A Rose is a Rose?: Cristal Ryder

Cristal Ryder is a talented author who writes some…well, very HOT stuff. Her novel BEING ARIANA would no doubt melt a snowman in a few seconds, but it’s featured at the Lyrical Press Christmas Bash for 30 percent off! Cristal is here to share her thoughts about naming characters. Welcome Cristal!

BREATHE: Do you feel your character names are influenced by the theme of your story? Why or why not?

CRISTAL: Yes I do. At least for me, I *feel* the character differently by their name. Somehow their name becomes the essence of who I’ve created and the name seems to reflect it.

BREATHE: If you wrote in another genre, would it affect the names you picked for your characters? Why do you think this is?

CRISTAL: Yes it does. I finished a sci fi and the names were quite different. The heroine’s name changed as well after the story was complete. All the way through she went by one name and then when I did the read through she no longer represented that name and it changed to something else which fit her so much better. I think it could be because of the world building and the naming fits it better.

BREATHE: What is your favorite character name—either your own or somebody else’s? Why do you like this name?

CRISTAL: I used to love the name Kash. I knew a Kash years ago and he was gorgeous, nice, sexy, everything yummy. I used this name in my first ever written book, yet to be published :). The strange thing is, when I read it through now, I don’t like it as much and have considered changing it.

BREATHE: Do you feel a character’s name affects the way you write him or her?

CRISTAL: I’m not sure. I think the characteristics of the character becomes who the name fits. It’s like they go hand in hand somehow. But when the name doesn’t fit it stands out like a sore thumb.

BREATHE: Are there any names you absolutely will not use for a character?

CRISTAL: I hadn’t thought about this. Good question. Right now, I don’t think there is anything that specifically sticks out in my mind.

Excerpt from BEING ARIANA:

Ariana carefully composed herself and positioned the peak of the organza hood a little lower over her face. She felt the flush on her cheeks and the need to regain her composure from prying eyes. Her focus for the night had shifted dramatically in the last few minutes because of this strange man. Ariana turned her head within the hood to see if he was still there. He stood at the bottom, watching her. Ariana’s heel caught on the runner and she saw him start as if to jump up the stairs and assist her. She caught herself in time and shook her head, hoping he would get the message to leave her alone. Again, his brilliant smile clutched at her heart and he nodded his head. But she didn’t really know what that nod meant. Was he agreeing to leave her alone, or was it simply an acknowledgement of…what?

Oxygen filled her starved lungs and clarity came back with air. She decided to think of him as a delectable treat to help enhance her experience tonight and nothing more.

She knew her encounter with the mystery maitre’d had been noticed. The arousal of those around her was tangible and the weight of hungry gazes followed her until she found a table close to the balustrade. Ariana loved the interest the observers had in her recent encounter and rather than be intimidated by being watched, she thrived on it. At the table she paused and turned her head slightly behind the veil, enough to see some of those sitting around her and their stares skittered away when she caught them gaping with curiosity. Ariana smiled, and with a graceful movement sat at the center of a butter soft, wine-colored settee big enough for two.

Her fingertips touched the edge of the veil, making sure it was still where she wanted it. These seats offered a clear view of the lower level and yet the high back hid her from anyone seated behind. She scanned the floor below and concentrated on bringing her heart and breath firmly under control.

Guests in all kinds of masquerade mingled about or sat with their drinks at tables placed in concentric arcs before the stage. The lights, already dim, would be lowered even more in a little while, then all the focus would be on the performers.

Ariana could almost taste the growing excitement of the crowd. It thrilled her, and she grew more aroused, tightening her thigh muscles in pleasure.

People on the upper level shuffled around the seats in costume. Their choice to be at the top had purpose. They didn’t want to be noticed. Their tastes leaned toward watching only. Lighting ran along the edge of the floor, low and muted, mostly for safe passage between the tables and chairs. It gave the room a cavernous appearance that swallowed the furniture and guests into a dark void. Perfect for their anonymity. Many curious voyeurs in the dark hungered to watch the performers on the stage.

She swung her gaze to the main floor and watched the activities below. Costume clad hostesses fussed with guests and ensured their satisfaction with cocktails. Many still mingled and others had found their seats.

Her gaze stopped at the base of the stairs. Was she hoping to see him? Her breath caught slightly and sweet heat tingled between her thighs. She admitted he aroused her, unlike others, and sought him out with her gaze. The dark velvet curtains did well at hiding anyone standing in their folds. Then a section moved and she focused on the spot.

Visit Cristal at http://cristalryder.com.

A Rose is a Rose?: Diane Escalera

Today I welcome Diane Escalera to my personal rose garden. Diane is a fellow Lyrical Press author and her book DANGEROUS DESIRE is on sale at Lyrical Press for 30 percent off as part of the Christmas Bash. Diane agreed to give you a little taste of DANGEROUS DESIRE as well as a little background in how she chooses the names of her characters. Welcome Diane!

BREATHE: Do you feel your character names are influenced by the theme of your story? Why or why not?

DIANE: For me, character traits are what influence the name. Is the hero a bad boy? Is the heroine sweet and soft-spoken? Maybe he’s a good guy and she’s the wild child. I try to come up with names that fit the image I have in mind, something that captures the spirit
of the character.

BREATHE: If you wrote in another genre, would it affect the names you picked for your characters? Why do you think this is?

DIANE: I think it would. For instance, modern names in a historical romance would sound unrealistic.

BREATHE: What is your favorite character name—either your own or somebody else’s? Why do you like this name?

DIANE: I really love the name of my current hero, Cruz. I think it’s strong, sexy and edgy, just like him! I wanted something exotic, a name that wasn’t played out. Cruz suited this man to a T.

BREATHE: Do you feel a character’s name affects the way you write him or her?

DIANE: Most definitely! Once again, I believe the character’s personality influences their name.

BREATHE: Are there any names you absolutely will not use for a character?

DIANE: Not really. In fiction, anything is possible!

Happy Holidays! And thank you, Michelle, for this awesome opportunity.

Please visit DianeEscalera.com to learn more about my sexy tales. I love to interact with readers! “Like” my fan page on Facebook.com/DianeEscaleraOfficial. Follow me on Twitter.com/DianeEscalera.

Excerpt from Dangerous Desire:

In full view, Cruz stripped off his sweaty black tee and Sienna nearly had a heart attack. Jesus Christ. The men at her gym would’ve despised him. Her eyes slowly drank him in. Good God. He had the sexiest bod she’d ever seen. Taut and tan, his muscles were chiseled in a way that gave his dimensions beautiful symmetry. Tori would’ve been impressed. She’d always preached about the importance of muscle balance. Some men took it to the extreme. Not Cruz. He sported a tapered waist with shredded abs, V-shaped torso, and arms that made her drool because, if she had to pick a favorite body part, arms were it.

He used the dirty shirt to dry sweat off his gorgeous frame. Her eyes followed his movements, stopping at the bulldog tattoo etched on his sculpted pec, with the word Marines below. He’d been in the service, a kickass Marine. How hot!

He busted her checking him out.

She yanked her eyes away. Jeez. Her face probably looked as red as it felt.

Holding up a fresh shirt, he shook it out a few times. The sound of fabric caught her attention. Her gaze slid that way again. Okay. Sound had nothing to do with it. She just had to look one more time. He pulled the shirt over his head. Terrific. Now he wore a white muscle shirt tailor-made for his ripped physique. The thing should’ve been outlawed.

Wearing a sly smirk, he combed his fingers through his short, spiky hair. Running down the inside of his arm below his rock-hard biceps, he had another tattoo, this one with five small Chinese symbols. What a unique spot for a tattoo, and unbelievably sexy, like everything else about him. Even his name sounded hot.

He climbed into the driver’s seat and snapped his door shut. He didn’t look at her, but then, he didn’t have to. She knew he knew what kind of effect that little display had on her. Oh yeah. He had it written all over that smug face. He might be a soaking-wet dream she didn’t mind entertaining on a nightly basis, but she didn’t have to be so obvious.

Sienna grabbed her seatbelt and tried to latch it.

“Damn,” Cruz mumbled, as he watched her struggle with the belt. He turned on the ignition and flipped the air conditioning to the highest setting.

She looked at his face instead of his sinewy arm. It took willpower, because those arms really did it for her. “Is there a trick?” The mechanism wouldn’t click into place.

“I keep forgetting to get that thing checked,” he said. “Don’t usually carry passengers except for Roman.” He looked back at his dog and grinned. Roman sat on the bench seat patiently waiting to go bye-bye.

“It doesn’t work at all?” She preferred to wear a seatbelt, and not just because of the law. South Florida had some loony drivers.

“It just takes a little maneuvering,” he replied. “Let me give it a try.” He turned all that magnificence toward her and reached across her chest.

Holy crap, he was totally in her face, his delicious body stretched across her lap.

She held her breath and pressed her back into the seat, felt his weight, smelled his soap and baby shampoo. Her every cell fell under his spell. She tried to find her voice. “Any luck?” she squeaked out.

They were eye-to-eye, his mouth so close that if she puckered her lips, that would be it. His gaze traveled downward. He tilted his head like he wanted to kiss her. Uh-oh.

She hadn’t made out in years. She probably sucked at it by now. A magnetic intensity pulled her to him, and she had a feeling she’d relearn pretty quickly. Her body buzzed with sexual urgency. Not once in her life had she felt this consumed, this desperate to feel a man’s lips on hers.

A Rose is a Rose?: Stephanie Beck

My apologies for the late post this morning. This should have been up a couple of hours ago. However, I’m sick with the flu and slept in! At any rate, welcome my friend and fellow Lyrical Press author Stephanie Beck and her very interesting take on how the simple names are sometimes the best—even when your characters are far from simplistic.

BREATHE: Do you feel your character names are influenced by the theme of your story? Why or why not?

STEPHANIE: Sometimes I like to use character names that I feel reflect the theme–it can lead to really cute situations and if the work needs a shot of sweetness, it works really well.

BREATHE: If you wrote in another genre, would it affect the names you picked for your characters? Why do you think this is?

STEPHANIE I tend to stay with old favorites for names, especially with men. I don’t want the name to be a main focus or possible stumbling point. I think if I wrote more fantasy or sci-fi I might indulge a bit on ‘out
there’ names.

BREATHE: What is your favorite character name—either your own or somebody else’s? Why do you like this name?

STEPHANIE: My favorite from my stories is ‘Ben’ from Teaching Ms. Riggs. Ben is traditionally a men’s name, but in this one Ben was the name for the leading lady and was short for Benfri–the character’s mother’s maiden name. I like the old school feel of the naming tradition.

BREATHE: Do you feel a character’s name affects the way you write him or her?

STEPHANIE: I think to an extent the name can set a tone. I would write a ‘Lily’ different than a ‘Mona’ and on the male side a ‘Brock’ is completely different than an ‘Andy’. Social perception of names and my own personal history with the names would color how I write about them.

BREATHE: Are there any names you absolutely will not use for a character?

STEPHANIE: I need names I can pronounce at a glance and can spell without having a cheat sheet. I really prefer a more simple name in writing so most likely you won’t find any Arabellas or Antonio or Kelohanilea or Demetrious or any of their 3-4-5 syllable cousins in my future works.

Excerpt from A Winter Tale With Marshmallows:

Chris leaned close and nuzzled the side of her face. She could feel him breathe her in, and she did the same and smiled.

“That’s not a good idea.”

Mona thought he might say that. “It’s a very good idea,” she replied. “I won’t beg, though, not for what you need to want as much as I do. A family, pups, I don’t blame you at all for hesitating. It’s a big order you weren’t expecting. And my family…well, I understand. I’m sorry I asked.”

She started to pull away, the heady feeling of lust and comfort ebbing, when she realized what it was she’d asked of him. He’d actually let her down very sweetly. The hormones and cocoa had gone to her head and made her much too loose.

Mona scooted to the edge of the counter, but before her feet touched the floor his lips were on hers, consuming them with a passion she’d never experienced. She dove right in, delving deeper into his mouth as he tried to do the same. Her belly was much too big to press as close as she wanted, but it wasn’t stopping either of them from doing their best to crawl beneath the other’s skin.

“Stop, stop,” she gasped, the willpower to pull away coming from a place she didn’t know existed. She couldn’t breathe, and more importantly, she didn’t want him guilt-tripped into something he didn’t really want.

“You don’t understand,” he growled and snuggled her hips to his erection, the heat and hardness penetrating through both of their layers of sweats. “I’m not hesitating. You don’t— I do want you. Everything feels right, but it’s not fair to you, so I’m going to let this be for now. I’m not pushing you away or saying ‘no.’ Oh, hell no. I’m just giving you time to decide what you want.”

He started to pull away, and this time she grabbed him, tugging him back until they were face-to-face. She was strong, but she also knew he allowed it. “Then no sex, no mating. But please come with me to bed.”

“And do what?” he asked suspiciously.

Her lips kicked up in a small grin. “Snuggle?”


He sounded incredulous, and she figured it probably wasn’t the offer he usually got. But then he smiled, and she didn’t need him to speak when he lifted her in his arms, taking her weight with ease. He started for the bedroom, then doubled back to the kitchen. Mona frowned at him when he motioned to the counter with his head.

“Your cocoa, Miss Renalds.”

She smiled and, still in Chris’s arms, took the warm cup of chocolate from the counter and held it between her palms. His grin as he carried her down the hall made her think he might be anticipating some of her treat—silly wolf.

Cocoa and a snuggle. She sighed with the first complete pleasure she’d felt in much too long.

Buy A WINTER TALE WITH MARSHMALLOWS on sale at Lyrical Press, Inc.!

A Rose is a Rose?: Sutton Fox

Author Sutton Fox, author of CENTER RING (on sale right now for Lyrical Press’s Christmas Bash), joins me today with her unique take on naming characters.

BREATHE: Do you feel your character names are influenced by the theme of your story? Why or why not?
SUTTON: No. At least not consciously. For example, Center Ring is the second book in a series. All the main players were named long before I wrote the first book. In my head the name must fit the character, and ring true for me. I don’t consider the theme when it comes to names.

BREATHE: If you wrote in another genre, would it affect the names you picked for your characters? Why do you think this is?

SUTTON: It might. If I wrote historical, I’d use names from that time period. Or if I wrote paranormal I believe I’d be free to be a little more creative with character names because there’s more room for pushing boundaries. Since I write contemporary and romantic suspense I tend to use names consistent with modern day people. I think it makes it easier to suspend disbelief.

BREATHE: What is your favorite character name—either your own or somebody else’s? Why do you like this name?

SUTTON: Tohrment. He’s one of the brothers in J.R. Wards, BDB. This is just one example, but I really like all of them because torment by itself is a powerful word, used as a name, it just reaches out and grabs you. At least it did me. I simply had to know who this character was.

BREATHE: Do you feel a character’s name affects the way you write him or her?

SUTTON: Yes. Character names can represent many things to the reader, strength, weakness, or many things in between. It’s important that the character’s name is a good fit.

BREATHE: Are there any names you absolutely will not use for a character?

SUTTON: Rumpelstiltskin. It’s a classic. Anything else is fair game.


A late afternoon sun shed weakened rays through the patchy clouds, sprinkling tattered bits of sunlight over the ground. It was colder today. Julia pulled her coat closed against the nipping breeze and hurried into the building. She desperately wanted to ignore the incredible hulk following her around, but the manners Lacey had made sure she knew and understood wouldn’t let her. As a silent tribute to the only woman she’d ever willingly called Mom, Julia slowed her step and turned with a smile.

“Mr. Jameson, I’ve a staff meeting and conference calls for what little is left of the afternoon. Since I’ll be in my own office in the Cameron building, I’m sure I don’t require your services. If you’ve things you need to do, or reports to file, I’ll have Kelly find you a vacant office.” Using her best dismissive tone, she turned to walk inside.

She felt his heat when he pulled her close. His voice, almost a whisper, sounded low and seductive. It teased its way slowly across nerve endings long ignored, ignited embers she’d banked long ago. She rose to her full height and, with the help of Jimmy Choo, looked him straight in the eye.

“Mr. Jameson, as far as I’m concerned the only ‘good side’ you have is your ass heading out of my life.”


A Rose is a Rose?: L.K. Below

Today I am thrilled to be joined by fellow Lyrical Press author L.K. Below, author of urban fantasy novella STALKING SHADE, as my quest for the perfect character naming process continues.

BREATHE: Do you feel your character names are influenced by the theme of your story? Why or why not?

LK: My character names are often influenced by the theme of my story. In Stalking Shade, I spent a lot of time choosing Lori’s name. I wanted something simple but that fit her prickly goth exterior. Something like “Scissors” such as one of her friends, just didn’t fit. I wanted something accessible, that her parents might have named her, but at the same time something curt. “Lori” was just close enough to my given name of “Lindsay” that it was on my list of names that I wanted to use. Not to mention it fit Lori’s character completely.

The love interest, Terrence, I chose by chance. When I first started writing the book, I didn’t think he would play as big of a role as he ended up playing. So when I stuck him in the novel to annoy Lori, I didn’t take nearly as much time in choosing his name. But it stuck… and so did he.

The names which perhaps held the most meaning were the code names of those in The Order. For instance, Lori’s code name is Shade. It reflects her gothic nature, the mystery of the book, and plays a heavy role in the titles I chose for the trilogy. (Book 1: Stalking Shade, book 2: Out of the Shadows, coming April 2012, book 3: This Blackened Night, coming soon).

BREATHE: If you wrote in another genre, would it affect the names you picked for your characters? Why do you think this is?

LK: I do write in other genres, so I say absolutely. My choice of name depends on the character’s nationality or species, the time period during which they were born, and many other factors. For instance, in an Irish-themed contemporary romance, I chose Seamus as the name for my hero and because my heroine is from an Irish-settled part of New York City, I named her Kelsey. The names I choose have to fit my characters. I give them identities based on the names I choose.

BREATHE: What is your favorite character name—either your own or somebody else’s? Why do you like this name?

LK: My favorite character name happens to be the name of one of my first characters. Even though I’m still working on revising that particular book, I love the way the name rolls off the tongue. The Russian-flavored fantasy novel features a heroine by the name of Ekaterina Kataranovskia. It’s elegant and regal and fits her station perfectly… even if her nickname of Katya fits her brazen character a bit better.

BREATHE: Do you feel a character’s name affects the way you write him or her?

LK: Absolutely. As the character forms in my head, I come to associate him or her with that name. I will never be able to name another character Lori. Because when I think of Lori I think of the prickly goth I’ve taken along the journey in The Order trilogy. The name and the character are now inseparable to me.

BREATHE: Are there any names you absolutely will not use for a character?

LK: I try not to use names of people I know. Of course, this is not absolute. In one particular book, the sister of the main character has my sister’s name, Samantha. But the name fit her. She refused to take another. Somehow, I’ve learned to separate that Sam from my Sam. But it took a little while to wrap my mind around it.

Excerpt from STALKING SHADE by L.K. Below:

“See?” the bartender was telling the taller man. “If you want a night with Lori, it won’t be tonight. Wait and try some other time.”

Wise advice.

“What if I’m interested in more than a night?”

Lori nearly spewed her coffee on a couple walking past. She would need to keep an eye out for this guy. He gave a whole new meaning to persistence, and he hadn’t even approached her yet. She could only hope to scare him off by giving him the cold shoulder once he did.

Luckily, Ritchie came to her rescue. “Then you’re definitely outta luck, my man. I’ve known Lori for four years and she’s never had anything longer than a one night stand. She doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon.”

“I like a challenge.”

Lori resisted the urge to bang her head against the counter. She needed to evacuate. Now. DEFCON One.

She smacked her cup on the counter as Scissors muttered to Ritchie, “Does this guy have a death wish?” Presumably he was already en route to intercept her.

Lori fumbled with her change, starting to sort out what she owed. Changing her mind, she left the cash on the counter and shoved the bus pass into her pocket.

“Leaving so soon?” A deep, masculine voice. She recognized it with an inner groan.

Too late.

She turned slowly, thinking to nip this in the bud. He stood an inch or two taller than she did in her heeled boots, which made him at least six-four. His hair was black, cut short, and he had the most brilliant blue eyes she had ever seen. His easy smile proudly displayed a set of fangs. She narrowed her eyes. A faux-vampire.

Freaking wonderful.

Find Stalking Shade on sale at http://bit.ly/StalkingShade. Visit L.K. Below online at lbelow.blogspot.com or on her website at www.lbelow.net.

Two Guest Blog Stints!

Check me out on Author Lori Green’s blog: http://twooldfartstalkingromance.blogspot.com/2011/12/meet-michelle-flye-and-experience.html

…and Author Cristal Ryder’s blog: http://cristalryder.blogspot.com/2011/12/winter-solstice.html?spref=tw.

I’m very excited to be featured on two fellow Lyrical Press author’s sites on the same day! And don’t forget to check out Lyrical Press’s Christmas Bash here: http://www.lyricalpress.com/store/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=127.

Winter Solstice E-Reader Giveaway Continues: Nook vs. Kindle

Well, my giveaway continues, and it’s become a contest between the Nook and Kindle. Sorry Kobo! Nobody’s interested. Remember to leave a comment on my blog telling me which you prefer if you want to enter for your chance to win, but be sure to do it before December 22. The winter solstice is at 12:30 a.m. on December 22, so I plan to choose the winner from those who leave their entries before that time. Winner will be announced right here on December 22, so be sure to check it out.

My thanks to Autumn Piper for joining me yesterday for the return of my A Rose is a Rose? interview series. Be sure to check back tomorrow for fellow Lyrical Press author L.K. Below’s take on character monikers.

And in the meantime, don’t forget to visit Lyrical Press’s Christmas Bash. My own WINTER SOLSTICE is one of the featured books.

A Rose is a Rose?: Autumn Piper

The big Christmas Bash just began over on Lyrical Press today! Check it out for some great reads at a great price. I’ve asked my fellow Christmas Bash authors to join me on my blog in honor of the event, and as you all know, I’m obsessed with character names. Creating characters is one of the biggest honors a writer has, almost like you’re breathing life into a real person, so hitting on that perfect name for them is sometimes difficult. Check out how Autumn Piper, author of WAITING FOR REVENGE, feels about it below:

BREATHE: Do you feel your character names are influenced by the theme of your story? Why or why not?

AUTUMN: I do feel character names are (or should be) influenced by a story’s theme, and likewise, the mood of the story is influenced by the names of characters involved. Sometimes I research a character name and find out what the name’s origins are, and what it means in different countries. (I did this for my pen names also, by the way) In Waiting for Revenge, I named my main character Mandy, short for Amanda—worthy of love—which sounded to me like the name of an affable, approachable, forgiving person. And Mandy has indeed been pretty affable, up til when her husband decided to get it on with the town ho during a pre-Thanksgiving celebration with friends the night before the story opened. Everybody figures Mandy is such a pushover that she’ll forgive her husband for cheating and move on. All except for one other character (and she doesn’t call her Mandy, she calls her Amanda, not just because she’s a no-nonsense old lady who gives out salt-of-the-Earth advice, like telling Amanda to “take a page from the Black Widow Spider”), who demands Mandy hold her husband accountable and set an example for her kids, rather than try to save the marriage for the kids, like so many people would recommend.

BREATHE: If you wrote in another genre, would it affect the names you picked for your characters? Why do you think this is?

AUTUMN: Yes, character names should be genre-specific. A butt-kicking heroine in an action-packed suspense story should have a suitably tough name, whereas a demure heroine in a historical romance will probably have a more girly name. My characters have contemporary names because I write contemporary romance. But if I wrote futuristic, or historical, I’d need to give them entirely different names.

BREATHE: What is your favorite character name—either your own or somebody else’s? Why do you like this name?

AUTUMN: I think my favorite character name so far is Cleveland Howell—he’s the son of a Texas cattle mogul in my western contemporary, Lone Star Trouble. (My husband and son love to tease me about this name, but I love it anyway. It just feels as pretentious as Cleve’s dad seems to his Colorado nemesis, Kiersten.) Another of my faves is “Drew”, which is the name my heroine in Trouble Under Venus assumes. The FBI guy she can’t seem to get away from calls her Nancy Drew because she keeps snooping into his business, so once she succeeds in her time-travel mission to 1980 Miami, she adopts Drew–the first name she can think of.

A crit partner once pointed out I’ve made 2 of my heroines’ ex/dead husbands “Luke”. Both guys were ne’er-do-wells, but I’ve honestly never known a Luke I didn’t like. So… who knows where that comes from, but Luke appears to be my favorite bad guy name.

BREATHE: Do you feel a character’s name affects the way you write him or her?

AUTUMN: No, I’d say the reverse–I name a character based on who I plan to write her/him to be in the story. For example, the marriage counselor in Waiting for Revenge is a real fruit loop, so I made him an Aspen cast-off who goes by only one name—Baldwin (could’ve formerly been either his first name or surname, nobody knows, and Baldwin is just loopy and conceited enough he’ll never tell). His new-age, organic approach to therapy and this one-name bit with no “Dr.” included helps the reader identify with Mandy when she completely rejects everything Baldwin advises. How can such a doofus give useful advice, right?

BREATHE: Are there any names you absolutely will not use for a character?

AUTUMN: I don’t think I’d ever use Damien, unless I wrote a story about demons, which I don’t see happening, and I’m not wild about Steve or Stephen (as names, anyway. I’ve got a cousin with the name, who I like a lot, LOL).


I believe we’re the only couple we know from our generation still together. That’s very sad. Lasting marriages seem to have gone the way of console TVs and AM radio. They’re still out there, but you don’t hear much about them anymore. And, like many marriages, a lot of those TVs aren’t working, but folks can’t bring themselves to abandon them.

This counselor just joined a local practice of several mental health specialists, located in a new Roman-looking office building full of other everyday professionals. Nice. The accountants can look out their windows past the faux-stone pillars and watch the crazies and folks with their marriages on the rocks come and go.

What Will People Think Phobia makes me deeply fearful someone we know will see us, but there’s no way around it. Sooner or later, all the fools I graduated with who looked at me with envy at our ten-year reunion for my sexy, successful, doting husband will know I couldn’t keep him. I could keep him if I want to, I guess, but they’ll think I couldn’t.

With a courage-faking breath, I follow the other half of my failed marriage into the office, where he tells the receptionist we’re here to see “Baldwin”.
“Baldwin?” I repeat in a whisper, when we are seated in a corner. “Not Dr. Baldwin?”

Mike shakes his head. “He’s from Aspen, and he only has one name, not a last one, or first one, whichever. Just one name, and he doesn’t use ‘Doctor’. He wants to be on a level with his clients. That’s what they told me when I made the appointment.”

I’m laughing inside. Our therapist is a nut job! Mike has commissioned a totally off-the-wall counselor to try to mend a marriage I refuse to see fixed. My life has become a twisted comedy, funny to an onlooker, but soul-rending to me.

Baldwin emerges and ushers us into an office with several tiny fountains tinkling, incense burning, and zen music playing. I roll my eyes at Mike, and he tries to conceal his amusement. This is the kind of joke we would get off on. In the past, that is.

We’re both smiling entirely too much when Baldwin faces us on the loveseat, seated in an armchair across from us. He’s in his late twenties, with long straw-like hair, and bangs in dire need of trimming—bangs! Although he’s dressed in a suit, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he wore Birkenstocks with it.
Our hippie therapist proceeds to take a rough history of our marriage, ages, and frequency of lovemaking. The last seems odd to me, especially when he dwells on how much enjoyment we each derive from our love life, on a scale of one to ten.

Mike lies like a rug, and says it’s always been a nine or ten for him, up until this last week when I started holding out on him. Does he want me to tell this guy what he did?

I tell Baldwin it’s been anywhere from a six or seven to a ten, up until I saw Mike boning our friend’s girlfriend the night before Thanksgiving.

Mike’s selectively honest mouth drops wide open. Apparently, he didn’t expect his sin to be disclosed in the therapeutic process.

Autumn Piper—Got Romance?

Who has time to breathe in December? A Rose is a Rose returns, and let’s not forget my E-Reader Giveaway!

Does it ever seem like you blink and you’re halfway through the month? I know we’re not halfway through December, but we might as well be. I just now got myself organized for this month’s blog entries, and I’m really excited about it. In December, Lyrical Press is running a special promotion for some great romances. They’re calling it the Christmas Bash, and WINTER SOLSTICE is one of the featured books. You can find all the featured books here: Lyrical Press’s Christmas Bash. The bash features fourteen different authors and titles spanning all aspects of romance from contemporary to erotica.

I’m really excited to announce that I’ll be bringing back my A Rose is a Rose? interview series featuring some of my fellow Lyrical Press Christmas Bash authors starting December 10th. I hope you’ll join me as I interview Autumn Piper, L.K. Below, Lori Green, Stephanie Beck, Diane Escalera, Cristal Ryder and Rebecca Rose about the all important Character Name.

And please don’t forget about my Winter Solstice E-Reader Giveaway! I’ve gotten several entries already, and I’m hoping for more. Remember, all you have to do is drop me a comment and tell me what your favorite e-reader ($100 or less) is. If you win, I’ll order the e-reader and send it to you. You might even get it in time for Christmas!