Every Dollar Goes To Save An Animal!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Twisting That Alpha Male Around Her Little Finger by Tina Donahue

Don’t you just love a romance where the guy is dead set on what he does or doesn’t want and digs in his heels when the lady hopes he’ll do something else?

Ah, the conflict. Delicious. Delectable. Damn near sexy at times.

Of course, without conflict, the romance wouldn’t have those wonderful sparks between the characters. Those moments when a reader is on the edge of her seat, muttering, “Come on, do it, damn you. See things her way.”

That’s the tone I struck in the beginning of Sensual Stranger, my newest erotic romance released December 15th. Although Zach’s super attracted to Toni (as she is to him), he’s not about to react to his needs for various reasons. The interplay between them is luscious as she gets him to do what she wants.

Here’s the blurb and an excerpt to show you what I mean.


Into his life she came—wanting…willing…wanton

It’s no ordinary morning when Toni Starr arrives at Zach’s garage. Flat broke, with a past she won’t share, Toni’s instantly taken by such a potently virile man. Direct and unashamed, she tells him she’s a motorcycle performance artist who needs work and knows motors.

Zach knows women, and Toni’s unlike any he’s met. Lushly sensuous, exceedingly assured, she’d easily be his match in business and bed. A provocative challenge that stirs him as nothing has since losing his wife. A chance he’s reluctant to take, offering no more than a month’s employment, then she’ll have to be on her way.

The hours tick by. Each word and glance intensifies their denied yet escalating desire, forcing them to surrender to passion and Toni’s need for Zach’s dominance. Driven by carnal hunger, conquered by yearning, they face the unforeseen truth of Toni’s past and a future neither of them expected.

EXCERPT: (In this scene, Zach has just turned down Toni’s request for a job, which she needs desperately. Instead, he’s offered to buy her breakfast).

Toni watched the woman leave, then tilted her head to the menu, keeping her attention on it, not him, as Zach finally took his seat.
She allowed him enough time to get comfortable before asking, “Whatever I want?”
He teased, “Within reason.”
Toni looked at him from beneath her lashes. “Define reason, Zach.”
He hadn’t thought it possible, but her voice was throatier than he recalled, her guileless expression more provocative than the most blatant come-on. Not for the first time in her presence, Zach had trouble pulling in a full breath. What little air he did manage to take bore her unmistakable lavender scent.
She must have sprayed more of the fragrance on her throat and wrists while she’d been in the ladies’ room. Mixed with the heat of her skin, the scent brought to mind a field of flowers caressed by the summer sun, mist rising from the fragrant earth, naked flesh stretched out on a blanket, tongues meeting, legs entwined, a cock nestled within a juicy, heated sheath.
Define reason, she’d said.
Zach hadn’t a clue as to what that might be. It sure as hell wasn’t what was happening to him at this moment. Even though his mind kept saying ‘get a grip’, every cell in his body remained at attention for her. “Where you from?” he blurted suddenly, needing to know. “Originally?” he thought to add.
A long moment passed before she lowered her menu to the table. “Why?” She forced the sudden caution off her face, replacing it with a lazy smile. “You worried I don’t have a social security number? That I’m not authorized to work in this country?”
Zach nearly smiled at her tenacity in wanting a job. But only for a month, he reminded himself—four short weeks so she could get her bike out of prison and zoom away never to be seen again. “Just curious, that’s all.”
Her gaze slid to the right of him, her expression hiding whatever she thought. “I’m from a lot of places.”
Zach waited for her to add details, even though he figured she would not. He regarded the ends of her hair skimming her throat, the hollow between her breasts, her erect nipples pushing against her stretchy cotton tank, the hard buds reacting to the blast of chilled air pouring from the vent above them.
“I want that,” she said.
At the longing in her voice, Zach followed her gaze to a nearby table, seeing a young man and woman with two preschool children. Their blond good looks and innocent smiles made them a Norman Rockwell portrait of the perfect family from the fifties.
At Toni’s quiet sigh, Zach turned back to her.
Her expression and voice remained distracted as she said, “I haven’t had whipped cream on waffles in a long time.”
Again, he regarded the couple, noticing the woman’s plate heaped with a mound of the sweet treat.
“I’d also like what the guy’s eating,” Toni said. “That omelet looks really good.”
Zach gentled his voice. “Get whatever you want.”
Toni looked at him.
His heart made a weird twist at the yearning he saw in her eyes, followed by her flare of desire, so naked and wanting it rendered him helpless to glance away. She wore the look of a woman who’d deny him nothing, who’d willingly explore their needs wherever he demanded.
Intense warmth settled in Zach’s chest and throat. His scalp tingled.
Toni crossed her legs, her foot brushing his calf, remaining there. Zach didn’t move his leg. Their eyes remained locked. Silence embraced them, feeling somehow right, while the rest of the restaurant hummed with activity and sound. Johnny Cash sang Ring of Fire, the air-conditioner’s fan whooshed out cold air, utensils clacked against plates, people gabbed and laughed. 
“So, you two decided yet?” Em asked, intruding upon them, delivering the pitcher he’d asked for.
Zach poured a glass of the ice water, pushing it toward Toni. “Ladies first.”
Her cheeks pinked up.
“So, what do you want?” Em asked.
Toni lowered her gaze to the menu, her expression saying she suddenly recalled it. Head lifted to Em, she blurted, “A job. I’ll waitress or wash dishes or clean the place. Your choice.”
Clearly surprised, Em looked at Zach.
“Do you own this place too?” Toni asked him, dismay in her voice.
Em laughed. “No, hon. I own it with my husband, Hector. He’s the cook.”
“I can help him,” Toni said.
Zach countered, “I thought you were a mechanic, at least when you’re not being a daredevil.”
“A what?” Em asked.
“I’m a mechanic and a motorcycle performance artist, when I’m employed,” Toni retorted, then turned back to Em. “I’m not saying I can cook, but I can follow a recipe. It’s not rocket science, right?”
Em rested her hand on her ample hip. The lines above her nose got seriously nasty with her frown. “To Hector, it is. He’s very proud of what he does.”
“I won’t screw it up, I swear,” Toni said. “All I want is a chance to earn some money.” She craned her head. “Is that Hector?” She pointed across the room to the rectangular window that revealed the guts of the kitchen. Hector, swarthy and sweating, alternately cooked and directed the younger man at his side. “Maybe we can talk.”
“I don’t think so, hon.” Em didn’t move, which effectively blocked Toni from leaving her seat. “Like Zach said, you’re a mechanic. Better stick with what you know.”
“Even if it means I’ll starve? Look, it’s only for a month,” she added quickly, “until I can make enough to get my bike out of impound.”
“Outta where?” Em asked.
“It’s a long story,” Zach said.
Toni’s head swung to him.
He inhaled deeply of her lavender scent. Arousal hit him hard and fast, along with a rush of tenderness at the desperation he saw in her eyes. How far had she’d walked today before reaching Indulgence? Who’d given her a ride when she’d hitched? Hadn’t she worried about hooking up with a stranger who could possibly be a psychopath? Hadn’t she cared? Or were such concerns only for young woman who had families to care about them and money to protect them from harm?
“Please,” Toni said to Em. “I’ll do whatever odd jobs you have around here. I’ll—“
Zach cut in. “A month, no more than that.”
“—work hard—what?” she asked, interrupting herself.
He pushed his paper napkin and utensils to the right and back to the left. “I’ll give you a month at my place. Standard wage.”
Toni’s eyes rounded in surprise. A smile blossomed across her face.

It’s the first time, but certainly not the last, that Toni brings Zach around to her side. J

To celebrate the release of Sensual Stranger, I’m offering a contest today. One lucky commenter will have her choice of one of my following books**:

1.    Lush Velvet Nights – ebook
2.    Adored – ebook
3.    Deep, Dark, Delicious – ebook
4.    Close to Perfect – mass market paperback
5.    Bad Boys with Red Roses – trade paperback
6.    Take My Breath Away – trade paperback

** Winner chosen at random. Winner in continental US has her choice of one of the six. Winner outside continental US has her choice of one of the ebooks

Sensual Stranger is available now!!

Genre: Contemporary/Erotic Romance

Other Books by Tina Donahue:

Author Bio:
Tina Donahue is a multi–published novelist in erotic, paranormal, contemporary and historical romance. Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Romantic Times and numerous online sites have praised her work; she has reached finals and /or placed in numerous RWA–sponsored contests. Just recently, three of her erotic novels were named finalists in the 2011 EPIC competition. She was the editor of an award–winning Midwestern newspaper, worked in Story Direction for a Hollywood production company, and is currently the Managing Editor for a global business document concern.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Originality by Julian Adorney

                “I stand at the end of no tradition.  I stand, perhaps, at the beginning of one”.  These immortal words were uttered by Howard Roark, hero of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead.  Like Howard Roark, Ayn Rand stood at the end of no tradition.  Her books were wholly original, and have sold over 25 million copies to date.
               As writers, we are continually given the same advice: if you want to sell, write a twist on something pre-existing.  Writer Lawrence Block sums up his view of what makes a book sellable in four words: “the same only different”.  It must have a twist or a new outlook, but primarily it must be similar to something already in print.
               The main argument for this claim is that editors and publishers don’t know what to do with genuinely original material.  Editors don’t know where it fits in the marketplace.  Publishers don’t know how to market a story unlike anything they’ve ever seen.  Thus, if you want a career as a writer, you must write something that is “the same only different” from the rest of the market.  That at least is the myth.
               But the evidence suggests that the opposite is true. Rather than original writers, it is those writers of derivative work who are plagued by a mediocre reputation and lackluster sales.  I won’t name names, but I’ve read several books that have very little new to contribute.  One I read two months ago comes to mind: it was a cheap take-off of Robert Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers”.  It was 300 pages of an old story, just retold.  The ideas were tired, the characters had been written before.  The only thing it had to offer in the way of originality was a new author’s name on the byline.
               Those stories do not sell well.  I know; I’ve met a few of their creators.  Their advances are typically under $10,000, and their sell-through is a little over 50%.  Not great numbers.
               According to agent and writer Donald Maass, when there’s a recession, derivative works are the first things on the chopping block.  No-one wants to shell out hard-earned money for a book they’ve essentially read before by a different author, particularly when money’s hard to come by.  As a result, in recessions, sales dwindle. Editors, responding the law of supply and demand, quit buying derivative works.  And even in bear economies, unoriginal works don’t sell particularly well. 
               If you decide to write “the same only different”, you run another risk as well: constrainment of ideas.  Rather than plumb the wondrous depths of your mind for ideas, you are asked to write only what has been written before.  You are told that the story you had about vampires in space is unviable, not because it’s not intriguing, but because it’s too original.  As someone who got into this business to give my mind free reign, I find this sort of control at times stifling.
               By contrast, if you write original work, if you stand “at the end of no tradition”, than you can fully utilize the rich realm of ideas that is your mind.  You can write about vampires in space (or sentient buildings, or what have you), not in spite of those ideas’ originality but because of it.
               You will also do better financially.  Ayn Rand, as mentioned above, copied no other writers.  Indeed, she wrote her stories largely because of the lack of similar fiction.  Today, she’s sold 25 million copies, and she’s a household name.  Philip K Dick essentially invented the genre of drug-focused science fiction, and today one of the most prestigious awards in science fiction is the Philip K Dick Award.  Stephen King created the modern horror story, and today he makes $45million a year.
               My point is this: if you want to have an ordinary career as a midlist novelist, than by all means write derivative fiction.  Write “the same only different”.  Your career may not blaze, but you will at least be a professional writer (possibly).  But, if you want your career to blaze; if you want to sell millions of copies; if you don’t want to water down your ideas for a pre-existing market; if you want to see other writers imitating you instead of the other way around; than I suggest you try to write something original.  Be the next Ayn Rand.  Do for your genre what Philip K Dick did for science fiction.
               You may not succeed.  Certainly, for every Stephen King out there, there are hundreds of failures.  But even if you failed, you can go down knowing that you shot for the stars.

Blurb: So what happens when those promises turn out NOT to deliver? Such is the case with the protagonist in Julian Adorney’s “Deals,” a new literary short story available today from Untreed Reads. In “Deals,” James is determined to provide a comfortable life for his family, but when his college degree fails to provide the goods he finds himself making deals he hadn’t ever imagined.

Now available from Untreed Reads

Also check out Julian's story Murder in The Cynic online magazine.

Author Bio: Julian Adorney has been a writer since third grade, when hi teacher made the class write a fantasy story and he was hooked.  Since then, most of his life has revolved around writing: Julian has written short stories, taken writing workshops, and is an English major from University of Colorado at Boulder.  His other fiction can be read at Untreed Reads Publishing ('Deals') Shadowcast Audio Anthology ('Souls & Snowboarding'), and Cynic Online Mag (‘Murder’).  His latest piece, ‘Freedom’, about a young man who breaks free from his Machiavellian lover, will be published in 2011 by Gypsy Shadow Publishing.

When not writing, Julian enjoys hiking and getting together with friends.

Friday, June 11, 2010

R. Ann Siracusa’s Travelblog: Rome, Italy

My two favorite activities are traveling the world and writing fiction, and my “brand” is combining those loves into novels which transport readers to exotic settings, immerse them in romance, intrigue and foreign cultures, and make them laugh.

I travel because, as an architect, I’m fascinated by ancient cultures and the ways in which they manifest their natures in architecture, building systems, and design. Upon graduation from UC Berkeley with a degree in architecture, I lived and worked in Rome, Italy for a number of years and there married a Sicilian policeman. (That’s another whole story.)  After we came to the U.S., we made frequent trips to Italy and Sicily to visit family and friends, and that started the “travel juices” flowing. At the time, I had no clue that my interest would eventually inspire writing novels set in foreign lands. But here I am! 

Rome - The Eternal City 
Of all the places I’ve been, my favorite city is still Rome. Perhaps because I lived there, know my way around, and have many wonderful memories of falling in love and getting married. The smog can be bad, it’s miserably hot in the summer, the traffic is a disaster…and I love it.   

Actually, traveling in Italy (and most of Europe) is not all that different from traveling in the United States. You can always find someone who speaks English, and you can buy most of the same things there as you can in the States. Even many of the television programs are the same, including the Italian version of Dancing with the Stars. But, of course, Rome has a history that goes back nearly three thousands years (although the city itself was founded in 753 B.C.) and incredible architecture and art. (Sorry about the quality of the photos.  Most of them come from my private collection over the years, and I’m not that great a photographer.)

Rome as viewed from the Pincio

Vatican City
One of the highlights of Rome is a visit to Vatican City, which is actually a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory (110 acres) consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, the capital city of Italy, with a population of just over 800.

St. Peter’s Basilica, within the Vatican, is the largest church in the world (except perhaps the Basilica of Yamoussoukro). The Vatican museum and the church contain many art works worth seeing, including the Sistine Chapel. Both my daughter and oldest son were baptized in St. Peter’s Basilica.
 Your browser may not support display of this image.               Your browser may not support display of this image.

           Your browser may not support display of this image.     
(St. Peter’s Basilica and Castel Sant’Angelo)                 

                                                        (The Pietá)                                               

                                                   (The Sistine Chapel) 

Your browser may not support display of this image.(The interior portico vault)          

                                 (The Pope after mass, Nov.2009)              


(Interior of St. Peter's dome)  

                                             (Exterior of the dome)      

The dome of the Basilica, designed by Michelangelo, was only partially completed when he died in 1564. The valuting was completed in 1593 by architect Giacomo Della Porta assisted by engineer Domenico Fontana. The dome is actually a double dome (an inner skin and an outer skin) made of brick, 138 feet in diameter (interior dome) and rising 393 feet above the floor.  Tourists used to be allowed to climb from the base of the dome to the cupola on top between the two skins. The space was about twenty inches wide, and you could only go up in one direction and down in the other direction. The last time I went up was in 1982 (I don’t think I could fit between the shells now), and I doubt that is still permitted. When I visited Rome in 2005, it was so crowded we had to stand in line for two hours to see the Sistine chapel, and then we were herded through like sheep. If you intend to go to Rome, go off season if you can. It’s very beautiful at Christmas time (but cold).  It actually snowed one of the winters I was there (the first time in fifty years). 

Other “Don’t Miss” places to visit 
Other “Don’t Miss” sights in Rome include the Fountain of Trevi, the Roman Forum and Colosseum, the catacombs, the Spanish Steps, and the list goes on and on.   
Your browser may not support display of this image.    Your browser may not support display of this image.    Your browser may not support display of this image.
The Fountain of Trevi at night                 


                                                  (S.Callisto Catacombs)  

Your browser may not support display of this image.    Your browser may not support display of this image.     Your browser may not support display of this image.

(Interior of the Roman Colosseum) 

                                                       (The Spanish Steps)          

(Piazza Barberini) 

Working in Rome in the sixties and seventies 
For several years, I worked for the Societá Generale Immobiliare, a land development company (owned by the Vatican) that planned and developed housing and new towns throughout Italy and other countries.  At that time, their planning and architecture office was just up the street from Piazza Barberini―that was where my bus stopped. Then I walked up a fairly steep hill in three inch spiked hi-heels that always stuck in between the cobblestones when crossing the streets. You can’t imagine how many heels I broke that way.
My office was directly across the street from the barracks of the Carabinieri (military police) who served as a special guard for the President. They had a division of mounted Carabinieri who kept their horses in the compound. There was no such thing as air conditioning in the 1960s, so in the summer we kept the windows open. Man, did it stink!  I remember one time my boss come into my office when I had tissues wedged up my nose because of the smell. He was not impressed. 

In those days, most Italians worked Monday through Friday from 8 am to 1 pm, had a three-hour lunch break, then came back at 4 pm and worked until 7 pm. On Saturdays we worked from 8 am to 1 pm (2 pm for many workers). During the summer, when it was hot, the lunch break was 3 ½ hours, and we worked until 7:30 in the evening. For most Italians, the heaviest meal came at mid-day and afterward, during the hottest part of they day, they took naps before going back to work. They ate a light dinner around 9 pm. That was fairly standard throughout southern Europe. 

In my opinion, the long lunch break was a disaster. All businesses, museums, shops, everything except restaurants, were closed during the three hour period so there was nothing to do except go home. That probably worked when cities were small and people lived close to their work, but not in modern cities. The result was four commute trips per day, rather than two, with only enough time to get home on the bus or subway (very few people drove their cars to work if they had a car), fix lunch, clean up the dishes, and catch the bus back to work. (No crock pots or microwave ovens, either. Lots of families didn’t own refrigerators.) Now, work hours are substantially the same as in the States and Italians have the same electronic conveniences as we do. 

                                                                                             (Piazza Esedra) 
Piazza Esedra, also called Piazza Della Republica, is one of my personal favorites because that’s where I met my husband-to-be on the first day I arrived in Rome.  Before air conditioning―which is still not common in most Italian homes―in the afternoons and evenings, Romans would sit and relax around the fountains because the water spray provided a bit of relief from the sweltering heat. The fountain in the center of the piazza, la Fontana delle Naiadi, also call the Fountain of Love, is where I met him. Truth be known, I sat down next to him because I thought he was so good looking. Two months later, I had to look up the word fidanzata in the English-Italian dictionary to find out I was engaged. It’s great to be young and in love!   
Your browser may not support display of this image.                    Your browser may not support display of this image.
(My husband and I met at The Fountain of Love in Rome) 

Even in the 1980s, all the upper floors of the buildings that form a semi-circle around the piazza were empty and abandoned.  There has been a rent control law in Rome since the early 1900s.  These buildings (condominiums where apartments/offices are owned by various individuals) are so old that the owners would rather abandon them than go to the expense of upgrading to a more modern standard of liveability and only be able to charge a limited amount for rent. 

That’s all for now. Come visit with me again some time. Just let me know where you’d like to go.

TRAVEL TO FOREIGN LANDS FOR ROMANCE AND INTRIGUE with a novel by R. Ann Siracusa http://www.rannsiracusa.com  

(The second book in a humorous romantic suspense series "Harriet Ruby: Tour Director Extraordinaire.")
Author: R. Ann Siracusa
Author Link

Publisher: Sapphire Blue Publishing
Buy Link

Format: E-book
Genre: Humor/Romantic/Suspense

I’m Harriet Ruby: Tour Director Extraordinaire.  At least, I thought I was worthy of that title.
My first mistakeAgreeing to conduct a private tour of Italy. Fourteen Italian-Americans from New Jersey? All family, for three weeks, with four teenagers? What was I thinking? Fate responds to my engraved invitation by placing one of the family under surveillance as a suspect in an assassination plot, and who is assigned to the case?  None other than my favorite drop-dead-gorgeous spy, Will Talbot.
My second mistakeAllowing Will to coax an invitation from the family matriarch to join the tour.  
And that was just the beginning. The matriarch, searching for the unknown location of her mother's grave so she can bury her brother’s cremated ashes (which have been smuggled into Italy wrapped in Cuban cigars), and her quirky family members sweep through Italy leaving chaos, hilarity, and danger in their wake. 

Author Bio:

R. ANN SIRACUSA is involved in many activities, but her two favorite are traveling the world and writing fiction.  This talented author combines those loves into novels which transport readers to exotic settings, immerse them in romance, intrigue, and foreign cultures, and give them a good laugh. 
After receiving a degree in Architecture from UC Berkeley, she traveled to Italy.  There she worked in Rome for an Italian architecture and urban planning firm and married the Sicilian policeman she met at the Fountain of Love on her first day there.  When she and her husband returned to the United States, they settled down to career and family.  But the travel bug never left her.  While working for over thirty years in her chosen career, she made time to travel and began to write fiction that incorporated many of her experiences and observations.

Today, she is retired, lives in San Diego, California, and writes full time (which is as many hours as an Italian husband, three grown children, and eight grandchildren will allow on any given day).  She has been active in Romance Writers of America since 1985 and recently served two terms as Co-president of the San Diego RWA Chapter and one term as Treasurer. 

(I hope that isn't too long.  I'm afraid I lack the "pithy" gene.  Each of the books in the series takes place in a different country where I've traveled.  I writing book 5 right now and its set in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana where I travel in 2008.)