Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Be Polished

Do you ever get irritated with all the nonsense in the news about political figures and celebrities who aren't capable of conducting themselves properly? The scandals and the secret babies, the destructive behavior and the just plain moronic behavior...I'm sure you know who I'm talking about with that last one. It all makes for great fiction, but that's about all it does.

Whether you talk in front of the camera or post online, people need to be responsible for their behavior and words. How you put yourself out there matters.

I know there are people who enjoy the gossip mill. And there are people who love drama. I've managed to stay clear of both because I don't gossip or desire drama, I lack the time and interest, and in the end it doesn't serve me to get involved. It doesn't add benefits to my life or well-being. It stirs negativity and hinders creativity. If you can't say something worthwhile and constructive, why bother?

For writers, and really for all professions, words matter. We want our words to have meaning, substance, purpose. There is a lot of power in words. You can empower with words. You can also strip someone of their power with words.

Putting the spotlight on writers, we spend a lot of time editing our work. We edit, edit again, and then edit again before we send our work to an editor who then edits even more. Why? Because we want our work polished before it's presented to the world. We want our best work to shine because it represents us, our brand, and our business. That mentality should extend beyond stories. It should extend into our daily lives.

We can all strive to do and be our best. We can conduct ourselves with grace and dignity. We can make a difference with our words in a way that counts. It just takes a little polish.

~Ann Cory

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My Hot Read of the Month

My Hot Read of the Month was Shameless by Anne Stuart, part of her House of Rohan series.

Also included in the series: Breathless, Ruthless, and Reckless.

What made it hot? Viscount Benedick Francis Alistair Rohan. Enough said.

Gorgeous cover(love that blue dress), fun characters, exciting plot, hot intimate scenes, and fabulous male and female leads.

Hot Read of the Month is hosted by Book Savvy Babe.

What was your hot read of the month?

~Ann Cory

Appreciating the Path

Are you one of those lucky people who traveled a smooth road to success? Whatever that success may be? Cool - thanks for stopping by - nothing to see here. I wish you continued success. Buh-bye.

Are you one of those people who have to work harder? Whatever it is that you do? You've been down the yellow brick road, the bumpy road, followed moldy breadcrumbs, hit a dead end or two, and know that a shortcut through the Gumdrop Mountains is a cruel joke disguised as a pretty portal to paradise? Maybe you've done the real-life version of Candyland, and just when you closed in on your personal castle of decadent dreams - freakin' Plumpy or meddling Mr. Mint snatched you up and forced you back like you were some kind of amateur? *raises hand* That's so me!

I've accepted that I have to work harder. I've accepted that easy doesn't mean better. No matter what, I refuse to give up. That personal desire to succeed drives me, fuels me, and makes me never take accomplishments for granted. I'm determined, perseverant, committed, and stubborn :) <--- hubby is probably nodding at this one.

What about you? Got what it takes to make it? Of course you do!

I've made craptastic choices. I've written stories that make my eyes bleed. I've sent in work that fell a few thousand miles short of my best. I've let people down, unintentionally. I've let myself down. I'm human with a boatload of flaws, but I learn from my mistakes. Not right away, because you know that would fall under easy and I already let you know upfront I don't do easy, but I do learn. And when I learn I like to share.

So I'm sharing that we have to take the stumbles and dodge Lollipop Woods on our journey to The Castle of Dreams. If you've suffered from a rejection of a story you thought had gingerbread cookie goodness written all over it - and now you want to drown your sorrows IN gingerbread cookie goodness - hey go ahead - it won't affect MY hips...oh, what I mean to say is...don't you dare surrender. Don't you dare drag yourself down to the molasses swamp. And don't you dare detour off to Lord Licorice's Lair. Flash a brave smile, brush off the cookie crumbs, maybe stop at Grandma's (I hear she makes awesome sauce) and get back on track.

Be accepting of mistakes. Remember that you hold all the tools you need to improve. Learn from the mistakes and apply them. Looking back can help ground you in the now, and it can ready you for the future. Make each day better. Keep working, striving, reaching, moving forward. Don't forget to pause and reward yourself for all that hard work. We all need to work harder at being good to ourselves and create healthy habits.

So you have to work harder? Big deal! You'll appreciate the end results more. You'll appreciate YOU more.

~Ann Cory

Monday, February 27, 2012

Taking Risks

Either I play too many board games or I just find they work into what I want to blog about.

Today I want to talk about taking risks. I find the actual word “risk” kind of...menacing. I don’t know why. It’s one syllable, it ends in sk. It’s short and like brisk, it’s cold. You could call my house and instead of breathing heavy or asking me trivia questions about my favorite scary movie, you could say “risk” and I’ll gasp, drop the phone, and run down the hall shrieking. I swear I won't fall. Hmm, sounds like I have a bit of a complex with the word risk. Even when I play the game Risk, I play it safe.

"You've gotta risk it to get the biscuit"
from the movie Fired Up

It's a catchy quote and very true. Sometimes you have to do what shakes you up and what freaks you right out.

When you put yourself out there, a shift happens. Old, stagnant energy gets stirred up and moving. Stagnant isn't good. It leaves you open and vulnerable. It leaves you less prepared to handle the unexpected. If you’re lying around like a pile of leaves and a big gust of wind comes along – you’re mobile, like it or not. You’re going to land somewhere new and have to figure out where to go from there. Learning to take risks and managing the fear behind taking risks will set you up for a better way of handling stress.

Say you want to try a new job. Maybe you don't have all the skills they're looking for, but you have other skills. That new job caught your attention and sounds promising, but you talk yourself out of it because you're used to being stagnant, and change sounds too much like work. You might be missing out on an exciting opportunity. Change really is good, and we’re all very adaptable about change even if we don't like to admit it.

When it comes to writing, the moment we put our work out there and share our creations, we take a risk. When it goes to publishers, editors, agents, reviewers, readers, and our families, we take a risk. But it can’t be too bad because we keep doing it. Maybe your creativity has fallen short...why not try a new genre? Look at the books in your bookshelf. What do you like to read most? Is that the genre you're writing in? See if writing something outside of your comfort box sparks new interest and creativity.

Don't get yourself so stuck that you believe you aren't capable of greatness. Comfortable is nice for a little while, but comfortable borderlines that easy thing, and often comes with a price.

The object of the game Risk is to conquer the world. You use strategy and create a game plan. You attack opponents and defend territories. Little by little you take over the next territory and the next territory. I'm not suggesting that you should go all Rambo, no need to get violent, but say you want to be on the NYT bestseller list, then you better know how to strategize, take charge, and prove your worth. You create a brand, make a business plan, and put your best work forward. You take all the necessary steps, even if they're scary, because you want the success.

Say you have to talk in front of a large group and you're shy. The thing is, you know what you're going to get up and talk about. You have the tools and skills behind you to back up each word. Stand up and say it. Your words may be of great value to someone else. Your experiences may be what propels someone into action when they've fallen stagnant.

Say you have a book to pitch to an agent and you believe that you'll freeze up. Take that risk. You wrote the book, you know it. The characters have slept at your place, ate dinner with you, and hung out to watch movies...though they mysteriously disappear when it's time to do the laundry or dishes. They've argued with you, ignored you, and played "let's hide the plot". You know the book - it's yours - lovingly created and crafted by YOU. YOU are the best spokesperson for your book!

Change can give you a personal, professional, and creative boost. Don't get so comfortable that you forget about that greatness in you. Start with small risks and work your way up. Little steps. Conquer the fear. Kick stagnant to the curb.

Take a risk - the outcome might be victorious :)

Ann Cory

Sunday, February 26, 2012


I loved playing the game Perfection. The object - beat the clock to get all the funky shaped pieces where they belong before the timer goes and the pieces explode in your face. Fun game. Not a fun way to be.


While not as terrifying to me as the word "risk" it reeks of negativity. To me the word perfection insinuates failure. It hints that there's something wrong with me. It screws with my confidence and magnifies my flaws, and I'm attached to some of my flaws. My flaws help me learn. They make up who I am. And part of being me means I write. When something threatens my ability to write, I go all Xena Warrior Princess and get my battle on.

I've gotta fight for the right to write!

Perfection comes with a cost.

It can cost you relationships if you expect it in others. It can cost you your health if you try and live up to someone else's idea of beauty and weight. It can cost you a job. It can get you to write the voice right out of your story. I tried so hard to make a story perfect that I lost my voice.

True story.

I tweaked and changed and twisted my words to make them fit something that in the end wasn't my story. I rewrote my characters until they were strangers. And my plot? Forget about it. Gone with the wind. Gone with my voice. Gone baby gone.

Messing around with all the unique and exciting elements to my story resulted in a humdrum and incomplete story. Humdrum because it didn't flow. Incomplete because it lacked voice. I didn't recognize my story anymore. All of my stories have some element of ME in them, yet I couldn't be found. I was a missing piece.

So I had this super clever idea: Start another story.
Guess what? I did the same thing to that story. I butchered it. At no point could I convince myself that it was good, because it wasn't perfect. I don't even know what perfect is. Soon I had ten unfinished and imperfect stories. All lacking voice. Months of work and nothing to show for it. I convinced myself that if I kept reworking the sentences it would be perfect. I lost my way and went down a dead end street. The words that I tried to fit into the story blew up in my face - just like in the game Perfection. I timed out. Game over.

Well...not over. Because like the game, I tried different tactics until I got it right. I worked at it and found a way to make the pieces fit. Nothing went boom.

I don't obsess about my stories the way I used to. I write and I edit and I allow myself to be heard. I know when I need to take a breath and hit send. I know when enough is enough.

I don't need to be perfect. I need to be me.

~Ann Cory

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Success: Fear or Desire?

Do you desire success?

Do you fear the idea of success?

Most people understand fearing failure more than fearing success, but you can fear one or the other or both. You can desire success and doubt yourself. You can achieve success and fear what will happen next. You can convince yourself that you will never achieve the kind of success you desire, so why bother. You can fear success before you ever give it a shot because it’s an unknown, and maybe you don’t do well with unknowns.

Fear is powerful. It paralyzes us. It crushes our dreams. It keeps us from new experiences and adventures.

Fear makes us cling to our tried and true comfort zones. What’s wrong with comfort zones? They aren’t always the best place to be. Sure they’re comfortable, but that’s because we don’t have to think about them. There’s no surprise. There's no challenge. It’s like being on auto-pilot.

Fear makes us play the What If game: What happens if I’m asked to do more than I’m able? What happens if I have to make a choice between family and career? What if people don’t like me? What if people don’t like my work? What if I’m a one-hit wonder? What if even after all of my success, I still fail? It’s legitimate to have these fears and worries and stresses, but you need to have faith in yourself. Believe in your capabilities. You're here to learn and live and experience.

Each of us is capable of success. And I'm not talking about the kind of success measured by others. To be successful you need to be the best representation of yourself. Maybe that means raising personal expectations. Maybe that means putting less limitations on ourselves. Maybe it means a little more work, but it's the kind of work you can be proud of.

You can go as far as you want. You don't need the auto-pilot. You're in charge.

~Ann Cory

Friday, February 24, 2012

Derailed - Getting Back On Track

You know those personal and professional goals that you make with good intentions? You’ve found a balance of all the important aspects of your life and you can almost coast along with your eyes closed? You don’t of course, but you think you can. It’s a great place to be! But what if suddenly, out of nowhere, you get derailed? What if those goals and plans and daily progress get knocked for a loop? Ever had that happen to you?

*raises hand* I have.

In fact, that is part of why I haven’t updated my blog as often. I was enjoying a pretty nice pace and thought I had enough reserves in case life happened. But then…life happened. It only took two days for me to derail, and two weeks to get back on track. But the beauty is that you can always put yourself back on track.

How? Get back in the driver’s seat. You control that wheel. Just because you went left when you were supposed to go right doesn’t mean your entire trip is a bust. You may have to do some work. You may have to work hard. And you may have to fight off self-doubt and insecurities in the process. Remember that the end result is worth it because the end result is your success. You don’t have to throw your hands in the air and stay stuck. Realign yourself. The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll be back to making it happen. It’s not easy to right yourself, but it’s possible and you can do it.

Here’s my own personal motto that I made up: When your great intentions go astray – get back on track to find your way.

It may sound hokey, but you matter, and how you treat yourself matters. Nothing goes right all the time. It’s how we learn and grow. It’s how we find out what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes a little shake-up can be positive. It depends on how you react and how you recover.

~Ann Cory

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Juggling: What Is Too Much?

According to the Juggling Information Service Committee on Numbers Juggling, Albert Lucas juggled thirteen rings for thirteen catches. Wow – that’s impressive. Thirteen sounds like a lot to juggle. Maybe too much, considering it’s a very rare feat and would take a lot of practice.

Many of us juggle far too many things than we should. Not always with success. In fact, usually it involves a lot of sacrifice of important things like exercise, eating right, getting enough sleep, and family time. You know, unless you have magical abilities or some other cool gift.

Most of us attempt to juggle as many things as we can in a day. I know I’m guilty of that, and I’m constantly working to scale back. If you’re always feeling harried, rushed, and like you never have enough time, it’s because you don’t. Why? Because you’re trying to fit in too much in your day. Do all of those things have to be done that day? Can one of those items wait another day? Does your house have to be spotless? Or can laundry wait another day? Do you want to be known for keeping a perfect house or for writing great fiction?

An area you may be guilty of is being a workshop junkie or a submission junkie. Hang on now, I’m all about learning. We are students of life, for life. I am not at all suggesting that you shouldn’t take out time everyday to learn more about your craft, or learn a new hobby. At the same time, it needs to fit in your day. It needs to make sense. You won’t learn well while you're juggling everything else too. And while you may have no shortage of fabulous ideas for stories, the world won’t stop if you save it for another time. If you're worried that you'll forget it, kick out a few paragraphs or jot down a brief outline, and then come back to it when you’ve completed the other eight you want to write.

If you want to be in this job for the long haul, why tax yourself early? Think longevity. Thing quality over quantity.

You know my posts are always written because of something I’m doing, dealing with, working through. I’ve gone the quantity over quality route. I’ve gone the never say no - I can do it all route. Am I a prolific writer? Yes I am. I understand this business and my part in it. But I’m not looking to fizzle out early. This isn’t a fifteen minutes of fame process. I aim to be around a long, long time, writing in many different genres. I will always strive to be better. But I have a life and a family, and they’re more important. Sure, the lives of my characters are important to me. I can put them into some very unsettling situations. In the end, the lives of the people I love (including myself) are more precious.

So before you try and throw another task up into the air, consider how many you’ve got going now. Take inventory and figure out what tasks can be set aside for later. Set a limit that works for you. There’s no need to try and do it all. Even if you can, what does it get you? Stress. Less time. Unhealthy habits.

Rather than take on one more activity, why not take that time to exercise? Make a healthy meal? Read a book. Close yourself off from the world. Unplug and walk away. Turn off the phone. Stop checking emails. You know you just sent that story in yesterday, so let it be.

Put all of the balls down for thirty minutes a day, and tune in to yourself. Yes, you can do it all. Yes, you are all that. Yes, your life is valuable, maybe more than that of your characters.

~Ann Cory

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Vampire Hunter: Blood of the Vines Book One Coming Soon

Vampire Hunter: Blood of the Vines Book One - coming soon from Liquid Silver.


Tracking ruthless bloodsuckers isn’t all bad, especially when there’s a man around that slays your heart.

Once a vampire, now a vampire hunter, Regan Fellows walks a fine line with her reputation. Unable to afford her favorite Italian leather outfits, she takes any job she’s offered. When the owner of The Vines, a popular nightclub, asks her to investigate strange goings-on within her establishment, she doesn’t refuse.

Her investigation takes a disturbing turn as Regan explores the labyrinth of rooms within The Vines. She discovers blood-filled carboys, discarded bodies, and shadows that follow her every move.

But blood, bodies, and shadows aren’t the only problems. Sexy bartender, Garrett Reynolds is a bona-fide distraction, and flawless at the art of breaking down her resistance. Even in the midst of tracking a ruthless horde of vampires, Regan can’t deny him. And that attraction puts her in more danger than any job she’s ever accepted.

This is the first book in the Blood of the Vines Trilogy


Regan Fellows walked swiftly along the desolate streets, dodging broken glass and rain puddles, her eyes intent on the night prowlers. The downtown dive was nearby the location she’d been asked to meet up, the place the young woman on the phone had called The Vines. Burned out streetlamps made it difficult to see clearly, and an onslaught of garbage coated the sidewalks. It seemed a place where the trash walked and fit right in.

A bitter wind nipped at her cheeks as she picked up the pace. She pulled the collar of her leather jacket up further as a shield. Her new Italian black leather pants with matching jacket seemed to hold up well for the late autumn weather, though she should’ve thought twice about the skimpy top. Her nipples pressed tight against the lace of her bra, making her wince.

At the corner of Fifth and Halsey, Regan stopped. An obscure wrought-iron sign dangled in the breeze that read The Vines. For a supposed popular nightclub, it looked seedy. Her stomach knotted. A new job always wreaked havoc on her nerves, especially when she ended up in some sordid place. Those who knew about her line of work were often the ones she needed to be wary of. She acknowledged the dangers of her job, but she needed money to afford her fetish for high quality Italian leather.
With a deep breath, she turned the knob and entered.

She followed a winding metal staircase down into a sea of writhing, undulating bodies on a red-lit dance floor. The bass of the music vibrated so deep it shook each step. At the bottom step, a petite redhead greeted her, a tray of drinks balanced in her hand. “Welcome to The Vines. Have a seat wherever you can find one.”

Regan nodded and pressed the faux flap of skin around her neck.

“Thanks. I wondered if you could help me. I’m looking for a woman by the name of Selena. She asked me to meet her here.”

The waitress primped her corkscrew curls. “Sure, I’ll let her know you’re here. And you are?”

“Regan. She’s expecting me.”

Curls bobbing, the redhead nodded. “I’ll let her know. It might be a few minutes before I can flag her down. Have to serve customers.”

Regan shrugged. “No worries. I’ll wait at the bar.”

She tracked the young woman until she disappeared into the crowd of dancers, and then made her way to the other side of the room. Hands groped her body as she passed, some lingering longer than others. Already the temperature in the room had spiked ten degrees.

At one time, this scene would’ve worked for her. Back when she’d been naïve and curious. Addicted to the euphoric high of nonstop sexual energy as she danced naked with strangers. Wrecked in body and soul for a single drop of their blood.
But this wasn’t her scene anymore.

At the bar, Regan plopped on a stool and admired the selection of wine bottles along the shelves. Not much of a drinker, she’d never really learned the fine art of tasting wine, though she’d enjoyed several specialty Italian wines once on a weekend Tuscan getaway.

Regan turned and eyed the dance floor packed with obscenely beautiful people all outfitted in black. They danced like a raging sea, bodies gyrating and grinding to the hypnotic music. Aroused, a carnal yearning brewed inside her.

One couple eyed her with a scintillating stare. They caressed their bodies, not averting their gaze from her. Desire flickered between her thighs. She spread her legs and palmed the crotch of her leather pants. The dancers moved their hands as well. Trembling, she felt their hands reach between her legs, beneath her pants, opening her wide. She gasped, certain she’d climax right there.

Breath labored, Regan wrested her gaze away, and the erotic stimulation ended. Deep breath in, she fanned herself. She’d have to be on her guard or get lost in the night games taking place.

Damp and red-cheeked, she faced the bar, finding an attractive dark-haired, green-eyed bartender smiling back at her.

Her pussy throbbed.

“What’s your poison, beautiful?”

Regan swept her gaze along his broad shoulders, strong chin, and deep-set eyes. His voice matched his sex appeal. Speechless, she struggled to come up with the name of anything, let alone a drink.

She straightened and cleared her throat. “Anything would be fine, I’m not picky.”

“Good to know.” He selected a large-bowled goblet from a crystal glass rack that hung above the bar and set it in front of her. Her body tingled at the ease with which he moved.

He ran his tongue along his bottom lip and stared intently. “We carry only the finest vintages here.”

She squirmed on the stool. His voice, his hands, his piercing eyes heightened her arousal. Rarely did she find herself tongue-tied in the presence of a man.

“Whatever you recommend will be fine. I trust your expertise.”

Hell, she’d trust his hands all over her body.

His smoldering gaze deepened, igniting her body like it was kindle. The tip of his mouth curved upwards as he rolled his sleeves to his elbows.

“Very well. A glass of our finest red. Only the best should slip between your lips and coat your tongue.”

She squeezed her thighs at the decadent words. Powerless to look away, she watched the corded muscles of his forearms strain against his flesh as he uncorked a bottle and filled the goblet midway. The deep, ruby liquid swirled with sinful flare.

“Why don’t you start with this and tell me what you think.” He slid the glass closer to her and winked. “Consider this one on the house.”

Lips trembling, she mumbled, “Thank you.”

Their fingertips touched as she went for her glass. The brief contact resurrected her arousal, and her throat thickened. Now, more than ever, she needed a drink. As if to taunt her more, Handsome leaned across the counter and propped his chin in his hands.


His masculine scent assaulted her senses and she fought to hold the goblet. Provocative thoughts of pouring the wine down her body and watching him savor her skin with his tongue took her mind hostage.

Regan inhaled the wine and swished the glass as she’d seen true connoisseurs do. Her pulse quickened. The heady aroma, dangerously familiar. She glanced at the dark-haired hunk and admired his chiseled features. He didn’t give the impression of someone she needed to worry about. She tipped the goblet, the rim against her bottom lip. A thin stream of liquid swilled forward, her taste buds, craving.

Behind her a voice shouted, “You reckless son of a bitch! Don’t serve her that!”

Regan didn’t have a chance to turn around. The goblet flew from her hands, spiraled through the air, hit the back wall and shattered.

(copyright 2012)

Ann Cory

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Support Matters

Ladies, make sure you’ve got a proper fitting bra, and gentlemen, make sure you’ve got the right fitting belt. What the heck am I on about? I’m talking about support.

We all need it. Even if it’s just a little bit. None of us do well for long when we’re out there flailing around or riding low. Hence those bras and belts! It doesn’t matter what size you are, this is a one-size fits all kind of deal.

Everyone benefits from support. It’s a wonderful gift to give someone. Who doesn’t benefit from a pat on the back or a spirited “well done” every once in awhile? Who doesn’t benefit from the knowledge that they aren’t alone and don’t have to feel like they’re alone when they try a new job, story, or project? Everyone benefits!

And even more rewarding, not only does it feel good to have someone support you, it’s a boost to be supportive.

When you work hard and put all of yourself into your task, it’s nice to know someone is there to cheer you on and help pick you up on the days you question what you’re doing.

I’m lucky to have a wonderful support system at home. I can write anything and I know that my hubby is proud of me. But it isn’t just about supporting my actual work, he supports my business ethics. He finds ways to help make my office more functional by building shelves, installing the right kind of lighting, and creating ways to help me stay organized. He's my tech support and personal handyman. He’s also fun to storyboard with when my characters are running amok, and provides me with emotional support when a deadline looms or I second-guess myself. Yeah, it happens.

Not everyone has support from their family. And you may have close friends who can't provide you with the support you're looking for, but that doesn't mean you're doomed to be a loner forever. Take the initiative and email someone in your line of work/genre/project and see where it goes? You may have to do the initial work to find someone, but after you do, it becomes a team thing. *pom pom swish*

Write a list of traits you're looking for and seek out like-minded people. Strike up conversations and see where they go. You won't know until you try. I mean, unless you know exactly what you're looking for, you tend to try on a few of those bras and belts, don't you? *wink*

If you're looking for some extra motivation to hit your goals and stay accountable, then sign up for Write Motivation. After only a week, I feel jazzed about what I'm doing. Faulty thinking is banished. Negativity - poof, it's gone. Knowing people are rooting you on is inspiring. Course I always did like those gold stars back in grade school. In a single click, there's someone in your corner :) Talk about motivation!

There’s no need to feel alone. Get active in finding your support system. And then get active by being supportive!

~Ann Cory

Monday, February 20, 2012

First Campaigner Challenge

For me, Monday usually comes with its own set of challenges, especially if I've stayed up late the night before. However, there are some challenges I welcome.

The First Campaigner Challenge started today in the form of a 200 word story with a beginning of Shadows crept across the wall. For a bonus the story should be exactly 200 words (excluding the title), include orange, and end with everything faded.

So below is my entry for the challenge.


The Promise of Night
By Ann Cory

Shadows crept across the wall beyond the reddish-orange flames that flickered like a beacon. Peyton lay in wait, her bare flesh warm against the cool satin sheets. Sprigs of lavender on her bedside table infused the air with its soothing scent, while the moon dimmed its ethereal beams.

As the shadows neared, her pulse skipped.

Eyes closed, she stretched her body and welcomed the feathery kisses along her skin. A smile tipped her lips. The promise of a night bathed in pleasure, mere moments away. Aware of movement on either side of her, she tensed. Trails of heated splendor ran the length of her thighs. Unseen hands awakened and aroused her inch by inch.
Peyton released a soft moan. They were skilled lovers and knew what she liked, wanted, desired. They knew where to touch, tease, and taunt. She didn’t know why they’d chosen her. She didn’t care. Loneliness no longer plagued the hours before dawn.

Arms stretched above her head, she played the submissive. Body arched, she melted at the parting of her thighs. Tonight her ravenous appetite would be sated.


As she opened her eyes, the sun painted the walls in buttery shades, and with it, everything faded.

Whew! Such fun :)

To view others involved in the challenge, you can follow this link here.

Thank you to everyone who stops by - I look forward to reading your entries!

~Ann Cory

Promo Sapphic Planet Anthology release day!

Sapphic Planet Anthology is here and available from Amazon.

Inside these pages you'll discover nineteen stories written specifically to tease and titillate your senses.

From a frolic in the rain with a Bathing Beauty, to a concerned sibling showing his sister some Brotherly Love, and everything in between. Whether you're in the mood for steamy romance or unrequited lust, we've got a story guaranteed to satisfy your cravings.

This anthology showcases just a fraction of the talent from the writers of Sapphic Planet, a group specifically created for authors and aspiring authors of quality lesbian literature

Now sit back, relax and enter our world. Afterwards, while waiting to catch your breath, take a moment to visit us online Sapphic Planet


Allison Wonderland-----Bathing Beauty------------
Jean Roberta--------------Fame-----------------------
Kissa Starling------------An Act of Passion---------
Jodi Payne----------------Licked----------------------
Jennifer Cross------------Patience--------------------
Dylynn DeSaint----------Haircut---------------------
JT Langdon---------------Eyes of Surrender--------
Nan Andrews-------------Her Smile-----------------
Meg Leigh----------------Two Steps Back-----------
Fiona Zedde---------------‘Love, Zora’---------------
Ann Cory------------------Her Forever----------------
Adriana Kraft-------------Accidental Contact--------
Dalia Craig----------------A Secret Liaison-----------
Stephanie Rose------------Traffic Stop----------------
Tenille Brown-------------Taming Tildy--------------
Kira Chase-----------------Seduced---------------------
Moondancer Drake-------Top Priority-----------------
Roxy Katt------------------The Ungirdling-------------
Beth Wylde----------------Brotherly Love-------------

Blurb from Ann Cory’s story Her Forever:

On the night before her arranged marriage, Callista waits beneath the moon for her true love, Selena, for a final night of passion.

Sapphic Planet - a literary realm where women are free to love one another without fear of prejudice or reprisal.


Strengths and Weaknesses

This weekend I updated my strength chart.

What’s a strength chart? A visual chart of my strengths and weaknesses to show me the areas I need to work on. I actually have two separate charts. One is personal and the other is professional. I’m going to focus on my professional chart today.

When I first made the chart, I had a longer list of weaknesses than strengths. Over time the weakness list has decreased. But that's okay, I don't mind having weaknesses. They give me a goal to strive toward.

In life, we are students forever. We can learn and grow each day. We can better ourselves all the time. If you want to try a new career or write in a new genre, or develop new healthy habits through diet and exercise, you take the time to learn. You study, research, and analyze. You create processes<---that's for my hubby, record data, test theories, and put forth the action. You find what works, what doesn't work, and where to improve. We can always improve.

I spend time each day learning something new. I study my craft, read books on the business of writing, research, look up new ways to plot and develop. My brain is a total sponge and loves to absorb everything. I would do well on a game show about random facts and tidbits.

Each of us can list a number of strengths, skills, and talents. Some of my strengths on my chart include: coming up with catchy titles, writing short stories, quick learner, fast typer, constant supply of creative ideas, determination, passion, perseverance, wit, motivational, and writing sensual tension.

And while it's wonderful to focus only on strengths, it's just as important to pay attention to weaknesses. I choose one area of weakness each month and work on it until it’s on my strength chart. This can be areas of grammar, character development, world building, complex plots, or passive voice.

You'd think at some point my weakness chart will be blank. But no...I'm human, I'm not perfect, nothing comes easy for me, and I'm a student for life. There are always areas I can work and improve. A chart is a great visual to show me where to work, and keep me balanced.

Do you keep track of your strengths and weaknesses? What are some areas you'd like to improve?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Unrealistic Goals Can Burst Your Bubble

Do you ever have that moment when you're on top of the world? You're invincible, and excitement radiates throughout your body like you're plugged into a super-powered Energizer battery? Life is brighter, easier, full of hope and promise?

That smashing good mood of yours has you planning your entire week. You're going to get that project finished. Clean out the garage. Go through all the cupboards and closets. Churn out one story after another. Blog daily with renewed enthusiasm. Invest time in the social network sites. Edit your current story with the hope of subbing it out within days. Oh, and query an agent. Good times!

You log your goals on a notepad and get started. Because you're all amped up on happy juice you're cruising through and marking each item off. You're singing like a rock star, getting your groove on. You know you're going to bust through tomorrow's agenda with the same mad passion.

And the next day...

Your oh-so-happy mood bubble burst. The creativity bug sprouted wings and took off to some Avatar-inspired world. You look at your lengthy to-do list and think WTF?

Life is funny that way. You can have a super productive day and be walking around with a cute little bunny bounce, and the next day you're struggling to put on a sock. What happened? It's easy to get caught up in a moment. It's easy to plan your day in advance, especially when you're pumped. It's even easier to set yourself up for failure because you expect too much. And a vicious cycle happens when you set unrealistic goals. You berate yourself, call yourself down, tap into negativity and give up. You think you can't finish what you start and you're a failure. Not good!

When you set goals, whatever they are, they should make sense. They should be doable. They should be positive. They should fit within your daily schedule. Otherwise you're doing yourself a disservice. You only have so many hours in a day and losing sleep to finish your overloaded list is equally damaging. At some point you'll crash or your family may consider an intervention. I used to have unhealthy work habits, and my hubby will call me out if I even think about repeating them.

Find the right balance. Make goals you can accomplish. Be forgiving when life happens. Believe it or not, there is always tomorrow.

~Ann Cory

Saturday, February 18, 2012

What's Stopping You?

Let’s say you’ve decided on a project. You have all the tools and materials you need to complete this project. You have set aside the time needed and you’ve done your research so you can move forward. Nothing is stopping you. You’re prepared. And it’s going to be great. Ready?

It’s go time!

Wait, what happened?

Why are you stalling? What’s keeping you from completing the project? Oh…YOU are.


How many times has this happened to you? An idea comes to you and you’re psyched. You jot down the information, figure out what it’s going to take to complete, and get all pumped up to do it. Maybe you even tell other people about this fantastic project. You’ve got the visual in your mind of how it will look when it’s done. But even after all of that time and preparation, all the planning and dreaming, you aren't any closer to completion.

Don't sabotage yourself. Don't be the one standing in your own way. Be cautious of all the little signs that try and veer you off your path to success. They're bright and pretty and sparkly and sound a lot more fun than doing work ever will. We all want to have some fun in our day, and we should incorporate fun in our day, but even that has to have a limit. We owe it to ourselves to keep moving forward and working toward our goals. We owe it to ourselves to do what we're passionate about.

There will always be times when life puts up road blocks. You can’t plan for every crisis. Maybe you have health issues you have to work around. Perhaps a family member came down with a cold or the flu. Maybe your spouse gets laid off from work. Perhaps Mother Nature decides to have her say. Interruptions are a part of life. Teach yourself how to make use of the time that you have. Don't wait for the time. Make any time productive.

If you have only fifteen minutes to spend on the project a day, then make those fifteen minutes valuable. Give those fifteen minutes all of your attention. Baby that fifteen minutes. In as little as fifteen minutes a day, every day, eventually you will complete that project. If you can spend fifteen minutes on the phone, watching TV, playing a game, hitting the snooze button, reading emails, getting off track while researching, or sitting down thinking about how much you don’t want to do something…you have that time.

If you’ve been wondering how you’re going to fit in the time to write when you already have a busy schedule, then set aside smaller increments of time. If it means setting a timer and making yourself write for a minimum of fifteen minutes without distractions in order to get your writing done for the day, then set that timer and have at it. If it means getting up fifteen minutes earlier, then it may be worthwhile.

Say you can type 1,000 words in fifteen minutes. In seven days you could have 7,000 words of your story written. Over time these words add up.

Say you want to build a cabinet or clean out your closet. Don’t make the decision to try and do it all in one day. The task will seem too big and you’ll talk yourself right out of it. It’s easy to do. But by breaking it up into smaller bits of time, you may surprise yourself how much you can accomplish.

If you want something bad enough, you’ll make the time. You’ll never find time, but you can make it, and you can make it work for you.

Do you have a spare fifteen minutes in your day? What can you fill it with?

~Ann Cory

Friday, February 17, 2012

Brand New Excerpt of Penny Serenade: Tokens of the Heart Book One

Brand new excerpt of Penny Serenade: Tokens of the Heart Book One available now on Kindle

Blurb -

When Audrey Kessler opened her new age shop, Tokens of the Heart, she never expected it to be such a success. While her life is all about being neat and orderly, she hasn’t found much success in the other areas of her life. Mainly love.

Enter Dominic Blume, a jack-of-all-trades, who in one day manages to capture her attention and draw her ire. Preferring to play things safe, Audrey does her best to focus on her business and ignore the way her body ignites whenever Dominic is near.

But when she needs a strong, warm body to comfort her after a traumatic event, Audrey worries that she has succeeded too well at keeping Dominic away.

Excerpt –

Her mind whirred. The man was bad for her nerves. On one hand he had an incredible face, voice, and body. He smelled damn good, and his seductive smile made her entire being shudder. On the other hand he didn’t know the first thing about communication. His words spilled out, without any filters. She speed walked around the store, finding herself too wound up for the peaceful ambiance she’d created. The music was all wrong. Heavy metal rather than Celtic harp would be more her pace at the moment.

A string of obscenities lay at the tip of her tongue and she was starting to sweat from walking so fast. She needed to find a way to catch her breath and be calm. If she threw herself into her work, thoughts of Dominic, wanting to touch Dominic, and wanting to kiss Dominic, would disappear.

She grabbed a notepad off the counter along with a pen, and wrote down the amount and colors of Betsy’s bracelets that needed to be restocked, especially in lapis blue. Audrey groaned. Great, the lapis blue bracelet, another thing that reminded her of the day the tactless wonder walked in.

No sooner had she jotted down numbers, a streak of light shone into the store, followed by Dominic himself. She groaned again, this time to herself. Wouldn’t he ever leave her alone? She’d never seen him before and now she couldn’t escape him.

Through gritted teeth she asked, “Can I help you?”

“I feel the need to apologize, again,” he said. “Err, repeatedly.”

“It’s not necessary,” she grumbled. “If we stay out of each other’s way then there won’t be a problem.” She’d have to find a new place to go for lunch, which sucked on many levels, or she’d always be looking for him.

“Listen.” He reached out to touch her arm and stopped before his fingers made contact. Curling them into a fist, he put his arm back down to his side. “I’m not in the habit of saying sorry, to anyone, but I can tell you don’t think much of me, and I’m to blame for that. I have a feeling you’re going to hold a grudge against me because of what I said about the pennies.”

Audrey shrugged. She was feeling very out of her comfort zone around him. Words escaped her.

He walked over to the penny display and turned it slow. “These really are something. It’s a clever idea.”

She folded her arms. “Don’t be condescending.”

“I’m not trying to be, I swear,” he said, leaning his god-like body against the counter. “Yesterday I only had one thing on my mind and that was getting the best gift I could for my niece. You can’t fault me for not knowing you made them. Hell, I didn’t even know your name.”

She opened her mouth to argue, but he made a good point. His comment about the pennies wasn’t even the issue anymore, and she knew it. She was angry for having made him out to be perfect at first glance and then felt betrayed by her own high expectations. It was easier to blame him than her lousy quick judgment.

“It doesn’t matter,” she said, looking past him.

“I can tell it matters.”

“I’ll get over it. I’m good at that.” Audrey could write a how-to book on the subject if she wanted.

Dominic straightened and took a step closer. “Can we consider starting over? I’d like another chance.”

If he knew how much he aroused her in that split-second with the way he moved and his words, he’d use that to his advantage.

She clicked her tongue. “I’m not interested.”

His jaw slackened. “Then you’ve already made your mind up about me.”

“I didn’t say that,” she said in a rush. “I just know myself,” she explained, feeling like an idiot. “Anything you say will of course sound better now, but it won’t erase what you said before. You could’ve knocked anything else in the entire store, but you ridiculed something dear to my heart. I said I’ll get over it, but it will take time. The hurt can’t be removed with smooth talk or a charming smile.”

His lips curled in a tantalizing way. “Do I have a charming smile?”

She paused. How had that slipped out? Blurting wasn’t her style. Flustered she looked around the store, trying to focus on something that would guide her. Nothing did. She’d been very close to having everything together in her life before Dominic. It made sense that things would be better if she stayed clear of him. Not knowing what else to say, she glanced at the clock. “Look, I have a ton of work to do. If you aren’t going to buy anything, then you should leave.”

“I’ll leave,” he said, his tone serious again. “I promise.”

The sooner the better, she thought.

“How about that drink later?”

Along with learning some tact, the guy needed to learn to take a hint. She shook her head. “I don’t drink.”

“Do you do dinner?” A twitch of something, smugness? crossed his lips.

“I don’t close until seven,” she answered with a bitchier-than-planned tone. “I usually heat up something in the back around six and munch on it. Thanks anyway.” She wondered when he was going to leave.

“Dessert? I’m a big fan of cake.”

Audrey thought back to the cheesecake at the café and her resolve weakened. “Oh yeah? What kind of cake?”

“Any kind, though I’m partial to white cake with butter cream frosting.”

She nodded. “Sounds good, but I’m a sucker for cheesecake.”

“Noted,” he said and pretended to take out a pad of paper and write it down.

Dessert conversation over, she returned to her frown. He’d almost made her forget to be irritated.

(copyright 2012)

~Ann Cory

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Upcoming Release Sapphic Planet Anthology

The Sapphic Planet Anthology is almost here with a release date of February 20th! It will first be made available in ebook format, and then released in print on March 1st.

About this anthology:

Inside these pages you'll discover nineteen stories written specifically to tease and titillate your senses.

From a frolic in the rain with a Bathing Beauty, to a concerned sibling showing his sister some Brotherly Love, and everything in between. Whether you're in the mood for steamy romance or unrequited lust, we've got a story guaranteed to satisfy your cravings.

Here is a brief blurb for my story titled, Her Forever -

On the night before her arranged marriage, Callista waits beneath the moon for her true love, Selena, for a final night of passion.

I can't wait for this book to be available :)

~Ann Cory

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fourth Writer's Platform-Building Campaign

While I consider myself a fairly motivated person, I recognize that I don't always like to be so solitary. I enjoy cheering on and motivating others, and well...on occasion I kind of like to be cheered and motivated too. It gives me a creative boost.

So, I've signed onto the Fourth Writer's Platform-Building Campaign hosted by Rachael Harrie. You can find out the details about it Here.

Registration ends Wednesday evening 11:59pm.

I look forward to meeting new fellow writers, participating in challenges, and being of help however and wherever I can.

Hope to see you there!


Interviewed by Books We Love

The wonderful gals at Books We Love have posted an interview they recently did with me. If you have time please check it out Here

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine Blog Hop Winners Announced!

Thank you to everyone who took the time to stop by my blog and leave a post about their favorite scene in a book or movie. Favorites included Gone with the Wind, Titanic, Meet Joe Black, Love Actually, Casablanca, The Notebook, Sixteen Candles, and Pride and Prejudice. All excellent movies!

One of my favorites is Just Like Heaven, which is what hubby and I will be watching this evening :) I cry, I laugh, I sigh, and then cry some more. Such a touching movie.

And without drawing out the suspense here - onto the winners: Stacie D and Shadow_Koehler! I'll be emailing you shortly with your ebook. I hope you enjoy!!

I'd like to say a big THANK YOU to Reading Romances for hosting this amazing blog hop, and to all who participated!


~Ann Cory

Monday, February 06, 2012

Romancing the Valentine Giveaway Hop

Love is in the air whether it's snuggling up with your loved one, listening to your favorite romantic song, watching a heartfelt movie with a box of tissues nearby, or curling up with a cherished book. Next to snuggling up with my hubby, I do love to get swept away with a beautifully written romance book. If you do too, then there's a contest that I think you'll enjoy. And the best part is, there are prizes.

It's all about the love here and the participants of the Romancing the Valentine Giveaway Hop, hosted by Reading Romances, are giving away some fantastic prizes including romance books, ebooks, and gift cards. The contest runs between February 6th and February 13th, so don't hesitate to enter!

I'll be giving away two of my ebooks, Penny Serenade: Tokens of the Heart Book One, and Midnight's Sweet Kiss, to two lucky winners. Simply post your favorite romantic scene in a book or movie along with your email addy so I'm able to contact you. Names will go into a box and the winners will be announced on the 14th here on my blog.

But I'm not the only one giving away lovely goodies.

For a list of the other participating bloggers, click Here

~Ann Cory

Saturday, February 04, 2012

New Excerpt from Penny Serenade: Tokens of the Heart Book One

I hope you enjoy the second excerpt from my newest book Penny Serenade, the first book in my Tokens of the Heart series available now on Kindle.

This is a contemporary erotic romance novel with at least two more books planned.

Blurb -

When Audrey Kessler opened her new age shop, Tokens of the Heart, she never expected it to be such a success. While her life is all about being neat and orderly, she hasn’t found much success in the other areas of her life. Mainly love.

Enter Dominic Blume, a jack-of-all-trades, who in one day manages to capture her attention and draw her ire. Preferring to play things safe, Audrey does her best to focus on her business and ignore the way her body ignites whenever Dominic is near.

But when she needs a strong, warm body to comfort her after a traumatic event, Audrey worries that she has succeeded too well at keeping Dominic away.


Audrey couldn’t believe she shared such intimate details of her life with him. Things she didn’t expect to ever tell a stranger. Or whatever he was to her. She didn’t know how to think of Dominic. A friend didn’t sound right. A stranger, well no, she’d never felt like he was a stranger, even when he first walked into the shop. The connection she’d felt with him made things more complex than she was looking for.

Betsy had always told her love happened when you didn’t look for it, but she didn’t feel like a candidate for love, and did her best to avoid it. Relationships required more of herself than she cared to give. Maybe she was too solitary and independent, but she liked things the way she wanted, and she’d worked hard to get past the grief from her youth. Everything had been a struggle in her life. She was finally starting to mend. Being around Dominic made her question why she closed herself off to people. He’d listened and empathized. He didn’t make her feel foolish. Somehow he’d gotten her to open up and she felt good. Not even good, but that a huge weight had been lifted.

She looked at the moon and wondered what her father would think of this man next to her. Would he approve? Would he welcome Dominic with a fatherly embrace or a gentleman’s handshake? Pat him on the back and then threaten to cut off his balls if he dared do anything to hurt her? Audrey knew her father would want her to be happy and for her to choose someone who would treat her right. She’d been of the mindset that she didn’t need someone to take care of her. When had that changed?

Audrey felt the tears return and forced them back. She refused to cry. What would Dominic think? He’d think her weak, and she couldn’t take that.

She turned and at the same time, he leaned in. His mouth, sexier than ever, covered hers. Eyes closed, she allowed the bliss overtake her. Her body sizzled at the touch of his hands moving along her back until they settled at the small of her back. Aware her legs were ready to give out on her, she rested her hands on top of his shoulders. For a moment she felt his muscles ripple beneath her touch and it made her entire body swoon. Not wanting to part from him anytime soon, she gave into his deepening kisses. The guy might not be a smooth talker all of the time, but he wasn’t lacking in the area of lip service.

Shivers followed the path of his hand up her side. He cupped his hand along her lower jaw and brushed his thumb along her cheek. Heat and longing filled her insides. The initial judgment of him faded fast, and in that moment she didn’t see how she could ever be angry with him again.

Dominic withdrew his lips and rested his forehead against hers. It felt like days before she found her voice.

“Um, you kind of caught me off guard. Did you…I mean, why did you kiss me? Like that, I mean.” Her cheeks burned at the way her words came out.

“I couldn’t wait a second longer. I’ve wondered what those beautiful lips would taste like since I walked into your store.”


He’d felt the same way? He’d felt the same need and desire? She’d always balked at the scenes in movies where the characters met and fell in love with one another right away. Instant connections didn’t happen in real life, did they?

She had to wonder now.

“So, then, was it what you’d imagined?” She asked, her voice resounding all crackled and hoarse.

“I’ll need another taste to make a solid evaluation.” Dominic prompted her to turn slightly so her back was against the car. His body seemed bigger, and his eyes smoldered. “Would you mind?”

Was he kidding? Her pulse pounded, and this time she didn’t have background music playing to mask it.

“I’m fine with that.”

He leaned in, his hands on either side of her against the car, and caught her mouth with his. Audrey pulled him closer, her back flat against the door. Her nipples throbbed behind a wall of lace, and ached to be kissed with the same wild abandonment he gave her mouth. She was almost sorry that they hadn’t taken advantage of the darkness of the planetarium. Though, at the moment, being beneath an actual starry sky seemed to make the moment extra special.

Guided by the sheer lust tearing through her core, she didn’t hold back.
Somewhere in the distance she heard an odd sound, like someone clearing their throat. She opened her eyes a crack, blinking back the sensual haze. A man stood off to the side in a ball cap, with agitation written all over his face.

“Do you think I could get into my car?” His voice rumbled.

Heat blazed her cheeks. “Of course, I’m sorry.”

Eyes wide, she pulled from Dominic’s embrace and together they moved out of his way. Audrey shook her head. She’d forgotten they were in the middle of a parking lot. She’d forgotten anyone else existed. The kiss had transported her to somewhere lush and exotic.

With a harrumph, the man got into his car and started it up. He rolled the window down and gave them a sneer. “Get a room, hey?”

Tires squealing he backed out and hauled ass out of their view.

“I’m embarrassed,” she murmured.

“Don’t be. He was jealous, and I don’t blame him. Not every guy gets to lock lips with a siren like you.”

Her cheeks engulfed with flames. Siren? She hoped he meant that and it wasn’t some cheap tactic to get her to put out later. Audrey looked to him and saw the way his eyes burned on her. It was a look that shut down all the thoughts of him being less than genuine.

“We should probably get going,” he suggested and unlocked the car door.

“Yeah. It’s getting late.” She slid into the car and let him close the door. Her body tingled from the way he’d held her. Was it her imagination, or had she never felt safer?

(copyright 2012)

If you'd like to read the first excerpt from my novel, please click Here

~Ann Cory

Friday, February 03, 2012

Excerpt from Penny Serenade: Tokens of the Heart Book One

Penny Serenade, the first book in my Tokens of the Heart series is available on Kindle.

This is a contemporary erotic romance novel with at least two more books planned.

Blurb -
When Audrey Kessler opened her new age shop, Tokens of the Heart, she never expected it to be such a success. While her life is all about being neat and orderly, she hasn’t found much success in the other areas of her life. Mainly love.

Enter Dominic Blume, a jack-of-all-trades, who in one day manages to capture her attention and draw her ire. Preferring to play things safe, Audrey does her best to focus on her business and ignore the way her body ignites whenever Dominic is near.

But when she needs a strong, warm body to comfort her after a traumatic event, Audrey worries that she has succeeded too well at keeping Dominic away.

On her way back to the front of the shop, Audrey snatched up a box of matches. Her low-heeled pumps tapped against the dark wooden floor on her way to the far corner where she lit a row of candles. Beside them were a collection of incense sticks displayed in beautiful dusky blue ceramic vases. She chose her favorite scent and lit the stick, taking a moment to breathe in the spicy notes of patchouli. Tiny wisps of smoke curled up and around the rainbow catchers that swayed from the gentle draft of the ceiling fans.

Audrey’s shoulders loosened. She’d taken great pains to create an atmosphere both soothing yet visually stimulating, filled with the things she loved and made her feel safe. It was her sanctuary.

The bell above the door jingled, and she welcomed the warmth of the late May sunshine along her back. Audrey glanced over her shoulder, squinting through the golden light that illuminated the doorway. “Good after—”

The last part of her customary greeting abruptly faded off. Her breath turned jagged and then stalled. Talk about visually stimulating. At around six foot two, the dark haired, blue-gray eyed man stepped inside, bringing an air of mystique with him.
“Afternoon,” he reciprocated and closed the door behind him.

Heat flamed throughout her body from the casual word spoken in such a deep sensual rasp. Sexual energy sizzled crackled along her skin. If it weren’t for the mournful cries of violin playing in the background, she worried he’d hear the rapid throb of her pulse.

In one fluid motion the man strode toward the other corner of the store. She stood frozen, struggling to remember how to breathe. The entire atmosphere of the room altered, becoming all warm and moist and just…different. A curious kind of different.

From beneath her lashes she stared at the enigma of a man. What was it about him that triggered such a fierce change? This wasn’t her usual reaction when a male customer walked in, and she noted that that was a good thing. She’d get little done, otherwise. Audrey forced in another breath to keep from passing out. She hated that she ogled the man like a predator, so drawn to each movement he made. He lifted a hand to his chin and slanted his brow, as if deep in thought. With him preoccupied, it allowed her a moment to take inventory of his profile. Nice shaped nose, strong chin, and jet-black hair that hung to the nape of his neck. She liked how he wore it carefree rather than gelled and combed neat. His charcoal gray t-shirt hugged a broad chest and fell loose just below his abdomen. She didn’t doubt he kept himself in good shape, but how good was left to her imagination.

Audrey clenched her fists in an effort to tame the wild urge to reach out and touch him. If the desire to palm his chest grew stronger, she’d be forced to restrain herself with leather binding, which to her advantage, she sold in the shop. Tempted, her gaze drifted lower to the paint-stained denim, slung low at his hips and fit in all the right places. Oh yes, all the right places. A soft thrum started between her thighs.

Afraid of where her mind would wander, she raised her level of vision and noted the way his shirt sleeve ended at the mass of muscles that braided his arm. An embrace from the likes of him would be pure rapture. Jane wants Tarzan, she thought, and did a double-take. What was wrong with her today?

She considered it would be more appropriate if she moved behind the counter, where she could observe him at a safe distance without threat of being caught. But she longed to linger in the effects of whatever spell he’d cast over her.

She’d have been content to watch him all day until she remembered where she was. Her workplace. Could she be any less professional?

Audrey pulled herself together and attempted a sound business-like tone. “May I help you find something?” Now if only she could wipe the exaggerated grin from her face that pulled her skin too tight.

The man turned her direction, his brows knitted.

“I need a gift for a special someone,” he started in his hypnotic voice, “but I haven’t a clue what to get.”

She held the overstated smile though her insides felt like a house of cards toppled over. It’s not like she was surprised to hear he had a special someone. She’d be more surprised if he were single. A man with his build and good looks always had a woman.

“You’ve come to the right place,” she responded and winced at the annoying pitch of her voice. Audrey knew she was overdoing it but couldn’t seem to settle down. It took all her strength to keep composure while her body smoldered at the thought of his hands casing her thighs.

“Humph,” he grumbled beneath his breath. “I’m not so sure about that. I’m not into this New Age crap, but the little lady seems to like it well enough.”

Her lips twitched. Had she heard him right? New age crap? Not that she expected everyone to be a fan of the items she sold, but she’d never had someone come right out and say that it was crap to her face. Her irritation must have been apparent because he turned to her and flashed a meek smile.

“Sorry if I offended. This just isn’t my scene.”

“That’s fine,” she replied, unable to do mask her clipped tone. “Maybe I can steer you in the right direction.”

He shrugged and turned his attention back to the shelves. She was about to make a suggestion when he picked up a box of tarot cards. “She likes puzzles. Do you think this would make a good gift?”

Audrey swallowed the urge to laugh. Could he be that dense? “Those are tarot cards, not a puzzle.”

His brows swept upward. “Terror cards?”

“No, tarot cards.” She gave herself kudos for not doubling over in a fit of laughter. He made it too easy. But she reminded herself he was a potential patron and kept her cool. “You know, tarot, like fortune tellers and seers use them to offer insight into one’s lives.”

“Oh.” Disdain marred his face and he set the box down. “What would you suggest?”

“These candleholders make a nice gift.” She gestured to the side wall, feeling like a game-show hostess. “I just received these moon-shaped tea light candle holders that have a brushed silver finish.” Audrey held one out to him. His deadpan expression said enough. Not what he wanted. Over the next several minutes she pointed out one item after another while he continued to shake his head or groan. By now anyone else would’ve found something. This guy was a hard case.

“Thanks for trying to help, but as I said, I’m out of my league here. I just don’t know.” Again he shrugged. “This is her favorite store.” Audrey started to smile until he added, “But I honestly can’t figure out why.”

Her lips pressed together tight. The guy was getting on her last nerve. Despite her initial response to his appearance, she now found herself loathing his very existence.

“Maybe I should look elsewhere,” he mumbled and turned to leave.

The words should’ve relieved her, given the irritation she felt toward him, but instead she took them as a challenge. She refused to have him leave empty-handed. “Wait. Give me one more shot here. I know I can help you find the perfect gift.”

(copyright 2012)

Ann Cory

Thursday, February 02, 2012

New Release - Penny Serenade: Tokens of the Heart Book One

If you heard a squeal followed by some clapping somewhere off in the distance - that was me excited about the release of my newest book Penny Serenade, the first book in my Tokens of the Heart series. This is a contemporary erotic romance novel with at least two more books planned.

Blurb -
When Audrey Kessler opened her new age shop, Tokens of the Heart, she never expected it to be such a success. While her life is all about being neat and orderly, she hasn’t found much success in the other areas of her life. Mainly love.

Enter Dominic Blume, a jack-of-all-trades, who in one day manages to capture her attention and draw her ire. Preferring to play things safe, Audrey does her best to focus on her business and ignore the way her body ignites whenever Dominic is near.

But when she needs a strong, warm body to comfort her after a traumatic event, Audrey worries that she has succeeded too well at keeping Dominic away.

Penny Serenade is available now from Amazon

Oh, and I'm tossing around some shiny silver confettii while I'm at it :)

~Ann Cory