Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Book That Started It All!

I recently went through my bookshelf trying to find and ‘oldie but goodie” to read. Even as my finger drifted across cracked spines and the scent of my old books drifted up to me, I knew which book I looked for. The title was The Flame and The Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss.

Kathleen Woodiwiss was my biggest influence as far as finding an unending love for historical romance. She is the one author who grabbed me by the heart and never let go. In the early days of my actual foray into writing, I had a chance to visit with her and she was a wonderfully articulate lady. Her debut novel was rejected by agents and hardcover publishers as being too long. In typical Kathleen fashion, she refused to rewrite her novel and sent it instead to paperback publishers. Avon had the foresight to immediately purchase and the rest is history! I think she singlehandedly changed the course of romantic novels.

I will never forget that phone call with her. I sat on the edge of my chair, my palms sweating, my heart pounding, and excitement like I’ve never known! She gave me so much encouragement to do the thing I love. Hence my historical trilogy including my Keeper of the Spirit, Keeper of the Dream, and Keeper of the Heart.

Now I’m sitting here looking at my very worn original copyright dated 1972, The Flame and The Flower. Years have passed and I’m not sure I’ll ever shoot to the top of the Best Seller list, but Kathleen’s encouragement still rings in my ears.


Merry Christmas to all!


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes

I'm always looking for something new to try. Food wise that is. I love to eat and Thanksgiving is the one holiday that promotes food to the tee. Yum.
Since my daughter works for Walmart, I'm having Thanksgiving's food dishes ready by noon so she can eat before she has to be there by 2. The rest of us can eat with her then eat again on and off all day. I doubt I get out of my comfy clothes on Thanksgiving.
Here's one of my favorite Thanksgiving day recipes.

Sweet Potato Casserole

3 cups of mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup of granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup of milk
½ cup of butter

Potatoes, sugar, eggs, vanilla & milk. Add melted butter. Pour into a casserole dish.

Topping Ingredients:
1/3 cup of flour
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup softened butter

Combine brown sugar and flour. Add softened butter until it becomes a crumbly mixture, then add nuts. Mix well.  Sprinkle on top of casserole.

350 degrees for 30 minutes or until done.

As I said, I'm always looking for new recipes to try so please share yours here.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Wounded Warrior Project

It's my turn to blog again, and, as usual, I had no idea what to say. Seriously, doesn't anyone really care about my crazy life with my three girls, my struggle to find jeans that fit, or my never-ending battle to lose weight?

I didn't think so.

So as I cast around in vain for a topic to write about, I tried to think of something that meant a lot to me. One of the things that came to mind immediately was The Wounded Warrior Project. (

I first learned about this site when I was doing research for my next book. (more on that later) As I explored the site, I became more and more impressed by what this non-profit organization is doing for our wounded military members.

This is a subject near and dear to my heart. My grandfather was the second to last man drafted in WWII, my father was in the Air force, I had two uncles fight in Vietnam, my sister was in the Army for 23 years, her husband was also in the Army and my other brother-in-law was in the Navy. My niece is currently in the National Guard. Service to our country is big in my family.

We have been so blessed that none of our family members was ever wounded during their service, but not everyone is that lucky. It absolutely breaks my heart that people who put their lives on the line for our country come home to miles of red tape, inadequate care, and an overtaxed support system.

 These people are heroes, damn it!

I have spent a lot of time researching Navy SEALs for my next book. I enjoy doing research, but this time, I wanted to make sure I REALLY got it right, because it means so freaking much to me. My hero is going to be a wounded SEAL and I hope to God all the research I've done will do him justice.

Veterans' Day was November 11th, but thanking our veterans and military personnel should be something we do every time we see someone in uniform.

In order to put my money where my mouth (or keyboard) is, when I finally get my wounded hero book written, I'm going to donate part of the proceeds to The Wounded Warrior Project. I encourage you to check out their site and see what they are doing for our heroes.

To all the military and their families, I thank you for your service, sacrifice, and dedication. God bless you and keep you safe.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Gay Rom Lit

Recently I attended a new to me convention, the Gay Rom Lit Retreat. Now I’m no convention virgin, I’ve been going to the Romantic Times convention since 2004 and Ellora’s Cave Romanticon for 3 of the 5 years it’s been running. SO I had no hesitation signing up to go to another convention and attending alone as I always have. In my experience it hasn’t taken very long to meet up with a group of new friends and have a blast. Everyone raved about how awesome Gay Rom Lit was, how many friends they made and how it was so great to be among like minded people where they could relax with no fear of judgement.

I was excited.

I arrived in Atlanta a couple of days early still buzzing from my amazing time the previous week at Romanticon and ready for the fun to continue. The hotel was nice, and I settled in to do a little sightseeing through the day and sit in the bar in the evening where I knew I would find the convention attendees. The first night I took a seat in the bar with my e-reader and a drink I was expecting things to be a little quiet but I knew the writing workshop was on and there would be some early birds. I was excited to recognise a couple of writers from pictures I’d seen online and it helped me identify the groups around them as attendees. I smiled at a few of them but since I had no con badge yet didn’t expect much. So I people watched and read my book and listened to the fun going on around me.

The following night I took a seat at the bar again after spending the day at the aquarium. Once again I read my book while the laughter and buzz went on around me. Groups of people who obviously knew each other fairly well and were thrilled to be in each other’s company. I saw a few people coming down the lobby escalator with their conference bags and badges and realised early registration must be open. With anticipation I went up the stairs to get mine. There was a little line and the people in the booth were a little harassed but friendly enough. I took my stuff and put my badge over my head, its bright colour identifying me as a reader. I headed back to the bar excited that people would now know I was part of the convention. Now maybe I could chat with a few people. Maybe get involved in some of that raucous laughter myself. Two hours later I was still alone. Never mind, I thought, they have been together for a few days at the writer workshop. They obviously all have established themselves in groups already. Most of the attendees will be arriving tomorrow.

The next day I decided not to go out. One of my favourite things to do at a con is sit in the lobby the day everyone arrives and watch as people meet up and the atmosphere starts to build. I wore my badge and took my e-reader to sit in the bar. The day passed, people came and went from the seats around me. No one spoke to me. The bar got busier, people were obviously having a great time, I smiled at people who sat in the armchairs around me. No one spoke to me.

I wasn’t excited anymore.

I sent out a frustrated message to the ether (otherwise known as facebook and twitter) asking for someone to please talk to me as I was lonely at GRL. At this point I met K-lee Klien, who is an awesome writer with some health issues which mean she rarely leaves her room. She saw my plea and headed to the bar to meet me. Thank you K-lee, if you are reading this. You are awesome! K-lee had been to a few GRL’s and knew a lot of attendees, she pointed out a few familiar names and introduced me to a group. I’m not gonna lie, I was a little awkward, I mean Marie Sexton was in the group! I tried to join in the conversation but I had arranged to meet a twitter friend from Atlanta for dinner and he arrived shortly after that. Maybe that was the point where things might have changed for me. Maybe I missed my window.

The following day I felt a little better, I had after all met a few people the night before and I’d spent a lovely few hours with James (who took me to my first gay bar and out for a meal, thanks James!) I went to the virgin event in the morning, expecting to make a few friends. They split us into groups and in our group was K.A. Mitchell! We were all very excited and she was just lovely. The group introduced itself and once again I discovered that most of them already knew each other in some capacity. I left the room alone. By lunch I was feeling a little depressed. 3 days into the con and I was still eating alone while the fun went on around me. I was tired of it. In fact I would quite happily have gone home at that point. I put a message on facebook saying as much.

Some friends on facebook L.B. Gregg and Danny Bruggeman asked people there to look out for me and a couple of people did join me for lunch. Then I met K.C. Burn and her friends and spent some time with them. Things got better. I met a lot of authors I admire, gushed about their work and bought more books than I really should have given my luggage allowance. But, I have to say I still spent significant amount of time at GRL sitting alone and it wasn’t fun. It felt a lot like being back in school and watching everyone have a good time that I wasn’t part of. Maybe my expectations were too high, after all it took me 33 years to find my identity and I was sure this was a time I’d feel the same as everyone else. Maybe I didn’t put myself out there enough because the situation made me feel like that outsider I was once upon a time. What it definitely did was leave me fairly sure I won’t be attending again. Even though part of me still longs to be part of that group.

So that was GRL for me. If you are thinking of attending next year then my advice is still to definitely go. Most people seemed to have a blast. BUT, take a friend. Or make sure you know people who are going to be there. Most of the attendees seemed to be in established groups already and in such a close knit community I found it really hard to be a part of things. I also know that any convention I go to in the future I will pay more attention and look out for the people who are sitting alone. I’ve met some of my best friends that way and I don’t want anyone to feel the same way I did those first few days.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

“On the first day of Christmas...”

I know, I know. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, although, to look at the stores around the Finger Lakes, you would think the holiday season is already here—and has been here since before Halloween.

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” is a song often parodied (“...and a BEER!”) but few realize the title refers to the twelve days after December 25th. That stretch of time symbolizes the time it took for the Wise Men to travel to the manger in Bethlehem and culminates with Epiphany on January 6th. For centuries that holy day, January 6th, was the more important celebration. In fact, Shakespeare’s play, Twelfth Night, refers to the merriment of Epiphany. Sometimes called “Little Christmas,” it’s still celebrated around the world today.

So why am I talking about Christmas and Epiphany so early in November? Because I have a new release coming out that takes place during those twelve days, of course!

12 Days is a light-hearted romp through the ages, starting on Christmas Day, 1750 and coming forward in twenty-five year jumps to January 6th, 2025. Each section is a succeeding generation in a family that has some unique traditions. The point of view changes from male to female, alternating throughout the book so both genders get to weigh in.

Let’s face it, bondage games have been around pretty much for as long as humans have been having sex and I had fun doing the research to find out just what that might have looked like in ages past...and in ages future!

Of course, today many religious traditions have come together to create a holiday season out of the entire month of December. There’s Advent, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the Solstice as well as the changing of the calendar from one year to the next. Some traditions give one present each day, others give a bunch all on one day.

So, because of that, 12 Days will release as individual short stories starting the day after the US’s Thanksgiving, November 29th, rather than the twelve days of the stories. Each section will be available for 49 cents ($.49) for those who want a present every day. On December 10th, you can purchase the entire book for $4.99, essentially getting two free stories (if you can wait that long!).

Mark your calendars. The holidays are coming...and so are 12 Days!

Play safe,

(edited to fix a mis-named holiday!)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Autumn Spice Cake

I've been a widow for nine years, so it's rare for me to cook much. I like to prepare dishes that will last for several meals. I eat it once or twice, then put the remaining servings in the freezer in individual containers so I can pop one in the microwave for a quick meal.

Lately, I've been trying some new recipes thanks to trolling on Pinterest. That site is so dangerous! I could spend literally hours there every day if I didn't remind myself that looking at all the pretty pictures won't get my book finished.

I found this recipe for Autumn Spice Cake and thought it sounded good. It is deelish! Nice and moist, and the scent of spices while it's baking makes you think of autumn. I want to share it with you. I think you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Beat butter, shortening, and sugars until smooth. Beat in eggs. Add buttermilk and vanilla.

Mix dry ingredients together in large bowl. Gradually mix into creamed mixture. Pour into 9" x 13" baking dish and bake 30-40 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool and frost with vanilla or cream cheese frosting.

Enjoy! And have a glorious autumn.


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Romanticon here I come!

What to pack, what to pack...
I'm flying out early Wednesday morning for the best conference ever.
Romanticon in Ohio. If you didn't know, it's Ellora's Cave's Conference
celebrating Erotic Romance.
I've got my costumes for Bollywood and Glamorous Old Hollywood. I'm so excited
about this years event. I plan to post pictures as soon as I hook up with my fellow
Sizzling Scribe sister Cait Miller. She's our Scottish sister and I'm so looking forward
to seeing her and getting a great big hug.
If you're in the Ohio area, come on out to the MacKinnley Grand and party with the
Cavemen, the Authors and the entire Ellora's Cave staff.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Hey, who's in charge here anyway?

A few years ago, my Sizzling Sisters and I decided to create a series of books. Each of us would write a story or a novella based in the fictional town of Port Clef, CT. We had a great time building the town and populating it with our characters, some of whom end up in each others' stories.  I had volunteered to write the first story.

It didn't exactly work out that way. Two plus years later, my Sweet Spot story is finally out! CAT SCRATCH FEVER was a story I had kicking around in my brain for a long time. I'd thought about it and thought about it and heard the characters speaking in my head forever. When I finally got down to seriously writing it, something strange happened. It was like the characters had been waiting around for me to get my act together for so long, they were sick of my pace and decided to take over.

I had planned on writing a novella. Apparently, Sage and Walker didn't think their story could be told that quickly. (It's almost 50,000 words) I had planned on making it romantica. Sage and Walker weren't quite so quick to hop into bed together. (Although, when they did, it was HAWT!) I had planned on having all sorts of convoluted conflicts and personal angst. Yeah, they weren't going for that either.

You may be thinking, "Hey, you're the AUTHOR, stop making excuses and write the book the way you planned!". I tried that. It didn't work. Every time I tried to force the book to go the way I had outlined it-- and I use that term very loosely--my writing stalled and I couldn't move the story forward. When I just let go and let them take over, I couldn't type fast enough to keep up with the words pouring out of my brain.

I think sometimes you just have to go with what's working, in writing and in life. If we get too caught up in controlling everything, we may just steer ourselves in a direction we didn't want to go. I generally like being in charge, but in this case, I'm glad I was able to let it ride. Sometimes it's nice to let someone else drive.

I hope you'll pick up a copy of CAT SCRATCH FEVER and take it out for a spin yourself!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Great Expectations

You know what I need? I need to be 'Cait Miller' in my real life.

Cait is brave, outspoken, shameless, unafraid off her sexuality. She has an awesome wardrobe and a great social life to go with it. Cait is the person who told a roomful of people something she hadn't even told her closest friend. She's the one who can stand in front of those same people and talk about sex without blushing (much). She's the person who said 'I want a tattoo dammit' and went and got not one but two. She sings karaoke occasionally and given enough vodka. Cait travels to foreign countries alone and makes friends without worrying what they think of her.

Cait is everything I would be if I wasn't afraid for my job and of what my family and friends would say or think. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all live without that fear? Then again perhaps that fear is what keeps some really bad behaviour in check for some people.

What would you do with your life if you didn’t have to live up to others expectations of you? Or maybe you are one of the lucky ones who already does. If that’s the case, I salute you...while I still try to find the courage to break completely free of those chains.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

To the future!

Yesterday my daughter and I went to see Austenland, a movie that centers around the question, “What if there were a real place where you could step into Regency England and live the life of Austen’s heroines?”

The movie was fun and filled with plenty of Austen references (as you’d expect). The heroes were dashing with just enough mystery to keep the entire piece intriguing. Jane, the intrepid hero reminded me at times more of Jane Eyre, a Bronte heroine rather than an Austen one, but it didn’t bother me in the least.

But it did get me to thinking.

Jane Austen wrote only six major novels (can you name them? See below to see if you’re right!). Yet here we are, 194 years after her death, still entranced by the world she created. Even the Bronte sisters (Charlotte, Emily and Anne) keep hold of our reading interest and they only have one major work each (Match ‘em up! Who wrote what? See below for the answers).

No, I’m not going to ask what you think I’m going to ask. Reams of papers have been written on all four of these women with plenty of analysts giving their thoughts as to why the stories have endured. To me it’s actually pretty simple: good stories and memorable characters.

And that’s what the Scribes write as well. From Tara Nina’s McKinnons to Ruby Storm’s hunky heroes in love, from Tielle St. Clare’s dragons to Cait Miller’s stories of magic, Lynn LaFleur’s wonderful seductions, Arianna Hart’s sexy heroes and my own tales of Dominance and submission, we tell stories. Good stories.

Now, in two hundred years will someone write a fictional getaway based on our books? Why not? After all, a girl can dream!


Jane Austen: In publishing order: Sense and Sensiblity, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion

Charlotte Bronte: Jane Eyre
Emily Bronte: Wuthering Heights

Anne Bronte: Agnes Grey

Monday, August 26, 2013

New Novella to release in September!

Hello all!

I’m a bit late with my blog, but I’m copping out and insisting I had a good reason. In fact, it’s a great reason! My grandson turned two and I spent the afternoon with family celebrating. My son and his family put in a pool this spring and what a wonderful way to spend a 92 degree Sunday afternoon.

This week I want to shout out to erotic readers that I have a new book releasing September 13th with Ellora’s Cave! This book originally was written and selected to be included in a six book anthology by the company. Things changed and instead of a short story, I decided to do some rewriting and release MATING RITUAL as a novella. Both my editor and myself were very pleased with the results! Plus this is my first cover to include Ellora’s Cave’s sexy Rodney! That in itself makes me want to jump for joy!

MATING RITUAL is being released under EC’s Xanadu line, a futuristic fantasy that was a total trip to write! I like this genre and hope to make this first book part of New World Series.

So hope you have a chance to check out this new hot romance and let me know what you think!

Happy end of the summer. I’m soooooo looking forward to jeans and a sweatshirt and cooler weather.

Take care!

Monday, August 19, 2013

The aging writer

My blog is late being posted simply because I forgot due to attending my husband's Grandmother's birthday yesterday. She turned 97.  Will I reach the ripe age of 97? I doubt it. But people are living longer these days.
Here's a picture of the Birthday Girl.

My biggest concern is will I still have creative ideas so I can continue to write? I recently reached the phenomenal age of 50. Do I feel old? Nope. Not at all. I just turned in my 5th Cursed MacKinnons story to my editor and hope to hear back from her soon. I'm already working on the 6th, while rewriting another novel I pulled from a different publisher, and I've started a story with a couple of 50+ characters as my hero and heroine. They say write what you know. LOL. I know nothing and still I write. :)
I know there is a vast community of older writers out there, who are extremely talented and continue to provide great stories. Desiree Holt is one of these women. They've been doing stories about her calling her the "Grandma" of porn. LOL. I also know a couple of my fellow Sizzling Scribe sisters are older than me and they write Hot, Hot, Hot and well written stories. These ladies are my inspiration to continue. There's still hope that one day maybe I'll write that 'Great American Novel' and hit the best sellers list. 
Will I do it before I'm 97? Maybe.
Tara Nina

Sunday, August 11, 2013


I have to admit, I much prefer things to be easy. I am never going to challenge myself to run a marathon, climb a mountain, or do a triathlon. I find it very hard to push myself out of a rut. I like comfort, it's so. . .comforting.

Except with my writing. With each book I write, I want to become a better author. I want to push myself to create new stories that aren't repeats of the same old book. (This is harder than it sounds, honest.) I hope that each book I write is an improvement. (If the feeling of embarrassment I get when someone tells me they've read some of my first books is any indication, I think I have improved at my craft.)

But sometimes, pushing myself is just really hard. (See above where I do like things to be easy.) This summer I pushed myself to finish writing a shape shifter novel for the Sweet Spot Series, and I'm almost done. It has been a challenge, especially when my characters aren't doing what I want them to do. (Honestly, how long does it take two healthy adults to get into bed? Seriously!) I also started a new book with a character who is way outside of anything I've ever written before.

The hero in my newest work in progress is a former Navy SEAL who lost part of his left leg in Afghanistan and is returning home to help his family. I have spent hours researching SEALs, prosthetic legs, IEDs, medical treatment facilities for wounded soldiers, training for SEALs, physical therapy, and the emotional damage done by losing a limb. (Oh, as part of this research, I've spent a ton of time on the Wounded Warriors Project website, check it out if you have time This hero is perhaps the most challenging character I've ever tried writing. I have no frame of reference for him and I'm struggling to do justice to something I care deeply about, supporting our troops. I'm having to push myself, and myself is not happy about it.

This past Friday, I had a few hours where I could have been writing, working on either book, but I came up with excuse after excuse as to why I couldn't sit my lazy butt down and do it. I cleaned the house, made dinner, answered email, and basically avoided working on my book. (Bad Ari!) That is going to change. I need to put in the time and effort and face this challenge.

With that in mind, this week I am on vacation, but I'm going to find at least an hour a day to work on my book. I may write an hour's worth of crapola, but I'm going to keep plugging away at it, even if it kills me. I probably won't write the next New York Times Bestseller, but if I do justice to our wounded soldiers, I'll consider the challenge met.

So if you email/tweet/facebook me and I don't get back to you, it's because I'm writing. . .no matter how hard it is.  

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Writing outside our genre

When Nora Roberts wanted to write a detective novel, she and her publisher decided to write under the name J.D. Robb. They figured regular readers of Ms. Roberts' romance novels wouldn't like it if they picked up her newest novel and discovered it wasn't romance, but something else entirely.

More recently, J.K. Rowling wrote a mystery and created a new name, not to see if she could sell using a different name, but to "brand" her writing. Rowling writes young adult (specifically one particular series), Robert Galbraith writes crime novels. Same person, two different names.

The point here isn't the branding, however, it's the fact that authors have many stories inside us. The genre that makes us famous isn't necessarily the genre we want to write in for the rest of our lives. In fact, most of us would tell you the story dictates the genre and sometimes we writers don't have a lot of say in the matter!

Which is why I have released a book of poetry.

Yes, you read that right: a book of poetry.

I've been reading poetry all my life. In fact, nursery rhymes are the first poems most of us learn by heart. My mom wrote poetry for special occasions - I still have the poem she wrote for my fourteenth birthday when they said yes to a school trip to New York City and my dad used to write couplets on our hard boiled eggs. I was the only kid at the table who had an egg everyone wanted to read before I cracked it!

So it probably shouldn't come as a surprise that I've been writing little pieces for years. I've never tried to publish any, however, until now. Diana's Little Book of Poems contains eighteen of my favorites and is now available for purchase!

In tribute to my mom, here's the poem I wrote about her (it's included in the collection):


I never thought much of my mother and the English language,
Except to note that her grammar wasn’t good,
Neither was her spelling.

But then one day as we drove past a field of wheat, she made mention of the fact
And then said,
“I like to watch the wind dance across the tops.”

My mother is a poet.

(May 26, 1995)

Once you've read the poems, please consider leaving a review. Thanks and play safe!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Story Behind "Trouble in Boots"

Last summer, I was at my hairdresser's getting my hair dyed…uh, cut and styled, when I received a call from my agent. She wanted to know if I was interested in writing two novellas for Kensington Aphrodisia for upcoming anthologies—one firefighter story and one cowboy story. Such a silly question! Of course I wanted to write them.

So what to write about for the cowboy novella? Although I was born and raised in Texas, I'm far from a country gal. I know nothing about rodeos or ranching or anything to do with cattle, other than I like steak. Luckily I have a friend who used to have a lot of cattle, so I could use him as a resource.

After a conversation with my friend, I decided my hero would be a cattle rancher. I liked this idea because I think there's something very sexy about a guy on a horse. My heroine would be a waitress in the local Western bar.

Now that I had my characters, I had to come up with a way for these two to fall in love. I asked myself, what if they've secretly loved each other since high school, but circumstances have kept them apart? What if they can now be together, but different circumstances still interfere with their happiness?

The answer to those questions can be found in "Trouble in Boots" in the In a Cowboy's Bed anthology, coming July 30th from Kensington Aphrodisia.

Here's a little except from "Trouble in Boots". I hope you enjoy it.

* * *

It should be against the law for a man to look so sinful in a pair of jeans.

Keely Sheridan waited at the end of the bar for her drink order and watched Nicholas Fallon talking and laughing with the other three guys at his table. He sat with his chair half-turned toward the bar, giving her an excellent view of the enticing bulge behind his fly. The mild, late autumn temperatures meant he wore a simple T-shirt that showed off his forearms. He had the tall, lean body of a man used to physical labor. His muscles came from working on his cattle ranch, not from a gym.

She admired the way his dark brown hair curled over his ears and nape. Olive skin that came from his mother's Italian heritage, a straight nose, high cheekbones, perfect white teeth, and smoky gray eyes made him one of the most attractive men she'd ever seen.

Her heart clenched every time she saw him…as well as other, lower parts of her anatomy.

"You're staring, honey," Dolly said with humor in her voice.

"I know." Keely answered Dolly Mabery, the woman who owned Boot Scootin', without taking her gaze off Nick. "I can't help it. Nick is just so gorgeous."

"Yes, he is." Dolly placed the last bottle of beer in Keely's order on the round tray. "Why are you staring at him instead of dragging him off to your bed?"

Keely released an unladylike snort. "Yeah, right, like that's ever going to happen. Nick doesn't know I'm alive except when it's time for another beer."

"You might be surprised. I've seen him watching you while you wait on tables."

Keely studied the woman who had been her boss and second mother for the last two years. With her poofy, dyed blond hair, false eyelashes, and heavy eye makeup, she looked like a throwback to the go-go girls of the '60s.

Keely adored her.

Dolly didn't know about the one time Keely had been with Nick eleven years ago. Having loved him since her freshman year in high school, Keely took advantage of his less-than-sober state the night of their graduation and had freely given him her virginity. He'd never acknowledged what happened between them. He'd been completely wasted, so she doubted if he even remembered it.

Pushing aside the memories, Keely picked up her filled tray. "He's a guy. He's going to look at my breasts and ass every chance he gets.

"Looking can lead to more."

Keely shook her head. "Not with Nick."

She wove her way through the tables with fresh drinks, staying a few moments to chat with each customer. She knew everyone in the bar, which didn't surprise her. Unlike the restaurants along the main road through Lanville, which drew tourists, the location of Boot Scootin' on a small county road made it more of a locals' hangout. Rarely did someone come in who Keely didn't know.

She caught and held Nick's gaze as she walked toward his table. A thrill shot through her when his gaze slid down her body to her thighs and back up to her face. A crooked grin turned up the corners of his mouth.

Despite her heart pounding and her palms growing clammy, she did her best to appear calm and in control as she picked up the empty beer bottles from the table. She glanced at Kory Wilcox in time to see him looking down her scoop neck T-shirt. That didn't surprise her either. Like she'd told Dolly, a man would look if he got the chance. "You ready for another, Kory?"

He flashed her a boyish grin, one that probably made many gals tumble into his bed. Since she thought of him as nothing but a friend, it didn't affect her. "Sure."

She looked at the other two men at the table. "Ready for another?"

They both nodded, which left only Nick to place an order. She faced him, her tray propped on one hip. "How about you, Nick? Want another cold one?"

He slouched a little more in his chair, hooked his hands together at his belt. His movement drew her attention to his fly again. The bulge appeared bigger than it had a few minutes ago.

"Yeah," he said in a low, husky voice. "I want another."

* * *

In a Cowboy's Bed available July 30th in ebook and print. More information on my website.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Books...and A Clean House

When I’m planning a trip, big or small, two things loom large in my mind: When do I clean my house? And what am I going to read?

These are seriously the two most important items as I prepare.

I have to time the cleaning so everything is bright and sparkly when I leave (so I can’t clean too early) but I also have to make sure I have enough time to clean everything. 

The week before a major trip usually sounds like this in my head...

“On Monday, I’ll pick up the living room. Tuesday, I’ll do all my laundry, Wednesday I’ll vacuum the house and Thursday, I’ll clean the bathroom and the kitchen.”

I love the feeling of coming home to a clean house...though with my normal state of untidiness, I sometimes feel like I’ve come home and my house as been robbed (what happened to all my clutter?!).

My second focus is what I’m going to take to read on my trip. I’m planning a two-week trip to Scotland here soon. I’ll be traveling with my iPad-mini to read and good old pen-and-paper if I feel the need to right. 

I'll be staying at a house with no wi-fi and I cannot, cannot, run out of things to read (it's happened and it's not pretty).  I need to load up my iPad with plenty of books. And yes, I’ll be carrying a paperback as well (take offs and landings) but still, I want to be prepared.

So, any recommendations for what I should take with me? I like steamy books but it’s not a necessity. Primarily romance (m/f or m/f/m or m/m/f or m/m) but I’m open to a good thriller now and then.  

Let me know what you think would make a great summer traveling read!


Sunday, June 30, 2013

BOC Beach BBQ 2013

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending the third annual Book Obsessed Chicks beach BBQ. It was held at Lido Beach on Long Island. After all the stormy weather we've been having in this area, it was a blessing the day was so beautiful. This event was created by a group of phenomenal readers and authors who love to get together and enjoy life and reading is a big part of it. Last year I met a wonderful woman named Carol. She bought one of my Cursed MacKinnon's series books then went home and bought the rest so she could read them from beginning to end. She made my day yesterday by telling me she loved the series and wanted to know where the rest of it was. Oh lordy, I wish I wrote faster. LOL.  It's readers like her that make me feel good about what I do. Readers are why every author writes. I used to say I did it to keep me sane, to let the voices out of my head. This is still true but I've learned so much more over the years. It's women like Carol who push me to continue creating imaginary worlds filled with Hot, Sexy Men and romance. A huge THANK YOU goes out to all the readers out there.
 Here's a picture of me and Kim who is the creator of Book Obsessed Chicks & runs the BBQ.
 You can't have a BBQ without Hot, Sexy men running the Grill. The guys were awesome cooks.
Here's a picture of my BFF C.H. Admirand and Jennifer. Colleen was the DD so I got to drink Sangria. Gotta love the BFF.  Did I ever tell ya'll she's the reason I'm published in the first place? LOVE, LOVE LOVE C.H. Admirand. It's through her I met Kim and the BOC gang.
Each year they also have a great big Tricky Tray kind of event where you buy tickets and pick which baskets you want to win and place your ticket in the bag next to the basket and hope your ticket is picked. It's so much fun. The money goes to a charity of BOC's choosing. These ladies are great at raising money for different causes. :)  I got lucky and won Bianca D'Arc's basket. Can't wait to read the books that were in it.
As ya'll can see, fun was had by all! Hoping to be invited back next year.
Tara Nina

Monday, June 24, 2013

It's Summer!

And the living is. . .busy! I'm hoping it will get even busier with more writing and less running. As a teacher, a mom of three busy girls, and an active volunteer, I run a lot during the school year. My calendar is packed all school year long so I get very little writing done.

Last summer I wrote SON OF A PREACHER MAN, which was released in May. My goal for this summer is to finish CAT SCRATCH FEVER and write another story that has been brewing in the back of my mind for a while. Whether or not that happens is anyone's guess, but I'm going to try my hardest.

Part of my problem is, I'm my own worst enemy. I do my best writing in the mornings, but that's also when I get the most work done around the house or in the garden. And then there's always the errands that need to be run or children who just HAVE to be taken somewhere, fed something, or need to talk. If I could learn to write at night when everything is done and the kids are asleep, I bet I could get a lot more written. It would probably suck, but I'd have a lot of words on a page!

I think we all have our "optimal" times for working, or at least when we're the most on the ball. What about you? What's your best time? Do you have a job where you work at your worst time? How do you manage it?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Aaaand relax...

This weekend I am learning the art of forced relaxation. I've joined my parents on their boat on the Lancaster canal. For those who have never been on a canal boat before they only go a maximum of four miles per hour which means it takes HOURS to get anywhere. You have no choice but to sit back and relax. To add to this, there is no TV, no internet and in fact very little electricity. So no charging your phone up every few hours either. It's been 24 hours and so far I'm a little twitchy but haven't lost my mind yet. Even though I discovered yesterday my new book released ahead of schedule. So promo has been...difficult.
On the positive side, I've had no choice but to relax. I'll be posting pics to facebook and twitter of our trip over the next few days so if you want to follow along you can. In the meantime, tell me whether this is your idea of heaven or hell. What do you do to relax?

P.S. Please buy my new book Unconventional Romance about two hot cover models behaving badly with each other in a hotel full of women. Available now from Ellora's Cave

Sunday, June 9, 2013



That’s the perfect word to describe me these past few days.

I can’t sit still. My hands are always looking for something to do. I wander around the house only to end up exactly where I started.

I have a dozen things that need doing and not one that I want to do. Usually I suck it up and just go do it because the chore ain’t goin’ anywhere.

But once in a while, I just get, well, restless.

Shopping sometimes helps. So does taking a ride around one of the lakes (There are eleven Finger Lakes. Can you name them? Bonus points for adding in the five Great Lakes. First one to list all fifteen (correctly) in the comments wins a free download of Remembered Love – a short story I’ll be re-releasing soon).

But what mostly helps when I get in this mood? Reading a good book. Read one yesterday and one today. Both romances, one new, one old. Have to admit, I liked the new one better, even though the old one was still pretty good.  The new one was Lorraine Heath’s Lord of Wicked Intentions. Yes, I’m a sucker for a good Regency. Wouldn’t ever write one, myself. I’d goof up some piece of etiquette and the Regency readers would hand me my head. Minus the platter. I’ll stick with reading them.

And the old one – Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I’d read it about ten years ago or so, but it was on my Nexus (free download from Kindle) and I was out of other reading material—and still restless. A good read and I love Anne Elliot. Too much of the story is told, however, not shown and I wanted to watch (and hear) dialogue, not be told about it.

So how about you? What do you do when you can’t seem to settle down and the chores are a chore to do? What settles your restlessness?

Play safe!


(edited to correct the number of Finger Lakes. Thanks, Virginia! Good catch.)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Series: Love Them or Hate Them?

I've written five series so far, plus a collection of books which takes place in my fictional town of Lanville, Texas. I have more series planned for the future, and more books that will take place in Lanville. I love revisiting my characters, letting my readers know what those characters are doing ever since they received a happy ending in their own books. A series lets me do that.

I enjoy reading series for the reason I mentioned above—so I can find out what some of my favorite characters are doing once their book reaches the end. I received so many wonderful emails and comments about my Men With Tools series from readers wanting more of my hunky Coleman triplets. I've incorporated Rye, Dax and Griff into the firefighter books I'm writing now for Kensington Aphrodisia. You'll find out more about them, plus other characters who live in Lanville, in my upcoming books.

How about you? Do you enjoy reading series, or would you rather the book and characters wrap up in one volume? I'd love your opinion.


Find out more about all my series by visiting the series page on my website:

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Sizzling Scribes and the SWEET SPOT SERIES

Today I had a different blog subject planned but immediately changed my idea once I sat down with the computer. Today I would like to give a shout out to my Scribes sistas! We are a group of seven who have been together for quite some times. I’ve written about these six fine ladies before, but I guess today I’m just really feeling the love again. LOL
I thank god for writing. It was creative genes and love of books that brought the Sizzling Scribes together, but after all these years it has become only one of the things that KEEPS us together. We’ve grown as a simple generic clutch of friends to something amazing. We’ve tested the waters of friendship and watched that rapport explode to an all-encompassing trust and respect for each other. At one time it was only books we spoke about, now it is daily emails and phone calls. We share emotions of the ups and downs of everyday living, the joy of the birth of grandchildren, the frightening dark days of cancer and the bright days of remission. We share a bond that is special because it involves seven unique personalities. Lynn, Diana, Tara, Ari, Tielle, Cait and myself. We’re sort of like the recent lottery, a 1 in 175 million chance that we could happen!  I’m thankful that we did. What can you say when you understand on a deep level your life is better because these six woman are a part of your daily existence?

Okay, now that I got that out of the way, let’s talk SERIES! If you haven’t had a chance to pick up the Sweet Spot Series you really need to do so. Just a quick catch up: the series was developed by the seven Sizzling Scribes and takes place in the imaginary town of Port Clef on the east coast. Each book is unique in genre and main characters, but you will revisit the secondary characters in every sexy hot self-published story! To read about each story you can visit our shared SIZZLING SCRIBE website!
My addition to the series is called SUNDAY LOVE. It’s my second gay romance, which I discovered I really enjoyed writing. Tony and Jake….ahhhhh, two hunks meant to be together. So hope you have a chance to read the books!

Have a great week and one more cyber hug to my sistas!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

Good Morning to everyone on this wonderful Mother's Day!
Some consider this to simply be a Hallmark holiday, another reason to spend money on a card.
But really and truthfully its not the card that matters. It's the time spent with each other. I love my
kids even though they are the reason I have gray hair and lose sleep some nights. All in all, they've
turned out to be decent semi-adults. Not sure how we managed to accomplish that feat but damn glad it
The only thing I'd like for Mother's day is time with my kids. Since they've shifted into this semi-adult stage, our schedules have kept us apart. I'm hoping to spend the day with my feet in the garden dirt, planting my veggies for the season with my kids helping. I plan to hold them to the fact they said they were cooking me dinner. Yippie! Gotta make sure that includes them cleaning up afterwards. LOL.
How are you hoping to send your Mother's Day? Leave me a comment, I'd love to hear how everyone plans to celebrate Motherhood.

As a little side note:
This past month I was at the Romantic Times Booklover's Convention in Kansas City. I'm sharing a few pictures here of  the fun I had while meeting some wonderful people.
EC's Cavemen 
 Jose & Ramrod Disco Down
I was lucky enough to be seated at the giant bookfair event between two awesome writers. Erin Nichols on the left and Brenda Novak on the right. Brenda Novak started the Diabetes auction event several years ago and has raised a ton of money. So let's continue the fight and go to the Brenda Novak Diabetes Auction site for a little bidding fun.

Wishing everyone a wonderful Mother's Day!
Tara Nina

Friday, May 3, 2013

Christmas in May?

Last summer, I wrote a book. My first full length novel since before my daughter got sick. She’s been in remission for two years, but it took me forever to get the writing mojo back. This particular story, SON OF A PREACHER MAN, was one that was in my head FOREVER. 

Or so I thought.

I started the story with a basic idea that sprung from listening to the Dusty Springfield version of the song. As I started picturing the story in my head (I see my stories like movies and then I madly scramble to write down what I “see”) it morphed and changed. Suddenly, my heroine was a gypsy. 

What? What did I know about gypsies?

Not much, so I researched and researched and researched until I felt like I could at least try to write a believable character without insulting anyone. (And I really did try, so if I screwed up, I apologize.) As the story moved along, characters who were going to be villains turned out to be nice, new characters sprang up, and people I was going to just mention briefly demanded bigger roles in the book. 

Who’s writing this thing anyway? I mean seriously, there were times I felt downright possessed. I wrote and wrote and wrote and when I wasn’t writing, I was thinking about it. The story consumed my life for all of last summer. 

Next week, it’s coming out from Samhain Publishing. I feel like a kid before Christmas. I’m counting down the days waiting for it to go live. I stalk review sites in a vain hope someone has an advance review for the book (no one has so far) and I stare at the cover art every day. 

Seriously, I feel like a girl with her first crush, wondering if the popular boy will like me as much as I like him. I loved writing the book, I loved the characters, even if they were a bit strong willed, and I LOVE my cover. I so hope people will read it and will love it too.

In the meantime, the countdown continues.  

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Cleaning - and Keeping

My parents are getting on in years and Mom’s thoughts have recently turned to cleaning out the house. She wants us kids to have certain things before the two of them pass on. One, she wants the joy of seeing us get the stuff we can use/like/want and two, they’re going to downsize soon and this will be less she has to pack/get rid of later.

The problem is, I’m at the same stage. I’ve been going through our own attic and consolidating and donating “stuff” for the past year. My husband and I have been married for thirty-two years (come this June) and we’ve managed to amass FAR too many possessions over the years.

Some of what I’ve kept is for my kids’ places, when they get them. When Steven and I first married, we decorated with a combination of Early Garage Sale and Parent’s Attic. It was great! Mismatched table lamps, a gaudy couch that didn’t match anything, a kitchen table that had seen several generations of newlyweds – they all found a home with us. When our kids leave us, many of those same items will move on a generation further.

Which is why I came home from my parents’ cleaning with a trunk full. Some 1000-piece puzzles we’ll make and pass on, a table that my mom remembers being her mother’s, more than one bottle of liquor (unopened and old...but then, whiskey never goes bad, right?)...all things we’ll use or use up and a few things we’ll pass on to our kids when they leave.

Because, no matter how old we get, sentiment gets us – and more stuff comes into the house.


Play safe!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Springtime in Texas

Springtime in Texas means the bluebonnets are in bloom. They start blooming in early April and only last about six weeks, darn it. I would love for them to last longer.

Bluebonnets aren't the only wildflowers we enjoy in our beautiful state. There are also pink primroses.

And Indian Paintbrush. Their orange color is so striking against the green grass.

Plus these cute little yellow daisy-looking wildflowers. I'm not sure of their name, but I don't need to know the name to enjoy them.

And many more. If you want to see something truly beautiful, visit Texas in the springtime. You'll love our wildflowers as much as we do.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Collective Nouns!

For years I’ve had this strange fascination with collective nouns. Now, I didn’t realize they were called “collective nouns” until recently but that’s beside the point. A collective noun is a group of things, like a flock of seagulls (the birds not the band), a herd of caribou and (because I went to a Catholic university) a gaggle of Nuns. 

Here are some of my favorites.

An Unkindness or Conspiracy of Ravens (Appropriate because truly I think ravens are the thugs of the bird world.  Tell the truth...don’t they look like little mafia hit men?)
A Murder of Crows (And what do you call two crows? Attempted murder!)
A Prickle of Porcupines
A Parliament of Owls
A Charm of Finches (several bird groups are called “charms” which I think is just adorable)
A Cowardice of Curs (another brilliant collective noun!)
An Ostentation of Peacocks
A Murmuration of Starlings
A Dazzle of Zebras
A Blessing of Unicorns
An Ascension of Skylarks
A Clowder of Cats (I used this in Jackson’s Rise. Reign is a cat shapeshifter and when all the cats get together—basically for an orgy—they call it a Clowder)

There are many lists available on the Internet.  Below is a link to one that I found particularly enjoyable!                                           
Have fun,

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

For the love of Dad, 28 hours round trip in a car.

Over the past few months, my Dad's health has been an issue. He was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure (CHF). At the time, he considered it a death sentence, which in many cases it is, if the patient gives up and has no drive to get better. At my current age, he had a quadruple bypass and really never did much to increase his health. He is now a diabetic as well. Being in the health care profession, I've come to notice many who have anything done to their heart end up with diabetes as an after effect.
This past weekend, my daughter, Casey and I drove down to Georgia to spend a couple of days with him. It took 14 hours, we were dead tired and a bit giddy by the time we got there, but it was worth the trip to see him.
We hugged, talked, caught up, shot the shit, played cards, and scrabble. In essence we made a few new memories. The weather was crappy so we were stuck inside for most of our visit. I even nagged him about his weight, his eating habits and the amount of dust on his exercise bicycle. Not to mention, I wasn't at all happy he's smoking again. UGH! I told him I'd rather see him drink a glass of red wine everyday than smoke a pack of cigarettes every 2 days.
Parent's just don't listen. LOL! I'm planning another trip to see him in September for his 70th birthday. He said he hopes he makes it till then. I told him I hope to not see a cigarette anywhere in his house and that includes his wife, Karen. Hopefully, they quit. If she actually stopped with him, I think he'd stand a chance at succeeding. I have no intention of not continuing to gently push him toward a healthier way of life without pissing him off at me. I'm not ready to be parent-less.
Just spending time with him made me realize how much I'd miss him if he were no longer here. He's my only living parent. I lost my Mom five years ago to Liver and Pancreatic cancer. The only vice she had were cigarettes. She died at 64.
The two of their health issues are the reason I try to change my future with exercise, eating healthier (I do as best as I can with this), and I don't smoke. My only addiction is Ice Cream and I'm really trying to avoid it. I was in Jazzercise this morning and plan to be there every morning as long as I don't have work. Sometimes the paths our parent's take are not the paths we as their children choose to follow.
Life is all about choices. Choose to be healthy. It may not guarantee a long life but at least you stand a better chance of feeling fantastic each day you do live.
My dad looked a lot better than I expected when I arrived and I'm hoping he only gets healthier every day. I plan to celebrate his 70th in style whether he likes it or not. LOL!
                                             My Daughter (Casey), my Dad and Me

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Human Condition

Recently, I was watching an independent film that was written by, performed by, and produced/directed by Inuits. The movie was in the Inuit language with English subtitles. (The English title is The Fast Runner, if you are interested.)

Now, I am not a movie person, and I'm especially not an independent film person, but this movie fascinated me. The storyline was based on an Inuit legend from the turn of the last millennium. What hooked me though was the love story at the core of it.

There were many other layers to the movie that touched me or made me think, but I realized, whether it is native peoples from the Arctic Circle, pioneers from the Western Expansion, business men from New York City, or space rangers from Planet X in the year 3000, the search for love is an intrinsic aspect of the human condition. As a species, we all want to love and be loved.

There are times when I feel slightly uncomfortable telling people about my writing. I've had people say, "You seem so smart, why are your wasting yourself writing romance?" or "Are you going to continue writing romance or move onto something more challenging?" as if writing romance was something I did in my sleep without any effort whatsoever. I think SOME people look down on romance novels as "less than" literature.

To them I say, you can kiss my left cheek.

Romance and the search for love is what ALL literature is about, in some aspect or another. Let's face it, unless you are writing about robots, people (and animals) have feelings and emotions and literature is an expression of emotion. (And hey, even the robots in "WallE" fell in love!) There is no plot without conflict, and I'd say a good majority of conflicts involve people with emotions.

So the next time someone asks me what I'm reading (or writing) I'm going to say I'm exploring the human condition.

And the sex isn't bad either.