Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Church a sensual experience?

You know it's going to be a good day when you get to church early and the choir is rehearsing the Hallelujah Chorus. That happened last Sunday, and it put a spring in my step and a bubble of joy in the general vicinity of my heart. The feeling reinforced something I've been thinking for some time...that a great church is a truly sensual experience.

  I'll leave aside the sense of taste because in the service itself we only consume the wafers and wine.  The wine isn't going to win any awards, and the wafers?  All I can say is that we in the altar guild sometimes end up eating large numbers of left-overs because they're blessed and can't be thrown in the garbage.  Choking those things down ain't easy.  As one of us once remarked, we could use some blessed onion dip.

My church is a huge, brick building.  It's old by California standards, built in 1912.  (Stop snickering, east coasters.)  You walk in, and the beauty wows you.  I'm not kidding here.  I brought a friend of another faith one morning, and she gasped audibly.  "It's so beautiful."  The vaulted ceilings and huge stained glass windows in front and back tell you you're in a special space.  There's one side window that's mostly blue panes.  When the sun hits it, the light courses in toward the altar in what can only be called a heavenly glow.

What you don't expect, though, is the scent of St. Paul's.  In almost 100 California winters, some seepage has occurred in the brick walls.  The result is a pleasant musty perfume that my friend insisted smelled like a wine cellar.  A parishioner told the rector that "it smells like church."  One of my favorite things in the world is to sit all alone in the church and breathe deeply.

For the sense of touch...well, we're a huggy church.  Our rector gives the best hugs.  He's a tall, handsome man with a laugh you can hear from a block away...literally.  But we all hug and touch.  Sometimes we do it because we're so darned happy to be in that place with each other.  During the peace, we all ooze out of the pews and walk up and down wishing each other "the peace of the Lord" and shaking hands.  Visitors often think we're weird, but we wish them peace and shake hands with them, too.

The true feast for the senses comes from the music at St. Paul's.  Our organ dates to 1934.  When it's really snarling, it can rock even our huge space.  That may be an exaggeration, but it certainly feels that way.  Add our amazing choir, and you have a truly joyful noise.  We have soloists who ought to be gracing opera stages.  (You guys know who you are.)

I hear the doubters saying, "Yeah, yeah, Alice, but I can hear Messiah in a concert hall."  To which, I say, "Not like this."  While you're sitting up in the rafters with opera glasses, I'm sitting in pew #3 with the music right in front of me or next to me as the choir processes in or out.  Besides, these are my friends making this glorious sound.  They're singing for me.  I can go up to them and hug them afterward.

What's even more remarkable is, for parts of the service, I'm not only allowed but encouraged to sign along.  Sure, the congregation (sadly including me) makes a mess of some of the more difficult parts, but it's an work of love.

Which brings me back to the Hallelujah Chorus.  It was supposed to be a choir effort, but everyone pretty much sang the parts they knew, including the rector, standing behind the altar.  If that isn't enough to send your spirit toward heaven, you're a harder nut that I am.  I have to admit that my eyes filled with tears.  It was so d*mn*d beautiful.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pasta Sauce St. Paul's

Pasta sauce St. Paul's

Last Sunday, one of our parishioners who also sings in the choir brought 25 pounds of Roma tomatoes from her garden to share. Here’s a recipe for pasta sauce I made with some of the tomatoes

For the pestata
2.5 ounces pancetta or bacon cut into pieces (optional)
½ large onion, cut into chunks
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and cut into chunks
Garlic (your preference for the quantity)

Olive oil for the pan
2 Tbs tomato paste
1.5 pounds Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
2 Tbs chopped basil
Red pepper flakes

Grind all pestata ingredients in the food processor until well chopped. (You can put anything you want in a pestata. Carrots and celery are common ingredients.) Heat oil in large frying pan to medium hot. Add pestata (stand back so the steam doesn’t hit you). Cook until all the liquid is absorbed. Clear a hot spot in the pan and cook/brown the tomato paste in it. Season with salt and hot pepper flakes. Add tomatoes and basil. Cover and simmer until tomatoes have disintegrated and the sauce has thickened (anywhere from half an hour to an hour).

Remove top from pan and cook until sauce is the right consistency. Serve with your favorite pasta. Add freshly grated parmigiano reggiano. Drizzle with more olive oil if desired. Top with shredded fresh basil if desired.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Built for Lust

Cara Logan is a lone wolf, literally -- a werewolf female unwilling to submit to either a human or a wolven mate. An expert in electronics and engineering, Cara builds herself a mate she can turn on and off at will. Only somehow, Gray becomes real, and not only can he satisfy her as a wolf, he can shift to human and perform that way, too. Now, she has to accept that she's mated to a male with a mind of his own, and the two of them have to find their places in her pack.

This is my first werewolf story...ever. I was intrigued by how an independent, strong woman might react to being a member of a close-knit pack, especially if she didn't feel she belonged. When she created Gray, it seemed inevitable that he'd become real.

The wonderful thing about writing is that you can play with the impossible and (with any luck) make it not only possible but necessary.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Help a legendary drummer -- Clyde Stubblefield

"Funk music legend Clyde Stubblefield needs our help. Clyde's innovative beats on many James Brown hits set a standard for funk drumming and, through sampling, have heavily influenced the direction of hip-hop and drum & bass music. Today Clyde continues to perform while receiving intensive weekly dialysis treatment since his kidneys failed in July 2009.

"Please consider making a donation to help him find some relief as he braves this journey.

"Every penny helps and donations travel directly to Clyde safely through PayPal. You can even join us in spreading the word and placing our widget on your own websites.


From Alice:

Those of you who know me personally know that I'm an addicted mega-fan of the classic soul band Tower of Power. The sounds of James Brown hugely informed TOP, and in fact, if we hadn't had musicians like Clyde Stubblefield, I likely wouldn't have my beloved band at all.

Several years ago, the call for help went out when TOP's legendary bass player, Rocco Prestia, had a medical emergency. Musicians ain't rich, folks, and they often don't have health insurance. It's up to us to keep the music playing.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

When the cover gods really smile on you

First of all, is that the most gorgeous wolf in the entire world?  And the woman...and the sense of movement and sensuality.  Hubba-hubba.  I love this cover.

Most writers are clueless about visual art.  Or at least, I am.  I asked Changeling for a woman standing next to a wolf.  What I had in mind would have been static and dumb.  A woman and a wolf standing in a field.

Give this to an artist like Angela Knight, and you get magic!  Yes, THAT, Angela Knight.  The woman who writes such fabulous books she's risen to the very top of the cream of the crop.

I am truly blessed.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Please welcome Claire Robyns, author of Betrayed

Thanks for having me here today, Alice. I’m so excited about Carina Press and all the wonderful books already released, I have to keep on pinching myself to believe that I’m really amongst such brilliant company!

My medieval Scottish Romance is now available from Carina Press.

Two Feuding Families

Amber Jardin has no taste for the bitter feud started before her father’s banishment. But now that he’s passed, she’s had to return to Scotland and his barbaric people. After her bloodthirsty uncle kidnaps one of the family’s rivals, Amber is in turn captured by Krayne Johnstone, the enemy laird. Despite their enmity, their attraction is immediate—and unfortunate, as Amber has sworn to escape.

One Lusty Temptation

Krayne is amazed at the wildcat’s repeated attempts to flee. He should steel himself against her beguiling ways—yet with time, he is driven more witless with lust. When the ransom exchange fails and Krayne is left with Amber, he finds he cannot tolerate the thought of her with another man—and she cannot tolerate the thought of returning to her uncle’s home.

Will passion and love win out over mistrust and betrayal in time to prevent an all-out war?

Tell us about your Carina Press release.

Betrayed is a medieval Scottish romance set in the period of the first King James I ~ always confusing because King James VI became King James I of England much later (sorry about the history trivia, I’m addicted)

Krayne Johnstone became laird of Wamphray at the age of 12. He’s a man shaped by the harsh land. His heart is for pumping blood to his sword arm and nothing else. Before he could even start to fall in love with Amber, I had to teach the poor man what love is. But he is honourable and noble, and he has excellent reasons for distrusting scheming women.

Amber Jardin has led a pampered life in England and is totally unprepared for the barbaric realities of Scotland. But she’s not one to simper and bemoan her fate. She’s determined to shape her future and use whatever means on hand to do it. In this case, it’s her body. Amber is not perfect, far from it, but then I’ve never liked my heroines flawless. I don’t necessarily approve of everything she does, but I admire her courage and determination.

I’m fascinated with how books get their start. Do you remember the spark of an idea that grew to become this book?

Strolling through the many castle ruins of England, Scotland and Ireland and devouring the history behind those sites, I quickly became enthralled by the atrocious antics some of the nobility got up to, especially the Scots. And since there’s nothing badder than a bad Scots, and I like bad boys, I really loved the idea of writing a romance steeped in the mayhem of medieval Scotland.

What kinds of stories do you like to read and write?

I read pretty much everything. The most important thing to me is really living the story with the characters. If an author can achieve that inside my head while I read, I don’t really mind what the genre. Having said that, I’m naturally drawn to romantic comedy and historical romance so this is what I write. I also absolutely love romantic suspense and would give my eye-teeth to be able to write it, but I’m terrible at keeping secrets and would never last until the end before giving away the bad guys.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Family, house, pets, hobbies, that sort of thing.

I grew up in South Africa and met my British husband out there. Ever since, we seem to be playing hopscotch between South Africa and England, but cross fingers, we’ve been in the UK for about 5 years now and my darling husband hasn’t mentioned dragging us back to SA for a while now. We have 10 year old twin boys who are just starting to act like angsty teenagers, so I’m hoping they get it all out of their system before they actually do become teenagers.

What kind of music do you like? Do you listen to music while writing?

Okay, now I’m going to give away my age  My favourite artists are Queen, U2, Lilly Allen and The Killers. I’ve tried writing to music, but it distracts me too much. I end up singing along and going into some sort of daydream instead of writing.

Who do you think is the sexiest man on Earth? What makes him sexy?

Ooh, can I choose two? Russell Crowe because he just has that right combination of rugged looks that isn’t actually good-looking, but more sort of lived-in hunky features. As to his personality, not sure I’d actually like him very much, but then I don’t have to live with him, I just have to gaze at him in adoration.

And my second would be Keanu Reeves. Totally opposite Crowe, but there’s something darkly mysterious about Keanu that fascinates me. Once again, not sure I’d like the guy in person very much.

Hmm, wonder what that says about me?

If you’d like to read a little more about Betrayed, you can read the excerpt at

You can visit with Claire Robyns at




Thanks again for allowing me to invade your blog today, Alice

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Please welcome Jenny Schwartz

Hi, Alice. Visiting other authors' blogs is great fun. Thanks for inviting me.

I've been following your blog for a couple of months, enjoying your discussion of the interface between your faith and your writing. It's prompted me to choose a slightly weird topic for my guest blog post: Acedia.

Acedia is sloth--depression, disengagement, drowning in a sea of triviality. It was reading William H Willimon's Sinning Like a Christian. A New Look at Seven Deadly Sins that prompted my interest in acedia and I'm drawing a lot of this post from my notes on his book.

Sloth is the opposite of joy. Willimon calls it "a slow, cowardly suicide" (p.93). It is a turning away, a refusal to care.

You can't be passionate and slothful--and this is where I slide into talking about romance books, reading and writing them.

Romance novels are passionate. They are about the risks of intimacy and its triumph.

To read a romance novel is to celebrate the triumph of love, of reaching beyond yourself to be open to another person.

When people dismiss romance novels as escapism they make me angry. Romance novels challenge us to believe and live the power of love.


Duty will bring them together—and tear them apart!

As a guardian angel, Mischa must protect the one man who may be able to bring about lasting peace to the Middle East. As a djinni, Rafe must fulfill the wishes of a terrorist leader. Their duties colliding, Mischa and Rafe become foes, but the heat between them is undeniable.

When the terrorist learns that a guardian angel stands between him and his greatest wish, he orders his djinni to remove her. Taking creative license, Rafe spirits her away to his private oasis, where she will be unable to protect the peacemaker.

Beyond their mutual desire, they find common ground in honor and loneliness. Passion quickly grows into love. But it’s soon clear to Rafe that love cannot be bound, and Mischa must be true to her life’s purpose. Even if Rafe must sacrifice his own taste of freedom to grant hers…


Thanks, Alice, for this chance to think aloud about why I enjoy reading and writing romance.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Welcome Joely Sue Burkhart, author of The Bloodgate Guardian

Welcome.  Let's let my readers get to know you.

Tell us about your Carina Press release.

Based on Maya mythology, THE BLOODGATE GUARDIAN mixes paranormal, thriller, and romance as Dr. Jaid Merritt must find—and survive—the Gatekeeper in order to rescue her father from the Maya hell, Xibalba. Official blurb:

Worlds within worlds await through the Maya Bloodgate…

Dr. Jaid Merritt doesn’t do digs. The last time she ventured into the jungle, someone died. Now she’s content to decipher Maya glyphs from pictures sent to her by her famous archaeologist father. But when he goes missing while trying to perform a ritual based on her translations of an ancient codex, Jaid must put aside her fears and travel to Guatemala to find him.

After misusing the Bloodgates to bring his twin brother back from the afterlife, the Maya priest known as Ruin was cursed by the gods to stand as the guardian for all time. He was unable to stop Dr. Charles Merritt from opening the gates, and now demons roam this world. The last thing he wants to do is hurt the beautiful woman who is somehow infused with his magic, but if she uses the codex to retrieve her father, Ruin must do his duty. And this time, he won’t fail. Even if it kills him. Again.

I’m fascinated with how books get their start. Do you remember the spark of an idea that grew to become this book?

There's a lot of hype about the Maya predicting the “end of the world” as December 21, 2012. I wondered what if instead of the world ending, the powerful Maya gods were returning to our world?

What kinds of stories do you like to read and write?

I love to read just about anything, and write just about anything too. Right now I'm reading a mix of non-fiction (Parallel Worlds by Michio Kaku) and fairytale retelling (Nadia Lee's A Happily Ever After of Her Own). I write romantic SF/F for Drollerie Press, contemporary erotic romance for Samhain Publishing, and paranormal thriller/romance for Carina Press.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Family, house, pets, hobbies, that sort of thing.

I'm married with three monsters (girls) ages 11, 8, and 7 and two dogs. I love crafts, everything from knitting, crochet, and cross stitch, although I don't have as much time as I'd like to work on everything and still write.

What kind of music do you like? Do you listen to music while writing?

I always listen to music while I write, developing a “playlist” for each book. The Maya playlist included the soundtrack from Apocalypto and Willie Nelson & Ray Charles singing Seven Spanish Angels.

Who do you think is the sexiest man on Earth? What makes him sexy?

I love Sean Connery's accent and Clive Owens's distinctive face—all those canyons and lines and angles!

How would you spend your ideal day?

A big pot of coffee or iced tea and my laptop, writing frantically until it was time to fix dinner for the monsters!

Is there something else you’d like to mention that I haven’t asked about?

I have another contemporary erotic romance releasing from Samhain in October and I'm plotting and working on Maya #2 for Carina as I type!

Thanks for having me, Alice!

Review or rate THE BLOODGATE GUARDIAN (or any of Joely's books) by July 31st to be entered to win at least two $50 gift certificates! Details See here

Read the first chapter of The Bloodgate Guardian Carina Press

Joely always has her nose buried in a book, especially one with mythology, fairy tales, and romance. She, her husband, and their three monsters live in Missouri. By day, she’s a computer programmer with a Masters of Science degree in Mathematics. When night falls, she bespells the monsters so she can write. Find her on her Website, Twitter, Facebook, and check out and check out free reads for free reads!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Guest blogger -- Toni Anderson, author of Sea of Suspicion

 Hi, Toni.  Thanks for visiting.  Let me ask you a few questions about you and your book.

Tell us about your Carina Press release.

Thanks for letting me be on your blog today, Alice. I write Romantic Suspense and my latest book, SEA OF SUSPICION, has just been released by Carina Press and I’m thrilled! It’s a moody atmospheric sexy romantic mystery set on the misty shores of contemporary Scotland. This story is particularly special to me as I set it in the Scottish Marine Laboratory where I conducted my Ph.D. and met my husband in the early nineties. I was lucky enough to revisit the lab in April this year and, though it has grown and morphed into a much larger institute, the essence of the original Victorian building remains the same. The rugged beauty of the East Fife coastline and the hypnotic rhythm of the sea never fail to enthrall and I know I’ll never get enough of that gorgeous coastal region.

I’m fascinated with how books get their start.  Do you remember the spark of an idea that grew to become this book?

Yes—I do  The idea was sparked by the powerful emotions that surge through you after you become a mother. The theme of the book in many ways is the fierceness of that emotion. I’m an easygoing sort of person except when my kids are involved and then I become more lioness than pussycat.

What kinds of stories do you like to read and write?

I write Romantic Suspense and Romantic Mystery stories and that’s what I like to read. And although I haven’t jumped on the paranormal wagon I adore Karen Marie Moning’s Fever books. I also read fantasy, crime, police procedurals, thrillers, and a huge array of non-fiction—partly research, partly fascination with other people’s lives.

Tell us a bit about yourself.  Family, house, pets, hobbies, that sort of thing.

I’m the third child of four and grew up in rural Shropshire, tucked deep in the heart of England. Now I live with my family in Winnipeg and find myself enjoying Canada, despite the bugs and weather. Pets… I lost my best friend, Benn, a black retriever, last November and because we’ve been away from home for the last six months it hasn’t quite sunk in that he is no longer a part of our lives. Still find it hard to write about him. We were lucky to have him—oops, there we go, crying again!

What kind of music do you like?  Do you listen to music while writing?

I’m a musicholic, but I have no real preference in terms of type of music. At home I listen to a lot of country, Brad Paisley and the Dixie Chicks. In France we discovered Lily Allen and Owl Music. My hubby is Irish so U2 feature massively in our daily lives. I suppose my musical hero is Bruce Springsteen—if I need comfort music, Bruce is my guy  As for listening to music while I write—YES!! Even to compose this blog I’ve scrounged up a Rod Stewart CD from my father-in-law. For every story I write I have a soundtrack that plunges me straight into the setting and mood of the story. SEA OF SUSPICION rocked with The Rolling Stones (I’m a recent convert to their music) and Runrig (a Scottish rock band who almost brought down the stage—literally—in Younger Hall in St. Andrews in the early nineties).

Who do you think is the sexiest man on Earth?  What makes him sexy?

Eric Bana features heavily in my sexiest man alive list. He’s gorgeous, but it is that intensity in his gaze that makes him sexy—those intelligent eyes.

Is there something else you’d like to mention that I haven’t asked about?

I’ve set up a fan page for SEA OF SUSPICION with location photographs and anecdotes. I’d love to hear what readers think. My first Romantic Suspense, HER SANCTUARY, was released in 2009 to some great reviews.  I love to hear from people and I write about my travels on my blog and update on Twitter.  Readers can sign up for my newsletter on my website, or friend me on Facebook. 

Thanks so much, Alice, for having me!



Marine biologist Susie Cooper traded her life in America for a dream job on the rugged Scottish coast. Now all she lacks is the right man to start a family with. After their first meeting, she knows sexy Detective Inspector Nick Archer isn’t what she’s looking for. He’s the type of guy whose idea of commitment is staying the whole night.

Nick has returned to St. Andrews for one reason only—to fulfill his vow to find his wife’s killer. Relentless in his twelve-year quest for justice, he has no problem using Susie to get close to his primary suspect: her boss. But the passion between them smolders, and as it ignites, Nick finds himself torn between his past and his present—with Susie.

When one of her boss’s students is murdered, Nick’s investigation draws Susie into a web of madness and betrayal. They will have to learn to trust each other if they’re going to catch a killer…and come out of this alive.



“What you got, Lewis?” Nick asked the square-faced policewoman. Her expression was serious. P.C. Julie Lewis was slow to smile, but smart and dedicated, with no pretensions.

“Those two found a body.” She indicated the girls, who sat crying. “I think we’re looking at a murder, sir.” At his raised brow, she added. “Pretty hard to smash in your own skull.”

Nick’s stomach clenched. Murder?

He looked along the footpath, dread digging claws into his stomach and trying to find purchase. He knew homicide. He’d done four years’ homicide after he’d finished his undercover stint, but St. Andrews hadn’t seen a murder in years.

Had this poor bugger been bleeding to death when he had broken into the Gatty? Had he tracked the vic’s blood into the building? Into Susie’s car? Could he have saved a life if he’d been paying more attention to the present, rather than wasting his time trying to avenge the past?

Nick looked up at the overcast sky and thought for one split second he heard Chrissie’s laugh. He was going to hell for a little B&E. Or maybe for wanting a woman in a way he hadn’t in more than a decade.

The wind blasted his cheeks, icy and raw. Twin flashlights beamed into his eyes and he was instantly blind.

“Get those things out of my face,” he yelled.

“Sorry, sir.” Two synchronous replies.

Nick smelled blood in the air, sharp and cuprous. His intestines flip-flopped as he took another step down the grassy slope. P.C. Eric Mosel and Sergeant Hammy Soothill ran their beams over the body of a young woman.

Christ. “ID?”

Both men shook their heads.

“We tried not to disturb the locus.” P.C. Mosel, or Mouse as he was known in the station, was normally a bit of a twat, niggling away at the division between CID and uniform coppers—the filth and the woodentops as they were called. But not tonight. Tonight he was all business. “I thought she might still be alive.”

The back of her skull was smashed like a broken eggshell, pale bone gleaming amongst gore. The flashlights picked out blood matting her hair, streaking her neck, staining the sand beneath her body a rusty brown. It was bloody obvious she was dead, but they’d still need a doctor for verification. A body could be trailed from one end of the beach to the other, but police officers still needed a doctor to confirm death. Rules and regulations of the God-almighty handbook.

Sobs reached him, but all Nick could do was stand and stare. This woman was his first homicide victim since leaving the crime-ridden streets of London. He hadn’t expected to feel quite so appalled, but St. Andrews was the one pure spot in a life of brutality and it had just been violated.

He nodded toward the wailing girls. “They report it?”

“Yes, sir.” Sergeant Hammy Soothill waved his flashlight as if looking for footprints, but the sand was too dry. There wouldn’t be any tracks down there worth saving. “The one lassie slipped and fell in the blood.”

The distaste on Hammy’s face was echoed by Nick’s stomach. There was none of the usual black humor that accompanied sudden death and no one prodded the corpse with a ubiquitous black boot.

They were all somber as they got on with the job, maybe because no matter how many cases they’d had in other places, this was the first of its kind in St. Andrews.

“Get the photographer down here when the doctor’s finished. See if we can get hold of floodlights for the forensics team. Mouse, we’ll need a scale drawing, and Hammy, I want you to oversee every piece of evidence and make sure it is catalogued like the Crown Jewels.” He glanced at his watch. His boss would want to be notified, and the Procurator Fiscal.

His gaze lingered on the young woman’s body. Her skirt was hiked up around her thighs, suggesting a possible sexual assault, arms outstretched over her head as if she’d tried to crawl away.

All that blood…

She’d taken time to die.

SEA OF SUSPICION released June 14th

Download from

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Please welcome KS Augustin, author of In Enemy Hands

When Alice and I first emailed each other, we discovered that we were on the opposite sides of the spiritual fence. I'm an atheist, Alice is a committed Christian. And the first thing we decided is that we should give the other space on our blogs to perhaps say something about that, tying it in with our upcoming Carina Press releases.

So, hello everyone. My name is Kaz Augustin and I have an hard sf romance coming out with Carina on 7 June. It's called IN ENEMY HANDS, and here is its cover:

The Republic had taken everything from Moon―her research partner, her privacy, her illusions. They thought they had her under control. They were wrong.

Srin Flerovs, Moon's new research partner, is a chemically enhanced maths genius whose memory is erased every two days.

While he and Moon work on a method of bringing dead stars back to life, attraction between them flares, but that poses its own problem. How can their love survive when Srin forgets Moon every two days?

When she discovers the lethal applications her research can be put to, Moon knows she and Srin are nothing more than pawns in a much larger game. Together, they must escape the clutches of the Republic before they become its scapegoats. But there are too many walls around them, too many eyes watching. They want to run, but they're trapped on a military vessel in the depths of space, and time is running out....

The story is set in Republic space, which is a far future where humans dominate their part of the explored galaxy. Every species that isn't human is regarded as inferior and treated as such. I have a few stories set in the Republic, so I suppose you could call IN ENEMY HANDS part of the Republic series, but every book is standalone and can be read without referencing any of the others.

None of the characters are religious, but they do vary in terms of moral standards, and I hope the reader will enjoy gauging the level of morality that each character displays. The characters don't always get it right, either. Moon Thadin, the heroine, quite frankly doesn't care how the Republic behaves as long as she gets the recognition she deserves. But when she's forced to confront the evil of her government, will that ambition be enough to comfort her? Srin Flerovs, a man kept imprisoned in his own mind, naturally wants vengeance for what has been done to him, but is that what he should seek? And what of the ship captain, who must know what's being done in his name? How is he able to reconcile his humanity with its lack around him?

These are all questions as deep as spiritual faith, yet not dependent on it. I think my biggest criticism of religious people as a whole is that they seem to regard atheists as people without morals. Yet, with only one life to live, and no afterlife to look forward to, it would seem to me that the compulsion to do good, to achieve something worthwhile, in that one life is at least as strong as the compulsion to live according to a list of set-down rules. Maybe even stronger, because you come to those rules yourself, they are not thrust upon you.

And so the time for fateful decisions comes to each of the characters in the novel, and the decisions each of them makes has a bearing, not only on the situation at hand, but on the rest of their lives. IN ENEMY HANDS is a look at one point in time, where all these characters converge, and what gets decided during a span of only a few months. It also contains romance, physics and assassination pharmacology, and I hope you enjoy it.

Kaz Augustin is a Malaysian-born writer of science-fiction, romance, and permutations of the two. Her website is at and she blogs at You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter; just look for “ksaugustin”.

COMPETITION: I'm giving away two copies of IN ENEMY HANDS at my blog, Fusion Despatches []. To be in the draw, stop by and comment at the Competition post, telling me at which blog you read about my book. You have till 30 June!

And thanks Alice for having me here! :)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Miss Foster's Here

Click on either the image above or to the right to go to Carina Press where Miss Foster's Folly is live.  Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble dot com.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Please welcome guess blogger Carrie Lofty (Song of Seduction)

Carrie's given us an excerpt from her Carina Press book, Song of Seduction!

Tormented by guilt. Haunted by scandal. Freed by love.

Austria, 1804

Eight years ago, composer Arie De Voss claimed his late mentor's final symphony as his own and became an icon. But fame has a price: fear of discovery now poisons his attempts to compose a redemptive masterpiece. Until a new muse appears, intoxicating and inspiring him...

Mathilda Heidel renounced her own musical gift to marry, seeking a quiet life to escape the shame surrounding her birth. Sudden widowhood finds her tempted by song once more. An unexpected introduction to her idol, Arie De Voss, renews Mathilda's passion for the violin—and ignites a passion for the man himself.

But when lust and lies reach a crescendo, Arie will be forced to choose: love or truth?

Song of Seduction

Set-up: Mathilda has just come to the realization that she loves Arie, the composer and musician she's idolized for years. But upon performing his most renowned symphony while alone in her room, she comes to a startling realization...

She loved Arie--not a musical genius, not a figment, not an idol. She loved the man.

And she wanted to express her emotions in the way that had come to dominate her life. Through music. Words and thoughts failed to fly, falling short of the miraculous language she had discovered. Passive listening, no matter how engaged she became in hearing a composition, only made her yearn for that spark of creation. Arie had taken her heart and put in its place an unending need to perform.

With the door closed behind her, Mathilda glanced across her room. She had left Jürgen's medical bag at the foot of her bed, and its familiar black leather shape reached her like a touch. But the touch was gentle, tolerant of her frailties. She smiled, surprised but gratified by her placid reaction to his memory.

Leaving the bag where it sat, she found the violin case and opened the latches. The cloth she used to muffle the strings draped across the instrument. She tossed it to the floor. Nothing would silence her this evening, not doubt or gossip or manners. She wanted her violin to announce what her heart sang and sang, an endless chorus.

Tuning the instrument, finding her stance, Mathilda inhaled.

Beginning with the sonata Arie had played at the Venners' ball, she gave voice to all she imagined, sought, desired. Another piece followed without pause, then another. Arie's improvisation at the piano competition. The cantata for Duke Ferdinand. The movement she had helped compose. And finally, Love and Freedom.

A frivolous grin spread her mouth wide as she revisited that landmark symphony for the first time since their inaugural lesson. Even alone, there in her room, she could not hide the flush of embarrassment as she recalled the girlish fantasies she had fostered about her maestro, about what he had composed. Never had a woman known less about a very complicated man.

But joy banished her embarrassment. She performed Love and Freedom with happy gusto, glorying in the wonder. She followed the notes, chasing a musical bird across the aching blue of a bright summer sky, swooping and twirling with the force of a steady wind on her face. Restive fingers quieted the noise in her head and in her heart...until she heard something altogether different.

She played it again. And again. She studied and parsed and dissected. And somewhere in the third movement, she heard the truth.

Arie did not write this.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

In the beginning (Please welcome guest, Inez Kelley, author at Carina Press)


Salome at Sunrise was never intended to be written. The story, I thought, ended with Myla by Moonlight. But those characters, they linger, whispering in your ear and prodding to you tell their tale.

When I finally gave in and decided to write Bryton’s story, something bothered me. He’d whispered he was a widower and that he could never love another. So I wondered who his heroine was. Salome burst into my mind in full living color, completely formed and individual. The first scene that appeared to me was breathtaking. It had this tremendous mountain vista, a dazzling sunrise that bled reds and oranges across a violet sky and a woman with tears shimmering in her eyes.

This scene is in the story SALOME AT SUNRISE, not in the beginning but about halfway through. Back in the beginning, I didn’t know who she was or why she was sad. Now I do. Can I show you what Salome shared with me?

“Kat was promised to another man. He died in battle before they could marry.”

There was no anger or disappointment in his tone, just simple acceptance. The blanket edge slipped and she tugged it higher to her chest, the move hiding her spinning thoughts. “Did it bother you she had a lover before you?”

“It would’ve bothered me a hell of lot more if she’d had a lover after me.” His indignation pushed against the damp air with swift heat. She stiffened and his hands gripped tighter. “Sorry. No, it didn’t bother me. How could I judge her when I was no innocent myself? We were a good match, she and I. We understood each other. We loved each other.”

Cottony fog clung to the ground, swirled around the trees and wrapped the last breaths of night in softness. Salome let her gaze drift to the shifting skies. The sun rose beyond the mountain ridge, spilling pale gold light into the fading gray. Streaks of red lined the sky, birthing blood of a new day. She drew the cool air deep into her lungs and relished the crisp tingle. Every muscle in her temporal human body cramped from her position but her heart rejoiced holding him, being held.

Her joy was tainted by his wife’s memory. Katina was everything she could never be to him. Mother to his child, companion for his life, music for his heart. Human. Salt swam across her vision and blurred the sunrise. The day was born beneath the shimmer of her tears.

You tell me, could you have left that story untold? I couldn’t. I didn’t.

Salome at Sunrise

June 21st from Carina Press.

~Inez Kelley

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Welcome guest blogger, Leah Braemel

When Alice first invited me to be a guest on her blog, I have to admit, I hesitated. I write steamy romance. I write really steamy romances. The first blog post I read was about her pastor and her church. I scrolled down and there was a discussion about pronouns in religion. So my first thought was “oh, boy, Alice’s readers are going to be sending her email on having me on as a guest.”

Then I checked out the books Alice writes and discovered she’s sold stories to Harlequin’s Spice Briefs, and Ellora’s Cave amongst other publishers. Phew! Alice writes steamy too. Now I feel safe. Especially since my upcoming release, Texas Tangle, involves a ménage. And not just a one night event, but where the three lovers are seriously considering making it a permanent arrangement.

The whole idea came to me during a trip to Texas back in 2007 when I visited a farm where one of my critique partners breeds Arabian BLUE horses. As she was taking around her farm, introducing me to her horses, and her donkey Gandalf, the plot bunnies started hopping around my fertile imagination. (Like everything else in Texas, plot bunnies come in the extra-large size. By the way, I’d never seen Texas hares before—they proved they do things BIG in Texas. They reminded me of miniature kangaroos!) It took me a while (and two books in between) to get around to actually writing the story that started forming during that trip.

Going with the idea that everything’s bigger in Texas, I gave my heroine a Texas-sized problem to solve. Nikki Kimball’s the proverbial horsebreeder next door. She’s more than a little gun shy about relationships after divorcing her first husband, and now her brother has just stolen everything she owns. Up rides Dillon in his white pick-up truck—after all, most heroes keep their horses under the hood these days. Dillon’s a hard-working neighbor who always sees the best in everyone and everything. He teaches Nikki to laugh again. Laughter comes harder to his foster-brother Brett Anderson. Brett comes with a passel of issues – not the least of which is the history between Brett and Nikki. They shared kisses for one night back in high school but it turned out that Dillon was sweet on Nikki too. Those kisses just about destroyed Dillon and Brett’s friendship, and nearly lost Brett the only family he’d known. So he’s bound and determined not to come between his best friend and the woman they both love again. But that’s tougher than he’d thought, and when Nikki and Dillon discover his secret, Nikki’s caught between the two, knowing whatever she decides could destroy their friendship forever and cost Brett the love and security of the entire Barnett family. Yup, life just got plenty complicated on Dillon’s Double Bar ranch.

Thanks to her cheating ex-husband and her thieving brother, all horse breeder Nikki Kimball has left is a bruised heart, an overdrawn bank account and an empty home. When sex-on-legs Dillon Barnett and his brooding foster-brother Brett Anderson start showing more than just neighborly attention, Nikki is intrigued…and a little gun-shy.

Dillon and Brett have a history; back in high school, the two friends fought a bitter battle over Nikki. Now, ten years later, Brett still longs to be the man in Nikki’s life, but he’s determined to stand back and let Dillon win Nikki’s heart.

Society says Nikki must choose between the two men she loves. Is Nikki strong enough to break all the rules in order to find happiness?

Read an excerpt at
Interested in reading more about Leah or her books?

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

My Lady's Pleasure is out from Red Sage

My second story in the Three Kinds of Wicked series goes on sale today.  A fierce night needs to win the love of the lady he's conquered.  He needs the help of the minstrel Trey, only the two men end up doing battle for her heart.My Lady's Pleasure

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I came out to my pastor

This Sunday, my rector sermonized on romance novels.  No kidding.

He said his wife has been watching the Twilight movies and now wants to read the books.  That got him thinking about shapeshifters -- vampires, werewolves -- and how they related to Jesus being the pascal lamb and also the shepherd.  He compared that to his own role in our church.  Sometimes, he's the sheep.  Sometimes, he's the shepherd.  And sometimes, he's the wolf who'd like to bite off the heads of some of the sheep.  (Did I mention our sermons often include jokes?  They do.)

Then, he mentioned that he realized that Twilight movies were "chick flicks."  He didn't mention romance by name, but that's what he was talking about.  What's more, he demonstrated that he really "gets" the purpose of romance novels.

In our rush to produce pages, get published, do promotion, and all the other things that our careers involve, we often overlook the real message of romance.  That is that the power of a woman's love can tame the most dangerous creature on the planet, the human male.  The way Father Mauricio put it was "I love you.  Calm down."  Our stories aren't about the sex, although that's fun.  They aren't about crackling dialogue or wicked plot twists.  They aren't about character arcs or the hero's journey.  They're about the healing power of love.

I don't know if Father Mauricio's wife told him that or he figured it out himself.  He might.  He's an insightful guy who spends a lot of time thinking about love.  It's his occupation, after all.  God's love -- "I love you.  Calm down."  Jesus's message -- "I love you.  Calm down."

In any case, my jaw just about hit the back of the pew in front of me.  He gets it.  He really gets it.

So, I finally screwed up my courage and told him when I greeted him on my way out of the church.  "I write those books."  He smiled.  "I write the really steamy ones."  He laughed.  "I'm glad I finally came out to you."  He gave me one of his big laughs -- the kind that fill the whole church.  I wish I'd told him about my writing an age ago.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Great new review of Dragon Shift

Whipped Cream review of Dragon Shift

It's always great to see a nice review.  Thank you, Holly!

"Ilona's always dreamed of her dragon. Now that she's grown, the images have become so erotic no real man can compete with them. But lately, she keeps getting jolts of sexual energy, and she needs relief. So when a hunk of male flesh named Zimm shows up on the scene, she's tempted to finally lose her virginity. Drake, crown prince of the realm of dragons, seeks his mate so that he can help her with her first shift. Unfortunately, he finds her living with demons, and one in particular has nearly seduced her into his bed. Drake now has to convince Ilona that she's his princess, and the best way is to take her on their mating flight.

"Ms Gaines has created a fun and unusual world, with dragons and demons and lots of hot and steamy “unsex” if you will. Ilona manges to have more hot times without actually doing the deed than any other heroine I have read. I laughed at the lengths she went to in order to prevent the actual loss of innocence. This is for all of you out there who like to laugh and enjoy a hot time, with just a bit of danger thrown in for the fun of it."

To buy Dragon Shift

Friday, April 16, 2010

This'll be a new drive-by, but I have to share

I just sold another story to Harlequin Spice Briefs.  Another hot Victorian story.

I'm so excited.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Awesome review for Hungry Spirits by Alice Duncan

In the intrest of full-disclosure, I have to tell you that Alice Duncan is a good friend of mine.  I've read her books, so I can tell you with all honesty and objectivity that Alice rawks!

She just got this awesome review from Booklist for her latest Daisy Majesty book.  I've read and loved Daisy, and you will, too, if you give this series a try.  Get a Daisy book.  You'll be glad you did!
Booklist Review. (May 1, 2010)

This title will publish in June 2010

************ ********* ********* ********* *

Advanced Review – Uncorrected Proof Issue: May 1, 2010

Hungry Spirits. Duncan, Alice (Author) Jun 2010. 256 p. Five Star, hardcover, $25.95. (9781594149122) .

This enjoyable series deserves to be much better known. It takes place in Pasadena at the beginning in the early 1920s. WWI has had an immense impact on the Gumm-Majesty family. Billy Majesty returned from the war with wounds related to being both shot and exposed to mustard gas. As a result, he cannot walk or work and has become addicted to morphine. Daisy, his wife, supports the family working as a spiritualist. Billy doesn’t approve, but Daisy and the Gumm family are much more pragmatic. In this adventure, Daisy is asked to teach a cooking class for disadvantaged immigrant ladies at the Salvation Army. That sounds innocent enough, but Daisy can’t cook. She manages to stay one step ahead of the class, but she lands right in the middle of an anarchist plot, forcing her to turn sleuth and, along the way, confront her prejudices against Germans, whom she blames for her husband’s disability. Daisy’s upbeat attitude in the face of serious problems gives her great appeal, as does Duncan’s grasp of the period. Recommend Daisy to fans of Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs. — Judy Coon

Friday, April 9, 2010

My cover for Miss Foster's Folly

This will be a really short blog.  Mostly just


Is this gorgeous or what?  The book will likely be out in June, and I'm so excited.  It's part of the launch of Carina Press.

Major kudos to the Carina team, and many, many thanks to my wonderful editor, Jessica Schulte

Friday, March 26, 2010

If we're going to have a conversation, let's first define terms

I guess I'll start by defining myself briefly.  I'm a woman and a feminist.  I'm a Christian--an Anglican and an Episcopalian (they're pretty much the same thing).  I'm a social scientist and a skeptic, which means I'll believe in the supernatural when I see compelling evidence for it.  You may think that skeptic and Christian are contradictions in terms, but I don't see it that way.  For me, God isn't something supernatural but extra-natural.

As a feminist, the use of male pronouns as default and referring to homo sapiens as "man" grate on my nerves.  "Man" explores, "man" invents, "man" thinks -- where are women in that equation?  And don't tell me "man" includes me.  It doesn't except at the most abstract level.

So, what do I do with "God, He"?  English pretty much gives me three choices for pronouns -- He, She, and It.  "It" is probably the most accurate because God wouldn't have a gender, but it's cold and distant.  I don't love its.  Even my darling snake is a he.  I can assert my feminism and call God "She," and that would be as accurate as "He" -- or as inaccurate, as the case may be.  "She" sounds as if I'm trying to make a feminist point, and it goes against tradition that I frankly love.  There is no good solution to this dilemma, so I've settled on "God, He,"

Similary, what are we to do with the question "Does God exist?"  "Exist" is an inadequate word for dealing with God.  When we say something exists, we mean that it has mass and occupies a place in four dimensional reality.  Nothing exists everywhere and at all times.  To say God "exists" in our language means he lives up in the sky in a place where there are Pearly Gates and angels float around on clouds, strumming their harps.  He doesn't.  Neither does He live on top of a mountain or at the center of the Earth or on a planet orbitting Alpha Centauri.

"Does God exist" becomes a useless question if we use the normal definitions of "to exist" or "to be."  I think this is one of the main reasons people believe that there's some contradiction between science and faith.  If you're still following me, maybe at some point, we'll discuss what I mean by God existing.  Until then, we're stuck with the language we have.  So, I'll go with the traditional.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Watch this space

Tomorrow, February 16, I'll be blogging at the Red Sage Publishing blog about my short erotic romance novella, To Touch a Woman.

Later on in the week and going forward, I'd like to use this space to discuss the apparent contradiction between being a person of faith and writing erotica. I don't feel that the two things are mutually exclusive, especially within the romance genre where evil is vanquished and decency triumphs. Still, I'll be dealing with the question of "coming out" as an erotica writer at my church, which I love

I'll also be dealing with how a hard-headed pragmatist who's never believed in the supernatural approaches myth, miracles, and the existence of God.

You're welcome to join me in the voyage.