I have the usual family duties stepping into high gear—kids getting ready for school, which means tons of babysitting while my dd buys school supplies and clothes and runs the boy to football practice.
My dd and I have made a new friend in the nearby subdivision who’s into arts and crafts like we are, so we’re gearing up to produce stuff! Yes, I’ll be making more jewelry! I’m prepping to reopen my Etsy store and get ready for a Fall chock full of art fairs. So, my first priority is to organize my art room, which fell into complete disarray this past year. Good God, it’s a huge task.
My editing biz is in high gear. I have more clients now than I really want, but I think that’s a good thing. I’m busy, busy.
I have a very tight schedule for new releases. Books on pre-order that aren’t yet written! Gah! And more with luscious covers I can’t wait to share! How about the titles, huh? Any strike your fancy? Short stories: Stepbrothers Stepping Out — With His Client, Taking Dicktation. Books: S*x on the Beach ( a SEAL story!), Montana Bounty Hunters: Hook, Montana Bounty Hunters: Wolf, Montana Bounty Hunters: Animal…
As for the writing? I still have a few books left from the closings of Kindle Worlds, Ellora’s Cave, and Samhain to revise and get out the door. Which leads me to this…
Lion in the Shadows
When a teen dies inside an unexplored cave, it’s Lani Kimmel’s job to bring him out. This is not a pleasant job, but one she’s handled many times as a member of the local fire department and an expert in cave rescues. The trek into the cave awakens a creature that will push this no-nonsense woman’s boundaries of belief and test her newly emerging love for one man.
Rafe Chavez, the new sheriff in this small Texas town, has already staked a claim on Lani. He’s a man with a goal in his sights, and he’s not letting anything get in his way—until he dreams about an Indian brave who died in that unexplored cave, savaged by a mountain lion. When his dreams cross into reality, Rafe realizes he may be possessed by the Indian’s spirit—but the spirit isn’t alone, and it wants Lani.
Just when Lani’s resistance to his erotic persuasion crumbles, Rafe must push her away to protect her from another creature that has also cast its gaze upon her…
Science fiction is popular for both writers and readers of erotic romances. The reason is simple, at least it is for me. Give me a fictional world and I’ll design it to meet any number of needs. The rules, regulations, and social standards modern people live in won’t get in the way of characters’ desires because they don’t exist. Domineering men and submissive women or the other way around (which doesn’t happen much in erotic romance) don’t require justification when that’s standard operating procedure. I don’t have to justify why a man places a woman over his knee and repeatedly applies his hand to her ass. Everyone, readers included when they suspend belief, simply accepts that this is how things are. A woman doesn’t yell “insanity” if the man in her life treats her like a small child. Instead, she gets the norms of the world she finds herself.
Okay, that’s all well and good. A woman wears a collar and crawls on hands and knees behind the hunk who commands her to.
But what’s their physical world like?
Setting is vital to me, the most important thing in many ways.I can’t start a story until I know what the characters’ world looks like. And here’s a secret. I suck at creating fictional worlds. If you’ve read some Vonna Harper erotic fiction, you may have noticed I don’t put my characters on distant, exotic planets with complex social and political structure. Instead, I tend to rely on the corner of the world I know.
Case in point, one of my recent releases is Midnight Touch. Much of this story about a couple each with a heavy load of emotional baggage takes place in eastern Oregon. No urban center or exotic city for me because those things do nothing for me. Give me wide open spaces every time—spaces where the limited number of residents live their isolated lives in private. Sara’s dead ex-husband was a domineering SOB who got away with treating her as he wanted because there was no one for her to turn to or confide in. She seldom saw anyone and didn’t know whether she could trust those she did. I didn’t need to invent a planet because I had remote ranching country with more cattle than humans. I know what eastern Oregon’s high desert land looks like because I’ve been there. No need to try to figure out where water and other necessities come from. I’ve seen the wells.
I also know the hero doesn’t belong there, but he has no choice because Sara needs him in ways only he can understand.
As for the reasons—looks like you’ll have to read Midnight Touch to understand, hint, hint. You might also wind up with a darn good idea what eastern Oregon is like.
Yesterday, August 1st, was the Celtic harvest festival of Lughnassah. It was also called and celebrated as Lammas by the early Christian Saxons. If you missed it, you can certainly celebrate it today. Lughnassah is named after the Irish sun god, Lugh. In Wales, he’s called Lleu.
Sunshine helps nurture the grain until it ripens. Then it’s reaped, prepared, and baked as fresh bread. In the ancient Celtic belief system, Lugh transmitted his power of the sun into the grain, and with the harvesting of the grain, the god was sacrificed.
Nowadays, we get any food we want from the grocery store year-round, so it’s nice to use Lughnassah as an opportunity to connect for a moment to nature and its cycle of seasons. For example:
If you like to cook—include fresh apples, pears, corn, or home-baked bread in one of your meals for the day.
For nature lovers and those that like to get away—take a walk through the woods. In a big city, you can visit an arboretum or local nature center.
Or if you’re an arts and crafts person—it’s a great time to make corn dollies.
And if you’re a reader, here’s an excerpt from my Celtic Romance/Historical Fantasy novel that will time-travel you back to a Lughnasah celebration in 1stcentury Scotland.
The Warrior and the Druidess
Tanwen tossed a piece of bread into the central hearth. As it burned to a crisp, the smoke curled and rose to the gods. She let her sadness over leaving Sulwen and Rhys—and the death of her family—melt away. This was her new tribe and she loved them.
She led the chief’s household and her two guards in a circle around the central hearth as she chanted, “Earth gave us life. Death returns us to her womb. Unending, the circle runs forevermore. Sun, earth, and grain, all which falls, shall rise again.”
And that is why I’m here, Tanwen realized. She symbolized two great tribes destroyed by Rome. Yet, with Brude, she would make a stand to keep the brutal foreign force from Caledonia’s borders. She and Brude would see to it that no Pict tribe would be annihilated. Her descendants would teach the Celtic ways to those in the future, who, after accepting foreign beliefs, would come to forget their ancestors. In that, she was like the goddess. She carried the seed of rebirth, so that which had fallen would rise again.
It’s launch day for Zoraida Grey and the Voodoo Queen—Book 2 in my Gothic/Fantasy trilogy about how a small town fortuneteller wreaks havoc in a haunted Scottish castle—and beyond. Voodoo Queen takes Zoraida into the Yucatan jungle in search of a long-lost relative who is supposed to be the only person the witches of Castle Logan fear.
Since Zoraida is a fortuneteller, she consults her tarot cards from time to time and knows quite a bit about astrology—among many other things. To celebrate the launch of Zoraida Grey and the Voodoo Queen, I’m pulling cards and talking about characters in the series.
The Justice Card shows a stern individual holding a two-edged sword and a set of scales. The card is associated with the Zodiac sign of Libra. In Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones, the first book in the series, we meet Granny and come to know her as a crazy herbalist—some say witch—who lives in the wilds of Arkansas and dispenses herbal remedies among other things. She’s raised Zoraida since Zoraida’s parents died in a tragic boating accident when Zoraida was three years old. While we know Granny has some ulterior motive for sending Zoraida to Scotland, it isn’t until Zoraida Grey and the Voodoo Queenthat we get a glimpse of her real intention: To get revenge—or in Granny’s opinion, Justice—from the Logan witches for an ancient curse. She’s been working on her plan for a long, long time.
It just so happens that I’m a Libra, so I know that we Librans are a mellow bunch. We do, however, have a few ne’er-do-wells in our midst—Ma Barker, Lee Harvey Oswald (maybe just a patsy, which would be a very dark area of the sign), Bonnie Parker, Heinrich Himmler, Vladimir Putin, and Andrei Chikatilo, a prolific Russian serial killer who confessed to 56 murders. We also count Bruce Springsteen, John Lennon, Michael Douglas, Julie Andrews, Carrie Fisher, Sigourney Weaver, Mahatma Ghandi, Jimmy Carter, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Oscar Wilde, Tom Petty, and Daniel Boone among our merry band. We seek balance and may do anything it takes to get it—up to and including rubbing out the individual causing the problem.
Birthstones for those born Libra can be peridot, lapis lazuli, opal, or agate. To celebrate the launch of Zoraida Grey and the Voodoo Queen, I’m giving away a hand-crafted birthstone pendant.
Magic may save Zoraida’s skin, but what about her heart?
Zoraida Grey needs help. With the witchy Logan clan holding her best friend hostage in a haunted Scottish castle, she can’t trust anyone—certainly not beguiling but dangerous Shea Logan. And Al, her overprotective boyfriend, doesn’t believe in magic.
Only one creature strikes fear in the blackened hearts of the Logan witches. Trouble is Jock disappeared five centuries ago leaving a trail of destruction across the Gulf of Mexico. Now he’s stepped into a steaming pile of Voodoo.
Can Zoraida drag wayward Jock back to Scotland? And what’s she supposed to do with two men who promise completely different futures?
A Scottish wizard, stripped naked and painted blue—a Voodoo priestess bent on immortality—a yacht-load of Caribbean pirates. What can possibly go wrong?
“Tell them the story of our escape, Vera. They need to know what happened before they can decide what to do next. Even I don’t know the entire tale.”
“I’ve been wondering about that,” says Shea. “Very lucky the curse didn’t affect Zoraida.”
“Yes, it is.” Magic snaps and crackles in Granny’s eyes. She focuses on Shea, a satisfied little smile on her wrinkled lips. “The night I hid the Stone of Adamantine, Ursula and that boy of hers was looking for me high and low. They thought I meant to take over the clan—and I could have, too. But I was weary of the castle and the endless feuding. It never entered their heads I didn’t want nothing to do with that thing. They biled up a spell and sent it after me. I heered ’em.”
Granny shudders despite the bright Arkansas sun beaming through the window. “Exiled from Castle Logan for eternity on pain of death. Death to all my kin. They meant to make me watch all my children die, knowing none would live to get revenge. Then the curse would have meant a slow end for me. We managed to turn it just enough—my sister and me.”
I always intended to be a writer but life, family, and bills got in the way—oh, I took some bad advice, too. I taught English for many years but in 2014, I returned to my original plan and published Just Like Gravity, my first full-length novel. Since then, I’ve been working on a Gothic trilogy which will be finished and published in 2018. Now, I live in deepest, darkest Missouri where I plan to write until they haul me away. I like a wee nip of Scotch and will drop everything to attend any Scottish festival I can get to.