The Quirky Ladies is a group of eclectic (and dare I say quirky?) ladies who are passionate about writing romantic fiction. All types of romantic fiction...paranormal, fantasy, historical, erotic and contemporary. Bring it on!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Quirky Interview with Ashlyn Chase


Dalton Diaz here, with the great pleasure of welcoming the one and only Ashlyn Chase to the Quirky Ladies! Hey, Ash! Wow, you have been one very busy lady. First and foremost, IT’S RELEASE DAY!!
I’m so excited about your new Total E-Bound book, Green Card. (In keeping with our pg-13 blog, I promise to behave!)

Green Card by Ashlyn Chase
Rubenesque/BDSM/mfm
Novella available TODAY from Total-e Bound
Buy Now
Let’s start off with a blurb and excerpt to whet the appetite:

Blurb:
Mason Germaine is close to a contract for his graphic novel, but if his model Katia is deported to Russia, his hopes will die...all of them. Mason Gremaine is taking a life drawing class to improve his chances of breaking into the graphic novel industry. His job as a high school art teacher has almost sucked the creativity out of him. When he meets Katia, he has found the perfect voluptuous model for his dominatrix super-heroine "The Totalitarian." When her uncle sees money exchange hands and gets the wrong idea about what she's doing in her spare time, he fires her and demands she leave his home. Now her sponsor is gone and if she can't find a new one quickly she'll be deported. Mason has an appointment in one week to present his idea to a publisher. If he lets her stay with him and his roommate, she can pose for him, but is he getting in over his head? And what about his roommate's crazy request for a ménage in exchange for free rent?

Exerpt:
Mason Germane tipped his head from one side to the other and stared at his life drawing. In his mind, the thin, short-haired, flat-chested model resembled a ten-year-old boy.
Peering over his shoulder, his instructor Ms. Tempest said, “I think you may do better with our next model. Hang on a minute and I’ll tell you why.” She called out, “Break for lunch, everybody.”
The model gathered her robe from the floor, slipped it on and disappeared around the partition behind her.
Lunch? Already? Mason glanced at his watch. Sure enough. Twelve thirty. He could get lost in his art, mostly when it was going very well or very badly. Before he set down his pencil, Ms. Tempest continued. “I’ve noticed that your style is very sensuous. Katia is curvier. She’s late, but by the time you come back from lunch, I’m sure she’ll be here.”
The other dozen students filed out of the room, and Mason figured he’d pick his instructor’s brain while he had her undivided attention. “Are some bodies better suited to an artist’s style than others?”
“Oh, absolutely. Unless you’ve apprenticed with an old master. They really put their students through hell.” She chuckled. “Andrew Wyeth’s father had him draw nothing but cubes and spheres for months. When he finally got the shading exactly right, he was allowed to move on to drawing a skeleton. Most artists don’t have the time or patience to learn that way anymore so they adapt by finding subjects that suit their style. What do you hope to do with your talent?”
“I have talent?” Mason asked and chuckled.
“Of course, you do. I’ve seen other drawings you’ve done.” She pointed to his easel. “This isn’t your best work.”
“I’m glad we agree. Actually, I’m creating a graphic novel about a kick-ass, female super heroine called The Totalitarian.”
“A comic book?” His teacher smirked then tried to cover it with her hand and a fake cough. “Well, good luck with that.”
Mason was just about to defend his idea when a nude brunette streaked from behind the screen into the studio, clutching her robe in her hand. She leapt into the air and landed on the platform with a thud. “I’m sorry I’m late,” she said, huffing and puffing.
Mason’s eyes popped. To say this model was curvy was an understatement. She was almost plump. The firm flesh, however, would belie the word ‘fat’. Voluptuous was the word he’d use to describe her hourglass figure.
“You must be Katia,” the teacher said, crossing her arms.
“Yes, I am. And I’m very sorry I’m late.” A slight, hard-to-place accent accompanied her apologetic voice.
“Well, everyone has gone to lunch. I had the other model stay longer so I’ll have to dock your pay and give it to her.”
She dropped her head. Her long, wavy hair fell forward. “I understand.”
As she began to stuff her arm into her robe, Mason spoke up, “No. Wait.” Looking to his instructor, he raised his pencil. “Ms. Tempest, I’d like to try drawing her? Right now. If I pay her, is it all right with you?”

Woo-Hoo, this is going to be a fun interview!

DD: Ok, so it’s a ménage BDSM, so you can see why I can’t ask too many questions here. I’m going to sneak in a couple, though. Is this the first ménage you’ve written?
AC: This is my second manage. The first is an F/M/F threesome in Oh My God. Two best friends want stories to tell about their wild youth when they're in a nursing home, and our hero has amnesia. They flashed him at Mardi Gras and he was so drunk, when he went to toss them beads, he fell off a balcony onto his head! They felt guilty so took him to an AA meeting and then home until he regained his memory. What none of them knew at the time was they'd just taken home Dionysus, the biggest bad boy of Mount Olympus. The bodies weren't hard to manage since they took turns with him. There was no F/F action at all.

DD: So for all of us salivating, here’s the buy site for Oh My God, which I have to agree, has an incredible cover. I understand it has also been nominated for both a CAPA and an Eppie award. Go, Ash!

Oh My God by Ashlyn Chase
Available now from Total-e-Bound
Buy Now

DD: On with the grilling, er, interview. How about an example of what makes you, Ashlyn Chase, quirky in your own right?
AC: LOL. Okay. When I write, I do it backwards. I come up with the title first, then I write the blurb, then the story. Almost everyone I know does it in reverse order, so I guess that makes me the odd one.
DD: Uh-huh. That’s definitely the pg-13 version! I belong to your yahoo fan site, ashlynsnewbestfriends, and I have to say, it gets pretty wild in there. Anyone can join through your website at www.ashlynchase.com so folks, if you haven’t already, you’re missing out on lots of fun.

DD: I happen to know that you have a very special room in your house. No, not that kind, people! You and your man LOVE to watch movies, and you have a pretty sweet setup for movie nights. Since you write comedy so well, inquiring eyes want to know… what is your favorite comedy, and why?
AC: Good question! A really old one I find hysterical is A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Also Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Although, the last time I watched it, I didn't think it was as funny as I remembered. Jim Carey makes me laugh my ass off in most of his movies. I love Army of Darkness and Clerks. Most of these movies are off the wall, which matches my sense of humor, but if I look for one commonality I think they all have an unflappable protagonist.
As far as romantic comedies, I love the charming hero who can't be shaken...like our Dorian in Love Cuffs. Hope could hit him, call him by the wrong name, or pour ice water over his head, but he never once had a knee-jerk reaction. Always cool. Come to think of it, a lot of my heroes are like that. Not Alpha a**holes, not exactly Beta, maybe I should create a new category of hero. The charming, unflappable Cappa.

DD: Yeah, Dorian was kinda special. Then again, so was Hope! Dorian’s going to have a fun time trying to keep up with his woman. So How many books and publishers have there been over the last few years?
AC: I think it's easier to count publishers than books. Six, although two have gone out of business. The survivors are: epubs LSB, Ellora's Cave and T-e-B, and Sourcebooks is a traditional print press that’s getting into the e-business now. I published at least 18 books (some are novellas and a couple are short stories) and a few are no longer for sale. I may revamp and repub a couple of those.

DD: You’ve helped a lot of people along the way. Any special people you want to give a shout out to who helped you in the beginning?
AC: My biggest mentor is probably Annette Blair. Not only does she write awesome similar books (her witch urban fantasies) she read my Vampire book, recommended it and then me to her agency. I've called her my "unofficial mentor." Others have certainly helped along the way. Jess Anderson did my first critique and proved that it wasn't that scary. Sylvie Kurtz did my second critique and proved that it can be brutal, but it made me a much better writer and began the process of skin thickening.

DD: Wow, like I said before, you have been one very busy lady. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to say hi, and special thanks for letting us announce the release of Green Card. It’s an honor.
AC: Thanks so much for the interview and for the opportunity to reach more readers!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Time for a little Christmas Spirit, and maybe a peppermint martini?


The Quirks have been discussing favorite Christmas movies. Some are humorous and some are serious tearjerkers. Here are our favorites....

Tara: Tara loves It's A Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. She thinks "It embodies all that makes the holidays so wonderful, especially family and friends pulling together to help someone in need. It also chronicles the story of a good man, who doesn't understand his own worth, who realizes with the help of his guardian angel that every person has a purpose and has value. Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends."
(excuse me while I wipe a tear from my eye.....sniffle, sniffle....)
Her honorable mention goes to A Christmas Story.

Kate: She casts a vote for Love Actually, as well as Holiday Inn, which she watched every year growing up. (She is now horrified by the "racially inappropriate/offensive black-face scene"). Woops!

Dalton: A Christmas Story. She says, "So many great scenes, I don't think I could pick just one. The leg lamp, the dogs, the bunny suit, visiting Santa, the tongue, xmas dinner at the Chinese restaurant, 'You'll shoot your eye out, kid!' I could totally go on." (I also love the scene when the little brother gets dressed in his winter clothes and can't get his arms down. Hee heeeee.....)

Michelle: Her favorite movie is also It's A Wonderful Life. The reason? According to Michelle, "Jimmy Stewart, so I need not say more. Plus it had a dark edge to it and magic and a less than pristine Angel."

Victoria: "It's A Wonderful Life, hands down. It was the first movie that made me cry and everyone needs to be reminded that 'no man is a failure who has friends.' I still cry when I watch it. I love A Christmas Carol, also. I like to watch the ending over and over, the scene when Scrooge redeems himself with Bob Cratchet. That one makes me cry, too."

What a bunch of crybabies!!!!! On the totally opposite end of the spectrum, here are my favorite irreverent and completely secular favorites....

Penny: First of all, if you have never seen Olive the Other Reindeer, you must go out and rent it ASAP. Drew Barrymore voices Olive, Joey Pants is Martini the Penguin, and Michael Stipe is a hilarious reindeer who sings. What more could you ask for??? In the same vein, Elf with Will Ferrell is fabulous...funny, sweet, quirky. Right up my holiday alley. And left over from childhood days is Santa Claus is Comin' To Town, narrated by Fred Astaire. It's the story of a young Kris Kringle and his bride Jessica. Sigh. Hey, that's a great idea for a romance novel....love in the Klaus family.....hmmmm......

Happy Holidays to All!
Penny





Monday, December 7, 2009

A BLOG BY ANY OTHER NAME



I need your help. As I embark on the journey which is my writing career post-publishing, I find myself running in a million directions. Popular opinion is that a published author needs to blog on their own blog site. If only to act as a forum to post promo updates and exciting, hot off the presses news. I am sure my readers stay up most nights holding their breaths waiting for my latest news. NOT. But still, there is an allure about an interesting blog post. Hence, I do blog. But what's a writer to do with limited time and a million decisions to be made about how to spend it wisely?

Hence, I need your opinion. What attracts you to read an author's blog? A catchy title? A contest? Humor? Do you click over to their weekly specials such as HOT HUNK day? Does the subject have to be provocative? Or perversely, would you click to a site posting a position with which you passionately disagree and spend your time ranting in the comments of the poster?
So what draws you more often than not? We all make random forays from time to time outside our typical patterns, but what is the typical pattern? Assuming it's not a blog you follow religiously, what topic brings you to that new site to peek?

Oh ye wise olde blog readers, help a gal out who needs to figure out how to use her precious time to fill the pages of her blog. So that when aliens visit our dead planet millennium in the future, excavate the remnants of our society, discover the gem which is my blog as they rig up a way to play our dinosaur computer and web structure, I'll give them only the best to read. I'm considerate like that (grin).

Comments? Leave them here or on my blog, just for the heck of it. http://www.michellepicardsblog.wordpress.com/

Oh, and I'm appearing at the Romance Junkies blogging (imagine that?) about Gateways and Portals on Tuesday, December 8th. Visit and join my contest for my book. Check out my blog at http://www.michellepicardsblog.wordpress.com/ and read how to double your chances to win the book.

Stay sane (relatively),
Michelle

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sweet Inspiration Has Arrived!


My release day has finally arrived! Sweet Inspiration is now available for purchase at The Wild Rose Press. Yippee! Please stop by Penelope's Romance Reviews today to celebrate...I'm giving away some cool snowmen holiday ornaments, drinking egg nog, and probably surfing the net for photos of Hugh Jackman dressed in a Santa hat. Thanks to the Quirky Ladies for their undying support and excellent stalker-like tendencies as I begin my "virtual tour" of promotion.

Here's the purchase link for Sweet Inspiration at The Wild Rose Press.

A great review just got posted on Outlandish Dreaming! Check out this awesome blog.

Stop by Penelope's to par-tee!

Another great review...yay!  4.5 stars at the Romance Readers Connection!


Monday, November 30, 2009

Guest Blog at Between the Pages

I've blogged about my cross-genre journey over at Between the Pages. Please visit. And while you're at it, visit my blogsite at www.michellepicardsblog.wordpress.com to check-out my What's Behind the Gate contest.

I'm busy with promotion, so stay tuned shortly for my Quirky blog on finding time to write once you're published. Maybe you can help me out.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

RULING EDEN RELEASED!


After mucho waiting, RULING EDEN is finally out! My romantic contemporary fantasy is available at Crescent Moon Press. The formal announcement is at my blog today at:




Please visit. There's a contest to enter and, face it, don't we all love contests?
With oodles of happy dance excitement,
Michelle


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Winters' Thaw is here!


Dalton's new release, Winters' Thaw, available now from Ellora's Cave!
Winters' Thaw
Book 3 in the Cougar Challenge series
http://www.jasminejade.com/ps-7809-50-winters-thaw.aspx

Blurb:
OR nurse Elizabeth Winters is forty-one, divorced, and determined to figure out what all the fuss is about sex. Her ex spent over twenty years crushing her sensuality, and it was long past time for release. Literally, dammit! In her quest, she befriends a group of woman her age who admit having a passion for younger men. That seems like a damn fine place to focus her quest.
Thirty-year-old engineer Kevin Springer loves solving puzzles, and “Elle” has him aching to fit the pieces. The more he gets to know her, the more intrigued he becomes, especially in bed. He quickly realizes he wants more than her offered no strings attached wild sex, but convincing her to take a chance on a relationship isn’t on her agenda.

Check out the series blog at: www.TempttheCougar.blogspot.com

Winters' Thaw CONTEST!

Dalton Diaz is having a contest over at www.theblackraveneroticcafe.blogspot.com, and the prize is $25 in downloads from Ellora's Cave! Go on over and find out how to win. Look for the header, Black Raven Eating Crow Contest...
Good luck and have fun!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Review of Ruling Eden at Smexy Books


Earlier in November RULING EDEN, my soon to be released novel from Crescent Moon Press, was reviewed at Smexy Books. And the lucky authoress I am, the book received
Four Stars and enough praise to make me glow. A first review is an exciting thing. Below are a few excerpts from it. If you want to read the full text, click over to her site here.
"Michelle Picard writes very engaging, deep characters and I can't say enough about how much they captured my attention and left me satisfied throughout the story....Ruling Eden is a great tale of romance, mystery and just a wonderful beautiful world Michelle Picard has created. I like it so much, I gushed all over an email I sent to her and asked if she wouldn't mind doing an interview with me."
In fact, she did indeed interview me later that same day she posted her review. If you want to read the text of the interview, click here. I had a lot of fun at Smexy.
Visit my site at www.michellepicard.com to read more about the story and my blog at www.michellepicardsblog.wordpress.com to read the excerpt I posted for Excerpt Monday just this past week.
Enjoy!

Monday, November 2, 2009

What's So Quirky about Dalton Diaz?


-DD pen name came from Ashlyn Chase, for being top heavy (& a klutz)

-Fosters Guinea pigs from the local shelter

-Has identical twins

-Is a coffee addict who limits herself to one very large cup a day

-Is lactose intolerant

-Favorite drink - Starbucks soy (see above)latte

-Drinks about 3 Poland Springs soda water w/lime a day (see above coffee limit, darn it!)

-Favorite food is salad, and it's not a salad without olives

-Favorite body part - her toes, and has a thing for toe rings.

-Has to wear socks at night or can't sleep

-Has a toy poodle with separation anxiety

-Is a certified PBX telephone operator

-Is a real live Valley Girl, which also means she hails from the porn capital of the world

-Used to sell flower bouquets on streetcorners for extra money, and was mistaken by an old acquaintance as having joined a cult

-First concert ever was Shaun Cassidy, and almost got kicked out when someone handed her a sparkler

-Is a big fan of Richard Cheese

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Character Interview and Contest for Bound Odyssey

Hey folks, I've invited Dalton Diaz to pop over to my blog to interview Roman Nash, one of the heroes from my new release BOUND ODYSSEY out at Ellora's Cave. And boy did she throw fantastic, if tough questions his way. Luckily, Roman can handle them.

Please visit. There's a contest to win a yummy vanilla scented massage candle. Until I found it in the store, I hadn't even known what a massage candle was (grin).

I'd love for you to meet Roman, he's quite the devil. Go to: http://www.michellepolarisblog.wordpress.com/



Later,

Michelle

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Pimp Room

Okay, seriously, let's say you are designing a corporate hotel and have to come up with a design scheme. Dark leather sofas? Neutral colors? Non-threatening art work? Boring ass lounge area with beer nuts and wood paneling? Well, if you are the Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel in Iselin, NJ, you might actually decide to go with a funky 70s-inspired bizarre mix of weirdness that includes giant chessboards, 6 foot long red beaded chandeliers, white fuzzy chairs sized for Vikings, and of course, a pimp room. Yes folks, didn't you know that corporate America has been jonesing for a lounge with a disco ball, lava lamps, sequined walls, leopard skin throw pillows and of course love bead curtains. Let's just say the decor at the Woodbridge Hotel, site for the New Jersey RWA conference this past weekend, was....well....extremely unique. Extremely. Unique. And I've got the photos to prove it....

Here is the disco ball:





Here is the lava lamp:




Here we are lounging in the pimp room:
from left to right, Frances Stockton, Victoria Morgan, Kate Macarthur, Michelle Picard, Heather Laskowski, and Tara Truesdale.



Thursday, October 22, 2009

BOUND ODYSSEY IS RELEASED!

Finally! It's happened. Release day for BOUND ODYSSEY at Ellora's Cave. I'm dying for everyone to meet Mira, Jace and Roman, my three protagonists. I fell in love with them from almost the first, and consequently, they fell in love with each other. Please visit my blog today to check out my post on the book. I'll be running a contest there as well. This book is for mature audiences, so no one under 18 need go any further. Heck, I've told my grandmother, who insists she wants to read the book, that she in fact may be too young to read it (grin). Although I'm only slightly prejudiced, let me say that this book is all that. Please check it out, check out my website at http://www.michellepolaris.com/, and join my newsletter. The link to join is available on my website. I can be found on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter as well.


And for more fun, Dalton Diaz is planning to interview Roman on the Quirky blog next week on Tuesday. He's a kick in the pants, so plan to stop by. He'll probably be running a contest of his own that day.


Remember, safe, sane and consensual. Be well and join me in my personal happy dance about the release.


Michelle

Friday, October 16, 2009

MY BOOK COVER!


My book cover got released today at Ellora's Cave. Can you guess a bit about the subject matter from the lovely crop my heroine is wielding? (LOL) And my brand new website went live today. Visit me at www.michellepolaris.com.
BOUND ODYSSEY can be purchased as of 10/23/09, next Friday. Stay tuned for the date for my release party both here and on my blog at: www.michellepolarisblog.wordpress.com.

Monday, October 12, 2009

WHAT'S SO QUIRKY ABOUT MICHELLE PICARD?


Although I'm sticking in my own picture at the top of my "What's So Quirky About" blog, I thought I'd add a picture of the hero in my current work in progress above to spice it up. Two for the price of one. Kyle was the vampire character star of the short lived TV series called Blood Ties based on the kick-ass novels of Tanya Huff.
So now, like the others, I'll wow you with a list of peculiar, completely unasked for minutia from my life. Here it goes:

-Wrote a poem in fifth grade about capybaras, the largest member of the rodent family, and a sure first sign of literary genius.

-Pet two baby Bengal tiger cubs at eight years old (without losing my fingers).

-Produced and narrated a radio show about Possums including a segment recorded live during a release from captivity into the wild. Not so riveting as the medium of sound does not work well with Possums who don't make loud noises. (I'm sensing an animal trend here, ya think?)

-Named her first tropical fish after Aayla and Jondalar, the protagonists of Jane Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear series.

-Played trombone (badly) her freshman year of high school. And aren't we all glad I stopped after that?

-Wrote, produced and video taped a short play about WWII air force veterans. (Definitely not an instance of "write what you know.")

-Was the only teenager on a six week volunteer summer program for adolescents to Antigua that did not take the trip because of the lack of a drinking age on the island. Go figure.

-Was about the only soul who graduated from the University of Michigan who saw just two football games the entire four years I attended.

-Was asked to pose as a model wearing only a toga for a photography major at college because I had the classic roman nose for the shot. (No, this wasn't a twisted pick-up line. The photographer was female.)

-Participated in a riot in Ann Arbor the year when Hash Bash and a Grateful Dead concert intersected with U of M's team winning the NCAA championship. (No, I didn't turn over any vehicles or smash any windows. The police don't monitor these blogs, do they?)

-Got my Masters in Social Work after being warned by the five other social workers in my family that I might want to go into another line of work.

-Was tricked by my husband, who planned our honeymoon, when he told me we were going to London, but surprised me by taking me to Italy instead. Apparently I was the only person in the universe who had considered it reasonable to be flying to London from the east coast of the US via a change of planes in Germany. Don't worry, my husband told me our true destination when we arrived in Germany and I tried to ask for the connecting gate to London.

Okay, quirky facts done.
SHAMELESS PLUG: Remember, RULING EDEN will be released soon at Crescent Moon Press. Probably sometime in late October. It will be available in e format and then, a month or so later, available for order in print copy from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Now back to your regularly scheduled program.






Friday, October 9, 2009

AND THE WINNER IS...


Zora Stout! Zora, you've won Ella's contest and the e copy of Scent of Cin. Congratulations! Ella will be in contact.
And thank you everybody for stopping by. I loved having Ella join us.
Don't forget to visit her at http://www.elladrake.com/

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

WELCOME, ELLA DRAKE!

The Quirky Ladies would like to welcome Ella Drake to the blog today to be interviewed about her latest release, Scent of Cin out from Cobblestone Press just this past October 2nd.

Ella is the author of dark paranormal, futuristic and science fiction romance and, let me tell you, her stories are hot. I know, because I've been lucky enough to critique parts of them. Her bio tells us that as a child she read books under her covers with a flashlight and discovered a special love of elves, dragons and knights. Now that she's found her own knight in shining armor and happily ever after, she loves to write tales of fantasy, hot enough to scorch the sheets. No flashlight needed.

Enough with introductions, let me get on to welcoming Ella, who is offering one random commenter to this interview a chance to win a digital copy of Scent of Cin.

Michelle: Hey Ella. Welcome to the Quirky Ladies. First off, tell us about your recent release, Scent of Cin, and what inspired it.

Ella: Scent of Cin is about a female detective faced with death and forced to partner with a creature she's sworn to kill. The idea from this story came from a visual I had from out of the blue--a woman in a red teddy coming back from the dead. Now that's unusual for two reasons. First, I don't usually have random pictures in my head that spark a story. I also don't usually go around dreaming about women in red teddies.

MP: LOL! Obviously the shock of it was enough to start the Muse flowing. So, what was your biggest challenge writing this story? Did your characters ever misbehave as you tried to write them?

ED: My biggest challenge was getting clothes onto Cin and Vedo, the heroine and hero. Their clothes were done away with in the first scene. I gave up and had to let Cin be mostly naked. As tough a character as she is, she didn't seem to care.

MP: Sounds like one very secure woman. Your career has started off with a bang, with your first release last May of Wolf Bitten, the Scent of Cin story available now, and your upcoming releases of The Forbidden Chamber and Firestorm on E'Terra. What was the most fun to write?

ED: All of them. I did love writing them all. But if I had to pick the one that was most fun, it'd be Firestorm on E'Terra. Firestorm is a rush. It reads a bit like a military SF, but with lots of romance thrown in. I enjoyed writing characters who spoke with such honesty and were out to save the world, for real.

MP: You write both paranormal romance and science fiction romance. What's the biggest difference for you between writing these two subgenres?

ED: The language flows a bit differently. The dialogue and motivations in SFR are more related to contemporary and romantic suspense than the fantasy world of paranormal romance. I also tend to write darker paranormal, so the atmosphere is a little heavier, and I find it more difficult to add moments of levity.

MP: What's next on your agenda? Anything in the works fans would love to hear about?

ED: I have another Science Fiction Romance, Caught in Silver, about a backwater-world sheriff who takes to the space lanes to rescue his long lost love. I'm revising it now and hope to send it out soon.

MP: Oooh, I've read bits of that one and it's fantastic. But I've been dying to know how you have been so blessed by the cover art gods. Scent of Cin's cover is gorgeous, and everyone must run to Ella's website and look at her two other available covers. They are just stunning. So tell me your secret. Do you have an altar to these gods set up in your home? Do you make daily sacrifices? And if you do, what sort of sacrifice works best?

ED: LOL. I have no idea! Maybe those chocolate chip cookies that disappear overnight? In all honesty, when I made the list of publishers I wanted to submit to, I checked out the covers. I think the art does matter, so I looked at current covers when I made my publisher wish list. After that, I got lucky.

MP: Finally, because we're the Quirky Ladies, can you share one quirky fact about yourself that readers probably don't know?

ED: I've ridden a mechanical bull, and I'm dying to ride one again. Anyone game?

But no matter what your answer, you can find me at: http://www.elladrake.com/ or follow me on twitter @lori_ella. Excerpts and more information about Scent of Cin is available at http://www.elladrake.com/Cin.html and Scent of Cin is available from Cobblestone Press at: http://www.cobblestone-press.com/catalog/books/scentofcin.htm

Don't forget, a random commenter will win a digital copy of Scent of Cin.

I'll leave you with this snippet, with Vedo and Cin in his car, surrounded by hellions, the lapdogs of the demon queen:

(Excerpt from Scent of Cin)

"Damn. I don't have my taser or my sword," Cin said, her voice calm despite the threat.

Taser to immobilize them temporarily. Sword to decapitate them permanently. He'd seen her skill with the sword, and it was a chilling sight. Chilling not being a comfortable feeling for him, he wasn't disappointed she didn't have her sword. Of course, she shouldn't be defenseless, and he'd had them retrieved after she'd been ambushed.

"I have your weapons in the trunk."

She leaned into him and gave him a scorching kiss. Hot and greedy, her tongue entered his mouth. After too short a moment, she pulled back.

"You do have your uses," she said and gripped her knees as if to keep her hands from him.

Maybe he should keep her sword around if it got him this kind of reaction. The scalding waves that radiated from his chest outweighed any amount of chill.

The Hellions smelled Cin, blatant erections undeniable proof. They surrounded the Jag, snuffling. The woman in question remained calm, used to this behavior, but it made his skin crawl. His temper flared, and he thought he heard a growl. Impossible. He'd learned long ago to keep his feral nature in check. Cin flicked an amused glance his way, and the spiking heat in the small space proved he'd lost control. He'd sunk to the level of the beasts outside the car.

He'd growled.

Damn.

I'm thinking it's probably good that you've changed me in some way, or I'd be toast with the sparks you're putting off over there."

"Sorry."

"More to talk about later," she mumbled, but he heard.

He reached behind him in the small cab of the car. Customized for his tall frame, his seat sat all the way back to the useless back bench. He flipped the back cushion down, reached into the trunk, and pulled out the sword and taser. Pushing them into her capable hands, he trusted she'd put them to good use. He shoved open his door, leaving her his parting comment.

"These mutts can't be far from the bitch. Let's take them down."

MP: Excellent scene. Thanks for stopping by Ella. And readers, remember to leave a comment to win her book.

Monday, October 5, 2009

What's So Quirky About Kate Macarthur?

Well, some of the other Quirks started out their "What's so Quirky" posts with a picture of a hot man. So, here's my submission in the Quirky Hot Man Hall of Fame:


Seriously, I could look at this guy all day. Among my Quirky Facts, you will learn that I actually go to meet George Clooney, on the set of ER, not two weeks after he was named Sexiest Man of the Year by People Magazine. He was just as hot in person (though not as tall) and genuinely nice, even to a complete stranger like me. We had a brief but memorable conversation, wherein I advised him on how to get his English Bulldog, Wally(?), to stop vomiting all over his house. I hope it worked.

Anway, here are some more Quirky Facts about Kate Macarthur...

  • Has a Masters in International Law & Organizations
  • First job was as a shoe shine

  • Has a hairless Chinese Crested dog (yes, one of those - I'll post pictures)

  • Was a Varsity Cheerleader (God help me - I'll never post pictures)

  • Once found herself trapped in her house with a burglar

  • Got to spin on the same hill in Austria as Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music

  • Speaks Spanish

  • Lived in Washington DC for 5 years

  • Met her husband at a Curling Club (while curling)

  • Worked as a "brusher-bather" at a pet grooming shop

  • Met George Clooney (and didn't embarrass myself - but it was a near thing!)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What's So Quirky About Penny Watson?


Me, quirky? I have no problem embracing my inner quirkiness! So, here's my list....

  • Trained an Amazon River dolphin as a high school student.
  • Took piano lessons for 6 years at Carnegie Mellon with a strict Russian concert pianist.
  • Has a master's degree in turfgrass science (yes, there is a science to turfgrass!).
  • Is distantly related to the weird lady (Zelda Rubinstein) in Poltergist who says..."Carole Anne, do not go into the light...."
  • Started the lacrosse club at Vassar College (which is now a varsity team).
  • Published a paper in the Journal of Marine Biology titled Nitrate Reductase Activity in Zostera marina.
  • Tie-dyed the headmaster's dog the night before graduation while working at a boarding school in New Hampshire.
  • Flew for 24 hours with a newly adopted baby from the Philippines who had never been in a car seat (good times!).
  • Met my husband in organic chemistry lab.
  • Travelled to Russia, Switzerland, France, Germany, Italy and Denmark.
  • Just met Ming Tsai at Blue Ginger and had a nice chat about college reunions! (Okay, Vicki, so it wasn't Hugh Jackman...I'll bet Ming could cook Hugh under the table!).
I think if you asked my kids, they could give you some additional quirks about my personality, but let's just skip that!

I'm super excited today because I just got my first review for Sweet Inspiration, my debut novel which will be released on 12-02-09 by The Wild Rose Press. Here's a snippet from Phoebe Jordan, Romance Readers and Writers....

"Penny Watson delivers an exciting and magical debut novel that will have you falling in love with the Klaus family from the very beginning, and will not let you go even after the story has ended. I look forward to all of Penny Watson's future books, especially the next four books in her Klaus Brothers Series."

rating: 4.5/5


Yippee! Can't wait for Christmas!
Penny Watson

Monday, September 21, 2009

So What's so Quirky About Tara Truesdale?


Tara Truesdale started writing romance at the tender age of ten when her favorite soap opera heroine, one half of arguably the best couple daytime television ever created, was killed off the show - with no happily ever after. The nerve! What started as a way to keep a beloved soap opera couple alive and well sans television, eventually turned into Tara crafting tender love stories centered around characters brought to life from her own imagination.

When looking for heroic inspiration, Tara counts Han Solo/Indiana Jones, Magnum PI, Anthony DiNozzo (see above), and Alex P. Keaton among her personal favorites.

Here are some Quirky Facts about Tara
  • Is a serious tea drinker - hot, iced - doesn't matter. Would drink tea over coffee any day of the week.
  • Is terrified of scary movies, especially since her brother and his friends used to force her to watch them as kids. Summering at the beach and being tied to a chair while watching "Jaws" is not as much fun as you might think!
  • Her brother recently got hired as a coach for the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Go Bucs!
  • Had several cats growing up, each with a curious moniker: Precious Purr, Bert and Ernie, Obi Wan Kenobi, Magnum PI, and Flipper.
  • Was hit in the head by a metal discus during track practice her sophomore year of high school and has the scars to prove it. Now you know what happened to her. Just kidding.
  • Was the managing editor of her college daily newspaper that had a circulation of 20,000.
  • Was a reporter covering the daily happenings in the towns of Coventry and Bolton, CT and the Route 6 Highway Project for a time.
  • Can quote Star Wars movies on demand. Major fan! May the Force be with you - always.
  • Has been a proud member of the Deidre Hall Fan Club since she was 11 years old. She's even met Deidre - great lady. :)
  • Favorite authors: Jane Austen, Susan Wiggs and Kristin Hannah
  • Favorite places: Bretton Point, Rhode Island and London, England

Monday, September 14, 2009

What's So Quirky About Victoria Morgan?


Ever wonder why we're called The Quirky Ladies? My son Cristian couldn't pronounce the word "critique," so one day he asked me if I was meeting with "those quirky ladies." Which I thought was totally hilarious, since we are, indeed, quirky in our own special way! To celebrate our inner quirkiness, I will be posting a list of our quirks each Monday for the next 6 weeks. To get us started, may I introduce, Victoria Morgan...

What's So Quirky About Victoria Morgan?
  • Amateur artist, specializing in watercolor
  • Was an emergency Medical Technician for 3 years
  • Has either owned or cared for 2 dogs, 3 cats, a squirrel, a raccoon, birds, countless gerbils and hamsters
  • Favorite author--Jodi Picoult
  • When in college, reviewed movies for the Vermont Cynic
  • Had an emergency appendectomy while on vacation in Cape Cod
  • Temped for five years to have the freedom to quit job and travel when funds permitted
  • Met Hugh Jackman
  • Is terrified of roller coasters
  • Favorite drink--Cosmopolitan of course!
  • Took a drawing course with live nudes for models
  • Hiked up Mt. Washington, twice
  • Favorite artist--Winslow Homer
Victoria has a photo of herself and Hugh framed and located in a highly visible spot in her living room. Show-off!!!! 

Do you have any fun quirks? Let us know!

Quaking With Quirkiness, 
Penny

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Books to Movies

This summer, I was asked to be a guest reviewer on the blog Penelope's Romance Reviews, authored by a friend of mine.  Penelope gives her not so humble opinions on romance novels, and her sassy colloquial voice is always a fun read and a great site from which to choose your next romance read. 

In the wake of its recent movie release, I chose to review Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife, which is a favorite of mine.  I wanted to give a plug for the book just in case the movie took a wrong turn as so many books-to-movie scenarios do.  This got me thinking about how many books, when transformed to the screen, are unrecognizable from their print counterpart.  Rather than rant about this Hollywood idiocy, I chose to save it for another blog --- this blog.  A blog entitled "Why the hell does Hollywood buy the rights to a NYT bestseller only to chuck plot and character that clearly worked, hence its bestseller status, and transform it into a water-down, pathetic version of its former self, the title being the only connection to the original."  What is up with that?  To borrow an expression from Penelope, Jesus H. Cranola.

While I understand some scenarios in a book book can't translate to screen, it still does not explain many of the changes made when bringing a novel to life on screen.  Do character's professions really need to be altered? What about the essence of what makes a reader fall in love with a character? Does that have to be stripped?  Or a book's ending changed?

For a book to make the NYT bestseller list, usually over a million copies have been sold. For them to continue to make it, millions more have to fly off the shelves.  Isn't this testament to the story being good?  Solid?  Loved?  How about lucrative?  So why does Hollywood tamper with a product that's already proven to make money and has garnered millions of fans? Is it due to Hollywood's arrogance or literary ignorance?  I worry it's to make people like me crazy.  So crazy we have blog about it.

I'm an avid fan of Sophie Kinsella's Confessions of a Shopaholic series, so needless to say, I was excited to see the movie.  Well, I'm still regretting it.  I don't understand why the hero, Luke Brandon, who owns a successful public relations firm in the book series, works for someone else and is in financial journalism in the movie version.  That was a necessary change? But more importantly, what did they do to our beloved Becky Bloomwood?  A plucky, irresistible heroine became a daft, embarrassing idiot.  In the movie, Becky is wearing an outfit that mirrors the waitress staff, so she is ordered to serve the guests -- and without protest, she does?  Don't remember this in the book, thank you very much.  I could understand her serving the guests if it's purpose was to provide an ingenious way to gain entrance to an event where otherwise she could not.  That shows brains and bravado. In the movie, I felt the scene was added to....  I don't know, I'm still working that one out.  Oh, right.  It was to make her look like more of an idiot than they already made her out to be.  

And why delete the scene where Becky confronts Luke on a t.v. morning show, accusing one of Luke's client's of cheating his patrons?  It was a pivotal scene in the book, showing Becky's brains and courage.  Oh, but I forget, Luke doesn't have clients in the movie because he's working in financial journalism so he could interview Becky for a job and make her look stupid....  Right.  And how does Becky being dumb and daft explain why millions of fans follow her character through a four book series?

I heard the stunning ending to Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper has been changed from the book's.  I haven't seen the movie, so I'll refrain from commenting too much, but this change alone makes me wary, for it alters the whole meaning of the original story.

Some movies do succeed in making the transition from book to film.  Both the Colin Firth and Kiera Knightley's versions of Pride and Prejudice come to mind.  I also recently enjoyed Julia & Julie, which combines two publications, My Life in France by Julia Child and Julie Powell's Julie & Julia.  These movies culled the best out of the books without altering plot or characters.  And of course, Pride and Prejudice had Colin Firth while Julie & Julia had Meryl Streep.

I guess we readers have to accept that once an author sells the film rights to their work, the story we know and love in print is not necessarily the story brought to screen.  If I keep reminding myself of that, perhaps one day I'll stop lamenting Becky Bloomwood's sad screen debut.  After all, she's still a plucky, irresistible literary heroine with a huge fan base of readers following her.  

I hear they're making a film version of Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos.  Oh dear, I so loved that book and now I have to worry.....  

Sunday, September 6, 2009

THE WINNER OF THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER IS...


Kimberly B.
Congratulations Kimberly on winning a copy of this fantastic book! Please email me at michelle@michellepicard.com with your mailing contact information so you can receive your copy. Thanks to everyone for stopping by to hear Leanna's ghost stories.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL HAUNTED LONDON BLOG TOUR DAY 10!


Today, the Quirkies are pleased to welcome Leanna Renee Hieber on the blog. She is the fantastically talented author of THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER. She joins us from her Haunted London Blog Tour celebrating the book's release in late August. Read on, and one lucky commenter will win a copy of this wonderful book. Leanna, glad to have you here. Without further ado--


***

The Strangely Beautiful Haunted London Blog Tour day 10!



From the back cover:
What fortune awaited sweet, timid, Percy Parker at Athens Academy? Considering how few of Queen Victoria's Londoners knew of it, the great Romanesque fortress was dreadfully imposing, and little could Percy guess what lay inside. She had never met the powerful and mysterious Professor Alexi Rychman, knew nothing of the growing shadow, the Ripper and other supernatural terrors against which his coterie stood guard. She knew simply that she was different, haunted, with her snow-white hair, pearlescent skin and uncanny gifts. But this arched stone doorway offered a portal to a new life, an education far from the convent--and an invitation to an intimate yet dangerous dance at the threshold of life and death...


Thanks, Quirky Ladies, for letting me haunt your blog today!

For those of you just joining us, the purpose of this Haunted tour is to celebrate the release of my Gothic Victorian Fantasy Romance debut, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker. This Tour will introduce you to some of the real, documented London haunts who "ghost-star" in my book. When Professor Alexi Rychman and his Guard of spectral police make their rounds, it is to any number of London phantasms. Since these characters are familiar to The Guard, I don't get to tell their full story in the book, but here on the tour I can give them their due. Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win a signed copy of the novel, first in the Strangely Beautiful series! (Mailing to U.S. only please)

Today we meet: The ghostly Percy(s) of London!!

My ghost-like but all-too-human heroine, Miss Percy Parker, isn't the only ghostly Percy in London. There are two well known Percy spirits, the first known as Percy the Poltergeist. Now Percy is generally thought to be a male name, and indeed, Percy is not my heroine's full name, it's used as her comfortable nickname. Her full name is something the hero discovers later in the book.

But it was reading about these spirits that solidified "Percy" as Miss Parker's nickname. Oddly enough, though these two spirits haunted different parts of the city, both Percys haunt buildings named Burlington...

The Burlington Arcade, Piccadilly, W1

The Burlington Arcade, built in 1819 is a roofed, arched passage full of shops. It was supposedly built to deter an onslaught of detritus tossed from pedestrians over the wall of Lord George Cavendish's home, Burlington House. The arcade was plagued by a particular poltergeist. Items in a leather shop were lifted from shelves in the dead of night and arranged in neat patterns on the floor. Scotland Yard ruled out human activity and remained perplexed. The staff posted a sign, having affectionately named the spirit Percy: "Poltergeists Gladly Served without Fear or Favor." This actually seemed to quiet Percy's antics, the spirit hasn't been active since.

Powell's Walk, Chiswick, West London, W4

The second Percy haunts the Old Burlington, a beautiful Elizabethan era building that was once an inn of great renown where infamous highwayman Dick Turpin was said to have stayed. One of the harmless resident spectres is dressed is dark clothing and a swirling cloak and a wide-brimmed hat. Residents fondly call him Percy. He stares out from windows, watching, cutting an eerie figure. Funnily enough, this image cemented the picture of my hero Alexi as we meet him en route to leading an exorcism.

Here's how my Percy arrives to Athens Academy, looking quite the ghost. From The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker:

A young woman, the likes of which London had never seen, alighted from a carriage near Bloomsbury and gazed at the grand facade before her. Breathless at the sight of the Romanesque fortress of red sandstone that was to be her new home, she ascended the front steps beneath the portico with a carpetbag in tow. One slender, gloved hand heaved open the great arched door; Miss Percy Parker paused then stepped inside.

The foyer of Athens Academy held a few milling young men, papers and books in hand. Their jaws fell in turn. In the diffuse light cast by a single chandelier they saw a petite, unmistakable apparition. Dark blue glasses kept eerie, ice blue eyes from unsettling those stares that she nervously returned. Much of her snow-white skin was hidden from view by a scarf draped around her head and bosom, but only a mask could have hidden the ghostly pallor of her fine-featured face.

The sudden tinkling of a chandelier crystal broke the thick silence. Percy's gaze flickered up to behold a young man, equally pale as herself, floating amid the gas flames. The transparent spirit wafted down to meet her. It was clear from the stares of the young men of solid mass, rudely focused on Percy, that they were oblivious. She herself acknowledged the ghost only subtly, lest she be thought distracted as well as deformed.

The spectral schoolboy spoke in a soft Scots brogue. "You'd best give up your pretensions, miss. You'll never be one of them. And you're certainly not one of us. What the devil are you?"

Percy met the spirit's hollow gaze. Behind her glasses, her opalescent eyes flared with defiance as she asked the room, her voice sweet and timid, "Could someone be so kind as to direct me to the headmistress's office?" A gaping, living individual pointed to a hallway on her left, so she offered him a "Thank you, sir," and fled, eager to escape all curiosity. The only sounds that followed were the rustling layers of her sky blue taffeta skirts and the echo of her booted footfalls down the hall.

--(End of Excerpt)


I'm indebted to Richard Jones, founder of the fabulous Discovery Walks of London and author of the fantastic compendium "Haunted London" and "Walking Haunted London" published by Barnes&Noble Books, a main resource for my research. Visit him at http://www.haunted-london.com/.

Come visit me at http://www.leannareneehieber.com/ to find out more about The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker and follow along the rest of the Haunted London Blog tour! While you're on my website, check out my contest! I hope you'll love the book as much as I loved writing it! Be sure to comment to be entered to win a signed copy!


Blessings!




***

Thanks, Leanna, for visiting with us today. To win a copy of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, leave Leanna a comment. A winner will be chosen from among the commenters after Friday, September 4th. Good luck!!!









Sunday, August 30, 2009

Cool Award!


Big thanks to Emily Bryan for bestowing the Kreativ Blogger Award to The Quirky Ladies blog. This is a cute idea....we now have to pick 7 of our favorite things, and 7 of our favorite blogs! Here's the Quirky consensus....

Dalton: Favorite thing is making my husband laugh. Corny, I know, but there's something about seeing that smile or hearing him laugh, especially when I've said something only he would get. Fave blog is Readlines & Deadlines because it's not only entertaining, it's incredibly informative.

Tara: My favorite thing is the sound of my nieces' laughter and joking around together. Their voices sound like music to me!!! My favorite blog, Penelope's Romance Reviews of course! And the Quirkies. All About Romance has a lot of fun stuff to read as well.

Kate: My current favorite thing is Macarthur's tiny little boy voice, especially when he's being sassy (though I try not to let him know that). And my favorite blog (aside from Penelope and the Quirkies) is Readlines & Deadlines - the EC Editor's Blog.

Michelle: One of my favorite things: The smell of spring in the air.
Favorite blog is Deadline Dames.

Victoria: Favorite blog is easy--Penelope's Romance Reviews :) 
Favorite thing: Well, besides diving into a great book, I'd have to go with admiring a beautiful painting, or the sound of my kids' laughter.

Penny: I get 2 votes to get us up to 7!!! :)
Favorite things: (other than group hugs with my family)
1) Waking up on the first true fall day when the sun is shining and it's cool and I get a hankering for picking apples, starting a pumpkin collection and planting mums....
2) Burying my face in Lucy the Wiener Dog's neck when she's just awoken from a nap and she's all warm and snuggly!
And 2 favorite blogs....Smexy Books (awesome romance site) and The Long and Short Of It All (really fun doxie site!).

Thanks again to Emily Bryan for the fun award!

 

Friday, August 21, 2009

It's Release Day!!

It's here! Not only is Stray Lovers my first title on my own, it was written for a very special cause.

When I heard what happened to Lara Punches, I was in tears. I never had the opportunity to meet this special young lady, but that didn't matter. Any parent, heck, anyone with human emotions would be touched by her story and honored to help in any way possible.

See for yourself: http://sextalkforwickedwomen.blogspot.com/2009/06/honoring-lara.html
See what I mean? So grab a tissue, dry those tears, and come meet the characters of Stray Lovers.

Stray Lovers
http://www.jasminejade.com/p-7388-stray-lovers.aspx
Lovestruck veterinarian Marcus Hill thought he could wait for a relationship with Jane, but he’s offered his dream job in another state. It’s time to go.

Headstrong Jane Tipper is going to miss her best friend, but she understands why he’s leaving. She, too, has a career agenda she won’t alter for anything or anyone. Never again.

As their last week together approaches, their desire for each other hits high gear. Ending as friends with benefits sounds good in theory and feels even better. What could be better than a week of incredibly hot sex with your best friend? Neither one regrets it. Until it’s time for Marcus to go.

Excerpt:
The stray cat hissed, ears back and Jane Tipper quickly threw a towel over him before he could attack Marcus. She and Dr. Marcus Hill had developed a smooth dance between animal control officer and veterinarian, as well as a strong friendship over the last two years.

Now Marcus was leaving their small New England town. Jane was seriously going to miss him but she, more than anyone, understood his need to fulfill his dream of being a large animal vet.

“I can’t believe you’re willing to leave all this to stick your hand up cows and horses.”

Marcus grinned as he deftly maneuvered the towel-covered tom to begin the exam. “That’s a unique way of looking at it. What about the year-round warm weather in Florida?”

“Heat will make the smell overwhelming. Ever fry a cow patty?”

“Er, no.”

“Me either but I’ll bet it stinks. Plus, there are no alligators in the Charles River,” she pointed out.

“That’s because they’re smart enough to live in warmer waters.”

They were both quiet as he did his best to listen to the cat’s heart with his stethoscope. Jane studied Marcus even as she kept a firm hold on the patient. Thick lashes shielded dark brown eyes that were nearly as black as his thick hair, which he wisely kept short. His was not a profession that allowed for loose long hair and he wasn’t the ponytail type.

It was the end of the day, which meant he needed a shave. Teasing him about that wouldn’t be the same over the phone. Last Christmas, she had given him a shaving and manicure set that included an electric nose trimmer. She’d given it to him at the vet clinic’s holiday party and he’d thrown back his head and laughed before chasing her with it.

After that he was always clean shaven when she saw him outside of work, starting the very next night when they’d caught a movie together. Jane would have felt bad if he hadn’t used the opportunity to leave a little package behind at her place. Inside was an extremely brief pair of red panties with bite me scrolled across the front.

She almost burst out laughing again just thinking about it. Was it inappropriate? Yeah but so was her gift to him. Besides, she loved that she could be that free with him. He not only understood her sense of humor, he shared it.

She suddenly had to swallow a huge lump in her throat. “I’m going to miss you, Marcus.”

He didn’t look up at her. “I’ll miss you too, Janie. You know it’s not just about the weather. Not having to slog my way through snow is a major bonus but I would stay if there were enough working farms in the immediate area. You know that, don’t you?”

Jane nodded because he was looking at her now, letting her see that he hurt too. She’d even miss the way he called her “Janie” every once in awhile.

They finished up with the cat in silence and finally put the poor guy back in the carrier. The tom was yowling mad at all the poking and prodding and his mood wasn’t going to get any better with the required quarantine time. Or the neuter.

Marcus peeled off his gloves and made some notations in the chart. “He’s cleared for neuter. Do you have a place for him at the shelter?”

“He’s being fostered. I’ll drop him at his temporary home when we’re done here.”

“I should have his FIV status in a minute.” He cleared his throat and with that seemed to clear the melancholy air that had sprung up between them. “I’ll meet you at your place at seven. My turn to bring dinner. Chinese?”

“Sounds great. Don’t forget the chopsticks this time.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he said over his shoulder as he left the exam room.

Jane scooped up the carrier and headed out the door. By the time she had the cat loaded in the back of the animal control truck, Marcus had opened the clinic door to give her a thumbs-up. The cat was FIV negative. She called the tom’s foster mom and got on her way.

She couldn’t wipe the look on Marcus’ face off her mind. Though they’d shared many close moments over the time they’d known each other, some of them pretty darn awkward, she couldn’t let it drop as easily this time. It didn’t take a genius to figure out it was because he was leaving next week.

For the thousandth time she wondered if they could make a go of it as a couple. For the thousand and first time she willfully discarded the notion. Anything beyond friendship was not on her agenda and that wasn’t going to change until she was done with chiropractic school. She’d veered from that course once for a man and it was never going to happen again.

It didn’t take her long to drop off the cat and some supplies and head home to shower. Even with the diversion her mind went right back to Marcus.

She’d met him three years ago, though they didn’t become friends until the following year. She had just taken the job as town animal control officer and Marcus was working at the clinic for a week as part of his requirement from Tufts University. She thought he was cute and a nice guy but she’d politely declined when he asked her out. She was six months out of a bad relationship that had started in high school and she wasn’t ready for anything. Even dating. That still held true today.

To the clinic’s delight, Marcus had accepted their offer to work for them after his graduation a year later. That had been two years ago and he’d once again asked Jane out. He’d also again accepted her polite refusal and with it her offer to just be friends.

If she were going to date anyone, it would be Marcus Hill. He was a great guy. But a wonderful thing had happened to her when she’d broken it off with her controlling jerk of a boyfriend. She’d grown up, figured out what she wanted to do with her life, and nothing was going to deter her. Besides, until she achieved her goals, how could she expect to know what she’d want out of a relationship? She definitely knew what she didn’t want but that wasn’t good enough.

No relationship potential, no need to date. Well, she did miss sex but that’s why toys were invented.

She sighed as she pulled into her parking spot and killed the motor. No doubt her vibrating friend would get a good workout later tonight.

Stray Lovers
available 8/21/09
Ellora's Cave
http://www.jasminejade.com/p-7388-stray-lovers.aspx

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

FEELING THE BUZZ!!!

Now that the champagne bottle is empty and I've slept off the aftermath, I wanted to touch base with our Quirky followers and share my good news. I've been offered a contract by Ellora's Cave for BOUND ODYSSEY, my futuristic romantic erotica. I wrote this story faster than any before it, despite the fact it is a full-length novel plus, a less typical length for romantic, erotic fiction. It has all the intrigue and plot, all the world building, all the characterization, all the romance, as any other futuristic. And, of course, all of the hot parts. Mira, Jace and Roman, my three protagonists, jumped off my keyboard onto the page as vibrant, fascinating, complex characters and it was a joy to tell their story. (Thank you, Muse.) I will share news about my cover and release date as I receive it. And, of course, tease you with more information about the book. But for now, I will continue to jump up and down and grin madly during that euphoric period after receiving the good news. Thank you for your momentary indulgence. May your days be filled with just as much good news.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

TBR Piles: Taking the Fun Out of Reading Romance


I still have academic stress dreams even though I finished up graduate school fifteen years ago. You know, those dreams where you're sitting in a final exam room for French, except you never actually took French and can't figure out why you have to pass this test in order to graduate. These dreams pretty much wreck the whole next day since I find it hard to shake that "Oops, I forgot to take French" feeling that lingers all day long. 

Romance novels, for me, are all about fun. No pressure. No tests. No comparative literature examinations. If something strikes my fancy, I read it. If someone recommends a good book, I check it out. But I have noticed something that makes me break out in a cold sweat like those nightmares. A very common theme on the romance boards. There are a heck of a lot of readers who have turned reading romance into an obligatory, pressure-filled experience culminating in the ever-dreaded...TBR Pile. (Took me a while to figure out this meant To Be Read.) They're seriously stressed that they haven't finished all of the Julie Garwood historicals. Or worried that a new paranormal author has started a series, and they have not read it yet. They have spread-sheets with all of their books organized into lists. Folks get high-fives for TBR Piles nearing zero, and others lament their piles are inching upward. They are filled with anxiety about reading romance novels!!!! Christ on a crutch, batman! 

Uh, I hesitate to say this (not really) but something tells me these folks are missing the big picture. Romance novels are not supposed to promote anxiety, they're supposed to make us happy. Ergo, the HEA (Happily Ever After), the sizzling sex, the snappy banter, etc. etc. (Hey Kate, did you notice I got "Christ on a crutch" and "ergo" in this post?--a few of my favorite expressions!) Anyway, I really want to shake these people and remind them of one simple fact...."Romance novels! These are romance novels, people! Sheesh!" There is no way I am turning one of my most favorite, relaxing, fun-filled, mindless, wonderful, endorphin-producing hobbies into an academic-like endeavor. I'm thinking of having a Just Say No To TBR Piles! bumper sticker made for my car. 

Honestly, there are a few vague thoughts floating around in the back of my head concerning books I'd like to read, like "One of these days I'm going to check out a Nalini Singh book," but there's no sense of urgency, no anxiety. I figure I still have a few decades left to devour all the great books I want to, and I refuse to make it a sweat-inducing source of stress. Not sure why certain readers want to elevate reading romance to an academic endeavor, but I'm staying out of it. Next week on vacation, I'm looking forward to a cold, frosty beer, a hammock and a pile of unplanned, unknown romance novels that I'll probably pick up in the Narragansett grocery store. Perfect!
Penny Watson

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Two Creative Muses




I love writing, but sometimes another creative muse pulls at me. During these times, I set aside my laptop to pick up a paint brush. I've always been an amateur artist, taking numerous classes and dabbling in several mediums from graphite to charcoal, pastels, and pen and ink. Then I discovered Winslow Homer's paintings and fell in love with watercolor.

I love the beauty of the flowing, merging washes. I love its transparency. I love how it can be extremely detailed like some of Edward Hopper's works or incredibly loose like those of Maurice Prendergast. I love the wet, luminous qualities of J.M.W. Turner's London sunsets and the dry, scraped, churning seas by Winslow Homer.

I recently signed up for a writer's conference and after finishing a two-day watercolor workshop, I couldn't help but compare and contrast these two creative outlets.

Okay, if the truth be told, after sweltering all day under the hot August sun painting this beautiful garden, it crossed my mind that writer's workshops were a tad easier. Standing before my easel eight hours later and feeling the sweat drip down my back, I yearned for a comfortable chair and air conditioning.

I went to clean up my stuff, and it took a couple trips to the car to lug easel and umbrella, the finished painting, the paints, brushes, water jugs, and paper towels, etc. I won't be complaining the next time I have to slip my laptop in its case and carry it from library to car.

While the logistics involved in writing have an advantage over painting, there is still nothing like seeing a finished picture at the end of the day. Seeing a painting I've worked hours on come together is like magic. And -- there are no edits and revisions aside from a small touch up here and there. Toss it in a frame, and everyone can admire it.

There are also many similarities between the two. Surprises can be found in both. In writing, characters can go off script and yet these detours often enhance a story. Sometimes what I believe to be a mistake in my painting, like two colors inadvertently merging can make a picture beautiful. Similar to story ideas popping into a writer's head, I'll see a beautiful scenic vista and yearn to capture it in paint.

Best of all, in both writing and painting, I can get blocked. It's at these time that I'm lucky to have two creative outlets to which I can turn. If both outlets are blocked, I simply pick up a book and dive into another love.