Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Writer's Guilty Pleasures: Do you really get your ideas in a bubble bath?

© Carlo Dapino |

How do writers get their ideas?

Of course writers have fabulous lives to draw from. We chase spies before breakfast, do lunch with sexy FBI Special Agents, and let's not forget cocktails with that handsome billionaire we met last weekend in Monte Carlo...


It's more like we chase the kids around the house before breakfast to get them to school. Do lunch sitting in front of the computer staring at an empty page, and have cocktails with--

Make that a glass of wine all by our lonesome while hubby gets the kids to bed.

By then we're too tired for anything but a rose-scented bubble bath to get our brains working. And that's where the magic happens for so many writers.

In the bath, the pool, the shower.

There's something magical and mystical about the hot, running water soothing our aching muscles that gets the brain in gear. Many writers swear they get their best ideas in the bath or shower.

I believe that quiet "me" time we get with our brains is important to everything we do, including writing. As I wrote in my nonfiction book, "The Japanese Art of Sex: How to Tease, Seduce, and Pleasure the Samurai in Your Bedroom:"

 A luxuriating hot bath is not pampering, but a valued and essential part of your sexual life.  Do as the Japanese do: Relax and take your time.  It is considered bad taste to hurry while bathing.

Next time, we'll visit more Writer's Guilty Pleasures!!


The Japanese Art of Sex: How to Tease, Seduce, and Pleasure the Samurai in Your Bedroom" is available both as an e-book and trade paperback.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Behind the scenes...what winds up in a book

Hey there!

I don't want to beat anyone over the head with promo, promo, I'm trying to post a few different things on different blogs. Here at my home blog I want to share the most interesting and personal information. So, here we go...

In my upcoming book The Cupcake Coven I have a secondary character with an unusual problem.  My hero is looking for his sister, who was traveling to Salem, MA to research their ancestry when she seemed to disappear off the map. She's in a Fugue.

A fugue (also called dissociative amnesia) is often brought on by a psychological trauma so severe that the person escapes it by forgetting everything. For some reason, it is often related to travel. Sometime these individuals are found on the opposite side of the country, not knowing who they are or why they're there.

As some of you know, I was a psychiatric RN for many years. So I was aware of this very rare (and in my opinion, interesting) condition. Years after the actual event, my mother told me that my father went into a fugue when my sister died and he was on a business trip.

It comes on suddenly. He found himself wandering around an airport, not knowing who or where he was--or why. It must have been confusing and a little frightening to say the least. Eventually he looked at a newspaper someone had left behind and determined that he was in St. Louis. He also learned what day it was by the date on the top.

Then he figured out he might be there to get on a plane and that he might have a plane ticket somewhere. He searched his pockets and sure enough, he found out he was due to leave for Boston any minute. He just got on the plane as they finished boarding...and he also learned his name. Even though he had no memory of this name or place, he managed to get 'home.'

I can't imagine my poor mother meeting her husband at the airport only to find out he had no idea who she was--and then having to tell him all over again that their daughter was dead. I didn't see my father for a couple of days. When he finally emerged from their bedroom he looked like an old man I barely recognized.

I don't know when his memory returned. In fact, that's all I got of the story. But it was powerful enough that I thought it might make a good subplot in The Cupcake Coven. Even though I had studied this condition in my abnormal psych class and had second hand knowledge, I did more research to be sure my novel's details were correct. A psychiatrist I used to work for was very helpful when it came to verifying my character's experience and progress.

I hope you'll give The Cupcake Coven a read. I'm proud of my very first indie venture, and I promise you it doesn't suck. (grin) I'll share a cupcake recipe just to lighten the mood. This is from one of my readers! If you have a favorite recipe, feel free to share it in comments!


Blue Velvet Cupcakes

recipe from Sprinkle Bakes and One Particular Kitchen

2 C sugar

2 sticks butter, at room temperature

2 eggs

1 T cocoa powder

1 T Wilton royal blue gel food coloring

1 small dab of Wilton violet gel food coloring

2½ C cake flour

1 tsp salt

1 C buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp baking soda

1 T vinegar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cupcake pan(s) with paper liners.


In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter, mix until light and fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time and mix well after each addition. Mix cocoa and food colorings together to form a paste, and then add to sugar mixture; mix well. Sift together flour and salt. Add flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Blend in vanilla. In a small bowl, combine baking soda and vinegar and add to mixture.


Pour batter into cupcake papers. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.


For the cream cheese frosting, I used my old standby recipe.

Almond Cream Cheese Frosting


1 8oz. cream cheese, softened

1/2 stick of butter, softened

1/2 tsp. almond extract

1 box powdered sugar


Blend cream cheese, butter, and almond extract. Mix in powdered sugar. Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Rita Bay joins us for a GIVEAWAY to celebrate DUCHESS IN WAITING

Displaying rb-etd-duchessinwaiting3.jpg

~I'm excited to have with us today my dear friend Rita Bay who's celebrating a new release. Rita is one of the loveliest ladies I've ever had the pleasure to meet. She's also kind enough to throw in a FREE BOOK! Thanks, Rita!
                                                                                                                ~ Casey Crow

Heating it up with DUCHESS IN WAITING & a Giveaway
It's not nice to keep a lady waiting. Duchess in Waiting is an erotic Regency romance, a Siren Classic and the first story in the Embracing the Dream trilogy. The first two books of the Montclair Chronicles (His Obsession and His Desire) were published by mainstream BookStrand. After several paranormal books with other publishers, I returned to writing the Montclair Chronicles and added some heat to the new series. The Regency scorcher features voyeurism, light consensual BDSM, and support characters (a dominatrix and her lover employed at the local brothel) who tried to steal my story, but settled for educating the Duchess. Much to the Duke's chagrin, it was quite an education, definitely unsuitable for his duchess in waiting. Check out the blurb and excerpt, then comment to win an ebook.
* * * * *
Lady Ellen Hammond languished for years at Madame Foret's Academy for Young Ladies while her fiancé and guardian, the Duke of Ralston, enjoyed a rakes life in London. When she must return to England to escape the violence of the Revolution, she decides that the life of a long-suffering duchess-in-waiting is not for her.
Posing as a valet, Devon Townsley, the Duke of Ralston, accompanies Robert Montclair to Paris to rescue Ellen and her English friends. Unprepared to settle down, he wants to discover if his fiancée will make a suitable duchess. He has his doubts when he must rescue her from captivity in a brothel.
Determined to settle her business in London and travel the world, Ellen finds romance and passion with Rob's aggravating valet, Tobias Stanford. When sparks ignite between the two and burst into a passionate affair, Devon reconsiders his commitment to living a rake's life. He discovers, however, that his deceit has a high price.
* * * * *
Devon walked into the library, poured himself a snifter of brandy, and sat in one of the comfortable leather chairs. Although he frequented the houses, he was not accustomed to attacking them to rescue whores. It amazed him that Rob who was only twenty years old had been so competent. He'd shown a potential for leadership he himself had never considered developing, if he possessed it.
His friend's consideration of the women and child showed himself in a poor light. Yes, he went after Ellen, but she was his fiancée. Even so, he was more concerned about spying on her than mounting a rescue. In a matter of hours, he realized his concerns about her behavior were unfounded. Ellen would make an outstanding duchess, just not now.
The door opened and Ellen entered. She took the chair beside him. "Did the rescue go well?"
"Well enough. The women and Maddie are safe now."
"How fares Isabeau?"
"Jacqui was correct. Francois beat Isabeau because he believed she had betrayed Marie. It is not an uncommon situation for women of the demimonde."
"What is a demimonde?"
"You don’t need to concern yourself with these matters."
"Mr. Stanley, do not think to judge what I should and should not concern myself with. If you refuse to answer my question, I will ask Rob tomorrow."
He smiled. "I believe you’ll discover Lord Robert is not familiar with the subject. He does not frequent the houses."
"I suppose you do."
"Occasionally. I am a single man with needs."
"I know nothing about your needs. If you won't answer my questions, I'll ask Jacqui and Isabeau. I know Isabeau from my church and the school. I've not seen Jacqui there. I doubt Father John would allow her in church in those strange clothes she wears. I will ask about those also."
"You can't speak to those women. They are not of your class."
Ellen jumped out of her chair and advanced on him, glorious again in her anger. "Do not speak of class to me. Those poor women want what is best for their children. They should not be looked down upon for how they earn their living."
He stood and towered over her. "You know nothing about how they live or what they do. They sell their bodies to men to do with as they please. You should not associate yourself with women like that."
"I saw far more than I should have when I visited Marie's. None of which I understood, but I will discover what I need to know. After all, according to the newspapers, my fiancé spends much of his time in places likes Marie's. Why should I not know more about the company he keeps?"
"He is a man with a man's needs. It is not for you to say what he may or may not do, even after you are married. I'm sure he would not tolerate it. No doubt he will keep his mistresses. True ladies ignore their husbands extramarital activities."
"I'm sure you know all about him. Wedding vows are sacred. Once taken, they should not be broken. Adultery is a sin. I won't tolerate it."
"The women of the Ton accept what they must. Some even have affairs of their own, but a duke's wife must hold herself above that."
"There will be no affairs for me, but I hear no talk of love. I will not marry where there is no love. My mother did not, neither will I. Emmy swore she would geld Rob, if he was unfaithful. I will ask Jacqui about gelding unfaithful husbands. I think she knows much and would be willing to share."
"You're not to visit those women. Thank God, you don't know where they are staying. Rob said he knew just the place. I’ll make sure he doesn't tell you anything."
'You’re awfully cozy with your employer. Why should I not know what I wish to know? My fiancé is known as a reprobate with vast knowledge. Why should I enter a marriage without ever being kissed?"
"A kiss. You want a kiss, Lady Ellen? Here’s your kiss." He pulled her into his arms and lowered his lips to hers. She froze in his arms, then melted and returned his kiss with an innocence that touched him. He eased back to give her a moment to adjust to him, but she pulled him closer. Her eagerness excited him. He eased his tongue between her lips. She started and pulled back, then touched her tongue to his.
* * * * *
Leave a comment for a random drawing for an ebook of His Obsession, the first of the Montclair Chronicles.
Thank you, Casey, for playing hostess at Naughty Author Chicks. Buy Duchess in Waiting or read an XXcerpt at Siren BookStrand HERE or my Siren BookStrand AUTHOR PAGE that includes all of my stories.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Do the Eyes have it on Romance Novel Covers?

The eyes have it.

Or as a famous film star once said, "Here's looking at you, kid."

That's what experts say re: the cereals your kids buy at the supermarket. How those "big, cartoony eyes" on the boxes draw kids to buying their cereal.

That they're placed at just the right angle so they look down to "kid level" as you're cruising the cereal aisle with your kid in your grocery cart.

And he or she can't resist...

Not exactly what Bogart had in mind.

Does the same marketing idea work with romance readers?

What about romance novel covers? Does looking into the eyes of the character help sell books?

"His dark, dangerous eyes penetrating though her thin sheet" is from my current WIP, but I'm betting we won't be looking into the eyes of the hero on the book cover.

So many covers don't even show the face and others show the H/H kissing or in an embrace looking into each other's eyes.

Like the cover on my Cosmo Red Hot Read from Harlequin, "Naked Sushi" S-e-x-y!

"Naked Sushi" Excerpt 2: “Are you as hot as your name?” Cosmo Red-Hot Read from Harlequin from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.

Two of my covers (The Blonde Geisha and Naughty Paris) and my short story (Virgin Kiss) have heroines looking straight into the eyes of the reader.

But no heroes on the covers with sexy eyes tempting the reader to look inside.

Should romance novel covers show the H/H looking straight at the reader from the bookshelf?

Is that a turn-on or a turn-off?

What do you think?


The Geisha with the Emerald Eyes
in Czech