Grab your favorite beverage, relax, and let me tell you a story…

After Midnight - Black Phoenix #1

Re-edited, revised edition October 2013

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April 30, 2012

The Importance of Touch

*originally part of After Midnight Blog Tour

Last year I had the extreme pleasure of being a participant in the Summer Scorcher Blog Tour, where one of the fantastic authors blogged about the 12 Stages of Intimacy. For me, the post was more than just informative, it was thought provoking. You see, I know these stages, at least I once did. I learned about them in one of the multitude workshops I’ve attended over the span of many years. Then, as happens far too often, I promptly forgot about them. Or did I?

Let’s take a moment to look at these 12 stages: (as defined by Desmond Morris, a behavioral scientist).

  1. Eye to Body
  2. Eye to Eye
  3. Voice to Voice
  4. Hand to Hand
  5. Arm to Shoulder
  6. Arm to Waist
  7. Mouth to Mouth
  8. Hand to Head
  9. Hand to Body
  10. Mouth to Breast
  11. Hand to Genitals
  12. Sexual Intercourse

The first three are fairly straightforward. You see someone who interests you, make eye contact and strike up a conversation. Basic stuff, right? And this contact doesn’t always lead to something. But number four is when things begin to get interesting. In fact, Hand to Hand is where things get intimate. This is the first step in physical contact. Allowing someone to touch you also means placing yourself in a very vulnerable position.

You may be surprised to see that number eight, Hand to Head, is considered more intimate than number seven, Mouth to Mouth. But let me ask you—how many people do you let touch your face?

Because nine thru twelve are fairly obvious, I’m going to assume we all know what those stages are and why they’re last on the list. For today, I’d like to focus on number eight. Why? Because Noah Clark—the hero of my new contemporary romance, After Midnight—excels at number eight. Call it a lack of boundaries, or having been raised in a family where touch was as commonplace as a bed to sleep in or a roof over his head. Whatever this contact stems from, Noah’s inadvertent crossing of the boundaries of intimacy—specifically, his habit of jumping from stage three to stage eight—is enough to keep Isabeau, a woman not used to even the most casual of touches, on edge.

A breeze stirred, picking up the ends of her hair and blowing them across her mouth. Her knees went weak as he reached out and brushed his fingers over her cheek, scooping up the strands.

Isabeau struggled for balance, but knew she wouldn’t find it. Not with him standing this close to her. Her gaze took in his black T-shirt, stretched appealingly across his broad chest, the play of muscle in his arm as he toyed with the ends of her hair. He didn’t appear to have shaved that morning. Dark stubble covered his jaw, lending him a look more dangerous than normal. It looked good on him, damn good. Her throat tightened and her mouth went dry.

She knew she should step back, away from his heat, away from his touch. Instead, she stood there, staring into his green eyes as she fought the urge to reach for him. Her palms began to itch with the need to test the feel of his stubble, the warmth of his flesh. Deep inside of her, desire pooled.

He shifted, her hair sliding through his fingers as he dropped his hand to his side. She closed her eyes and breathed a sigh. 

April 27, 2012

Friday Quickie

25 quickie facts about Mary Campisi:

Birthday? October
Favorite color? Black. Yes, black. Black dog, black car, black turtleneck. Maroon is a good choice too.
Favorite animal? Dog
Siblings? 3- two older brothers and a younger sister
Favorite drink? Diet Pepsi
If you were a jelly bean flavor, what flavor would you be? cinnamon
Favorite author? Judith McNaught – all time favorite
Favorite dish? Linguine and shrimp in a marinara clam sauce – my specialty
Ice cream flavor? raspberry
Favorite Season? Fall
Plotter or Pantser? I plot the basic outline but once I start writing, the panster emerges
Hobbies? Gardening and growing things – perennials, herbs, vegetables, Christmas cacti, African violets. Pressing flowers and framing them, cooking, baking, reading, playing Sudoku and word jumble with my husband, and heading down a country road with my husband on the back of his Electra Glide Classic aka Harley.
Dream vacation? Heading west to explore Deadwood, The Badlands, Little Big Horn, Sturgis, Mt. Rushmore
Favorite TV show? Person of Interest
Musical preference? Classic rock
Pet peeve? Dirty dishes in the sink
Favorite place to write? My study
Favorite song? currently it’s Adele’s Rolling in the Deep
Odd family fact? We all talk for our animals
Unforgettable moment? Eating pizza on the kitchen floor of our new home on move-in day – July, 1995. It was a merging of our families- his 2, my 3. We spread out a long roll of brown packing paper and shared pizza- kids still talk about it.
Favorite Superhero? hmmm…my husband
Spicy or not? writing is spicy, food is not
Cat or Dog? Dog
Favorite candy bar? Used to be Mounds – sadly, I gave up chocolate almost 2 years ago due to migraines
Favorite guilty pleasure? keylime pie

Summarize your book Twitter style – 140 characters or less:

She’ll risk anything to save her child, even the truth. PULLING HOME by @MaryCampisi http://amzn.to/FRjF9q #romance #kindle #amreading


To learn more about Mary and her writing, check out her website: http://www.marycampisi.com

April 26, 2012

Random Photo Day

Our pier as a storm rolls across Lake Michigan.

April 20, 2012

Friday Quickie

25 quickie facts about Mac Crowne:

Birthday? August 14th
Favorite color? Forrest green
Favorite animal? Cat definitely
Siblings? I have seven actual sibs and countless wannabe sibs who show up at our wild and frequent family events.
Favorite drink? Sweet, chilled white wine, but a cosmo comes in a close second.
If you were a jelly bean flavor, what flavor would you be? YUCK! Can’t I be a chocolate cupcake instead?
Favorite author? Susan Elizabeth Phillips always makes me laugh amid the sighs.
Favorite dish? Timothy Olyphant would be my favorite two-legged variety.
Ice cream flavor? Coffee
Favorite Season? Summer
Plotter or Pantser? Pantser for sure.
Hobbies? Reading - and twirling my hair.
Dream vacation? Caribbean Cruising baby!
Favorite TV show? Justified. (I can’t get enough of Timothy Olyphant)
Musical preference? Anyone with an awesome voice does it for me.
Pet peeve? Computer hackers. There is a special place in hell for people who use their talent to destroy.
Favorite place to write? My back patio.
Favorite song? Barbara Streisand’s version of On Holy Ground ties with Prince’s Little Red Corvette.
Odd family fact? We are descendants of John Adams through my maternal grandmother.
Unforgettable moment? There are so many of them, but my most recent was witnessing my son’s joy the moment his son, and my first grandson, was born.
Favorite Superhero? Spongebob. He maintains his joy of life, despite being surrounded by so many pessimists.
Spicy or not? Spicy
Cat or Dog? Cat
Favorite candy bar? Reese’s Peanut butter cup
Favorite guilty pleasure? Did I mention my friends call me Vacation Mac? I repeat, cruising baby!

Summarize your book Twitter style – 140 characters or less:

To break a curse, Keely must embrace her fairie heritage, but can she trust the handsome Halfling who haunts her dreams and holds her heart?


To learn more about Mackenzie Crowne and her writing, check out her blog: http://macsmadmania.blogspot.com/

April 13, 2012

Off to RT!

I'm taking off today to the Romantic Times Convention in Chicago.
Interested in meeting up with me?
Look for the chick in the Black Phoenix tee!
Don't forget to ask me about the very special promo item I'm taking along.
Hope to see you there!

April 10, 2012

Laura Kaye’s WEST OF WANT Preview & Prizes Event!

Happy WEST OF WANT Preview and Prizes Event, everyone! Today, April 10, was the original release date for Book 2 in my Hearts of the Anemoi series, West of Want. And then some really cool things happened: my publisher, Entangled Publishing, signed a huge deal with the nation’s biggest book distributor, which means for the first time ever, my books will be shelved in brick-and-mortar bookstores. And then, West of Want received a very nice pre-sales estimate by the booksellers and Barnes and Nobles bought it for all their stores nationwide (and it got bought for airports, too—squee!). The only bad news in this whole scenario was this: the release date got pushed back, by three LONG months! LOL So, I thought I’d celebrate the original release date with a preview of the book and a big contest, and give you a small taste to whet your appetite until the actual release date arrives.

"Laura Kaye’s captivating writing and vibrant world-building will have readers hooked on the gods of the Anemoi. WEST OF WANT is steamy, spellbinding, and a must-read for all romance fantasy fans."
~Elisabeth Naughton, author of the Eternal Guardians series

Forty sites are celebrating with me today, and there are different posts at those different sites. To see the whole list of participants, click here. Now, without further ado, here’s the book blurb and one of four different never-before-seen excerpts from the book available for you to enjoy:

Betrayal is all he's ever known, but in her, he'll find a love strong enough to be trusted...

When Marcella Raines' twin brother dies, she honors his request to be buried at sea, never expecting the violent storm that swamps her boat. Though she's gravely injured--and still emotionally damaged from her recent divorce--Ella fights to survive.

Zephyros Martius is the Supreme God of the West Wind and Spring, but being the strongest Anemoi hasn't protected him from betrayal and loss. Worse, he's sure his brother Eurus is behind it. When Zeph's heartbreak whips up a storm that shipwrecks a human, his guilt forces him to save her.

Ella is drawn to the vulnerability Zeph hides beneath his otherworldly masculinity and ancient blue eyes. And her honesty, empathy, and unique, calming influence leave Zeph wanting...everything. When Eurus threatens Ella, she and Zeph struggle to let go of the past, defend their future, and embrace what they most want--a love that can be trusted.


Zeph concentrated and allowed his mind to travel in search of his brother’s unique energy signature. As polar opposites, their energies were connected. Yin and yang. Life and death. West and East. So he found Eurus, easily. Within blocks of Ella’s house. Thunder rumbled around him as he flowed through the air in pursuit.

Corporeality returned in a blaze of light, his seething rage crackling around him.

“Ah, brother. I’ve been expecting you,” Eurus said. In the gloom of twilight, he lay prone on the dock in the middle of the marina where Ella’s boat had been taken that first day. Ankles crossed.
Fingers making lazy designs in the air as if he were conducting a symphony. Cold wind whipped up around them, turning the calm waters of the inlet choppy, jostling the sailboats in their slips.

His brother’s calm, casual repose was more disturbing than if Zeph had found him petulant and ranting. Because it meant he was planning. “What the fuck are you playing at, Eurus?”

He sprung to his feet and tugged the lapels of his leather coat. “You see? I offer civility, and what do I get in return?”

Zeph squared off and braced, ready for anything. “You don’t have a civil bone in your body.”

Eurus pinched the bridge of his nose, shifting the wraparounds up the smallest bit. Though not enough, Zeph was relieved to see, to reveal his dead black irises. “If what you say is true, brother, whose fault exactly would that be?”

“Not. Mine.” It was a fruitless conversation, but it was their little dance, and Zeph’s own special corner of hell.

“Of course not yours. Not perfect Zephyros. Not the god of life and renewal. Gods forbid.”

Zeph ignored the barb. Perfection was the last thing he believed of himself. Eurus was jealous of a figment of his imagination. “What do you want?” he finally bit out, hoping to defuse the other man, to delay the confrontation long brewing between them.

Eurus whipped off his glasses and drilled his disturbing, blank gaze into Zeph’s very soul. “Leave the woman alone.”

Pre-order West of Want on Amazon | Barnes and Noble

So, what d’ya think? Want more Zephyros and Ella? Visit more participating sites to read all the excerpts, meet the characters, see the the West of Want romance trading cards, and enter to win! Thanks for reading! July 10 can’t get here soon enough for me! *grins*

~Laura Kaye

"Using ancient winter mythology as an allegory for grief, Kaye has written a sexy story that packs a powerful emotional punch. NORTH OF NEED is pure winter magic and Kaye’s sparkling talent warms the heart.”
~Stephanie Draven, author of the Mythica series about
multi-award-winning Book 1 in the Anemoi series, North of Need

Seven participants who enter through the Rafflecopter form will win gift cards from winners’ choice of Amazon or B and N valued between $15 and $100! Those prize winners will be announced on West of Want’s release day, July 10, 2012. As a special thank you to those who have pre-ordered the print West of Want through Amazon or B and N, you'll receive extra entries - just enter your order confirmation number on the appropriate Rafflecopter line. Pre-orders are hugely important for an author because they determine how many books bookstores will actually stock and they count toward an author’s first-week sales which is when most authors have their best chance to hit the big bestseller lists. However, pre-orders/purchases are not required to enter. Commenting is the only required entry. Open to international.

Want another chance to WIN?
One commenter from this blog who also FOLLOWS this blog site will win a West of Want bookmark and the romance trading cards for North of Need and West of Want. Simply leave a comment that includes your  email address, and follow this blog. These prizes will be announced soon after May 10. Open to international.

Voted Breakout Author of the Year in the 2011 GraveTells Readers’ Choice Awards, Laura is a bestselling and award-winning author paranormal and contemporary romance. Hearts in Darkness is the EPIC eBook Award Winner for Best Novella, Forever Freed won the NJRW Golden Leaf Award for Best Paranormal of 2011, and North of Need, the first book in the Hearts of the Anemoi series, was named GraveTells’ Best Book of 2011 and won their 5-STAR Gold Heart Award, and won Sizzling Hot Read of the Year at Sizzling Hot Books. Laura lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

April 6, 2012

Friday Quickie

25 quickie facts about Vonnie Davis:

Birthday? May 27th
Favorite color? Lavender
Favorite animal? Giraffe
Siblings? One of each
Favorite drink? Coffee…no Margarita…well, coffee
If you were a jelly bean flavor, what flavor would you be? Grape
Favorite author? Jill Shalvis
Favorite dish? China…okay, Lobster
Ice cream flavor? Caramel swirl
Favorite Season? Spring
Plotter or Pantser? Pantser
Hobbies? Drawing floorplans for houses
Dream vacation? Back to Paris
Favorite TV show? History Detectives
Musical preference? Classical
Pet peeve? People who talk loudly on cell phones
Favorite place to write? Bob Evans…seriously, we go in, they lead us to our favorite booth and hook me up to an IV of coffee.
Favorite song? “Oh, what a night”
Odd family fact? My grandfather, 8 generations removed, was one of George Washington’s private guards.
Unforgettable moment? My first day of college; I was 45.
Favorite Superhero? James Bond…I’d like to double O his seven. *saucy wink*
Spicy or not? Are we talking food? Not … Romances, most def!
Cat or dog? Cat
Favorite candy bar? Reeses Peanut Butter Cups
Favorite guilty pleasure? Shoes

Summarize your book Twitter style – 140 characters or less:

#HotRomance #ContemporaryCowboy #BeautifulNurse #SizzlingAttraction #EmotionalRead #UnforgettableCharacters @Storm’s Interlude


To learn more about Vonnie and her writing, check out her blog:

April 4, 2012

Spotlight On... Babette James

Guess what? Today is my guest's release day. How awesome is that? Please help me welcome Babette James to the keyboard. And make sure you leave her a comment, as Babette has decided that in celebration of her release, she will give an eCopy of Clear as Day away to one lucky commenter.

Welcome Babette, can you share a little about yourself, your genres, any other pen names you use.
Thanks, Sarah, for letting me celebrate the release day of my debut novel, Clear As Day, with you today! I write contemporary and fantasy romance, and I’ve always loved writing and making up stories, beginning back when I used to act out epic fantasy tales with my dolls. (My Barbies had swords and knew how to use them.) I even have a degree in Literature, but it wasn’t until 2004 that I wrote my first full rough draft of romance novel and began gathering up my nerve to pursue publication. I fell in love with writing romance and have focused on that ever since. I’m also a teacher, and I enjoy encouraging young readers and writers as they discover their growing abilities. My class cheers when it’s time for their spelling test! When not writing, teaching or reading, I dabble with bread baking and painting, and try to keep up on weeding the garden beds. I live in New Jersey with my wonderfully patient husband and our three extremely spoiled cats.

Tell us about Clear As Day and where we can find it. 

Clear As Day is a spicy contemporary romance from The Wild Rose Press about two friends with benefits facing the fears and uncertainties of their changing relationship and is set against the background of the summer heat and cool waters of Lake Mohave. I loved writing Clear As Day, it’s been a story of my heart in many ways, so seeing this story published truly has been a thrill. Now, with the 4 1/2 star scorcher review from Romantic Times and being able to hold my book in my hands, today is a dream come true. I hope you enjoy Nate and Kay’s journey as much as I have.

What’s a girl to do when her summer lover wants forever?

Haunted by dark memories of her parents’ volatile marriage, artist Kay Browning keeps her heart locked behind a free-spirit facade and contents herself with the comfortable affair she has every summer with easygoing photographer Nate Quinn.

The only trouble with her plan? This summer Nate’s come to Lake Mohave to claim the lover he can’t let go. He’s done with the endless traveling and settling for temporary homes and temporary loves. Kay’s always been more than just a vacation fling, and now he must convince this woman, who sees love as a course to certain heartbreak, to take that leap of faith and learn how safe love with the right man can be.

Come fall in love at the river. Clear As Day is available in both print and eBook and can be found at The Wild Rose Press, Amazon.com, All Romance EBooks, and Other Links are Coming Soon Here.

Are you doing anything special to celebrate the book’s release?

In celebration of my book’s release today, my coworkers are taking me out for a party after work and I plan to crack a bottle of champagne tonight with my husband! As for more practical celebration, I’m guest blogging and blog hopping this week as well as in the coming weeks, with a few giveaways that will be posted on my website, and I’m also having a Goodreads giveaway of the paperback. Next week, I’ll be heading off to the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Chicago. I’ve never to been to RT before and I’m very excited to be attending as a published author signing my book.

Which character is your favorite and why? 

It’s hard to pick a favorite character. I had so much fun writing Nate. I adore his gentleness with Kay, his loyalty, and sense of humor. I love prickly Kay and all her cautious resistance to commitment and the uptight habits she uses to conceal her vulnerability. She’s never chosen the routes expected for her in life but made her own. It was a delight to see their love story progress. I also enjoyed writing their close-knit circle of friends.

Who would you cast to play your hero and heroine in a movie? 

As I was writing Nate and Kay’s story, I never really considered what actor or actress might suite to play them, but Ryan Gosling is probably close to Nate in looks, and for Kay, possibly an older Emma Watson.

Will there be any sequels or other books in the same series? 

At the moment, I have three more couples who I hope will be joining Kay and Nate in falling in love at the river. The heroes and heroines in these stories develop out of the circle of Kay and Nate’s friends we first meet in Clear As Day and all the stories include the Lake Mohave camp setting in part. And the fun part about writing these sequels: I don’t have to say goodbye to Nate and Kay just yet and can peek in on their lives now and again.

What are you working on right now?

I’m currently working hard to finish and submit the next story, currently called Love Burns, featuring two of Nate and Kay’s friends. This story takes off right from where Clear As Day ends. I love this couple’s chemistry, and I’ve enjoyed seeing their story come to life as they work through their personal trials and find their own happily ever after together. I also have a fantasy series that’s simmering on the back burner while I focus on these contemporary stories.

What would your readers be surprised to learn about you?

I’ve played with a tiger in my front yard, met Gregory Peck and shook his hand, don’t like ketchup and, according to family legend, have an ancestor that sailed on the Bounty.

Where can we find you on the web? 

I love to hear from readers and you can find me at:

My website: http://babettejames.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BabetteJames

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/BabetteJamesAuthor

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/babettejames

Youtube Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/E1ur-avq5YI

Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?

I always like to hear people share what made a favorite story or character resonate with them and what makes them reread a story time and again.


“Kay!” That male voice was not her imagination.

“Oh, shit!” She twisted and dropped into the water, sinking neck-deep.

Mother always said, among other things, that a lady never goes skinny-dipping and must always wear a proper hat. Kay was only half skinny-dipping, but she fervently wished she’d worn something a bit more substantial than a baseball cap and the bottom half of the quintessential teeny-weenie yellow polka-dot bikini.

Shit, oh, shit, oh, shit. She so hated when Mother was right.

Okay, time to find out who’d just gotten an eyeful. The guy had called her name, so she should know him. Oh boy, if she’d flashed old George…

She wiped water from her face, sucked in a breath against her pounding heart, and peeked around.


She must be sun-dazed. Nate? With a beard? Hair curling over his ears? No way.

Just because a familiar slouchy fishing hat topped those unruly, sun-bleached blond curls and just because this guy possessed the same deep-water tan and footloose taste in clothes as Nate with his electric blue Hawaiian shirt, bright orange swim trunks, and beat-up deck shoes didn’t mean—

“Hey, babe. Now that I’ve finally caught your attention, how about a hug from my girl?” He opened his arms. “Am I coming in after you or are you coming out?” Only Nate’s voice held that mellow timbre like chocolate for her ears.

“Nate! What…” Giddy delight flushed over Kay, clearing her shock. She dashed from the water and into strong arms, a wonderful hug, and a better kiss that launched her mind into a blissed-out whirl of oh, yes and why?

The oh, yes won out until the need to breathe forced them apart.

Nate gave her a long look, his usually easy gray eyes holding a new, simmering heat.

Wow. Whoa.

April 1, 2012

Spring Fling Web Hunt

Over 75 Winners In This Years Spring Fling

Wow, I can't believe it's already April 1st!
Won't you join me in celebrating Spring by taking part in the Spring Fling Web Hunt? Over 100 prizes available and this year the hunt will have over 75 winners!! Prizes range from a Kindle Fire and eBooks to jewelry and much more.

What is a Web Hunt?

It's a scavenger hunt that takes place on the web. You visit websites and find the answer to a question. Plus along the way you can find great new authors and new titles while entering to win prizes.

Don't Miss Out!