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Tmonique Stephens

Hump Day Hottie!! August 21, 2013

I don’t know his name, but boy I want too! This guy is super hot hero material. 

His body was made for romance covers. Anyway, feel free to drool on your 

laptops!

 

 

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My Sexy Saturday Post August 10, 2013

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This is a snippet of my WIP, Evermore, the third novel in my Descendants of Ra series. 

Meet Avery and Emeline!

A shift in the air alerted him that he was no longer alone. The hesitant whisper of feet gliding across the carpet revealed his intruder. Could he not have a moment alone? Maybe if he didn’t move she would go away and leave him to finish his repairing his wall. But her scent—a desert rose mix that promised a dangerous ride—tortured him.

Silence ensued, stretched painfully he had to opened one eye and peered at her. Pity welled in her startled eyes as she stared at his scars. He wanted neither.

“Leave. Now.”

Her gaze shot to his. Questions danced in her eyes. Questions he refused to answer. It would serve no purpose to spill his guts to a woman who saw him as less than. Her hand reached for him. Avery almost leaned into it, he craved her touch that much. But not while pity surfed in her hazel eyes. He’d have none of it.

“Don’t,” he snarled and grabbed her hand.

“It’s…”Her voice wavered.

He held his breath, waiting for her to finish her sentence with any of the words on his personal list: ugly, grotesque, monstrous.

“Beautiful.”

Huh? He hadn’t heard right.

“Your tattoo, it’s intricate and beautiful.” Her gaze caressed the swoops and swirls.

Suddenly, he wanted her to touch him, all of him, but that was not going to happen. “I did it to hide the scars. Didn’t work.” He’d never admitted that to anyone, even E.J.

Again, her hazel eyes filled with pity and her hand kept coming, as if he hadn’t ordered her not too. He was about to push her away when she veered to his face. His breath caught, stilled by the possibilities of the moment.

She traced his face with lazy fingers. Her almond-shaped eyes, fringed with long sooty lashes, were focused, intent on the torture she was inflicting on his flesh. A gleamed of interest sparked in their depths and a sultry smile tugged at the corners. Was he dreaming?

It had been more than twenty-four hours since he last closed his eyes for more than a few minutes. Dreams eluded him. Either he slept like the dead or nightmares chased him from a restful sleep. This was neither. This was a fantasy come true.

She touched at his arm and swept her thumb over the slight scar. “Your wound? It’s gone. Want to explain?”

He wanted to kiss her, part her soft pouty lips and taste her. Instead, he shrugged his shoulders. “Genetic anomaly. I heal fast.” He waited for more questions, but she cupped his face, rubbed her palm over his day old stubble. Desire stabbed his core, turning the darkness within him into a sea of need.

Take her. Take what you want. Spread her. Fuck her. Take. Take. The darkness whispered, taunted, and finally screamed. Avery balled his fists and kept them at his sides, anything to keep from humiliating himself. If only he could lock away his unending need for her, treat her as client and not the only woman who’d ever made his blood simmer.

If he could do that, then he could walk away, but a little bit of Emeline wouldn’t be enough. And if he couldn’t have it all, he’d rather have none. He had to leave.

I hoped you liked it. Be sure to get the Eternity and Everlasting before Evermore is released in 2014!

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Sneak Peek Sunday Cinco De Mayo! Villains Need Love Too.

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I’m continuing with the scene from last week.  Everlasting, is the second novel in my Egyptian God series.

 

 

SET, The God of All Evil, needs love and affection, just like a regular guy.

SET drew his expanded self together and calmed, reined in his darkness. Once composed, a tendril wrapped around her waist and dragged her limp body to the edge. He transformed from his preferred state to a more solid form, his dark swirling essences, momentarily trapped beneath a barrier of thin, translucent skin. He could be any-thing, male, female, or animal, but he made himself into a form he knew she would desire; a tall, muscular male. He looked down and studied his member jutting proudly forward. Cylindrical, the appendage had none of the features that completed the male anatomy. No sacs containing DNA, no veiny sinews, and no bulbous head with a slit opening.

Not his favorite form, he tolerated it for Nephythys. His gaseous state was much more functional. The boundaries of flesh disturbed him. Limited him. Made him vulnerable to all the vagaries humans suffered. Never would he bind himself into human form. She would have to accept this substitute.

SET spread her legs apart and studied her opening. Dry, no moisture wept for him. In his gaseous form, her arousal didn’t matter. He could penetrate every part of her body, simultaneously filling, repeatedly until all his frustrations were excised.  He touched the jutting part of him to her opening and felt her shriveled membranes brace. This will hurt, he thought with a cruel grin. His essences pulsed beneath the translucent skin, taking pleasure at the thought of her pain. But physical pain healed while a wounded heart festered.

Somewhere on the island, her spirit waited for his departure and the ritual cleansing to be completed. Once the Nulls removed all evidence of his presence, only then would she rejoin her body. Nothing of his visit would remain. Angry, he thrust inside and buried as deep as the appendage allowed. Something pricked his eyes, and a bead of moisture rolled down the slope of his face. He touched the strangeness, smoothed it between his fingers.

Tears. He jerked away from his wife and reverted to his gaseous state. This is why he never took the disgusting form. Quivering in annoyance—or maybe fright—he fled the destroyed room and ended up in the alcove.

Thank Ra she wasn’t here to witness the display. It would give her pleasure to see him so weak. Her laughter would ring in the council chamber. The God of Evil would not suffer humiliation. Agitated, he swirled about the room, brushing every surface, filling every microscopic crevice. He brushed something. The remnants of man.

I hope you enjoyed it.

Weekend Writing Warriors April 28, 2013

 

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Meet SET, The Egyptian God Of All Evil. One of the villains in Everlasting.

Though he is evil, he loves and seeks to be loved in return. Unfortunately, he wife’s love is reserved for another. 

SET wanted nothing more than to feel life in the body of his wife. A smoky tendril stretched out from his gaseous form and skimmed the empty shell she’d left him, but what a beautiful shell. Her dusty pink nipples topped globes of taunt flesh.  A flat abdomen led to trim hips and a smooth mons. If only her legs would willingly open, cradle him, welcome him into her dark recess and their sensual embrace.  Angry, he vibrated, and a jagged strike of red lightning flared in the center of his mass.

Per their agreement, for three millennia he abstained from enjoying carnal delights with his wife. At council meetings, her sparkling presence reminded him of what he didn’t have—never had.

Who is SET’s wife? Nephythys, The Goddess of The Dead. 

Everlasting, coming in June.

What NOT to Do When Beginning Your Novel: Advice from Literary Agents

This is reposted. Click link for original article.

What NOT to Do When Beginning Your Novel: Advice from Literary Agents.

 

 

What NOT to Do When Beginning Your Novel: Advice from Literary Agents

photo by kirstyhall

GIVEAWAY: I am very excited to again give away a free book to a random commenter. The winner can choose either CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORMor the 2013 GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS. Commenters must live in the US/Canada; comment within one week to win. Good luck!

In a previous Writer Unboxed column, I discussed the value ofstarting your story strong and how an “inside-out” approach to narrative action can help your case. But just as important as knowing what to do when beginning your novel is knowing what not to do.

No one reads more prospective novel beginnings than literary agents. They’re the ones on the front lines — sifting through inboxes and slush piles. And they’re the ones who can tell us which Chapter 1 approaches are overused and cliche, as well as which techniques just plain don’t work. Below find a smattering of feedback from experienced literary agents on what they hate to see the first pages of a writer’s submission. Avoid these problems and tighten your submission!

FALSE BEGINNINGS

“I don’t like it when the main character dies at the end of Chapter 1. Why did I just spend all this time with this character? I feel cheated.”
– Cricket Freeman, The August Agency

“I dislike opening scenes that you think are real, then the protagonist wakes up. It makes me feel cheated.”
– Laurie McLean, Foreword Literary

IN SCIENCE FICTION

“A sci-fi novel that spends the first two pages describing the strange landscape.”
– Chip MacGregor, MacGregor Literary

PROLOGUES

“I’m not a fan of prologues, preferring to find myself in the midst of a moving plot on page 1 rather than being kept outside of it, or eased into it.”
– Michelle Andelman, Regal Literary

“Most agents hate prologues. Just make the first chapter relevant and well written.”
– Andrea Brown, Andrea Brown Literary Agency

“Prologues are usually a lazy way to give back-story chunks to the reader and can be handled with more finesse throughout the story. Damn the prologue, full speed ahead!”
– Laurie McLean, Foreword Literary

EXPOSITION/DESCRIPTION

“Perhaps my biggest pet peeve with an opening chapter is when an author features too much exposition – when they go beyond what is necessary for simply ‘setting the scene.’ I want to feel as if I’m in the hands of a master storyteller, and starting a story with long, flowery, overly-descriptive sentences (kind of like this one) makes the writer seem amateurish and the story contrived. Of course, an equally jarring beginning can be nearly as off-putting, and I hesitate to read on if I’m feeling disoriented by the fifth page. I enjoy when writers can find a good balance between exposition and mystery. Too much accounting always ruins the mystery of a novel, and the unknown is what propels us to read further.”
– Peter Miller, PMA Literary and Film Management

“The [adjective] [adjective] sun rose in the [adjective] [adjective] sky, shedding its [adjective] light across the [adjective] [adjective] [adjective] land.”
– Chip MacGregor, MacGregor Literary

“I dislike endless ‘laundry list’ character descriptions. For example: ‘She had eyes the color of a summer sky and long blonde hair that fell in ringlets past her shoulders. Her petite nose was the perfect size for her heart-shaped face. Her azure dress—with the empire waist and long, tight sleeves—sported tiny pearl buttons down the bodice. Ivory lace peeked out of the hem in front, blah, blah.’ Who cares! Work it into the story.”
– Laurie McLean, Foreword Literary

STARTING TOO SLOW

“Characters that are moving around doing little things, but essentially nothing. Washing dishes & thinking, staring out the window & thinking, tying shoes, thinking.”
– Dan Lazar, Writers House

“I don’t really like ‘first day of school’ beginnings, ‘from the beginning of time,’ or ‘once upon a time.’ Specifically, I dislike a Chapter 1 in which nothing happens.”
– Jessica Regel, Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency

IN CRIME FICTION

“Someone squinting into the sunlight with a hangover in a crime novel. Good grief — been done a million times.”
– Chip MacGregor, MacGregor Literary

IN FANTASY

“Cliché openings in fantasy can include an opening scene set in a battle (and my peeve is that I don’t know any of the characters yet so why should I care about this battle) or with a pastoral scene where the protagonist is gathering herbs (I didn’t realize how common this is).”
– Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary

VOICE

“I know this may sound obvious, but too much ‘telling’ vs. ‘showing’ in the first chapter is a definite warning sign for me. The first chapter should present a compelling scene, not a road map for the rest of the book. The goal is to make the reader curious about your characters, fill their heads with questions that must be answered, not fill them in on exactly where, when, who and how.”
– Emily Sylvan Kim, Prospect Agency

“I hate reading purple prose – describing something so beautifully that has nothing to do with the actual story.”
– Cherry Weiner, Cherry Weiner Literary

“A cheesy hook drives me nuts. They say ‘Open with a hook!’ to grab the reader. That’s true, but there’s a fine line between an intriguing hook and one that’s just silly. An example of a silly hook would be opening with a line of overtly sexual dialogue.”
– Daniel Lazar, Writers House

“I don’t like an opening line that’s ‘My name is…,’ introducing the narrator to the reader so blatantly. There are far better ways in Chapter 1 to establish an instant connection between narrator and reader.”
– Michelle Andelman, Regal Literary

“Sometimes a reasonably good writer will create an interesting character and describe him in a compelling way, but then he’ll turn out to be some unimportant bit player.”
– Ellen Pepus, Signature Literary Agency

IN ROMANCE

“In romance, I can’t stand this scenario: A woman is awakened to find a strange man in her bedroom—and then automatically finds him attractive. I’m sorry, but if I awoke to a strange man in my bedroom, I’d be reaching for a weapon—not admiring the view.”
– Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary Agency

IN A CHRISTIAN NOVEL

“A rape scene in a Christian novel in the first chapter.”
– Chip MacGregor, MacGregor Literary

CHARACTERS AND BACKSTORY

“I don’t like descriptions of the characters where writers make them too perfect. Heroines (and heroes) who are described physically as being virtually unflawed come across as unrelatable and boring. No ‘flowing, wind-swept golden locks’; no ‘eyes as blue as the sky’; no ‘willowy, perfect figures.’ ”
– Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency

“Many writers express the character’s backstory before they get to the plot. Good writers will go back and cut that stuff out and get right to the plot. The character’s backstory stays with them—it’s in their DNA.”
– Adam Chromy, Movable Type Management

“I’m turned off when a writer feels the need to fill in all the backstory before starting the story; a story that opens on the protagonist’s mental reflection of their situation is a red flag.”
– Stephany Evans, FinePrint Literary Management

“One of the biggest problems is the ‘information dump’ in the first few pages, where the author is trying to tell us everything we supposedly need to know to understand the story. Getting to know characters in a story is like getting to know people in real life. You find out their personality and details of their life over time.”
– Rachelle Gardner, Books & Such Literary

GIVEAWAY: I am very excited to again give away a free book to a random commenter. The winner can choose either CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM or the 2013 GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS. Commenters must live in the US/Canada; comment within one week to win. Good luck!

 Have you read any story beginnings that didn’t sit well with you? We’d love to hear about it in comments!

Other posts by Chuck Sambuchino:

 

Weekend Writing Warrior

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Greetings, welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors.

Here are eight sentences from my upcoming novel, Everlasting, the sequel to my debut novel Eternity.

 

         His firm lips kissed the delicate spot above her collarbone. Did he know that would drive her crazy? She grabbed his broad shoulders. Her nipples tightened. Desire coiled low in her groin. His long, midnight hair brushed the back of  her hand. She threaded her fingers through the silky strands and arched, bringing her nipples into contact with his hard pecs. Need shot through her. 

Is it a dream? Or is he really there? You’ll have to read Everlasting to find out.

 

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ROMAN NICOLIS

Cursed for 2000 years, Roman Nicolis has tracked his lovers’ soul through each reincarnation only to lose her horribly every time. Reclaiming their love is his only salvation. He’s been her friend, her father, her neighbor, but never again her lover . . . until now.

 STELLA WALKER

A late night walk home throws her into the path of a killer. The last thing she remembers are the deep blue eyes of the man trying to kill her—and the first things she sees after a seven day coma are the same blue eyes in the handsome face of the man hired to protect her. Is he truly the owner of a security firm or the man who wants to finish her off? Is it fears she feels when Roman touches her or the memory of something sweeter?

Past secrets haunt them. An angry demon stalks them. 

Roman will do anything to recover what they once had. Though Stella’s ruined childhood has made her close her heart and body to any man, he must get past the walls around her to gain her love and trust, for it will take their union to defeat an unexpected enemy sent from the Egyptian Gods. A man Romans respects, and Stella trusts.

TWO HEARTS.ONE SOUL. FOR ALL ETERNITY.

Click to purchase

Weekend Writing Warriors. 4/14/13

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This is my first time post for Weekend Writing Warriors. I’m so glad to be here with a group of fantastic authors. This is an excerpt from Everlasting, coming soon.

Damn the Gods.

The feel of Alexis’  solid form blasted through Reign’s petrified center. He hadn’t realized how much he missed this. Human contact. The simple act of touching and being touched. Warmth and the softness of a woman. So long denied, now he feasted.

He buried his face in her mass of curly hair and inhaled jasmine and honey. A moan ripe with longing ripped from his throat and he fitted her lush curves more intimately to him.

I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

Self-Publishers: The New Generation of Cool Kids

I found this on The Passive Voice and thought I would share it with my fellow indie authors. You can click the link or read it it.

Self-Publishers: The New Generation of Cool Kids.

For years, self-publishing was widely considered an embarrassing fallback option. Occasionally a John Grisham would emerge, sell 5,000 copies of a compelling novel, land a publishing deal, and ultimately achieve fame and fortune. But those authors were far and away the exception. Few authors willingly followed in their footsteps.

Nowadays, self-publishing is not only respectable: it’s downright hot. Today’s indie phenoms are rocking the industry, their books elbowing their way up the USA Today and NY Times bestseller charts, with stars like Bella Andre and Raine Millerscoring breathtaking seven-figure publishing deals. With their Ragged Dick success stories and can-do attitude, these inspirational indies are rapidly becoming the cool kids.

Until recently, this sea change in perception was nearly unthinkable. To wit, many bestselling indie authors were as (pleasantly) astonished as anyone else by their astounding success. After the release of Book 2 in her Blackstone Affair series, Raine Miller was content to stay indie. When her agent presented a seven-figure offer to sell the series to Atria—“well,” says Miller, “you take a deal like that (after you pick yourself up off the floor.)” The mind-blowing success of her Blackstone Affair series took Miller by surprise. “I really don’t know why it took off as it did,” she says.

One big contributor to their rising star power is the fortitude of indie authors. Indies listen to their own voice. Tammara Webber spent a year querying agents before self-publishing her debut novel,Between the Lines. “I had two options,” she says, “abandon the story I’d written, write something else, and try the same route—or self publish.” Between the Lines found a “niche audience,” and went on to become the first in a series of successful Mature YA romance novels. Webber recently signed a two-book deal for her stand-alone novel Easy, her fourth self-published book.

“By self-publishing you beat the odds to get published,” says Steven Axelrod, a prominent literary agent, the first to negotiate a seven-figure deal for an indie author. In Axelrod’s experience, the traditional gatekeepers—agents and editors—frequently miss the mark. “About half the books the gatekeepers think are commercial don’t perform as expected,” he says. If not for self-publishing,Between the Lines and the other books in the series might never have found an audience, Webber says. “I wanted to find a few readers who would like the stories I wanted to tell. Self publishing gave me that option.”

Unlike some traditionally published authors who, grateful to be accepted, may feel internal pressure to accept disappointing offers, confident indies refuse to settle for deals that don’t meet their objectives, choosing instead to forge their own success. Colleen Hoover wrote her debut novel,Slammed, for fun. Self-publishing gave her family and friends a way to download her book conveniently. After three months, sales picked up and within five months Slammed hit the NY Timesbestsellers list.

Early on, Hoover turned down a “very decent” offer to publish her novel. Recently she signed on with Simon & Schuster for the print rights only to Hopeless. “I didn’t want to sign away digital rights,” she says; that was one of her reasons for rejecting the earlier offer. With a hit indie series, she was able to command an advance that she was “really happy with.” This one, she says, is the deal she’d been hoping for. “That I came into this industry backward, by self-publishing first, helped me a lot.”

Landing a traditional deal used to be the primary motive for self-publishing. This is no longer the case. Cora Carmack, author of the NY Times and USA Today bestseller Losing It, considers control a major benefit of self-publishing. “You have complete control of the creative process and you can bring books to market at a much quicker rate.” A prolific, hardworking author can feasibly take a book from draft through editing and design to quality publication in three to six months—far faster than the year or more required by traditional publishers. Speed-to-market can have an enormous impact on sales, particularly for books with seasonal or topical appeal.

Self-published authors also control pricing. Miller realized early on that the majority of books breaking into the top 10 on Amazon were self-published, a phenomenon she attributes largely to pricing. Miller published her first two titles, before The Blackstone Affair, with a small press. “The books got decent reviews,” she says, “but they would never chart on lists because they were priced too high.” Self-publishing The Blackstone Affair, Miller feels, was the smartest career move she has ever made.

In this sluggish economy, many readers are reluctant to shell out $10 or more for a book by an unproven author. By the time Tracey Garvis Graves inked her impressive two-book deal with Penguin, she’d sold over 375,000 copies of her debut novel, On the Island. “As a self-published author I was able to offer a lower price point, which made it easer for readers to take a chance on an unknown author,” Garvis Graves says. For hesitant buyers, a price of $2.99 or lower reduces the stakes. When readers discover a book they love, they share it with friends and, increasingly, across their social networks. Early readers connected with On the Island and told others, Garvis Graves says. “Word-of-mouth marketing did wonderful things for On the Island.”

Among the abundant advantages indie authors enjoy, the opportunity, on your own, to find and cultivate an audience may be the biggest. If Hoover had tried to publish Hopeless traditionally, the book would have been rejected, she says. “I wrote about a college-aged character who writes poetry,” neither of which sold well at the time. “I was able to find my own audience through word of mouth and social media,” Hoover points out. “In retrospect I think it was the absolute best choice for my first book.”

“At the end of the day, editors and agents respect an author who has a sizeable and stable market,” Axelrod says. “For the moment, more traditionally published authors meet the criteria—but it’s all changing!” Indeed, much has changed since Garvis Graves self-published On the Island in September of 2011. “I have watched many of my self-publishing peers sign traditional publishing deals,” Garvis Graves says. “I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: there’s never been a better time to be a writer.”

With its newly minted cachet, self-publishing is no longer a last resort. Noting the myriad advantages, encouraged by the success they’ve witnessed, many first-time authors now bypass the querying stage, opting to go straight to self-publishing.

Self-publishing is the chance to make your own future,” says Carmack. The endless possibility inherent in this entrepreneurial enterprise makes self-publishing a robust choice. It is, after all, far more exciting—and impressive—to create your own success than to put your career in the hands of a corporation and hope for the best.

 

Revisiting An Old Favorite.

TheFlameAndTheFlower

Recently, I took a stroll down memory lane and revisited one of my favorite authors, Kathleen Woodiwiss. Her classic novel, The Flame and The Flower was first published in 1972 when I was six years old. The novel was the first book to have detailed sex scene between the hero and heroine which completely revolutionized the historical romance genre.

Her novel was one of the first book I had read where the hero was clearly an alpha male. Captain Brandon Birmingham was tall, ruggedly handsome, wealthy and use to getting his way. As a master of his world, he commanded men and women fawned over him. That is until a certain waif disrupts his orderly life.

At that time, I didn’t realize I liked the ‘take charge’ man. A man who is decisive and bold, he knows what he wants and is not afraid of going after it. A man who makes a promise and keeps it.

Through the years, I’ve met a few more alpha male character that I’ve fell in love with. All of the men in JR Wards’ Black Dagger Brotherhood and Jericho Barrons in Karen Maria Moning’s Fever Series comes to mind.

I first read the novel in the early eighties. I had my own preconceived teenage notions about love and romance which I can no longer recall.

Though written all those years ago, The Flame and The Flower is still a fresh read. The author’s writing style has stood the test of time. What I loved about this novel and are the strong characters and rich plot. That is what turns a reader into a lifelong fan. After reading Mrs. Woodiwiss’ first novel, a lifelong fan is exactly what I became.

Mrs. Woodiwiss has since passed on, but her words and by extension, part of her, will always be alive. I will be eternally grateful to her for introducing me to her wonderful, romantic world.

Making Connections Blog Hop

MAKING CONNECTIONS: ANNIVERSARY BLOG HOP!

Congratulations on your 1st year!

making connections blog hop

Day 12

L IS FOR LOVE

Loving what you do, so much that whether you’re a bestselling author or just starting your journey to penning the next blockbuster, you do it for the love of the written word. Writing is an art which requires time and a nurturing environment to flourish. It needs LOVE, from the author and those supporting that author on their journey. So, I send my LOVE and good wishing to all the authors plugging away on their keyboards. Never give up the dream.

Leave a comment and your email address for a chance to win some great prizes.

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