Friday, May 29, 2009

Fun Fridays!

More from our boys in uniform!

They have WAY too much fun with these. Happy Friday!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Free Story! "Blue Light Special"

I had another short story accepted at Whipped Cream Reviews, and it was posted today. Look at the cool cover they sent me! And, I'd love if you gave the story a read and let me know what you think of it. Just click the cover and you'll be there.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Letting Go...

Okay, last night I finished my first round of edits... or maybe it was the second... on my Cowboy story. I've been struggling a bit with it as it needed some serious rewrites to make it a better story.

I popped it into an email and sent it off to my crit partners and took a break. But it was calling me back... I want to wait and see what my crit partners have to say, but another part of me wants to open that puppy back up and start reading again to see if anything else is obvious to me as far as edits go.

I even started writing a synopsis last night to give my brain something else to focus on... yeah, those aren't much fun. It's much more fun to write than to tell what I wrote and still keep it entertaining. I can only imagine how insane I'm going to be once I actually send it out into the world.

Right now, I'm concentrating on edits for the next story, synopsis for this one and trying not to obsess over what my crit partners will think. Is that letting go? I dunno, but I think it's as close as I'm going to get right now. :-D

Monday, May 25, 2009

Author Interview ~ Holli Winters

Today on the couch we have Whispers Publishing author, Holli Winters. Sit back and get comfy.

Welcome to The Menagerie, Holli. Alright, let's get started where are you from?

I was born and raised in a small town in the Pacific Northwest. I love living here! One of my favorite things to do is visit the coast and walk along the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

Wow, sounds gorgeous! I'd love to walk along the coast, too! When and why did you begin writing?

All my life I’ve had imagination and had dreams of writing, but never really took the initiative to write. In 2003, a romance reader’s group I belonged to, which also included a few authors, had a writing contest and the person organizing the contest encouraged me to enter. We could enter a scene no longer than 2000 words and I came up with an idea and wrote. Then the scenes were posted anonymously and everyone voted for their favorite one, not knowing who actually wrote the entries. I can still remember the night the winner was announced. When my name was announced as the one who garnered the most votes—I think I nearly passed out in shock… I even beat out a friend (by one vote!) who had just signed a New York publishing contract. Anyway, that gave me the courage to try my hand at living my dream of being a writer.

Oh, what a great story! And what a wonderful boost to your esteem. When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Hmm…probably two things actually. One was attending my first Romance Writers of America conference and realizing that I was one of them. A writer who wrote what she loved. Romance. Secondly, when I sold for the first time, it made me realize all my hard work had paid off and I was really and truly a writer.

That would do it! Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

A Christmas Wish is about a woman who experienced abuse from her spouse and was afraid to love again. When Brady, her ex’s cousin, reenters her life she is scared of the feelings she has for him. I used my training in domestic violence to flesh out Macy’s feelings and show that she can indeed love again and that sometimes love is right under your nose.

What a wonderful message... and one that's close to my heart. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Oh, tough question as there are so many. I absolutely love Linda Howard and Lori Foster but truly, the one who encouraged me to write was Carrie Alexander. She’s been an online friend and someday I hope to meet her in person.

It's so great when we can "meet" a person online and find a source of friendship and encouragement. Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

A big shout out to the ladies (and gents) of RWA Online Chapter 136. It is there that I have met some wonderful writer friends who are there for me during the highs and lows of writing.

LOL, I'll bet they adore you too. Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Right now I’m working on a story that involves a woman who gets impregnated through artificial insemination and learns to her shock that she got the wrong donated sperm. It is her confrontation with the male donor that provides a lot of the story’s conflict.

Hmm... sounds interesting, and perfect for some conflict. Who designed the cover for your story?

Rene Wilson designed the cover for A Christmas Wish and I think does many of the covers for Whispers Publishing. It’s a terrific cover and I’m pleased with it.

It truly is lovely, she does good work. What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

I work outside the home full time, so my writing time is limited to evenings and weekends. One of the favorite things for me to do is to take a couple of days off from work and go to a hotel a couple of hours away and hole up and write. I call them my “writing retreat” times. It’s amazing how much I can get done and not have to deal with the distractions of home.

*sigh* That would be nice. Do you have any advice for other writers?

My advice is something that even I have a hard doing at times. When you’re writing, just write and turn off the internal editor. It’s hard to not go back and look at what you’ve written and want to perfect it, but at the same time it can interfere with your writing flow. What I have done to combat that is to set a goal for myself and just keep writing until I have met that goal.

That's great advice, and some that I know is very hard to follow, but it definitely works. What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Besides reading, I love to cook and travel. Once a year I try to take a fun trip. The last few years this has included going to the Romance Writers of America national conferences. This year I’m planning a trip to the Oregon coast to rest, relax and rejuvenate…and hopefully get some writing done!

LOL, that sounds like a great plan. Do you see writing as a career?

Right now I have a full time job that is not writing, but in a few years I hope to be able to devote all my time to writing. Writing is a career if you take it seriously, no matter how much time is spent daily on writing.

I absolutely agree. Thanks so much, Holli, for being with us here today. Good luck with all your writing (and non-writing) endeavors in the future. Keep us updated on your news and we'll pass it along to our readers.

Holli Winters was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest where she learned to
sneak and read her mother's romance novels at a young age. In her teens, Holli
discovered hot, sexy Alpha males and dreamed of creating her own romance stories. You can keep up with Holli at her website and blog, join her Yahoo group, or friend her on MySpace.

A Christmas Wish by Holli Winters

Two years ago, Brady and Macy kissed and walked on the edge of giving into their desire, but the time was not right. She was newly widowed after the death of her abusive husband, who was also Brady's cousin. Now it's Christmas Eve in the midst of a snow storm. Macy heads to Brady's bar for a drink and ends up stranded when the storm turns into a blizzard. Now, she's trapped with a man she's wanted for a long, long time...and the timing couldn't be better.

One night of passion isn't enough for Brady, but can he convince Macy they have more going for them than just the desire that's been simmering for years?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Book Trailer ~ A Christmas Wish by Holli Winters

A Christmas Wish by Holli Winters

Two years ago, Brady and Macy kissed and walked on the edge of giving into their desire, but the time was not right. She was newly widowed after the death of her abusive husband, who was also Brady's cousin. Now it's Christmas Eve in the midst of a snow storm. Macy heads to Brady's bar for a drink and ends up stranded when the storm turns into a blizzard. Now, she's trapped with a man she's wanted for a long, long time...and the timing couldn't be better.

One night of passion isn't enough for Brady, but can he convince Macy they have more going for them than just the desire that's been simmering for years?


Want to see your book trailer here? Go here to find out how!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Funnies!

This was an email from my aunt... now you see where I get my sense of humor:

This is for girls everywhere.


Ahhhhh ... (The joys of having girls)

My mother taught me to read when I was four years old (her first mistake).
One day I was in the bathroom and noticed one of the cabinet doors was
ajar. I read the box in the cabinet.

I then asked my mother why she was keeping 'napkins' in the bathroom.
Didn't they belong in the kitchen?

Not wanting to burden me with unnecessary facts, she told me that those were for 'special occasions' (her second mistake).

Now fast forward a few months.... It's Thanksgiving Day, and my folks are leaving
To pick up my uncle and his wife for dinner.

Mom had assignments for all of us while they were gone.

Mine was to set the table.

When they returned, my uncle came in first and immediately burst into laughter. Next came his wife who gasped, then began giggling. Next came my father, who roared with

Then came Mom, who almost died of embarrassment when she saw each Place setting on the table with a 'special occasion' Kotex napkin at each plate, with the fork carefully arranged on top.

I had even tucked the little tail in so they didn't hang off the edge!!

My mother asked me why I used these and, of course, my response sent the other adults into further fits of laughter. 'But, Mom, you said they were for special occasions!!!'

Pass this on to your girlfriends who need a good laugh or anyone who has a daughter!

Life is too short for drama and petty things, So kiss slowly, laugh insanely, love truly, And forgive quickly....and for heavens sake, use the good napkins whenever you can!

Hope you got a laugh. Happy Friday!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Doing the Snoopy Dance

I'm so thrilled! Remember back in March when I mentioned I'd finally submitted something for publication? Well.....

:::drum roll::::

It was accepted!


The Wild(er) Rose Press accepted my story (previously) entitled "Love Your Enemy". The editor wants to change the title, which is fine. I haven't actually gotten the contract yet, but should have it soon.

I'm tickled pink.

Now... I need to get something else done and polished up. Must keep that ball rolling.

How do you celebrate when you get a contract?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What Do You Do...

When your muse has ADHD? You think I'm kidding! NOPE... she has no freaking focus. Why is this coming up right now? I'll tell you.

Today I watched a video that was sent to me by my Ex-Navy/Firefighter brother-in-law that got my muse on a roll. I guess normally this wouldn't be a problem but I'm in the middle of edits on two WIPs and my current WIP needs to be finished. I HATE starting a new story before I've finished the one I'm working on... but like I said, my muse has ADHD.

As I watched this video, she went nuts. My brain was yanked into a whole different direction than it had been on for the last few months. I could hear my current characters throwing temper tantrums as I wandered off to follow along in her enthusiastic wake. This story is calling to me and I'm having a hard time moving back to my current WIP, which has left two of my main characters in a rather compromising position (they're not the ones complaining).

My question is, what would you do? Is anyone reading this? LOL What do you do when you can't seem to focus on what you're currently working on because your muse won't cooperate?

It's not like she's not being creative... she's just not sticking with the plan. I've been writing notes furiously as she jabbers in my head, but I really like the story I'm working on... and I think Cari will wring my neck if she doesn't get to read it soon... she has a thing for Farrell. :-) So, what do you suggest?

OH, Winner of Best of March/April Hottie

Is Eduardo Verastegui! I'm sure y'all saw that over in the sidebar all this last week... but still, thought I'd share his yumminess again. :-D

Monday, May 18, 2009

Author Interview ~ Anne Kane

We have yet another lovely author who has consented to join us on the leopard print couch today to hang out and get to know her better. Please, help us to welcome multi-published author, Anne Kane to The Menagerie.

Let's get started. We always like to get a feel for our guests. So, Anne, where are you from?

I’m from Canada, pretty much all of it. I grew up in Southern Ontario, and then moved to Northern Ontario when I got married. We stayed there for the next fifteen years, and then moved to the West Coast. I don’t think I could pick one spot that I love more than the rest, each area has its own special beauty.

It sounds like you have special experience with experiencing that beauty. What inspired you to write your first book?

I wrote my first story when I was about twelve. I was an avid fan of Jack London at that point and I wrote what I considered to be a touching saga about a dog that got lost and wandered around the country. I submitted it to a children’s magazine and got back a very personalized rejection. Unfortunately, at twelve, a rejection is the end of the world, so I threw out the story and vowed never to write again. I was very dramatic! Now I really wish I’d saved both the story and the rejection.

Oh, wow! I wish you had too! That would be great to go in your "scrapbook of writing" Are the experiences in your stories based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Good heavens, no. I write paranormal and sci fi romance, so I get to make everything up. I find it so much more interesting than real life. In real life, I’m an accountant and we consider multiple tax forms to be exciting!

LOL, you're not the only one who finds it more interesting. I think paranormal is my number one love affair, and it's only seconded by Sci-fi/Fantasy. I know exactly what you mean. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

That’s a tough one. I would have to say Angela Knight. I adore her work, and she actually inspired me to start writing erotic romance. I devoured her book on writing erotic romance, and took a couple of her online courses. If I could inspire my readers as much as she does, I’d consider myself a good writer. When I pick up one of her books, I have to keep reading until I’m done.

Wow, she is one of my favorite authors. I have the same problem when I get one of her books, I have to make sure no one needs me for a bit and I immerse myself in her story. I am actually getting her book, and your endorsement makes me want to do it quicker. Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

I belong to an online critique group that was started by a writer named Barbara Karmazin. I learned a great deal from them, especially in regards to basics such as POV and active versus passive writing. I really think that group is the reason I’ve gotten as far as I have with my writing career. And I can always count on them to cheer for me when I submit a manuscript.

Aren't crit groups great? I love mine! Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I’m working on the second book in a science fiction series called Stargazers. Changeling Press released the first book, Stargazers 1: Wanton in March. Stargazers are women with the ability to see and control the lines of psychic energy that join the planets and other heavenly bodies. They can tap into these power lines and bend the energy to their own use, much the same as the Druids of Earth used to do with ley lines. They can use the power to run space ships, machinery on-planet, etc. They are descended from the witches of old Earth, but were all born off-planet. No one is sure what causes theses particular females to mutate and develop this ability. They are very exotic looking and highly sought after, both by legitimate sources who want to hire them, and by pirates who enslave and sell them.

In Willful, a Stargazer who was born into the nobility on a small backwater planet has been pampered and spoiled all her life. But the planet runs into financial trouble and in order to save his people, her father agrees to bind her to a five year term of service aboard a vessel with two very virile interplanetary merchants. It’s been lots of fun to write. It’s due to be released in May.

Those both sound wonderfully intriguing and go right along with my love of SF/F. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I talk to the dog. I like to discuss plot lines with her, and she never argues with me, or tells me I’m crazy. She just looks very interested and then trots off to find a tennis ball. She feels the answer to everything can be found in a tennis ball.

Now for our nothing to do with writing questions. I sort of hesitate to ask this question but here goes: What animal do you think makes the best pet and why?

That’s a tough one. I have a Jack Russel terrier and a Himalayan cat. The best pet would vary depending on the person and their lifestyle. I’m very active, so the dog suits me. She goes to work and has a bed in my office. I have a carrier strapped to the back of my motorcycle and she loves to ride in it. She goes kayaking with me, and has learned to stay in the kayak. She makes me go for at least two walks a day, which is good for me. The cat was a foster that never left. He is very playful, keeps the dog company when I leave her home, and loves to lounge on windowsills and desks. He’s very large, and likes to cuddle up on the sofa in the evening. They are both rescues from the local animal shelter and I love them a lot. I can’t imagine life without my furry friends.

It does sound like a difficult choice, so I wouldn't ask you to choose which one would be best. They're both best. :-)When you looked in the mirror this morning, what was the first thing you thought?

I’m glad no one’s here to see me! It was not a pretty site. Gremlins with a nasty sense of humor snuck into my bedroom last night and styled my hair in a do that was cross between Frankenstein’s bride and something from the fifties. Very scary.

*snicker* I sat here laughing at that. Those gremlins must live in the walls of all our homes. What’s a saying you use a lot? Where did it originate from?

“Life’s not fair. Get used to it.”

I started saying it when my kids were young and would complain about things like their bedtime, or homework or chores not being fair. I’ve noticed my oldest son now uses it on his kids, so I guess it’s becoming a family tradition.LOL

LOL, that's perfect! Are you a morning person or a night person?

Definitely a morning person. I’m usually up by five and love to sit on the deck and watch the birds in the early morning. Of course, in the winter I watch from inside. I used to try to sleep in, but now I just go with it. The dog loves to walk in the fields in the early morning and everything smells so fresh and full of promise. It’s a magical time of day.

Ugghh, you're one of those. LOL, I don't do mornings very well. Do you like thunderstorms?

I have to admit I do. There is something awe inspiring about the power of nature when it is unleashed in a storm. I love to watch the forks of light flash across the sky and the rain pouring down in sheets. It’s very refreshing. When I was a kid, my mother used to let us go put on our bathing suits and go play in the rain!

I would have to agree with that one. Well, it was a great time having you here on the couch and we hope to see you again. Keep us updated on your upcoming and newest releases, we'd love to pass on the information. :-D

Anne Kane lives in the beautiful Okanagan Valley with a bouncy Jack Russell terrier, a cantankerous Himalayan cat, a geriatric guinea pig and too many fish to count. She has two handsome sons and three adorable grandchildren. By day, she’s a respectable bean counter, but after hours her imagination soars and she writes romances that span the galaxy and encompass beings of all sizes, shapes and origins.

She first started telling stories as a toddler, and she just can’t seem to stop. In 2007, she decided it was time to get serious about writing and see where it would lead. Much to her surprise, it led to a contract with Changeling Press for STRANDED ON EARTH and a first place win in the Red Sage Publishing Alpha Male Contest. A contract for the winning story was also offered by Red Sage. Kellen’s Conquest will be included in Secrets, Volume 30, in December of 2009.

Her hobbies include kayaking, hiking, motorcycles, swimming, skating, playing guitar, singing and of course, reading. You can catch up with her on the web at her webpage and her blog.

Stargazers 1: Wanton by Anne Kane

When Tarik's brother is captured by the Intergalactic Council, the handsome cyborg realizes he'll need the help of a Stargazer if a rescue mission is to succeed. Problem is, as the leader of the rebellion he can't just advertise for a Stargazer willing to flaunt the Intergalactic Council. But when he kidnaps Krystal, he is completely unprepared for the irresistibly sexy young woman with a gentle soul. Now he’s torn between rescuing his brother and his growing attraction to the talented witch.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Book Trailer ~ Stargazers 1:Wanton by Anne Kane

Stargazers 1:Wanton by Anne Kane
When Tarik's brother is captured by the Intergalactic Council, the handsome cyborg realizes he'll need the help of a Stargazer if a rescue mission is to succeed. Problem is, as the leader of the rebellion he can't just advertise for a Stargazer willing to flaunt the Intergalactic Council. But when he kidnaps Krystal, he is completely unprepared for the irresistibly sexy young woman with a gentle soul. Now he’s torn between rescuing his brother and his growing attraction to the talented witch.


Want to see your book trailer here? Go here to find out how!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Fun!

It's another Friday, and I have another time waster for you. :-D

My sister sent me this one with the sideline, "We get bored out there!" At first I had no idea what she meant. You make up your own mind:

Did I mention that my sister was in the Navy? Yeah, she knows what she's talking about... they get bored out there sometimes. But, hey, at least they know how to have fun. :-D

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Real Mysti

A little bit about my, via Blogthings!

You Are An Exhibitionist

You believe that you're too great to have anything to be modest about.

You've got the goods, and you might as well show them off.

You love glory and attention. You'll do just about anything to get noticed.

You believe that all eyes should be on you. And you'll fight anyone for the spotlight!

Um.. huh. I had no idea!!! LOL...


You're a Free Love Kisser

Of all the kissing types, you've racked up the most experience.

Kissing is no big deal to you - you'll kiss anyone you find hot!

It's easy for you to take the plunge and make the first move.

And you don't really consider kissing to be cheating!

Um.. yes, actually I DO consider kissing "cheating"... Do you suppose these quizzes aren't really scientific?


You Are 50% Kinky

You are a very kinky person. You are completely open minded about sexuality.

You're up for something different from time to time, and you don't have many hang ups.

And while you're not into everything, you don't judge people who are.

You figure that anything between consenting adults is fair game!

Hmmm... I think this is where I keep my mouth shut, lol...


Okay... so spill... what about YOU?


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

TMI Tuesday

I forgot it was Tuesday... sorry. So, I'm late, but I'm here.

TMI Tuesday #186

1. Which traits from your parents do you see in yourself? ~ I talk A LOT! I come from a large Irish/German family... we get loud. From my mom, I think I have the "take care of everyone else" gene. From my dad, I'd have to say my love of cars (MUSCLE CARS!) and the belief that even though I am a girly-girl... I'm not helpless and I don't have to let someone else do things that I'm perfectly capable of just because I'm this little blonde thing.

2. Which traits from you/your partner do you see in your children (if you don't have kids, which would you like to see)? My sons all have the same mischievous twinkle in their eyes that my hubby does, and his love of life. My boys all love music and dancing as much as I do.... although I can't quite convince them that boys can be BOYS and do ballet. *sigh* I hope that I can pass on the morals and values that I learned growing up.

3. How did you get the birds-and-bees talk? Umm... I didn't... my family has always been... embarassingly open about sex. I feel like I've always known about it. I don't remember a specific talk. BUT, after I lost my virginity my mother and I were driving in my dad's truck and she didn't even look at me when she said, "So... do we need to get you in for birth control?" I wish she'd waited until I'd swallowed my drink before she said that. My dad make me detail the inside of his truck to clean up all the soda I spewed.

4. What was your favorite childhood book? I'm not sure, I loved to read (still do). I loved the Judy Bloom books, and the Little Creature books by Mercer Meyer.

5. What is your favorite piece of erotic literature? Natural Law by Joey W. Hill, hands down.

Bonus: What is the one thing you wish you could go back and tell yourself as a child? Umm... don't worry 'bout it, baby-girl, it all works out in the end.

Double Bonus: If your life were a book or movie, what would the title be? Hmm... "Full Out" ... because it's never as good when you only mark it. Sorry, it's a dancer thing. LOL

Monday, May 11, 2009

Author Interview ~ Ashley Ladd

Good morning everyone. Today's author braving the leopart print couch is Ashley Ladd. Welcome, Ashley! Good to see ya over here. I always like to start with questions that help us to figure where you are. Where are you from?
~ I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio where my dad still lives. I’ve been in South Florida for the past 20 years. I consider both home. I miss Cincinnati and my family there very much. But Florida is now home, too.

I can certainly understand, you home is where you hubby is, where you heat is. Why don't you go ahead and tell us your latest news!
~ I have a vampire romance just released by Ellora’s Cave on April 22nd (also my husband’s birthday) called “Truth, Justice, And The Vampire Way an M/F vampire romance. I also have several more releases coming out: “Charity’s Auction” in the “Caught in the Middle” M/F/M anthology May 11th at Also coming out at Total-E-Bound soon are:

Simon Says (June 29, 2009) – an M/M romance
Best Mates (July 27, 2009) – an M/M/F romance
Doggy Style (coming soon) – an M/M romance
Sorry Charlie (coming soon) – an M/M romance

Well, HUGE congrats on the publishing news! Bet you're doin the Snoopy dance a lot lately. :-D So, what book are you reading now?
~ I started reading a non-fiction management book tonight. My day job boss recommended I read it to become a better manager. It’s called “ Bringing Out The Best In People”. I’m also reading “Still Irresistible” by Dawn Atkins. It’s a Harlequin Blaze.

So you read A LOT... can't say as I blame you... it's a break to read someone else's baby for a little bit and get away from mine. Do you see writing as a career?
~ Definitely. I can’t afford to give up my day job yet, but I have every intention of writing as long as I can breathe and type. My goal is to be able to quit the day job one day and write full time.

Oh, That would be nice! Who doesn't want to be able to have their writing support them. *sigh* Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
~ I was born wanting to write and be a writer. As long as I can remember, I considered myself a writer. I’ve always loved to watch Superman and I loved Lois Lane, reporter. I wanted to be just like her and have my own Superman. I still love Clark Kent and would love to have one of my very own. J

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
~ Unfortunately, no. I’d love to and hope to someday. I hold down a full-time day job as a customer service manager for a charity and I also still have a 14 year old and 18 year old at home, so I’m tied down. However, I’m lucky to live in a tropical paradise which is a great setting for romances, so I feature South Florida in my books often. Who doesn’t like fun in the sun?

What does your family think of your writing?
~ Well… My hubby used to be aggravated until I started earning royalties. He still gets irritated when I schedule phone interviews and I want him and the kids to be quiet at night. My older daughter refuses to read my books even though she’s 25. She doesn’t like the naughty parts. She can’t get used to her mom writing about “that stuff”. My dad’s supportive – probably the only one in my family who’s truly supportive of my writing.

And now it's time for our "Absolutely Nothing to do With Writing" questions. What animal do you think makes the best pet and why?
~ Cats! Dogs are a close second but they make you walk them in the middle of the night and when it’s raining and thundering. They also jump on me when I get home every time. Picture Dino running at Fred Flintstone. It’s cute in a way but also sometimes scary as I have a big Husky, almost as big as Dino. I’ve always been a cat lover. I love to cuddle and pet them. I love to look at them. I enjoy their ability to be independent if I have to be at work or school for several hours a day. I don’t have to walk them outside all the time no matter the weather. I can’t imagine life without my cats. If I had to be reincarnated as anything but a human, I would want to be a cat.

Do you have any strange handwriting habits, like capitalizing all your “r”s or dotting your “I”s with heart (or anything like that)? Is writing half cursive and half printing strange?
~ I did it today in fact. Also, I write shorthand (Gregg’s) so lots of times I will write in my shorthand, either all the way or interspersed with cursive words. Did I tell you my day job boss likes my shorthand ability? My younger daughter seems to think my shorthand talent is neater than my being a published author.

You can erase any horrible experience from your past. What will it be?
~ Well, I wish I wasn’t born with a cleft lip and palate and hadn’t needed a lot of surgeries growing up. I also could have done without the bicycle accident when I was six years old. I was learning how to ride my bike, lost control, and careened into a three-pronged tree, broke my nose, and knocked loose several teeth. As if I needed more injury to my face. Thus, I’m not thrilled with my pictures. I tend to see my cleft lip and my broken nose although my kids and hubby tell me they don’t notice it.

I'll bet you do, but you seems to have adjusted. :-D What’s a saying you use a lot? Where did it originate from?
~ “You guys”. I think a lot of people from Ohio, at least from Cincinnati, say this. It’s our version of “Y’all” or “You all”. It has nothing to do with men even though “guys” is part of it. I could be talking about all women or girls or a mixed group of men and women. Another man from Cincinnati works with me down here in Florida. He says it, too. I had to explain to my women co-workers that he wasn’t insulting them when he called them “You guys”. LOL

LOL, that's funny. I do say y'all... but I am partially from the south. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?
~ It was either shark or alligator. A co-worker when I lived in Mississippi liked to bring in strange food and make us eat it. She forced one of those on me, maybe both. It’s so many years ago, I honestly don’t remember if I had both. I know I ate at least one of them. It didn’t taste half bad but I still hate the idea of eating something that might have eaten a human.

A lot of people in Southern Mississippi (I was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi) loved to suck crawdad heads. Yuck! I don’t think they ever convinced me to, but maybe I’m forgetting. It was considered quite a delicacy. In Ohio, we call crawfish “bait”.

But the crawdads are yummy that way... all the sauces and spices soak into the head. You barely taste what it is, before the spices his to you and it's all good. What is your heritage?
~ German. Pure as far as I can trace from the family tree. Both sides of my family came over from what is now Germany around the Civil War. They settled in Cincinnati, Ohio which still has a big German population. I’m amazed that so many generations were in the United States and I still turned out all German. It’s not that my families care about nationality. It just happened. Most of my family still lives in Ohio, in the Cincinnati area.

Huh, funny how life works that way, isn't it! Have you ever cried during a movie? If yes, which one and why?
~ This is so embarrassing. But I sobbed all through “Land Before Time”. My mom had died not quite a year before and I was still really upset. I didn’t realize until I was in the theater watching the movie that the little dinosaur lost his mother in the movie. I was a complete mess. Earlier tonight I was watching “The Parent Trap” and I cried when the girls talked about not knowing their mom or dad.

Aww, hon, who wouldn't cry in that situation! What is your favorite pizza?
~ Plain cheese. I used to like it best with mushrooms, onions, and Canadian bacon, but now I don’t want anything but cheese. And I also prefer it with very thin, crispy crust. Don’t give me a big,doughy crust.

LOL, everyone is different. What is one thing scientists should invent?
~ Houses that clean themselves – vacuum, wash dishes, scrub toilets, sweep and mop floors, make beds.

Wouldn't that be loverly? Do you sleep with the light on? Why or why not?
~ Yes and no. My hubby stays up late so I have to wear a sleeping mask. Thus I block the light. I prefer the lights off, even when I have the mask on. At least the mask makes it bearable. I also have to wear ear plugs to block out the sound of the hubby’s TV and computer. I used to think people looked (and were) weird to wear sleeping masks. Now I completely understand why.

Can you taste the difference between Pepsi and Coke? If so, which do you prefer?
~ You bet! There’s no contest. Pepsi and RC are sweeter than Coke and not as acidic. Coke burns my throat going down unless I water it down with a ton of ice. I much prefer Pepsi and even more so, RC. My mom was a Coke lover and didn’t like Pepsi. I once even worked for Coca-Cola, so I really don’t like Coke.

I can tell the difference as well. If you could wish for anything, what would you wish for?
~ For my family and friends to be happy and healthy.

Well, thanks so much for joining us today here at The Menagerie. I hope you had as much as we did.

Ashley Ladd lives in South Florida with her husband, five children, and beloved pets. She loves the water, animals (especially cats), and playing on the computer.

She's been told she has a wicked sense of humour and often incorporates humour and adventure into her books. She also adores very spicy romance, which she weaves into her stories. You can visit her at her blog.

Caught In The Middle Anthology: Charity's Auction by Ashley Ladd

When Char bids on and wins both sexy doctors Hunky and Hottie in her hospital's charity auction, she knows exactly what to do with them and it's not tidily winks.

Although head nurse Char Reynolds is desperately head over heels for bad boy Dr. Dexter Graham, he's moved on. Still she gets caught up in bidding for him at the hospital's auction for the new children's wing and wins. His smug expression drives her to also bid on and win the very hunky Dr. Ben Price, Dexter's nemesis and to plan a very naughty, very sexy night with both men.

Trailer ~ Submissive Dreasm by Ashley Ladd

Submissive Dreams by Ashley Ladd

Stacey disguises herself to fool her ex-husband, the Internet king of porn, but he's not the only one who gets a shock.

Stacey Cooke can't believe her eyes when she sees her ex-husband Brand on the Internet—and he's the new king of porn. She divorced him for being too boring in bed and out and so she's stunned. Much worse than stunned, she's jealous and it hurts. She wonders if she gave up on him too early.

She can't stop peeking at her ex with all his film partners. When an ad pops up for a new partner to have sex with Brand on film, her friend Lilli persuades her to apply. Donning a mask, disguising her voice, Stacey decides to see if she's still in love with him.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Fun Friday!

So... I saw this on a fellow TMIer's blog and I HAD to share it with y'all. Cuz, yanno, I'm sick and twisted like that. Enjoy!

GOTCHA! Happy Friday. :-D

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

TMI Tuesday & Purple Prose

First... TMI Tuesday:

1. Have you ever bought a membership to a porn site? If yes, what is the most recent one and did you like it? Umm... would I get away with it if I said it was research? I have, but I don't remember the site, and I didn't really use it... and I worry that my kids will mess with my computer and pull it up... 'nuff said.

2. Would you rather watch a erotic/porn movie, read a story, or listen to an audio? Why? Hmm... all of the above. I mean, come on, the watching for research...:-D... the reading because that's what I do, I read and write Erotic Romance... the listening, mmmm, just something about it that gets my heart racing that probably wouldn't happen if I was just reading it.

3. If you have a significant other what do you do for each other to get in the mood? If you don't what would you kind of thing could a future potential long term partner do to get you in the mood? I roll over. J/K ... but really, we have four kids, usually the only energy I have to get in the mood is to roll over and rub my hand along his arm. I like to let him read the sex scenes in my stories... and ask him to help me with research, you know: Is whipped cream really colder on the nipple than on the clit/penis? :-D

4. When it comes to sex, how much do you talk about it with others? How comfortable are you talking about sex? HA, I am an EROTIC ROMANCE AUTHOR, I talk about it all the time. I write about it all the time, and I write about writing about it all the time. How many ways are there to say Tab A inserts into slot B? Well, sometimes another person's perspective can help... they may use different words. :-D I'm pretty comfortable talking about sex... my family was rather ribald like that and it was never really a "dirty" thing to talk about in our house. Heck, I know more about my parents' sex life than I EVER wanted to.

5. What are the last 5 things you search for on Google (or another search engine)? How sad is it that I actually know just how to look this up: 1. Rick Yune (possible future Saturday Hottie material);2. purple prose (see below); 3. Yasmine Galenorn (I have some of her books and wanted to know the reading order... cuz I'm OCD like that); 4. Emma Woodbine (narrator for, I loved the way she read a certain book and was wondering if I'd seen her or heard her somewhere else); 5. Thiago Vieira (This past weekend's Saturday Hottie). Those were the last five... I could go on I guess but you only asked for five. :-D

Bonus: Have you ever had a fantasy that you were ashamed of? Hmm... not ashamed per-se... I had a thing for my STEPbrother for a long time... then I got over it. Usually, I don't really care what others will think of my sexual preferences... it's nothing illegal... no pedophilia, or incest, so I don't worry about it. Therefore, no shame.

I enjoyed the questions this week, and I look forward to next week's. This just might become a regular thing, not just for when I don't know what to blog about. :-)


Now, as for the purple prose (I am NOT the only one who finds that phrase so very sexual. At first, when I harassed my sister on what to write about she said, "Purple prose" something I'd been whining about in a book I had just read. I told her "I'm not touching that one" and the conversation rolled downhill from there. I'm sure you can guess at the innuendos we were tossing about.

I even looked it up to see what others said about purple prose. The only "definition" was on Wikipedia. And I actually got quite a kick out of this description: "Modern instances of purple prose can often be found in romance novels. These started alluding to sex in the 1970s and authors, not wanting to be either pornographic or clinical in their descriptions, developed many euphemisms to describe body parts and sexual activity. Examples include "throbbing manhood", "quivering desire" and (he) "filled her with the hot wet tumult of his love." Body parts are often referred to simply by the term his or her "sex", which allows for such sentences as "He put his sex in her sex and they had sex."

Romance writers are aware of the problem, with Deb Stover contributing an essay "The Purple Prose Eater" to the book How to Write a Romance For The New Markets (1999)."

Why is this on my mind? Well, partly because I was reading a book that drove me a bit insane with it, and partly because I know that I sometimes struggle to write a sentence that is evocative without... purple prose. I mean, really, how many different ways can you describe Tab A inserts into Slot B? Don't get me wrong, I like words and the Thesaurus is my friend (I think I have like four) but how much is too much? When does it go from a well-written novel/story to an eye-rolling example of purple prose?

I'd really like to hear your thoughts on this. :-D

Monday, May 4, 2009

Author Interview ~ Dee S. Knight

Good morning, everyone. It's another Monday and time for a new author interview. Today on the couch we have author, Dee S. Knight. Get ready that cup of morning... caffeine, in whatever form you need it, and sit back to enjoy our latest interview.

Welcome to the Menagerie, Dee. Why don't you tell us where you are from.

I claim Virginia, but I’m only an adopted daughter of the South. I was born in the great Midwest, and lived in northwest Iowa until I was six. Strangely, after all these *ahem* many years, people still say they can detect a Midwestern accent when I speak. Because hubby and I have lived all over—and even drove a tractor-trailer for eight years—we call anywhere we’re together home now.

LOL, adopted daughters are still daughters. :-D When and why did you begin writing?

I hate to say it, but I started writing a little over six years ago out of boredom. I didn’t have time to find a job before consultant hubby finished his temporary contract, and he suggested I spend my time writing a book. I thought that sounded like fun so I gave it a shot. I didn’t have any deep-seated desire or secret plan when I was growing up. Writing was something to do to fill the time. It quickly became a consuming activity, though, happily for me.

Oh, that's a great story. And how funny that it was practically a dare from your hubby. When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Well, let’s just say, I said I was a fiction writer on my tax forms long before I ever put fingers to keyboard. Then I called my occupation “writer” before I believed it. It took a very, very long time to gain that belief that yes, I had written a book, and yes, people did read it and like it. I love e-publishing, but truthfully I started feeling like a writer when I held my first print book in hand. Each year I’ve come more to accept that I am a writer. Then…I turn in a new manuscript and the old fears and doubts come back. Does anyone ever get past that??

I think sometimes we set impossible standards for ourselves. “When I accomplish that, I’ll feel the way a successful [fill in the blank] should feel,” or “When I’m awarded that I’ll know I’ve made the grade.” In actuality, just relaxing and appreciating what we’ve done is half the battle, and when I start doing that, I’ll began to feel like what I want to be recognized as, a writer.

I think we all feel that way at one time or another. I know that I do the same "If I" game. How did you come up with the title or titles that you have?

In my book, Coming Home, I thought in terms of my life as a Navy brat and the feelings in our family when my dad came home from a cruise. He “came home” often since his job in the Navy meant going away a lot and spending long times at sea. To the family member away, coming home means warmth and family and acceptance and fitting in. But from personal experience, I know that isn’t always what happens. Day to day dynamics are different for the family dealing with daily issues than they are for the wife or husband away on duty, and sometimes their ideas of what it means to “come home” aren’t the same.

In the case of my hero who comes home from Vietnam for a Christmas leave, he finds he has changed while the farm and home he left in Nebraska seems to have stayed the same. He no longer fits in to what he envisioned as “home,” so the title is bittersweet as well as appropriate.

That sounds like it would be heartwrenching, and a good story along the way to finding what he's become and how he can make a life for himself. Yet another book to add to my TBB and TBR pile. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Simply that the darkest times yield to the brightest light. It’s a message that’s hard to accept, but one that’s proven true in my life over and over.

What a beautiful sentiment, and so very true. How much of the book is realistic?

Coming Home is paranormal, but personally, yes, I think it’s realistic and a story I could believe as a reader. After all, in the heat of emotions, when the heart needs an answer, it often comes from unexpected sources.

Very true. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Do you mean an inspiration? Like someone famous who inspired me to write? I don’t know of any, really. But I’ve been introduced to some wonderful writers who inspire and mentor me, people like Cheryl Norman, Leigh Wyndfield, Jasmine Haynes, Chris Neeley, Amy Wollf Sorter, Keira Ramsay, Larissa Ione. And there are others—I could go on.

Inspiration works just as well if you ask me. What book are you reading now?

I just finished The Time Traveler’s Wife, which I highly recommend. Before that, Unlaced, which featured Jasmine Haynes (who I adore as a writer) and is also great.

Sounds interesting, I'll have to look into both of those. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Finding the right place to start. Very often one of my critique partners will say, “What you have is good, but pacing will be much better if you start here instead of there.” And as much as I hate to admit it, she’s almost always right. Or I should say, she’s probably always right but I don’t always take her advice.

You're not the only one with that problem, but at least you have a crit partner who can help you with it. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Well, my favorite writer is Nelson Demille. I like how he combines humor with serious topics and the way he writes action so compellingly. It’s strange that I dearly love romance and women’s fiction, but when I’m boarding a plane or browsing in the book store, I tend toward thrillers, and I think DeMille is one of the best.

I think it's funny when people expect us to only read what we write. It's great that you love to read other genres. Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep writing. It’s the only way to improve. Find good, trustworthy critique partners who love you but will still point out your flaws. Ask around about publishers so you’re submitting to the best, who are honest and have a track record of knowing business. Persevere! Never believe everything a contest judge says. Try hard not to believe everything a reviewer says. Keep writing.

What fantastic advice! Now for our "Nothing to do with writing" questions: What animal do you think makes the best pet and why?

Cats. They’re self-sufficient and confident. And I like their purr. Dogs don’t purr. Cats will also keep your feet warm and sleep on your head so you never feel alone. Plus, they always find the sunny places in life, and that’s a good lesson for all of us.

LOL, all excellent points in a cat's favor. Do you hate how you look in pictures? Why or why not?

OMG!! I take the worst pictures! I never look the way I think I should. If someone says, “Oh, this looks just like you,” I want to go and hide. Or wish I had before whoever it was got out the camera.

*snicker* Ah, well, at least you have a sense of humor about it. Do you have any strange handwriting habits, like capitalizing all your “r”s or dotting your “I”s with heart (or anything like that)?

My handwriting is almost impossible to read—I have a doctor’s handwriting without the fancy degree and big income. It’s kind of bold with strong strokes, but legibility is nil. And I’ve gotten worse since using a computer almost full time. But who cares, since handwriting doesn’t have Spell Check?

I'll bet a nurse could read your handwriting. :-D When you looked in the mirror this morning, what was the first thing you thought?

If this is what morning looks like, no wonder I like to sleep in.

I think we all think that in the morning, even when we don't sleep in. What were you doing at midnight last night?

Judging Stroke of Midnight entries.

And at the Stroke of Midnight no less. :-D What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?

Sand, I think. Or haggis. (No offense to my wonderful Scottish friends. I actually like it!)

Hmm... sand, huh? I'm sure there's a story there somewhere. What do you want to know about the future?

Oh, everything! And I want to know all the stuff about the past, too. I’d love to see those plates move to separate the continents and the dinosaurs stomp around and the volcanic activity that formed the caldera at Ngorongoro Crater. I’m naturally snoopy.

Speaking of the future, you know how at Macaroni Grill they play Italian lessons in
the bathroom? Well, when I was in the ladies room of our local Macaroni Grill last year, the sentence they translated into Italian was “I have seen the future and it is exactly like the present, only longer.” I laughed so hard I’m sure the woman in the next stall thought I was strange, but I loved it!

Oh, that is priceless! How funny is that when we pay attention to what is around us and get a good laugh out of it. What is your heritage?

Irish, German, Danish, Swedish. Yes, I used to be blond and I don’t just mean mentally.

S'alright, you are in good company... only Mysti isn't blond here at The Menagerie. Have you ever cried during a movie? If yes, which one and why?

It would be shorter to name the movies I didn’t cry during. I cry during Kleenex commercials. And oh my gosh, the waterworks during almost any Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation!

I think most of us have that problem with the Hallmark shows. Do you sleep with the light on? Why or why not?

Well, not on purpose, but I can, yes. When I’m ready to sleep, almost nothing keeps me from it. It comes from years of trucking I suspect, where you sleep through storms, bad traffic noise and pig haulers parked next to your truck. That’s an experience I could talk about for awhile.

I'll bet! But it sounds quite interesting and a source of material. If you could wish for anything, what would you wish for?

Freedom from need for everyone, but not freedom from want.

Thanks for the opportunity to share my news!

And thank you, Dee for joining us today at The Menagerie. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Stop on in anytime, hon. It's been fun. :-D

Coming Home by Dee S. Knight

On an unexpected Christmas leave from the jungles of Vietnam, Tom Stabler finds himself at home, but in a life he no longer fits. The farmhouse where he grew up seems too close, his parents and grandparents older and frail. Tom the man is uncomfortable in the skin of Tom the boy. So much so, he's beginning to think he should have stayed in Nam, where his memories were innocent.

During a restless pre-dawn morning, the girl he's dreamed off for months arrives unexpectedly. Tom is afraid he'll feel disconnected to her, too. Then what dreams will he have to take back with him?

Susan Swenson, the sweet, farm girl Tom loved in high school, has rushed home to be with him, not as a girl but as a woman. Touches lead to kisses; kisses lead to skin gliding against skin and a deep loving that produces a small miracle. As the sun crests the shore of a nearby lake, Tom fulfills Susan's dream of passion. With her own heat and desire, Susan helps to heal Tom's soul and shows him a way to come home.

Prior to writing her first fiction only a few years ago, Dee S. Knight lived a varied lifestyle. After college she married her high school sweetheart and they became house parents at a home for wards of the court. Thus, she went from newlywed to "mother" of a dozen teenage boys, in a month. Two years of living in one city proved to be enough, and she and her husband spent the next eight years as long-distance truckers. Swiftly following their trucking years, she became a computer consultant, high school and adult ed teacher, technical writer and novelist. More than thirty years later, she's still married to her own hero and finds life infinitely interesting. They currently reside in the Midwest. You can visit her at her website and get some advice from her and her sister at their advice blog.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Funny Friday!

A dear friend emailed me a link to this video and I loved it. My mother used to sing the songs from The Sound of Music to me for as long as I can remember. Enjoy!

Happy Friday everyone!