How would you like to read an interview with Tank, from According to Plan?
Welcome Tank or do you prefer Jake or Mr. Steele?

I prefer Tank.

Thank you for dropping by. Although I must say, I’m surprised Shelby let you out of her sight after the time you two have had recently. Is she keeping you on a short leash now?

You’ve got that backwards. She's on the short leash. I’m not taking any chances with that girl. I thought I’d lost her once, I’m not going through that again.

So you first met Shelby a while back at a beach party. First impression?

Man, where do I start? First impression will always be her rockin’ bod, pert ass… ahhh, you know the rest. First time I talked to her, I’m surprised I didn’t drool. One look in her baby blues, and I was done like dinner. But I knew this girl was the one I had to marry when I asked for her phone number, and she gave me the local animal shelter’s number. This told me she had a cool head, and didn’t fool around.  


How is the relationship with you and Caleb now? Just a thought, but maybe you should introduce him to Polly.

At first I was supremely pissed off Caleb hadn’t given me a heads up about Shelby, but he was doing his job. He’d been in my unit when we were Special Forces, and I know I’d have kicked his ass all over the state if he’d given up a protected person, so we’re cool.

Funny you should say that about him and Polly. They met at the wedding, and I don’t know *shrugs*, Caleb’s a dark horse. Polly liked the looks of him, so we’ll see.

Speaking of Polly, you are really indebted to her. Do you think you would have gotten back together with Shelby without her help? I mean she was always team Tank, even during Shelby’s darkest days.

Polly is the best woman friend I’ve got. Hell, she’s the only woman friend I’ve got. If she hadn’t been on my side, I don’t think Shelby and I would have been a couple. At least not without a fight. Polly’s got lots of sway with Shelby. Those two are thick as thieves. If she hadn’t dropped clues on my head, like cement bricks, I may never have headed out to Walker Lake, and I don’t even want to think what could have happened if I didn’t. *shudder* Shelby’s alive because of Polly, and I will forever be indebted to her.

What are you doing when not chasing down the bad guys? What’s the average Tank day?

(scratching head) Pretty tame since I stopped doing undercover work. When I’m not active, I check in with the field office and get paperwork out of the way. If I can dodge that bullet I will. *wolfish grin* I’m not above bribing our secretary to make my paper madness go away. She loves Boston Cream donuts even more than Polly. But I have to confess, I’ve been hanging around the house with Shelby for a ‘couple’ of reasons.

I know you’re an excellent cook, but the big question is, who kills the spiders?

I HATE spiders! Creepy crawly, legs everywhere… hey, don’t tell Shelby. She’ll never let me live it down if she knew.

What are the plans for the business now? Are you back full time?

Yep, back full time, but I don’t plan on going deep undercover any more ~ Shelby’d kill me.

At what point did you know that Shelby was “the ONE”?

The minute I saw her. Sounds corny, I know, but when I caught her eye at the keg party, a jolt of electricity passed through me. It was the strangest thing and I remember thinking, “I’ve got to meet this girl.” Everything after that only solidified the feeling. Man – she still gives me thrills.

We know that Shelby has a “T” tattoo. Did you reciprocate?

Right here. (rolling up his sleeve) I can’t have anything too personal, because in my business it’s not good to have too many identifiers. This is close enough to a barb wire tattoo that it doesn’t stand out as unique

Interviewer’s note - getting really up close and personal with Tank's bicep
Ooooh, that's gorgeous!! And unless you're real close, it looks like an ordinary barb wire tat... but I see an intricate S in the middle of a rose. The brambles and thorns look like... oh, that's sneaky and creative. Niiiiiiice! (gives a good squeeze for luck) *ahem* I hope you have a permit for those guns....

And finally, where would you like to be in five years?

Running my own security company, with Dango and Cowboy to work with me. Also, Grizzle has a nephew who’s a computer nerd’s wet dream, and I’d bring him on board. 

Thanks again Tank for sharing and stopping by. Please tell everyone hello for me.

You bet. Polly's been calling and e-mailing non-stop since she knew I was coming here. If I didn’t give her a shout out, she’ll never let me live it down. Even Rodie knew about this. I’m not gonna ask how, but he knows everything.
So – Yo Polly. You owe me a beer, and Rodie, meet me at the usual place, usual time. I’ve got a few things to go over. Don’t go all Big and Bossy on me. Just be there.

Guest Blogger ~ Cynthia Sax

Aliens Are Watching You

Lust by Moonbeam From Cynthia Sax

Growing up in the country, one of the naughty things my girl friends and I would do is hike up to a small lake (a lake the boaters couldn’t get to by road), find a sheltered bay, and skinny dip.

We’d whisper and giggle. What if someone saw us? What if an airplane flew directly overhead, the pilot looked out of the cockpit, and he SAW? What if aliens with HUGE telescopes were spying on us from their distant planets? What if?

The risk of being caught, being seen, was part of the excitement. It added a twist of naughtiness to a summertime swim.

We were never caught. At least, I don’t think we were. My mom (who knows and sees everything) never grounded me for a zillion years so I assume no one told her about my skinny dipping.

In Lust by Moonbeam, there’s no maybe about being seen. Cathy and Rellec KNOW Rellec’s alien buddies are watching them. ALL of the aspects of their relationship are being monitored to help more aliens find their human mates.

Rellec accepts the voyeurs as this is the price he has to pay to earn a mate. Cathy finds her audience much more arousing.

Have you ever engaged in an act of exhibitionism? Come on, I can’t be the only one who has gone skinny dipping (and streaking but that’s a story for another day – grinning)!!


Lust by Moonbeam is now available from Ellora’s Cave.

Cynthia Sax

Erotic Romance With A Hint Of Humor

Blurb:

Cathy arrives at Moonbeam, the Roswell of the North, with one goal—to prove the mysterious dead tree circles are not caused by UFOs. Meeting a devastatingly handsome lumberjack with unusual blue and green eyes is a bonus. He thinks he’s an alien, but that doesn’t bother Cathy. She can tolerate a little crazy in a one-night stand, especially since Rellec claims her body as no sane man ever has—with the hungry touch of forever.

Rellec arrives at Moonbeam with one goal—to retrieve his assigned mate, ensuring the continuation of his species. Having trained long and hard for his erotic mission, he is determined to satisfy his tiny human female and overcome her objections with out-of-this-world passion.

Failure is not an option.

Excerpt:

“Shit!” Cathy lunged, reaching out to catch her flying phone. It bounced off her fingertips, connected with the toe of her work boot and shattered against the only freakin’ rock on an otherwise grass-covered path.

“Great, just great.” She set her toolkit down, bent over and picked up the pieces. “Another phone bites the dust.” Cathy stuffed the parts into her pants pocket.

“Don’t say anything.” She craned her neck to glare up at the shiny, silver, nine-foot-tall model of a UFO. “As you’re certainly not one to judge, ruining any chances I ever had of making Moonbeam my hometown.”

“Why?” she continued her one-sided conversation. “Because you’re clearly as non-operational as my phone now is, that’s why. I also doubt the dead tree rings are a result of alien landings, so once I prove the o-rings are either naturally occurring or a hoax and I file my sure-to-be-newsworthy report with the Ministry of Natural Resources, your friendly Moonbeamers won’t be so friendly toward me.” She sighed.

“And I’ll be run out of yet another small town.” Her shoulders slumped. “Sometimes I feel like I’m the alien.”

An uncomfortable silence stretched. She was alone. Officer Danielle, her contact, hadn’t yet arrived and it was too early in the day for tourists. It was only her and Moonbeam’s most famous landmark.

“I meant no offense with the fake comment.” Cathy patted the side of the flying saucer. A high-pitched ringing sound reverberated inside the fiberglass shell and a screw dropped from the panel.

“And I didn’t do that.” Half expecting the whole alien craft to come tumbling down around her, she stepped away from the spacecraft and glanced furtively to her left and to her right. No humans or aliens were nearby. She expelled the breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding, looked around her once more and bent to pick the screw up.

It had rolled next to a cheerful yellow dandelion poking defiantly through the cracked concrete base. “I also didn’t break the base. It was here when I arrived. When people accuse me, and for some reason they always do, I expect you to vouch for me.” She shook a finger in mock warning at the weed.

“The herbaceous plant has not yet mastered human speech,” a deep voice observed.

“Eh?” Cathy straightened quickly, cracking her head on the underbelly of the spaceship. Instead of stars, like normal people would see after a concussive smack, Cathy conjured up a hot man with eyes that could rival the Northern Lights for their brilliance. The iridescent blues and greens pulled her in, making her step toward the stranger for a better look.

Unable to focus on anything but him, she tripped over the cracked concrete and fell, tumbling headfirst into his arms, her momentum propelling him backward. They landed with a thump on the ground, his big body cushioning her fall.

The stranger gulped a big mouthful of the crisp, northern air, his flannel-covered chest heaving against her cheek, and he matter-of-factly flipped her over in his lap. Cathy raised her chin. Their gazes met and held.

“Whoa,” she whispered, wincing at the pain ricocheting inside her skull.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Thanks Cynthia for visiting today. What did you all think? Let me know. I'd love to hear your opinions.

Thank You





June 13, 2011

I never took the time (my bad) to thank readers who helped propel The Perfect Secretary to a much coveted #2 spot at All Romance e-books. What a heady rush. Because of you, The Perfect Secretary graced the Top 10 Best Seller list for three months before bowing out so other authors could enjoy the spotlight.

The above screenshot was taken June 13, 2011 when TPS was still only #6 on All Romance Best Sellers list, #3 in Best Selling Multiple Partners eBooks and if you notice - The Invitation was #5 on Highest Rated Multiple Partners eBooks.

Whew! What fun.

Thank you to all my readers. I look forward to your continued support of me and my writing.

Madison

Putting Some Punch in Your Prose

I’ve had the unmitigated pleasure of taking an on-line class from New York Times Bestselling author Angela Knight, creator of the Mageverse series, The Time Hunter series, and many other action packed books.

One of the participants, Jane Xie, was very brave, and offered up her 'work in progress' for Angela to rip apart. As I read what Angela had to say, I had the proverbial ‘aha’ moment, and immediately wanted to share how a paragraph went from good, to better, to WOW.

Both Angela and Jane have agreed to let me use their work. Thank you. Here is the original paragraph followed by Angela's comments:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A low growl came from the darkness. Lana turned back only to see a giant arm reaching out to take a swing at them. Jake was struck in the back with enough impact to send them both to the ground. Jake shifted to the side before landing to avoid her taking his whole weight from the fall but she was still stunned from the force of blow.

Here we have the dreaded passive voice everybody tells you to avoid. "Jack was struck in the back" is passive voice. What that means is ~ you sliced the ACTOR right out of the sentence, like that old government standby, "Mistakes were made." Which is to say, "I'm not saying I made them, but mistakes were made."

Here's how we can recast this paragraph:

A low growl came from the darkness. (Nice frightening detail, BTW) Lana turned as a giant arm swung at them, striking Jack so hard, the impact knocked them both to the ground. Jake twisted to take the brunt of the fall, but she was still stunned.

OK, my version cuts 24 words out of your paragraph, most of it from the sentence that really needed work. "Jake shifted to the side before landing to avoid her taking his whole weight from the fall but she was still stunned from the force of blow." Ummm, baby, no. I know what you're trying to say - he's trying to keep his full weight from hitting her. That's a nice hero thing to do. Which is good. But that sentence is really clunky. Like me rolling down the hall in front of Dorothy's apartment, it goes on way too long.

But really, I don't like my version all that much either. It's shorter, but it's got all the punch of a handful of soggy toilet paper. Eeew. Let's fix it.

A growl rumbled out of the dark, low, vicious, sending a chill running down Lana's spine. She spun. A massive hand smashed out of the shadows, hitting Jack so hard he slammed into her. She saw stars as they hit the ground together, Jake wrapping his body around hers to take the impact.

Better. Note I swapped out some of those low-impact words -- "swung" becomes "smashed," as I replace low-power verbs with stronger ones. But "a chill running down Lana's spine," is SUCH a cliché. So is "she saw stars." But then, the first thing that pops into your mind is always going to be a cliché anyhow. Fixing those is half the rewrite process.

How about:

A growl rumbled from the dark, loud and deep enough to make Lana's bones reverberate. She spun. A massive hand smashed into Jake, catapulting him into her with stunning force. He wrapped his body around hers as they fell, taking the impact on one muscled shoulder.

Nah. Let's kick it up a notch.

A growl rumbled from the dark, deep enough to make Lana’s skull reverberate. She spun. A massive hand smashed into Jake, slamming him against her like a cat batting a pair of mice. As they flew toward the rear wall, he curled protectively around her, taking the impact on one muscled shoulder. The back of her head still rapped the plaster so hard, starbursts blinded her. Stunned, breathless, they hit the floor in a bruised pile.

This is actually LONGER than your version, but that's because it actually adds another impact -- they hit the back wall before they hit the floor, so they actually went airborne. Why? Why NOT? These are supernatural beasties, not some drunk you're fighting in a bar. Make 'em scary. Make it MORE. Give us more detail, ramp it up. We want the action to be that much more vivid. Work in sensory details as you make repeated passes over the sentence to cut some phrases and add sensory impressions.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

That was awesome. Two things, check out Angela's books on her website and watch for author Jane Xie - this book sounds like it's smokin' hot!

Excerpt - According to Plan

In this scene, Shelby has been missing for about three months, and Tank finally found her. He's driving to the ranch where she's been living.

What if she never remembered him? He'd been in Special Forces, and gone into numerous high-risk areas, but what he felt crawling along his spine was something he'd never experienced before.


Cresting a small hill, he saw the house and pulled alongside. Fear anchored him to the seat. Every mile he'd driven, a different scenario had played inside his mind. She could look at him and smile politely, because he was a stranger. Or she could hide, because Caleb warned her not to trust strangers. But the one scenario that gripped his heart and squeezed was the thought that she could look at him with indifference. Not because she didn't remember him, but because she did and didn't want him in her life.


I hope you read According to Plan. If you do, let me know (good or bad) what you thought.

S.E.X. Sells

Below is my blog post from Ramblings From a Chaotic Mind - Nikki gave According to Plan 4 stars. See review here.


Sex sells.

This is how I explained the success of my short story, The Perfect Secretary, to my creative writing professor. She is a well-respected, published author of women’s fiction. When I first started taking writing classes, and no one knew the goals of each student, she stated she didn’t like genre fiction, especially romance.

The imp in me couldn’t wait to tell the class who I was and what I wrote. My turn came right after a pleasant woman informed the class she was an Anglican minister wanting to jazz up her sermons. God does have a sense of humour. With a grin, I told the class I was a romance writer. And not just a romance writer, but an erotic romance writer. My professor has since become one of my biggest cheerleaders.
The reactions received when I tell people what I write are varied, and sometimes downright hilarious. It amuses me when they arch their back to create space between us, and formulate their next comment. Many ask, do you write from your own experiences?

Short answer is: Yes, and No. As an author, when I write how the woman feels, what thoughts go through her head, I have to write from my own experience, because that’s all I have. Do I embellish? Absolutely. When I write how the man thinks and feels I draw on the fact I live in a testosterone filled house. Only men in my home, except for the cats, and they’re traitors.

I’m also asked, how do I come up with my ideas? My husband will tell you I have a vivid imagination and a naughty mind. Good for him, and me.

In my novel, According to Plan, there are steamy sex scenes. I’ll talk about my favorite one, Tank and Shelby playing pool. When the idea began to formulate, I wanted to create tension. The first sex scenario had been pretty much wham, bam, thank-you ma’amand that was kind of expected as they’d been apart for over four monthsso this one had to have some build up.

The premise of strip poker, or strip chess ricocheted around my mind, but I needed a venue where Shelby would have a perceived sense of superiority. She challenges Tank to a game of strip pool. Best two out of three. As they move about the table, analyzing their shots, the conversation is full of double entendres, sly touches, and a whole lot of ‘uh oh, what have I done’ on Shelby’s part.

Then Tank and Shelby with the barstool. Oh my. Soooo much fun to write. It was vital that I place her in an extremely vulnerable position, physically and mentally, and by having Tank drape her legs over the barstool, exposing all, meant she couldn’t hide her needs or desire.

This whole scene, and the ones following, showed a couple who could get angry, have remorse, and work it out as adults. And that’s what I love about Shelby and Tank. Two everyday people, with everyday problems, finding love. Why, they could be your next door neighbours. You wouldn’t mind a few explosions on the front porch now. Would you?