The End?

facebook twitter

The Volatile Amazon is the final book in the four-book Alliance of the Amazons series.

 photo Volatile_Amazon_final_zpsa18a6c92.jpg
In many ways, I’m thrilled with its release. I strongly believe fans of the series will love the way Sarita’s story brings together all four books—from the Amazon sisters, to the goddesses, to the enemy they’ve hunted for so long.

On the other hand, I’m sad. To bid my Amazons adieu feels the same as saying goodbye to dear friends. Sarita, Gina, Megan, and Rebecca are just as “real” to me as any person I’ve known. I’ve lived and breathed their ups, their downs, their triumphs, and their tragedies.

So where do I go from here?

That’s a complicated question…

I have so many new stories swimming through my mind, I can now take the time to get to know all those characters the same way I became engrossed in the lives of my Amazons. There will be one big change for the time being—my focus is shifting.  photo rulesofthegames_zps1c51c4ab.jpg
Instead of writing urban fantasy—which I dearly love—I want to churn out a few more contemporary romances. It seems I have my greatest success in that genre. For example, my Carina Press contemporary romance, Rules of the Game, recently  photo holtimage_zpsf5820068.gif won the HOLT Medallion for best novel with strong romantic elements. It’s also a finalist for the Aspen Gold Readers’ Choice Award, the Heart of Excellence Readers’ Choice Award, and was a Golden Quill finalist. Rather hard to stay away from that kind of appreciation for my stories!

So if you’re looking to read more “Sandy James” books, keep your eye on releases in the contemporary romance arena. This might be “the end” of the Alliance of the Amazons, but there are plenty more stories full of tears, laughter, and love on the way!

***

The Volatile Amazon

Sarita Neeraj has never felt like a real Amazon. Compared to the obvious strengths of her sisters, her Water powers seem small as her stature. She’s determined to prove herself–unfortunately, all that gets her is captured by an enemy.

Ian serves a twisted goddess, preferring this to an empty afterlife. He’s taken Sarita hostage to coax the other Amazons from their safe haven. But in his ancient Scottish castle, the passion and love Ian finds for Sarita resurrect his honor, until he chafes at the dark will of his mistress. 

Sarita has finally found happiness–but before she can enjoy it, she’s “rescued” by her furious sisters. To save Ian from destruction at the hands of the Amazons, Sarita must risk wielding magick that could change her very nature. Only then can she prove the Water Amazon is the strongest of the four–and save them all from destruction.

Meet Earth, Fire, and Air in The Reluctant
Amazon, The Impetuous Amazon, and The Brazen Amazon.

 Find Sandy on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Exposed!

facebook twitter

Oops! Sorry, didn’t know you were there…Okay, maybe we did.

The Love Letters ladies have been at it again. Want to get a peek at their thoughts on being exposed? Read on!

Be sure to stick around to the end – there’s a FREE BOOK in it for you!

 photo b5e7afd7-c25b-4812-806f-63099fa9c007_zps555ede55.jpg

Christina Thacher on why taking a chance can be so hot:

Here’s the thing about exhibitionism. It’s charming…as long as no one is watching! I know that’s contradictory, but really, it’s true. You want your lover to see you, sure, but you don’t want anyone else to watch. Still, there has to be the possibility that someone else can see. I borrowed a friend’s house in the country once. The swimming pool was open on three sides, but there were lots of trees and bushes between the pool and the road on the other side of the house. You know what that means: Nudie bathing! So awesome, swimming naked with a guy. Very sexy, very visceral. Until you try to uh, consummate the occasion and discover that those swimming pool sex scenes in books are wildly optimistic. Anyway, in theory someone could have driven by, but in reality they’d never have seen anything. It’s the feeling of exposure that ramps up the sexual tension.

Maggie Wells on sneaking a peek:

I admit it, I’m a peeker. I’ve never been able to resist a taboo. I’m also the type of girl who likes to cut to the chase. Christmas presents? I knew all my parents’ hiding spots. Mr. Wells learned to pay cash for Valentine’s treats and birthday gifts long ago. It’s not that I don’t like surprises. I love them—as long I’m prepared for them. In my mind, hot sex can be likened to a game of chess. A master might guess the other player’s next move, but that doesn’t dampen their enthusiasm for the game. Heightened anticipation is one of the most delicious bits of pleasure. One I believe is best savored with eyes wide open.

Emily Cale on why confidence is super sexy:

Um…so my heroine gets naked. This describes most of the characters in my books (I am an erotic romance author), but this one does it in public. How many of us spend time complaining about having to wear a swimsuit or skinny jeans? The other day I was talking with a friend about why some people can pull off any outfit they want while others always look out of place. I’ll save you two hours of rambling and tell you that the conclusion was that if you look confident, everyone else will go along with it. I’m not saying you should strip naked and let a bunch of strangers eat dinner off of you (though I’m not stopping you either), but maybe a little bit of confidence could go a long way. Hell, if you step out and tell yourself that you are the best looking thing around, I bet everyone else would agree.

Ginny Glass on having an audience:

I’m a drama nerd from way back, so no one has ever had to convince me of the merits of having an audience, but when it comes to sex, the majority of us aren’t breaking the fourth wall with any naked body parts. This doesn’t mean that the idea of an audience can’t be just as powerful – how often are you out doing mundane things with your husband, wife, significant other when they give you all the little flirty signals that let you know you just may be getting lucky? This is the mildest form of exhibitionism, and even if the cashier doesn’t know you’re headed home to immediately drop the groceries and  some clothing, it can still be a secret thrill. A lot of erotic romance gets a bad rap for catering to too particular of tastes – but next time your husband gives you the bedroom look over the produce section, remember, we’ve all got some kind of naughty streak in us!

Love Letters Volume 5: Exposed – available now from Carina Press!

Private passion meets public display in these four hot short stories in Love Letters Volume 5: Exposed.

R Is for Reality by Ginny Glass
Sheer desperation drives Mackenzie Alexander to persuade handsome cab driver Greg Redding to audition for a role she’s been forced to cast. A role that leads to steamy encounters on and off set…

S Is for Scandalous by Emily Cale
Taking a job as a nude serving dish at a party is a departure for model Kacey James. But the public event becomes something much more private when one of the guests turns out to be a man from her past.

T Is for Tango by Christina Thacher
Adam is shocked when his office’s sexy temp, Sonia, starts changing clothes at her desk when everyone else has left for the night–until she makes it clear he’s her intended audience.

U Is for Undone by Maggie Wells
Dr. Alec McCarthy has noticed hot nurse and neighbor Sofia Morales around the hospital–but she really gets his attention when she does a striptease for him in front of her window.

New to the Love Letters series? Start reading today! Volume 1: Obeying Desire is FREE for a limited time – download now!

 photo 9edc36e2-b628-4d85-bcdd-84511d69e89f_zpsa7408d35.jpg

Carina ~ Amazon ~ B & N

Learning the alphabet has never been so sexy. Love Letters Volume 6: Cowboy’s Command available for pre-order now!

 photo V1thumb_zps828e83a6.jpg  photo V2thumb_zps5a0b53ab.jpg  photo V3thumb_zps1b538cac.jpg  photo 845692ee-321d-4c86-b51c-e47bdbca4039_zps592396ff.jpg  photo 7e3e5399-d981-42ca-b154-df55b870c303_zpsb79969fd.jpg  photo dcd93639-9cb0-42c9-ac39-266dc333d06c_zps8506dec7.jpg

Finding Your Characters

facebook twitter

Every time I sit down to write a new story, one of the first things I do is delve into my characters. I build their back story by defining their upbringing, family, occupation, tragedies and triumphs. This brings out their personality traits including habits, likes, dislikes, routines, defenses, etc. I often spend hours researching specific occupations or hobbies or illnesses or… you get the point. I do this through talking to people, the internet, books, visits to locations and sometimes, actually experiencing it.

With all the publicity this past week about the newly casted members of the upcoming Fifty Shades of Grey movie, I couldn’t help but wonder how those actors were going to learn about their characters. Will they immerse themselves in the world of dominance and submission in order to understand the mindset of their characters? It’s an interesting thought. I believe we’ve all heard stories of actors doing deep immersion into a character to understand how to portray them realistically. Do you remember the hype around Demi Moore when she visited strip clubs to learn from real women who were mothers working as strippers for her role in Striptease?

This is what Quinn Andrews does in Bonds of Hope. She used to be America’s sweetheart and a popular child star, but the transition to adulthood hasn’t been easy for her or her career. When she lands the part as a submissive in an upcoming television series based around a BDSM club, she knows that her knowledge is sorely lacking on the topic. There’s only so much she can learn from the internet. In order to better understand the mindset of her new character, she seeks out a professional to teach her the ways of the BDSM world. Only she never expected to learn so much about herself along the way.

How do you get into the mindset of your characters? I’d love to know what you do to uncover the core of who your characters are before you start writing.

“This is a rare book that can make you laugh and blush at the same time.”
- 4 stars, RT Book Reviews on
Bonds of Hope

Bonds of Hope, Wicked Play #4

Quinn Andrews has a lot to learn about the world of BDSM. Once America’s sweetheart, she has an opportunity to revive her career by playing a sexual submissive in a highly anticipated new series. Quinn is ready to throw herself into the role, and her hometown’s premier sex club, The Den, is the ideal place for a crash course.

At first Marcus Reese is reluctant to take on Quinn’s erotic education, despite his intense attraction to the stunning starlet. While she fulfills his every command perfectly, she’s also a consummate actress—and Marcus is determined to uncover the real woman hidden behind the mask.

Quinn’s been taking direction all her life, so submitting to a Dom comes easily. But it’s not just the most amazing sex she’s ever had—Marcus challenges her to define her own needs and make her own decisions. And when her training is over, Quinn will have to choose between continuing to play a part in her own life, or living by her own rules.

88,000 words

Purchase at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Carina Press | ARe

New to The Den? Go back to the beginning with Bonds of Trust, Bonds of Need, & Bonds of Desire available now!

 

 

 

(BTW -Bonds of Trust is free at Carina Press for a limited time. Use coupon code BONFR913 at checkout)

 

Lynda has always loved to read. It’s a simple fact that has been true since she discovered the worlds of Judy Blume at the age of ten. After years of weekly travel as a consultant implementing computer software into global companies, she ended her nomadic lifestyle to raise her two children. Now, her imagination is her only limitation on where she can go and her writing lets her escape from the daily duties of being a mom, wife, chauffeur, scheduler, cook, teacher, cleaner and mediator.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page

Standing at the Crossroads

facebook twitter

Our lives take strange turns. Who knew I’d be juggling a home life far busier than the corporate one I left behind? Or that I’d be worried about book research and review blogs instead of balance sheets and sales figures? The tiniest leap of faith can put us on paths we never imagined, which is what I’ve always felt true romance is all about. Putting trust in that special someone. Being willing to risk everything for them.

That’s why I like to read and write romance. To remind myself, and others, I suppose, that the uncertainty of a new relationship can lead to great things, even if we don’t welcome such a change at first.

I remember that night twenty years ago when I first saw the man who is now my husband and life partner. He was gorgeous and funny and a little broken (I’m a sucker for that), but he didn’t really fit in my “plan.” He offered to buy me a cup of coffee at this up-and-coming joint in town called Starbucks. I have no idea where I’d be today if I’d walked away instead of accepting.

One tiny decision. One small concession. A leap of faith that changed everything. That cup of coffee—one cream, no sugar—was the first step to a happy, fulfilling future. It’s scary to think I almost left it behind.

In Bending the Iron, my character Michael has a similar decision to make. It’s the decision every hero or heroine must make: the new and unknown or the safe and familiar? Is now truly the right time to change direction and take a different path? Lucky for Michael, the man of his dreams is a good negotiator, both in and out of the bedroom. (I’m also a sucker for happy endings, in case you were wondering.)

In a life full of crossroads, how do we know whether to follow that special someone? We don’t. Twenty years ago, I took a chance. That’s what romance is all about.

 

Share a thought about this post or Bending the Iron. I will choose one commenter from today to receive a free copy and will announce the winner here on Thursday morning. Thank you, and I hope you enjoy the book!

***

Bending the Iron

Michael feels trapped. In his conservative, poor hometown where he has to keep his sexuality hidden. In his dead-end job. In caring for his alcoholic grandfather. Everything changes when he meets Eric, the new curator for the railroad museum. His curiosity about the passionate man quickly gives way to an intense attraction—one that Eric happily returns.

Carefree and refreshingly confident, Eric guides Michael to places he’s forgotten, reminding him that it may not be too late to follow his dreams for something more in life. But the truth is, Eric knows exactly how it feels to be stuck in a bad situation. A failed relationship has left him with personal demons that may hurt his connection with Michael.

To give their future a chance, they both must fight being trapped in the past.

Available from Carina Press HERE.

***

Libby glimpsed her true calling when her first story, an A.A. Milne /Shakespeare crossover, won the grand prize in her elementary school’s fiction contest. Her parents explained that writers were quirky, poor, and often talked to themselves in supermarket checkout lines. They implored her to be practical, a request she took to heart for twenty years, earning two degrees, a white-collar job, and an ulcer, before realizing that practical was absolutely no fun.

Today she lives with her husband and four children in an old, impractical house and writes stories about redemption, the supernatural, and love at first sight, all of which do exist. She happens to know from experience.

Libby’s first novel, State of Mind, was nominated for 2011 M/M Book of the Year by Authors After Dark.

Visit Libby’s:

Website

Blog

Facebook

Twitter

 

 

Inking his own path

facebook twitter

The Adorned started off in November 2008…and yes, for those of you whose ears prick up like a bloodhound’s at the mention of ‘November’, its initial (and terrible!) first draft was written in the trenches of National Novel Writing Month. It wasn’t my first time in those trenches, and in order to be well-armed this time I’d gone in with an outline, a solid plan, a main character, and a folder full of tattoo pictures to inspire me.

I knew I wanted to write about a beautiful young man who becomes a living canvas and his life in the world of tattooed courtesans, and I thought I had that whole life planned out already. Etan, the young man in questions, started taking me by surprise no more than a few words in, though–and never stopped surprising me until I finally wrote the last few sentences of the book as it is today.

That experience is something most writers I know will recognise with a rueful smile: a character whose life you’ve planned out from cradle to grave will suddenly look up and say “no, sorry; I have my own plans”. The carefully plotted course I had laid out for Etan to travel fell away, and he took me down some roads I never expected–some leading into sunlight, and some into deep shadow, but never to a place I wasn’t interested in exploring.

Finding his own way is something that Etan struggles with a lot, and not just against the wishes of his ornery writer. When I first ‘met’ him, he was penniless, orphaned, caught between warring cultures, and with nothing except a pretty face to his name–the poor kid had the deck stacked against him. How he manages to survive in a land where aristocrats claim the power of gods’ blood and can turn someone’s life upside down on a mere whim…well, it takes more than a pretty face to do that.



My name is Etan, and I am Adorned.

A living piece of art, I exist to please the divine rulers of Kered. With nowhere to turn after my father died, I tried my luck in the capital city. Little did I know how quickly I would be robbed, beaten and forced to sell myself into servitude. But I was lucky enough to gain the attention of Roberd Tallisk, an irascible but intriguing tattoo artist who offered to mark me with enchanted ink for the enjoyment of the nobles. I was given a chance to better my station in life, and I could not refuse.

But the divine rulers want not only the art but the body that bears it. In their company I can rise above the dregs of society and experience a life most only dream of, at the cost of suffering their every desire as a pawn in games of lavish intrigue. Their attention is flattering, but I find I’d rather have Tallisk’s.

Caught between factions, I learn that a revolution is brewing, one that could ruin Kered–and Roberd and myself along with it…


John Tristan writes about hot guys navigating strange and dangerous worlds, and quite often falling in love with each other. You can find him at his website (www.johntristan.com) and on twitter at @johntwistan.

Tempted to Travel?

facebook twitter

It’s vacation time! In keeping with the release of Love Letters Volume 4: Travel to Temptation, we asked the Love Letters ladies about their real-life travel adventures:

Maggie Wells – I married a single dad, so romantic getaways have been on the back burner for the better part of the past decade. Now that our kids are mostly grown, we’re a little stymied by the choices. As you can imagine, analysis has led to paralysis, and I haven’t managed to book that dream trip yet. The good news is, the hubby got frustrated he swept me away for a romantic weekend at a nearby B&B. That’s when I realized that I should waffle more often!

Christina Thacher – I’ve been to both New Zealand and Majorca. I was visiting distant cousins in New Zealand, so I have to say the Majorca trip was a lot sexier. I went with a charming Brit and we stayed in precisely the house that Tara and Zane are forced to share. Of course, my British boyfriend and I had planned to spend the week there—no fighting necessary. Just long siestas in the heat of the August afternoons. :: fans self :: I feel warm just remembering that trip….

Emily Cale- Travel has long been a passion and vice of mine. My mom sent me off to Europe on an educational trip when I was 13 and I’ve never looked back. Fifteen years later I’ve been to 26 countries on 5 different continents. Right now, I’m dreaming of an adventure sailing down the Amazon and hiking through the rainforest. I have four more countries to visit in two years in order to make my goal of 30 by 30, so I am always busy planning.

Ginny Glass – I have never been outside of the Continental US, but I love big cities (Los Angeles and Atlanta are among my favorites) as well as tiny, out of the way places (any small town in Tennessee with good BBQ would win me over). Most recently, the husband and I took a little getaway to Northern Arizona, which is our favorite part of the state. I think I enjoy road tripping with hubby and the pup just as much as I would a visit to somewhere exotic – though in the future, I wouldn’t say no to a trek around Italy or Greece!

How about you? Where do you like to visit? Do you have a dream destination?

Love Letters Volume 4: Travel to Temptation

 photo 90890993-b0f8-4768-88c2-92825542027a_zpsa375f381.jpg

Passion is only a short trip away in Love Letters Volume 4: Travel to Temptation.

M Is for Melting by Maggie Wells
When Samantha Walters contacts childhood pen pal Luca Camilleri, she discovers the boy she knew is now an incredibly desirable man. And a not-so-innocent comment in an online chat spurs Sam to give in to impulse, heading to Malta for a vacation fling.

N Is for Naughty by Christina Thacher
Chasing a reclusive author sends Steve Collins to New Zealand–and into the bed of smart and sexy Gemma Robinson, the writer’s granddaughter. Can Steve earn her forgiveness when she learns he used her to find his idol?

O Is for One More Night by Ginny Glass
Winnie Caesar only intends to ask Silas Quinn for help in locating a stolen artifact, not to relive the steamy night they once shared. But when Winnie tracks him down in Brazil, her plans are derailed by their unstoppable passion…

P Is for Predicament by Emily Cale
Finally single and ready to move on with his life, Jason Logan plans a getaway to the Indian Himalayas…but so does his ex, Dillon Waters. Soon a simple chat leads to much more intimate encounters.

Q Is for Quarrel by Ginny Glass and Christina Thacher
The last thing Zane Harrison expects to find in his borrowed Majorcan villa is an undressed-to-impress woman! Turns out he and Tara Curtis were both promised exclusive use of the villa. They quickly discover a way to broker a truce by sharing a bedroom…

Available now:

 photo V1thumb_zps828e83a6.jpg  photo V2thumb_zps5a0b53ab.jpg  photo V3thumb_zps1b538cac.jpg  photo 845692ee-321d-4c86-b51c-e47bdbca4039_zps592396ff.jpg

Delivering two babies in one year

facebook twitter

A year ago this week, I sat in a fertility doctor’s office and wept. My husband and I had been trying to get pregnant for two-and-a-half years or, as I’d begun to think of it, 30 months of crushing disappointment. After finally admitting there must be a problem, we got referred to the fertility clinic at our local hospital and I was desperate to start the process of investigating what was wrong.

But the doctor said we had to wait one more month before she would even examine me. So I broke down in tears and sobbed in her office until I was a snotty mess.

Dutch windmillMy parents happened to be visiting us in the Netherlands that week, and after the appointment—when my husband had to go back to work—I took my parents on a long walk out to a windmill in the middle of the countryside and I poured my heart out. For years I’d said I didn’t want kids. I simply hadn’t been ready and didn’t like the assumption that I would want kids just because I was female. But that had changed, and I really, really wanted to hold a baby in my arms and know that she or he would be mine to love forever.

After that walk, my mom and I went to a café next door to my apartment to talk some more. I’d just gone to the Romance Writers of America national conference in Anaheim a couple of weeks before, where I’d pitched my novel to Angela James, Carina Press’s executive editor. She’d shown real enthusiasm for my story about a bad-boy rugby player trying to avoid the temptation of a good-girl aid worker, and my disappointment over the doctor’s decision was slightly tempered by the hope that Angela would like my story enough to publish it.

I’d started writing the novel two-and-a-half years earlier, the same month my husband and I started trying for a baby. Over those years, the act of creating life in my novel helped me cope with my inability to create life in my body.

When Mom and I left the café, the waitress brought us heart-shaped cookies with a little fortune baked into them. I’ll never forget mine. Be patient. Good things await you.

Mom and I smiled at each other as I told the waitress it was exactly what I’d needed to hear.

And it turned out to be true. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was three days pregnant, and my manuscript was going through a process at Carina Press that culminated yesterday, when my debut novel Knowing the Score was published.

The last year has been nothing short of magical. I got to feel my daughter grow and develop inside me as I worked with my editor to develop and improve my novel. I gave birth to Doodle Bug* a few weeks after finding out Carina Press would publish my Christmas novella and a second book in my London Legends rugby series.

And two days ago, I got to introduce my baby girl to all of her California family for the first time, while yesterday I celebrated the release of my debut novel into the hands of all the readers who’ve kept my spirits up over the last two-and-a-half years.

What a lucky girl I am.

* not her real name

London Legends field bag

Giveaway!

I’d like to invite you to celebrate with me. Every day this week on my blog, I’m giving away a different contemporary romance novel by my fellow Carina Press authors, along with some special London Legends swag, like this field bag. I hope you’ll drop by and join the party!

What’s the biggest dream you’ve had come true? I hope everyone can name at least one!

 

Knowing the Score by Kat Latham

Knowing the ScoreBook one of the London Legends

Rugby player Spencer Bailey is determined to win a spot on England’s World Cup team. But with a month break before the selectors start watching him, he’s eager to have fun with a woman who knows the score: the relationship will end when rugby season begins. The lovely American Caitlyn Sweeney seems perfect for the role of temporary lover, since her visa will run out soon anyway.

Caitlyn works for an international disaster relief organization and can handle the world’s worst crises, but she flinches from her own. Her past has left her with a fear of intimacy so deep that she has trouble getting close to anyone—until she meets sexy Spencer. His hot body and easygoing nature are too much for even her to resist.

Neither Caitlyn nor Spencer expects to fall hard for each other. But with their relationship deadline approaching, the old rules of the game seem less important than before…until past secrets surface, challenging everything they thought they knew about each other.

Read chapter one

Buy it at Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Books-A-Million

Kat Latham writes sexy contemporary romance. She’s a California girl who moved to Europe the day after graduating from UCLA, ditching her tank tops for raincoats. She taught English in Prague and worked as an editor in London before she and her British husband moved to the Netherlands. Kat’s other career involves writing and editing for charities, and she’s traveled to Kenya, Ethiopia and India to meet heroic people helping their communities survive disasters.

Follow Kat at Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | katlatham.com

Quick! Say Something Sexy

facebook twitter

Love Letters Volume 3: Wicked Whispers is now available, and that means the Love Letters ladies are talking dirty.

 photo rsz_1rsz_lovelettersvol3_zpscf5f562d.jpg

Well, not really.

You see, Love Letters Volume 1: Obeying Desire marked a first for all four authors – first audiobook release. Here’s their take on the latest installment in the Love Letters series and hearing their work read aloud:

I Is for Indecent by Christina Thacher

I’m a lawyer. We talk a lot. It’s pretty much in the job description—will yammer at anyone for money! But when the talk involves sexy stuff? Not so much. Lawyers tend to keep things dry and a bit dull. I can only imagine what a super sexy man might say to me, if he was inclined to seduce me with words.

When Ginny, Maggie and Emily agreed to a Love Letters volume where every story involved sexy conversation, I was thrilled. Here was a chance to put my imagination to good use. I dreamed up Stefan, the hottest man I could think of and then I put words in his mouth. Hot words, seductive words, words guaranteed to get a woman in bed.

Then we found out that the first two volumes of Love Letters were going to be available on Audible. That’s a huge honor…and a little bit scary. Hearing words I wrote read aloud? Luckily, the folks at Audible are even better at making words sound good than Stefan is. Whew! Talk about a relief! Now all I have to worry about is the oral argument I have to make in court next week.

J Is for Jaded by Maggie Wells

When I first heard the Love Letters series would be available in audiobook format, it all seemed a bit surreal. You see, long before we knew the title would be picked up by Audible, I went there.

J Is for Jaded, my story for Love Letters Volume 3: Wicked Whispers, takes place in a sound studio. The hero, Vaughan Hatch, is a former rock star turned sound engineer. My heroine? Julie Poplin is a successful audiobook narrator whose husky voice seduces our hero in just a few smoking hot passages. Audio booth sexytimes ensue, our couple oblivious to the red ‘RECORDING’ light burning bright.

I admit I was a little nervous about listening to the stories I’d written for volumes 1 & 2. I expect I’ll be a complete wreck when it comes to volume 3. This is one of those moments that leaves an author wondering… Is this life imitating art or just cosmic payback?

K Is for Kickstart by Ginny Glass

I guess I must have been in Maggie’s brain just a little (it’s pretty wild in there!) when I wrote my letter for Volume 3. Something about reading out loud, even if the material is not intended to be erotic, is something I find very sexy. So Sophie (frustrated Romance writer) and her editor Oliver (frustrated with her frustration) were born. Sophie has writer’s block and Oliver intends to help – but things get a little intense when he finds that she’s been using him for her hero’s inspiration.

When Love Letters started coming out in audio, I had no problem grabbing a copy and firing up the headphones. I wish I could say that I was in some exotic locale, chasing bad guys with an angsty, rugged cop, or holed up in a bunk on a wild west ranch (can’t wait for that volume!) but I was actually in bed in my pj’s.

It’s a glamorous, life, folks.

L Is for Lessons by Emily Cale

My mother reads my books. No, seriously. On purpose. And then she tells people. Like her friends who have known me since I was a baby. Her hairdresser. Our pastor (gulp).

Yeah, that happened.

Most of the time this all occurs while I am a thousand miles away and can screen my calls. But I was home not too long ago and Love Letters came up. After I answered the question of whether these were children’s books (the answer is no, if you are wondering), I mentioned that they were available in audiobook. Of course we needed to listen to the sample right away.

In the middle of a party. At my super conservative Aunt’s house. Confession: I’d been too scared to listen before then. It’s one thing to write it and read it to myself. Listening to other people say those things…well, I wasn’t ready. But if there is one thing family is good for, it’s throwing you over the edge. So we listened. It was kind of cool. Fun to hear someone else interpret the way I imagine dialogue.

****

So yeah, a bit awkward in family situations, but the consensus is that a little sexy talk is very exciting. To celebrate, the authors would like to offer one lucky commenter their choice of any volume of the Love Letters series in either e-book or audiobook format. Just whisper something wicked (and your email address) in the comment box below. A winner will be selected at random from all comments posted before 11:59pm CDT on Monday, June 24, 2013.

 photo V1thumb_zps828e83a6.jpg  photo V2thumb_zps5a0b53ab.jpg  photo V3thumb_zps1b538cac.jpg

What’s in a (Character’s) Name?

facebook twitter

As an adoptive mom, I didn’t get to name my children; at ages 4 and 7, my darlings already had names when they joined our family. Good thing for me I get to create plenty of names for characters!  Sometimes I put a lot of research into names, choosing them based  on their etymology and past usage in literature and history. But sometimes the sound of something strikes me and I can’t call a character anything else. I almost always check a name’s meaning to make sure it doesn’t clash with the character’s personality.

Click the image to find out more about How Beauty Loved the Beast

For The Tales of the Underlight, coming up with Jolie’s name was easy. She comes from Houston, Texas—right near the Louisiana border. Her family moved to Texas out of Acadiana (southern Louisiana), so her name reflects the French influence of that area. Beauty and the Beast is a French fairy tale, after all! Jolie means “beautiful,” and Benoit (pronounced Ben-wah in her family’s case) is a French surname that means “blessed.” I like the way Jolie Benoit sounds, and it makes sense for the character. I had also thought the last name a rarity…and then a fellow Carina author and I had a laugh when we discovered the heroine of her book releasing the same day as my series opener How Beauty Met the Beast (the amazing Undercover Professor—if you like contemporary romance, check it out!) was also named Benoit. What a wild coincidence!

Naming hero Wesley Haukon, or “Hauk” as everyone calls him, was a little more complicated. Since he is Heathen and worships the Norse gods, I decided to pull from Scandinavian names instead of French for him. Though Hauk is a working class hero, his last name is an Americanization of Håkon, from Norwegian royalty, and means “noble son,” a reference to his status as the prince of the tale. It also allowed me to use the nickname “Hauk.” As he is our beast, I wanted to use an animal-related name just as I used the word “beautiful” for the beauty of the tale. Plus he has a phoenix tattoo to represent him rising from the ashes of the fire that scarred him, so I liked the idea of using a bird instead of a more traditional furry beast. (Hauk is the opposite of furry, after all, as his burn scarring doesn’t allow hair to grow!) His first name has a far simpler origin. I paid tribute to one of my favorite movie heroes of all time—farm boy Wesley from The Princess Bride.

What are some of your favorite names? Does the meaning of a name matter to you, or is the sound of it more important?

Jax Garren is descended from Valkyries and Vikings (she’s part Swedish) but was raised a small town girl in the Texas Hill Country. She graduated from The University of Texas with a degree in English and a minor in Latin then found her own Happily Ever After with a handsome engineer who is saving the world through clean energy technology. Jax loves meeting new people, so if you see her out and about say hello! She’s always happy to raise a glass with her readers (or anyone else) to toast courage, adventure and love.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

The Worst Bad Dates

facebook twitter

At what point would you give up on finding love? Or at least take a break from it? A handful of bad dates? Six months’ worth? A year? And how horrific would they have to be for you to finally throw in the towel and declare yourself off the market and on a break from it all?

Those were all thoughts that went through my mind when Olivia’s character from Plus One first came to me. After that, I started getting bombarded with all these absolutely horrendous dates that she’d been on. There was the cat pee guy. The plumber who discussed his work over dinner. The thirty-five year old who lived in his mother’s basement and brought porn along for their first date.

Wretched, right?

Now, I’ll admit—I’m not the authority on this subject. I’ve never really had a bad date. In my defense, I’ve been with my husband since we were wee little babies at the age of fourteen.

But still.

I hear stories—awful, horrible and (forgive me) sometimes hilarious stories—from friends who are fully immersed in the oftentimes dreadful dating scene.

But even with all these bad dates, you can’t give up hope, right? There still has to be that glimmer in your subconscious that thinks, Maybe it will be different with this one… Otherwise, everyone everywhere would have given up on dating a long, long time ago.

And, yeah, I’m a hardcore romantic, in case that wasn’t clear.

Once Olivia’s character was fleshed out completely in my mind, I wanted her to have hit rock bottom on the dating scene. To be completely fed up with the crap that goes along with it. And I wanted her to have kissed a lot of frogs before giving her a chance at her prince. (In case it wasn’t obvious, Ian is one hell of a prince.)

But I think the one thing that worked for Olivia was, even when she’d declared herself on a break from all things men and dating, in her heart, she didn’t give up. Even though she was taking a break from the true dating scene, she was open to the possibility. Of a connection. Of meeting someone when it seemed like she’d gone through the entire state population of Minnesota in her quest for her prince. Of love.

And, really, that’s what it’s all about, right?

What was your worst date? And did anything ever come of it? Post in the comments and on Wednesday I’ll pick one winner to be the happy recipient of a shiny $10 gift card to your choice of e-book retailer.

~*~

Olivia hates the singles scene, so when her best guy friend, Ian, offers to be her plus one to a series of weddings she has to attend, she agrees. Although she doesn’t want to complicate their lifelong friendship, she can’t pass up the chance to have a steady date without the dating drama. What she doesn’t expect is to now find Ian so incredibly sexy.

When Ian sees his old friend Olivia dolled up for wedding #1, the boyhood crush he once nurtured transforms into smoldering attraction. It doesn’t take long for their no-strings arrangement to turn physical. But as Olivia’s desire to stay “just friends” becomes clear, Ian’s feelings are deepening. In the time they have together, how will Ian convince Olivia that one plus one can make for a lifelong pair?

Plus One available for purchase at: Carina Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

Brighton bio pic Brighton Walsh is a storyteller at heart. Whether through words or pictures, she’s been weaving tales for as long as she can remember. After decades of cultivating her writing, she finally decided to give life to the voices in her head and set forth to write her first novella. Love is her first love, and writing about it is a dream come true. When she’s not writing, she can be found with her nose buried in a steamy book or partaking in some retail therapy. She lives in the Midwest with her swoony husband and two energetic kids who (fortunately) know nothing about the naughty things she puts down on paper. She frolics around online frequently and loves to chat, so stop by and say hi. website | twitter | facebook | pinterest | goodreads