Monday, October 29, 2012

Creating Awe

If you've paid attention to my blogs you know I have a penchant for touting talks of a variety of flavors. This latest I watched is given by Rob Legato, the man responsible for movie effects for Apollo 13, Titanic, and Hugo to name a few.

A basic nugget I took from his presentation was that when we infuse something with enthusiasm or awe or fondness, it changes what we remember.

Although he was talking about the creation of movie images, I began to think about the important books in my life. And realized that the most pivotal stories I'd read were so important to me not only because of the raw talent of the writer, but because of the time and place I read them in my life. Some sort of magic formula is created at the intersection of art and audience.

I think back to just one of the books that made an impact on my life. Clan of the Cave bear by Jean Auel. I was in middle school and it was summer vacation. I was on a trip with my father and step-mother, out of my typical environment and on a sailboat. Sleeping in an unfamiliar bed and feeling outside of myself, not quite sure who I was. My step-mother had suggested this novel and bought me a copy. Ayla's adventure and the pre-historic world building fascinated me. I needed her universe. And it explicitly opened my eyes to the idea of strong female heroines and the struggle for survival and intricate creation of worlds. It affected my path as a future writer and my identity as a woman in our modern world. It gave me hope in some strange way.

We all have favorite books. Yes, some are universally considered masterpieces or universally beloved. But there are so many fantastic books, and sometimes we identify a unique one that came to us at just the right time. When we were suffering, when we needed hope, when we were facing great change in our lives. And that story touched us forever.

What were the books and circumstances like that for you?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Kate Patrick visits to talk about MEMPHIS HEAT

Interview with Kate Patrick

Memphis Heat

Casey, thank you so much for inviting me to visit with you today to talk a bit about my second book, Memphis Heat. It is an erotic romance, and was released on September 26th at Siren BookStrand.

What is Memphis Heat about?

It is the story of Maeve and Steele who meet at a Memphis blues club, and uncharacteristically share a night of unbridled passion, expecting to never see one another again. Much to their surprise, they come face to face the next morning when they show up to tour a piece of commercial real estate they both want, but for very different reasons. She wants it for use as a non-profit facility meant to help single mothers and their children get a chance to improve their circumstances. He wants it for another one of his sports bars. The gloves go on, but their mutual attraction can’t be denied. They have some very sexy encounters in spite of being business rivals. The outcome means one has to lose, so they think the affair is over when they go their separate ways. Neither can forget the other, so they have to meet again to sort out their feelings. Of course they get their “Happily Ever After”, but it is an unexpected way it all comes together. I will leave that for the reader to find out.

What can readers expect from you in the future?

I have a third book due to be released on December 4th from BookStrand. It is called, Love Beyond the Curve. It’s going to be my first mainstream romance, and is unlike anything else I’ve written so far. It was so much fun to write, and I am hoping readers will love it as much as I did. I’m also currently working on a sequel to my first book, One Sizzling Summer. It is going to be Stephen and Maria’s story. Since they mix like oil and water, it should be interesting to write.
Thank you for stopping by today. I’m going to leave everyone with an excerpt from Memphis Heat. Good luck with it and your upcoming projects.

I wish you the best with all your many new ventures, too. Thank you for this invitation to drop by to share my work with your readers. Here’s the excerpt from Memphis Heat:
Steele Ottinger closed his eyes and reveled in the feel of her breasts barely grazing his chest while she swayed seductively in his arms. Sure, she had sat at her table looking all circumspect and guarded, but there was a hint of something else underneath that cool exterior. Something intense. Something sensuous. Something he would seek to discover before the night was over. He felt the familiar heaviness in his groin, revealing the effect she had on him as they danced. Strangely, he didn’t care if she became aware of his lust for her. That was why he had asked – no, she was right – commanded that she dance with him.

A throbbing cock proved he was a man on a mission. She completely mesmerized him as she seemingly became lost in an erotic response to the sounds that filled the room. Her hips thrust in perfect time with the beat, making him long to meet her with some thrusts of his own. He knew he possessed a natural rhythm and could provide her with a partner that would keep up with her no matter what the activity.

Now, at last he held her in his arms. She turned away from him and sensuously lifted the heavy mane of dark hair that flowed like a river down her back, exposing a long, slender neck for his admiration. He groaned inwardly as she glanced back, casting a provocative look his way. He wrapped an arm around her narrow waist, and pulled her up against his pulsing erection. He leaned down to nuzzle the velvet-like skin behind her dainty ear. The slight scrape of his smooth, straight teeth along the curve of her neck sent a tremor through her lithe form. He smiled at the realization that their dance appeared to have a heated effect on her as well.

The longer he held her, the more he wanted to know what it would be like to bury himself deep inside her. It would be one mind-blowing fuck if judged by her fluid, graceful movements on the dance floor. She appeared to be an uninhibited spirit. Her ability to follow his lead in perfect sync made him think their “horizontal dance” would be an explosive coupling to say the least.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Pretty Women of Paris

Paris 1889.

The Eiffel Tower, the Moulin Rouge, the Paris Exposition all opened that year.

Electric lights also went on for the first time in many Paris theatres, department stores, and railway stations. Paris was a busy place and even busier for les filles de joie, prostitutes.

Imagine lounging on soft, scoop sofas in filmy lingerie, eating Bossier bonbons and marzipan, and waiting for handsome gentlemen to call. Hmm…sounds like the brothel I created in my Spice novel, Naughty Paris. Ah, but that was fiction, frothy and sugary with a twist of the erotic to rev up the libido. Or was it?

To the gentlemen who frequented these establishments, the brothels of Paris evoked a sense of glamour not usually associated with prostitution. Les grandes horizantales (no translation needed) or dégrafées, unhooked ones, could perform every sexual trick in the book without so much as breaking a corset string.

Which reminds me. No demi-mondaine, courtesan, would be caught without her corset when a gentleman took her upstairs. Adjusting the wires, setting the whalebones, lacing up the back--many a customer lamented why she went to so much trouble when he had every intention of removing it. Her answer? It was more fun taking it off.

But which girl could do…or who was better at….? How did the gentleman decide which girl to choose? Especially if he were visiting from across the Channel? Simple. He did as all tourists do: he consulted his guidebook.

"The Pretty Women of Paris" was published privately in 1883 for members of the "principal Parisian clubs" and later as "The Pleasures of Paris: A complete list of its Licensed Brothels or 'Maisons de Tolerance.' " The guide was limited to 169 copies.

Here's a sample of the "girls" from "The Pretty Women of Paris:"

Marie Bergé...exceedingly nice, petite, fair, and although born in 1861, looks like an innocent girl of sixteen. Should not be neglected, especially as she possesses a very charming pair of bubbies.

[And this was before breast implants. Imagine what a little silicone could do…]

Léona Cellié: Her original Christian name, Marie, was too common for her, she changed it as above, and from a brunette became a blonde…

[And we thought only our hairdresser knew…]

Juliette Darcourt…there is no nonsense about this actress of the Nouveantés Théâtre as she is always ready to start a new amour, provided that the new admirer has a proper balance at his bankers…

[Smart girl…]

This is but a small sampling of what "The Pretty Women of Paris" had to offer: nearly every entry mentions the girl's physical attributes, age, where she came from, her talents, and her sexual preferences ("…she is gifted with a lustful temperament, so that her passions often prove stronger than her mind and lead her to try all kind of tricks and capers to prolong and intensify the pleasures of copulation.")

Has Paris changed since La Belle Époque? The rules of seduction have changed somewhat. Where the demi-mondaines once ruled the bedroom, the modern Parisienne is in charge of boudoir antics (French couples have sex 8.9 times a month) and that includes sex toys. Sales of vibrators, dildos, ben-wa balls, even edible underwear in all shapes, makes, and colors are taking off in Paris and are available in small shops as well as on the shelves of Le Printemps department store.

To the gentleman of Paris 1889, I have one thing to say:

Edible corset, anyone?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My Editor Has Corrupted Me!

I LOVE my editor at Ellora’s Cave! Love, love, love! She is like the Conan-Do-You-Want-to-Live-Forever-Valkyrie editor, I swear. She goes all bad-ass over my books, that’s for sure. Not only is she hilarious, sarcastic, efficient and willing to tell me that yes, I am a brilliant ar-teest who happens to have exquisite taste in shoes, but she is damn good at her job! So far I’ve learned I have a love affair with “that”, am an overstater of the obvious and can’t seem to filter out those doggone pesky filters…did I mention she has the patience of a saint?? Did I also mention the last manuscript I got back from her looked like a holy stigmata?? She is so thorough and so knowledgeable I felt like apologizing for being such a non-specific, filtering, pronoun-abusing schmuck! In a nutshell? She’s awesome!!

One of the cool things about having an editor who knows her stuff is learning from her/him with each book and round. Suddenly I’m aware of certain word choices that may take a reader out of my character’s head. Or I’m able to pinpoint superfluous words or phrases that just muddy up a sentence. I’m learning to write cleaner thanks to her… Yet there is a downside to her brilliant attention to detail. Once the awareness has kicked in, it is impossible to shut off. Self-editing is wonderful—especially when it enables you to turn in a tighter manuscript. But there are certain uh, things, one just should not edit…

* The bible. Do you know how blasphemous it feels to sit during service or bible study and critique scripture? Seriously though has anyone besides me noticed there are a ton of unnecessary “that”s, ambiguous “you”s, “thou”s and “him"s? While I should be concentrating on the patriarchs of faith, I’m restructuring the sentence so the correct nouns are modified and entering proper names instead of pronouns…am I going to hell? ‘Cause I kinda feel nitpicking God is like 10a. of the Ten Commandments…

* School newsletters and memos. A veritable smorgasbord of dangling modifiers, preposition-ending sentences and not enough commas! Okay, the last one is just my personal preference…

* Text messages. As one who is a hater of auto-fill, text messages send my inner editor into a tail spin! I know it is way more expedient to type “ure” and “u” and “btr” and “ty”…but I…can’t…do…it. And when I get a text with those—and a plethora of other abbreviations—in them, I need to type them out. Which makes my return message the size of 3 texts long. And if I notice I made a mistake after I hit send, it’s a compulsion to send a follow-up email apologizing, saying “I meant…” Yes. Really. I am this anal…

I sooo blame this on your beautiful mind, Violet!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

While I Wasn't Paying Attention...

Like most people, this is a really busy time of year for me. We have a big Halloween event coming up plus a whole lot of company and social obligations on the horizon. I've been pulling out my hair trying to find a new critique partner for the past month as well as assembling a street team to help promote my books on the social media sites.

I had glanced at a group email from the management at Ellora's Cave about upcoming print books, but didn't see my name on there. So imagine my surprise when I noticed one of my books had become available in print!

Yup - Burning Touch, a romantic suspense with a generous dollop of kink, is now out in trade paperback. I'm excited about this, but it's another example of me not paying full attention. I think I have a touch of ADD!

Something else I didn't notice was that my husband had a swollen hand for a week. Turned out it was broken and the tough guy didn't even tell me until he absolutely had to because he came home with a cast on it.

Yeah - I get wife of the year points for not paying enough attention there, although in my defense, I think he hid this from me as long as he could, assuming it would go away.

I wish I could say that I'm off my game right now, that usually I do pay attention to more details. But the thing is, I am naturally efficient. Which means I skim when I should probably read carefully. I half listen because I am compiling lists in my always buzzy brain.

Am I alone? Or do things slip past you while you're busy thinking about the next item on your list?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Bewitching Blog Hop!

There's a blog hop this weekend, and you know what that means. Hot hunks, cool prizes and yummy excerpts! You could win some very sexy books, including one from me - your choice!

Click on the link below to visit the blogs on the tour!


Sexy Romantic Fiction!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Why do I do this to myself?

One of the questions authors are often asked is why we write. I usually get a blank look on my face, because it's not something I can easily put into words, but here goes:

I guess I’ve always written. Sort of.  I’ve never felt particularly driven to write, or at least if I was, I never identified the feeling.  In junior high I wrote what would later come to be called fan-fic, following the lives of my favorite YA characters into adulthood, but I never showed them to anyone.  In my college years and for a long time thereafter, I sublimated the urge with role-playing games. My characters always had the most elaborate backgrounds.  It wasn’t until my mid-thirties that I decided to really give writing a shot. There have been times since then that I’ve almost pitched thee whole thing in—sometimes seriously, sometimes just because I’m feeling rotten, but so far, at least, I’ve always convinced myself to keep going.

But why?  It’s a truly miserable business in a lot of ways. I’m not a thick-skinned individual, so bad reviews and rejections hit me hard. Very recently it was disappointing sales that had me questioning my worth as an author. If nobody is buying my books, then what’s the point of driving myself insane trying to write them?  Well there are several answers to that, the most obvious of which, is, “Lady, you were already insane, so it wasn’t much of a drive.”  True. Very true.  The next is that even if sales aren’t where I, (and my publisher) would like them, at least they aren’t at zero. That means somebody did buy it—or them, actually. So more people read my books than would have if I’d kept them locked up in my head.

There are days when it would be easier to stick red-hot spikes into your eyeballs than to get the words to flow.  Other days they tumble out faster than your fingers can keep up. And if I’m sick or really stressed or depressed, it’s very difficult to write at all.  Those, I tell myself, are good days for promotion. When I get really down about writing, my husband, who is marvelous, reminds me that many, many people walk through their lives saying that some day they will write a book. That’s an accomplishment people dream about, plan for, and many, ultimately, never accomplish.  I’ve done it, he reminds me. Even that first awful manuscript that no one but the dust bunnies will ever see, is, in fact, a completed book.  That’s a huge accomplishment all by itself.  And not only did I write a book, and finish it, I wrote more. And those books, I actually sold. Some total stranger has plunked down hard-earned cash to read the demented ramblings of my strangely-wired brain.  If you look at it that way, instead of in terms of numbers, it’s actually pretty damn cool.

Also there’s the fact that I often don’t bother getting dressed until lunchtime. That doesn’t suck either.

Don't forget that my newest steampunk romance Moonlight and Mechanicals releases from Carina Press next Monday, Oct. 22. You can pre-order it now at Amazon or the Carina website.

There are some great contests going on that you should really check out: Sam Cheever's annual Trick or Treat contest runs until Oct. 31. The grand prize is a huge basket, including an engraved i-Pad.
Still going are two more great contests at Romance Books '4' Us and Here Be Magic.

I've also got a ton of appearances going on this month and you can find out more on my personal blog. Have a great week!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Yummy Pumpkin Recipes

Can you believe it's fall already? Leaves are changing color. The air is a bit more chilly and football is in fun swing. It all puts me in the mood for autumn food so here are two EASY recipes I thought you'd might enjoy. ~ Casey

Roast Pumpkin Lasagna recipe


  • 2 Cups Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 Egg, scrambled
  • Nutmeg
  • 1 sugar Pumpkin or Butternut Squash
  • ½ medium-sized onion, white or yellow, chopped
  • ½ cup vegetable or chicken stock/ water
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • Sage, dried 1/8 teaspoon or fresh chopped ¼ teaspoon
  • ½ Cup Parmesan Cheese
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups shredded Mozzarella
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Box of Lasagna noodles


1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2) Bring water to a boil and then add the lasagna noodles.

3) Meanwhile, while the noodles are cooking, peel, deseed, and chop up the sugar pumpkin or squash, half an onion, and coat all with oil, salt, and brown sugar, and ¼ teaspoon sage and spread evenly on a baking sheet. Roast at 375 degrees F for 10- 14 minutes. When the pumpkin is fully cooked, add the garlic and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Take out and allow to cool a little.

4) Scoop the pumpkin into a blender filling half-way each time and pureeing until smooth. Empty the contents into a bowl.

5) Separately, combine and stir the two cups ricotta, the mixed egg, ¼ cup parmesan, 1 cup of the mozzarella, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg in a bowl with a couple pinches of salt and a sprinkle of pepper.

6) Drain the noodles when done cooking according to the directions on the package.

7) Begin layering the lasagna by putting some oil on the bottom of the baking dish. Then add a layer of pumpkin, then add a layer of noodles, then add a layer of the ricotta and mozzarella mixture, another layer of noodles, pumpkin mixture, and so on, alternating ricotta mixture and pumpkin layers. The top should be noodles, cover with the remaining shredded mozzarella and the rest of the parmesan and drizzle with oil. Cover with baking dish with foil.

8) Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional five minutes.

Pumpkin Fudge recipe


2 cups sugar
½ cup pureed cooked pumpkin
½ cup evaporated milk
¼ teaspoon cornstarch
¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
¼ cup butter
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts


  1. Combine sugar, pumpkin, milk, cornstarch and spice in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high, then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook until it forms a soft ball when dropped in cold water, or until reaches 236°F. Remove from heat
  2. Add the nuts, butter, and vanilla; beat until mixture is creamy.
  3. Pour into a buttered plate and allow to cool. Cut into small chunks and serve.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Titanic: Blood and Steel on Encore October 8-13, 2012

© Gorgios |
Who doesn’t love a good backstory? The fun of discovering exactly why things happened as they did on that fateful night of April 14,1912 when the Titanic sank in the North Atlantic.

Why weren’t there enough lifeboats for everyone on board? Who made that decision?
Why wasn’t JP Morgan, the owner of the White Star Line, on board?

Who came up with the name “Titanic?”

Check Point in Northern Ireland

I remember the city of Belfast when it was filled with strife and the “Troubles,” a time when my da convinced the local authorities he was an American tourist and not the man they were looking for by pointing to his Made in the USA sneakers.

And when my beautiful mum went to buy some lace and minutes after she left the shop, the street was blown up. Another time we found ourselves stuck at a checkpoint behind a horse and wagon, and later on we feasted on the best breaded chicken dinner I’ve ever had.

Horse and wagon in Northern Ireland

This was Ireland on a cloudy day when the air was heavy with the smell of the earth fresh from the rain, when the blanket of green covering the land was so bright it made your eyes hurt. And when the wildflowers I picked made me think of sweet kisses from the handsome lad who’d winked at me.

Belfast was where the Titanic was born.

Let’s go back to 1907 and a time when Katie O’Reilly, the heroine in my novel, Titanic Rhapsody, was fourteen years old and living with her da and mum and her older sister, Mary Dolores, near Queenstown in Southern Ireland.

She was filled with curiosity and yearned for a better life, which often got her into trouble with the local sisters at the Catholic school.
While Katie was discovering that a poor Irish girl had as much of a chance to better herself as a prize pig did of escaping the butcher,up in Belfast an enterprising gentleman named Lord William James Pirrie had grand plans to help Irish girls like Katie find their dreams.

Now mind you, this was a time when more than a million people a year emigrated from Europe to the United States. Before the great steamers made the crossing, the steerage or third class passengers had to bring their own food and spent the week-long journey in cramped, unsanitary quarters. Those lucky enough to get a breath of fresh air on the upper deck shared it with chickens in poultry coops.
You can be sure when the emigrants arrived in America, they wrote to the folks back home: “Smelly, dirty trip on the ________ Line. Get a ticket on another ship.”
But what if the emigrants raved about the crossing? Good, hot food at every meal that included oatmeal and currant buns. Clean cabins with running water and nary a chicken feather in sight. Can you imagine the stampede to book passage on that ship?
Lord Pirrie, chair of Harland and Wolff, major shipbuilders, did. According to the oft-told tale, the idea for Titanic and her sister ships came about over coffee and cigars in Lord Pirrie’s fancy London town house. There he convinced J. Bruce Ismay, Chairman and Manager Director of the White Star Line, that he could build two ships—the Olympic and the Titanic and later the Britannic—bigger and more luxurious liners than his competitor, the Cunard Line, had. Ships that would hold more passengers and raise his company’s profits substantially.
He convinced Mr. Ismay he could also increase profits by catering to the society crowd traveling across the pond on a regular basis and doing the grand tour. They were willing to pay big bucks to be pampered as if they were staying in a fancy hotel.
Who could resist such an offer? A new era in trans-Atlantic passenger ships was born. New slipways were constructed in Belfast to build the Titanic and three thousand workers hired to get the task done (450 were injured and 17 died during the construction). By the end of March 1909, the keel was laid down and on May 31, 1911 the Titanic was launched at 12:15 p.m. with great fanfare. Tickets were sold to the public with all the money raised going to charity.

Now the real work began to get Titanic ready for the posh passengers and eager steerage emigrants who would marvel at her interiors and wander up and down her long corridors. Also, we can’t forget the second class passengers, many of them tradesmen (including a perfume salesman whose sample bottles were retrieved from the wreckage) who relied on crossing the North Atlantic to keep their connections on the European continent current.
On April 2, 1912, the Titanic started a series of sea trials to prove her muster to carry passengers before she set sail on April 10, 2012 from Southampton.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

An Unveiling!

So I’ve been super, super busy with edits and revisions. Very excited! As this is my day to post, I’m going to be the promo-slut of the week and post an excerpt from Under His Wings, my upcoming paranormal release with Ellora’s Cave Publishing! Hope you enjoy!


Under His Wings Cover 
Mundane 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.


Dusk bullied its way across the skyline, the rolling bank of gray and black clouds forcing daylight to pick up its ball and go home.

Nicolai Abioud studied the fast-moving mass as several stories beneath him the denizens that awakened with the dark stirred and crept out of their hiding places, ready to go about the business of the encroaching night. The rundown five-story building he crouched on top of probably hosted all manner of illicit activities. Drug addicts and prostitutes peered out of windows as jagged as their souls, scouting the dirty, garbage-littered streets for patrolling cops or predators more vicious then they.

He was such a predator. 

Only he had bigger prey to bag.

 He scanned the obsidian alleys, his raptor’s eyes sighting even the smallest scurry. Below, a scantily clad woman led an old man down the passageway. As she maneuvered him behind the large dumpster, she glanced toward the sky as if sensing the hunter who perched above her. Even if she could spot Nicolai, he wouldn’t be her concern. Her wariness was better reserved for the other one who stalked these streets.


He didn’t glance over his shoulder as the low, sandpaper-over-gravel voice echoed inside his head. The heavy strokes of wings against air had reached his ears several moments ago.

“Yes?” he asked aloud, noting that the prostitute had finished her transaction and was headed toward the mouth of the alley. Either she had a blue ribbon talented mouth or the man had a two second fuse. Nicolai was betting on the latter.

“There’s no sign of him,” Lukas Gallo reported along the telepathic link they shared. “Maybe he’s moved on.”

“No.” Nicolai met the steady, ice-blue gaze of his second-in-command and one of the three males he led. Tonight Lukas hunted with him. The other two warriors—Adon Laskaris and Dorian Zarides—searched for traces of their prey on the east side of the city. Together the three males formed the krinos, the select, highly trained fighting unit that served under the Dimios, their people’s executioner. Or Nicolai. On the rooftop, Lukas’ obsidian plumage, wings and body seemed to swallow the shades around him, a worm hole sucking the shadows into his huge bulk. Only his arctic gaze and the distinctive three white stripes across his back relieved the midnight feathers, equestrian hindquarters and tail. “This is prime hunting ground for him. He’s not finished.” Nicolai murmured.

A sigh whispered down their connection. “We were almost too late to cover up his last kill. Even Evander wouldn’t risk the exposure another would bring.”

“No?” Nicolai arched his eyebrow. “He’s a rogue, Lukas. By the very definition of the word he doesn’t give a fuck about rules. And he damn sure doesn’t care if he reveals us to the human world. It’s a game to him,” he rasped, his gaze returning to the streets that grew more active, teemed with more people…more quarry for the kill. “Us. Them. We’re all pawns in this screwed up version of Clue to which only he knows the rules.”

Lukas remained silent at the words that sounded bitter to Nicolai’s own ears. Evander Agnew, the latest of his people to go rogue. Over the last four months, he’d cut a bloody trail through Europe and now here to North America. The kills had been spread out and Nicolai, Lukas, Adon and Dorian had worked swiftly to cover them up. But Evander didn’t show any signs of stopping. The humans had no idea a monster out of their mythical lore—and their worst nightmares—had been unleashed on them.

And Nicolai had trained the sadistic bastard.

As the Dimios, the race’s judge, jury and executioner, it fell to Nicolai to hunt Evander and bring him down just as Nicolai had done all other rogues who’d gone off the proverbial reservation. Hunting his brethren, executing them and preserving the secrecy of his people’s existence were Nicolai’s responsibilities—had been for eight hundred years. As long as the hippogryph had been in existence, there had been those who’d gone rogue for one reason or another—resentment over the restrictions governing their exposure to the world, exile or bloodlust. Whether they were angry, power hungry or deranged, he’d pursued them all. Yes, he experienced regret over some of the punishments, but it had never been personal.

Until now.

Until Evander—an elite warrior Nicolai had trained and a trusted soldier he’d commanded—betrayed him by preying on the weak and defenseless.

Until four months ago when Evander had started his rampage with the murder of Nicolai’s best friend.

Grief writhed in his gut like snakes on a Gorgon’s head. Nicolai, Lukas, Adon, Dorian—they accepted that their deaths were possible every time they pursued a rogue and engaged in battle. But Bastien hadn’t signed up for that. He’d been a healer, not a warrior. Yet Evander had targeted Bastien because he’d been Nicolai’s friend. Just to hurt Nicolai, Evander had stolen the life of a good man. For that the betrayer would die. If Nicolai had to track him for the rest of his existence, he would destroy this rogue.

“Nico, let me take this one,” Lukas urged. “You’re too personally involved—”

“Forget it,” Nicolai snapped.

A loud crack rent the air and he glanced down, startled to see his black talons stabbing into the edge of the roof. Fine fissures zigzagged over the railing and chunks of cement littered the ground. Lifting his head, he met Lukas’ censorious gaze. Juveniles half-shifted as they learned to dominate their beast. For an adult—especially a nine-hundred-year-old warrior—to do so meant a loss of control. Dangerous for one whose duty required he discipline not just himself but an entire race of people.

“Forget it,” he repeated, voice grim. He eyed his second-in-command until Lukas lowered his sleek, black head, a sign of the male’s submission. “We hunt here tonight. And we’ll keep on until we find this demented bastard and take him out.”

The cold, grim words echoed in the night air as Nicolai leaped onto the narrow railing, landing in a crouch. He splayed his fingers on the rough ledge, maintaining his balance as he again examined the murky expanse of sky. The dense blanket of pollution hid the twinkle of stars and obscured the moon’s pearlescent glow. A shaft of longing for the clean, fresh air of his home pierced him. If he breathed deep he could almost taste the rain-scented breeze that blew over the private peninsula off the Washington state coast. There the stars glittered like bright diamonds scattered across a velvet cloth by a celestial hand.

As different from this place as shit from shine.

“Lukas.” Nicolai squinted at a sizeable, dingy cloud that sailed at a slightly faster clip than the others. Something about the odd shape…and when the moon’s beam struck it…

“That’s him,” he growled.

Not waiting for Lukas’ reply he dove off the ledge, arms outstretched, head thrown back. Magic sizzled from the soles of his feet, blazed a path up his legs, thighs to his gut and chest, and shot to his shoulder blades and legs. It consumed him. Bone snapped and popped, muscle and tendon contorted as his head rounded and formed a large, high-arched beak and shaggy crest at the same time feathers sprouted along his arms and back. Two pairs of legs—the front pair talon-tipped and the back hoofed—stretched and kicked as his wings beat hard one, twice, and the hippogryph’s powerful, magnificent body climbed high into air. At the same time he cast a gyges, a magical net that rendered him invisible to the human eye.

Beside him, Lukas’ black half-eagle-half-stallion beast appeared, and together they streaked through the sky after their prey.

“Stay back,” Nicolai ordered through the telepathic link. Lukas’ head snapped to the side, his onyx eyes glittering with shock and growing anger. Before the other hippogryph could voice his objection, Nicolai cut him off. “Don’t interfere. That’s an order.”

Lukas’ rage crackled down their link but he spread his wings wide and reared back on his hind legs, talons clawing the air. Nicolai launched forward, all his attention focused on the smoky billow several feet beneath him. The mist—too thick to be natural—didn’t hinder his search. Tonight he would end this, damn it. He would end Evander.

A warning whispered through his head. The same warning he gave those who trained under him.

Never let emotion enter the hunt. If you do, you’re dead as fuck.

Well he was as dead as a damn doornail because there was no way he could separate the hatred, the overwhelming grief and thirst for revenge….for blood.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Does Writing Sex Make Us Sexier?

My husband always jokes that he's the most envied man at his work because he's married to a woman who makes it her business to know as much as she can about sex. At parties, he tells people he's the "head of R&D" for me. Any time we have people over who've never seen our home before, he always takes them into my office and shows them my wall of book covers. I used to think this was because he was proud of me, but it's more than that. It's like he's showing them he's got it going on.

I asked him about this the other day and he freely admitted that, yeah, he likes people to know what I do for a living. All the romance I write about and all the sex, in particular, is a definite notch in his bedpost. It's a lot like the old guy who shows off his hot young arm-candy wife, he explained.

The more I thought about this concept, the more I liked it. Yeah - I admit it. If my husband gets off on the fact that I write erotic romance, then why the hell shouldn't I take it as a compliment? And in that slightly warped male logic, all erotic romance and erotica authors are sexier than your average Jane. And the same goes for readers who consume loads of the stuff. We're all a little sexier than we thought.

You're welcome;-)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The D word

Our romance community lost someone very special last weekend. I won't add my thoughts about cover model Angelo, because others have already done that so well.

I'm going to talk about the dreaded D word. Death. Don't hit the close button! This will not be a depressing blog.

Death is the great equalizer. Every human on the planet has two things in common. They're born and they die. We're not born into equal circumstances. Some hit the genetic jackpot and others inherit challenges. Some are born rich and others are poor. Some are wanted and some are despised. But one escapes. You can't buy your way out of it, can't earn your way out of it with good deeds, can't 'exercize and eat right' your way out of it. It's going to happen.

For some reason our culture likes to pretend death doesn't exist. We don't talk about it. We don't know what to say when somebody loses a loved one. And when we allow that little window to open, we have vastly different ideas about what it means. 

As a former nurse, I--like most of the medical community--considered death "the enemy." Talk about a losing battle! For some, death is an end to suffering. Now, I see that as a blessing. If I hadn't gone through it with my parents, I might still feel that death is just wrong. Don't laugh. I wasn't alone in that philosophy.

When someone leaves us, we miss them. Knowing we can't call them on the phone or see them next week hurts. But that's about us--not the dear departed.

I don't want to cr*p on anyone's beliefs, but I'm fairly sure there's just one outcome. I'm not arrogant enough to say I know which way it's going to go, but if there are 72 virgins waiting for me on the other side, I'll shrug and say, "Well, I guess one group was right and I was wrong."

I do have my beliefs. Like many of us, I find comfort in hoping there's more. I like to think I'm open minded and can respect those who have a belief that differs from mine. I've read books by mediums, clergy, and folks who've seen the bright light and been told to turn around.

And yet, I write books about immortals. No, I don't believe they really exist. (Shhh...Don't tell my editor.) But it's fun to pretend they do. Perhaps the closest we humans can come to being immortal is to leave something of us behind. A child. A painting. A book.

The very first novel I wrote was titled Surviving Mortality. I began writing it a few months after my parents died. It was a way to cope with their deaths and my own. I tried to write about my family in non-fiction first, but I couldn't do it. I couldn't get past page two without disolving into a puddle. However, making it happen to someone else gave me the step back I needed. That's when I discovered that fiction can be a sneaky way to speak the truth.   


Friday, October 5, 2012

We'll miss you, Angelo.

We just got back from a mini vacation that I was going to blog about, but I'm still too shocked and saddened by the tragic news of Angelo Riguero's murder. I found out about it Sun night when I checked FB and I'm still reeling. I had to read the newspaper story a dozen times before it even sank in. I have tears in my eyes writing this. It's so tragic and senseless and sad.

As you can tell from the pics of him in my FB photo album, he was my favorite Ellora's Cave Caveman. They couldn't have picked a better ambassador to be the face of their company. He wasn't only gorgeous, he was sweet and kind and charming, and a total gentleman.

I first met Angelo when my hubby and I went to RomantiCon two years ago. I spotted him as soon as we walked into the ballroom. He was standing with some of the other Cavemen and I thought to myself, wow, I want him on the cover of all of my EC books! I hadn't gone to any big conventions like that before, so I was way too shy to get a picture with him that first night, or even talk to him much, though I wanted to. Then at the book signing a couple days later I saw that he was on the cover of my print book IF YOU DARE. The other authors all told me that I should have him sign it for me.

My shyness kicked in again, but I realized if I didn't do it, I'd end up regretting it. So, I took a deep breath, grabbed my book and a silver Sharpie and walked over to ask him to sign my book. I was even brave enough to ask for a picture with him. After that, I was all over him. Well, not literally, but I did have to have him sign the EC Cavemen calendars that came in our swag. Which meant I had to get another picture with him. When he came by my table a little while later to say hi, my shyness was still there, but he made me so at ease, I forgot all about how shy I was. We talked about where he lived, how he got into modeling, and one of my favorite subjects, football. I was frantically coming up with stories with long-haired heroes just so he could be on more of my covers even as we chatted!

When we went back to RomantiCon last year, I wasn't nearly as shy about hanging out with Angelo. I wasn't going to miss out on taking pics with him, either. The minute we walked in, he was right there with a big hug for me and a handshake for my hubby. And yes, I got pics with him, lots of them!

When he told me he wasn't working for Ellora's Cave anymore and wouldn't be at future RomantiCons, I was bummed (it was Angelo who got the parties started and kept them going - the man knew how to work a room and entertain a crowd, which is why I secretly gave him the title Captain Caveman), but I couldn't help being excited or him when he told me about the gym he'd started because he was so excited about it, too.

Since he didn't work for EC anymore, I probably wouldn't have met up with him again, although he kept saying when my hubby and I got to Dallas to see a Cowboy game we definitely had to stop by his gym and say hey and take one of his classes.

I'm going to miss PMing with him and reading his FB status updates. The world is a little sadder today without Angelo in it.

And now I'm tearing up again.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Contests, Anyone?

Maybe because I write a lot of paranormal romance, or maybe just because I love Halloween, I tend to participate in a lot of contests in October. Since I'm totally brain-dead today and can't think of anything clever to blog about, I thought I might just share some of these. Click the images above each listing for more information.

1. Romance Books '4' Us: Grand prize: a $50 bookstore gift card. Runs now-Oct. 30

2. Here Be Magic: Grand Prize: a Kindle, loaded with a bunch of books and a basket of author goodies. Runs now-Oct. 31
3. Sam Cheever's Annual Trick Or Treating Party: This one runs Oct. 15-30, and the grand prize is usually a tablet and a ton of other goodies.

So tell me, what do you think of reader contests? Love 'em? Hate 'em? Enter like crazy or only once in a while? If you're an author, do you enter other authors' contests? And finally, any other great ones to share with the rest of us?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week started Sunday, September 30th and runs through Saturday, October 6th. Come one, come all to celebrate our freedom to read. It is disgusting to contemplate the ongoing problem of censorship alive and well in our country.

Books challenged or banned in 2010-2011 include: Running With Scissors, Speak, My Mom's Having a Baby, Betrayed, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, The Awakening, The Hunger Games, Water for Elephants, Snow Falling on Cedars, Brave New World, The Koran, Get Well Soon, Song of Solomon, The Catcher in the Rye, Twenty Boy Summer, Slaughterhouse-Five to name just some.

This is not tolerable. As a writer I am profoundly saddened. But this struggle will always exist as long as fear and hatred remain mainstays of the human soul. Practice love this week. Love of books and love of our fellow humans. Love of our world.