Friday, March 25, 2011


My blogger had to reschedule his blogging date so I decided to give you a treat by posting my review of Rock Hard, by Olivia Cunning. I loved this story!

I will be interviewing Sed Lionheart on April 1stno foolingand I'm expecting several of the Sinners to pop in as well. Sure to be a treat not to be missed. Be sure to mark your calendars and let everyone know. It's sure to be a fun time with all the ribbing from the rest of the band and groupies too.

Rock Hard

Book two of Sinners On Tour
Olivia Cunning
431 Pages
Release Date: April 1, 2011

Sinner’s lead singer, Sed, had his heart shredded when Jessica left him to pursue her dreams, so when she dances her way back into his life, he's not sure he's ready for her brand of pain, or pleasure, again. When she convinces Sed to engage in a benefits with benefits relationship, things seem to be going his way, until one of his fans catches their explicit public display of affection on film and posts it all over the internet. Will Jessica ever trust Sed again? And has Sed become the man of Jessica’s dreams or is he just posing to get what he wants?  Excerpts You can read chapter one and two.

My thoughts:

Love, Sex, and Rock and Roll. Any one of those items would make a good theme for an interesting story—or a very good one, as Olivia Cunning, demonstrated with her debut, Backstage Pass. But could she do it again? Ah the sixty-four dollar question and not always an easy thing with a second novel.

My answer? She has produced another winner. Rock Hard is not only an excellent read but also, in my opinion, it surpasses her debut novel both in writing depth and entertainment.

Why would I say that? Olivia has taken an arrogant and highhanded character that pretty much everyone wanted to dislike and shows Sed Lionheart as a sexy, loveable hero. Oh, he hasn’t lost his arrogance or dominating personality, but Olivia gives us insight into what makes him tick. His inner vulnerabilities and strengths, and shows us through his actions that he cares deeply for his Sinner family members. We clearly see his motivations for his highhanded ways.

“Isn’t it dangerous to drill a hole in someone’s head?” Sed asked.

“If they don’t, I’ll die.” Trey covered his eyes with one hand. His throat convulsed as he swallowed.

“You’re not going to die, Trey,” Brian said. “If you do, I’ll kill you.”

Trey chuckled. Sed realized he was probably making Trey feel worse, but he didn’t want to leave. He needed to see Trey moving, breathing, joking around. That way he could convince himself that Trey would be okay and that helpless feeling in Sed’s gut would ease…

“What can I do for you, Trey, Sed asked? “Anything. I’ll do anything.”


Sed tried, but it made his chest constrict in agony.

Sed’s greatest weakness is Jessica, his feisty, very independent ex-fiancée. Jessica is a third year law student; smart, sexy, and gorgeous. She isn’t one to let anyone, much less Sed, control her and when he tried she walked.

Sed’s determined to make her fall in love with him again. Whatever it takes. If she needs hot sex to convince her he’ll give her the fires of hell in their sex.

“He’d always loved her. He’d never stopped loving her…he wouldn’t survive if he had to watch her walk away from him again.”

The dynamics between these two independent and stubborn characters makes for an exhilarating ride to happy ever after.

The sex between these two is on the yowza! I need a cold shower stat, scale. Inventive and hot, but never stuck in the story unnecessarily for the sake of having a sex scene. Just as Brian and Myrna Sinclair have a rich and satisfying sex life, which fits within their needs and fantasies, so do Sed and Jessica. And what better place to explore fantasies than Sin City—Las Vegas.

This is a full, well rounded romance, strong on story, yowza sex, two strong minded people who have to learn giving up control doesn’t mean losing, but winning the best reward of all—love, hard rock style.

Ms. Cunning gives us another dazzling story of Sinners, love, sex, and rock and roll!

5 stars

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


My guest today is romantic suspense author, Stacey Joy Netzel. She writes about rugged heroes, resilient heroines, and heartwarming romance. Her latest book is part of her Colorado Trust Series.

Her topic is something I think every reader has asked an author; where do you find your ideas? Stacey shares where she found ideas for several of her books.

This is an often-asked question of many writers, so I thought I’d share how some of my books came to be. Ideas can come from anywhere…a bad situation, a good day with family, and an overheard conversation at the next table while at the coffee shop. Writers are notorious for people watching and listening.

My Christmas novella, Dragonfly Dreams, was born after a conversation that I participated in at one of my parents’ rummage sales. A man told us about when he was a kid; he’d been paid for some yard work for an older woman with an old rifle of her late-husband’s. He in turn took the rifle to a pawnshop and was thrilled to get an awesome price. (I vaguely recall it being around $100-150). Not long after, he and his family read in the paper that the pawnshop owner had sold a mint-condition WWI rifle for over $200,000.00. I took the idea of the story, of how losing that much money could affect someone in a desperate situation, but changed the details by using an antique broach and then added different historical twist.

This next book came about a bit backwards. I heard the Milwaukee area country band Chasin’ Mason and thought it’d be a great title for a book. All I had to do is figure out who Mason was, and why was someone chasin’ him? I then dedicated the book to the band. Someday, I’ll even get a copy to them.

For another book, I drew upon personal experience. Almost fifteen years ago, on my first (and only) international trip, I was left on the side of the road in Italy by my traveling companions…my brother and sister. See, I was busy with my new video camera, and they were more concerned about getting to our hotel. They finally came back after more than twenty nerve-wracking minutes (remember-first time out of the USA and I didn’t speak Italian), and I had a story to tell for life. People still can’t believe they just drove off without me and it took them over ten minutes to realize I wasn’t in the back seat. You might think it was revenge for something I’d done when we were kids *grin*, but really, my sister was crying when they got back, because she was afraid they’d dragged me as I was trying to get into the car. Nope, I was still filming swans on the lake as they zoomed off into traffic. The book isn’t published yet, so I won’t go into detail except to say the heroine had a much more exciting adventure than me. She’s kidnapped by a movie star and her family is held for ransom by the real bad guys. Tentative title: Lost in Italy.

Trust in the Lawe is a sequel written to my very first romance, so nothing too exciting there other than wanting to stay connected to my ‘friends’, Joel and Britt. But the characters in the next book, Shattered Trust, were partly shaped by a work negotiation training that I participated in for my day job as a Travel Agent. I learned different power techniques during negotiations that can give people an edge, so I made sure that my heroine applied them when the hero unjustly fired her and then had to go back to apologize and offer her job back.

If Tombstones Could Talk, a paranormal novella, came about from me seeing a local event in the newspaper about a cemetery walking tour, and most recently, I heard about one of those strange laws in a local town that when you hear it you think, “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me!” It gave me an idea for the beginning of the story, and though I’m still working out the details, I plan to get writing soon!

Ideas abound in just about anything we see, do, hear, and even dream. This is a great thing; it means the well should never go dry. But on the other hand, sometimes I get so many ideas I don’t even bother writing them down because I know I’ll never have the time to write them all. The ones that really catch linger in my mind get written in a notebook. Someday I will get to them.

Question: If you're a writer, where do you get your ideas? Readers, have you ever had an idea you'd love to see written as a book or movie?

Stacy has to work today but she will be stopping by once she's finished.

Trust in The Lawe Blurb

Kendra Zelner has three brothers: Eight-year old Noah she's determined to protect, Joel who has no clue she exists, and Robert who wants her dead.

With reason to be distrustful of cops, she takes Noah and flees their Manhattan home for Joel's ranch in Colorado. Under the pretense of needing a job, she plans to hide out until her twenty-fifth birthday, when she'll inherit her trust fund and legally gain custody of Noah away from Robert's greedy hands. Unfortunately, her brother's sexy, infuriating ranch manager insists on demolishing her defenses and digging into her past.

Colton Lawe has good reason to suspect Joel's beautiful, long-lost sister isn't what she seems—the little liar stole from him! He silently vows to expose her secrets, but long hours together on the ranch fosters a closeness and fiery attraction neither of them expects. Can Kendra trust Colton with the full truth before Robert finds them? Excerpt and  Night Owl Top Pick Review.

Buy: Amazon. Barnes and Noble

Wisconsin native Stacey Joy Netzel fell in love with books at a young age, so for her it seemed only natural to graduate to writing them. A member of Romance Writers of America and Wisconsin Romance Writers (WisRWA), she credits her parents for encouraging her dreams of becoming a published author, as well as the very talented friends she’s made in WisRWA since joining in 2004. TRUST IN THE LAWE is the first release in her ColoradoTrust Series. Next up is Shattered Trust (print available now, ebook available Mar. 30th) and Shadowed Trust, release date TBA. She also has two e-book novellas available online: If Tombstones Could Talk and Dragonfly Dreams. Her three full-length books include: Welcome to Redemption, Chasin' Mason, and Mistletoe Rules. Set in Pulaski, WI, Mistletoe Rules took first place in WisRWA's 2010 Write Touch Readers' Award.

An avid reader and lover of movies with happy endings, Stacey still lives in WI, with her husband and three children, a couple horses and some barn cats. In her limited free time she enjoys gardening and canning, and visiting her parents up north at the cabin on the lake with the whole family.

You can keep up with Stacey and her writing: Facebook and Website.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday Musings: Grappling With Spring Clean Up

Spring brings storms. Lots of storms as the ground prepares for the growing season. Aside from the storms, spring brings lots of extra work. We have weeding and preparing those garden beds for planting, cleaning up the debris of winter rains or snow, and working on the outside buildings and the house itself. Finally, we see the yard clean and looking good. Granted it’s still bare bones but it’s ready for the next step, beautifying it.

The work we did in the past, the planting and pruning, is now showing evidence of growth. Shoots from the bulbs we planted are pushing through the dirt. We can almost see what everything will look like when it’s done. We’re not done but we’re on the way. Now comes the mulching, trimming, and weeding.

Isn’t that just like our writing? The initial work is showing promise but there is still much clean up we have to do. Trimming, weeding, fertilizing, and mulching. Not always the fun part but necessary if we want it to match our vision.

I've been writing this winter plus I’ve pulled out some of my older manuscripts and I’m analyzing them. Some are good stories and have good bones but the execution is poor. Editing, pruning and weeding, is necessary. Some are close to the query stage and actually I’ve had some good feedback on them.

Now it’s a matter asking myself questions. Am I telling the reader the story, or are am I putting them on the spot to feel and see things unfold. I learned quite a bit by some of my recent 5 star reading.

  • The Second Duchess puts me in Barbara’s mind and environment so I trying to answer the same questions she is. I had no warning that a certain dish would kill a character close to Barbara, but I was there and felt the shock when it happened. My mind was reviewing who would or could have done it and why.

  • The Dawn Country puts me in each scene and again I’m there on location as the story unfolds. I’m running with Koracoo and Gondo. I see by their actions they’re terrified as to whether they will be too late and the actions of their guilt for being unable to protect their children. I watch in horror with the kids as their captor orders the death of a twelve-year-old child.

  • Rock Hard doesn’t tell me Sed is a controlling man, the author shows me and allows me to see and draw my own conclusions. Ditto with the fact Sed has a heart of gold. I’m in the scene so I’m seeing him pull on the SOB persona to protect his heart. Jessica demonstrates by actions her distrust of Sed and his motives and her own.

Each of these authors has a different writing style and choose different words and phrases to place me there, but all three are highly skilled at showing me the inner character by their actions and connecting me emotionally to the characters. None of the three bog me down in info dumps, their characters are distinct, and everything done moves the story to the next level without losing the momentum or the richness of the setting. To me, that ability is a five star read, or like a friend mine who is also a contest judge, says; that’s a winner.

I want to be a winner too. That means I have to look hard at what I’ve written. I have to step back and not be emotionally attached to what I’ve written. As with my garden, if it’s meant to be for lilies then the daisies, as pretty as they are, don't belong there. I can move them to a place it fits better. So it means being able to analyze the theme of each flowerbed or, in this case, chapter, and pulling out what doesn’t belong or detracts from the theme I’ve developed.

So, I’m grappling with manuscript clean up and questions:

  • Am I starting the story in the right place? How do I know? Do I have a hook that draws the reader forward? Do I have a hook at the end of the chapter to make the reader feel they just can’t stop here they have to see what happens?
  • Is having your character reflecting on something that happened an info dump? Could I show that worry in a better way? Like my friend said, a well thought out sentence can signal the problem better and give the necessary clue to the reader there is problem without a page or so of reflection.

  • The contest judge says, “Goals, motivations, and conflicts are laid out in the first 7000 words, without TELLING and without infodump/backstory. They are simply integral to the character descriptions.” Have I done that?

  • “Each of the characters has a unique voice, that's conveyed mostly through subtle turns of phrase, word order…” Do mine? Or is the reader lost without tags?

  • What the heck is an inciting incident and how do I know if mine is a valid one?

Ah, spring brings a lot of work, both with my gardens and with my writing.

What are you grabbling with? If you participated in Nano, as I did, what are you doing with your Nano entry?

Up coming guests, Stacy Netzel, Linda Wisdom, and Olivia Cunning and her Sinners