Monday, November 29, 2010

And the Winners Are....

Hello, everyone! I'm back from Japan (very interesting trip - I'll have more in future blog posts!) and one of my first orders of business was to pick winners from my guest-a-thon. So, if I could have a drum-roll, please... Here are the winners, selected from all those (other than the post author) who left comments on a particular day:

November 20 - Charmaine Gordon

November 21 - Nina Pierce

November 22 - Sweet Vernal Zephyr

November 24 - Fichen1

November 25 - Colleen

November 27 - Debby

November 28 - Kelly

November 29 - Jennifer P.

Congratulations to all! Since your prize is an autographed print book, I will need your postal addresses for shipping. Please email me at lisabet [at] lisabetsarai [dot] com and give me the details so that I can get your books into the mail!

Meanwhile, my randomly-selected grand prize winner is Katsrus. Please email me so that I will know where to send your ebook three-pack.

Thanks to all who participated and kept things lively at Beyond Romance while I was gone! And a hearty thank you to my guests, who contributed such enjoyable posts.

Blueberries and Sex

By Charmaine Gordon (Guest Blogger)

While on a beach vacation with my daughter and 2.6 year old granddaughter last summer, two young women stopped by our beach chairs for a friendly chat. One of them asked my age and when I told her I was born when dinosaurs roamed the earth, she said, “What’s your secret? How do you stay looking so young?” I answered, “Blueberries and sex.”

Mom,” my daughter cried, giving the word at least two syllables, “you don’t have sex.”

I smiled my secret smile and said, “How do you know?”

You see, kids don’t believe parents have sex. Ever. They forget that after all, in some mystical way, egg and sperm mate and form a child or two. Sometimes more. But not their parents.

When our last child went off to school, I’m talking about kindergarten, sex was the first thing we thought of when the door closed. Alone at last.

My Romance writing is not erotic, at least not in the way some Beyond Romance contributors write, but there is heat, passion, and sometimes even when a loved one has gone to a better world, he returns. . .especially when the conflict is unresolved and they can’t let go.

Here's a brief excerpt from my latest novel NOW WHAT?, a paranormal romance.

I dreamed a wondrous dream. A shimmer in the woods beckoned me closer. A shadowy shape I couldn’t resist. Without fear I moved into the shimmering layers of silver white, gold and purple. Enfolded in the sparkle of white light heat rocked my insides, shot through every opening, poured like liquid gold from head to toe until a final pulsating hammered at my feminine core. I cried out for my husband, knowing he was with me. Slow withdrawal as my heartbeat returned to normal and joy filled my life even though the glow of his spirit faded.

It wasn’t a dream, wondrous as it was, I realized the next morning. Bob’s message was clear. He watched over me just as my mother, gone for many years, still remained close. This would be another well kept secret; this gift of acceptance without fear when visitations from the departed occurred.

Thank you for inviting me to Beyond Romance, Lisabet. It has been a pleasure.

http://authorcharmainegordon.com

http://authorCharmaineGordon.Xanga.com

Signed copies of my books are available at http://www.Amazon.com

Bio: After years of working as an actor on daytime drama, stage, movies and television, I had an idea for a story. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was like a sponge, soaking up knowledge as I read scripts. When I decided to write, it became an adventure. I wrote a scene, painted in the scenery with words instead of a paint brush, gave the characters direction and soon the characters took over.

I knew I couldn’t continue acting and begin a new career so I kissed the sweet time goodbye and took a chance.

Now I have three books with Vanilla Heart Publishing; TO BE CONTINUED - romance; STARTING OVER - romance/suspense; and NOW WHAT?, a paranormal romance.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

How a Horror Author can Write the Same Scary Stuff for Dark Paranormal Romance

By Sapphire Phelan (Guest Blogger)

When I decided to write my first paranormal romance I looked no farther than what I’ve been doing already: horror. It was a no brainer for me.

I’ve read paranormal romances where the vampire didn’t drink blood nor do bad things. Let’s admit it, European vamps drink blood—humans are food for goodness sakes. I also had a problem about a vampire getting together with a human—necrophilia came to mind for me. My first vampire romance was set not only in the future but on another planet. The hero was the last Undead Earth vampire in existence and he had to escape from Earth to another world as pollution had killed all the others of his kind. It was on that new planet that he met his ‘soul mate’, Nalessa, a living alien vampire. She was the last survivor of her civilization, which perished eons ago. That story became Crimson Promise. This got published by Phaze Books.

Since then, I've overcome my issues and written a vampire with a human romance story, which also was a second chance at love for two lovers separated by terrible circumstances. This came out in the anthology, Just Another Paranormal Halloween, published by Mojocastle Press, LLC as both an eBook and paperback.

More recently, Phaze has released my book Dark Leopard Magic, another foray into the paranormal. Here's the blurb:

Dev Tollen is a man with a dark past and an even darker soul. More than that, he's a gay wereleopard. He has never had the Dreaming and never met his true mate. But one night the Dreaming does come and reveals his lover, an African man named Montsho, also an alpha black wereleopard. Montsho will fight their love and their destiny. Dev will do all he can to win his beloved's heart and keep him by his side always. Then a ghost begs Dev to solve his wereleopard lover's murder. Both men will find that their new-found love tested and their lives in danger. Their idyllic time in paradise is about to be torn asunder when they discover who the murderer is.

***

Monsters are scary. We all are afraid of the dark. What better way to conquer that fear of the dark then have the heroine or hero fall in love with a monster? You have the bad boys or girls in contemporary romance novels, but this takes that bad idea and makes them even more bad assed.

Besides the reader wants to be taken away from their mundane day-to-day life and suddenly they can find that, in a tale where the heroine moves to some creepy town. Each night something or somethings are taking innocent citizens. These monstrous things are also after her. Then she meets a tall, dark and handsome man, who saves her from a pack of howling things. She falls for him. Maybe even makes love with him. It is later that she learns he’s not human, but one of those ‘howling’ things himself. He’s a werewolf, cursed to take another shape, but he’s tortured and doesn’t want to harm humans. Will she, can she, change him for the better? When she does, and both ride off into the sunset on his motorcycle (or drive off in a car or truck—doesn’t matter), the readers close the book with a snap, knowing once again there’s a happily ever after for another couple.

You don’t have to stick to supernatural creatures either. Why not an alien, whose people want to take over our world? Not just an alien, but a parasitical one? I did this with Iridescent Invasion once upon a time with an epublisher whose doors closed in 2008. One day, I hope to go back and turned this story into a full blown novel.

The latest stories I've published have demons as heroes and heroines. One is an erotic urban fantasy, Being Familiar With a Witch. It’s a short novel that was a finalist for the EPIC Awards 2010 and is a Prism Awards 2010 winner. The latest is an erotic paranormal romance novella, Ain’t Nothin’ Like Succubus Lovin’—this has a succubus just as the title implies.

But it doesn’t matter what kind of being your hero or heroine is, a paranormal allows you to take chances, to go where no reader has been before in a love story. You can take the theme of racism, religion and prejudice, and add a twist by making one of the lovers a merperson or a vampire or shapeshifter. They say that love overcomes everything--well, here’s a writer’s chance to prove that.

With writing paranormal romance and being allowed stretching the limit with blood chilling horror I have proved that a horror author can apply it to a paranormal romance with no problem.

Readers: chime in with a comment if you agree with this or not. We authors love to know what readers think since you are the one who buy our books.

Paranormal Romance Authors: Let us know what led you to write paranormal romance, and why.

Sapphire Phelan

http://www.SapphirePhelan.com

http://SapphirePhelansPassionCorner.blogspot.com http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sapphire-Phelan/324399690647 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SapphirePhelansParanormalNewsletter

Go beyond the usual, instead take the unusual that stretches the boundaries and find romance with Sapphire Phelan's aliens, werewolves, vampires, fairies, and other supernatural/otherworldly heroes and heroines.

Bio:

Sapphire Phelan is an author of erotic and sweet paranormal, fantasy, and science fiction romance, along with a couple of erotic horror stories. She also writes as Pamela K. Kinney, for horror, fantasy, science fiction, and nonfiction ghost books. She lives in Virginia with her husband and two cats, Ripley and Bast. She admits she can always be found at her desk and on her computer, writing. And yes, the house and husband sometimes suffer for it!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hooking a Reader

By Margaret West (Guest Blogger)

In the beginning god gave us light!! LOL I’ve always wanted to start a paragraph off with that. Which brings me to the point of this article. I’m always hearing how editors tell authors they must ‘hook’ a reader. It brings to mind the old rod and fish wire scenario. But if you think about it, how many times do we sit down to watch a film only to be bored to death within the first few minutes? In this age where competition is rife, grabbing a reader’s attention is like holding onto a slippery fish. Fast, fierce and riveting should be the things aimed for with a hook. A new angle, twist of writing style sets you apart from the rest.

I remember reading a book, Night Visions, by Ariana Dupre. I was completely thrown that her witch character, was a man. A rather, hunky one to boot. What a twist, when all the foreshadowing made me feel like she was the usual ‘hag witch’! Be honest now. How many books have you picked up then cast aside because they just don’t do it for you? I have had two this month.

The greatest gift a reader can give an author is the words, ‘I could not put the book down’. My last release The Heart of a Warrior, received an amazing review last week, but the one thing that struck me was the fact she said, even when she put the book down, she was still thinking bout the story and characters.

You need to sit down and really think who your first readers are. Over-worked editors and agents. Look for a ‘hook’ straight away. A crashing noise, explosion, head chopping off (if you write horror lol) is a first sentence hook. It compels a reader to read on and see what’s happened. This is so important and each page should end with a page turner. You want your reader to want to turn that page. So remember, even one word can hook. Don’t be afraid to cast out your rods with hooks made of steel.



BIO

Born in England, Margaret moved to the Kent countryside five years ago to get away from the busy life in London. She is married with two grown up children. She is a working medium, based in a London Spiritualist church and when not writing her novels, works as an Angel Therapist, Crystal Therapist, Parapsychologist and Psychic Development tutor.

She’s been writing over 20 years in various fields: academic modules, novels, short stories, magazine columns and Blue Mountain sympathy card range. Her main love is writing paranormal romance, incorporating her spiritual experiences into her books.

www.margaretwest.net

http://margaret-paranormalromanceauthor.blogspot.com/

http://magsx.blogspot.com/

To buy my books, visit my Amazon page.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The NaNo Appeal

By Yolanda Sfetsos (Guest Blogger)

When I was trying to figure out what to write about today, I just couldn't go past NaNoWriMo. It's a subject that I find hard to ignore around this time of the year.

If you haven’t heard of National Novel Writing Month, it’s always set in November. It’s a time of the year when a whole bunch of people from all over the world come together with the joint goal of writing a 50,000-word novel during the month of November. Or at least, a first draft.

I know there are some people who don't like it because they don’t like the pressure, and find it stifles their creativity. There are even some who find this process encourages them to write garbage that’ll end up stuffed in a drawer somewhere, or forgotten on their computer. Then there are others who absolutely love it, because they like a challenge, or manage to drum out a first draft in no time anyway.

Personally, I love it. This is the fifth year that I've taken part. I've actually won every year so far, so I'm hoping that the same happens in 2010. As it stands, while I'm writing this, I've already passed the 44,000-word mark, which is awesome for halfway through the month.

See, I write pretty fast drafts anyway. When I've got a story boiling over inside my head and it's ready to be told, I become consumed by it—live, breathe, think, and even dream about it, until that last word is written. I like to get everything out of my head and onto a Word document as quickly as I can, so this process works for me. And this year's story is turning out to be the same.

To be honest, I usually decide on the story I'm going to write in about August/September and then spend some of October taking notes and planning a bit. This year didn't turn out that way. I’ve been doing so many edits and revisions that I hardly thought about NaNo.

I actually didn't seriously admit to myself that I was going to take part until pretty late in October. How could I pass it up? Even if I knew I'd be getting a bunch of edits for other stories sometime this month, I at least wanted to give it a go. Like my husband said to me: “What's the worst that can happen? You either end up with the beginning of a story, or actually finish writing another book.” Exactly! Why didn't I think of that? ;) Sometimes it takes someone else to point out the obvious, that’s why I usually chat with my husband when I’ve come to a crossroads in my writing plans, or am wondering about what to tackle next. He’s awesome like that, and helps me bounce ideas and plans around until it all makes sense and fits together.

So with some multi-tasking, I've managed to do both writing and edits. It's been great so far.

As for what story I ended up writing -- well, I had a new release at the beginning of October with Eternal Press, called TOUCHING MOONLIGHT. It's a futuristic story about two clans. One's called the Lunar, the other the Solar. It's the story of what happens when a Solar female and a Lunar male end up falling in love and uncover some dark secrets together...

I loved the editing process so much that while I was working on edits with my lovely editor (Hi Andrea!) I actually started getting snippets, ideas, and an almost-complete storyline for the next (and last) installment. I always knew that Sunny & Silver would have two parts to their story. I just didn't realize I'd write it so soon.

So, here I am, having a blast writing a sequel for NaNoWriMo. I can't wait to finish it, put it aside until next year, and then get cracking on revisions until it’s ready to submit.

What about you? Are you a NaNoWriMo fan? Have you ever taken part? And if so, did it work for you? I'm always curious to hear about other writer’s experiences with the process. :)

Thanks for reading!

~ Yolanda

BIO: Yolanda Sfetsos lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband, daughter, and cat. She loves to spend most of her days writing stories. Her muse doesn't like genre restrictions, and loves to toe the dark, otherworldly edge of storytelling.

When she’s not writing she spends as much time as possible with her small family. She also enjoys watching movies, TV shows, anime, going for walks, and reading.

You can visit her website at www.yolandasfetsos.com

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Rock 'n Roll Romance

By Clancy Nacht (Guest Blogger)

Rock-n-roll has always been controversial. From the Beatles’s mop tops to Elvis’s swiveling hips to metal guys in spandex to homicidal punk gods, musicians have been almost as inspiring as the music they produce. In my latest cowritten release, “Black Gold” Thursday Euclid and I attempt to delve into the sometimes glamorous, sometimes dirty sexy behind the scenes world of music.

From punk god Jett Black who struggles with his indie releases and underground career, to Goldie, a pop sensation, we examine the idea of falling in love with a man in the public eye and an industry that turns art into business.

I’ve compiled a short playlist on Grooveshark that I hope you’ll enjoy. It’s a few songs that inspired the story and others that made me think of the story after the fact.

Black Gold Excerpt:

“Bottle of single malt scotch,” Goldie said, realizing too late that the owner of the club was the one staffing the bar.

Gerhard tilted his head as if he recognized him but couldn’t quite place him. “Oh ya, the whole bottle?”

Goldie pointed his thumb vaguely stage-ward and said, “Jett.”

“Ah ya, so on their tab?” Gerhard looked a little worse for wear. New, deeper lines on his face and doing double duty working the bar told Goldie he wasn’t doing so well. His dark hair glinted with a few more strings of gray.

Goldie reached into his pocket, where he’d stashed a handful of euros of varying denominations just in case he ran into trouble. “No, I’ll pay for it.”

He peeled off a five-hundred-euro note, noticing too late how Gerhard was squinting at him. “Billy? Is that you?”

Goldie’s eyes widened. He looked around, as if anyone here would know his real name. He peeled off another couple of notes and pressed them on the bar.

“No. It’s not me. It’s somebody else.”

Eyeing the money, Gerhard frowned.

“I do not know why you are sneaking around, but…” Gerhard ducked in conspiratorially and lowered his tone. “Rolling Stone?”

“No, no, no. I’ve never met him. He doesn’t know I’m here. Please don’t say anything. I just wanted to see who he was. It’s not…it’s not anything. Just please, please don’t tell him I was here. Please.” Goldie pushed the money closer to Gerhard.

“I do not need your money.” Even as he said it, Gerhard looked at it longingly. He was a good man in a world where it didn’t pay to be scrupulous.

“It will make me feel better if you take it. Get a new sound system or something. Or just take a couple of days off, will you?” Goldie took the bottle and swung around. He quickly blended in with the crowd so Gerhard couldn’t make him take it back.

Heading back through the crowd was a little easier since he wasn’t swimming upstream. Unlike his shows, there wasn’t much security to keep people out of the back, so he took the short flight of stairs two at a time and shouldered past the crowd.

Now came the awkward part. He pulled the brim of his hat even lower and stepped past the crowd of groupies to where Jett was. He felt like he wasn’t walking right, a terrified fawn testing out its long new legs. He held the bottle out, afraid if he got too close that Jett would recognize him.

Jett smelled of old weed and alcohol. It should’ve repelled him, but Goldie just wanted to remain in a bubble close enough to him that he could breathe in Jett’s scent.

“Um…here you go.” Goldie blushed, thinking those were stupid words to say, but he couldn’t think of anything witty.

Jett took the bottle and wrenched the top off to swig down the booze. Goldie winced, knowing how much the alcohol would burn. Jett seemed to sway a bit, and then his eyes cleared, and he let out a long, guttural moan. He took another gulp and then offered the bottle back. He squinted at Goldie, peering like he might recognize him, and Goldie felt his pulse jump with adrenaline. He tried to make himself look like just another crazy fan boy trying to suck up to his idol and prayed that Jett didn’t look more closely than that.

“Oh God, thank you,” Jett mumbled, looking up at his timid savior with bloodshot brown eyes still smudged with what looked like last night’s liner. “If I try to move anywhere that isn’t in the direction of the fucking stage, they’ll eat me alive, and if I ask one of them for a favor, the others will eat her alive.”

Jett gestured to the throng of girls fifteen feet away, and just the motion of his hand in their direction sent them into a squealing tizzy. A tall chick in the back of the group stood on tiptoe and lifted her skull-and-crossbones crop top to flash them her fake rack. Jett gave her his trademark cocky grin and a little wave and then looked away, the persona fading into weariness as he tried to fix his stage makeup in the cobweb-cracked mirror.

“It’s a fuckin’ circus, man. Anyway, what’s your name? I’m Jett, in case you missed the part where everyone was screaming that at me.”

The fact that Jett was talking to him like this, like they were buddies, bros, made Goldie feel simultaneously giddy and crestfallen. He loved getting to see this more human side of Jett, but then, the fact that Jett wasn’t trying to seduce him meant Jett didn’t see him as a sex object. Theoretically, that should have been a good thing, but Goldie felt let down.

What did he expect? That he’d show up and Jett would just bend him over right there? He was there as Billy, not Goldie. It was Goldie that Jett wanted. No one wanted Billy.

“Ich bin…Billy.” It wasn’t even correct German; he didn’t attempt a German accent. It sounded completely ridiculous.

To cover that awkwardness, Billy took the bottle for a quick swig and immediately regretted it. He managed to swallow, but it burned. Billy sputtered, blinking madly as if that would keep Jett from knowing he wasn’t a scotch drinker of any malt.

Jett appeared so busy with his makeup, there was a chance he hadn’t noticed, so Billy took another swig. This time he managed it better. He felt the tension in his back melting away and a sense of light-headedness.

Watching him struggle with his eyeliner in the mirror for a moment, Billy reached for Jett’s shaking hand and steadied it. When Jett didn’t recoil, Billy gently pulled the kohl pencil from him. With the other hand, he tilted Jett’s face up by the chin, taking in the hollows of his cheeks, the sharpness of his face, but also the lost look in his eyes.

Billy licked his thumb and wiped away the messy smudges of the liner. The one time Billy was out without a makeup kit, and he already needed it. He smiled wryly and then held the pencil steadily under Jett’s eye. “Look up so I can get this on evenly for you, please.”

Though Jett looked uneasy, he shrugged and did as he was told. Jett dropped his ass on the dressing table, stretched out his long legs, and looked up at the filthy ceiling. “Y’know, it’s like…some days I just can’t get my shit together. Once I’m out there with the mic, the lights, and the applause, I can get lost in my head, and it’s all right. It doesn’t matter out there, but offstage, it just…” Jett trailed off with a rueful chuckle. “Seriously, though, don’t spit on me again without warning, or I might break your pretty face."

It took all of Billy’s willpower not to stroke Jett’s hair and say, “I understand.” He knew all too well the appeal of being caught up in the music. In that moment, nothing else mattered.

“Sorry. I don’t usually spit at all.” Billy blushed when he realized how that sounded.

Chewing his bottom lip, Billy decided just to go with the existing smudges and traced it into a design to make it look purposeful. “Just because you feel like a mess doesn’t mean you have to look like one.”

Billy allowed himself to slide his fingers lightly on Jett’s cheek. “Have a look.”

While Jett turned to the mirror, Billy cast around the room for further reason to detain him. Spotting the black nail polish, he grabbed the bottle and reached for Jett’s hand.

Giving Jett’s palm a light stroke with his finger, Billy said, “I can neaten up your nails really quick. I mean, if you want me to.”

Jett looked hot with the intricate swirls of kohl around his eyes. The black liner made his dark eyes look enormous and soulful rather than exhausted.

“Yeah, all right, might as well.” Jett settled in with the scotch in his free hand to let Billy fix up the other.

After another sip, he added, “Thanks, Billy,” as if making a point of using his name so Goldie’d know he hadn't forgotten it like he probably did most people's.

It was so bizarre how guilty Billy felt that Jett didn’t know he was Goldie. He wasn’t lying, exactly, just withholding important information.

Billy imagined telling Jett the truth. He’d probably be lucky to get out without his “pretty face” broken.

Still, the name was so distant to him now. Billy. Billy was a fourteen-year-old boy who hoped someone would notice him. He was the anxious music nerd who got more than his fair share of swirlies for being “too fucking pretty.”

Billy forced those thoughts away. If this was going to be his only time with Jett -- ever -- he didn’t want to waste it thinking about his past.

Billy carefully measured just enough polish onto the brush to fill in the cracks, wiping away the mistakes with his fingertips and letting the residue dry on his skin. He didn’t play guitar nearly as much or as aggressively as Jett. Jett’s fingers were so hard. Working hands. Real hands. Billy wanted to kiss those fingers but left it at just blowing on them.

“I used to do this for my sisters.” Billy was lying again. He had no sisters. He wanted to say something and wanted Jett to think of Billy as a random fan who could do makeup. Jett liked that boy. Liked Billy. That would have to be enough. He took Jett’s other hand and patched the holes in the polish.

Billy sighed. His time was up. There were no more excuses to detain Jett without it getting awkward. “Is it okay if I stay back here to watch the show? I promise I won’t bother you when you’re off. The sound is better back here. Gerha -- I mean, the guy who owns this place sort of got the sound thing backward.”

“Yeah, man, do whatever! I’ll let the stage manager know it’s cool for you to be here. I appreciate the help and shit. Really, ma -- Billy.”

Jett inspected his nails, taking a moment to gnaw absentmindedly at a rough cuticle before reaching for the scotch bottle again. He looked far more enthusiastic than he had half an hour ago, as if Billy’d recharged his batteries. “I didn’t think makeup and nail polish made so much difference, but then, maybe that’s why all those chicks in the crowd have so much energy for screaming and throwing panties at my head.”

After an awkward pause, Jett cleared his throat and adopted his trademark casual, cool demeanor, complete with whiskeyed rasp. “Look, I don’t know if you’re into the souvenirs or whatever, but if you are, I’ll do you one before I go on. You want? It’s just this thing I do with the used strings, but if it ends up on an online auction site, it’s like…worthless. It’s not signed or anything. It’s just a you-know-and-I-know thing.”

“If you gave me something, I’d never sell it. I’d keep it with me forever.” Billy said it before he could stop himself from sounding like a lovelorn puppy, but he couldn’t stop smiling that big, broad smile that had sold millions of records for the past decade. His body flushed, and he was -- stupid as it made him feel -- hard over the prospect of a used guitar string. He didn’t know what he’d do with it, but it would be his. Billy’s piece of Jett to keep forever.

Billy wasn’t going to think about whether Jett had done this for girls he’d fucked. He was going to allow himself this moment.

Without asking, Jett grabbed Billy by the wrist and dragged him a few feet to the stool where he’d changed his strings earlier. Jett pushed him to sit and then knelt to grab a stray G off the floor. He deftly looped it around Billy’s pale, slender wrist and wove the string in on itself until it ran out of length. Then he inserted the end through the little steel ring at the bottom of the string and crimped it together with the pliers in his tool kit. Jett eyed it critically, gave it a tug to be sure it was secure, then pressed a noisy, theatrical kiss to the metal before thrusting Billy’s hand back at him and rising to his feet.

“There, now you have my G-string.” Jett gave him a cheeky wink and then stretched as if to work out the stiffness in his muscles from crouching like that. “Treasure it, Billy; it’s a worthless piece of used metal, but it was made with grateful affection by the infamous king of underground…whatever. Be the first kid on your block to give a shit.”

Billy slid his fingers over the metal, thinking about Jett’s lips there, so close to him. It all seemed too good to be real. “No one’s going to think I’m a skank who performed some unspeakable act if they see me with this on, are they?”

Billy clutched his arm to his chest, cradling it with the other as Jett picked up a guitar. This was it; the moment was ending. His Jett was about to dissolve into the real Jett, and the real Jett wouldn’t like Billy. He’d like Goldie even less. Goldie was losing him.

Billy clutched the bracelet tightly, tracing his fingers over it. “I know you’ll be brilliant, Jett. You always are.”

He gazed up at Jett, not even trying to disguise those distinctive golden eyes, and then back down at the bracelet. I’ll never forget this.

***

Available November 23 from Loose Id, art by P.L. Nunn

Bio: Clancy Nacht squeezes writing in amongst her web development day job, her husband, and her three feral rescue cats. Living in Austin, she indulges her love of indie music, photography, and constant influx of new faces a college town provides.

With a major in Journalism, she has written for newspapers and magazines but did not delve into professional erotic writing until 2009. Since then she has been published by Ravenous Romance, Noble Romance, and Dreamspinner Press.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Where Are All The Lesbian Vampires?

By Devon Marshall (Guest Blogger)

Ever since Bela Lugosi first donned cape and fangs and exuded on the silver screen a sense of raw and tortured sensuality, vampires have been seducing and biting their way into our hearts in a way that no other creature of the horror genre has. Nor, I suspect, will they ever, despite the best efforts of Taylor Lautner and his abs. Today, the classic cape and preternaturally black hair combed into a fang-sharp widow’s peak may have disappeared, replaced by stylishly handsome blonde Vikings in Armani suits and impossibly chiseled perpetual high-school boys, but the raw sensuality and the sense of something dangerous lurking just beneath the handsome surface very much remains unchanged. The vampire novel has become a whole genre in its own right and with the astounding success of authors like Charlaine Harris and L.J. Smith, more and more women in mainstream fiction are taking up pen and blood-red ink on behalf of the vampire.

I think that acknowledging an attraction to vampires requires a willingness to also acknowledge the darker aspects of one’s own nature and sexuality. For a human, loving the vampire is never going to be easy. It is an effort always touched by the heart-breaking knowledge that your vampire lover will remain young and beautiful whilst you age, wither, and eventually die, and they will then move onto another beloved. Unless your vampire lover turns you into one of the Undead, in which case your relationship is almost certain to end in the highest of gothic tragedy … after all, it is a tall order to remain in love enough with someone for several hundred or even thousand years and not be driven to distraction by their annoying habits! It is this essence of doomed love gives vampire fiction its romantic potency. The more immediate sexy sensuality comes from the underlying danger of the vampire lover and his/her overwhelming strength and speed, ability to compel, and of course deadly bite, the knowing that he/she could lose control at any time and suck you dry, and the dark, shivery delight taken by a secretly kinky part of you in walking that line with them.

Lesbian readers do say that they would like to see more variety in the stories and characters of lesbian fiction and, although this desire for difference extends to other genres, I shall stick here with addressing that of the ( non erotica-specific ) vampire novel and only those appearing in print since the e-publishing world has a much broader scope. There are a very many lesbian fans out there of the novels of Harris, Smith, and Meyer, and the TV shows/movies made from those. Why then are the established lesbian print publishers reluctant to give their readership a lesbian-friendly place on this popular bandwagon? I can’t promise to answer this question with certainty, but I can speculate. There is at the helm of the lesbian publishing establishment today a strange mingling of an older radical feminist ideal of power and status equality between women and a newer girlish eagerness for fairytales of sweet, gentle romance and ever-lasting civil partnership with Princess Charming to come true, and this is reflected in the choices of books being printed. One wonders then if there is a biased impression amongst those at the helm that all lesbians today would be made equally uneasy by the notion of being sexually aroused by a character such as the vampire? A creature who holds the power to ‘change’ their human lover, irrevocably and for all eternity, who can compel and dominate, and even hurt or kill. Certainly, the unequal power balance of a human-vampire relationship would kick against any such feminist or fairytale sensibilities.

Or could it simply be a lesbian publishing establishment reluctant to bestir itself to look into those writhing, smirking shadows wherein lurk these hungry blood-sucking fantasies, content instead to rest upon its laurels, oblivious to the desires of its readership for anything different?

My own writing in the vampire genre may be rooted in a comedic vein, but I do not shy either from allowing my lesbian vampires to flex their super-strength Undead muscles, and they love just as all good traditional, high-gothic vampires do: possessively, jealously, and with a physical intensity that does leave marks! Loving the vampire, for me both as a writer and as a fan of the genre, simply cannot involve happily-ever-after. Even happy-in-the-moment must always be grounded by the sobering reality that your vampire lover could kill you with an over-enthusiastic love bite, or could be killed herself by a carelessly wielded sharp wooden object. I do not go out deliberately to be controversial, nor to try to change the world or upset any particular groups of people. However, I do occasionally enjoy, in my own small ways, challenging any establishment has grown out of touch whilst resting upon its laurels and I am as resolutely unapologetic about this as I am for my bad puns when I say that it s high time for the bad-ass sexy lesbian vampires to come out of the coffin and stake their claim to a place on the bandwagon!

Biography

Devon Marshall is the author of ‘The Lesbian Vampire Chronicles’ series, Book 1 of which, ‘The Children of Judas’ ( ISBN 9780956584717 ) is now available from Amazon UK and the author’s website at Devon Marshall Writes Devon is currently working on the 2nd installment of ‘The Chronicles’ and on a new series featuring a New Orleans PI. You can visit her entertainment-related blog at http://wwwdevonmarshallwrites.blogspot.com Devon lives on a remote and rugged Scottish island with a loyal housemate and a large dog and enjoys reading and TV.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The War Between Reading and Writing

By M.S. Spencer (Guest Blogger)

“Ladies and gentlemen, prepare to be entertained as you watch two titans of the ring locked in an eternal struggle for your…er…time. In one corner feast your eyes on the Tome, masked in fancy vellum, costumed in elaborate prose, as big as the New York City Public Library. A fearsome foe indeed.” The emcee pointed toward the ropes, where a massive rectangle, his name in raised gold lettering across his chest, riffled his pages at the throng.

“And now I direct your attention to the other corner. Please give a cheer for Quill the mighty scribbler!” The audience turns to see a gangly welterweight stand up, his eyes streaming purple ink, his long thin fingers clenching and unclenching, clearly longing to wring the Tome’s neck.

Unfortunately, this kind of duel doesn’t draw in the big crowds (nor, sadly, the big bucks). It is usually fought alone, in a study, staring at the walls, out the window, at your fingernails…anything but at the page or the pad of paper. It is the conflict that has endured ever since one Cro-Magnon wanted to continue painting his wall epic while his companion pressed to go see what the neighbors put on their wall in case they could learn something from it. It is the abiding war between Reading and Writing.

Now you, Dear Reader, may not see it that way. I’ll bet you love to read (you’re reading this, aren’t you?). You spend hours of your day racing through paragraphs, flipping pages, humming as you go. You put off the book report or letter in order to get to that last page before supper. Then with a sigh you pick up pen and paper. Writing is the chore after the fun.

You, Dear Writer are another story. Perhaps you plod dutifully through the novel, always aware of the page you’re on, checking your watch, then closing the book with a happy sigh at the appointed time. You turn eagerly to the pad of paper. You prefer to create the sentences and the story, not have it thrust upon you.

Of course there are people who think both activities are equally enjoyable. But as a writer I often find myself torn between the two, unsure which should be the priority. Reading, as we all know, increases your vocabulary, your facility with language, your knowledge of the world and the human condition, in a way that writing in a cave will not (unless you’re a Cro-Magnon, but I think we’re beyond that, don’t you?). However, if you are a writer, putting words on paper is the immensely satisfying fulfillment of an internal necessity. I speak of the urge, on the one hand, to teach and to reach other human beings, and on the other, to create and to control the means to that end; in other words, the desire to produce something original that will affect the reader in a new and different way.

My fear is that too much reading interferes with this creative process. I know that sounds radical, even stupid, but hear me out. Every book, every author has a certain individual style. Every culture and era promotes a certain literary style. Shakespeare’s rhythmic prose is different from Jane Austen’s perfectly constructed sentences, in contrast to Anne Rice’s florid paragraphs-within-paragraphs. But if you are steeped in Shakespeare, how do you write a contemporary romance that doesn’t sound stilted? If your favorite author writes in two-word sentences and minimal dialogue, how do you write that lush erotic love scene? Do you adopt his style or ignore it?

Some might recommend using bits and pieces of other styles to perfect your own. It is natural, likely impossible, not to. Your writing is for better or for worse informed by the authors you’ve appreciated. But when you’re searching for your own voice you must be careful to keep those elements at arm’s length. So how do you train yourself to be aware when someone else’s voice starts creeping into your prose?

Simple. Stop reading while you’re writing. I hear you gulp, but think of it as a pause between lessons, a diet between the holidays if you will. A candy diet. You have to clear your mind of other writers’ styles in order to find your own. As long as the urge is strong to call your hero Mr. Darcy rather than “Fitzwilliam” (yes, that was his first name) or even Fitz, you can’t make your story your own. And readers are very sensitive to a style that isn’t owned. It is confusing and irritating. Besides, if you truly are a writer, you want to have your own voice. And I maintain that it is difficult for all but the most self-assured and seasoned of writers to find that voice if there are tenors singing in your head while you’re trying to pen music for a baritone.

When I was young I read voraciously. I loved biographies in particular, but I would pick up anything and read it, from Dostoievski to Joseph Conrad to Evelyn Waugh. Those years provided me with a voluminous internal library, making it easier to set the reading aside while I concentrate on my own skills. Writing is after all a profession like any other, to be practiced and honed separate from the words. A trial lawyer must have the precedents at his fingertips, but in the end he’ll have to fashion his own creative defense. A fullback studies the playbook, but at the snap he must go after the quarterback on his own. A mathematician could not create his own original theory without the multiplication tables he memorized earlier. Now that I’m writing professionally I have an obligation to do the same: to draw upon my internal library, yes, but ultimately to provide my own unique perspective on the world. Otherwise, why would any reader want to read me rather than Shakespeare

I’m sure other writers have their own means of balancing reading and writing as they work. For me, if I’ve been reading a lot, it takes a real leap to get back into my writing. I lose the thread of the story, the atmosphere I’ve worked hard to create. I have to clear my mind and focus on the characters, sometimes even reread a large portion of the story, before I can slip back into the world I was constructing before I dove into someone else’s. You can’t churn out those bestsellers if you have to keep stopping to regroup.

That’s my take on the war between the Tome and the Quill. I look forward very much to hearing thoughts from other readers and writers.

Biography:

Although Meredith Ellsworth has traveled and lived in Chicago, Boston, Europe, South and Central America and the Middle East, the last 30 years have been spent in the Washington area as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter and editor. She worked for the U.S. Senate, for the Department of the Interior, and in several library systems, both public and academic.

Writing as M. S. Spencer, she has published two contemporary romance novels, Lost in His Arms and Lost and Found, both bestsellers at (www.redrosepublishing.com/books ). She has two wonderful children, Spencer and Emma.

Book Information and Purchase Links:

Lost in His Arms, by M. S. Spencer

Contemporary Romance, Action/Adventure; M/F; 3 flames

Lost & Found, by M. S. Spencer

Contemporary Romance, Action/Adventure; M/F; 3 flames

Contact M. S. Spencer:

Website: www.meredithellsworth.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/mssellsworth

Facebook Author Page

Amazon Author Page

All Romance E Books Author Page

Saturday, November 20, 2010

When a Man Loves a Woman

By Chelle Cordero (Guest Blogger)

Although I may embarrass my offspring with moderately explicit sex scenes in my novels, I do not write about sex. I write about making love and the two are not necessarily in the same league.

Having sex is physical – it’s intercourse, it’s the exchange of bodily fluids, it’s touching in private places… Sex can be hot, get a participant (observer or reader) breathless, screaming from the “Big O”, drooling, sometimes stupid.

Making love is emotional, it’s more than your bodies and nerve endings getting involved, it’s your souls caressing. Making love can be the passionate kind of love or it can be the love of a deep friendship. Making love can be all of the above goodies of sex, all of the turn-ons and mind-altering orgasms, but it Is so much more.

When you are making love even if it is only for a fleeting period of time, making love will stay with you for ever – the satisfaction of sex only stays until the next time you get horny. And (please insert a big, audible sigh here) when you can successfully combine mind-blowing sex AND making love – Wow! If I could only have one though, I would choose making love every time, even if it didn’t involve sex.

What?!

So how do I turn the explicit sex that shame my (grown) children into scenes of passionate “making love” that hopefully thrills my readers to their toes? I usually start with an oversexed and hunky male and then I throw in generous doses of patience, trust, desire, selflessness and care. To be perfectly honest, I have many more “making love” scenes than I do scenes involving sex.

In my novel Bartlett’s Rule playboy Lon falls in love with a rape survivor. Thanks to his patience and caring he makes love to her on many nights long before they actually consummate with the act of intercourse; he holds her while they sleep and lets her learn to trust him. To me that is more of a turn-on than all of the sexual abilities he built his reputation on.

A woman can make love, without sex, to a man as well. In Hostage Heart Ryan is injured on the job and there is a possibility he may suffer permanent and total paralysis from the waist down. He worries that he is not “man enough” to keep her happy. She lets him know that he is the man that she wants to spend the rest of her life with. They marry.

On the other hand Tom Hughes, undeniably a Gamma male, doesn’t wait to make love, intercourse and all, with Alli. And he definitely makes love. Alli admits to him that she never knew what it would feel like to be so cared for and Tom makes it a point to show how much he cares. The first morning that Tom and Allie wake up together after making love, he notices she has a scar that crosses her hip. She’s embarrassed and self conscious, he is mesmerized and tender.

In the bright sunlight that streamed into her bedroom, Tom woke Alli with kisses. He started at her neck and worked his way down as he slowly pulled the bed sheet off of her. At first she seemed self-conscious about him seeing her completely naked in the daylight, but the sensations he was causing were enough to make her feel anything but rational. He kissed her belly and ran his fingers over crisscrossed scars she had on her side and hip.

“What’s this?” His lips touched a faded scar.

She ran her fingers through his hair. Alli hesitated as she caught her breath. “I had an accident.”

"What kind of accident?” He tasted the area around the puckered skin.

“We went rock climbing.” She was breathless. “I fell.”

His tongue traced one of the scars.

“They’re... ugly.” She was nearly panting.

“I don’t know... I’m kind of turned on by them right now.” He put his lips on her scarred hip and lathed her scars with his tongue. When she could stand no more, he made love to her.

Her scars certainly didn’t distract from her beauty. The minor imperfections only made her a more perfect being as far as he was concerned. They were a part of her just as much as hair color or the gentle curves of her body. She had called them ugly, but there was nothing about Alli that was ugly.

I like it when my heroes, in fiction and in real life, understand that pure lust and sex can be one-dimensional, but making love is all encompassing. When a man loves a woman THE RIGHT WAY it is fantastic – it’s the stuff that romance novels are made of.

I love being a woman.

***

Chelle Cordero is a multi-published novelist with seven Romantic Suspense and one Murder Mystery all published by Vanilla Heart Publishing; she is currently working on a second Murder Mystery. Chelle also has short stories in anthologies from Vanilla Heart Publishing and Mandinam Press.

She is also a journalist and has been published in several regional and national newspapers and magazines. Chelle authors the Amazon Kindle Blog LIVING, BREATHING, WRITING http://bit.ly/pILcG , a weekly writing lesson available by subscription.

Chelle has been married for 35 years and lives with her husband and family in the scenic Hudson Valley in New York. In her spare time, Chelle volunteers as a NYS-EMT and is the current President of her local volunteer ambulance corps. She is very proud to say that her entire family volunteers in emergency services and her daughter and son both work professionally in the field.

You can find out more about Chelle Cordero and find her buy links at her website http://ChelleCordero.com or her publisher’s author site at her publisher’s author site at http://www.vanillaheartbooksandauthors.com/Chelle_Cordero.html.

Chelle enjoys hearing from her readers at ChelleCordero (at) gmail (dot) com

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Traveling Light

Tomorrow I'm leaving on a ten day trip to Japan - part business and hopefully part pleasure! Hence, I'm starting to worry about packing. Actually, I started obsessing about this topic days ago. I love to travel, but I have a love/hate relationship with the process of actually deciding what to bring.

Typically, I try to carry too much. My normal strategy involves laying everything out on my bed first, in neat piles: business clothes, casual clothes, underwear, socks and stockings, shoes, jewelry, toiletries, the inevitable stack of reading material... Then I begin to put it all into the designated suitcase and discover (almost without fail) that it doesn't fit. At this point I have two choices. I can take a larger bag. This is nearly always a bad idea - it means more to lug around, wrestle onto trains or buses, carry up stairs in the hotels that end up not having lifts... The other alternative, of course, is to take less.

So it's time to do triage. Can I get away with one less pair of shoes? (Shoes are among the most bulky articles, but they're also not interchangeable. I can't wear my hiking boots when I deliver my technical paper, can I?) Do I really need a suit, or can I just use one of the other skirts that I've brought for socializing. And so on...

I have recurring dreams about packing. Typically in these dreams, I learn that my plane (or bus or train) is leaving in ten minutes. That's how long I have to throw a few critical items into a backpack. I struggle with the decisions, under time pressure. I wonder if I can buy things that I need when I arrive.

I've improved. When my husband and I first began traveling together, we suffered terribly from our tendency to over-pack. I vividly remember hauling two huge suitcases, at least twenty kilos each, up three flights of stairs in our picturesque hotel in Marseille - then trying to fit them into the back hatch of our tiny rented car! In contrast, two years ago, on our first trip to Japan, we managed a ten day trip with just one carry-on-sized suitcase each.

Of course that trip was holiday only, so we didn't need to carry business clothing. And it was in the spring. Right now it's cold in Kyushu, which means heavy jackets, sweaters, socks and so on.

We've resolved to check a single suitcase for the two of us, bigger than a carry-on but not much. Then we'll carry our computers and other essentials on-board. (My netbook is so light it hardly adds anything to the load.) We will not under any circumstances modify this decision, as we plan to be moving around from one day to the next and definitely do not want to be burdened.

Still, I expect that I'll end up with more than I need. Because, after all, how much do I need? I've always admired people who travel the globe for months at a time, with a single small backpack.

Traveling light. It's a metaphor for life -- to move easily and gracefully, not burdened by too many possessions, too many desires, too many concerns. It's my long-time goal. Maybe I'll achieve it before I die.

What’s with all the Demons in Christmas Stories

By Ericka Scott (Guest Blogger)

Like Santa, I’ve been getting my Christmas list together and checking it twice. This year, lots of friends and family are getting books. They are the perfect gift. So, as I’m out and about in cyberspace, checking out the upcoming releases so that I get Mom, Mom-in-Law, various aunts, and my friends all appropriate books, I’ve noticed a trend. Not just the prevalence of angels and demons replacing the tried and true weres and vamps, but demons in Christmas stories!

I’d expect to find them in Halloween novels. But Christmas? Then, I got to thinking that perhaps it’s a trend whose time has come. Angels have featured prevalently since the original Christmas story of Christ’s birth. It only makes sense that where there is good, there is evil… Demons were probably playing their part just as actively back then as they do now. Did Herod come up with the idea to kill the savior all by himself or did he have a little help from some little red devil perched on his shoulder?

Yet, when I started researching demons, using Wikipedia for a start, I discovered that the demons are defined as supernatural beings that aren’t human. The original Greek word, daimon, doesn’t even carry a negative connotation. Religious beliefs are what have made demons into their most common persona, fallen angels.

So, when I purchased a couple of books to preview (I have to make sure those gifts are entirely appropriate for their recipients, you know), I noticed a common theme in some of the romance novels is redeeming the bad boy. Well, you can’t get much badder than a demon. And what once was good (i.e., an angel) can be made good again, right?

Maybe… Although I enjoyed the books, I realized that for me, demons are the ultimate evil to pitch my hero and heroine against. Which is exactly what I did in my upcoming Christmas release, "A Christmas Curse", featured in ‘Twas a Dark and Delicious Christmas, releasing December 3rd, 2010, from Evernight Publishing. (http://www.evernightpublishing.com/pages/Coming-Soon.html)

Here’s an excerpt to whet your proverbial whistle:

A Christmas Curse

His lips pressed hard against hers while his tongue probed, possessed. He tasted of hunger, lust, need. Amanda felt the echo of her own want deep in her throbbing core.

In one fluid motion, she straddled him. She cupped his face in her hands, deepening the kiss while she positioned herself against his hard-on. Thank goodness he responded, fisting his hand in her hair, pulling her tight. If he would’ve pushed her away, she didn’t know what she would say.

Apologize? That seemed lame in relation to the circumstances. Frank had lost his wife. And God knew she was still reeling with confusion over her mother’s death. Sex wouldn’t magically banish her conflicting emotions, but would certainly ease the pain for a few hours.

Frank’s hands weren’t tender—they were rough and possessive as he squeezed her breasts, then thumbed the sensitive peaks through her sweater and bra. Amanda broke their kiss to rip the fabric over her head. In a flash, he reached behind her to undo her bra. Once the garment was unhooked, she shimmied out of it and gave him a seductive smile.

Her reward was his groan and the throb of his cock against her sex. God, she felt alive, more than she had in years. The lovers she’d taken hadn’t been men she’d liked, they’d been chosen to piss off her parents, especially her mother. The more unwashed, anti-social, or dangerous—the better. Looking back, Amanda felt a pang of regret for all that she’d lost, but promptly squashed it. Although the New Year was just around the corner, no one said she couldn’t get a jump start on her resolutions with this incredibly sexy guy.

Soft feathery kisses stroked down her neck and she arched, anticipating the warmth of his mouth on her breast. He licked her left nipple and then blew on it softly, watching with hungry eyes as the peak hardened. When he finally sucked it deep into his mouth, desire shot to her core. She ground her sex against his arousal, imagining his thick cock entering and then filling her. The surge of need nearly sent her right over the edge.

Lifting herself up, she reached for the snap of her jeans, anxious to rid herself of the confining clothes. His fumbling fingers joined hers, then, she remembered that pesky resolution. Physical satisfaction was the answer to her body’s needs, but what about her emotions? With a slight feeling of regret, she playfully slapped his hand away. She wouldn’t go all the way with him, not tonight, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t have fun.

“Naughty, naughty. You wouldn’t want to get dropped off Santa’s nice list, now would you?”

He reached for the waist of her jeans again. “Amanda, I was naughty before nice was even invented.”

She giggled. “Even so, I’ve decided that this year, I’m going to be good.” She worked her hand down the waistband of his sweats to caress the thick length of his cock. “Very, very good, indeed.”

About the author:

Ericka Scott is a multi-published, bestselling author of seductive suspense. She's written stories for as long as she can remember and reads anything under the sun (including the back of cereal boxes in a pinch). She got hooked on romantic suspense in her college days, when reading anything but a textbook was a guilty pleasure. Now, when she’s not chauffeuring children around, wishing she had more than 24 hours in a day, or lurking at the library, she’s spinning her own web of fantasy and penning tales of seduction and suspense. She currently lives in Southern California with her husband and three children.

She also loves friends, so come friend her at http://myspace.com/erickascott . She's also on Facebook at http://facebook.com/ericka.sc and Twitter @ErickaScott. You can find out more about her books at www.erickascott.com

Monday, November 15, 2010

How to be a Welcome (Blog) Guest

Anyone who hangs out at Beyond Romance knows that I host a lot of guests. Wednesdays and Saturdays are my regular guest days, but I sometimes have special visitors on other days as well. In fact, starting the 20th of this month, I've booked a full ten days of guests. I'm going to be traveling and away from the Internet. I'm hoping that my guests will keep the home fires burning!

To help them along, I'm running a contest where I'll give away a book each day to someone who leaves a comment on the day's post. (I'll pick the winners after I return from my trip.) I'll also pick a grand prize winner at the end of my guest-a-thon, who'll receive a three-pack of my ebooks.

Anyway, I really enjoy having my friends and colleagues as my guests. It gives me the opportunity to support authors whom I already know, and to meet new ones. I discover books I want to read and individuals whose lives are delightfully different from my own.

However, now and then I get a bit frustrated. There are some people I've hosted whom I'd hesitate to invite back. Why? Well, it's just difficult to deal with them, for various reasons.

My biggest complaint, of course, is guests who don't show up when they are expected. I always send a reminder a week or so before and then a follow up email if I don't hear anything. The number of no-shows has been pretty small, but some people have kept me worrying until the very last minute! I've heard some excellent excuses -- tornadoes, for example, or floods, or a country-wide Internet outage -- but there are a few people I've booked who just plain vagued it off. Obviously they didn't take their commitment as seriously as I would.

Another pet peeve is guests who don't read or follow directions. I'm open to practically any kind of content here, but I ask for something more than just pure promo. I request between 500 and 2000 words, plus a bio, links and a small cover. And I ask for the post as text or Rich Text Format (RTF) rather than potentially virus-ridden MS Office doc files.

I've received posts of less than 400 words and posts that included an entire chapter excerpt. People send me cover images that are 1600 x 2400 pixels in size. People forget the bio or the links -- well, that's okay, it's their post, after all. In this case, I'll usually try to find their website or blog and include the URLs at the end. I want to give my guests the best exposure possible.

Meanwhile, probably fifty percent of the posts I receive are doc files. I've kind of given up on this issue and just open their files in a quarantined area.

A final problem is the fact some guests send me text riddled with errors in spelling, grammar and usage. It makes me wonder. These folks are supposedly published authors. Personally, I'd be embarrassed to submit that kind of post. Usually, I'll fix the most egregious problems - but really, it's not my role to serve as their editor. Are these authors unaware of their errors? Or do they just send me a first draft, without proofing?

I probably sound like a real curmudgeon. Still, am I being unreasonable, hoping that my guests will send me material in correct and comprehensible English, following some basic instructions, in a timely manner? What do you think?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Feast or Famine

By Cari Z (Guest Blogger)

I try not to indulge overmuch in clichés when I’m writing, but sometimes nothing described a situation so perfectly as the same thing that’s been describing it for the past umpteen-hundred years. Like right now. Currently I’m not having that issue with my writing, specifically. The clichés are more immediately applicable to the ebb and flow of my work, both what I’ve had published recently and what I’ve got coming up in the next few months.

It’s a state of feast or famine. I’m sitting on my cot (the only way to go with hot season around the corner, mattresses are waaaay too uncomfortable and sleeping on the ground is just asking for trouble) and trying to figure out what to write for this particular blog, and I think to myself, “What are my new releases in November?” Then I remember: I don’t have any. None with professional publishers at any rate, just free stuff on my blog. In my infinite wisdom, I assumed I’d have something in the pipe whenever I blogged for Lisabet, and she generously offered a lot of dates to pick from. And I chose November, in a state or near-arbitrariness. Promethean, I am not.

It’s a cliché mirrored in life. I’m living in sub-Saharan Africa, and the rainy season for us has just ended. Harvest is coming to a close. Now is a time of relative plenty: still enough water to make it easy to carry it to the house, a variety of veggies for the next few months, lots of sheep for the upcoming feast day of Tabaski…I put my friends on the lookout for a turkey, kind of rare here, so my husband and I can celebrate our own traditional feast day when Thanksgiving rolls around.

The winds are rolling in, though, and soon the surface water will be gone. By the time hot season gets here there will be no more meat, very few veggies and such stupidly high temperatures that even if strawberry ice cream were miraculously blinking into existence on the open savannah at high noon, no one would be able rise from their heat-induced coma to go and get it.

I had two stories come out in October, both in great anthologies. I have one piece coming out in December and three in January, definitely a feast month, but right now? Not so much.

But that’s okay. Paucity brings with it appreciation for those fat and happy times, when there’s always something to talk about or promote or preen yourself over. Not that I preen. I left my preening equipment in the states, much to my man’s dismay. In the meantime, let me point you towards my next new thing, a story entitled "Table Topped" in the anthology I Like To Watch, to be published by Cleis in December. You can find it here: http://www.cleispress.com/book_page.php?book_id=395. Erotic gay tales of voyeurs and exhibitionists. I mean, what’s not to love?

Living where I do, there’s only so much self-promotion that I’m capable of, but I do maintain my own blog at http://carizerotica.blogspot.com, and I update it as often as the internet works. There are links to my work, free serial stories, and occasional rants in which I swear I’m going for humor. Visit. Peruse. Stay a while. Then there are opportunities like this one from Lisabet Sarai, who is 100% pure awesomeness. Thanks for letting me blog on your site. You are like ice cream in the desert.

Bio: Cari Z is originally from Colorado, where she imagines it snowing with guilty pleasure. She and her husband currently live in Western Africa, where snow is so foreign it defies the capacity of her poor French to describe. She’s been writing for many years, publishing for a few years and trying to get the hang of blogging and the like for less than a year, but it’s slowly coming together. She loves visitors, but she doesn’t expect you to fly all the way to Africa to see her. Come and visit her blog instead.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

By Any Other Name?

Readers tell me that covers and blurbs are big influences on their book buying habits. For me, though, I think that the most important aspect of a book - at least, the property that gets my attention - is the title.

I receive daily digests from about a dozen romance chat lists. I try to scan them all, wanting to find out who's doing what and give encouragement to authors whom I know personally. Occasionally, though, I'll stop and take the time to read a blurb and excerpt. Why? Because the title grabbed me.

Today I read a (highly entertaining) excerpt from a book entitled Broomstick Breakdown, by Eve Langlais. The post was one of more than two dozen in the TRSBLUE digest list. However, it stood out - because of the creative and unexpected title.

To be honest, the majority of romance titles are rather boring. The same words, images and concepts occur over and over. Probably many of the excerpts that appear in my inbox are worth reading. Mostly, however, I don't bother, because the titles do not challenge or excite me.

Note that although I can recognize a great title, I can't necessarily generate one. I really struggle to come up with a phrase that's both appropriate to the story and eye-catchingly original. I guess other authors agree with my evaluations, because "Raw Silk", "Incognito" and "Exposure" (the titles of my first, second and fourth novels) all appear on other books as well!

So, what makes a good title? I think a title should include words with strong emotional impact (e.g. "raw", "fire", "blood", "madness"). Concrete words that stimulate the senses (e.g. "silk") work well. I like titles that have multiple meanings, all of which apply to the book. The main character in "Exposure", for instance, is a stripper, so the concept of being exposed is central to her occupation. At the same time, a roll of film is pivotal to the plot.

Good titles also have a kind of rhythm. "The Turn of the Screw". "The Catcher in the Rye". "The Sound and the Fury". "Portnoy's Complaint". "All Quiet on the Western Front". "Fear of Flying". These are all great titles, I think, partially because of their prosody.

Finally, a great title often includes an element of surprise. Think about "The Time Traveler's Wife". How could you not be curious about a book with that title? When I chose "Necessary Madness" for my M/M paranormal novel, I was deliberately using the apparent conflict between the two words to stimulate a potential reader's interest. Why should madness be "necessary"? I wanted my readers to wonder.

I don't know if I'm unusual in my focus on titles. I'd love to hear from you with examples of what you think is a fabulous name for a book. What titles that you've read have really stuck in your mind?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Engaging the Fantasy

By Louisa Bacio (Guest Blogger)

As our household gets ready to celebrate my oldest daughter’s birthday with a trip to Disney Studio 365, where girls undergo a rock-star treatment complete with colored streaks, and it makes me wonder how much of fiction explores engaging the fantasy?

So many people say that they read and watch movies in order to “escape” the reality of life. We want to push those boundaries, and maybe explore issues and activities that we might not take part of in our daily lives. When I started thinking about the storyline of PHYSICAL EDUCATION, the concept of the Sex University came up. Ingrained within the academic life, I pursued a bachelor’s degree, and two master’s degrees, but how much fun would/could it be if the Sex Education course actually meant something else?

Some of my favorite readings deal with the unreal. One of my favorites, Larissa Ione’s series with the alluring succubus brothers in her Demonica series, deals with paranormal entities that I wouldn’t be able to deal with on a realistic level. Yet, the reality of the characters and passion in the novels keeps me coming back for me.

Ultimately, through my writing, I hope to do the same thing: Engage the reader in fantasy, and make their reality even that more pleasurable.

So, tell me, do you like to be taken away within your reading? What would you like to read about that you don’t actually get to experience in everyday life?

Bio: Louisa Bacio started reading A. N. Roquelaure’s Sleeping Beauty series at an impressionable age, and has been hooked on erotic romance ever since. She believes that everyone should have a little love, and a lot of pleasure, in their lives.

Bacio enjoys soaking up the sun in Southern California, and spending time with her family.

For more thrills, check out Bacio’s debut erotic thriller Sex University: Physical Education. Her story “Two’s Company” can be found in I Kissed a Girl: A Virgin Lesbian Anthology, and “The Wait” can be read in Rekindled Fire: An Anthology of Reunited Lovers. Drop in for a visit at http://louisabacio.blogspot.com/ or hang out with her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/louisabacio

Buy Link: http://www.ravenousromance.com/modern-love/physical-education.php?keyword=louisa+bacio

Monday, November 8, 2010

Learning as I Go Along

A few days ago I posted an excerpt from my first novel as part of another blog post. As I was reading the post over, I found myself cringing a bit. The prose struck me as rather plodding and uninspired, while the dialogue struck me as stiff and unrealistic. Did I really want to expose this snippet to the world?

It's true that the content of the excerpt was highly arousing (the blog topic was sex and food), but the presentation seemed so pedestrian! In the end, I did include the segment, but the experience made me realize how much I've learned in the dozen years since I wrote Raw Silk.

Grammar, punctuation and vocabulary have never been a problem for me. However, when I read my early novels, I recognize that I had a tendency to write long sentences that would be appropriate for an academic article, but are not usually right for fiction. Over time, I've learned that sometimes short, direct sentences are what's needed, especially to keep the action moving.

I've also learned, mostly by reading other authors and focusing on their strategies, how to create more natural conversations among my characters. One funny thing about the dialogue in Raw Silk: the characters almost never use contractions! Now, one of the heroes is not a native speaker of English, so his stilted and formal mode of speech was deliberate. However, the other characters are American or British. For the most part, people don't say "I cannot" or "I will not" unless they're going for emphasis.

My early dialogue also tends to use full sentences. People don't, in general.

One reviewer of my second novel, Incognito, wrote: "This author can't write natural dialogue to save her life." Although I cringed at the comment, the reviewer was justified in making the point. (She could have been a bit less snarky, but overall she liked the book, so I can't complain!)

The difference in style between my second and third novels seems huge. Ruby's Rules is not as popular as my first two novels (probably because of the content, which includes heavy BDSM and F/F interactions) but I think it is far better written. One reason may be that I switched to using first person. When my characters are speaking their thoughts, it's easier for me to hear their voices in my mind and transcribe them onto the page.

It's slightly discouraging to read my early work, but on the other hand, I know that I am learning as I go along. I expect that when I look back at what I'm writing, ten years from now, I'll shake my head and grin ruefully at my mistakes.

At least, I hope that I will!