This week is already shaping up to be a great one! I'm so close to typing THE END on my WIP that I'm just giddy with excitement. I would have been done already, but last week I noticed that the end seemed a little rushed so I buckled down and fleshed out the problems.

Once I'm through, I'll put it to the side for a couple weeks and start work on a whole new project. Then I'll pick it up again and with fresh eyes, start my edits. I'm actually looking forward to the editing because I've decided that I'm going to put the techniques I learned in Margie Lawson's DEEP EDITS workshop to good use. I can't wait to send it to my agent. I've got a good feeling about this one and I hope she agrees :)

Stop by and visit us tomorrow when I'll be interviewing the amazing Kate Douglas. She's got a lot of good information to share and if you comment you could win one of three books!

See you tomorrow!

I just returned from Lora Leigh's Readers Appreciation Weekend and it was a blast. We laughed until we cried, we danced until we couldn't walk, and then we did it all some more. My favorite part of this weekend every year is hanging out with some awesome women who are also great friends. One memory that stands out for me this year is when the DJ started playing this one song. None of us knew it, and it made me think of Jax's Mr. Right when I heard the lyrics. Jax, if he needs a laugh make sure he watches this video. It's a catchy tune that I actually think I like. LOL

Hello, Hooked on Romance readers!

I’m “Lunatic” Lucy Woodhull and am trĂ©s honored to be guest blogging for Jenius Jax this fine Monday. Please keep reading - I’m bribing you with a contest and everything!

If you’re anything like me on Mondays, you’re lucky to make it out of the house with your underpants on the inside of your clothes. So I thought I’d initiate the world’s easiest writing exercise - Romance Mad Libs! Yes, you, too can write a “quality” romance novel, using the handy-dandy form I’ve given below.

Meet Lady Chastity Quiverlips and the wicked man who wishes to capture her lush, throbbing… er… heart.

Give us your best mad lib in the comments! Special points for use of the word “mantitty” (with all honorifics to the Smart Bitches). I will be choosing the best terrible mad lib and offering a copy of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES to the winner! Huzzah!


Lady Chastity Quiverlips gasped at the sound of a _________ behind her. "By the _________s!" she exclaimed _________ly.

"All alone in the _________, eh Lady Quiverlips?" a familiar voice purred. Oh, no! That voice belonged to none other than Lord Guy Princely, the _________ Earl of _________. Heavens to Betsy, if she were caught _________ with him all alone in the _________ her reputation would be _________! Everyone knew of his _________ penchant for _________ing young, _________ maidens, and, also, of his love of _________ _________ _________ing them!

"N-no!" Chastity turned and gasped. As usual, the vision of his _________ _________ unnerved her. And something else as well... a _________ feeling of _________ pulsated through her _________s at the very sight of his well-muscled _________. "I am expecting my _________ to join me at any moment," she _________ed.

"Nonsense!" said Lord Princely, _________ly. With nary a by-your-leave, he pulled Chastity into his manly _________. "Finally, I have you _________ _________! Now, Chastity, I shall _________ _________ you as I have always dreamed of! And, also, I shall _________ you for good measure. You look like you could use a good _________ing."

Her head spun _________ly in three wild directions at once. It was true - she could use a good _________ing. But how did he know? The feel of his _________ on her _________ caused her _________ _________ to spasm _________ly. Never had her _________ spasmed so! Not even that one time, when a _________ had _________d her _________, last March.

"Lord Princely! You must stop this _________ing at once!" She pushed against his _________ frame to no avail. He was stronger than a _________ wrassling a _________ _________ and beefcakier than a _________ _________. "I shall never be your _________!"

He laughed, the dark _________ sound sending _________ down her _________. "It is pointless to _________, luscious Chastity. Never forget, I know all about the _________ you once _________ _________! I shall tell everyone your secret unless you let me _________ _________ your creamy _________. Haha! When I’m through _________ing you, you shan’t be called Chastity anymore, but will have to answer to the name of _________!”

Shucks and drat! How did he know her secret? Chastity _________d. Her poor, virginal _________ might never recover from the sexy onslaught of Lord Princely’s _________ _________.


Lucy Woodhull has a background as an actress and producer, as well as writer. She loves to laugh and to make others laugh. Red lipstick and vintage clothing are amongst her favorite things, as well as a shameful enjoyment of the teenage angst show Gossip Girl. Her favorite non-shameful authors include Elizabeth Peters, Anne Perry and Alexander McCall Smith. In her spare time Lucy enjoys out-punning her friends and inspiring her wonderful husband to call her “weird”. She owns a cat. A very fat, rather bitchy, cat.

She is finishing edits, together with her writing partner Fellatia Langley, on her first complete novel, a romance parody called Love’s Bountiful Bulge. Recently she completed a sci-fi rom com novella, Ragnar and Juliet, which she would love to sell you. Learn more at or her blog,
We're proud to welcome Literary Agent Laura Bradford with Bradford Literary Agency to Hooked on Romance today.

Laura Bradford has fifteen years of professional experience as a literary agent, editor, writer and bookseller. Laura began her career as a literary agent at Manus and Associates Literary Agency and formed Bradford Literary Agency in 2001. She considers herself an editorial-focused agent and takes a hands-on approach to developing proposals and manuscripts with her authors for the most appropriate markets. During her own misadventures as a writer, Laura came to understand the importance of having a friendly but critical eye on your side, a career strategist in your corner and a guide who can lead you through the travails of publication.

Her recent sales include books placed with Berkley, Grand Central, Harlequin/Silhouette, Kensington, Spice Books, Pocket, Virgin Books, Avon, Dorchester, Hyperion, NAL, Eos, and Mira Books. She continues to actively build her client list and is currently seeking work in the following genres: Romance (historical, romantic suspense, paranormal, category, contemporary, erotic), urban fantasy, women’s fiction, mystery, thrillers and young adult as well as some select non-fiction.

She is a member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR) and Romance Writers of America and she is an RWA-recognized agent.

Laura is with us today to answer any questions you may have about publishing, agents, submissions, etc. If you would like to get some feedback on a query/pitch, you can post that here (limiting it to 3 or 4 lines) and Laura will try to help you out to see where you might be able to improve it. Or you can ask her any other questions that pop into your head.

This is one of those chances that we don't get all the time, so I hope you'll take advantage of it.

These days, as I near the end of my WIP, you can find me in my home office listening to tunes as I write. I'm one of those quirky writers....I make a play list at the beginning of each new project, but I can only bring myself to use it as I near the end of the book.

Today I thought I'd share some of what's been inspiring me these days.

The Slumdog Millionaire Soundtrack is awesome! Every beat of every song on this CD captures the energy of daily Indian city life. As I listen to it I'm whisked away to an exotic world where my heroine reigns supreme

Air Supply is a constant on every play list I create. I'm a huge soft rock fan and when I listen to them I'm happy. As I write this, Even The Nights Are Better is floating though my house and bouncing of my walls.

I also love 80's and 90's R&B. My iPod is full of artists like Debarge, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, Teena Marie, New Edition and of course Prince. Do you remember the first time you heard Purple Rain?

My eleven year old loves the fact that I like some of what he does. Linkin Park is one of his favorites and they happen to be one of mine too. We were giving each other high-fives in the theatre when we heard New Divide during Transformers.

That's just some of what I'm rocking out to these days. There is sooooo much more. This play list alone has over 300 songs and DH made them even easier to enjoy when he bought me an iPod stereo as a surprise a few months ago.

What do you listen to when you write?

Enjoy the rest of your week everyone!

First off, if you haven't checked out Jax's personal blog you should. She came home to an awesome surprise from her man.

Jax's blog reminded me of something I was thinking about the other day--how different men and women are but how alike we are, too. Our differences are vast. While there are men like Jax's Mr. Right who have a large creative streak in them, men tend to be more logical and streamlined in their thinking while women are more inclined to take the emotional approach to things. CIS, my husband, and I are the same way. He worries about the little things right now and I look farther out and what can be accomplished if we get creative with the little things now. I guess that's a sign that I'm the creative and emotional one in our relationship. :)

For example, I know that CIS understands what it's like to be creative. He plays the saxophone and used to do photography (and was really good). He listens to me babble about writing and plotting and characters enough that he has a good idea what I go through on a story, though he still thinks it's easy to bust out 20+ pages in one day. Doable, yes. Easy, not always.

Anyway, our oldest kiddo, Chaos has started playing the flute. Pain and agony from listening to the beginning practices has ensued. CIS and I had a debate over whether or not to get private lessons for Chaos. He wanted to get the lessons because he could have been a better sax player if his parents had been able to give him that edge, but they're not cheap and money is one of those little things CIS stresses about. (And yes, I do know that money is not a little thing.) He was so worried in fact that he decided against private lessons. I however disagreed and put our name on the sign up sheet so I could get more information. (Insert normal married couple argument here over who is right. I sort of won the first round by calmly pointing out that we don't know how much the lessons would be without getting more information to make a more informed decision. Yes, I've learned the key buzz words to use on CIS.)

So, the call comes about the lessons. They aren't cheap, but neither are they as expensive as we expected them to be and they won't be as often as we'd anticipated which helps the cost. Now, I was mostly raised by a single mother but was still afforded the opportunity to compete Arabian horses through high school. I know what she went through to make that work for me. As a writer fighting to achieve my goals, just as I did when I was a kid riding, I couldn't sit back and not give my kid the advantages that could make the difference between mediocrity and greatness if I could od it and still have food on the table and a roof over our heads. If Chaos' dream is to play the flute, and who knows where that could lead, it's our job to make it work. Right?

There was a lot of passionate emotion in my "pro lessons" argument. So much so that I almost forgot to sprinkle in the logic that hubby needed to hear. It amazed me when we finally decided to go ahead with the lessons that I was reminded so starkly of how different CIS and I are. We get so wrapped up in the day to day of being parents and the pettiness of small arguments that we sometimes lose sight of why we fell in love with a person. CIS is willing to go to bat for me or the kids on anything that we truly want. He wants to see us work hard and put in the effort without sending him into debt, but ultimately his emotions win out and we get to do most of the things we desire.

We are tremendously different creatures and I couldn't be more glad about that. Even when he drives me nutty, CIS is the best companion and partner I could have chosen.

Tell us about the person in your life that compliments you. That drives you to be your best and supports you in your passions.

Sorry about missing my Mondays but I've been out of town. I had pre-scheduled some guest bloggers but managed to miss a few.

Got back into town late last night and I'm still groggy, tired, and in need of decompressing. Spending time with family is always a good thing, in a way, it's therapeutic because you start to analyze yourself and your goals. I didn't get any writing done due to the constant activity during my time home but I did get much time to think. Thinking is a lot like brainstorming. I was able to iron out some problems with my current project and come up with new ideas. It's so amazing how much we can accomplish even when we're not writing. A writer doesn't always need to write to create. You just need the focus and dedication to get the engine going. Now that I'm back in familiar surroundings, I've discovered this fire has been lit and I'm ready to make things happen...

Oh, yeah--you gotta get this book because....

Kelly L Stone, the author of TIME TO WRITE, recently interviewed me for her second book for aspiring writers. The book is called THINKING WRITE: The Secret to Freeing Your Creative Mind, and it's about how to use the power of your subconscious mind to maximize your creative output and attain all of your writing aspirations. It even comes with a CD with 4 meditations for writers, including one on how to give the perfect pitch to an agent or editor.

I'm told I have a couple of quotes included in this book...isn't that just totally awesome?

For the past few days, the McKenley household has been knocked flat on it's back surrounded by a sea of tissue and medicine bottles.

It happens to be that time of the year again...when the pollen count in Central Florida goes sky high, leaving my entire family wheezing and hacking as though we'd
contracted the pneumonic plague.

Yesterday, as I slowly came out of my antihistamine induced fog,I realized that I'd managed to sleep through a couple events that left America and the world screaming in unision... WTF! I'm glad to have missed them though, bad manners and hurtful behavior make me sick and I don't think my aching body could have taken much more.

In writing news, I'm more than 75% finished my WIP. I'm sooooo excited, because this is when a book becomes easiest for me to write. My usually elusive muse is now ever present and is shoving me towards the finish line. I can't wait to type THE END.

I'm heading back into my cave to write.

Enjoy the rest of your week everyone....

I've been flailing some in my focus lately, so I've resolved to fix it. I have set myself some goals and have written them out with deadlines on the ones I can control and have posted them on my desk where I see them daily.

My current goal is to finish writing th first draft of my current WIP before September 21. It's doable. It's a 10 chapter book and I'm in chapter 3. That means I have to write one chapter every day. When this is finished I get to take short break and atend Lora Leigh's Readers Appreciation Weekend for some R&R. This will be my 3rd year to attend and it just keeps getting better, though I do need to put together a sinning saint costume before I go. :)

When I get back I will get straight to work polishing the WIP and another story that I want to get in shape for agent submissions. I figure at the very least all this work will help keep me from being a complete neurotic mess as I get closer to my release day. I'm trying very hard to compartmentalize so I don't overstress. HA! We'll see how well I succeed (and possibly how much weight I gain in the process).

So tell me, have you set any goals for yourself? Did you set some at the beginning of the year? Have you accomplished any? If you were going to set some new ones, what would they be?

**As a thank you, I'm giving away a copy of SECOND CHANCES. If you post a comment on this blog, I'll add your name to the drawing. Leave your email address if you want to be included. A winner will be chosen at the end of the day.**

SECOND CHANCES: A Ramos Brothers Story
Release Date: September 18th
Publisher: Cobblestone Press

When Elaina Matthews ran into Sebastian Ramos at his grandmother’s house, she never expected it would lead to another night of wild sex. Or a relationship.

Sebastian knows what he wants and that’s Elaina in his life and in his bed, forever. He moves full-steam ahead in getting her to agree to a relationship. But will his desire for Elaina overwhelm her and end their relationship before it really starts. And there is another problem on the horizon for the new couple – what will his family say when they discover he’s dating his brother’s ex?

One thing has always been consistent in my life – my writing. Or rather, my need to write. When I was a child if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up, the answer would have been a published author.

I write because I love it. But it is hard. Long hours spent in front of the computer, hours in isolation with little interaction outside of online forums and friends. Have I wanted to give up? Yes. But I still persevered, kept writing because I love it. The thrill of creating worlds, crafting characters, manipulating situations and plotting storylines.

On this path I have learned much, like don’t compare myself, my writing or my word count to others. There will be good days writing wise but a bad day is only one where I have not tried to write anything. And there have been a few of those along the way.

Learning how to balance real life with my writing life, balancing being a sister, daughter, caretaker, friend with promo, writing time and building an online persona. My real life is what helps to feed my creative juices and energy and provides story ideas and character insight.

Have I dropped some balls? Yes. But I just picked them up and got going on. I’m not done by a long shot. I have a harddrive full of stories and ideas that need to be finished and developed.

Today I am lucky enough to say that my dream has come true. I have had one novella published with Phaze Books titled TAKE ME AS I AM. And I have another short story coming out for with Cobblestone Press titled SECOND CHANCES. SECOND CHANCES is actually the first in a planned series centered around a group of brothers – The Ramos Brothers.

TAKE ME AS I AM started as an heterosexual romance based on a comment I heard on a radio show. It turned out to be a reunion story about the love two men share for each other. And the funny thing is that SECOND CHANCES is another reunion story. It started out as a story about a one night stand without a happily ever after. When the story evolved into what it is now which is a romance between friends who share a unique past.


Angeleque was born and raised to be a “good girl”, she followed the rules until she graduated college. She decided to have fun and live by her own rules. Angeleque is the bad girl to her real life good girl who wants to have fun and live life to it's fullest. The practical side of Angeleque (who always has money saved up for bail) is one of the aspects of the real me which shines through.

She loves to travel, has a thirst and passion for life and love that shines through in her writing. She admits to liking sex (and is not afraid to admit it), motorcycles, leather and roller coasters. And can appreciate the sexiness and mystery of both genders.

To find out more about Angeleque, visit her at:

Yahoo Group:
Rosemary Clement-Moore is with us today to talk about her latest release THE SPLENDOR FALLS. I met Rosemary through my local RWA chapter. She was the first Young Adult author that I read, and I have to say that I LOVE her books. It's especially fun that I can share them with my oldest kiddo who is reading Rosemary's first book and will be doing a journal exercise on it for school.

Rosemary is one of those genuine people that you sincerely want to see succeed. This last summer at the RWA National Conference, Rosemary was a RITA nominee for the Young Adult category. A group of us that know Rosemary sat together and I'm pretty sure that we were crying more than she was when she won.

It's is an absolute thrill to have Rosemary with us here today.

How tumultuous was your writing journey, or were you one of those lucky writers who got picked up on the first attempt?

I did sell the first novel I finished, but not the first one(s) I'd attempted. I'd written short stories and plays before, but Prom Dates From Hell was the first time I'd managed to break out of that endless cycle (come on, we've all done it) of writing three chapters, revising them to death, until we're sick of the project and start another first three chapters... etc. etc. etc.

Of course, I prefer to think it was due to my fabulous talent rather than luck. ;-) And some of it was planning--I made a very strategic attack on my agent querying process. Lots of research, lots of tactical analysis. And my agent is awesome--she had a lot to do with things. Plus, I had a YA paranormal to sell, right as YA paranormals were really taking off. That, however, wasn't planning. That really was just dumb luck.

Which books are still on your shelf from when you were in school? Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad ten years later?

Pride and Prejudice, of course. Most of the Shakespeare plays (whether I liked them or not), Jane Eyre, Dante's Inferno, The Canterbury Tales, Rebecca, The Odyssey, Brave New World, Turn of the Screw, The Crucible, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Antigone and Oedipus Rex, Cyrano de Bergerac... I seem to have hung onto a lot of plays. This may just be because they're thin and take up less room on the shelf. Also, I took a drama as literature class in college. Those may be from that class.

What books have improved with (my) age? The Scarlet Letter, I think. In high school I couldn't see past my youthful feminist indignation that Hester was punished and her lover was not. I hated everyone in that book. Now I see Hawthorne's point--by turning her "A" into a thing of beauty and wearing her sin outwardly, Hester fared better than Dimmesdale and his unacknowledged sin/guilt. Plus, maybe I have spent more time thinking about sin and repentance since then. ;-) I won't say it's become a pleasure to read, but I appreciate it now.

Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?

My editor! That's the only absolute. My critique partners give me excellent advice, though, and I always evaluate everything they say, though I don't 100% follow it. In the end, you have to listen to your gut, because it's your name on the cover.

Last page: read it first or wait ’til the end?

Wait until the end. Very rarely do I turn to the end, and when I do it means I'm evaluating whether the book is going to be worth the effort of finishing... and if I'm even asking myself this question, it's not a good sign.

What’s the best part of being an author?

Getting to work my own hours, creating my own worlds where I can have complete control. It's nirvana for a control freak like me!

Tell us about your book THE SPLENDOR FALLS. When does it come out and can you give us a teaser for our readers?

THE SPLENDOR FALLS, which just came out September 8th, is a gothic, romantic mystery set in Alabama. (You may have notices Rebecca and Jane Eyre on my keeper list. I love gothic novels!) When ballerina Sylvie's dance career is ended by a terrible injury, she's sent to stay with her late father's family, in a remote, antebellum mansion where the past is a little too much alive. She's seeing things that aren't there (like shades of her ancestors), feeling things she can't explain (like why she feels she knows complete strangers), and doubting her own sanity. There's magic, mythology and mystery, and Kirkus reviews says it's "Satisfying and chilling."

Here's a little taste:

I managed to lever the suitcase onto the edge of the carousel, and stood in an uncomfortable arabesque while I tried to figure out how to pull it down without knocking my good leg out from under me. That would be an awkward headline: Ex-ballerina flattened by actual baggage. Overdose of irony suspected.

“Careful there.” The masculine voice startled me, but not nearly as much as the arm that wrapped around me, steadying the heavy pink suitcase. My normal instincts--the one that told me when someone was coming up behind me, the one that told me to scream ‘fire’ instead of ‘rape’ if someone grabbed me--all short circuited with a tangible fizzle so strong that I was surprised I didn’t smell smoke.

My inhale of alarm carried in a whiff of herbal soap, but it was the scent of clean air and damp earth that filled my head and took me to a strange place, so I seemed to be simultaneously standing in an airport in Alabama, and someplace wild and wet and green. The only constants were the steadying arms around me, and the feeling that my heart was going to beat out of my chest with anticipation, or fear, or both.

It was dizzying, unnerving, like confusing a memory with a dream. For an instant, the nanosecond between information coming in and my brain processing it, I was certain that if I turned around, I would know this guy.

My heart squeezed with real fear then, at the thought that reality going slippery on me. Again. But before panic could do more than flex its claws, the moment ended. The eerie feeling of recognition vanished, leaving just a perfectly normal rush of Wow, someone smells really nice in its wake.

Any parting words for our readers and aspiring writers?

Keep moving forward, whatever stage you're in. That cycle of writing and revising the same chapter over and over comes from fear--fear you do thing 'wrong,' fear of moving forward. But you can't leave things unwritten. Mistakes can be fixed, certainly in prose, and most of the time in life. Keep writing, keep submitting, keep living. When you make mistakes, learn from them, cut the paragraphs (or chapters, or entire manuscript), and start over.

And good luck!

Check out Rosemary's website at and be sure to pick up her book!
Ever since catching the writing bug, I've developed an addiction for writing tools and gadgets. Some of my favorite things happen to come from the same They are the coolest!

Like many of my counterparts, I've always got a notebook or two with me at all times. I have a few of this one. My hubby got it for me and I smile every time I read the quote on the front.

I love paperweights. This is a great one.

My house could really use this door hanger. My 11 year old is always barging into my office when I'm working.

I'm always in search of inspiration. This framed prayer seems like a good way to help put the dark moments into perspective.

Why don't you check them out. They also have tons of promotional items you can use when the time comes to promote your masterpiece.

Have a great writing day everyone!


The kids are back in school and October 13th is rapidly approaching, so I settled in this last week to work. To kick things off I created a new To Do list and let me tell's long. The good news is that I am getting to mark things off now that I have it written down to serve as a motivation.

The biggest thing I've tackled so far is a short story that will be a free read on a Samhain site in October. Ian and Kieralyn from SOUNDS TO DIE BY go to a party where we meet Eden Maverick and Breck Lawson. Eden is struggling with the possibility that the love of her life who vanished two years ago is about to reappear (or that she's somehow the brunt of a cruel joke) and Breck is realizing that as much as he wants a relationship with Eden she'll only ever be an honorary sister for him - he seems to be collecting sisters these days.

It was a challenge for me to write something so short, we were limited to 3-4 thousand words, but the few people who've read it for me have said that I've done well with it. It was fun to play with some characters that I've been "finished" with for awhile and explore a new hero a little more. Now I'm really chomping at the bit to settle in with that hero and finish his story.

While I do that, be sure you come back Thursday to visit with Rosemary Clement-Moore. She's a super lady and you don't want to miss her.

Also, I have a contest going on at my website. Check it out!
**CONGRATULATIONS CATHY M! You won Stephanie Adkin's eBook!**

Hello everyone! It's release day for my contemporary erotic romance suspense novella, RESISTING KANE, and I'm so happy to be celebrating it here at Hooked On Romance!

In honor of it's debut, I'll be giving away a free copy to one lucky person who leaves a comment on this post. To enter, all you have to do is answer this question: What's the hardest thing for YOU to resist? Is it chocolate? Jewelry? Your sexy next door neighbor? *wink* I'll be drawing a winner tonight, so get those comments rolling!

Now, here's a little peek at RESISTING KANE. I hope you enjoy it!


Past inequities are hard to forget … and harder still to forgive. After fifteen years, high school classmates Madison Carey and Terence Kane are forced to work together to stop a madman whose sole purpose is to seek revenge … with her life as the prize.


The weekend had dragged by in a monotonous way that had Madison almost excited to head back to work the next morning. At least she would be around other people. She’d had several calls from friends over the weekend to go out for drinks and such, but she turned them down, not wanting to risk anyone finding out the circumstances that surrounded her. She wasn’t used to being without her friends and having no one to pass the time with. Normally she was encompassed in a bustle of activity so the quietness made her two-story home feel even bigger … and emptier. Waking up early that morning, she had bounded out of bed, eager to get dressed and back to work just so she would have someone to talk to. Walking down the stairway, she rolled her eyes in distain the moment she saw Terry waiting for her in the foyer.

“Good morning, Madison.” He said cheerfully.

By placing her hands on her hips, she avoided the urge to slap the smugness off his face. It was bad enough for them to be thrown together against her wishes, but seeing how he was obviously enjoying her misery over the whole situation made it even worse.

“I really don’t see why it’s necessary for you to drive me. I have a chauffeur who can do the same thing with far less aggravation.” She said, walking past him and into the den.

As he followed her every move, she heard him chuckle under his breath. Choosing to ignore it rather than start a futile argument with him, she looked around the room for her purse. She vaguely remembered setting it down in the den when she returned from work Friday evening, but now it was nowhere to be seen. Maybe the housekeeper had moved it.

“Your chauffeur isn’t the one being paid to protect you.” He said, picking up her purse from a nearby table and handing it to her. “Look, Madison, I know you’re not thrilled with me being assigned to your case. That’s pretty obvious.”

Snatching it from his hand, she stormed past him and walked toward the kitchen.

“Good. Then I can stop pretending to be civil toward you.”

After pouring herself a cup of coffee, she fumbled with some paperwork on the countertop while Terry stood nearby and watched. In his black dress pants, long-sleeved blue shirt, and tie, she had to admit he looked quite handsome, but she immediately forced the thought from her mind as quickly as it had entered. She wouldn’t go there again if her life depended on it.

“Pretend all you want. I’m not going anywhere. It’s my job to watch over you and I’m going to do my job whether you like it or not.” He replied, arrogantly crossing his arms over his chest. “I see you haven’t changed any. You still want things done your way or no way.”

Swallowing hard, Madison glared at him, trying valiantly not to wail at him with her claws bared.

“You might have walked over me and everyone else you looked down upon in high school, but you won’t do it to me again, Terence Kane. I don’t need your protection. My Father hired you. I didn’t. I can take care of myself.”

Shaking his head in disbelief, he walked toward her and cornered her against the kitchen counter before she had time to escape. Undaunted, she looked up into his cold hazel eyes and never flinched. She had been up against far more intimidating men than him in her lifetime, and she wasn’t about to be bullied.

“You can stand here and act all high and mighty as long as you want to, Madison Carey. I can do this all day long.” He seethed. Placing his hands on either side of her against the counter, his glare was unwavering. “The fact that you’re rich and well-known in this shallow business you seem to love won’t stop Joseph Sinclair from killing you if he’s given the slightest opportunity.”

His breath was hot against her skin, and even though she knew she should try and step away from him, her feet felt permanently glued to the floor. She couldn’t remember a time she had ever been this close to him and it was unsettling to say the least. The scent of his cologne pervaded her senses and, as much as she tried, she couldn’t control her body from quivering.

“Terry, I know the thought of some helpless woman falling at your feet excites you, but I don’t need you. If he makes the mistake of getting near me, I’ll … I’ll just take care of it. I’ll kill him if I have to.”

“And how do you expect to do that?” He asked incredulously.

Shrugging her shoulders, Madison tore her gaze away from him and glanced out the window, refusing to look him in the eye. She had protected herself this long; she certainly didn’t need him to start doing it. What he didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him.

Jerking away from her, Terry inhaled sharply as if something had suddenly occurred to him. Then, before she had time to react, he grabbed her purse with both hands and poured all of its contents on the countertop. Bewildered, she tried to stop him, but he was much too strong.

“What the hell are you doing? You have no right going through my things! Stop it!” She yelled.

He opened every zipper and compartment as Madison looked on helplessly. With his jaws clenched tightly together, he franticly searched through her wallet, every lipstick case, and every other content scattered on top of the kitchen counter as if searching for buried treasure.

“What are you hiding, Madison? A knife? A gun? Where is it?” He demanded, turning to look at her. The severity behind his gaze was probably meant to alarm her, but instead she felt her knees weaken.

Grabbing her by the waist, he pushed her back against the counter. His lips were so close that she could feel each of his ragged breaths as they slid across her own. It was enough to make her heart race and her head spin.

Unsure of what to do next, she looked up at him and waited expectantly. For reasons she couldn’t explain, she desperately hoped he would kiss her, but instead he began frisking her. Confused and angry, she tried pushing him away as he patted her hips with both of his hands, making his way down her body.

“No! Stop it, Terry! I don’t have …”

Now on his knees in front of her, her pleading ended abruptly when she felt his hands grasp the pistol she had strapped to her right thigh. As he looked up at her, the shock was apparent in his gaze, and suddenly she was afraid to say anything else that might anger him even further.

“Madison …” He began, the disappointment evident in his tone of voice.

“I’ve been carrying it for protection. That’s all.” She said resolutely. “It’s mine, Terry. I own it legally. I have the documents to prove it.”

“It’s dangerous, Madison. You could hurt yourself or someone else accidentally.”

As he lifted her skirt to her thighs and his hands slipped beneath it, she closed her eyes and sighed deeply as his fingers grazed her skin.

“You forget who my Father is. I know how to use a gun.”

Deftly, he slid his fingers over her skin as he began removing the gun and holster while she clutched the side of the counter to keep from falling. It was maddening having him so close to where she wanted to be touched. Her defenses down, she relaxed against the kitchen counter and tried to keep her voice from shaking with emotion.

“I’m tired of looking over my shoulder all the time. I’m sick of worrying if today is going to be the day that Joseph gets his revenge. You don’t understand. I just wanted something to help me feel safe.”

After resting the gun and holster on the floor, he slid his hands up her legs once again where he clasped on to the hem of her skirt and pulled it back down, smoothing it into place. She expected him to let go, but instead he held on for several agonizing seconds. The warmth of his fingers made her dizzy. It was exhilarating almost to the point of being painful.

“That’s what I’m here for. You don’t need this anymore.”

The tenderness in his touch made her wince. She wanted to reach out and twine her fingers through his hair, but before she had the chance to, he abruptly picked up the gun and holster and stood up.

“I’ll keep these.” He said sharply, never once looking her in the eye. “We should go.”

As he turned and walked away, Madison held on to the counter and tried to catch her breath. Suddenly catapulted back to reality, she felt angry all over again. After all these years, she was still acting like a fool around him. She should have known he still had a heart of stone. Damn him! Throwing her belongings back into her purse, she cursed him under her breath and silently swore that it would never happen again. He wasn’t worth it. He never was.


Growing up in a household that consisted of four brothers and no sisters, Stephanie Adkins spent most of her childhood locked in her bedroom, escaping the testosterone by filling page after page of her diaries with short stories and poetry. Now, surrounded by even more men in her life – her husband of fifteen years and two sons – she still enjoys the “great escape” by turning her childhood dreams into reality … one story at a time.

Since August 2008, Stephanie has been published with Wild Child Publishing, Liquid Silver Books, Phaze Books, and Cobblestone Press.

You can visit her at:
**CONGRATULATIONS LESLIE DICKEN! You just won Kristen Painter's latest release ALL FIRED UP in eBook format. Please contact me to collect your prize at jaxcassidy @ **


One thing Jax and I share is a love of great, interesting art, so it seemed a no brainer to me to blog about the topic of art as inspiration. Especially since my debut book, ALL FIRED UP, was solely inspired by a picture I found on Deviant Art called Mixed Ashes by Mahtaliel. If you haven’t been to Deviant Art, you’re really missing out. Some of the artists there are AMAZING!

The picture stayed with me so much that I returned over and over to look at it. Like most writers, the “what if” gene is strong and I started thinking…What if this guy were real? What if the Phoenix wasn’t a bird but a man? What if he had the power to change past mistakes? The questions kept coming and the story began to unfold like a scroll of possibilities.

And so, ALL FIRED UP was born. And Mahtaliel gave me permission to post the pic on my website as well so that readers can see what inspired the book. I even sent a copy of the pic to the cover artist who did my Samhain cover. I think you can see a little of it in there, don’t you?

What art has inspired you lately?

Mahtaliel’s Gallery:


Kristen Painter is a former college English teacher, personal trainer, advertising exec, maitre d’, and runway model. When not building fantastical worlds, creating new characters or plotting herself out of a corner, she hangs out in the forum at, the award-winning site she co-founded with Jax Cassidy, blogs at (except for Tuesday's when she's on deck at or tweets at

She’s represented by The Knight Agency.
It seems as though it was just yesterday that I woke up excited that school was out for summer. I vowed to immediately become a productive member of the writing community, working eight hours a day and dedicating the remaining sixteen to fun and family. It was a good idea in theory, but it didn't pan out. Life has a way of throwing you curve balls and you just have to learn to adapt.

Fast foward three months later and we are now in our second week of school. Normally, I'm a little sad, because I enjoy my son immensely and hate not having him around during the days. But this fall I couldn't wait to pull up to the school and shuttle him off to his classroom.

I've made a new writing schedule and I intend to stick to it. I wake up at five in the morning and I work until he gets up at seven. Once I drop him off at class, I come home and write for six hours. There are no exceptions and no compromises allowed.

With that said, I'm heading to my cave to get some work done. Have a wonderful and productive week everyone!

I was reading emails earlier and someone was talking about the genres of romance they like and someone else was talking about genres they've never read before. I got to thinking about all the different genres of romance and now I'm wondering, what is your favorite? What haven't you tried before? Why not? What would you like to see more of? Do you like your stories to be on the lighter side or dark?

Young adult?
Romantic suspense?
Steam punk?
Urban fantasy?

Come on. Don't be shy. Inquiring minds want to know.