Tag Archives: Writing

A Romance Writer Learns Italian – My Word of the Week – Freddo/Freddissimo (adj. cold/freezing)

Freddo (Freddissimo)

adj. cold, glacial, frigid
adj. fig. dead, lifeless
adj. fig. detached, aloof, impassive, rational
n.   cold, cold weather

from Word Reference


For previous installments of Italian Word of the Week, click here.

Adesso, fa freddissimo!–Right now, it’s freezing! (You can find an explanation of how freddo changed to freddissimo in my previous post.)

The reason I chose freddo this week is obvious. Il Regno di Ghiaccio (The Reign of Ice, i.e. the Italian title of the Disney movie Frozen) is an apt description of the current weather. The roads are iced over, frostbite is a few minutes of exposure away, and my car is making weird noises. D.C. doesn’t have it as bad as the rest of the country, but it was cold enough for me to dig out my gloves, scarf and hat from storage.

One of the first things one learns in Italian class is that (as with the case in French), one “has” cold as opposed to one “is” cold. In other words, ho freddo literally translates to “I have cold” but is the Italian equivalent of saying “I am cold.” Additionally, the weather “does” freezing as opposed to “is” freezing–(Il tempo) fa freddissimo. The idiomatic equivalent of fa freddissimo is fa un freddo cane, which, as far as I can tell, literally translates to (the weather) makes a frozen dog.

And since I get lethargic and sleepy whenever it’s cold out, this is all the effort I can muster for today. But calma e sangue freddo! (Keep calm and don’t panic–lit. calm yourself and keep your blood cold). My next Italian Word of the Week will hit the interwebs next Thursday.

Disclaimer: I am writing this as a student of Italian. If there is anyone out there who would like to add to or correct my post, please leave a comment.  


A Romance Writer Learns Italian – My Word of the Week – [Buon] Anno ([Good] n. year)!

Happy New YearAnno

n. year

from Word Reference

For previous installments of Italian Word of the Week, click here.

Buon anno, tutti! (Happy New Year, everyone!–translation not literal) This week’s word came up a day early since it is the New Year. I’m going to put myself on a limb here and say buon anno is the Italian equivalent of “Happy New Year”. The only source I have to back this up are dubbed episodes of How I Met Your Mother (which are hilarious, by the way), so please feel free to correct me if I’m mistaken. Literally, the New Year is il capodanno (m. s.), and New Year’s Eve is la notte di capodanno (f.s.).

Anno (n. year) is a word that has given me much grief because I instinctively say per anno instead of all’anno whenever I refer to recurring events. In English, one says “X happens twice per year”, which somehow causes per (for) to tumble out of my mouth instead of the correct all’. I’m pretty sure I get corrected on this error at least 3 times a day while classes are in session.

Some useful phrases related to this word are ogni anno (every year, annually), l’anno scorso (last year), l’anno prossimo (next year), tutto l’anno (all year, year-round), and qualche anno fa (a few years ago). Of course, the romance writer in me zero’d in on the psychological term crisi del settimo anno (seven-year itch).

Disclaimer: I am writing this as a student of Italian. If there is anyone out there who would like to add to or correct my post, please leave a comment. This is a learning process for me as well. 

A Romance Writer Learns Italian – My Word of the Week – Lupo (n. wolf)


n. wolf

from Word Reference

For previous installments of Italian Word of the Week, click here.

You might be wondering why I picked a straightforward noun–an animal of all things–as this week’s Italian word. Honestly, I did it because it provides the perfect segway for me to plug my new release, Delicious Delay. No, said book is not a shifter romance (though I do have one bouncing around in my head, threatening to break free). However, in case anyone out there is wondering, the Italian words for “werewolf” are licantropo and lupo mannaro (yes, I have a vampire edition of this post planned for the not too distant future).

It’s always a relief for students to find idioms that exist in both English and Italian. Gridare al lupo (id. to cry wolf; to raise a false alarm), lupo vestito da agnello (id. wolf in sheep’s clothing) and chi si pecora fa, il lupo se la mangia (id. those who make themselves sheep will be eaten by the wolf) are great examples. 

And here comes the segway. Italians (or so my teacher told me) are superstitious. As such, they would rarely say “Buona fortuna.” Instead, they prefer to use “In bocca al lupo” (lit. in the mouth of the wolf) whenever they want to wish anyone good luck, to which the person would respond “Crepi il lupo” (lit. the wolf dies). Since my new book releases tomorrow, I’m need quite a bit of luck, so I’ll go ahead and say this a few more times to myself.

Disclaimer: I am writing this as a student of Italian. If there is anyone out there who would like to add to or correct my post, please leave a comment. This is a learning process for me as well. 

A Romance Writer Learns Italian – My Word of the Week – Bellissimo (a, i, e)

Bellissimo (Bellissima, Bellissimi & Bellissime)

adj. very beautiful, all-beautiful, swell

from Word Reference

For previous installments of Italian Word of the Week, click here. For an explanation of how adjectives that end in “o” change depending on context, take a look at my previous post on “Caro“.

As with last time, we start with a mini grammar lesson.

  • Italian adjectives can be modified with suffixes (that’s a fancy way to say “endings”) to express different levels of emphasis. “-issimo” is the Italian absolute superlative, which basically means it is used to show that a certain quality is expressed to a highest degree possible. In this case, Bello (adj. beautiful) is modified to become Bellissimo, which is often translated to “very beautiful.” However, it is probably closer to “the most beautiful humanly possible.”
  • Cultural Note: That said, the Italian language seems to favor the dramatic (try watching Grey’s Anatomy dubbed in Italian–it’s very interesting). Therefore, it seems bellissimo is used somewhat capriciously.
  • Side Note: Remember I went over “Caro” last week? You guessed right–“Carissimo” is “very expensive, dear, precious, etc.”

So obviously, bellissima (f.) can be used to describe a woman. To see the Italian hand gesture equivalent of Una bellissima donna! (What a very beautiful woman!), you can take a look at Berlusconi’s first encounter with Michelle Obama (since sarcasm doesn’t translate well in text form–THIS IS AN INAPPROPRIATE GESTURE!). However, when talking about men, there seems to be a preference for the unmodified adjective (i.e. a hunk = un bell’uomo, un bell ragazzo).

That said, bellissimo can be used to describe a whole host of other things. Most common among them seems to be food (Questa pasta è bellissima!) and the weather. Occasionally, it is also used to mean “good”, but I haven’t quite mastered when and when not to use it in this fashion, so I won’t elaborate.

That’s it for this week!

Disclaimer: I am writing this as a student of Italian. If there is anyone out there who would like to add to or correct my post, please leave a comment. This is a learning process for me as well. 

A Romance Writer Learns Italian – My Word of the Week – Caro (a, i, e)

Caro (and Cara, Cari, Care)

adj. beloved, dear, dearest, darling, sweetheart, precious
     good, kind, expensive, pricey 
n. a loved one, loved ones (fig. family)

from Word Reference

For previous installments of Italian Word of the Week, click here.

Since this is only my second IWoW post, I’ll start by very briefly and superficially going over two grammar points.

  • Adjectives that end in “o” (ex. caro), change endings depending on the noun it modifies. As such, caro (masculine singular) turns into cara if the subject/object is feminine singular, cari if it’s masculine plural, and care if it’s feminine plural.
  • Nouns that end in “o” also change when they become plural. Instead of adding an “s,” as in the case of English, Italians change the “o” to an “i”. In other words, caro (n. loved one) becomes cari (n. loved ones).

Basta (that’s enough) with grammar. So why do I think caro is cool?

First off, most romance readers have come across the expression “Cara mia” (my dear) at some point. For one, Lisa Marie Rice wrote quite a number of romances set in Italy and/or with Italian male leads. Of course, the “mia” (my, feminine singular) is just for emphasis–cara can be used on it’s own to express “dear, darling, sweetheart” as well. Oddly enough, what comes first to my mind when I hear cara mia is Gollum’s ravings over “my precious” from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. After all, “precious, mine” would be the most literal translation of cara mia.

I stumbled upon the use of caro/cari as a noun during my Disney Study Sessions, during which I watch youtube clips of Italian-dubbed soundtracks (that counts as work right?). In Mulan‘s Riflesso (aka. Reflections…yes, it’s a Christina Aguilera song), there’s this line that took me forever to figure out: 

se io facessi ciò che vorrei, i miei cari perderei

which roughly translates to “If I do as I’d like, I’d lose my loved ones (fig. family).” The line forced me to look the word up–until I did, I had no idea caro/cari could be used as a noun.

Of course, the usage of caro/cara a new Italian student would most likely learn is in reference to an “expensive” object. Since caro literally means “precious”, it’s very frequently used to describe the monetary value of items. Just to keep non-native speakers on their toes, however, poco (adv. few) caro = affordable.

By the way, a useful tourist-Italian phrase to know would be “No, grazie. è troppo caro,”  which means “No, thank you. (it’s) too expensive.”  And thus concludes this post. If you have any cool Italian words you’d like me to look up, just leave a comment pointing me in the right direction.

Disclaimer: I am writing this as a student of Italian. If there is anyone out there who would like to add to or correct my post, please leave a comment. This is a learning process for me as well. 

A Romance Writer Learns Italian – My Word of the Week – Dolce


adj. sweet, mild, gentle, nice, pleasant, dear, charming, 
fig.-- easy, gradual, soft 
n. sweetness, dessert, cake, sweet, candy, sweets

from Word Reference

As many of you are aware, I started an intensive Italian course this September. Since then, learning this language has consumed my life. Because the class is designed for American government workers (and not necessarily their spouses), I’ve been taught numerous words I doubt will ever be of use (ex. il garante per la cauzione di criminali – bail bondsman…Crossing my fingers I will never need this one). So what’s a poor romance writer to do in order to counteract the abject boredom?

I quickly got into the habit of looking up and focusing on words I think are cool (and there are lots). Which brings me to my new (hopefully) regularly-scheduled blog post:

My (Italian) Word of the Week

For this week, I’ve chosen a word that is very near and dear to my heart: Dolce.

Let’s start with the most recognizable use of dolce (n., dessert). Dolce can be both singular or plural, and encompasses the entire family of sweet things (cake, candy, gelato, etc.). It also translates to “sweet (adj.)” when used in reference to an edible item, as well as “sweet, nice, pleasant, dear, charming (adj.)” when used to describe a person (as in the case of English, thank goodness!).

One can have a dolce (gentle, gradual adj.) slope, which makes some degree of sense, and, oddly enough, “fresh water” is translated as  l’acqua dolce, for no reason I can think of.

So lets get into its more creative uses (which is where the fun begins). Most people have probably heard of la dolce vita (n., good life). On the flip-side, there is la dolce morte (n., mercy killing , euthanasia). Surprisingly, Italians also use casa dolce casa (idiom. home sweet home). I also stumbled upon an idiomatic expression I have not been able to grasp : Il naufragar m’è dulce in questo mare (idiom. being shipwrecked is sweet to me in this sea)…I still don’t get it.

Of course, the romantic in me couldn’t help but notice la dolce metà (n. fig., girlfriend) which literally means “the sweet half.” One of my instructors also let slip that he once went to the beach “con la dulce compagnia”, which he later explained is a polite way of saying “with his girlfriend.”

Well, that’s all I have for this week. If you’re interested in Italian, stay tuned for the next installment.

Disclaimer: I am writing this as a student of Italian. If there is anyone out there who would like to add to or correct my post, please leave a comment. This is a learning process for me as well. 

One Story’s Evolution – More than Strangers (Now Available at LSBooks, Amazon, & ARe)

A long time ago (February),  in a galaxy far far away (Karachi, Pakistan), More than Strangers was born as a flash fiction blog post as part of the Absolute Write Blog Chain. The prompt was “unfortunate sport,” and the scene was set at the Dubai Polo and Equestrian Club.

Not long after I hit publish on the blog post, I ran into a public health worker at a book club meeting (yes, there are such things in Karachi). We exchanged no more than a few sentences, but her work was so adventurous (especially compared to mine) I couldn’t stop thinking about it long after we parted ways (okay, I may have Google’d her NGO). Somehow, the opulent world of champagne and polo (Dubai) collided with the one I was living in (Karachi), and the thousand word flash fiction evolved into a novella.

I never planned to write this story, nor did I ever expect an erotic romance publisher to pick it up. Along the way, More than Strangers acquired a bit of sugar and spice (aka kinky sex), but it is ultimately a story about finding love when you least expect it. If you do choose to give it a try, I hope you enjoy reading about Nulli and Jason as much as I enjoyed writing about them.

More Than Strangers - Safe Harbor 1

A Contemporary Romantic Suspense

Buy Links (where you can sample the first chapter): LSbooks, Amazon, AllRomanceEbooks, (GoodReads)


Scorching desert heat, ice-cold champagne, and a world of opulence—the perfect setting for a one-night stand. Certain they will never meet again, two strangers agree to casual, no-strings sex that turns into something more.

Jason Reynolds has his life mapped out, and it doesn’t include a smart-mouthed redhead on a mission to save the world. A security specialist at the top of his game, he is on the cusp of wealth and power. Love is a distraction he simply can’t afford.

Struggling to bury memories of an unforgettable night, Nulli O’Hara chases her dream to a city fraught with violence and death. Six months later, she becomes a kidnapping target, and Jason is the man sent to keep her safe.

More than Strangers charts the journey of two reluctant lovers from the sands of the Middle East to the slums of South Asia. In a perilous world more exotic than fantasy, Jason and Nulli must fight to live and see their happily ever after.

Content Notes: Spicy, Light BDSM, Descriptive Erotic Sex, Light Bondage, Spanking

A Writer’s Life – My Xbox and I

This is the first in a series of memoir-style entries I’m titling “A Writer’s Life.” 

This post won’t make sense unless I provide some context. Back when I was in college, I was the stereotypical geek. I had (bad) red streaks in my hair, watched 75 episodes of Hikaru No Go (an anime) in two sittings, and dressed up as Kagome (from Inuyasha) on Halloween. I was one of those girls guys discussed mIRC issues with (and I was never asked on a single date). My parents had never been pro-gaming, so I bought a PS2 with my first paycheck almost immediately after moving into my dorm. I then proceeded to work my way through all the games I wanted to play back in highschool.

In college, I had one of those jobs where I was more or less paid to sit in one place and answer questions if the phone ever rang (which it rarely did). Therefore, I had plenty of time to go through an RSS feed filled with posts from Kotaku, Joystiq and CheapAssGamer.com. When left to my own devices, I would do not so smart things such as play Resident Evil 4 for 17 hours straight (with bathroom breaks), and drive my then boyfriend crazy as I created a spreadsheet in order to beat Final Fantasy X. (By the way, I’m not contradicting myself. My then boyfriend, now husband, never actually asked me out on a date. I’ll leave that story for another day.)

One of the first joint purchases DH and I made (before we were married) was an Xbox 360 (yes, shortly after launch–and yes, that particular one is now RIP thanks to the red ring of death). We then proceeded to log over 220 hours playing Elder Scrolls 4 – Oblivion. It was a great bonding experience–I designed the character, managed the inventory, beefed up the stats, enchanted the weapons, and created the spells. He got the unpleasant task of fighting those creepy crawly spiders and skeletons (first person fighting gives me vertigo.).

When those lovely college years came to an end (kids, you have no idea how good you have it), my Xbox followed my husband and I to Washington, D.C. I started working the day after graduation, but I still had enough time to feed my gaming habit. Over the next few years, I got 1000 achievement points in Civilization Revolution, filled Albion’s coffers in Fable 2, and fell in love with Dragon Age: Origins (lets not bring up Dragon Age 2 right now. It’ll spoil my nostalgic mood).

And then I realized I wanted to become an author. It had always been in the back of my mind, but I was too busy making rent and enjoying myself to see the signs (the journals full of scribblings next to the Xbox should have clued me in, but they didn’t). I had always been a writer, but trying to turn that passion into a career is an entirely different endeavor. I had to set goals and commit to writing a certain number of hours per week (as opposed to whenever the muse struck). Then there’s the pesky problem of finding an epublisher who would take my novellas on, as well as all the  additional responsibilities that comes with signing a contract.

I would describe my current stage of author-dom as the “intern paid in coffee” stage. I make a living off my day-job (which is, unfortunately, no longer of the “sit around and do nothing variety”) and work part-time as an author in exchange for indeterminate potential earnings. Combine that with DH’s mandatory gym sessions, doing groceries, and having a social life, this more or less leaves just enough time for sleep.

As a result, my relationship with the Xbox fizzled for two years before officially ending about a year ago.  I was relegated to enviously glancing in DH’s direction as he beat Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Mass Effect 2, and Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. I consciously chose not buy Final Fantasy XIII (the game that once launched my failed “We MUST buy a PS3 campaign”). I wanted to be an author, and some luxuries had to go.

So why am I writing this (and more importantly, why did I tag this post “pep-talk”)?

I officially turned-in my “two month notice” yesterday (it was a one year contract, so this was just a formality). Since then, I’ve been a bit in the doldrums. On top of conjuring horrifying visions of packing up and moving countries (again), only to have to move to another country a year later, the notification brought home the fact that I’ll be unemployed (again) as of July 18, 2013.

While I am by no means going to starve on the streets (an unexpected side-effect of becoming an author was lowered expenses), the prospect of no longer having a regular paycheck made me anxious. With the six months of language training DH is trying to sign me up for (which should improve my employment prospects at his onward assignment), my one year in the U.S. is simply not conducive for getting a day job. I’ll have a six-week break, followed by classes (hopefully), followed by another four-month gap before we leave the country. Not exactly great fodder for a job interview.

As such, DH and I decided I should simply take this opportunity to write full-time. While I should be jumping up and down with joy, the prospect frightens me. Despite what’s been floating around the blogosphere of late, being an erotic romance author (on average) is not some gold-coin laden path to stardom. At this stage, I’d be lucky if my royalties end up  paying for a chocolate coin or two. So yesterday was one of those days when I wasn’t exactly depressed, but neither was I my usual cheerful self. I was dreading July and the changes it will bring.

And then all the chatter surrounding the Xbox One caught my eye. Despite what the critics are saying, the prospect of a new generation of consoles brought a smile to my face. I haven’t had time to play video games for a year. Don’t get me wrong–I love being an erotic romance author. I wouldn’t give it up for all the video games in the world. But having something to look forward to reminded me I wasn’t simply losing an income–I was trading money for time. Most of it will be spent writing, but some of it I can reserve for just being myself again.

Last year, I didn’t follow the E3 announcements. Why bother? They were talking about all the games I wouldn’t have time to play. This year, on some days, it might be DH’s turn to enviously watch as I sit on the couch with a game controller in hand. Who knows? A certain someone might be persuaded to get me an Xbox One on my birthday. 

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

the next big thingI’ve been tagged in The Next Big Thing blog hop by Eva Lefoy. Her blog post is here

This is an opportunity for authors to talk about what they’re working on. The author answers ten questions about their latest book, and (ideally) tags more authors.

Today, I’m talking about my WIP, which is in the content edits phase. It should be released in the late summer/early fall.

1. What is your working title/title of your book?

More than Strangers (Safe Harbor – Book 1)

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

Back in February, I did a flash fiction blog post as part of the Absolute Write Blog Chain (read it here). It features Nulli (name borrowed from fellow LSB author Nulli Para Ora) and an unlucky polo player. Not long after it was posted, the characters kept bugging me to write their story. I tend to do whatever my characters tell me to do–it’s essential for my sanity.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

I think it’s a contemporary romance. My husband (and beta reader) is convinced it’s a romantic suspense. I’m waiting to see what my editor decides.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Amy Adams (Enchanted)

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

From a Middle Eastern desert to the slums of South Asia, two reluctant lovers fight for their own happily ever after.

(Yes, the story has digressed somewhat from the flash fiction version. But it does start off with the scene at the polo field!)

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 

It was accepted for publication by Liquid Silver Books.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Good question. I started writing it in mid-February, and it was ready for my beta by late-March. I work full-time though, so five weekends plus a few extra hours during the week might be a better way to describe it.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Its an oldie, but Linda Howard’s Mackenzie’s Pleasure comes to mind. It’s a novella, so the length matches. It also features a one night stand, followed by a period of separation, and a danger that brings the hero and heroine back together. Add an alpha male hero and a (if I do say so myself) kick ass heroine, and you’ve got quite a few parallels.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Not so long ago, I met a real life Nulli (i.e. a public health worker heading a TB-testing initiative in South Asia). The encounter was very brief, but I knew the moment we met I had to write a story about what she was doing.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

If you like sex scenes with just a bit a kink and lots of heat, I’m your girl.

I’m tagging the following authors to play along with me:

Kelli Evans – www.AuthorKelliEvans.blogspot.com

Be sure and visit her site on Monday, May 13 to learn about the Next Big Thing!

JustRomance.Me – Love A Tree Blog Hop


Welcome! This is my second time joining a JustRomance.Me blog hop. If you came upon this post by accident, but would like to join in the fun, just click the banner to the left and you can start at the beginning. There are lots of prizes up for grabs (one of which is a copy of my novella, Tower in the Woods).

This blog hop celebrates Earth Day , so I chose a relevant except from my new release Warlock’s Pawn. Below it is a picture of the actual location that inspired this desert fantasy (Empty Quarter, UAE). My husband’s one of the guys in black.

Though strategy dictated he walk past the idyllic scene in this neglected garden, he found himself marching toward her as if drawn by a magical tether. A single sighting would make his efforts a complete waste, but his mind fought the battle and lost. She was alone, surrounded by date palms and long-stemmed yellow flowers, and the simple white dress that had caught his eye at court made her appear ethereal as she sat by the water’s side. Now that she was but an arm’s reach away, their likenesses in the mosaic pool seemed as if captured from a forgotten dream.

“No one visits this place,” she remarked with a sigh. “The rarest treasures of the desert are here for all to enjoy. Yet each day you walk by as if dates are as common as sand.”

He frowned and reached over to tuck a loose strand of hair behind her ear. The odd calm in her tone made him wonder how attuned she was to his thoughts. “I am here now.”

She turned at long last to meet his gaze. “But you loathe yourself for not walking away.”

Accustomed to being inscrutable, he could not help but feel reluctant admiration for her astuteness. “Where there is beauty there are those who seek its destruction. It is my duty to protect the walls that keep these waters safe.”

Her lips curved into a small, almost mocking smile. “Are you telling me you do not have the luxury to savor what you have?”

He narrowed his eyes. “You clearly believe otherwise.”

She shrugged. “You neglect this place by choice, my lord, not by circumstance.” While her face remained impassive, he could sense the pain and confusion behind the veil of calm. Unable to stop himself, he leaned closer and circled his arm around her shoulders. She resisted for only a moment before resting her forehead against his chest. He needed to leave; he should have never come. The longer he tarried there the greater the chance a courtier would see them together and send whispers flying throughout court.

“I have hurt you. I will hurt you,” he murmured as he rested his chin on her hair and took in a deep breath. “What I did, what I will do, it is for your protection. Try to trust my words, for your suffering pains me far more than it does you.”

Empty Quarter

I hope you enjoyed the snippet as much as I enjoyed writing it. Happy Earth Day!


In a world of blood and sand, becoming a warlock’s queen is a fatal curse. To survive the Helicon court, Alia must learn to play a lethal game. But while she faces assassins with a dagger in hand, what she fears most is losing her heart along with her freedom.

Content Notes: Intense Heat/Edgy Erotic Romance, Anal Play/Intercourse, Light BDSM Practices or Play, Menage