Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Golden Heart and RITA finalists

I am so proud to announce that three of my friends are finalists.

Helen Scott-Taylor, my dear critique partner, finaled in Paranormal with THE MAGIC KNOT. The same book with which she finaled in the Romantic Times American Title IV.

Congratulations, Helen. THE MAGIC KNOT is definitely a winner.

Beth Trissel is a finalist in Historicals, with THROUGH THE FIRE.

I have know Beth for almost a year as a co-member of the the Pink Fuzzy Slippers blog, where I regularly post.

Congratulations, Beth.

And now drums roll please:

Terri Garey, is a double finalist in the RITA for Paranormal and Best First Book, with her hilarious Avon book DEAD GIRLS ARE EASY. .

I have known Terri for five years through the FTHRW and a smaller loop the Playground. Terri created the very successful blog of Writer At Play.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

CDC Alert

Center for Disease Control Alert

The Centers for Disease Control has issued a medical alert about a highly contagious, potentially dangerous virus that is transmitted orally, by hand, and even electronically. This virus is called Weary Overload Recreational Killer (WORK). If you receive WORK from your boss, any of your colleagues, or anyone else via any means whatsoever -
DO NOT TOUCH IT. This virus will wipe out your private life completely.

If you should come into contact with WORK you should immediately leave the premises. Take two good friends to the nearest grocery store and purchase one or both of the antidotes - Work Isolating Neutralizer Extract (WINE) and Bothersome Employer Elimination Rebooter (BEER). Take the antidote repeatedly until WORK has been completely eliminated from your system.

You should immediately forward this medical alert to five friends. If you do not have five friends, you have already been infected and WORK is controlling your life.
[Thank you Paul for a good laugh.]

Two Quotes:

If there is a special Hell for writers it would be in the forced contemplation of their own works. --John Dos Passos--

You can't wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.--Jack London--

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Aleka Nakis

Today we welcome Aleka Nakis. Aleka lives in Florida but spends her summers in Greece. She is multi-published with Resplendence Publishing. “Spending my days with my family, I travel at the drop of a dime and have raised two children who actually like airplane food. I feel very lucky to combine my life passions of story telling, travel and exotic cultures, I write romance novels for a living.”

Mona, let me thank you for inviting me to chat with you. I’m so excited about being in the company of authors like yourself, and it is an honor to have time together on your blog. Thanks.

When did you first decide you wanted to be an author? I don’t think any of us can decide to be an author. It is more like a virus that attacks our system, and then we are doomed. I’ve always written and told stories in one way or the other. A little over two years ago, a very dear friend was undergoing surgery and medical treatment for breast cancer. It was for her enjoyment, and to take her mind off the daily stress she was facing, that I started and finished The Greek Rule. I asked my husband for two years to try and ‘get published’. I tried. And it happened.

How do you get your ideas?
Life. Look around us. There are so many stories to be told. We could watch any person for a few minute and imagine a fantastic story behind him or her. I talk and chat with friends while brainstorming, I love to read and devour the paper, and mostly I love to travel and experience new cultures.

Does your travel influence your writing?
Very much. It is a passion completely intertwined in my writing. Writing about far away locals allows me to visit them on a daily basis. Conversely, I can use the excuse that I need to travel to these locals in order to depict them properly in my novels.

Do you have any special rituals to help you get in the mood to write?
Is coffee a ritual? Well, I grab a drink of some sort and usually play the proper music for the book and scene. I write anywhere and at any time, so these aren’t set in stone.

Do you have any bad writing habits?
I guess not sleeping on a regular schedule is a bad habit related to writing. When the muse whispers, I write. It just happens way too often at three in the morning.

What do you do to relax?
I enjoy my family and friends. Hanging out at a café is one of my favorite past-times. I love the beach and make a point of getting there as often as possible. Plus, I travel.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?
Once a have an idea, I type out a few pages or chapters. Then, when the fever breaks, I outline and plot. However, this is used as a guide and is likely to change.

What do you consider to be the key elements of a great story?
I think a great story allows the reader to get lost in it. It needs to consume you so that you can’t put it down and are forced to put pizza on the table for dinner.

Do you feel your writing is character driven or plot driven?
Character. I fall in love with them and they determine what the plot is. I believe that is the only way to make a story real. Characters can be anything you want them to be, but their actions must be true to their personalities and personal realities.

What are the essential qualities of a great hero?
I enjoy alpha males. He must be capable of taking care of any situation in a very effective manner. It’s nice to know there is someone the heroine can lean on. An added benefit is if he does it selflessly.

Has being published changed you at all?
The biggest change is that I now have deadlines. I can’t just write when I feel like it, and then get up and go. I need to meet my responsibilities to the publisher.

Can you give us a short blurb about each of your books?
Mona, short? You should know better than to associate that with me. J It is hard for me to keep this short, so I’ll post a review for each if you’d like to use them.

Rogues and Romance Review on The Greek Rule
The Greek Rule was the first book I had read by fantastic author Aleka Nakis, and I have since devoured Eyes of the Dead, and from here on out, will read ANYTHING with her name attached to it! Her characters are always real with sizzling connections- but the absolute best thing about her books is that she paints the setting in the readers mind to such perfection, you really feel like you've gone on a vacation.

Athena has worked hard building a name for herself under her boss’ corporation and she is ready to strike out on her own. It’s been her dream to build her own resort, and she has a fabulous location all picked out. The only problem is she has a little competition in her bid for the property. Okay, she has BIG competition, Alexandros Strintzaris, a well-known bachelor and business tycoon. He’s successful, he’s deliciously handsome, and he’s Athena’s one dating no-no: he’s Greek. But between an unexpected meeting at a charity ball and a wedding that has the two keeping close company; Athena is realizing she’s in danger of losing a lot more than her resort property…

The Greek Rule is a beautiful story that will sweep you away with superb imagery of exotic locales, fantastic characters, and a love story that will warm you all the way to your toes. Athena is a beautiful, intelligent businesswoman, and Alexandros is the perfect man to break down Athena’s stereotypes of the Greek playboy. The attraction between Alexandros and Athena is nothing short of electric, and you will love the interaction between the two. In The Greek Rule, Aleka Nakis infuses a rich cultural influence with a lush setting that’ll have you packing your bags for Santorini!

Coffee Time Romance Review on The Summer Deal, the second of my Greek Series at Resplendence Publishing:
Samantha Mallone has worked hard to get through law school and is now enjoying her new job as assistant to Demosthenis Lakis. She has been unlucky in love, but is focusing on herself for now. If only she could stop the fantasies involving her handsome new boss from invading her mind. Demo Lakis, international businessman, hires Samantha on the spot. Fortunately she is as smart and hard-working as she is sexy. With his money and good looks, he could have any woman he wants; he just has not found the right one yet.

Demo is spending the summer with his family in Greece. He knows that Sammy’s ex-boyfriend has been threatening her, so he asks her to come to Greece to work with him for the summer. Greece is everything she dreamed of and spending time with Demo is paradise on earth. It does not take much time for the two to realize how attracted they are to one another, so they make a deal for the summer – to enjoy being together with no strings attached. But when danger arises and secrets are revealed, will Demo and Samantha go their separate ways or make a deal for life?

The Summer Deal is a smooth and sexy read. Demo and Sammy are wonderful characters whom the reader will enjoy becoming more acquainted with. In fact, the entire Lakis family is endearing. Peppered throughout with Greek phrases and words of endearment, the story is made even more romantic. Even the food, houses and people of Greece are delightfully detailed. From New York to Athens to the beautiful island of Crete, Aleka Nakis takes the reader on a blissful journey of the senses.

Where can we buy your books?
These titles are available from In e-book format and print. Currently, they can also be found on Amazon and its affiliates, as well as mobipocket affiliates.

Aleka, thank you for being with us today. Your books look like the stories I absolutely love. I am going to buy my copies right away.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What is your secret?

What do women lie about?

Many women hide their weight.
More women lie about their age.
Successful working women would rarely reveal their earnings.
Some would hide their past relationships.
Lie about number of boyfriends or sex partners.

A couple of women I know made me swear never to reveal they had facelifts.
Or Botox injections.
Many sick persons prefer not to talk about their diseases.
Or their infirmities if they can be hidden.

The consumer Report claims that, when it comes to sheer numbers, the top secret most women keep from the man in their life is not about sex.
Or past boyfriends.
Or money.
It's the number of shoes they own!!!

Do you know more things that women tend to keep secret?
What would YOU hide from your significant other or your friends?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

My Alpha Hero

In a previous blog I explained I like to have real models to help me describe my heroes and heroines’s physical appearances.

Characters however are a complete work of my imagination. In general, I like the alpha hero and the strong heroine who can stand up to him and ends up taming him.

In TO LOVE A HERO, Major General Sergei Fedorin is the ultimate alpha hero, strong, generous, dedicated to his cause.
Sergei flipped to the other picture. His breathing caught in his throat. The image of a sick Sophia, already affected by cancer, smiled back at him. His wife of fifteen years, blonde and pale, with blue eyes too big for her face and a yellow dress too loose on her frail body.
“I will keep my promise, Sophia. I will purge our country of the Chernobyl pollution that cost you your precious life.”

General Sergei is a powerful man who takes control and makes things happen. His thoughts, his dialogue, and his actions reveal his strength and earn him respect and admiration.
The Major General marched in, his stance regal. His shoulders seemed to widen as he reached his place at the center of the table facing her. The officers stood and saluted.
She remembered him tall and handsome. Now, he appeared so imposing, so vibrant…and just yesterday, he’d held her in his arms.
The general returned the salute. A fleeting smile shaped his lips and a hint of a bow acknowledged her presence

He wants things done and wants them done now.
“So many young lives have been destroyed. So many loved ones are gone forever. We need to act fast. We need to clean our environment before more people suffer.”
His voice filled the huge room and her heart. Cecile winced.

He is a man of action, a respected hero, a general used to be in command, an officer no one would dare to question or disobey.
Forget the terms of this contract. I need to change them.

He is single-minded, sometimes arrogant and oozing self-confidence.
“The colonel will be back any minute,” she said with a cold edge to her voice while gripping the top of her blouse.
Sergei leveled a sober look at her. “He knows better than to barge into my office without knocking. I will not apologize for taking you in my arms.” He helped her rearrange her clothing then reached for her hand and brought it to his lips. “Cecilya, my darling, I could kiss you and caress you all through the night.”

He knows his status and would selfishly protect it.
He touched his lips to her forehead. “No, my darling, the Major General of Belarus has no business being at the airport. Forgive me if I do my best to ignore you at the Hall of Officers.”

But his flaws derive from his qualities.
Arrogant: he believes in himself and the reach of his influence.
As a high-ranking officer, he’d never lacked female companionship. With so many local beauties competing to hang on his arm and warm his bed, he had trouble understanding why he’d be intrigued by this brainy scientist with a do not touch warning sign written all over her dainty figure. He wanted to know her better. If only for the sake of his project.

He uses his charm and power to get what he wants.
Cecile eyed him, not believing a word of his flowery talk. She wondered how many women had succumbed to his irresistible charm. The man was devilishly handsome and seemed to be an expert at smooth talking.
An easy smile played at the corners of his mouth. “We are two civilized partners.”
Two partners? Did he think her naїve enough to trust his sudden acceptance? “I’m glad to hear you say that.” She plastered a smile on her lips, wondering if she’d ever be able to relax in his presence.
He flattened his palm on the arm of the sofa and leaned forward, robbing her of breathing space. She inhaled his clean masculine smell and a hint of the Old Spice he seemed to favor and remembered the feel of being held against his firm chest.
Suddenly grave, his gaze focused on her eyes. “Dr. Lornier, we need to discuss the terms of the contract.”

He is passionate, sensual and sexy.
“Cecilya, we can’t wait for fate to hand us an hour here and there.” She moaned softly, sharing his frustration. “I need to see you…privately. I’ll ask Nicolai to drive you tomorrow.” He smoothed her hair. His hand slid to cradle her cheek. Like a kitten ready to purr, she rubbed her face against his palm. “Will you come?” His voice grated low with his urgency.
She nodded, without bothering to ask where they would meet.
His fiery gaze locked with hers, demanding and promising. Soon.

Women succumb to his charm. And we fall in love with him alongside the heroine.
Yet, she’d dare the unthinkable. She wanted the inaccessible, powerful Major General of Belarus with every cell of her body. And he seemed to crave her as much.
Damn their positions.

But he wants them on his term.
Last night, he had promised himself he would smother his love and try to snatch her out of his thoughts. Cecilya didn’t understand his patriotism. She’d refused to share his simple life and glorious dream. So be it, he would continue to live only for Belarus. As an officer, he could accept hardship without complaint

And in the end he will give in to the only one who truly understands him and loves him.
“Cecilya, I have never met a woman like you.”
Her cheeks suffused with heat at the intensity of his gaze. She loved the local accent he added to her name, Cecilya. The unique way he pronounced it as if he were singing a Russian melody.

His passion overrode common sense and logic. He hadn’t planned to love her on a rug but he wanted her and she’d shown the same desperate hunger. His hands eased under the layers of clothing until they touched bare flesh. He felt her relax in his embrace. His fingers roamed freely across her back, then over her breasts and he fondled them with care and love. Fire spread and raged within his body.
He heard a soft ragged breathing. Cecile snatched her mouth and buried her head against his shoulder. “Oh Sergei, I love you.”
Tenderness flooded his heart. “Cecilya.” He trailed hot blazing kisses over her cheeks, eyelids and lips. “My Cecilya, I love you. I will love you forever.”

Harlequin: <<The Alpha Male--why does he endure?
Readers seek out the alpha male as a fantasy, an embodiment of heroic qualities-including the positive use of power.
When a writer creates an alpha hero, she creates a force for good in her novel. he may have flaws, but ultimately it is his strength of purpose and his passion that bring about the happy ending.
The most exciting conflicts in a romance stem from 'taming the beast'. The hero is stopped in his tracks by the heroine, and it is through her that he changes and develops

Friday, March 14, 2008

Quotes and Jokes

Two quotes and a joke to brighten your weekend.

Two Quotes:

The way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn't behave that way you would never do anything. --John Irving--

A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of either writing or thinking about writing. --Eugene Ionesco--

A joke:

College Rules:
On the first day of college, the Dean addressed the
students, pointing out some of the rules: "The female dormitory will be out-of-bounds for all male students, and the male dormitory to the female students. Anybody caught breaking this rule will be fined $20 the first time." He continued, "Anybody caught breaking this rule the second time will be fined $60. Being caught a third time will cost you a fine of $180. Are there any questions?"
At this point, a male student in the crowd inquired: "How much for a season pass?"

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Flu, Virus, Cold, etc

I'm too sick and too tired to blog. I will just whine about the virus that fell in love with me two months ago and keeps harassing me. I am on my fifth antibiotic. Each one cures a specific ailment but causes a new problem. What finally relieved my cough was my aunt's old remedy. Boil flax seeds until it foams, drain the seed and drink the heavy syrup. It took one day to get rid of a month-old cough. When I reported that to my doctor, she wrote it on a piece of paper and slipped it in her pocket, saying she loved natural remedies. Then the nurse called me to the next examination room to explain to another patient where to buy the flax seeds and how to prepare the syrup.

I had three X-rays done. The first one showed a touch of pneumonia. The second one showed the pneumonia was gone, but there was a nodule, and I needed a third X-rays for confirmation. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep until I got the results of the third X-ray. What looked like a nodule in the second X-rays turned out to be a blood vessel in the third. Couldn't the radiologist check better and spare me two sleepless nights?

If I didn't have my computer, the Internet and the friends on my loops, I would have needed a psychiatrist. Thanks for entertaining me while I'm locked at home.

Don’t believe everything a doctor says. Discuss and ask questions.


TO LOVE A HERO Available at Cerridwen Press.

Short Synopsis:
Raised in boarding schools, Cecile buried her loneliness under long hours of study and work. On the rebound of a broken engagement, she is determined to excel in her first international contract, the refurbishment of an environmental laboratory in Belarus.

BUT… In Belarus, a Russian country dominated by male chauvinism and intrigues, Cecile finds more chemistry than she bargains for.

Admired by men and adored by women, Major General Sergei is a true hero in his country. The widowed Sergei has pledged to clean his country of the pollution left by the Chernobyl disaster.

BUT… With a glass of vodka in his hand and the lovely Cecile nestled in his arms, Sergei has more on his mind than patriotic duty and nuclear pollution, and Cecile soon learns that chemicals are not the only things that generate heat.

Can she betray his trust to save his career? Would her love cost him everything he values?

Excerpt from Chapter One:
“Welcome to Minsk International Airport,” the loud speaker announced as the aircraft bounced on the runway before coming to a halt.

Cecile Lornier rubbed her ringless finger, her spirit buoyant with triumph. “Belarus, here I come. Finally,” she whispered, her nose pressed against the plane window for a first look at the remote little country, located south of Russia. Not much to see. But the gloomy sight of gray sky, barren trees and drizzling rain couldn’t dim the joy that exploded in her heart. After a twelve-hour flight, she’d made it to Minsk. In spite of her ex-fiancé’s dirty dealing. For the millionth time, she cursed Rob Spenser, the worthless creep who’d snatched her promotion, almost foiled her first international assignment and gifted her with a bleeding ulcer.

With a sigh of relief, she hung her purse on her arm and collected her hand luggage to exit the plane. Dragging her carry-on suitcases, she proceeded up the bumpy ramp of the jetway boarding bridge.

A group of people clustered in front of a sign affixed on the sidewall. Russian or Belarussian? Might as well be Chinese as far as I’m concerned. Unable to decipher the foreign script, Cecile shrugged and followed the line of passengers through the arrival gate, toward an escalator.

As if this rickety machine could be called a mechanical escalator. The uneven steps jolted with a grinding noise, bouncing and shuddering downward. Cecile scanned the area for an elevator or stairway. There were none in sight. Was she expected to negotiate this crooked roller coaster with her luggage in hand?

Apparently, yes. The passengers were carefully holding the railing, men helping their female companions and children as they went down. She eyed the rattletrap contraption. Her first taste of Belarussian obsolete technology. This was exactly why her company had been chosen to help modernize the local environmental laboratory.

A military officer dressed in khaki passed her. Cecile’s gaze fixed on his large back and decorated epaulets. He was tall, solid. A brick wall of a man. The wobbly escalator didn’t seem to bother him but then he didn’t have two suitcases hindering his movements.

Cecile bit her lip, imagining the sneer on Rob’s face if he could see her now, hesitating so long in front of the first step of her mission. Literally the very first step. She shifted her two carry-ons to her left hand and followed the officer onto the jerking stairway, hoping for the best. Wishful thinking. Her short heel caught between the steps of the damned escalator. Gripping the railing for dear life, she let her luggage slip out of her hand as she pitched forward.

“Welcome to Minsk…” the airport speaker roared in broken English.

A sturdy back blocked her fall. The officer turned and circled her waist with brawny arms, welding her to his rock-hard frame. She stopped moving, stopped thinking, stopped breathing, until the officer lowered her to stable ground as they reached the end of the escalator.

Her head still pillowed against the muscular chest, she took a breath, inhaling the scent of soap and spicy cologne. She was alive all right and oddly secure in this stranger’s arms.

He said something in his native language. She tilted her head back. Her gaze collided with deep blue eyes shadowed by long, black lashes. Still floating in a peculiar haze, Cecile squirmed to free herself. She gasped for air to clear her head and squeaked, “I’m sorry.”

He stared at her, a glint of interest under the scowling eyebrows. “Americanka?” His baritone voice echoed against the metallic escalator’s crunch. “Here, let me help you.” He cupped her elbow. “Can you walk? Are you hurt?” he asked in fluent but accented English.

Leaning on his arm, she took two steps and exhaled with relief. “I’m fine. Thank you.”

Her ankles felt sore, her right shoulder hurt and her breasts ached from the impact but she was still in one piece. Breathing in uneven gulps, she eased from the officer’s supportive arm.

He waved to the escalator. “People have to be careful. It needs repair. There was a sign.”

“The sign? Oh, is that what it said?” Cecile bit her lip, patting her purse with regret. The little Russian-English dictionary was right there.

“Unfortunately, fixing the airport escalator is not on our government’s priority list and there is no lift at the gate.” A curious smile replaced his scowl. “Is it your first visit to Belarus?”

“Yes. A business trip.” Scanning the six-foot plus, movie star-type figure, she rubbed a sweaty palm against her raincoat. “My companion has already exited the plane.”

Damn it, where was the welcoming committee John Gordon promised? And where had he gone? “I appreciate your help, sir. I can manage now.” She extended a hand to grab the two carry-ons he’d collected for her. A knowing smile curved his mouth as he shook his head. “Let me help you to the passport control. This way,” he instructed as he offered her his left arm for support.

Glancing at the sharp profile, she hesitated for a fraction of a second before accepting the unspoken invitation. John had raved about the quaint charm of Belarus and the affability of its residents. She couldn’t reject the courteous gesture without being rude.

As her fingers curled on the sleeve at his elbow, his hard biceps contracted under her hand. Uncomfortable warmth spread through her. She stiffened but suppressed the urge to pull back.

He led her into an adjacent room where a musty smell mingled with the odor of strong tobacco. She pursed her lips and wrinkled her nose in distaste. The room bustled with passengers in long coats and round fur hats. As her eyes adjusted to the dim lighting, she saw John emerge from a dark corner, his burly frame swaying as he walked.

She pulled her hand from the officer’s arm and waved. John headed straight toward her. “For heaven’s sake, where did you rush to? Couldn’t you have waited for me?”

“Why?” He shrugged. “You always manage well enough on your own.”

Cecile rolled her eyes. “Not this time. The broken escalator at the arrival gate threw me down and this gentleman—”

“General Fedorin, I didn’t realize we were all on the same plane.” John pumped the officer’s hand. “It looks like you’ve already met Dr. Cecile Lornier.”

The General? Oh, God. She had literally started her assignment on the wrong foot.


She registered the shock spreading over the general’s face. Her throat went dry with embarrassment.
Rooted in place, Cecile stared blankly at his departing back. The general touched her arm. Awareness shot up to her throat as he invaded her breathing space. Her chin tilted up a notch. “Yes?”

“I must leave now. Roussov will take care of the formalities. The opening meeting of our contract is scheduled for tomorrow at eleven, at the Hall of Officers.”

Her gaze trailed over the thin lines bracketing his lips, moved up the high-boned cheeks and tracked the midnight sparks in his eyes. His strong jaw and the small scar on his cleft chin conferred a somber expression to his beautiful face. A handsome man and a mighty officer.
Power and dynamite, she thought on a blink. Definitely not an easy-going customer she could intimidate with starchy speech.

“We’ll be there at eleven sharp, General.” John’s jovial voice intruded into her secret contemplation.

“Then I will see you tomorrow, John, Dr. Lornier.” The general shook hands with John, then raised her hand to his lips and brushed it with a kiss.

Her professional mask melted into a genuine smile. Did he always spice business with old-European, grand manners? She eased her hand out of the general’s palm and blurted the first serious thought that came to mind. “I can’t wait to visit the Belchem Lab.”

“We will go to the laboratory after the meeting. Meanwhile, we will make every effort to ensure your comfort.”

His velvety voice sent a shiver down her spine but she forced a businesslike tone. “Thank you, General. We have a lot to discuss about the contract and the lab refurbishment.”

“Yes, we do. Have a good evening, Dr. Lornier.” His gaze skimmed her face like a gentle caress, launching her heart on a much bigger roller coaster ride than the broken escalator.

For years, she had thrived on challenge in her analytical laboratory. Maybe now the real adventure had begun, with more chemistry than she’d bargained for.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Mood and Writing

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader--Robert Frost--

Do you let your mood affect your writing? Or does your writing influence your mood?

In my case I think both situations are true. When I am in a good mood, I definitely create better scenes. I see the images in my mind, like a video playing only for me and I immediately record the scene before I forget it. My thoughts flow and the words follow. I concentrate on the story, put myself in the head of my characters, experience their emotions and really feel their pain or their joy. I often find myself crying while writing a painful situation, or laughing at a funny scene.

In my experience, the best creative work is never done when one is unhappy-- Albert Einstein—

If I am crying or laughing while editing, I know my scene is good. But if I have trouble getting my sentences to convey the emotion of the moment, I will have to rewrite the scene.

Reading your work at different moments will show a scene in a different light, hence the necessity to read, edit and revise after writing each chapter and after finishing the manuscript. Your readers are not going to read your book only when they are in a good mood. Most often than not, they read to unwind and relax. To get immersed in emotions stronger than their own, emotions that will help them forget their stress or their pain.

Can we provide our readers with emotions that will pull them out of their daily life?

We can and we should, but this is only possible if we completely forget ourselves, our problems and emotions to dig deeper into our characters’ emotions. If you want to keep writing when you are tired or depressed, be aware it may show in your writing.

I can start writing while not in the right mood. If my plot is well thought, soon my story will unfold and carry me away from myself and personal problems. In a way, I become my heroine; I concentrate on her goal and help her solve her problems.

The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think.--Edwin Schlossberg--

So, do you let your mood affect your writing? Or does your writing influence your mood?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

HER LAST FLING by Jana Mercy

Today we are pleased to welcome Ellora's Cave new author Jana Mercy.

Thank you, Jana, for being with us.

Jana, do you have a writing schedule? How do you balance your personal and writing time?
I don't have a specific writing schedule but I tend to write late at night. I'm a night owl through and through and that's when I feel the most creative.

Do you write character driven or plot driven stories?
Definitely character driven stories. To me it's all about the characters. Yes they have to be in an interesting situation, but if you put some boring clod in the most interesting of plots, they're still boring. But if you put an exciting character in a boring plot--well, there's not telling what kind of mischief they'll get into to liven things up.

What do you consider to be the key elements of a great story?
Not hard to guess after my last answer, but THE CHARACTERS. I can forgive a lot if the characters are sympathetic, interesting, three-dimensional.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
Dermot Mulroney. I want him.

How you develop your characters?
Honestly, most of my characters just show up in my head. Does that sound a little too schizophrenic? Eek. But seriously, a character gets inside my head and won't let up until I write their story. Do deadlines help or hinder your muse? I wish I knew. :) So far I've already had the books I've sold written, so I'm not sure how it'll affect my creative process.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?
I'm a total pantser and just start writing and keep going. I write fast because I want to know what's going to happen next. It's like reading, I keep going because I can't quit until I know what happens next. And then I have to know what happens next. And next. It seems to work for me.

Can you give us a short synopsis of your new release?
He was her last fling. She was his first.
Tired of dead-end relationships, KATY SIMMONS is determined to find her forever man. Only problem is every time she thinks she's found him, he turns out to be a dud and she no longer trusts her instincts where good-looking men are concerned.
After years of walking the straight and narrow while caring for his ill mother and building his career, NOAH HILTON has earned the right to let loose. He's ready to taste the wilder side of life. However, his matchmaking mother has other plans.
When Noah's mother and Katy turn to the same computer dating service, the embers of Katy and Noah's not so forgotten encounter spark to life in a flame that threatens to devour Katy's best intentions and Noah's worst.
Will Katy deny their sizzling sexual chemistry in her search for Mr. Right? Or can Noah risk his heart to become more than just Her Last Fling?

Your upcoming books?
Whether you want to be tricked or treated, Heavenly Hunks has the eye candy for you. Join the party on Halloween night for their annual Strip or Treat bash!
Needing a break from her carefully planned-out life, Sophia Walker agrees to manage her ill aunt's male strip club. Only nothing in her dull existence has prepared her for her aunt's yummy bartender.
TBI agent, Gray Erickson prides himself on his cool resolve, but when his prime suspect's sexy niece takes over, Gray feels anything but cool. From the moment Sophia barges onto the scene, Gray is smitten by the leggy blonde. Too bad he can't trust her.
When Gray replaces a stripper for the Halloween bash, it becomes a toss up as to who's being tricked and who's being treated as Sophia teaches him how to strip-his clothes and the protective layers from his heart.
Can they forgive their deceit as love emerges from the masks they hide behind?

Please tell us about your work in progress?
I just recently sold my first futuristic to Ellora's Cave. It's called Underground Pleasure and I'm not sure when it'll be released as of right now. Hopefully during 2008.

Where can we find your books?

And Strip or Treat will be released in October 2008 at

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Look your Best.

As far as I can remember my mother repeatedly told me and my sister we should never leave the house without looking our best. In her book, looking your best includes fashionable clothes and shoes, make-up and jewelry.

After being hospitalized seven times last year for long periods at a time, Mom moved to an assisted living facility. She uses a walker to move around, has to raise her legs most of the day, often inserts an oxygen tube in her nose to breathe better…and swallows so many pills my stomach hurts for her.

Look your Best. My mother practices what she preaches. There is a beauty salon in her building. So Mom has her hair set and her nails done once a week. Salesmen from a couple of stores come twice a month to expose and sell clothes in her facility. My mother is their best client. Although she was a professor, my mother’s hobby has always been fashion designing and sewing her clothes and her daughter’s clothes. She’s always perfectly well dressed in pantsuits, and twin sweaters, would never forget to wear her earrings, bracelets, necklace or rings. Before moving to assisted living, she gave us her precious jewelry, and bought fashion jewelry to replace the real ones. My mother professes that being nicely dressed, combed and jeweled helps her forget she is a very sick person. The other residents compliment her and try to follow her example. The assisted living staff admires her positive attitude.

If I don't wear makeup when I visit her, Mom asks me if I’m sick. When I confess I forgot because I was too busy, I regularly receive a lecture. Basically, it goes as follows: I don’t have the right to neglect myself when I’m healthy; I should realize that an agreeable face and a nice smile go a long way to cheer people who are confined to their living quarters; a presentable person projects a good impression and commends respect.

Needless to say, I’m always aware of what people wear around me. Including my characters.

While authors describe their hero and heroine’s eyes, hair, figure, I always have to describe their clothing as well, to better characterize them and situate them in a scene.

In TO LOVE A HERO, my heroine, Dr. Cecile Lornier is a career woman. You will find her dressed in dark suits that match her profession of serious scientist. When she’s attracted to General Sergei, she will let Tania, her sassy Russian driver, influence her into buying more stylish and colorful outfits.

In FRENCH PERIL, the heroine, Cheryl Stewart, is a young graduate student practically living in jeans and t-shirts. Yet to attract the handsome count François, she won’t hesitate to follow his sister Marilène’s advice and buy a very French black dress.

In my work in progress, the heroine Alexa is a divorcee, living in a condo on the beach. She changes clothes four or five times a day. It’s part of her character. The only time she’s not appropriately dressed for the occasion is so out of character, people around her realize something is really wrong.

I have been giving examples of heroines. Yet the same goes for my heroes.

Are you a fashionista when it comes to your characters? Or do you avoid mentioning what they wear?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Quotes and Jokes

Two quotes and a joke to brighten your weekend.

Language has created the word loneliness to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word solitude to express the glory of being alone. --Paul JohannesTillich--

What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers.
--Logan Pearsall smith--

The longest one-syllable word in the English language is strengths.

Jack and Betty are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.
"Betty, I was wondering -- have you ever cheated on me?"
"Oh Jack, why would you ask such a question now? You don't want to ask that question..."
"Yes, Betty, I really want to know. Please."
"Well, all right. Yes, 3 times."
"Three? When were they?"
"Well, Jack, remember when you were 35 years old and you really wanted to start the business on your own and no bank would give you a loan? Remember how one day the bank president himself came over to the house and signed the loan papers, no questions asked?"
"Oh, Betty, you did that for me! I respect you even more than ever, that you would do such a thing for me! So, when was number 2?"
"Well, Jack, remember when you had that last heart attack and you were needing that very tricky operation, and no surgeon would touch you? Remember how Dr. DeBakey came all the way up here, to do the surgery himself, and then you were in good shape again?"
"I can't believe it! Betty, I love that you should do such a thing for me, to save my life! I couldn't have a more wonderful wife. To do such a thing, you must really love me darling. I couldn't be more moved. When was number 3?"
"Well, Jack, remember a few years ago, when you really wanted to be president of the golf club and you were 17 votes short?"

Balance in Life

My husband often asks me to balance my time. To prove his point he showed me an article about the value of balance. According to that article, most of our troubles are due to imbalances, to which my husband strongly agrees.

We should divide our day in such a way we can balance work, family time, socializing, exercise, spiritual time, and fun time. If a person works eight hours a day, drives half an hour each way to work, breaks at lunch for an hour, exercises for an hour, and sleeps seven hours, this adds up to a total of eighteen hours. I assume the remaining six hours are used for family time, fun, socializing and spiritual time.

I am not sure in which category I can fit cooking, dinner and dishwashing time. Reading should go under the hour or two of fun time. And what about writing?

I am writing full time-- or to be more accurate I sit in front of my computer full time. I can manage an hour to exercise or walk every day, a couple of hours to visit my mother in assisted living. I can cook twice a week and freeze, socialize two or three times a week. I don’t know if this is a balanced life. Considering there is so much more I want to do, I’m still faced with the same problem of balancing my time.

I think balancing one’s time is wonderful. In theory. Unfortunately I don’t believe you can be successful while dividing your time in multiple activities. I have always learned that to be successful you ought to give your main goal your 101%.

Yet some people manage to multitask and be successful at everything they do. If you are one of these fortunate people, how do you do it?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

An Interview with Sandra Cox

Today we are welcoming multipublished author Sandra Cox. I had the privilege of reading a few of her books and I loved everyone of them.

Thank you Sandra for being with us today.

It's a pleasure to be here, Mona. Thanks for having me.

Sandra, what are your writing habits?
I have a day job so I basically write in the evenings, on weekends and at every available opportunity. As soon as I get home from work I grab a Diet Pepsi, something to eat and head for the computer. The only day I don't write is Fridays. Friday is my play day;)

Who or what has been your biggest support?
Family and on line buds. The family never stopped believing in me even when I was ready to throw in the towel. I've had a tremendous amount of support from 'The Pond'. For those of you who aren't familiar with the term, our editor likes frogs and her writers, froggies one and all, gather at the cyber space pond. A lot of great friendships have developed on the lilly pads:) Mona is also a frog:)

What do you consider to be the key elements of a great story?
Emotion. Building tension. Finding a way to bring the reader into the book. Making the unbelievable believable.

How do you know what to name your books or the characters?
The name of the book usually comes from something the story is centered around. The Crystal is about a crystal ball, Boji Stones are the stones in the first magic amulet, Rose Quartz is the stone in the second magic amulet and so on.I work on the names quite a bit while I'm outlining. I keep changing them until I find the one that fits the character.

Can you give us a quick synopsis of your latest release?
That would be Silverhills.
Brandon Wade is driving a herd of longhorns over the Chisholm Trail when a youth appears out of nowhere riding a magnificent black stallion and packing a deadly-looking six gun. In need of trail hands, Brandon hires the young man on. Not till weeks later during the middle of a terrible stampede does Brandon learn that his young sharp shooter is a beautiful woman. A woman, full of fire and passion, that he burns to possess. A woman steeped in mystery who refuses to disclose her past.
Alexandria O'Malley is on the run and must be able to disappear at a moments notice. When she hires on to the cattle drive, she doesn’t expect the powerful attraction between herself and her trail boss or the response of her treacherous body. Will love and desire cost Alexandria her life. . .or save it?

Your upcoming books?

Rose Quartz, the 2nd in the amulet series is due out March 20th with Cerridwen Press.
Power Stones to Go, a metaphysical kit on gems, published through Lotus Circle is due to go to print this month.
Black Opal, the 3rd in the amulet series, is due to be released with Cerridwen in June.
Akasha is due to be released at Wings EPress in July. Akasha is the 2nd in the Cats of Catarau Series.
Sundial is a Time Travel and will be published through Highland Press. It does not have a release date.

Please tell us about your work in progress.
I've got three going right now that I flit back and forth on. The fourth in the amulet series, the third in the Cats of Catarau series and a new cat fantasy.
Where can we find your books?
I love this question:) Thanks for asking.
Most of my books can be found at
Shardai can be found at, or fictionwise. Shardai is available in paper or e.

I am currently running a contest in honor of Rose Quartz's upcoming release. The prizes are a Rose Quartz T-Shirt and a Boji Stones T-Shirt. If you have an opportunity please stop by and enter to win. I'll be looking for you:)

Thanks for having me, Mona. It's been fun. I'm looking forward to French Peril when it comes out.

Thank you, Sandra, for being here. I love your strories. They have the emotion and suspense I look for in a book.

How do you create your hero and heroine?

How do you create your hero/heroine?

In my Russian story TO LOVE A HERO, my heroine is in her mid-thirties and physically looks like one of my former colleagues, a lovely person I knew well. When I told my friend that my heroine, Cecile Lornier, was going to look like her, she laughed and said she couldn’t wait to meet her clone in my book. As my story unfolded, Cecile, a strong career scientist who went after her goal, became her own person, not someone’s clone. The situations I threw her in, the obstacles and conflicts she met, gave her specific mannerisms. I forgot my model after the first two chapters and followed my heroine as she claimed her own character, her own emotions, her personal voice.

My hero Sergei was physically a mix of three officers I met in Belarus. I borrowed the athletic height and frame of one, the handsome face of another, the gorgeous eyes of a third. To be honest the three of them had the grand manners and exuded the same sensual appeal I gave my General Sergei. I can’t thank my models enough. Sergei was easy to describe because I constantly picture my models in my head.

In my second book, FRENCH PERIL, I used my niece, a bright and lovely architect, as model and gave my heroine the same figure, auburn hair, huge blue eyes. Again the comparison stops here as the impetuous twenty-eight years old Cheryl meets with dangerous situations and reacts accordingly.

Count François, the hero of French Peril, was more difficult to create. I knew no one who could fill the role. A friend sent me a gorgeous picture of Hugh Jackman I keep on my desk. He became my Count François.

So how do you create your hero and heroine?
Do they look like someone you know? Do you model them after TV or movie celebrities? Do you create them from a mix of people you know or you just sculpt their features as you write? How old or how young are they?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Here are great reviews for some Ellora's Cave and Cerridwen Press multipublished authors:

Boji Stones by Sandra Cox 5 angels

In Boji Stones, I really liked the feistiness of Maureen’s character; she fights for what she believes in. She is intelligent, caring, and tough… Jack’s character is strong and loyal. I enjoyed the battle between these two strong-willed characters as they try to survive the bad guy and decide what to do about their attractions to one another. Also during this story, another amulet owner appears for a while and I’d love to read her tale next. I highly recommend Boji Stones and hope that this story is just the beginning. Reviewed by: Stephanie B.

Underdead by Liz Jasper 5 angels

I really enjoyed Underdead by Liz Jasper; it is a lighthearted, funny and very entertaining vampire story…..If you are looking for a humorous vampire tale, you’ll enjoy Underdead. I hope Ms. Jasper has more books planned to continue with the lives of the characters of Jo, Will, Gavin and their friends. I would really like to read about them again in another tale. I think Underdead would be a great start for a new funny vampire series!Reviewed by: Stephanie B.

Playing to Win by Shelley Munro 5 angels

Shelley Munro has done a wonderful job of mixing up the emotions in this scene…. Ms. Munro weaves the different emotions and situations with ease and before you know it you’re at the end of the book. Besides being emotionally deep, Playing to Win builds to a suspenseful moment that left me breathless. All the secondary characters add depth, and Ms. Munro brings them to life brilliantly. If you’re after a book that engages on all levels, you can’t go past Playing to Win by Shelley Munro. Reviewed by: Rachel C.

Mad About Mirabelle by Amarinda Jones 4 angels

Mad About Mirabelle is a delightful yet suspenseful story. The relationship between Flynn and Mirabelle keeps the reader hanging on every word wondering what will happen next... The strange happenings have both of them trying to get to the bottom of the mystery. The chemistry between them is amazing, the sex is sizzling, and the mystery keeps the reader on the edge. Ms. Jones has done a very nice job, and I can't wait to read more by this talented author.Reviewed by: Dawnie

Master Me by Brynn Paulin 5 angels

Master Me is a scintillating story of lust, romance and kink. Max is extremely alpha male and oh so hot. His strong personality and confidence make him the thing of erotic dreams. Ana gives the initial impression of being flighty and not sure what she wants. The sexual tension with Max adds a spicy element to her character and I was pleased with the direction she went. Ms. Paulin has done a great job of bringing to life edgy characters and delicious sex. Reviewed by: Dawnie

All Chained Up by Brynn Paulin 4 angels

The attraction between Theo and Keera is explosive and very believable. Their sex is so hot that I’m surprised my computer didn’t go up in smoke while reading it. And talk about erotic….all I can say is, I’ll never look at ginger quite the same way again. If you’re looking for a fast paced erotic read, you’ll enjoy this hot little number.Reviewed by: Karen N.

Chrysanthemum by Anny Cook 4 angels

Anny Cook has put an exciting twist to the story of King Arthur and his Knights…. Chrysanthemum is nothing like the Camelot you have come to know.... The love scenes between all the couples are hot and steamy. Anny Cook has done a great job with her version of this tale, and I would love to read more about this fascinating world that Anny Cook has created. Reviewed by: Ashley

Ronan’s Grail by Bronwyn Green 5 angels

Bronwyn Green’s Ronan’s Grail was a marvelous book that I will remember fondly for some time to come. Morgan and Ronan’s story held me enthralled from start to finish. They were extraordinary characters and the passion and love they shared truly was the thing of legends. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Arthurian legend and Ronan’s Grail definitely ranks among my favorites of the erotic genre. Ms. Green has made an instant fan of me and I plan to revisit her universe of witches, knights and magic over and over again.Reviewed by: Misa

Winter Hearts by Anny Cook 3 angels

Anny Cook has given us a fun frolic with a twist in Winter Hearts . The Jericho family is angelic in the extreme with shifting abilities that surprise Unity. Quills attraction to Unity is displayed well interfering with his job, but Unity is not someone he can ignore. Unity is strong but she is tired of starting over, she wants her own home and a family to love; and the Jericho family may be it. For an amusing and lighthearted read check out Winter Hearts by Anny Cook. Reviewed by: Dana P.

Shades of Gray by Amarinda Jones 5 angels

Shades of Gray by Amarinda Jones is a fantastic vampire story that left me wanting more now! I enjoyed reading about all the characters, the setting, and the supernatural world Amarinda Jones has created.... Amarinda Jones has written a story that is a must read for any vampire lover!Reviewed by: Ashley

Going Down by Tea Trelawny Rated 4

GOING DOWNFancy Mitzki has the reputation in town of being a matchmaker. With her descendant owning the old building, it is believed that GOING DOWN is a delightful tale about a spirit and a vow that is meant to be kept. Tea Trelawny brings us a funny and interesting tale of love, believing, and hot sexual encounters, that would make any spirit blush. This is one you won't want to miss.
Reviewed by Gloria Gehres

Monday, March 3, 2008

Love Scenes

This past weekend, I spent a whole day working on a major love scene in my work in progress. Laboring, sweating, deleting, rewriting while sighing, huffing and pulling my hair. Do you get the picture? No, I don’t think you can yet.

I usually start my love (or sex) scene with enthusiasm. Hey, everyone loves to watch Hero and Heroine gaze into each other’s eyes, trail a determined look down each other’s noses and linger to study each other’s lips. Should we go for it? Is it going to taste as good as it looks?

Once they overcome an initial hesitation—so to speak because my alpha hero and assertive heroine always know what they want—they melt into each other’s arms, play, taste, devour. They have fun and like what they are doing. So why stop now? More exploration is in order.

In the old historical novels I used to love years ago, HE would take the lead in the next phase of the game. Now-a-days, SHE likes to show she is a woman of her time. During phase two, hands run from throat to waist and linger in between, and lips soon follow, without discrimination. Things get hot. To cool down, they open a few buttons and lower a couple of zippers. Often enough, the undressing has the opposite effect. They get warmer, even blazing hot, and they start a few moves to help each other cope with the situation, until they reach a mutually explosive satisfaction. Unless someone, or something, interrupts them, and then they will try again in the next chapter.

This is the basic plot of my love scene.

Since I usually layer my writing, I go back to check if Hero and Heroine display their emotions. After all, they are flesh and blood characters who live, love and suffer. They need to share their feelings with us. If not, I torture them until they do.

I forgot to mention I always try to choose an interesting setting that would put Hero and Heroine in the right mood. I also add a few sensorial details. The ocean breeze carrying the scent of her perfume. The taste of vodka on his lips. The callousness of his palm against the softness of her skin. Characters have to smell, taste, and feel to be real.

In theory it sounds easy enough. So why did I suffer so much to create my characters’ love scene?

Do you have difficulty writing a love scene? What do you think is essential to bring your love scenes to life?

You can also stop to check Anny Cook’s blog and Kelly Kirch’s blog If you need to brighten your day with a smile, check Amarinda Jones's blog, And if you own and love pets, the place to go is Sandra’s Cox blog, Helen Scott-Taylor just started a new blog at

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Quotes and Jokes

Two quotes and a joke to brighten your weekend.

The secret of becoming a writer is to write, write and keep on writing-- Ken MacLeod
The greatest rules of dramatic writing are conflict, conflict and conflict-- James Frey

Joke: Sunday School
Little Mary was not the best student in Sunday School. Usually she slept through the class. One day the teacher called on her while she was napping, ''Tell me, Mary, who created the universe?'' When Mary didn't stir, little Johnny, an altruistic boy seated in the chair behind her, took a pin and jabbed her in the rear. ''God Almighty !'' shouted Mary and the teacher said, ''Very good'' and Mary fell back to sleep. A while later the teacher asked Mary, ''Who is our Lord and Savior?'' But Mary didn't even stir from her slumber. Once again, Johnny came to the rescue and stuck her again. ''Jesus Christ!'' shouted Mary and the teacher said, ''Very good,'' and Mary fell back to sleep. Then the teacher asked Mary a third question, ''What did Eve say to Adam after she had her twenty-third child?'' And again, Johnny jabbed her with the pin. This time Mary jumped up and shouted, ''If you stick that damn thing in me one more time, I'll break it in half!'' The Teacher fainted.