Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine Blog Fest: Best First Love of 2011

Best First Love of 2011. That is a big one. It could be anything. A book read, a movie watched. There are so many "firsts" that happen throughout the year, how can I narrow it down to just one? Okay, I will try.

Besides being a writer, I am an avid reader. I read A LOT of books over the year, so to pick one out of them to be the best of 2011 would be almost impossible. I can tell you that I enjoyed the Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins, Hourglass by Myra McIntire, and a Summer in Europe by Marilyn Brant, just to name a few. If I tried to name them all, this would be a very long post.

Movies. Hhmmm....well, I don't get out much these days to get to the theater, so by the time I see the movies, they're not exactly new. But there are several that I want to see, like Jane Eyre and the new Sherlock Holmes movie.

One thing I do see a lot of, however, is television, so perhaps that is the best thing for me to choose from. So here I present to you what I consider to be the "Best First" of 2011 - the best first year of an amazing new show, Once Upon a Time, which I think is rather appropriate considering the basis for most fairy tales is love. For anyone who doesn't know about it, the short of it is this: a bunch of fairy tale characters, cursed by the Wicked Stepmother, end up in modern day Maine - with no memory of their fairy tale alter egos. Only a young boy named Henry knows the truth and so he enlists the aid of an outsider named Emma, who just so happens to be the daughter of Snow White and the Prince.

Take a look at the trailer to get a taste of what I mean:

But believe me when I say that the trailer doesn't even begin to do justice to the fabulousness that is Once Upon a Time.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine Blog Fest: First Breakup or Makeup

In fiction as in life, breakups are inevitable. Unfortunately, it is a rare thing for loves to last a lifetime, so many of us suffer through a number of breakups over our lifetimes. On the flip side, we also experience a variety of makeups. And since I am an incurable romantic, I would rather focus on the makeups rather than the breakups. Besides, it's nearly Valentine's Day, so who wants to read about breakups now?

Here is how the characters in my WIP If You Can See Me handled their makeup:

What was he doing? The question ricocheted through Phaedra’s mind as she found herself laid out on the old bed, a suddenly very amorous Nate on top of her. He wasn’t going to – oh, God! She had to stop him. They couldn’t – not if he didn’t use protection, and he showed no signs of producing it. Desperately, she wriggled her hands between them and pushed, but her efforts to dislodge him were fruitless. It was like trying to move a felled oak tree with her bare hands.

“No!” she whispered, frantic. She turned her head away and his lips found the vulnerable spot behind her ear – which was not her intent. “We can’t.”

“Come on,” he coaxed in her ear, allowing his head to rest on the pillow next to hers. “It’s what you want. Admit it.”

Phaedra stroked his firm jaw with the tips of her fingers, her lips curved in a wistful smile. “Not like this,” she said.

“Then how do you want it?”

Was he deliberately toying with her?

“A way you can never give me,” she answered in a sad tone. She continued to caress his face as he closed the space between them to give her a lingering kiss. Oh, God, I could do this for the rest of my life.

“Mm, I don’t know about that,” Nate said after a few moments. “I’m pretty well-versed in this.” He was teasing her! “I might surprise you.”

“That’s not what I mean, Nate.” She pressed a hand to his chest in an attempt to keep him at bay. “I want forever.”

“This is forever.”

A tear dropped from her eye and slid over her nose at Nate’s reference to his purported fate. “My forever includes children –” she choked on the last word as more tears began to fall, swallowed her emotion, and pressed on “ – and gray hair and a lifetime of memories…and you can’t give me that.”

“I can give you now,” Nate said, gently brushing away her tears with the edge of a thumb. “Isn’t that enough?”

“No, it’s not enough!” she cried, allowing her passion free reign for once. “I want more. I don’t just want ‘now’ knowing there’s no ‘later.’”

He responded to her tirade with a tender kiss. “Please take the ‘now,’” he whispered urgently. “It’s all I have to give and I want it to be yours. There’s no one else I want to spend ‘now’ with.”

“No one?” she challenged, defiant, as a vision of the gorgeous blonde from lunch flashed through her mind.

“No one,” he assured her as he continued to make love to her lips. “And before you worry unnecessarily and draw conclusions that are undoubtedly wrong –” he pressed a finger to her lips to block the protest that leapt to them “ – the other woman is just my realtor. I was trying to convince her to come back to the place when you saw us.”

She narrowed her gaze at him, suspicious. On the one hand, it sounded plausible, but on the other – jealousy made it hard to accept. “You expect me to believe that?”

“I do,” he said without hesitation. “Because it’s true.” She must have still looked unconvinced, Phaedra surmised, because he added, “I can give you her card, if you want to check her out.”

Phaedra thought about it for several moments before she finally said, “Good – because I never want to be the other woman.”

Nate gently cupped her face, tilted it an angle that made it impossible for her to escape his sincere gaze. “Phaedra, you’re the only woman and I’m going to explode if I don’t have you – right now.”

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentine Blog Fest: First Kiss

The first kiss is one of the most amazing aspects of any relationship, whether fictional or real. We anticipate it from the first moment we meet our potential partner. And we wonder. Is it going to be mind-blowing - or mind-numbing? Are we going to be turned on - or turned off? Will it be a little peck - or a knee-weakening, lingering, open-mouthed kiss?

There are so many variations on theme, but here is how it went for the hero and heroine of my current release, Sloane Wolf:

Shiloh nearly leapt off the sill as his hand touched her knee. It took every ounce of willpower she possessed to remain seated and appear undaunted by the gesture. “I am…much better now…thank you,” she said, becoming more unnerved by the presence of his hand by the minute. Oh, this was not good, not good at all. The longer it remained there, the stronger her impulse to bolt became. Oh, no…

What was it about this man that rattled her so and with so little effort on his part? Sharing the same air with him was enough to send her pulses to the moon—and her mind somewhere else, something new for her. Being this attracted to a man was beyond her realm of experience. She didn’t know what to do with it—or about it. Should she do anything? Should she pretend indifference? And why wasn’t he so deeply affected? It wasn’t fair.

Still confused, she gave him a weak smile, intent on backing up her previous claim with the gesture. She feared it failed miserably. When Micah returned her smile and lifted his hand from her knee, she felt precisely one second of relief before he shook her world again by caressing her face in parting. She stumbled back against the frame of the window, her lips parting on a startled breath as a lightning bolt shot through her at his touch. Something flickered in his eyes at her reaction—pain, perhaps—and he retracted his hand, balling it into a fist as he turned away from her, preparing to depart.

In an instant, she realized her mistake. Along with it came the knowledge she couldn’t let him go away angry or upset. After everything he and his family had done for her, she owed him that much. She grabbed him by the shirtfront to stop him, and a shock of awareness shot from her hand directly into his heart, just beneath it. She could see it in the gaze he leveled on her then, could hear it in his breath trapped within his lungs, feel it in the missed beat of his heart. But then, all sense abandoned her, and her heart skipped a beat as he held her hand firmly to his chest with one of his own and lifted the other to her head, anchoring it against the window frame. Slowly, his eyes never straying from hers, he leaned across the space separating them. His lips brushed hers, like a whisper, before he withdrew, tilted his head to the side, and advanced again. This time the kiss was fuller, penetrating her every defense, both physical and emotional, but still not long enough for her. He retreated once again after a fraction of time and hovered before her, scarcely an inch away. Watching her. Waiting.

Her heart beating a frantic tempo now, Shiloh abandoned all of her reservations and her good sense to swoop in for a more vigorous kiss. So vigorous, in fact, she knocked him off his perch through the open window. Only quick reflexes honed to perfection at the Institute prevented her from tumbling after him.
Bracing herself against the sill, she leaned out the window as far as she was able and watched his descent from the slanted roof to the ground below. She lost sight of him the moment he slid beyond the reach of the light from her window. But then she heard him land with a thud —and a howl—on the ground in front of the back porch when he failed to catch himself on the roof edge. She clasped a hand over her mouth to silence her reaction and waited. When he didn’t rouse right away, panic shot through her and she leaned out another few inches. 

“Micah? Are you okay?”

“Fine,” he answered after a few moments, appearing beyond the overhang of the roof as if to prove it to her. “Nothing hurt but what’s left of my pride.”

Relief coursed through her at his statement, and she allowed herself the laugh she’d literally held back before. Her mirth was cut short, however, by his next words.

“Hey, Shiloh! We’ve got to stop falling for each other like this.”

His laughter followed her as she ducked back into the room. She could still hear it even after she closed the window, though not as well. Oh, Lord. She rested against the cool pane of glass and touched her still-tingling lips with shaky fingers. Was she? Falling for him? Was that what this crazy-mad feeling inside of her was?

The question plagued her long into the night.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Valentine Blog Fest: First Dance

For most couples, the first dance comes in one of two scenarios: either in a dance club the night they first meet, or at the reception of their wedding. Somehow, I suspect that it's more the latter than the former. For some reason, in my experience, guys just don't like to dance as much as women do. And then there are those who just shouldn't dance - but that's another story!

Ironically, for me, the first dance that is most memorable to me is the first one I did on pointe shoes when I danced as a girl. If you know anything about dancing, then you will understand how significant a thing it is for a girl to graduate from ballet slippers to pointe shoes. It is a rite of passage for a young dancer, kind of like puberty is to the adolescent. It is when the young dancer knows that she has finally "made it." And then there is the significance of doing one's first pointe solo - the same year she graduated from ballet slippers to pointe shoes. That is how it was for me.

I had always performed ballet solos before that, on slippers, of course, so I was no stranger to the medium. Still, it was pretty significant that I was allowed to do a pointe solo so soon after learning how to dance on pointe. To say I was thrilled is an understatement. I worked hard on that dance, practicing it whenever I had the chance, to the extent that I probably could have done it in my sleep - and probably did! I knew that dance backward and forward. Which was probably why I didn't skip a beat when disaster struck.

I wasn't that far into the dance when I heard a loud crack and felt a pop against my foot. I didn't know at the time what had happened. All I did know was that I had worked too hard on that dance to allow it to make me falter and so I continued to dance. But instead of on pointe, I danced as if in ballet slippers, without missing a beat. I would realize later, after removing my shoes, that the wooden shank had somehow snapped in two on my right shoe, thereby rendering it incapable of supporting me. That was the loud noise I'd heard, the pop I'd felt against my foot.

But do you know what? No one noticed - except my mother. She knew something was wrong, probably because she was there for so much of the rehearsing that I did and knew just how the dance was supposed to look. I remember her telling me later - probably in an attempt to calm me because I was devastated - that no one noticed. In fact, when she told my uncle what happened, he couldn't believe it because I kept right on going, He actually said you couldn't tell that anything was wrong because I didn't let it stop me. So there, in that one moment when I was completely devastated about my solo being "ruined," my mother turned the significance of the incident around by impressing upon me the positive aspects of it - that I didn't stop, that I didn't rush off-stage in tears, that I kept on going, and that I looked beautiful doing it. That, folks, is true love.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Valentine Blog Fest: First Date

Ahh, the first date - the meet and greet of the relationship, so to speak. There are so many ways this can go, as many as there are people. Here's how it went for the characters in another of my WIPs, Pieces of Mind:

(Note: Presley hates blind dates, but her recently married friend Lori is very persistent in her attempts to get Presley happily paired off. To humor her friend, Presley finally caves in, but with a caveat: if the date goes bad and/or she doesn't enjoy herself, Lori will never try to set her up on a blind date again. To make sure this happens, Presley dresses in a suggestive micro mini dress with the full intention of turning her date off - anyway she can.)

“You must be Presley,” he said, extending a hand toward her.

“You must be Caleb.”

“Only my mother calls me Caleb,” he confided, giving her hand a little squeeze before he released it. “When she wants to be stern with me.” He favored her with a crooked smile as they settled down at the table. “You can call me Cal.”

“Oh, I think I’d rather call you Caleb,” she decided as she draped her bag and sweater across the back of her curved chair.

“Are we really going to be this formal? With a dress like that, you passed formal a long time ago.”

Presley smiled despite herself. The man had charm; she had to give him that. But it didn’t dissuade her from her purpose. Schooling her features to reflect her serious tone, she said, “Let’s get this straight right now so there are no misconceptions later.” She leaned forward over the table. “I hate blind dates. The only reason I’m here now is out of respect for my friend who desperately wants to match me up because she’s so happy.”


“Okay. Good.” She sat back against her chair with an inelegant slouch. “I’m a this-close-to-thirty –” she pinched her fingers together in emphasis “ – slightly well-adjusted single woman. The only thing that keeps me from being fully well-adjusted is my somewhat neurotic family.”

Caleb regarded her with a bland expression as he allowed her free rein to rant.

“My parents came together in true romantic fashion. She got knocked up, they got married. They had my brother Sam. He’s the only one in the family with the good sense to stay away from the rest of us. He lives in Seattle.

“The marriage wasn’t working so my mother tried to patch it up – twice - with more babies. That would be me and my sister Lynn, who likes to mess with the happiness of everyone around her. When that didn’t work, my parents decided to ‘take a break’ for awhile. They got along better then than they ever had, so they decided to get back together. To celebrate, they had my sister Merry, who’s the only one of us that they had for all of the right reasons. So they fawned all over her, which sent Lynn over the edge. She’s been making Merry – and everyone else, for that matter – suffer for it ever since.

“And there I am, stuck in the middle of all that craziness, trying to smooth everything out so everyone will love me and we’ll all just get along.” She paused to take a sip of water from the glass set before her, then added, as if it had just come to her, “Oh! And did I mention that my father is prone to psychotic breaks that constantly land him in the hospital? Not the sort of thing you want to bring a new guy home to.”

“Okay.” Caleb leaned forward over the table with a slight twist to his lips. “My turn.”

With a nod, Presley waved a hand in his direction, as if to present him with the soapbox on which to give his speech.

Caleb returned the nod with one of acknowledgement.

“In case Lori failed to mention it to you, I’m a psychologist,” he admitted. “A prospect which usually sends all of my dates running to the hills, fearful that I’m going to analyze everything they say, every gesture they make, and declare them certifiable or something.

“I usually don’t tell them what I do until the second date so I can get to know them before I drive them into the hills when I question why they made that particular comment about their mother.” His smile, and his tone, was self-deprecating. “Even my closest friends sometimes wonder if I’m secretly analyzing things they tell me in confidence. How do I know this? Because they ask me. A lot. Which is probably why Lori set me up with you.”

Something in the way he delivered that last statement pricked a nerve just under Presley’s skin. “Why did you say it like that?” she demanded. “What’d you mean by that?”

“You see?” he said, self-satisfied, as he relaxed back against his seat. “You’ve just proven my point.”

“What point?”

“My chosen profession tends to put a damper on my prospects,” he stated. “Even with someone like you.”

“Someone like me?” she repeated, dumbfounded. For all of a second before the truth of it materialized in her mind. “I don’t believe it! You think I’m a hooker?”

“There’s a lot of skin showing between your heels and your hemline. What am I supposed to think?”

“Not that I’m a hooker!”

“Would you please stop saying it that loud?” he asked. “You’re drawing attention from the others.”

“Oh, are you sure it’s my tone? Maybe it’s my hooker dress.” She deliberately said the offensive word louder than the rest.

“Tell me,” he encouraged, maintaining a calm air as he glanced over the menu before him. “What impression did you intend to make with that dress?”

“Certainly not that I was for hire.”

“That didn’t really answer my question.”

“Well, that’s all you’re going to get.”

Caleb didn’t respond directly. He just toyed with his menu, drawing a fingertip over its laminated surface in an aimless pattern that was slightly erotic, and let the seconds pile up into a minute. Then another. Finally, he said, “Look, I think we both know that you really don’t want to be here. Lori warned me that you might do something – outrageous – to put me off. But when I saw that dress, I have to admit that I thought she said that just so she could put me off.” He glanced up at her then, his tone reflecting genuine sincerity. “I’m sorry that I thought you were a hooker – but you might want to think better of it the next time you decide to pair up that dress with those shoes.”

“Okay! So I dressed like this to put you off, I admit it. But if you knew why, you’d understand.”

“I’m a good listener,” he stated with a crooked smile.

Presley chuckled at that despite herself, and tried not to melt under the sensual glow of his smile. She almost succeeded. “Yeah,” she allowed in a deprecating manner. “I don’t think so.”

“Why not? There seems to be a lot going on under there.” He waved a hand vertically to indicate her general person.

“You never mind what’s going on – under here.”

“Oh, come on. Wouldn’t you rather turn this date into a therapy session?” he coaxed. “I could use the money fro a down-payment on my next car.”

“Don’t sell yourself short. With my family, you could put a down-payment on your new house!”

They enjoyed a good laugh before Caleb turned serious once again. “So, what’s it to be?” he asked at length. “Therapy session – or date?”

“Well, I’m hungry. So, unless you provide a salad bar with your sessions, this is a date.”

A smile lengthened Caleb’s lips as he opened his menu. “Good.”

“Who knows?” she pondered, also opening her menu. “By the end of this date, you might decide I need therapy.” She glanced up at Caleb to gauge his reaction to her words. “Lots of therapy.”

Caleb didn’t look up from his menu as he responded. “And by the end of this date, I might decide that you need more dates. Lots more dates.”

“Why, Dr. Dean. Are you flirting with me?”

Placing his menu back on the table with careful, deliberate motions, Caleb impaled her with a glance. “Oh, Miss Gordon, when I flirt with you,” he began without a trace of mockery or humor in his voice, “there’ll be no need to ask that question.”

A lightning bolt of raw, sensual awareness sizzled down her spine, firing up all of her senses, in response to his statement. Not just to the words themselves, but to the promise in them, the confidence in his abilities, delivered without a hint of arrogance. Oh, no, Caleb Dean was no braggart, she decided; he was just a man who knew what he was capable of achieving. Oh, man, she thought then as she dipped her head toward her menu to hide her smile, I’m in trouble.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Valentine Blog Fest: First Touch

What can I say about First Touch? It is amazing in every sense as it sets the tone for the rest of the encounter and, perhaps, the relationship. If you're not turned on by touch, after all, why would you stay with the person? Touch is important, almost as important as sight.

Although we are very visual beings and our interests are more often than not engaged by what we see, that's only one part of us. We only see with our eyes, but we feel with every inch of our bodies. The gentle caress of a cheek, the stroke of a neck, the massage of a back. When a lover performs these acts on us, we feel it with the skin of our cheeks, along the curves of our necks, throughout various parts of our bodies. Touch is not relegated to one part of our bodies. It may start in one, but it fans out to cover every inch of us.

That is why it's so important for our partners to have the perfect touch. There's nothing worse than a partner who is rough or acts like he's handling a football and not a lover. It doesn't matter how cute he is, rough handling during a sensual encounter is a definite turn off. They must always be gentle and loving, like they are handling a precious jewel because, really, aren't they?

Do you have any stories about how the first touch of a lover affected you?

Valentine Blog Fest: First Sight

First, let me apologize for being late to the party. What can I say? Life and writing got in the way! But, I am going to make up for it, I promise.

For many people, their first contact with a potential partner/lover is by sight. That glimpse across the room, at a photo, etc., can be a powerful thing. It can be what drives us forward to talk to that person in the bar, at the party, from work. Here is an example of First Sight from one of my WIPs entitled If You Can See Me:

She was sitting hunched over the oval table – with her back to the door. But she looked so vulnerable with her deep red hair (not strawberry blonde, like her sister’s) piled high on her head, exposing the fragile column of her neck to view, he almost faltered in his purpose. No – no. He couldn’t let his thing for the shapely lines of a woman’s neck deter him from his purpose. Not now, when he was this close. He wouldn’t. So he moved forward, on quiet feet, careful not to let her know of his presence until he was ready.

Not that it mattered. She was too intent on her work to acknowledge his presence – which, under different circumstances, would’ve pricked his male pride and made him try harder to secure her notice. But these weren’t different circumstances and he liked that he had the advantage over her. It made it so much easier for him to slip up behind her and place his hands on the table on either side of her, effectively boxing her in. Too bad he was nearly undone by the way the little curls at her neck danced with the breath he fanned over it and by the scent of honey and vanilla that wafted up from her hair and skin. Did she have to smell like something you could eat?

Her only response to his action was a sharp inhalation of breath. She didn’t even change her position over the table. She just sat there, frozen. Like a rabbit caught in a trap. Waiting. Breath held. Body tensed with anticipation.

Dammit, did he have to keep thinking of her body and what it smelled like? What it felt like, gently pressed against his? He was losing it. Better to get this done and get the hell out of there before he made a complete fool of himself. Over a woman whose face he hadn’t even seen yet! Although, judging by the attractive face of her sister – what he could remember of it with its sparkling blue eyes, pouty lips, and pert nose – it was a safe bet this Delaney would be as stunning from the front as she was from the back. Oh, man, he had to stop this nonsense before he embarrassed himself and lost his edge.

“You know,” she said in a somewhat smokey voice, barely above a whisper, “for someone who went to all this trouble to sneak up on me, you’re taking kind of a long time to press your advantage.”

Nate smiled despite the seriousness of the situation. She was spunky, he had to give her that. Let’s see how far her spunk can take her. “You know,” he mimicked her, “for someone who just committed a fraud, you’re remarkably calm and unrepentant.”

She did move then, ever so slightly. Just her head, in fact, so she could gaze up at him over a shoulder. Her eyes were brown. Oh, dear Lord, a redhead with eyes of brown.  Did someone up there have a blueprint for his ideal woman? Of course they did. But why here, why now? The timing couldn’t be worse.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

How I Plan to Celebrate the Super Bowl

Patriots hat pattern logo chart

I'm going to knit this logo into...something. Stay tuned!

(Logo courtesy of Knitnscribble)

Megan Johns Invites: A Warm Welcome to Margay Leah JusticeDescended fr...

Megan Johns Invites: A Warm Welcome to Margay Leah Justice
Descended fr...
: A Warm Welcome to Margay Leah Justice Descended from the same bloodline that spawned the likes of James Russell, Amy and Robert Lowell, Mar...