DAFRN Queen MabI read Queen Mab by Kate Danley in less than a day. (BTW, I also read her book The Woodcutter and both are divine.) Naturally, a story with Romeo and Juliet at its center lends one to learn some awesome dating advice.

Dating Advice from Romance Novels: Queen Mab

  1. Don’t let some dude talk you into moving your sacred bull or other sacred farm animals, because that just makes a whole century-long, life-or-death kind of mess.
  2. Don’t make wagers with aforementioned dude-who-already-tricked-you. Clearly, your bitterness will be your undoing.
  3. UNLESS, of course, you meet a guy who can only see the good in you because chicks and demigods really dig that shit.
  4. If a woman asks what you’d like to dream about, the correct answer is her. Duh.
  5. If people call you ugly, just tell yourself they’re haters. You know you look fine.


The Importance of Pre-Writing

I tried looking at pictures. Incidentally, Apartment Therapy is an awesome site.  So I bought a graph paper pad and I just drew the dance studio/apartment in no time.  I then described the way the rooms looked.  I included whoever’s viewpoint popped into my head, because different people see different things.  This helps me in two ways: 1) I can visualize these important places and the events that took place there easier and 2) I’ve got ready made description when I write scenes in those places.

I was amazed at how much such simple pre-writing work actually ignited my imagination.


I still pre-write like it’s a lifeline to storytelling.  I call that creative time when you’re first planning a story, and the ideas are flowing like Niagara Falls, creative crack. It’s amazing and fun. And so much of writing isn’t all fun–it’s hard, hard work.

Using Pre-Writing as a Tool for WritingIn that post, I talked about planning out spaces to make our fictional places more real. Since then, an incredible tool has taken over the internet. You can look on the right and see it’s become a passion of mine: Pinterest. Obviously, I don’t just use it for writing.

But, with Pinterest, I can see my characters, interiors & exterior places, and even crucial items. And it’s “in the cloud,” accessible to me from any device, anywhere I can use the internet (which, let’s admit, in this age, is everywhere). In the novella I just finished writing, I used Pinterest for character placeholders, info about Vegas in the fifties (the setting), and clothing trends of the time. I deeply needed my research to make that story happen.

I’ve also noticed a trend: other writer’s are using it, too. I went to an online book release party, and all the authors shared their Pinterest story boards. Are readers interested in these? I was. I loved seeing the historical clothing, the shipwrecks, the cool clubs.


Pinterest has become the author's new best friend, letting us pile up valuable research. Click To Tweet

If you’re anything like me and most of the planet, you binge-watched House of Cards on Netflix when they debuted the entire season (like they do) in February.

Confession: I’ve watched Seasons 1 and 2 three times. Once for each new season because this is a show you have to pay attention to. The smallest detail, especially on the part of Frank or his wife, can mean huge repercussions later.

Why are we so obsessed with Francis Underwood and his dirty doings? How is someone so amoral the protagonist of the story? To answer that, we have to talk about anti-heroes.

According to dictionary.com an anti-hero is:

a protagonist who lacks the attributes that make a heroic figure, as nobility of mind and spirit, a life or attitude marked by action or purpose, and the like.

That’s a place to start, but it doesn’t really explain how so many people can be fascinated by a character that is, essentially, a bad, unredeemed and never-to-be-redeemed person. For something a little closer to our purposes, I’ll add Writers Digest to the mix:

Antiheroes can be obnoxious, pitiful or charming, but they are always failed heroes or deeply flawed. Often riddled with paradoxical traits and qualities, they resemble real people more than any other type of fictional characters do, and they are increasingly popular these days in fiction, film and television.

Now that makes my brain get clicky. Obviously, they’re not heroes, but failed heroes. A failed hero does not arc, but chooses to continue handling whatever life throws at him in the same way, or worse ways. What I find most interesting is the notion that anti-heroes are the most realistic of fictional characters.

I hate to think that’s true. As someone who has worked in mental health for many years, I’ve seen my share of people who get it, where they’re making flawed choices, and completely turn it around. On the other hand, people who make the same mistakes are more common than not.

Does that mean anti-heroes lack self-awareness? Not the best of them. Definitely not Frank Underwood. I think one of the qualities that make him so much fun to watch is the deliberateness of his every move.

I’d love if you’d share your fave anti-heroes. I’m currently reading the House of Cards trilogy and the main character (who is British, not Southern) as well as the story are different enough to be enjoyable unto itself.

Tweet: House of Cards and Anti-heroes. Why are we so obsessed with Francis Underwood and his dirty doings? http://goo.gl/bTF1kc


writeresI once wrote a post about the Hero’s Journey structure in the movie Clash of the Titans. That post is my second most popular post (by a long shot). Clearly, structure is something we all want to learn about. It’s one of my favorite topics. Structure is the skeleton on which our entire story hangs.

In light of that, I wanted to share the most awesome resource I found. Okay, found is a strong word. Let’s try, ‘I received in a newsletter because K.M. Weiland is an awesome writer folk and I like to know what she’s talking about.’

She created the Story Structure Database. To see an example of this tool at work, check out the structure for Pride and Prejudice. (If you haven’t read it, run to your bookstore now and grab it. Yes, it really is that good.*)

From the site:

Austen begins by masterfully hooking us with her famous opening line, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” The subtle irony gives us a sense of conflict from the very first and lets us know that neither the wife in search of the fortune nor the man in search of the wife will find their goals so easily.

Of course, we all know it’s a great first line. But, now we know exactly why. And we can try to accomplish something similar in our own first lines.

This database is full of books and movies, and other people can contribute. I highly recommend using this writer resource if you are having any difficulty with or just want to learn more about story structure.

Tweet: Structure is the skeleton on which our entire story hangs. http://goo.gl/C91TEz

*Link: FREE e-book Pride and Prejudice from Amazon.

2014-09-26_01_56_290001I recently finished Heroes Are My Weakness, by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. SEP, as I and most of the internet like to call her, is my favorite author. I love her messy characters, twisted situations, connections between lovers, friends, and families, and the hilarious bow that ties it all together.

It goes without saying, I enjoyed this book and this couple. And, I think, there are a few dating advice gems to glean from this particular story.

This DAfRN contains spoilers.

Dating Advice from Heroes Are My Weakness

  1. Puppets can be wanton, naughty creatures when left to a hero’s devices.
  2. You can always trust a man who loves his cat. And crazy sister.
  3. Old ladies will eff you up every time if it means keeping their families close. But, at the end of the day, if that’s what it takes to make you realize you love the big galoot who you thought was psycho-evil, then thems the breaks.
  4. Always give your high school sweetheart a chance, even if his sister died mysteriously, his wife committed suicide, and you’re pretty sure he tried to kill you. For down that road lies true love.
  5. Little girls aren’t the best free secret keepers once they recover from their trauma-induced mutism. And yet, it’s still adorable, little tattler that she is.

Tweet: “‘Old ladies will eff you up every time if it means keeping their families close.’ http://bit.ly/1Eo9MSm”


The book 11/22/63, by Stephen King, is about a fellow from modern day who is shown a portal back in time by a sick friend. Literally sick, not crazy sick.

The friend, who has the portal in the back of his diner and has been using it to go back to get really cheap hamburger, wants Jake to make better use of it than he did. I guess maybe because he’s dying of cancer and there’s that whole personal gain issue? I dunno. He explains to Jake that if someone went back, hung around for several years, tracked down Lee Harvey Oswald, and stopped the Kennedy assination, the world would be all sunshine and rainbows. There’s much more to it, and this is a phenomenal book.

It also, for me, was a love story at its very core. Because Jake meets Sadie. And she’s fragile (because of one whackadoo ex and parents who are very victim-blamey), very tall, and smart. Actually, I think I may kind of love her. Anyway, in honor of Halloween, horror, and a writer I love…

Dating Advice from Romance Novels: 11/22/63

  1. Don’t time travel. Bad shit will happen and you will be sad. Very, very sad.
  2. It is adorable and sexy to say “Oh, sugar,” the first time you really enjoy sex. I’m not being facetious for a change.
  3. Be honest. Just be honest because if she (or he) loves you, they will believe whatever crazy, delusional-sounding thing you say. But they will leave your ass if you keep secrets.
  4. True love doesn’t care about scars or weird age differentials caused by time-traveling.
  5. A person who loves you doesn’t try to change you, but they do help you become the very best you that you can be.




“Dating Advice from Romance Novels: Halloween Edition!” @lorisizemore http://bit.ly/1pxGtkV ~ Click to Tweet


cover1 copyToday, I’m interviewing Landra Graf, whose new historical erotica, With This Kilt, I Thee Bed, hit e-shelves everywhere this week. As I mentioned when I hosted her cover reveal, I love Landra’s stories because she can take unexpected protagonists or situations and make them into great stories. I was excited to share more about her characters, her stories, and what’s coming up next. Oh, and she’s giving away a $25 Amazon or iTunes gift card and a copy of her e-book!

Each of the three brothers in your book is hot and offers something uniquely special. Which brother is your favorite hero?

Such a hard question to answer. If I had to choose it’d be Hamish. He’s rough, but caring too. I loved writing his story the most because he challenged me when finding his heroine.

Which is your favorite heroine?

Athdara, of course. All my heroines are definitely strong women who take charge of their sexuality and don’t believe in letting men save the day. Athdara, she appealed to the tough girl in me. The one who wanted to run through the woods, fish, hunt and so much more.

What makes Scottish men sexier than other men of that time-period?

These men are some of the sturdiest and rugged men. They live in such a cold country and leave their legs bare. Those accents don’t hurt them a bit either. Whenever I think of a Scottish man I think of a tough, brawler who can hold his drink and loves his woman with such a fierce devotion you wouldn’t want to come between them. Wow! I didn’t know how school-girlish those last few sentences sounded until I re-read them, but yeah.

Where did you get the idea for these stories?

The first one came from a submission call for an anthology, which luckily got passed over. Only a few days after submitting the story I came up with the second one, and from there the idea spiraled out into three stories. All steamy, and more steamy then anything I’ve ever written. I really covered the gauntlet, IMO, with this book.

How did you come up with this clever title?

Ha! Funny question because for the longest time I didn’t know what I’d call  the darn thing. My brain likes to marinate on things, my term and it may sound silly, but it’s true. I’ll put a thought it my head and my subconsciousness rolls around with it and then spits out an answer when it’s ready. The title came to me while sitting at my computer working on edits. I’d just finished with edits on the first two stories and boom the thought came. I then polled Facebook, like all good authors do. *snickers* The votes were all in favor, thankfully.

What do you want your readers to come away with when they close your book?

I want them to remember the characters and be inspired by them in some way. Whether by owning their sexuality, being a support for someone, or loving a person they way they are and not asking them to change– those are some of things I try to write in my books and I can only hope readers see them too.

We have talked about what a steep learning curve there was to self-publish. Do you have any advice for writers who want to self-publish?

There’s more to self-publishing then the cover and editing. So. Much. More. Besides a solid marketing plan, there’s a lot of administrative work required, along with some unavoidable expenses. So I encourage others seeking to self-publish to research, research, and ask questions. Give yourself plenty of time to not only get the book in the best shape, but to learn about formatting, the different online marketplaces and the time it will take to get all your work loaded, etc.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on a fairy-tale re-telling of a Grimm story called, The Seven Ravens. My version is going to be diesalpunk romance with an assassin  and a bounty hunter. If there’s one thing I like to do it’s push boundaries and of course, go against the mold.

Thank you Lori for hosting me and my lovely highlanders on your blog today!

I bet you want to know where you can buy Landra’s new book, which is chock full of highlander goodness– three stories, one price.

 Amazon – Amazon UK – Smashwords – Barnes & Noble

Google Play – All Romance – Goodreads

Did someone say giveaway? Here you go!

Prize: 1 $25 Amazon or iTunes gift card and the With This Kilt, I Thee Bed  e-book 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


2014-09-26_01_56_29So, I was thinking in the car today about what sort of advice I’m totally NOT qualified to give (conclusion: all the advice). However, I then decided, okay, fine… what advice am I really not qualified to give?

Dating advice. Oh, so many reasons why.

Exhibit A: I’ve been married so long, I’m not entirely sure of the number, but I believe I’m between years 18 and 19 of my life sentence. Exhibit B: I had very few real dates in high school. Like count on one hand. I had boyfriends come “courting” at my house (which should be Exhibit C, so let’s go ahead and call it), but only a few go-out-dates. Exhibit D: I got married at 21. As in, I became old enough to drink and then I got married and became a mother 13 months later (because that’s how efficient people get family done).

And then I had a brilliant idea…

What if I offered dating advice? Not from me; from whatever book I’m currently reading (usually romance, but not always!).

For example, here’s a little A Song of Ice and Fire advice: never insist that the witch whose village your buddies just burned, raped, and pillaged treat the tiny cut on your husband’s chest. Seriously. Neosporin that bitch and go on.

Dating Advice: Sweet Nothings

I recently finished reading Talk Sweetly to Me by Courtney Milan (from whom I. freaking. auto-buy. everything). Here are some quick dating tips:

  1. Have an adorable name so your darling rogue can use it in double entendre as often as possible.
  2. If a chick shows up at your door, in like 5 feet of snow, because her sister is having a baby, the doctor is a racist asshole, and she doesn’t know what to do because someone is going to die… she probably loves you and wants to make Sweet-ly love to you. (See what I did there? Double. Entendre.)
  3. Bigotry is no reason not to get married and have lots and lots of babies. (I did know that one already, but I’m pretty impressed I found it in an historical novel.)

I’m halfway through another book and already taking notes for you guys! See you soon.




Tweet: “Dating Advice from Romance Novels: Sweet Nothings” @lorisizemore http://ctt.ec/jat7r+

I am so excited to share my wonderful critique partner’s upcoming release cover. It’s gorgeous; the stories are great. And I’m going to tell you a secret that I hope the world realizes very soon: Landra writes unique stories. Oh, that sounds so unimportant, but listen… she can take characters and situations that you wouldn’t expect to see in your typical romance and she writes the hell out of it. I strongly suggest you check her out.


With This Kilt, I Thee Bed: Tales of the Brothers Gordon by Landra Graf

14110714754971They’re not your traditional highlanders.

Rafe Gordon, Laird of Nairn, is searching for release from the nightmare of his wife’s passing. When Elsie, his daughter’s new governess, brings with her the temptation of passion and a less-than-perfect-past, Rafe must decide if love truly can conquer all.

Innes Gordon is looking for a good time. When that good time turns out to be the childhood-friend-turned-kept-woman Catriona, he finds himself torn between claiming her ‘til death do us part’ or simply sharing her with his twin.

Hamish Gordon is seeking a woman all his own. While his family’s home is invaded with nuptial ceremonies, Hamish is sent to patrol his older brother’s hunting grounds in search of a thief. Discovering his prey yields the biggest surprise — and Athdara needs his help as much as he needs hers.

Author Bio:

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day, and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.
Author Website: riseoftheslush.blogspot.com
Facebook: facebook.com/landra.graf
Twitter: @LandraGraf
Goodreads: Landra_Graf

P.S. Click on the cover if you want an even better view.

Let me say thank you and giant hugs to Lori for having me on her blog. Lori is one of my support people. When writing, the support team keeps you from tossing every word you write into the recycle bin. Now, if What You Need became a movie I can see the story expanding a bit or it’d be one of those artistic, erotic shorts. I could get a little creative with color tones for something like that.

The biggest question is who would play Royce and Veronica?

For Royce, I need a man who looks good in a tie, and ruffled hair. My top pick would be James McAvoy. He’s got a hot body. Have you seen him in Wanted? *takes a drink of water* I don’t need to elaborate then. I believe McAvoy has the acting chops to pull of Royce’s vulnerability and submissive nature. Veronica needs someone who’s got a strong back bone and looks good in dark brunette. My pick would have to be Lena Hadley. Most people are familiar with her work playing Cersei Lannister on HBO’s Game of Thrones series. For playing a conniving royal Lena would probably find the role of Veronica a little less stressful. At the end of the day, both Lena and James played a role in creating the visual look of Veronica and Royce. I couldn’t have written the story without them. I should probably send them thank you notes. LeJa2 As a special treat 2 lucky winners will win a $25 Gift Card to PureRomance.com and a free copy of my book. Entries will be accepted until Wednesday at midnight. 

Enter by commenting here, on any of my guest posts today, or on my site!

1Night Stand Series

What You Need

by Landra Graf

WhatYouNeed200A sexual submissive, Royce wants a woman who’ll make his fantasies come true. The last thing he expects on his 1Night Stand is to be paired with Victoria, his ex-best friend. Haunted by their past, he refuses to deny his newfound attraction or his need for answers. This time, he doesn’t plan to let her go. Victoria has loved Royce forever, but the sting of his rejection is not so easily forgotten. No longer the naïve girl he knew, she’s matured into a sexual dominant. This domme demands a chance to restart their relationship—on her terms. Knowing that one night will never be enough, she plans a seduction that will last forever.     What You Need • 1Night Stand Series Amazon | Decadent | All Romance Ebooks Enjoy the following excerpt for What You Need:

“Hi.” About the only word he managed before a pair of luscious, plump red lips descended on his. One sharp heel spike scratched the skin above his ankle. His trousers were tight and rough on his thighs igniting a pleasurable pain in his pulsing erection. She molded her body to his, and her nibbling bites on his mouth sent his brain reeling. The press of her weight sparked his nerves. Lord, he hadn’t experienced anything like that. Skin hot and flushed, he moved to embrace her and deepen the kiss. Instead, she grabbed his wrists and anchored them above his head; a simple gesture of dominance and one he’d never thought of as arousing until then. Her ministrations slowed to a crawl, opting for tracing the seams of his lips and he thrusting his own eager tongue forward, desperate for another taste of spice and something familiar…a flavor of summer and sweet lemonade. She pressed harder, her breasts crushed to his chest, his wrists still restrained, her nails biting into the flesh. Royce’s desire ratcheted up further and as he thought he might succumb to the most embarrassing release ever, she pulled away. Panting, he tugged at his shirt collar. His date faced the window, out of the fan of illumination from low-lit lamps within the room. Curvy with toned arms and legs, her bare back on display, she stood straight and confident, her profile nothing less than stunning. He took a deep breath and exhaled hard. What a way to start the night. Chemistry wouldn’t be an issue. But he also wanted a little conversation. “That’s some way to say hello.” Chuckling, he grabbed his discarded bag and moved farther into the room. “Yes, it is. But I’ve wanted to do that for a long time.” Her voice sounded sultry and all-too-familiar. Holy hell. “Tori?”

About the Author:

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day, and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

Contact Details:

Website: http://riseoftheslush.blogspot.com Email: landra.graf7@gmail.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/landra.graf Twitter: @riseoftheslush