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When a Setting Becomes a Character

Solace_In_Scandal_webWhen I was writing Solace in Scandal, an interesting thing happened.  The first half of the story is set at Wolfe Manor, a secluded estate in rural New York.  The hero and heroine are trapped on the grounds by the paparazzi.  It’s primarily Alex and Elena — and the setting.   The grand old mansion and its grounds were so key to the story, in essence they became another character.

The mansion itself is old and stately, rigid and cold.  It very standoffish as Alex and Elena first meet.  The lake house is much warmer and cozier.  Accepting.  Yet the grounds were what really came alive.  At times the woods and lake could be beautiful and inspiring.  When trouble lurked around the corner, those same woods could be dark and menacing.  The lake took on a foreboding quality.

With the autumn season in full force, the weather and settings were able to magnify the relationship brewing between Alex and Elena.  At times it’s stormy and dangerous.  At others, it’s secluded and intimate.  With few other characters to play off of, the setting had to step up – and it did.  Big time.  I don’t think the love story could have stood out so much if they’d been trapped in a penthouse or free to come and go.

What do you think?  Do you like “forced proximity” romances?  Do you think setting is important to a story?

Interview questions

So I did an interview and a blog for my recent blog tour, but the content didn’t appear on either of the sites.  So guess what?  I’m using it here.

What do you wish men understood about women?

In most cases, the current fad of full, mountain-man beards is NOT a good look.  You may think it makes you look manly, but women just think about how hot and itchy it must be.  And if it’s unkempt?  Blehck!  When Princess Leia told Han Solo that she’d rather kiss a Wookie, she was being sarcastic.  We want to see your handsome faces.  Unfortunately, with No-Shave November upon us, the situation can only get worse.

Do you work on only one book at a time?

Yes.  When I’m deep in a book, the plot and its characters, it’s very hard for me to back out and jump into something else.

Who is your favorite fictional couple?  I can’t narrow it down to just one, but I can name a few off the top of my head.  Wolf and Mary from Linda Howard’s MacKenzie’s Mountain, Batman and Catwoman, and Mal and Inara from Firefly.  I like the yin and the yang.

Do you have a favorite quote that sums up how you feel about life?  I had the hardest time trying to figure out how to answer this question until I looked up and saw the poster that hangs over my desk.  It says “Destiny is not to be waited for: it is to be achieved.”  I think that sums it up pretty well.

Do you set daily writing goals?  Word count?  Number of chapters?  Do you get a chance to write every day?  I have set goals when I’m coming up against a deadline, but normally I don’t.  It makes writing feel very mechanical to me, which isn’t a good thing.  I also need to have a chapter or scene fully plotted out before I sit down to write.  I can’t plot and write at the same time.  My brain doesn’t work that way.

What do you like better, Twitter or Facebook?  Why?  Twitter.  It’s fast and easy, and they don’t do all the creepy prying into your personal information.

The Power of Sleep

I’ve been having trouble figuring out how to end a chapter in a book I’m currently writing.  I’d been mulling this over in my mind for days.  I’ve got the entire chapter plotted, but I didn’t know how to close it in a way that would drive the next scene.  I couldn’t get to sleep last night because I was fighting with it so hard.  Then this morning, I woke up and BOOM!  There it was, a line spoken by another character.  It wasn’t the person I was trying to make speak, and now I know why she wouldn’t talk.  It’s because this line is perfect coming from the other character.  It matches the motivation and sets up an interesting turn of events.

Yay!  I love how sleep works.  And that makes me want to get back to the Dream Wreakers and all the interesting research that comes along with it.  Soon, I promise… very soon.  It’s next on my writing calendar.

I’m goin’ hoppin

I’m goin’ hoppin next week.  Where thing are poppin’…

I’m doing a blog tour for Solace in Scandal starting next Monday.  Click on the poster and you’ll see where I’ll be appearing.  Drop by the various sites and ask questions or let me know what you think about the story.  I’ll be giving away this pretty begonia cascade indoor fountain to one lucky poster.  Hopefully, it will bring someone some solace.


Solace-in-Scandal-fountain prize

Spooky, sexy reads for Halloween

Are you looking for some spooky, sexy reads to get you in the Halloween mood?  Might I suggest a couple of my stories?  They’re perfect for reading next to a fire, all curled up as the house settles and footsteps ring out from the empty attic above.

KimberlyDean_Everlasting_200pxFirst, there’s my Gothic novella Everlasting.

Genre:  Contemporary, Gothic erotic romance
Release:  September 2011
ISBN 9780984651108

When innocent college student Chevon takes an impulsive road trip, she finds herself lost in a thick, unpredictable fog.  Out of nowhere, the Everlasting Inn appears.  The remote house on the cliffs is a haven, yet it evokes erotic thoughts and a haunting sense of déjà vu.  The hazy memories consume Chevon, arousing her and tempting her. She takes a job at the inn and when the sexy new owner shows up, she remembers what she’s been craving.  And why…

Everlasting excerpt

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The Romance Reviews gave it a Top Pick Award and described it as “temptation incarnate.


ghostfluteNext, there’s my story Ghost Flute, that’s heavily influenced by a Sioux legend.  Native American culture is rife with spirits and monsters and mystery.  I loved doing research for this story.

Genre:  Paranormal erotic romance
Release:  June 25, 2010
ISBN  9781419927690

Serena Little Feather is hoping to reconnect with her heritage when she agrees to house-sit on the Lower Brule Sioux Reservation.  She just never realized how close to the past she’d get.

At night, Serena hears a flute playing behind the house.  The music is haunting and seductive, rousing intense feelings of lust and need.  But music isn’t the only lust-inspiring thing in her life.  Her neighbor Chayton is dark and sexy, but she’s been warned against him.  She doesn’t know which scares her more—the overwhelming pull of the music or her attraction to the bad boy.

Chayton wants his beautiful neighbor.  Their kisses sizzle and their touches burn, but the music she’s hearing worries him.  Legend told of a Sioux brave who’d lured many women with his flute playing.  He’d seduced them and cast them aside—until he was found dead with a knife in his stone heart.  It was said that the brave’s spirit still roamed the countryside, playing his songs and looking for love.  Every so often, a pretty girl responded.  Chayton fears that this time, the pretty girl is Serena.

Ghost Flute excerpt

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RT Book Reviews says, “This eerie ghost story is brimming with steamy sex set in an interesting plot.”  Read the interview they did with me about Ghost Flute here.

Newsletter contest winners

Solace_In_Scandal_webThe winners in my newsletter contest have been selected.  Each of the following people have won a free e-copy of Solace in Scandal and have been notified by email.

Congratulations to:
Tina R.
Carolyn R.
Gayle P.
Cheryl M.
Sandy P.

If you’d like to be included in upcoming giveaways and learn all the latest about my books, just subscribe to my newsletter.  It includes all kinds of fun stuff.

Private Dancer is an EPIC finalist!

2014_EBook_finalist-smPrivate DancerIt’s an awesome day.  I was just notified that Private Dancer is a finalist in EPIC’s ebook competition.  EPIC is the Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition, and this is a  major competition with books being entered from all kinds of genres.  Private Dancer was submitted in their erotica division.  For a writer, it’s super-exciting to get this kind of validation.  Winners will be announced at EPIC’s national conference in San Antonio in March.

Private Dancer excerpt

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Twisting my words

I recently bought some dictation software.  It’s supposed to translate everything I say into a microphone into words on the screen.   I’d heard that it can be a helpful tool.  Some authors swear that it helps them write faster.  Others use it because of carpal tunnel problems and other ailments.  I can relate to that.  When I’m writing a book, my forearms get to be as powerful as a major-league slugger’s.  And let’s face it, the technology is cool and fun to play with.

But I’m not so sure this is going to work for me.  Why?  I must mumble or slur or something, because here are some hilarious examples of how my sentences are turning out.

Spoken:  “Not as short as you like to think.”
Written:  “None assurance you like to thing.”

Spoken:  “It sent a hot shiver across her skin.”
Written:  “It sent this hot sugar through hers kin.”

Spoken:   I think it was, “She let out a sigh that emptied the breath caught in the base of her lungs.”  (Definitely a first draft sentence.)
Written:  “She let out a sigh that emptied the breath that it caught in the base of her lines.”

Spoken:  “They’d been in lust ever since they’d first clapped eyes on one another.”
Written:  “They been in was ever sensate first clapped eyes on one another.”

Spoken:  “She ran her fingertips over the table.”
Written:  “She ran her anger tips over the table.”  Anger tips?  Hahahaha

And my favorite…

Spoken:  “He brushed a curl away from her face and tucked it behind her ear.”
Written:  “Eucharist Caroli from her face behind her ear.”


Obviously, I need to enunciate.  I’ll admit that the software is learning and getting better, but I’m getting frustrated.  As you can see above, it can be funny reading things back, but I have to watch each sentence carefully.  I’m spending more time correcting than writing, and even that’s an adventure.  I think it could be a helpful tool.  Maybe I’ll use the keyboard some days (like today) and talk on others.  One unexpected consequence – my forearms feel better, but my voice is hoarse.

Plus, I don’t know how much more my “anger tips” can take!

Alex and Elena

Alex 3Writers like to try different techniques as they’re writing, or at least I do.   Sometimes the process is easier than others.  I’m always looking for ways to get my brain synapses firing.  With Solace in Scandal, I tried something new.  I posted pictures above my desk of people who represented my characters.  Some authors do this with every story they write.  This was a first for me – and I hesitate to even show them to you – because undoubtedly the characters look different inside your head.

That’s one of the things that makes reading so personal.  The pictures we see in our minds are ours alone.  We create personal visions of what we’re reading, and nobody else sees quite the vision that we do.  That’s why people making movies from books need to be so careful with their casting.  We each see things a certain way and we don’t want to jar that picture.  So I’m posting these with the disclaimer that they were my models. These were the physical representations of Alex and Elena in my mind’s eye.Elena

For Alex, I posted a picture of Stephen Amell from Arrow.  Sigh… It’s one of my favorite television shows.  I saw the Season 2 premiere tonight.  The similarities between the character of Oliver Queen and the character of Alex Wolfe didn’t strike me until I was watching tonight’s show.  They’re both rich and entitled and come from families that have disappointed them.  I don’t know if Alex can do those salmon ladder pull-ups, though!

For Elena, I envisioned Nina Dobrev from Vampire Diaries.  I’ll admit I don’t watch that show, but she had that innocent, beautiful quality that I was looking for.

As for the technique, having the pictures posted helped in the beginning, but I looked at them less and less as the book took form.  And, honestly, looking at the Green Arrow was just plain distracting, so that didn’t help my productivity at all!  I’d be really interested to hear or see what your visions of Alex and Elena are.  Anyone willing to share?


Writers often get asked what triggers their story ideas.  It can be a lot of different things:  the news, movies, television shows, overheard discussions, etc.  It’s really anything that strikes a chord.  It has resonance inside, whether it’s a scene that’s pictured in the writer’s head or even just a mood they feel.  That’s what happened to me this past weekend.  I was driving home from the Save the Cat workshop and trying to work through some issues I’ve been having with Roxie’s story.  That’s when a song came on the radio.

It was Emeli Sande’s My Kind of Love.  Oh My God.  I’d never heard it before, but the mood it gave off was perfect for what I’m trying to do with Roxie’s book.  Plot is important and characters are key, but if I can hit the chord that song was giving off, that story would fly.  Suddenly my worries faded.  I just need to keep that mood in mind as I’m writing.  And probably play the song a million times.  If I come even close, I’ll be happy.  Because that song is so passionate.

I’ve been inspired by songs before, but I’m curious if readers can see/feel that inspiration in my stories.  So I’ll share a bit.  Let me know what you think.  Do you see any links between these?

Hit the Ground Running by Jonny Lang …. inspired my novella Wanted in Red’s Sage’s Secrets Volume 9

Savin’ Me by Nickelback … inspired Solace in Scandal