Friday, February 27, 2009

Rocky Road Isn't Just a Flavor

I love Rocky Road fudge and ice cream, but this isn't about indulging in desserts. Though I'm sure I can twist it so it is. lol

Recently, I turned down a speaking engagement to a small group local writers. The thought of it terrified me – I’m not one to do public appearances, do speeches, nor am I one to enjoy being pointed out as an example of someone to watch and learn from. I simply do my job, whatever it may be on any given day.

Aside from my personal fears, the offer of speaking about my writing career, how I came to be published and so on gave me much pause. Being in this realm for barely a year, there is so much I still have to learn. There are many things I still do not know.

A friend of mine yelled at me for not doing it and ordered me to never turn down another opportunity. She’s made me sit down and think about what I’ve learned over the last year.

This is what I do know:

A) Write what you love, don’t change it to follow some trend. If your heart isn’t in it, it’s not going to work as well as it should.

B) Don’t be a grammar guru until you finish the first draft, write naturally, especially in dialog. Use contractions and avoid short, choppy sentences. You want your writing to be smooth, one sentence flowing into the next. I don’t care what the genre is, if a sentence starts off rugged and stops abruptly, and this is the pattern of the writing, I’m going to toss it across the room with a few choice words.

C) Research, research and research your points of the story that may be a blocker for some readers. If it’s something you know from experience, do not write it as if it’s the only way.

Seriously, a couple of years ago I read a book where they used plaster mannequins and the couple knocked it from it’s platform in the store window and not one single part of it broke. It pulled me from the story to double-check my own common sense. How hard was the research? The first page of search results all said the same thing - plaster chips and breaks and this is why they've gone to plastic and nylon figures. Another time, the author’s wording of how it was an impossibility for a woman who’s had a tubligation to have it reversed, it was permanent. I was living proof she was wrong as I sat there reading it.

D) Find a terrific critique partner. One who will work with you and not against you. I recently explained to a publisher about why I couldn’t finish a three story book they put out last year. And questioned why it was even published – did the editors fail the author or did the authors fail themselves and pointed out areas for point. Of course, there was no response, but maybe they’ll be more careful.

Those pieces needed the help of a good critique group. Major sequence issues, holes in the story, the second story had major characterization issues. The second story was worse than the first, so no way was I going to waste my time with the third story.

E) Normally, I tell people to run with their gut feelings, but in this business, you need to be more attuned. You need to research publishers further than what is written on their websites. Read between the lines of their authors you speak to or read blogs about. Often you can get a better sense from what they aren’t saying. You know – when a message is full of fluff, you know they’re hiding something. Don’t be afraid to email authors privately. Some won't respond, most will.

On the published author side of things based on an e-author status with only one publisher at this point in time:

A) The moment you sign the contract, you take on more titles than ‘author’. All of sudden you’re Public Relations, Marketing Analyzer, Advertizer, Promoter, Graphics Designer, Bookeeper, etc. And the only one you’re going to be paid for is the ‘author’ title which means the unpaid titles you carry must become workhorses. Juggling it all is an issue we all wonder how and when a balance will come. The market changes more often than the weather, so your approach has to change.

B) Your work is going to be reviewed. Oh, boy! Toughen up, because some readers, some reviewers are going to reap you over the coals. When I receive one of these, my first instinct is to do ‘damage control’, because it's my training from so many years in food service.

C) Not every publisher works the same way. Not every editor has the same acceptance and unacceptance of aspects of your writing. For example - one may allow you to use ‘But,’ to start off a sentence where you want the emphasis while another wants that comma removed. Learn from your editors, but be cautious of changing your voice or your story to something you can’t live with.

D) Keep your chin up and push on even if the genre you’re writing isn’t the beloved the trend. You’re being true to yourself, don’t be ashamed to flaunt it.

E) I had so many questions that I believe there should be a handbook to guide new authors.

On a more personal basis. I’ve found that I miss all the writing time that used to be for purely my own pleasure. I’ve had a rough few months writing book three of my Servin’ It Up series because it’s not the story I intended. My intention was a romantic suspense – my characters said, "Absolutely not." We fought and fought. The story is complete and in the hands of my critique group. What happens to it now, time will tell. I think I needed a break from it with the effects of recent events weighing me down. Most likely, when I look at it again, I'll love the story and have to bow down and kiss the character's feet.

Instead, I’ve been working on a series tentatively called Uniform Love – it’s a four book series of military women and men living every day lives in their chosen fields of radar technicians and set in the years of 1996 and 1997. (There is a reason for this time frame.) There might possibly be a fifth book, but I wrote the first two back in 1995 and the second two in 2006. The stories range from mainstream to women’s lit with varying degrees of heat and controversial issues.

I can’t tell you what a relief it is to work with these wonderful people. I’m feeling good again. I’m excited to get up in the morning and open up the files. I’m anxious to get home from work and sit down with them.

This is the part of me I lost when I accepted my first contract offer. It threw me into a tizzy of a tailspin. Not that I wasn’t thrilled. But sometimes you set your goals so high, you believe it will never happen. And when it does... You have a sense of ‘what’s next?’ ‘how can you top it?’ ‘what’s left?’ And then of course, the head game. ‘how’s this going to affect my writing?’ ‘am I going to lose what I have going?’ Oh, boy! Pool this with the new head titles I took on – how could I possibly stand in front of a group of strangers wanting my view on things and feel like I’m helping them.

Wow, what a road it’s been? I’m looking forward to this year, next year and many years down the road. I love writing. It’s who I am. I need it like I need air.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"MUCHO CALIENTE!" voted LASR Best Book of 2008

I’ve had fabulous news! My romantic comedy, “Mucho Caliente!” has been voted Best Long Book of the Year 2008 by the Long and Short Reviews. I nearly fell off my chair when the email arrived, but I didn’t, which was just as well since I’d already fallen down the stairs twenty-four hours earlier and torn the ligaments in my right ankle.

“Mucho Caliente!” is set on the Spanish island of Ibiza and was written several years ago, making its recent publication and success all the more meaningful to me. The book was prompted by a chance sighting of a mega-handsome, Latino superstar at an Ibizinco beach bar, who was dancing up a fiery salsa with a beautiful blonde woman. The moment kick-started my imagination; I flew home to Switzerland and began a Latino love-fest on the page.

I’m the sort of person who is compelled to share my enthusiasm with other people. While writing the book, each day, as soon as I’d finished my chapter, I’d email it to some of my closest friends and was thrilled when they began emailing me back, asking me to hurry up and write another chapter because they couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. For the following eighteen months, my friends and I lived vicariously through Gemma, my heroine, enjoying madcap, rollercoaster adventures, living a shamelessly romantic love affair on an idyllic island in the sun with my imaginary Latino superstar, Emilio Caliente. I couldn’t write the story fast enough, and by the time I wrote “The End”, Gemma, Emilio and the rest of my characters had become as real to my girlfriends as they were to me.

From the reviews “Mucho Caliente!” has received since it was published in late 2008, it seems that its appeal transcends my close circle of friends. Women everywhere relate to Gemma’s insecurities, to her dreams and steadfast opinion of what romance and love should be. As for Emilio, my reviewer at Long and Short Reviews said it all with: “he is the epitome of what women fantasize about.”

I’ll never know whether the gorgeous Latino superstar I saw dancing at that beach bar in Ibiza is as wonderful as Emilio Caliente. But even if he’s only half as nice, his beautiful blonde salsa partner sure is one heck of a lucky girl!

Wishing you mucho giggles while reading my book,

With love,

Francesca Prescott

Blurb for “Mucho Caliente!”:

Thirty-seven year old Gemma hadn’t reckoned on being seated next to Latino heart-throb Emilio Caliente on the flight to Ibiza. She’d bravely dismissed her cheating husband’s generous divorce settlement, opting instead for a creatively satisfying, financially independent, bohemian lifestyle on a Spanish island in the sun. Falling in love with a pop music superstar eight years her junior was definitely not part of her plan. Common sense dictates staying away from Emilio Caliente and his cinnamon kisses: his life is in turmoil, his latest single has bombed, the press want to see him naked and his hellacious manager seems increasingly deranged. But surely the chain of extraordinary events that insists on bringing them together is proof that love is oblivious to common sense? Does Gemma dare follow her heart and wish upon a pop star without undermining everything else she set out to achieve?”


Chapter 1

It’s not. It can’t be. It bloody well can’t be! Oh my goodness; it is! It’s Latino heart-throb, Emilio Caliente! Why is someone like him sitting next to someone like me on this flight to Ibiza? He should be up front, behind the curtain, hidden away in first class. Why now? Why him? Why me?

Without so much as a glance in my direction, he’s short-circuited weeks of life changing, positive affirmations. Hiding behind my hair, I clench my fists, shut my eyes and silently recite, “My name is Gemma Talbot. I’m a beautiful, intelligent, newly single woman and I’m taking control of my life”. Yeah, right. What a joke! I’m sweating. I’m fidgeting. I’m finger combing my hair, smoothing my eyebrows and wishing I’d retouched my makeup before boarding.

Can’t he go away for a few minutes and come back when I’ve had time to pull myself together, both mentally and physically? Planes should have an emergency hatch with a twisty staircase from the passenger area down into the hold, so you can get to your suitcase, grab a change of clothes, a more appropriate pair of shoes, and maybe even a change of underwear. There should be a decent sized bathroom with pink, soft-tone lights to flatter your complexion and boost your self- confidence, not that vile, green, fluorescent glare that only emphasises your enlarged pores, your premature lines, your facial hair. There should be baskets of complimentary upmarket cosmetics, sample freebies of the greatest and latest scientific breakthroughs in moisturisers and makeup. Yes, even on a forty-minute flight from Barcelona to Ibiza. On this flight especially.

As it is, the bathroom has just been vacated by a podgy, sweaty, sick looking man, and the thought of following in his footsteps does not appeal. I rummage through my bag, praying that I won’t accidentally pull out a bedraggled tampon instead of a bruised and battered lip-gloss. I don’t usually look like this. Should I explain to him that, actually, I am quite a babe, even if I’m old enough to be, if not his mother, then at least his big sister? I’m usually impeccable. It wasn’t me who spilled Coca-Cola on my white linen trousers. It was the woman sitting next to me on my previous flight from Geneva. Her fiery Iberian origins led to loss of body control once she got started on the subject of her exasperating Scandinavian daughter-in-law. As for my T-shirt, it seemed to possess that casual, worn-in look when I left home earlier today, whereas it’s clear to me now that it should have been retired months ago and used as a duster. What on earth was I thinking? Oh, thank goodness; here’s my lip-gloss!

My lips taken care of, I fumble through the pocket of the seat in front of me, searching for an in-flight magazine, but there isn’t one. So I grab the emergency procedures card and start studying it with exaggerated interest, then get all flustered again, as though I’ve been caught reading the Special K cereal package.

What must he be thinking? I’m no first time flyer. I’m an air-sophisticate. I shake my long brown hair over my face and sneak a sideways glance at el divino, as the women’s glossies call him. Maybe it isn’t really him. Maybe I’ve just imagined the whole thing, and in reality, seat 12B is occupied by an obnoxious lager lout with spots and halitosis.

But no. It’s him, pop music’s Latino superstar, looking a little dishevelled and not quite as glamorous as on his album covers, calendars and posters, and obviously wearing some kind of hastily thrown together disguise. However, if the other passengers on Iberia flight 243 to Ibiza are fooled by the navy blue baseball cap, the wraparound sunglasses, and the prickly, chestnut coloured, three-day beard, a connoisseur like me is not. I am the princess of pop music, the FM queen. I know my pop stars.

It may seem sad that at the ripe old age of 37 I’m still addicted to bubblegum music. At my age, most people seem to have either moved on to cooler, more sophisticated musical spheres or remained faithful to the likes of Céline Dion, Phil Collins and Sting. Not that I dislike Céline Dion, Phil Collins, or Sting. They’re great. But when it comes to music, I’ll always be a teenybopper at heart. Boy bands may be passé, but they still do it for me. I’m a sucker for cheesy harmonies and all those slick, over-choreographed, step-step-shrug moves.

Crazy as it may sound, my taste in music was one of the irreconcilable differences that destroyed my marriage. I think it was an overdose of step-step-shrug that finally pushed my husband a step too far. He went and dumped me for an older woman.

Richard left me for Wilhelmina, a poker-faced, peroxided tart from Munich, whom I only ever saw from a distance, yet whose sense of style made quite an impression nevertheless: black leather trousers, sequinned sweaters featuring cartoon characters, daredevil heels and a hairstyle presumably influenced by lion tamers in circuses. Interesting choice for a conservative stick-in-the-mud like Richard. They probably have sex while listening to Metallica. “Yawohl, mein schnitzel, das ist SO gut, ya, ya schneller bitte, schneller."

Well, they’re welcome to it. They can have Metallica and schnitzels, with or without noodles. Screw them! I’m going to Ibiza to get myself a new life. But please, God, right now, give me something cool to say to Emilio Caliente. Send me instant smooth moves, oodles of charm, irresistible flickety hair.

I try to arrange myself a little more prettily, cross my legs. I’d offer him my best profile, but doing so would require odd contortions, since it’s the one against the window. I rub my nose, making sure there isn’t anything embarrassing hanging off the end.
He takes off his baseball cap and his sunglasses, removes his brown leather sandals (hairy toes, I notice), checks his phone for messages, then switches it off and puts it in the duty-free bag by his feet. He then turns to me, gives me the once over, let’s-see-what-we-have-here, oh-yes, oh-well, never-mind-then, graces me with a quick smile (Yes! This is good! Initial contact established!), puts his sunglasses back on and closes his eyes. So much for contact...

It’s almost eleven when we take-off. The flight has been delayed for nearly two hours. Most of the other passengers are either dozing or flicking through the kind of magazines you tend to buy at airports when you’re bored and need cheap, easy distractions. Even I have a copy of OMG! magazine in my duty-free bag. But now, with Emilio sitting next to me, I’m a little embarrassed to pull it out and have him think I’m mentally deficient.
A bored, exhausted flight attendant passes down the aisle with a basket of boiled sweets. I smile at her smugly, willing her to believe that I’m travelling with Mr. Caliente, that we’re a couple. But as she reaches our level and I lean over to grab something to combat potential gorilla breath, the plane hits turbulence, causing me to knock the basket and most of its contents all over Emilio Caliente’s crotch. Both the flight attendant and I freeze, but Emilio doesn’t stir. Is he asleep or is he deliberately ignoring what he thinks is a desperate plea for attention from his moronic, past-her-sell-by-date neighbour? What kind of a person doesn’t acknowledge an unfortunate accident? Why can’t he just smile politely, say “no harm done”, and offer me a cellophane wrapped windfall?

It’s now obvious to the flight attendant that we are not an item. She pulls a face at me, suppresses a giggle and discreetly points to the multicoloured sweets decorating Emilio’s khaki clad, drawstring secured, rather impressive crotch. "Do we leave them or pick them up?" she articulates silently.

I shrug, mortified, then shake my head. Better to leave them there than disturb the sleeping demigod and have him open his eyes to find four unfamiliar hands groping his testicles.
Grinning, the flight attendant carries on down the aisle, offering what’s left
in her basket to the other passengers.
“Mucho Caliente!” is available in print from: and Barnes and
It is available as an e-book from:
BookStrand, Mobipocket and All Romance Ebooks
For further information, please visit my website at

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It's Someone's Birthday - Glitter Graphics


Monday, February 23, 2009

Where's the love?

Is the book you’re reading Paranormal Romance or Urban Fantasy? Truthfully, I’m an author in the genre and I still don’t know what the difference is. Some say Urban Fantasy is Paranormal Romance with a lot less emphasis on the romance. Others will tell you Urban Fantasy is just the new name for Paranormal Romance. But either way you go, you’re inevitably dealing with a world darker than what you’d find in most traditional romance novels.

I’ve been asked a number of times why I chose to bill my series as Dark Paranormal Romance instead of Urban Fantasy, and for me, the answer is always the same: I don’t want to lose the romance. Part of the appeal of setting my stories in a darker world is because when the romance happens, it means far more. When you’re thrust into a situation that threatens everything you know – a single look or touch can change everything.

Take Logan Ellis and Kerestyan Nelek from my debut novel Eternal Seduction. Logan is everything a heroine shouldn’t be. She’s homeless, addicted to drugs, detached from the world around her, and is nearly as jaded as some of the ancient vampires she finds herself involved with. So in the moments when she accepts Kerestyan’s offered hand or actually reaches for his, the simple gesture means so much more.

Here’s an example:

Logan squeezed Kerestyan’s hand when he laced his fingers between hers and gently pulled her around to face him. He gazed down at her, his blue eyes burning with emotions she couldn’t place. “Are you ready?”

She did her best to offer him a confident smile, but ended up shaking her head. “Honestly, no.” She reached up and smoothed the cascade of black hair spilling over his shoulder. “I was just starting to come to terms with being your prisoner, Lord Vampire.”

She shivered as he brushed the backs of his warm fingers down her cheeks before curling them behind her neck. He pressed his forehead to hers then closed his eyes and inhaled the steam her breath created as it mingled with the cold air.

He didn’t say anything. He didn’t move. He just stood there, his soft lips barely touching hers, breathing in her breath as though he needed it as much as she did.

That particular scene happens about halfway through the book. It’s one of my personal favorites, and I honestly don’t think it would have the same meaning if Logan wasn’t a darker character. Her nature allows some of the most overlooked gestures to become romantic: a shared look from across the room, Kerestyan’s strong hand at the small of her back, his warm lips against her cheek. For a heroine like Logan, who’s lost her faith in the world around her and cares about very little, a single look or gentle touch means more than flowers or candy ever could.

Personally, I thrive on writing a dark and dangerous world. I love finding characters who bend and break the traditional molds and give me a chance to paint love and romance in new ways. After all, you probably have a different idea of what love is than the person sitting next to you, and the characters you read about are no different. One person’s vision of a happily ever after may include a ring and a declaration of undying love, while another’s might be the realization that the person standing across from them makes them believe that love really is possible. I think romance, and the perception thereof, works the same way.

So that’s why I resist the Urban Fantasy moniker for my Dark Paranormal Romance series. If you take out the romance, what are you left with? Earth shattering battle sequences where the male and female leads just “like” each other? If that’s your thing, by all means – read what you like. :) But I’ll always be a fan of the story where a man and woman fight to overcome the odds together and find a way to pull each other from the darkness.

Jen Turner

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Happily Ever After from Colonial Yorktown

This week our four boys had school vacation so we took them down to Colonial Williamsburg for a good old fashioned family vacation. You can bet I didn't mention that it was the "educational" vacation! They actually really enjoyed it, as did my husband and I. One story in particular stuck with me.
Just before the revolutionary war the Jemison Family was attacked by Indians. Young Mary Jemison was abducted and taken into a Seneca Indian tribe. After a while, she accepted her fate and adapted to the tribal life. She married a warrior and had two children. When the Revolutionary war broke out, her tribe, like many were attacked and driven from their homes. Mary fled to the mountains and hid there through the winter with her children, and the help of two escaped slaves. After the war ended, Mary had the opportunity to be returned to her white family, but she chose to return to her Seneca Indian family. may not be the happiest of endings....but it was definitely thought provoking. I like to believe that she had found true love with her Indian warrior and returning to him was her only wish. Maybe I am romanticizing her choice. Perhaps it was the mere fact that her children wouldn't have been accepted by her white family? As I walked through the various homes and read the stories of the people who carved out our freedom, I can't help but wonder what they were really like. Mary's story of challenge, loss, triumph, survival and love will be with me for some time.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Bulls would be Furious

“The bulls would be furious!” isn’t the sort of statement one would expect from an eight-year old girl, riding up a chairlift above the ski slopes of a Swiss alpine resort in mid winter. At this time of the year, all bovines have long been escorted down the mountain by tanned, six-packed hotties in tight tee-shirts and faded denim. They’ve been washed, brushed, their bells removed and polished, and are tucked up cozily in their sheds, mooing contentedly, lazily chomping on Edelweiss laced hay fed to them by buxom, rosy-cheeked blondes skipping around in time to merry accordion music playing in the background.

Well, sort of… It’s a pleasant image, anyway.

What I do know from experience is that there are no bulls roaming the snow capped slopes, pawing the ground and tossing their horns at the hordes of tourists skimming down the resort’s vast choice of runs on sunny afternoons in February. The bulls would be furious? What on earth was my eight year old niece on about? What bulls? Where?

My husband wasn’t so sure either, riding alongside her on the chairlift, gazing absentmindedly at the sharp peaks cutting into the crystalline sky, a million mental miles away from toreadors hollering “Olé!” at fierce, snorting challengers. He twisted in his seat and turned to look at her, found her gazing down at a group of skiers in red jackets, shaking her head in exasperation. “What do you mean, Giovanna?” he asked.

Giovanna’s silver helmet flashed in the sunshine as she whipped her head around, eyeing him from behind her goggles like he was the ultimate dimwit. “Just look at all those red jackets!”

Lateral thinking, anyone?

xx Francesca

Francesca Prescott
"MUCHO CALIENTE! - Wish upon a Latino Superstar"
An effervescent romantic comedy
LASR: Best Long Book of the Year 2008 : "Laugh out loud hilarious!"
NOR: Reviewer Top Pick : "A seriously fun book with more twists and turns than expected"

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Music, A Romance Author's Best bud!

It's my first time blogging at HEA and I am excited! My name is Kadian Tracey and I a sweet romance author. I write a little bit of everything from Interracial to Sheikhs because let's face it, love comes frome every where. If you want to learn more about me you can find me at my website. So today I'd like to blog about music. Whenever I write, I listen to music to get me in the mood persay. For example, if I want to write something angry, I will listen to everything from Metallica to Pink Floyd. Sadness comes through music the best. When it comes to writing something heart wrenching I listen to people like Ben Broussard's "Me Hitting the Ground" or Colin James' "Why'd you Lie." They are some wonderful tunes out there to get you into the writing mood. If I am in love but not ready for a love scene, I listen to a little TLC or old skool Salt N Peppa.

Should you want to chose songs for love scenes, anything from most of Robin Thicke's songs, Lost Without U, Teach u A Lesson, Complicated, Angel (my absolute favorite) and When I get You ALone. Lenny Kravitz's Dancing Til Dawn is a very SEXY one. Ths one is for all you ladies and gents that writes erotica or sensual.

The reason I thought it fit to write about music is because sometimes you may be going through writer's block I find the perfect thing to get you in the mood, pull you from that blockage is the perfect song! Try it sometimes - The next time you feel as though you need to write but nothing's coming, dig through your CD or MP3 collection or go youtube surfing for music vids. Below is a list of artists that I use when I need writing help. It is my hopes that after you listen to any of them they will help you.

Robin Thicke
*Epik High
*Rain(Bi) (Specific song: In My Bed, Love Story, Rainism, Ways to Escape the Sun)
*Jang Woo Hyuk
Luther Vandross
Keisha Cole
Lenny Kravitz
Colin James
Pink Floyd
Savage Garden
Backstreet Boys (Specific song: Love Is)
Nick Carter (specific song: Do I Have to Cry for You)
*Big Bang (Specific song: Haru Haru) (English Day by Day)
Gloria Estefan (specific song: Anything For you)
Toni Braxton (specific song: Breathe Again, Spanish Guitar)
Leona Lewis
Norah Jones
Keri Hilson
Pussycat Dolls (Specific song: I hate this part right here)
Changing Faces
Celine Dion (especially: I Drove All Night)
Kavana (Specific song: Will You Wait For Me (In Heaven))
Baby Face aka Kenneth Edmunds
Jon B
Mr. Mister

And just in case you were having a bad day? Here's something to make you laugh. Mad TV spoof or R. Kelly's Trapped in the Closet. Please click here.
* - Another language other than english. Song/artists can be found on youtube with english sub titles
**- sings in english as well as another language

And have a lovely, romance filled hump day!
Kadian Tracey

Monday, February 16, 2009

My Unforgotten Valentine...

The way was hard, sometimes. And so often you would thank me - for little things like toast and honey, and a pen than wouldn't run dry when you had to write lying down. And you'd tell me that I'd touched your life, and that you were glad that you had found me.

But looking back, as I sift through the memories and trace their textured colours, I see now that it wasn't like that at all. The real truth? I could be strong, because your strength was so much greater. I could have faith, because your faith was so much simpler. I could endure, because your courage was so much deeper

Somehow you filled the space you were in. Not with words, or with demands, or even obligations. Just filled it gently, then overflowed, and gave, and gave, and gave. I knew from the start that I would always share you with the world. Everyone loved you, and there was just too much of you for only one heart to hold. But that was okay, too, because somehow the more you gave, the more you had to give.

Our time was so short, and now our "together-dreams" are gone. But we had so much. We lived so much. And I had the most precious gift of all. I had the chance to walk with you, even just for a little while. To share the moments of pain and to comfort you, the moments of fear and to hold you, the moments of peace and the moments of joy, and to be touched by your humility and your courage. I was able to walk with you, and then to watch as you walked on out of sight to a place where I cannot follow until another time.

But, though the empty space in my heart is now as great as the space you once filled, I can be at peace with your going, just as you were. And I can be at peace because, through all those long, dark hours, it wasn't I who prepared you for the dying, but you who prepared me for the staying behind.

The way was hard, sometimes. And so often you would thank me for the little things. And you said that you were glad that you had found me, and that I had touched your life. But, looking back, I see that if I did, in some small way, touch your life, it was because of the way you loved me. And in giving me the joy of loving you my life was touched, and healed, and changed. And, for just a little while, I held in my hand the most precious gift of all.

A tribute to my late husband Gary
My Unforgotten Valentine...

Who passed away from bone cancer almost 12 years ago.

The man who taught me that fishing could be the most romantic thing ever (see
My Most Romantic Moment) has, sadly,

Gone Fishing...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentine's Day: Have you got a Man or a Boy?

Every year, as Valentine's Day approaches, I often go through the ghosts of Valentine's past. What years were good and which ones were.....well not so good. I must say for the past eighteen years I've been pretty spoiled by my husband. He's a real man. He gives gifts that are thoughtful and have meaning. It's not about the cost, it's always the thought that goes into it and that is always what makes my heart flutter. I know there are many ladies out there that are wondering what their sweethearts will come up with for the most romantic day of the year. Romantic gift giving separates the men from the boys. your man a man...or is he a boy? Here are a few examples to help you decide.

Boy Gift: Box of Russell Stovers wrapped in the clear cellophane
Man Gift: Godivas placed on your pillow with a little note

Boy Gift: Gas station flowers with a shelf life of 1 day (likely dyed a color not found in nature)Man Gift: A single red rose ( or what ever your favorite flower is) hand delivered to your door

Boy Gift: A gift card to Old Navy/GAP/Target
Man Gift: Doing all the laundry and putting it away

Boy Gift: Dinner out (probably local pub with sports on in the background)
Man Gift: He makes you dinner...AND cleans up

Boy Gift: Trial membership to the gym (so not only is he telling you to lose weight he doesn't think you'll stick with it...nice)
Man Gift: Gift certificate to the spa for a full day of beauty (if you have children it also means he takes the kids)

Boy Gift: Something sexy and lacy for you to wear for him. (Resembles dental floss and will give you a severe wedgie)
Man Gift: A bubble bath with wine, candles and yourself. (He waits patiently for you to finish..never once asking.."Are you done yet.")

Last but not least, when you emerge from the bedroom in your carefully chosen outfit (Which by the way probably was result of trying on 87 different combinations) he will of course have something to say. The BOY says..."Oh, you're wearing that?" The MAN smiles broadly and says...."You look beautiful."Happy Valentine's Day Ladies. I hope you've all got a great MAN. I know I do.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Romance Novels in Poetry


I am afraid to love, and yet I love you.
My fear is like a wall I walk right through.
The wall is there, and yet it doesn't stop me.
I need it still, and yet I still need you.

I know someday we will be in a field
Surrounded by the blessing of the sky.
I'll dance with all the freedom of pure joy,
Needing you without a reason why.

But now I'm still afraid that I might lose you,
That you might not accept my desperate need.
You make me laugh and cry and be completely.
You are the flower, I the slender reed.
Love needs its hour in the sun
Or like a flower it will fade.
But happiness depends upon
The proper mix of light and shade.

Or like a flower it will fade
Into the wall of unpicked dreams.
The proper mix of light and shade
Takes more courage than it seems.

Into the wall of unpicked dreams
Love fades, afraid to speak. This poem
Takes more courage than it seems.
You're fading, too, when you come home.

Love fades, afraid to speak this poem.
But happiness depends upon
Your fading, too. When you come home,
Love needs its hour in the sun.


I came across this site this evening and was wowed. I chose these two poems to post because for me, they speak romance novels in a nutshell.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

FOREVER, I DO: A Loving Dedication

For the month of February, Loose-Id will release titles with a wedding theme in support of those who want to love and marry who they want. Forever, I Do co-authored by myself and Taige Crenshaw is our contribution to a quartet of special themed releases called "Marriage For All".

When the call went out to submit a proposal for "Marriage For All" our publisher was looking for stories featuring everything from Bridezillas or Always a Bridesmaid but Never the bride, to a gay man who's planned his wedding since he was five, but finds society not as welcoming to his idea of eternal bliss.

Even though I didn't think we would get the contract, Taige Crenshaw and I submitted a proposal and to our delight and surprise they liked itour story of an interracial relationship set in the deep South. Although race plays a factor in Forever, I Do, the real conflict arises when the hero, Ashley Benedict, wedding planner extraordinare, accidentally takes a taste of his client's bewitched wedding cake samples.

Known for their good luck, Rosaline Fletcher's wedding cakes are infused with a loving spell, which produces long-lasting marriages where the men never stray, the women don't nag, and 99.7 percent never face each other on opposite ends of a court room. And as you can guess, after tasting the heroine's cake samples, Ashley suddenly becomes desirous of Rosalind's other "goodies" and won't stop until he has tasted all of them.

While writing the story, in 8 harrowing days no less, we had alot of fun and stumbled across a little irony. While writing the cake tasting scene. where Ashley becomes bewitched, we came up with a name for the room where the bride and groom are left alone in order for the spell to take affect. This room came to be called The Loving Room.

While halfway through the story, I realized that The Loving Room had the same name as an interracial couple who'd fought to remain married and raise their children in Virginia. And who won a ground breaking case Loving Vs. Virgina , which overturned America's miscegenation laws in 1967.

Realizing this, I became fascinated with their story of how a quiet boy who grew up down a country road from a little girl and fell in love with her and decided to marry her. But, Richard Loving was white and Mildred Jeter (yes, she's a distant cousin of baseball player Derek Jeter) was black. And at the time in the state of Virginia, their marrying would result in a felony charge and time in jail.

In order to skirt the Racial Integrity Act, Mildred and Richard drove 80 miles to Washington, D. C. to be married by a minister they'd picked out of a phone book. Upon returning to Virginia, the happy couple settled back into life with their marriage certificate proudly tacked to their bedroom wall.

However, after less than two months of wedded bliss, an anonymous tip sent the local sheriff to the happy couple's home in the middle of the night in hopes of catching them in a sexual act (another crime at the time).

Caught in their sleep, the couple were arrested and charged under Section 20-58 of the Virginia Code, which prohibited interracial couples from being married out of state and then returning to Virginia, and Section 20-59, which classified "miscegenation" as a felony punishable by a prison sentence of between one and five years.

After Richard spent one night in jail and a pregnant Mildred five, the Lovings pleaded guilty and were sentenced to one year in prison, with the sentence suspended for 25 years, if they left the state.

The Lovings packed up and moved back to Washington D.C. But after five years, the couple became homesick and wanted to move back to Virginia. So, Mildred sat down and on lined notebook paper wrote Robert Kennedy who referred her to the ACLU, who on their behalf filed a motion in the state trial court to vacate the judgment and set aside the sentence on the grounds that the violated statutes ran counter to the Fourteenth Amendment.

While preparing their motion, the couple's lawyer, Bernard Cohen, remembers Mr. Loving advising him to, “Tell the court I love my wife, and it is just unfair that I can’t live with her in Virginia.”

Of course, the state courts wouldn't budge, so their case went all the way to the Supreme Court. After eight long years and many setbacks, the U.S. Supreme Court decided unanimously in the Loving's favor.

Inspired by their great sacrifice we've dedicated our book Forever, I Do, which was released today to the Lovings, who weren't looking for fame or fortune just the right to love.

Click to read an excerpt of Forever, I Do

by Koko Brown

Monday, February 9, 2009

An Inspirational Valentine

There are many stories behind the origin of Valentine’s Day, but this story has always been the one that struck a chord with me. Maybe it’s because I can see the romance of it.

Late in the third century, around 270 A.D., the Roman Empire was in a downward spiral that it never quite recovered from. There were ever increasing threats from outside invaders, not to mention the lack of qualified men to serve in the government and the military. The reigning emperor, Claudius II, decided that single men were better suited than married men to serve in these capacities so he decided to ban marriage.

A local Christian bishop, Valentine, secretly continued to offer the sacrament of marriage to couples who desired to do so. When Claudius learned of this he had Valentine arrested and ordered him to convert to worshipping the pagan Roman gods.

Instead of converting, Valentine, displaying great dignity and valor, turned the tables on Claudius and attempted to convert him to Christianity even though the consequence could be his death. Claudius was unpersuaded and on the 24th of February he had Valentine executed.

While in prison, tradition has it that the jailer in charge asked Bishop Valentine to pray for his blind daughter to be healed. Through Valentine's prayers the daughter's sight was miraculously restored. Afterward Valentine penned a note to the daughter and signed it "from your Valentine."

Pulled from

While he didn’t have a Happy Ever After, he sure provided long-lasting inspiration for us all to strive for one.

I love Valentine’s Day. Granted we can and should be sharing our love and romance throughout the year, and many of us do - I love having a day where we can escape our hectic schedules and devote a few hours to romance.


A Bit of Trivia I came across: Valentine Traditions

Austria – an obscure tradition on the books is courtship where flowers are presented is associated with Valentine’s Day.

Australia – during the gold rush, those who found their fortune would send elaborate valentines made of satin cushions, scented and decorated with flowers, shells and stuffed humming bird or bird of paradise. They were elaborated packaged and sent.

Britain – when the day would come, magazines would publish sonnets and verses in honor of St Valentine.

Denmark – transparent cards are given, but when held up to the light it would show the lover giving his girl a gift. People would swap poems and snow candy and send each other silly and playful love notes with names signed in dots. If the receiver figures out who sent the note, the sender will receive an egg at Easter.

France – an outlawed custom was one where they’d enter a house and call out the window of the one the one they wanted for a mate. If the man didn’t like his mate, he’d desert her and the ladies would burn photos and what have in bonfires and name calling would ensue. Now cards are given.

Germany – the males of courting couples would give flowers, while married men would give their wives roses and chocolate, etc. Love notes, cards are given any day of the year.

Italy – no longer done is the gathering of couples in ornamental gardens to listen to poetry and music. Now they simply announce their engagement on Valentine’s Day. In Rome the day is known as Lupercalia, and is a day of love and romance.

Scotland – during a festival, singles would put their names in hats, male in one, female in another and names would be drawn. Sometimes this would result in marriages by the end of the dance or just the woman wearing their Valentine’s name on their sleeve. There is also a practice of when the first man or woman walks by you they will be your Valentine. Another tradition is to exchange gifts or rings.

Spain – it’s the custom for dating couples to exchange gifts while husbands send roses to their wives.


Daring to be different…
Dare to discover…passion-secrets-love
A Psychic Hitch – Last Glass of Wine – Servin’ It Up

Friday, February 6, 2009

Perfect Romance

Romance doesn't always go the way we dream they should. In our young minds, there is nothing but love and love conquors the world. Prince Charming glides across the floor and sees no other and whisks me off my feet and life is magic from there. For most of us anyway.

Then we grow and find with our first love comes heartache and tears. Oh, the dramatics. This is about the time teenage girls begin to read romance novels. They're looking for that magic they dreamed about and their first experience didn't bring it on.

While this isn't why I began writing romance, it's a prime example of why I love to write like it's real life. There is so much women and men go through that romance where everything lines up all nice and neat doesn't necessarily help. It's an escape, yes. It's taking their minds off their trouble for a hour at a time. But what I like to see and what I like to show is that fictional characters have the same issues that any one or two of the readers can relate to and maybe find peace or a solution in how they might handle it themselves. Maybe give insight as to where the other side of the fence is coming from.

Love is never going to be perfect, but it' how we learn to handle it, how we learn to grow with it and how we learn to live with it. This is what I keep in mind while I'm writing. I want my characters to experience the ups, downs and survive it all. To come out in the end with the person who is going to walk with them to be all they can be. Happily Ever After isn't always going to be a straight and narrow path of merry little hearts circling around your head.

Thank goodness.

Without the trials how would we know the real thing? How could we appreciate the other person? Where would the bonding come from? Reminds me of the saying 'you can't live on love alone'. No, you can't.

So, tell me what you like in the romances you read. Come on, don't be shy? It's ok if you want the straight-line romances to escape with. Our differences are what makes us all work. :)


~~ Add a book to an Easter Basket this year. ~~

Interested in an autographed copy of Servin' It Up, email me at for info.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Year of the Romantic Heart... Be kiss-ready...

This is the Year of the Romantic Heart. Why? For many cosmic-force reasons, which would take lots of pages to detail properly here. The most obvious, however, is that this is the Year of Two in numerology. The year, 2009 adds up to TWO [2+0+0+9=11=2] ~~~
TWO is the number of relationship and romance in numerology. February is the month of TWO, thus, absolutely perfect for Valentine’s Day. I’m telling you the Love Goddess, whether you call her Venus or Aphrodite, knows the art of planning and encouraging romance. And she has her celestial divine ways.
Yes, this is the year to ~~~ Be kiss-ready ~~~
I rarely pays attention to most TV commercials anymore. For one reason I find most of them tediously boring. I do keep one eye *sort of* open simply to keep track of evolving cultural trends, which has always been a fascination for me. So, here I was penning a bloggie for my Kougar Kisses blog and I hear in the background *be kiss-ready* ... how sweetly and passionately perfect for this Year of the love number Two.
Now, the couple in the commercial, while cute in a teenage way... has little to do with the true possibilities and pleasures of being *kiss-ready* ~~~ for, what if you could look forward to delicious sweet and wild kisses from the lover of your choice everyday...what if...what if your lover bestowed your favorite kisses everyday and craved that time when you would bestow their favorite kisses...
Tell me, how much would that improve the love quality of your life?
On a global scale, how much would that improve the world for all us???
You betcha, a whole darn lot. If people were smooching up a passionate storm, how many would really care about fighting wars, for example?
And, how much fun could life be and become, if you and your beloved are always *kiss-ready* for each other?
Gals and guys, I say make it your sweetest goal this year to *be kiss-ready” ~~~

Since I remembered, this is a poem I wrote about thirteen years ago, about how just one kiss can transform a person’s life. I wrote it for the beginning of my first novella, Savage Gameswoman, so be was awhile ago.

Whose soul
has not been
transformed by the perfect kiss?
The first kiss beyond innocense–
The passion-ruled kiss without end–
The terrible soft kiss of farewell–

Whose life
has not turned
upon a kiss?
Each kiss we heart-soaring treasure–
Each torrid-sparking kiss that ignites the flesh–
Each kiss of promised sweetest love–

Whose heart
was never changed
upon a lip-honey kiss?
The remembered rapture of rolling kisses–
The night kisses of imagination’s fire–

I ask you!
Whose journey
was never altered
upon one kiss?

Oh, and reading romance novels could definitely be a kiss-ready aid. I’ll confess something that’s probably obvious. I love watching couples kiss...the movies, TV shows, and for real...especially when the kiss or kisses are from the heart. And as an author, I sigh over writing those matter how sweet and tender or how passionate and scorching.
The New Covey Cover Awards: Entry #26 - When a Good Angel Falls

Title: When a Good Angel Falls Author: Savanna Kougar Cover Artist: Jinger Heaston Genre: Fantasy futuristic, erotic romance. Links: ~ ~ ...
The New Covey Cover Awards - ~

My hero in When a Good Angel Falls, Volcano, is what is known as a carnal cherub. That is, he can operate in either the mortal or immortal realms. Since he’s here on Earth, albeit in 2012, with his heroine, Sedona, he gives me his angelic forecast each week. This one is about LOVE and the number 2 ~

February 2, 2009

Angelic Forecast ~ XXII

“Okay,” I murmur, “the 2's definitely have it. Here.” I feel astounded to say the cosmic-least, as I stare THE NUMBERS. All the numbers.
“Two, the magical and mystical I love you.” The Heavenly One has popped out of the ethers beside me.
“It must be all about love,” I say, entranced by the sight of Venus, hanging high above the western horizon, and so amazingly bright in the night sky, I can scarcely believe it.
“February, the second month, ushers in new horizons for love...for being loved.”
Suddenly a glistening shower of itsy bitsy pink hearts fall before my eyes.

MORE...Volcano’s Angelic Forecast for this week ~ ~ or at the Title Magic blog ~

May your most romantic dreams come true...


Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~
Note: the top right pic is by cover artist: Max Ginsberg ~ All she Wants ~

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Daffodils and Pink Roses

The scene is a classic in romance novels: the hero, smitten with the heroine's charms, presents her with a bouquet of flowers.

Ah yes, flowers. Every woman likes to receive them--I know I do. They're pretty, they smell nice, and they mean the presenter has been thinking of you.

But why do flowers figure in courtship? According to sociologists Alan S. Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa, authors of Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters, there may be a genetic basis for the behavior. Genes' survival depends on passing themselves to the next generation. A woman needs to know if a man possesses the resources to support their children. A man has to proclaim he is a good provider. Voila, flowers.

Pretty as they are, flowers have no survival value. You can't eat them, wear them or save them for the future. When a man presents a woman with flowers, he shows he has sufficient wealth to spend valuable resources on something nonessential. The behavior also demonstrates his generosity. He is willing to part with his hard-earned money to buy those worthless flowers.

But then, we are more than our genes. I like daffodils and pink roses. My husband buys me pink roses all year long. Now, in February, the first of the cut daffodils have arrived here in New England. He goes out of his way to find them for me. For as long as we've been together, he's brought me flowers. Why? We're married. He no longer has to prove anything. But he still brings me those flowers, and the specific flowers I like--because he wants me to be happy. Is love part of our genes, or beyond them? Do we care?

And I do enjoy those daffodils. Happy Valentine's Day.

Thank you all,
Linda Banche
Regency romance--most with humor, some with fantasy, and occasionally a paranormal

Lady of the Stars--A legend spanning time, and the man and woman caught in it--Regency time travel, available from The Wild Rose Press