Dress Up Dress Down

Dress Up, Dress Down with Marie Dry

Happy Friday! Let's welcome Marie Dry to the LAM Blog today, talking about her book, ALIEN BETRAYED. ********************************


I thought it was really amusing, doing a blog about my characters clothes. Why? Because mostly I forget to put clothes on them. I literally have to go in afterwards and make sure they’re not running around naked. In the process I learned a lot about the function clothes serves in a story.

The first editor at Black Opal Books who worked on Alien Mine thought the Aliens in the Zyrgin Warriors series walked around naked. I was shocked that she could miss the wonderful description of their uniforms, loaded with weapons that became the size of pennies when placed in their pockets. Then I went searching for the specific paragraph where I described it. It wasn’t there! I had to go in and put clothes on them. I was mortified, this was my first book to be published and I did something so careless. The worst part was that I could see their clothes so clearly and knew the function they served and it only happened in my mind. And I managed to forget to put it down on the manuscript.  I knew from the beginning that their clothes were made of some really strong material with some amazing properties, allowing them to simply step out of their shoes without using laces and their uniforms were developed to withstand most weapons. I wanted their clothes to juxtapose their primitive joy in battling with swords. To illustrate that this was a culture with advanced technology even though they come across as rather primitive in their ideas.

After that I went and checked a contemporary I’ve been fiddling with and yip, no clothes. Once again the heroine’s clothes were clear in my mind, but not on the page. She’s a rather frumpy dresser and much more interested in developing her mind than her fashion sense. To make matters worse, her way of looking at herself and what she wear through the book, illustrate her acceptance of herself as a beautiful woman by the end of the book. Or it would have if I’d just taken the time to really describe her clothes. Since I made the changes and ensured that the clothes mirrored her development the story has improved.

What I learned from this was that clothes can illustrate aspects of the character, they can show the technological stage of development of a civilization or poverty or riches, it can illustrate the characters jobs or lack of jobs. In other words, clothes has their own job to do in a story. They can also do absolutely nothing if the author, namely me, don’t use it as a tool.

Mary Buckham wrote an excellent craft book. Active Settings by Mary Buckham. I cannot recommend this enough. She has examples that illustrate what I tried to say above. Here is a link to amazon to her book. A Writer's Guide to Active Setting

Thank you for inviting me to write for your blog. I’m off to make sure my Gargoyle is wearing clothes and not running around Cape Town naked.

More about Marie

All her life Marie Dry has read romances and was fairly young when she decided she would travel the world and write the perfect story that had all the elements she looked for in a romance. In 2007 after living in Morocco for four years and back in South Africa, she shared a pizza with a friend and promised to go all out with her writing and to work at getting published. In 2014 her first book was published by Black Opal Books. Two more books has since been published and a fourth contracted.

There are several wonderful moments in her life that she would never trade for anything. One of them is meeting President Nelson Mandela and the second being published.


Marie's Amazon Page

Find Marie on Goodreads



In a bleak and apocalyptic future, where the Zyrgin Warriors are getting ready to conquer Earth, Marcie is sent to infiltrate the alien stronghold in the Rocky Mountains, only to be betrayed by her own people. Instead of stealing the alien’s technology and accomplishing her mission of causing mayhem and destruction among them, she is captured by Larz, an arrogant alien, who wreaks havoc with her heart when he insists that she will be his woman. Still, he may no longer want her when he discovers her secrets…ones she doesn’t even know she has.


Larz clasped the training sword with both hands and swung it in a wide arc around his head, conquering his favourite patch of the Rocky Mountains.This was the closest a Zyrgin warrior came to the human emotion of joy. The sword fit his hand like an extra limb. His body moving with strength and fluidity gifted to him by generations of the strongest blood on Zyrgin. Still swinging, he moved the sword to his left and then his right hand, increasing his speed until his movements became a blur.

Every day after his warrior duties, he came to this rocky patch on the mountain.Practiced to ensure he was worthy and ready for the day the leader of all Zyrgin territories would give him his sword of honor. That was the moment all warriors lived for. When their leader, who they called The Zyrgin, gifted them with a sword that would respond to the touch of a certain warrior only. Warriors from a strong bloodline, and some warriors born stronger,received swords that, with the aid of technology, could be made to shrink to nearly invisible size. To the enemy, it looked as if they disappeared and appeared as if by magic.

Many warriors used their cloaking technology to make it seem as if they had received such a sword from The Zyrgin. Larz knew he’d never have to resort to such measures. He was from The Zyrgin’s bloodline, descended from the strongest Zyrgin that ever ruled.

Larz lunged sideways then stepped back, performing the sequence of the warrior conquering with his sword with ease. Instinctively compensating for the uneven boulder strewn patch he stood on. Though his movements were swift and smooth, as a warrior’s should be, today he performed without his usual fierce concentration.

Worry for his human occupied his mind. Months ago, shortly before his second change, he claimed Marcie as his breeder after they rescued her from a raider camp. Everyone else called her a loud, mean woman with ugly red hair. Not a day went by without one of the warriors offering to kill her or bring him a better human. When he looked at her, he saw his breeder. A woman he’d never give up.

If he claimed her after he went through his third change, it might mean he had to give up his need to do battle in their wars, to serve on the Zyrgin homeland. The friend of Natalie and Julia, Sarah had disappeared more than a year ago and it had taken many months to find her in a raider camp. She had been starved and bruised and told them Marcie was responsible for many of the things that happened to her in that camp. They may have rescued Marcie from a raider camp, but they were certain she was sent to infiltrate them. Her attitude made her very unpopular. Shortly after they brought her to their guesthouse, she’d tried to hurt Sarah and Sarah had been moved to live with Natalie. Larz had to go through his third change soon, or he might not be able to claim her.

From the time the first Zyrgin ruled, millions of centuries ago, Zyrgin warriors were not allowed to claim a breeder before their third change. It was a strange knowing each warrior carried within. Larz turned and decapitated an imaginary enemy behind him. His third change was months away, and he needed to claim Marcie before she got herself killed.

He stumbled and compensated for the uneven rock beneath his boots. Adding challenge to his workout, he closed his eyes. A warrior who owned a foul-mouthed human had to be prepared for anything.

This barren patch of the alien planet he was born on, this little piece of earth, always drew him. On the hard rock, where no trees grew and no reintroduced wildlife ventured, he was reminded of his home planet. Out here, with the exotic earth sun shining down on him, he could think about claiming a strangely compelling woman with a mean mouth and ugly red hair. Make plans for keeping her safe from the consequences of her actions.

Zorlof, his brother, ran up to him, his pre-second change body small, but stronger than that of a human male. Their doctor couldn’t explain why he took so much longer than Larz to go through his second change, but all indications were that he would be very strong once it did happen. Zyrgin warriors were born with the knowledge of battle, with strength in their small bodies. With each change their knowledge and strength grew. In Zorlof’s case, he suspected that strength and knowledge might be much stronger in him than the average warrior. Even taking into account their strong bloodline, Zorlof was taller and stronger than any pre-second change warrior born for centuries.

Zorlof easily leaped over a few boulders and increased his speed until he skidded to a halt in front of Larz.

“Marcie tried to kill Zanr to get to Sarah. She screamed she’d kill Sarah the whole time,” Zorlof said.

The mountain blurred around Larz and noise rang in his ears. Like their ship’s klaxon, instead of danger to the ship, it heralded danger to his human. Larz sank down on his knees and leaned his head on his sword. “That human will drive me to Solarian drink.”

If she had simply gone after Zanr, they would’ve laughed at the idea of a human woman trying to overcome a Zyrgin warrior. No warrior would give an attack from a human woman any serious attention, beyond ensuring she didn’t hurt herself. Threatening the Zyrgin’s breeder? Larz might not be able to save her.

His time was up. He had to choose between Marcie and being a warrior and probably his life. Give up everything that defined him to save that female who had no concept of honor. He didn’t understand her mean nature and why she hated Sarah this much? If she was sent to infiltrate them, wouldn’t it make more sense to befriend them?

Larz closed his eyes and prayed for patience. Would the woman never stop putting herself in danger? When he claimed her, he’d make sure she understood that such behavior would have severe consequences for her. Ever since they rescued Marcie from the raider camps six months ago, she’d angered every human and Zyrgin who came into contact with her.



Dress Up Dress Down with Rachel Leigh Smith

Please join me in welcoming Rachel Leigh Smith to the LAM blog! ~~~~~~

imageMy Name Is A’yen is set in the far distant future, after humanity has spread through the stars and encountered another species, the Lokmane. Out of fear, humanity enslaved them and so succeeded in wiping out the past that the Lokmane don’t believe there was ever a time they were free and had a home.

A’yen, the main character, also believes this. As a slave, and a male of his species, he can’t afford to dream like that. Humans are afraid of him due to his size and strength. Lokmane men always top six feet in height, and they’re telepathic. Though most of them aren’t able to use it.

He’s not a big fan of clothes. Neither are the other Lokmane males. Starting at the age of 18 and broken up into three sets, they’re covered with metallic ink tattoos to provide humans with an easy way of controlling them. Because of how their bodies process electromagnetic energy, the tattoos, called markings, are torture to endure. Both having it done, and living with it.

Unfortunately, going around half-naked is dangerous for a Lokmane male. A’yen prefers wearing cotton shorts and soft t-shirts when he has to get dressed. In his ideal world, he never has to wear a shirt. He’s not fond of shoes either, since one of the marking sets covers the tops of his feet.

His heroine, Fae Hart, is an archaeologist. She’s almost always in cargo pants, boots, and loose, breathable shirts. Since he’s helping her on her dig, and they’re on an unexplored planet, he’s wearing the same things. Much to his dismay.

A’yen has lived most of his life in pain, so his clothing choices are designed to lessen it as much as possible. It’s something I have personal experience with, unfortunately.

The excerpt I’ve chosen is one where he’s stripped down to go swimming. And he can’t help thinking about Fae. Though at this point in the story, he doesn’t really like her.

Bio: imageRachel Leigh Smith was swept off her feet at the age of six by Magnum, P.I., then again at nine by Frank Hardy. She remembers her favorite romance novels by the hero’s name, so of course she writes romance for the hero lover. She lives in central Louisiana with her family, a half-crazed calico, a ginger tabby lion, and a menagerie of book boyfriends.

www.rachelleighsmith.com www.facebook.com/rachelleighsmithauthor www.instagram.com/rlsauthor www.pinterest.com/rachelleighgeek www.goodreads.com/author/show/8425584.Rachel_Leigh_Smith


They've taken everything from him. Except his name.

The Loks Mé have been slaves for so long, freedom is a distant myth A'yen Mesu no longer believes. A year in holding, because of his master's murder, has sucked the life from him. Archaeologist Farran Hart buys him to protect her on an expedition to the Rim, the last unexplored quadrant of the galaxy.

Farran believes the Loks Mé once lived on the Rim and is determined to prove it. And win A'yen's trust. But she's a breeder's daughter and can't be trusted.

Hidden rooms, information caches, and messages from a long-dead king change A'yen's mind about her importance. When she's threatened, he offers himself in exchange, and lands on the Breeders Association's radar. The truth must be told. Even if it costs him his heart.


He kicked back again, eyes closed, and Dr. Hart’s face filled his mind. For the first time, he didn’t shove it away. Instead, he ignored the fact she owned him. Still couldn’t bring himself to think of her as mistress. To him, the word was intimate, symbolic of a relationship they didn’t have. Without doubt she was one of the most beautiful women he’d ever seen. In a playful, impish sort of way. Her nickname fit.

What would it be like to kiss her? He didn’t shove that thought aside either. Full lips begged to be teased, tasted to their fullest. Her green eyes, almost too big for her face, captivated him. Whether he was ready to voice it or not. So deep, almost mysterious. Glossy black hair with just the right amount of wave. How would it feel on his skin?

A physical attraction like this wasn’t unusual for him, or the other Loks Mé men he’d talked to over the years. Fantasizing was safe. No one got hurt this way. It was acting on it that broke hearts and families.

Which meant he needed to stop it now before the urge to act on it became a need and ruined everything. He’d acted on his attraction to Tala without getting to know her first. Not a mistake he needed to repeat with someone he was likely stuck with for the rest of his life.

On the other hand, Mother was right. He had to let her in, show her he wasn’t a smart-ass all the time, that he could accept her authority. If he didn’t give a little and show her he could be obedient and respectful, she’d never give him even an inch of freedom. He’d spend the rest of the journey locked in their quarters, bored out of his skull. Not be allowed to explore the planet where he’d tasted the closest thing to total freedom any Loks Mé had ever known.

Before he could change her expectations, first he had to meet them.

Easier said than done.

Dress Up Dress Down with Ava Cuvay

Please join me in welcoming "out of this world" romance author, Ava Cuvay to the LAM Blog! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hi! Thanks for letting me come chat about the importance of attire in my upcoming book Love and the Corps. My character’s choice of clothing in this book, and in specific scenes, was particularly fun to write because it helped to complement/contradict my characters.

My heroine, Captain Jo Behsue of the Corps, has a large scar across her face and a strong, sturdy body (thick in all the right places). Rumor has is she is 90% dude, and she has never bothered to prove the rumors wrong. Because she is career military, her clothing choices center around her Corps-issue, boxy, sexless uniforms. She finds the prospect of having to wear a delicate satin evening gown more terrifying than being inserted in the middle of battle with only her fists as weapons. While her uniforms intrigue my hero—is she a plentiful handful or a sweet little mouthful? —the sight of her womanly charms beautifully displayed in a gown sets his passion aflame.

By contrast to his love interest, Lux Krotah of the Klorakian mercenary army—like all his kind—is tall, lithe, and silver, with a beauty nearly effeminate in nature (except for his muscles!). Where the Corps is a blunt, brute-force type of military operation, their girly Klorakian counterparts embody grace in all things, from their physical features to their combat tactics to their architecture and clothing. So, while Jo must wear a gown to the royal ball, the Klorakian ceremonial formal dress is… a skirt. A kilt of iridescent scarves covering just enough of Lux to make Jo’s mouth water.

In Love and the Corps, I enjoyed dressing my characters to contradict stereotype, while trying to keep them sexy in the eyes of the one person who matters: Their Happily-Ever-After. At the very least, I get to have an alien character dressed in a sexy kilt!

Love and the Corps Snippet

Two harried hours later, Jo eased her way through the palace corridors. The quiet halls echoed the soft patter of her sandals—dainty, strappy sandals which were the epitome of femininity, but at least their heels were flat. Her steps were careful, cautious. She attempted a slow, gliding gate, unnerved by how her unsupported breasts swayed and jostled within the bodice of her dress. If she was overly cavalier with her movements, her breasts might escape their delicate confines.

Only one layer of luxurious satin rested between her naked body and disaster.

K’Ahla and the servant girls had transformed Captain Jo Behsue of the Corps into a creature she did not recognize. They had crafted a flowing, watery gown from satin sheets purchased but never used by the former dictator—Jo appreciated the subtle insult to his failed legacy—and swept her thick hair upon her head in a simple chignon she could never replicate. They applied enough make-up for her eyes and her lips to catapult off her face and diva-slap her scar until it faded to obscurity. Jo had stared at her reflection, wondering who the lovely woman was on its surface. Tendrils of dark hair curled at her nape and temple. The dress revealed enough of her olive skin to tempt without putting her on vulgar display. The bodice fell gracefully from one shoulder, over her full breasts, and cinched at her waist. The skirt cascaded to the floor and, as she walked, the hem fluttered like her own ethereal cloud of blue. With each step, the side slits allowed a long, muscular leg to peek through before ducking shyly behind the folds of the fabric.

Jo had to admit K’Ahla and the other women had accomplished the impossible. She was beautiful.

As she made her way to Lux’s room, eager to see his reaction to her transformation, she tried not to ruin their miracle with unnecessary movement. She was accustomed to clomping around in fatigues and boots, giving no regard to how her hair looked or how she moved her body. One wrong turn or a carelessly placed foot could ruin all their hard work.

She turned the corner and saw his door was ajar. Her heart hammered in her chest, her inner soldier immediately at arms. Had someone entered and killed him? Had the despot brother achieved revenge without raising a single alarm? She tiptoed through the opening, her hand at her thigh where her knife was strapped. Even for such a formal occasion as tonight’s ceremony, she was not about to go completely unarmed. Though what she saw next did a damn good job of it.

Lux was alone. And alive. And naked but for a skirt of wispy scarves held low on his waist by an intricate, gem-studded silver belt. A wide collar of matching gems glittered at his neck. What was left was a long, wide expanse of smooth, silvery skin filled to rippling with sleek muscles. Muscles she’d explored with her hands several times. Muscles which could kill in a flash, yet had made her body sing so divinely. Her mouth watered and her body heated. She’d never seen a man in a skirt before, and knew many planets where such a sight was a death wish. Had anyone asked her opinion before this moment, she would have assumed the clothing choice would render the man effeminate.

The vision before her was anything but.

Lux was all man, and one hundred percent sexy. Like Klorakian architecture, he was a perfect meld of power and elegance, fluid grace and fierce strength. He leaned back against the wall, an arm slung casually over his head, the other resting on the exposed thigh of a leg propped against the wall at his back for support. The pose was both relaxed and seductive, an upright version of how he might look in bed after lovemaking. What would it be like to kneel before him, part the scarves like a curtain, and take him into her mouth?

Fire burst in her nerve endings at the thought.

Ava’s Bio:

Ava Cuvay writes out of this world romance featuring sassy heroines, often-alien-but-always-sexy heroes, and an alcoholic beverage or two... Set in a galaxy far, far away. Think "Star Wars" meets "Firefly", without Jar-Jar Binks, and with a lot more heat.

She resides in central Indiana with a hubby who makes her laugh and kiddos who are growing up way too quickly. She enjoys the world of wine and spirits, amusement park thrill rides, and laughing at her own foibles (yeah, she laughs a lot).

She believes life is too short to surround yourself with negative people, and Han Solo shot first. When not writing, Ava is thinking about writing. Or wine. And she’s always thinking about bacon.

Look for “Love and the Corps” Book two of The Heart Nebula Series. To be published by the end of the month!


Ava Cuvay Amazon Author Page

Dress Up, Dress Down with Nicole Evelina

Please join me in welcoming multi-award-winning writer Nicole Evelina, as she presents to us the story of an unconventional woman, Victoria Woodhull. Victoria Woodhull – Clothing as Rebellion in late 19th Century America

My latest historical fiction novel, Madame Presidentess, is about Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for President in the United States. Not only that, she was also the first woman to run a stock brokerage on Wall

Public domain picture courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Street (co-owned with her sister, Tennie), the first to testify before a sitting committee of Congress and one of the first to run a weekly newspaper (also with Tennie).

Given that, you may be wondering why clothes would matter in this novel. Well, Victoria was also what they called at the time a “sex radical” – that is, is she believed in the concept of Free Love. To her, the term meant that a marriage should begin when two people fell in love and end when they are no longer in love, without interference from the government. (It was difficult to get a divorce in 19th century America; in many states, the only way you could do so was by proving adultery.)

It is likely that Victoria was introduced to the Free Love movement by her second husband, Col. James Blood. As a member, she wore her hair short (at least for the time), adopted a more masculine form of dress (without the bustles and corsets common at the time) in protest of the sexual inequality between men and women.

Her sister, Tennie, joined her in this movement. On the day they first opened their Wall Street brokerage, they purposefully adopted a more masculine outfits, wearing instead of corsets and bustles, deep blue jackets embroidered with rich velvet which were broad at the shoulders, but tapered to contoured curves at the waist, over matching skirts that reached only to the tops of their shoes. That, too, was a carefully planned statement, designed to draw attention and remind onlookers that while they were too modest to show their ankles like common whores, they also were no ordinary women. They wore no ruffles, jewelry or makeup that would define them as overtly feminine, choosing for their only accessories bow ties made of silk.

Another day, Victoria is said to have shown off an outfit she wanted to wear when she was President. She shocked her friends, at least one of whom was a reporter for the New York Sun, by changing into dark blue pants that ended at the knee and were buckled over light blue stockings. On the top she wore a dark blue tunic with a man’s collar and cravat. The following exchange is said to have taken place between her and the reporter.

“This,” Victoria declared, “is what I intend to wear in the streets of New York, and at my banking house on Broad Street.”

“Mrs. Woodhull, if you appear on the street in that dress, the police will arrest you,” the reporter replied.

“No, they won’t. When I am ready to make my appearance in this dress, no police will touch me.”

And as far as records show, she was right, though it’s uncertain if she ever appeared in that particular getup in public. Victoria did later find herself in jail, but the reason had nothing to do with her clothing and everything to do with her unwillingness to keep quiet in the face of injustice and coddle those in power.

By using what she wore as an expression of what she believed, Victoria was making a strong statement of non-conformity to her time. Even when she didn’t wear outfits that we overly aligned with the sex radicals, she preferred to avoid corsets and wore no jewelry, only a white rose at her throat, which would become her trademark.  So as you read Madame Presidentess, try not to picture her as a typical 19th century woman. Her hair was short, her clothes unconventional and voice loud. She was not one to be silenced then and its time her name is in the history books now.

Madame Presidentess eBook Cover No Quote LargeMadame Presidentess

Forty-eight years before women were granted the right to vote, one woman dared to run for President of the United States, yet her name has been virtually written out of the history books.

Rising from the shame of an abusive childhood, Victoria Woodhull, the daughter of a con-man and a religious zealot, vows to follow her destiny, one the spirits say will lead her out of poverty to “become ruler of her people.”

But the road to glory is far from easy. A nightmarish marriage teaches Victoria that women are stronger and deserve far more credit than society gives. Eschewing the conventions of her day, she strikes out on her own to improve herself and the lot of American women.

Over the next several years, she sets into motion plans that shatter the old boys club of Wall Street and defile even the sanctity of the halls of Congress. But it’s not just her ambition that threatens men of wealth and privilege; when she announces her candidacy for President in the 1872 election, they realize she may well usurp the power they’ve so long fought to protect.

Those who support her laud “Notorious Victoria” as a gifted spiritualist medium and healer, a talented financial mind, a fresh voice in the suffrage movement, and the radical idealist needed to move the nation forward. But those who dislike her see a dangerous force who is too willing to speak out when women are expected to be quiet. Ultimately, “Mrs. Satan’s” radical views on women’s rights, equality of the sexes, free love and the role of politics in private affairs collide with her tumultuous personal life to endanger all she has built and change how she is viewed by future generations.

This is the story of one woman who was ahead of her time – a woman who would make waves even in the 21st century – but who dared to speak out and challenge the conventions of post-Civil War America, setting a precedent that is still followed by female politicians today.

 More about Nicole

Nicole Evelina is a multi-award-winning historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. Her most recent novel, Madame Presidentess, a historical novel about Victoria Woodhull, America's first female Presidential Nicole Evelina headshot horizontalcandidate, was the first place winner in the Women’s US History category of the 2015 Chaucer Awards for Historical Fiction.

Her debut novel, Daughter of Destiny, the first book of an Arthurian legend trilogy that tells Guinevere’s life story from her point of view, was named Book of the Year by Chanticleer Reviews, took the Grand Prize in the 2015 Chatelaine Awards for Women’s Fiction/Romance, won a Gold Medal in the fantasy category in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards and was short-listed for the Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction.  Been Searching for You, her contemporary romantic comedy, won the 2015 Romance Writers of America (RWA) Great Expectations and Golden Rose contests.

Nicole’s writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, Curve Magazine and numerous historical publications. She is one of only six authors who completed a week-long writing intensive taught by #1 New York Times bestselling author Deborah Harkness. As an armchair historian, Nicole researches her books extensively, consulting with biographers, historical societies and traveling to locations when possible. For example, she traveled to England twice to research the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy, where she consulted with internationally acclaimed author and historian Geoffrey Ashe, as well as Arthurian/Glastonbury expert Jaime George, the man who helped Marion Zimmer Bradley research The Mists of Avalon.

Nicole is a member of and book reviewer for The Historical Novel Society, and Sirens (a group supporting female fantasy authors), as well as a member of the Historical Writers of America, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Romance Writers of America, the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, Women Writing the West, Broad Universe (promoting women in fantasy, science fiction and horror), Alliance of Independent Authors, the Independent Book Publishers Association and the Midwest Publisher’s Association.

Her website is http://nicoleevelina.com.

She can be reached online at:

Dress Up Dress Down with @JanaRichards_ #MFRWAuthor #romance

Please join me in welcoming Jana Richards to the Living After Midnight blog! Jana, so glad to meet you! Tell us about your book, ONE MORE SECOND CHANCE. ***********

My heroine,Julia Stewart in my contemporary romance, is a high school principal. Most of the time she doesn’t think much about her clothes. Her work uniform is “business casual”; not quite jeans but not expensive dress clothes either. As a single mother, she doesn’t have a lot of money to spend on her wardrobe, even if she did have time to shop. Away from work, she wears jeans, t-shirts, shorts, and occasionally her softball uniform.

But there are occasions when she has to dress to impress. In this scene, Julia is attending a town meeting which has been called to discuss her proposal to include a day care for the children of students at the high school. After facing some controversy, she’s trying to convince townspeople of the merits of her idea. She’s also trying to convince them that she’s still the best person to teach their children and head the high school:

On the evening of the public meeting, Julia dressed carefully, selecting a conservative gray suit, a buttoned-down white blouse, and modest black heels. She kept her makeup to a minimum and her hair in a simple low ponytail, going for a look she hoped projected professionalism and respectability.

But Julia’s wardrobe isn’t all bland. In this scene, my hero Alex Campbell describes her appearance:

The word “pretty” hardly expressed how Julia looked tonight. Gorgeous, sexy, delicious, sprang immediately to mind. Her pale blonde hair gleamed under the stage lights. She wore a sleeveless blue and white print dress that hugged her curves and ended several inches above her knees to show off shapely, toned legs. High-heeled sandals accentuated her well-formed calves. For a petite woman, she had legs that went on for miles.

Julia Stewart is like many working mothers – busy, and dedicated to her family, her job and her community. Her wardrobe is often an afterthought. But when the occasion requires, she can use her clothing to portray the image she wishes to project.

I’m currently giving away a print copy of ONE MORE SECOND CHANCE at Goodreads. For your chance to win, please enter my contest here.

I’m also participating in The Wild Rose Press authors Summer Treats Blog Hop. There are many prizes to be won. Please stop by!

perf5.000x8.000.inddExcerpt from ONE MORE SECOND CHANCE:

Alex warmed the teapot with a bit of water from the kettle, swirling it for a moment before emptying it in the sink. Then he placed a couple of spoonfuls of loose tea into the pot and filled it with hot water, letting it steep while he brought teacups and milk and sugar to the table. Julia was comforted by the little ritual that reminded her so much of her grandmother and her mother. After bringing the teapot to the table, along with a strainer to catch the loose tea, he sat across from Julia. “Tell me what happened with your parents.” He poured her tea, and Julia wrapped her hands around the cup, savoring the warmth. “My mother remembered nothing about talking to you or being outside in the middle of the night, and my father said she was sleepwalking. When I tried to tell him that we should take Mom to have her checked by a doctor, he became very agitated, so I dropped it. I was afraid he was going to get sick again. I don’t know what to do.” “I’m no expert in this area either, but I understand it’s not unusual for a spouse of an Alzheimer’s patient to deny the symptoms. I’ll talk to the hospital social worker tomorrow and have her get in touch with you. Maybe she’s got some ideas.” “Okay.” Relief flowed through her. At least she wouldn’t have to face this problem on her own. They drank their tea in silence, but the silence didn’t feel awkward. Julia felt soothed, the stress slowly leaving her body. Perhaps her grandmother had been onto something. The tea seemed to be working. She finished the last of it and set down the cup. “I should be going. I left Ava with Tracy, and she’s probably hungry by now.” Julia got to her feet and headed to the front door, with Alex following her. “Thanks for the tea, and for listening. I guess I needed both today.” “Anytime. Seriously, Julia, anytime you need to talk, about anything, give me a call.” She wondered if he was speaking as a doctor, as a friend, or as a man. Which one did she want him to be? “Thank you.” “I’ll try to keep an eye out for your folks, see if there’s anything I can do for them.” She was touched by his offer. “I really appreciate that, but I know how busy you are.” He waved away her concern. “It’s no big deal. I appreciate my grandmother’s neighbors checking in on her, and I’d be happy to do the same.” He really did understand how she felt. “In that case, thank you.” She opened the front door and stepped outside. Turning to Alex, she smiled. His thick hair had begun to dry, and the dark strands gleamed in the spring sunshine. Her breath caught in her throat at his beauty. “Bye, Alex.” “Bye. Take care.” Julia hurried down the steps and across the lawn to her car. An appreciation for his looks was as far she could take any relationship with him. Her life was too complicated, too full already. And she would never get involved with a man who planned to leave Lobster Cove in only a few more months.

Jana Richards’ Bio:

When Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to _MG_7506email-Jana Richardscommit the stories running through her head to paper, and they had to end with a happily ever after. She also knew she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War Two, in lengths ranging from short story to full length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpings of humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense “Seeing Things” was a 2008 EPPIE finalist.

In her life away from writing, Jana is an accountant/admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada with their Pug/Terrier cross Lou and several unnamed goldfish. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.janarichards.com

Social Media Links:

Website: http://www.janarichards.com Blog: http://janarichards.blogspot.com Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JanaRichardsAuthor Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JanaRichards_ Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/janarichards Amazon UK Author Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B002DEVWWG Newsletter Signup: http://www.eepurl.com/m3UnT Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2892274Jana_Richards Google+ Profile: https://plus.google.com/100820406211390323245

Dress Up, Dress Down Featuring Guest Author, Adam Mann #MFRWAuthor

Please join me in welcoming Adam Mann to Living After Midnight. Mike, tell us about the attire of folks in your book BODY HEAT-Naked and Afraid. ***Due to internet issues, this Friday Feature was delayed until today. ***


There is nothing that you can elaborate when you're naked!  You can't hide any blemishes or scars, but in this story neither participant is concerned as they quickly get used to seeing one another wearing absolutely nothing.  There may be an inherent fear when you're not dressed, which is really irrelevant, fear of what?  The original TV program is called Naked & Afraid, but afraid of what?


Jennifer and Charles team up to start their own 21 day wilderness programme, without clothes, food or drink, or a TV sponsored back-up team.  They choose a remadam mann1ote area, and as complete strangers they only meet a day before the adventure starts!  Watch the sparks begin to fly, not from the fires they light, but from the passion that somehow ignites between them.


The reply from Charles startled her:

Jennifer, could you please arrange to take four weeks off, preferably next month, and tell me the dates so that I can arrange to travel.

I’ll fly to Bangkok, but I don’t think that we should meet there. Make your own way to Nan, and I’ll suppose we’ll have to meet there and travel to the site together.

I’ll hire a small car in Nan so that we can leave our clothes and possessions in it until the end of the twenty-one days, unless you have a better suggestion.

That means we’ll organize our own drop point and our pick up point ourselves, again your comments would be most welcome.

We have to cheat a bit, as we need some maps.

Please tell me what you think we should each take.

Jennifer was amazed at her own compliance with Charles’s suggestions. This sort of adventure holiday was just what she had wanted to do for years, but at this stage she had overlooked the lack of clothing factor!

At her office the next day, she completed the form for annual leave, and her boss signed it without reading it. She filed it with the Personnel department. They did not read it either before they filed it.

Her email back to Charles amazed both of them:

Four weeks leave starting1st November.

I’d like to meet you in Bangkok, so that we can recognize one another.

Car hire good idea, but my family may have a better suggestion.

I’ll buy a sharp machete, with a saw-tooth back, locally made are good.

Please bring the fire lighting equipment yourself.

I’ve got some local maps, which are a bit out of date.

I look forward to meeting you,


Jennifer typed: I’ve got two locally made hessian bags.

More about Adam Mann:

adam mann2Adam Mann has written twenty four romance books all based in those parts of the world where he has lived and worked.  As a result five are in sub-Saharan Africa, eleven are in South or East Asia, and only seven based in the UK or Europe.

Adam has been married four times, his first wife died, the second divorced him, the third marriage was annulled as that wife had forgotten to get divorced, and the fourth wife is fit and well.  They have between them seven children and four grandchildren.  As a result Adam thinks he knows a bit about life and loving.

Adam has lived and worked in Vietnam since 1997, where he lives in a provincial city with his wife, and has constant stream of visitors from the families of their seven adult children.





Published by Phaze Books

Everything copyright Adam Mann.


It's my pleasure to welcome Marcia James to the Living After Midnight Blog, to tell us about the meaningful attire worn in her novella, "Nothing But a Hound Dog."

ADOPT, DON'T SHOP: My Characters Proudly Wear Their Convictions

Cindi Landon, the heroine of my novella, "Nothing But a Hound Dog," is the director of the animal shelter in Jenkins, a small North Carolina town. As a hands-on, pro-animal advocate, she works alongside her staff. That means dressing in jeans and shelter t-shirts. One day, she might be working with dogs rescued from a hoarding situation. The next day, she might be meeting with families looking to find the perfect pet. There's nothing she likes more than to rescue and then place a homeless pet in its forever home.

After a night of raucous partying following a rodeo and concert in Jenkins, country music bad boy (and the hero of my novella), Ryan "Rowdy"Gates, is sentenced to community service at the shelter. Like the rest of the staff and volunteers, he wears jeans and shelter t-shirts while he helps out—whether it's cleaning dog runs or bottle-feeding an abandoned Basset Hound puppy he names Buddy. The shelter t-shirts sport different pro-adoption slogans, which start out as abstract concepts to Ryan, then become his conviction after he witnesses pets living on the streets or being surrendered to the shelter.

While researching my novella (which is the third in my "Klein's K-9s Service Dog" series and currently featured in the Love Notes ebook box set), I found quite a few wonderful, pro-adoption slogans, including, "Rescue: It's Not Just a Verb. It's a Promise."; "Paws to Love a Rescue Pet."; and "The Best Things in Life are Rescued." Being pro-adoption myself, I was happy to include many of the slogans in my novella. In fact, I have rescue dogs, cats, and the occasional pot-bellied pig in all of my books. These fictional pets add so much to the plot and reveal in my two-legged characters a love for animals that makes readers root for them to find their happily ever after.

Of course, "Nothing But a Hound Dog" has a happy ending, with Cindi offering Ryan something he's never had—a home, a family, and unconditional love. And, of course, they adopt Buddy the Basset Hound.

Nothingbutahounddog_Kindle"Nothing But a Hound Dog" Excerpt:

When the puppy was sleeping soundly, Shauna, the shelter's volunteer supervisor, stood to go. "Why don't you stay here and hold him, so he'll know he's not alone. The best thing for this little boy is food and sleep. And while you're sitting here, think of a name for him." Shauna left, heading down the hall toward the dog runs.

Ryan looked at the puppy. Somehow the usual dog names—Spot, Rover, and the like—didn't seem right. So he gently rocked the puppy while he considered other names. He began to hum, something he often did when working out a problem. Then he started softly singing the song Elvis had made famous, "Hound Dog."

The puppy had been twitching, as though having a bad dream, but he settled down when he heard the song. Obviously, he had good taste in music. Ryan smiled. He could name the puppy Elvis, but it didn't seem to fit.

Ryan segued into Buddy Holly's "Everyday," a personal favorite. The little guy's mouth opened in a doggie grin. Maybe he should name him after the singer?

He stopped singing and said, "Buddy."

The puppy's ears twitched. Each time he said the name, he got the same reaction. So it was settled. Ryan christened him Buddy the Basset Hound.


Cindi stood in the clinic doorway, watching Ryan sing softly to the poor little thing. It was so poignant that her heart swelled and tears pricked her eyes. The tough kid from high school had grown into an admirable man who could gently rock a puppy and—according to what Shauna had told her—befriend and feed Andy, a troubled teenager who volunteered at the shelter.

God help her, she might be falling in love with Ryan.

She doubted he would appreciate her getting misty-eyed over him, so she simply listened until she got her emotions under control. He was singing the Buddy Holly song, "Words of Love." Cindi was a sucker for 1950s' pop music, so she joined in.

Startled by her voice, Ryan stopped and blushed, actually blushed. "Uh, the puppy settles down when I sing to him."

"He must be a fan of oldies, like me." She sat next to Ryan and gazed at the puppy. "He looks better already. Did he eat yet?"

"I bottle-fed him with Shauna's help. And I named him Buddy."

Buddy. It was perfect for the little pup. Suddenly, she remembered why she was there and stood again. "Speaking of eating, I came to get you. Your massive order from the Asian fusion place on Main has arrived. If you want any before the shelter hordes scarf it down, you better come with me."

Holding the puppy in a towel, Ryan got up from the chair without disturbing the Basset Hound's sleep. "I need to take Buddy with me. Shauna says he can hear my heart."

A warmth spread through her chest, and Cindi turned to the doorway before her face revealed what she was feeling. She was a sucker for a man who cared for animals.

Love Notes 3DBuy links for "Nothing But a Hound Dog" in the Love Notes box set:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1SFYWOA

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1PvSMdq Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/1ZWZ151 Amazon AU: http://bit.ly/1RHjuWX Itunes: http://apple.co/1nhJc7p B&N: http://bit.ly/1TdXXom Kobo: http://bit.ly/1Sa9pAr

Author Bio & Links:

Marcia James finaled in eleven Romance Writers of America contests before selling her first contemporary romance. Her releases include Sex & the Single Therapist (the first in a comic romantic mystery series) and the "Klein's K-9s Service Dogs" contemporary romance series. She is a national and international ebook bestseller, who writes hot, humorous romances featuring heroines you can root for, heroes to die for, and funny dogs.

In her eclectic career, Marcia has shot submarine training videos, organized celebrity-filled nonprofit events and had her wedding covered by People Magazine. After years of dealing with such sexy topics as how to safely install traffic lights, she is enjoying “researching” and plotting her novels' steamy love scenes with her husband and hero of many years.

Website: www.MarciaJames.net

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MarciaJamesAuthor

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Marcia_James

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/marciajames/

Amazon Author Central page: www.amazon.com/author/marciajames

Dress Up/Dress Down with Clare Dargin!

Dress Up Dress DownJoin me in welcoming Clare Dargin for Dress up, Dress Down Friday! ~~~~~~~~

Utility Yet Casual Is The Name Of The Game For My Shifters

Samantha Dixon, the heroine in my shifter Romance Wolf's Blade prefers to rough it. Because she lives in a cabin outside of town, she spends most of the time on her own or gathering supplies. She prefers old tee-shirts, jeans and occasionally her late husbands plaid shirt. Not only is it comfortable it reminds her and it still has the scent of her late husband. She loves his scent until she meets the hero.

Callum Blake is the son of the alpha of his pack. Only minutes younger than his twin brother, Callum is passed over for the position of the new leader for the pack in favor of his older twin. Still he holds an important position in pack- lead enforcer. The enforcers in his pack are called Paladins and he is the head guy. Luckily for him, he's not called to wear suits because he's not the type to like wearing them. And he goes even more casual when he goes after a member of his pack who killed and stole a knife that if used right will summon the wolf goddess who is the only one that can crown the king of all wolf kind.

For Callum, the most comfortable thing to wear in pursuit of this villain is jeans, dark boots and a black hoodie and leather jacket. The layers provide warmth in bad weather and ease of movement when he has to fight. He's a practical man not given to fancy things and therefore doesn't want fancy threads!

Considering their taste in clothes, they are a perfect match! Of course having the right scent and being gorgeous helps too! Though there are wardrobe changes, their simmering romance heats things up despite the cool temperatures around them!

About Wolf's Blade


Samantha Dixon rescues a wounded wolf shifter in the woods near her home … and unwittingly gets drawn into a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a murderer. Callum Blake is on the trail of an evil man who would be king of all wolf kind, no matter the cost … it’s up to Callum to stop him. How can Callum fulfill his duty to protect his pack and save the woman who is destined to be his mate?


“Samantha Dixon. What’s yours?”

“Callum Blake.”

He concentrated on Samantha. He’d never seen a woman as gorgeous as she. Her howl stated she was in search of mate, but surely a woman as beautiful as she would have suitors falling over themselves to have her. No male wolf in his right mind would pass up someone like her.

“Have you been mated before?” he asked in a subtle attempt to find out about her past or present relationship. All he wanted to really know was if he had competition.

“I was but he died,” she said softly. “A casualty of the war between us and a neighboring pack.”

She bit her lip and wiped the corners of her eyes.

“I’m sorry for your loss.” His heart went out for her. Losing someone you love was rough and for it to be a mate made it even harder. Shifters when they mated were bound together by a special bond, and when it broke because of the other’s death it was like losing half of their soul. He never had that type of connection before, still, he could imagine the type of pain such a loss would inflict on the surviving mate.

She stood and began to straighten up the bed. “Not half as sorry as I am.”

“I don’t understand,” he said.

“If you don’t mind, I’d rather not talk about it.”

“Please forgive my intrusion. I’m just trying to express my gratitude.”

She smiled weakly. “I know. I’m sorry if I sounded snippy. It’s just that things have been rough lately and I’ve been stressed.” She waved her hand as she turned to leave. “That’s not important right now. You need to get well.”

“Please don’t go.” Just having her near soothed him. She was cute, feminine, and wore a timid expression that hinted at the suffering she had endured. Even though he had only known her for a short time, he already wanted to be her shield, protecting her from any harm that would come her way. He wanted to hold her in his arms and feel her body against his. Something in her challenged him to be more than just a warrior. Ever since her howl in the night, his soul had been on fire for her.

Buy Links-

Amazon- http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B019VS3IZK?redirect=true&ref_=s9_simh_gw_g351_i1_r

Liquid Silver Books- http://www.lsbooks.com/wolfs-blade-p1090.php

Author Bio

Clare Dargin is a multi-published romance author. She has written for several publishers in different genres, including erotic romance, military romance, contemporary, paranormal, and sci-fi. She lives in the mid-west, and when not surfing the web, she is hard at work writing her next romance novel. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Amazon.

Web Links-

Clare's Blog 2 The Haven- http://claresblog2thehaven.blogspot.com

The Embraced: Scribal Love- http://theembraced.blogspot.com

Facebook- www.facebook.com/clare.dargin

Twitter- www.twitter.com/clare_dargin

 Google + https://plus.google.com/u/0/113201930657713285351/posts/p/pub

 Author Page:


Enter the Smexy Romance Blog Tour and Giveaway For a Chance to win Two Prizes!

 Smexy Romance Giveaway Button


or a link- http://giveawaytools2.com/share.php?giveaway=87301945035

or a link- http://giveawaytools2.com/share.php?giveaway=10812323727

You can enter as often as you like so come back often. To find more great erotic romances and authors associated with this tour and get a chance to sign up again-- click on this link- http://claresblog2thehaven.blogspot.com

Thanks and Happy Reading!


-Clare Dargin

Dress Up, Dress Down Friday with Kimberly Dean

Please welcome the award-winning author, Kimberly Dean! Kimberly, welcome to Living After Midnight! Step On Up 

img_0484-1The latest book in my Courting series, Courting Suspicion, releases next month, and the heroine has a clothing obsession to which many women can relate. Nina loves shoes. Stilettos, wedges, peep-toe pumps, or high-heeled boots, she has shoes for every situation. Being somewhat vertically challenged, she values the additional height heels give her, but shoes mean more than that to her. Her footwear reflects her mood. Her shoes are symbols of power, confidence, desire, and control.

Psychologists have studied human’s connection to footwear and believe the connection ties back to the process of growing up and learning to walk. Yet a University of Kansas study goes beyond that. When students were asked to analyze pictures of other students’ favorite shoes, they could accurately judge 90% of their owners’ personalities.

In Nina’s case, evaluators would identify a sexual, powerful woman, for she’s not only the CEO of Luxxor Limited, she’s a madam. The association of shoes with sex might seem like a tired cliché, but according to Daniel Amen, MD, author of The Brain in Love, "The area of the brain that communicates with the genitals is right next to the area that deals with the feet. These regions share neural crosstalk, which may be why shoes can be erotic."

In Courting Suspicion, sexy Nina is being pursued by gumshoe Morgan. When he catches her, the two are sure to knock boots!

So what are your favorite shoes, and what do they say about you?


Courting Suspicion

Chase Me, Catch Me, Take Me

Nina Lockwood has spent years building her company into a lucrative and powerful – albeit risky – business. As Washington DC’s most elite escort service, Luxxor Limited is known for its beautiful companions and its discretion. Nina has worked hard to keep her escorts safe and her company’s services invisible, yet everything she’s created is put in jeopardy when a bull-headed, sexy detective starts poking around.

Josh Morgan is the last man on earth she should be attracted to, but Nina can’t help it. A romance with a member of the Metro Police would be reckless, but she fantasizes about taking on her role of a D.C. madam in a more personal and pleasurable way...

Josh has always been suspicious of Luxxor’s line of work, but he’s more intrigued by the mystery of the woman who runs it. Nina is classy, gorgeous, and whip-smart. He knows she’s hiding secrets, and he wants to discover each and every one of them – uniform or not.

But then a Luxxor escort is found in a compromising situation with a prominent politician, and the true cat-n-mouse game begins.

Can Josh and Nina lower their guards to trust one another and give in to the attraction they both feel? Or will their suspicious minds keep them from seeing the true conspiracy going on behind the scenes?

The Courting Series

Meet the women and men who work at Luxxor Limited, a high-end escort service. The company caters to the wealthy by matching them with escorts who are as smart, mannered, and cultured as they are beautiful. The one limitation in Luxxor’s contracts? No sex allowed. Except, of course, if the contact is mutually acceptable.

Courting Jealousy (free novella)

Courting Jealousy 2

Courting Trouble (Book 1)

Courting Innocence (Book 2)

Courting Danger (Book 3)

Courting Suspicion (Book 4) – March 2016

Courting Gossip (Book 5) – June 2

Follow Kimberly

Website http://kimberlydean.com

Twitter @KDean_writer

Amazon amazon.com/author/kimberlydean


When taking the Myers-Briggs personality test in high school, Kimberly was rated as an INFJ (Introverted-Intuitive-Feeling-Judging). This result sent her into a panic, because there were no career paths recommended for the type. Fortunately, it turned out to be well-suited to a writing career. Since receiving that dismal outlook, Kimberly has become an award-winning author of romance and erotica. She has written for seven publishing houses, both domestic and international, and has recently focused her efforts on the exciting world of self-publishing. When not writing, she enjoys movies, sports, traveling, music, and sunshine. In her mind, a beach, some rock ‘n’ roll, and a good book make for a perfect day.

Courting Suspicion Excerpt

She’d worn the stilettos he’d tried to reject. They were white with gold heels to match the bangle on her wrist and the necklace around her throat. She was dressed in full battle armor.

Mr. Phipps helped her remove her full-length raincoat as her friends slipped away into the shadows again to wait for her.

“Follow my lead,” her lawyer instructed. “Let me answer first.”

Nina lifted an eyebrow as she removed the scarf from her hair. She wasn’t an imbecile who’d run off at the mouth. The man worked for her.

His head dipped.

“This way,” he said, gesturing to the front desk.

She shook out her hair and felt more than one interested glance turn her way. She used the energy, consuming it, even though the fire in her belly was still burning brightly. White-hot, to be accurate.

Once she gave her name, she was escorted down the hallway to a conference room. She refused to be hurried as her heels clipped off each step against the linoleum flooring. She settled into a hard wooden chair and looked at her sterile surroundings. She supposed they called them interrogation rooms here. She crossed her legs and flicked an imaginary speck off her dress.

The walls had windows with blinds that were open, and she hadn’t missed the two-way mirror on the wall. She doubted any crime-show fan didn’t know what that was. She was aware that her every move was being watched and, most likely, recorded. She had to play this right. She needed to appear concerned and offended, but powerful. That shouldn’t be too difficult. She was all three, but she didn’t want to play the power card yet.

Her gaze lifted when the door to the room swung open again.

She felt an immediate dislike for the fresh-faced, spiky-haired smartass who walked into the room. It was the new detective, no doubt about it. He was followed by a uniformed female officer, whom he waved into the corner. Nina’s tongue clicked at the dismissive move. The young buck didn’t have to open his mouth for her to peg him. She’d met his kind before, and she was unimpressed.

He dropped a manila folder onto the table, letting it smack loudly. She sighed. Was that supposed to be intimidating? He needed to study Morgan’s steely stare. That was intimidating.

And sexy as hell . . .

“I’m Detective Higgins, DC Metro Police.”

The man unbuttoned his brown jacket and took the seat across from her. Purposely, he let his shoulder holster show. Nina let an eyebrow lift when he didn’t extend his hand.

She held out hers. “Nina Lockwood.”

He seemed taken aback, but he shook her hand. “Nina.”

“You can call me Ms Lockwood.”


Dress Up Dress Down: Guest Blogger Margaret Fieland

Please join me in welcoming poet and novelist Margaret Fieland to Living After Midnight. Thanks for stopping by, Margaret!

Dressing my Characters

Do you even wonder what your characters look like and what they are wearing? I do; in fact, I started a Pinterest board for their clothing.


and another for actors I would cast to play them:


When I write, I see the scenes unrolling as a movie in my head, with the characters moving and talking. If I can't picture something, I can't write it, to the point where I have to lay out the rooms, where the furniture is, the color of the rugs. Never mind that only a tiny fraction of this ends up in the novel. If I can't see my characters getting up from the dining table and marching the dirty dishes into the kitchen, I can't write it.

If you take a look at my Pinterest boards, you can see who I would cast for Rob Walker, the main character in Rob's Rebellion, the latest in my Novels of Aleyne series, as well as his wives, Carol and Laura, and his best friend, Reuben Tyler. And since my characters keep coming back, you check out who I'd cast as the four main characters in Broken Bonds; they appear in the current novel as well. And you can check out the clothing I've selected for them.

For the new novel, I decided to try drawing some clothing for my characters using GIMP, (Gnu Image Manipulation Program), a freeware program with many of the features of PhotoShop.

If you've never tried GIMP, it's great fun.

Robs Rebellion 200x300Blurb

Colonel Rob Walker always does his duty, even when it means risking  shaky relationship with his family. When he's ordered to bring the treaty negotiations between the Terran Federation and the Aleyni to a successful conclusion, he's determined to do just that, even when both sides would rather he fail. How can Rob pull off a miracle and avoid a war, one where both sides could be destroyed?




"Laura? Carol? Where is everybody?" Rob drew in a deep breath.

Footsteps clattered on the fake wood floors. "Carol took the children to Fellowship. I didn't want to go." Tear streaks marked the dust accumulated on Laura's face. "I want to go home. I don't want to live in this dump."

"This is home," Rob grumbled. "I'm commander of this base. This is my posting. Why would you expect me to take us back to New Oregon?"

"You might have refused the posting." Laura's mouth formed a straight line in her oval face. "You can resign from the Federation Guard."

"Resign? What would I do then? Come on, Laura, be realistic. I've got two wives and four children to support. We wouldn't even have the price of tickets home for us on a commercial star ship" What the blazes would become of his career if he quit? His father's sneering face rose in his mind. His father continued to predict Rob's career would crash and burn. He clenched his fist. He'd do anything to prove his father wrong.

"Surely you can find other work." Laura swiped a hand across her eyes. "Everyone here hates us."

"For God's sake, Laurie, I'm a fifty year old career colonel. The Guard is my life. My career. What else would I do?" Rob stomped into the living area and over to a small section devoted to cooking. "What the hell is there to eat around here?"

Laura shrugged and dropped into a chair at a small table. "Check for yourself." She glared at Rob, her arms crossed over her chest. "You can starve for all I care."

Rob pulled out another chair and sat opposite her. "We're not going home, er, back to New Oregon, and that's final. Relations between the base and the Aleyni are touchy enough. They liked Reynolds, and I arrested him for treason. The treaty with the Federation is up for renegotiation. If the Guard sent the wrong officer, the Aleyni could refuse negotiation altogether. I'm not going to be the one who is responsible for starting a war." He was sick of defending himself for doing his duty. He was a soldier, blast it. He might not be much of a commander, but no one was going to fault him for shirking his duty.

"You're being melodramatic," Laura protested.

"Maybe, but we're staying here." Rob stood and jerked open the cold store, which held nothing but some juice. "Come on, we're going to the market. We'll find someplace to eat." He extended a hand to Laura and pulled her to her feet.

"There's nothing here and nowhere to go."

"Not on the base, but in Aleyne City." Rob pulled out his pocket comp and began searching for Restaurants, Aleyne City.

"Not until I wash up." Laura glared at him and stumped off down the hall.

Rob sighed and lowered himself into a chair to wait


Born and raised in New York City, Margaret Fieland has been around art and music all herphoto1 life.  Her poems and stories have appeared in journals such as  Turbulence Magazine, Front Range Review, and All Rights Reserved. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, Lifelines, was published by Inkspotter Publishing in November, 2011.  She is the author of  Relocated, Geek Games,  Broken Bonds, and Rob's Rebellion published by MuseItUp Publishing , and of Sand in the Desert, a collection of science fiction persona poems. A chapter book is due out later this year.


Rob's Rebellion on Amazon:


Rob's Rebellion on publisher's website:


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Dress Up, Dress Down Friday: Nicole Evalina

Please join me in welcoming Nicole Evalina, author of Daughter of Destiny, as she discusses the wardrobes of the Priestesses and the High Priestess. Guinevere and the wardrobe of a priestess of Avalon

The first third of Daughter of Destiny takes place on the mysterious isle of Avalon in Britain in the late 5th century. Guinevere is sent there to learn to control her gift of the Sight and to study with the priestesses.

The priestesses of Avalon wear different colored and cloaks tunics that designate them by rank:

  • Acolytes (first degree, early in their training, usually lasts a year or two): white
  • Neophytes (second degree, mid training, usually begins at the onset of menstruation and lasts several years): dark green
  • Priestesses (third degree, advanced studies, lasts the remainder of their lifetime): blue. All bear a blue tattoo of the waxing crescent moon on their foreheads, right between their eyes, after consecration.

Each has only three outfits, two for daily use and one for rituals.

The Lady of the Lake, the high priestess of Avalon, has a very distinctive wardrobe. “She wore a blue gown similar to Viviane’s but decorated with intricate spiraling patterns. A single glittering crystal bobbed from a silver chain around her neck, and a thin silver circlet rested on her head, just above the mark that signaled her rank as High Priestess—the three visible phases of the moon drawn in blue ink. Her crown mirrored the mark so that the waxing and waning moons peeked out from her hair on either side of an opaline full moon.”

In the second part of the book Guinevere’s dress is mostly the simple tunics and cloaks of the time in various colors and cloths, depending on the occasion. In only one scene does she wear a veil, because her father makes her (in order to cover her priestess tattoo).


Before queenship and Camelot, Guinevere was a priestess of Avalon. She loved another before Arthur, a warrior who would one day betray her.

In the war-torn world of late fifth century Britain, young Guinevere faces a choice: stay with her family to defend her home at Northgallis from the Irish, or go to Avalon to seek help for the horrific visions that haunt her. The Sight calls her to Avalon, where she meets Morgan, a woman of questionable parentage who is destined to become her rival. As Guinevere matures to womanhood, she gains the powers of a priestess, and falls in love with a man who will be both her deepest love and her greatest mistake.

Just when Guinevere is able to envision a future in Avalon, tragedy forces her back home, into a world she barely recognizes, one in which her pagan faith, outspokenness, and proficiency in the magical and military arts are liabilities. When a chance reunion with her lover leads to disaster, she is cast out of Northgallis and into an uncertain future. As a new High King comes to power, Guinevere must navigate a world of political intrigue where unmarried women are valuable commodities and seemingly innocent actions can have life-altering consequences.

You may think you know the story of Guinevere, but you’ve never heard it like this: in her own words. Listen and you will hear the true story of Camelot and its queen.

Fans of Arthurian legend and the Mists of Avalon will love Daughter of Destiny, the first book in a historical fantasy trilogy that gives Guinevere back her voice and traces her life from an uncertain eleven year old girl to a wise queen in her fifth decade of life.

Daughter of Destiny eBook Cover I


An aged, stately woman emerged from the dark interior room and took her place on the throne. Her hair was a rich auburn streaked with heavy bands of gray, her face lined and furrowed from many years of living, but her eyes were bright and perceptive, like a hawk’s. She wore a blue gown similar to Viviane’s but decorated with intricate spiraling patterns. A single glittering crystal bobbed from a silver chain around her neck, and a thin silver circlet rested on her head, just above the mark that signaled her rank as High Priestess—the three visible phases of the moon drawn in blue ink. Her crown mirrored the mark so that the waxing and waning moons peeked out from her hair on either side of an opaline full moon.

As I watched, awestruck, every woman in the circle around us, including Viviane, dropped to one knee in unison and touched the thumb of her right hand to her forehead, lips, and heart—the same gesture my mother had made to Viviane when she arrived at Northgallis. As one, they whispered, “May the Goddess grant me wisdom, may the God govern my speech, and may my heart be filled with their love.”

I looked around nervously, unsure if I should do the same, and fumbled a slight curtsy instead.

“Her name is Argante, but always address her as Lady,” Viviane whispered.

The old woman smiled slightly at my attempted reverence but then just as quickly resumed her serious disposition. “Viviane, for what reason have you gathered us here?” Her voice was stern and authoritative.

Viviane stepped forward and nudged me toward the Lady. “Sisters, I have brought with me a new candidate to be counted among our number.” She placed a hand on my shoulder, turning to address the woman on the throne. “Most blessed Lady of the Lake, this is Guinevere of Northgallis, who wishes to be named a servant of the Goddess.”

Viviane had warned me on the journey here that in Avalon, when speaking in general, all the goddesses of our people were collectively referred to as the Goddess, and likewise, all the gods as the God. Avalon welcomed people of many tribes and traditions, each with their preferred deity names and mythologies. This way, they avoided confusion and arguments over exactly which deity was being referenced or whose gods were better. Here, all were equal and, except on feast days sacred to a specific deity, all were worshiped according to individual preference. Personally, I favored the horse goddess Rhiannon, worshiped in my homeland, and the sun god Lugh, patron of my mother’s Votadini tribe.

Argante’s eyes met mine with an all-knowing gaze that pierced my soul and laid the entire contents of my being out on the floor for her examination. As her eyes searched mine, I trembled and said a private prayer to my gods, terrified she would find in me some imperfection, some reason to send me back to my father in shame. Argante reached forward, placed a hand on my brow, and my eyes involuntarily snapped shut. Moments passed in silent darkness, and then wood creaked as she sat back in her chair. When I opened my eyes, she appeared pensive.

The women in the assembled crowd shifted their weight restlessly, and tears began to prick at the back of my eyes. I feared this lengthy pause was a sign of disapproval; surely if I was pleasing to her, the Lady would have made it clear without delay. I searched the air between us for Viviane’s hand, and she gave mine a gentle squeeze before leaving me once again on my own.

“This child is pure of heart,” the Lady said at long last, her voice far-off and intense, as if it was not she who spoke, but someone greater through the medium of her voice. “Her innocence and faith please me greatly. I see in her no duplicity or capacity for betrayal, only a strong desire to love and serve. In her blood the sight runs strong, and she will be for Avalon a great asset.” She paused, and a slight frown played on her lips. “However, she will not ascend to greatness on this isle. Another crown sits on her brow, one that will secure the safety and prosperity of many, but at a great cost, both to herself and to those she holds dear.”

A whisper of concern ran through the circle as I knitted my brows together, trying to puzzle out the meaning of her words.

“But that is the future and its lines are not writ in stone, only hinted at by an uncertain sight interpreted by the human heart.” Argante looked at me lovingly now, seeming much more human, her voice softer. “Do not fear what is to come but embrace it, following the Goddess’s voice—which you shall not fail to hear in your heart—and trusting she will lead you on the right path. Guinevere, you have been chosen by she who created life itself and now you must prove your devotion by stating your intent. Why have you come to the isle of Avalon?”

I shifted my gaze to the floor in embarrassment, unsure how to reply.

“Answer from your heart,” Viviane whispered.

I raised my eyes to meet the Lady’s. “To serve the Goddess, who has protected me since before my first breath.” My voice issued forth strong and clear, as if propelled by a will other than my own. “My mother promised me to this isle in thanksgiving for our safe deliverance from her difficult labor. Now I fulfill the vow she made eleven years ago.”

In truth, this was my fate, but I purposefully neglected to mention my visions in such a public arena. Argante likely knew about them already, and I feared the judgment of the others.

Argante nodded in understanding. “Honorable as that is, it does not compel you to stay. Do you come here free of coercion and choose to remain here of your own will?”

“I do.”

“Look around. The women gathered here are your sisters. Do you promise to treat them as such, harming none and living in love and trust so strong that you give freely of yourself when needed and accept their aid when offered to you? Will you treat each woman as you would treat the Goddess, your own mother, or yourself?”

I looked out over the sea of strange faces. “I will.”

Argante caught my gaze and held it, impressing on me the seriousness of what she was about to say. “Know that the vows you now take are not binding and you may be released from them at any time, should you so desire. They are, nevertheless, a promise, and you will be held to them by value of your word, as it is your source of honor.”

Uncomfortable, I wanted to look away but could not break her gaze.

“Do you vow to serve the Goddess and God with all of your mind, heart, and soul and preserve your maidenhead until such time as you take your final vows or part ways with our community?”

I swallowed, sensing the sacrifice required in assenting to these terms. “I do.”

Argante smiled at me with all the warmth of a doting grandmother and leaned forward to kiss me on the forehead. “Welcome to the sisterhood, Guinevere.”

Buy Link  Daughter of Destiny

Nicole Evelina headshot horizontalAbout the Author:

Nicole Evelina is St. Louis-born historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. Her first four books are coming out in 2016.

  1. Daughter of Destiny, the first book of an Arthurian legend trilogy that tells Guinevere's life story from her point of view
  2. Camelot's Queen, March 23, the second book in the trilogy
  3. Been Searching for You, May 16, an award-winning contemporary romantic comedy
  4. Madame Presidentess, July 25, historical fiction about 19th century American Presidential candidate Victoria Woodhull, the first American woman to run for President

Nicole is one of only six authors who completed the first week-long writing intensive taught by #1 New York Times bestselling author Deborah Harkness in 2014. She’s traveled to England twice for research, where she consulted with internationally acclaimed author and historian Geoffrey Ashe, as well as Arthurian/Glastonbury expert Jaime George, who helped Marion Zimmer Bradley research The Mists of Avalon.

Blog: http://nicoleevelina.com/blog/




Dress Up, Dress Down Friday with Chanta Rand

Rise of a Queen Black Banner Please join me in welcoming Chanta Rand. Chanta, please tell us about some of the clothing worn by characters in your book, Rise of  Queen.

Clothing in Ancient Africa (1061 AD)

While preparing for my Medieval African Historical romance, Rise of a Queen, I did a lot of research on clothing of the period. I came across some fascinating accounts of how the ancients dressed. Much like us today, their outfits varied depending on their social status and the event they attended.

The hot weather in West Africa meant that clothing wasn`t needed for warmth.  In the countryside, people wore very little clothing or no clothing. In the courts, people might appear in public wearing no clothing. But because nudity was against the laws of Islam, those Africans who dealt with Muslim traders wore clothing out of respect for the traders’ beliefs.

Wealthy people wore imported fabrics (from Egypt, India, and Asia) of silk, linen, velvet, and brocade. Women usually wore a wrapper (skirt) or kaftan (dress) of fine material. Animal skins were popular too. In Rise of a Queen, my heroine, Nabeela wears a combination of animal skins and rich, sumptuous fabrics. Arabs wore sewn clothing, but normal people could only wear pieces of cloth wrapped around them. Royalty, such as King Kareem wore long, colorful robes in rich fabrics with loose, wide-legged pants beneath.

There were also many talented weavers who wove cotton fabrics, enhanced by painting wet mud on woven cloth, and then placing the fabric in the sun to dry. This created a permanent design in the cloth. Color was important. Yellow and purple was only worn by royalty. Red, black and brown were popular colors for everyone else.

Clothing was always adorned with jewelry, no matter what one’s social status. The wealthy wore gold, silver, and precious gemstones like jade, onyx, lapis, coral, and cowrie shells. Cowrie shells were also used as money. They were so valuable, during the slave trade hundreds of years later, European slave traders paid for African slaves with this form of currency. The poorer citizens wore wood, bone, shell, and jewelry made of animal horns and plant fibers. Footwear included leather sandals or sandals woven from plant fibers, but most people walked around barefoot.

I’ve attached some pictures to help give you a better idea.

Types of cowrie shells


Examples of gold earrings worn in Ancient Africa


Examples of Dashikis and Kaftans. I don’t know if the men in Ancient Africa were this fine, but I can only assume! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

QUEEN A4Here's an except from Chanta's book, Rise of a Queen:

1040 C.E. Kingdom of Ghana, West Africa

Wagadugu Empire

Nabeela guzzled from the goblet of wine in her room. Maybe it would give her courage for the loathsome task ahead of her. The fermented liquid slid down her throat and winded is way through her knotted entrails to her empty stomach. Good. The concoction would take effect sooner without any remnants of the wedding feast lining her belly. She had not been able to eat a single morsel, despite her mother’s half-hearted attempts to get her to do so. This was no cause for celebration. Not when she’d just married a man old enough to be her father. Indeed, possibly old enough to be her grandfather, had he lived.

Her new husband, Hakim, had no problem eating. Earlier, he’d shoveled massive amounts of food into the entrance of the seemingly bottomless pit that served as his mouth. Nabeela grimaced recalling how his sausage-like fingers had stuffed shanks of braised lamb past his thick lips. His gluttonous appetite had earned jests and ribald comments from his troops. She’d contained her disgust as she watched him shove everything on his platter into his mouth. Errant crumbs escaped, only to be captured in the deep folds of his sumptuous robes.

He was a repulsive pig.

And she was forever tethered to him through marriage.

She took a deep breath. She could endure this. She had to, for the sake of her mother, Falak and her ancestors. It was better to suffer the injustice of this world than to anger the ancestors in the next. Her virtue was the only weapon she could bargain with right now. In return, Hakim offered a generous bride price of cattle and gold for her. He was a Hooro, a member of the ruling class who administered authority. By strategically marrying up one caste she ensured her safety as well as her family’s. She accepted this as her duty. There was no pleasure in duty—only reward once the work was done.

She walked the few steps from her quarters into her sleeping chamber where Hakim waited. She was veiled, as was the custom. Her new husband would remove the veil, consummate the union, and leave his seed in her. That was her only value—to produce an heir. Then hopefully, he would leave her be. Though the women of her clan had little political power, she hoped to change that.

Hakim already had three dead wives and one living son. The wives had all died under mysterious circumstances. Rumors of poisoning abounded. Only the bravest whispered the name of Ghazi, Hakim’s son. It was suggested he’d committed the acts, so jealous was he of anyone, male or female who got close to this father.

Nabeela had few encounters with Ghazi, but she made sure to steer clear of him. He had a cruel streak longer than the Niger River. He pounced like a rabid dog on anyone who dared speak against him. She’d seen first-hand how he treated servants and slaves, threatening to send them to the salt mines in Taghaza—a death sentence. Though only five years older than she, he had the disposition of a bitter old man.

And he was now her stepson.

He’d taken Nabeela, her mother, and Falak in after the soldiers ravaged their citadel years ago. The militia still waged their war of terror, taking advantage of the vast distances between the cities to wreak havoc. Villages and towns that had been settled by generations of influential Soninkes were being burned to the ground on a daily basis.

Nabeela and her family had lived a secure existence until a few months ago when Ghazi set his sights on marrying Falak. He’d insisted it was merely to unite their families. But her mother had persuaded Hakim to marry Nabeela instead. After all, Falak was only fourteen years old. Too young and innocent to be married to a snake with a voracious thirst for power. Ghazi was so enraged, for the past few months, he’d kept Falak in a separate part of the keep. She would be released as soon as this marriage was consummated. It was Ghazi’s way of assuring Nabeela kept her word. There were days she wondered if they were better off eking out an existence in the forests than here under Ghazi’s crushing thumb.

Nabeela pushed her depressing thoughts aside and entered her bedchamber. Hakim’s broad, naked back greeted her. Flabby folds of skin hung from his solid frame. She prayed to The Creator she would not be crushed beneath his massive girth.

She circled him slowly, her long robes flowing as she walked. His eyes lit up when he saw her. His grin revealing crowded rows of yellow teeth set against dark skin that reminded her of a jackal hunting at night. Her stomach churned. She had not married him for his good looks, but for his protection and influence from the Almoravid caliphate, Berber Muslims encroaching from the North.

For years, Abdulla ibn Yasin, the leader of a large group of Almoravids, had been gaining in power, and trying to force Islam down the throats of Ghanian kings. But the kings refused to convert. A shift in religion was only part of the problem. Ghana was rich with gold, and salt—a commodity, almost as valuable as gold. And although the kingdom had flourished for hundreds of years, trading with peaceful Berbers and wealthy Arab merchants, riches had a way of corrupting even the most pious men.

Now the best way to protect the Soninke remote regions was for the king to give more power to his minor kings and military governors. This way, they could defend these vassals against the constant raiding of the Sanhadjas and the Almoravids.

It seemed no one was safe in these turbulent times. And so, Nabeela found herself in need of a defender. Everyone paid tribute to someone. Since she had no wealth, she would pay in flesh. Without Hakim’s protection, her family was at the mercy of warring troops. She was merely a pawn in the process, but she intended to get as much power as she could. Power was more valuable than sex or beauty. Mother had taught her that.

Hakim reached for her, his meaty fingers attached to pudgy wrists and corpulent arms. He eyed her like a hungry crocodile at a watering hole. The sounds of his strained breathing filled the air.

“Been …waiting all night to…look at you. Up close.”

She was sure the only thing he wanted to see up close was an overstuffed platter placed in front of him.

Thick lips that had just hours ago sucked the greasy cartilage from chicken bones now wanted to sample her flesh. He removed the faceplate of her veil. His eyes widened in appreciation. “Comely creature.”

Nabeela took offence at being called a creature. She had never considered herself comely, though her mother often told her she was. She felt her nose was too big and her eyes were too far apart. Truly, beauty meant nothing without the resources. Otherwise, she was just a whore. Using her body to get what she wanted. She had no plans to do that.

Hakim issued a gruff command. “Disrobe.”

She did so without hesitation. For months, she’d known this moment would come. Best to get it over with. There would be pain the first time. She knew that, too. Pain was part of life. Mother had also told her this.

Nabeela stood in all her naked glory in front of her new husband. She would not let him see how disgusted she felt. Instead, her eyes wandered below his waist. She frowned at the fleshy proboscis jutting from the wiry bush between his hairy thighs. She’d never seen a man’s root before. Hakim’s was the size of her forefinger. It was the only emaciated part of him.

“Lick it,” he ordered.

Her heart beat like the frenzied rhythm of a drum. This was one thing she had not anticipated.

If I have to put that thing in my mouth, I will wretch.

She closed her eyes, and choked back the bile rising in the back of her throat. To think, she’d preserved her maidenhead for this moment. That was her saving grace and the only reason she’d been able to barter herself.

Her eyes flickered open when she felt Hakim’s meaty fingers groping her breasts. He had a look of rapture on his face. She bit her lip. She would have to endure this ogre’s fondling for days, weeks, perhaps even months until she knew she was with child. It would be hard to do when his touch made her skin crawl.

She sank to her knees on the thick tapestry of rugs as though she were being led to her death. Hakim’s manhood jutted out like a flag on a windy day. Her face hovered near the hard flesh.

“Yes,” he groaned in anticipation.

Nabeela prayed for courage.

Oh, divine goddess, please let me survive this ordeal. I must!

Summoning the strength of her ancestors, she leaned forward and opened her mouth. Her lips were mere inches from the tip of his shaft. Without warning, he took a step backward. Confused, Nabeela looked up. His mouth was distorted into a grimace, frozen into what would have been a lop-sided grin if not for the grotesque mask of pain. His puffy jowls slackened as one hand clutched at his heart, grasping a fistful of wooly chest hair.

Nabeela gasped as Hakim’s corpulent body crashed to the floor like a tree being felled in the forest. She watched, horrified as his eyes rolled back into his head, and his labored breathing abruptly ceased. She clapped her hand over her mouth to stifle her scream. She was not prone to emotional outbursts, but the death of her new husband was reason to panic. All her hopes for a better future had just died with him.

To find out what happens to Nabeela, pre-order your copy from Amazon.