Friday, August 31, 2012

Is it fall already?

By: Casey Crow

Even though it's still burnin' hot in South Alabama, it's almost fall. I sorta had this ephiany today when a co-worker was talking about her upcoming trip this weekend to the University of Alabama for game day. Then I looked at the calendar and realized high schools around here start playing football tonight. What? How can that be? Where did the summer go?

Now as much as I love Alabama football and would like to taut our status as national champs and how I got to meet the super cute and sweet AL quarterback AJ McCarron, I shall refrain from making the entire about how great my team is. Instead, we'll do that thing elementary teachers just love.

What did you do this summer?

Any great stories out there? I'm having trouble coming to grips that summer is almost officially over. I find myself wanting to hang on to those last shreds of freshly cut grass, outdoor barbeques, pool parties, and watermelon.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Boo Bullies!

I don't spend a great deal of time on twitter but when I do I often discover bits of news, rants, ramblings from those in the twitterverse. Lately I've seen more rumblings about authors getting bad reviews. Hey, I've had my fair share of bad ones but I just laugh them off. There was a time when the reviews were so negative that I had to stop reading them. What I've learned is that the best thing is to not respond or retaliate. Why? Simply because it's the reader's opinion. Perhaps they're having a bad day. Perhaps they genuinely hate my writing or storytelling...whatever the reason, it's not going to impact the way I continue to write or tell my stories. If the negative reviews are constructive in any way, I would weigh their opinions because I want to write a better book. 

I've heard about instances where authors ganged up on a reviewer for their negative stars. I've also heard readers of authors gang up on the reviewer. I've also heard a lot of horrific things because with the power of technology and the internet, it is so much easier to be hateful and cruel. A few days ago I heard about a review site that had to shut down to all the negative and outrageous comments they were receiving for their reviews. It got to the point where an 11-year-old girl committed suicide due to all the cyber bullying. This really saddened and angered me. 

Bullying is getting out of hand and the use of it on the internet makes everyone an easier target. From facebook to twitter to gives me this sick feeling knowing that there is so much hate and anger out there. Toxic tongues have become something that people celebrate for their boldness. Well, I think it's stupid that people would support such nastiness. We're giving them the power to continue to bully. Sure, everyone has a voice but it doesn't mean that they are entitled to get away with it. 

No matter what social media I'm on, I'm very conscientious of what I say. It is my professional image, it is my desire to do my best. When I read a book, I won't give bad reviews but I'm happy to praise and celebrate the ones that touch me. I feel that sometimes people just want to vent and it's easy to target those we don't know. I hope that when more and more of these bullying cases are profiled that people stop and realize that their careless words have caused so much pain.

Life is too short and too precious to have others demean our existence. 

Next time you get a bad review, just turn the other cheek. Who cares? It's not the first and won't be the last but why put yourself in a situation where it can be destructive to your mental health when you could be creating amazing stories!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mark Coker of Smashwords and E-book Pricing

Who doesn't love a sale?

But when is cheap too cheap?

That's the question self-pubbed writers are asking these days. What is the perfect price point when it comes to an e-book?

MARK COKER from Smashwords answered that question at the recent RWA Conference in Anaheim, CA at the Marriott Hotel.

Here's what Mark had to say:

What are your thoughts when it comes to buying e-books?

As a writer if you're self-pubbing.

And as a reader with your finger on the One-Click Button when you're looking for that next great read.

What's too high to pay for an e-book?

What do you think of 99 cent books?

I'd love to hear what you have to say!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Authors After Dark, New Orleans and Abs Envy

AAD corset
Me in a rockin' corset!
A couple of weeks ago I attended the Authors After Dark conference in New Orleans. And between August 8th and 12 I laughed, talked, prayed—seriously, I did—met the coolest readers and authors I looove! In other words, I had a ball!!

After a welcome event where I had a “fan girl” moment with Shayla Black, I hung out with Katie Reus—hi, Katie!! *blowing kisses*—on Bourbon Street. There Cynthia Eden broke my alcohol second virginity with a lemon something-or-other…don’t know the exact name, but it was yummy! I stood on my first balcony, met an “undercover agent” who wasn’t too under cover and saw a guy with a midriff baring shirt, tighter abs than mine and a hip-swaying stride that made me say, “Must be jam cuz jelly don’t shake like that!” Good times!

AAD Suzanne Johnson
Me and Suzanne Johnson

Thursday and Friday I attended several readings, panels and workshops. I went to an amazing workshop on world building led by Kristen Painter. Two weeks later and I’m still talking about it! Just wow! If you haven’t read her House of Comarre series, it’s awesome! Among ice cream parties, karaoke where Jessica Lee and I did a rousing rendition of I Want Your Sex by George Michael, trying on corsets and a magical ball, I also had the opportunity to hear some of my favorite authors read from their books. Adrian Phoenix, Jeaniene Frost, Theresa Meyers, Suzanne Johnson…sitting across from these and other authors and listening to them read from books I have enjoyed was a wonderful experience I wouldn’t have passed up!

AAD Jade Lee
Me and Jade Lee

When you get a bunch of women—and some men!—who love romance books, authors and readers alike, you have a party where you’re not only accepted for your kookiness, but it’s celebrated! I discovered that the women I think of as goddesses of writing are funny, laid back and sarcastic—y’know, just real! I had a beautiful time and I can’t wait to do it again in 2013!

AAD Erin McCarthy
Me and Erin McCarthy!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mae West - An Inspiration

I've always had a special thing for Mae West. I'm not sure where it started, but when I was a kid, I used to do impersonations of her for my family. One night in the middle of a dinner party my parents were hosting, I walked in—seven or eight years old—and in my best Mae West voice said, "Is that a gun in your pants or are you just happy to see me."

Well, the guests thought it was hilarious. My parents, not so much. I wasn't exactly sure why I'd elicited such responses since I had no idea what the line meant, but I remember really enjoying my new found ability to coax a certain response from people.

Years later I am still trying to play with people's emotions, but with my books rather than my (non-existent) acting ability! But I digress.

Back to my fascination with Mae West. DH and I were surfing the gazillion channels we get on TV the other night when we came across a documentary on the woman. I had no idea what a ground breaker she was. She arrived in Hollywood after her star had risen on Broadway and demanded the highest salary at Paramount Pictures. When she was told the head of the studio made $250,000, she replied that she wanted $251,000. And she got it.

She did what no woman before had done. She fought for control of her movies, even wrote plays and some scenes in her movies. To get her famous double-entendres around the strict censors of the day, she threw in a ton of extra racy lines that she knew they would nix into her movies.

One of her plays, titled "Sex" was so risque that she was arrested on "morals" charges and sentenced to ten days in jail. While there, the warden and his wife took her to dinner every night!

Mae West is credited for paving the way for future sexpot stars like Marilyn Monroe and Jane Mansfield. She started her movie career much later than most - at 38 years old. She wasn't particularly pretty and didn't have a great figure but she exuded sex. She discovered Cary Grant and helped launch his career and she starred movies into her eighties.

Gotta love women who are so ahead of their time. For me, Mae West is an inspiration. What about you? Who inspires you?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

What does my new cover have to do with my brother's birthday?

Years ago, I went to a medium. She told me my brother was helping me with my writing career from the other side. She saw several books with blank pages that she said I would fill.

At that time I was just thinking about a writing career. My secret desire was to be a published author. I don't recall ever sharing that with another living person...but perhaps the nonliving heard about it somehow? This talented medium also said someone on this side of the veil named Richard would help get me started. Well, I kept thinking I'd find a publisher or agent named Richard, but I never did.

What actually happened was my zany friend Dick suggested I write a story about tattooed butts. Another friend (our beloved buxom Dalton Diaz) fell in a hole and twisted her ankle, resulting in a couple paramedics taking her to the hospital. These two inspirations resulted in my first paperback Heaving Bosoms.

Now, fast-forward ten years. The above cover was just delivered to me. It's the first in a trilogy which is a spin-off of the Strange Neighbors series. This mass market paperback will be released sometime in Spring of 2013. Don't worry. I'll let you know when I have an exact date. (grin)

Well, getting back to my brother. Today would have been his birthday. He died in 1997. Usually every August 25th his widow will call and we'll talk about my brother and cry. I hate that tradition. I'd much rather remember him my way...with every book I write. I know he would have been proud. Hell, he would have been amazed. I was his "baby sister."      

I wrote one book based (very loosely) on my brother and sister-in-law's real love story. It's called Death by Delilah, and I'm sure I must have either dedicated it to him or acknowledged him in it somehow. I don't remember now and I have an appointment I need to rush off to, so I won't be able to look it up until later.

I had hoped that book would be in a a paperback someday, along with a couple others.  Immortally Yours was to be a prequil. Then Death by Delilah and the last story would be Giggles by Gabby. (My editor didn't like Life by Lizette, but hey, I could retitle that one and call the three together, Immortally Yours someday...maybe. Just a thought.

How do you feel about anthologies? Love 'em? Hate 'em? I'd like to know! 

Friday, August 24, 2012

New Release! Hot Cop Romance! HANDS-ON TRAINING - the Fifth Book in The Badge Bunnies Series!

I'm so excited to announce that HANDS-ON TRAINING, the fifth book in my Badge Bunnies Series is now available!

Happy Reading!

This hot cop is only too happy to give her private lessons!

Texas State Trooper Blake Jordan can't afford to get distracted on the job, but he can't take his eyes off the beautiful woman in his concealed carry handgun class. With soft feminine curves and eyes he just about gets lost in, Trista Durant is enough to make him forget his own name.

Trista's been drooling over Blake since the moment he walked in the classroom. His broad shoulders, big biceps and sexy voice are enough to almost melt off her panties.

When the hot cop acts completely professional despite the sultry smiles she sends his way, she realizes she's going to have to give up on getting him in her bed, or do something drastic to make it happen —like failing the hands-on portion of the class so she can get some time alone with him. Blake is only too happy to give Trista private lessons, and soon shows her what real hands-on training is all about.

Who knew shooting a gun could be so much fun? Give a whole new meaning to the term keep your weapon pointed in a safe direction at all times.


“You seemed comfortable handling the weapon when it was unloaded. It wasn't until you got on the line with a loaded weapon that you started having a problem, so I think we should start there.”

Trista groaned inwardly. The possibility of romance was dropping by the second here. Blake seriously thought she wanted a firearms lesson.

She picked up her pistol. “Should I just start shooting at the target?”

“Let's work on your stance first and get you comfortable with the weapon. Then we'll do some shooting.”

Trista turned to face the target—feet together, pistol held in both hands with arms fully extended at shoulder height. “Like this?”

“Not quite.” Blake lifted his hand, then stopped. “Do you mind if I touch you? It's easier to show you than to tell you.”

Now you're talking.

“Go ahead.” She had to fight to keep the grin off her face. “If you think it will help.”

Her pulse quickened as Blake went around to stand in back of her. Without a word, he placed his boot in between her feet, gently nudging them apart. When she automatically spread her legs, he slipped one of his between her thighs to widen her stance. When she'd said she wanted Blake between her legs, this wasn't what she'd had
in mind. Not that she was complaining. She’d take him any way she could get him.

He wrapped his arms around her and clasped her hands in his. He was so big and strong she couldn’t help but feel tiny in his embrace, and it was all she could do not to moan as the hard planes of his chest pressed against her back. She knew he was only demonstrating the proper stance to help her shoot better, but at the moment, all she really cared about was how the contours of his body fit hers.

“See how much more stable you are in this position?” Blake’s voice was right next to her ear. “Wider is always better.”

She couldn't agree more. “I see that now.”

Unable to help herself, she pushed her ass back until she brushed against something firm and unyielding. She was pretty sure it wasn't his belt buckle.

“Relax your arms some,” he instructed. “Your shoulders are really tense.”

She obeyed, wiggling back a little more as she let her arms relax. This time, her ass definitely met with resistance. If that was his cock she was rubbing up against and not a weapon of another sort, then Blake wasn't quite as professional as he wanted her to think. Or at least a certain part of his anatomy wasn't.

“I know you won't be able to think about breathing in a crisis situation. But right now, let's focus on good technique.” His voice was smooth as honey in her ear. “Take a deep breath and hold it.”

She inhaled, letting the air fill her lungs—and expand her breasts quite nicely. From where he stood looking over her shoulder, Blake would have had to be oblivious to miss the view down her blouse as she put on her best heaving-bosom routine.

“Beautiful,” he whispered.

He tightened his arms around her, pulling her back against him. Oh, yeah. That was definitely his cock back there. He was getting harder by the second.

“Now, just squeeze your finger gently on the trigger,” he commanded. “It should surprise you when it goes off.”

She slowly pulled the trigger. The hammer fell with a distinct click.

“That was perfect. You didn't flinch at all,” he said. “Let's try it now with the clip loaded.”

Trista almost groaned in disappointment when he moved away from her to load the magazine of her 9mm. She leaned her hip against the counter and watched as he worked. Damn, he had some nice hands. She could just imagine what they’d feel like roaming over her naked body. When he was done, he held out a set of hearing protection— the kind that cut out almost all the sound.

She frowned as she took the earmuffs. “I won't be able to hear your instructions with these on. Shouldn’t we use the foamy things.”

His mouth quirked. “The foam earplugs, you mean? No. The earmuffs muffle the sound better. Don’t worry. I'll be right behind you, guiding you by touch. All you have to do is focus on the target.”

Like she was going to be able to focus on anything with him touching her. That silly paper target positioned halfway down the shooting range was going to be the last thing on her mind.

After he was once again standing behind her, Blake leaned close to her ear for one last set of instructions before she put the muffs in place. “You have a full magazine, but I want you to take your time and try to make every shot perfect.”

She picked up her Lady Smith 9mm and sighted in on the target. Having all that rock-hard muscle pressed up against her was even more distracting than it’d been before, and her hands began to shake. Blake immediately wrapped his arms around her, his hands supporting her wrists—which only made her tremble more. The way the inside of his arms pressed against the sides of her breasts was doing all sorts of delicious things to her body.

Trista relaxed back, subtly rubbing her ass against his erection. Blake didn’t pull away. If anything, he tugged her a little closer. He was trying to seduce her.

Hot damn.

She forced herself to focus enough to actually aim in the general direction of the target and squeezed out a shot. She didn't give a damn where the bullet hit, but she did use the recoil as an excuse to bump her ass back into Blake's hard-on. She took a breath and held it, then pulled the trigger again. When she leaned back against him this time, she gently rotated her ass in blatant invitation. Blake must have approved because he slid his hands down her bare arms until his fingertips brushed the sides of her breasts.

The contact was teasing, questioning, as if he wanted to make sure this was what she wanted.

Man, this was so what she wanted.

Keeping her pistol pointed in a safe direction, she turned her head until their eyes met. The heat in his made her pulse skyrocket. She wanted to say something flirty and suggestive, but she’d have to shout to be heard over the ear protection they wore, and that wouldn’t be very sexy at all. So instead, gaze still locked with his, she slowly and deliberately grazed his scuff-roughened jaw line with her lips. That must have been good enough for Blake. When she turned back to send another 9mm downrange, he slid his hands under her breasts to cup them through her shirt. Needless to say, that round went wide of the target. Hell, she wasn't sure she even hit the wall behind it. She didn’t care. She was just happy he’d finally gotten the message she’d been sending his way.

She took a deep breath, letting her breasts fill Blake's big hands. She thought she might have moaned, but she couldn’t tell over her earmuffs. She doubted her shooting instructor had, either. That was okay. She’d make sure he knew exactly how much she enjoyed what he was doing later.

Behind her, Blake bent to nuzzle her neck. His mouth was warm on her skin, and she tipped her head to the side to give him plenty of room. Steadying the weapon, she squeezed off a lazy shot at the target and hit it dead center. Hmm, nothing like getting her breasts fondled to improve her focus.

She loved a man who knew how to use his mouth, and Blake certainly fell into that category. His lips on her neck were doing crazy things to her body, and she shivered as goose bumps chased over her skin. And when he traced his tongue along the pulse line of her jugular all the way from her collar bone up to her ear? Well, she just about melted. She was on the verge of dropping her Smith and Wesson when a sharp nip of teeth brought her back to reality. She tried to get herself under control, but she couldn't.

She was already drunk from the first little touch.

She let her head fall back, silently begging him for more. And more was exactly what he gave her. Oh God, could a woman have a neckgasm? If his mouth felt that good there, what was it going to feel like on her nipples? Or her pussy? She trembled at the thought.

She was so caught up in what Blake was doing above the collar of her shirt she almost didn’t realize he’d started unbuttoning it until she felt cool air on her skin. Her heart beat faster. He stopped halfway from the bottom to motion toward the target with his chin.

Trista blinked. He wanted her to keep shooting? Was he nuts? She was so blurry-eyed from excitement she was starting to worry about their safety. But he was insistent, nudging her again.

She lifted her 9mm and took a deep breath, doing her best to lock her eyes on the man-shaped silhouette hanging from the cable. The task was made more difficult by the fact that Blake had finished with the buttons on her shirt and had wrapped his hands around her satin-covered breasts. She hadn't thought her shirt had been that thick, but the increase in sensation let her know that was a lie. Her nipples tightened almost painfully against her bra.

Blake gave her a sharp nip on the neck to put her back on task. She lifted her head, took another breath and held it, then squeezed off a shot at the head of the target.

Hmm, another hit. She’d better be careful, or Blake might catch on to her game.

Buy it at Amazon!

Buy it at Barnes & Noble!

Buy it at All Romance eBooks!

To check out the other books in the series, check out the links below!





Sexy Romantic Fiction!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

New Member Signing In

Hi everyone, I'm happy to be the newest blogger at Naughty Author Chicks! A bunch of you  may have seen me around and about the web. I've been writing romance and erotic romance for the last six years, for Carina Press, Wild Rose Press, Ellora's Cave, Resplendence Publishing and Total-E-Bound. I have a total of 43 books/stories out now, with three more currently under contract, plus an entry in one non-fiction anthology. Most of my books are paranormal, with a sprinkling of contemporary and historical romance and most recently steampunk romance. I love trying new things.

My most recent release is Kilts & Kraken, Book 3 in the Gaslight Chronicles from Carina Press.

Blurb: Magnus, Baron Findlay, longs to bring the wonders of the steam age to his remote island home, but his hands are full fighting the vicious kraken ravaging the coast. When he’s swept to sea during battle and washes up on the shore of an isle in the Hebrides, he is near death.

Struggling to establish herself as one of the first female physicians in Edinburgh, Dr. Geneva MacKay is annoyed when The Order of the Round Table sends her north to care for an injured highlander. To heal him, Geneva escorts the handsome warrior home, just in time to defend the villagers from another onslaught.

As the attacks escalate and they work together to fight off the threat, neither Geneva nor Magnus can resist the overwhelming attraction between them. But as their relationship deepens, a new threat arises – from within the village itself…

Recently, I've had two new print anthologies from Ellora's Cave. Holiday Hearts has all 5 of my novellas in the paranormal erotic romance series of the same name, and Texas Passions is a joint effort with Desiree Holt and Regina Carlysle. This trilogy features three half-siblings and is contemporary erotic romance with a touch of paranormal. All the stories in each can also be purchased as individual e-books, of course.

If you've never read my work, and would like to see if you enjoy my style, I have two free fiction downloads and one non-fiction. Photographs and Phantoms is a free novella in the Gaslight Chronicles. My steampunk romance is spicy but not erotic. Sporting Wood is a freebie in the same world as my highly erotic Immortal Cravings series at Ellora's Cave and is part of their Naughty Nooner line. Both of these are also free on Kindle and Nook and Sony, etc. Finally How I Met My Husband the real life stories on how 25 romance authors met their mates, is also free at Amazon, BN and Smashwords.

On the personal side of things, I live in Michigan with two college-age sons and my long-suffering husband of 27 years. There are also two dogs and an iguana rounding out the household, which is low for us, but since I no longer work in wildlife education, critters have stopped following me home. I'm now lucky enough to write full time and love chatting with other authors and readers. I love Renaissance faires, Science Fiction Conventions, dragons and role-playing games. Mostly, I'm a huge sucker for a happy ending.

It's great to be here and I'd like to thank the other Naughty Author Chicks for inviting me. I'm looking forward to getting to know you. Have a great week and I'll see you in September. Here's where you can find me on the web:

Newsletter group:   

Leave a comment below (with a way to contact you!) and I'll draw one random commenter to received a download of their choice from my backlist. Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Stranger Than Fiction...

So I walk into my son's camp on a Friday afternoon, naively expecting to finish a successful week toting him home. Only to hear a child crying in distress. My stomach sank. I knew that particular sound.  My son's wail. Around him stood maybe half a dozen adults and a dozen kids of various ages.

Center stage is my son, hand stuck in a free-standing plastic barrier fence. About ten minutes before I had arrived he had explored said fence and inserted his middle finger in a hole drilled into the plastic, only to be unable to remove it because of the odd angle of the small space surrounding the hole. Twenty minutes later the staff gave up after coating the finger in WD40 oil, pouring cold soapy water over it, and trying to convince him to move the finger just so. Finally, they called the fire department to have them cut through the plastic and free my son's finger.

Seven handsome fire fighters showed up with tools in hand. They'd decided to leave behind the jaws of life, although someone laughingly made that suggestion. Only two of them were needed to clip open the plastic.

Five minutes later....viola.  Freedom. After fifty minutes of being stuck, the finger slid out unharmed. All was well.

But then the romance writer in me stuck up her head and thought about the seven fire fighters. Perhaps this situation was a device for a single mother to meet one or more particular fire fighter.

There is always a story to be found in our daily grind. What's the latest moment you experienced that provided fodder for story ideas?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Are you comfortable in your skin?

By: Casey Crow

Have you seen Miley Cyrus' new do? Okay, I'm not one to get caught up in pop culture aside from reading the covers of tabloids while waiting in line at the grocery store so talking about a celebrity is sorta new for me, but I'm making an exception with the former Hannah Montana Disney star.



I'll be the first to admit I like her old style better, but I love how she embracing individuality, saying, "I've never felt prettier and more comfortable in my own skin." This got me wondering what are some other things people could change about themselves to give them a new outlook on life? New clothes? New resident? Getting rid of excess baggage (ie. the boyfriend from hell you thought was an angel until ya'll broke up then you realize "what was I thinking?")? Or are you one of those lucky people who has always had self-confidence?

I'd love to hear your stories and feel free to weigh in on Miley!

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Every time I watch a romantic comedy, there's always a featured character who is THE best friend and I have to wonder if I've been deprived of having one of my own. Sure, I've accumulated quite a lot of really really really good friends, but I can't say that I've had that one token best friend that I know better than I know myself. 

Don't laugh, but I used to be jealous of those friends who would go on and on about their "besties", and it occurred to me that maybe it's not too late to have one of my own. Okay, it may be a bit juvenile in thinking, but is it so wrong to want to meet that kindred spirit, that soul mate who will be there for you no matter what? I'm not talking about the sibling or boyfriend or spouse...I'm talking about someone to share all your secrets with and know that they'd be willing to commit any unimaginable sins with you. No questions asked. That kind of bestie...the one who will pick you up when you're down, kick your ass when you're out of line, pull an intervention when you don't want to see the truth, or have tequila shots all night long when you've suffered a terrible break up. 

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this person does exist. This person is a combination of five of my closest friendsand each one of them have been with me during all the most crucial stages of my life...from emotional meltdowns to wild celebrations...In fact, there have been several who have sat with me on the cold, hard bathroom floor while I puked my guts out after a night of binge drinking, then helped me clean up and tucked comfortably under the covers. Of course those incidents are far and fewahem...Don't judge. :) Who hasn't done that? BUT, my besties do exist! Those are the same ones I'd reciprocate the favor on any occasion. 

Each and every one of my precious friends will be there for me when I need them most...but the best part of all is knowing that I can call them today, tomorrow, or in the future and they'd do everything in their power to be with me. To support me. To love me. 

Hmm, maybe I don't have a reason to be jealous of not having that single digit "bestie". Maybe I'm actually the one others are jealous of because I have several amazing besties? Seeing things from that perspective, it's a great feeling to know I'm not alone. 

I was never alone.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

RWA 2012 Passionate Ink Party VIDEO

I had the opportunity to attend the Passionate Ink Party at the recent RWA 2012 Conference in Anaheim, California. It was a wild night with Eden Bradley demonstrating "sword play" and an array of  "sex toys" displayed for everyone to drool over.

Here is a short video:

I received a pair of velvet-lined handcuffs for attending the party.

Sexy, yes, but sometimes it's more fun to think "outside the box" when it comes to evoking pleasure.

A rabbit fur glove or velvet scarf.

Or how about icy cold metal rubbed against bare skin?

A simple fly swatter or a wooden spoon.

So, let me ask you--what is your favorite sensual toy?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cover Reveal!

I just got back from the Authors After Dark conference in New Orleans. Can you say, pooped?? But pleasantly so. I had a wonderful time—which I will regale you with more details and pictures in my next post. Nice little tease, ain’t I? Hee-hee! Since I’m still recovering, I thought I’d reveal the covers for my two upcoming books from Ellora’s Cave Publishing! I just received them last week and I’m so excited! One is for my first paranormal ever, Under His Wings. And the second is for the first book in the Breathlessly Ever After series, Stroke of Midnight, based on the Cinderella fairy tale. I’ve included the blurbs below because…well, because I’m shamelessly pimping these two books!

Under His Wings CoverMundane and boring are seriously underrated, so sixth grade social studies teacher Tamar Ridgeway believes. After surviving a horrible plane crash and enduring years of painful therapy, she’s entitled to a couple of phobias and a normal, humdrum life. So what, she’s afraid of the dark and refuses to ever step foot into anything that flies… At long last, she’s happy—until the night she and a friend are attacked by a mythical creature out of her worst nightmares. Suddenly she’s on the hit list of a homicidal half eagle-half horse monster, and the sexy warrior with chocolate and gold wings who steps out of her dreams—literally—is vowing to save her, whether she wants his protection or not.  Nicolai Abioud, Dimios of the hippogryph, is stunned to realize that the human he saves from a vicious attack is the woman he has shared dreams with for the past six months—very erotic, hot dreams. Five hundred years ago, he failed to protect his wife and swears not to allow the same fate befall Tamar. He’s fascinated by her beauty, and mesmerized by the warrior spirit that burns bright inside her eyes. Yet he refuses to submit to the stirring in his body and heart. He’s had his one, true mate and lost her, and falling for a human—no matter how hot and demanding the desire—is foolish and doomed. Yet the choice to accept this unexpected love may be snatched out of their hands. Danger is closing in, and somehow they must find a way to conquer their fears or lose the love of a millennium.

Stroke of Midnight coverOnce upon a time, there was a young woman of beauty, grace, and good nature…

Blah. Blah. Blah.  Rowyn Jeong knows her no-nonsense, less-than-warm personality cannot compare to her stepsister Cindy's bubbly charm and beauty. Hey, everyone has their niche, right? But being the plainer, wicked stepsister has never bothered her more than when Darius Fiore reappears in her life. Darius Fiore, the man she indulged in a one-night stand with six months ago, the businessman threatening her position within her stepfather's company, and the man her sister has her eyes—and hands—on. Rowyn has never forgotten the man who allowed her to be someone else for a few sex-filled hours. Now that Darius has turned up in her territory, will he see past the hard exterior to the woman beneath, the one hungry for love and acceptance?  So, ta-da!! Hooked up by Ellora’s Cave again!!

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Waiting Game

I may have mentioned before that I have little to no patience. Kind of ironic that I became a writer since waiting is so much a part of the profession. We finish a chapter then anxiously await a critique partner's assessment. We package up a freshly minted complete manuscript then send it off to a publisher or agent. Then we wait. And wait. And wait.

I'm very fortunate to have an agent who believes in quick turnarounds. She gives me her sage wisdom on my books or chapters in an amazingly short time. Still, there are those days or maybe a week or two when I'm not sure of her verdict. I'm in that limbo now as she reads over the first three chapters of my new erotic contemporary manuscript.

My quandary is what do I do in the interim? I don't want to continue with that book in case she wants me to move in a different direction. Do I work on my almost finished manuscript for one of my regular publishers and take the chance that I'll get the other MS back and want to immediately go back to working on that?

What I've decided to do is take a little hiatus. Catch up on my reading, promotions and family time. What about you? What do you do when you are waiting for word on chapters or an entire manuscript?

Oh - I have a new book out. The Very Best Man was just released. It's the fourth in my Wanton Weston Women series, a jilted bride story. Comment here and I will enter you in a drawing to win a download.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Control Issues

Okay, I'll admit it. I like to get my way. Who doesn't? But one thing that really bugs me is when authors lose creative control over their books.

I understand the need for editing and marketing to do their thing. The bottom line is in everyone's best interests...including the author's. Not only is it nice to receive a big, fat royalty check, but it can impact whether or not the author gets another contract...ever!  

I attended a PAN (published author's network) gathering at a conference a year and a half ago. (This was before the self-publishing boom.) Well known mid-list authors were discouraged because they weren't getting contracts due to declining sales. I walked out of that room so ambivalent! On one hand, I was scared for my future; on the other, I was quietly thanking my lucky stars that I did have a contract. And since then I landed another one. No, I'm not 'that special'. I just happen to write a popular genre with a welcome twist--humorous paranormal romance.

Now, those of you who follow this blog know I tend to shoot from the hip. In other words, I talk about whatever is on my mind at the moment. At this moment I'm struggling with control issues. I hate being told to put up and shut up (essentially. No professional would put it that way.) But you'd be surprised how many authors are faced with that 'essential' choice when they've signed their rights over to someone else.  

 Rights is the operative word. When you sell them, you don't have them anymore. If you're lucky, your publisher will allow you to have input. Mine does. That doesn't mean I'll get my way. What happens if I don't? Do I have any options at all? Sure. I can throw a temper tantrum. (SO not professional, and probably worse than useless.) I can refuse to promote a product I'm not proud of. (Again, not in anyone's best interests.) And the only other thing I can think of is to be assertive and hope my concerns will be heard.

Did you know I flunked assertiveness training? LOL. Well, I did. Twice! As a psych nurse, I needed that skill, so I persisted until I got it. I find it's useful in many areas of life. No tantrums. Just voicing legitimate concerns over and over again until the other party really understands them. Hopefully, at that point they're not too stubborn to back down. Unfortunately, if an author has sold their rights, they can assert themselves until they run out of words (that's a long, long time in writerly terms) and they might still lose the battle. Sigh.

I've never self-published. I'm not secure enough in my ancillary skills to go it alone. But these days great editors and cover artists can be hired to do the things the author isn't good at.And yet, publishers are still needed for that all important final step in the process--distribution in brick and mortar stores.

How do you feel about self-publishing? As authors, is it an attractive alternative? Why?
As readers, do you trust a traditionally published product more than a self-published author? Have you been burned by poorly edited self-published books? How much control do you think an author should have?

Friday, August 10, 2012

My Take on the Kristen Stewart/Robert Pattinson Romance!

I'm want to preface this blog post by saying that I'm a romantic.

That being said, I can't help but think the whole Kristen Stewart/Robert Pattinson romance was (and probably still is) a publicity stunt. I don't know. Maybe when they were filming the first movie, they stood too close together and the media ssumed they were a couple, so the Twilight stars went with it. Or maybe their publicists got together and leaked the info. You know, hinting at an off-screen romance to get pub for the movies. (Which I love, btw!) And now, right before the whole press junket thing, she comes out an admits she cheated on him, and he dumps her. What's next, her announcement that she's going into sex rehab? (Please Don't even get me started on that! Newsflash - everyone's addicted to sex!)

I know my take on their romance sounds cynical coming from a romance writer, but I don't think we can know what's real in Hollywood and what isn't. If you're movie star and people aren't taking about you, then you're a has-been. What better way for young, up-and-coming actors in a blockbuster movie to get pub than a hot off-screen romance?

Wonder if they'll get back together right before the premiere?


Sexy, Romantic, Fiction!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Great Love Songs

By: Casey Crow

Following along the lines of Naima's recent post and due to the fact I lost my list of Great Love Songs, I'd thought I make a new one. After all, we writers usually like our couples to have "a song" or something playing in the background in our books. I actually have two top ten list since I'm Southern and the country genre is an entity in of itself down here. So here's my country list and a general one (in no particular order).

1. We were in Love - Toby Keith
2. The Dance - Garth Brooks
3. We Own the Night - Lady Antebellum
4. I Need You Know - Lady A
5. Still the One - Shania Twain
6. Crazy - Patsy Cline (yeah, it's an oldie, but goodie)
7. What Hurts the Most - Rascal Flatts
8. Love Story - Taylor Swift
9. It's Your Love - Tim McGaw & Faith Hill
10. I Still Miss You - Keith Anderson

And here's my Top 12 Break-up Country songs: (Had to add a few extras. There are just too many fantastic tear-jerkers.)
1. Strange - Reba McIntrye
2. Should've Said No - Taylor Swift
3. Best Days of Your Life - Kelly Pickler
4. Taking Off This Pain - Ashton Shepherd (CMA artist who is a former tumbling student of mine!)
5. She Wouldn't Be Gone - Blake Shelton
6. How Do You Like Me Now - Toby Keith
7. Strong Enough - Blackhawk
8. First Time For Everything - Little Texas
9. Getting Stronger - Sara Evans (can I just point out that she's married to former University of Alabama quarterback Jay Barker that I went to college with? How nifty!)
10. If You're Going Through Hell - Rodney Atkins
11. Once Upon December - Taylor Swift
12. Don't Think I Don't About It - Darius Rucker

Top 10 from other genres:
1. Touch You Once - from Pretty in Pink (Who sings this?)
2. Edge of Glory - Lady Gaga (okay, so it may not the mushiest song, but it's cool and this is MY list LOL)
3. When You Lie Next to Me - Kate Coffey
4. Sometimes When We Touch - Rod Stewart (okay pretty much any one of his songs will do)
5. Glory of Love - Chicago (same as Rod)
6. Time of My Life - from Dirty Dancing (not that Black Eyed Peas mess)
7. I Need You Tonight - INXS
8. OMG - Usher
9. We Belong - Pat Benetar
10. Crazy for You - Madonna

Break up Top 10:
1. Skater Boy - Avril Lavine
2. I Got Over You - Chris Daughtry
3. What Do You Want From Me - Adam Lambert
4. If You Only Knew - Shinedown
5. Heart Don't Break Even - The Script
6. Here Without You - 3 Doors Down
7. We Belong - Pat Benetar
8. Stronger - Kelly Clarkson
9. Happy - Leona Lewis
10. Eh Eh - Lady Gaga

Thursday, August 2, 2012

RWA Adventures

Me & Sylvia Day
Last week I had an awesome time in Anaheim for the RWA Conference. It gave me a chance to catch up with old friends and make some awesome new ones. Some of the best parts of the event is listening to the stories, receiving advice, and giving and receiving support. The energy and enthusiasm is always infectious so I'm drawn to these people who are so confident about their careers. 

On the first day I arrived, I shared an elevator with Nora Roberts. Well...I actually managed to do this 3 times! Can I just say she always rocks the most fabulous shoes? That's just the beginning. I can't tell you how surreal it was to sit down in the lobby and have Nora Roberts, Jayne Ann Krentz, Rebecca York, Susan Elizabeth Philips, and Angela Knight standing/sitting in a circle around me while I waited for my friends. I had to blink a couple of times to see if it wasn't my imagination. But, that's what these conferences are all about--being surrounded by your peers and seeing that success comes to those who work hard, persevere, never give up. 

What I took back from conference was something incredibly inspiring. As you can see, in the first photo I'm with New York Times and USA Today Best Selling author Sylvia Day. I've know her for almost a decade and when I was a newbie writer she took me under her wing and gave me advice--as well as tough love. She's one of the hardest working writers I know, so when she decided to self pub her book BARED TO YOU, I wasn't surprised at the reception it received. She's not an overnight success even though it sure looked like it. This success was a long time coming and I'm so glad to see it! I normally don't have much time to hang out with her but this time around we had a chance to catch up for a lunch date. I can honestly say, seeing and hearing about her journey...then and now...makes me more motivated than ever to get a big contract this year. It's these wonderful people that you've grown and transition with that are invaluable. 

Nalini Singh & Me
Another favorite person of mine is my friend Nalini Singh...what's not to love about her? She's genuinely the kindest and funniest person I know. I try not to let her sweet face fool me because she is the most  sassiest and adventurous woman! Again, we go back almost a decade and it seems so normal for me to hang out with her yet there are always a flood of people coming up and wanting to meet her. I feel like I'm standing next to a celebrity! LOL -- It's the most surreal thing but watching something like this, it's a moment when you think about all you've accomplished and how far you've come and how much closer you can get to your dreams.   

Writing is something you have to absolutely love. Something you must be fully invested in. I usually meet up with my agent annually at conference so we can go over our plan for the next year. She is truly the awesomest woman I've been fortunate to be signed on with! I can only say that when you find the agent who fits you perfectly, there's an unbreakable bond. I love her and she's supported me 100% from day one. I don't think there's been one project she's hated of mine which makes me feel like I'm fabulous. However, during our meeting I was fist-pumping in my mind. As I was telling her about my current proposal coming her way, she actually teared up! Well...we both teared up! That proved to me how much she's invested in my story, my career, and in me...

There were so many incredible little moments that I cherished from the conference, but I can clearly reflect on them now that I've had a few days to enjoy my vacation in Los Angeles. I've certainly become enlightened and I'm more than ready to tackle another year with confidence and excitement!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

RWA 2012 Anaheim Part 1: RITAs

Even Sleeping Beauty wouldn't have gotten a wink of sleep at the RWA 2012 Conference in Anaheim near Disneyland. I didn't. I was as busy as the Mad Hatter running from workshop to workshop and shooting video. Lots of video. 12 GB worth. That's 12 billion bytes as in billion.

This week I'm going to spotlight three of my favorite RITA award winners:

Joanna Bourne's wonderful tribute to teachers everywhere in her RITA speech for "The Black Hawk" 

Tessa Dare, winner of the RITA for "A Night to Surrender" -- her thank you to her hubby is beautiful

And here is the video everyone is talking about...

Ann Aguirre’s RITA speech for YA "Enclave" including her now infamous "interpretive dance."

Now if you'll excuse me, like Snow White's dwarf, Sleepy, I'm...going to...take a nap...zzzzzzzzzzz