Get Your Grind On

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There’s nothing like heated dancing with a partner to rev up your senses! If the bass is right, the tunes inspire, and the moves bring you closer…talk about an aphrodisiac. I gave Maya Clery, the protagonist of the Lessons In Control series, a solid dose of dancing lust. When she first meets Dean Sova in The Assignment (book 1), she says, “If I’d seen this guy on a dance floor, I’d be hunting for an in.”

Fortunately for us, their relationship gets deeper, hotter, and heavier throughout the series—and by the time we see them again in the final book, The Reward, their intense dynamic flares not just in the bedroom but on the dance floor in a late night scene.

Today, I thought I’d share the seven sexy tracks that played in my head while I wrote Maya and Dean’s steamy dance floor number!

  • “Before I Ever Met You” – Banks
    • Okay, technically, this song is about a breakup. But with the delicious, gritty, grindy beat backing Banks’s beautifully sultry voice, it’s by far the sexiest song on the list and the tune that inspired much of the scene.
  • “Needed Me” – Rihanna
    • Rihanna has long been known for her hot songs. This slow, deep number has something rich and sexy working in it!
  • “Waiting Game” – Banks
    • Every quality deejay knows to slow down the beat here and there—and yes, this is another Banks song because I’m a major fan—but to this, I pictured Maya coming back from the bar to catch Dean’s eye…before melting right back into him all over again. (Hint: listen until the beat kicks in.)
  • “Closer” – Kings of Leon
    • This song has reminded me of Maya and Dean since the beginning of the series. It’s served as a backdrop for a few of their more scandalous encounters!
  • “Able to See Me” – Hippie Sabotage
    • I know little about this group save for the fact that this song fits Maya to a T. It’s more electronic than the others, with a sweet beat—and the lyrics are what gets me for her and Dean, every time.
  • “Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums” – Perfect Circle
    • So, this one is a bit different than the others. Still, it feels strip-worthy and seductive, like the track Maya and Dean would tease each other to as they danced.
  • “Feels” – Kiiara
    • Kiiara’s songs give me goose bumps, and this one felt like the perfect closing number with its good, slow, light grind that could carry them right back to their bedroom…

There you have it—seven sultry Maya and Dean tracks!

What are the sexiest songs that make you want to grind with someone you’re into?

Jade A. Waters is an erotica author and poetess in California. Her short fiction is featured in anthologies from Cleis Press and Stupid Fish Productions, and her Lessons In Control series launched in December 2016. Visit her at

Rhenna’s Top 10 Reasons Why Pinterest is Romance Reader/Writer Goodness

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to hit me:

  • (Always with the right mood music cranked up.)
  • Freeform writing. (As in zero goal other than thinking out loud with my fingers.)
  • The shower. (Makes for hell on the hot water heater, but who cares?)
  • Grocery shopping. (Hey, they don’t call it Target for nothing.)
  • (Because everyone has a story to tell when they’re drinking.)

But one of my favorite places to spin up ideas is Pinterest. Why you ask?

Well, let me demonstrate…

The hero from CLAIM & PROTECT is a modern day cowboy. The real deal who grew up on a working ranch, but has moved on to make his own dreams of flying for a living a reality.

So off to Pinterest I went and typed in Sexy Cowboy. Behold my top ten exhibits:










And the top exhibit for why Pinterest rocks for romance reader/writers…



First-Page Critique: A Broken-Down Cowgirl

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Meant to be a sneak peek into a Carina editor’s brain, and critiqued by a different editor each time, we’re going to post these first-page critiques every twice a month as long as authors are willing to let us use their work and people remain interested.

The idea here is to give you a quick insight into how we might look at a manuscript as it comes across our desks on submission. We’ll strive to be critical but not mean. Because it’s only one page, the amount of feedback is necessarily limited—we don’t have access to more than one page!

It’s important to note that this manuscript was submitted specifically for the purpose of first-page critique on the blog, we do not/will not use random submissions so no worries we’re going to pull your piece out of slush and critique it.

The next opportunity to submit a piece for critique will be open at the end of July 2017, so please watch the blog or our newsletter for more.

This month’s editor providing critique is Carina Press Editorial Director Angela James


* * *

The First Page


I’m flying a little blind on this month’s critique because the author didn’t submit any description or genre. So I can only guess that it’s somewhere in the contemporary romance realm, but other than that, I don’t have any overview of the book. That makes this a wee bit harder! (and for future critiques, we’re going to disallow entries that don’t include this information, so as not to make it quite so hard on the editor.

“God Damn!  I didn’t win any money here in the Portland rodeo. I could’ve used some pocket change. I did receive a broken collarbone and a gash on my arm for all my troubles. I need to learn how to stay upright on the bronc horses not underneath them. I should rethink why I’m a cowgirl, dragging my rodeo gear all around.”
“Not now, Grey-Boy!” My truck stranded me in a rain storm. My broken collarbone was killing me. I could really use a doctor about now.  A little help from upstairs would be greatly appreciated, sitting on my saddle by side of the road.

“Need a ride cowboy?” Fuckin’ A! I tossed my bag in the back of his 350 Chevy. I climbed into the passenger seat. Stripping off my jacket, I winced. When I removed the hat, my chestnut hair came spilling out. “You’re a girl? Daring son of bitch. I saw you. I never imagined that you were anything but a cowboy. What a hell of a surprise having such a beautiful cowgirl in my truck. I noticed you winced. What’s happening.”

“I broke my collarbone and a gash on my arm on the last ride.”

“The name’s Pepper Lewis. I’m the local doctor. Let me take you home; I’ve an office there.” Grey Stetson, pearl snap black shirt, jeans he must have used a shoe horn to get on, six-six and built to satisfy. His salt and pepper hair added to the yumminess. Not any cowboy will do, I like my meat seasoned.

“Get on the examining table. Your eyes, hypnotizing. I would’ve never guessed such a lovely woman hid under red chaps and black hat. The breast tape helps when you’re riding those broncs eh? You’re pretty top heavy.” He begins cutting the tape, “They’re lovely, shame to hide them.”

“Thanks Doc, massaging them with my good hand. “Stop that! I’m a man first, Doctor second, I may take advantage of your weakened condition.” “Please do, I need a distraction before you set my collarbone.” I gave a stroke up the handful growing in his trousers. A scorching kiss I received as Doctor Pepper snapped my clavicle in place. I’m on the road again. Rodeo never sleeps.

I should’ve been in Reno a day ago scouting out my competition.  The cowgirl in me was in a hurry to get there. The cowboy in front of me was signaling to the nearest off ramp. Having a bumper sticker, “Come to the dark side, we have cookies.” Ride hard, play hard.

He wasn’t hard to find, resting against the grill of his Black Duly, Black rancher style hat, blue checkered snap-up, faded jeans you just want to climb into, and suede ropers. His burned charcoal eyes added to the rain inside me. I’m a thigh and eye cowgirl. Little red boots walked on top up his suede ones.  “Come over here. Don’t, leave the ponytail.” I unbuttoned the tiered mini-skirt letting it fall to the gravel road, my head followed. Never met a cowgirl, knowing time is short.” I dabbed the corners of my mouth. I yanked hard unsnapping all. “Sweet screaming Jesus! Running my hands up over his shoulders, the shirt falls. “So seductive a half-dressed man.” I stop, enjoying the sight.

Stepping on the bottom of his jeans attempting to free his bound legs.

* * *

The Critique

I want to start off by giving the author a lot of props for being willing to have her work critiqued publicly. That’s a hard, scary thing to do, and I commend her for it, because it’s a fantastic first step in taking charge of her writing craft and moving along her writing career!

Based on these pages, I would say the author is fairly new to the writing world and possibly hasn’t had the opportunity to work with a critique partner before. These pages start me off in a place of confusion—I was never quite sure whose point of view we were in, from the very first line, who the character was talking to, and if we stayed in one point of view or bounced back and forth. The dialogue is impossible to follow because it seems as though maybe we’re not getting a new line, with each speaker, so I’m really not sure who’s speaking. To be honest, I’m not sure who’s in this scene, it looks like she went from a doctor on the side of the road, to a cowboy somewhere else? That’s a lot happening in just a few paragraphs, and it’s not clear exactly what it is that’s happening. The author has really rushed her writing here, by not anchoring us in one character’s head and establishing the scene and the characters, so we can connect with the POV character, follow the scene and invest ourselves in what’s happening.

Those issues alone are enough to make this opening scene hard to follow, but there’s also the struggle of sentence fragments, jumbled verb/subject order, incorrect verb tenses, missing transitions, and other grammar and punctuation issues. I would also caution the author against use of figurative language creating some unfortunate and/or unsexy imagery and jarring the reader, such as “I like my meat well seasoned.”

At this juncture, I think my best advice to the author is to search out both a critique group and some first-timer writing craft classes. I would also strongly suggest that she listen to her own work, using even the free “computer read” options available on all computers. Just listening to these lines might be enough for her to see how she’s rushing her writing and help her see where some things can be tightened and improved.

I’d also encourage everyone to realize that their first, and often second and third, books are not necessarily work that should be or needs to be published, but are manuscripts used to hone and polish, learn and improve. I suspect that this is one example of that, where the author uses this manuscript to learn her craft!


Would I keep reading? I wouldn’t keep reading these pages. They’re quite rough and still need a lot of polish and craft work, so this would be a pass for me, with hopes that the author would continue to work on her craft, take craft classes, and work with critique partners to keep improving and maybe submit a different book at a later date.


Do you have questions about my feedback or the First-Page Critique program? Your turn to add constructive feedback for the author in the comments section! Or email]

Authors entering their work for critique can choose to have the blog post comments open or closed. Comments are open, so please utilize them to ask questions or to offer your own critique, but please remember to offer useful criticism. Comments will be moderated and deleted if not deemed to be useful or appropriate.


RWA Nationals 2017: Orlando Bound!

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Editorial Director Angela James, Senior Editor Kerri Buckley, and Assistant Editor Stephanie Doig will be at RWA Nationals in Orlando July 26-29, ready to meet potential new authors and hear about all your works in progress. Please see below for four opportunities to visit with us, including an opportunity to have the first two pages of your work in progress read aloud and evaluated on the fly during the Carina Press Spotlight! Be sure to read to the end of this post for details.

Friday, July 28, 2:30-4:30pm, Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort: Editor/Agent appointments

Sign up to pitch your project to Stephanie or Kerri in a 1:1 here. All appointments are 10 minutes; conference attendees may sign up for one editor appointment each.

Thursday, July 27th, 8:30-9:30a: Spotlight on Carina Press, Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort Southern Hemisphere Salon IV

Learn about the business end of Carina Press, hear about upcoming releases, and meet the editors…and then watch them sweat during a round of Candid Cold Reads. Submit the first two pages of your manuscript, bring your nerves of steel and your sense of humor, then listen as the CP editors review this mock “slush pile” in real time. You’ll hear why our editors stop reading, what we’re looking for in a submission, and some of the common mistakes we see as we go through our inboxes. Come to listen or come to get critiqued! Open to the first 10 entrants only and limited to romance manuscriptsWe won’t peek but we do need to print our own copies ahead of time. Submit your pages here by 11:59 p.m. 7/19/2017.

Thursday, July 27th, 4-4:45pm, Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort Europe 10&11: Carina Press Open House

Enjoy complimentary wine, meet current Carina authors, pick up some of our brand-new swag and chat with our editors in a relaxed environment. All your questions answered, over drinks!

Saturday, July 29th, 9am-noon, The Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort: Critique Workshops

These workshops are an opportunity for authors to solicit professional and peer feedback on their manuscript, in real time, in a helpful, constructive and kind environment. Each critique group is led by a Carina Press editor. We’ll discuss overall story arcs, the all-important “hook,” pacing, characterization and tension (among many other topics). Attendees are given marked-up manuscript pages to take with them when they go. Enter to win a spot in one of three one-hour groups and get feedback from the Carina Press editors and your peers. Contest open NOW; winners to be chosen on July 20. See entry details here.

If I could choose a super power…

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It would be invisibility.

I know what you’re thinking…

What about flying? Wouldn’t you rather be able to fly?

Or what about super strength? Wouldn’t you rather be able to stop a train?


You make valid points. Being able to fly would save me all those expensive flights to visit my parents who live 1,500 miles away. But that would lead to the inevitable calls from my mom to say things like, “Could you deliver some more banana bread? We’re running low. Also, I need my eyebrows plucked so bring your tweezers.”

And super strength might be handy for pushing other cars aside on the freeway when I’m late to meet my girlfriends for a girls’ night of margaritas and mayhem. However, it would also eliminate all excuses for helping friends move. The first of the month would find me single-handedly moving furniture from one apartment to the next and I’d never be able to claim my back was too sore for the job.

So, I’m sticking with invisibility. It would help me immensely on a day-to-day basis. I’ve got four young adult children. When they see I’m around they become incapable of caring for themselves and would starve staring into a full refrigerator. However, when I’m out of the house they each turn into Gordon Ramsay, whipping up fine cuisine. I could also totally bust the one who doesn’t put dirty dishes away and leaves the kitchen a mess. So far, that crime has been committed by the elusive “Not Me”.

In the books I write, I like to give my heroines super powers or talents that they don’t necessarily want. In A GRAVE CALLING, I’ve given Julie Hall the ability to find the dead using dowsing rods. She struggles with overcoming dark, quicksand thoughts about her abusive upbringing. She also has a daily battle with alcoholism. Julie prefers her quiet life living in a trailer on her grandfather’s farm. However, when an FBI agent comes seeking her help to find missing girls she can’t say no. Three girls are missing and the killer is still out there. Julie needs to help find the murderer before she becomes the next victim.

I hope that you enjoy A GRAVE CALLING and are intrigued by Julie Hall’s super power! If  I could personally choose a power it would be mind control so I could convince you all to buy my book.

What super power would you choose?

BIO: WENDY ROBERTS is an armchair sleuth and a fan of all things mysterious. She lives in Surrey, British Columbia where she is always hard at work on her next book. You can visit her on the Web at or follow her online on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or YouTube.