another husband. Besides I had a wonderful, fantastic man who could have been a role model for almost any romance novel complete with a fantastic body. Most people never find such a guy so why would I even think I’d ever find a second one? I’m not sure I subscribe to the theory that you have to be looking to find something, but I haven’t bothered to look.

Tell us about your latest release.

My latest releases all came at once. The Authors of Main Street decided to do a boxed set of wedding themed books. I had an idea for a story and jumped on it. My heroine was going to strike out on her own and have her own bridal design business. The rest of the gang from Main Street thought it was a great idea, too, and they wanted to order bridal dresses from my character. I dove in, typing as quickly as I can (which is quite slow – peck, peck), and when I came up for air, I was in big trouble. I was supposed to be writing a novella of twenty-five thousand words. Oops! I was almost there and nowhere near the end. I didn’t want to cut everything away from my story. I’d have to start over again. That’s when another author from Main Street suggested I use someone from the Main Street Bridal Salon and write the shorter story. I had the perfect person, the daughter of the hero in the first story.

My mistake turned into my writing two books. The first one is a novel, With This Ring. It’s the story of DeeDee Drayden and her dreams of having her own successful bridal business. She was an only child and the product of a broken marriage. She doesn’t really believe in a happily ever after, especially since her only serious relationship ended when she caught her guy cheating.

Cody Montgomery has two failed marriages in his past and a pack of kids from those marriages. He’s sworn off women until he meets DeeDee. But chipping away at her tough exterior isn’t easy. With four teenagers, a pre-teen, and a set of young twin boys, hot dates are near impossible, especially when trying to set a good example for his children.

I Thee Wed is a novella. Julia Montgomery is Cody’s oldest adopted daughter. She was the boy-crazy teen who hated school, but decided she wanted to work for DeeDee in her salon. It was the best decision she’d ever made. She loves working there and working for DeeDee.

Aaron Symons spotted Julia while he was making a delivery to the salon. For him, it was love at first sight. But he was headed back for his final year at the university and his PhD. Long distance relationships aren’t easy, and Julia has no idea who she really is.

I Thee Wed is in the boxed set, Weddings on Main Street by the Authors of Main Street. Each novella has a wedding theme. I Thee Wed is also available as a single title.

On top of those releases, I have a River City novel, Campaign, which released in July. I would have never scheduled all of this together - three books in forty days. Totally unplanned, everything came together at the same time. May was chaos and June - only been a tad better. July finally calmed down-somewhat. August showed me I could still breathe.

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?
From the Roadrunner cartoons, Wile E. Coyote! He’s hysterical. He’s an absolute genius, yet nothing goes the way it should. He’s also rather harmless to everyone but himself. It’s the epitome of a thriller. Roadrunner knows exactly who the bad guy is and that the bad guy wants to kill him. Plus you have to admit the dialog is fast paced, beep-beep!

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?
That’s a tough question, because I have several favorite male characters. But hands down, so far, my favorite female character is Dallas from A New Beginning. She’s had this whole screwed-up childhood, yet she’s super intelligent and a gifted artist. When Rick takes her in, she’s a foul-mouthed teen who is, in her own way, starving for positive attention and respect as a person. She’s got this hello-world-I-am-here way about her, yet she can be quiet and withdrawn, very yin and yang. She was a wonderful, but a difficult character to write. Once she’s with Rick, this huge choking fog lifts from her and she can be herself. Making her believable was tough, and Rick didn’t make my job very easy. He was such a solid rock of a guy that trying to pry the emotion out in him was extremely challenging. But he was exactly what Dallas needed and his love for her grew as she matured.

3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?
Mostly I write contemporary and occasionally western historical. I’m extremely mainstream but with the happily-ever-after of a romance. What I write is almost biographical. It’s called slice-of-life. I pick up the romantic portion of two lives and write their life, not just the romance. Today, people have jobs and it’s very much a part of who they are. Most can’t take a two-hour lunch. I keep the realism in it.

I’m very comfortable writing it. I look around and there is this endless supply of fodder for it. It’s just there and I use it. I think it’s funny when people say I’ve been sneaking in their kitchen because they totally relate to that scene. The truth is we all do those quirky things, and I add that to my writing.

4.) What are you working on now?
I’ve got two more River City books in the works, a historical western diary, another Creeds Crossing historical, a contemporary (In Wyoming) romance, a sequel to Mariner’s Cove, and another wedding story. I’ve been at such a hectic pace for over three years, with virtually no time off, that I needed to step away. Real life called me to do a few things such as clean my house! It would be totally impossible for me to walk away from the computer for any serious length of time, but for several hours each day I worked on finding my house under the dust and clutter. Unfortunately that time away gave quite a few characters time to play, create stories, and in general bug me to write them.

5.) What got you to start writing?
I’d been writing non-fiction for years. Also I wrote stories for my children to keep them reading. Then I settled into writing YA/Middle Grade fiction with no idea how to publish it.
That’s when my best friend’s daughter, who wrote romance for one of the big NY publishing companies, stepped into the picture. She was also a founder of a successful epub back in the day when no one knew what epubs were. She twisted my arm, and beat me over the head until I acquiesced to write romance. Now I’m glad I did.

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?
Everywhere! Bits and pieces of real life filter into my head and get caught in there. Get enough little pieces and they start jelling together. Suddenly I have characters emerging or a storyline that begins to form.

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?
A year ago, I would have said nothing, but after writing A Calling in Wyoming, I think people would be shocked to discover that I’m an atheist. People assume it’s a preachy sort of story when it’s not. I wasn’t raised in a vacuum. My family was Christian and I was wed in a Catholic Church. When my husband and I moved to Virginia, we lived with some family members for a few months. The husband was the pastor of a small church. Oh, the stories I could tell. Oh, wait, I did tell some of them as I wrote the book.

But seriously, it’s a hard look at a young man who considered himself to be a good Christian. He’s got a great job, and life is everything he ever wanted. Then he gets asked to take on this small rural church in the middle of nowhere and he’s being asked to do it for paltry pay. How does anyone ever decide to do something like that?

How do any of us ever decide what we should or should not do? I wrote a line and I think it sums up the feeling for so many people when facing a fork in the road and we need to make a decision. He prayed for a sign, a bolt of lightning…four flat tires…something…anything. We all want some sort of road map for our lives and the truth is there is none. Decisions must be made and once made, we just keep going.

8.) Do you have any special talents?
Absolutely nothing that I will admit… No, really nothing. I’ve done some interesting things over years but nothing special. I can’t sing, dance, or play the piano. I can wire, plumb, and shingle a house, change tires and oil, and use most any power tool. (That doesn’t mean I want to do them! Only that I know how.) I can sew, cook, and bake. I love to paint, but usually work in pen and ink. I enjoy photography and canoeing. But there’s no super talent in there anyplace. Everything is a learned skill.
Even writing is a learned skill. I learned to read and write, and write, and write! As a child, I could write my way out of a paper bag and get an A on an essay. Unfortunately I’m cursed with an overactive imagination. When I was little, I never paid attention in school. I got what the teacher was saying the first time. After that, I’d mentally wander off to play with the children in my head. I was always in trouble for daydreaming in school.

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?
There are two things. One is never give up and the second is to learn everything you can about the business. You have no idea how many times I wanted to throw in the towel and give up publishing books. I doubt I could ever stop my mind from churning out the stories, but getting them out there is not easy. There’s always something new to learn in this business and considering I’m independently publishing, I’ve got to know what is going on because it will affect me and what I do. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but it could make a big difference a year from now and I must be prepared for it.

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?
I could give you a list a mile long of people from the past. But I’m afraid I might be disappointed that they weren’t as wonderful as history has made them, and the idea of traveling back in time doesn’t hold much appeal.

But, I’d be thrilled to have an afternoon with Laura Bush. I’d love to know what it really was like living in the White House, trying to raise teenagers that were under a microscope, and how she copes even today with the publicity – both good and bad. And I’d love to do the same with Rosalynn Carter. They both seem like such lovely women and yet very different. Do I get to put in a request for both of them?

11.) What song would you say describes your life?
There’s nothing that would cover my life, but when I heard Roberta Flack sing The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, I knew instantly that was my love for my husband. She nailed it. I try not to cry when I hear it.

12.) If you could come back as any animal – what would it be?
A red-faced buzzard aka turkey vulture, they are the ugliest birds, and the thought of eating carrion has no appeal, but I love to watch them soar in the sky. When the red-faced ones spread their wings, they appear to have fingertips on the ends. They just catch a current and ride it seemingly forever. They are so beautiful in flight. There’s not another bird that I am familiar with that flies the way they do. I want to be able to fly like that.

(The black-faced ones don’t have those “fingertip” feathers, and they have to flap their wings more frequently. It’s a fast way of identifying them during flight.)

It’s not that I ever want to be a turkey buzzard; I just would love to be able to fly the way they do. To have nothing better to do in a day than enjoy a long ride on an air current seems so wonderfully peaceful. There’s a tiny airport not far from here that tows gliders up into the air. Think I need to take flying lessons?

“That bitch thinks she’s too good to even talk to anyone. Her and her fancy clothes all cuddled up to Brad Shoemaker. She’s going to rub everyone’s nose into the fact that she’s got the best catch in town.” A breathy female voice could be heard from someplace behind Ryn.
Brad wrapped his arm around Ryn and held her close as the pain of what the woman said chewed at her insides. She curled her fingers around Brad’s hand as she watched Dallas cut her gaze in the direction of the voice.
“Would you like me to set the woman straight?” Brad asked in a whisper.
Ryn shook her head.
“Well, I’m not going to sit here and say nothing.” Dallas frowned. “I won’t tolerate a guest in my house being rude.”
Ryn held up her hand and shook her head. She mouthed. “Please, no.”
Maybe Brad was right and walking around with a placard that said I’m mute would make it easier for both of us. Layers of anger, aggravation, self-pity, denial, and depression wrapped her heart as it pounded in her chest.
She never thought of herself as living a sheltered life, but she realized she had. Wealth had blanketed her, protecting her from the real world. Sitting on a picnic bench with Brad while a jealous female made obnoxious comments was about as far from her world as she could get.
How many times had she told her students that they could do anything they wanted to do and be whatever they wanted to be? Beethoven continued to write music after he was deaf, Marlee Matlin was deaf and won an Oscar, Stevie Wonder and Jose Feliciano became musical superstars, Julliette Gordon Low, the poet Homer... names of famous disabled people who had accomplished great things flowed through her mind.
What a fraud she had become. She wanted to turn tail and run. She didn’t have the guts to stand up to a lone female.