Another Giveaway of A Knight in Cowboy Boots

Spooktacular Giveaway Participants
Halloween's coming and all the kids will be out playing Trick or Treat and anticipating the sugar hight. Seems like there's no treats for us big kids. I think there should be. For some readers, there will be because I'm a Reader, not a Writer has organized a blog hop giveaway. (That's their image on the right. Click on it to see the list of participants.)

Since Halloween was always a favorite holiday of mine, how can I not participate in this? All you have to do to have a chance to win is to leave a comment below. Be sure I have a way to contact you and let me know what format you eread in.

To whet your lust for A Knight in Cowboy Boots, here's an excerpt:

For the second time that day, their clothes ended up on the floor. Maddie straddled him as she pushed him down onto the bed.

“You sure you wanna do this?” Zach asked. “I’ll get a lot of depth with you on top.”

She leaned over to kiss him. “You haven’t hurt me yet.”

Zach groaned with pleasure as she lowered herself onto him. She rocked up and back a few times, seating him deep inside her.
“Ride ‘em, cowgirl,” Zach muttered.

Maddie grinned in response. “Yee-haw.”

The words were barely out of her mouth when the front door opened. A freckle-faced girl with strawberry blonde hair was several steps into the room before she saw them. “Holy shit!”

Pandemonium engulfed the bed. Maddie dove into Zach’s chest, her startled scream shrill in his ear, as he grabbed a fistful of the bedspread to drag over the two of them.

Maddie gathered up the other side of the spread as she slid off Zach. Bunching it up in front of her breasts, she struggled to cover all the vital areas before she said, “Peggy! What are you doing here?”

When Maddie called her name, Peggy blushed redder than her hair and spun on her heel. Speaking over her shoulder, she said, “I thought you wanted me to sit for you. Didn’t you say you were covering the last half of Pete’s shift tonight?”

“Oh, crap. I forgot.” Maddie started to scramble off the bed but bounced back when the spread Zach was laying on refused to stretch that far. “Shit, I’m going to be late.” Caught with no good choices, she glanced at Peggy’s back before dropping the spread and scurrying to the wardrobe. The open door blocked Peggy from seeing anything above Maddie’s knees, but there was nothing wrong with the view from the bed. Zach rolled onto his side, the bedspread strategically draped over his hips, and propped his cheek on his palm to watch.

He’d known since puberty that he was an ass-and-legs man. As she hopped up and down, trying to get a leg into a pair of black slacks, Maddie only demonstrated she had the qualities he found most appealing.

Across the room, Peggy started babbling about how someone had been going out the front door as she was coming in and how sorry she was for not ringing the bell to warn Maddie she was on her way up, and how sorry she was to have just walked in, but she knew it was Jesse’s nap time, and she hadn’t wanted to disturb him, and how she’d never had any reason to expect that Maddie might be getting lucky . . .

Maddie appeared to hear none of it as she pulled a raspberry and pink print shirt from the armoire then turned, looking around wildly for a second before her eyes found what she sought near the bed. She shot Zach a pleading look. He scooted over to the edge and stretched until he could hook his fingers around a strap of the bra she’d so hastily discarded earlier.

She mouthed a “Thanks” when he tossed it to her.

Zach continued to watch as she put it on then leaned over to adjust her breasts into the cups. It wasn’t anywhere near what he’d been hoping the afternoon would bring, but it wasn’t a bad consolation prize. Aside from how quickly she dressed—something he would have bet no woman he’d ever known could do—he liked that she was too distracted to realize the show she was giving him.

“You can turn around now,” Maddie tossed at Peggy as she closed the wardrobe. She skirted the bed, scooping up Zach’s jeans as she passed and throwing them at him. Maddie picked up the brush on top of the dresser, flung her hair forward as she bent, and began attacking her mane. Zach sighed with contentment.

Jesse started fussing in his crib as the commotion finally woke him.
“I’ve got him,” Peggy said. She hauled Jesse out of the crib and held him against her chest. “Is he the roses guy?” Peggy whispered loudly, as though Zach couldn’t hear her. From the grin on her face, he suspected he met with her approval.

Maddie tossed her hair back as she straightened, revealing a pinker-than-usual complexion. “Uh—yeah. Peggy, this is Zach.” She pointed the hairbrush from him to the grinning girl. “Zach, Peggy. She’s a neighbor. And Jesse’s sitter.”

“I’m guessing there’s going to be more roses in your future,” Peggy predicted with a grin, the memory of her own embarrassment obviously already fading into the distant past.

Zach silently blessed her for the inspiration. Flowers never came to mind unless he needed to apologize, but if anyone deserved them just because, it was Maddie. Especially after the day they’d just had.

“I’ve got to put on makeup,” Maddie mumbled, heading for the bathroom with Peggy on her heels.

Zach took the opportunity to pull on his jeans. Down on his hands and knees, he searched under the bed for his socks.

“What a hunk!” he heard from the bathroom, followed by Maddie shushing the girl. Zach grinned to himself as he put on his shirt.
Socks in hand, he sat down on the bed. His boots came next.

“You ready, Zach?”

He chalked up another point for Maddie. A new land speed record for applying makeup.

“Yeah. Here’s your bag.”

“Are you going to button your shirt? You look like you’ve been mugged.”

He let Maddie see a lustful twinkle in his eyes. “Oh, I have been. There ain't no buttons left to button.”

“Ooh, Maddie!” Peggy said. “You go, girl.”

For the first time since Peggy walked into the room, Maddie stopped short. “You can’t walk into the hotel like that.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’ve got another shirt in my room.”

“But you can’t walk into the hotel like that,” she persisted.

Zach wasn’t sure where her distress was coming from unless it had to do with his sister figuring out what they’d spent the day doing. He opened his mouth to reassure her again but stopped when she walked slowly across to the wardrobe and pulled out the last hanger. It held a faded blue work shirt like the ones he wore on the ranch.
She held the shirt against herself, and he would have sworn she breathed in the scent of it for a moment before she turned and offered it to him.

“Here. You can wear this.”

“You sure?” Zach asked, his hand closing around the hanger. He didn’t know why he asked, except it seemed as though she didn’t really want to part with the shirt. He was even more sure when she held onto the hanger as she considered the question. Not understanding the undercurrents of her emotions, he waited until she pulled her hand back.

“Yes. Leave your shirt. I’ll find the buttons.”

While she dug in her purse for her car keys, Zach sniffed the shirt. It smelled of sweat but only faintly, as though time rather than washing had faded the scent, but it fit well enough when he shrugged into it.

Romance Giveaway Hop

So from the eighth through fourteenth of October, Celebrating Romance is sponsoring a Romace Giveaway Hop. You know what that is, right?

If you visit the blogs listed at their site, you'll have the opportunity to win a romance novel. Heck, you'll have the opportunity to win something at every site listed. And yes, this is one of the stops.

So what can you win here? That would be a kindle ebook of A Knight in Cowboy Boots. And why should you want to win it? Well, I may be bias, but I think it's a great story. "Why should you believe me?" you ask. Ah, the world is full of skeptics. To help you decide, here's an excerpt.

“Let me get that there drink for the lady, Pete.” Mr. East Texas Drawl stepped up to the bar. “That is, if the lady don’t mind?”

She turned her head cautiously, afraid moving too fast would blur her vision.

Mr. East Texas was watching her, waiting for a cue his offer was welcome.

Maddie cleared her throat. “Thank you.”

Oh, crap. She sounded all Marilyn Monroe breathy.

He handed the bartender a ten. Maddie expected him to pull up the next barstool. Instead, he shoved it over with his foot and leaned one elbow against the bar. “So what’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?”

Maddie laughed. It should have sounded old, trite, and corny, but nothing said in that drawl could sound anything but enchanting to her. Her laughter lit something deep in Mr. East Texas’s dark eyes. Maddie suddenly felt warm. Sitting-in-front-of-a-raging-fire-on-a-cold-winter-night warm. The flutter in her heart moved into the pit of her stomach.

“Don’t tell the bartender, but I’m casing the place to see if I want his job.” Maddie said, keeping her voice conversational. The bartender's eyebrows rose, but he didn’t comment. He’d no doubt seen this dance often enough.

“Ah, well. Looking for employment. That’s respectable then.” Mr. East Texas nodded sagely. “Though I gotta admit, I was hoping you was here for less reputable reasons.”

“You mean like looking for a man to take me away from all this?” Maddie's open-handed gesture included the entire bar.

“Even the best watering holes have a long tradition of that sorta thing. Why, my daddy met my mamma in a place a lot like this.”

Maddie fought to keep a grin from breaking out across her face. How long had it been since she’d engaged in light-hearted banter, never mind flirting? It seemed like eons. “Really?”

“Well, maybe there wasn’t as much brass and mirrors. Or the selection of beverages this fine establishment has. And there ain’t no straw on the floor nor fiddle player in the corner . . . ” He looked away as though seeking a fiddle player. “And they had dancin’.” His nostrils narrowed with an indrawn breath. His eyes came back to hers. “Damn. A man oughta take a woman dancin’.”

The flutter in Maddie’s stomach moved lower.

“What kind of dancing do you do to fiddle music?”

“The spirited kind.” He let a beat pass before he continued. “But I think you’re the kinda woman a man takes slow dancin’. Someplace where there ain’t much light, so’s nobody’d see when I kissed you.”

He held her eyes, waiting for her response.

Someone down the bar hollered for Pete’s attention and he moved away. Their audience gone, Maddie swiveled on her barstool to face him straight on.

“What if I didn’t want to be kissed?” she asked, knowing her body language sent a completely different message.

“Why, ma’am . . . ” He leaned slowly closer as he spoke. “I don’t think I’d ask first.” His lips brushed hers lightly. Just a gentle touch, as though she’d been kissed almost in passing. He pulled back, but only a couple of inches. Neither of them had closed their eyes. Maddie swallowed, trying to work up some moisture in her suddenly dry mouth.

“My daddy says sometimes it’s better to ask for forgiveness than for permission.”

“Does he?” Maddie forced out.

“Oh, yeah.” His tone was heartfelt. “And I think I may need a passel of forgivin’,” he said just before he kissed her again. 

So now that you're convinced, you're asking, "How do I win a kindle copy of this?"

It's simple. Leave a comment on this blog. On the 19th, I'll get out my magic eight ball (aka Excel's random number generator) and pick the corresponding commenter to win. You can check back on the 19th, or even better, make sure I have a way to contact you to let you know you won.

Make sure you visit the other stops on this hop as well 

Is it Erotica?

I'm published now and that's a wonderful feeling, but there are still a few things that confuse me. Okay, there are a lot of things that confuse me, but we're only going to talk about one today.

I chose Pink Petal Books as my publisher, at least in part, because they have such great covers. (See? Over there on the right. Isn't mine fantastic?) Traditional publishing seems to be falling apart at the seams, so the decision to go with an epublisher made sense to me. Epublishers pretty much got their foot in the door with erotica, and I think, in some people's minds, that mostly what you find there. Now you can find anything from sweet romances to hard-core erotica. I don't know if the numbers still show most of the royalties being paid to erotica authors, but for a long time, that was the common knowledge.

So what am I confused about?

I'm confused about what earns a book the label "erotica."

You see, when I was trying to figure out where my story fell in this wide spectrum, I read some erotica authors like Emma Holly. Some were good, some were not to my taste, but what they had in common was the intense focus on sex. And usually, sex long before there was any sort of emotional bond. Often, at least one of the characters had very liberal views about sex partners and sexual activity (bondage, threesomes, orgies, etc.) Yes, they had a story. Well, the better ones did, but in most cases, I don't think the audience for these books are reading for the riveting plot.

I was saddened. Mostly because I could see I was not going to be getting any steaks from this cash cow. I knew I couldn't write like that. Not comfortably anyway. Yes, my stories are sensual. Spicy. Sexy. I don't close the bedroom door, and I don't wait until the end of the story for my characters to consummate. Love is the payoff, not sex. For me, the emotional lives of the characters are the heartbeat of the story.

So imagine my surprise when I saw that my publisher had listed the book on several distribution sites as, not just erotica, but as five-chili peppers hot erotica.

I cringed. I considered asking them to change it. I knew anyone who expected an Emma-Holly-type story would be disappointed.

In the end, I decided to let it stand. This is their business, after all, and I'd chosen to trust them with my baby. I don't want to second guess their every decision, but it has led me to question how one decides what is erotica and what isn't. Is it like my definition of kinky? (Kinky = something I wouldn't do. This is a wonderful definition, BTW, since it means that if I'll do it, by definition, it isn't kinky.)

Isabel Allende is quoted as saying, "Erotica is when you use a feather, porn is when you use the whole chicken." So maybe erotica has to do with the size of your feather because there's a whole world of difference between a chicken feather and an ostrich feather.

So help me figure this out. What makes a story erotica in your mind? Where do you draw the line?