Friday, January 29, 2010

Western Erotic Romance ~ BREED TRUE by Gem Sivad

Romance lovers, isn’t that some of the most gorgeous cover art you’ve seen, recently? At least, to my eye it is. The cover artist is Amanda Kelsey ~ ~

Yet, I digress because I absolutely love cover art.
Far more important, though, Gem Sivad’s latest book, BREED TRUE, will be released from Liquid Silver Books on Monday, February 1st. And, am I ever excited.

Gem has received outstanding reviews for INTIMATE STRANGERS and WOLF’S TENDER. She’s fast becoming a leading author in Western Erotic Romance for good reasons. Her stories are gritty, realistic about those historical times. However, that feeling of sweep-you-away romance prevails.
Gem also realistically portrays the relationship between a man and a woman. Yet, love always wins out, the hearts of her hero and heroine exposed to each other, in that Happily Ever After we all want and crave.
Oh, and talk about scorching passion... yeehaw! Saddle up for the long hot ride.


Half-Apache rancher Grady Hawke owns close to 10,000 acres of water-enriched, Texas grassland.

But as soon as his white father is no longer in control, an Eastern Land Company moves to steal the family ranch, claiming Grady is too Indian to rightfully own Hawks Nest.

Grady decides to apply what he’s learned in mixing different strains of cattle. He needs to find a red-haired woman and breed back to the fair skin and Scottish features of his father. With a white child and wife, he plans to appease his neighbors and out-maneuver the greedy Eastern Consortium of business men who are trying to steal Texas land.

But when Grady meets auburn-haired widow, Julie Fulton, breeding cattle is the last thing on his mind.



“Let me get this straight,” Jewel Rossiter swept the room with a quick look of disgust. “Mr. Hawks, you want to parade me around the territory as your white wife, to prove how civilized you are.”And, Mr. Quince you want me to give my children to your wife, a move that would also eliminate any inconvenience that might disrupt the show Mr. Hawks plans to put on.”

Then she looked at Sheriff Hiram Potter, who was clearly uncomfortable with the way the evening had gone. But she spoke to both him and Judge Conklin, “And you two, they brought in to make everything legal and tight.”

After all the bullshit that had been spattered around in the talking, she’d filtered out what affected her. He gave her the courtesy of a tight smile. She considered him for a minute while the rest of the room studied her. She appeared calmer than she had been all night…and resolved.

“No one gets my daughters, understand that. My children stay with me.” Then she focused on him and he was reminded that she wasn’t a tame dog to be frightened into submission.

“Are you talking a real wife?” At his raised brow of incredulity that she might consider otherwise, she paused a moment and then amended her question. “Where would this magnificent coupling take place?

Grady Hawks almost laughed out loud at her assessment but did her the courtesy of a straight answer. “Hawks Nest Ranch abuts the Double-Q ranch east of town. It stretches above the foot hills behind Eclipse.”

“Is it isolated? Can people come and go?” Evidently, the gambler’s woman needed a place to lay low with her daughters for awhile. He declined to mention the duration of her visit.

It seemed to him that the location of the land might be the only temptation to her agreeing. She needed a haven. Maybe Hawks Nest would be that place.

Her knuckles showed white as she backed against a heavy piece of furniture and clutched the edge of the desk. So, she’s not as tough as she wants us to believe.

As Grady watched, her translucent skin blanched even whiter, displaying clearly the degree of her exhaustion, as her knees began to buckle.

He was on her in a second, his arm sweeping familiarly around her shoulders for support. “Only folks coming onto my land are those I allow entrance.”

“I’ve had a husband and I don’t want another,” she told him desperately but already her gaze assessed him.

She was interrupted by Hamilton Quince who edged close enough to follow the conversation, “Want plays a poor second to need, and right now, Mrs. Rossiter, it would appear that you need the protection of a man.”

Grady remained expressionless and silent letting Quince make his case. But the gambler’s woman didn’t spare a glance for Hamilton, intent on answers to her questions.

She skimmed the room with a suspicious gaze at the same time she spoke softly to him pitching her voice so that even Quince couldn’t hear.

“Pretty convenient me just being made widow,” her tone was intimate and although quiet, spoke volumes about her willingness to forget the matter if he did admit killing Frank Rossiter.

But he had strong doubt that she’d agree to marry her husband’s murderer.

“Did you or your hireling, kill Frank Rossiter?” she locked eyes with Grady as though she could read his soul.

She was a slender woman who reached his shoulder, bruised from another man’s fists, but she questioned him with authority, asserting her right to know.

“No,” he told her, “I can’t claim that pleasure.” From the sound of the mob, someone had been busy spreading the rumor that one or the other of them had killed Frank Rossiter.

“As you have heard, I have twin baby girls.” Her bravado wavered at the sound of the mob’s approach and she waited tensely for his response.

“The wife of Grady Hawks will be protected, as will her family, because they will belong to me.” No sense in lying to her. She’s as safe as she wants to be. I sure as hell don’t plan to hurt her or a couple of kids.

He shrugged and waited, admiring the way she hid her thoughts from those in the room.

“All right,” she agreed, accepting his proposal. It was no decision at all when faced with the sound of her other choices coming up the street.

As they turned expectantly toward the judge, she asked. “How long will we need to play act?”

The others in the room strained to hear the negotiations quietly taking place, but her words were too softly spoken. He liked her voice and that she appeared to own some sense and had no need to rely on the others in the room to make her decisions.

“This is no play act. I intend a legal wedding witnessed by the leader’s of Eclipse society. We will remain married and you will give me a son,” Grady felt her flinch and shudder.

She stepped back and away, shaking her head. “Don’t be foolish. Playacting at being your wife is one thing,” she told him, “but I won’t give you a child like I’m promising you the first pup from the litter. I’ll not leave a baby—boy or girl child to be raised by you.”

She was fierce with that disclaimer. He didn’t factor in her experience with Frank Rossiter before his own temper flared. “You have a problem with my Indian blood?”

Anger simmered as he prepared to say, to hell with the whole proposition and take his chances with the crowd gathering outside.

But, he explained himself, for her ears only. “I need to deed my spread to a son. My bloodlines range a little too close to my Kiowa mother for present company’s ease.”

Her expression was unreadable, but her hands still clutched the edge of the table. She asked, “Why would that fix anything?”

“We’ll breed back to the red hair and white skin of my father. If I’m fortunate, my son will inherit those features.” He frowned, irritated to admit his plan to deliberately dilute his Indian blood.

His voice dropped into a threatening growl. “After you give me a son, pale-skin or Kiowa, do what you will, but, the boy remains with me.”

The crowd outside was louder and Grady thought it was time for plain speaking.

“Ma’am, you need a husband and I need a wife. What say you?”

The heavy tread of footsteps and flickering light of a torch had more of her attention than he did.

She walked to the window and peered outside, ignoring the room’s occupants. Grady had time to admire the proud line of her back and shoulders as she telegraphed her right to be left alone.

He mentally shrugged and admitted defeat. The gambler’s widow had made her decision. He pulled on the brim of his hat and nodded at the others.

And then, because in a curious way, he still needed to close out his memory of her at the Eclipse social, he joined her at the window, shielding her from the room’s view.

She didn’t flinch or respond, but their gaze crossed in the window’s reflection. A shout outside, and a lifted torch, showed the crowd.

But, her gaze was tilted upward, fixed on a second story window in the Golden Eagle saloon. A man outlined there, stood smoking a cigar and watching the mob.

Her gaze refocused on Grady and green fire met cold slate. “All right,” she nodded her acceptance surprising him.

It was a good enough answer for him. Negotiations were over and he’d courted and claimed himself a bride.

She turned to him, almost in his arms and lowered her voice shielding the rest of the discussion from the other listeners in the room.

He drew deep of her scent, the smell of Comfort Quince’s soap and bottled pretties drifting up, as he leaned closer to hear her husky voice.

Her own rich musk wafted sweetly and tickled his senses, unexpectedly stirring an arousal. His eye lids drifted to half slits and a growl of hunger clawed at his throat.

Siren, they call her. Jesus. He was the first to step away.

From Gem Sivad’s site ~

Breed True , an Eclipse Hearts Novel, will be available at Liquid Silver Books on February 1, 2010. The story takes place in 1880 Texas during a period of land redistribution and Indian unrest.

Rancher Grady Hawks stands to lose his land and way of life, if he can’t convince his neighbors that his half-Kiowa heritage doesn’t threaten them.

When recently widowed Julie Rossiter needs rescued, he offers her a devil’s bargain–protection and a few acres of land with water, in exchange for a year of marriage and the chance to produce a white son and heir.

Julie Rossiter doesn’t want a husband but she needs one. To protect her children and gain security for their future, she accepts Grady Hawks’ proposal.

What Julie doesn’t expect is her new husband’s determined seduction. When she makes it clear that love has no part in their bargain, Grady sets out to change her mind.

There’s also a fabulous book trailer at Gem’s wordpress blog.

PLUS! Gem is blogging at the
Liquid Silver SEx blog today.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mid-Day Madness

For some reason I can't seem to write in the middle of the day. It seems like I can sit and concentrate on my writing in the early morning, if I drag myself out of bed before I have to get the kidlets ready for school, or in the evening when hubby wants to cuddle, or talk or whatever. I get a burst of inspiration at night, a burst of writing energy and I feel great, staying up till the wee hours getting something done. But during the day, whether I am home alone or not, I just can't seem to keep my mind focused on my writing. It is really a pain, I want to set time aside during the day for writing, it would be convenient to do it when I am not having to cater to anyone else's needs. But for some reason I just can't seem to do it.

Perhaps I should start sleeping during the day, and stay up even later to get the writing done, LOL, yes my hubby would really like that (sarcasm). I am starting to wonder if I need to force my concentration better during the day, maybe that would work, but probably not. It seems to me that the more I try and force myself to write, the less I get done. It wouldn't seem so odd, i suppose if it wasn't a new sort of thing to happen. I don't think that I have been in this same rut, or maybe I was and just didn't notice it because I had less time during the day to write even if I wanted to. But now I am staying home, and I thought I would have so much opportunity to get stuff done I would be incredibly productive. Not so much.

Well one good thing that has come of this recent development is that my house is much cleaner! I am without else to do and so I clean, not fun, but rewarding.

What about you guys out there? When are you most productive? And do you like it, does it work for you or did you change to work for it?

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Amount of Work Involved

Writing is work. The saying is obvious, but how much work is it?

I have a general idea by looking over the number of copies in my story folder.

For every story I write, I keep a computer folder named with the story's title. The story itself is a Word file, again named by the title. At the end of a day when I make substantial changes, I save and number a copy.

For Mistletoe Everywhere, my Regency Christmas novella, (blurb and excerpt here)version one is the original idea, at 3000 words. The final version I sent to the publisher, at 26, 600 words, is version seventy-four.

Now for the length of time the writing took. I generally write all day on Sunday, with some time, usually not much, during the week. I started Mistletoe Everywhere in June, and finished in mid-September. Then I let the story sit for a month to allow me to see it with fresh eyes. As I reread it in October, the story sounded good to me. I made some changes, mainly replacing words I repeat too often with better words.

Then I tackled the query letter and synopsis. They took two weeks. At the end of October, I sent the fifth version to my editor at The Wild Rose Press.

So, from when I started to when I sent in the query, the total effort was about five months, seventy-four (74) versions of the novella, and five (5) versions of the query and synopsis.

The editor has sent me her edits, and I'll work on the story again for at least another month. I don't know how typical this amount of work is, but I've worked a lot.

For the authors out there, how many versions do you write before you send your story in?

Thank you all,

Linda Banche

Regency romance--most with humor, some with fantasy, and occasionally a paranormal
Lady of the Stars--4 stars from Romantic Times, 2010 EPIC EBook competition finalist, Regency time travel available from The Wild Rose Press
--Regency Halloween comedy available from The Wild Rose Press
Website Blog Myspace Facebook Twitter

Monday, January 18, 2010

Romance Flash on the High Galactic Seas

Artwork ~ Flight of the Intruder

Yo ho ho, a space pirate-ing we will go... yep, I admit it. I have swoony *oh my heart be still* thing for those wickedly gallant heroes... the pirates in swashbuckling tales, in the olden movies and in romance novels.
So, when the opportunity to write a pirate flash came by... I didn’t resist. At all.

The Buccaneer King’s Captive

Zambrono drastically reduced the speed of his space hawk jet. He’d launched from his Galleon cruiser mere minutes ago. Someone was about to steal the cargo he’d already claimed with his own eye via his senors. On his galleon’s main screen he’d watched a three-person Slip, a small battle cruiser, flash-shoot toward the heavy-bellied transport craft being escorted by a fleet of six warships. Whoever engaged the warships must have balls as heavy as dense black matter because the other galactic pirates he knew would have given it a wide berth without enough attack ships. Zambrono growled, his lip curling.

Selendra streaked her Slip between two of the warships, blasting them both with one of her secret weapons. Streams of diamond-fed plasma disabled one warship and significantly damaged the other. Looping above them, she dove toward the warship on her tail and fired hydro-shots into its central energy core. That would slow it down until she could finish it off. Zigzagging past the limping warship, she flew beneath the whale-like transport and targeted the bay hatch. Her red cutting beams seared away the magnetic-hold field. Having dispatched two warships already, she spun her ship like a top, searching... oh, no!

Zambrono caught the charging warship’s core with his gold suspension rays, and left it floating helplessly close to the transport. While he roared a laugh of triumph, he watched the Slip halt its amazing spin, then lock on his hawk jet with a particle scan beam. A second later the balls-brave captain slid the Slip up and to the side of the transport, out of his firing range, unless he wanted to take a chunk out of the transport’s cargo hold. “Later,” he snarled the promise. Corkscrewing his jet toward the warship still able to attack, he gold-coated its core.

Selendra’s innards flinched for an instant. Her scan didn’t lie. That was the hawk jet of a man known as the Buccaneer King. Well, frizzle frazzle hell, he wasn’t getting her hard-won cargo. Avoiding the pulse cannons peppering space around the third cargo bay’s entrance, Selendra carefully wove toward her real target, located within the bay she hadn’t attacked. Keeping one eye glued to the jet hawk’s advance, she unsealed the tiny bay’s field and cruised her Slip inside the instant the door cracked open. She re-sealed the door enough to allow for some gravity. The ten giant cases settled.

Zambrono barked with irritation. The Slip had vanished from his sensors and not within the bay that had been opened with red cutting beams. With the warships useless, he aimed for the guts of the transport and fired his plasma ice ray, freezing the four energy cores to gelatinous goo. The cores would reform in a short time powering the transport again. He grrrrrd, then sneered. What the black hole hell was the other pirate captain up to? His curiosity engaged and his wrath, Zambrono combed his sensors over the transport looking for the balls-to-the-space-walls captain. He found him, departing.

Selendra sidled the Slip close to the cases, filled with the red diamonds that had been stolen from the Juijitts, then illegally sold, and now on their way to a weapons’ manufacturer. Swiftly placing on her breathing helmet, she opened her own holding bay. She seized her magnetic grappler and jogged the short distance to her bay. Waiting for the atmosphere to stabilize enough, she hauled ass outside and rapidly attached the beam-lock to the cases, loading them one by one. About to enter her hold, she felt muscular arms latch onto her waist, and squeeze unmercifully. “What the hell...”

Zambrono finished, “you’re a girl.” His new prize twisted like a fairy fiend, seeking any way to hurt him, and escape. He kept his capture of her, barely. Her exceptionally rounded ass attacked his engorging cock without mercy. Her soft, beautifully firm breasts were no easier on his forearms as he carried her to his hawk jet. The heels of her boots struck his booted shins. And he would have laughed heartily at the way her arms flailed seeking his harm, if he could be certain of his hold on her. Tossing her within, he dived on top of her.

Selendra stilled, as motionless as her cruiser caught in the eye of galactic cyclone. She listened to the wind-keening sound of the Buccaneer King’s jet seal itself. Once the gravity field stabilized, his tremendous weight pinned her all too effectively. She needed a superb battle strategy to escape the Vrilorv man engulfing her entire body with his. Not only that his breeding anatomy seemed pleased with the feel of her. “Damn, you beast,” she scathingly greeted. He’d nearly ripped off her breathing helmet. “What is that? Your cock or are you carrying a planet blaster in your pants?” She laughed.

Zambrono stared at the beauty who belted out guffaws. Hell’s black star, if her luscious little body didn’t feel like the perfect carnal distraction beneath him. She’d captured him as easily as he kept her trapped. Before he could think what to do with her, other than throw her inside his bed quarters and bind her against escape, the various ways he’d pleasure her, then relentlessly mount her, during one of his libation-spilling feasts, possessed his mind’s eye like a treasure he’d decided on acquiring. “Red diamonds,” he uttered, at the thought of booty. “Keep your paws off,” she snarled.

Selendra assessed her enemy like the ice princess she’d been accused of being, by every male who’d sought to defrost her with the stabbing thrust of his mating blade. The Buccaneer King’s features had been carved by a wicked laser. Harsh, feral, with a handsomeness that, no doubt, conquered many a female, his startling indigo eyes sought to conquer her. Unmoving, he gazed at her, wanting to steal her woman’s soul the same way he carried off a belly full of precious cargo, then unscrupulously sold it to the highest bidder. By her life, he wasn’t plundering her red diamonds.

May your brightest, most romantic dreams come true...


Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Show Must Go On....A Stage Management Career.

So, first, the background part. I’ve loved the theatre for, oh, for forever. All the different groups you’d imagine, from concert parties got up to, ahem, entertain the town’s old folks to school groups cheerfully murdering Shakespeare. But in my teens, real life asserted itself in the form of school principals and their so called ‘careers advisers who told me no, what you have to do is study hard and get a ‘proper’ job. Theatre didn't count as a proper job by any stretch. Listening to their talking heads instead of following my whispering heart, that’s what I did for years, resigning myself to my real love never being more than a part-time lover….a sideline to whatever ‘proper’ job I happened to be doing.

Until the ‘proper job’ fell apart. And my life changed forever. Word got out. The phone started to ring. ‘I hear you’re free right now….’ ‘As you’re not working, would you have time to….?’ Almost by accident, I was working in the theatre. A 'proper' job....?

In my theatre-as-just-a-hobby years, I’d drifted away from the on-stage lights, curious to know what really went on in that mysterious, cavernous world backstage. Never a ‘sing up, Louise’ kind of kid at heart, I’d discovered that being in the limelight interested me less than how that limelight worked. How DID the show actually go on? I’d learned how by absorbing as much as I could, graduating from working for fun and the price of a drink in small, ill-equipped halls with no more than four black walls and a couple of stands to clips lamps on, to bigger theatres with all the bells and whistles. The crews in those places had become my friends, and now they pushed opportunity after amazing opportunity my way. I grabbed every single one, until the day I found myself on the train to London, wondering how I’d had the gall to answer an ad in The Stage for a Deputy Stage Manager….and how on earth I’d been granted an interview…..

That’s how I discovered my dream job. The role of Deputy Stage Manager is a very precise one. I’ll call her ‘she’ just for simplicity, but there are as many ‘he’ DSMs as ‘she.’ Step into any rehearsal room, and you’ll spot her. She’s the one joined like a Siamese twin to the book.

The book IS the show. It consists of the script of the play set into a loose-leaf folder. If it’s a musical, it’ll have the words and the songs. If it’s an opera, the whole thing consists of a musical score called the libretto. The pages of the script are arranged to appear only on the left-hand side of the folder as you open it on the desk in front of you, and they’re interleaved with blank pages. This is how the book looks on Day One of rehearsal, at least. It doesn’t stay like that for long. From that moment on, the DSM begins to record on those blank pages every single thing that will happen before, during, and immediately after the show as it will happen in performance.

This consists of – well, let’s see. It’s a long list. The floor plan of the set, and how it changes from act to act or scene to scene is kept in the book. As for the bodies on the stage, every one of their exits and entrances goes in there. Every single move the cast makes onstage – the ‘blocking’ – has to be meticulously recorded. Same goes for props and furniture – where they’re placed and when, who uses them, and how. Later, the places where the lighting changes or sounds effects will happen have to be noted. Scene changes involving hefty bits of scenery ‘flown’ above the stage or large pieces moved in on wheels or ‘trucks’ can be dangerous movements on stage and therefore have to happen in a consistent, particular order so that everyone involved knows precisely what’s happening at any given moment. That’s in the book, too.

Why? Don’t the cast just learn all this themselves? Well, sure they do, but during rehearsal they sometimes forget. Sometimes even the director forgets! A central record has to be kept. And what if, at some point during the run of the show, someone literally ‘breaks a leg,’ and the understudy is called to the fore? The moves for the part they’re taking over are in the book, and that’s vital. It also provides technical and production information if the show should be performed again at a later date in the future, in revival, if it goes out on tour, or if there’s a cast change, and so on.

The first stages of rehearsals rarely take place in the theatre – most theatres have little or no space for this – so you’ll probably find yourself in some draughty premises in a part of the town only reached by one bus a day, or on the furthest reaches of the tube train system. If you’re lucky, you might get a room in a purpose-built studio with clean loos and an in-house café – if you’re lucky! The DSM is also responsible for the boring bits in the rehearsal room, getting there in the morning before anyone else arrives to set up the space and makes sure everything’s ready to begin bang on time. In theory, she has a one-hour lunch break, but in practice that’s mostly taken up with drawing up props lists or notes for the stage manager or assistants, making phone calls to the set designer or the wardrobe department, passing on queries or notes from rehearsal. Depending on the production, the days can be long – three sessions a day, morning, afternoon and evening, isn’t unusual, and the DSM is in on each session. At the end of each session she makes sure the company know tomorrow’s ‘calls,’ the times they’re next needed for rehearsal, then she’ll tidy up the room and sweep it ready for the morning. Hopefully someone else from the cast will have saved her a seat in the nearest pub and already ordered her a nice, cool drink….as she takes her first sip, the director will plop down in the seat beside her with ‘just a few more notes to pass on….’

Then comes the day when the entire company and its chattels decamps to the theatre itself for production week. You’re in the venue! Suddenly, ‘real’ theatre begins. A production desk is set up in the auditorium, manned by the director, the DSM, and any of the designers getting their first proper look at the production onstage. Here is where the plotting takes place – no, that’s not some kind of wicked conspiracy, but one of the most exciting parts of the process, when the stage lighting design is worked on by the designer and director. The electrics department, known as the LX team, ‘plot’ the lighting plan by running various groups of the stage lights based on the lighting design. Gradually each lighting cue is signed off to the director’s satisfaction, and the points at which the lighting cues will happen are noted in the book. Same for sound cues and any other effects called for by the production.

Into technical rehearsal, and the DSM moves to what will now be her permanent, backstage home for the run of the show – the prompt corner. It’s usually situated somewhere in the left of the backstage area, but if it’s on the right it’s called a ‘bastard’ prompt! The book now lives permanently on the prompt desk - see photo, left - and will never leave the theatre. Here the DSM will ‘call’ the show. The prompt desk allows her to communicate with all parts of the theatre – all the backstage areas including the dressing rooms, wardrobe department and the green room, which is the cast’s rest and preparation area just off-stage, all the technical members of staff including stage crew, all stage management, and the electrics and sound operators. She can also talk to ‘the flies,’ which isn’t a sign of a creeping stress-induced madness characterised by an overwhelming desire to talk to invisible insects, but refers instead to the crew in the ‘fly tower,’ the vast area above the stage where scenery is lowered down or lifted up to be stored till it’s needed again – in other words, it’s ‘flown’ in or out by the fly crew or flymen. All of these operations are signalled by the DSM either vocally through a headset talk-back system - the 'cans' - or by means of a series of coloured cue lights used to signify when the operators must 'stand-by' for their cues and then 'go.' Split-second timing is a skill all DSMs are born with! The prompt desk also has the facility for the DSM to communicate with ‘front of house,’ the audience areas, either by ringing the three-, two- and one-minute bells before the show begins, or to make spoken announcements inviting the audience to take their seats.

Technical rehearsal of course always goes smoothly with no hitches – well, maybe not! But everyone backstage, including the cast, knows that the technical rehearsal is vital. It’s not about acting your heart out or singing your soul out, but is the time when each move and each cue is rehearsed over and over till it’s perfect. Not until all the technical and safety aspects of the show are running without a hitch and to the satisfaction of the DSM and the stage manager can the show go ahead. See now why all this meticulous recording and note taking earlier on was so essential…..?

Dress rehearsal now, and yes, that should go without a hitch! Unless a safety issue is involved, the dress rehearsal will run ‘as per show,’ just as it should run in every performance, with no stoppages. If the technical rehearsal worked, the dress rehearsal should be fine.

And then – first night! The sense of relief after a good first night is palpable. A party is called for! But not too boozy and not too late into the wee small hours. After all, tomorrow is another day….and another show.

That was and is my dream job, and I loved every minute of it, . I’ve worked in some wonderful venues – everything from some of the UK’s most beautiful Edwardian theatres designed by the famous Frank Matcham, to brand-new state-of-the-art venues. I’ve done open-air theatre in the grounds of stately homes or ancient castles and even, for one fabulous summer, a restored Tuscan monastery. I’ve been so lucky to work with some amazing directors and designers, and made lifetime friends – I even met my husband in the theatre, and only gave up the job when I was well into my first pregnancy!

Great memories. Yeah, the show always goes on, and it was fabulous to be a part of that.

Jane Richardson writes 'sophisticated, realistic and uplifting romances with a lyrical voice.' Visit her website here.

London's West End/Gielgud Theatre photo by Steve Parker
Prompt desk photo by KeepOnTruckin
Playhouse Theatre London photo by Peripatetic

Mona Risk - A Chemist's Career

The daughter of a professor and writer, I grew up surrounded by books and started writing my own stories at an early age but I also wanted to be a doctor. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stand the sight of blood or dissect the adorable rabbit in my premed lab. It was easier to shift to a different major such as chemistry.
Mixing solution seemed like a lot of fun for a college freshman, but standing on your feet all day long to prepare samples for analysis and operate analytical instruments when you are working eight to ten hours a day resulted in a boring predictable routine and a back problem exacerbated by work and time. To improve the situation, I went back to graduate school, studied and passed exams again, and obtained a Ph.D. in Chemistry.

As Director of the Analytical Division of my company, I won a contract to refurbish a laboratory in Belarus. I thought I would collapse when the boss said, “Now that you won your contract, you need to go to Belarus and work on this refurbishment.”

Suddenly my career and life changed. I opened the Internet to find out as much as I could about Belarus, capital Minsk, located South of Russia, East of Poland and North of Ukraine. After learning a little bit about the food, I decided to play it safe and took with me green apples previously washed and individually wrapped in plastic bags, a box of crackers and a bag of mini BabyBel (the Gouda cheese wrapped in red wax) and of course a dozen bottles of water.

We left for our first trip to Belarus at the end of October. We included: a government person and his interpreter, me, my lab manager and computer specialist. The first chapter of my book relates my first impressions: cold weather, gray skies and cigarette smell everywhere. The curious looks of the local people made me feel as if I was wearing the wrong clothes. Of course I didn’t have a chapka (that fur round hat). I remedied the problem on my first visit to the bazaar where I bought myself the cutesy real mink chapka. I still have it. Between May and October there is no heat in Belarus. I literally froze in my drafty hotel room and continuously requested and begged for a hot cup of tea. Of course I was often offered vodka instead.

More foreign assignments lead to business trips—fun trips--to Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. I traveled a lot, organized laboratory refurbishments, visited environmental sites in Germany, Egypt, and in the USA, and attended conferences in various places. Over the years, I visited over fifty countries on business or vacation. To relax from my hectic schedule, I avidly read romance novels or mentally plotted my own books. I was in a hotel room in the Ukraine, typing my latest work report, when the clamor of my characters in my head made me decide it was time to take an early retirement and write the numerous stories I had in mind.
Many of my special stories are related in my book, TO LOVE A HERO, available at Cerridwen Press.

I even included my fall on the broken escalator of the airport. I was rescued by my lab manager while my heroine (the smart woman) fell in the arm of a hero to die for, the handsome Major General Sergei who made her pulse race and stole her heart.

My story, TO LOVE A HERO, highlights the hospitality and warmth of the gorgeous and gallant Belarusian officers who sing and toast, and make a woman feel like a goddess. I had a lot of fun writing this book and I hope you will discover a new country and interesting civilization while reading TO LOVE A HERO.

Mona Risk writes romantic suspense for Cerridwen Press: TO LOVE A HERO and FRENCH PERIL and medical romance in the genre of ER and Grey's Anatomy for The Wild Rose Press: BABIES IN THE BARGAIN, Rx FOR TRUST and PRESCRIPTION IN RUSSIAN. All books are available at

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Chelle Cordero - EMS/EMT, More Than a Family Affair

Paramedic Julie Jennings, the heroine of Final Sin, and author Chelle Cordero share a passion for Emergency Medical Services. In real life Chelle is a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) with her community ambulance corps in New York State; her entire family is in EMS and both of her kids have careers in the field.

Hi, I’m Chelle Cordero and I am fortunate enough to be a full-time freelance writer. In my “spare” time I volunteer as a NYS EMT with my community ambulance corps. My training is the same as any other NYS EMT – this difference is most often frequency and experience riding the ambulance. EMS is truly a family affair: my husband has been a vollie EMT for 26 years, I’ve had 24. Both of our kids grew up as genuine EMS brats and joined the youth squad at the age of 14. They are both grown now and have full-time careers in EMS; daughter is a paramedic and son is an EMT. Both kids also vollie with the ambulance corps. Even my son’s serious gf is an EMT vollie and my son-in-law volunteers with the corps in a non-medical position.

Just to clarify – EMS stands for Emergency Medical Services and that represents the system. An EMT is a trained (depending on the state certified or licensed) medical professional and an integral part of the first responder team. Ion NYS there are four levels of EMT – basic, intermediate, critical and paramedic. The basic EMT handles basic life support which can include everything from broken bones to cardiac arrest and childbirth; EMTs can administer a limited number of drugs including oxygen, aspirin, nitroglycerin, albuterol and epinephrine. Skill sets and protocols increase with each level. The paramedic is the highest trained medical professional outside of clinical settings; “paramedic” actually means “hands of the doctor”. A paramedic can do IV therapy, administer a full range of drugs, intubate and pronounce death. As first responders, EMTs and paramedics arrive at scenes and have to make quick judgments and decisions in situations that often rely on a crucial few minutes.

As if it weren’t time consuming with all of us in EMS, I decided to make one of my heroines a paramedic. I am going to let Julie Jennings, the heroine of Final Sin, tell you more about being a paramedic:

C: Hi Julie, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where were you raised? What did your parents do?

J: Sure Chelle. I grew up in upstate New York on a farm – it was my parents, two older brothers and myself. Obviously my parents were farmers. My brothers and I had lots of chores to do around the farm.

C: Can you briefly describe your job/position?

J: I’m a Paramedic in NYS – but it doesn’t really matter which state; a Paramedic is a medical professional who is trained primarily in pre-hospital emergency medical care. Think of the back of the ambulance as a portable emergency room with Basic and Advanced Support level providers giving life saving care to critically injured or ill patients in-route to the hospital.
Paramedics and EMT’s (Emergency Medical Technicians – and I have GREAT respect for all levels) are generally First Responders. We arrive on the scene of an accident or illness and do our best to treat patients and keep their condition stable during the ambulance ride. Since we are first to treat medically, we often make a huge difference in the outcome.

C: How long have you been in this position? Did you move into this spot from another position in the same company? What did it take to advance to this spot?

J: A Paramedic achieves the highest medical training for a pre-hospital emergency provider – the word PARAMEDIC means “Hands of the Doctor”. My training includes advanced skills in intubation, cardiac monitoring, defibrillation, intravenous therapy, drug administration and specialized rescue techniques. I had to take approximately 1100 hours of instruction and almost a year and a half of didactic instruction and clinical experiences in the hospital and an ambulance internship.

My character is only 24-years old and I’ve been a Paramedic for 2-years; before that I started out as a volunteer with my local ambulance corps and got certified as an Emergency Medical Technician (By the way, I still volunteer as well as work in the field). A Basic EMT-is trained to provide basic life support for critically ill and injured patients with such skills as airway management, CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation), controlling accessible bleeding and treating for shock and poisoning. Depending on local protocols, they can administer Oxygen, Aspirin (for possible cardiac problems), Nebulizer treatments, Epi-Pens, give oral glucose and much, much more.

C: Have there been any major changes in the position’s responsibilities/description since you have been in the spot? Can you tell us the most memorable call you’ve ever taken?

J: The state and region are always updating protocols in order to provide the best possible response and treatment. Hospital ER’s have made many advances to improve the partnership between the hospital ER and pre-hospital care. I think the biggest changes are in the field of technology – for instance, patient info can be sent electronically from dispatch and from us to the hospital in many cases which greatly enhances communication and patient care.

My most memorable call was when I was volleying as an EMT before I got my Paramedic certification – a young woman fell asleep behind the wheel and flipped her vehicle. She sustained severe blows to her spine and by the time we got her to the hospital, she had lost all feelings in her legs – she was technically paralyzed. My partner and I were very careful in the way we “packaged her” and put her on a long board to protect her spine. The doctors said that it was the care we took that preserved her spine and when the swelling went down, they were able to make enough repairs for her to actually walk down the aisle at her own wedding half a year later.
C: What were your original career goals?

J: I guess I always wanted to help people in some way. I was raised on a farm and helped to take care of the animals as a youngster. My older brother became a veterinarian and I liked the medical “miracles” he was able to pull off. I became interested in medicine and enjoyed the spontaneity of responding to emergency situations, so I began my career in EMS (Emergency Medical Services).

C: Did this position exist before you were placed in it? Are you the first female to hold this position in your company?

J: There have been many female paramedics – as a matter of fact, one of my “proctors” on the ambulance when I first started out was female and she is a woman I still admire very much to this day. She is now a station lieutenant and makes some fantastic administrative decisions as well as continuing to ride and respond to emergencies.

Females are still in the minority in EMS but our numbers are growing. Many stations have tried to make gender specific accommodations, but that isn’t always easy. It is also not really a priority to most of us – we just want to work together to get the job done and it doesn’t matter whether our partners are male or female.

C: How are you received by others in your place of employment? By the public in general?

J: LOL, I am still a youngster in my department with only 2-years under my belt. But I am very lucky to be treated with respect. I am part of a team.

I think one of the things about the public perception of medical first responders that bothers me is that folks don’t always realize how highly trained we are. And while some may aspire to be doctors one day, we are NOT “wannabee” doctors or nurses. As I said earlier, we are Medical Professionals with a very specific specialty and training.

As for being a woman in the field, I am expected to carry my own equipment, help carry patients, treat patients of both genders, and not be squeamish about blood and such. “There is no sex in EMS” is a phrase my instructors used constantly. We are there to do a job and it doesn’t matter whether we are women or men – we have the same responsibilities and jobs.

C: What advice would you give to a young woman who might be looking at your type of position/career in the future?

J: My first words would be “Go for it!” Sometimes the results can be heartbreaking, sometimes thrilling. My favorite type of call has always been childbirth and I’ve delivered a few infants in the field – wow, what a high. But even when you lose a patient, you at least know that you did everything you could to give them every chance and I think they all know it even when they’re unconscious or such – they aren’t alone.

It’s not easy but the work is really rewarding. I really recommend it to a lot of people. Do it the way I did, start out as a volunteer; you will get training and experience that is unparalleled. Even though I work in the field every day (or it seems that way), I still love it when I get to volley and give back to my community. I really do love my job.

C: If you could limit it to just one thing, what do you like about your job?

J: I like the fact that people know you're there to help them. Even when you lose a patient, they know they weren't alone. Somebody was trying to help them. I like to think that's a comfort.

Julie, thanks for taking a step off of the pages today to let us know about being a paramedic. I’ve always been a bit of a trauma junkie myself and enjoy the fast pace of emergency response.

Chelle Cordero is the author of romantic suspense and murder mystery novels. Readers can find out more about her at or her blog at .

----------------------------------------- Chelle Cordero, Author / Chelle Cordero Website Chelle's Online Portfolio

Monday, January 11, 2010

Fisherman by Day, Romance Hero by Night

When I saw that Happily Ever After was devoting a week to offbeat careers, I jumped at the chance to talk about Dustin McDougal, the hero of my recent red-hot contemporary, “Doll.” Dustin, you see, is a commercial fisherman. He lives on an island in Maine, where he makes his living taking his boat out in all kinds of nasty weather and pulling lobsters from the ocean.

What’s heroic about a fisherman, you might wonder? Fishermen don’t risk their lives to stop the bad guys. They don’t plunge daringly into jeopardy (although fishing is actually one of the most dangerous professions.) They’re hard-working, not glamorous.

I’ve always found fishermen fascinating. They have to be physically tough to handle rough seas and unpredictable weather. They’re independent and self-sufficient, quick-witted and resourceful. When a captain takes his boat out for a fishing trip that could last weeks, he has to know how to fix everything on that boat—with the possible exception of the electronics. If they break down, he has to know how to survive without them. Fishermen know how to cook for themselves, entertain themselves, and get along with other people in close quarters. Most fishermen I know are fantastic cooks. If you’ve never had fresh tuna wrapped in foil with herbs and cooked on an engine manifold … well, it’s bliss. Many play music or do some kind of craft that helps pass the long hours waiting for fish. I know a lobsterman who could have been a professional flutist. And another who knits the most gorgeous sweaters you ever saw.

Wait, a hero who knits? Bear with me here. Fishermen think for themselves, live by their own lights, make their own way in the world. They tell it like it is, roll with the punches, live with the constant risk of injury or death. They’re great storytellers (another skill honed by hours at sea.) Working so close to nature at her most dangerous gives them a raw, bone-deep appreciation for the gift of being alive.

Besides, they’re hot. Don’t believe me? Here’s a quick ADULT excerpt from a scene from “Doll” that takes place on Dustin’s boat.

While Dustin tied the dinghy to the mooring, Chloe admired the orderly deck of the Lisa May. All the ropes were neatly coiled, five-gallon buckets stacked upside down, not a speck of fish gore anywhere to be seen. Inside the cabin, a watch cap hung neatly from a hook in the wheelhouse. Dustin had been wearing that watch cap when she’d seen him from the ferry. On impulse, she sniffed it. Salt, diesel, fresh air, and that indefinable scent of Dustin. Seaweed, or brine. The way the god of the sea must smell.

As Dustin ducked through the opening of the wheelhouse, she turned to him and staggered slightly.

“Careful, there,” he said, grabbing her arm. The boat rocked gently back and forth. The motion reminded her of the stroking of the oars, and the same rhythm began deep inside her.

“I want you, Dustin,” she said. “Where can we go?”

“Why go anywhere?” He looked amused. “No one can see us in here. And I’m so hard right now, I don’t think I could take another boat ride. Feel.” He put her hand on the front of his oilskins, and the lump sent a thrill through her. She squeezed it and saw the fire in his eyes. Crowding close to her, he pressed her against the wheel. “You know, there’s something I’ve always wanted to see. Will you let me?”


“Don’t you want to know what it is?”

“I can’t wait to see.” It was true, her heart was beating fast, and her knees felt weak. With Dustin, whatever it was, she knew she was going to enjoy it. He put his hands to her front and removed her bright yellow jacket. Underneath, suspenders held up her oilskin trousers. These he slipped off her shoulders in order to remove her sweatshirt, leaving her naked from the waist up. He pulled the suspenders back up over her breasts, which pushed against the webbed fabric. One suspender covered a nipple, which immediately rose into a peak.

“Oh, yeah. Your skin against the suspenders, and the way they push your breasts together…mmm. You have no idea how sexy you are right now.” But she could hear it in his voice, and see it in the appreciative way he gazed at her body. Moisture sprang between her legs. It felt good to know she was turning him on. He wasn’t looking at her like an object, but like a woman, desirable and sensuous. She ran her hands up her torso, and hooked her thumbs under the suspenders. One of them slipped from her grasp, and snapped against her nipple. The thrill of it shocked her.

“Did that feel good?” he asked. She gave a slight nod, amazed that it was so. He took both suspenders and pulled them away from her chest. With his thumbs, he rubbed her nipples until they stood like proud soldiers then let go of the suspenders. This time, the sensation was so intense, she nearly came. Swaying against the wheel, she cried out.

“You’re killing me, Chloe.” He shoved the suspenders aside to feast on her nipples, grunting as he attacked with mouth and fingers. Chloe leaned back against the wheel and let the waves of electric pleasure take over her body. Little moans filled the air. Relentlessly, he sucked her breasts, tugging so deeply at the nipples she thought they might burst. Gripping his thick hair, she thrust her breasts forward in avid invitation, urging him on. She couldn’t get enough of his urgency, his strength.

“Fuck me, fuck me,” she whispered. “Fuck me hard.”

Click here to buy “DOLL,” available now from Samhain Publishing.

Juniper Bell is an author of red-hot contemporary erotic romance. Visit her at or , or follow her on Twitter (@AuthorJuniper).

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Career Week with Celia Yeary - The Military, a Boarding School, and Me.

Imagine my surprise when I landed a teaching position in a co-ed military boarding school run by the Southern Baptists. I know…you’re thinking I must have been crazy. The fact was that in a university town teachers were in abundance and the public schools wouldn’t even talk to me. Oh, they allowed me to fill out an application, but then placed with others in a file cabinet burgeoning to the point of exploding.

I applied at the boarding school, too, not having a clue about the workings of such a place. I talked with the Vice President in charge of hiring, and after he told me the faculty roster had filled, I went home with no job.

We’d just moved to the Central Texas town where my husband had taken a professorship at the university. September rolled around, our children began school, and I had nothing to do. In previous years, I taught in a public school, and I felt lost with no students.

The next week, the Vice President of the military school called, saying they were in desperate need of a part-time science teacher. It seems a last-minute surge of students had enrolled. He asked, no, he practically begged me to take the job. School had begun and a secretary or somebody had been placed in the classroom until a teacher arrived. No one wanted to teach part-time, he said, plus…are you ready? My students would be 7th and 8th graders. Oh, no, I groaned to myself. Junior High kids! I’ll tell you, it takes a special teacher to enjoy this age-group, and I am not one of them. I liked the older kids, those whom an adult could actually talk to, and those who could take up for themselves, and did not require so much discipline.

But what could I do? He promised—sort of—that next year a full-time position for a biology teacher would open up and I’d be first in line. This clenched the deal, and I girded my loins for the year-long battle with 13-year-olds.

Just as the students in all grades had much to learn concerning the rules and regulations of living in dormitories run by military personnel, teachers had to learn how the entire system worked.

I first learned the meaning of “mandatory.” Wednesday morning chapel was mandatory for teachers, as well as, the student body. So was proper dress—faculty men had to wear belts with their pants, could not wear athletic shoes or jeans, and had to have a good haircut. If the boys must have their heads buzzed, at least the men could be presentable. Little was said to the females. I guess we already had enough sense to do the right thing.

Every event was mandatory, especially if the President and his wife threw a party…or reception. At least the students—male and female—learned how to dress up and mind their manners. The girls learned proper deportment and where to place her hand on her date’s arm. The dormitory personnel drilled the cadets on what to say and how to say it, how to walk with a female on his arm, and always to say yes, ma’am and no, ma’am. Oh, and they learned to open doors for ladies. Yep. That was so ingrained in them I didn’t open a door all the years I taught there.

For receptions and holiday parties, the girls wore formals and white gloves. You heard me. The faculty also wore formal attire, and I was ready to start a revolution if white gloves for us would also be mandatory. Thankfully, we got away with that one.

Once a year, the entire corps prepared for inspection. Army personnel arrived from somewhere to conduct the three-day affair. This included every aspect of dormitory life, as well as military life. The school fell into a time-warp, where little happened while the inspection occurred. The cadets came to class carrying a polish cloth and a small can of Brasso. Instead of listening to me discuss photosynthesis, they discreetly polished their buckles to be ready on the spot. You never saw so many shined shoes, pressed and creased uniforms, and clean fingernails.

On the big day, the entire corps of four companies marched onto the football field and stood in formation for upwards to two hours. The faculty wandered out there and sat in the bleachers, watching a thorough inspection procedure that resembled something akin to paint drying.

Graduation at the school spanned three days. No, we didn’t have just a ceremony, we had parents’ breakfast, awards ceremony in the big chapel, entertainment by the choir, Senior girls’ passing the torch (green ribbons) to Junior girls, the Rose and Sabre ceremony at the senior gates, opened only once during the year; then Baccalaureate, and finally on Monday morning, graduation. The girls wore long white dresses and carried a bouquet of red roses, held just so in their arms; the cadets wore dress blues. The faculty wore the caps and gowns—interesting, huh? The only reason I worked for a master’s degree was to wear a hood instead of a little white collar, signifying only a Bachelor’s degree. Graduation ceremonies were quite impressive.

Explaining my experiences during all those years is a difficult task. Young people arrived with all kinds of baggage, literally and figuratively, and most—I say “most” because there were always those who could not obey at all--graduated with heads held high, transformed from non-performing students to grand successes. That’s what we did best—change attitudes. Loyalty to the school runs deep and powerful among the graduates as well as the faculty.

The best thing that happened to me when I left the school was to have the honor of “trooping the lines” during the Pass-and-Review on graduation weekend. An Army jeep was provided, and I stood in the back holding on to a horizontal bar, while the entire Corps stood at attention and saluted me. Oh, wow. What can I say? I loved those kids, and have kept up with many of them. Successes? Oh, yes, in one form or another, and almost everyone did just fine.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a brief glimpse of my teaching career. I wouldn’t take anything for those years. Often, I look around and yearn for some young man to say, “Here, ma’am, let me get that door for you.”

Celia's latest novel, a Western Historical called Texas Blue, will be released by The Wild Rose Press on January 29 2010.
Blurb: 'When Buck Cameron finally found Marilee Weston and her young daughter, he believed the pretty, young woman did not fit the character description he was given. The County Judge back home said she was not fit to raise the child, who he claimed was his. Now Buck faced a dilemma. Should he disobey orders and rescue both of them from isolation? He would, because there wasn’t enough money in the world to exchange for a child. All he had to do was convince Marilee of his good intentions—she and her daughter would safe be with him in Nacogdoches.
Rejected and abandoned by her father, Marilee Weston let the pain of betrayal make her strong. Now, she needed a way out of the forest, where she had lived for five years. But the towering pines and fear of the unknown imprisoned her, and loneliness and heartbreak suffocated her. How could she find a new life for herself and young daughter? She couldn’t. Not without help. But would this alluring stranger free her, or prove to be even more dangerous?'

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Week in Dubai

It was chaos! All over Europe, people were rummaging through their drawers, frantically searching for their long johns, their thermal vests, their wooly knickers, their caps and gloves. The big chill had dug in its icy talons, dumping unusual amounts of snow on unsuspecting innocents, catching thousands of ill-equipped motorists off-guard. Hundreds of unfortunate Eurostar train passengers had spent the previous night stranded in the Channel tunnel, and airports everywhere had come to a tumultuous standstill.

As for us, at seven o’clock in the morning on December 20th, 2009, we were zipping up our suitcases, getting ready to fly to Dubai.

Apparently, it was the dawn of the coldest day on Swiss meteorological record. In La Brévine, a village up in the Jura mountains nicknamed the Siberia of Switzerland because of its extreme temperatures, the mercury dropped to minus 34° degrees Celsius. Of course, if you’re reading this in deepest Alaska, minus 34° degrees Celsius probably sounds like pool party weather, but for us Swissies it’s definitely a take-refuge-under-the-duvet-and-watch-TV sort of day. Not that it was that cold in the genteel lakeside village where we live; when the Prescott family tripped down the garden path in single file and bundled into the car it was probably a balmy minus 12°, which still feels a bit nippy when you’re not wearing a winter jacket. Since it wasn’t snowing in Geneva, we figured the airport would be buzzing with holiday-bound activity. We were far too excited to be going on our first ever beach holiday at Christmas to think about delays or cancellations due to bad weather elsewhere.

However, when we walked into the surprisingly quiet departure hall, one glance at the flight schedule board prompted a mutual moan of dismay: our KLM flight to Amsterdam was already delayed by one hour, and the frenzy of cancellations and mounting delays zipping all over the board didn’t bode well. Worse, there were rumors of a large snow-cloud blowing in from the north-east, set to dump vast quantities of plane-paralyzing white stuff on Geneva airport’s runways within the next couple of hours. We might not be going anywhere.

As it happened, we were luckier than most. Our plane finally took off three and a half hours late, which should have caused us to miss our connecting flight in Amsterdam, but since the weather in Holland was channeling the North Pole, our Dubai flight left with over five and a half hours delay. So, after a day of lounging around reading magazines, followed by a smooth six hour flight spent snoozing and watching movies (ooh, I really enjoyed “The Time Traveller’s Wife”!) we landed in Dubai’s mega-massive, ultra-contemporary airport at four o’clock in the morning local time.

Passing through immigration was an experience in itself. If you’ve ever fantasized about gorgeous young sheikhs, you’ll get a pleasant eyeful while showing your passport there! Maybe I was so tired I was hallucinating, but that night the Dubai immigration officers were all movie-star gorgeous, immaculately decked out in traditional long white attire, their black hair, dark eyes and chiseled features off-set by white headdresses secured by black cord. As for their female colleagues, they were beautiful, too! The young lady at the desk closest to us looked fabulous in her black silk outfit, her huge eyes and full mouth impeccably made-up, her gorgeous face framed by a matching veil edged with sparkly silver thread. Seriously, nobody should look that good at four-thirty in the morning. Well, certainly not immigration officers!

Haggard, sweaty, our clothes terminally creased, we dragged our luggage through the terminal where we were immediately ushered into the biggest car in the world and chauffeured through Dubai’s scintillating, techno-cool, sky-scraping scenery, catching our first glimpse of the brand new “Burj Khalifa”, the tallest building in the world, culminating at a 828 metres (apparently it’s nice and cool up there in the summer!). Twenty minutes later, we pulled up in front of the Royal Mirage Arabian Court, a beautiful seafront hotel built on reclaimed land on the eastern side of the famous “Palm”, the first of Dubai’s man-made islands. By the time we’d checked in and settled the kids in their room it was five-thirty in the morning. Mr. Prescott and I were more than ready for bed.

We were also more than ready for the bright, warm sunshine pouring into our room when we finally opened our eyes the following afternoon. We got up and managed to drag our comatose teenagers out of bed, then went to have something to eat at “Eau Zone”, the hotel’s trendy beach and pool restaurant. Later, we wandered down the long stretch of white sandy beach, our linen trousers rolled up, our flip flops dangling from our fingers in true Condé Nast Traveler style. We paddled and pottered and took deep breaths of sea air, admiring the incredible lineup of skyscrapers close-by. Still tired from our long trip, we plonked ourselves on sunbeds and snoozed for a while, and when the sun dipped a little too low for comfort we just wandered back to our room, flopped onto the bed and discussed what we’d like to do during the week.

Of course, relaxation (and getting a bit of a tan) was a top priority for all of us, and we spent plenty of time lounging by the pool, or on the beach. To Mr. Prescott’s surprise, my daughter and I even swam in the sea, quite an achievement considering neither Olivia nor I are famous for acts of bikini bravery in chilly waters. But we’d never spent Christmas in a warm country before, and there’s just something special about swimming in the sea, so we hauled in our tummies, braced ourselves, grimaced and went for it. Besides, it wasn’t really that cold at 22°, but in all honesty, at 28° the swimming pool was far more inviting!
One of the highlights of our week in Dubai was an expedition into the desert in a 4x4

I’d never done anything like this before, and wasn’t sure whether I’d enjoy it; hurtling up and down sand dunes seemed more like a macho sort of thing, but as it turned out I thought it was brilliant! Nabil, our driver, was keen to show off his rally driving skills, and once reassured we weren’t going to be sick in his car (apparently it’s happened quite a few times), took us for a fast, thrilling ride. The desert is magnificent, awe-inspiring, and mind-bogglingly vast. We saw a couple of antelopes, and I tried to take photos, but we were bouncing and skidding and giddy with excitement, so they didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped. We stopped at a vista point at sunset, and our giddiness subsided, replaced by a profound sense of calm. Dinner was provided at a nearby “Bedouin camp”, complete with camel rides (too many people), sand painting displays (what was on offer was kind of kitsch, but the technique was amazing), lots of rather greasy food, henna tattoos (potent stuff; two weeks later I still have mine!) and a belly dancer. We enjoyed the festivities, then skid-slip-jump-zoomed out of the desert at 120 kilometres an hour. Yeeha!

But the best was yet to come. On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, we took a taxi to Atlantis, a spectacular new hotel on the far end of the “Palm”. Atlantis has 1,500 rooms, including underwater suites where you can lie in bed and watch the fish swim by! Personally, I found Atlantis’ architecture rather cheesy in a “My Little Pony” meets “The Little Mermaid” sort of way. Nor was I impressed by the sickly-sweet smell if fast food permeating the air at the entrance to the huge waterpark and aquarium. But once we checked in at the ticket office, snapped on our plastic bracelets and hopped into the little golf-cart type vehicle that whisked us off to Dolphin Bay, I forgot all about such insignificant trivia. Of course I did; I was going to swim with dolphins!

Interacting with the dolphins was a magical experience none of us will ever forget. Our dolphin was a female called Lexie, who was initially a little distracted by her sexy dolphin boyfriend busy catering to another group of wonderstruck tourists a couple of splashes away. Nevertheless, she soon settled down to entertain us. Guided by precise hand signals from two dolphin trainers, Lexie danced with us, kissed us, hugged us, spun us around, and as a grand finale, pulled us one after the other across the lagoon at top speed! She showed a series of impressively high jumps, and even “spoke” (incidentally, when dolphins “speak”, the noise comes out of their blowhole, not their mouth). What do dolphins feel like? Smooth and slick and tough. Kind of like…moisturized bananas!

Christmas morning was spent lounging by the pool. We then enjoyed a nice light lunch at the beach and pool restaurant before heading off to the Dubai Mall, which, with 1500 shops, is supposedly the biggest in the world. Of course, my daughter and I didn’t share the same shopping program as my husband and son, so we immediately split up. While they went in search of sportswear and skateboard equipment, Olivia dragged me off on a quest for Top Shop. We got terribly lost in this overwhelming temple of consumerism, but my shopaholic daughter discovered plenty other shops to pillage on the way. We had a good giggle in Jimmy Choo, entertaining a fantasy of surprising the Prescott boys a couple of hours later decked out in designer bling from head to toe. Sadly, common sense got the better of me and the bling fantasy was soon abandoned. Olivia consoled herself in Top Shop, and I briefly considered doing some credit card damage in Gérard Darel (there was a dusky pink suede fringed handbag that definitely had my name on it), but I took a deep breath and kept walking. My husband was speechless to discover that the only thing I had bought was Jo Malone’s new fragrance, “Vanilla and Anise”. It smells wonderful, but, frustratingly, doesn’t seem to linger.

On Boxing Day, we headed back to Atlantis for adventures in the waterpark. Unfortunately, it was a little cloudy, and a chilly wind made running around in a wet bikini somewhat unpleasant. Nevertheless, Olivia and I enjoyed our leisurely ride down the Lazy River in giant rubber rings, screaming in all the right places as we splashed down the rapids, but no way were we going to follow the boys and launch ourselves off the “Ziggurat”, allegedly the highest and steepest waterslide in the world. After one last super fast rollercoaster ride in a rubber ring through a pitch black tunnel, Olivia and I called it a day and headed back to our hotel for lunch at a sheltered table at the beach restaurant, leaving the Prescott boys to pursue further aquatic adventures on their own.

Just over twenty-four hours later, following a lovely long day at the pool, we boarded our flight back to Amsterdam. To my surprise, I managed to sleep almost all the way, waking up just half an hour before landing. Our connecting flight to Geneva left on time, and by nine o’clock on December 28th we were home again, having had a wonderful holiday, and looking forward to spending the rest of the holidays with friends and family.

This trip was extra significant to my husband and me because, in a way, it marks the end of our wonderful family cocoon. Our daughter, Olivia, graduates in June 2010, and in the autumn she will be leaving home to start University. Although we know she’ll often be coming home for the holidays, our baby will officially have left the nest. Our son, Greg, will follow suit in a couple of years, and the Prescott household will never be the same again. It’s not that I’m particularly worried about these milestones, I’m just increasingly aware of them and determined to make the most out of these last few years of family togetherness.

Time is precious; use it to make beautiful memories with those you love. We made some great ones in Dubai.

I wish you a Happy New Year!

Lots of love,


My award winning romantic comedy, “Mucho Caliente!,” is available in print from: and Barnes and
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"MUCHO CALIENTE! - Wish upon a Latino Superstar"
An effervescent romantic comedy
LASR: Best Long Book of the Year 2008 : "Laugh out loud hilarious!"
NOR: Top Pick : "A seriously fun book with more twists and turns than expected"
CRR: “Hard to put down”

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Erotic Romance for the Ice Age

Brrrrr-ing shivers, everyone! There were record cold temps in Washington DC. and down South.
There’s lots of nasty coldness all over the world, right now, and I’m still in the deep freeze on the tame prairie.

No, please, no! No Ice Age!!!

So, yep, I did it. I appealed to the weather god via X-Rated Flash ~

The Ice God Cometh

Selesta stared at the snowy frigid landscape from her west-side window. “Too damn cold,” she muttered bleakly. Even though, she appreciated the glistening white beauty of the snow covering her bare-limb trees and the sloping pasture, she’d grown all too weary of dealing with the days of bitter temperatures. And, there was no relief in sight. Keeping her home comfortably warm, along with herself, had become a draining chore. Not to mention, her energy bill shot for the gray dreariness of the skies. Oh, yippee. Like she had money to burn.
“I’m just so damn tired of always feeling cold.”
Selesta let the blanket she’d put up as a makeshift barrier against the horrible cold, fall back against the window. Turning away, she hissed an angry defeated sigh. Her bed looked all too inviting. Since she had an electric blanket, it was the only place she felt warm enough, especially if she cuddled up to an electric pad, as well.
With so many homeless and hurting, these days, she felt guilty for not counting her blessings. Still, she’d endured for years. Against all the odds thrown at her. There was no improvement in sight. No way to make things better.
And, she was just damn effing worn out. Yawning, she let the bed win out. Besides, she’d been burning both ends of the candle for a decade or more, thinking that would work to make her life better. It hadn’t. All it had done was ruin her health and enslave her to debt.
Crawling beneath her blankets, she arranged them and let her head sink into the mound of old pillows. Most of them she’d had for a decade, at least. Maybe, two decades. Hey, so she hoarded pillows. “Yeah, that’s what I need,” she murmured, “a fucking pillow intervention.”
It didn’t take long for the warmth to loosen her muscles. Drowsiness crept over her. “I should talk to the weather god,” she whispered, amusing herself with her own sad desperation. “Yeah, I should head on up to wherever Mr. Weather God lives... demand he change the weather.” Selesta snuggled deeper, glad for a few moments of feeling good, feeling warm. “Demand he stop all this frigid crap.”
‘Hmmm... I wonder what a weather god would look like?’ She drifted deeper. ‘After all, I’m not asking for warm weather. I’m just asking for warmer cold weather. Ten degrees, or so.’
Freeing her imagination, Selesta envisioned herself as being beautiful, then saw herself floating upwards, and ascending to the clouds. Magically, they changed into a grand marble stairway and she walked inside her idea of a god’s palatial dwelling.
“Where are you?” she shouted. Her fury at being too cold all the time, seized her. “Where the hell are you? I want to talk to you, Weather God.”
She moved farther within the huge room, noting the enormous spiraling columns on both sides of her. “If I have to chase you through the entire universe, I will! I swear. I promise.”
Anger fired through her as she looked around. The place seemed to be empty, yet appeared more icy in nature now. Blue and gray shades shimmered inside the impressive translucent furniture. “I mean it!” she yelled. “I’m blazing with rage.”
Selesta slowly spun around, gazing at her surroundings. “I could make all this go drip, drip, I’m so incredibly angry.” There was a thunderous echoing harumph. Only Selesta couldn’t tell where the sound came from.
“Over here.” The voice, a low modulated roar, instructed. She followed the sound and wondered if she should feel like a lowly subject. But, she didn’t.
She didn’t care. Wasn’t this her fantasy? She could feel any way she wanted. Still, as she approached the indolently posed man atop an ice throne, he did look like a god in stature. She hesitated. That is, until her fury flared up. “Are you the Weather God?” she demanded.
“One of many. I am the god of your region.”
“Make it warmer. I want you to make it warmer by ten degrees.” Damn, if he wasn’t sexy in that huge, Hercules-muscled way. Only he looked like he’d been carved out of white marble. And, his skin had frosted over.
He eyed her from on high, though he didn’t seem unfriendly, just cold and mighty. “We gods require a gift,” he boomed off the walls. “What are you offering, little human woman?”
“I have a name.”
“So, do I.”
“What? The God of Ice and Snow?”
“Z’Quorr, since you ask.”
“Selesta.” She shrugged. Why not tell him?
Given Z’Quorr wore next to nothing, she couldn’t help but notice the sudden rise of his cock. Not an icicle, it matched the great size of his body and seemed to throb hotly.
“Selesta, why don’t you come sit on my lap?”
Swallowing the dry lump in her throat, she continued staring. “I, uhhh...”
“You heat me up, Selesta, and I’ll return the favor by heating up your portion of the world.”
The magnificent timbre of his voice seeped all the way to her core. “I don’t think I can... fit all of ‘that’ inside... me.”
“It’s been awhile since I’ve felt this level of heat. I want between your thighs. Come here, Selesta.”
“The Ice God cometh,” she breathlessly and inanely murmured.
“He will if you sit on his lap.” He paused, his gaze a command for her to obey him.
“Think of all those animals, the birds you’ll be warming up,” he continued persuasively.
Shivering, and thinking how ironic that was, Selesta moved toward him.
The moment she stepped onto the glimmering dais, his great hand wrapped around her upper arm. Suddenly, she sat astride his cock’s length. Her sex lips barely embraced the volcanic-hot pulsing.
“You are a tempting vessel.” With a touch he dissolved her clothing.
“You don’t look frosted anymore,” she whispered.
His sapphire blue eyes blazed inside her as he drew her forward. With a leisurely pace she found intoxicating, his cock forced her entrance open.

May your brightest, most romantic dreams come true...


Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~

Friday, January 1, 2010

My New Year's Resolution

I don't usually make New Year's Resolutions but this year I am. I have such a bad habit at procrastinating, and I am determined to stop!

So this year I am resolving to stop procrastinating so much. I work well under pressure and I don't mind deadlines, but my family suffers when I am having to do ten things at once. I do it to myself, I schedule too much then I don't do enough ahead of time. I know this about myself.

I never saw it as too much of an issue until recently. I don't like having no time to spend with my hubby and girls, its just no fun for any of us then. The youngest one especially has a hard time understanding that I am working, even though I am at home. So for her it just doesn't seem fair that I am not able to spend that time with her.

Spreading the work out, and getting it done instead of getting distracted by time sucking websites, will be a good thing to try and work on this year. I want time for all I do, plus time to do what I love, spending quality hours with my family. They deserve to have more time with me not stressing over other things that need to be getting done.

I will check in with you all in a month or two and let you know if I am succesful at all, wish me luck!
This resolution is, of course, in addition to my hopes for a succesful 2010 and lots of inspiration for writing. I hope that for all my fellow authors here as well.