Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Wishin'... and Hopin'... and Thinkin'...

Right now I have that song in my head... but somehow I'm quite sure Ms. Dusty Springfield never meant them in the context that I'm using them. I'm still waiting to hear if my Cowboy story has been accepted. But until then, my writing life goes on.

Lately, I've been editing my "Appearances" story (which probably won't stay titled that... it's just how I first thought of it, lol). And I'm finding certain characters are coming up so much clearer than they originally did. They're growing and evolving in ways I am constantly surprised by. I wrote this one at the same time that Mysti wrote her Shut Up and Kiss Me when we did it as sort of a writing challenge. We were trying to get the ball rolling and get something done... anything done. Mysti popped up in my IM window and said, "I have an idea" which usually makes me cringe... some of her ideas are a bit out there. Like yanno... "I have an idea... we should write erotic romance!" :-D

So, Mysti had an idea... we needed to just make it a challenge. We had two days (might have been three...) to write a story that was approximately 7500 words. She finished hers long before I did, but I have a very hard time making my stories shorter... I want to share the information and more of the story. Anyway, the end result was my Cowboy story that originally ended at almost 13,000 words. But I wrote it within the time limit we'd set. I can remember thinking that I liked this story, but feeling pressed to finish in the alloted time. And I'm sure that showed in the first draft.

As so often happens with a story, it started out one way, and it quickly jumped over into a different direction than I had originally planned. Once I hit save that last time I popped up in her window... "Done!" At which point she demanded I send it to her immediately. Ugh, I really hate sending anyone a first draft... I know there are mistakes in there, I know that I've twisted the plot and left out the conflict. And while I do better with criticisms than I do with praise (go figure) I always feel a little sick to my stomach when I first open up a document that has been looked over by a crit partner and see all those crossed out lines and comments along the side. Each time I think, "That's an awful lot of red!"

Mysti looked at it and sent me her comments and edits. And my first thought? "WOW, that's an awful lot of red!" LOL. Then, after taking a deep breath, I read through all the comments and edits and then closed it and set it aside. I'm not a person who can do the first or second round of edits on my stories immediately. I have to read every comment that was made, and then let it germinate. Let it sit and let my subconscious brain pick it apart and put it back together again. Besides, I was in the middle of second or third round of edits on my Cowboy, so I continued to work on those.

Now, Cowboy is off, and waiting in someone else's hands and Appearances can take center stage. As I go through and add words... or change words that I apparently love too much (clenched anyone?)... I am once again amazed at the way a story can change and evolve and grow. Characters that may have been a bit bland can take on a whole new appearance. They can steal a scene, or in some cases an entire book. They can go from whiney and not all that admirable to bitchy but lovable. I love the journey I go on each time I step into the worlds in my head. I love how I can see, taste and touch what I'm trying to get down on the screen. I absolutely adore the voices in my head (yes, even when they are screaming at me that I'm not getting their stories down fast enough). Basically, I pretty much love everything about writing... okay, I could do without the emotional angst as I wait for a response to my inquiry... but nobody's perfect, lol. Maybe if I can keep my mind on editing Appearances and writing some more I won't go as crazy... then again, maybe not. Guess we'll all have to wait and see, lol.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Author Interview ~ Sandra Stixrude

Hey all, I’m glad you could drop in and see who we have on the couch today. Let’s all give a warm Menagerie welcome to Sandra Stixrude.

Hi Sandra, so glad you could join us on the couch today. Make yourself comfy and grab a drink… or tell one of the Boys what you’d like and they’ll make every effort to see that you’re… happy.

Let’s go ahead and get started: Where are you from?

Delaware, (Delawhere?) Yes, that cute little state stuffed between New Jersey and Maryland. I’ve lived here all my life and with family here, I most likely always will. It may not be a glamorous state but it’s close to everything on the East Coast.

And honestly glamorous only lasts so long before it just plain wears you out. It’s better to have family around. How about your latest news?

Marya, the first novel in the Anchorage series, released at Red Rose Publishing, March 4, 2010. Woohoo! Anchorage, my Science Fiction series, currently has seven books contracted, with the second, Romenel: Voyage into Twilight, set to release in the second half of 2010.

That is indeed awesome news! And WOW, seven contracted books. I’m amazed… and a tad jealous, lol. How much of the book is realistic?

Hmm…alien planet, strange life forms, telepathic leemacats, what would you think? Seriously, though, I do try to keep the action and the details as realistic as possible for the setting. I don’t break the laws of physics (or chemistry) and I do try to present character interactions in a realistic way.

LOL, I can understand how you’d think with all that it couldn’t be realistic, but see… you knew what I meant. What are your current projects?

The Anchorage series will most likely take up the lion’s share of my time in the upcoming year. The series, which takes place on a planet far from normal shipping routes, where thousands of years after landing, the human colonists have forgotten their origins.

This series spans approximately eighteen years in the life of Marya Intalva, her family, friends, associates, and enemies. Gotta have antagonists. While each story is, in true SF tradition, a cautionary tale of one sort or another, these are character driven stories where the characters are forced to think outside of their normal, comfortable life patterns and challenged in ways they never imagined.

I’ll bet it’s very interesting. I’ve always loved sci-fi. Can you share a little of your current work with us?

But of course. Here’s the blurb for Marya:

Know he will succeed when all others fail you… so reads the fateful letter of introduction that heralds the beginning of Marya’s desperate journey.

When the Ktar chooses Marya to watch over the heir on his confirmation journey, she has no illusions about a pleasant trip. A prophecy concerning the heir’s death, ominous dreams of a mysterious city, and the certainty one of the heir’s companions will betray him all weigh heavily on her.

Unfortunately, the discovery of the assassin in their midst is only the beginning. His menace pales in comparison to the ancient evil lurking in the mountain city. When Marya and her party are trapped and the men with her enslaved, she is forced into a battle of wills and hearts with two remaining choices: give in to the alien being who offers her power and prestige, or join forces with the same handsome assassin she sought to thwart. Lives are at stake and so are her heart and her honor – how can she choose?

And a little excerpt from the first chapter:

Marya stopped to let her eyes adjust and to collect herself. On either side of the staircase stood the statues of Alia and Liut. Alia held a book in one hand and a trowel in the other, her feet planted on the ground. Carved of bright alabaster and worked in gold, she represented all that was gi: stability, order, law, civilization, light, creation, and learning. Her dark husband, Liut, stood on the left. Made of black, polished stone, he was lost in his wild dance, feet stamping out a rhythm only he could hear. His five hands held fire, the moons, and a sword. Alia’s essential other half, the second of the two sacred, inseparable essences that made up the world, he represented everything that was ro: change, chaos, madness, wilderness, shadow, and destruction.

Marya bowed to both in turn and spoke each name with reverence and Sabiana followed her example. As a Mother Priestess, she had done this many times, but visits to the oracle were still unnerving and Marya needed the moment of ceremony to gather her courage. She took Sabiana’s hand to guide her, the girl’s eyes huge with anxiety.

They had taken a dozen steps from the stairs when out of the darkness came an eerie, hollow voice, “Who approaches to disturb the silence?”

The shape and size of the chamber contributed to the strange, chilling sound of the oracle’s voice, but the oracles were also a breed apart, more in tune with the holy essences than other mortals. No one but the Mother Prelate knew how many oracles served now or how long they held office or if they ever saw the light of day.

Marya straightened her shoulders and gave the expected response. “I am Marya Intalva, Mother Priestess and Healer of the Essensate. I seek the guidance of prophecy, for good or ill.”

The oracle hesitated, the silence closing about them in the dark and Marya heard Sabiana’s breathing accelerate.

“Inquire carefully and be prepared to hear that which you most dread.”

The response was traditional, but the oracle’s hesitation had put Marya on edge. What did it mean? Was the oracle reluctant to give this prophecy today? She asked in the most general way about the heir’s upcoming journey.

In a singsong chant, the oracle cried out:

“Black moon, black sky, black star,
Sunlit towers hidden by storm and cloud,
Trust obscures the assassin’s blade,
The self-styled god consumes despair,
The ruler’s child plunged into darkness,
Honor lost, there is howling at the walls.”

Wow, looks like a good read! Who designed the covers?

Marya’s cover is a Missy Lyons design. She’s done some of my all-time favorite covers (check out the one for Finn.) The planet with the three moons, the mountain scenery, the gorgeous couple, all these things she melded together beautifully to please an overexcited and art-challenged author.

LOL, that’s a great description “art-challenged author.” And it is a gorgeous cover. Do you have any advice for other writers?

Yes – I’m going to paraphrase Miss Snark here. Get the first draft down; dump your ideas onto the page. Then the actual writing begins. Don’t fear revision. It’s necessary, it’s inevitable, and the process will help you grow as a writer. Only Mozart could draft things in a perfect form the first time through (OK, he used notes rather than words, but the process is much the same.) Unless you’re that sort of genius savant, (sorry, most of us aren’t) revision drives the work.

Very good advice, and I kind of like the revision part. I know, I’m a bit odd… What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Think about writing? Seriously, I have a day job, so leisure time is sparse and precious. I love to travel—we’ve been to Canada, to Europe, to Hawaii, and China in the past few years. (That’s what happens when you don’t spend all your money on cosmetics and shoes, ladies, you have money left over to play, lol.)

I honestly don’t know if I’d know what to do with leisure time, lol. I’m rather jealous of your traveling credits. I’d be happy just to make it to Ireland someday. What does your family think of your writing?

My son is thrilled, my hubby somewhat bemused, and my parents pleased as punch to see me published. Everyone has been enormously supportive over the years, even when I was at my lowest points. While hubby asked at one point why I write ‘those kinds of books’ (meaning stories not based in reality) he still understands the need to do so.

LOL, it’s great to have that kind of support. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

I know this might sound as if you’ve heard it before, but the shock for many fiction writers comes when they realize characters take on a life of their own. There’s most likely a convoluted psychological process going on, with the author managing a distance from his or her own normal thought processes, but I’m at a loss how to explain it properly.

Well-developed characters know what they want and how they want to go about things. They tell you and even berate you when they feel you have it wrong.

Writing a novel seems to be the only time society permits you to have voices in your head.

It’s an ongoing joke among us ladies here at the Menagerie and other auhors I know that every writer is a bit schitzophrenic… I’ve even said we need t-shirts: “I write what the voices in my head tell me to.” How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I’ve written seven SF novels, a short chapbook, several erotic works under a different name (Angel Martinez), and a young adult fantasy that will most likely never see the light of day. Asking an author to pick a favorite is like asking a devoted mother to pick a favorite among her children. She may feel more disposed to one or the other at any given moment, but she doesn’t truly have a favorite.

I will always love Marya, because I love beginnings. But I adore Romenel as a hero, I loved the challenge of writing Pelinas, and I think I had the most fun of my life writing the two halves of the Emily story. So I’ve answered the question…by not answering the question.

Very well said. And now for our “absolutely-nothing-to-do-with-writing” questions: Do you hate how you look in pictures? Why or why not?

I hate having my picture taken. I freeze up and make the oddest faces. The lighting is always bad and half the time I end up looking demented. Maybe I always look a little demented…

LOL, that might be, but somehow I doubt it. What is your strangest habit?

I hum to myself whenever I’m working on anything, which includes washing the dishes and such. This in itself is not so odd, but I’m usually not aware I’m doing it. If someone stops me and asks ‘what’s that song you’re humming?’ I often find I’ve no idea.

Well, at least you do something happy… that’s gotta be better than pulling out your hair. Have you ever eaten a crayon?

I have never eaten an entire crayon. However, I have sampled a few. Burnt Sienna. Brick Red. They don’t taste good, but boy do they ever look inviting.

LOL, I keep thinking the sour apple one should taste that way… and they never do. What is your heritage?

All American mutt. My mother is from Germany. My father is half-Norwegian, and hence my last name is as well. The rest is a largely indeterminate mix of French and British Isles with who knows what else thrown in.

With the Nordic/Germanic parts, you’re probably thinking ‘blonde, blue-eyed, tall’. Give me a moment here while I try to stop laughing. No, those genes all passed me by. I’m short; the hair was once near-black before it started to silver, the eyes, coffee-dark.

Well, sometimes the genetics make no sense in how they’re distributed… I’m the shortest member of my family… my entire family by at least three inches. :-D Have you ever cried during a movie? If yes, which one and why?


Oh, you want specifics. I cry at just about anything during a movie. I cried at the beginning of Up when the old man’s wife dies. I cried as if my own beloved had died at the end of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I’m not certain if that was because Prince Vlad dies or because Mina had to go back to that bland, expressionless husband of hers.

Hey, I cried during Up too… I don’t see anything wrong with that. Do you like thunderstorms?

I love storms. I love the shape and color of them. They’re like live things, each with their own unique feel. Lightning cracking across the sky has fascinated me from childhood. Exhilarating, exciting, with a strange anticipatory mix of awe and dread, I find my heart pounding just watching.

If you could wish for anything, what would you wish for?

Time. The right sort of time. I need more in certain places and less in others. A sewing kit for time, that’s what I’d wish for, so I could cut and re-fashion, resize and re-shape stretches of time into what I need.

LOL, I think we all wish that.

Well, Sandra, that brings us to the end of our interview. Thank you so much for hanging out with us today. Go ahead and hang out, make yourself at home.

Perhaps 5'3" on a good day, Sandra has always found the world an amazing (and often large) place. She's always lived in northern Delaware, travels a good deal and loves every locale she's visited. One son, one husband, two cats, and a day job –the writing keeps her mostly sane.

You can find out more information about her and her work at the following places:

Official Site: http://www.freewebs.com/sandrastixrude

Marya by Sandra Stixrude

Know he will succeed when all others fail you…so reads the fateful letter of introduction which heralds the beginning of Marya's desperate journey.

When the Ktar chooses Marya to watch over the heir on his confirmation journey, she has no illusions about a pleasant trip. A prophecy concerning the heir's death, ominous dreams of a mysterious city, and the certainty one of the heir's companions will betray him all weigh heavily on her.

Unfortunately, the discovery of the assassin in their midst is only the beginning. His menace pales in comparison to the ancient evil lurking in the mountain city. When Marya and her party are trapped and the men with her enslaved, she is forced into a battle of wills and hearts with two remaining choices: give in to the alien being who offers her power and prestige, or join forces with the same handsome assassin she sought to thwart. Lives are at stake and so are her heart and her honor - how can she choose?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Book Commercial ~ Marya: Anchorage Series Book 1 by Sandra Stixrude

Marya: Anchorage Series Book 1 by Sandra Stixrude

Know he will succeed when all others fail you…so reads the fateful letter of introduction which heralds the beginning of Marya's desperate journey.

When the Ktar chooses Marya to watch over the heir on his confirmation journey, she has no illusions about a pleasant trip. A prophecy concerning the heir's death, ominous dreams of a mysterious city, and the certainty one of the heir's companions will betray him all weigh heavily on her.

Unfortunately, the discovery of the assassin in their midst is only the beginning. His menace pales in comparison to the ancient evil lurking in the mountain city. When Marya and her party are trapped and the men with her enslaved, she is forced into a battle of wills and hearts with two remaining choices: give in to the alien being who offers her power and prestige, or join forces with the same handsome assassin she sought to thwart. Lives are at stake and so are her heart and her honor - how can she choose?


Want to see your book commercial here? Email us at menagerieauthors@gmail.com to find out how!

Friday, March 26, 2010

What Do You Think?

My pal Wendi asked me what I thought of as my perfect version of a hero.

Tough question.

That's like asking a painter what's his perfect subject or a musician his favorite piece. I'm not totally sure. Well, comes down to this: should a hero be a fantasy man or a regular guy. What do you think?

For me? I want a guy who is sexy. Does that mean he has to be a rock star or a secret agent? It doesn't hurt, but it doesn't hinder either. Now I'm not big into country music, but, from the little I've paid attention to, girls love guys in camo pants, southern drawls, and such. So a guy whose down on the farm should make a great hero.

Now what is my ideal hero? Well, look at my cabana boys and you'll get the picture. Gerard and Jeremy are fine specimens of vampire cabananess. And no I won't tell you what they do during their spare time.

So what do you think? Does a hero have to be a sweeping Scotsman? Or a flashy actor? What about a single dad who works at a factory? Maybe I'm going on too long about this, but I go back to my writing and think about my heroes and wonder. Yanno?

But I need to get back to my boys.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Family, Feelings and Funny Happenings

I've been sitting here trying to figure out what to write about today. And honestly nothing was coming to me. Still no news on my Cowboy story that I sent off to another publisher. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, but I can't stay in a state of constant... freaking out, lol. So, I check my emails a little less... hmmm... neurotically, and I hope for the best and work on my other stuff.

This week I have had family in town. And while I love and adore my family, they are a loud, rambunctious group of emotional vampires. I love being around them, but by the time I get home... I'm exhausted and ready for bed. Now imagine doing that over and over again for an entire week and then having the spector of the in-laws coming into town for a big birthday for one of my children and you'll see what my life is right now.

Among the chaos, there is fun and laughter and downright silliness... especially when you get members of my rather large Irish/German family (on my mother's side) in one house. It blows people's minds when they see all of us together, but they soon start to believe me when I say, "I'm the quiet one." No, really, I AM the quiet one. Those of you who know me are rolling your eyes, "Uh huh.... suuuuuuure you are, Kealie!" But once you see my entire family in action... it starts to make sense.

The night before last we had about 25 family members (Yes, they were ALL related to me in one way or another) gathered in my parents' house. We honestly don't need a reason, but add the fact that my sister who doesn't live here came down for a visit with her husband and children, and we have ample reason to gather and wreak havoc.

This time, there seemed to be a bit of a... passing of the flame if you will. For years my family has played a game called May I. It's a... "bastardized version" of Gin Rummy (according to my sister). We've been playing this card game for as long as I can remember. As children we watched our parents and listened to them howl and holler at each other when someone took a card they wanted or skunked the whole table by going out and leaving the others with hundreds of points in their hands. As we got older we were slowly taught the game and after the first hand you won... you were on your own. As each of us has grown into adulthood, we've progressed and excelled at the game until we had to have our own table of cards away from the adults.

At this family get-together, only the younger generation played the game, while the older generation stood by and commented or talked amongst themselves. So, me, my one cousin, my other cousin's fiance, my sister, her husband and the baby of the family, my youngest cousin who just turned 18 last month set about playing our own game of May I. Slowly, the volume grew (nothing new in a large family) and the older generation started to make some... complaints. "You're getting too loud over there!" Which would set the rest of us at the table off into paroxisms of laughing... remembering some of the more heated games of recent memory between those same people.

We did our best, but really, we're family and we enjoy poking fun at each other. My brother introduced us to his pregnant wife that night (no I had never met her before, and no we weren't invited to the wedding... things were a bit strained at first). And then convinced her that she needed to join in the game. Since the girl comes from a family of six, where she was the only girl, we figured she could handle us. At one point, she looked at the other five of us at the table and asked, "Are you sure you aren't siblings?" Considering that she was married to one of my siblings and one of my other siblings was at the table with her husband we were a bit confused. "Who?" And she pointed between me and my cousins. We had to laugh... "Well, we might as well be. We were raised more as siblings than as cousins." And that explains it all. We were raised more as siblings, we were there for every major event, we were there every month for the family get together, we were there for weddings, birthdays and baptisms... and even though there are times when I want to bang my head against the wall... I wouldn't trade that for anything in the whole entire world.

Now you're wondering what in the world this has to do with writing... nothing... and everything. My family is the reason I believe in Happy-Ever-After. I saw on a daily basis parents and aunts and uncles who shared their love with the rest of us. I watched my mother and father kiss in public and hold hands and have seen the same from my aunts and uncles. It taught me the kind of love I deserved, and I refused to settle for less. My family is the reason I can look at my cousin who has yet to find a man willing to take on a single mother with some issues and think, "Someday, I'll write her story." Because I love her, and want her happy, I will be there when she does find her One and I will share in her joy.

When a character pops into my head, I can honestly say that they have quite a bit of my family in them... whether it's a stubborn determination to refuse to settle... or a spunky heroine who feels no shame in the shape of her body because she had a family of big beautiful, women with curves. Our life experiences mold our writing. They speak to us, and through us, and go out into the world as an example of who you are and what you believe. I hope that I can make a reader laugh the way my family makes me laugh... I hope that I can put forth that emotion that I learned at the feet of the women in my family who never gave up and never took no for an answer, and in the process they raised some pretty spectacular friends that I am lucky enough to call family. That's the feeling I want to put in my stories. I'm sure you'll let me know if I fail at that, lol. :-D

Anyway, everyone have a beautiful Tuesday. I'll be hiking Valley of Fire with my family and storing away more memories to bring out and look over again... but not until it quiets down a bit around here. LOL

Monday, March 22, 2010

Author Interview ~ Margie Church

Hey, everyone, today we have on our couch author Margie Church. Let’s all make sure she feels real welcome. I’m sure our darling Cabana Boys will be at her beck and call… cuz that’s sort of what they’re here for…

Margie, welcome to The Menagerie, it’s great to have you here with us.

Thank you very much for having me today! This is my first visit and I’m pleased to get to know everyone a little bit better.

You’re more than welcome, we really enjoying getting to know new authors and making new friends. So, do you see writing as a career?

Writing is my vocation and career. It has been the core of my life since I was a child and I have a degree in radio and television news writing and editing.

To a large extent, creative writing per se took a backseat for years. I journal for my children, but never made time to write for my own enjoyment until a few years ago. My “creativity” tended manifest itself in terms of marketing communications plans and public relations writing. While that might sound pretty darn boring, it really can be quite a challenge to “spin” your message or product in the marketplace successfully. I rely on those years of plan-writing to help me write erotic suspense novels in my spare time. I want to keep you glued to the page, not frustrate you. I definitely don’t want you figuring out the plot before I’m ready or let you find holes in my logic. Evaluating the plot and subplots with the same critical eye I use to write in my day jobs helps me find problem areas in my books.

Writing professionally can be very lucrative. The demand remains high for talented people who can write well and take a leadership role in communications. Many of us break into freelancing, which also is very lucrative, but it takes quite awhile to build clientele. Many of us, including me, are sweating in this difficult economy. At this point, being a novelist is something I do because it’s a challenge I enjoy. I don’t do it with the intent that someday I can retire, living on royalties. I’d definitely do the zippitydoodah if it happened but I am a bit of a realist. My competition is very talented. I’m keeping my day jobs!

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I learned a million things about technical novel writing. I used to think I’d be able to write a good novel technically because I could write for other media. Not so, at least for me. Learning how to write in active voice (instead of comfy passive) and how to dramatize instead of tell (oh how I love my adverbs…sigh) were huge hurdles. I won’t say I’ve mastered the two, but I can spot the problems.

I also learned that I hate writing jacket blurbs. They have to be so compelling and succinct. They take me forever. LOL

LOL, sorry, from what I’ve seen (and heard especially from Mysti) writing jacket blurbs isn’t really loved by many authors. How long does it take you to write a book?

I write novels part time, so it takes me about six months. I spend about a month of that strictly on editing.

I think that’s still quicker than I do… lol. Do you have any advice for other writers?

Learning to self-edit is an invaluable skill. I want my work to sail onto an editor’s desk and just “smile” because it is so technically good. If the submissions editor isn’t getting tangled up in my writing blunders, it’s that much easier for them to focus on the quality of the story and quickly determine whether it’s worth publishing. My standard is very high standard and sometimes I blow it but that’s my goal.

I also think that beta readers are a real asset, especially to new authors. I found a few people I trust to tell me the truth about my work and I have them read a few chapters at a time as I write the draft. They have saved me from stupid errors so many times. A writer can’t know everything and my beta readers keep me humble.

I have to agree, those are very important things to learn. What does your family think of your writing?

When I decided to give novel-writing a try, initially my husband was, how shall I say—unsupportive. LOL Don’t get me wrong, we pay a lot of bills with my other writing and editing checks, but books? Not too enthusiastic. When I got laid off and spent even more time writing books and I worried I was making a mistake, he told me he knew it wasn’t. When I got that first contract, he asked for my autograph and framed it. He’s never read a word, except for the dedication in my first novel and I’m fine with that.

My youngest is thrilled that a children’s book I wrote for him is coming out. My oldest helped me define the vampire’s characteristics in my WIP. I figured a teen-aged boy would definitely be an asset when I was developing a hot vampire. I don’t, however, let either child read my adult books and won’t be offended if they never do.

My mom is 80 and read both books cover to cover, despite their heat ratings. Many of her elderly friends have done the same. I’m overwhelmed at the number of family members who have sought me out. I grew up like an orphan; we had no extended family. They are finding me now and it’s really heartwarming and remarkable.

Oh, my gosh! How sweet of your hubby! And how great that you do have the support you have found. Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

My fans are absolutely amazing. When somebody tells me how much they enjoyed my book, it just makes my day. And if they say they can’t wait for the next book, that’s even better! I really love autographing books because it’s such a special way to say thank you. So, to all my fans, thank you so much!

I have also met so many talented authors who share their expertise and time with me. I can’t thank them enough and hope I can repay their kindness some day.

How awesome that your fans are so vocal. And I don’t know what I’d do without my author friends. Okay, now for the “absolutely-nothing-to-do-with-writing” questions: Do you hate how you look in pictures? Why or why not?

Absolutely! I think my profile shots are ghastly! You’ll never see me put one out there. I think I have post-traumatic stress syndrome from my mother taking my pictures “against the wall” as a kid. I had professional shots taken when I created my Web site.

LOL, can’t say as I blame you. About having professional photos… since I have no idea what your profile looks like, lol. What’s a saying you use a lot? Where did it originate?

I say, “eh?” (pronounced ay) all the time. I grew up near the Canadian border and have never dropped the habit. “That’s a great story, eh?” Sounds better to me than, “you know,” or “like.” Could be just as irritating though, eh?

Hey, at least you know it’s there… and hey, if they don’t like it they don’t have to talk to you… just sayin’. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?

Snails and I won’t do it again. They looked like little black erasers and they tasted like garlic-flavored rubber bands. I put one in my mouth and my stomach immediately said, “Don’t send that down here.” So what was I to do? We were in a restaurant and I was with business associates who were loving the little black slugs. I swallowed. It came right back up. My eyes watered, I grabbed my cloth napkin and ran for the restroom.

Oh, wow! Yeah, I can’t say that I’d have even eaten them. What is your strangest habit?

I am a neat-freak when I cook. I make myself crazy trying to avoid unnecessary mess and cleanup. Here’s a tip you can try if you’re searching for a self-improvement in 2010. When you’re making canned soup, hang the retractable cover on the edge of your cooking pot by its little flip-top ring while you’re scooping the contents out. You won’t need to wipe up a sloppy soup glob off the counter afterward. Yep, definitely neurotic.

Ummm…. Since I have no idea what is involved with canning my own soup… I’ll take your word for it. :-D What do you want to know about the future?

When I die, I want to know if God will say to me, “Well done, my child.” A lot of people think because of the erotic nature of my books, that I embody the behaviors of my characters. Fellow authors laugh about those kinds of remarks but I’ve experienced a few folks being offended by me now that my books are out. I try to be a good person and a good mother and wife. I’m proud to be Catholic and I’m thankful for my God-given talents. I hope I won’t be judged at the end of my life by Chapter 6 in Awakening Allaire.

I’m right there with ya. And somehow, I honestly doubt that’s how we’re judged.

Margie, thank you so much for being here with us today. It’s been great fun getting to know you better and hanging out here at The Menagerie. Feel free to hang out today, let the Boys know if there’s anything you need… yanno like a mixed drink :::wink wink::: .

Margie Church has a degree in mass communications and has been a professional copywriter for 25 years. She was also the editor of a national magazine for 12 years. Margie freelances feature articles for B2B magazines and is a copywriter and editor for a small direct marketing firm specializing in financial markets.

Margie is married and has two sons.

You can catch up with Margie Church on the web at her site and her blog. She's also on Facebook and you can follow her on Twitter.

Avenging Allaire by Margie Church

The exciting love story of Allaire West and Devon Mercer continues in the thriller, “Avenging Allaire.” The couple plans to marry and live happily ever after but everyone from Devon’s father to their pistol-packing nanny, Lucy, is conspiring against them.

Lucy plots, with the help of her lover, to take advantage of Allaire’s psychotic relapses. She’s eager to turn Allie into a lunatic and steal Devon for herself.

Devon’s father calls in his million dollar ransom loan and Devon is forced to return to his father’s firm to repay it. It doesn’t take long for Devon to become suspicious about the revolving door of investors, brokers, and missing information.

In a shocking turn of events, Allaire’s life is in jeopardy again and Devon learns the truth behind Allaire’s kidnapping, the suspicious murders, and the business secrets. Who will survive and who will pay as Devon desperately tries to avenge Allaire. Packed with murder, white collar crime, and plenty of spice, “Avenging Allaire” lives up to the author’s penchant for SASS: Suspense, Angst, Seductive Sizzle.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Halfway There

So today I decided to yak about my vampire story. And no, it's not called halfway there. It's halfway done.

I have this nasty tendency to start a story and then get right to the good part and walk away from it. Sucks. Cause I think, this will be a great story---when I finish it. So yes, the hard part is completing the action.

I've also got this compulsion. (Get your mind out of the gutter a moment, not THAT kind of compulsion.) I love my stories as much as my cabana boys. So when I do finish a story, it's like ripping out my heart to have it turned down or asked to be rewritten because it doesn't "fit our vision".

Do you all ever have that issue?

Oh and as good ole Tom Petty says, the waiting is the hardest part. Sometimes you have to wait for the story to marinate enough to finish it, or you have to wait for the response on a story. I have to mention that while I'm waiting, I'm a nervous wreck.

But that's enough of my moaning. Sheesh. I'll get the story done and the compulsions under control.

Back to my boys.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Almost There!

I signed off on the galley for "Shut Up & Kiss Me" yesterday... finally!! This has been a long trip for me, of writing and submitting my first erotic romance, to being contracted by an editor who believed in me -- even though the story needed some work. We edited and edited and edited... almost 6000 words were added to it for clarity and description.

It's been an amazing journey.

So now, I wait to get a release date. In the meantime, I'm working on requested changes and additions to "Blue Light Special" to see if it will be the next story I get to make this journey on.

Good thing I like to travel *G*.

What was your first contracted story? And did you feel like you were on an incredibly steep learning curve? How did it feel to see your name on the cover?

Come on... share your journey with us.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Why ... Torture Them Of Course!

I know with a title like that you're wondering if I'm bringing out the whips and manacles. Not this time... :-D

It has been brought to my attention more than once that one of my weaknesses when it comes to my writing is that I don't have enough conflict when I bang out that first rough draft. One of my dear friends, and published authors, has this discussion with me all the time. I once asked her, "Well, how the hell do I remedy that?" and her reply? "Why... torture them of course! You can't just have your hero hanging from a cliff by his fingernails... you have to pelt him with rocks too."

Okay... I can do that... maybe... *sigh*... okay, maybe not that easily. I truly do have to struggle to torture my characters (unless it's what they like, but that's a whole 'nother blog). And as I go through edits on the first draft of my Rocker romance I've been watching a certain movie in the background. Yes, I can do more than one thing at a time... can't you? LOL Anyway, so I've been watching Moulin Rouge. Yes, yes, cheesy, and sucky ending... but if ever there were a pair of tortured characters these two were it. My all-time favorite scene in the movie is the Roxanne Tango.

Something about that scene gives me chills every single time. As a dancer I admire the sensual, crisp movements of the dancers. You can taste the angst and anger and passion. And THAT is what I have to add. I have to add that angst and passion and make my reader FEEL it as if it were their own. Who knows if I'll succeed, but I'm determined to give it my best shot. So, before I go gather my rocks and work on my aim I have a question for all the authors out there: How do you make yourself torture your characters? And to the readers: How much is just too damned much torture for you to read?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Author Interview ~ Desiree Holt

Hey all, welcome back on this lovely Monday. No, that’s not an oxymoron, there really are lovely Mondays. And what could be better than a comfy couch, a few Cabana Boys, and an author friend to chat with? See… a lovely Monday.

Today, we have on the couch Desiree Holt, an author I admire and am so glad to have here at The Menagerie today. Let’s make her feel welcome.

Welcome to The Menagerie, Desiree. So glad you could join us today. I can see you’re pretty excited about something. Why don’t you tell us your latest news!

My Ellora’s Cave release from September of last year, Rodeo Heat, has been nominated as an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award and is a finalist for the NERWA Bean Pot Award!

How fantastically exciting! I’m excited FOR you! Wow! Good luck, hon. Okay, when and why did you begin writing?

Actually five years ago, but I’d wanted to write forever. Just didn’t have the time. But once I got started it seemed I couldn’t stop.

LOL, sounds familiar. I, and the ladies at the Menagerie, can certainly relate to getting going and not wanting or being able to stop. Do you have a specific writing style?

I think so. Although my books are plot driven I spend a lot of time on character development. I try to make people “see” my characters and relate to them.

Well, that makes sense to me. I love the fact that I can see your characters in my mind’s eye. It’s important to me to be able to “see” what this man or woman look like in my mind. I can say you do a pretty good job. So, how much of the book is realistic?

I write a lot of romantic suspense, and while I take a certain amount of literary license, I try to be as accurate as possible. I have really good sources for information, and that helps a lot. Also, many of my heroes are based on real people. Who don’t mind lending themselves to my literary efforts.

I can see where you would want to make it as realistic as possible. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Maybe not a mentor but the strongest influence. Joey Hill. I read Ice Queen, the most beautiful erotic love story I’ve ever read, and I was off and running. I’ve gotten to know Joey very well and she’s a real sweetheart. And Karen Whiddon who inspired my love affair with the wolf and shapeshifters.

Oh, Joey Hill is one of my faves and I really wish I can give the genre the grace and beauty she has brought forth. What book are you reading now?

Back to Luke by Kathryn Shay, an author I discovered almost by accident.

Don’t you just love those accidental new-to-me-authors? They rock. What are your current projects?

I am currently working on the first book in an eight-book series for Ellora’s Cave, Night Seekers, about eight former law enforcement agents, six of whom are shapeshifters, all of whom have had loved ones killed by the legendary Chupacabra-shifter? Wolf? Coyote? All three? Each one will have his or her own book and the hunt continues from book to book until the surprising ending. They are based at an isolated ranch in Texas and funded by a billionaire whose wife and daughter were killed by the beast. Also a Christmas novella and novellas for two other series I’m doing with other writers.

those all sound so awesome! I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Do you see writing as a career?

Absolutely. My fourth, as a matter of fact!

Your fourth and final career, :::crossing fingers::: Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Here’s the series overview for Night Seekers

The Chupacabra has been a legend for decades, stretching from South America to North America, sighted in many place. Ranchers swore they’d killed it only to have it turn out to be a mutated goat or coyote. And the killing spree continued—animals and humans alike. Was it a wolf because of the way the bodies were mutilated? Or a vampire, because each body and three puncture wounds at the neck and was drained of blood? Each time someone was sure he had killed the beast it turned out to be a false alarm, because the killings continued. And the legend continued to grow.

When billionaire Jason Stafford’s wife and daughter were killed by the legendary bloodthirsty Chupacabra and none of the state or federal agencies could trace the half man/half animal, he funded his own team. He chose carefully from the best law enforcement agencies as well as the private sector across the country. Six of the eight selected are shifters themselves, each representing a wolf pack whose members had fallen prey to killers. Each one of them had also been affected by the beast and so had personal reasons to find and kill it.

Known simply as The Night Seekers (because they hunt most effectively at night), they work from an isolated ranch property in Texas, with all the latest high tech equipment and any other resources they might need. Their only mission: find and stop the Chupacabra, the bloodthirsty animal who not only kills but literally destroys his victims with his teeth and nails, and has given rise to so many legends. But first they have to discover how their target moves so easily around the entire country, and sift through the hundreds of files compiled on the many cases and sightings.

Driven by the thirst for revenge and the need to satisfy their lust, each member of the team will have his or her own story, one liberally packed with erotic sex, and in the course of the mission will find a relationship that brings stability to their lives. And with each relationship, the team continues to grow.

Wow, sounds very interesting! Will have to keep an eye out for it. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

The first chapter. Always. It’s like climbing a rock wall!

Isn’t that how it always goes? I swear I sit there and stare at the screen and what is originally there ends up being later as I add more to it… well, you know that works. Who designed the covers?

Syneca at Ellora’s Cave does most of mine and she’s fantastic.

She does great work I love your EC covers, they’re breathtaking. Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep writing. Join a critique group. Write at least one page a day. And never, ever give up.

Definitely good advice. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I love you all. You are what makes writing worthwhile.

Amen, Sistah! I agree. What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

Email and promo in the morning, then five hours writing in the afternoon. No excuses.

Wow, you are so much stricter than I think most of us are. What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Read and watch football.

Well, I like the reading part, it’s the football that I might be a bit wary of. Lol. What does your family think of your writing?

They are my biggest fans and my best promo.

Can’t beat that, now can ya? How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

More than 50 full length and novellas. My favorite is always the one I’m working on.

WOW that many huh? Very cool. And now it’s time for our “absolutely-nothing-to-do-with-writing” questios: What animal do you think makes the best pet and why?

Cats. I have three of them. They are loving, affectionate and have great personalities.

I am a reluctant dog owner. Do you hate how you look in pictures?

Of course! I want to look like Kim Raver instead of Joan Rivers.

LOL, I’m sure we all have those moments. What is your strangest habit?

I cry at parades.

At parades? Really? There has to be a story behind that! I’ll have to corner your or induce the Cabana Boys to… get it out of you. Muahahahahah…. Ahem, sorry. When you looked in the mirror this morning, what was the first thing you thought?

OMG! I’m getting so old!

Aren’t we all? And that’s one of the ones we get a lot…. Lol. What were you doing at midnight last night?

Reading Back to Luke by Kathryn Shay and watching yet another rerun of Law and Order: Criminal Intent

What’s a saying you use a lot?

It is what it is

Where did it originate from ?

Don’t know originally but I picked it up from my daughter.

Have you ever eaten a crayon?

When I was four. Red, I think.

What is your favorite animal? Besides cats?

The wolf, hands down. But since I can’t have one for a pet I want a dog, a blue heeler. It’s a ranch dog that looks like a wolf.

What is your heritage?

A mixture of Polish, Russian and Spanish.

Have you ever cried during a movie? Of course.
If yes, which one and why? Especially An Affair to Remember. Oh, and Dreamer.

What is your favorite pizza?

Thin crust pepperoni

What is one thing scientists should invent?

A computer that doesn’t crash.

Are you a morning person or a night person?

Morning, definitely.

Do you like thunderstorms?

Yes. Love them.

Do you sleep with the light on?

No, but I fall asleep with the TV on. I need the noise.

Can you taste the difference between Pepsi and Coke?

No. I guess I’m just a peasant with an uneducated palate.

If you could wish for anything, what would you wish for?

Health and happiness for my family and friends. And a hit novel.

Here we come to the end of the review and I inform the Cabana Boys to make Desiree comfy and entertained. Thank you, so much, Desiree for stopping in and hanging out with us today. It was fun! Don't be a stranger. :-D

Desiree Holt has lived a life of excitement that brings the color to her writing. She was a summer fishing guide, a summer field hand where she was one of only three women working, a member of a beginning ski team that skied in competition (and no, no broken bones!). /she spent several years in the music business representing every kind of artist from country singer to heavy metal rock bands. For several years she also ran her own public relations agency handling any client that interested her. She loves to tell the story of sending a singer up in a hot air balloon singing “Up, Up and Away in My Beautiful Balloon” and stopping traffic for four miles in every direction. Before and between her two marriages she dated enough hunks to fill up two he-man calendars, one of whom taught her to shoot so beware, she’s always armed. She’s kept a fresh look at erotic romance by making sure the sensuality factor in her private life is always high. She’s married to her own personal alpha hero who helps her with that.

Visit her at www.desireeholt.com, www.myspace/judithdesiree
And at my blog http://www.desireeholttellsall.com/

The Bargain by Desiree Holt

Lara McKee‘s life came to a crashing halt the night her husband was killed in a carjacking and she lost their unborn child. Now she channels all her energy into her job as assistant to Cole Cassidy, sexy CEO of Alamo Construction. Cole’s own life is a mess. A shotgun marriage based on a lie and the fiery death of his wife on the highway have left him with a child to raise that’s a constant reminder of his first wife’s lies and deceit. Both of them have written marriage out of their future.

But Cole desperately needs someone to mother the child and take charge of his personal life. When he proposes a marriage of convenience to Lara, who still yearns for motherhood, she shocks herself by accepting. and so these two people, carrying a van load of emotional baggage, begin to build a life together under almost impossible circumstances. Conflict builds over the child, whom Lara falls in love with at once and Cole ignores.

Beneath the daily conflict, love unexpectedly begins to grow. But at the moment they dare to explore their feelings, anger over the child erupts and the night turns into a disaster that nearly destroys the marriage. Slowly, bit by bit, they begin to re build their relationship, carefully nurturing these new feelings. But it takes another near-tragedy before they can finally get past the hurdles to complete happiness and truly become a family.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Book Commercial ~ Older Women/Younger Men by Desiree Holt

Teaching Molly by Desiree Holt

Molly Gerard is facing her mid-forties divorced, unfulfilled and wondering if the things she reads in her erotic romances could actually happen to her. When she meets Nick Trajan, the first thing that comes to mind is wow! The second is the recognition of the ten-year difference in their ages. When she accepts an invitation to spend the night with him, she wonders how she'll compare with younger women, but the night is so erotically satisfying she tries to push the thought from her mind.

Nick is immediately taken with this lush, mature woman whose appearance belies her inexperience. He wants more than just the one night with her, but Nick lives the D/s lifestyle to its fullest. When he introduces Molly to it, will she run?

Letting Go by Desiree Holt

For Kari Loftin life was all about control, in every aspect of it. But she realized that at forty-two she had managed to shut out every form of pleasure by keeping a tight rein on herself. With her beloved Cubs on a winning streak, she tossed away her control for one night and ventured into the world of Petey’s Sports Bar. Little did she expect to meet a hot young stud like Riley Tucker, who showed her a side of herself she’d never dared to explore. One night together and Riley wanted more. Much more. Getting past the age difference could be a stumbling block for Kari—although it didn’t seem to bother Riley at all.


Want to see your book commercial here? Email us at menagerieauthors@gmail.com to find out how!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Winners of the Best of January/February 2010 hotties

Yup, we have a winner... actually it was a tie, so it was two winners and they will both go into the running at the end of the year. And the two winners are:

~Best of January/February 2010 (was a tie!)~

~Daniel Conn~

Nathan Owens

Thanks to everyone who voted this time around stay tuned for voiting for the best of March/April hotties. :-D

Friday, March 12, 2010

I Made It! Introducing Megan Slayer

Helllllooooooo to all of you beautiful people!

Yeah, I'm a bit late... call it fashionable.

I'm Megan Slayer and I'm a wild one (gave you an ear worm, he he he). I like to walk a little left of center, but no one's complaining--yet.

I write dark romance. Vampires, Were-creatures, bondage, hey, I'm easy to please (depending on who you ask.).

I have two Cabana boys (why have one when two are better), Luke and Jeremy and occasionally Gerard (Can't blame a girl for being popular). I have an extensive whip collection and a school-age child.

I have my own blog, but I rather like it here, too. Friday's are my day to blog so stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I'm So Excited...

Ugh... now I have that song stuck in my head. And not even the SONG song, but the scene from Saved By The Bell with Jesse and the caffeine pills... I know, weird, but are you really surprised? Yeah, see!

Anyway, I'm excited... although not what I wish I was excited for (ahem, contract) but I'm doing my best to be patient. No, I'm excited because we have a newbie here at The Menagerie! Our good friend Megan Slayer has agreed to join us wild women here at The Menagerie! She'll pop in on Friday and introduce herself. I'm sure you'll adore her just as much as we do. :-D

I'm trying to think of something else I can be excited about... I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I won't have to wait a bajillion weeks to hear from the publisher I submitted my Cowboy to. That's exciting right? Yeah yeah, I know, enough already... you realize I am pretty obsessive compulsive about this stuff right? As long as we're clear on that.

Ohhh... I'm excited that I found a new outlet for truly wicked, deviant photography. Thanks to a lovely lovely blogger, Pixiedust, I have been ... ahem... turned on to DeviantArt.com. Just the name is perfect for pervy little me, but hey, at least I admit my perviness. Okay, I revel in it. And? Anyway, I have found an almost unlimited supply of yummy hotness that put me in danger of shorting out my keyboard. But really, it would be worth it! Here, tell me this doesn't get your creative juices flowing:

That came from the gallery of JoGraetz. Tell me you're not at least a teeny bit fascinated by that picture... and I'll probably call you a liar. :-D But you see why I'd be so excited right? Just nod your head, lol. Okay, now that I've shared some sex with ya ... no that wasn't a typo ... I'm off. Keep an eye out for Megan on Friday, and let's all try and make her feel welcome. :-D

Monday, March 8, 2010

Author Interview ~ Lia Slater

Today we are lucky to have on our couch, the lovely Lia Slater with us. Let’s all make her feel warm and welcomed here. Lia, Welcome, and make yourself at home our Cabana boys are here to see to your every need. Any drink you’d like… they’ll make it. :-D

So, Lia, tell us your latest news?

First, let me say how great it is to be on your blog! I’m a big fan, especially of the hunks. Yowza!

Off Limits is my most recent release. It’s a quick, hot, romantic read available from The Wilder Rose Press (www.wilderroses.com). I loved writing this story. Even though it’s a shorter read, the characters really wanted their story heard. As I clicked on my laptop keys, they led the way, and I’m proud with how it turned out. Here’s a short blurb:

How does a woman who usually follows the straight and narrow end up handcuffed to a chair by her ex-husband’s younger brother, a wickedly delicious man who just happens to be a cop? And the star of her most forbidden fantasies. Kara Reynolds has spent the past thirty-eight years being a good girl, but there’s something about Austin that makes her want to be really bad. Now, she’s caught in a situation that could either humiliate her...or set her free.

You are more than welcome to hang out with us anytime. And that story looks great! When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I think it was when I wrote my first “The End”. I’d written an entire book with characters that had come alive in my head. They were living and breathing as far as I was concerned. After that surreal experience, I was hooked for life. And even though that particular book will never be published—without some major, miraculous rewrite—I still felt it was the start to my career as a writer.

That first “the end” is pretty powerful. Do you have a specific writing style?

In whatever I’m writing, I try my best to write in deep point of view and really get into that character’s head.

This is good if you want to understand the characters, and who doesn’t? How did you come up with the title?

My fabulous editor, Diana Carlile, at the Wilder Rose Press came up with the title Off Limits, actually. LOL! I had some cheesy title and she very graciously suggested a few others that might work and this was the winner. Thank God!

Well she did a good job! What are your current projects?

I’m in the middle of writing werewolf series for Ellora’s Cave. WereSlave is the first book in the series and it’s available now (http://www.jasminejade.com/pc-8042-101-wereslave.aspx). I just submitted Were Seduction to my editor, and now I’m writing Were Blood (tentatively titled). I’m excited about this series so I hope you’ll check it out!

I also have an erotic romantic suspense, Fatal Exposure, available from the Wilder Rose Press. If you like Off Limits, then you might also like Fatal Exposure.

They sound awesome! Will have to check’em out. And now for our Absolutely-nothing-to-with-writing questions: When you looked in the mirror this morning, what was the first thing you thought?

Bad hair day. Isn’t that always the case?

Well, yeah if you have thick unruly hair. I always hated my little sister’s ability to roll out of bed looking like a princess. Have you ever cried during a movie? If yes, which one and why?

Oh yeah. All the time. The most recent movie that had me in tears was Avatar. Great movie!

I haven’t seen that one yet. But I want to and I WILL if it takes nagging and nagging and more nagging. What is one thing scientists should invent?

Umm, a cure for PMS? Or how about any feminine problems at all, starting from puberty and ending with hot flashes. Can I get an ‘amen’?

:::throwing hand in air aaaand shakin’ em::: AMEN SISTAH! Tell it! Hee hee, sorry. What stereotype would you label yourself as?

The slightly eccentric, occasionally timid, hermit writer. If that wasn’t a stereotype before, it is now.

Sounds like it is to me…:-D Are you a morning person or a night person?

Neither. LOL! I’m more of a mid-day person. That’s when I’m at my peak.

LOL, that works too… It was so great getting to know you today and feel free to hang out a bit today. The Cabana boys are here for your pleasure, and to keep you company.

Thanks so much for having me on your blog!

Lia Slater thinks the world would be a better place if everyone read romance novels. There’s so much to learn from the storylines. Love. Loyalty. Confidence. Passion. Desire. Conflicts would be resolved with happy endings. And, of course, the sex would be mind-boggling.

Lia is well on her way to helping the world become a better place by writing steamy romance with heart-throbbing emotion. To learn more, visit her website: www.liaslater.com.

Off Limits by Lia Slater

How does a woman who usually follows the straight and narrow end up handcuffed to a chair by her ex-husband’s younger brother, a wickedly delicious man who just happens to be a cop? And the star of her most forbidden fantasies. Kara Reynolds has spent the past thirty-eight years being a good girl, but there’s something about Austin that makes her want to be really bad. Now, she’s caught in a situation that could either humiliate her...or set her free.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Book Commercial ~ Fatal Exposure by Lia Slater

Fatal Exposure by Lia Slater

Deception brings them together. Exposure can tear them apart.

Taking off her clothes every night for the patrons of Hothouse Gentleman’s Club was never part of Ava Lureau's life plan, but the sleazy strip joint was the last place her powerful ex-boyfriend would think to look for her. A life on the run kept Ava safe…but lonely. So when a ruggedly sexy stranger shows up and a lap dance becomes more than another dollar in her G-string, she takes a chance.

Kade Gavin’s job is simple—capture his target and deliver her to the man who hired him. Nothing but a paycheck matters in Kade's bleak existence…until the enticing stripper with soft curves and a puzzling persona climbs into his bed--and under his skin.


Want to see your book commercial here? Email us at menagerieauthors@gmail.com to find out how!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Couple Things....

Below you will see the voting post for the Best Hottie of January and February 2010. So don't hesitate to go on down there and take a peek, then vote for who your favorite hottie is in the poll over there on the sidebar. ----------->>

I'm working on edits right now for another story. One that has basically sat rather patiently for me to get around to fixing it. I started with the NaNoEdMo (National Novel Editing Month) group. Kinda like the NaNoWriMo it gives you motivation to actually sit down and edit your story in that time period. I think I do better under pressure when it comes to things. Tell me when it's due and I'll bust my butt to get it done. Soooo... here I am editing, and revising to my heart's content and if I can do well with it I may have another book ready to be subbed out to another publisher. Since it goes by hour instead of word count of your edits I set the stopwatch, and when I run out of steam or a story isn't easy to fix I stop the watch and enter in the amout of time I've spent editing. So far it's been fun and I'm actually looking at the story again. It's been marinating in my head until certain aspects could be figured out. So, cross your fingers and wish me well. I really want to be published.

And my last bit of news, my good friend Megan Slayer has a short story up on the Whipped Cream site. Titled Change Me, it's a rather erotic and emotional story that will capture your attention. Okay, yes I am on of Megan's crit partners, but it truly is a great story. So stop on by Whipped Cream and have a peek at what I'm talking about. I hope y'all enjoy it as I think I have a short that will be going up within the next few weeks as well. Let me know what you think of Megan's story.

Voting for Best of January/February 2010

~Daniel Conn~

~Luke Boyden~

~Mystery Man~

Nathan Owens

Monday, March 1, 2010

Author Inteview ~ Leigh Wood

Today on the couch we are delighted to welcome author Leigh Wood. Let’s all make sure she feels welcome, I know the Cabana Boys will do their utmost best to make her feel… welcome. So, that being said;

Welcome to The Menagerie, Leigh! It’s so great to have you here with us. Let’s get started: Where are you from, Leigh?

I’m from the darling little state of New Jersey. Try not to hate me based upon that fact. I’m a South Jersey baby through and through, none of that Northern up New York’s ass business. Just think of me as a Philadelphia gal if it makes you feel better.

LOL, since I don’t have any… preconceived notions, that’s kind of funny to me. So, how about you tell us your latest news?

I baked Apple Cinnamon Bread last week, which was an accomplishment! Truly, I steam it up inside the kitchen and out with my new Eternal Press science fiction erotica novel On the Way to New Isosceles. What else must people do on long space flights but eat and have sex?

Too funny, I have no idea what else they could do, but eat and have sex seem to be what I’d RATHER do on a long space flight! When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing when I was ten or twelve years old-really bad and stupid stories. I submitted to a few contests, but nothing much ever came of it until a few years ago. I’ve always written for myself but after meeting other local authors I decided to polish my material for publication. So here I am!

I have yet to meet an author who didn’t want to write from a young age. I think I was ten or eleven. When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I suppose the word that a writer uses to define oneself is a personal preference. Though I don’t really write short work, I wouldn’t say I’m a ‘novelist’ either. I feel I’ve always been a writer. I can’t not write something. All the musing in my head would put me in the nuthouse otherwise. In my mind, I think I can say now that I’m published, that I’m an ‘author’. Does the name matter? No, it’s the feeling of being bookish and about my pen and paper that counts.

Yup, that makes sense to me, and I don’t honestly think the name matters. What inspired you to write your first book?

Do you believe I don’t rightly know? As a child I had so many fanciful stories and I couldn’t keep track of them so I began to write down all sorts of scenes and silliness. Some of it stuck around to become fully developed. Instead of hiding my stories or having no one to tell them to, I wrote them down. It sounds snotty to say I inspired myself, but I think that’s a big part of it.

I dunno, not necessarily snotty, you just knew what was there and you did it. Do you have a specific writing style?

In my mind, perhaps not, but I imagine a reader can discern my style. That’s probably a bad thing to say, for a writer should know her voice and style! I, however, prefer not to be pigeoned in one vein or genre. I imagine my work is witty, sarcastic, fun perhaps; but at times I can still put forth serious, dark, and heavy material without sacrificing the joy of a story. On the Way to New Isosceles is very frank about its sex and has its fun, but it is also a serious science fiction novel, dealing with post apocalyptic re-establishment and sociological issues. Either way, I tell it like it is! In some ways I enjoy going to the places and sharing true thoughts and emotions that might make others uncomfortable. Sometimes I write and think, ‘Hot Damn, I can’t believe I did that!’ I like that!

Good philosophy! How did you come up with the title(s)?

I have had one person ask me what On the Way to New Isosceles meant, but I expected more confusion and a change from the publisher. I stuck with the title because I like how it captures each aspect of the book. They are traveling on a sexy spaceflight, not just to a destination, but to a balance of equality and understanding. Our couple JJ and Rub need to work out the sexual kinks in their relationship yes, but also the rival factions at hand have to come to an equal understanding as well. I’ve not written the sequel fully as yet, but I keep leaning towards its title as Equilateral Planet. It keeps with the triangles and sense of dual sides and balancing the issues and relationships at hand. Instead of changing the title, I’ve had many more folks tell me what a great name On the Way to New Isosceles is. I have to admit, though, on a bad day I can’t always spell it!

Very interesting! Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I suppose it’s strange to talk about a message being within an erotica novel, but by golly yes! One of the reasons I’m so proud of On the Way to New Isosceles is that it captures the seriousness and issues of a proper sf novel while at the same time being frank and truthful about the human sexual condition on a long spaceflight. My message is that you can have such a thing as intelligent erotica. Books for your brain, not the porn. There is a difference, indeed.

Absolutely, although I don’t always mind the “porn” label. I prefer “porn with a plot” lol. What are your current projects?

In addition to the promotions and crazy virtual book tour for On the Way to New Isosceles, I’m working on my next draft of a medieval fantasy erotica called Horns of Myleness. I’ve posted a few musings from it on my blog, but it still needs some work before I’m completely pleased with it. Where Isosceles is about a healthy sexual relationship amid a divided futuristic war time, Myleness is a fantasy love triangle with dire consequences for the kingdoms involved. It’s topped 100k now, so it might be broken up into a series with its sequels. I have a lot of stories and ideas that come fast and I write them fast, but I tend to be a little slow when it comes to revision and fully crafting a manuscript for publication. I write longhand, then type it as an extra composition and revision step- but then I have to let it stew before I return to it for two or three more polishes. I’m just too anal sometimes about my work, too.

Wow, you’re certainly keeping busy. Do you see writing as a career?

Yes and no. I’d love it to be a career, it certainly can be, but I wouldn’t want my quest to make it super successful at the expense of my literary quality. I’d rather be poorer and enjoy my stories than hammer out a book of crap every six months.

That’s something I have to agree with you on. Who designed the covers?

Eternal Press’ Head Cover Artist Dawne Dominque did our cover for On the Way to New Isosceles. Initially I suggest a back to back JJ and Rub in their sexy uniforms with laser guns looking hot and tough. Dawne couldn’t find the right military look I was going for, and made the exceptional suggestion of some nudity. It makes perfect sense now, of course, and I love the cover!

Love when it all works out, yanno. What was the hardest part of writing your book?

In many ways, the toughest part is saying its done, giving it away to some one and submitting for publication! Of course you’re not done with acceptance, then there’s the critical editing phase naturally; but for me, the toughest thing is being done. You keep thinking something in it is not right. You always want to change something. In the midst of editing sometimes your so sick of it and never want to hear of the book again, but there is always this latent fear about handing it over to the public-at least for me. Will they like it? What if they hate it? Will anyone even read it? A lot of the mystique of writers has changed I think, but us being fragile about our work never changes!

Oh, I can certainly relate! I just sent one of my babies off last week, and the waiting is killing me. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I did learn a lot from EP’s Acquisitions editor Lisa. Isosceles was rejected from a big name publisher before I submitted to EP. I knew a lot of the ladies at EP but perhaps was shooting too far looking elsewhere. Lisa took the time to conditionally accepted-she wanted more Rub! Scaredy Cat as I am, it’s great to have other professionals look at your manuscript and see the spit and polish that can make it shine. When writing yourself, you discover all sorts of things, about the story, the characters, yourself, everything. You can’t not learn something by writing a book. Maybe that’s why so many people always want to do it. For many years I’ve lived on the experience of writing for myself. Now I’ve got the bonus of getting a publishing education!

That’s a wonderful way to learn in my opinion. How long does it take you to write a book?

As I said, I probably take longer than others, completing a book every couple years. I started writing On the Way to New Isosceles when I worked in a video store, then at a desk job on lunch breaks, saving the sex scenes for when I got home. Even now, being a domesticated housewife who writes naughty stories in her spare time, it took about 6 months to revise Isosceles and then 6 months for the publication process. If I didn’t hand write it would probably cut my composition time in half, but I suspect I’d loose some of my creative vibe without the sound of an itchy pen and all those paper cuts.

Every person goes on their own schedule. I think if we have deadlines then we can move a bit faster, but when we’re going on our own steam, it may take longer cuz we obsess! What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

I’m fortunate to be married and home now but kid free, so I can write in the afternoons until my husband comes home. Of course, a writing binge, is well, a binge-and that can happen a lot. Days and nights can go by when I’m on streak. Let the laundry and the trash pile up! Right now is a little crazy since I’m doing the virtual book tour for Isosceles in addition to writing. So, in short, I don’t know that I have a schedule! Sometimes that’s good, other times bad. All the books say to write every day at a set time like a day job, but I just go with where the story takes me. Woohoo!

LOL, so what you’re saying is that even when the kids aren’t around it could be a bit insane. Got it. :-D What does your family think of your writing?

I don’t think my parents know much about it, but my sister likes to tease me for my choice of material. Somehow then, it pleases me when she can’t make it through my entire manuscript! My husband also doesn’t deny my talent, but wishes I wrote more wholesome things. I wasn’t going to finish Isosceles but he read it and said it was good-until he got to the first sex scene, that is.

Oh, you have one of those guys. Mine is proud of me, but has recently said he would prefer I wrote in a different genre… no, not gonna happen. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I’ve heard nothing but good things from readers thus far. While some really enjoy the serious science involved, my female demographic is all about the peanut butter sex scene in On the Way to New Isosceles. I wish I heard from readers more. With online promotion it’s either ridiculous mania or crickets. Writers like to hear from readers, really we do. We’re readers and just regular weird people, too!

Good it’s always nice to know someone loves your work. So, now it’s time for our “Nothing-To-Do-With-Writing questions: Do you hate how you look in pictures? Why or why not?

Yes, actually I do. I always look fat and silly, like my head is out of proportion with my body. I’ve tried to draw some sketches from a few photos, but I’m not that artistic either-or as artistic as I’d like. Photos tend to present everything that’s wrong with me physically, so I’d rather not have them about! I prefer my words and books capturing me better. A lot of times they say more and show all the things a picture can’t.

This is true, but somehow I doubt you look the way you think you do. Do you have any strange handwriting habits, like capitalizing all your “r”s or dotting your “I”s with heart (or anything like that)?

I’m not a bubbly heartsy writer by any means, but I do still write my stories with pen and paper, which I think is becoming an oddity in itself. My writing is often sloppy, and the weirder the pen the better!

LOL, I love the look of pen and paper. All my ideas go down on paper, and ideas and fleshing out, so I can relate. You can erase any horrible experience from your past. What will it be?

At first I was going to say the entire year of hell that brought about my writing of my first self published memoir Cracked, but perhaps in hindsight I would keep it all. I wouldn’t have the experience and mental character or be the person I am today if those things hadn’t happened in my life. At the time it’s never easy, but we are indeed better people for having experienced the worst!

It’s always hindsight that tells us things like that. But it sucks when it’s that hard to move past. When you looked in the mirror this morning, what was the first thing you thought?

‘Shit, a pimple.’ And of course, I’m so damn Irish fair that the cover up is still a shade darker and spotlights the zit instead of concealing it. See what happens when a writer is too busy writing? I don’t wash my face for a day and don’t go outside and now I’m pale and pimply!

LOL, I keep telling my hubby that the Health Class LIED when they said I would stop getting pimples when I got past puberty. Uh huh… suuuure. What were you doing at midnight last night?

I was watching the original Star Wars on Spike and getting really p-o’d by all the wireless charging commercials. I was thinking how old and dated A New Hope seemed amid the high tech ads. I prefer the classic fantasy of a good solid science fiction show before all the wireless and high tech ads, just so you know.

LOL, makes sense. My boys are always asking for more more more electronics. I’m not much better, but I’m an adult. LOL So, what’s a saying you use a lot? Where did it originate from?

I’ve noticed recently that I say a lot of old fashioned things that young folks don’t understand. I don’t say ‘ain’t’ or a lot of modern slang or valley, like you know, speech. I much prefer seemly, and ‘shan’t’. I tend to say perchance a lot instead of perhaps, and I do enjoy the confused looks I get by speaking proper, classical English. The language is splitting, yes! Soon their will be a vulgar slang English and a classical, old fashioned in literature alone English. But look how that turned out for Latin!

LOL, I say things that throw my kids off all the time. Except mine are Southern (Cajun) based, like “I’m fixin’ ta do it!”. Do you like thunderstorms?

Yes. What’s not to like? So many good story bits can be brought about by a good storm. Maybe we think of horror first, then perhaps some naughty sex when the electricity goes out. Thunderstorms bring the seeds of creativity! Isn’t that why God sends them?

Absolutely, I love storms and dancing in the rain when there isn’t any thunder and lightning. Do you sleep with the light on? Why or why not?

Heck no. I like it dark. Last night I jumped up for my flashlight so I could write some bits down and cracked my skull on the night stand. I like how the dark can play tricks on you. It makes the imagination stew.

LOL, I hate the dark, I have to active an imagination. Can you taste the difference between Pepsi and Coke? If so, which do you prefer?

I really don’t care much for either one. I like Root Beer- Mug, A&W, Stewarts, that’s all the same to me. Every now and again I like Dr. Pepper, too. I mean, a carbonated beverage is the place to go crazy, isn’t it?!

LOL, can I say that’s blasphemy? :-D Can you share a little of your current work with us?

How naughty can we get? Here’s a little PG-13 excerpt. I’m tempted to share that Peanut Butter sex scene, but that wouldn’t be fair, now, would it?

Rub waited with Captain Westmayer and Colonel Gauthier by the Nuke's small but streamlined transport in the Mother Ship's Lift-Off Zone. Once Rub had met the very hot and charming Kimmie Dejonaire, Miguel warmed to him as well. Most of the Combatants had relaxed on their flight to Isosceles – except for one. Well, two, but he suspected Private Wu never thawed. The zone's doors parted as Kimmie and Ina strutted toward him in their sexiest getups; satin and tiny, hair vamoosed – Rub noticed these things. Friendly or iced, it was still hawt.

Miguel hurried behind them, equally dressed for a night on the town. His style was a little flashy for Rub's tastes. He didn't have to show his dick size on the outside. It showed in his smile and charm.

"How do I look?" Kimmie asked her friends.

"Not as good as me," Ina chuckled. She did look phenomenal out of uniform, if a bit scary. She was taller than Miguel and probably always intimidated him. Ha!

"Where's JJ?" Miguel asked.

Yes, where was the anti-Nuke who spent all her time avoiding Rub? A little socializing would do her good; all the other Combatants were dressed to the hilt and ready to part-ee! He wanted an opportunity to piss off JJ, but he didn't really expect her to join them. His duty to pilot the transport almost assured it.

"She's pouting, of course," Kimmie puckered her lips in mock imitation. She stopped beside Captain Westmayer and Colonel Gauthier. Her breasts had entered the Lift-Off Zone before she did, and Rub was amazed by her ability to not give everything away when she hiked into the Nuke shuttle before the men. Did all the Combatant women have such long legs?

Thank you so much for hanging out with us today here at the Menagerie. Sit back and hang out and let the Cabana Boys take real good care of you. It was great getting to know you better. Come back any time, hon.

Thank you for having me!

Newly married and living the high-rise condo life, Leigh Wood is not tech savvy and fights with writing on her laptop between baking and sewing projects. She prefers handwriting with weird pens and odd paper and collects animal prints and records via rummage sales. Leigh loves naughty fantasy and science fiction, but sharpens her skills with nonfiction essays and reviews. Her articles can be found at I Think, Therefore I Review (http://ithinkthereforeireview.blogspot.com) or her own blog (http://leighwood.blogspot.com).

Previously, Leigh boldly wrote her memoir Cracked, and is currently working on her next epic erotic novel-a fantasy tentatively titled Horns of Myleness.

You find her on the web here:

Blog ~ http://leighwood.blogspot.com/

Facebook ~ http://www.facebook.com/people/Leigh-Wood/100000432241842

On The Way On The Road To New Isosceles by Leigh Wood (Fictionwise Buy link) (Amazon buy Link)

JJ was as hard nosed as they come-and them some. But, hey, the destruction of earth did that to everyone. Humanity fractioned into three groups. Affectionately known as 'the Shitters', the Shipper Brigade manufactures the best space faring vehicles for themselves. Skilled fighters and martial artists Combatants like JJ fight the Shippers for what they can-even though Combatant numbers were severely depleted by the third faction. The Nukes rescued chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons from earth's doom and aren't afraid to use them.

You can imagine JJ's surprise when she meets the Nuke Lieutenant Rub. Their initial meeting didn't rub either the right way. Despite her Nuke anxiety-JJ has to put it all aside. Her Captain and the Nuke Colonel have struck a deal to defeat the Shippers once and for all. The Nukes leave their tiny outpost on a far flung, degrading planet and join the Combatants in taking the lush planet protected by the Shippers.

It's a long, tough journey on the way to New Isosceles, and the animosity between Rub and JJ gets hotter by the day.......