Six Questions with Helen Hardt

Please welcome my guest today, my good friend and critique partner, bestselling, award-winning author Helen Hardt! She's here to talk a little about her latest release Thai'd Up, a bestseller at The Wild Rose Press's WilderRoses, and a few other fun subjects - heroes, highlights in the year of a debut author, and BDSM. ;) Sound good? Read on! And if you comment, you're in the running to win a PDF copy of Helen's April release, Passion in Paris! Winner will be announced this Sunday, May 31st.

Your release schedule this year is incredible, but just last year, you were a debut author. What is the most surprising thing you've learned this year? And what was the biggest highlight?

I’ve learned that I need to put my writing first. Okay, I know that doesn’t sound all that surprising. I’m a writer. Of course I should put my writing first. But it’s amazing how easy it is to get bogged down in promotion. I found my days slipping away with email, blogs, loops, and my freelance editing. Somehow my own writing got pushed to the back burner. This month, I’ve given myself a challenge to get two hours of writing in before I look at email or anything else. I don’t always get the whole two hours in, but I have been producing 1K+ new words per day pretty consistently. It feels good to be able to get to the rest of my responsibilities knowing my writing for the day is done. I’m a writer first. Without new stories to sell, the rest of what I do won’t last long!

As for the biggest highlight? Probably getting a contract from Ellora’s Cave. The editor gave me some wonderful compliments about my story and my writing. I’m really excited to be on board with EC!

Tell us what your inspiration was for Thai'd Up. Did the exotic setting of Thailand come first or the premise?

Neither, LOL. The title came to me first. Come on, with that title, I had to write the book, didn’t I? I love the Destination Pleasure series over at The Wild Rose Press, Wilder Roses. I had already written two (Seduced in Seoul and Passion in Paris) and wanted to write another. I’ve been to both Seoul and Paris, but not to Bangkok, where TU takes place. But when that title popped into my head, I knew there was a story there. I began to research Thailand, found the red light district of Patpong, and the plot blossomed from there.

Speaking of inspiration, tell us a little about your hero and why he's so irresistible to Heidi.

Ah, the Phantom… Who can resist the man behind the mask? He’s a Dominant, which means he enjoys the dominant relationship in BDSM. Like any good Dominant, he’s concerned with the pleasure and the safety of his submissive. He knows Heidi is a BDSM virgin, and he takes this into consideration and initiates her gently.

As to why Heidi finds him irresistible – besides the fact that he’s gorgeous, LOL – first, the mystery. He’s masked, and he owns a BDSM club, which is also a mystery to Heidi, one she’s wondered about for a while, though has never had the nerve to explore. A foreign city and a masked man help ease her inhibitions. Then there’s the instant connection – you know the one, when you meet the eyes of someone you’re attracted to from across the room and energy seems to sizzle between you? That happens for Heidi with Phantom.

Thai'd Up dabbles in light BDSM. Why do you think some women - and men ;) - find elements of that lifestyle intriguing?

Probably for the same reason Heidi does – the mystery. There’s also the trust factor. BDSM takes a lot of trust, not only for the submissive, but also for the Dominant. In this way, it can bring a couple closer. Then of course, there’s the spice it can add to a relationship ;). Trying something new is always exciting.

Since I already mentioned your dizzying '09 release schedule, what can we look forward to from you next?

I have a novella coming out on June 5. The Outlaw’s Angel is part of a western historical anthology called Lawmen and Outlaws in The Wild Rose Press’s Cactus line. Next up will be Blood Wolf, a dark paranormal novel that won the Got Wolf? Contest sponsored by The Wild Rose Press. It will release in October in an anthology with one of the other winners. In November, my first Ellora’s Cave story will release. Slow and Wet will be part of EC’s “Wet” theme. I have one more Destination Pleasure coming, though I don’t know when. Montego Lay is set in – you guessed it ;) – Montego Bay, Jamaica.

After that, who knows? I’m still looking for the perfect home for my cowboys – three Colorado brothers who star in my contemporary western series. I also have two more historical novellas, a cougar story, and an erotic novella in the works.

Last but not least...they say every author falls a little in love with their heroes. You've already amassed quite a stable of them. ;) Does one of your men stand head and shoulders above the rest? Why?

I fall in love with each hero I create. If I don’t, I know something’s not working. That has actually happened, believe it or not. Sometimes I can fix it, sometimes not, in which case I move on to another project. Out of all my contracted heroes, I’d have to say my favorite is Bobby Morgan in The Outlaw’s Angel, with Blaise Dartagnan from Passion in Paris a close second. And okay, I’ll add a third ;). Damian MacGowan in Blood Wolf. These men are all strong and passionate and a little haunted. Very sexy.

Is your appetite whetted for Thai'd Up? I thought so! Here's the blurb:

Visiting Bangkok to do an interview for her employer, Heidi Clarke is intrigued by the wild and raucous nightlife. When a handsome and engaging stranger, dressed as the Phantom of the Opera, offers to escort her into a BDSM club, she's too curious to refuse. As the man behind the mask introduces Heidi to new and exciting pleasures of the flesh, she can't help but wonder who he is. Or if she really wants to know.

Now go forth and comment!

Helen Hardt is an attorney and stay-at-home mom turned award-winning romance author and freelance editor. She met her real-life hero in law school, and they live in Colorado with their two teenage sons. Helen writes contemporary, historical, paranormal, and erotic romance. Her non-writing interests include Harley rides with her husband, attending her sons’ sports and music performances, traveling, and Taekwondo (she’s a blackbelt.) Visit Helen at and

Happy Memorial Day and Tara Leigh's Winner...

Happy Memorial Day! Hope you spend the day keeping your loved ones close.

My lovely CP, Tara Leigh Coons, has randomly chosen a winner from the comments and it is Keri Stevens! Keri has already been notified and should be receiving her prize via email soon. Thanks to everyone for coming out to get acquainted with Tara Leigh and her work. I know she's going to be blazing up the bestseller lists one day soon.

Time for me to move onto my next interview...this one with another one of my terrific CPs, Helen Hardt. I hope you'll all stop by to celebrate her newest release, Thai'd Up, already a bestseller at The Wild Rose Press's Wilder Roses. Helen will be here on Tuesday, May 26th and we will be giving away a copy of her April release, Passion in Paris, to one lucky commenter.

See you then!


Six Questions with Tara Leigh Coons

Today's a very special day for me, because I'm interviewing my CP, Tara Leigh Coons. Tara and I met on eHarlequin last June when she posted looking for a CP. I pounced on her immediately and we've been talking about writing, music, life and everything else since. She's my biggest cheerleader, an amazing CP and most importantly, a really good friend. So without further adieu, please welcome Tara.

1) You write fanfiction mainly about Jon Bon Jovi and his bandmates, so I have to know: which came first? The love of writing or the love of Jon? And how did each enhance the other?

That’s a great question. I’ve loved Jovi since ’86, but didn’t actually do the whole Jovi FF thing until 2002ish. Back then the FF was nothing serious, just a way to entertain one of my best friends. I’d been doing that since I was 14 actually. (Ahhh, freshman year in HS. LOL)

We’d get bored with TV in the summer—not to mention she hated all the shows I did, so we built this little world and let the main characters be famous people.

People from Def Leppard, Slaughter, *groan* Nelson, Trixter, Jovi, Hardline—if the guy had long hair, he pretty much did it for us. Most of the stories were epically horrible. LOL Like a Rock Soap Opera. If I got bored, I’d do radical things like kill everyone off so I could start over.

But then I started taking writing classes in school. FF took a back seat to art school and college. I took more writing classes and started working on more novel type things. It helped that I had a wonderful teacher in college, she was very supportive. Unfortunately the only thing we didn’t agree on, was that writing romance is just as good as regular fiction.

2) What do you feel are the pros/cons of writing fanfiction? Will you continue to write it after you get published?

Oooh look at you with the positive thoughts! WHEN I get pub’d! Such a good CP you are. LOL.

Pros and cons…Well, the obvious pro is dayum the man is hot and I get to play with him. Ahem. LOL Sorry, but Jon Bon Jovi is super delicious. That’s why I started writing about him in the first place. He’s got this charisma and then all that talent. He’s easy to play with—but at the same time, he’s very challenging. He’s a real life person and I do have to keep with certain mannerisms and timelines if I want to be true to the character and the man. That’s one thing I am a stickler for. I may romanticize him a little, but overall, I try to put myself in his shoes. Even when he’s being a bit of a bitch. Though I kinda like the cranky Jonny ;)

Con – keeping him in character falls into that too. I can play with eras (Album releases and timelines) but for the most part, he’s got certain traits I have to stick with or I might as well write a non-ff story.

Pro – Fans. I have a really great fan base. There’s a lot of ff readers out there—especially Jovi. I’ve been blessed to have them follow me and my story. The thing with FF is that you get that instant response to your work. Sometimes good and sometimes bad.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to turn off the fun of writing Jon and Co. I know I won’t be able to do something as epic as Home again. Not if I want a serious writing career.

3) Outside of fanfic, what genre(s) do you write? Any you'd love to try you haven't yet?

I love romance. That’s my favorite genre by far. I love the smutty delicious, erotica types when I’m in that kind of mood. Just recently I’ve been drawn to the paranormal fictions. It’s fun to put a twist on a real life character. I don’t know that I’ll ever be the type to world build like authors have to do in fantasy stories, but I do love to give my characters a gift or two to put up with in their story.

4) You're starting a paranormal series now...can you give us a little teaser about what it's about?

Ah, my Zoe Group series. Donovan St. Clare and his band of gifted agents. Donovan’s sister was kidnapped as a child and he’s been looking for her ever since. In trying to find her, he built an empire helping others. But don’t call him altruistic—the more power he has, the more connections he gathers, the closer he gets to finding out what happened to Zoe. He believes in using the conventional and the unconventional to find her. He can be ruthless in getting what he wants and finding Zoe is his obsession.

Book 1 – Strength in Numbers – Jake Owens and Sophie Grey. Sophie is one of triplets, all with special gifts. Sophie is a seer who lost her gift until a vision of Jake’s death brought her abilities back in screaming Technicolor focus. Jake is a telepath, hiding his gift from the world at the pinnacle of stardom as Never Bend’s lead singer.

Only working together can they keep Jake safe and find the first clue about Zoe’s disappearance in 15 years.

Is that teasing enough for you?

***Hmm, I suppose it's enough for now. We'll do another interview when it's time for you to tease for Book 2. ;)

5) World-building. It's kinda my nemesis, because I'm so used to thinking in boxes that I find creating my own fantastical world challenging. You, on the other hand, love plotting out your world. Any tips on how to make world-building a little less intimidating?

Well don’t put me in with Fantasy and SciFi world building. I’m low key world building. I do love creating a cast of characters and supporting cast to create a series though. Go big or go home is my motto these days when it comes to writing. Write a simple Nocturne-esque novel Tara—no, I’d like to start out with a series, thanks. Oy!

My best tip—figure out your characters and use index cards.


You don’t think you’ll forget things like hair color, eyes and who’s related to who—but you do. Trust me! Plot out the roughs of your stories at the very least. Things are always subject to change when you’re working with a series, but at least have a game plan down. And finally, don’t be afraid of your imagination. What’s paranormal romance for except pushing boundaries?

6) And for sandwich with your two loves, Jon and Matt Nathanson. Who comes out on top? Oy vey, I can only imagine your creative answer to this question...;)

You’re just mean! The man who makes me sigh, both the good and the naughty ways is always going to be Jon Bon Jovi. Case in point -

The man I’d end up with is Matt Nathanson. LOL As much as I love Jon Bon Jovi, the guy that ultimately snags me is the goofy guy with pop culture references, open blog posts about how shitty writing can be sometimes and that can make fun of himself and the audience and still be beloved. Become enamored, you can’t help it. He’ll amuse you, I can almost guarantee it. I’m determined to win more fans for him, he so deserves them!

Isn't she delightful? As if this interview wasn't enough, everyone who posts a comment today will be entered into a drawing to win a $10 gift card to Books on Board, a fabulous ebook retailer. So get commenting! I'm sure our resident FF and paranormal goddess would love to answer any questions you may have.

Interested in learning more about Tara's fanfiction Home? Or in more about her? Just check out TaraLeigh's blog or Home's site, updated regularly. At least until she ends the story and moves on to conquering new frontiers. ;)


Finding Balance...

Not me, mind you, because I have NO balance at the moment. In the last 48 hours, I've written close to 10K words. In that time, I also worked a day and a half at the day job.

But the good news is I finished the first draft of my short! And tonight, I started my UF, Damned. FINALLY!

But I'm exhausted. Unconsciousness sounds like heaven to me now, but when I get this jazzed to write, I can't sleep. Insomnia has become the norm for me too often lately, and I need to do something about that. Getting some exercise and reaching for water and fruit over coffee and candy would help big-time, I think. Learning that writing is a marathon not a sprint couldn't hurt, either. ;)

What about you? What do you do to restore your balance?

Oh, and please check back in next Monday, May 18th when my marvelous CP, Tara Leigh Coons, is in the hot seat. I'll be asking her about fan fiction, critiquing, and her upcoming paranormal series...and she just may have a prize to give away, too! Maybe. ;)