Posts tagged with: Suzanne Welsh

Jo Davis brings another Firefighter to the Lair!

interview with Suz

Suz: Welcome back to the Bandit Lair, Jo. I can’t believe we’re on the fourth book of this series.
You know, not long ago I had to call the paramedics for a family emergency and boy, not only did they send me two paramedics, but four extra guys rode in on the big quint! Sigh. It was almost worth calling them, just to see theses six BIG, sexy, handsome, uh?did I mention BIG firefighters walk into my house! I swear I was looking at your firefighter crew from Station Five! As inappropriate as it would’ve been, I sooooo wanted to just reach out and caress one or two or all of them.

Suz: How did you ever envision this group? Did they appear one at a time or all at once?

Jo: First, thanks so much to the Bandits for having me back today! I always love to visit and chat with this group! You guys are so much fun. To answer your question, the Station Five guys simply walked into my office one day and demanded that their stories be told. Like your firemen/paramedics that came to your house the other day, they were big, sexy, and oh-so-yummy. Who was I to deny their request?


Suz, staring at the new cover and fanning herself: So…uh…yeah… in book #4, LINE OF FIRE, you’re letting us see the youngest of the A crew, Tommy Skyler. By all appearances, Tommy lives a charmed life, doesn’t he?
Jo: It would seem he does, and that’s what most of his buddies think. But Tommy is still reeling from the repercussions a very painful, tragic family loss. This event changed the direction of his life and now he’s questioning the choices he’s made since then-including his decision to become a firefighter. He’s afraid he made that choice for all the wrong reasons and gave up too soon on his dream of playing for the NFL.
Suz: Tommy met his heroine Shea Ford in an earlier book. What kept them apart all this time?

Jo: Shea wants Tommy for her own, but she’s using the excuse that he’s too immature to keep him at arm’s length. She’s not really that much older than him, only five years older, and her excuse doesn’t wash. The truth is, Shea is gun-shy from a terrible mistake she made years ago, one that still haunts her. Tommy reminds her of that error and trusting a man is very hard for her to do.

Suz:  How does he win her attention and do things go smoothly for them?
Jo, saying with that mischevious twinkle in her eye: Now, I can’t tell you how he gets her motor running…the readers will have to find out for themselves.  But I will say that the road to happiness is anything but smooth. Some real obstacles are going to stand in their way, both from within themselves and from a tragic event.

Suz: Without giving anything away, what do you feel makes this book different to the series? (You can hint that there’s a change to the team dynamics, if you want.)

Jo: The tragic event I referred to before sets this book apart from the others. Readers who have followed the series know that Captain Sean Tanner is headed for real disaster. This book is pivotal in changing the lives of everyone on the team forever?Sean’s and Tommy’s lives in particular. Have tissues handy, folks.

Excerpt:

Grabbing Shea’s hand, Tommy pulled her into the throng and spun her to face him before she could protest further. He made it appear easy, just to throw caution to the wind and let loose.

Like liquid, molten sex.

“I’m not that great a dancer,” she said, raising her voice to be heard above the music. Trying to match his graceful moves, she felt like a dork.

One strong arm snaked around her waist, pulled their hips together. He rocked against her, his unmistakable hardness pressing into her belly. “Believe me, you’re doing fine.”

Her cheeks blazed. She wasn’t some simpering virgin-far from it-but the man caught her off guard at every turn. And Tommy was a man, not a boy. No doubt whatsoever, if there ever had been.

As they moved, the friction of their bodies setting her on a slow burn, she watched his face. Studied the nuances. There was no trace of the young, carefree charmer in evidence now. In his place was a man she’d never seen before. A man completely confident of his intentions, his crystal eyes dark with desire. One who made her blood quicken, her soul cry out to answer his unspoken challenge, to be his.

The fast song ended, abruptly snapping her from the spell. Thinking to make a quick getaway, she stepped back, but he caught her hand.

“This next one, too. Please?”

The soft, pretty opening to “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts began, one of her favorite songs. She paused for a couple of beats and, apparently taking her hesitation as a yes, he enveloped her in his arms. Began to sway gently, big hands spread over her back, chin resting on top of her head. In spite of her qualms, she felt herself melt in to him, soaking up his strength.

Warm. Intoxicating. Incredible.

Like coming home.

“God, it feels so good to finally hold you,” he whispered into her hair.

She didn’t answer. Couldn’t, not when her senses, every barrier she’d erected between them, were under toe-curling assault. Searching for the right response, she lifted her head to meet his gaze.

Instead, his lips brushed hers. A sensual glide that wasn’t a tentative question, but a warning. Electrifying her to the core.

His fingers brushed down her cheek. “Pretty baby.”

And he claimed her mouth then, kissed her like a man kisses a woman when he means business. When he wants her no matter the cost, above all others. Whatever it takes.

His tongue tangled with hers and she whimpered, unable to help herself. He tasted so good and she wanted to slide under his skin, stay there forever. Wrapped up in him. The party, the guests, vanished as the kiss went on and on. It might as well have been the two of them locked in their own world, free of doubts and unwanted baggage. For the first time in more than a decade she felt protected and safe.

But she’d been wrong before.

Suz: So what’s next for the Firefighter series?

Jo: LINE OF FIRE, Tommy’s story, is being released in bookstores near you tomorrow, May 4! Next up is Captain Sean Tanner’s story, RIDE THE FIRE, which will be released on December 7. Sean’s story is five-hankie all the way, and I’ll tell you guys right now that while writing one scene in particular, I sobbed my heart out! This book even choked up my editor. Fear not, though. Sean is due for his happy ending, and I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Suz: And what’s next for Jo Davis?

Jo, grinning excitedly: My next series for NAL is going to come as quite a surprise for some of my readers, so I hope they’ll bear with me. We’re going to move away from Sugarland, for a while anyway, and delve into a brand-new paranormal romance series! As much as I would love for Detective Shane Ford and the other boys at the PD to get their stories, my publisher is taking me in a new direction. I never say “never” when it comes to revisiting a series my readers want, but I think many readers will be excited by what’s coming. I can’t give away too much of the concept right now, but I will hint that a team of very hot, mouth-watering wolf shifters and one equally delicious Sorcerer/panther shifter are involved? Stay tuned for more news on the new series!
Jo: Now I want to know from the reader, do you enjoy reading paranormal romance and why? What is it about these heroes (whether they are shifters, vampires, demons, angels, etc.) and these series that continues to captivate readers?
Suz: Jo will be giving away a signed copy of LINE OF FIRE to one commenter today. Don’t forget to visit Jo’s website: http://www.jodavis.net/

The End

by Suzanne
Here in the Lair, we often talk about the beginning of books and movies. How they grab us and suck us in, keep us turning pages or on the edges of our seats, wanting to know what’s going to happen next.

The Bourne Identity was one of these books for me. I couldn’t read it fast enough. It also sucked me into Robert Ludlum’s world of espionage and suspense. After reading the Bourne Identity, I raided my local bookstore and read his whole back list and following books, each one more page-turning than the last. (I also discovered for my own sanity, it was best to not read more than two of his books in a weekend or I’d think my phone was tapped and people were chasing me!) While the movie was barely recognizable as the original book, Matt Damon’s portrayal of Jason Bourne fit my mental image of how the character would look and act.

Another book where the beginning drew me in from page one was Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Night Pleasures. It might surprise y’all, but I’m not really into vampire love stories. What grabbed me was the heroine in peril waking up to find herself chained to this big imposing man, who acts like a vampire, you know all I’ll-die-if-I’m-out-in-the-sun, has fangs and appears to be imortal, but he wasn’t a vampire. Instead he was a hunter, a Dark Hunter, one she’ll need to keep her safe. Add to that Kenyon’s unique premise that vampires were actually cursed children of the Greek god, Apollo and I was hooked! Involving the Greek mythology and really BIG men, yep, couldn’t turn the pages fast enough!

For movies, Speed, was the same for me. Suck me in, make want to know what’s happening to these courageous bomb experts. Who wants to blow them up, etc. Add a ticking clock er bus and Sandra Bullock? Yep, I’m staying through to the end. Another movie for me was Pirates of the Carribean. How could you not love a movie with that kind of fantasy beginning of pirates and Black Jack Sparrow? It made you root for the characters from the start all the way to the end. (ah, but we’re not at the end yet!)

Sometimes, in the Lair, we talk about the characters, themselves. Those we loved from the moment they stepped onto the pages or onto the big screen. Those that make us wish we were the heroine or hero, falling in love, kicking butt, or solving the mystery. Okay, in the lair we mostly talk about the sexy heroes, but let me give you some of my favorites of both sexes.

Kate and Luc from French Kiss are two of my favorite movie characters. At the beginning of the movie there’s the neurotic romantic who despite her fear of flying bravely climbs aboard a plane bound across the Atlantic to get her true love. Except, we find out her true love is nothing but a soundrel, while the scoundrel, Luc–good hearted jewel thief who wants to buy a vinyeard near his home, seated next to her, irritating the snot out of her all the way to France, well, I’d hate to give away the ending, so let’s just say he’s hero worthy.

Rhett and Scarlet. From her first utterance of fiddle-dee-dee, she didn‘t come across as a kind, loving heroine. No, she wasn’t loveable, but she was strong. Her world and family was changing, and only the strong were going to survive. THAT is what he loved about her. And him? Was he a Southern gentleman? Uh, no. A Privateer. A man who would make a profit from the war, eventually takes a side and joins the war, but his love of her made him loveable. (We’ll talk about their ending later.)

Gabriel and Johanna from Julie Garwood’s Saving Grace (yeah, like y’all didn’t see this one coming). If you haven’t taken the time in the past 3 years to read this book, as much as I’ve raved about it, I’m about to spoil the beginning for you. The heroine is informed her husband has been killed and she rushes to the chapel.

Not to pray for his soul, but to thank God. Now, don’t you want to know more?

The hero is a bastard, literally. His father and his clan disowned him, until the time came for someone to lead the father’s clan after his death. In the meantime, the hero has formed his own clan with ragtag outcasts from other clans. So what’s he supposed to do? He tried to lead both clans side by side, because that’s what an honorable man does. Then an Englishman brings his half sister for the hero to marry, to keep her out of the reach of the king of England. He marries her without question. She agrees to the marriage only after she hears his name, Gabriel, the patron saint and protector of women and children.

Sigh…You really have to read this book!

So, what haven’t we talked about when it comes to books?

Yep, the beginning may hook you or your reader or your editor, but it’s the ending that sells the next book. At least that’s a saying heard often repeated from one RWA member to another.

We all know the ending of Gone With The Wind. Rhett storms out, swearing, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Scarlett watches him disappear into the mist and says, “Tara! Home. I’ll go home. And I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all… tomorrow is another day.” It may not be the HEA we all wanted, but the prospect of a future is there in her determination and I’d like to think she finally learned what love truly is about and will win back her man.

In French Kiss, Kate has saved Luc’s bacon and is once again aboard a plane to fly home. Luc has learned how she tricked him, but knows she did it out of love. He slips into the seat next to her and says, “I want you…” She says, “You want me?” and he says, with love and unshed tears in his eyes, “I want you, that is all.” Sigh. That is a HEA I could go for every time.

In the end of the first Pirates movie, Elizabeth and Will are in love and they take the chance to rescue their friend, Black Jack Sparrow. He’s a loveable scoundrel and we really don’t want to see him die. We also want to see more of his antics on the high seas!

At the end of the Bourne Identity, (the book version), Jason learns the truth about who he is and how he came to be a trained assassin. He cleans out Treadstone’s bad members and gets the girl. And it made every page turning scene worthwhile.

I want endings that make me sigh. Make me know my journey with the characters has been worth my effort. I want the mystery solved, the bad guys dead or in prison, the HEA for my heros and heroines, or at least the promise of a HEA.

So, endings are important. They are so important to me, I even write THE END when I finish a book. Another writer acquaintance asked me why? I said, why not? It’s an accomplishment. The story has been told, it may need tweaking or editing, but the ending has been written.

And a few weeks ago I posted the last chapter of REFUGE on my online blogsite, http://www.blogger.com/www.rockymountainromance.blogspot.com. Everytime I’ve read it, I get tears in my eyes and that sense of Ahhhhhhhhh. I hope my readers did, too. If you haven’t read it, take a chance, but go to the sidebar and start at the beginning. I’d love to hear if the HEA worked for you!

So, tell me, what books or movies gave you that Ahhhhhhhh moment? Which ones made you cry or laugh? Which ones did you hate?

Kay Thomas’ BULLETPROOF return to the Lair.

interview with Suzanne

Kay Thomas writes “bulletproof” romantic thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue. Her debut novel BETTER THAN BULLETPROOF (January 2009) is a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Nominee for Best First Series Romance. Her second book BULLETPROOF TEXAS was published in April 2009. And her third release, BULLETPROOF BODYGUARD, will hit store shelves April 13th as part of Intrigue’s Bodyguard of the Month Series. Please help me welcome author Kay Thomas, one of my good friends back to the Bandit Lair.

Suz: BULLETPROOF BODYGUARD is the third book in your Bulletproof series and part of the “Bodyguard of the month” collection from Harlequin Intrigue. Can you give our readers a little bit about the book?

Kay: The story is about a young, widowed mother who is forced to help with a casino robbery on the Mississippi coast when her three-year-old son is kidnapped by `guests’ staying at her bed and breakfast. Her only hope is an undercover cop with a troubled past who must choose between saving his career and saving her child.

Suz, wiping the drool from my mouth: Man I love the cover of BULLETPROOF BODYGUARD! Your heroes have been strong men caught in a situation where they needed to take control of things. How does Marcus North deal with the situation he finds himself in?


Kay: Marcus is an undercover cop. In the past he has been badly burned trying to maintain his cover and protect the innocents he meets through work. He’s promised himself never to let that happen again.

Cally Burnett is completely different from his usual contacts and he hates the fact that she and her son Harris could become collateral damage in the robbery that is being planned. Soon Marcus is bending, then breaking his own rules to protect them. Keeping his cover becomes more and more difficult and before it’s over he’ll have to choose.

Suz: How does Marcus meet the heroine, Cally Burnett?

Kay: He is a guest at her bed & breakfast as part of his undercover casino bodyguard assignment.

Excerpt:

“You have a beautiful home, Mrs. Burnett. How long have you lived here?”

“A little over eight years.” She looked up from the registration book. “This was my husband’s family home. His great-grandfather built it at the turn of the century.”

“Oh, so it doesn’t date back to the Civil War.”

“No,” she laughed softly. “Although I’m afraid the Chamber of Commerce wishes it did. They wanted to suggest that perhaps William Faulkner slept here. But the sad fact is nothing of historic significance has ever occurred at River Trace.”

“Except raising the Burnett family of course.”

Her dimples reappeared.

“So do you and your husband run the bed and breakfast?”

Again, her smile faltered. “No, my husband died almost four years ago. I run River Trace myself with the help of Bay and Luella Wiggins.”

Now it was Marcus’s turn to wince. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know.”

She shook her head and looked back down at the paperwork. “That’s all right. It…it happens all the time.” She stopped writing to look up at him directly. “I know you don’t know what to say.”

Marcus nodded gratefully, feeling that he was definitely losing his social skills. He wondered what had happened to the husband.

As if reading his thoughts, Harris piped up, “Daddy dwowned…but not in bathtub.”

Cally gaped at the child in shocked surprise. Marcus groaned. No wonder his earlier comment about drowning had caused such an unusual reaction.

“That’s right, honey.” She recovered herself and held him close as she patted his back and looked into his eyes.

“He lives in heaven with angels.”

“Um-hmm,” she murmured, still staring into the boy’s face.

“Lulu says so. Bay, too.”

“That’s right, baby. That’s right.” She gazed at Harris a moment longer continuing to cuddle him and a took a deep breath. He laid his head on her shoulder.

Marcus shifted on his feet, uncomfortable with his eavesdropping. It usually wouldn’t bother him, but in this case, it was extraordinarily awkward.

She seemed to sense his discomfort. “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize he knew what that meant. I mean we’ve talked about it, but…” She stopped, blushed a deep pink, clearly at a loss for words.

“That’s all right. I’m sorry about what I said earlier.” Her forehead creased, “About?”

“About…the tub.”

“Oh,” she nodded. “You must be wondering after all this.”

Her hand fluttered about Harris’s back but her voice was cool and composed. “My husband was in a boating accident. He was duck-hunting and putting out decoys when the boat capsized. His waders filled with water and he drowned.” “I’m terribly sorry.”

“I am, too.” She sighed. “But life goes on.” She looked at the little boy in her arms and gave him a squeeze. “Here’s the proof.”

Harris giggled sleepily.

“Let me show you to your room. It’s right up these steps.”

Marcus followed her to the grand staircase. Their feet were silent on the carpeted steps.

“Your room was originally an attic when the house was built. At one time it was a nursery. Now it’s definitely the most secluded spot at River Trace.”

At the top of the second flight, Cally turned left and led him past several rooms toward the back of the house. Her hair had come out of its pins and was trailing halfway down her back in ringlets. Marcus watched as Harris opened and closed his fists around one of the curls.

The outline of her bra strap was clearly visible through the wet shirt. It was lacey, pink and distracting the hell out of him. She turned right and paused at another landing.

“I thought since you were going to be here a while, this would give you more privacy. You have your own bath and there’s another stairway here if you prefer. It was originally a servants’ stairway. And if you’ve had a really long day…” She didn’t finish the sentence as she pointed toward the antique one-man elevator.

“It still works?” he asked.

Cally nodded, opened a door and led him up a narrow stairwell. He could see how the location would have been perfect for a child’s nursery.

“We just finished getting it all together today.”

Marcus stepped up into the room behind her. She crossed another oriental rug and sat Harris down on a wide window seat. As she leaned over to close the window, he got an unexpected but rather spectacular view of her butt in the water-soaked jeans. Her wet shirt had ridden up and he could see a line of milky-white skin along her back.

He caught himself staring, imagining the view under different circumstances. If she turned around without picking up the boy first, he’d get a peek at the latest Victoria’s Secret had to offer. With a jolt he realized he wasn’t paying attention to a word she was saying.

“…we painted earlier this week, but I wanted to make sure the smell was completely gone.”
Marcus took in a gulp of air, attempting to clear the erotic images forming in his head. “Hmm.
All I smell is ah…flowers?”

“Yes.” Cally smiled, completely unaware of where his thoughts had been. “That would be the potpourri.” She nodded at a silver bowl on the captain’s desk to his right.

“The bathroom’s through here.” She pointed toward the small hallway to his left; straight ahead was a queen-sized bed flanked by small antique tables. “We just moved the armoire in today.”

He reassessed her as he took in the large cabinetry opposite the window. “You moved that yourself? Up those stairs?” He studied her slim build and tried to imagine her lifting the heavy antique. Even with a man helping her, it was a formidable job.

“Well, Bay and I did. I couldn’t have done it on my own. I can’t imagine doing any of this without the Wigginses. You’ll meet him and Luella tomorrow. River Trace simply couldn’t run without them. They’re amazing.”

“I’d say so.” He mentally struggled to get focused again.

“Let’s see. I need to get you more towels, and you need a brandy decanter.” She ticked the items off on her fingers.

“Excuse me?”

“It’s a gift when you check in. Our special label. Homemade peach brandy. Not to be missed.”

She stared straight at him—open and friendly, but it wasn’t a come-on. He knew that.
Facing him, she wasn’t holding the kid. Marcus locked his eyes on hers and willed himself not to look below her neck at that transparent shirt.

“Now…what else. Oh, yes. Since you’re up three stories here, the fire marshal insists I tell you how to get out in case the stairway is blocked during a fire.” She headed for the window seat.
Marcus swallowed hard when she bent over to pick up Harris and lifted the lid on the built-in seat. Her shirt rode up again revealing more of that creamy skin that he was suddenly very curious to touch.

“There’s a ladder here,” she said over her shoulder.

She reached for the jumble of metal and rope, and he realized he was staring again. He was going to get busted if he didn’t stop. He reached around her, accidentally brushing against her shoulder.

“Sorry,” he muttered.

She startled. “Thank you,” she murmured, stepping aside. “You attach it by those handles to the window and then you can ease down to the roof.”

“Where do I go from there?” he asked, keeping his voice as neutral as possible. Touching her had been a bad idea, a really bad idea.

Cally turned to look at him with a sober face and sparkling eyes. “You jump.”

He barked a laugh.

“Actually, you shimmy down to that sunroof on the second floor, and you jump.”

“Does every room have one of these?”

“Oh, no. Yours is special. It’s the only one on the third floor. There are two staircases up to the second floor and a window in every bedroom. The fire marshal figures if worse comes to worst everyone else can get out.”

Obviously she was struggling to keep a straight face.

“I see.”

“River Trace is the only residence to be converted to an inn in the county. The fire marshal had never done this before. I’m afraid he went a bit overboard. We barely talked him out of a sprinkler system. But I feel confident you will be safe during your stay.”

The dimples were back.

“I think the worst thing that would happen if you had to jump is a broken leg.”

“Hmm. We’ll hope it doesn’t come to that.”

“Absolutely.” A man could get lost in a smile like hers. Harris yawned widely as Marcus shut the ladder back into the window seat. “Someone is getting sleepy.”

Harris was snuggling into her chest and clutching one of her ringlets. “Yes, I’d better put him to bed. I’ll be glad to get you something after I get him down.”

She was looking at Marcus again with those incredibly blue eyes, totally oblivious of the effect she was having.

“What would you like? A snack of some kind? Or I can fix you a sandwich? Whatever you want.”

She had no idea what she’d just said. Marcus swallowed. God, he didn’t usually get turned on by unintentional double entendres. “A sandwich would be great if it’s not too much trouble. But
there’s no hurry. I realize you’ll have your hands full for the next few minutes.”

“It’s no problem at all. I’ll just put Harris to bed and bring up your sandwich. And those towels and that brandy.” She started toward the stairs before turning back. “How does roast beef on whole wheat sound?”

“Delicious.”

“It’ll be about fifteen minutes.”

Downstairs the deep gong of the doorbell echoed through the house.

“That’ll be my other guests. Let’s make that thirty minutes on the sandwich?”

“No problem.”

Cally nodded and headed down the steps. When the door closed, Marcus’s smile faded. He looked around the room, taking in the rich red walls and antique four-poster.

This was not the set-up he’d been expecting. Oh, it was quite a place all right. But it was not the proper way for this to go down. What in hell was he going to do about the widow and the kid?

Suz: BULLETPROOF BODYGUARD takes place in Mississippi. Is there any particular reason you decided to use this setting for this book?

Kay, (smiling that shy southern belle smile of hers): I’m from Mississippi and my family still lives in and around the Delta. The original idea for BULLETPROOF BODYGUARD was based on the first riverboat casino ever built in the state in the early 90’s. My big brother Tim gave me the idea and it all started over dinner one night with the words, “Kay, I’ve got a story for you?”

He has just gotten back from a long road trip with a friend who had worked as a security guard in that first riverboat casino located in Tunica. Tim’s friend had some hair-raising tales about those early months the casino was open, before there was an infrastructure in the county to handle the huge influx of cash and people to the area. The casino was reported to be the most profitable per square foot in history, and the guards spent the first eighteen months worrying they’d be robbed blind because they didn’t have all the backups they needed.

There’s a bed & breakfast featured in the book based on my grandmother’s house that I grew up next door to in Clarksdale.

This was the first manuscript I ever finished, but it’s gone through multiple revisions and rewrites since I first wrote “the end” ten years ago. Three years after I finished the original draft, that house my great grandfather built in 1900 burned. Thankfully no one was hurt. Even though the property was no longer in the family, three generations had lived there. In BULLETPROOF BODYGUARD, the house that held so many wonderful memories for us lives again.

For story purposes I moved my grandmother’s house (the B & B), the casino, and the timeline to present day South Mississippi.

Suz: One of the things I like about your books is the sense of urgency and desperation you put your characters in. Is there a way to balance that with the sexual tension needed in a romance?

Kay: I love to write compressed timelines with a ticking clock. (As a writer this keeps me focused on making every scene count.)

For me that combination keeps the suspense tighter and the characters slightly off balance. Their emotions are “rawer,” much closer to the surface. My hero and heroine don’t have time to dissect their feelings (like we do in real life). They simply react and respond to circumstances around them. When I get bogged down in writing a scene or even in plotting, I usually find it’s because my characters are “sitting and thinking” versus acting.

That lack of time for the characters to analyze the relationship, combined with the ticking clock is what I believe keeps the sexual tension building. For the reader, my hope is this “urgency” keeps one turning the pages and wanting to find out what happens next.

Suz: What’s next for you and your Bulletproof series?

Kay: The next book is due to my editors at Intrigue in September with a release date for 2011. It’s tentatively titled BULLETPROOF HEARTS. The story is about a woman who discovers her brother’s hit and run accident was actually murder and she could be next if she doesn’t accept help from a mysterious stranger. I’m almost through the first draft but I’m a multi-drafter, so the plotting is still very much in process. If anyone is interested in my week-by-week progress, they can check out my facebook fan page at: http://www.facebook.com/KayThomasWrites. I chat about lots of different things – books, current movies, publishing- including what I’m working on right then. I also post deleted scenes from previous novels and give away books and gift cards from time to time.

Kay: This book features a fictional B & B. I adore bed & breakfasts and used to think I wanted to run one until I realized that:
1) I loathe doing laundry and housekeeping chores in general. And
2) it’s considered an exotic breakfast at our house if I cook scrambled eggs & toast. No, this is probably not a career I should consider.

I figured out that what I really enjoyed was staying in a B & B vs the whole concept of running one.
So my question to you is: What’s your favorite thing about staying in a bed & breakfast?
If you could, would you like to run one? Why or why not?

Suz: Kay will be giving away a copy of BULLETPROOF BODYGUARD to one lucky commenter. Kay, anything else you’d like to share with our readers and friends?

Kay: To celebrate the release I have a Bulletproof Sighting Contest called “Feeling Lucky?” that’s currently underway. Spot my April Intrigue, BULLETPROOF BODYGUARD, on store shelves or in your mailbox and be eligible to win a gift card to Barnes & Noble for $15, $10 or $5. Details are at my website. www.kaythomas.net

Trailer for BULLETPROOF BODYGUARD

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xFM59fprfg

"AND WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?"

by Suzanne

Remember when you were a kid and your parents would say things to you like, “If your friends jumped off a cliff would you do it too?” (That depends on why my friends are jumping off cliffs), or “Eat all your vegetables, because kids in China are starving.” (Would me eating my vegetables actually stop them from starving?) or “Close the door, were you born in a barn? (I don’t know, you were the adult in the room, not me–yes I was a sarcastic child and paid dearly for it). Those are the phrases we heard over and over, that made us swear we’d never say those things to our kids when we got around to having them.

Thankfully, I tried not to quote these to my kids. I did however, come up with a few of my own, some of which they say they can’t wait to use on my poor grandbabies.

1. “Mom, can you make me a sandwich?”
Me: “Poof, you’re a PB&J sandwich.”
Them: “Awww, Mom, that’s not what I meant.”

2. Them, whining: “I’m hungry”
Me: “Hi, Hungry, my name’s Mom, glad to meet you.”
Them: “Awww, Mom, that’s not what I meant.”

3. Them, “You make me do chores just cause you’re mean.”
Me: “My job is to teach you how to be a functional human being when you leave my home. Being mean is a side benefit.”
Them: “Awww, Mom.”

(Aren’t you glad I wasn’t YOUR mother?)

Yes, my poor grandbabies will have to deal with all these questions and comments.

When my son was in middle school he did something stupid. Have no idea what it was, just typical teenage stuff to get into trouble, but not too dangerous. When I sat him down the next day to give him a lecture about it, he said, “Yeah, I know” in that slightly insolent way young teens have when they know they’ve done wrong, but don’t really want to admit it. I thought a moment about how to get the point across so that he’d really listen. (That’s him with his niece below.)

Me: “Yes, I know you know how stupid this was and I’d rather be cleaning the oven than dealing with your behavior, but see, I’m required to give you this lecture.”
Him: “Required? By who?”
Me: “It’s listed in the mother’s handbook, page 35.”
Him: “Mother’s handbook? I’ve never seen it.”
Me: “It’s an invisible book of LIFE LESSONS, given to new mother’s on the day they have their kids. Each stupid thing you do or are thinking of doing is required a certain lecture. Today’s lecture is on page 35.”
(I think we’re up to page 260 by now and in the chapter on finances.)

And then there’s my favorite parental comment. “And what have we learned?”

This is for those times when I want to see what they think of their behavior. If it was something good or bad. Did their actions give them the results they were looking for or end in some sort of disaster? Uhm, coming from me, I expect them to realize the decision they’d made probably wasn’t a good one and not worth repeating. Their answer is usually prefaced with a deep sigh and a great deal of eye-rolling. (They are my kids after all.)

Unfortunately for my coworkers, the occasional doctor or patient, this comment gets repeated at work, too! Mostly getting laughter as the response.

So what does this have to do with writing?

In a good book, the main characters have to grow and change throughout their journey. They shouldn’t be the same at the end of the book as they were at the beginning. In mysteries, they should’ve increased their deductive and observation skills to solve the mystery. In an adventure tale, the hero should have discovered he has more abilities than he’d ever thought in order to make the journey and save the day. In a romance, the hero AND heroine must change and grow in order to allow love into their world and gain their HEA.

So dear friends, what have we learned? What hero or heroine have you read recently that has learned a great life lesson and achieved their goal? Have you ever had to take a step back and evaluate your own behavior or decision making ability and learn from a certain situation? Got any good parenting lines you’d like to share?

Men Of Sports!

by Suzanne

Before I go any further, I’d like to announce that the pitchers and catchers have reported to spring training!! Whoohooo! The boys of summer are almost back!

Can you tell I adore baseball? I’m married to a Cleveland Indians fanatic, so I watch 161 games a year. I kid you not! But luckily for me, the scenery isn’t too hard on the eyes.


There’s Grady Sizemore out in Centerfield. He’s beautiful and beautiful to watch, especially when he’s stretched out going for a fly ball. They guy simply loves to play the sport and goes all out. And when he scores a run or steals a base, the grin he gives lights up his whole being!


Then there’s Travis Hafner, the DH, who hopefully will live up to his potential. I mean the man is a farm boy raised in South Dakota…built like an oak and when he’s on can hit the ball a country mile. Every time Travis comes to the plate there is a potential for a game altering swing of the bat! I love his intensity and focus as he eyes the pitcher and waits for the ball. And watching his body move to take it downtown…poetry!


And to my great pleasure, (and any other woman who’s stared at the backside of pitchers on the mound) Jake Westbrook, the best looking behind on a pitcher’s mound, is returning to the rotation after nearly 2 years. Jake is one of my favorite reasons for watching baseball. That and I consider baseball a thinking man’s, or woman’s, game.

Another sport I adore is football. American football. Sigh. Being a Cleveland Browns fan long before meeting my hubby, I’ve suffered many a disappointing season. There have been highlights over the years. Bernie Kosar’s throwing. Clay Matthews (#57) 16 years as a fabulous linebacker who knew how to hit and tackle. And now the explosive kickoff and punt returns of Joshua Cribbs (#16) and the power blocking of Joe Thomas, I think there might be a light at the end of the tunnel for my boys. But because I rarely get to root for my Browns in the post season, I also admit to admiring Petyon Manning and the Colts. Peyton is one of the most beautiful passers ever to play this game. And talk about confidence? Mmmm.


Of course, there’s always my Buckeyes. Jim Tressel is on the road to greatness as a coach, IMHO. Being an Ohioan transplanted in Texas, well let’s just say I’ve had more than one occasion to boast about my home team!


Now, these are tried and true sports for most Americans. There are those who love basketball. My coach is die-hard Kansas Jay Hawke fan and my husband is ga-ga over LeBron James and the Cavs this year. However, I am not really much of a fan, although I do sit through my fare share of games. (Usually with my nose in a book, or working on the king-sized afghan for my son’s bed…a Christmas present it will take me until next winter to make.)

But the other day I was vegging before getting ready to head to work, when my channel surfing came across something unique to TV in America.

RUGBY.

OMG!! It was like the heavens had opened up, a beam of light from above shone over me and I swear the choir of angels, (all female) hit a high C in perfect harmony!! (By the way, google rugby players and you won’t believe the pictures you get…uh, not for publication on the Bandit blog!)

Have y’all seen this? I mean truly watched the game? It’s like soccer, football and ultimate fighting all rolled into one glorious expression of male bonding and testosterone!!!

Super buff men in shorts…god they have great legs…no padding, literally beating each other up to get this huge football down the field. And when one of them is passing the ball in from the sidelines 2 guys lift a third way up in the air by his feet to catch it! Bloody noses, bloody lips, bloody eyes, dirt, twisted ankles and knees. (Yes, I’m slightly blood thirsty.) But I think I’ve found a wonderfully masculine game to watch.

Now, if I could just get the TV people to show more games!!

What does this have to do with books? Hmmm…well, I’ve read books with sports heroes in them. But I think it’s the whole males competing against males that piques my interest and I’d love to see more books with heroes from sports. (And yes I’ve read all of SEP’s books!)

So, what sport do you love to watch or at least don’t mind watching the men who play them? (Yes Anna…I know you adore hockey!) Anyone love rugby like me? Which sport would you like to see featured in a series of books?

Go Indians!!

GIFTS AND AN ON-LINE BOOK

Giving presents is one of the best parts of Christmas for me. I usually start early thinking about each person I want to gift on my list of family and friends. Since my parents and sister live in Ohio, I know I need to have them finished first so I can mail their gifts off right after Thanksgiving.

It‘s great fun to find unique gifts for my parents that they wouldn’t think to buy themselves. One year my husband brought home a Leatherman tool for my dad. It’s one of those ten tools in one thingys guys love. Well, Daddy has always carried a majorly big pocket knife for as long as I can remember, but this was cool because it had a screw driver and pliers in it, too. So I wrapped it still in its package so the present was odd shaped with lumps. Mom said she kept walking past the living room and there was Daddy holding the present, feeling the lumps and saying, “I wonder what they got me.” When Christmas Eve rolled around and he finally got to open it, she said he looked like a kid who just got the key to the toy store. And even though I wasn’t there, it still makes me smile to know he got such joy out of that gift! This year he got an electric wine bottle opener. He said, “I’ve got a bottle of wine to use it on tomorrow, as soon as I figure out the instructions.” And I heard the smile in his voice.


Every year one of my gifts is a tray of baked goods for my co-workers. They always enjoy every cookie I make, but one item stands out in their minds for the next year. I always make Buckeye candy, known simply as Buckeyes. Peanut butter balls dipped in dark chocolate to resemble the Buckeye nut that grows in my home state of Ohio. These things are addictive and probably have 1/4 or your daily calorie intake, so I ONLY make them at Christmas. One batch=9 dozen. Every year, right after Thanksgiving, the girls at work start asking, “Are you making Buckeye this year?” How could I say no?

My kids are easy to buy for, not because I know them so well, but because they make me detailed lists, complete with pictures, sizes and where to buy them. The lists are rather large, because they send them to each other as well. While they truly want everything on the list, they don’t expect to get everything. According to my daughter, “If people get me something on the list, it will be what I want, but I won’t know what it is until I open it, so it’s still a surprise.” The added benefit for the rest of us is that we spend time talking through the holiday shopping season, calling each other to be sure everyone knows what we already bought off the list. And the girls add their children and significant others to the list, too. Now, my son’s list isn’t as detailed, but he does give us one and last year I gave everyone one, too.

This year my list was simple, I wanted an iPod. They went in together and that’s what I got, mostly. Big Smile!!! But I also had a special gift from one of my daughters. We’d been talking about the stalemate I seem to be in with the publishing world. She caught me on the rare self-pitying days I get about the “good rejections” (isn’t that an oxymoron?) that I keep getting. Those items that hack me off, but others pat me on the head and say, “It just means you’re real close to selling.”

Anyway, my daughter said, “Why don’t you publish it on the internet?”

“Oh dear, I don’t want to self publish. I want to be paid for my work. I want to be recognized for the effort. I want a book contract.”

“Mom, I meant serialize it on a blog, like fan fiction. A chapter at a time, like Dickens did when he was a struggling writer.”

(Now the girl had my attention.)

So after some more chat about how to format it, how to add pictures, how to market it, I asked her, “Would you format this and get it started for me as a Christmas present?”

Soooooooooo two weeks ago we launched “THE ROCKYMOUNTAIN ROMANCE SERIES” on blogspot. Here’s the link: http://rockymountainromance.blogspot.com/

It’s actually a series of stories I wrote a long time ago just as the market for American Historical tanked. REFUGE is the first book about a woman with a life threatening secret who becomes a mail-order bride to a man who’s been burned by a woman who kept secrets from him. Every Monday we’ll post the next chapter, but anyone coming to the blog, can click on the side bar to pick up the previous chapters and catch up quick!

One of the challenges has been illustrating it. We started out with color pictures, but quickly realized black and white gave it a more period feel, since it is a historical after all. But it’s been fun finding pictures of who I think might make the best hero and heroine and all the secondary characters!

Why did I decide to do this after my arguments about self publishing?

1. As I said earlier the market for American Historicals is almost non-existant, but I believe there are readers out there who are craving something different in the historical romance genre. Something west of England. Something with grit and spunk.

2. Self promotion. I’m hoping my writing will draw in more readers, maybe even an edtior looking for something different to read on the net, who might like to read more and even be willing to take a chance to bring back the American Historical Romance market. Someone brave!

3. Stories are meant to be told. Once they’re written, they need to be read by others. They’re meant to be shared.

So, my friends, my gift to you and anyone you choose to share this with is a FREE on line book, one chapter at a time for the next year! And yes, you can feel free to comment on the blog and tell me what you think.

LORRAINE HEATH RETURNS TO THE LAIR

by Suzanne Welsh

We love to visit with repeat offenders…er… our favorite return guests, so please pull up a chair, pillow or cabana boy and get comfortable as we welcome NYT bestselling author and my dear friend, Lorraine Heath back in the Lair to discuss her newest release, MIDNIGHT PLEASURES WITH A SCOUNDREL, which just recieved 4 stars from Romantic Times magazine!

Suz: MIDNIGHT PLEASURES WITH A SCOUNDREL is the fourth in your Scoundrels of St. James series. While each is a stand alone book, each one has built upon the first and gives us a glimpse into the lives of Feagan’s kids. In this story we get to see the life of James Swindler, the famed detective of Scotland Yard. (And one of my favorites.) Can you tell us about James and what he brings to the book that’s different from his brothers and sister?

Lorraine: While Luke, Jack, and Frannie were favorites of Feagan’s and spent a good deal of their youth under his care, James was a little bit older when he was brought into the fold and he skirted the edges of Feagan’s world, never really feeling as though he belonged. He never embraced Feagan as the father figure that the others did because he had quite a strong father figure in his childhood, who we catch glimpses of during the telling of his tale. He considered leaving Feagan’s den of thieves, but he’d fallen instantly in love with Frannie and couldn’t bear the thought of never being in her company. Of course, as readers learned in Surrender to the Devil, Frannie was not his destined love.

Here is an introduction to Swindler and how he came to be part of Feagan’s brood:

From the Journal of James Swindler
A darkness hovers inside me. It was born the day I watched my father hanged. A public hanging, with a festive air in the streets, as though I alone understood the loss, as though the object stolen was worth destroying both his life and mine.
I had been born a mere eight years earlier, and with my arrival had come my mother’s parting from this world. So it was that with my father’s death, I became an orphan with nowhere to go and no one to take me in.

Within the jubilant crowd of curious onlookers were two lads who recognized my plight-the tears streaming down my dirty face while others jeered and laughed no doubt telling my story. My father had told me to be strong. He’d even winked at me before they placed the black hood over his head. As though his standing on the gallows were a prank, a bit of good fun, something we would laugh about later.
But it wasn’t a prank, and if my father is laughing now, it is only the devil who hears.

I was not strong that day. But I have shown strength ever since.

The lads comforted me as boys are wont to do: with a slug on the arm and “stiff upper lip, mate.” They invited me to tag along with them. Jack was the older, his swagger one of confidence. Luke was wide-eyed, and I suspected it was the first hanging he’d ever witnessed. As we made our way through the teeming throng, their nimble fingers pilfered many a coin purse and handkerchief.


When darkness descended, they led me through the warren of the rookeries to the door of a kidsman who went by the name of Feagan. He had little use for the likes of me until he’d gathered the precious booty from his workers. Children all. Only one girl among them. A girl with vibrant red hair and gentle green eyes. Her name was Frannie. Once I realized that Jack and Luke had brought me to a den of thievery, I lost all enthusiasm to stay. I had no desire to belong to a place that was certain to lead me straight to the gallows. But I had a stronger desire not to lose sight of the young girl. So I remained.

I became very skilled at ferreting out information, helping to set up swindles. I wasn’t as talented when it came to thievery. I was caught on more than one occasion and took my punishment as my father had taught me-with stoicism and a wink.
As a result, I became far too familiar with the fact that the legal system was not fair, and often innocence was the cost. I began to pay close attention when justice was meted out. Why was one boy given ten lashes for snitching a silk handkerchief while another was transported to a prison colony in New Zealand? How was evidence obtained? How did one determine guilt? More importantly, how did one prove innocence?

In time I began to work secretly for the Metropolitan Police. I did not fear the shadows or the darker side of London. Even when I worked openly for Scotland Yard, I traveled where others had no desire to tread.

I drew comfort in knowing I never arrested an innocent. Depending on the severity of the crime, I often sent the culprit on his way with a mere slap on the wrist and a warning that I was watching, always watching. Of what importance is a stolen bit of silk frippery when a man might have lost his life in the street? I was far more concerned with-and fascinated by-the grisly crimes.

They appealed to the darkness hovering inside me, and so it was that they garnered my ardent attention . . .

And eventually led me to her.


Suz: Mmmm…I love a hero who has his own sense of honor and justice! (See why he’s my favorite?) What kind of heroine did you choose for Swindler? Why?

Lorraine: Ah, you give me far too much credit. I don’t choose the characters; they choose me. For Swindler, I simply saw a particular scene (which readers will probably identify when they read it) and knew that the woman reflected in it belonged to Swindler. She worked for him because her strength was not always readily apparent, but more because neither was her goodness. She was complicated and it took someone with Swindler’s skills at deduction and mystery-solving to figure her out.

Suz: Swindler and Eleanor both know the other isn’t being honest with them, yet without confronting each other on this fact, they still manage to fall in love with the other. Why do you think this worked for them?

Lorraine: Because their hearts were honest with each other. And while each one was deceiving the other in order to gain something, or to further a goal, what they saw in the other person was a soul mate, a kindred spirit. What I loved about this story was the challenge it presented to me as a writer to show that the deceptions were only on the surface while the attraction was true and deep. It couldn’t be ignored, even as each character fought it, knowing that it would in all likelihood lead to his or her downfall.

Suz: In MIDNIGHT PLEASURES James takes the time to show Eleanor the sites of Victorian London. Which was your favorite part of his courtship?

Lorraine: I enjoyed all of his courtship, although my favorite moment wasn’t exactly courtship. It was when he was standing outside in the streets, watching as she brushed her hair in the window. Did she know he was there? Did her seduction begin at that moment? I think perhaps it did. Although I also enjoyed the balloon ascent. Not that I would ever travel through the air in a wicker basket.

Suz: I loved both those scenes, too! There is one member of Feagan’s kids who hasn’t had his story yet, William Graves. Will there be one for him, or is MIDNIGHT PLEASURES the last of the Scoundrel of St. James series?

Lorraine: Unfortunately, William Graves is still a bit of a mystery so when I pitched his story to my editor, it wasn’t very compelling and another group of characters snatched her attention so I’m writing their stories now. However, because the new trilogy is set in the same time period, William Graves will continue to make the occasional appearance (as will the other scoundrels) as I continue to work out his true story. I know that it gets frustrating for readers when a character is left behind, but it’s very difficult to write a story for a character when I don’t know what that character’s story is. James Swindler was much more complicated than I’d imagined but I always knew the most defining moment of his life was when his father was hanged. I’m not yet sure what defined William Graves, although I have begun seeing snatches of his story so I’m hopeful that it won’t be too far in the future.

Suz: What is next for your historicals?

Lorraine: I am writing the stories of three brothers, and I’ll leave it at that for now until I get book 1 finished, except to say that it is another Victorian set series. Because the brothers’ widowed mother was married twice and provided each husband with an heir, the oldest brother is an impoverished earl, the middle brother, as the second son to her first husband, has no title but is a soldier returning from the Crimean War, and the youngest brother is an immensely powerful and wealthy duke. So the hierarchy in the family is slightly skewed, which creates undercurrents for devotion and resentment. It’s a very complicated but intriguing-at least to me-family dynamic. They are extremely competitive and their playing field is the boudoir, where title, wealth, and position have little influence. They are judged solely on their ability to pleasure the ladies, and each has the goal of gaining a reputation as London’s greatest lover. Okay, guess I didn’t leave it at that, did I?

The first 2 books, presently untitled, will be released in October/November 2010.

Also an anthology that I contributed to in 2006, My Heroes Will Always Be Cowboys, was originally released in trade, but will be released in mass market paperback in February. My contribution, “The Reluctant Hero,” was nominated for a RITA so I’m thrilled the story will be available again.

Suz: A competition in the budoir? Now that’s my kind of competition! Can’t wait to read about these three brothers. As our readers know, you also write under the pseudonym Rachel Hawthorne. What’s going on in your YA world right now?


Lorraine: The 4th Dark Guardian novel-SHADOW OF THE MOON-will be released March 23, 2010. The heroine, Hayden, is new to readers. Because of her ability to experience other Shifters’ emotions, she’s run away to a winter resort populated only with humans, but the elders send Daniel, who was introduced in FULL MOON, to find her and bring her home because her full moon is approaching and she can’t face it alone. Daniel is new to her pack, and no one knows much about him. He confuses her because she can’t feel his emotions-and for the first time in her life, as she begins falling in love with him, she wants to know what someone else is feeling. But as their lives are threatened by an ancient enemy, she will begin to suspect that Daniel isn’t all that he seems. Unlike the others, this story takes place during the winter so it provides a little different setting and it also brings more of the Dark Guardian history to the forefront. While books 1-3 dealt with the Shifters battling the worst of mankind, the Dark Guardians have always been in existence to protect against ancient paranormal enemies. In this story, we get a glimpse of one.

It’s been interesting to see how much email I’m receiving from adult readers who are really enjoying the series. It’s definitely targeted for an older teen and is a bit sensual (although how can it not be when Shifters can’t transform while wearing clothes ) but it appeals to adult readers as well, which has been very satisfying to realize. For more on the Dark Guardians, readers can visit www.rachelhawthorne.net.

Suz, (with a wink and knowing smile): Any other news on the Lorraine Heath front?

Lorraine: I’m celebrating the fact the Midnight Pleasures with a Scoundrel is my 25th novel-not counting any anthologies or YA novels. To celebrate that achievement here with the Romance Bandits, I’m giving away a $25 gift certificate to amazon, Borders, or B&N-winners’ choice-to one of today’s lucky blog posters. And for a chance to win another gift certificate, enter the contest at my website http://www.lorraineheath.com/. It closes Oct. 31, with the drawing held Nov. 1.

Suz: CONGRATULATIONS on this mile stone! We’re always happy to have you here and enjoy celebrating your good news.

So, dear readers and friends, Lorraine and I want to know, of all the stories you’ve ever read by any author, which character are you still waiting–hoping–the author will one day write a story about?

WENDY LYN WATSON DELIVERS A COOL MYSTERY TO THE LAIR

Interview with Suzanne

Suz: Welcome to the Bandit, Lair, Wendy. Pull up a barstool and we’ll have one of the cabana boys fetch us a margarita. So congratulations on the debut of I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM, the first in your cozy mystery series. Please tell everyone what the book is about.

Wendy: Cocktails! Fantastic! Had I known we were having snacks, I would have brought along some of Tally’s avocado gelato. Maybe next time …

I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM is about Tally Jones, proprietor of Dalliance, Texas’s ice cream parlor, Remember the A-la-mode. With a struggling business, a crumbling historic home, and a motley assortment of family members depending on her, Tally swallows her pride and agrees to provide ice cream for her ex-husband’s company luau. But when her ex’s arm-candy girlfriend drops dead, Tally finds herself scooping for her life, hoping to find a murderer before she finds herself locked in the hoosegow.

Thankfully, Tally’s cousin Bree, Bree’s daughter Alice, and Tally’s high school beau Finn Harper are all on hand to help her out.

Suz: I’ve been looking forward to this book since you first announced it at one of our chapter meetings. How did you come up with the concept?

Wendy: Funny you should ask. Normally, I start with a very vivid scene, and the characters and plot flow from that. For I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM, though, I started with the hook: ice cream. My agent and I had a brainstorming session, trying to think of ideas for a cozy series, something that I knew about and was passionate about and that people would find relatable. Well, friends, this girl knows food. Cooking it, eating it, reading about it, dreaming about it … I {puffy heart} food. And the mother of all foods, in my opinion, is ice cream.

As soon as I said the words aloud, Kim and I knew it was the perfect hook for me. And it has been. My husband jokes that he can always tell when I’ve been writing “ice cream procedural,” the passages where Tally is making or eating ice cream, because I get all keyed up and he can’t drag me away from the computer.

Suz: Tallulah, “Tally” Jones is the star of this series. She has a lot to overcome, but doesn’t come off perfect. How did she first make her appearance to you?

Wendy: Ice cream equals indulgence. It’s sensual and luscious and fattening as heck. I wanted a character whose life was the opposite of that. And thus Tally Jones was born. She’s all about duty and responsibility and being a good girl and not making a scene. At least on the outside. She’s got ice cream in her soul, though, and getting down to that vibrant, raw, passionate person is going to be tons of fun.

Suz: The secondary characters in I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM are a hoot. How do they play a part in Tally’s life?

Wendy: Wow. You get right to the heart of the matter, huh?

That’s a big theme in the book, how we define ourselves relative to the people around us. My extended family lives in a small town, and everyone is defined by their relationships to one another: “Roberta’s boy,” or “Junior’s ex.” We moved around a lot when I was growing up, so for me, those sorts of relationships were largely impermanent; I didn’t have a place in some vast interpersonal web, but was mostly floating free. As a result, that small town feel intrigues me.

In this book, I play a lot with that notion of being defined by the people around you, both your relationships to them and their expectations of you. On the one hand, I find that sort of belonging seductive. On the other, I can see how it could be stifling, oppressive. For Tally, it’s both.

Gee. Didn’t mean to get all heavy, but you really touched on one of the more emotional themes of the book. And while I love to laugh–and hopefully make others laugh, too–I want Tally’s story to touch people’s hearts, too.

Suz: Speaking of Finn Harper, is there a future romance in the works between him and Tally?

Wendy: LOL! Yes, one of the most delicious threads of the story (to me) is Tally’s struggle to define her relationship with her high school boyfriend Finn. When the book begins, she hasn’t seen him in nearly two decades, not since she broke his heart in the Tasty-Swirl parking lot on the eve of their high school graduation. When he comes back to town and into her life, he stirs up all sorts of feelings she’d rather not examine too closely.

Do they have a future? Hmmmm. Maybe. Finn and Tally have a lot of past to overcome before they can start thinking about happily ever after. And, well, there might be a competitor for Tally’s affections just around the corner …..

Suz: So what’s next in the MYSTERY A LA MODE series?

Wendy: SCOOP TO KILL is slated for a July 2010 release. Tally’s precocious niece Alice is finishing up her first year at Dickerson College, and when the annual Honor’s Day festivities turn bloody, Alice enlists her Aunt Tally’s help in solving an ivory tower murder.

Suz: At the end of I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM you have a delicious recipe for “Tally’s Tropical Sundaes”, which sounds delicious by the way, is this going to be something you do with each book? If so, I can see one dear husband wanting me to buy more books!

Wendy: Trust me, that ginger-lime-coconut sauce is highly addictive (great for dressing up carrot cake, too!). There will be recipes for ice cream goodies in every book, all using store-bought ice cream and all designed so even “can’t boil water” cooks can craft something company-worthy.

So dear readers, what is your favorite ice cream and/or toppings? Wendy is going to give away a signed copy of I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM to one lucky commenter.

CELYA BOWERS VISITS

interviewed by Suzanne

Bandits and readers let me introduce you to my friend, Celya Bowers. Welcome to the Lair Ceyla, pull up a cushy chair and I’m sure we can find a cabana boy around here to bring us some refreshments!

Suz: ANYTHING BUT LOVE is one of my favorite Celya Bowers books. Can you give us a little look into the story?

Celya: ANYTHING BUT LOVE is a contemporary romance about two very A-type personalities who don’t want to date, but end up doing just that. Kendall Matthews is a very talented doctor in a prestigious hospital. Her world get turned upside down when her past comes back to greet her. Coletrane Highpoint was her first love and now he was back in town. He hadn’t noticed Kendall when she 16, but he notices her now at the tender age of 40.

Suz: Your heroine and hero have a past history. How did that mold them into the people they are now? And how does it affect their relationships both together and with other people?

Celya: Kendall always carried the hurt of Cole’s dismissive attitude toward her all these years. It formed her into the very focused woman she is now. She’s determined not to let another hurt her again. At first Cole can’t understand why Kendall has such an attitude about him, but when he realizes she was still harboring ill feelings from the past. He tries to rectify it.

Suz: Both characters have strong family ties. Is this important to you to show that part of their lives?

Celya: I’m very close to my family. I couldn’t imagine not speaking to someone in my family at least weekly. There’s such negative images of the African-American family, I’d like to show the world that there are still solid families on this earth. All my books have strong family ties.

Suz: Your secondary characters also have a second parallel love story. Do you feel that adds to the richness of the main story?

Celya: Yes, I do. I think it helps adds a much needed layer to a romance. Nothing is worse than being so focused on someone else’s romance you don’t realize you’ve fallen in love yourself.

Suz: So what’s next for Celya Bowers?

Celya: My latest release is a Celya Bowers book and is called 2 GOOD.

2 GOOD features a plus size heroine, Madisyn O’Riley and wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys, Aidan Coles. Madisyn is tired of playa-playas and wants to find just one good man. She’s had her fill of two legged dogs. When she volunteers at Aidan’s charity, she can’t believe that he’s actually interested in her. Aidan is immediately attracted to Madisyn because she’s not swayed by his wealth. Is she 2 Good to be true? When her security is threatened by an ex-lover, Aidan jumps at the chance to show her how much he wants her. Madisyn had begun to think men like Aidan didn’t exist anymore, but is so glad she was wrong.

Suz: Can’t wait to read 2 GOOD. I love football players as heroes! You also write as Kennedy Shaw. What’s up next for her?

Celya: The next book by Kennedy Shaw is called TOUR OF DUTY, and
will be released December 2009. This is a romantic suspense and is concerning unauthorized military testing with our troops in Iraq. It features high school sweethearts Mikerra Stone and Drake Harrington. This story is set in Wright City, Texas. Mikerra has a secret. She’s been living in New York working as an editor, and seeing a married man. Now that man wants her dead. Mikerra returns to her hometown for safety. She never dreamed she’d run into Drake. He still habors bad feelings toward her for the break-up. Drake is a an army ranger, home on leave after a tour in Iraq. Unfortunately, he’s been suffering from headaches since his return from the desert. The one person who holds the key to his headaches is the same person who broke his heart all those years ago. Can he put his hurt aside and listen to Mikerra?

Suz: Why do you write as two different pseudonyms? What is the advantage in doing that?

Celya: Kennedy Shaw’s story are usually set in the fictious city of Wright City, Texas. Every now and then Kennedy Shaw will have something different.

I wanted to keep those stories separate from Celya Bowers.

When you write totally different stories, it’s best to do it under a different name, so your loyal readers won’t be offended.

Suz: What do you see as the advantages of being a romance writer who happens to be African American? The disadvantages?

Celya: When I first started writing, there weren’t many African American romances out there. Now there’s more opportunities for writers of color, which I’m so grateful for. I try to write uplifting stories that give a reader hope. That’s why they’re paying to read my book. Escapism, but with the thought “hey, this could be me.”

To me the biggest disadvantage is that most mainstream readers think the minute they see AA on the cover, it’s going to be a story about the hood, drug dealers, and so on. I don’t write those kind of stories, because frankly, I don’t know that life style. I don’t write about baby mama drama, baby daddy drama. That’s just not my cup of tea. I write from my heart and things that occur around me. None of my friends are doing drugs, so I can’t write about that.

I guess I would like people to see my books as just romances. I don’t want it labeled a black romance just because of the color of the characters.

Suz: So dear readers, do you read books by authors who write under more than one pseudonym? Do you like when the authors use different names to differentiate which type of book you’ll be reading? Celya will be giving away a signed copy of one of her books to one lucky commenter today!

THAT MOMENT IT CLICKS

by Suzanne

No this isn’t a discussion about my digital camera or my ability to take really cute pictures of my grandkids, (although I do and they are!). No that clicking you hear is the light bulb going off over your head when you suddenly have a great idea. Or that moment when everything falls into place like cubes in a game. Or that moment when you know, deep down in your gut that something is right, or God forbid, something is wrong.

Click.

What? You think I’m a little loco in la cabessa? Well, I may be, but let me give you a few examples that reinforce my belief in the power of the click.

1978…Mount Carmel School of Nursing. At 19 years old, I’m a senior doing my mother-child rotation, this week in Labor and Delivery. I’ll graduate in the spring. I’ve got my plans for what I’ll do with my career. I’ve adored two nurses my whole life. My mom, who was a surgical scrub nurse and Hot Lips Hoolihan from the M*A*S*H TV show–another surgical nurse. I’ll go straight into the OR and follow in their footsteps. But first, I have to finish school. Today, I’m standing at the foot of a delivery table watching my first baby being born. As the head, then shoulders, then body emerges, tears fill my eyes and there’s a loud “click” in my head. I realize in that moment that my plans are forever changed. THIS is what I want to do.

Fast forward three years. Met my husband. No the click didn’t happen then. A month later we went on our first date. We spent the evening eating pizza, then going to a dance club, but didn’t dance too much. But afterward, when he kissed me goodnight, CLICK. Not the kind of electrical current thing that would make us vulnerable to be around in a thunderstorm kind of click. Just the, this is the one I could spend my life with and be happy, kind of click. That was more than 28 years ago and counting.

Sometimes my “clicks” are subtle and I have to listen very closely to them. Occasionally, I’m staring at a fetal monitor strip and I just get that feeling deep in my gut that says, “Click, this baby is in trouble.” It comes with time, experience and training, but when I listen, then the doc listens to me, things usually come out good. Sometimes, it’s a quiet “click” about one of my kids, or a friend, or my parents. You know, that urge to make the phonecall, just because they’ve been on your mind all week long? And when you do…sometimes it’s just your voice they need to hear at the dreadful moment in their lives? CLICK

Another click happened while we lived in Florida. I’d always played with writing scenes when I was bored and had nothing to read. This particular night I wrote a great scene about a heroine escaping up a hillside from a man she knows is a killer. It was historical, the hero is her husband, but doesn’t know she witnessed a murder and doesn’t know she’s fleeing town in such a precarious situation. Oh yeah, it’s winter, it’s Colorado, and she’s eight months pregnant. It’s also the middle of the book. That’s when the “click” happened. Why was she fleeing? Who did the murderer kill? Why hasn’t she told her husband? (That’s my image of the hero..)

CLICK! I was hooked. 395 pages later, I’d written my first book!

I’ve started a new book–a sequel to my story THE SURRENDER OF LACY MORGAN. I’ve known the hero for over a year now, (imagine Shemar Moore from CRIMINAL MINDS in jeans, chaps and a cowboy hat…yumm…okay, you don’t have to imagine, I’ll show you…)…er, I digress.

Anyways, I know his backstory, his conflict, his needs. I knew who his heroine is…but I know nothing really about her. With free writing I figured out her motivation and some of her backstory. Then I wrote the first scene of the book, then rewrote it, then rewrote it and yet again. Finally, I let her be proactive to a particular problem, the one that sets her out on her journey… and CLICK!! Yep…gonna be a good story!!!

So, how about you? Ever hear your own “clicks”? That moment in time when your life changes? Your story changes?

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