Saturday, April 30, 2011

H is for Heroes and Heroines

Since I devour between three to five books a week; I find a common stereotype out there for our romance characters. Don’t shoot the messenger.

Warning—rant follows.

Hero—six foot something—always tall, dark hair, green or blue eyes. A majority of the time he’s an alpha. Brooding. Haunted. Not sure he has the capacity to love. He's got some kind of police or military background and if it is military, Navy Seals or Special Forces.

Heroine-blonde, blue-eyed. Her height varies, but she always has long legs—always. A vast majority of the time she’s stacked, in a way women pay plastic surgeons to look, and of course, it’s all natural--come on, what kind of woman would you expect the perfect hero to fall for? She knows martial arts, handles weapons like a sniper and is more than capable of rescuing herself. So it begs me to ask, why does she need a hero? There’s this little thing called femininity that seems to be disappearing, especially in science fiction romance, and in that case, why is she always captain of the ship?

I once wrote a short from the hero’s POV, first person. It’s in the Hot Dads, DILF Anthology. Not once in the story do I describe his appearance. The reader gets in his head, knows what he thinks and who he is from his thoughts, but I guarantee there is no physical description. He could be African American, Caucasian, Asian, tall, short, ugly, dark hair or no hair. He could be skinny or muscular. It’s completely up to the reader

Why did I do this? Well, for one I was limited to the number of words in the story. 6k was the maximum and I didn’t have time to have him look in the mirror and describe himself or bring out little physical details here and there, throughout the book. Anything I did would sound superficial, like I’d cut and pasted a description  so the reader had one.

Yet, after omitting this one bit of information, I have received emails from readers telling me he’s hot. ??? I only assume it's because the mind allows the reader to build an image of their perfect man if you omit the description--kind of like those headless book covers I despise. Yes, Virginia, inner beauty can be as descriptive and sexy as outer beauty. Light bulbs came on and I had one of those ah-ha moments. You know the ones, where your muse smacks you upside the head and yells out, “That’s what I’ve been telling you all along!”

As readers, we all have ideas what our perfect man would look like, but as writers we assume that what others want is tall and dangerous with thick black hair. My ideal man is bald—I love bald men. I do, I do, I do. I also love them tall because my father is six foot four and hey, girls tend to look up to their daddies and form opinions about men based on them. Strange enough, my sister likes them short. From a bad experience in her past that has scarred her, tall men intimidate her.

Some women think Asian men are the bomb and others, brothers flip their switch. So why do we write heroes into a mold if the taste of our readers is so variable? Are we afraid to color outside the lines and give the reader something a little different?

How many bald heroes are out there? Seriously—how many have you seen. How about bald heroines? No hair—are you kidding? Not at all. Larger heroines—BBW, shorter heroes? Red-headed heroes? Why as writers are we afraid to explore something other than the common stereotype. Why are we afraid to start by building our characters on their personalities first? Since DILF, I have a deeper appreciation on inner beauty. My short proves that it’s not all the outward appearance the readers think is sexy—in fact, if the guy is sexy inside, I’m willing to bet the readers might forget exterior defects that make the hero less the perfect romance male.

It’s a beauty and the beast mentality. He has to be changed from what he is, to make him ideal—a heroine can’t fall in love with an ugly man, and a hero won’t look twice at a homely woman. I challenge you, fellow authors. Give me a less than stereotypical hero. Make him Asian or bald. Make him old.

And while you’re at it, dress down those Barbie dolls and make them have some flaws. Give them a softer side without making them a doormat. Please. Give me a heroine who’s real. Who has fears, who might not have the perfect hair, eye color, or breasts, but she’s got what it takes on the inside for her hero to fall in love. Make her in need of a knight in shining armor. Make her vulnerable.

Reverse beauty and the beast and make the heroine a hag. What characteristics will it take to get the hero’s attention—to make him fall in love? Then run with it.

I dare you.

Here's a little something from one of my current WIPs, with a less than cookie-cutter hero. :)

KC had her share of overconfident, wannabee rocket-racers with egos bigger than the solar system. No matter how immense the vacuum of space, one only needed to give a guy a ship, an extra dose of testosterone, and they somehow felt the need to prove their superiority. Never did they go after the other pilots—who happened to be male, but something about being a female racer seemed to provoke them enough to want to eliminate Bad Company from the competitive pool.

Her scanner beeped. She glanced down at the screen and punched a button to bring up an image of a ship with the schematics. Bad Company’s computer rotated the image and zeroed in on the registration number. Her jaw dropped open.

She didn’t need to read the twelve digit code to know who. Only one person had a ship that looked like that. A snarling K-9 mouth covered the silver racer’s nose, and fifty five tick-marks painted on its portside announced every victory dance it had shared with its crew.

KC spun to face her nav. “Sonofabitch. It’s him.” Him, aka Dax Jasper, aka The Jackal, took competition to a whole different level. The Novae, Dax’s ship, was unmistakable and the last racing vessel she’d wanted to meet on the course. She choked back her panic and whipped her seat back to face the canopy, starring out at the star-filled expanse. “Lose him.”

“Trying,” Anya Dashkov snapped from beside her, equally agitated and on edge. “What the hell does he think he doing?”

KC thought for sure they’d had a big enough lead to avoid the Novae and its crew. Obviously she’d been way to secure in her beliefs. It wasn’t like KC didn’t know he was out there. She’d seen him at the start, staring at her across a crowded dock at the Mt. Furious Rally Launch Station, while the race regulators went over the rules and matched teams that didn’t have partners. He’d winked. She’d flipped him a Terran rude gesture, fingers curled down with her middle finger extended up. She spun on her heel, not needing to go over the rules or acquire a partner, and stormed for her ship, praying it would be the last time she saw him during the race. Apparently, neither her prayers nor the “fuck off” had been clear enough.

And somewhere—some god of the galaxy, laughed his ass off at one big, screwed up, cosmic joke the universe seemed to be playing on her. Why else would the Jackal be everywhere she looked? KC punched the com and waited for an open link. It beeped and she sucked in a deep breath. “Dax, if you’re going to ride my ass, the least you could do is pull my hair.”

“You want your hair pulled?”

Yes! Her heart bounced around in her chest, playing hopscotch across several ribs. No! She curled her hand into a tight fist and bit the knuckle of her thumb. Yeah, like that didn’t sound like a come on. What the hell had she been thinking? KC seized control of her wayward hormones before she started to flirt like a schoolgirl. “That was sarcasm.”

“Ouch.” Dax popped up on the holo-visuals, filling her glass canopy with his image, a crooked grin pasted on his face. He crossed his arms and tipped back in his seat, tossing a boot up on his ship’s console. His biceps flexed under the snug fabric of his squeeze suit, outlining every hard muscle she knew lay underneath the high-tech fabric.

KC swallowed and dug her fingers into the padding on her armrests, gouging the fabric the way she’d once gouged his back. His dark eyes bore into her, burning her core and setting her flesh on fire. She jerked her gaze from his, losing the stare down, something she was certain he’d consider a victory. Sure enough he laughed, making her teeth gnash together.

“Problem there, sweetheart?”

KC regained her composure and tipped her chin up to meet him face on. “Only problem I have is up my ass.” Bastard. “And I’m not your sweetheart.”

“What would you like me to call you then?”

“How about never?”

He laughed again. KC narrowed her eyes and stared until his chuckles ceased. Not bad looking, but a more arrogant man she’d yet to meet. His signature red hair, chopped irregularly, hung around his face in a flippant attitude that matched the man. A tribal tattoo of a snarling hyena ran from his forehead to his jaw on the right side of his face, mixing in that bad boy attitude further. His ship’s artificial light did the impossible, making his fiery locks even hotter. KC had to squint to tone down the brightness.

“Seriously, if you want your hair pulled—your ass spanked—I’m your guy.”

“Yeah, I want that like I want a case of the galactic ooze. Do you mind backing off? This is a rally. We don’t race nose-to-nose, or in your case—nose-to-ass.”

“No.” His smile faded, replaced with a look of shameless lust. “I kind of like it here.”

Of course he did. KC jerked back. Her stomach cart wheeled and she creamed her panties. Her squeeze gear, the one-piece, pressurized suit, suddenly felt too constricting. A fever flushed through her body and the sensors in the suit kicked on, activating the cooling threads. He’s an asshole. You don’t want that KC.

Even though she knew what the package contained, she couldn’t help but lust after the damned hound—and she was being kind to call him that—a man that sniffed up every skirt in the galaxy.

Jackal. His nickname suited him, but his appearance was completely deceiving. Hot, my gods, the man could set the universe on fire, and yeah, she knew him intimately—enough to know those looks had fooled many women, and she hadn’t been the first or last to fall victim to his charisma.

Dax cared about one person and one person only. Himself. Jumping him had been a mistake. Six months ago they’d had frantic sex, tore each other’s clothes off and screwed everywhere on his ship. She’d enjoyed every second, but after the sex…

Well, that was something not worth reminiscing about. When they’d worn themselves to exhaustion, he’d shoved her clothes in her arms and kicked her off his ship before she could get dressed. No warning. No nothing. She’d been confused at first and pissed as hell when she’d noticed she had an audience of randy dockworkers and local military hooting and whistling. She’d put her chin up and walked past them as though she were the Queen of England. If Godiva could do it, she damn well could—and did.

Once back at her ship, it didn’t take long to figure out that his nav had been over to Bad Company during her tryst with Dax, and he’d sabotaged her engines by jamming them with raw meat. It hadn’t shut her down, but it had caused her to drop into second place and lose her position as the top-ranking ship. And…the smell of charred meat filled the cabin every time she’d fired her engines for the next two weeks, reminding her of what an idiot she’d been to trust the Jackal. Yeah, he’d fucked her and then he’d screwed her.

Arrogant prick. “Can’t you lose him?”

“Trying. Not my fault.” Anya, her best friend since the age of six shook her head, keeping her eyes on where they were going. “It’s not me he’s got a boner for.” Her dark hair was drawn back in a ponytail that floated around like a whip in the cabin. Her green eyes, the color of a forest at night, were slanted from her Japanese ancestry, giving her an exotic appearance. Slim, beyond pretty and blessed with a shitload of intelligence, her only flaw was her uncontrollable mouth, well, and her aim with a laser.

Anya had an opinion on everything and anyone around her long enough got to hear it, even if they didn’t want to. Anyone who said Japanese women were demure had never met Anya. Of course the mouth could come from her fifty percent Russian linage.

“Do you need to remind me?”

“Da. Every chance I get.” She fired the starboard engines. The thrust catapulted the ship in an arced course, around the satellite moon. Anya’s hands and brain moved in perfect sync as they began to navigate around the first of nine markers they’d have to hit to bring home the prize.

She didn’t pause, but continued to work, showing she was the champion of chewing gum and walking, or flying a ship and carrying on a viable conversation. “You should never have screwed the guy.”

Maybe not too viable. Leave it to Anya to be discreet in her opinions. Huge mistake—huge, and her friend wouldn’t let her forget it. KC eyed the holo and Dax was grinning from ear to ear, privy to every word exchanged between them. For a moment, she’d forgotten the com was open. KC hit mute. “Yeah, and we’ve been over this. My hindsight sucks.”

“You think?” Anya continued to work the controls, staying focused on getting away from the Novae. “Why him? You know what a slut he is.” All her movements were fluid and sure. Watching her fly, always amazed KC. Nobody could navigate like Anya. She seemed to sense if the ship veered off the coordinates even by a millimeter and managed to put it back before the sensors could pick up the discrepancy.

KC eyed Dax again. He twisted his tongue, back and forth in a maneuver that made her slam her hand over the button to the visual, cutting off his sexual innuendo. “Dust this bastard.” She glanced over at Anya. “I’m sick having him up my ass.”

Bad Company pulled ahead, putting distance between their ship and the Jackal suppository. Anya paused over a button and eyed KC. “You sure? We could get tossed out of the racing association for this.”

The Jackal picked up speed, closing the distance. KC eyed the screen. “Can we ditch him without screwing our time to hell?”

“Maybe.” Anya’s hand hovered over the button. “Your call—your ship.”

KC frowned. That was a big chance to take on maybe. If the race authorities could prove she’d dumped her waste fuel and discharged electromagnetic waves on another ship, she’d be fined, disqualified and blocked from entering any race for at least a galactic year, approximately two and a half Terran years. He so deserved this, him and the damned cocky nav attached to his hip, but it was better to be cautious. Perhaps that was his game, that he intended her to do something stupid. One never knew with Dax.

“Hold on the dusting and just lose him.”

“Here, kitty, kitty, kitty.” Not to be deterred, Dax opened the link verbal again, his ship back up her ass, with his nose cone practically stuffed in her rear docking bay. “Come here, pussy.”

KC opened her mouth, but Anya had already stabbed the release. Bad Company blasted the offending hemorrhoid with electromagnetic waves. Not all of the fuel waste, but enough to knock the main power out on his ship for the next fifteen minutes. He’d have to go to backup and that would make him a miserable bastard next time they met. The Novae dropped back and the lights winked out as she predicted.

“My call—my ship?” KC turned to her. “Thought you were worried about getting tossed out of the race?”

“He pissed me off,” Anya shrugged.

KC nodded. He had a tendency to do that. He’d be too busy connecting his backup power supply to worry about pulling her hair or whining to the racing authorities. Besides, if she knew Dax well enough, he’d keep this incident silent and find a way to pay her back in private. She’d spanked his pride and he wouldn’t want anyone to know.

Anya didn’t set the course, but put the ship on auto. “You know, we’ve got time to stop for a drink.” She pointed at a planet below. “Actually,” she eyed the logged time, “it’s a must. We’ll be way ahead of schedule, without a delay. Dax forced us to speed through that last leg a little quicker than we’d planned. We’re still in, but we need to pad our time a bit.”

The rules for space rallies were simple. You had to move from marker to marker within a given time. Some of the markers were in orbit around other planets, others on the surface of the selected worlds. Too slow, you disqualified, too fast, you disqualified. Miss a marker—yeah, disqualified. The idea was to get as close to the time set by race authorities as you could. The ship who crossed the line as near to the set time, won.

And it all wasn’t about speed. It took a lot of critical thinking to plot a course , still make the time and not fall outside the perimeters set for the race, especially since some of the travel included flying across a planet and picking up the digital readings from markers on the surface. Speed and travel in space was different than when under a planet’s gravitational forces.

Every stretch had a checkpoint where they could stop, refuel, and rest. Some they could take, some they didn’t have time to waste.

In this instance—Anya was right. They had hours to kill.

KC nodded and Anya changed directions, heading for a pink planet, swirled with rich blues.

Have a great Saturday,


Friday, April 29, 2011

It's Friday

Gosh, it's been warm and beautiful where I am! Blooming trees and flowers always make my day. I plan to cut a few tulips before they disappear for the rest of the year and bring them inside. The peonies are sprouting, and I can't wait to see them in full bloom, they make such wonderful cut arrangements. No matter where I put them, the cats will smell and notice the new addition to their turf, they'll knock them over once or twice, the delicate flower will be trounced until they're unrecognizable. I wonder why when they're left outside in the garden, this doesn't happen? I suppose it's Nature. I've come to the conclusion that outdoors is the natural place for flowers. The little furballs understand and expect to see them in their natural habitat, not bursting into a kalaidescope of color and scent on my table! We'll grapple over this many times in the coming months, and the cats will win.

Guess I should add my cats have been released "into the wild" until it's too cold to let them out. I'm hoping they have at least five months of freedom to roam and explore. I do worry about them sometimes, but I don't have the heart to make them inside cats. All but one are rescues, they were born and lived outside, they've retained a few feral tendencies, but I love them. They come back in to sleep every night, and during the day, once in a while, they run in to check on me... or eat. *smile* Watching them chase leaves, or romp through the grass is something to behold. But I'm off track.

Back to the word on my mind: Nature - Nature on a Rampage to be exact. This phrase comes to mind when I think of the disasterous, natural events that have hit the world in the last few months. Most recently, the destruction and devastion in the South by storms that spawned deadly tornados. My thoughts and prayers go out to people everywhere who've lost loved ones, and their normal, everyday way of living. I can't imagine their struggles, or their pain and suffering - I can only keep them in my prayers.

Along with this comes a greater appreciation for my way of life, and all that I have and hold dear. I am lucky to be able to smell the flowers.

Growl and roar-it's okay to let the beast out.-© J. Hali Steele

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Crest

Remember when I talked about The Lift Hill? I'd been on a lift hill since late January. While I was clicking along on that long, seemingly never-ending lift hill, I busied myself by trying my hand a something I've always struggled with--short stories. My previous attempts have always, always failed. I always want to know more about the characters, know more of their story and that just can't fit into a short.

When I finally had something I thought worked, I decided to add another lift hill. The wait time was significantly shorter however and turns out that I can do a short or two. But remember, I'm still clicking along on this other lift hill that started in January. 

Luckily, edits for the next Rebirth series book came in around that time and made that clicking fade a little bit. But then edits finished and I busied myself with another short (the third). It too finished up and got sent to start another lift hill (one that crested earlier today when the offer came for the next Sypricon Masters book-WOOT!). 

And yep, that other lift hill from January is still just clacking away in my ears.

But, then, last Friday, there it was-the crest of that long just around three months of waiting. I was sent careening over the crest and oh...oh, the plunge was exhilarating! I haven't shaken and cried that much since I got my first contract in 2009.

Later this year, Ellora's Cave will publish my m/m/f contemporary erotic romance titled Ragged Edge. I love these three characters so very much and look forward to getting to share their romance.

Now, back to finished something else so I can climb on board again. :^D

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Research Euphoria

I love research. I love learning things I didn't know before, or thought I knew, or held only an abstract understanding of prior to researching a given topic. The latter is where I am now. I'm writing a book that is quickly becoming a research obsession with me, and I'm drunk on information.

I won't go into too much detail. I'm getting superstitious about talking up projects because of the fear I'll lose interest or won't finish. I haven't had that happen yet, but hey--we're talking irrational fear here. ;)

I will say that since my great grandmother was Cherokee, I grew up hearing a lot of Native American lore. It's always fascinated me, and I've worked several of their mythological creatures into my WIPs. This new book was something I already had and idea for, but I was pondering origins when the pieces clicked into place.

Love when that happens.

Now, if you'll excuse me--I'm already running late due to power outage and the school just called to say the kids get out at one because of more severe weather. I think I'm going to transfer my research emails and see what I can study up on before I lose power...again.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Cable Keeps Going In And Out And How People Judge Writing

As the title to todays post suggests, I have been having lot of electronic issues at home right now. The Cable keeps going in and out, which included Internet service. Apparently, we have old RG6 Copper Wires in my walls and they have to be traded out for RG6 non copper wires that can handle the HD better. Aren't you impressed how I just stated all of that like I understood it? LOL. The gist being that I have to have the electrician, who is supposed to show up some time today to look at the situation, come and replace the wires, which may or may not include drilling hole in my walls, which will then have to be repainted.

Sound like fun?

It's not.

The cable company is not allowed to handle this problem themselves, they insist that we have to bring in an electrician to do it.

This is all coupled by the fact that I am irritated over an incident that happened at the dentist yesterday. As some of you have heard me lament on twitter, I have been suffering through some mouth pain. It's mostly been handled, thank goodness. Before I left the dentist, the receptionist, who found out what I wrote for a living, told me it was okay that people read 'junk' and that what was what I wrote.

I've heard this happens to other writers but that was my first foray into the experience. She had a whole explanation about this and at some point decided to tell me all about her daughter being an Intellectual, as if I was not one. Now, my own educational credentials aside, which are none of he business, I just had no idea what to say to this woman.

Then I came home and, while I waited for my family to finish their various activities, read a very brilliantly written book by an author I admire greatly. It made me grin from ear-to-ear because that is what excellent writing does. It makes us not think about the fact that I don't have any television working in the house, that holes are going to be made in my walls, and that a thoughtless, ignorant person at the dentist said something rude. It takes us away.

Paranormal Romance makes people, including and maybe especially me, happy. I love reading it. I love writing it.

What are you reading? What should I be reading? I've got a lot of free time with no television right now!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Action versus Romance by Marie Treanor

Hello! And thank you to Annie and the Paranormal Romantics for having me back! It’s a great time for me, actually because I could use your advice J.
I’m wrestling with a new story, a vampire romance, and it struck me that I hadn’t quite got the balance right between romance and action. We’re all in it for the romance, obviously, but the action scenes are important too, developing a character by showing how he or she copes in a fight or a chase or some other tense situation. These sections can also be sexy in their own way, depending on the interaction of the characters or the description of the movements etc. They add variety, depth and move the story along in lots of different ways. But it struck me that too many of them can get in the way of the romance, while too few can slow everything down too far. Then again, fights should be realistic – even when you’re talking about vampires and other mythical creatures! – yet I for one don’t like being grossed out by graphic violence.
Naturally, much depends on the storyline and the characters, but I wanted to ask your opinion: as a rough, general guide, how much action do you like in your paranormal romance? And how graphic should it be for you? Also, do you like your heroine to fight too? Or to be rescued by her hero?
To help you decide, I’ve got an excerpt below from my latest release – BLOOD SIN, the second in my vampire romance trilogy Awakened by Blood. It’s an action scene, with my heroine leading the fight against impossible odds J.

BLOOD SIN: Awakened by Blood 2
NAL - Signet Eclipse

Even if you walk in the light, you can dwell in the dark.

Months after her dangerous encounter with vampire overlord Saloman, Scottish academic Elizabeth Silk is still trying to cope with both the demands of her ancestral bloodline—which marks her as a vampire hunter — and the overpowering desire she feels for the immortal she brought back from the grave. But she is not alone in her fascination with Saloman.

When Elizabeth tracks down a distant cousin from America, she learns he possesses an antique sword that has caught the interest of the Grand Master of the American hunters. It is the ancient and mystical sword of Saloman — a treasure of vast occult powers and a prize beyond measure to both vampires and humans. Now the race is on for possession of the sword.

Even as her enemies and allies shift their allegiances and battle for supremacy, Elizabeth must decide which will rule her own perilous fate: unwanted loyalty or unholy love.


“My,” Travis said, moving around the table toward them. “My, oh, my. What do we have here?” He sniffed the air around them, and Elizabeth was suddenly reminded of her first encounter with the Hungarian vampire Zolt├ín, who had behaved in much the same manner and then laughed, as if he’d recognized her by the very smell of her blood. Although Travis didn’t laugh, there was no doubt of his recognition.

“Powerful human blood,” he observed, his mouth so close to Elizabeth’s ear that she wanted to scream. She held herself rigid, unmoving. “Elizabeth Silk, the Awakener . . .”

Josh yanked her away from him, staring down his nose at the vampire, who paid him no attention whatsoever.

“Okay, boys,” Travis said. “Two descendants to play with, and the victim was Saloman, so no gulping. Share the boy and hold the Awakener for me.”

Josh, who seemed to have finally picked up that the “men” surrounding them were dangerous, took a step backward. Before he could draw too much attention, Elizabeth glared at the vampire who grasped her arm.

“Gulping?” she said. “Without an introduction, I don’t even allow biting.” And she whipped out the stake, plunging it into his heart. At the same time, she spun in the cloud of his dust and kicked the vampire nearest Josh hard enough to knock him into the table. “Josh, run!” she yelled, and lunged at Dante, grabbing his wrist and yanking him after her. “Go!”

It was desperate; it probably required a miracle to make it work; but at least its suddenness gave them a chance. Unfortunately, Elizabeth had reckoned without Josh’s recent skepticism, which she’d just blown sky-high with the vampire. He stood rooted to the spot, blinking at where the creature had last stood. His lips moved, making no sound.

“Get them,” Travis snarled. Elizabeth gave Dante one last tug after her to make her point and grabbed Josh’s arm instead. She couldn’t drag both of them and fight at the same time.

“Josh!” she cried. “Move!”

He stumbled in her wake, but she had to punch the vampire who had hold of him and dragged him to the ground. As Elizabeth leapt and staked the fallen vampire, she could see that their moment had passed. The vampires were closing in on all sides. More were emerging from the office beyond, from the doorway to the car park. Wildly, she scanned the room for an escape route, holding fast to Josh’s arm. He was breathing like a steam engine. Dante backed away toward Travis, who, however, ignored him. The vampire leader’s attention was all on Elizabeth.

“Sir, do we have an agreement?” Dante shouted.

“Not now, Senator.” Travis smiled and walked forward into the circle. “It’s feeding time.”

Dante strode the length of the room toward the exit, and began to run, shoving past the vampires who were not remotely interested in him when the blood of two descendants, one of whom was also the Awakener, was up for grabs.

“I’ll fight, Josh,” Elizabeth said shakily. “But I can’t win. If you can manage it, get out—they want me more. Find Adam Simon and tell him what happened here. Do you understand?”

There was no time for any reply. The vampires approached, beginning at a walk and advancing quickly to a run. Elizabeth raised her stake and released Josh in order to have both arms free.

“Straight ahead,” she breathed, and launched herself at the first vampire with a scream of pure rage.

But something was louder than her cry—the crashing of falling masonry as the ceiling began to cave in. Her chosen victim’s distraction gave her an easy kill. Whirling, she spun to face the vampires closing behind her, and found their backs to her. They were watching in stunned amazement as someone fell—no, stepped—through the hole in the ceiling as if descending a staircase.

He still wore the business suit, minus the constricting jacket. From his long, loose black hair to his shining shoes, he was dazzling. He advanced on those who stood between him and Elizabeth and Josh.

“I’m Saloman.”

Marie Treanor lives in Scotland with her eccentric husband and three much-too-smart children. Having grown bored with city life, she resides these days in a picturesque village by the sea where she is lucky enough to enjoy herself avoiding housework and writing sensual stories of paranormal romance and fantasy.
Join the party on her new blog, Marie Treanor’s Romantic Theme Party:
Buy Blood Sin (Awakened by Blood 2) at Amazon
Buy Blood on Silk (Awakened by Blood 1) at Amazon

Watch out for Blood Eternal (Awakened by Blood 3, coming  October 2011).

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Release of FOREVER BOUND & Giveaway!!!

To celebrate the release of FOREVER BOUND, which came out on Friday with Decadent Publishing, I'm doing a giveaway!! Leave a comment with your email address and I'll choose one random winner to receive an ebook in PDF format!! Contest ends Monday at midnight!! *warning BDSM*

Josie Harper had boyfriends, lovers, and even friends with benefits. None of them could satisfy her. Something had always been missing—something she was now desperate to find.

Gavin Scott longed for the perfect submissive. A woman worthy of the gift he could give to her as a Dom. Most failed to meet his expectations and he’d all but given up hope.

A high class match-maker in Las Vegas brings Josie and Gavin together. Tonight, Gavin will introduce Josie to the world of BDSM. As he skillfully guides her through the experience, Josie isn’t the only one captivated. Gavin is in awe of her control, someone this new to the lifestyle shouldn’t possess this great of a talent.

During their journey, Josie will find the missing piece of her soul and Gavin will meet the woman who was born to submit to him.



Josie Harper’s nerves were rattled. She’d never expected to have to hire someone to see her fantasies met. Sometimes, though, life doesn’t turn out how one expects it.

There had been plenty of boyfriends, lovers, and even friends with benefits in her life. None, though, could satisfy her. Not only in life, but sexually. Something had always been missing, something she needed to find. Those were the reasons she flew from Dallas to Las Vegas and why she stood in the elevator at the Castillo Resort and Hotel. The night may drain her savings account, one she’d added to over the twenty-five years of her life, but it didn’t matter. Not anymore. Sick of feeling unhappy, tired of not experiencing fulfillment, she’d been left with no other choice.

The question needed to be answered, Is BDSM meant for me?

She’d looked into her options for her self-discovery experiment, and had come across all sorts of avenues. Should she join a club with others who lived the BDSM lifestyle? She’d run across personal ads in the local newspaper and even classes offering to teach novices. But Madame Eve’s 1NightStand solution offered the most privacy.

Josie’s interests…well, she hadn’t quite figured them out yet. The idea of being dominated appealed to her. Images of being bound to a table while being spanked created heat between her thighs. But were these just fantasies or did she want to live the lifestyle?

Josie’d spent a good part of a day filling out a questionnaire given to her by 1NightStand detailing what she wanted, and even needed, from the experience. Had informed the woman of things she’d do and not do so the Dom would understand her limits.

Days after she’d faxed the questionnaire back, Josie received an email from Madame Eve confirming she’d made a match for her. The illusive Madame Eve found her a man to lead her into undiscovered territory?

It appeared she had. Was she ready to do this now? Push all her reservations aside and have the naughty sex which only lived in her dreams? Doubt nagged her. What else could be expected? The situation was new to her and not what anyone would call normal. She’d come for a reason though. She couldn’t let unease make her act stupidly.

She pushed away the fear and straightened her shoulders. The email stated for her to go to the fourth floor, room 412. They’d have complete privacy since the floor would be free of guests, and the room soundproofed, but a telephone would be available in case she became uneasy and needed a safety net.

As the elevator came to a stop, she stood for so long she wondered if she’d lost her nerve. None of that. Stepping through the open doors, she blew out a long, deep breath to gather herself.

Each step felt like a lifetime. What type of man would Gavin be? Handsome? Powerful? Butterflies whipped through her stomach at the images playing in her mind.

Reaching the last door on the right, she stopped and drew in a sharp breath. She’d come for a reason and no matter how much hesitation she felt, she forced herself to open the door.

The scene before her was not at all what she’d expected to find. Yes, she wanted ropes, but this hadn’t been what she meant—two waist-high steel poles with a rope strung between them, stretched from one side of the bare room to the other. She wondered what would take place there, with its walls painted a crimson red and candles scattered throughout on black satin covered tables.

The only other items in the room, a large rope resting on the hardwood floor, along with a smaller one, and one hanging from the ceiling with a loop clamp on it. As much as she tried to come up with a reason for all this, her thoughts just couldn’t wrap around it. She’d thought of flogging, leather, chains, bondage. Never just ropes in a stark room. For the life of her, she didn’t understand what she faced. Just as her mind threatened to run away with her, the door handle jiggled behind her, and she turned as it opened. A man, smooth and confident, entered the room.

Madame Eve had picked her perfect match indeed, everything her dreams were made of and more. Tanned and shirtless, with hard lines of muscles, dressed in a pair of dark jeans, he looked delicious. His outfit not at all what she’d expected, leather pants would have been more appropriate. Not saying his attire displeased her—he looked spectacular.

Dark hair covered his forehead in a wispy way, and deep chocolate eyes spoke of the pleasure awaiting her. Her heart thumped in her chest. The hesitation she experienced earlier, fled. His poise, the subtle way he held himself, comforted her.

Tonight, he’d be her Dom and she craved to submit.


Gavin longed for the perfect submissive. A woman worthy of the gift he could give her. He went to the clubs in the Las Vegas area, assisted other Doms in learning how to handle their subs, but it hadn’t gotten him anywhere close to finding his own fulfillment. When he’d heard of Madame Eve’s 1NightStand, he’d jumped on it. He didn’t believe she would find him his happily ever after. Curiosity made him act.

It’d been two years since he’d last had a submissive and he couldn’t see that changing any time soon. Not to say the women he’d met hadn’t been exquisite in their own right. The connection, the roar to own someone else but have them captivating enough for him to hold their wants over his own, didn’t exist. In truth, he hadn’t met anyone deserving of it. Most failed to meet his expectations. He’d been a demanding Dom and had yet to meet a woman he could push as far as he wanted.

It left him unsatisfied.

Madame Eve emailed to say she had a perfect match for him and gave him enough insight on Josie to give him an idea of how he should set up the scene. He wondered if Madame Eve had indeed filled her obligation, if Josie might be a perfect match for him, though he doubted it. Nevertheless, he indulged in the experience.

Standing before Josie, shock made him stop. In all his time as a Dom to new people who wanted to learn about the lifestyle, none of them looked like her.

Long, dirty blonde hair surrounded a gorgeous face. Her blue eyes, wide with innocence, stared at him. He questioned if he’d entered the right room. The woman looked like a girl next door, not the typical type he encountered. With flushed cheeks as though embarrassed, her pouty mouth held a nervous smile.

Truth was Madame Eve had given him an extensive knowledge of Josie’s limits. Hearing the woman wanted to be bound by ropes hadn’t surprised him, yet seeing Josie, timid and trembling, did. He arched an eyebrow. “Josie?”

She nodded shyly. “You’re Gavin, right?”

Excitement coursed through him at her acknowledgment. To most, it’d be her perfect-ten figure to bring forth arousal. Not for Gavin. For him, the sweet note about her, her gentleness showing the need to please is what held his interest. It wouldn’t have shocked him to hear she was a straight A student in college and lived by the book in every regard. Always said the right thing, did the right thing, and behaved as the general public would want her to.

However, he witnessed the barrier she held up. The front she erected around herself to always please the ones around her. To be what others thought she should be. All of these things enthralled him. She wanted to please, but also wanted to release the untamed beast inside her.

Honor touched his soul to be granted the right to assist her. Locking the door behind him, he dropped the bag slung over his shoulder and approached her. As he drew closer, her breathing deepened and the blush on her cheeks grew.

He’d set up the scene earlier that evening, keeping in mind she’d never experienced BSDM before. The scene before them would introduce her to the lifestyle on her own terms. Yes, he would have a part in the experience, but he would seek no pleasure for himself.

Not to say he wouldn’t find it pleasurable. Watching Josie would give him the satisfaction he longed for. But he’d do so from the sidelines. Enjoy watching her discover the part of her soul she was eager to find.

Stacey Kennedy is an avid lover of the paranormal romance, urban fantasy and erotic romance genres. If she isn’t plugging away at her next novel, tending to her two little ones, she’s got her nose deep in a good book. She lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband. Be sure to drop her a line at, she loves to hear from her readers.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

G is for Ghosts

G is for Ghosts.

Rapidly growing in popularity, ghost, spirits and entities are taking their place amongst the paranormal romance. Fantastic examples of the use of the spirit can be found in novels like Stacey Kennedy’s, Stolen Dreams or in Darynda Jones’s First Grave on the Right with her spunky heroine,Charley Davidson.

In my novel, Slipping the Past, my heroine, Joceylyn Miller, runs from futuristic enforcers called reapers who imprision the souls of those convicted of pastlife crimes. The story centers around that energy we refer to as a soul.

Ghosts have grown so popular, paranormal investigators have popped up everywhere, like this group in my local, https: New-England-Earth-Bound-Paranormal-Investigations-NEPi

The fascination with the afterlife has always been there, from ancient times you will find names like Ariel, Lion of God, or Banshees, wailing ghosts that predict the death of a loved one.

Here are a few names for ghosts, spirits and creatures of the afterlife and places where they might dwell. Some you may know, others not so much.

Skudakumoochoowte: The Spirits Road—or Milky Way in Micmac.
Astral Plain
Alastor: An avenging spirit of blood feuds
Angra Mainyu
Kneph: This one is Egyptian.
Mentor: Derived from Menos. Who'd have thought?
Elysian Fields
Here After

There are hundreds of names and there’s no way to cover them all. Go on a ghost hunt and see how many you can come up with. Maybe it will spin a story or two.

Have a great Saturday,


Friday, April 22, 2011

It's Friday

Dear me, are the days flying by or what! And just when I think spring has sprung, a cold wind whips up, but I know it's coming. In the meantime, my heat is still on full blast, will be until probably June if this summer is like the last few. I need it to be 70 or more to stay warm!! :) I'm a hotty, what else can I say?

Talking about heat reminds me: I've been steaming along on a new story I MUST sub this weekend--and I've got 1 day off, then 10 on. How did this happen? Greed, the almighty dollar beckons me on a regular basis... alas, I must answer its base call.

Ooh, I do plan to see Atlas Shrugged this weekend, then write... write... write!

Now talking about heat, thought I'd turn it up in here a little.


GOTCHA! *big grin*

Hey, cool down a little...

Wish he'd take it off... take it all off!!

Growl and roar-it's okay to let the beast out.-© J. Hali Steele

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Judgment Day

In the future my son will lead mankind in a war against Skynet, a computer system programmed to destroy the world. It has sent machines back through time to kill him, one to protect him. 
Today we fight to stop Skynet from ever being created. 
To change our future. 
To change his fate. 
The war to save mankind begins now...

Today is April 21, 2011.
Judgment Day

Okay, so, yeah, I'm proving my geekiness even more by posting that. But I loooove the Terminator movies & television show. Even more proof? The main character in my space opera series looks suspiciously like Sam Worthington who played Marcus Wright in Terminator Salvation. In my defense, I wrote the first book in that series well before Salvation was released, it just happened as an AHA! moment when I saw the movie. Not that having him in my head when I'm writing Wallace is a bad thing...just sayin'.

But this all made me think of movies that are made that make reference to dates we're coming up to. I know I can think of a few examples, what about you?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I am a Pretty, Pretty Princess

Or I could be for the low, low price of $70,000 per night.
(Two night minimum required.)

Check this out:

Following a deal with Liechtenstein-based event production and marketing company Rent a Village by Xnet, Airbnb customers can now take your pick from one six Austrian villages, three German towns, one Swiss ski-resort and the Principality of Liechtenstein.
For a cool $70,000 a night (for a minimum of two nights), you can hire the tinycountry of Liechtenstein, which measures around 61.7 square miles and has just 35,000 inhabitants. According to the profile on Airbnb, Liechtenstein can accommodate between 450 and 900 people, has 500+ bedrooms and 500+ bathrooms. The cancellation policy is classified as "Super Strict", which means you get a 50% refund after booking if you cancel up until 30 days prior to arrival. Otherwise you don't get a refund.
It has all the makings of a great romance plot, doesn't it? 

I'm going to have to use this one day. I mean, think about the possibilities. Granted, if I had $140k to burn, it wouldn't be on a rent-a-country. But it's a cool thought. I probably wouldn't have to invest in accessories, either. I'm sure my daughter has a spare tiara I can borrow around here somewhere...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Deceptions of Night

Hello Everyone!

Thanks so much to Rebecca and Paranormal Romantics for allowing me to guest blog today.

What type of paranormal characters do you like? I started with this question myself, when I came up with the Order of Night series. Problem was I couldn't choose just one. So I came up with a world that had vampires, shapeshifters, and sorceresses.

Today I am here to tell you about my new release, Deceptions of Night, book two in the Order of Night series. This book was interesting to write from start to finish. The hero, Lex, is very willful, and I had to forcefully steer him back on course a few times. But there were times that I let him have his way, which in the end gave me some wonderful scenes that were not in the original plot outline.

Here is the blurb from Deceptions of Night.

Tempers run hot through the members of the Order of Night, as Lex tries to settle in as the new Triad vampire. But when a jaguar attacks him in his bed, his life gets turned upside down, and he discovers a new meaning to keeping your friends close and your enemies closer.

Kill the Triad vampire or your brother dies. Shayla grudgingly accepts the assignment. But she soon realizes that success is easier said than done as she lies prone, trapped against the floor, and secured by the body of one pissed off sexy leech.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Lex wants answers, and Shayla wants her brother returned alive. They form a shaky truce as they seek out the man that has both. Fierce attraction pushes them closer as mistrust tears them apart. Deception lays in wait around every corner as the struggle to find the mastermind behind the traitors to the Order of Night. As the tension rises, desire begins to burn with an intensity that threatens to consume, leaving them to question whether they can find what they seek with their lives and hearts intact.

You can purchase Deceptions of Night and read a full chapter one excerpt HERE

If you haven't had a chance to check out the first book in this series, Secrets of Night, then you can find it at the following links.

Best Wishes,

Virginia Cavanaugh

Monday, April 18, 2011

Love and Death

I very much enjoy the dark and grim, and what could be more grim than death itself?
Death myths have been around forever. The Grim Reaper, The Angel of Death and who can forget Charon, the ferry man across the river Styx. All spooky and dark and given the grim duty of taking souls to their afterlife. Just the idea of these shrouded dark skeletal figures wielding their long scythe can give one pause. Maybe even cause a nightmare or two.
But what about Death himself? What's his deal? It can't be fun, his job. I mean, the poor guy doesn't seem to get anything out of the deal. And what if being Death is worse than you thought. What if it was a curse?
That's poor Simon's problem. He's been cursed. He's been cursed so long his memories have faded, he can't even remember what it's like to feel. When he meets Robert, all that changes, unfortunately, Robert doesn't have much time left. What's a Death to do when he falls in love with his next assignment?
His Soul To Take is the story of Death as he falls in love and remembers what its like to feel again. He's been at his job a long time. He knows the deal, but not even he is sure if he can do what he has to do this time around.

His Soul To Take by C.M. Torrens
M/M paranormal romance novella
Publisher Dreamspinner Press
Coming April 20th.



DEATH walked down the street, eager to be away from
temptation. The thought of ever being in such a situation
had never entered his mind. Living people never saw him.
Not the sane sort.

Robert was different. He wasn’t mad, just more
observant than most. Special.

The weight of something familiar drifted in the wind. A
cold chill ran down his spine and the air grew heavy as the
presence grew closer. He stopped in front of a small cafe and
went inside to wait. No one paid him any attention as he
took a seat in the booth at the far end of the cafe.

A few minutes later another stepped into the cafe. Like
himself, the man was so average he was never noticed, but
Death saw him. Death knew his own.

The Reaper frowned and made his way through the cafe
to sit across the booth from him. Hard brown eyes bored into
him, and Death struggled to keep from fidgeting. His
interference had drawn Reaper to him and his stomach
twisted with worry.

Hmm, it’s been awhile since this has happened,”
Reaper said.

Death said nothing and stared down at the placemat in
front of him. Colorful monsters and kid friendly games
splashed the paper with vivid hues.

Why am I here?” Reaper asked.

Death shook his head and stared down at the placemat.
His finger traced the colorful monsters on the paper.

There was a long pause as Reaper stared off
thoughtfully into space. “You’ve interfered and pulled your
target from his destiny last night. His pain would have eased
the transition.”

It was unintentional.”

That doesn’t really matter though, does it?”

No,” Death said.

You’ve been at this for a long time. You know how
things work. So why am I here? Fix it or I will.”

What happens if I don’t?”

Reaper shot him a dark look. “Don’t play games here.
This is someone’s soul we’re talking about. Things live and
things die—”

Death took a deep breath. “No, I’m serious. I want to
know. What happens if I can’t fix things?”

Can’t or won’t?” Reaper got to his feet. “Do what’s best
for him and fix this. I know you’ve been here a long time,
longer than most, but this is a soul we’re discussing. A living
soul. Do what you have to do.”

-- C.M. Torrens

Author of HIS SOUL TO TAKE, coming April 20th from Dreamspinner Press.
Blog: Sweet Sounds of a Panicked Writer.
Twitter: @CMTorrens