AuThursday -A. Catherine Noon

Please welcome my fellow Writer Zen Gardener,  A. Catherine Noon.  Tell us Ms. Noon, what books have most influenced your life most?

That’s an interesting question.  It depends on the period in my life, really.  The first book I remember reading was about a cat who lived at a firehouse.  I fell in love with that cat and with books.  I had trouble figuring out how to find good books for myself at the library, until I stumbled on Phyllis A. Whitney.  I devoured everything she wrote for young adults.  After that, it was on to fantasy with Tolkien, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, and Lloyd Alexander.  I found Anne McCaffrey and Steven Brust and from there I was hooked.  It wasn’t until I read Piers Anthony, and the “Author’s Notes” he included in the Incarnations of Immortality series, that I started to really want to be an author.  I’ve always been a writer; but Anthony made it clear that I could be a “real” author.

Q: How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?

I don’t use formulae, because I like change.  What interests me is consequences: what happened?  Why did it happen?  Who did it affect?  I typically start with an image, of a person or a place or a feeling, and build from there.

Q: What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

Quiet time, a keyboard and word processing software, and paper with an assortment of pens and pencils.

Q:  What do you think is the biggest misconception in erotic romance fiction, and the m/m sub-genre?

I loathe the term “mommy porn.”  It’s insulting and degrading, and belittles women’s fiction.  The other misconception is that, “Oh, romance is all formulaic.”  People that say that haven’t read in the genre, period.  The days of the formula story are long over.  Readers are sophisticated and even in the Harlequin “lines,” the quintessential “formula” books, the stories have to be engaging and nuanced.

Q: Are you working on any books/projects that you would like to share with us? (We’ d love to hear all about them!)

I’m working on the next Chicagoland Shifters book, which features TJ Butler.  What’s exciting to me about this project is that I decided to take the gloves off.  TJ’s father is a Texas Baptist minister who tried to “cure” TJ of being gay by using electroshock therapy.  TJ ran away and joined the Marines.  When he went overseas in the second Gulf War, he was attacked by a Siberian tiger shifter and left for dead.  All the men he’d led were killed by their attacker, except for TJ.  He’s a bundle of PTSD.

So many stories that have PTSD characters seem to gloss over the fact that it’s a life-changing disorder.  One doesn’t get over it, one simply learns to cope with it.  Some days are better than others.  There is no magic band-aid or drug that will “cure” it, any more than there is one for homosexuality.  But how do you make that character sexy and compelling?  It’s not my intention to write a dark story, just a dark character.  It’s a challenge.

Q:  You’ve finally delved into the world of self-publishing, tell us a bit about that?

We decided to self-publish our popular Chicagoland Shifters series because it gave us the creative freedom to explore the characters in our own way, to tell the story that we see.  There are real consequences for any actions, and we wanted to tell that story in a real way that we hope readers will connect with.

It’s hard to self-publish, because you’re launching your own product.  You’re in charge of all the pieces of the puzzle, not just the writing.  I see first-time authors doing it and wouldn’t suggest that for anyone right now, because you need to have a following in order to be successful with it.  There’s so much dilution in the market that it’s hard for new authors to get themselves heard.

Q:  Who designed the cover for “Cat’s Cradle”?

That would be Dayna Hart, who also designed my website and the Noon and Wilder site.  She’s amazing.

Q:  Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

The Chicagoland Shifters:

Book 1 BURNING BRIGHT

Book 2 TIGER TIGER

Book 3, CAT’S CRADLE

 

The Persis Chronicles:

Book 1 EMERALD FIRE

Book 2, EMERALD KEEP

 

The Emerald City Shifters:

Book 1 SEALED BY FIRE

Book 2 SEALED BY MAGIC

 

Other Fun Stuff:

Check out COOK LIKE A WRITER

My links: Blog | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | LinkedIn | Pandora

Knoontime Knitting:  Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Ravelry
Noon and Wilder links: Blog | Taurus and Taurus (NSFW) | Website | Facebook | Twitter

The Writer Zen Garden:  The Writers Retreat Blog | Forum | Twitter | Meetup

National Novel Writing Month: NaNoWriMo | ChiWriMo | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

NGW Group:  Nice Girls Writing Naughty | NGW FB | NGW Twitter

Join me on Saturday, when we read an excerpt from on of A. Catherine Noon & Rachel Wilder’s books. ~Tina

 

Saturday Excerpt – Promising by Rebel Miller

Cover_Promising_FinalYou can read the entire first chapter from “Promising” on (Rebel Miller’s) website, but I’ve included a clip from the first scene below. Enjoy!

“Why are you blaming yourself for your aunt’s death?”

I whirled around, surprised by the question. “What?”

Tai’s shoulders lost some of their tension as he approached me, his head hanging low to meet me eye to eye. “You’ve been sitting in that chair in the sitting room looking more repentant with each passing second,” he said.

I had opened my mouth, ready to dismiss his observation, when I realized he was right.

“I just wonder if there’s something we could have done,” I said finally, wrapping my arms about my waist.

Tai frowned. “We did, Kira,” he said, searching my face. “We were monitoring her and her family, protecting them as best we could. Your aunt was killed while we were under attack on Septima. If you’re to blame, then you had better blame me as well.”

I knew that what he was saying was rational and the truth, but a sense of responsibility stubbornly gnawed at my mind.

“Why didn’t you tell me about Khelan?” he asked, running a palm up my arm. “I could have helped.”

I shook my head, considering him. “You could lose your rank and be imprisoned if your superiors found out that you were aware of a citizen helping the factions and chose not to report it,” I said.

He rested his palm just below my jaw, hesitating a fraction of a second before placing it there. “Helping you is my choice to make,” he said simply. I stared at him, indulging in the feel of his hand against my skin and wondering at the depths of his selflessness.

“Rhoan’s not leaving for now,” he said.  “Let me take you home. You can come back tomorrow.”

I sighed, fatigue setting in. Grief and worry were taking their toll, but I had committed to staying at the farewell with my family, and I wasn’t about to change my mind.

Ping.

I startled at the sound of the incoming message on my comm, and my heart skipped a beat. Grimacing an apology to Tai, I turned away to check my device.

Call me when you get home.

Gannon.

I smiled, and quickly replied.

As always.

His response was immediate:

I love you.

My smile grew, and I ran a finger over the three words as they faded to black.

Since Septima, Gannon had become increasingly verbal about his feelings for me. In addition to leaving me breathless, however, his declarations of love left me frustrated, initiating an internal battle. The truth was, when he said or wrote things like that, I felt like I ought to respond in kind but always resisted.

I turned slowly to Tai, still lost in thought. The intensity of his expression jolted me to the present, and I dropped my wrist.

“Gannon’s been worried about me,” I said, acting on an irrational urge to explain myself. “If I don’t respond, he’ll just call.”

Tai nodded, his guarded look slipping back into place, the change in his eyes revealing more than if he had explained the shift in his demeanor with words. As a protector, Tai was trained to be in control of all things — actions, emotions and thoughts. But since he had revealed his true feelings for me, and as our lives became more intertwined due to my family’s secrets, I found it much easier to see through his protective exterior.

He pivoted and headed toward the door, his gait so stiff I knew something was off.

“Tai,” I said, stopping him. He turned to me, his face perfectly blank. “What’s wrong? Why are you acting this way?”

His eyes narrowed, but the mask he had donned stayed put. “What way?”

I searched his face, trying to put into words what I had picked up in his expression. “Angry.”

“What do you expect?”

I cocked my head and gave him a questioning look.

“He doesn’t deserve you,” he said flatly.

I balked. That was why he was in a foul mood all of a sudden! “You have no right to be angry about that,” I said, disbelief nearly choking me. “You said you don’t want to be with me.”

He stepped toward me, fists clenched. “I choose not to be with you. I would never say I don’t want to be with you.”

I stood firm against the rising tide of anger that was overcoming his face. “It’s the same thing in the end,” I declared.

“Oh, there’s a difference, Kira,” he said, glowering now. “I know my limitations, while Gannon is choosing to flout his. He’s stringing you along!”

I shook my head. “He cares for me. You’ve said so yourself.”

“Yes,” he conceded, his shoulders set. “He does care for you, and more than I want to admit, so it drives me fucking insane that he’d continue with you like this. Hallowed Halls, how do you think this is going to end?”

I turned away, but he came to stand before me. I stared at the wide expanse of his chest, unwilling to look into his eyes as the walls of the room suddenly pressed in on me.

“Let’s play this out,” he said. “You and Gannon continue your affair in secrecy, managing to dodge family, friends, peers, officials and the rabid media. Then, five years from now, at the end of his father’s last term, he’s appointed high chancellor by Realm Council. Are you prepared to be his mistress? Because that’s all you’ll be.”

Every part of me begged to reject what he was saying, but my head couldn’t summon a solid argument.

“I’m not his mistress,” I whispered, studying the folds of his dark gray shirt.

“You certainly aren’t his girlfriend, and you’ll never be his partner or wife.”

I looked up at him, tears springing into my eyes, speechless at the ferocity behind his words. “I never said I wanted anything as permanent as that.” Actually, I had never allowed myself to even think so far ahead.

Tai shook his head, clearly unconvinced. “And what about when he finds out that Khelan, your father ¾ the one who’s a senator in hiding ¾ is supporting the factions?” he challenged. “What then?”

I stepped back and held a palm over my mouth, the truth of it all spreading a deep ache through my chest. I blinked back my tears, but a few still managed to fall past my lids and onto my cheeks.

“Fuck.” Tai reached for me, enfolding me in his arms. He ran a hand up my back and lowered his head so his mouth was close to my ear. “I hate that I’m hurting you, Kira, but I need to show you the truth,” he said, his lips brushing my cheek.

I didn’t want the truth, so I buried my face in his chest and inhaled the light scent of coffee and soap that lingered there. For a few moments, I let my tears flow and dampen the soft fabric of his shirt.

I had almost pulled myself together when the door slid open. I jumped and took a hasty step back, the abrupt movement causing Tai to release his hold on me. We both spun to face the door.

Ma stood, wide-eyed, at the threshold, holding a large box at her hip. “Forgive me,” she said, looking between Tai and me. “I didn’t know anyone was in here.”

After another quick glance at Tai, she entered the study and placed the box on the desk. Inside it was a collection of colorful objects. Avoiding my mother’s odd expression, I stepped closer, reached in and pulled out a small notebook that looked like a journal. It was leather-bound and had a fanciful floral pattern embroidered on the material. The box was filled with a number of other books just like it.

“They were your aunt’s,” Ma explained.

I looked up from the journal. “They’re beautiful.”

Her brown eyes, so much like my own, continued to assess me for an uncomfortable length of time. I shifted my feet and stole a quick look at Tai, who stood silent and observant just behind her.

“I’m planning to have them protected with a seal,” she said, drawing my focus. “I think Addy would like to have them one day.”

I nodded and smiled tightly as she turned to leave. Just before she did, she shot another look at Tai and disengaged the door, allowing it to slide shut behind her.

Tai sighed and came to me, running a hand over his short-cropped hair. “Kira,” he said, “please just think about everything I’ve said.”

I stiffened and glanced at him from the corner of my eye. “This is my choice, Tai,” I said, throwing his words back in his face. “You made yours. Let me make mine.”

***

Join me next Thursday when we meet M/M Romance Author and my friend A. Catherine Noon. ~Tina

 

 

 

AuThursday – Rebel Miller

Rebel MillerPlease welcome romance author, Rebel Miller.  Rebel, what inspired you to write your first book, “Awakening”?

For some, inspiration is a sudden occurrence. For me, however, inspiration for “Awakening” was a gradual thing.

I had always had the idea of writing a coming-of-age romance that pushed the boundaries in terms of identity, social class, sexuality and what it means to be in love, but it was only when I was in the middle of binge-reading contemporary New Adult romances did the idea of taking my story into a new time and place finally occur to me. I wondered then about writing a novel that was set hundreds of years in the future and against an intensely dramatic backdrop, yet would still resonate with readers of the genre – whether lovers of contemporary or futuristic settings.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for “The Realm” series?

“Awakening” is the first book in my futuristic New Adult trilogy. I knew right out the gate that I would tell Kira’s, the lead character’s, story over three books. However, only as I started developing sub-plots and building out the world in “Awakening”, did the idea of expanding into a series take shape. In this first book, I introduce a number of themes and story lines that I wanted to explore further with other characters.

Q: Who designed the covers?

I am fortunate to have an amazing graphic designer as my brother! I contracted him to design the book covers as well as the look for my website. When he and I sat down to think about what I wanted my artwork and website to look like, we considered the fact that readers should immediately grasp both the story’s futuristic setting as well as the passionate romance that it revolves around. Furthermore, we wanted to develop a style that would become easily recognizable and carry through all books in the trilogy, and the other novels in “The Realm” series.

Q: Do you have a specific writing style?

I like to say that I’m still learning what my writing style is! I think my writing is visual, straightforward and dramatic. I like building on tension by adding sub-plots, twists and maintaining a swift pace. A reader once told me that when they read my novels it’s like watching a movie. Since I LOVE movies, I take that as a high compliment!

Q: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

To be honest, finding enough time to write “Awakening” was probably the hardest part. I had lived with the story in my head for so many months that I was just really eager to get it all out. With two kids and a busy career in communications, I wrote more than half of the book in transit, on my iPad!

Q: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

Oh, I definitely do! When writer’s block happens it’s either because I’m rushing or I have a number of ideas bouncing around in my head and I’m struggling to decide which of them to choose for a scene or chapter. Fortunately, because I know the reason for my terrifying episodes of writer’s block, I can address them pretty quickly.

I focus my mind onto the objectives of the scene or chapter I’m working on by writing out a checklist or mapping out the actions in a bullet point list, then edit out the superfluous storylines. It sounds pretty tedious and humdrum, but this exercise helps me to get back to the main narrative of the story. I ask myself, “Did I accomplish what I needed to in this scene?” If so, then I move on. I may not have written the scene or chapter the way I had wanted, but I remind myself that I can revisit that section in editing.

Q: What do you do to unwind and relax?

As mentioned, I love movies! Besides reading, they’re my favorite pastime. Most evenings, after helping kids with homework and settling them into bed, I curl up in the couch with my hubby and order on demand. I’ve even been known to go to the movies more than once in one weekend!

Q:  Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

You can find me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and at  www.rebelmillerbooks.com. When all else fails, Google my name; you’re sure to find me that way too!

Please join me on Saturday when we read an excerpt from Rebel Miller’s book Promising.  ~Tina

Saturday Sexcerpt – Fireproof by Tina Holland

Fireproof300Book Blurb:  Did you know all fairies are ruled by the elements? And they answer to a group known as the Veil-sort of a fairy secret council. There are rules that must be obeyed the first being never reveal what you are.

Jamie Waters broke the rules when she retrieved an anchor off the shores of California setting a new world-record for free-diving. She flees where the Veil will not find her, the town of Innocent, Minnesota. There she meets and falls hard for a human, Beau Collins. Beau Collins isn’t like most humans, he can’t catch fire and being a fireman is the perfect job for him. When he meets Jamie Waters its instant attraction. Opposites attract but everyone knows, Fire and water don’t mix.

And now on to the Sexcerpt: 

Beau snuck quietly into the suite. Jamie still lay in the tub, unconscious. What happened to his little mermaid? Why was she so weak?

He tiptoed to the tub to see the moonlight play shadows on her skin beneath the water.

Her skin looked almost iridescent under this light. How could he keep her without hurting her with what he was? Beau might not know, but he did know how to love her.

He tentatively ran his finger over her face, cupping her chin. Her eyes remained shut. Her skin was still cold. He thought of how much he cared for her, and his hands began to glow as he sent heat to her. It was odd her presence would allow him to generate heat when she was his exact opposite.

Jamie’s eyes fluttered open, and she gazed up at him. He loved those eyes. The dark pools reminded him of the lake he never swam in, but now one day might.

“Beau.” Her voice was groggy.

“Don’t speak. You sound terrible.” He smiled.

“But–”

He pressed his fingers to her lips and shook his head. “Are you cold?” he asked.

She nodded.

He put his hand in the water, allowing the heat to warm the water.

Her firm breasts bobbed toward the surface. The nipples rose above the water like island volcanoes.

Beau was not immune, so he lowered his head, sucking a tan nipple into his mouth. He heard her sharp intake of breath. It only encouraged his assault. He moved toward the other volcano and began torturing the pert bud.

Beau needed Jamie, but she wasn’t ready for him yet. He dipped his hand below the surface and played with heat along her skin. Beau was careful not to generate much, just enough to warm her. He ran his finger over the mounds of her breasts as the mounds flushed beneath his touch. Beau traced his finger over her navel. He loved the way he slipped over her skin. He dipped his hand lower…

I hope you enjoyed this sexy teaser from Fireproof.  Join me on Thursday when we meet Sci-Fi Author, Rebel Miller. ~Tina

Happy St. Patrick’s Day and all about the Fae!

have-a-sexy-st-pattys-day-graphicNormally I would interview an author today.  In lieu of St. Paddy’s day I thought we’d talk a bit about Leprechauns and Fae in general. 

According to my Fairy Bible, Leprechauns are “…solitary male fairies, about 3 ft. (1 m) high.” and “…usually clad head to toe in green.”

I love stories about fae, and have incorporated many fae in my own paranormal stories.  

I find the magic within the stories to be natural and in my mind more believable.  

EvernightMy favorite authors writing stories that contain the fae are Kristen Callihan’s Darkest London Series, and Deborah Blake’s Baba Yaga Novels. Wickedly Dangerous

 

 

So my fellow readers, what are some of your favorite stories about the fae? 

Join me on Saturday when I’ll share a sexy teaser from my Fae story “Fireproof”. ~Tina

Saturday Sexcerpt – Blood Tide by CJ Matthew

Blood Tide_Kindle cover_2500Setup: the human hero Noah and first time Dolphin shifter Sy have enjoyed sex, but now she’s falling in love and learning to enjoy teasing and fun along with the passion.

Later that evening, Sy stood in the steaming shower in her condo and peeked at Noah through the transparent curtain. He was standing at the opposite sink, his back to her, a towel knotted around his waist. He splashed hot water on his face, squirted bubbly white foam into his hand. Next he smoothed the whiteness over the lower half of his face.

And now? He was shaving. She had the knowledge of the task in her brain, but watching a gorgeous, mostly naked man perform the ritual was mesmerizing. Every motion was smooth and efficient. To reach certain whiskers, his face made the most adorable contortions.

“Are you about done?” Noah wiped a circle on the steam-fogged mirror. “I’m starving.”

“Yes, dear.”

“Let’s go. Get a move on.”

“Yes, dear.”

He scowled. “Don’t push it. I know where to find a bin of ice cubes.”

She turned off the water, wrapped one bath towel around her torso and circled another in a turban over her hair. She stepped from the tub and watched Noah grimace as he patted aftershave on his face.

“Would you really throw a bin of ice cubes on me while I’m in the shower?”

“Probably not. But I want to leave soon and you’re not ready.”

She moved closer and peered at Noah’s cheek. “Can I feel?”

“Sure.”

She knew Noah granted her permission to touch his face with her hand. But in the dolphin gesture of affection and support, they’d rub bodies and faces. On land, the shore-shifters settled for just facial cheeks. She wanted this with Noah. Since they were both close to naked anyway, she discarded both her towels and moved to press her nude body against him. Curling her arms around his neck, she slowly pressed her cheek to his and rubbed hers up and down his smooth, fragrant one.

It was wonderful. All the more meaningful because for her, the gesture lacked any sexual intent. She sighed, stepped back, and glanced around for her towels.

Noah grabbed her arms. His face was flushed, and he stammered, “That was…hot. The hottest…what was that?” Confused, she glanced down. He was aroused, his towel sporting a tent in front.

He totally misunderstood the gesture, but how could she possibly explain? Never mind. This could be fun. Challenged to distract him from his dinner, she drawled, “Want to do it again?”

“Hell, yes.”

“It’s better if we’re both naked.” He dropped his towel, and this time when she squeezed him, he hugged her tighter and rubbed against her cheek. They held the embrace in silence for a long moment.

Noah kissed her softly on the ear and whispered, “Forget food. I’m not hungry any more. Let’s go fool around instead.”

“I’d love to.” See. It was all good.

He scooped her up in his arms and carried her into the bedroom.

AuThursday – CJ Matthew

CJ at Dell

Please welcome CJ Matthew to the Clog Blog.  CJ, we simply must know, when you are writing, who is in control? You or your characters?

My characters and I share a team effort to get their story on the page (computer). Before I began researching the Dolphin Shore Shifter series, I was “approached” by two (potential) fictional couples and multiple supporting characters. We all worked together on the initial world building, with a stronger emphasis on my input. I decided on the rules, on what physical and mental strengths they would retain after shifting from dolphin to human form. For example, choosing Santa Barbara as the home of the pod and their non-profit corporation, Save Blue Water, was only logical.

Each book in the series features its own hero and heroine. Those two characters have a much bigger influence when it comes to setting their goals, motivations, and inner conflicts. I usually meet the antagonist or villain last. He or she makes huge contributions to the external conflicts in the book.

Q: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

Not writer’s block in the traditional sense. Twice now I’ve written a book “out of order”. Once for this series and once for the Paladin Group. That mistake (on my part) makes the writing process much slower, more challenging, and frustrating for the characters and me. Not true writer’s block, but it’s a pain in the backside. Then there was the time I was requested to write a Shore Shifter novella. That took forever to write and was quickly turned into a full length novel.

Q:  How did you come up with the idea for your Shoreshifter series?CJMatthew_Postcard_Front

I love reading about shifters, and there certainly are a lot to choose from. I wanted something different, so I combined my love for dolphins with the idea of the Chumash origin legend: Mother Earth, Hutash, built a rainbow bridge to give her people more room on the main land. But when some of the Chumash people fell from the bridge, rather than let them die, she turned them into dolphins.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00006]Q: What inspired you to write your book, Deadly Reboot?

I grew up an Air Force brat and love reading about military warriors. My personal heroes are USAF Pararescuemen and F-15E Strike Eagle pilots and WSOs. I decided to create a small fictional company, The Paladin Group, owned by a rescued female AF pilot and staffed with wounded former PJs, now lawyers and investigators determined to continue their rescue work.

Think Scandal meets the A-Team-but nobody is sleeping with the President!

Q: What was the most difficult aspect of writing Deadly Reboot?

 This was my first “official” romantic suspense novel. Characters without paranormal issues. Which for me, meant I had to work hard at maintaining tension, slipping in clues, not giving too much away too soon. I bombarded my local police sources and deputy sheriffs with lots of questions about police procedure! And in the process, I learned different police departments do thing differently.

Q:  How did you come up with the title?

My hero/character Hale! My fictional former USAF Pararescueman was depressed about his leg injury, hated taking a medical discharge, and didn’t like law school. So when he was approached by Paladin at law school graduation, he looked at the opportunity as a “reboot” to his life. I thanked him for the idea and decided to use the word for all the titles in the series.

Q:  Tell us your latest news?

I’m deep in writing Lethal Tide, Dolphin Shore Shifters book 4. The story is set in one of my “home towns”- Long Beach, California. The hero, Conley is on his second three year mission with SBW and responds to danger with his gun and by the “seat-of-his-pants”. His partner, Betty believes in doing her research, thinking first before she leaps, or shoots. This book is scheduled to release the end of March.

After that I’ll go back to Peachwood, GA and next The Paladin Group story.

Q: How important is it for you to match your character’s written appearance with the models on the book cover?

Thanks for asking. I try to match but it’s an almost impossible feat. I believe that’s why you see photos of cover models with their heads cut off. I want my readers to use their imagination. I’ll give hints but they need to picture the characters in their brain. Make them a personal fantasy! I hope my readers get the “feel” of the cover, then mostly ignore the faces.

Q:  Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

My website http://www.cjmatthew.com

(There is an entire section devoted to the Shore Shifters. The Paladin Group page is coming.)

Join me on Saturday, when we read a sexy excerpt from CJ’s first book, BLOOD TIDE. ~Tina

 

Saturday Sexcerpt- Mercer by Jan Scarborough

Mercer_200-300This excerpt is from Mercer, book 5 of the Montana Rancher’s series. Mercer and Drake, the hero and professional bull rider, are together after a trail ride.

God, she was beautiful. His insides galloped like a racing thoroughbred. She was close enough he could kiss her.

Drake reached up and removed her cowboy hat, then pushed back a strand of her blond hair from her eyes. She pulled his hat off, tossing it into the bed of pine straw, and inched nearer.

“You have a scar near your eye,” she said, touching his temple with feather like fingers.

“Battle scar.” He inhaled deeply. She took his breath away. “Just another day at the office.”

Cocking her head, Mercer shook it. “It’s a wonder you and Brody have never been killed.”

“It’s the chance we take.”

“I don’t care for the odds.” There was anger in her eyes. And something more. Something deeper, provoking, and filled with longing.

He offered a bemused smile and lay back on the blanket. “What are the odds you’re going to kiss me right now?”

Mercer wet her lips and gazed down at him for a heartbeat. Then she leaned over him. “Pretty high,” she said softly.

Their mouths touched briefly, powerfully, stripping more breath from his lungs. Mercer broke off suddenly and kissed his beard-rough cheeks. His chin. The lobes of his ears. He let her lead, explore, discover, all the while longing to do the same to her. Drake lifted his hand and entangled it in her hair at the nape of her neck. She smelled like sunshine and fresh air. Of the foothills and autumn in the mountains. He was lost, and he knew it.

“Make love to me, Drake. Please,” she whispered, her mouth near his ear.

“What?” He’d never expected that invitation.

“You heard me. I want us to make love.”

Grasping at a straw of sanity, Drake opened his eyes. Her face was inches away from his. Her long, blond hair tickled his cheek. “I can’t, Mercer. I don’t have any protection. It’s not as if I go trail riding with a pack of condoms in my pocket.”

Her gaze strongly connected with his, and her eyebrows furrowed. There was determination in the way she set her jaw. “You don’t need to worry,” she told him. “I’m on the pill. Liz didn’t want me coming home with any secret babies.” She licked her lips in the age-old, come-on way. Drake couldn’t take his eyes off her tongue. “You don’t have any secret babies, do you? Not like Brody?”

Her bluntness startled Drake, but then again, Mercer always had a way of speaking what was on her mind. “No, I don’t have any babies like Brody, secret or otherwise.” Technically, he’d told her the truth.

He didn’t want to do any more talking. Instead, he curled his fingers in her hair and urged her head down so that their mouths touched. This time she demanded more of him. Her kiss grew in passion and intensity until a groan escaped between his lips.

“Oh, God, Mercer,” he moaned. “Are you sure about this?”

“Very sure. I asked you, remember?”

AuThursday – Jan Scarborough

JanHorsePlease welcome my fellow Resplendence author Jan Scarborough.  Jan with so many books published, How do you make time to write?

It’s hard. I have a day job, so finding time to write is not easy. My New Year’s Resolution is to do a better job in 2016 in carving out that time.

Q: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

My biggest problem is coming up with “things” to happen to my characters. Sometimes I get ideas from things that happen to me. Other times, I just make them up. The point is to make the hero and heroine suffer. I don’t feel as if I’m ruthless enough.

Q: How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?

Writing romance, I know I will have a happily-ever-after ending. Getting there is fun. Over the years, I have taken classes or attended presentations, and I’ve pulled together ideas from many other authors. I have created a form that I fill out with important things about the hero and heroine like goal, motivation, and conflict. I come up with a back story for both. Once that happens, you put the characters on stage and find out what happens to them.

Q: Why did you decide to write western romance?

My first contemporary Western was Kentucky Cowboy. I write about Kentucky, but I also wanted to use a cowboy character. That’s when I discovered the Professional Bull Riders. I’ve attended PBR events, watched specials on television, and read books about PBR stars. It’s not out of the question for a bull rider to come from the South. They all don’t come from the West. In fact, many famous riders come from Brazil or Australia. Well, once I’d come up with my cowboy, it was easy to create a story about his return to Kentucky so that it fit into my Bluegrass Reunion series.

I also have a Montana Ranchers series that I wrote with author Maddie James. It was her idea, and I’m flattered she asked me to join in. We both wrote the free Montana McKenna’s Prequel. Then I wrote two books: Brody and Mercer. Maddie wrote Callie and Parker. These are the children of James McKenna. Currently, I’m writing the story of James’ widow Liz.

And what fun! This summer my husband and I are vacationing in Montana at a dude ranch. I’m sure I’ll get more story ideas!

Q:  It looks like you’ve dipped your toe into the self-publishing waters. What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

When you self-publish a book, you’re your own boss. You are responsible for doing everything to get that book in front of the public. You don’t just write. You must pay for editing and copyediting. You must pay for a professional-looking cover. If you can’t do it yourself, you must hire someone to format your book. All authors must market their books. It doesn’t matter if you are traditionally published or self-published.

Q: Why did you choose this route?

Frankly, I was tired of rejection letters. I spent many years chasing the dream of getting “the call” from a traditional publisher. Then Resplendence came along and thankfully published my books. Another small press also published my books, but it went out of business in October. I received the rights back for several novels. I am lucky my husband knows computers and is willing to format my books for me.

Q:  If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?

You mean, besides the day job? LOL! I’d be taking horseback riding lessons. Every week I take a lesson on an American Saddlebred horse. It’s my way of getting a “horse fix” without owning one. Or I might be taking a Zumba class.

Q:  Can we get an idea of what you’ve got coming up for readers?

I’m writing Liz, book six of the Montana Ranchers series. After that, I’ll be working on a small contemporary series set in the Kentucky Bluegrass. Then I’ll plunge into the revision of my medieval romance My Lord Raven.

Q: Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Website: http://www.janscarbrough.com/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/janscarbrough

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/Jan_Scarbrough

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jan-Scarbrough-Reader-Page/204815941631

Follow me on Twitter @romancerider

 

Join me on Saturday to read a sexy excerpt from Jan’s latest book Mercer. ~Tina