Friday, July 25, 2014

The Soundtrack of my Soul by Jenna Byrnes

I listen to music when I write. Always have, probably always will. Once I get deep into writing mode, I can't say that I hear the music anymore, but it's always there.

Song lyrics have provided great inspiration for my stories, too. I have two different series which have song titles as the book titles. 

My Darkness on the Edge of Town series is based on songs by Bruce Springsteen. Dancing in the Dark, Born to Run and Hungry Heart are three of my favorite stories, and some of the first where the book has been written to fit the title. They're also about gay cops, which are hands down some of my favorite subjects. LOL

Jude Mason and I each wrote two books in our Slippery When Wet series, based on Bon Jovi songs. I wrote Wanted Dead or Alive and Never Say Goodbye, and Jude penned Livin' on a Prayer and I'd Die for You. They are also particular favorites, these are about ex-cons which was new for me but great fun to write. For the BWL boxed set we added another set of novellas Jude and I wrote, Willing and Able, about (you guessed it) gay cops. 

The advent of USB drives in cars has opened my music playlist to include all kinds of songs. With the availability of music on the internet, if I hear a song that I'd forgotten about, I'm able to get a copy and stick it in my playlist for posterity. This makes for some very random and unusual playlists. 

I'm basically into oldies from the 70's forward and recent country music. My current likes also include Train, Jason Mraz, and anything Billy Joel or Keith Urban. The guilty pleasure songs on my current playlist include 'Something Stupid' by Frank and Nancy Sinatra, "Silhouettes' by the Herman's Hermits, 'I Say a Little Prayer' by Dionne Warwick and 'Conquistador' by Procol Harum. I mentioned random, right?

My husband prefers solid gold oldies and hard rock like CCR and Janis Joplin. Today when I drove his car and punched on his media drive, 'The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia' started playing. Not the classic Vicki Lawrence version, either, the Reba version. *sigh* I guess we all have our musical guilty pleasures!

What's the most unusual song on your current playlist? 

~ Jenna Byrnes
Page Scorching Erotic Romance


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Diane Scott Lewis: Undergarments Revealed-what did people wear under their clothes in the 18th century?

In my research for my eighteenth-century novels, the most difficult but interesting task was to find out what people wore under their layers of finery.

Starting in the seventeenth-century, people were desperate to throw off the plain, ugly garments of the Puritans, and now produced underclothes with a sexual allure.

A man’s shirt became ruffled and more visible, with puffed sleeves tied in ribbons, to show him off as a fine gentleman.

Women’s dresses became less rigid, and cut away in front to flaunt pretty petticoats. The petticoat, often several of them, was worn to give the outer gown a better shape. It was often of embroidered or ruffled material in bright, attractive colors.

Beneath their dresses, next to their skin, women wore chemises or smocks made of Holland, and heavily perfumed to diffuse body odors.

Sleeves were long and sometimes trimmed in lace. In the 1660’s dress sleeves were shortened to reveal the evocative chemise. Silk and linen were also popular materials because they harbored less vermin than wool.

With the extreme décolletage of the gowns, corsets or "stays" had no shoulder straps. The corset was heavily boned with a long busk in front and was laced tightly at the back.

Drawers, what we know today as underwear or knickers, were worn by French women, but there’s no evidence that Englishwomen wore such an item in this era. Although a country race where women ran to win a new smock said the girls wore half-shirts and drawers. So it is still a mystery.

In the eighteenth century the hoop came into fashion again, reminiscent of the farthingale of the sixteenth century. These pushed out dress skirts and the women walked holding them to one side like a bell to reveal their fancy under-petticoats, and the shape of their legs. This must have been dangerous considering the women wore no knickers. The hoop or pannier, especially in Court dress, pushed the sides of gowns out to ridiculous proportions where women had to walk sideways to fit through doors. Later in the century, panniers became narrower and the corset lighter, lacing in the front as well as back.

Men still revealed their fancy shirts by leaving their waistcoats unbuttoned to attract the ladies.

Men’s drawers are another mystery. Some reports have them wearing such items—a loose fitting garment that tied at the waist and on each leg—but other sources say that men wore long shirts that covered their privates in their breeches. Breeches had linings of detachable washable material, which no doubt served the purpose of drawers.

During the French Revolution after 1789 the classic style pervaded, and women discarded their corsets and confining gowns for simple, high-waisted Greek style chemises. Many women dampened these dresses to show off the fact they were naked beneath. It would take the stringent Victorian age to turn fashion to a more modest level and bring back restrictive undergarments.

Information garnered from my own research and The History of Underclothes, by C. Willett and Phillis Cunnington, 1992 edition.
To learn more about Diane Scott Lewis' novels:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Confessions of a Groupie

By Victoria Chatham

OK, I admit it. I am a life-long groupie. Perhaps I should qualify that statement in that I believe we are all 'groupies' to one degree or another, as Webster's New World Dictionary classifies the word as 'a number of persons or things gathered closely together and forming a recognizable unit'.

This being so, the first group I was totally connected with was my family. Next, being an army brat, came my father's regiment.  As a teenager, unable to resist the lure of being paid to learn to drive rather than paying someone to teach me, I joined the army reserves as a trainee driver and for two years thoroughly enjoyed being part of that group. During those years I joined groups within the group; namely the rifle club, self- defense club and saddle club. On any given Sunday I could be involved in target practice, learning a judo hold or throw, or horseback riding.

Apart from the reserves, my spare teen time was spent with a youth club, an archery club, various jazz clubs, a swimming club and a badminton club. After I was married I belonged to the Young Wives Club. When that faltered, what was left of our group was amalgamated into the Mothers Union under the aegis of a terrifyingly efficient lady named Mabel.

When my firstborn began school I joined the Parent Teacher Association and was a member of that group until my last born left school. In between times my neighbours and I formed a playgroup for our children. As the children grew they joined groups, which meant that ultimately so did I as I joined the committees that helped run Brownies, Cub Scouts, Junior Red Cross, then Scouts and a roller skating club.

Once my children's interests and activities were accounted for, I took care of my own with the badminton club and Women's League of Health and Beauty, now known as The Fitness League. Started in 1930 by Mollie (Mary) Bagot Stack, a young widow in poor health with a child to raise, this part dance, part exercise routine performed to live music, grew enormously in popularity and became an international organization within twelve months of its inception.

To indulge my life-long love of horses and improve my riding, particularly dressage, I joined my local family horse-riding club. Along with that came more committee work, more organizing and ultimately less horse riding until I learnt to say 'NO'! However, a group with the same interests as mine has a powerful pull and I remained on the committee for several years.

After moving to Canada I found groups galore in Calgary. I volunteered my time with an art gallery group by putting my records management skills to good use in their archives. With two dogs to walk on a daily basis, I joined the society who made it their mission to keep the park clean and educate users. I belonged to two direct sales organizations and then found a writers group and indulged another life-long love, writing. An entry in a short story competition garnered a $100 prize. With encouragement from the judges I developed my entry into a full length romantic suspense novel which may yet see the light of day.

I'm a great believer in fate, that things happen for a reason. Someone told me the Calgary Association of Romance Writers of America (CaRWA) was holding an information evening at a local library. I pounced on that news like manna from heaven. A group focusing on writing romance? How could I resist? Entry to CaRWA required membership of Romance Writers of America, so I joined another group.

Each of these writing groups and their members helped me along my writing path, through conferences, workshops and regular monthly meetings. I’ve received answers to questions, however trivial I may have thought them, when I’ve needed them. There has been a collective shoulder to cry on when rejections arrived. They sympathized when members lost loved ones, struggled with health issues, looked forward to weddings or welcomed newborns with open arms.

They made suggestions for getting back on track if the daytime job took precedence for awhile. It is a joy to be part of these dynamic, professional, friendly groups. As time has gone on I have joined another group, Books We Love, as my writing and publishing career has expanded. Some writers can and do make it on their own, but I’m not one of them.

Will I continue to be a groupie? Oh, yes. Where else, other than within a writing group can one find companionship and the understanding of the quirks and quarks of a writer's life? For me, nothing quite compares to the experience and fun in learning and growing with a number of persons who gather closely together to form a recognizable unit.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Books We Love ~ Canadian Publisher on a Bold Mission ~ by Jude Pittman

I’m really excited to share the new press release that we’ve just had done for Books We Love.  It really tells the story of what BWL is all about and the place of our authors in the publishing world.

Calgary, Alberta – In this day and age, most self and vanity publishing services will take a cheque from anyone willing to hand one over. This leaves critics and readers with the disheartening task of having to sort the literary wheat from the chaff. However, one Canadian publisher is on a bold mission to not only re-connect readers with fiction written by master wordsmiths with decades of experience, but to re-ignite the careers of acclaimed and much-loved authors that readers thought had dropped off the radar for good.

Calgary-based and independent Books We Love Ltd. is highly exclusive about who they sign; opting for previously-published authors who were left stranded after their small to mid-size publishers were swallowed up by the big guys. Many of these genre authors became bestsellers and literary legends in their own rights, only to find their careers pushed under the rug and readers crying out for their return.

 Authors under their wing include Joan Hall Hovey (known to many as Canada’s “Queen of Suspense”), Juliet Waldron, known for such historical favorites as Mozart’s Wife and Hand Me Down Bride, Kat Attalla who has over a dozen available romance titles and Jamie Hill, who is celebrating the print release of her new romantic suspense, ‘Pieces of the Past’ book one in her ‘Witness Security’ series. With over fifty authors to explore, the Books We Love Ltd. bibliography is a true Hall of Fame.

“We’re releasing new and re-printed books only from authors who have a solid reputation for quality and credentials to match. They have won awards, dominated the former mid-lists and are often authority figures in their own professional industry,” explains Judith Pittman, Publisher for Books We Love Ltd.. “However, they were literally left with nowhere to turn after their publishers were incorporated into others and their works delisted. Considering many of these authors spent decades refining their skills and had loyal fan bases – it’s a travesty.”

Continuing, “The good news is that they have now found a home at Books We Love Ltd. and we’re passionate about connecting them with their former readers, as well as garnering a new audience. You’ll often hear people asking what happened to that author they were once addicted to; well, he or she could very well be with us!”

Of course, any great author would be oppressed without an extensive distribution network for their work. To that end, Books We Love Ltd. has just signed a deal to distribute their books in print in the USA, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. Red Tuque will also be handling a portion of the distribution in Canada, with both distributors releasing a combined twenty-five titles this coming fall.

“This print distribution is a big step for our authors, returning their work to its original format. Of course, we’ve not forgotten about eBooks and currently have over four-hundred titles exclusively available through Amazon Kindle. With each book priced at $4.99 or under, getting some of literature’s forgotten heroes into your hands has never been cheaper..”
It’s an exciting time for us and we can hardly wait for our authors to once again experience the thrill of walking into their local bookstore or library and finding their own books on the shelves.
Watch for Jude Pittman's latest release

Sisters of Prophecy: Ursula

co-authored with Gail Roughton, coming soon!

Find all Jude's titles here:


Monday, July 21, 2014

Elvis Remembered By Sandy Semerad

Everytime I hear Elvis' music or watch one of his movies, I remember the first time I saw him. He was my first crush. Maybe that’s why my romantic heroes have features similar to the King of Rock and Roll. 

I can still hear myself swoon. It was a hot, summer night near Sarasota, Florida.
I had not reached puberty yet, but I realized I was close to it when the lean, mean "Memphis flash" walked out on a rickety stage, attacked the microphone, hiked up one side of his mouth and shimmied down into a split. He looked handsome and pure one minute, animalistic and sexy the next, while singing in the voice of an angel.
I didn't know it then, but he personified American rock and roll. How could I know? I was a kid, attending a day camp. Mother drove me and my sister and members of my swim team to see our heartthrob. His songs had inspired us while performing our water ballets.
We were certain Elvis loved women. His told us so in song. He was always wanting to love us and wanting us to forgive him. How could we NOT love him back?
That night, so many moons ago, Elvis surveyed the crowd with an amused look. Our screams made him laugh.
But when the music began, he was transformed into another dimension. He was a wild man, a tiger out of control, stalking his prey with song.
He was the American dream, a sharecropper and truck driver's son who found fame and fortune. He represented the future, the integrated South. He seemed both black and white.
That night, the microphone and a string from his guitar gave way to his wild gyrating performance. I screamed myself hoarse and my knees felt week. Yet, I'm pleased to say I didn't faint as others in the crowd did.
It was a night I will never forget, and I feel fortunate I was able to see him then and a number of times after that, even though I later realized he was in trouble.
When he died, I came to the conclusion he was a bundle of contradictions, sort of like the American South.
He spoke out against drugs but he died from a heart attack brought about by drug abuse.
He loved Jesus and his mother. Yet, he cheated on the women in his life.
He was a law and order man who broke the law when it suited him.
He was a tragic figure who has been idolized the world over in spite of the public's knowledge of his real life.
He was a millionaire many times over but the Southern abject poverty from which he sprang was always present. He was America's first Southern rock hero. Yet he disliked hard-rock music.

He gave the world and its people a part of the South we will never forget, and I couldn't resist resurrecting his image in my books.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Meet Ellie Fountain from Ellie's Legacy and Learn in the Process by Ginger Simpson #historicalromance

The Courthouse
Because I will probably be camping on my appointed day, I'm scheduling an older post I featured on Cowboy Kisses two years ago, right before I first decided to create a western blog to help revive the genre.  I didn't' have to look far to find some fantastic authors who've contributed some great stuff.

 It appears more and more authors are writing about the historical west, but not because of me, but because readers want more about Cowboys and Indians...and even romance. One of the keys to writing historical novels is to pepper enough history throughout  to help the reader learn something aside from your story

. Even though Tennessee is "on the wrong side of the Mississippi" to be considered Western.  The south mimicked the old west in many ways and it's where a lot of history happened during the 1800s.

In Ellie's Legacy, my heroine, Ellie Fountain, lives in Sparta TN...actually an unincorporated area above called Bon Air, but Sparta was where the stores, churches, and civilization existed..  I've tried adding facts throughout the story to help describe the period.  Today, I'm adding some more that even people from TN might not know.

Sparta became the county seat in 1809, and was the first capitol of Tennessee.  When state legislators decided to change the location, Sparta lost to Nashville by one point.

I lived in Sparta for a time, and loved it.  It's a small community that really gave credence to "Southern Hospitality."  I think forming friendships is a main benefit of living in a place where the population isn't inflated.  Unfortunately, we were forced to move because the median wage there is just above poverty, and employment benefits died when most of the businesses went to Mexico.  Those who remain are employed by the retail stores and few business that stayed or residents farm the land.  I can't believe I made a whopping $7.55 per hour to be correction's officer at the local jail...but that conjures up a whole different story.

The Rock House
I did mention in the book that, situated between, Knoxville and Nashville, Sparta was a hub for travelers.  In fact, I think I described the Rock House which was built as a stage stop to allow passengers a rest during a long  ride and still stands today as an historical monument and testament to the times.

Beautiful Fall in an Orchard in Sparta
Named after a Indian chief, The Calfkiller River was also something I mentioned, as it traveres Sparta and joins the Caney Fork River.  The White Mountains provide a beautiful display of red, oranges, yellow, and green during the fall, when the trees don nature's pallet, and even more beautiful, nearby you can travel to a place called Fall Creek Falls..even camp is you wish.

Sometimes authors have an uncontrollable urge to respond to those less than favorable reviews left on Amazon.  I had one that questioned the accuracy of mining in Sparta...claimed she knew better.  To her, here...I offer this proof:

White County was the site of a very large saltpeter mining operation during the Civil War. The Cave Hill Saltpeter Pits (No. 1 and No. 2), located on Cave Hill near the mouth of England Cove, were intensively mined and still contain numerous relics from that operation. Saltpeter is the main ingredient of gunpowder and was obtained by leaching the earth from these caves.,_Tennessee

For those of you who are a fan of old country music, one of the first things you'll see when you enter the city, is a memorial to Lester Flatt of Flatt and Scruggs fame.

Anyhow, I'm doing an interview let's get on with it.  There is more historical in my novel.

INT – So, Ellie, tell the readers a little about Ginger's story.

 RF – *Smiles* Well, I can’t give away too much. Ginger would skin me alive, but I’m sure she won’t mind me telling you that it’s got a little romance, a lot of western, and even more feistiness than her last historical romance. My problems begin when Pa hires Tyler Bishop as the ranch foreman. I kinda figured Pa always wanted a son, and Ty proves me right. Their relationship gets me pretty riled up. I have a bad temper at times… I think it comes from this red hair. *pulls a strand forward and grins*.

INT – So, besides your jealousy of Ty, is there any adventure involved.

 RF – Oh, you bet. *Squares herself in her chair*. The polecats that live on the neighboring ranch are aiming to get Fountainhead away from Pa. Dude Bryant and his twin boys are meaner than snakes… well at least Dude and Jeb are. Joshua comes across as quiet and a follower. But, *balls hands into fists* I’ll be danged if they’re gonna get my legacy. I actually bought a gun and taught myself to shoot it.

 INT – A gun?  What for?

RF – Protect Fountainhead of course. I’m aim to show Pa he don’t need Tyler Bishop around when he has me. I just wish Ty wasn’t so dang good lookin’.

 INT – I haven’t heard you mention your mother. How does she feel about you owning a gun?

RF - *Lowers her eyes*. My ma died when I was very young. I suppose that’s why I took up with the ranch hands and spend so much time workin’ outdoors. *Raises a steely gaze*. But, now that Ty’s in the picture, Pa wants me to spend more time in the house doing womanly things.

 INT – Would that be such a bad thing?

 RF – Of course it would. I don’t much care for makin' vittle’ and cleanin’. We have Cook for that. I’d much rather brand a cow as fry one.

 INT – So what about the romance part of the story?

 RF – *Chews her bottom lip for a moment* Well, I accompany Ty to a dance in Sparta, and as usual, he gets my dander up there, too. I never should have gone, but those eyes of his make my knees weak. My better judgment flew right out the window. *Takes a deep breath* What happens from then on, you’ll have to find out for yourself. I may look young and naïve, but I’m not silly enough to give away the whole story. Miz Ginger is counting on sales to help pay for some sort of operation to make her look younger  *Looks confused*  Can they do that?

 INT – I don't know anything about plastic surgery, so let's get back to story. I've read the book and know the dance holds a key to the suspenseful part of the story, but I certainly wouldn’t want you give away too much. You’ve already given us enough of a teaser to stir some interest. Hopefully we’ll see you on a best seller’s list somewhere.

 RF – That would be right nice. It just may happen cause remember, I have a gun. *Slaps hip and fakes a draw*.

 INT - Well, here’s hoping you don’t have to use it. *laughs*. Thank you so much, Ellie for being with us today. And good luck in the future.

 RF – Oh, yeah. I almost forgot to tell you that Ellie's Legacy is on something called the “Innernet” at, *reaches in pocket and pulls out a slip of paper; reads it* *looks up*.  Boy, ain't that a mouthful. *looks back a paper*.  Oh...and her publisher is called Books We Love *stuffs paper back into her pocket*.  Boy, I don't understand all this http stuff, but I'm hoping everyone else does.

 INT – I've sure they do, Ellie. Thanks again for being here.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

"Dishin' It Out": PRESS RELEASE - PLEASE SHARE - #pressrelease

"Dishin' It Out": PRESS RELEASE - PLEASE SHARE - #pressrelease: Canadian Publisher Signs “Neglected” Great Authors of Yesteryear; Rescuing their Discriminating Fiction from Sea of Self-Published Works....

Decisions - Janet Lane Walters #MFRWauthor

I'm a day older than I was eysterday. Only those who know me know what that means, But I won't tell you. I'll just ramble on about making decisions.

When I went to the doctor yesterday and he asked me how I felt, I said, "Weird." Then I explained that there was an annoying spot on my right thumb that wasn't numb but particularly sensitive. We went through the tens hand strength. Mine was good. What's I'd done was irritate a little nerve. Was there something to do about it. Yes. I could have my hand splinted from 6 to 8 weeks or I could learn to live with it. Decision time had arrived. I would learn to live with my sensitive thumb. 

Decisions for the characters you put into books should have decisions with a but... If the answer is a simple yes or no, there's nothing hard about. One needs to put them into a dilemma. If you decide on option A what could happen. Option B could bring a different but.

I'm working on the last book of an alternate ancient Egypt. After doing a lot of research and having the three books planned out, I was hit with a decision time. During the period I was writing about, There Were No Camels In Egypt.  But camels belong in Egypt. This meant making a decision. There were horses and donkeys but there were no camels. So I changed the venue to an alternate world. Then I had to decide what other things I should leave out. No Sphinx, no pyramids. I did hang onto the Valley of the Kings and most of the other research needed for the story to give it the flavor of Egypt. In fact I've had comments about don't you mean this or that and I reply alternate world. 

All during the three books, the characters are faced with decisions that have a but so they have to stop and think for one of these characters, learning not to jump rashly into action makes him learn to consider the But.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Meet Mike Powell

I first met Elsa Logan at a nursing home. Not the usual place to meet the woman of your dreams, but it is what it is. What was I doing in a nursing home? Obviously, I didn't belong there. I was there for therapy. Since I didn't have family, no one was home to help me, so there I was. Not that I was a model patient. Quite the contrary. I was a son of a gun. Probably the most unco-operative they've ever met. I refused
everything - food, medicine, showers, you name it, I wouldn't do it. I even refused to get out of bed. The nurses called me the 'geriatric rebel'. Not that I cared. What difference did it make. I wasn't in a hurry to go home. Living alone isn't fun.
Until I met Elsa that is.
I spent my days in bed sleeping and the nights running around the halls, playing tricks on the nurses, so of course I was tired during the day. One night as I was sneaking out of my room, I caught sight of someone slipping into an empty room. Of course I followed and ran smack dab into a petite, silver-haired beauty, Elsa. Needless to say my life took on new meaning.
The next morning, I actually got up for breakfast. Shocked the heck out of the nurses. No one realized I could get out of bed, let alone walk.
Thus began a beautiful friendship. Elsa and I discovered we had a lot in common. Of course, we had a couple obstacles to overcome, like her friend, George Kendall. A force to be reckoned with. Not that it took him long, but..... To learn more you're going to have to read the book, Geriatric Rebels available from Amazon.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Just who is Michelle Lee ...

As I mentioned in my first post about myself, (found HERE) I am a big geek and am working on my master's degree in biology.  I have also alluded in past posts about my start in the whole writing world with the erotica genre.  So to anyone who knows this about me, it should come as no surprise that when I am required to give presentations in class, and I am given a fairly free reign, my comfort zone is within a realm that is embarrassing to many others.  Which works for me, since I am a lot calmer during presentations if I am shocking the audience.  See, what many people don't know is ... lean closer ... I'm shy.  I know!  Right?  Me?  Shy?

Truly I am.  So I get really nervous when I have to present - but if I can make the audience also uncomfortable, then I actually feel less nervous.  Which leads to some, well, interesting presentations.

Case in point ... during one class, we were asked to do a presentation on the topic of Species Extinction.  Now most of my classmates picked species we will be sad to see go, which for someone who cares as much as we all do, was a fairly morose and sad class period.

To lighten things up, and because I am shy as heck and hate presenting, I picked something a little bit different.  I picked a species we would be thrilled to see go extinct.

Now, I will warn you in advance, there is a LOT of delicately put language as I attempt to take a very off-color presentation and make it general audience friendly.

So, I started off talking about how this is what we typically think of when we talk about habitat destruction and fragmentation.

This is another view of habitat destruction and the results.

Then I told them that today I wasn't going to be talking about that - about the bad habitat loss, and the evils of man caused species extinction.  Not because it isn't a serious concern, because it is.  There are so many species I could have picked, and just thinking about it is enough to make me cry.  So to get through presenting, which I hate, especially without crying, I needed to do something different.

Rather, I was going to be talking about ...

Well, to put it delicately - a habitat loss caused by hygienic attention to intimate body parts.  Although for them I had a nice, um, image.

(Pausing a moment for the laughter to die down)

After everyone got back into their seats, because some people fell out of them, we had to wait for one poor guy to have the picture I used explained to him. Since it was of a house cat with its hair removed.  Nuff said. 


Then I really started into my presentation.

The Background: Habitat Destruction

The Brazilian wax Brought to the U.S. by 7 Brazilian sisters: 
Jonice, Jocely, Janea, Joyce, Juracy, Jussara and Judeseia Padilha

Growing up in the Brazilian coastal city of Vitoria, the sisters, like other women there, routinely waxed hair from intimate areas to accommodate the ever shrinking bikinis worn on the beach.

The JSisters Salon is about a block from New York’s famous Fifth Avenue shopping strip.  The Salon opened in 1986.  In 1994 they introduced the Brazilian waxing technique.

After this, I showed a diagram of what a brazilian wax involves.  Um, I will spare you that very vivid imagery.

Regulars return approximately every four weeks, and pay $75 for a Brazilian Bikini Wax. 

Treatments range from complete hair removal to custom designs.

(Next I showed diagrams of different styles of grooming that were possible)

 Men are also getting Brazilian waxes. Some go for complete hair removal, and some also for designs.

(Had to throw in the eye candy there.)

(again I showed the possible grooming options)

Then I got into the details of it all, just why waxing is "bad".

Short and Simple: Habitat loss

WARNING: Science content ahead!

Lice of the intimate body region (Phthirus pubis) infest about 2-10% of the human population

A female louse needs to mate only once to remain fertile throughout her lifetime, and can lay eggs every day.  Think about that - it's terrifying!

Plus they are ugly little creatures.

Of course, I had to bring the science into it, and discuss lice eradication treatments.

Lice of the intimate region were usually treated with topical insecticides, Rid, Nix, and Malathione lotion.

Best treated with prescription wash containing permethrin.

From there, I moved on to the stats ...

Just How Wide-spread Is The Habitat Loss?

Greater than 80% of U.S. college students remove all or some of their, um, intimate hair.

A majority of men and woman in Australia remove all of part of their intimate hair.

In the U.K., 99% of women remove some hair, generally on their legs, pelvic area, and underarms.

The trend of the Brazilian wax (and other hair removal processes) is an alternative to pesticides in stemming one of the planet’s most contagious STDs.

Clipping, waxing, and shaving the pelvic region destroy the optimal habitat of this particular species of lice.

Intimate area "grooming has led to a severe depletion of crab louse populations.  Add to that other aspects of body hair depilation, and you can see an environmental disaster in the making for this species” says Ian Burgess, medical entomologist with Insect Research and Development Ltd.

Although the WHO doesn't have records on this species of louse, because it doesn't transmit disease, some records are kept by health care workers dealing with STDs.

2003 Study: In Australia at least 1/3 of people experience an infestation at some pt, in their life.  Since 2008 – Sydney’s main sexual health clinic hasn't seen a woman with lice of the pelvic region, and male cases have fallen 80%.

Ten years ago in the U.K. doctors started noticing a dwindling rate in cases of these lice, even as prevalence rates of other STDs increased.  

CDC has no stats for U.S. on this species of lice, because it isn't a disease causing agent.

Although this species of louse isn't a current threat, there is potential for new outbreak emergence, especially with its increasing resistance to pesticides.  Its cousin, Pediculus humanus humanus (body louse) is a vector of disease.  

"In the case of pubic lice, habitat destruction is a good thing” says Richard Russell, director of medical entomology at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital. 

Then I went to my sources slide:

Pubic Lice (Pthirus pubis): History, Biology and Treatment vs. Knowledge and Beliefs of US College Students.  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Vol. 2, pgs 592–600. 

Brazilian Bikini Waxes Make Crab Lice Endangered Species,

And, I ended on a comic slide, something I learned from one of my professors that I now always do.


So, aren't you glad you're not going to school with me?  My classmates both love - and hate - when I have to present.

I also did a talk on 50 Shades of Animal Sex: Kinky, Painful and Deadly Sexual Practices in the Animal Kingdom and another talk on The Technology of Orgasm: Hysteria and the Origin of the Vibrator.

If you're interested in seeing one of these as a future post, let me know.

As for anyone interested in my covers ... check out Stardust Creation  Come on, geek - so of course I had to go geeky with my website name. :)

He's Sexy and you know it!

By Michelle Lee
BWL Art Director

This post is primarily for romance authors, readers, and those that love them.

We all know there are trends in romances.  Tropes many people call them.


     One-night stand baby.

          In love with the boss.




A vampire who has a baby with her werewolf boss, who is also a cowboy, and then he develops amnesia right after telling her he loves her too, so she has to make him fall in love with her again, while together they fight off the bad werewolf female who wants the hero for herself.

Ok, so that last one I might have been making up - but you watch, now that it is out there in the blog-o-sphere, someone somewhere will write it.  So long as I get creative credit, I'm okay with it.

Anyways, we all know there are trends.  Just like in the storylines, there are also trends with cover art, specifically cover models.

For example, anyone remember this guy?

If you read romances in the '80 and early '90 you should.  That's right - that's FABIO.

Fabio was on more than 400 romance novel covers.  And that was a big deal at the time.

Now, let's fast forward to today.  And we have JIMMY THOMAS.  He is an even hotter commodity than Fabio was in his day.  At one point a year or so ago, Mr. Thomas mentioned he had been on something like a 1000 book covers, and since then he has become even more prolific.  Current stats put him at 6000 covers.

Think about that - 6000 covers!  Holy moly!

But then again, looking at him, I can certainly see why he is so prolific.

(Images (c) Jimmy Thomas) - I just LOVE that second picture.

Part of Mr. Thomas' appeal is his tall, dark good looks, as well as his versatility ... but also his support for the romance community.  He started up a romance stock image site.  He started a cover art convention (which welcomes big named authors as well as those just starting out) and occurred for this year just a couple days ago.  He started a newtworking site just for the romance community - readers, publishers, cover artists, authors, etc.  From everything I have heard about him, he is open, personable, and generally a nice guy.  I have hopes to eventually make it out to his cover art convention myself, and maybe get a first hand account.

So what covers from BWL can we find the prolific Jimmy Thomas on?

Alas poor images, I cannot find you!

By Michelle Lee
BWL Art Director

So how many of you, when trying to visualize the ways you want a cover to look, quickly get frustrated trying to find images?

(Waiting a moment as people start jumping up and down, madly waving their arms, screaming ME!  That's ME she's talking about).

I should have mentioned, make sure not to scare your pets with your answer.

(Waiting longer while poor Fluffy and Fido are coaxed out from behind the fridge and Tweets snagged off of the curtain rod in the shower; don't worry - Slither will come out of the sewer somewhere in the neighborhood - so just wait for screams to clue you in to his location.).

As you can imagine, many authors find themselves in the same ... exact ... boat when it comes to finding images.

So here are some tricks to image searches (from my own personal frustrated experiences).

* First off ... do some sample searches and see what comes up.  Go to images sites like and use their search function and search for random things, so that you can familiarize yourself with the site.  Like any skill, practice is going to work to your advantage.

* Don't get discouraged; sometimes cover artists have problems finding images.

* All too often, when it comes to something like finding the perfect image authors have to come to terms with the fact that they don't exist.  Going to wait a moment, and let that sink in.  The perfect images do not and will not ever exist.  We work with what is available, and within the bounds of what models are willing to pose for certain genres of images.  So sometimes, close-enough is what we work with.

* Now, if you're not finding images, not because of looking for the perfect one, but rather because nothing is showing up as a result of your search, just try new terms, and things that are close.  For example, I have found Regency era styled images by search for Medieval and Renaissance.  The terms Baroque, Vintage, etc also have worked when trying to find historical images.  So expand a little with the search terms.

* Generally one and two word searches work best.  This is by far the best advise I can possibly give.  ONE or TWO word searches.  For example: "Sexy Couple" is going to yield much better results that "Couple Sexy Embrace Bed Red Silk Lingerie Lace England Castle Curtains Blond Man Redhead Woman".  Yes, there will be more images to look through, but you are more likely to find what you need.  Many photographers put really good search terms to their images, but that can't think of everything.  So simple is going to yield better results.

* Also, keep in mind if Sexy Couple didn't work, maybe Attractive Couple, Nude Couple, Lingerie Couple, Embracing Couple, Couple Kiss, Couple Love, etc might yield better results so try alternative search terms.

* If I find a search term set that yields great results, and I know I might need to use it again, I will save the terms in a word doc.  I put what I am trying to find, and what terms I ended up using.

* * *

Now, I know that many authors feel they are not a good judge of images, and what would make a cover.  And that is fine.  That is the role of the cover artist.  But cover artists are not fluent in all fields.  So some genres are more difficult for an artist to find images for without author suggestions.  To that end - consider finding images that fit your characters, and suggest them.  Keep in mind however, the cover artist might not use them.  Because some images lend themselves to covers better than others, the cover artist and publisher is always going to reserve the right to opt for a different image.  But by suggesting possible images, you are more likely to get something closer to what you want than not.

For example, I am a biologist by training.  Specifically an ecologist.  So, someone saying to me 'I want a nice snowy owl on the fore-cover, and a timber wolf in the background, with a couple in between'.  As a result, I am able to fit those requirements without much effort, because I am familiar with both, and if not - I have easy access to field guides that will make me familiar with them.

But saying to me, 'This is set in Edwardian England, and I want the hero to have period clothing, and the background needs to be a period house, and so on', um I am going to space out at Edwardian, and my eyes will be completely glazed over by hero ...  So for that cover, I am so going to need every suggestion I can get.

So keep in mind that cover artists are not fluent in all fields, and thus not fluent in all genres terms and specifics.  We do the best we can, with what resources we have available - so make sure YOU are one of those resources.

* * *

Oh and one last, tiny little suggestion.  As you are searching, if you come across an image that screams at you - but for a book you aren't working on filling out the information for - SAVE THE URL, image number and site, whatever!!!! 

Either create a word document that you put all of them into, with the Genre/WIP Title etc with them, or bookmark them, something.  

So many times, authors lament that they had found the perfect image, but forgot to save it since they were looking for a different book's suggestions.  So don't let that be you.  Find some way to keep track of the images that stand out to you - because you never know when you will need to find it again.

Monday, July 14, 2014

What makes a writer?

What makes a writer? There must be a thousand answers to that but in my case it’s because other people fascinate me, and on my recent journey to Russia that fascination got the better of me despite the glory of my surroundings.
The Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg is almost beyond description. The 3 million people who visit each year cannot begin to view even a fraction of the millions of artifacts on display or stored in its ten buildings, seven of which are monuments of 18th and 19th-century Russian culture, so when I was taken to the banks of the River Neva to admire one of the most iconic views of the city, I should have been concentrating.  Instead something else caught my eye.
Sitting close together on the edge of the cobbled walkway were a young couple. Next to them were discarded takeaway coffee cups. She was holding a camera. Why was I more interested in two strangers than in the magnificent view opening up before me? Why did I stop looking in the direction of the tour guide’s pointing finger, and what made my ears deaf to the history all around me?
The answer is simple. I am a writer. So while my companions listened to the guide’s potted history of the city and how, once upon a time, it had been a great trading port, I was more fascinated by the couple in front of me who appeared to be completely oblivious to the rest of the world.
Why were they here? It was eight thirty in the morning, which explained the coffee but nothing else, so while everyone else in my tour group learned about the construction of The Great Hermitage (1771-87), the Russian Revolution (1917), and how more than a million items were evacuated from the museum to the Urals during World War II, I began to create a story about the here and now.
Were they illicit lovers who were stealing a few moments together on their way to their respective jobs, or were they new lovers who couldn’t bear the thought of having to spend a whole day apart? On the other hand, maybe the camera was the clue and they were just tourists like us who had set out to enjoy the view and been sidetracked.
I was intrigued by their body language too. The woman was slightly hunched against the early morning chill, one hand in her pocket, so had it all started when he’d put his arm around her to keep her warm? Was that her clever ploy? Was this their first kiss? Or maybe they were they saying goodbye, knowing they wouldn’t see one another again for a long time, if ever. No! They looked too happy for that. One thing was for sure, they were in love…hopelessly and ecstatically... and for a Romantic fiction  writer like me it was a joy to see.
I’ll never know their story of course, and nor should I. I will use that short glimpse into their lives though. One day, in one of my books, there will be a young couple sitting beside a river and they will be so locked into their own world that they will be completely oblivious to the people passing by. She might even be wearing a green coat…but the story will be mine. Whether The Great Hermitage will also feature remains to be seen!
Visit my website at where I often use things I have learned on my travels and where readers are promised a ticket to romance when they read one of my books.

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