Sunday, January 31, 2010

Welcome to My Birthday Party!

Today is my fifty seventh birthday. In real life, I'm off for the weekend with my DH, enjoying a bit of relaxation by the sea, a modest little getaway. However, what I'd really like to do is throw a huge party for all my friends and celebrate in style.

What's my idea of the perfect party? Well, it should involve costumes—I love getting dressed up!—and dancing. Delicious food and drink are a must, of course, and I usually like to have a theme, ideally something a bit spicy. When I was younger, I organized a number of memorable bashes including a Jet Set Party (to celebrate our leaving for a job in Asia), a Hotel California Party (which lasted all night, starting with pink champagne on ice and ending at dawn with Tequila Sunrises), and of course the Coed Stag Party my husband and I threw the night before our wedding, with naughty party favors and belly dancing.

There's one party I never had the chance to organize, though. In the next town over from where we used to live, there is a historic movie theater called the Academy of Music. It was originally built as a live theater back in the Victorian era and has been beautifully preserved. With its burgundy velvet curtains, carved and gilded balconies and crystal chandeliers, it evokes a earlier time of grace and elegance. The Edward Hopper painting above captures the feeling very well.

I've always fantasized about renting the place for a party—a cinema costume ball. I'd invite my friends from all over the world (in my fantasy world, I have plenty of money to pay for their transportation). Each guest would be required to come dressed either as a favorite actor/actress or as a movie character. We'd serve champagne chilled in silver ice buckets and smoked salmon canapés. I'd put a band on the stage, playing my favorite classic rock. I'd dance with every guy at the party—it's my birthday, after all!

The guests' costumes would be magnificent. There'd be Errol Flynn and Sherlock Holmes, Scarlett O'Hara and Dorothy of Oz, King Kong and Faye Wray, Jack Sparrow and Yoda. As for me, I'd come dressed as classic screen siren Mae West. I think I could pull it off. I've got the right build for it—far more curvy than is fashionable these days. I even have a sparkling pink lamé gown with a plunging neckline that used to be my mother's. All I'd need is a platinum wig and the attitude.

I wanted to do this for my fiftieth birthday, but that was in the middle of the last recession and it just wasn't feasible. (Probably wouldn't have been anyway...!) So—being an author who spins fantasies—I've decided to go ahead and do it this year...at least in the cybersphere. And you're all invited!

I'm giving away a “door prize”, a print copy of my first novel Raw Silk. All you have to do is comment and tell me about your costume. If you came to my masque du cinema, who would you be, and why?

I'll randomly pick one commenter as my winner. But I hope that you all have a fabulous time!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

How to Write Like a Maniac

(Or: Genre Hopping for the Faint of Heart)

By Regina Riley (Guest Blogger)

There are no two ways about it; writing is an immersive experience. When you take up a storyline, you take a plunge neck deep into a new place, a new era, maybe even a new world. You tread those literary waters-- sometimes swimming, sometimes drowning-- until you finally come up for air, soaked to the bone by the perception of that story’s unique cosmos. This full immersion is what allows a writer to think like the characters, to speak like them, to be like them. Full focus is a good thing. If we as writers didn’t submerge ourselves into our worlds, our stories would end up sounding more like a news report describing said events instead of the personal account of characters that were there when it all went down.

But the real question is how do you shake off the waters of one world before jumping into the ocean of the next? How do you switch gears from writing erotic horror to steampunk adventure, from sweet romance to dark fiction without losing your mind?

Some folks cringe at the idea of genre hopping. To them it’s a dangerous game played by maniacs and mad men, with nothing to be gained from spreading one’s self so thin. Others are just outright afraid of the idea, concerned that all of this leaping about will leave the reader to think that perhaps the writer doesn’t know enough about any single genre to settle down and write it well.

To both of these fears I say "poppycock"! You read that right. I just said poppycock.

As a reader, I find myself switching from genre to genre just as easily as I change my underwear. (Granted I have a lot less in the way of selection of panties than I do in books, but you get the idea.) So when it came time for me to take up the pen I found I had the opposite problem with genres that most people have. I wanted to write in so many different ways I had trouble focusing. I wanted to write everything from horror to humor to steampunk to erotica to fantasy to science fiction. I read it all and wanted to write it all!

So, I did.

At first it was hard, bouncing around like a rubber ball from genre to genre. I lacked focus. I lacked discipline. I still have a bevy of half-finished stories lurking on my hard drive that were abandoned when submission calls from another genre lured me away from that world. It took a good year or so for me to work out how to juggle so many different genres without losing my voice, or the finish line, in the process.

I’ve had some ask me in the past how I can write a full novel in one world, while at the same time crank out a short story in a completely different genre. For example, I finished the first in an erotic steampunk series, “Clockworks and Corsets,” while simultaneously penning an erotic zombie book, “The Blooming,” for a different company. (Other than the super sexiness of the material, they are two different genres, one lighthearted action-adventure, the other very dark horror.) I even spent several weeks in concurrent edits with the books, and by coincidence they are premiering on the web the exact same month, all without skipping a beat, thank you very much!

You too can cross into any genre if you are just willing to take that tentative first step to the shore, toe the water and see if it’s the new ocean you’re looking for.

How, you may ask? Well, let me tell you…

Be Confident

The first step to approaching a new genre is to be brave. After all, what is there to be afraid of? Maybe it’s a genre you used to write in but quit because you felt you were no good at it, or one you have been longing to get your feet wet with but worried you couldn’t capture the feel of it.

The only way to know is to just get out there and write it.

I worried for weeks before starting my steampunk series whether or not I was good enough to capture the appropriate kind of Victorian voice that makes for good steampunkery. In short, I worried someone would be able to tell I didn’t know what I was doing. (Not that I actually did know, but you see where this is going.) Then, after reading yet another steampunk novel, it dawned on me that I knew just as much as that author did about the genre. Perhaps more. At least enough to start out. So, I set my mind to an outline, which became a beginning chapter. The beginning turned into a middle, and before I knew it I had an end. All of which was steampunk at its finest.

You also need to realize that not everything you write in different genre is going to be great. In fact, you might find that no matter how hard you try you don’t have the knack for a particular genre. In this case don’t take it as a personal failure, just admit your faults and keep on keeping on. My weakest genre is hardcore science fiction. I love to read scifi, but for some reason or another I just don’t write it very well. It doesn’t stop me from trying. I view every attempt at it as a step up, and know that one day I will produce something in the genre I can be proud to share.

Be Prepared

Nothing is worse that reading a book and knowing for a fact that the author knows nothing about the subject matter. As a reader you can tell when the author is winging it, so why try to do the same to your readers?

For example, steampunk is fairly new to the romance scene. As a result I had that on my side when working on my piece. I could have just as easily faked my way through the novella, because I knew so many of the readers were unfamiliar with the territory. How would they know the difference between an airship and a sea bound ship? I could just throw out a few buzzwords like ‘clockworks’ and ‘spinning props’ and let their minds fill in the gaps.

But in my heart I knew I would never be satisfied with that. Not to mention this was a great opportunity to draw new fans to the world of steampunk literature, a genre I am very passionate about sharing with others. (I am a crazy woman when it comes to steampunk!) The point is, if I planned on doing this thing, I knew I had to do it right.

Research your genre well before you take up a story. Watch movies, listen to related music, and most importantly read, read, read books by great authors of the field. Don’t be afraid to be influenced. The greatest compliment I ever received was to be told one of my novels sounded like my favorite author had a hand in it.

Be Adaptable

Some folks look at genres like a compartmental meal. Nothing is allowed to touch, or they just can’t consume it. Like eating cornbread that’s been soaking in pinto beans. (Actually, come to think of it, that sounds pretty good!)

Writing is along the same cornbreadish lines. It’s okay to allow the borders to meld at little. To me, and a lot of other readers, genres are more fun when they mix. Humorous horror has become a favorite of mine lately, to both read and write, and I have been considering writing some steampunk horror just for fun.

Richard Brautigan, one of my favorite authors, was known for his deliberate genre mixing. He delved into such unique ideas such as the gothic western and the perverse mystery. He conquered these genres with pure literary genius, blending them in ways that leaves the reader breathless as to where one ends and the other begins.

When you set out to write in your new chosen genre, do so with the knowledge that it’s okay to let a little of one leak into the other. In fact, use your strong background in your existing genre to help ease yourself into the next.

With these three weapons in your writing arsenal you can confidently approach any genre you like. Perhaps it’s time to set aside paranormal fantasy and tackle that serial killer story that has been lurking around in your mind, huh? Just remember to be confident, be prepared and be adaptable.

I wish you luck with your genre hopping adventures.

By the way, I will be giving away a free copy of my book Flirting with Death to one lucky commenter. So tell me what you think about multiple genre authors!

Coming in March from Lyrical Press

About Regina: Aside from her wicked imagination, Regina believes that her life is pretty pedestrian. She resides in North Carolina, although her roots spread a bit deeper thanks to a military upbringing. She is an identical twin, and has been happily married for thirteen years to a wonderful and giving husband. She also shares her home with a brood of moody cats. As a crocheting fanatic, she can just as likely be found wrist deep in a skein of yarn as opposed to hip deep in writing her next tale.

Website: http://www.thebackseatwriter.com

Reader email: regina [at] thebackseatwriter.com

Friday, January 29, 2010

Getting Intimate with Victoria Blisse.

Hello everyone!

The sequel to Getting Physical is now available. Getting Intimate is the next chapter in John and Terri’s relationship. They met at a gym and fell in love despite each other’s hang ups about their sizes. In Getting Intimate they get to know each other better and find out more about why they feel so insecure about their looks.

Here’s a little snippet from the story to illustrate.

I felt Terri’s hand rubbing up and down my arm, soothingly, but I still couldn’t look at her. I was struggling to hold in the tears and if I looked at her I knew the sympathy in her eyes would make me sob like a child.

“Uni wasn’t much better. I became a real loner and kept to myself. I spent a lot of time in the gym there, trying to work up some muscle, trying desperately to bulk up. As you can see, it didn’t work. I’ve been at gym after gym since then, trying my hardest. I decided that keeping a low profile, being the loner was my best course of action. I took that into my job with me. It meant I didn’t attract the nasty comments any more, but I didn’t attract the ladies either. I went on three dates and they were all disasters. Every time the girl ended up hurt, physically on one occasion. I ended up embarrassed, upset and alone. So, you know, I’ve never seen myself as much. Just a sad, skinny loner.”

“Nonsense.” Terri kissed my cheek and I turned my head to look at her. “Sweetheart, you’re not skinny. Look at yourself.” She stroked a hand down from my shoulder to my wrist. “These are muscles. You’ve got them all over.” Her hand caressed my chest, slipped over my hip and squeezed my thigh. My breath caught in my throat. “Okay, you’re not Rambo, thank God, but you're lithe and lean. No one in their right mind would call you skinny. You are gorgeous. You’re way out of my league.”

I shook my head and rolled onto my side.

“No way, you’re well out of my league. You’re beautiful.”

She laughed before she replied. “Listen to us both. Jeez, we hate ourselves but love each other. Maybe we should just decide to believe in how the other sees us. It can’t do any harm. I’ll try and believe I am beautiful like you think, if you try to believe you’re as gorgeous as I know you are. We can give it a go, can’t we?”

“Sure, it can’t possibly do any harm to at least give it a go.” “Maybe it’ll even do us some good...”

Despite Terri's reassurances, though, she feels just as insecure as John about her own size and appearance.

I could not believe it had been six months or so that I’d been putting myself through the gym torture. Granted, I felt better for it. I was more flexible and filled with energy but I was not seeing my curves fall away in any significant manner. And of course, the curves that were going were the ones I wanted to keep! My bra had gone down a size and my hips seemed to have shrunk, but no amount of concentration seemed to make my podge of a belly disappear.

I persevered though, mostly because of John and partly because of mum. She had bought me the stupid gym pass in the first place and I’ve always been told it’s rude not to accept a present graciously.

It wasn’t so bad. At least the gym held good memories for me and with John around I always had someone to talk to while working my bum off. I could look at him lustfully, too and then take him home to have my wicked way with. Although he was perfectly capable of having his wicked way too, come to think of it. He might have been a virgin when we first met, something I still found unbelievable, but he soon got the hang of things. And oh, he was imaginative. He kept me satisfied but paradoxically that only made me want him more. I wanted to find out all the ways we could orgasm together.

I was lost in lurid fantasy as I pushed the door of the gym open. The usual mix of sweat and antiperspirant products mixed with hot plastic and rubber greeted me as I walked in. That was not what surprised me. What did surprise me was seeing my John talking to the stick insect.

It was a gym. The place was filled with lean, mean, perfectly-formed female bodies but there was one I disliked more than all the others put together. I’d discovered from the simpering of her friends and her personal trainer’s barked instructions that her name was Sam. But in my mind she remained the stick insect. She was as thin as a rail and beautiful with it. She had bright, natural blonde hair and sparkling eyes, and although I beat her hands down in the cleavage department hers were pert and always peeped out the top of whatever sports ensemble she was wearing. Men would literally drool down them when talking to her.

Jealous? Me? Well okay, maybe I was just a little bit. She was everything I wasn’t. She was effortlessly gorgeous and instantly charming. Most of the men in the gym wanted to fuck her and half of the women too, but up until that moment I was sure that my John barely even realised she existed. He loved big women, real women. He adored my curves and he told me that at every possible moment. He begged me never to lose them and I told him I couldn’t if I tried. And boy, was I trying.

But at that moment my world shattered. I couldn’t hear what was being said over the noise of the packed gym but her eyes were full of lust and he was pointedly not looking at her. Why on earth would you not meet the gaze of a person, unless you were trying to hide something or you were feeling guilty about something? I saw exactly what a moment later, when she covered my John’s strong hand with her own thin, little dainty one and squeezed. He looked up at her then and smiled. She walked away.

I was stunned. My John had been captured by the stick insect.

Getting Intimate is a real story about real people--not the perfectly beautiful folks that you will find in some romance.

So now you know my story a little more intimately here are a few intimate facts about Victoria Blisse!

* I like to have my neck kissed but keep away from my ears.

* The toilet paper has to go over the top of the roll, f it does not I will change it, even if I am in someone else’s house.

* I am a morning person and do all my best work between 5 and 7am.

* My favourite late night snack is hot buttered toast.

* Most of the year I sleep in the nude, except in the middle of winter where I wear pyjamas, a jumper and a hat to sleep in.

Care to share an intimate fact about you with me? I’m terribly nosey. I think most of us authors are. I like to know the inner workings of everyone I meet!

Getting Intimate is now available from Phaze Books. Click here to buy!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fire in the Blood: A Sneak Peak

Hello! Yes, I'm still here. With all my guests this week, I realize you might be a bit confused. Tomorrow Victoria Blisse will be dropping by to promote Getting Intimate, and then Saturday I have Regina Riley with a great post about switching between genres. For today, I wanted to give you a sneak peak at my upcoming vampire release, Fire in the Blood.

This story was originally intended for Halloween last year, but got bumped due to some editorial mishaps. My editor asked me to make it longer so it could be released as a stand-alone title, which was great because this gave me the opportunity to work on the ménage aspect and deepen the characterization.

I don't have a release date yet, but here's a blurb and an unedited excerpt.

Blurb

Maddy and Troy hope that a sunny, carefree vacation in tropical Jamaica will re-ignite the passion in their five year relationship. On a scenic mountain trail ride, Maddy's horse bolts and carries her deep into the jungle. Injured and lost, she is saved by a seductive giant of a man whose mere presence kindles unbearable lust. By the time she understands his dark nature, it is far too late for her to escape.

Bitter and alone, Etienne de Rémorcy haunts the forest around the ruined plantation of Fin d'Espoir. He has sworn to never again taste taste human blood, but when slender, raven-haired Madeleine begs him to take her, he cannot resist.

Troy is hugely relieved when Maddy makes her way back to their hotel after her ordeal in the mountains. But he finds her greatly changed—fiercely passionate in bed, restless and disturbed at other times. The tall, elegant stranger he meets on the beach holds the key to her transformation—and soon has seduced Troy as well. Even Etienne's most potent magic can't extinguish the fire in Troy's and Madeleine's blood.

Excerpt (rated R)

His entry was swift and silent. She didn’t even know he was behind her until she noticed his fire-cast shadow on the bed. “You may wear this.” He handed her a brilliant garment of multi-coloured silk. “It belonged to my mistress.” The dressing gown was soft as a cloud, so delicate that Maddy feared it would tear at her slightest touching.

God, it’s exquisite.” The jewel-toned robe shimmered with a twining pattern of blossoms and peacocks. “But I can’t wear this. I’ll destroy it. It looks like an antique.”

Put it on.” Power rang in his voice. There was no way that she could disobey. She slipped the gown over her shoulders and belted it around her waist. The silk caressed her breasts and belly like secret hands. Her pussy dampened again. “Sit down now, and I will bind your ankle.”

She seated herself on the bed. The giant perched on a wooden stool and drew her foot into his lap. Maddy struggled to hold still. Every time he brushed his fingers over her flesh, electric thrills sizzled up to strike between her legs. She wanted him to push to slithery silk up her thighs, to spread them so wide that it hurt, then dive down to feast on her juicy sex. Surely he must smell her. He must hear her heart, so loud in own ears that she could no longer hear the crackling fire. However, he appeared to be completely occupied with his nursing duties. He wrapped her foot and ankle in layer after layer of taut muslin, a reasonable substitute for an ace bandage, then secured his efforts with several safety pins.

She couldn’t stand it any more. She laid her palm on the kinky nap covering his head. He raised his eyes. In their depths she saw wisdom and pain. “I’m Madeleine,” she said. “What’s your name?”

Etienne.” He settled back on the stool. “Etienne de Rémorcy.”

I want to thank you, Etienne. For all your help.” Casually, with one hand, she loosened the sash holding the robe closed. She leaned forward, so that the silk gapped open and revealed her gleaming white breasts.

I could hardly do otherwise. My mistress taught me how to be a gentleman. You obviously needed my assistance.” His rich voice sounded strained.

Oh, I did.” Maddy shifted on the bed. The dressing gown slipped off one shoulder. “I still do.” The peacocks slithered away, exposing her pale thigh and her wound, crusted with dried blood.

Etienne’s eyes glittered. His blunt hands shot out and grabbed her wrists. “Do not play with me, girl.” Lust gushed through Maddy’s body. Etienne’s nostrils twitched. He tightened his grip until she cried out. “Do not tempt me.”

You’re hurting me,” she whimpered. “Please…” Dimly she understood that she was not begging to be released.

Believe me, I will hurt you far more if we continue.” Etienne forced her down on the bed, her captured arms above her, and straddled her with his massive thighs. “Although I was taught to be a gentleman, in truth I am a savage beast.” The fragile silk tore away from her nakedness.

Don’t you want me?” Maddy’s eyes swam with tears.

He brought his mouth close to her ear. “You could not possibly understand how much.” His breath was the icy exhalation of a glacier.

She shivered under his weight. His coolness only stoked the fire in her pussy. “Then take me.”

He freed her wrists and sat back on his heels, searching her face. She cupped her ripe breasts and offered them to him. Please, she prayed silently, let him see my need. She opened herself to him, letting those luminous eyes probe her deepest desires.

He licked his full lips, and his white teeth gleamed in the fire light. He reached for his belt. “Let it be as you will, then,” he growled. “I am no longer responsible.”

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Men in Uniform

By April Dawn (Guest Blogger)

I have two novels being released soon that deal with military men. Bound by Love (Jan 29) is a historical romance about Darion, one of the Son's of Liberty, and Chloe, the woman who gets drawn by her love for him into a world far darker than she ever expected. Crushing Desire (Feb 12) is the story of an ex-military man who is in denial of his attraction for Reena. She has tried to get over him, but now that he has agreed to pose as her husband, she might not have to. Since both of my new releases have something to do with soldiers, I thought I would explore why we love men in uniform so much.

There are the obvious reasons, like they are handsome in the uniform, but let's look a little deeper and see what we find. Some of us have had personal experience with men in uniform that drove us wild.

"I am… partial to men in uniform. I married my husband when he was in the Army. When he got out of the Army, he became a state trooper." - Debby

"I am partial to men in uniform after my days as an EMT. I met so many great and brave men, young and old, risking their lives as firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, and police officers… I also knew so many who sacrificed to protect our freedom. Courage is very sexy." - Melinda

Melinda has something there. We give men in uniform attributes that are very attractive. Courage, pride, honor, daring, protective. All these words have been used to describe men in uniform.

"The uniform itself says a lot. He's an honorable man, gives his life to save others, and does it because that's who he is. There something so daring and sexy about that." - Yvonne Nicolas

"We know it's not always the case, but the ideal, the fantasy invoked, is one of a man of courage and honor, a modern version of the Knight in Shining, protector of the weak, defender of the realm. Doesn't hurt that there are all those lovely, shiny buttons to undo as well..." - Angel Martinez

"He's a hero in more ways than one, Usually puts others lives before his own. And he wears a white shirt! lol. (Sorry have a thing about white shirts)" - Clare Revell

This is true, and for some the uniform itself is a big deal., this weeks winner of A History of Romance's giveaway of The Soldier's Return , by Ava Delany was R Tianna, and I like the way she described her love of a man in uniform.

"I love men in uniform because it’s like a classy piece of chocolate. Buttoned down, custom fitted in a nice package. Muscles girth weight and height hidden beneath the veneer of a uniform silver and gold emphasized on blue or white. You get excited wanting to peel off the exterior to get a taste of what’s hidden underneath and take a lick or bite or both." - R Tianna

I want to thank Lisabet for having me on the blog, and to thank all the people who told me why they love a man in uniform. Also I want to take this opportunity to let all my readers know that the people in Haiti need our help, and will continue to need our help for some time to come. To that end, I intend to donate all my earnings from my novels date Jan 29 – Mar 1 to benefit Haiti. I am also holding a virtual signing for both of my releases. For more information, check out my website.

APRIL DAWN is: Mother of an 18 month old, heroine to my hero, Californian, author, book lover, traveler, letterboxer, movie and music lover, morning person, quirky, funny(or so I've been told).

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sisters Team Up To Pen Romance Novels – In Two-Part Harmony

By K.M. Daughters (Guest Authors)

Why don’t we write a book together?” Kathie asked Pat, as we took another turn around the huge, hotel parking lot.

Do you think we could?” Pat responded.

Why not?”

Our early morning walk continued, and our banter centered on fleshing out the plot for a title Kathie had conceived, Reunion For The First Time.

A couple days, and who know how many parking lot circuits later, we returned to our hotel room (RWA National Conference, Reno, Nevada), and scribbled a plot outline on “conference packet note paper”. Once done, we enjoyed our, “Eureka,” moment.

Taught (coerced by Mom’s decree) to share through childhood, as each other’s only siblings, we equitably jotted a “P” or a “K” on alternating chapters. We went home (Pat, in the Chicago area, and Kathie, in northern New Jersey), sat down at each respective computer, and wrote our first novel.

The recipe for team writing, now, six published novels, came that simply to us. We’ve always been extremely close friends and confidantes who, while living apart our entire adult lives, have taken letter writing exchanges to high art. And, boy, can we blab when we’re together. On a social level, before we endeavored to write together, we never ran out of conversation topics. Plots and novel premises bloom from that capacity, and our brand of sisterhood.

Do we fight? Nope. Disagree? Yes, of course, but it honestly doesn’t feel like it. K.M. Daughters is neither one, nor the other, of us. Her voice is all that matters in project creation, more a choral harmony, than a solo. When we disagree, we’re just helping her partners to stay in tune.

Blurb for Capturing Karma, by K.M. Daughters

Veterinarian Matty Connors’ visions lead her to homicide detective Brian Sullivan once again despite her resolve to remain anonymous the past four years. Her official work with the police in California resulted in the brutal murder of her fiancé, and since, a recurrent nightmare she barely survives. Brian, the reputed ladies man of the Sullivan family, has yet to give his heart to a woman until Matty lays claim to it. His black-and-white approach to solving crimes doesn’t jibe with Matty’s spooky pronouncements or her reputation for alleged infallibility. A wild goose chase searching for a murder weapon casts doubt on Matty’s “truths” and threatens their smoldering romance. Is Brian her nightmare slayer and ultimate truth? When the puzzle pieces fall in place for Brian, will it be too late to save Matty?

Excerpt

Hi, Brian,” she responded, tamping down the temptation to hug him hello. “How’s the new baby doing?”

Great, thanks. How’s that bump on your head?”

Matilda touched an edge of one of the butterfly strips over her eyebrow. “Turning every color of the rainbow, but it’s fine.”

He swiveled his head toward the throaty bark of the wolfhound in the corner of the room, then scanned the other occupants in the lounge: primate, feline, porcine, wolfish and human. “Steve told me you’re a great vet. Looks like you’re pretty swamped here.”

Shamus and I split the patient load,” she said.

And Shamus is?”

My brother. He came for me at the hospital yesterday?”

Brian’s eyes bored into her, a sexy smile twitched the corner of his lips. “Good.”

And ‘good’ means?”

The big guy isn’t competition. That’s good.”

Ah. So we’re clear. What competition would that be?”

The sexy smile twitched again. “For but a smile from sweet Matty,” he lilted in an Irish brogue.

Squelching an impulse to grin, she molded her face serious and parroted a brogue, “Ah but woe to the knave who plies smiles with an untrue heart.”

She grinned now. “What can I do for you, Brian? Did you get an estimate to repair your car?”

It’s about that letter you brought me. It’s related to a case. We need your help.”

Of course. “I gave you the letter. You know as much as I do.” Her heart hammered, nothing to do with the pulse acceleration from earlier flirtation. I can’t go further with this case. No matter what, I have to stay anonymous.

=============================================

Capturing Karma from Wild Rose Press.

Also available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon

Rated Four Stars by RT Book Review!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Coming This Week!

This week is going to be a busy one at Beyond Romance. In addition to my usual guests, I'm helping out several fellow authors with their promotional blog tours. This means extra chances for you to win!

Monday I'm hosting K.M. Daughters, who is actually a team of two sisters who write together. They'll be talking about their method of operation and their new release. Leave a comment and you have a chance to win a copy of their previous book. Furthermore, if we collect more comments on my blog than on any of the other stops on the tour, I get a prize!

Wednesday my guest will be romance author April Dawn, who's celebrating a new release next week.

Thursday I'll give you a sneak peak at my vampire ménage tale Fire in the Blood, due out in August from Total-E-Bound.

Friday, Victoria Blisse drops by on her blog tour to promote Getting Intimate, her new romance about not-so-physically-perfect people. Once again, comment for a chance to win!

Saturday my guest is Regina Riley, with a great post about switching from one genre to another.

Finally, Sunday is my birthday, and I'll be throwing a party, with virtual champagne and smoked salmon canapés and a chance for one lucky commenter to win a print copy of my novel Raw Silk

Speaking of winning, my January/February contest is still open. I'm asking you once again for your opinions. This time, I want to know what you think about Twitter. Do you "tweet"? Why or why not? How long have you been doing it? If you do tweet, does Twitter affect the books you read (or put on your to-be-read list)? Send me an email answering these questions, to contest [at] lisabetsarai.com, with the subject line "Twitter Contest". Around February 15, I'll randomly choose a winner, who will receive a copy of Gaymes

.

So stick around Beyond Romance this week, for excerpts, prizes and just plain fun!

(By the way, my winner for my Gay Marriage post on Friday was Anne Kane. Congratulations, Anne, and thanks again to all who shared their thoughts.)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Guilty Romances with Keanu Reeves, Lovers, and Writing

By Neale Sourna (Guest Blogger)

I write erotic fiction, both soft and hardcore, and sensuous and romantic game texts, and do so boldly. And even call my writing consulting site Writing-Naked.com, because I love writing, love to write, and love to have written—and yet I find, repeatedly, a middle class, middle American, Midwest, working class vibe of, “Hm, writing, that’s not REAL work, a REAL job you can do with pride, tell your grandma, and pay all your bills with.”

Like I had total pride and all my bills paid back when I was a secretary / executive assistant / office manager or retail salesperson or whatever. Absolutely not.

And my mom and grandma know what I write, even if they don’t read it.

They” never leave you alone, nor does the noise in your own head, except unless you can prove you can afford to live in Anne Rice’s mansion, Stephen King’s gothic estate, or give the forever waving and REAL jobless Queen of England a run for her pound Sterling by being “Harry Potter’s” multimillion, writing mum.

And, probably, even then, you’ll have to tell yourself—until you believe it, too, and then some—that sitting on your bum, writing “little stories,” especially “little, romantic and erotic stories” IS REAL. And a guilt-free occupation.

That it’s more than okay.

That it’s really a breath of air filling your lungs, and a thing that keeps you sane.

Or, maybe, that’s just me.

And what does this have to do with Keanu? I’ll get to that, just give me a little more leeway, okay?

Astrologically, I’m designed for writing and for giving a fairly equal siding to female and male points of view. Really, my stars say so, and so do pretty much any personality test I take. I’ve been mistaken for male—which I, slightly, encourage—because when I write for a male character, he should sound male in tone and attitude and even piss off a few women and endear himself to male and female alike, and likewise for a female character.

Well balanced.

So, guilty as I may feel sometimes for sitting about writing my stories, as opposed to WORKING at REAL WORK or even doing contract writing for others, crafting writing they can’t do, just like a carpenter, a plumber, or ball player does what they can’t do, it’s wonderful and rewarding to help another AND get paid.

But, oddly, working for someone else, for me, isn’t like being fully immersed and so deep into my own stories that people have to give me an extra moment to snap out of my creative writing trance, wherein I’m beyond the mountains upon the ancient Central Asian steppes with Amazon warriors or living on the Old West plains caught between Native Americans and their usurpers, or getting seasick on the run bobbing around on the cold and stormy high North Ireland seas with my lover and my new husband in pursuit, before I’m back in normal and suburban Cleveland, Ohio, and can answer.

There is a transcendence in writing—while writing and in the reading of it—or editing, for that matter. I can’t say how many times I’ve gotten super-involved in a story I’m editing, and have to break away and remind myself I’m not reading for mere enjoyment, I’m editing!

It’s a similar transcendence felt when loving another or even when loving certain performer’s performances. Like a favorite musician or artist or film star.

Love, like any lively story, has to be given a solid base, but then it grows and needs to be examined a little, trimmed a little, added to, and—on occasion—just thrown away, as unusable and more work than it’s worth, as it drags or misdirects you from where you need to go or can’t go, just now.

Sometimes I follow my favorites, sometimes I can’t, at the moment.

I try to always follow my heart, but I seem to trip myself up, here and there.

Perhaps, the same thing’s happened to you?

I mean, really, do you believe that working in an office or carpentry construction is so much harder than writing and so much MORE REAL? They’re not, not if you’re made for them. I’ve worked offices, I’ve constructed and painted and demolished. Each one takes a kind of focus that is necessary, to do what needs to be done; but not like the multilayers of BEING involved when you’re in love or are writing.

In the heart, in the head, I won’t stay dead,©” said Captain James T. Kirk© eons ago, when locked in a false battle with Klingons© on his own ship, while a third alien entity watched, and kept all the anger, fighting, and resurrections from death going.

Feeding off their negative emotions.

What a concept.

Besides the odd rhyming of Kirk’s passionate statement, it was the heart core of the entire episode.

So, it is with lovers and writers; especially writers, because we ARE lovers extraordinaire. When you love, truly love a person or a performer or artist, you see their perfections AND their flaws, and how both shade and make them who they are, make what they do interesting.

Giving, if we take it, a chance for the possibility of freedom and new alliances, as in that long ago STAR TREK episode.

We all want to discover something new, something important in those we love and especially within ourselves. And, when you can love someone and when even the very viewing of your love match inspires others, that’s the best.

And, when you can see a performer you truly enjoy grow in voice (literally or written or visual, artistic voice) and emotional range and depth by loving each character or song or creation they make reflect a new facet of themselves—or more important—ourselves, that’s the best.

So many of us, as a group, but feeling always as if all alone in a barren landscape, far from the sight of anyone else, until we make a fool of ourselves, that is, and allowing this programmed thought of what should be important to us—only if it’s important to others, is bull.

And dangerous and deadly.

Feeling guilty because we feel a joy others can’t feel, in the things in which we take joy. But, in love, in sex, and in writing WE ARE GODS and can SHARE OUR JOY.

Lovers can make their love new again and their sex life new again, and deeper.

If one or both of you slip on a wig or play at a new character or share a new toy, there need be no guilt in the love and pleasure shared.

A performer, like a great student and kid in a class full of dolts, doesn’t have to apologize for being smart and good, and feel guilty for being who they are.

And I will make it a mantra.

I will write on my heart and soul and my mind which chases itself in circles about the silliest nonsense, that love is writing, and writing is love, and no one should ever be made to feel bad, or confused, or a waste of space or abuse and make themselves guilty for doing what they love, in loving who they love, or in loving what you or the ones you love do.

Even if your parents and your friends and everyone you went to school with don’t get it, that you work and that you … that I take pleasure in it.

And that it is my great joy to share it with you.

Now that’s love.

NEALE SOURNA loves Keanu Reeves, and sees nuances of humor and dramatic depth in his work, and needs to remember that when chickening out in displaying that loving fondness for his creative and individualistic performances at www.ProjectKeanu.com, which should get more articles, soon-ish. Neale is an erotic writer, or is that a writer who’s erotic? Both. Neale’s ghostwriting and editing site is www.Writing-Naked.com, first major nonfiction “Neale Sourna’s CuntSinger” cunnilingus manual, and award-winning fictions, soft and hardcore, free and purchase can be found at www.Neale-Sourna.com. See also: the Central Asian steppes are “All Along the Watchtower.” The Old West is “Laraina.” And Neale’s seasick lady “Becca.” Plus, “Heartwild Solitaire” the game.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

M/M Romance and Same-Sex Marriage

I don't generally like to blog about political issues. I know that readers come from a wide range of backgrounds and have a diverse set of opinions. I don't like it when someone tries to force their views down my throat, so I return the favor.

However, Catherine Lundoff's post about her wedding a few days ago got me thinking. I'd like to find out more about how readers feel regarding the contentious issue of gay marriage.

Male/male romance is incredibly popular. My own M/M work sells better than anything else I write. I've received enthusiastic responses to my contest queries as to why romance fanatics enjoy reading about hot and heavy man-love.

Given this phenomenon--do readers who like M/M romance believe that men should have the right to marry eachother? If not, how do you reconcile this opinion with your reading tastes?

If you do support the idea of same-sex marriage, do you make your opinions known? Do you write letters to your congressman or your local newspaper? Or are you a closet conoisseur of homoerotic literature, not wanting to share your preferences?

I know that the majority of romance readers are married women with families. Many of you are religious. You're not wild sex fiends getting it on with strangers and looking for kinky thrills. (Well, maybe some of you are! But I suspect you're the exception rather than the rule.) If you live in the U.S., the current battleground in the war over same-sex marriage, you represent the typical, normal majority that the opponents of marriage equality say are against gays and lesbians marrying.

I have to ask myself: what would be the impact if hundreds or thousands of wives and mothers started advocating marriage equality? I think it would help redefine the debate. It would take the wind out of the sails of conservatives who like to portray support of gay marriage as a "blue state", ultra-liberal, perverse, anti-American position.

I'm really curious about this. I'd love to learn about your feelings and actions - pro and con. All opinions will be treated with respect. So let me know:

  • Do you like gay romance?
  • Do you support gay marriage?
  • If you do, are you active in expressing that opinion?

I will give away a copy of I Do, the MLR charity anthology supporting marriage equality, to a randomly selected commenter. Or, if you'd rather have a M/F title, I'll send you a copy of Getaway Girl.

Thanks in advance!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Married in Iowa...and the Five or Six Other Entities that Recognize It

By Catherine Lundoff (Guest Blogger)

2009 was the year that put same-sex marriage on both the public radar in the U.S. and our personal radar as well. Prior to that, while my partner and I were supportive on the issue, we hadn’t really considered as an option for us. We live in Minnesota, which has a very conservative governor and a legislature too afraid of him to push for change. Even if we got married elsewhere, none of the legal benefits of marriage would apply to us, so what was the point?

We had, on the other hand, been together for fifteen years as of January, 2009, and we did register with the city of Minneapolis as domestic partners in February, 2009, so we were definitely not lacking in public commitment. In fact, given the longevity of our relationship, the shared cats, the house and so forth, we felt pretty married already, even without the ceremony.

But then, on April 27, 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in favor of same sex marriage (applying only to Iowa, of course). A friend came up to visit from Iowa on the day that the ruling came down. At dinner, she uttered the fateful words, “If you guys decide to do it, I want to be your flower girl.” We looked at each other. We originally met in Iowa City, Iowa, at women’s country western line dancing in the Unitarian Universalist Society basement. We had friends there, eager to see this happen. We also suspected that the better financial results that Iowa saw from “marriage tourism,” the more likely they were to keep it. We thought, “Why not?”

We mentioned it to a few friends and things snowballed with people volunteering left and right. Since Iowa has a three-day waiting period minimum between license application and ceremony, we took a road trip down to scenic Decorah, Iowa in August with our pal Rebecca as our witness. The court clerks were very charming and helpful about it, which made it all that much more lovely. We also settled on a park shelter in Iowa City in one of our favorite parks for Sunday, September 19th.

Everything between license and ceremony was a whirlwind – where to stay, food, what to wear, ordering our rings from artist Laurie Edison, flowers, vows. But when the big weekend rolled around, we were settled in the Brown Street B&B in Iowa City, clothes, flowers, rings, officiant and his wife, and all (except for our Man of Honor and Best Maid, who had to stay in Cedar Rapids due to the onset of football season).

The wedding party was quite splendid. Our officiant wore his finest top hat and a borrowed rainbow stole. Our Man of Honor and Best Maid wore their best Goth finery while our ring bearer and flower girl wore cute matching polyester outfits from Kmart. My fiancée wore a nice gray wool jacket, black shirt and pants while I wore a green silk ensemble purchased in Vegas a few years ago.

The actual ceremony had about twenty guests in attendance and was wildly nondenominational. We committed to each other, but no one promised to obey and we dropped the references to richer and poorer. We had quotes from Ursula Le Guin and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I was not permitted to re-enact the wedding scene from the “The Princess Bride,” which was probably for the best. The weather and the bouquets held up splendidly, and we were pronounced “Spouse and Spouse.” Afterward, our friends served everyone from a terrific soy wedding cake (in deference to our dairy allergies).

I keep being asked if it feels any different and I’d have to say yes and no. Our day-to-day relationship is pretty much the same, except for the rings and the vocabulary. “Wife” doesn’t come easily after a decade and half of “Partner.” And, of course, we still have all the same concerns about insurance, legal issues, taxes and so forth that we had beforehand.

The biggest change has been in the way that my new in-laws treat me. They are small town Utah-dwelling Mormons with very conservative beliefs. We’ve basically ignored each other, with a certain amount of hostility, for fifteen years. Still, despite their enthusiastically expressed misgivings about our nuptials, they were quite supportive when it came down to it. I’ve had a number of notes and calls assuring me that I’m an acknowledged part of the family, which I will freely say, have been a bit surreal though kindly meant.

Overall though, we’re thrilled that we were able to celebrate our love with the support and good wishes of our friends and families. Between the wedding and the reception a few weeks later, we got to bring together a diverse group of folks from very different backgrounds to celebrate our relationship, and that felt marvelous. So, thank you Iowa Supreme Court, for giving us the push we needed to go through with it.

I haven’t written any same sex marriage fiction yet, but I wanted to plug some of the other writers who are. All of the following are raising money so that some day everyone can marry the beloved of their choice:

I Do: an Anthology in Support of Marriage Equality (MLR Press)

MLR is also releasing I Do, Two in 2010.

To Love and To Cherish (Loveyoudivine Press)

And thanks to Lisabet for encouraging me to write about getting married!

BIO: Catherine Lundoff is the award-winning author of Crave: Tales of Lust, Love and Longing and Night’s Kiss: Lesbian Erotica, and editor of Haunted Hearths and Sapphic Shades: Lesbian Ghost Stories. She is also the co-editor, with JoSelle Vanderhooft, of the anthology Hellebore and Rue: Tales of Queer Woman and Magic (Drollerie Press, forthcoming). She teaches writing classes at The Loft Literary Center. Website: www.visi.com/~clundoff

Monday, January 18, 2010

An Interview with Jason Hofstadter

Interviewer: Today I'm talking to Jason Hofstadter, the protagonist in Lisabet Sarai's new release, "Crossed Hearts". Tell us a bit about yourself, Jason.

Jason: Well, I'm twenty seven years old. I live in Lincoln, Nebraska, and make my living in real estate. I like tennis, swimming, action movies and country music.

Interviewer: And Scrabble.

Jason: Yes, of course. That's one of my passions. That's why I'm here at the Four States regional tournament. Last year I won second place. I've been practicing and studying--this year I'm shooting for the grand prize.

Interviewer: But--if I can be frank--the prize is not the only thing you're targeting at the tournament. Isn't that so?

Jason: (looking embarrassed) I'm not sure what you mean.

Interviewer: You've got a bit of a reputation, I'm afraid. Rumor has it that you're also looking for some--shall we say--fun? Of a sexual nature.

Jason: So what if I am? I'll admit that a side benefit of the tournament is the chance to meet a new guy. Nothing wrong with a bit of recreational screwing, is there?

Interviewer: No, of course not. But haven't you ever thought beyond the one night stands? Don't you ever crave a more serious relationship?

Jason: Sure. Everybody does, I guess. But I haven't met the right guy yet.

Interviewer: What about the attendees at this year's tournament? Look around. Do you see anyone you like?

Jason: (surveying the crowd of Scrabble players milling in the hotel lobby) Well...there's that dark-haired guy with the glasses over there. He's kind of cute, don't you think? He looks so serious. I'll bet it's his first time here.

Interviewer: He does look pretty lost. Maybe he's a virgin.

Jason: Now there's a thought! Not likely, but he does look young. Anyway, I'd like to find out.

Interviewer: Just don't let him find out about your past--um--liaisons. Wouldn't want to scare him away.

Jason: You're right. (Looks over at Matt again.) Yeah, he's pretty hot. I hope he likes guys. Anyway, I plan to find out.

Interviewer: Well, good luck. Good luck in the tournament, too!

Jason: Man, it's not about luck. It's skill!

=====================================

Get yourself a copy of Gaymes and find out whether Jason gets what he wants! Out today from Total-E-Bound!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hot, Sweet, and 2nd Most Popular On The Planet!

By J. Rose Allister (Guest Blogger)

What is it? TEA! (I know what you were thinking, naughty. Heh.)

Believe it or not, January is National Hot Tea Month. Yes, a whole month dedicated to this comforting, versatile beverage, and for good reason. In honor of this, here are some random facts about tea, a recipe, and a free giveaway!

  1. Tea is consumed more than any drink in the world except for water.

  2. Tea contains ½ the caffeine of a cup of coffee, and the bulk of the caffeine a cup of tea is released during the first 30 seconds of brewing. Throw that brew out and make another cup for an even greater reduction in caffeine.

  3. Despite all the different kinds of tea (oolong, Earl Grey, green, darjeeling, etc.), all teas come from one plant: Camellia Sinensis.

  4. Tea can absorb odors in your fridge (similar to baking soda) and can be used to fertilize your garden.

  5. Irish consume more tea per capita than any other group.

  6. Boasted medicinal properties of tea include reducing cholesterol, weight loss, anti-cancer aid, stress reduction, anti-venom, and even combating certain infections

  7. One cup of tea contains as many antioxidants as 10 cups of apple juice.

I have a recipe to share with you in honor of Hot Tea Month: Chai. Ever tried this? Chai is a spicy milk tea that originated in India and has become a popular drink worldwide. The mixture of tea, sugar, milk, and cinnamon spices is great on a wintry day—or iced in the summer!

Recipe for Chai Tea Mix Ingredients courtesy of AllRecipes.com

1 cup nonfat dry milk powder

1 cup powdered non-dairy creamer

1 cup French vanilla flavored powdered non-dairy creamer

2 1/2 cups white sugar

1 1/2 cups unsweetened instant tea

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

Combine ingredients in a bowl, then process in blender or food processor 1 cup at a time until all is well mixed into a fine powder. Store in a tightly covered container. To make chai tea, stir 2 rounded tablespoons of chai mix into a mug of hot water.

Makes about 6 cups mix

Now, how about a free giveaway? Get a little tea/goodie sampler in honor of National Tea Month! Post in the comments here for a chance to win. One commenter will be selected to win the pack. Good luck, and happy tea month!

BIO:

J. Rose Allister is an award-winning romantic and erotic story writer, and the author of novels KATA SUTRA and THEIR SECRET PARADISE. For more info on her work, visit The Power of Passion: http://jroseallister.awardspace.us

KATA SUTRA--Rated SCORCHING

Available at Bookstrand.

THEIR SECRET PARADISE—Rated 4 Flames

Available at AllRomance eBooks and Fictionwise.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Feeling Helpless

Like many people, I've been stunned by the images of devastation and death coming from Haiti. Nature's cruelty has never been so apparent. In the best of times, many Haitians barely survive. Poverty, disease, violence and fear are Haiti's legacies from decades of dictatorship and a century of environmental pillage. Now to suffer this, on top of everything else--it is almost too much for me to grasp.

It is a gorgeous day here where I live, bright, sunny, breezy and pleasantly cool. I'm sitting in my comfortable apartment, typing on my laptop and enjoying a cold drink. In an hour or so I'm off to have dinner with visiting friends. Haiti seems like a bad dream--but like a nightmare, I find that it haunts me. Whenever I begin to relax, I remember the multitudes--wounded, homeless, robbed of their families and their livelihood--on the other side of globe. A cloud crosses the sun.

I live in Asia. I was here during the 2004 tsunami, and I remember feeling the same way. I recall that terrible New Years Eve when everyone wore black. I feel helpless. What, after all, can I do? I've made a donation to Doctors without Borders, but what is money in the face of such trouble, especially the meager amount I can afford? A part of me wants to hop a plane and fly to the Caribbean, to help with the rebuilding. To hold the hand of some woman who has lost a child. To cook and serve food to the many who must be hungry.

Practically speaking, I can't do this. But money seems like such a pale substitute for the personal gift of comfort--human to human.

I was thinking about this and came to a heartening conclusion. If I can't help a Haitian personally, I should reach out a hand to someone closer to home. I believe that we are all connected, that we share a spark that makes every person worthy of love and respect. And though I'm not traditionally religious, I remember Jesus' comments that to assist the least of his creatures was equivalent to serving him personally. (If I were religious, I could find the Scripture quote, but I hope you know what I'm talking about.) In some mysterious but I think real way, showing compassion in one part of the world will ultimately have positive effects somewhere else.

So today I resolve to give what I can of my time and my capabilities to my neighbors who might be less fortunate than I am. I'm not as helpless as I thought. Every kindness, every gesture of love or support, anywhere, adds to the sum of goodness circulating in our world. We're bound into a chain of love that transcends distance.

Maybe that sounds hokey or ridiculously innocent. But that's what I believe.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What We Talk About When We Talk About Writing

By Mary Kennedy Eastham (Guest Blogger)

I've had three Big Loves in my life: my husband, my Golden Retrievers and my writing. When the writing took over, the hubby split. Or at least, that's the story I'm willing to share here with all of you. Thankfully, retrievers stick around NO MATTER WHAT and I've mastered the art of typing on my laptop while throwing a mean frisbee! But I digress. The writing biz has gotten as short-attention-span obsessed as the rest of the IM, texting, Facebook (look at me...look at me) crowd, so we need to do that thing we love while also giving our fan base as well as new readers a reason to buy our books. I'll even take this one step further by saying we need to develop a new genre called Cellphone Storytelling so the tweens, teens and 20-somethings can have a renewed respect for the art of great storytelling. Now on to the promise of this post.

TRAILERS: I LOVE them so I look at a lot of them, both for movies and for books. I am so envious of those of you who have done them and have done them well. Hell, even my friend's six year always asks if we can post something on YouTube! The one mistake I see writers making is putting too much text and not enough music and movement in their book trailers At a Script Writing course I took at UCLA, the instructor said we cannot forget that the whole purpose of writing a script or putting together a trailer is to make it MOVE (hence the word MOVIE, duh!). In the case of a script, you can't stay inside the character's head too long or you will bore the audience and in the case of a book trailer, you can't just throw in the text from your script or book. The shorter the better for me with your trailers. Cut to the chase. Give me that brilliant zinger that came into your head one sleepy morning while you were making coffee. And pick an intriguing song or melody that haunts me, making me long to see the story you're about to tell me unfold.

Here's a quick excerpt from the movie trailer for The Stoning of Soroya M. Picture an anorexic dog chasing after dust in some back alley of a Third World Country. A man and a woman appear. This is the text that follows:

'Do you speak English?' (Woman)

'Yes, I speak English.' (Man)

'I must talk fast,' she says lighting a cigarette. 'Did anybody see you? Start you machine.'

'Why should I listen to you?' (Man)

'Here my story first. You will know why you should listen.' (Pause)'There are men in this town who are vile dogs. Voices of women do not matter in here.

I want you to take my voice (she grabs her throat) with you. They cannot get away with this. The world must know.'

I don't need any more than that. I'm hooked. Now if I were to try to do a trailer for Night Surfing, the novel I'm working on, it would go something like this:

Picture my character Sosie Bend on a very crowded flight (I just saw Up In The Air so I'm stealing their backdrop).Mothers are frantically trying to stow their firstborns in the overhead bins so they won't have to pay for a ticket. Sosie is politely trying to crawl over a rather large man who seems intent on having her fall into his lap. She makes it into her seat but her sunglasses do indeed fall from her hair into his lap. Here's the quick exchange between the two of them:

'Kids?' he says, twirling her sunglasses in front of her, like they're his.

'No', Sosie says taking her sunglasses back. A steward offers her champagne. She's been upgraded to First Class.

She grabs the whole bottle.

'Why not?' the man persists.

'I don't know,' she says uncorking the champagne with her teeth.

'You know,' he says holding up a cherry colored plastic cup. 'Now pour.'

The making of a good trailer can be expensive. I've been involved in the making of small independent films. We posted a call on Craigslist and at a few local colleges that offer film classes and it was amazing the amount of great talent out there if you're nice, feed them and have a great trailer idea.

BLURBS: I worked as a Creative Director in a New York City advertising agency, so I'm not without my PR writing skills, but it took me six months to write my blurb for my novel. I'd go to Borders, sit in a nice, comfy leather chair, then read blurbs from books by my favorite authors, hoping to get into a kind of piano scales blurb mode. Then I'd think about elevator pitches, that thing movie people talk about when they ask you what your screenplay or book is about, two or three sentences you would pitch to someone. Here's an example from Face of Betrayal:

Katie, a 17 year old page disappears. The prime suspect: the Senator who may have been more than just a mentor. Three women - an FBI agent, a federal prosecutor, and a TV crime reporter team up to find out what really happened.

Now here's mine:

'I don't know how this happened but I don't have anyone.'

And so begins Night Surfing, the odyssey of Sosie Bend, a woman obsessed with love and surfing, only she's not very good at either one. Brokenhearted after her fiance of five years leaves her to have a baby with a Mormon make-up artist, Sosie downloads a playlist of love songs and sets off across the country to Malibu to reconnect with the family that helped raise her when her parents Tripp and Kitty Bend, out for a night of fun, took a wrong turn down a twisty road ending up dead in a ravine. Calling herself a Love Amnesiac, Sosie starts a blog called "Love, Sosie" promising to spend the rest of her life trying to find this one thing she really wants. Her first blog post: Can you be so determined to find the love of your life that you have to dream him up walking straight out of the surf into your arms?...Love, Sosie"

BEGINNINGS: The actor George Clooney says what he likes most about meeting someone new is that he gets to be a nice guy all over again.

Ah, those sweet beginnings, whether in love or in our books, it's a heady time of sweet expectation and seduction. But the phrase 'You have only one shot at making a great first impression', also comes to mind. In our Tweeter, text-obsessed world, ya gotta knock 'em dead in a sentence or two. I recently responded to a Six Word Story challenge. They wanted conflict and resolution in those six words. Apply that exercise to your opening paragraph any time you're looking for the economy of words.

Raymond Carver, a brilliant short-story writer taught me how to do this in his book What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. His sentences pack a one-two punch that leave you stunned. Sentences like, 'I didn't come over here to hear that.' or 'I had made up my mind to go. I was thinking today about the calm I felt when I closed my eyes and let the barber's fingers move through my hair, the sweetness of those fingers, the hair already starting to grow.'

ENDINGS: Endings are always tough for me in life, in love and in my stories, poems and books. I am very selective about those people I let in and I choose every word in my stories so very carefully,so I don't like watching people I love or characters I love vanish. But as my first writing teacher at UC Berkeley said: 'There are no right or wrong endings, just inevitable ones.' The last line in the last story in Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love is: 'I just want to say one more thing.' But then he could not think what it could possibly be.

The last line in Night Surfing is: 'I miss you Jagger. I miss you...I miss you...I miss you...'

And that about says it all.

MARY KENNEDY EASTHAM, M.A. MFA (almost an MBA) has a messy life filled with confusion, chaos, fun and love. She grew up in New England, has lived in New York City, San Francisco and Malibu and now lives in San Jose, California with her four Golden Retrievers: Sabrina, JoJo, Oliver and Flynn. Her first book, The Shadow of a Dog I Can't Forget is now in its 4th Printing, she is finishing up "Channeling Ava Gardner", the last story in her short story collection The Possibilities of Love. She is excited to be close to finishing her first novel Night Surfing Check out more about her at: www.RP-Author.com/MKE

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mary Loves Dogs

Today I was supposed to be hosting Mary Kennedy Eastham as a guest blogger. However, she seems to have gone incommunicado. Given the horrible weather that the U.S. and Europe has been having, I wouldn't be too surprised if she's the victim of a blackout. I sincerely hope she is not in serious difficulties.

Mary is an author of fiction and poetry who self-published a remarkable collection in 2007 called The Shadow of a Dog I Can't Forget. She's one of my models as someone who has really worked to market herself and her writing. (To be honest, I don't know where she gets her energy!) Since she can't be with us personally today, I decided to reprint my review of her book.

By the way, I've titled this post "Mary Loves Dogs" because she does. She has several golden retrievers and is so devoted to her canine companions that her email address is "marylovesdogs"!

The Shadow of a Dog I Can't Forget by Mary Kennedy Eastham

Robertson Publishing 2007

ISBN 978-0-9727721-7-4

You wouldn't guess that the title above belongs to a love poem, would you? You'll find many surprises in Mary Kennedy Eastham's slim volume of poems and prose, most of them wonderful. Ms. Eastham's poetry is sharply observed and emotionally genuine. It encompasses both humor and pathos. While not all of the pieces in Shadow of a Dog are erotic, many focus on desire, love, and loss, and in particular, the power of fantasy and memory.

Undress Me

His name was Jinx,

a dark-haired Californian

with hands too pretty

to belong to a boy.

I was sixteen, a virgin,

girl-silly from fantasizing

about what men do to women

and what women do back.

I cut my jeans into short shorts

and cut my tee shirt to just half an inch

below my swelling breasts.

I rubbed the juice

from a bottle of maraschino cherries onto my lips

and put a drop of pure vanilla extract behind each ear.

Memory rearranges itself over time

but the good parts stay.

I remember the Volvo pulling into the driveway

the sound of his voice drifting in through the torn screen door.

As I climbed from my bedroom window

onto the hot porch roof

the strap of my sandal lets loose

casting tiny particles of tar into the soft, summer air.

Gardenias bend toward me

as I slide down, down, down

into arms that felt like part of a landscape

I've lived with all my life.

Jinx was mine.

Poetry, like music, is a highly personal taste. When I turn on my favorite songs, my husband holds his hands to his ears. Some poems resonate, setting up harmonious vibrations of emotion. Some do not. Not everyone will enjoy Ms. Eastham's style, superficially casual but cutting to the bone. But I did.

My favorite poems in this book are the ones about love and desire. "Kissing Harrison" chronicles a fantasy relationship with a "bareback meteorite cowboy" who comes to town looking for a "good girl/bad girl" who isn't the narrator:

He opened up my eyes to me

said he saw me, or someone like me

in the pages of Vogue

a girl on a raspberry satin chaise lounge

disobedient gold high heels dangling from my feet.

Or the dark imagery in "Stripping for Blind Men":

The men ask me to describe the movements

which I am only too happy to do.

...

I am cat-crawling on the floor for you now boys, I say

blowing a handful of my Braille business cards

toward bodies pressed hard

against the stiff bar rail.

My hot breath gets the men crazy.

Then there's the stunning prose/poem that opens the book, "Is there ever such a thing as a tiny betrayal?"

'Do you close your eyes when you kiss?', he asks me. He's left the hotel door half-open. Someone looking in would see my bare legs dangling from a persimmon and gold chaise, my platinum silk high heels ready to walk, or not.

The non-erotic poems are equally powerful "What He Did at the End of His Life" brought tears to my eyes:

His favorite nurse is due in soon, the one who said,

'I wish I'd known you healthy.'

"6 Parisville Place" puts us into the mind of an abused child:

Pretty things will hang in her walk-in closet here.

Guns won't fire. There will be no need to hide

foster brothers and sisters in another

cold white porcelain tub, her own feet

quivering on the toilet seat

as she searches for shadows in the thin line of light

beneath the locked bathroom door.

Poetry is difficult to describe. It exists only as first hand experience--hence all my quotes, frustrating attempts to convey the emotional impact which, really, can only come from reading an entire poem, the way the author intended--perhaps re-reading it, a second or a third time, seeing new angles, feeling new emotions.

If the quotes above resonate with you, pick up a copy of this book. And read it more than once.

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By the way, if you like poetry, you'll find some of my own poems of love and desire on the free reading page of my website.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tasty Tidbits

I'm rushing off to work this morning, but I've got a variety of tasty tidbits to share with you.

Cookbook

You have until the end of the month to download my free cookbook, Recipes from an International Kitchen. The twenty six page ebook combines photos from my travels with recipes that they inspired. To get your own copy, just go to http://www.lisabetsarai.com/cookbook.html.

Guest Blogging

Today, the 12th of January, I'm the Terrific Tuesdays guest at Molly Daniel's blog http://www.mjdaniels.blogspot.com. Drop by and say hello!

Also, next Monday the 18th, I'm guesting with Anna Kathryn Lanier, where my topic will be "Playing with Words". Her blog is http://annakathrynlanier.blogspot.com/.

Newsletter and Contest

My monthly web site update and newsletter will be posted around the 15th. So you still have a few days to enter my easy contest from last month and win a free copy of Necessary Madness. Visit my news page for details. I'll have a new contest for you when the January newsletter goes up.

New Release

Monday the 18th, Total-E-Bound releases Gaymes, a new M/M anthology featuring my story "Crossed Hearts". Find out more here!

My Birthday

The 31st of January is my birthday and I'm planning a party here, with fun and prizes. Stay tuned for more information.