Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rhiannon Ellis Shares!

Thank you for joining us today Rhiannon. Love your book covers and look forward to leaning more about you!

Rhiannon will draw a winner from comments left and the winner gets chioce of 1 of 4 ebooks.

Rhiannon Ellis is a romance author who lives in Wisconsin with her husband and their two children. She is also the proud stepmom of a preteen. When Rhiannon isn't writing, cleaning house or chasing her kids around, she can most often be found curled up with her e-reader, taking pleasure in one of the many genres she loves. She and her husband enjoy visiting casinos, are avid followers of politics, and are devoted fans of Wisconsin's basketball team--the Milwaukee Bucks.

How did you get into writing?

I remember it clearly. The moment I knew I wanted to write was in the third grade. All students had to write a poem using their full names. No easy task when your name is Rhiannon Virginia Hill. I scribbled something down in about five minutes and forgot about it until I heard my name over the loudspeaker a few weeks later. My poem had won second place! I've wanted to be a writer ever since. At the time, I think it was the recognition and the feeling that I was good at something that sparked my interest. This is one of the reasons I know how important it is that we impact our children early and encourage their passions.

When did you decide to make the move to "published"?

I've always had a knack for bad timing. I decided to get serious about writing and seek publication two years ago--I had a two year old and a six month old at the time! Yikes! Needless to say, laundry was neglected for the two months it took me to pen my first novel. I got an offer from an agent six months later and accepted representation from Dawn Dowdle of the Blue Ridge Literary Agency. She was new to the literary agent scene and took a chance on little ole me.

How did you find the experience of seeking a publisher?

There have been ups and downs, but I wouldn't trade a single second of it. Even the rejections reminded me that I was a part of something very special. The hardest part for me has been the feedback that comes along with those Rs. They can be all across the board and very confusing! One editor will love the prose but feel disconnected from the characters. Another publisher will love the characters but feel the pacing was slow. One publishing house pushes the manuscript all the way to the acquisitions department, while another will turn their nose up at the first three chapters. I had to keep in mind what a subjective business this is and keep going.

What did it feel like when the acceptance notice came?

My first book was never offered a contract, but my second, Bonded In Brazil, was picked up by Camel Press last November. Virtually all contact nowadays is done via email. So, when my agent emailed me one night around 10pm and asked when would be a good time to call, I KNEW! I couldn't sleep, felt like puking the next morning, paced around like a mad woman until the phone finally rang. I was a mess! Of course that all faded and turned to relief and excitement.
Then, on January 1st—Happy New Year to me!—Cobblestone Press offered me a contract for my paranormal romance novella, Dark Wolf Protector.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Yes, and it's very simple: Read often, write often. Always be improving. Don't give up.

Monday, March 28, 2011

RITA Finalist Melissa Mayhue Discusses Reviews

Congratulations to Melissa Mayhue for her book HEALING THE HIGHLANDER being a RITA Finalist! Good luck, Melissa!

My thanks to my friend, Lizzie, for inviting me here today to celebrate the release of my latest book, HIGHLANDER’S CURSE. For those of you who aren’t familiar with my books, my series could best be described as Paranormal/ Time Travel Romance. There are Highlanders and Faeries and usually a mystery or two and one of the best things about the series – at least for me! – is that some are contemporary and some are historical [medieval] so I never have a chance to get bored with what I’m writing.

I thought it might be fun today to ask Lizzie’s readers a question…  I know that there are likely some writers out there as well, but before you answer, I’d like you to take off your writer hat and replace it with your Reader hat.


What do you like to see in a review? There are hundreds of blogs and opinion pieces out there, written by venting Authors and venting Reviewers – each with their own ideas of what a book review should look like. Naturally, as a writer, I have my own opinions which – of course! – I’m going to share here.

Let me begin by saying the idea for this subject came to me a couple of days ago when my Google Alert led me to a review of my last release, HEALING THE HIGHLANDER. I was really, really unhappy with that particular review…but probably not for the reason you might imagine.

Which leads me to my opinions on Reviews and Reviewers…

Do I mind if the Reviewer trashes my book? Well, I certainly can’t say I like it.  But if the Reviewer is simply stating her opinions and she honestly didn’t like the book for whatever reason [storyline, hero, heroine, language, too much sex, not enough sex, whatever], I completely support her right to her opinion. Reading is subjective. That’s why there are so many different types of books! Not everyone is going to love my books… no matter how much I think they should! [Okay, yes… I am joking there]. They won’t. I accept that, because I don’t like every book I read.

Do I expect the Reviewer to justify why she didn’t like my book? Not really. Though I’m sure their audience would probably like to know what they did or didn’t like about it. For me, I just know that there are lots of books out there I don’t like and I usually can’t tell you WHY I didn’t like them any better than I can tell you why I loved something else. I loved it or I didn’t. Period. [That’s why it’s important to find a Reviewer whose tastes are similar to yours so you know if they liked something, you probably will too – or the reverse… If they hate it, you’ll love it!]

Do I expect the Reviewer to be kind to my book because I worked hard on it? [I’ve actually heard this opinion expressed!] - *snort* I don’t think so. It took Tolstoy six years [SIX YEARS!!] to write War and Peace and as horrible as it may be to say, I am NOT a fan.

Do I have a problem with the Reviewer not being a professional? What the heck is that, anyway? Professional? To me, every Reader who picks up one of my books [or any other book for that matter] is a Professional Reviewer in that, if the Reader doesn’t like it, she probably won’t buy any more of my books. And honestly, that’s the bottom line. Every Reader has an opinion. Some of them choose to share their opinions with the world – and whether that’s over coffee with her best friends or on a blog or on Goodreads, her opinion is every bit as valid as the next person’s.

So… if it wasn’t those hot topic items that bothered me, what exactly do I consider Reviewer Sins? Oh that’s easy. And it’s actually a pretty short list:

My Number One Sin in reviewing books – Telling the whole story in the review. Ack, people! I spent at least six months coming up with all those twists and turns and surprises… please don’t give it all away in three [long] paragraphs and ruin the book for my readers!!! [And it was this Number One Sin that was committed in the particular review I mentioned earlier that made me so unhappy…] I put a lot of effort into creating complex characters who are [like real people] a blend of good and bad, specifically to make it harder sometimes to figure out who the REAL bad guys is. Don’t Spoil It!!!

The Other Sins – in no particular order:

** - Please don’t hold me responsible for the cover or the formatting. Even when the hero is repeatedly described as having long black hair and the guy on the back cover clearly has short brown hair. I’m not saying you shouldn’t mention that sort of blooper in your review. [I probably would if I were writing the review… and I can guaran-damn-tee it’s one of the first things the author noticed about the book]. But don’t blame the author. In most publishing situations, the author has… oh… ZERO say on her covers. And the formatting from print to e-book? Authors typically don’t even know WHEN their publisher is getting that done, let alone have a say in the process.

** - Please don’t make the review personal. I’ve actually seen reviews where the author is called names… fat, stupid, ugly. There really is no place in a review for those types of comments. [Equally, while we’re on the subject, there is no room for authors responding with name-calling directed at the Reviewer, either!]

So there you have it. My whole list. And now we’re back to my original question for Readers:

What do you like to see [or NOT see] in a review?

MELISSA MAYHUE writes award-winning paranormal romance for Pocket Books, all set in an imaginary world of Faeries and Mortals. Her seventh book, HEALING THE HIGHLANDER hit stores on February 22 and her eighth, HIGHLANDER’S CURSE, is available on March 29, 2011. You can visit her on the web at: or come Twitter with her at

'Help! I Need a Title for My WIP' Contest

I'm working on the 2nd book in the Magical Love Series and need your help. The title I planned to use for the book has been used several times and my editor wants a new one. I've had several bounce through my head, but none of them really grabbed me, so knowing how creative readers are, a brilliant idea woke me up last night...a contest! Here's a little about the book: Cori (Emma's former roommate and sister) is the heroine and the hero is Raribert (Rob) Gregor Vesha is part vampire. His father is a vampire from Romania and his mother a Scottish witch. He takes her to a family reunion in Romania (think Munsters/Addams Family for the relatives) and Rob's cousin Vlad (yep, Vlad's descended from 'that' family too) shows up and the adversarial relationship they've always had rears its ugly head. Of course, the Cailleach, DooNell will create a spell to cross the paths of Cori and Rob, though this time it is done with reluctance. Email me your suggestions: by Monday, April 4th. The winner will receive a PDF of the book as soon as it is available from my editor in August. Fingers crossed for lots of suggestions!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Faith Bickenell on the Hot Seat!

I'm delighted to welcome Faith Bicknell to Lizzie's World. Faith answers questions that gives us insight in to the real Faith and her writing career. Hope you enjoy and be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win an eBook!

To enter the drawing for a copy of choice of ebook from the site leave a comment for Faith and don't forget to include your e-mail address!

Faith Bicknell's work (also known as F.L. Bicknell) has appeared in a wide range of genres such as Would That It Were, Touch Magazine, GC Magazine, Ohio Writer Magazine, Waxing and Waning (Canada), and The Istanbul Literature Review (Turkey) just to name a few. Faith was a regular contributor to Gent under her pseudonym, Molly Diamond, which she has resurrected and now writes as Molly for her SFR/fantasy titles. She has also had fiction published in Hustler’s Busty Beauties, Penthouse Variations, Twenty 1 Lashes, and was a regular contributor to Ruthie’s Club for three years. In addition, Faith has many e-books and some print titles published under various pen names with a host of different publishers.

For two years, Faith served as the co-editor of The Tenacity Times and she served as the managing editor for two e-book publishers for thirteen years combined until she resigned in 2009 to focus on her writing career. She is represented by TriadaUS Literary Agency ( and for fan mail:

Faith, tell me a little about your book.
Queen of the Storm, written under my romantic sci-fi/fantasy pen of Molly Diamond, is pure sci-fi romance wrapped around mystery and suspense. Jordanne, the admiral of The Red Storm, is faced with a crew that is mostly women who would love to see her fall flat on her face. I threw in a killer, lots of action, sexual tension with a handsome man, and a few plots twists to keep readers turning pages.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I’m a full-time writer who writes while the kids are at school. I start around 8 AM and work until I get tired. When warm weather and gardening time arrives, I work for a couple hours in the early morning, then shift to gardening, housework, etc., followed by more writing (or a nap, lol) during the heat of the day.

What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
First, I want readers to be entertained, and second, I hope they learn something about life or the research that I often incorporate into my stories about various topics. It could be lore and legends about werewolves to natural remedies. You never know what will show up in my books.

Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
Well, when I write erotica or erotic romance for the ebook world, I love to spin stories about anything paranormal. I write under several pen names, too, so you might pick up an m/m romance or even ménage, but ninety percent of the time, my work has some sort of paranormal element. However, my agented work is pure paranormal romance.

What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
Dealing with the markets and trying to solve the riddle of what’s selling and what’s not, so I guess it boils down to promotion, not to mention promotion sucks up time I don’t have to spare.

What about your book makes it special?
It’s the worlds of Sister Earth and Wasteland Earth. Without those worlds, there would be no story.

What is your marketing plan?
Shouting about SFR. It’s a hot genre.

Where can people learn more about you and your work?
Well, I have two brand new websites. http://www.faithbicknellcom/ for my agented work and special ebooks, and for the erotica and SFR/fantasy romance, readers can visit . I’m also on facebook and twitter as well as myspace

Faith will also be at Love Romances Cafe on April 5th from 7-9pm EST. This is her first group chat in over 3 years!

If You Love Goth, You'll Love Lisa Greer!

I love Lisa Greer's description of the Goth hero. It brings back memories of Dark Shadows, a television show I wish one of the channels would rerun again. All the plots, sub-plots and of course the brooding hero. What's not to love! Thank you, Lisa for sharing this with us and for helping me get in touch with a genre I used to read a lot and will be revisiting! Look forward to your book release in April.

To celebrate the release of Magnolian, Lisa would like to give a copy to one lucky winner. So leave your comments and make sure to include your email for easy contact if you are the one drawn!

Our Heroes, Ourselves: Loving Gothic Heroes

I've been walking around with a book in my hand since age five as my mother will tell you, but the first novel I ever fell in love with was Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. After reading about two households on the bleak moors and hopeless love affairs, I was hooked. I wanted to be Catherine, and I could see the huge appeal of a man like Heathcliff. Years later, I have read more Gothic Novels than I could ever count-- even with the help of Goodreads.

For years, I wondered what the major appeal of Gothics was for me. I have figured out some of those answers after blogging about much loved novels and unloved ones, too, in the Gothic genre. One of the major components of a successful gothic romance novel is a hero who would storm the gates of hell or at least get an invite to enjoy a brandy there. The popular current fiction marketers of romantic suspense novels that are rife with cops, military men, and wolves might call the hero an Alpha Male, but I think Byronic Hero is more appropriate. He is the dark, enigmatic, maybe disfigured, snarling figure at the heart of the Gothic. He doesn't have to be well muscled or traditionally handsome. In fact, he might be ugly and stoop shouldered, but he is that powerful and emotionally isolated man that many readers both love and fear meeting even on a sunny day in real life.

Perhaps so many readers love their Byronic Heroes because they see the dark sides of themselves reflected in these men. For a heroine with a flawed, brooding love interest, it's okay not to be a perfect size six, sashaying by with an impossibly tiny waist. In the real world, broken people abound, and surprisingly, gothic romance novels draw attention to that reality.

That type of not even close to perfect hero has hounded and haunted me as I write my own novels. I have to assume it is the same for many readers. The following for gothic romance novels of days gone by is surprisingly large and encompasses women from ages 17 and up and even men. One guy who frequents my Gothicked Blog is in retirement and enjoys these novels and their more innocent love stories.

In my first novel, Magnolian, one of the male characters vying for the heroine's heart is pensive but kind. The other is a man who has already driven one woman to her grave for love of him. The fun as I write is in letting the work decide which man wins the lady's heart. With gothic romance novels, the victor is often a surprise.

Lisa Greer is a college English instructor and online lead writing tutor. She holds a M.A. degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She is am also the owner of Gothicked ( ), a blog that reviews gothic romance novels and other gothic novels. Her author website is Her debut novel, Magnolian, will be available in April from Siren BookStrand. Find her on Twitter (Gothicked) and Facebook (Lisa Gay Greer) as well.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Melisse Aires Winner

The Winner of Melisse Aires drawing is


Contact me lady so I can get your info to Melisse and you can collect your prize!



Wednesday, March 16, 2011

ZA Maxfield

A big welcome to Z.A. Maxwell. She shares her thoughts on reading today and we get insight on how reading helps her own wiritng grow. Whether you write or not, you'll find it interesting to get a view on how reading helps.

The Wearing O’ The Green

As an author it’s not uncommon for me to spend about half my day writing and half my day reading. That’s normal, I think, particularly at times when one is looking to build skill. I read books by literary authors I read books in different genres, I read mystery, science fiction and fantasy. I read blog articles and newspaper articles and fan fiction.

Through all this, I have a sense of where I am on the writerly continuum. There are authors I see as my peers and those whose work is so much better it helps me be humble and work harder on craft. I read authors, even good ones, who may have published a hot mess once or twice in an otherwise great career.

Sometimes I read books that fail.

Spectacular failures are often my favorite reads, because they both enlighten and amuse me when I’m tempted to dip my pen in the purple ink or I’m tired and don’t want to challenge myself. I maintain that there is as much to learn – more to learn – from a book that fails than from a book that is brilliant. In a brilliant book, it’s sometimes hard to see a skillful writer’s hand; at least that’s true for me. Maybe one needs an equal set of skills to discern it.

Through all this reading, it’s easy to get caught up in envy of another writer’s skill. It’s easy for me to look at someone’s work and wish I’d written it, easier still to become discouraged because I didn’t.

Maybe I didn’t have that perfectly fresh idea, or the skill I perceive in the work. Maybe they are extraordinary world-builders, maybe they create sexual tension that melts my panties, or they build so much suspense I can’t turn the bedroom light off.
I have to take my hat off to a great author.

Sometimes it feels as though I’ll never measure up. And right there is where the needle goes GZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzt across the record on the jukebox of my personal soundtrack. (For those of you under say, thirty, we used to listen to vinyl records via a needle that…never mind. Old technology. Think that’s when the iPod playing my song displays that ‘charge me’ message.)

I’m grateful for this because it’s exactly moments like these when there’s a possibility for growth. It’s a humble and teachable moment. That’s when I start hitting bookstores for books on craft. That’s when I start de-constructing the work of writers I love, when I can spend hours examining a passage that particularly speaks to me to see what it’s made of.

Is it time for me to change tone for a bit? Is it word choice that’s feeling stale? Are my plots starting to feel too similar, so that I’m in need of a firm editorial hand or a road trip or a new way to outline so that I can see a problem before it crops up? Am I relying on the same old descriptions and would a judicious visit to the poetry shelf at the library liven them up a little?

Sure, it could be the case that some authors are geniuses and I’ll never get anywhere near their level of skill. I have faced that particular possibility and put it right where it belongs, with the color of Liz Taylor’s eyes and the way Heidi Klum bounces back from a pregnancy.

That said, a little green is good for keeping things fresh. I realize that my voice is unique, and I like it that way, but that doesn’t mean I can’t stretch. That I can’t grow. And who among us doesn’t need a little reminder to keep striving. An alarm clock that let’s us know it’s time to build skill. We all need a little nudge toward artistic growth and – even more important – a reason for trying out new things every now and again.

So my St. Patrick’s Day message this year is this: if I’m going to try on a little green I’m going to let it move me forward. I plan to read great books and let them inspire me, not intimidate me. I plan to let fabulous authors teach me by example, and I am determined to spend more time learning and growing through other means.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I am proudly wearing my green!

About ZA Maxwell

I have no excuses. I started reading Yaoi when my kids decided they had to read every manga ever published and I got tired of little ninja boys and magical girls. I sat in the corner with Descendants of Darkness and my world was officially rocked.

I started to read love stories between men, and my official position is that if one hot guy in a book is good, then two is arguably better. If you add to that the fact that I believe everyone should have a happy ending? Well, this is the end result.

I hope you enjoy reading these stories. Each one is carefully hand crafted with love, humor, and just the right touch of… er… touching.

Physical Therapy
St. Nacho's Series, Book 2
Loose Id
Contemporary GBLT
Available in Ebook and print:
Buy at Loose Id (Ebook):

When Jordan Jensen moves to St. Nacho’s he has one goal in mind: starting over. He wants to reconnect with best friends Cooper and Shawn yet is uncertain of his welcome. He has the skills to get a job, but isn’t sure any prospective employer can get past the time he spent in jail for alcohol-related vehicular homicide. He’s past the worst part of his life but knows it will haunt him forever. So Jordan plans a life of quiet service. One thing he knows for sure: finding love is entirely too much to ask.

On the first day of his new job, Jordan meets Ken Ashton. Ken has every reason to hate Jordan for his past and only one to seek him out: Ken’s baseball career was shattered in a drunk-driving accident. But for some reason he can’t explain, Ken needs Jordan’s touch and finds healing within Jordan’s warmth and strength. Jordan wants to give Ken everything his new partner needs.

Without entirely understanding it, Ken and Jordan develop a powerful emotional and erotic connection, but Ken must help Jordan find the faith to trust it. Unexpected help comes from the people of Santo Ignacio–and the town itself–a place where Physical Therapy can be a path toward spiritual healing and powerful, passionate love.

Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations some readers may find objectionable: Anal play/intercourse, male/male sexual practices.


He was slipping his arms through the sleeves of a dark blue and tan Hawaiian shirt, pulling it closed over strong muscles and skin that was firm but pale. Crisp dark hair whorled around pink nipples. His neck still had the ghost of a tan where it met the collar of his shirt.

When I looked at his face, his eyes were red and puffy, and he didn’t seem to know where they should land.

“Thank you,” he said. “Sorry, I—”

“No worries,” I told him.

“I’ll get out of your hair.” He turned away.

“Seriously, Ken. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about; that happens to a lot of people.”

“Not to me.” He started for the door.

I put a hand on his arm to stop him. “People really do have emotional responses to massage. It isn’t uncommon.”

“I thought you were just saying that.” He slumped back down onto the massage table and let out a breath. “You’re the first person I’ve met since the accident that I don’t mind touching me.”

“Me?” That was odd.

“I find you… People are touching me all the time. It’s like I’m a slab of beef they’re preparing for a meal. They make me nervous and angry. I find you…peaceful.”

I snorted. “Okay, I know you’re the first person who’s ever called me peaceful.” I sat down on a stool near him, letting him know that he wasn’t odd for his reaction and supporting him through the aftermath as best I could.

For a minute, he seemed content to sit there with me in silence. I watched an amazing number of emotions play over his handsome face, most of which I couldn’t begin to decipher. It was a good face—intelligent and open—and I tried very hard not to succumb to my attraction to it.

“Have you ever met anyone and right away you thought you’d like to spend time with them? Like they were tranquil water and you wanted to dive in? The minute you put your hands on me—”

I still had my hand on his arm, and I tried not to jerk it away. “Whoa. You don’t know anything about me, Ken,” I warned him. “I’m not who you think I am.”

Izzie might not be happy about it, but I decided that whether she liked it or not, Ken deserved to be told about my past. I had the strongest feeling that if I didn’t tell him—if he revealed any more of himself—he would feel betrayed. If I told him about myself—about the accident—and he left and never spoke to me again, so be it. Better that than him thinking I was hiding something.

“Look,” I said. “There’s something you need to know. I really want to help you, and I think I have something to offer you as you recover from your accident. But if you find out later rather than sooner, I think you’ll—”

“Izzie told me you’re gay,” he interrupted. “If that’s what this is about, I don’t have a problem with that.”

I was speechless for a minute. “No. That’s not it.” Why had she told him that? “No. I was in an accident.”

“You too?” He pulled back and looked me over as though trying to see where I’d been injured.

“Yes, but… I mean…” I closed my eyes. It never, ever got easier. “This is so fucking hard. I was the cause of the accident, Ken. I was drunk. I cost someone their life. I’m the reason someone is grieving for a child. I went to jail for it.”

It was as if he couldn’t comprehend it, but when he finally did, he blew out a breath. “You?”


He yanked his arm away from me. “You fucking bastard. Mr. Compassion.”

While not unexpected, a man of his size barking at me like that in an enclosed space was a lot to take in. I backed up against the door. “What the hell—”

He held his body rigid as he looked me over contemptuously. “So now you’re out, and it’s over? You’ve done your time and you can move on, and we’re all supposed to play like nothing ever happened? How does that feel, to start over with a new slate after you killed someone?”

“How do you think?” I tried to keep my voice down. “How do you fucking think it feels?”

“I think it must feel a helluva lot better than waking up from a coma and remembering your best friend is dead.”

I closed my eyes. “I imagine it does.” I spoke so softly I doubted he heard me over his agitated breathing.

“And now you’re what? Giving free massages? Pretending to know what people are going through? Giving advice?”

“That’s not what this is. I just want to help. I’m sorry, Ken.”

“Damn fucking straight you’re sorry. For a minute, I could remember what it was like to feel again.” He put his head in his hands. “It was like being human. I’ve felt like meat for so long.”

Ken was breathing as though he’d run a mile. I swallowed hard. “What do you mean ‘meat’?”

“I was conscious for a few minutes while they cut us out of the car. My friend Amy was dead. Staring. Her chest had been crushed. She… I’ll never forget it. I realized then we’re only meat.”

“We’re more than just that.” But I knew. I knew exactly what he meant. There were people who never find that out, but I wasn’t one of them.

“But when it’s all over, that’s all that’s left, isn’t it? Since then, I feel like walking meat.” I couldn’t begin to know what to say to that. He rubbed his eyes with the heels of both hands, looking so tired my heart broke for him. “I’ve been so angry. I’ve made everyone who ever loved me miserable, and here you come along, the embodiment of everything I hate, and you’re the one person I’m drawn to.”

“I can help you, if you’ll let me,” I tried approaching him and put a hand back on his arm.

Buy Link: for ebook of Physical Therapy:

ZA Maxfield’s links






Manlove Romance Press:

Torquere Press:

Aspen Mountain Press:

Loose Id:

Samhain Publishing:

Welcome Laura Tolomei!!

Today's guest, Laura Tolomei shares with us the creating of a series and the difficulties involved. If you have dreams of writing a series, her insight will give you some excellent ideas! Thank you for sharing such great information, Laura.

The writing of the Virtus Saga

Writing the Virtus Saga was a real challenge, particularly since I’m still not sure on how to go about creating a series. Mine, believe it or not, built itself on its own, starting with a recurring image in my mind—a horse rider lost in a place close to home who finds shelter from a thunderstorm in a beautiful woman’s run-down shack, and she looks too familiar to be a stranger, though he has no recollection of her, of who she is, not even of a name—and developing apparently on its own, details being added as I went along without any pre-conceived plot. As incredible as it sounds, it felt like I was reading it, rather than creating it. Yes, like any other reader starting with The Sex, I had no idea what the plot would turn out to be or why characters did certain things, then progressed to The Game, Book 2, and The Festival, gathering information without the chance to glimpse ahead. All I had was a concept, which I’ll gladly share with your readers for the first time ever.

The planet Sendar is controlled by a mechanical device as part of a vast social experiment. This sophisticated mechanism channels people's aggression into sex, which in turn guarantees their feudal society knows no violence.

Other than the above, I didn’t know myself where the story was going when it started, so much so I still don’t have a definite ending to it.

Interestingly enough, the characters played inside my head for quite some time before I set them down on paper. At first, I saw this handsome dark rider, a prince I thought to myself, with long hair flying wild as he braced nature’s hostile elements—a storm about to hit him just to make the situation more tragic—on his black horse, utterly lost in a land he should’ve known like the back of his hand but oddly didn’t, until he sees candlelight shimmering in a window. When he gets to it, he realizes he’s not lost at all, in fact he’s very close to home, only with the storm’s fast approach, he decides to stop there for the night if they’ll offer him hospitality. But the woman standing on the thresholds feels awfully familiar, though he hasn’t the slightest idea who she is or why she should feel like someone he’s intimate with. Now why doesn’t he remember Ylianor since he’d grown up with her? And since readers will find the answer in Book 4, The Leader, it proves how little info the characters shared about themselves while I was writing, telling me only what they wanted me to know when it was time to know it, no earlier, so from the first line to the last, which is still to be written, it was just small pieces until they composed a great picture that still amazes me for its complexity.

And Christopher Templeton is the key to the whole design, although he came to me after Duncan falling for Ylianor, overshadowing what would have been a classic romantic meeting with its predictable ending had he not been there to make it different from the start. So I gathered he had been Duncan’s only love from the beginning, no question about it, since the earliest age possible, and no woman would ever replace him in the prince’s heart, not if he has any saying in it. In time, I’ve come to love how Chris defends his territory, fiercely eliminating competition, doing his dammed best to make sure things stay the way they started out, however impossible that will be to accomplish. Yet in the end, readers realize Lord Templeton loves Duncan so much, he’ll only do what’s in the prince’s best interest, even if it means having to step aside and forego the most precious thing in his life like he does for two entire years of pain and agony away from his lover’s side. But I guess it’s what makes Christopher so fascinating and so attractive in his own diabolical way, unpredictably evil at time while capable of a love so all encompassing he’d be willing to sacrifice everything to it, his life included. And unsurprisingly, it all came together with the phase, the planet Sendar’s unique way for boys and girls to experience sex for the first time with someone of their own age and gender, which for both Duncan and Chris is a clear-cut choice given the powerful attraction to each other that will inevitably draw them closer than they ever imagined possible.

Laura Tolomei aka Lalla Gatta
DON’T MISS The Festival Book 3 newest release of the VIRTUS SAGA & the EPIC nominee The Sex Virtus 1
Also available Tasting Leon’s Mark, To Seduce A Soulmate

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The Festival
Virtus Saga Book 3
By Laura Tolomei
GENRE: GLBT, m/m, m/m/f, f/f, Fantasy, Paranormal, Horror
ISBN: 978-1-55487-614-3
HEAT LEVEL: 5 flames
RELEASE DATE: July 15th, 2010
PUBLISHER: eXtasy Books
COVER: Angela Water


Prisoner of their whims, it was impossible to resist them further. With a shock of pleasure, she realized they were her masters—not just one, but both—to which she surrendered herself, body first, juggled upward and sideways, until she had no choice but to ride their tide, swept along with their passion, swelling uncontrollably as they drove her into bliss, her convulsions sucking them to the balls and squeezing them dry.



Romance at Heart – Leave your own review on Goodreads


eXtasy, ARe – Fictionwise – Ebookwise - Mobipocket


“Oh, no, lover, no you don’t!” Springing to his feet, Chris went forward. “This has nothing to do with me or the way I treat her, which hasn’t changed since you left me at Blue Oasis.” Moving closer, their faces almost touched. “No, I didn’t care about her then and I certainly don’t now! If it’s anybody’s fault, my guess is it’s yours.”

“What?” Confused, the prince took a step back.

“Yes, you’re the one who’s changed toward her and maybe it’s time you start asking yourself why…if you want to keep her, of course.”

“I didn’t—”

“Yes, you did, lover. Closing the channel between the two of you was a way of denying her, like telling her to stay out of your life.”

That each of them had a strong power, or Virt as the ancients called it, was something Prince Caldwell had learned only recently. But why did mine have to begin and end with her, our silent communication the greatest joy and the darkest curse of my life? And why do I miss her so fucking much, like I’d lost a piece of myself? Since I hushed her whisper in my head, I’ve become the loneliest man on this world and I can’t stand it one minute more! Raising his head, he retraced his step, coming up against Chris again. “All right, maybe I tried to silence her voice.” His lips curved in a wry smile. “But since Arthur died, things have been happening so fast and the sheer weight of them…” His voice trailed off, unsure how to tell his angel about the strangeness of it all.

Somehow though, Chris needed no words to understand. With a comforting embrace, he swept Duncan in his arms and held him tight. “I know it’s hard.” The hot breath whispered in the prince’s ear. “Arthur used to tell me about the load, the blazing lights, the noise—”

“It’s like when we were at the Nephis Valley, with the same bright flashes and the humming, only it never stops—not the lights, not the sound. And this damn shoulder, burning every time there’s a new flicker or a higher tone.” He shrugged. “I didn’t think I could handle her, too, not with all this mess that’s been running through my head.”

“Because she’s louder than all the other sounds combined?”

“Oh, Angel, you have no idea!” Pulling slightly away, Duncan gestured aimlessly in the air as if he wanted to draw a picture of what was tormenting him. “And it’s not only her. Both of you are stronger than whatever else is going on in my head. If your fire is the brightest star of all, which alone can dim the thousand lights flashing day and night, she’s the loudest sound that no amount of humming can ever silence.”

“From what you’re saying, she’s just as important as I am.”

Duncan looked straight in his eyes. “I didn’t think so at first, not until I cut off the connection. I believed I’d feel better without having her inside me, only to discover I’m unbearably alone if she’s not there. It’s like with Virtus. You don’t know where it ends and you begin.”

“And it’s not just your head that misses her.” Chris clasped his cock. “Your body craves her, too, even if you work hard at denial.” Another squeeze, then the intriguing blue-gray eyes fixed on him. “At least, unlike you, I’ve seen it coming from the start, dreading it actually until I had time to think it over.” Taking a deep breath, he looked as if he were about to seal his destiny forever. “It was hard enough to accept sleeping beauty in my life, not to mention in your bed, as a permanent fixture and I wished you had some other choice—the gods can testify to that. You, more than anyone else, know how much I love you and just being with you every day, every thirty-six-hours of it, is reason enough for me to live, even if I’m no nearer to understanding the magic you work on me than I was ten years ago. Yet somehow, you made her a part of it, too, and so damn well, I can’t think of the two of us without her.” Sighing, he held on to Duncan. “It’s all so fucking confusing and maybe Virtus just adds its own load to bring more chaos to the world, but the one sure thing I know now is she’s not necessarily a threat. I used to hate the way you cared for her, so I wished her gone a thousand times. But, after you left Blue Oasis, she’s looked after me without being the obsessive presence I feared, rather someone available only if I needed her. Sometimes, I wouldn’t see her for days on purpose to test her reactions and never once did she complain or make a scene because I neglected her.” With a loving gesture, Chris brushed a loose strand of hair off Duncan’s face. “And that’s when I understood she won’t change the way we feel about each other nor interfere with our time either. You can have both, if that’s what you want, and in a way, it’s making you more complete, even when it comes to me.” Standing so close they could have easily kissed, the angel grabbed his arms. “So I’ll be damned before I allow you to throw away what you need most, besides me, of course.” He grinned mischievously. “Now get your ass to her before she leaves or does something even more stupid.”

Their lips met in a fierce kiss as their energy linked, the fiery blaze surrounded by the cooler one, until the prince let go and went out the door, followed by his angel’s last words. “And be sure to tell her I want her to stay, too.”

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Melisse Aires Brings us Her Accidental Angel

Today we are fortunate to have Melisse Aires as our guest. Love the title of her book, Her Accidental Angel and the excerpt definitely caught my attention! Grab your coffee then set back and enjoy!

When I wrote Her Accidental Angel I'd been reading a ton of vampire and wolf shifter paranormals and I wanted something different. An angel seemed fun. While there is a demon and death and destruction I think of HAA as a lighter paranormal. My main characters have their flaws, but I enjoyed writing their story.

The story was somewhat of a jinx though. I contracted it twice prior to this, and both ebook publishers went out of business soon afterward. Very disappointing! I'm happy to say it did not close the doors of Aspen Mountain Press. I have a sweet cover, too!

I hope you enjoy my cover and story info. It will release on APRIL 4 from While I will be having a contest during release week(check my website in the weeks ahead for contest info, I would like to offer an ebook to one of the readers of this blog. Leave a post and I'll do a drawing!


Kari thinks a weight loss spell in an old book is worth a try. Unfortunately, while it does make her thin, the spell is a trick that unleashes a centuries old famine demon.

Fallen Guardian Angel Rahmiel once defeated the famine demon and was bound to it so he could fight it if it ever descended to the earth again. But there is the little problem of his imprisonment in ice. While the demons reappearance gets him back to Earth, what he needs to stay out of prison is a bonding ceremony with a human woman--like Kari.


Kari awoke in her candle-lit living room. The candles had burned down a little. She was lying on the couch with grandma’s afghan thrown over her. Then she remembered her wounds. She flung back the blanket and searched her abdomen for the wounds, wondering if she could make it to the phone to call 911.

“Oh my God.” She stared at her body.

Her stomach was flat. She felt for the wounds, but saw only four small scratches on her lower belly and one up higher, under her breasts. Her perky breasts. She had ribs. Slowly, she ran her hands over her body, registering their movement, that this was truly her body.

Her legs were slim and they looked longer. Her arms had no flab. She shook them extra hard to be sure.

She was thin—really thin. Size four kind of thin. She hadn’t been smaller than a size fourteen since sixth grade. A Summoning to be Thin, the spell from the old book, had worked.

Memories of the spell flooded her. She shivered, remembering the skeleton that had skewered her in her dream. It had enjoyed her pain. That had been no helpful spirit, it would have killed her. The whole incident seemed real, the blood running down her legs, the sensation of swinging through the air—she never dreamed movement and sensation like that. And there was another spirit, who had fought the skeleton…Maybe the anointing oils and herbs on the candles had made her hallucinate, because that had been unlike any nightmare she could remember. But it couldn’t have been real, because she had no wounds, nor was she covered in blood. She must have crawled to the couch and covered herself, though she couldn’t remember doing so.

If I’d known how intense the spell was going to be, I wouldn’t have done it. But somehow it worked.

I wonder how much I weigh now? She leapt off the couch and walked to the bathroom for a weigh in.

Her foot landed on something wet and cold. Ice. What is ice doing in the hallway? There was a lot of it, big chunks scattered on the carpet leading to the bathroom.

I’m never doing magic again. Weird things happened…

The full length mirror on the outside of the bathroom door showed her reflection. Kari forgot the ice and the weirdness when she saw her new body.

“It doesn’t even look like me,” she whispered as she stepped close to the mirror. Her face was different, eyes larger, cheekbones noticeable and no double chin. Her hair seemed longer, the way it flowed over her slim shoulders. She traced her cheekbones with her finger tips and then tapped under her chin, where she used to have a roll of skin. Her neck seemed longer with pronounced collar bones. Her wrists, hands—they were different now, too. She had never been tall, but now she was delicate, with slim arms and legs, a tiny waist. Her breasts were round and high. She didn’t need underwire support anymore, light and lacy bras with thin straps would work.

Her fingers slid over her ribs, easy to find now, but she was pleased to see they were not sticking out. She wasn’t too thin. Her stomach was the best change. It was flat, with even a little muscle definition. I’ll get a belly ring right away, she thought. She’d always envied girls who had belly rings that showed when they raised their arms, and now she would be one of those girls. She turned around and craned her neck to see her backside. Her butt was round and high. She stomped to see how much she jiggled...and the bathroom door swung open.

She jumped back from the door with a screech, the memory of the dream skeleton flooding her mind.

A man stood in her bathroom doorway, so tall his hair touched the top of the door jamb. He was nude except for a towel wound around the bronze skin of his groin, leaving his sculpted chest and abs bare. He had muscle everywhere—shoulders, arms, thighs. Long, silky, golden hair fell past his shoulders in waves. Light blue eyes, tilted upward just a little, framed in long dark lashes and straight dark brows, and focused on her naked form. His jaw line was square, cheek bones high, a straight nose and full, carved pink lips.

“You did this to me?” For some reason, she did not feel at all embarrassed about being nude in front of the beautiful, strange man. Everything seemed like a dream. She ran her fingers down her slim torso, and his eyes followed the movement. “You are Kay fawn?”

“No!” His eyes widened. “Don’t say that name. He could return if you call him.”

He moved so swiftly he was a blur. Suddenly he was in front of her, and Kari found herself facing his back, from which two huge white wings grew from his shoulders, arching down to his muscular calves.

“An Angel,” she said aloud, in awe. “You’re an Angel?”

He grunted.

She reached out one hand and touched the, so silky soft. Beautiful. She ran both hands down his wings, careful not to ruffle them the wrong way. This must be another crazy dream.

He made a funny gasp and whirled around, leaving her with her hands in the air where his wings had been.

She stanched the impulse to run her hands down his sculptured chest. Barely

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ella Vines Writes It Hot!

Ella Vines is a split personality like so many of us who write! Today she share tips on her "hot" side and later this month she will treat us to her 'Goth' alter-ego. So today, get your coffee and learn about writing HOT!
And tomorrow, Ella will pick a random winner for a copy of Her Dark Fairy from the comments and questions she receives.

The Erotic and a Sense of Place

I am fairly new to this erotic romance writing gig. I started out with mainstream gothic romance, and that is what I was content to do for a while. Then, sex started creeping into my sweet romances-- a hard member here and a wayward nipple there. I decided I had to get a pen name and fast and try my hand at erotic romance.

I'm loving it and the freedom to write in two different genres. The most startling thing I've learned so far in writing erotic romance is that a sense place is important.

I find that my characters tend to end up in places I've been-- the Mississippi woods, Alabama graveyards, and on country roads. In a sense, I am rewriting my life or re-imagining it in a different context. I began asking what if those out of the way places where the pine trees dominate and the heat is intense were peopled with male fairies or sexy satyrs? Those questions led me to write about such beings in my home territory of the South. These places are very much interior and isolated ones as well. They are metaphors for the secrets we all have-- for the sex we fantasize about and that we have had in the past.

It's been so much fun so far. Places I already know as magical have taken on even more dimensions for me. This leads me to ask writers and readers out there: what places hold magic for you? How do you include them creatively in your writing or in your fantasy life and reading?

Ella Vines is an erotic romance author who does a little bit of everything in the genre-- paranormal, historical, and contemporary. She is the alter ego of an introverted writing instructor whose muse brings her out on full moon evenings to write. Find her at or on Facebook: Ella Vines.

Two short stories by Ella are on the Summerhouse Publishing site: “Her Dark Fairy” and “Seduced by a Satyr.” She is currently on submission with several novellas. Ella is proud to be one of the first authors at Summerhouse Publishing.

Monday, March 7, 2011

For the Love of Chocolate!

Since, in the Magical Love Series, the heroines are all chocolate lovers and one is even a chocolatier, I decided to explore the world of chocolate.

The trip starts back in ancient times when the use of chocolate wasn’t the guilty pleasure of today. Through the ages it has functioned as a scared ceremonial beverage, medicine, status symbol and money.

There is evidence the Maya typically used the cacao seeds to make a thick, bitter chocolate beverage. Though heyday of their culture was from around 250-900 A.D., some evidence suggests another culture used it before then.

Some experts think chocolate-drinking may have originated around 1,000 B.C. with the Olmec, who lived Mexico’s Gulf Coast region around 1,500 to 400 B.C. Whether credit goes to the Olmec, the Maya or the Aztec who followed, we today owe them a big thank you!

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll share more information on the importance of chocolate in history and give the details of a contest centered on the Magical Love Series. So be sure to check back each week to learn more about our ‘go to’ for a quick stress release or sugar fix (hey, it’s actually good for you!), as well as how your recipe can appear in the series.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Skhye Moncrief Educates Us on Research

Today, we welcome Skhye Moncrief, paranormal author extordinare! Skhye is sharing a lot of great information with us! If you write paranormal or have wondered how authors research for the subject, you'll want to read this.

In addition to having a drawing, to make our day even better, Skhye is sharing her favorite eye candy with us!

Why research when writing paranormals or fantasy? I'm just kind of sick and love research. But I also write a time travel series that allows me to toy with historical fact, x-hmmm legends derived from oral history... Just call me evil. I set my series up so I could do this. And I wanted to be able to write about any time period or culture. I'm a disgruntled geologist and archaeologist--where my formal education lies. So let me list some books that might help you find a unique twist to an old plot or a totally new (and difficult to sell) ultra-twisted storyline like my Time Guardians. :) Or you can use the books to sketch out the goals, motivation, and conflict of your story set somewhere in Western history. Then again, you can merely use these resources to paint your tale with historical ambiance. Let's begin with a little quiz with a contest...

Match the heresy with its defining belief:
a. Docetists
b. Bogomils
c. Joachites
d. Gnostics

1. They believed that Jesus did not actually die on the cross, but only appeared to do so through a divinely inspired collective hallucination of the onlookers.

2. They espoused that cosmic symmetry dictated that the second person of the Trinity--the Holy Spirit--would be incarnated as a woman.

3. Rather than a struggle between good and evil, they envisioned a conflict between two Gods--an unknowable, true God, and a lesser, rule-giving God who presided over the world.

4. This heretical sect claimed that God allowed his other son Satanael (Satan), to create the material world.

Post your answers as a comment by midnight CST tonight. I'll choose a winner with correct answers tomorrow. The winner will win a PDF of THE SPELL OF THE KILLING MOON set in medieval Cumberland. So you're wondering what in the heck is that tale all about...

One must die so the other can live.

A werewolf and a time traveler’s carnal attraction becomes a curse when she arrives in medieval England to kill him for turning against his time-travel brotherhood.

He must guard a relic. She doesn’t care if she gets in his way.

Druid Elspeth is a were-assassin sent to Cumberland to kill a renegade time guardian. She never expected to find him her soul mate. All she knows is she must stop Aidan Gordon from changing history. The sexy powerful knight proves too tempting to refuse. If his noble actions convince her he was wrongly accused, she will be forced to haunt the frenzied wood under THE SPELL OF THE KILLING MOON.

Back to the quiz... The quiz came from the back cover of ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HERESIES AND HERETICS (Just like the Who's Who in the Middle Ages, you can look up your historical figure, jump to another from that article, and another until you've gained an incredible understanding of Western taboos for creating your own characters!) This is an interesting resource for all sorts of goals, motivations, and conflicts.

WHO'S WHO IN THE MIDDLE AGES (Here's your starting point for researching historical characters like Robert the Bruce, saints, and Justinian. Never overlook the historical examples we have that readily translate into a fictitious story character...)

MEDIEVAL FOLKLORE: a Guide to Myths, Legends, Tales, Beliefs, and Customs (This book helped me understand medieval life in Medieval as well as Renaissance/Reformation Literature. You really need to know what everything means to grasp the significance of stories with foreign metaphors. With information explaining everything from Christianity, the occult, authors, and everyday lifeways, you will definitely fill your pages with realitistic details based on reputable backstory.)

MEDICINE & SOCIETY IN LATER MEDIEVAL ENGLAND (I use this book to represent medieval and Near Eastern medicine given the significance of alchemy in healing then. This is pre-scientific medicine. Not that alchemy isn't a science itself. You should treat it that way.)

THE DICTIONARY OF ALCHEMY: HISTORY, PEOPLE, DEFINITIONS (This collection of information is as intriguing as the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HERESIES AND HERETICS. You will find more information here about Galenic medicine than anywhere else.)

ALCHEMY: THE MEDIEVAL ALCHEMISTS AND THEIR ROYAL ART (This is the textbook for alchemy. The first chapters explain the "science" extremely well and place it in historical perspective.)

THE WORDSWORTH ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PLAGUE & PESTILENCE (Find the plague or pestilence afflicting your characters any time or place in this book.)

THE HISTORY OF HELL (A book that can help you understand the origins and evolution of the concept. This ideological gem also tells you which religion thought what way back when. That in itself is enough to stop you from pulling your hair out.)

CHRISTIAN MYTHOLOGY (A book that will help you understand the significance of major Biblical stories and characters for writing them correctly instead of distorted by your bias. Nobody knew the answers when I took a few literature classes. Even the Bible thumpers!)

THE ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO BIBLE CUSTOMS & CURIOSITIES (This was a unique thrift store find loaded with the meanings of Biblical customs...)

DICTIONARY OF MEDIEVAL WARFARE (3,500 years of military history)

THE CELTIC WORLD (This book is a mammoth collection of formal papers for the die-hard researcher. I love them. But I'm formally educated in geology and bioarchaeology. You may not love reading the articles. See if you can check this book out of the library before purchasing a copy. It may not be for you.)

I'm going to stop here and just send those writing paranormals to my other list,, containing even more historical reference books. :) I blog about my personal reference books at Although, I used to blog almost daily, before Lyme Disease curbed that addiction, I still manage a few reference-book posts a week and host a guest author who shares reference sources for his/her book/series. Thanks for having me over Karen. ~Skhye

Win prizes at Skhye's newsletter group:

Skhye's reviews:
"His forbearance, pure love, and finally his and Katie's "hand fasting" create an enchanting love story with a touch of magic... destiny sends them to a time and a life far removed from the lives they have known... a tale of future, present, and past with each of the time periods nurturing Katie and Murdo until the time is right for their union—their destiny. Skhye Moncrief creates a unique culture from which Murdo comes. She weaves it in with present culture, making a compelling, sparkling love story with a unique twist near the end." SWORDSONG ~Camilla, LASR
"Arthur is a masterpiece..." He of the Fiery Sword's King Arthur ~Diane Mason; The Romance Studio

"Talk about a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat and telling others to leave you alone until you're finished. Ms. Moncrief has created a story unlike any other. It's the best when it comes to spine-tingling suspense. Her words are so visually written. I didn't feel like I was reading at all, I felt like I was living the story myself. The story is dynamite; it explodes off the pages and leaves you breathless for more. In the future, I will be more than excited to see a new release from Skhye Moncrief, not including what I'm ordering from her backlist!" FORBIDDEN ETERNITY~Tulip, LASR

“The Spell of the Killing Moon offers the best of spine-tingling suspense. The setting is perfect... Moncrief’s ability to wield magic and emotion are without compare. Her words twist together emotions and visuals until you experience this tale as if the trap were set for you. Some lines blend a kind of poetic magic: “Moonlight wove a special kind of magic, a spell so vacillating that a person never knew if reality were anything other than a dream.” Darkness and premonitions and deadly intent fill these pages... a unique blend of mystic Medieval Gothic and romance…and a true blood-curdling thriller. 5 books" ~Snapdragon, LASR

"Intense, original, suspenseful, and dramatic... an unpredictable topsy-turvy romance... the suspense builds with every page in SACRIFICIAL HEARTS. In a world where symbols mean everything, magic is the way..." ~Snapdragon; LASR

Question for March Prize Drawing Entry

The question for March is simple and easy! Don't forget to include your email at the bottom of your comment!!!!

What do you do to celebrate the arrivial of Spring?

The prize for this will be something that centers around spring, which means I need to go shopping!