Friday, September 28, 2007

Artist: Rodin

My story, A MAN OF VISION, came out on September 23, in the Ellora's Cavemen Seasons of Seduction, Volume III. Here's a little blurb about it:

For Cristoforo, sculpting marble is his life, but the price of creation is a libido that rides him like a demon. When he discovers his sculpting days are numbered, he hires a mistress to satisfy him night and day.

Modern-day courtesan Delphine arrives at his villa prepared for the rigors of being on call 24/7. What she isn’t prepared for, however, is the intensity of her body’s response to Cristoforo. When she learns what is driving him so ruthlessly, she wonders if she can protect her heart…or if it’s already too late.

In the spirit of that, I'm featuring some sculpture. This is work by Rodin, the man who is most famous for his "Thinker" sculpture. You know the one. It's a guy sitting with his forehead resting on his fist. This piece, "The Kiss," is much more beautiful and moving. The passion is so immediate. I can see the man holding back, but feel that at any moment, he's going to let go and grab her. I love this piece and I really wish I could walk around it to see the back.

Does this sculpture make you yearn for a kiss?

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thursday 3: Tre Libri (Three Books)

I love Italian things. Food. The language. The men. *kisses her fingertips* So today I'm sharing three excellent books that take place in Italy.

I Mona Lisa
by Jeanne Kalogridis

This book was wonderful. Kalogridis creates a story to explain who Mona Lisa was, luring you in from the very first paragraph. She brings the intrigue and gritty realism of Renaissance Italy to life and I got lost and didn't want to be found. I highly recommend this book.

In the Company of the Courtesan
by Sarah Dunant

This book was also set in Renaissance Italy and tells the story of a woman who flees Rome when it's attacked with little but a belly full of swallowed jewels and her faithful dwarf companion. I love courtesan stories, which is part of why I wrote A Man of Vision. In the Company of the Courtesan is a great one.

Eat Pray Love
by Elizabeth Gilbert
I laughed out loud so many times while reading this book. Only a third of it is actually set in Italy (Rome to be exact,) and it was my favorite part. Gilbert does such a wonderful job of immersing you in the culture. I felt like I had visited the country myself. I adored getting a glimpse of how Italians view life.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

MAN OF VISION: Photo Gallery

This week on my blog it's all about my new release, A Man of Vision in Ellora's Cavemen Seasons of Seduction Volume III. This is my first book in print ever!

I rarely find photos that embody the characters I create, but even if he seems a tad young, this man simply IS Cristoforo, the hero of my new release. Here's a short description of him directly from the book:

He had highly defined arms and shoulders—a result, no doubt, of his profession—and his hands possessed an arcane power and beauty. She also noted with pleasure that, unlike her last patron, his taut abdomen held little fat. No, Valtieri was very handsome, but looks alone didn’t explain her attraction to him.

Then, naked, he sat on the edge of the bed and caught her gaze. That did it. It was his eyes. His deep-set, dark brown eyes seemed to capture hers, making it impossible to look away until he allowed it. With them he communicated his need so fully that her body thrummed with a primitive insistence. Longing pulsed within her, moistening her sex. As his thumb scraped her cheek, she shuddered, wondering how he kissed. But then he curled his hand around the back of her neck and she didn’t have to wonder anymore.

Here is a photo of the famous Duomo in Florence, Italy. My story actually takes place outside of Florence, but Delphine, the heroine, can see the city from her balcony. Someday I'm going there again. Italy was my favorite country when I did a student tour of the continent back in '85. We saw 14 countries in 4 weeks.

Because the word length was so short, I wasn't able to include the last chapter of my story in the actual book, so I have posted it on an Epilogue Blog called Visiting the Valtieris. Of course, I highly recommend you read A Man of Vision first, so when the epilogue will make sense to you. Regardless, here's a picture of the Coco Chanel Suite at the Ritz Hotel in Paris. Before she made her mark in fashion, Coco Chanel was a mistress, like Delphine. Neato, huh!


Tuesday, September 25, 2007


My first print book is out!! It's an anthology called Ellora's Cavemen Seasons of Seduction, Volume III. My story, A Man of Vision, appears in it along with stories from six other very talented authors. So, this week is dedicated to my newest release. Here is an excerpt. I hope you enjoy!

“If I may be frank,” Alessandro Rossi said after lighting his cigarette. “Signore Valtieri requires sexual release. Often.”

American expatriate Delphine Alexander sipped her wine. “If you’re trying to shock me,” she said, “it’s not working.”

The two of them sat at a café on the Rue de Vaugirard, pleasantly removed from the busy Champs Elysées. The late afternoon sun graced the street with golden light. Delphine had just finished a six-month stint with a Parisian stockbroker who decided that he could no longer keep a mistress now that he was getting married.

How ridiculously un-French of him.

As a result, she discreetly put out the word that she was without a patron. The very next day, Rossi had called with a lucrative proposition from the world-renowned sculptor, Cristoforo Valtieri of Florence, and she immediately scheduled a meeting. She adored Florence. Nestled in Tuscany with its russet rooftops and historic soul, the city called to her like a lover. She could learn a new language, add some Italian pieces to her couture wardrobe and earn a hefty fee if what Rossi said on the phone was to be believed.

“You are a true professional, Signorina Alexander,” Rossi said, exhaling smoke. “I expected nothing less.”

“Then let’s talk terms, Mr. Rossi. You mentioned that Valtieri iswilling to offer money above my usual fee. How much more, and why? Did you send him a copy of my standard contract?”

“Yes, Signore Valtieri agrees to your terms. He was actually shocked at some of the items on your taboo list. He wants only the basic services and has already undergone the tests you require.” Rossi pulled out papers that guaranteed Valtieri was free from sexually transmitted disease and laid them on the table. “The reason he offers so much extra is that he wants you on call twenty-four hours a day.”

“What?” Looking up sharply from the medical forms, she couldn’t mask her surprise. “That’s unheard of.”

“He was adamant. He requires you to live in the villa. You’ll have your own rooms, but he needs you to be available at a moment’s notice. As I said before, his needs are great.”

Delphine reached for her wine and took a controlled sip, even though she wanted a gulp. “That’s impossible. That’s slavery. I need time to myself.”

“He understands that, of course, but he works extremely odd hours and wishes for you to accommodate that. You would start with three months. Then, if both of you desire it, he is willing to extend the contract.”

“And the compensation?”

“Thirty thousand a month.”

Delphine only just stopped her jaw from dropping open. She’d spent countless hours in the bars of upscale restaurants studying the wealthy patrons and observing how they interacted with one another. She’d scrutinized femmes fatale in old movies with an attention to detail that had so far stood her in good stead. As a result, she now had a sizable nest egg in the bank, and because of the advice of a top-notchfinancial advisor, planned to retire before she was forty—still young enough to pursue whatever caught her fancy, whether it be life on a yacht in Cannes or in a quiet house in Nantucket. How many women could boast such an array of choices? Not many.

“Euros or dollars?” she asked Rossi.


To cover the fact that her hand was shaking, she swirled the wine in her glass. Thirty thousand a month would buy a lot of Versace.

“Twenty-four/seven availability is an outrageous demand. I’ve never committed to anything that even comes near that.”

Rossi inclined his head in agreement. “Si, but thirty thousand Euros is more than fair, signorina.”

Delphine took a deep breath. “I need a day of rest every week. One complete day with no demands.”

“I will have to speak to him about that.”

“I also want the first month’s pay in advance. And the trial period is to be reduced. Three months is too long. I’ll try it for one.”

“This I will also confirm with him, but I believe he will be amenable.”

“One more thing then, and we have a deal.”

Though her heart pounded with anxiety over what she was about to do, Delphine flipped her customary braid over her shoulder and regarded Rossi with a cool expression.

“Tell Signore Valtieri that I won’t accept a penny less than thirty-five a month.”

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Story: Lovely Coiffures

What follows is an analysis of a Woman's World story with suggestions/observations for people who want to sell stories to WW, peppered with some personal opinion, too. :)

Story: "Lovely Coiffures" by Lynn Olcott from the September 11, 2007 issue.

Tagline: The salon was filled with romantic memories--and memories yet to be made...

In a nutshell: Before a wedding party comes in to get their hair styled, a stylist reminisces about how her best friend, Joanne, hemmed and hawed when her boyfriend proposed. He tried to convince her by sending her a rose everyday, but she never said yes. Flash forward back to the present and we find out Joanne is the mother of today's bride. AND she ended up marrying the shy guy who delivered the single roses way back when.

Lynn Olcott is a regular contributor to WW. I have to admire her courage in submitting such a different story. Almost the entire thing is narrated by a third party, but it works. I found it refreshing. Also, because it was so different, I wasn't really sure where it was going. I actually expected Joanne to finally say yes, but when the guy married someone else, I was thrown for a loop.

Before I could analyze what had happened, Olcott brought me back to the present, which distracted me from figuring out the Happily Ever After, which I definitely would have done, given a little time. There was only one other guy mentioned in the story, so it had to be him, yet Olcott skillfully manuvered me away from that line of thinking. Clever woman! As a result, the "surprise' ending hits me just right.

Teaching Point: Olcott starts out in present tense. I'm not a big fan of present tense, but it appears regularly in WW stories. When the narrator starts telling the story from the past, of course, she changes to past tense. Then here--"How time flies, I think to myself, as I wipe the counters..."--she snaps back to present tense. For this story, it makes sense to change tenses, but normally you should stick to one tense throughout.

Best Part: He's still shy. Oh, this is where my heart beat extra hard.

In My Humble Opinion: The paragraph describing the bride as a modern young woman wasn't necessary, if you ask me. It didn't really add much.

Grade: A


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Ellora's Cavemen Seasons of Seduction, Volume III: A Man of Vision

A Man of Vision
IBSN #9781419912429

For Cristoforo Valtieri, sculpting marble is his life, but the price of creation is a libido that rides him like a demon. When he discovers his days as a sculptor are numbered, he hires a mistress available to satisfy him night and day.

As a modern-day courtesan, Delphine Alexander arrives at Valtieri's villa prepared for the rigors of being on call 24/7, especially since she negotiated an exorbitant amount of Euros in exchange for her services. What she isn't prepared for, however, is the intensity of her body's response to Cristoforo, and when she learns what it is driving him so ruthlessly, she wonders if she can protect her heart or if it's already too late.

Buy It

5 Angels and a Recommended Read
Six hot stories that will turn up the heat. In all honesty, I have to say that I wanted each and every one of the stories to go on and on. I've often heard that artists are very sexual people. Cristoforo in Kate Willoughby's A Man of Vision laid to rest any doubts with regard to an artist's drive. Did I say laid and drive in the same sentence? Maybe there is a reason why people like to visit art museums. I'll have to check it out.

5 Blue Ribbons
I was...captivated by the characters.
--Chrissy Dionne, Romance Junkies Publishing Editor

5 Hearts from Love Romances and More

A Man of Vision by Kate Willoughby caught me by surprise with the depth of characters and emotions.... This was a great story and I enjoyed it very much.
--Susan from NightOwl Romance

Ms. Willoughby...takes the Pretty Woman theme to whole different level.
--Nicole Austin, author of Passionate Realities


Friday, September 21, 2007

Artist: Laura Wasilowski

Welcome to another Art Friday! Today I'm showing off a beautiful quilt by Laura Wasilowski. I am doubly amazed by quilt artists, because not only are they creating beautiful images, but they do it with FABRIC! I've always wanted to learn how to quilt. I actually tried a couple of times, but ended up with projects begun and never finished. I'd need a room, for sure, to do it in and that won't happen for a few years. Perhaps someday.

Anyway, this quilt is called Pear Trio (44" x 44"), and it's selling for $4000. I believe her fabrics are hand-dyed. I'm actually reminded of Eric Carle's work. If you have kids, you know this guy. He wrote and illustrated The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Her three pears make me think of middle aged women sitting comfortably together, shooting the breeze. To see more of Wasilowski's work, go to her website.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Thursday 3: Kooky Celebrations

I love a good holiday. This week I am highlighting three strange ones in the month of September. Unfortunately, none of them are the paid kind.

1. National Punctuation Day - (September 24) - As a writer, I hold punctuation in the highest regard. Apparently, so does Jeff Rubin, the founder of National Punctuation Day. He offers these suggestions for celebration:

Sleep late.
Take a long shower or bath.
Go out for coffee and a bagel (or two).
Read a newspaper and circle all of the punctuation errors you find (or think you find but aren’t sure) with a red pen.
Take a leisurely stroll, paying close attention to store signs with incorrectly punctuated words.
Stop in those stores to correct the owners.
If the owners are not there, leave notes.
Visit a bookstore and purchase a copy of Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style.
Look up all the words you circled.
Congratulate yourself on becoming a better written communicator.
Go home.
Sit down.
Write an error-free letter to a friend.
Take a nap. It has been a long day.

What I find really hilarious is that he has a recipe for cooking the Official Meatloaf of National Punctuation Day!

2. National Talk Like a Pirate Day - (September 19) Sure, pirates were the scum of the earth, no matter how sexy and tender-hearted they've been portrayed by Disney. However, a couple of guys decided to dedicate one day a year to talking like them. Here are a couple of pirate pick-up lines I found amusing.

"Pardon me, but would ya mind if fired me cannon through your porthole?"


"Prepare to be boarded." LMAO.

3. Salami Day - (September 7) This odd observance was started by the Salami Appreciation Society. Although I love salami, I probably wouldn't actively celebrate the day. However, if you are so inclined, here are some suggestions the SAS suggests:

Pin the tail on the Salami
Bobbing for Salami (even more delightful when floating in a tub of hot butter, watch out for your arteries, though!)
Salami Day costume contest
Salami party hats
A knitting/crocheting party, to make doilies and coverlets for your salami
Salami sculpture contest
Salami trivia games
Play 'Name that Salami!' by having a blindfolded taste test

Personally, I think a good game of Hide the Salami is always fun. LOL

If you were to invent your own holiday, what would it be? How about Buy Your Wife Jewelry Day? Sounds good to me. It probably already exists and was sponsored by Tiffany.


"He's Dead, Jim."

I'm embracing my inner Trek nerd. Laughed my head off when I saw this shirt. Didn't they EVER wipe out the gold shirt guys?


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dirty Man, Mike Rowe

There's just something about this guy that I dig. Have you seen his show, "Dirty Jobs?" Mike goes around America in search of disgusting jobs that other people do everyday. He's really funny, not to mention sexy.

On an episode I was watching yesterday, they showed him in the bathtub, and I was wishing for a bib to catch my drool. I saw some woman had made fun of his "fur" and suggested he get a wax job. To that, I say "FOOLISH WOMAN!" What I wouldn't give to slide my fingers through that manly chest hair.

Mike, if you're reading this, I'd be happy to help you wash the gunk off you when you've finished your dirty job du jour. Seriously! You don't even have to pay me. I would gladly provide this service for you gratis.

Anybody else have the hots for Mike?


Thursday 3: Don't Name Your Baby This

Pleasure to meet you, I'm Queen Biggie Mack Cubis, but you can call me Tigerlilly Grubb.

I love name generators. Here are three places you can get a different name if you don't like the one you were given.

1. Get your Hip Hop Name.

2. Find out what you'd be called if you were a Hobbit.

3. Find an acronym for your name. Mine came out to be Kilo-Access Text Engine.

Do you have a favorite generated name? Or maybe a name-generator site I should visit?

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Story: Something Old, Something New

What follows is an analysis of a Woman's World story with suggestions/observations for people who want to sell stories to WW, peppered with some personal opinion, too. :)

Story: "Something Old, Something New" by Krista Weidner from the September 4, 2007 issue.

Tagline: When Amy met Jesse, she knew she was ready to move on...

In a nutshell: Amy is divorced. When she and her friend go antique shopping, she buys an old church pew. The antique shop owner's son delivers it.

Talking Point 1: As I like to point out in my Woman's World online class, even though WW is an upbeat, positive magazine, there is so much death and divorce in their romantic fiction! This story has both.

Talking Point 2: The friend, Jill, is there to establish Jill's divorced state and provide a bit of "suspense" when they both want to buy the church pew. You'd expect Jill to act as matchmaker, but she doesn't. The hero, Jesse, doesn't even make an appearance in the story until halfway through the story, which is fine.

Best Part: It was really nice to have something in that empty space. This (last) line refers to the space in her house that she was trying to find furniture for, and, of course, poignantly, the empty space in her life/heart. Nice.

In My Humble Opinion: I'm not sure about all the J names--Jill, Jesse, Jim (Jill's hubby)

Grade: B-


Sunday, September 16, 2007

ALL IN: Contest Winner and Trivia Answers

Ah..the week has come to a close. As promised, here are the answers to the poker trivia quiz.

1. A - Rabbit Hunt – To ask the dealer to deal cards after the hand is over and the main pot has been won already.
2. B – Blistering - Marking cards with an intention to cheat.
3. B – Nuts - A cinch hand, or the best possible hand at any point in the game.
4. B - Draw Dead - To draw to a hand that cannot win.
5. A – Fast - An aggressive style of play.
6. A – Limp In - To enter the pot by calling rather than raising.
7. C - Live One - An inexperienced, bad or loose player who apparently has plenty of money to lose.

And, the winner of the millefiori necklace is Jennifer Lewis! Congratulations, Jennifer! Email me your home address and I'll mail you your prize!

I hope you all had fun during ALL IN Week. I think you'd have more fun reading the book itself, though. Hint hint! Tomorrow I go back to my regular blogging, but after that A MAN OF VISION, my story in the Ellora's Caveman Seasons of Seduction Volume III, comes out on Sunday, September 23, so it will be another week of celebration.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Artist: Cassius Marcellus Coolidge (1844-1934)

Last Friday I displayed an icon of art, Edward Hopper's Nighthawks. This week, in honor of the release of ALL IN, a story in which the hero is a professional gambler, I'm sharing with you another beloved American image, dogs playing poker.

C.M. Coolidge painted a series of pictures of dogs playing poker to advertise cigars. He is also credited with inventing those photo ops in which you paint a figure on the front of a piece of plywood and cut out a hole where the face is supposed to be. I have many a photograph in my album with family members posing as mermaids, drunken men/women in Shakespearean garb, train conductors, hula dancers, etc.
However, this is probably his most famous painting: A Friend in Need. There are, I believe eight other pieces of the dogs playing poker. But...

...those dogs didn't just play poker! They also went to baseball games. This is called One to Tie, Two to Win.

Lastly, this is New Year's Eve in Dogsville, which I love! Dig those flapper bitches!

Have a great weekend. As usual, I'll have more art next Friday. (Yes, I know, today is Saturday.) Come back tomorrow to find out who won the contest. If you haven't entered, there's still time! Click here for details!


Friday, September 14, 2007

ALL IN Sex Stats


The first novella in the Be-Wished series is coming out today from Ellora's Cave! You can now buy it, and read it, and hopefully love it.

And don't forget about the contest! You have until Saturday to enter because I announce the winner on Sunday.

When three close friends made margarita-fueled wishes on magical woven bracelets, none of them ever dreamed that their sexy wishes might come true.

But then a real-life fairy appears with United Wish Federation credentials and a ludicrous claim that Mariah’s wish is her command. And before Mariah can say bippity-boppity-boo, old flame Tucker arrives in town…and in Mariah’s bed.

Life on the road is a lonely one, but when Tucker bumps into Mariah again, all that changes. Sparks immediately fly and it’s all he can do to keep his hands off her. As things deepen between them, he swears he'll be damned before he passes on a second chance to reconnect with a woman he never forgot.

But wishes aren’t always simple and Happily Ever After is never guaranteed. It will be up to Mariah to go all in and make her wish last a lifetime…or lose Tucker forever.

Just for fun I always like to calculate a few sex stats on my stories. Here's how this tale's numbers came in:

Number of sex scenes: 6
Shortest scene: 213 words
Longest scene: 3115 words
Sex percentage: 34%

Yeah, I write sexy, all right. Luckily, my publisher, Ellora's Cave, likes that.

Now, go buy the book. :D


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thursday 3: ALL IN Rejects

ALL IN is coming out tomorrow!! Today I'm doing my usual Thursday 3 and sharing three titles that the story almost had.

1. Mariah's Wish - I have never had a title with a character's name in it, and I thought it might be a nice change of pace, but this title did not grab me at all, so I decided it probably wouldn't grab a reader either.

2. In the Cards - I sort of liked this because of the double meaning. Tucker is a professional poker player, so "cards" in the title was appropriate, and of course, there was the question of whether or not their romance was "in the cards."

3. Finally, trying to brainstorm phrases about wishes, I thought of "a wish and a prayer," which led my brain to A Wish and a Player. But that pun was just too hideous.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

ALL IN Poker Trivia

Two more days until ALL IN is released!

The hero of the story, I.C. Tucker, is a professional poker player, so today I'm offering a Poker Trivia Quiz. The answers will appear on Sunday's blog post when I announce the winner of the millefiori necklace (see Tuesday's post.)

See if you can identify the correct definitions of these poker terms.

1. Rabbit Hunt
a) Hoping for a high card to complete your straight, because rabbits reproduce so quickly.
b) When players gang up on the person they perceive to be the weakest player.
c) Asking the dealer to deal cards after the hand is over and the main pot is won already.

2. Blistering
a) Getting angry at the table.
b) Marking cards with an intention to cheat.
c) Staring down an opponent.

3. Nuts
a) Any snack served during play
b) A cinch hand
c) Your chips

4. Draw Dead
a) To draw five cards that are worthless.
b) Draw to a hand that cannot win.
c) To draw more than three cards at once.

5. Fast
a) An aggressive style of play
b) Winning several hands in a row
c) Betting quickly without much thought

6. Limp In
a) To enter the pot by calling rather than raising.
b) To be the last one to the table.
c) To have a short stack of chips from which to bet.

7. Live One
a) A game in which all the players have promising hands
b) A tournament with extremely high stakes
c) An inexperienced, bad or loose player who apparently has plenty of money to lose.

Answers will be given on Sunday's post. Have fun!

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Monday, September 10, 2007

ALL IN Excerpt & Contest

Three days and counting until the release of my Ellora's Cave novella, ALL IN ! To celebrate, I'm holding a contest this week.

In the story, when Mariah and Tucker are shopping in a Venetian glass store in Las Vegas, she admires a millefiori necklace. Millefiori means "a thousand flowers" in Italian.

According to

To create a [millefiori] pendant, a glass rod is covered with layers of different colored glass to create an intricate design and heated in the furnace so the layers fuse together. The rod is then re-heated and pulled to become very thin but still maintain the perfect cross section of the original design. Once the rod cools off, it is cut into small discs.

These tiny sections of various canes or "millefiori" are cut and patiently and artistically placed into metal rings of different shapes and sizes. These pieces are then reheated again to slightly fuse the canes together to form the pendant. The rough pendant is then ground and polished to make it look like a magnificent glass mosaic.

This is the necklace you can win. The chain is sterling silver and the pendant is glass, of course. To enter the contest, read the excerpt (adult content) below and answer the two questions that follow it. I'll announce the winner of the contest on Sunday, Sept. 16 here on the blog.

Mariah knew Tucker was going to kiss her, wanted him to kiss her, and when he did, she responded as if she’d been in hibernation. Part of her thought, you’re being a sleaze, but most of her didn’t care. The Wish Fairy had come through and Mariah wasn’t going to squander this once-in-a-lifetime chance to fulfill a fantasy she’d been fostering for six long years. Hell no. She slid her arms around his hard body and kissed him back.

His mouth moved over hers and he made a low sound of enjoyment that seemed to reverberate inside her. As he threaded his fingers through her hair, cradling her head, she moaned too. Sensations swept through her. Tucker was here in the flesh, pushing his tongue into her mouth, crowding her against the wall. She wasn’t imagining the spicy smell of his cologne or his strong arms—

Ping .

They both stepped hurriedly apart as the elevator doors opened and a family of four entered. Mariah touched her lips as if she could brush away the evidence, but the parents and kids paid no attention to them. The doors closed again. Tucker coughed and looked at her questioningly, his finger pointing first to the lit lobby button and then to the one reading thirty-five. Mariah bit her lip. The moment of truth.

Digging up her nerve, she pushed the button for his floor and earned herself a slow smile that sent shivers of anticipation through her body. He sidled up next to her as the elevator descended, and when it spilled the family out into the noisy lobby, more people got on. He draped an arm around her shoulders and traced his finger back and forth across her collarbone. It was an excruciating exercise in patience to wait as people got on and off the elevator. She had to work hard to keep her breathing even.

At last they arrived at his floor. He took her hand and led her into another private hallway. As he inserted his card key into the slot, Mariah gasped.

What’s wrong?” he asked, alarmed.

“What time is it?”

He glanced at his watch. “It’s almost nine. Why?” he asked, a slight frown wrinkling his forehead. “Do you have another appointment you forgot about? Do you turn into a pumpkin?”

She laughed. Little did he know.

“Yes. Three hours from now I’ll be fleeing your room with one naked foot.”

He chuckled, but that frown remained as he paused. The light on the door lock turned from green to red again.

“You know,” he said, looking pensive, “if you’ve changed your mind and you want to grab that bite after all, that’s okay. I swear I don’t know what came over me in the elevator. I don’t usually come on so strong.”

It’s the wish in action, Mariah thought. The wish that expires at nine p.m. two days from now.

“Oh no,” she assured him. “I haven’t changed my mind.”

Tucker relaxed and with a smile and half-closed eyes, he cupped a hand around the back of her neck and claimed her mouth again. Heat flared as if they hadn’t been interrupted at all. When his tongue sought entrance, sliding along her lips, she parted them eagerly. Pleasure flowed through her veins like chocolate lava and her body throbbed, aching to be filled with Tucker’s hard cock.

Murmuring softly to her, he kissed her again and again, dipping his tongue each time to taste her more and more deeply. The hand on her waist slid up until his thumb brushed the side of her breast. Oh God. Mariah involuntarily tightened her arms around him as lust surged between her legs. They stood locked together a while longer until Tucker finally broke away, breathing rapidly and with a slight smile slanting his lips.

He pushed his key into the lock and opened the door. Then, taking her hand, he led her inside.

Questions: If a Universal Wish Fairy came to grant you a wish, what would you wish for? And have you ever had a similar experience in an elevator? Post your answers in the comment section and you'll be entered to win the millefiori necklace!

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Story: New Friends

What follows is an analysis of a Woman's World story with suggestions/observations for people who want to sell stories to WW, peppered with some personal opinion, too. :)

Story: "New Friends" by Valerie Holladay from the August 28, 2007 issue.

Tagline: Mila realized she was finally ready to open her home and her heart.

In a nutshell: Mila was widowed two years ago. When co-workers ask her to go to dinner with them, even though the new guy, Jonathan, is going, she declines. On the way home from work she rescues an abandoned kitten. Turns out the vet she goes to the next day is the father of Jonathan The New Guy.

Teaching Moments: This is the latest in a Woman's World trend I've noticed lately. Used to be that the story would end with the hero or heroine asking the other out on a date. Recently, they don't even get that far. I think I need to call them HOPEFULLY ever afters instead of Happily Ever Afters!

Although this story was solid, I didn't find myself too invested in the characters. I felt more emotion for the kitten than I did for the people. When you write about someone who's lost a spouse, you run the risk of them seeming too forlorn, which is what happened in this case, at least for me. But again, I'm only one person and obviously Jimmy Meiss and Johnene Granger of WW liked this story.

Woman's World Stand-bys: A kitten, well-meaning co-workers, a coincidence.

Best Part: I had to admire Mila's adoption of the kitten, despite the fact that she's not a cat person. :)

In My Humble Opinion: Adverbs have their place, but Holladay could probably have substitued one of these for a stronger verb: "The kitten lapped it up eagerly, and Mila felt a warmth within. Then she put down a bit of canned tuna and the kitten ate hungrily."

Grade: B-


Friday, September 07, 2007

Artist: Edward Hopper

Ed's Nighthawks (1942) is an icon of American culture. People say the customers look isolated, and maybe they are from the rest of the city, but the man and woman are sitting next to each other. I just like the very forties feel of it. LOVE fedoras.

Because Nighthawks is so familiar, many have parodied or put their own spin on it. Here are a few examples. Of course, as a barista for Starbucks, I laughed at this one.

This is Window Shopping (1989) by Michael Bedard, who's really into ducks.

Ah, Homer's buttcrack. Edward would be so proud.

I can't recall where I got this one, or who did it. I apologize to the artist, whoever he/she is.

This, Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Gottfried Helnwein, is perhaps the most popular take-off. It features Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, and Humphrey Bogart.

I never really looked at the rest of Hopper's work until now, but it's really beautiful. I'll probably blog about him again on a future Friday Art. Here's a great slide show of his stuff.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Thursday 3: Against My Will

I watched Two for the Money last week. I really shouldn't have enjoyed it, but I did. It was about football. I detest football. It was about betting. I don't gamble. And yet, it starred Matthew McConaughhey. 'Nuff said. I like it when a movie or book shows me an insider's look into a world I didn't know existed. In this case, it was the world of sports betting.

Another movie I didn't expect to like was Something About Mary. I thought for sure it was a "dick flick," full of raunchy, low-brow, bodily function humor, but I ended up laughing my ass off. I'm not sure if that says I'm low-brow or that I merely prejudged the movie based on what other people had said about it.

And because this is my Thursday 3 entry, I had to come up with a third movie I thought I wouldn't like--Chicago. When I first heard about this, I thought, come on, Richard Gere singing and dancing? Puh-lease. This is Zach Mayo from An Officer and a Gentleman! But I really loved this movie. The jailhouse number was fantastic and my admiration for Catherine Zeta-Jones' talent went way up. That woman can act and sing and dance very well.

So, what's a film you were sure you would dislike but ended up liking?


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Quote: Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Love is not looking in each other's eyes, but looking together in the same direction.

-Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Recipe: Gingersnap-Pear Cheesecake

It's been a while since I posted a recipe. Here's one that sounds fantastic, especially considering it's pear season. I know because I have a huge pear tree. (See last week's Thursday 3 entry.)

Gingersnap-Pear Cheesecake

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups crushed gingersnaps (about 40 cookies)
2 small ripe pears (any kind), peeled, cored, and sliced 1/8 inch thick
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature

Heat oven to 350° F.

In a medium bowl, combine the butter and crushed gingersnaps. Press the mixture into a 9-inch springform pan, working the crumbs over the bottom and then up the sides. Bake for 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, toss the pears and ginger. Line the cooled crust with the pears, overlapping the slices slightly.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium, beat the cream cheese for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of the sugar and beat for 2 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix until combined. Stir in 2 teaspoons of the vanilla. Pour the mixture over the pears. Bake until the top is barely set but still slightly wobbly, about 50 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack but leave oven on.

In a small bowl, combine the sour cream and the remaining sugar and vanilla. Pour over the cheesecake and bake for 8 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

In Advance: Make the cheesecake and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Slice it just before serving, running the knife under warm water after each cut.

Yield: Makes 8 to 12 servings

CALORIES 430(54% from fat); FAT 26g (sat 15g); SUGAR 31g; PROTEIN 5g; CHOLESTEROL 100mg; SODIUM 316mg; FIBER 1g; CARBOHYDRATE 45g