Monday, March 25, 2013

The Viking's Witch - hot historical/paranormal romance

Hi everyone,

Vikings are more popular than ever and if you can’t get enough Norse drama, check out my Viking romance with Medallion Press. The Viking’s Witch is a historical with paranormal elements is set in Celtic Scotland.
The main character, Odaria, is what they called a witch back then – nowadays we’d call her a psychic and a healer.

Scotland is a beautiful place and I’ve always wanted to set a book there. (I still may write another historical set in the Highlands.) Having the story take place on the remote Orkney Islands added a sense of urgency and tension to the plot. In a sense, Rothgar and Odaria are “trapped” on the island and are forced to deal with angry villagers and the other Norsemen. The action is condensed into a few days on a very small island, so there’s really nowhere for the characters to go. They’re forced to work together in order to get off the island – and survive. 

Before I started writing a word of the book I had to do a lot research on where to set the story. I knew the book would take place in Scotland, where the Vikings traveled in their early years of exploration, but I didn’t want it to be a populated location. Once I decided on the Orkneys, I had to pick which island to set the story (there are 70 different islands, but today, only 20 are inhabited). 

I also had to research what life was like at that time period for Odaria and Rothgar. (What kind of clothes they would wear? What food did they eat? How did Norsemen travel so far? What were their ships like?) Odaria and Rothgar come from different backgrounds and technically would have been speaking different languages, so I had to blend their two cultures together in a way that flowed with the book. 

After I got a feel for what everyday life was like for each of them, I weaved the details into the story. For example, Rothgar’s Norse culture intrigues Odaria and she is curious about their clothes, customs, their food, how they travel, etc. Having Rothgar show her how he lived was a good way to introduce readers into the culture.

And of course, if you were living back in 803 with bands of Norsemen and crazy villagers, you can expect there was some measure of violence. Readers might think that there’s no place for violence in a romance, but I think that type of realism enhances the story. 

In 803, life was completely different from how we live now – especially on a remote island. People got hurt, sick, and died. The Viking’s Witch is about a violent man (Brennan) and a group of Norsemen with violent reputations, so the violence in the story is necessary to move the plot along while also helping the reader get deeper into the minds and lives of the characters.

I didn’t cringe when I wrote the “gritty” scenes; I was happy to include them. I like history and it drives me crazy when people in 1500 or 1870 are perfectly clean and neat and look like they stepped out of a beauty salon. In The Viking’s Witch I included enough details to bring the story alive, yet showed how some degree of violence was necessary for Rothgar’s and Odaria’s survival.

You can order a copy of the book here:  

A book summary & excerpt are below. You can also read the first chapter for free on the book's page at Manic Readers (and it’s also on Shelfari & Goodreads). The Viking’s Witch was a lot of fun to write and has received several excellent 5-star reviews on Amazon and romance novel websites. (Excerpts from reviews are posted on my site:

Scotland, 803 A.D.
About to be burned at the stake by her fellow villagers, Odaria does what any betrayed witch facing certain death would do. She calls down a curse. Within seconds, rampaging Norsemen raid the village, capturing everyone except her.

But her reprieve is short-lived, and Odaria lands in the clutches of the Norse leader Rothgar. Can she remain true to herself and fight her growing attraction to this domineering man, or will she fall under his influence and be used for his ambitions?

After Rothgar witnesses Odaria’s powers firsthand, he strikes a bargain with her. The raven-haired beauty will use her magical abilities to help him with his quest in exchange for safe passage off the isle. But can this cunning woman be trusted, or is she using him to exact vengeance on her village?

Together they must fight bloodthirsty villagers, battle a mutinous band of Norsemen, find a missing Norse ship, and learn to trust each other . . . before time is up.

An Excerpt From The Viking’s Witch
As Odaria rubbed her temples with her fingertips, the wool blanket slipped down, exposing her breasts. She tried to cover herself, but Rothgar held her wrists.

"Let me admire you." He pulled away from her and sat back on his heels.

Although she was a bit embarrassed, she felt no need to shield herself. She trusted Rothgar like no other. Before she knew what was happening, Rothgar’s warm mouth covered her left breast. A flash of desire coursed through her, and she groaned.

He suckled her gently, then twirled his tongue around her nipple. The sensation of his mouth working against her flesh sent her senses reeling, and she longed for more. A low moan escaped her throat as he increased the pressure on her breast.

She wrapped her arms around Rothgar’s head and held him to her, arching her back as he devoured her. Her lustful feelings from this morning resurfaced, and she willed him to ease her back onto the bed and make love to her.

After a few minutes, Rothgar moved away. "I thought that would make you feel better," he said with a wink.
She smiled. "Aye. I do. I’m tingling everywhere, but it isn’t enough."

Rothgar stroked her cheek with his forefinger. "Then lie back. I will make you feel things you’ve never dreamed of."

Odaria lay on the bed and closed her eyes. Her entire body felt prickly, and her heart thundered in her chest like a drum. What would Rothgar do next? Would they make love? He was the only man who had ever sparked these desires in her. It felt natural to give herself to him.

She felt a slight chill as Rothgar tugged the wool blanket away from her lower half, exposing her. A tremor of fear rippled through her. "What happens now? I dunno how to do this," she whispered.

"Fret not, my little witch. We will not make love now. I wish to save that pleasure for tonight." He chuckled. "But I know how to give you the same pleasures of lovemaking while leaving you intact."

"How could—?"

She gasped as Rothgar leaned over her and suckled her breast again. Her skin quivered as Rothgar trailed kisses down her ribs and stomach, inching lower with each kiss. His strong hands massaged her calves, sliding upward until he rubbed her knees, then her thighs. His kisses went lower, tickling her until he reached her lower belly. She moaned and squirmed on the bed. This delightful teasing and touching was something she’d never expected. How did Rothgar know how to make her feel so weak and vulnerable?

Next week, we'll get ready for Wrestlemania with an inside look at my wrestling romance, A Perfect Match!


Monday, March 18, 2013

Liberty States Fiction Writers Conference recap

Hi everyone,

Over the weekend I attended the Liberty States Fiction Writers conference and went to some great workshops. When I tell people I’m going to a writing conference, some of them say, “Why? You’ve already published 20 books, what else do you have to learn?”

I’ve always said that when you stop learning and listening and exploring you might as well hang it up. Yes, as an established writer I know about point of view and I think I’ve pretty much figured out how to create characters – but attending writing conferences is more than just about learning how to write a book or plot an outline, it’s a way for writers to connect with writers and talk to others in the industry. Writers understand what it’s like to “have people in your head”, to get stuck on an opening line, or agonize over a title. 

The workshops were interesting and offered something for everyone – regardless of the genre you’re writing (and whether you’re just starting out or more experienced). I got a refresher on How to Hook Readers with a Fabulous First Line from Sarah MacLean, a reminder that There is No Writers Block from Hank Phillippi Ryan (and a great list of questions to ask yourself if you feel like you are getting stuck), and practical advice from “Jen Squared” (Jen Talty & Jennifer Probst) on creating a platform through social media. 

But for me personally, the highlight was horror/thriller author Jonathan Maberry. I first met Jonathan at the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference back when we were starting out in the early 2000s. In a long-ago workshop Jonathan gave me some sage advice I still stick to today (don’t use a pen name!) and encouraged writers to write and have fun while doing it.

Many books later, his advice still holds true. Jonathan gave a motivating and funny speech at lunch and also hosted a workshop entitled Constructing a Nail Biter of a Thriller. The workshop covered timing and pacing, the heroes journey, genetic research (“SpiderGoats” anyone?) and raising the stakes for characters as the clock ticks down to big trouble. After the conference I found myself motivated to work on a few supernatural thrillers that I’ve had in the idea stage for ages.  

Thanks to the presenters and organizers who made the conference possible (and fun!). And thanks to everyone who visited my little portion of the swag table and signed up for my newsletter. (Everyone who did will win a free ebook.)

I came away with some valuable new information, a few refreshers, and ideas for new projects. At some point, every writer needs to take a break from the work and go out into the world and see new things, have new experiences, and socialize. The conference was a great way to do all that! 

And now? I’m back to working on a follow-up book to A Midsummer Night’s Delights & A Midwinter Night’s Delights.  (You can read more about them and my other romances on my new site: 

In my next blog, I’ll be sharing more about my historical/paranormal, The Viking’s Witch!
Until next time,

Happy Reading,

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Mistresses of the Macabre - New Horror Anthology

Hi readers!

As almost everyone knows, when I’m not writing super-hot erotic romances, I’m writing spooky horror stories. Today, I’m sharing a look at my latest horror tale, “Sometimes Monsters Are Real”.

My short story appears in the Mistresses of the Macabre  anthology published by Dark Moon Books. This collection includes 18 tales of terror—all written by women. Yes, women. Despite what some people may think, women horror writers can go to that dark place and create some pretty scary stuff. I hope you’ll check out the anthology and spend a few hours with some talented women writers.

My horror stories always tend to be a bit different. I like to scare people – but not in an overly bloody or gory way. (I’m the person who makes you afraid to walk out to your car at night, or think twice about opening an attic door!) My stories focus on psychological aspects of fear, a person’s worst nightmare, or something that just isn’t right. In “Sometimes Monsters Are Real” a vulnerable woman is visited by an unusual creature in the dead of night…

Here’s an excerpt from Sometimes Monsters Are Real

A heavy breathing noise caught her attention and she looked down the hall. The creature stood there, staring at her. It was taller than she had expected, about four feet high.

“What the fuck are you?”

“A collector,” it answered in a gritty voice.

“Get the hell out of my house or I’ll—”

“Call the police? You won’t. If you did, they wouldn’t see me. They’d think you were crazy, right Janisss?” It grinned, flashing its evil, black teeth.

She shivered and wrapped her arms around her chest. This thing knew her. “What do you want?”

“What’s owed.”

“I don’t owe you—”

“Me? No, I’m the collector,” it said as it shuffled into the living room. “I’ve been sent by my master to take the debt to its rightful owner, tonight.”

As part of the book launch, I talked with Dark Moon Books about writing horror stories. You can read the full interview here:
And for all you writers and readers in New Jersey – I’ll be attending the Liberty States Fiction Writers “Create Something Magical” Conference on Saturday, March 16 at the Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel, 515 Route 1 South & Gill Lane Iselin, NJ. Sign up for my newsletter at the conference and you can win a free romance e-book. 

See you then!