Find Joy & Balance for Christmas

Today we have a special guest for Christmas Day... my friend and writing critique partner, Kim Hornsby, who is one of the most effervescent, fun, creative, determined and inspiring people I know. She's been an art teacher in elementary schools, a singer who opened for famous muscians, an actress, a dive instructor, and a loyal and true friend to me for several years!

Kim's also a working mom of 2 who's managed to write several books in her "spare time" and begin her own publishing company, Top Ten Press. Her first book was of course her own: The Dream Jumper's Promise, which I promise is a great love story and mystery combined and a surprise ending.

Kim's next book, Necessary Detours, is due out in April via Wild Rose Press. So she's one busy woman!

Please help me welcome someone who's been a Santa in my life as she talks about finding joy AND balance in the season... and check out her special book offer at the end of the post. Take it away, Kim!
Merry Christmas, Everyone!
I do not refer to this time of year as the generic ‘holiday season’ or Festivus or any other name to include everyone in the world. Sorry. It’s Christmas-- my favorite time of the year.
I was raised under the influence of a Presbyterian minister grandfather and as we prepare for Santa's visit and shop for gifts for people we appreciate, many are remembering the birth of someone who influenced the world so greatly that we are still talking about him two thousand years later.
Santa's trip down the chimney is a bonus, tacked onto the age-old celebration, like whipped cream on cocoa. For me Christmas has become the time of year to haul a tree inside the house, string lights and enjoy a jolly atmosphere. To eat cookies, sing carols, wrap presents, hope for snow and decorate the house with garlands and pictures of the kids on Santa's lap from days gone by.
It’s a time to see extended family members, gather friends together for parties and to take a moment to laugh. Christmas is a magical time, based on tradition and rooted by family values. I love the way nasty personalities are transformed by Christmas (read the book Scrooge).
Extend a Hand
Helping others at this time of year is something I highly recommend. It feels just plain good. Like donating a goat to a village in Africa on behalf of Grandma and Grandpa or sponsoring a family who's down on their luck this year but still want their children to get a present. Both benevolent gestures are wildly gratifying. Or just picking out the perfect pair of earrings for a mother who's worked so very hard all year picking up clothes and toys, is another act of kindness (hint).
Don't Forget Your Sanity, Ladies!
As we approach the end of the season that can drive a sane woman to the brink of too much Chardonnay, I implore you women to pace yourselves. Don't burn yourself out, take moments to breathe, don't go overboard on the toys and remember, no one will remember if the napkin rings all matched but they will remember if the hostess was a mental mess at Christmas dinner.
This is a tough time of year for women who manage a household and try to do everything perfectly. Most of us deserve some pampering by the time husbands go back to work, kids go back to school and the house is quiet once again. That’s why so many of us get massages on January 2nd, and that’s why you can’t book a pedicure all that week.
Women, get to your stations, arm yourselves with cookbooks and happy smiles and when it’s all over, curl up by the fire for a stolen moment, grab a good book and escape for awhile in someone else’s life.
On your mark... get set... GO!
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Jolly Kwanza, Delightful December Everyone!
‘Tis the Season to give Freebies. And just to make your season a little brighter.... from Christmase (December 25th) to the 27th The Dream Jumper’s Promise will be free on Amazon Kindle.
About The Book
Tina Greene can't accept the surfing death of her husband Hank without a recovered body. Months after signing the death certificate, she pulls herself from the emotional wreckage and trades mourning for saving her Maui dive shop from bankruptcy.
When war hero, Jamey Dunn, walks back into Tina's life, things take a strange turn. Lifelike dreams have the dive instructor questioning her sanity and leaning heavily on Hank's best friend, Noble. Jamey and Noble clash at every turn, both desperate to help Tina. When the dreams uncover clues to Hank's disappearance, Jamey must reveal his strange ability to enter dreams.
But for Tina, trusting the man who betrayed her years before, doesn't come easily, and the decision to let Jamey enter her subconscious has a price she isn't sure she can pay. As Noble, Tina and Jamey get closer to solving the mystery of Hank's disappearance, grave danger sets in to reveal that one person is flirting with insanity, one is a traitor, and one is a murderer.
What Readers are saying about The Dream Jumper’s Promise
“This is a little gem. The story is engaging, the relationship between Tina and Jamey builds nicely, the suspense keeps coming, and there are twists and turns that caught me completely off guard.”
“A very engaging and entertaining beach book--even better, a great winter read for bringing a little Hawaii warmth into colder climes.”
“I will be staying up late again tonight to find out what happens.... great first book by Kim Hornsby!”
“I was hooked by the vivid imagery and relatable characters. The paranormal aspect of the story was delicious icing on the cake.”
About The Author
I'm a mother, a wife, an animal lover and a girl who loves adventure. Writing takes me through the long wet Seattle winters without the help of a shrink and satisfies my need to talk non-stop.
When I'm not furiously typing away at my computer, I can be found outside. I don't like to spend alot of time inside a building (even my own house) so look for me in the garden, at the dog park, on the lake (see photo), at the soccer field, the grocery store or at Hector's with my critique group. Ok, the last two were buildings, but hey a girl has to get groceries and visit her writer friends.
For more information about Kim or her novels and recipes from her books, visit

Welcome to a Birthday Bash!

Happy Birthday, Amber Kallyn, and thanks for making us apart of your giveaway extravaganza and this great chain of authors (see list below). Take it away, Amber...
Welcome to Amber Kallyn’s Birthday Bash. We’ve got some great giveaways for you to win!
I love the holidays, but not necessarily having my birthday fall smack dab in the middle of them, LOL. But this year, I’d like to do something special for my readers. Over 25 authors and bloggers have come together to celebrate my 24th birthday (I won’t mention how many years I’ve turned 24 again ;)
We have some wonderful prizes, and all you have to do is leave a comment at the participating blogs to win. Easy.
And don’t forget, Bloodstorm (Heart of a Vampire, Book 1) is currently free right now for an early present : )
Grand Prize
One commenter will win their choice of a NOOK Simple Touch™ with GlowLight or a Kindle Paperwhite (Up to $140 value)
Ebooks from the following Authors:
Paloma Beck (Coming Home, Contemporary romance)
Jami Grey (Shadow’s Edge and Shadow’s Soul, Urban fantasy)
Zrinka Jelic (Paranormal romance)
Christine Fairchild (An Eye For Danger, romantic suspense)
Marian Lanouette (If I Fail, Mystery)
Sylvia Hubbard (5 Ebooks)
Kenra Daniels (Safe Heart and Kassern, Paranormal romance)
A $40 Gift card to either Amazon or B&N
Plus, there will be giveaways at some of the other blogs : )
How to win
The contest is open from Dec 19th to Saturday the 22nd. Hop to all the blogs. The winner will be chosen from the commenters on all participating blogs. Leave a comment at each blog for additional entries to win. That simple : ) Winner will be drawn on Sunday the 23rd.
Enjoy meeting new authors and book bloggers, and good luck on winning the Birthday Bash Prizes.

Combining Dreams & Research to Write Historical Fiction

Please welcome Anna Brentwood, who is sharing with us her the path toward her dream-inspired 1920's historical novel with lots of gangsters, action and details of a long-lost era. Take it away, Anna....

‘The Songbird with Sapphire Eyes’ came to me in a sequence of three very detailed and realistic dreams, so in a sense, I didn’t choose the story or the time period rather the story and the time period chose me. 
Because those dreams were so vivid, detailed and haunting, I was inclined to think they were some kind of past life memory. At first, I was more interested in finding out if there were any verifiable facts I could discover to prove that this might be true. It wasn’t until much later (think ten years later) that I got the opportunity to indulge my inner writer and had a chance to dedicate myself to writing and researching Hannah’s story, eventually making it into a novel.   

When I did begin, I felt more like a psychic detective, often able to verify information I’d imagined as “fact”. I often deduced the rest through imagination, interview, meditation and research.

To understand the 1920’s and its impact, one has to realize what the world was like prior to those years. People were coming out of the Victorian era; America was still becoming the melting pot it had been founded to be with hoards of immigrants landing daily on its shores. There were staunch societal and moral restrictions and rampant social inequities and for most people, life was brutally hard, short and contained very few pleasures.

While most of us imagine the 1920’s as fun-filled, exciting and happy, the reality for most people living then was anything but. People were either very rich or very poor. There was no middle class and people had to actually work for a living. Prejudice and discrimination were rampant and there was no such thing as human or civil rights. If one was lucky enough to even have a job, think long hours, unhealthy work situations, low pay and every kind of harassment possible. Children were often sent away because their families could not feed them or orphaned and had to go out into the world on their own. Folks were pretty much at the mercy of their employers and there were no unions, no social, state or federal service programs. If you didn’t work, you or your family could actually starve to death and did. If you didn’t pay your bills there was servitude or the poorhouse.

There was no air-conditioning and no such thing as a thermostat. Cars were just becoming available and horses were the most common form of transportation. Streets were often dirt, rough and hard to navigate and cities were filled with garbage and refuse and waste from the horses. The smells were disgusting and flies were everywhere.

Large cities had hundreds, if not thousands, of smokestacks. Clouds of pollutants –- sulfur, ammonia, and coal dust – settled on laundry, lungs, and gardens. Tanneries with their slaughter houses, bone boiling, and manure added their own unique flavor to the air around them. Pollution was accepted as the necessary price of progress and early street sweepers who were hired to keep the streets clean were not just picking up gum wrappers. In twelve months a city with 15,000 horses produces enough manure to cover an acre of ground to the depth of 175 feet.

Wives belonged to their husbands and were for cooking, cleaning and having babies. A man had the right to “discipline” and beat his wife. Divorce was a disgrace. Cocaine, heroin and opium were common household and medicinal remedies and alcohol was prescribed for everything from nervous disorders to disease. No one knew that smoking caused lung cancer and almost everyone smoked. Taverns were mostly frequented by men and some had drains in the floor so a man could just stand and urinate from his spot at the bar. There was no television, cell phones or computers. If people wanted to keep in touch they had to write letters. Hobos were common and begging was an actual profession and after a hard day in the factory or on the farm, most people didn’t have electricity, indoor plumbing, running water or electric lighting.

Most jobs were for men. Women without benefit of the protection of family or a husband who had to go out into the world alone were at the mercy of anyone and anything. There was no such thing as women’s rights. A woman alone had to rely on her wits or her body and it wasn’t hard to go from being a good girl to a bad one.

In Hannah’s world, when the twenties roared, people were more than ready for a good time even if they only lived it vicariously through others or the moving picture shows.

In the 1920’s, morality was being redefined daily and society began changing. It has never stopped since.

Women discarded their corsets in the twenties, hemlines got shorter and just a glimpse of a woman’s limb or a whispered indecency could enslave a man, and did. Men wore hats, took them off indoors and tipped them when they opened doors for the ladies or just wanted to flirt. There was no need to lock doors, children respected their parents and obeyed and heaven was the reward for hard work. In most cases, people were kinder, more considerate, watched out for their neighbors and honored their word. Yet, when one didn’t want to play by society’s rules, crime could pay and the sky was the limit. Fortunes were made or lost in a night and criminals often mingled with kings.
I could go on and on but the more I understood the history, I could not help but adore the 1920’s and admire Hannah and her friends even more.
Their world was so different from ours, the choices for women so limiting, yet Hannah not only survived, she thrived. And even when her world had long ended, her spirit bellowed on for me to let everyone know what she’d learned. And that is, that every life lived, whether well, foolishly or barely has a purpose and no matter the risks, it is better to live life true to yourself, than to just exist to be safe or comfortable.
Anna (which is her real first name) was a bookworm almost since birth and was recognized as a writing PRO by Romance Writers of America in 2002. An active professional member of Willamette Writers, RWA, the Rose City Romance Writers and NIWA, Anna grew up in Philadelphia and graduated from Philadelphia’s, University of the Arts where she majored in Illustration.
Anna's debut novel, ‘The Songbird with the Sapphire Eyes’ first began as a series of dreams that so haunted her they became a personal quest to explore possible past life memories. The journey was both eerie and exciting and the manuscript finaled and won second place in the Women’s Fiction category of the 2006 Tara Awards.

Anna is inspired to write about interesting characters whose lives take them on journeys we can all enjoy and perhaps learn something meaningful from. She is busy working on a
sequel to 'The Songbird With Sapphire Eyes' which will take readers on a journey through the 1940's with Johnny and Hannah's son, wartime hero, playboy and New York mobster, Anthony Gallo.

A wife, mother and doting new grandmother of two, Anna lives in a log home on 45 wooded acres on Oregon’s coast range with her former Navy-Seal husband and a menagerie of animals that include one pug, one cat, one horse, two wolf-hybrids, a red-tailed hawk named Lucky and a feisty but lovable African grey parrot named Warlock

You may contact Anna at or through her website at



 In 1918, Kansas City is Sin City.      

Forced to leave home at age fourteen, beautiful Hannah Glidden struggles to survive, but with help from her childhood friend, Meg, mistress to a wealthy married man and her roommate, the irrepressible, flapper extraordinaire, Rosie, she thrives as a cabaret singer.

The early 20’s roared. Fortunes were made or lost in a single night, and criminals mingled with kings. Neither the government nor Prohibition could stop the flow of alcohol or the lure of the “good life.” Handsome rum runner Johnny Gallo is part of New York's large, growing criminal empire where the sky is the limit. The ruthless Gallo has a knack for knowing the right people, and a single-minded devotion to getting what he wants. And, he wants Hannah.

Hannah goes with Johnny to Al Capone’s Chicago and eventually to Brooklyn, New York where she basks in the glamorous shadow world of gangsters and their gals. Johnny becomes a force to be reckoned with, but in time the free-spirited Hannah clashes with her controlling lover.

She faces the dark side of her dreams but dares to defy Johnny despite the dangers and unwittingly discovers that for her, dying just might be the only true path to freedom after all.

Writing Historical vs. Contemporary Fiction

Today we're honored to host award-winning author of contemporary western fiction, Paty Jager, who'll be sharing insights on writing historical vs. contemporary fiction. Please comment on Paty's post for a chance to win a prize and to show your thanks. Take it away, Paty....

Thank you for having me here today, Christine.

This is the first day of a two week blog tour. I love to give and you could be the winner! I will be giving away a $5 egift card to a commenter at each blog stop and will give a bag full of goodies to the person who follows me to the most blogs and a gift to the host who gets the most commenters. You can find the blog tour hosts at my blog: or my website:

Is there a difference when writing historical and contemporary?

As an author of both, I would have to say yes. The easy to spot difference would be in the research. A historical requires not only the time and place be researched so the events that happen are accurate but the writer also has to know what people wore, how they lived, and the social events of the time period. A writer can’t just say I’m going to write a book set in Nebraska in 1870 and start writing. If they do and haven’t read anything about the state or the people who lived there at that time, they could be writing things that may not be accurate. People who read historical novels know their stuff and will call the writer on anything that isn’t correct. Especially if someone from Nebraska who knows their history picks up the book because of the locale and then it’s all wrong. That writer will never sell another book to that reader and they will most likely let everyone know that writer didn’t know what they were talking about.

The same goes for contemporary, the writer needs to know the area or the professions given to the characters in the book as well as the social tone and events in the area. But the good news for a person writing contemporary, there is no need to explain a cell phone, a washing machine or the everyday items that the reader is familiar with like they must be explained when writing a historical.
My downfall, and requires a lot of research when I write both historical and contemporary, is I tend to like to set the stories in real places. That requires I find out everything I can about the places. For contemporary, I get maps of the areas and guide books so I can write things that people know and that gives it a feel that I have actually been there even though I may not have been able to travel to the area. For historical books, I try to get a Sanborn map of the town. They actually had town maps back in the 1800’s and you can find them in most libraries or online.

With historical the writer has to also be conscious of the language used at the time of the story. There is a definite feel to Medieval, Regency, and Westerns. The proper or not so proper usage of the language is appropriate depending on where and when the story is set. The etiquette of the time also has a part in the language that is used.
Contemporary stories there would be a need to reflect the area or country the books are set or the characters are from, but it is easier to write contemporary language than staying in the historical atmosphere for the whole book.
If you’re a writer what are the pluses and minuses you see in writing contemporary or historical stories? As a reader have you ever had the feeling the writer hadn’t done their research?

Author Bio:

Wife, mother, grandmother, and the one who cleans pens and delivers the hay; award winning author Paty Jager and her husband currently ranch 350 acres when not dashing around visiting their children and grandchildren. She not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.

Her contemporary Western, Perfectly Good Nanny won the 2008 Eppie for Best Contemporary Romance, Spirit of the Mountain, a historical paranormal set among the Nez Perce, garnered 1st place in the paranormal category of the Lories Best Published Book Contest, and Spirit of the Lake, the second book of the spirit trilogy, was a finalist in the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence.
You can learn more about Paty at her blog;  her website; or on Facebook;!/paty.jager and twitter;  @patyjag.

Book Blurb: Secrets of a Mayan Moon

Child prodigy and now Doctor of Anthropology, Isabella Mumphrey, is about to lose her job at the university. In the world of publish or perish, her mentor’s request for her assistance on a dig is just the opportunity she’s been seeking. If she can decipher an ancient stone table—and she can—she’ll keep her department. She heads to Guatemala, but drug trafficking bad guys, artifact thieves, and her infatuation for her handsome guide wreak havoc on her scholarly intentions.
DEA agent Tino Kosta, is out to avenge the deaths of his family. He’s deep undercover as a jaguar tracker and sometimes jungle guide, but the appearance of a beautiful, brainy anthropologist heats his Latin blood taking him on a dangerous detour that could leave them both casualties of the jungle.
Secrets of a Mayan Moon is available at Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords

Creating Sexy Alpha Heroes in/out of Uniform

Today I'm discussing how to create a SEXY ALPHA HERO in uniform at

Or, in the case of my Romantic Suspense character, Sam, a sexy hero OUT of uniform. So visit author Sharon Hamilton's blog and leave a comment for a chance to win An Eye For Danger and my Editor Devil Guides. She's the author of military romance novels, including her latest, Accidental SEAL.

On another note, I've posted a Pinterest page for my book so readers can see potential actors who might play the characters in my story. So feel free to leave comments or let me know suggestions of actors you think better represent the characters:

And thank you all for your loyalty and continued support! This is a fabulous community to which I am indebted!

Yours truly,
The Editor Devil

Self-Publishing, a Work in Progress

Please welcome our guest blogger, Claudia Alexander, Ph.D., who studies the planets and flies spacecraft by day at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. By night she re-imagines the universe. She has served as a project leader on historic space missions to Jupiter (Galileo), Saturn (Cassini), and comets (Rosetta). She has written a number of steampunk short stories and a full-length elf-punk novel. Books 1 & 2 of her STEM education, picture book series titled: Windows to Adventure, will be re-released this Thanksgiving.

Instant riches! Yes. I interviewed a celebrity self-published author from my local RWA chapter (that’s Romance Writer’s of America), and she confirmed making enough to quit her day job. A modest $250K per year. Not large by New York Times best-selling author standards, but … I’d quit my day job for that.

Control of one’s style and voice! Yes. No need to feed the beast by churning out cookie cutter stories to a template, on an unbelievably compressed schedule. Time to build, tend, nurture, and grow one’s audience.

Do it yourself marketing! Yes. Exposure, promotion, marketing – financed out of your own pocket.  Well. You’d have to do that anyway as, unless you’re Madonna, no publisher is going to put up tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote you and your book.

Monster hard work to manage all your social media; the search engine optimization (SEO); the required editing and formatting to put a truly professional product on the market. Yes. But any business is hard work.  No small business owner goes to bed before 1 am, right? The instant riches don’t come without monster hard work. Everyone knows that.

And how do you make your product recognized even sought after, among millions out there so similar to yours? What do you do when you haven’t sold a single book, alone in your booth at the book fair? How do you handle not being able to find your book when, despite your best SEO techniques, the search engine top online book selling venue is simply not sufficiently up-to-date to find it? I mean, if you can’t find it, knowing that it's there, how is anyone else supposed to find it?

As I approach the one-year anniversary of my decision to launch my publishing business and publish myself and two other authors, I can say it’s been more work than I ever imagined. No sales. Long hours. Learning curve. Expenditures.

My first ever amateurish efforts produced an amateurish product. In spite of hiring low-budget editing, formatting, and illustration, doing as much as I could by myself, I got a product that was – meh. Since I am in the business of producing children’s picture books, I’ve learned to appreciate the ‘production quality’ of a book.

I have seen reports of self-published authors slogging along, going the low-budget path, doing loads of things themselves, ending up giving away tens of thousands of their product away for free just to gain exposure (and a higher place on Amazon product lists). There are paths to success going this route, to be sure.

For me, however, on this anniversary, my lessons learned include a greatly increased respect for the editing process. Interestingly, the very author I mentioned to open this blog never told me how important that aspect was to her success. As far as I can tell, it looms large in both the percentage of overall costs of book production as well as creating a satisfactory read. But I happen to know the woman she uses for her editor, and have my own take on what a great contribution their amiable collaboration has on the success of this author’s product.
Great editing is perhaps one of the biggest advantages that a traditionally published author has over an independently published author.

So I’ve recently abandoned my first product (I’ll soon be un-publishing it from Amazon) and hired, at considerable expense, a full-bore editing outfit (a business with more than a single editor on staff). I’ve hired a professional book designer, someone who has an eye for layout, for fonts, etc., who’s ‘cranky’ in her professionalism. (grins).

As I push into my second year, I’ll have to overhaul my website, add ‘Imprints’ to separate the divergent themes of my publishing voice, and develop coherent banners for the look and feel of that publishing voice across the many outlets of social media.

Dismayed? Discouraged? Yes. And then this happened...

Yesterday the book designer delivered an ad for my business that will go into the program for the World Fantasy Con.  It’s fantastic! Much better than anything I would have come up with on my own. And with that delivery, I know I’m on the right track that this enterprise will work. To cap off my sense of excitement, even as I write this, yet another person has signed up for my forum!

So whatever everyone says about self-publishing (so-called ‘vanity publishing'), these (expensive) baby-steps have opened up new vistas of creativity that are unlikely to have ever been otherwise realized. Is it fair to make the reading public deal with the baby-steps of my first foray into publishing? I’ll have to tell you next year, if the audience grows! After all, it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and there’s plenty of time to grow, build, and nurture the audience.


Claudia can be reached at

Writing for Different Persuasions

Today's guest blog, which offers fabulous tips and tricks on writing menages, both from the sexual and romance perspective, comes from author D. Renee Bagby (, who also writes under the name Zenobia Renquist ( Her book, Eris (Eternal Truths Series, book 1) is available in print and ebook on Amazon, Bookstrand and Barnes & Noble. Please show your appreciation by leaving a comment and/or question for the author below... Thanks!
Click here for buy options and more info about this book

Book Blurb

Time is on their side and they can be together, assuming the truth doesn't ruin everything first.

Immortals born in the thirteenth century, Lucien Riordan and Ranulf Styr have waited centuries to be reunited with their love. Want for her cemented their friendship through time even as it tore it apart. She changed their lives, made them want better, and they plan to show her that. There’s only one catch—she’s never met them before.

Eris Brue is flattered by Lucien and Ranulf’s attention but they are her bosses. She doesn’t want to get tangled up in an office romance, especially not with two men. Their joint seduction overcomes her resolve and she gives in even though she knows they are keeping secrets that could doom their relationship.

Centuries of planning have finally come to fruition. Lucien and Ranulf have a short amount of time to make Eris love them, because once time has her, everything could come to an end.


Guest Blog

I've written MF, MMF, and MFM. I plan to write FFM and MM as well. Menages can be fun to read and to write. The age old question of "Which will she choose?" becomes "Why not have both?" when writing a menage story. That's what I like about it. From an MFM stand point, the heroine no longer has to decide between the two guys whom she loves. The question then becomes will the heroes share and/or how will they react when asked?

When writing a menage, no matter what flavor, it's important to establish the love between all three main characters. Sticking with the MFM example, the heroes aren't together in a sexual relationship, but the story is going to end with them living together along with the heroine. That can't happen if the heroes hate each other. A deep bond of friendship prior to the start of the threesome relationship or even the familial bond of brothers/cousins is the easiest way to show the emotion between two heroes who won't be physical with each other.

However, having a story with two men who don't know each other until the heroine brings them together does create more conflict. It's just a matter of making sure that conflict doesn't escalate to the point where the relationship can't work. The heroes won't be sharing the heroine in bed if they can't get along. And the threesome sex scene is one reason readers love menages.

Threesome sex can be tricky. You now have two people in bed who are the same gender (authors who write MM and FF have this same issue, of course). Anytime the heroine is interacting with both men at the same time means there are more chances of pronoun confusion. The author is forced to use names throughout the scene so the reader can keep everyone straight.

On top of using everyone's names continuously, there's also the matter of making sure everyone is feeling good and gets off. Even if you keep the sex scene in the heroine's POV and she's on the receiving end (excuse the pun :P), she still has to describe for the reader the actions of two men and how those actions make her feel. I usually establish one man's movements first and then hop over to the second man to show what he's doing. To get the choreography of the scene and positioning of bodies right, I go searching for porn clips. Three people can get into more positions than some people think. Having a visual aid helps to describe those positions.

But menages aren't all about sex. The genre is Romance and readers expect to see that. The heroes are getting along with each other and the author has to present a heroine with deep love for both men. One-on-one time is a great way to do this -- both in bed and interacting in normal circumstances. For an MF author trying MFM for the first time, one on one will be familiar territory. But it's important to give each hero equal time.

If the author favors one hero over the other, then that will show in the writing and thus the heroine will seem to as well. The reader is left feeling like the menage relationship is forced and unfair to one hero. That's when readers start asking if the second hero will get a book of his own. You want to avoid that. One of the reasons I find writing MFM so fun is to introduce two different types of heroes that I find attractive. The heroine can have tall, dark and handsome with an attitude AND she can have the lovable light-haired joker who doesn't take anything seriously. Or maybe the heroes have similar personalities but different appearances. Or similar appearances and different personalities. What the heroes have in common is an indication of the heroine's type when it comes to choosing men. Having the heroes realize that fact can be fun.

Another fun thing about menages is the on-hand mediator. There's no need to bring in a secondary character who helps solve the issues in the relationship. If the heroine is mad at one hero, the second hero can be the one who helps smooth it out. If the heroes are fighting, the heroine is the one who gets them to make up. Secondary characters in menage stories usually have one of two settings -- they are either happy all three are together and want to see it work, OR they want the heroine to stop being greedy and choose. One can help the relationship come together. The other can put a strain on it. Both can be a recipe for more conflict to up the word count.

In the end, it's all about the love the characters feel for each other and how that love will build their relationship so it'll last. I didn't set out to write my first menage. As the story progressed, I couldn't see it any other way. The heroine loved both heroes and I had fun giving them both to her.


About D. Renee Bagby

Whether as D. Reneé Bagby or Zenobia Renquist, Reneé lives in her imagination. When not traveling through her fantasy worlds, she can be found in Hawaii living with her husband and two cats.

She is an Air Force brat turned Air Force wife, which means she’s accustomed to travel and does it whenever possible (so long as she doesn’t have to fly). Her favorite pastime is torturing her characters on their way to happily-ever-after for the enjoyment of her readers.

On the few occasions her muse flees the scene of the crime, Reneé likes to read (comics, manga, and romance), go to the movies, play a few levels of whichever puzzle game has hijacked her interest or experiment with a new chain maille weave.

Learn to Separate Your Inner Author from Editor & Win $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Come learn how to separate your inner Author Angel from your inner Editor Devil in my guest blog/interview at Romance Author Hotspot .

Feeling lucky? Leave a comment on their site ( and you could WIN A $25 AMAZON GIFT CARD plus free books (my Editor Devil Guides & my new Romantic Suspense). The giveway ends Monday night, so hurry!!!
Better yet, ALL READERS ARE ELIGIBLE FOR A FREE EDITOR DEVIL GUIDE. Just leave a comment and let me know which guide, Characters or Dialogue, you want and give me your email address and I'll send you the ebook!
Do you have a blog giveaway or interview you want to share? Leave a comment here and let us know where to find you and the goodies!
And if you are feeling generous, please spread the word about the giveway. You can use this message for Twitter:
 Win $25 Amazon gift card+free books from @fairchild01 at Romance Author Hotspot: please RT
Hope you are all having a great summer :)
Your Editor Devil

Lessons from Self Publishing My Novel

If you wonder why I've been so inactive with blogging lately, then that makes two of us. I knew WRITING a book was intense. I knew CRITIQUING, EDITING and PROOFING a book was intense. But running that final leg of the race right to publish your debut novel, well... that part was new to me. Let's just say I'm glad to come up for air. My husband is also glad I'm cooking dinners again.

So, you guessed it, An Eye For Danger, the first book in my romantic suspense series is up on Kindle. But my eBook isn't what I want to talk about. Here are a couple lessons I learned from self publishing that might help you on your journey:


Authors all have this dream of "making it" with a novel and being able to actually make a living doing what they love. I also dream of winning the lottery. But with the advancements in self-publishing and eBooks, that dream has never been more possible to achieve.

Better yet, you don't have to wait to be "chosen" by traditional publishing, which is not only backlogged on reading manuscripts, but takes up to 2 years to produce a book. The print version. The eBook doesn't come out till several months after the print book. No business in their right mind would delay product to market or stilt their sales this way.

Then there's the size issue. In traditional publishing, smaller is often better. (Ladies, please, please roll your eyes!). Like most authors, I feel that pride and joy that I birthed this puppy. And it's a big puppy--152k words of good guys battling corruption with a little smooching in between. Traditional publishing wouldn't take a book that long due to shelf space, packing limitations and the fact that this is debut novel from an unknown author. Only an established author gets that kind of allowance.

 A few brave agents and editors actually told me I'd be a fool to wait. So, long story short...  I went solo. And I've never been happier with my decision. I wrote the story I wanted to read without all the arbitrary limitations and with a more robust, complicated story line. Statistics show that readers of eBooks want longer stories, not quickies. Including more complicated plots and a family of characters they can roll with for several books in a series. So I hope I deliver on all these fronts.

Price point is also a differentiator. I can keep my eBook affordable at $4.99 so it's easier for readers to take a chance on me. What I've learned over the last year is that eBooks under $5.99 were more approachable for readers. Books over $6 are perceived as traditional publishing range for a name brand author. Books under $3 can be considered lower quality (not always true, but we're talking about reader perceptions here). So there is a magic range that says your book is quality but not overpriced for an unfamiliar/new brand.

Again, because I'm running this show, I control such decisions. And I can be flexible and run free or discount programs to meet market timing. I truly own my destiny.

Now, all that excitement to self-publish aside, going solo can be scary. I own all successes, sure, but I also own all the failures.

Failure is easy. You just fail and try again. But I'd rather fall on my face, pick myself up, dust off my ego and go buy a Frappuccino for the effort rather than face my Fear about being on my own, money and marketing wise, and having gambled several years worth of work and my husband's patience on this venture.

I can honestly say the moment I pushed publish I wasn't excited, I was relieved. And exhausted and frustrated and afraid. I know I'll be creating new files, new Kindle builds for every glitch I find in the next few weeks/months--that I can handle.

But finally putting my book out there means I'm finally putting my neck onto the chopping block for all readers and reviewers and, ug!, family and friends to judge. And I'm not talking about my writing style or ability to tell a story. I'm okay if they don't like that. But I write about tough, even personal subjects. Sex, addiction, abuse. Did I mention sex?

What if my mother reads this. Or worse, my dad. Dear God, not my dad! I'd rather accidentally find myself naked and back in high school during finals that I didn't study for. (You know the nightmare I'm talking about.)

Anyway, it's done. The book is loose and will have a life of its own now. And I'm thrilled to see it live. I'm also happy to be making my own dreams come true!

My kind fellow authors, Anne K. Albert ( and Mariposa Cruz ( interviewed me on the subject of my debut romantic suspense, the abuse that influenced me to write stories of betrayal, why I believe Resilience not stamina is critical as an author, and why Rochester and Jane are my favorite romantic couple in literature.  Please support them by visiting their blogs for fun info on other books and writing tips/tricks.

Good luck to you!
Your Editor Devil

Writing Through Crisis

Today's GUEST BLOG comes from Susan Winters, who works, writes and dances salsa in Reno, Nevada. She gives great coaching and writing advice, so feel free to ask questions here or visit her blog.
Susan's novella, Mixed Blessings is now available from Amazon. For more musings and interviews check out her blog

 A crisis often leaves us physically and emotionally drained making routine tasks seem impossible.  If you’ve taken time off from your regular job to handle the situation, you might be tempted to set aside writing endeavors until life returns to normal.  Bear in mind “normal” may not be on your bus route for a long time.

 When you’re broadsided by the unexpected, change gears, reduce speed, but don’t completely slam on the brakes.  Even with a reduced writing schedule you maintain a link to the world beyond the crisis.  That does not mean going to the other extreme abandoning your loved ones to the whims of fate, while you flirt with your muse.

 Focus on smaller scale projects you can complete in a reasonable timeframe.  Think minipiece instead of masterpiece.  To have control over a single thing during a time of tumultuous uncertainty is empowering.  Consider experimenting with a different styles or genre—only if the variety inspires you.  If the thought of breaking into poetic verse makes you anxious-don’t do it.

     Other activities to do while you wait for the storm to pass:

·         Research potential markets for your work.

·         Reacquaint yourself with writers who inspire you.  How did they handle the challenges in their lives?

·         Organize your work space, sort through working files.

·         Review the fundamentals of your craft.

·         Update your on-line networks.

     What strategies have worked best for you while in crisis mode?
Thanks, Susan, for a great blog post!

I know personally that writing kept my sanity when I was providing eldercare for my MIL, who has dementia. That was a challenging time, with a lot of anxiety attacks. But whenever I was down, I put my head into a story. In fact, I produced a book (An Eye For Danger) which got me into a new genre, romantic suspense, and I'm publishing the book to Kindle in July. So good things can come out of tough experiences.

Moreover, during that time and when my dog, Bo, died early this year, my novel critique group helped me focus my energies. So I also see how our community of writers empower us to handle to rough times, whether they give a shoulder to cry on, or assign tasks to keep you busy and forward your career. We have to all stick together in this business, personally and professionally!

The Editor Devil