Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Guest Author Tina Donahue

A Warm Welcome 
to Guest Author Tina Donahue

And now for something a bit different on Gail's Place. I am thrilled to have Tina Donahue visit my blog today. She is a fellow Ellora's Cave author, and has written a series of delightful erotic contemporary novels. The newest, Seven Sensuous Days, is soon to be released and it looks to be a spicy hot read. Tina is offering a give-away, so be sure to check out the details at the end of this post.

Available at: Ellora’s Cave  
Release: March 5



Blurb for Seven Sensuous Days:

At an erotic auction, she’s his to bid on…to take…to command.

The night’s sultry, filled with carnal promise as Tessa participates in an agency event to raise money for charity. She’s chained and bared—as women were once displayed for a sultan’s harem—her sweet looks and full figure offered to the wealthy and powerful men.
Among them is Logan. To him, Tessa is so different from his late wife, the seemingly perfect female who cruelly stole his hope and future. Wanting only to forget and have a good time, he wins Tessa, demanding she be his in every way possible, engaging in all wanton acts, though not only for an evening…for seven sensuous days at his secluded Virginia estate.
A provocative proposal with such a dangerously virile man.
A week that changes everything, with Tessa’s exquisite vulnerability and Logan’s suddenly unquenchable desire more than either bargained for.

The Series:

My Appointment with Pleasure series are loosely connected stories about women who know what they want, and the men who’ll risk everything to have them. At the agency, pleasure is the first order of business for the elite clients and their high-priced escorts. There are no restrictions on carnal appetites. Evenings are filled with wicked fantasies and sensual delights where nothing, especially shameless desire, is off limits.
Claiming Magique, book one, opened the series. Magique is no ordinary call girl, which Hunt soon discovers. After one evening with her, he’s hooked, and he moves heaven and earth to make her his own.
Losing Control, book two, introduces us to Catherine. At a District party she meets Tim, Hunt’s friend from Claiming Magique. Taken with him, as he is with her, Catherine doesn’t reveal she’s a call girl. She wants Tim to desire her for the woman she really is. Of course, she’s playing with fire by not telling him the truth, but that’s what makes this romance so moving…and hot.
Illicit Intent, book three, features Guy and Joel, two male escorts for the agency. When Piper’s friend books them for Piper’s birthday…wow. Piper’s never the same. She wants more, more, and still more. Of course, there is one little problem. She works for the FBI and her dad’s a top cop in the District.
Throughout these stories, the one constant is Ronnie, the agency’s owner. Her blossoming love with Wallace, her chauffeur, has led many fans to ask me to write their story. J

Maybe next time. For now, it’s Tessa and Logan’s turn in Seven Sensuous Days.

 About Tina:

Tina Donahue is an award-winning, bestselling novelist in erotic, paranormal, contemporary and historical romance for Samhain Publishing, Ellora’s Cave, and Kensington. Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Romantic Times and numerous online sites have praised her work. Three of her erotic romances (Adored, Lush Velvet Nights, and Deep, Dark, Delicious) were named finalists in the 2011 EPIC competition. The French review site, Blue Moon reviews, chose her erotic romance Sensual Stranger as their Book of the Year 2010 (erotic category). The Golden Nib Award at Miz Love Loves Books was created specifically for Lush Velvet Nights, and two of her titles (The Yearning and Deep, Dark, Delicious) received an Award of Merit in the RWA Holt Medallion competition (2011 and 2012). Take Me Away and Adored both won second place in the NEC RWA contest (different years). Tina is featured in the 2012 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market. She was the editor of an award–winning Midwestern newspaper and worked in Story Direction for a Hollywood production company.

FB Fanpage:
Amazon author page:


Tina will choose one commenter as her winner. Winner gets her choice of one of Tina’s award-winning, bestselling ebooks from this list:

1. Adored – RWA award-winning; EPIC 2011 Finalist; 4 Stars RT
2. Deep, Dark, Delicious – EPIC 2011 Finalist; Holt Medallion Award of Merit
3. Lush Velvet Nights – EPIC 2011 Finalist; Golden Nib Award
4. In His Arms – SIX 5 Star Reviews; 4 Stars RT
5. Sensual Stranger – 2010 Book of the Year (erotic); 4 Stars RT
6. The Yearning – Top Ten Bestseller
7. Take Me Away – #1 Pick, Miz Love Loves Books
8. Unending Desire – Best Book Rating LASR
9. SiNN – Nominated for Book of the Week LASR
10. Sinfully Wicked – Magnificent – Romancing the Book
11.  Claiming Magique – Top Pick – NOR
12. Illicit Desire – Four Stars Romantic Times

13. Come Fill Me – Five Stars – Guilty Pleasures

Monday, February 17, 2014

Another Leather Purse

*For my entry for the Romance, My Way blog hop, please scroll down to the next post.*

A Very Special Project

I've decided to take a short break from posting about my writing.

It's been a while since I've shared pictures of my leather work, so I thought I'd talk about my latest project. Sarah, my daughter, was in love with my previous purse - the one made with the little crocheted circles. She requested I make her one for her birthday, and I thought it was a lovely idea. That was in...September. Her birthday is in October. I finally finished the purse last week ... halfway through February! Sarah was very patient, though. She said there was no hurry. She enjoyed seeing it grow each time she came to visit.

This is a close-up of the previous purse, the one that inspired Sarah's birthday purse

On the Sunday evening we started the project, we cleared off the kitchen table and made ourselves nice hot cups of tea. (Tea is an important piece of any project.) Then, I brought in my eight boxes of leather scraps and we pawed through them, looking for great color combinations. She was drawn to purples, and so that was what we built the color scheme from.

Next, we started sketching. She wanted a purse "the size of a big book", or big enough "so a book could fit into it", so we used that as a guide. We set her current purse on the table and measured it. Then we started drawing. The drawings (below) are crude, but we knew exactly what we had in mind.

It's hard to tell from the sketches, but the purse is designed to have a magnetic closure. Velcro was brought up as an option for a closure (by me), but discarded pretty quickly (by Sarah) - and she was right. The magnet was much nicer in the end. She wanted "lots of pockets", which I found to be a challenge because of the circle design, but I worked it out by stitching two pieces of supple black leather between the front and back sides to create three full-sized interior pockets.

Once we had the basic design figured out, I went to work. Every evening when the TV was on - I remember episodes of "Downton Abby" and several English Premier League football games - I cut out circles, punched holes, crocheted, and stitched. Little by little, it came together. Sarah approved of each section as it appeared.

And here it is!

And here is my beautiful daughter with the purse.
Love you, Sarah! It was a pleasure.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day Blog Hop

A Blog Hop!
For more fun and adventure, and a chance to win a $50 gift card,
please visit the main page of the hop Here

Romance, My Way

Valentine's Day is the perfect time to share my favorite romantic books. I have a very wide range of things I love to read - mainstream fiction, memoir, women's fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, I love it all. And, of course ... I also love a dash of romance!

What are my favorites themes when it comes to romance?

#1 Castaway Survival

On a tropical Island, preferably. 

Remember "The Blue Lagoon"? It was the movie that started the whole "castaway lovers" thing for me, way back when I was still in middle school. Oh, how romantic it was! I erased Brooke Shields from the story and put myself in her place so that I could frolic on the pristine white beaches and build charming jungle huts with her teenage lover. (Funny, how sunburn and famine and sand everywhere never entered into my fantasies.) 

I recently read "On The Island" by Tracey Garvis-Graves. Yummy. It reminded me of "The Blue Lagoon", and that's a good thing.

#2 Time Travel

Two books stand out for me: the "Outlander" series by Diana Gabaldon, and "The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger. Very different stories, yet compelling in their own ways.

I cried and cried at the end of "The Time Traveler's Wife", which is very surprising for me. I can count the times on one hand that a book has made me break down sobbing. 

As far as time travel ... I also have to mention the wonderful science fiction series "The Company" by Kage Baker. The first book in the series, "In the Garden of Iden", was especially wonderful because the love between the characters was so strong and the end was so heartbreaking.

#3 Doorstop Novels

You know what I mean...those huge books that go on and on and you never want them to end. One of the first romantic doorstops I read was "The Thorn Birds" by Colleen McCullough. There were many, many afterwards - because I always had my nose in a book. I've had a love affair with books almost as long as I can remember. The first romantic book (of sorts) I have a distinct memory of was the story of a girl and her love for her misunderstood pet dragon. If I had to choose a place to spend might be a library.

#4 Friends-to-Lovers

Probably my favorite trope of all. There's something special about people who have known each other forever, know each other's strengths and weaknesses and love each other anyway - and who find love with each other when they least expect it.

This is what happens between Leah and Benson in my first full-length novel, America's Darlings. They're athletes competing in the Olympic Games of the near future, and they've been partners and best friends for years. It takes a near disaster for them to discover the love that has been there all along.

America's Darlings is available at Ellora's Cave:

Blurb for America's Darlings:

Leah Collins is a sexual gymnast, a brilliant athlete poised to compete in the Mexico City Olympic Games of 2112. She takes pride in her advanced skills in the sexual arts, but performing Courtesan’s Treat and Raging Volcano in front of thousands of cheering fans is no easy task, especially when sexual malfunctions threaten.
At her side, a pillar of strength and compassion, is her best friend, Benson White. He is the one who scrapes her from the ground when her self-destructive tendencies surface. Benson is a talented sexual gymnast in his own right, the other half of America’s Darlings.

They hope for a gold medal. What neither of them expects is to fall in love.

An Excerpt of America's Darlings 
(taken from a scene near the beginning of the novel):
I looked at Benson, trembling.
“Can I trust you?”
“Yes,” I whispered, “you can trust me. You can trust me to do the best I can.”
After a while he nodded. “Good. That’s good enough. For now. We’ll discuss it again later. When we’re not just about to perform in the goddamn Olympics.”
“I won’t risk our partnership again.”
“I know. You didn’t mean to this time.”
“I didn’t.”
“You got in over your head with those asshole Russians.” He slid closer to me then patted the bench. “I need to help you relax now, don’t I? And here I am, making you even more upset.” He sighed. “C’mere. You’re still my Leah. You’re still my best friend. You’re still my partner.”
I leaned into him, afraid to speak. Too numb to speak.
He put his arm around me and we sat on our bench for a long while, watching the breeze shuffle the leaves. I closed my eyes. Forty-five minutes until we had to be at the arena. Just enough time to get my equilibrium back. Maybe. If I were lucky. Thank goodness for Benson. I didn’t take him for granted! If only he know how much I depended on him. He understood me like no one else. He could make me feel better no matter what was happening in my screwed-up head. He knew how.
He always did.
He turned to me. “I want you”

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Interview With a Healer

Healing Hands:

Fascinating Research for my New Novel

I have recently started a new erotic horror novel set in the same world as Inn on the Edge. Dahlia, my earnest and good-hearted main character, enters an Institute that teaches Curative Touch and soon finds herself tangling with Sex Demons. They manipulate her into helping them with their dark, twisted ulterior motives. Along the way, Dahlia will discover that she is a talented sexual healer. And, to make her choices even harder, she'll fall in love with a young Sex Demon.
The book is coming together - but I have so many questions: What exactly is touch healing? What sorts of maladies can a touch healer help with? What does society think of what they do? I am especially interested in what the healing feels like from the healer's point of view.
I had to interview a touch healer.
Gloria - a pseudonym - is a real person. She is a lovely massage therapist I've known for several years. I only recently learned that she has studied healing touch extensively, and has untold hours of hands-on experience. Her healing work is separate from her massage therapy work. I was thrilled when she agreed to this interview.

~~~The Interview~~~

Me: What is your background?

Gloria: I am a practicing massage therapist, with the anatomy and physiology coursework required for licensing in the State of Washington. I also study such things as herbal remedies, cranial-sacral massage, infant massage, and more. I also am very interested in Maya Healing techniques, and have attended several in-depth workshops in Central America with native Maya healers. I am always educating myself, incorporating everything I can into my work. I do not reject Western Medicine - I just feel like there are other, ancient, more gentle methods that are beneficial alongside it.

Me: Can you tell me how you approach a healing?

Gloria: First, I do "triage" - I listen to what the person wants, then decide if that's what they really need. For example: a person might want me to work on their knee, they might tell me it aches and hurts and can I please, please help with it. Well, I might or I might not work on the knee itself. I have to see if the knee joint is actually where the problem stems from. The patient doesn't always know. I'll do an evaluation. It may be that I'll decide that it is really the hip joint that needs work and not the knee.

Me: Do you prepare yourself emotionally before a session?

Gloria: Good question. I do prepare myself, I do have rituals. If I didn't, I could easily become overwhelmed, and if that were to happen, I wouldn't be much help to anyone.

Me: What are your rituals?

Gloria: I need barriers. I need to separate myself from the work. Rituals help. I have a calming, cleansing hang-washing ritual that I've used for years, using herbs and spring water and a pouring vessel that has special meaning to me. I wash my hands after every healing, outdoors if at all possible. Of course I constantly do hygienic hand-washing also, for obvious reasons, but that's different. My ritual hand-washing is deeper, more emotional, not meant to clean, but to spiritually cleanse.

Me: Any other rituals?

Gloria: I put myself into a different mind-space when I heal. To do this, I always change into my "practitioner clothes" - which is soft, comfortable clothing that I only use for this purpose. I don't do a healing in my everyday street clothes, it doesn't give me the emotional separation I need.

I prefer to do the healings in a quiet, secluded spot, preferably the same place every time. This applies for massages also. If this isn't possible, then I pay extra attention to my rituals.

Me: Is there anything you find especially difficult?

Gloria: Yes. People's need can devour you if you let it. I can't give people in need everything they ask for. One of the hardest things I learned was how and when to hold part of myself back.

It's not something I like to talk about, but there are the rare people that I call "Black Pits". I have to be super careful not to let this sort of person's problems rub off on me or overwhelm me. "Black Pit" people can have a miasma of upset and hurt hanging to them, troubles so powerful they seem capable of clinging to other people as well. That is why I find it necessary sometimes to hold myself behind careful barriers.

I do want to point out that these "Black Pit" people are not the same as the "people in need" I just mentioned. I also want to point out that in both cases, the hardest part is not being able to completely stop their pain.

Me: What does the healing feel like, from your perspective?

Gloria: Sometimes, if I'm having a really good day, I can read a person a bit. This is a sense of feeling what's inside of a person, inside their body. Sometimes I can feel problem areas with my hands before even touching a person, just from passing my hands above their body. It feels rather like a hot spot. This is something I've developed with time and practice. I'm pretty sure that, if I wanted to, I could work on this skill enough to be able to find tumors. There are healers who can do this, who are tumor hunters. But I'm not at that point.

When I first started, I discovered that I could sometimes read a person and know their soul, know everything about them. But I quickly understood that it was too much. It was an invasion of their privacy. It was too much information for me to deal with, too overwhelming, too many things that I didn't want to know about a client. So I trained myself not to "look" at a person that way. I haven't done that kind of looking into a person for twenty years.

Me: What else do you find helpful to your work?

Gloria: Timing is crucial. I have to stick to hour-long sessions. When I first began, I would let sessions with friends and clients get away from me. Sometimes they'd go for hours and hours. Some of the longest sessions were four or five hours long, which was ridiculous. It was a breach of boundaries and a terrible expenditure of healing energy. I didn't understand at first that over-doing it would make me feel sick the next day.

The exception to the time limit is when I'm studying. Sometimes I do special healing workshops where the healing sessions are allowed to be much longer, so students can explore these same issues in a controlled environment.

Me: How about sexual healing? Have you ever heard of that?

Gloria: Absolutely. There is a huge population of healers, and some of them do sexual healing and take it very seriously. And yes, some of them have sex with clients as a valued part of their work. Look up "sexual surrogacy" to find information about sexual healers.

Thank you to Gloria for allowing me this glimpse into the workings and inner thoughts of a healer. As well as being fascinating, you've shared invaluable information which will be a great help to me in my writing. You can put your hands on me anytime.