Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bittersweet Endings

By Cari Z (Guest Blogger)

When it comes to my own writing, I personally am a fan of the “Happily” convention. Happily Ever After or Happily For Now, or even just whoever I’m writing about being satisfied and, well, happy. I don’t like to leave uncomfortable hooks, and even if I don’t resolve every line of tension in a story, I try to leave things more positive than conflicted. Sometimes it takes a while to get there, though. Stories can hit the back burner as life intervenes, and life is about to intervene in a really big way.

After more than two years, my Peace Corps service is coming to a close. In a little over a month my husband and I will be packed up, all our worldly possessions stuffed back into the duffel bags we brought to Africa with us originally, our dog crated and ready to fly, and that will be it. We’ll be out of here. Back to America. I haven’t stepped foot in America for two years, and I’ve only spent a few weeks of that time span outside of Africa. It’s an ending, and it’s one that I’m feeling kind of conflicted about.

Living in rural West Africa has been incredibly tense, boring as hell, beautiful, frightening and eye-opening. I’ve learned more living here in two years than I ever thought I would, and I’ve done a lot of my best writing to date because, in part, of all the damn learning I’ve had to do. You can’t do this kind of work and not experience the full range of emotions, from deliriously happy to so enraged that you want to scream and break things. Everything is magnified here because life is fairly austere. You can’t take solace in American comfort food or television or your vast library of books, so most times you have to just feel whatever you’re feeling and try not to let it carry you too far off. It’s been more emotion and drama and excitement than I’ve ever sought in my life, and in a lot of ways I’m looking forward to the end.

It’s also scary. We’re going back to America and while that’s incredible, and I can’t wait to see family and friends and go out to my favorite places, it’s also hard. We’re leaving a place where we’re established, where we’re respected, and where our work makes a difference. We don’t have a house to go back to, a car to drive, and I don’t have a job waiting for me. Is it time for me to think more seriously about writing? Time to go back to school? Time to scramble for anything to pay for all the things we’ve been helped with here? (Health insurance and rent, yeah, I’m looking at you.)

Sometimes endings aren’t unequivocally happy. Sometimes they feel like a death or a separation, and this is a level of realism that a lot of writers incorporate in their work. You have to take the pain with the sweetness and pleasure, and sometimes things just don’t work out the way you’d like best. I wish we were leaving our community with more tangible results from our work here. I wish we could have done more. I wish fewer people had tried to take advantage of us and more of them had wanted to learn. I wish we had tried harder, even though at the time it felt like we were trying as much as we could. We’ve made a lot of friends and made a difference for some people, though, and that has to be enough now, because there’s no more middle. It’s the end.

A story of mine was recently published in the anthology Wild Passions by Storm Moon Press. It’s called "Opening Worlds", and it touches on the difficulty an ending can pose, both for characters and for their authors. Originally I thought to end this story with the main characters going their separate ways, with no intention of them coming together again. It just seemed like a logical place for the plot to stop, but the siren call of Happily overtook me, and I rewrote. The reviews I’ve read of my contribution to the anthology have been mostly positive, but they’ve also called me out on the “too perfect” ending for my conflicted lovers. On the other hand, one reviewer said if it hadn’t ended that way that she would have cried, which sounds like a decided conundrum to me. You can find read an excerpt of my story here and find out more about the book (even buy it!) here. If you like variety and creativity in your m/m romance, this is a good book for you!

Lisabet, you are entirely a gem, rare, precious and enduring. Thanks for hosting me yet again. You make visits to the internet café far less onerous. I will be a better e-neighbor soon.

Bio: Cari Z is originally from Colorado, but she and her husband have been living and working in West Africa for the past two years. That’s all coming to an end soon, though, and she’ll be off to America once more. It’s been a craaazy ride. Cari has 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 to Africa to see her. Come and visit her blog instead: http://carizerotica.blogspot.com.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Would You Want to Know?

A close friend of mine recently revealed that he'd invested a couple of hundred bucks to get genetically tested by www.23AndMe.com. Basically, you provide this company with a sample of your saliva and they run a slew of tests to identify different genetic patterns or anomalies.

This friend learned a great deal about both his genetic strengths and weaknesses. He discovered that he had a defect in the production of an important enzyme related to lung and liver function, that predisposes him to emphysema, cirrhosis, lung cancer and a variety of other nasty problems. He was told that he had a heightened probability for heart disease and diabetes. On the other hand, he has a lower than average chance of developing Alzheimer's disease, Crohn's disease and psoriasis. Apparently he has a mutation that leads to slower metabolism of certain anesthetics, which could be relevant if he has surgery. And so on.

He was quite excited about this process, and I have to agree with him that it's pretty cool. The fact that anyone can get so much information about his or her genetic endowment for such a reasonable price is quite remarkable, considering that the structure of DNA was initially unraveled only forty or so years ago, and the human genome decoded about ten years ago. And I imagine this company is making a good deal of money, too.

When I thought about it, though, I decided that I probably wouldn't ever want to send in my own saliva. Honestly, do I really want to know every physical and mental deficiency encoded in my genes? I don't want to obsess about the possible threats to my health and well-being. I have other things to think about.

I try to take care of myself. I eat a balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. I don't smoke. I exercise regularly. I take vitamins. That's enough, I think - for me at least. It's true that a genetic analysis might reveal some condition that would lead to my early demise, which I could avoid by changing certain behaviors. Do I care? Surprisingly, perhaps, not much. I think I'll resist the temptation to pick this apple of knowledge.

I know that I'm going to die sooner or later - we all are. I think I'd rather not spend my life thinking about when or how. I have too many other things to do - too many places to visit, people to meet, books to write.

The promise of new knowledge is seductive, as is the chance to take advantage of new technology. But I think I'll pass.

What about you? Would you want to know the story told by your genes? I'm really curious. Am I just strange, or do any of you see things my way?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Where Does the Time Go?

By Marie Haynes (Guest Blogger)

I love to write – I feel alive and vibrant and sexy and creative and all kinds of wonderful when I write. But somehow, I write far less that I want to. Why you ask? Could be my full time job as an educator – you know – the one that actually supports my family. Could be the family – two college aged sons whom I adore, one husband, two dogs, and one mother with early stages Alzheimer’s who refuses to live anywhere else but alone in her own house. I no longer have a sibling, so I’m her only caretaker along with hubby and sons. In addition to caring for her personal needs, there’s also her house – oh, and the duplex she still owns but doesn’t remember which we rent out. And my own house – an absolutely beautiful 100 year old Victorian with hardwood floors, pocket doors and a round front porch. (I’ve lovingly named it The Money Pit.)

With all of this going on, when do I find time to write? Not nearly often enough is the answer. I’m doing well now that I’m on summer break, but once the school year starts up again, I’ll be run off my ass. But sometimes, late at night or when I’m driving or putting a lovely cake in the oven, I hear voices in my mind. No, I’m not schizophrenic – although that has been suggested. Those voices are characters demanding attention, demanding release. They want freedom and life and know the only way to achieve that is if I give them form by writing.

So often, I leave home. Not for good! Just temporarily – because if I don’t, the laundry, the phone, a dog, a dust bunny will distract me. Now a lot of writers go to coffee houses or libraries in order to concentrate. Not me. I go to bars. Yep. Bars. I order a glass of wine, set up my netbook and peck away at the little keyboard. No one bothers me ( Seriously, who would bother a focused red-head with a glass of wine in her hand?) and I like the atmosphere of bars – simple, regular folks laughing and relaxing.

I don’t get the chance to write nearly as often as I would like, but I do write as often as I am able. Besides, someday soon my sons will be out on their own and my mother will no longer need me as she does now. When that happens, I’ll write more. But for now, I’m going to enjoy my family while I have them.

BIO Raised in a very conservative, Catholic family in a very conservative Mid-Western small town, I was a bit of an anomaly. I loved poetry and daydreaming, art and reading, kissing and magic. Eventually, I met my husband who encouraged me to fulfill whatever dreams I could dream. My sons, the joys of my life, also encourage my writing and inspire me to be the best person I can be. With these three men supporting and loving me, I fear very little. In the little free-time I have, I enjoy cooking, Celtic music, Jameson whiskey, laughing with friends and playing with my little dog.

Visit me online at http://www.freewebs.com/mariehaynes.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Doing the Happy Dance!

Just popping in to share some good news! Total-E-Bound has accepted my M/F paranormal novella Hot Spell, for release sometime in July! I really don't know where this story came from. I wanted to write a BDSM story. (This isn't it LOL!) I was tossing titles around and this one stuck; then all at once I had the characters and the premise, almost full fledged.

Hot Spell is about elementals - supernatural creatures who embody natural forces like fire or earth. The hero, Aidan, is a Fire Elemental. The name Aidan just popped into my head when I began working. On a hunch, I went to look up the meaning of "Aidan" and discovered that it is an old Celtic name referring to fire.

I knew I had to be on the right track.

Anyway, here's the blurb. I'll post an excerpt soon.

The flames of passion are more than metaphor.

The city swelters In the grip of an unseasonable heat wave. Sylvie endures her solitary urban existence for the sake of her career, but the prospect of a hot, lonely three day weekend proves unbearable and she flees east to the pine-shrouded mountains. Far more at home in nature than in the city, Sylvie doesn't mind being alone in the wilderness, but she's not the only being haunting the glades and the trails. Her plans for a midnight dip are interrupted when she discovers a handsome stranger in the stream near her camp site. Hidden in the shadow of the trees, she can't help watching as he pleasures himself – or indeed, surreptitiously joining him in auto-eroticism. By the time she recovers from her climax, however, he has vanished.

Aidan finds her the next day as she sun bathes nude in a high meadow. It's obvious that his desire burns as fiercely as hers, yet he resists his own lust, refusing to make love to her. The muscular, sun-bronzed man with the red-gold hair is cursed with power he fears will destroy her if they give full rein to their passion. Can earthy, voluptuous Sylvie refrain from tempting him? Or will she risk being being literally consumed by love?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Passion for Writing

By Sam Crescent

[I'm delighted to welcome newly published author Sam Crescent to my blog today. Sam's going to be giving away a copy of her new release to some lucky person who leaves a comment on this post! ~ Lisabet]

My passion for books began as a small girl. The first book I ever read completely was George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl. I’ve loved books for so long I can no longer imagine my life without them. Through the years I’ve gone through many different genres of reading (young adult, crime, mystery, horror).

For many years I avoided the romance section. I would turn my nose up at romance as a teenager. Then at around sixteen, I was round my local library with nothing to read. I was bored of everything. Looking around my sanctuary—almost hidden away in some forbidden dark corner, so no eyes could see—a stack of romance books (Mills and Boon) struck me. I was brought in by the book covers and then the titles and then the story. Stumbling my way through these never before seen books, I began to pick up books at random. I remember picking up—and forgive me—the dark-blue cover books. I was later to discover was the Modern Romance series.

Unfortunately, I cannot recall the book or the author. I do recall walking to the desk with books in hand, the person behind the desk scanning my new treasures. I was feeling shy and nervous as I succumbed to romance.

When I got home and began to read I feel head over heels—sorry about the cliché—in love with all things romance. From that day forward romance was all I wanted to know about. I loved the characters the way they were brought together against unreasonable odds. I got my happily ever after ending every time.

Now that was romance. I have a curious mind. I’m always looking for new books and I research. For weeks an author’s name kept popping up and appearing on books pages as recommended reading. One night I decided to click and see what it was all about.

I had just stumbled on the path of erotic romance.

I absorbed every book I could get my hands on. I loved the smoking hot scenes and the stories unfolding before my eyes.

I always loved writing but something was missing. Reading these books seemed to slot in the missing link into place. My writing really took off. I was discovering how fun and passionate I could be about my writing. I suddenly knew what I wanted and who I wanted to be as a writer. I didn’t want to be worried if my character wanted to have hot and steamy sex in the middle of a bathroom somewhere.

I can now write what I want and I think that is the key to writing.

Being published has been an amazing, emotional and scary experience. I’m not going to lie, but being accepted and writing this—as my first novella is published—hasn’t changed the aspiring writer within. Every WIP/ manuscript, story begins, I still feel as if I have a lot to learn and as my writing career—fingers crossed—develops and expands I will always be an aspiring author at heart, always nervously awaiting the acceptance or the dreaded rejections.

I hope you guys enjoy and love Office Hours as much as I enjoyed creating it. I hope it is the first of many stories to tell. Thanks for listening to me ramble and remember to keep on dreaming because one day your dreams may just come true as I’m living mine right now.

Blurb:

Fiery red headed temptress Anya King is desperate for the carnal delight of pleasure weekend. A chance in indulge in every sexual fantasy.

However...

Demanding sexy boss, Nathan Banks has signed them both up for a “team-building” weekend, in the beautiful country town of Buxton.

Innocent weekend turns to hot lusty sex. Enough to melt the snow outside and the ice around their hearts. Will the job she loves survive the weekend? And will there time be more than just a moment?

Excerpt:

“What the hell is this?” Anya King stormed into her boss’s office carrying the offending memo and slammed it with as much force as she could muster onto his desk.

Nathan Banks stopped typing to glance at his personal assistant, then at the memo he’d left on her desk while she went out to lunch. “It’s about a team-building weekend. It’s a new scheme to help colleagues work together better.”

“I can clearly see what it’s about, Mr Banks. What I want to know is why my name is on that list?” Anya placed a hand on her hip. She needed to keep her head, relax and breathe.

“I signed us up for the course as a team.” He pushed the paper away, looking at her with calm composure. Anya felt anything but calm.

“You did this without even consulting me?” She swallowed down her anger, keeping her fiery temper at bay. Work relationships were supposed to be kept professional. It wouldn’t do for her to lose her temper.

“ In case you hadn’t noticed, Miss King, I happen to own this company, what I say goes and if I think this weekend will benefit my company, as my personal assistant you’ll be accompanying me. No questions asked.” He looked pointedly at the memo until she picked it up again.

Anya watched him go back to his computer, his sure, sturdy hands typing purposefully away. Clever hands that could bring a woman all kinds of sexual pleasure, if all of the rumours floating around the office were true. Anya tried not to think about her boss and sex. It was wrong and unprofessional, but sometimes when she was alone images of Nathan crept into her mind, and not all of them in employer-employee situations.

“I have plans this weekend.” She folded her arms underneath her full breasts. She needed this weekend! There was only so long she could resist her natural urges. Face it, she was over-sexed. Images of Nathan fucking her had entered her mind one too many times of late. Time away with another man, or men, should put her system back to rights. Nathan could go back to being just a man she happened to work for.

“Cancel it.” He didn’t even lift his head.

“How am I supposed to cancel at the last minute?” She wasn’t going to give in just like that. He was going to hear her out whether he liked it or not.

But Nathan was just as stubborn as she. “Find a way. It’s not my problem. I’ll see you here tomorrow at nine. Pack for a busy weekend and read the memo, it’ll tell you what you need.” He dismissed her, lifting up his phone to dial an associate.

Anya thought about waiting it out, to see if he really was calling someone and not just doing it to get rid of her. Instead she nodded, simmering to herself, took the memo and quietly left his office, closing the door without making a sound.

Sitting behind her desk, she grabbed her bag, pulling out her ticket and the file about her planned pleasure weekend. Tomorrow she was supposed to be leaving for a small, isolated mansion, where every little lust and desire the body craved could be experienced, along with the promise of total anonymity. The ticket alone would have left most people crying at the cost. She could only just afford it on her salary.

She sighed. It was a good job the ticket could be used on any weekend over the course of a month. But her ticket was for December, one of the busiest times of the year, which meant her time was already in short supply.

Anya usually went for the first weekend of the month, but overtime at work, along with life in general, had got the better of her this month, so she had been planning to spend the second weekend of December at her erotic hideaway. Had been, until her domineering boss had demanded her presence on his stupid team-building weekend. He said, “Jump,” and she had no choice but to say, “How high?” Anya took pride in her work, but sometimes being the best personal assistant was a pain in the arse. The reward for good work was more work. Shaking her head in disappointment, she reflected that at least there were still two weekends left after this work-together-better nonsense or whatever he wanted to call it. She folded up her ticket and placed it carefully back in her bag.

She could survive this weekend, but she would need reinforcements. Sexual reinforcements.

Buy Office Hours now at Total-E-Bound!

BIO: Sam Crescent is passionate about fiction. She loves a good erotic romance and so it only made sense for her to spread her wings and start writing. She began writing in 2009 and finally got that first acceptance in 2011 by Total-E-Bound.

She loved creating new characters and delving into the worlds that she creates. When she’s not panicking about a story or arguing with a character, she can be found in her kitchen creating all kinds of havoc. Like her stories the creations in the kitchen can be just as dubious but sometimes things turn out great.

Keep tabs on Sam on Facebook, Twitter, and at her blog, http://samcrescent.wordpress.com/

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Horrendous Side Effects of Writing Erotica

By Cari Silverwood (Guest Blogger)

[Note from Lisabet: Cari is giving away a copy of her new release Three Days of Dominance to some lucky individual who comments on this post! So read on!]

Ahh, my innocent days just flew overhead, though not with a whisper of flapping wings, no, more likely with a tumultuous series of moans, gasps, sobs and shrieks of pleasure.

As a new erotica author, I thought I could simply look forward to life of leisure, lying down, kicking up my heels…and writing lots of naughty stories. Little did I comprehend the other side-effects, or side-benefits, of being in the business of getting two people to fall in love whilst doing the horizontal/ vertical/ upside-down tango as much as humanly possible. I’m assuming here, of course, that there are only two -- people, that is. Though I’m unlikely to do m/m erotica, I may extend myself to doing a ménage one day…purely in the just and noble cause of Research.

And yes, Research is one of those side-effects. There’s an old adage about writing -- only write what you know. Total bollocks, in a way. How many serial killer writers have a cemetery under their floorboards? Not too many, I hope. Yet, in another way, it never never hurts to increase your knowledge of what you write, unless of course, it’s a whip, or a flogger, or a paddle, hot wax, or a nipple clamp.

Speaking of clamps, through the wonders of the internet, I now know many awe-inspiring facts about clit clamps, such as how long to keep them on for, where precisely they go, and the many ways you can attach them with chains to things like nipple clamps, the floor and, via a pulley system, to the ceiling. The latter idea was mentioned by a very enthusiastic sub on a site that went on for about ten million pages, and five years, about the methods of torturing your loved one’s clitoris. Despite the ‘torture’ appellation, some of the ideas sounded so interesting I had to take notes. If I don’t use them in a story, I’ll find something else to do with them. Seriously though, some of them were a tad dangerous. Battery-powered dremel tools and clitorises. Ouch, is all I can say.

Here’s the link to that site and I’m sure they’d welcome more flamboyant ideas if you happen to have any lying around in your head: http://www.bondage.com/forums/pop_printer_friendly.asp?TOPIC_ID=7070

I still remember one of the warnings about clamps, and doubt I’ll ever forget -- use them the wrong way and your lady bit may fall off. Now that’s one bit of research most authors would like to avoid.

Strangely enough, one of the other horrendous side-effects is that the sex life of an erotica author tends to improve. Now, I have no idea why, but it may possibly be the result of all that research. To be completely certain of this I think some readers should trial doing the same research and then reveal their findings. So ten of you scamper off and try out some kinky products, read up about how to use them and so on, then come back here and tell us all the results. We’ll wait…and wait…and now some more waiting…

Hmm, I don’t think they’re coming back for a while.

Granted, all the imagining done while writing these erotica stories might also be to blame for the sex life improvements. If my readers don’t get that same ‘imagination workout’ there’s something wrong with my stories and maybe I should do some more research myself.

Research leads to a proliferation of bookmarks on an author’s computer, most of them filed under Sex or Porn or maybe BDSM. Yes, the next horrendous side effect is when my computer breaks down -- and I do say when and not ‘if’ because I’m not living in dreamland -- when it breaks down, my PC repair guy may have a cardiac arrest. Do you really believe those men don’t ever peek at the contents of your documents and bookmarks folders? I will instantly go from having the aura of a suburban housewife to that of a porn queen. If I’m very lucky the morality police will not come round to my house to arrest me and the PC guy won’t try to hit on me for an invite to the next orgy I hold.

I am also in the running to become firm friends with a chiropractor. Books do not grow on trees and writing them means sitting at the computer with eyes glued to the screen and fingers to the keyboard for days at a time. Subsequently, once I unglue my various bits, I will have to visit the chiropractor to realign my neck with my spine. At the moment it’s not where it should be and I think it’s somewhere between at right angles to my neck and in a totally new space dimension.

The last horrendous side effect I’ll mention -- ignoring the one where my vocabulary of sex terminology has exploded -- ignoring that one, there is my secret identity. In my ‘real’ life here in Australia, I’m actually the Prime Minister of our glorious country. Believe that, do you? You don’t know though because I have now got a lovely pen name. I may be a church minister or the president of the Society for the Liberation of Vampires from having Spangly Stuff Sprinkled on Them. Who knows? I do. And I ain’t telling. Sometimes I feel like Batman and Bruce Wayne, only with a sex change, and of course, less muscles, and none of those Bat thingies. Wish I did have a Batcave.

I’m off, dear readers, to my Authorcave to write more erotica.

Three Days of Dominance by Cari Silverwood

BDSM/fetish erotica from Loose Id

Blurb

When a man with mint-green eyes steps from a lake and offers to rescue Danii’s dog in exchange for three days of total obedience, it’s obvious he must be either joking or crazy. She must be the crazy one, though, because somehow, she ends up saying yes.

Being a police officer, she usually knows how to handle the crazies, but when it comes to Heketoro, she’s the one being handled. Each day their lovemaking becomes wilder and Danii discovers exactly how far this man can take her. Though the tattoos drawing themselves on his body make it clear he’s not quite human, to Danii what’s more important is their burgeoning love for each other.

To Heketoro, what's important is one last ritual of love needed to break an ancient curse that prevents him from returning to his world. But as the time draws near, his enemies return and threaten to destroy him by using his only weakness -- Danii.

Excerpt of Three Days of Dominance

Her wrists were drawn taut above her head, secured to the headboard by ropes of thorned red rose and bougainvillea. The pricks of their thorns threatened to puncture her dream. She resisted that, wanting more. Raising her head, she stared down the length of her body, past her protruding red nipples and along her stomach where sweat lined the floral rope fastening her thighs up against her body. With her bottom tilted and her legs spread, her pussy was open, available.

The man, his black hair floating like the rays of a sun, lifted his head from between her thighs. She gasped, rolling her hips upward. The wet tip of his tongue slid across as he licked her juices off his lower lip. Her clit, so recently probed by that clever tongue, pulsed. If he didn’t put it back there, soon…

She panted as his thumbs glided in the slickness down below, felt them sink deep into her, then deeper inside, and gasped again, lost in the molten sensation. She tried to move her arms, her legs and couldn’t. Trapped and pinioned for him to do what he wished. Excitement screwed her insides a notch tighter. Her vagina squeezed around his thumbs. He pulled them out, and she mewed at the loss.

Slowly, his eyes never leaving hers, he rose to his feet, shifting position until his hands wrapped around her thighs and the head of his cock pressed against her entrance.

Anticipation made everything feverish bright, sent lust snaking, thick as syrup, to her groin. Her thigh muscles juddered as she pushed up in vain against the rope. The rope tightened. The thorns bit down. The man smiled with satisfaction as her struggling subsided, becoming a trembling acceptance of what was to come. He drove the head of his cock into her, sliding inside, and halted. She groaned, anticipating the thrust as he penetrated farther.

Watching her intently, he skated his finger in tantalizing circles about her clit, sometimes touching the aching nub and sometimes not. He gripped it between finger and thumb and squeezed, then thrust with his cock, then squeezed, then thrust -- the rhythm driving her closer and closer to the edge, her clit so swollen she was sure she’d explode if her release was held off a second longer. Withdrawing until the head barely parted her lips, he poised there, making her ache, making her want.

Aaah. She arched, threw back her head, opened her mouth…and something soft and furry landed on her. A long tongue swept across her face. The dream dissolved.

Danii opened one eye. Two doggy eyes looked back.

“Killer,” she rasped. Her cocker spaniel barked twice and squirmed closer. She plonked a hand on his head to still his tongue and squinted at the alarm clock.

“Six o’clock. Gah! Couldn’t you have waited one more minute? We nearly did it this time!” Not that it would have mattered. Her dreams always ended before she came, though this time had been close, much closer than usual.

Danii squeezed her thighs together and groaned. She really needed a lover. Only, good men didn’t grow on trees, especially not men who did special tricks with bougainvillea. Whoa, that had been something, way too kinky. She’d never let a man do that to her for real, but in dreams, in dreams it was…nice.

Killer barked again, more urgently.

“You want to go for your walk, don’t you?”

He ruffed and sat up, tail swishing across the sheets.

“Okay. Okay. I’m getting up.”

About me

Though I’d much rather stay invisible and spin you all tales with my words, here’s a little snippet of my world.

I have a lovely family, here in Australia, with the prerequisite teenager who dwells in the dark bedroom catacombs…a husband who raises eyebrows when he catches glimpses of what I write, and a furry menagerie of other animals barking, meowing, and swimming about the place.

Before writing Three Days of Dominance I had never dipped my little toes in the hot and lust-swirled sea of erotica. Now every time I turn around, there’s some new character making me write down their story in the most lurid way. My people are quite adamant about explaining creative new ways of making love, so I doubt I’ll run out of ideas anytime soon, though I may go cross-eyed.

And, dammit, I can’t seem to stop reading other erotica authors either. I have come over to the dark side. Someone please find me a candle...and some rope. 'Cause if Darth Vader's here, I'm going to see if he's up for some bondage and wax play.

If you want to read my full excerpt of Three Days of Dominance you can find it and me at my website www.carisilverwood.net

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Splash of Colour

By Rachel Randall (Guest Blogger)

I can't help myself. I keep stealing art to put into my stories.

Let me explain.

It started with my Total E-Bound Lust Bites Taking It Off. I'd just come back from a visit to the Mauritshuis, a particularly fantastic gallery in The Hague. I was still high on seeing some some great art (Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring is there, and my god, it is luminous close up). I'd also just read an interesting article about auctions to sell the corporate art collections of failed Wall Street banks. And so I just had to give Lucy, my heroine, a job in the art world, buying up the collections for those banks in the first place.

Of course, when you're writing a shorter length story, many of those lovingly-envisioned character details have to get trimmed from the actual text. I couldn't resist, however, building Lucy's love of modern art into her courtship of Valentine.

From Taking It Off:

On Friday afternoon she texted him a web address. The Google map was the walking route from his office on Fleet Street down to the Millennium Bridge and across the Thames, with further directions to view Composition with Yellow, Blue and Red, 1937-42. He stood in front of the painting for a long while, absorbing every line in a way that he’d never bothered to do before because he largely preferred the cast of characters at the National Gallery to the abstractions and harsher angles he found at the Tate Modern.

PIET’S NOT ALL BAD, Valentine conceded.

LOVE THE PIET, she agreed.

I didn't get Mondrian's art for a long time. But since I've lived in the Netherlands I've been lucky enough to see enough of it that it's started to really speak to me, especially the particular shades of his colours (his white), and their stark simplicity. I hope that at least one person who's read Taking It Off is inspired to go see some Mondrian too!

My Total E-Bound novella Playing with Prudence is a menage story about a kinky married couple and their best friend. Harry's well-travelled and weary by the time he visits Ned and Prudence Lyell. To him, there's nothing more desirable than the familiarity of England--and the people he loves. But to Pru, chafing at the constraints of Victorian society, Harry represents the exotic. He's seen and done things that she wants to reach out and touch. And as an artist, she's definitely jealous of the fact that as a man passing through Paris, he was able to see the most talked-about paintings of the time.

From Playing with Prudence:

Her eyes gleamed. “And you saw Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass?”

Now, Lyell saw where she was going with this and he warmed with pleasure.

She tossed him a smouldering look. “I have heard it is quite scandalous.”

“A pastoral scene,” Harry said slowly. “A reclining nude with his wife’s naked body and his favourite model’s face. The two men, Manet’s brother and, I believe, his brother-in-law, are fully clothed. There is fruit spilled on the grass.”

Lyell came up behind her and wrapped his arm around her waist, very deliberately fitting her against his body. “On what are they intending to feast?” Lyell asked, running his fingers up along the edges of her neckline. He edged the fabric away to display some of her creamy flesh, then rubbed the pads of his fingertips across her collarbone.

“That,” said Harry, stepping towards them, “is up to the beholder.”

Every moment of Playing with Prudence is a seduction away from the every-day; I couldn't think of a better way to illustrate that with a cameo from that risqué painting!

PS -- the two galleries where you can see the art I featured in my stories couldn't be more different…or more stunning. The Tate Modern (where the Mondrian is on display) is a former power station on London's Southbank. Not only is the collection of 20th century art fantastic, but its cavernous Turbine Hall is host to the coolest installation art around. The gorgeously ornate Musee d'Orsay (where the Manet hangs) is also repurposed, this time from a train station! The D'Orsay on the Seine in Paris was the most enjoyable art experience I've ever had -- highly recommended, as it won't overwhelm through sheer volume like the Louvre, and has a drool-worthy collection that will make you plot erotic romances involving art forgers and catburglars. With so much "scope for imagination", will art make a cameo in my future stories? I think it's a fairly safe bet! :)

Thanks so much to Lisabet for hosting me.

Taking It Off and Playing with Prudence are available now. Find excerpts, artwork, buy links and more on my website at rachelrandall.wordpress.com.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Lisabet's June Newsletter

Welcome to my June newsletter! As usual I have information for you on new releases, new contracts, free reading, and fun contests.

New and Upcoming Releases

Today marks the release of my first title with Muse It Hot publishing, a erotic short entitled Citadel of Women. I've been blogging about the story all over the place this month. It's a tale of cross-cultural passion set in Cambodia, among the ruins of the ancient Angkor civilization. You can find an excerpt here. Interested in buying a copy? Just go tothe Muse It Hot website.

Bodies of Light CoverTotal-E-Bound has released my extra-terrestrial ménage tale, Bodies of Light as a stand-alone title, with (as you can see) a great new cover. For information on how you can win a free copy, read on.

Steam Lust CoverI've also received the cover for SteamLust: Steampunk Erotic Romance which will release in October. Amazing, isn't it? My story in the collection, Green Cheese, chronicles a love affair between the daughter of the British ambassador to Siam and the son of a prominent Siamese merchant, during a period when Britain and France are at war on the moon. A bit light-hearted, as you might expect from the title, but sexy and sweet, too, and chocked full of the delightfully baroque mechanical devices that make steam punk so much fun.I've added an excerpt if you're nterested.

You can also check out cover for Treble, with my blues story Wild About That Thing on the Coming Soon page - along with an excerpt, of course.

Other News

I'll be featured on June 29th at the Savvy Authors website. My article is entitled "What Comes Next? Generating Suspense and Avoiding Predictability". I discuss that balancing act faced by authors of romance and other genre fiction - how to satisfy the conventions of the genre without being boring!

I'm blogging tomorrow, June 17th, at Hitting the Hotspot, on "The Naughtiest Thing I've Ever Done". Aren't you curious?

If you haven't checked out my free stories and profile at the Erotica Readers & Writers Association, do it now! My feature and free stories will be available until the end of June.

Speaking of free stories, I've posted a long one this month, a romantic BDSM tale called Domestic Goddess. This tale is included in my BDSM short story collection Rough Caress, available from Eternal Press. If you like this story, you might want to pick up a copy of ghe book!

I've finished and submitted "Hot Spell", my new paranormal short. So far I have not received anyfeedback. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Finally, I've resumed work on my M/M science fiction novel "Quarantine". I have the story pretty clear in my mind now. I just have to write it down!

Contests!

Thanks to everyone who sent me their story suggestions for my last month's contest. Lots of great ideas, but ménage, shifters and vampires seem to be especially popular. I'll see what I can do, coming up with some free stories that meet your specifications!

Congratulations to Annette, who was my randomly selected winner! She's already reading her copy of The Understudy.

As mentioned above, the prize for my June contest is a copy of my new release Bodies of Light. In line with the theme of "bodies", I want you to tell me what kind of body types you prefer for your heroes and heroines. (Or you're free to tell me that you like variety, as I do!) Send me send me your answer in an email, to contest [at] lisabetsarai.com, with the subject line "Bodies". Around July 15th, I'll randomly pick one email to receive the prize.

And by the way - you're always welcome to email me with comments, suggestions or requests. I love to hear from readers. If you're not entering a contest, send your messages to lisabet [at] lisabetsarai.com

Lisabet's Pick of the Month

My Pick for June is Cari Silverwood's website. Cari's a relatively new author, but she writes corchingly hot BDSM. Her latest release, Three Days of Dominance, is getting fabulous reviews. She'll be a guest at here on the 20th of June, so I hope you'll drop by.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

When Characters Demand an Encore

By Juniper Bell (Guest Blogger)

When I sat down to write a follow-up to my book, Training the Receptionist, I had a dilemma on my hands. Romances don’t lend themselves to sequels, per se. Usually series take place in the same world, with the same background characters, but with an entirely new set of hero/heroines – a new romance.

Should I change my main characters? Write a book called “Disciplining the Librarian”? “Auditing the Accountant”? (I don’t know why, but I have a strong feeling an accountant is going to show up in some future book of mine.)

I didn’t want to take that route. At least not yet. My heroine, sassy, streetwise Dana, was such a huge part of Training the Receptionist. I wasn’t ready to let her go. And a certain highly dominant senior partner was demanding his share of attention. Ethan Cowell would not be denied.

So my sequel, Restraining the Receptionist, takes the same characters and explores a different area of their three-way relationship. I love this approach because I got to go deeper into their emotions. I got to know all three characters more intimately – as did they. Their bond shifted and grew in intensity.

Among erotica writers, I’m not the first to take this approach. A.N. Roquelaure’s Sleeping Beauty stories all follow Beauty on her adventures. And what about the Emmanuelle movies? So I think I made a good choice. Dana, Simon and Ethan are providing lots of steamy material.

And if they simmer down, there’s always the Accountant.

Here’s the blurb and an adult excerpt from Restraining the Receptionist. The book is available now from Samhain Publishing.

Blurb

Every deal has a loophole.

Dana Arthur’s new job with the firm of Cowell & Dirk is going well. Translation: the occasionally kinky ménage with her two bosses, Ethan and Simon, has been several months of politically incorrect bliss.

Except the relationship feels unbalanced. While Ethan is the undisputed master, the partners’ iron-clad agreement stipulates that Simon must be present as she performs her “duties”. And she senses there’s a subtle, powerful tug-of-war developing for more than just her body.

Simon had agreed to share the firm’s fiery, sensually daring receptionist…to a point. With Simon out of town, Ethan plans a feast of erotic temptations designed to have Dana begging him to break the deal. He didn’t realize his heart would be a casualty.

Once she surrenders to his wicked demands, Dana realizes there’s no going back. It’s time for a three-way renegotiation…this time, all or nothing.

Product Warnings

NSFW!! Do Not Try This at Your Job. Contains highly inappropriate workplace behavior including m/f/m, m/m, bondage, creative use of office space and a high-stakes trip to Atlantic City.

Excerpt

My unpredictable number one boss showed up in a new mood the next day. I’d never seen him light-hearted before. Now that I had an idea about his history, not a big surprise. But that’s exactly how he seemed when he breezed into the office. He wore casual clothes, blue jeans and a light blue open-collared shirt that made his eyes look like summer without the smog.

“I’ve got no pesky clients today, luv,” he told me, without pausing by my desk to check my outfit, which he usually did. “I’d like you to order us a picnic lunch.”

“Huh?”

“Picnic. You have those in America, right? Or are they banned in the great state of New York?”

“We have them, but you can’t even spread out a blanket without kicking aside a stray used needle or two.” As soon as I said it I remembered the heroin. “I…I’m sorry,” I stammered.

But my thoughtless reference didn’t make him miss a beat. “A little local color will add to the experience, I’m sure. Handle the details and we’ll go around noon.”

Did a picnic violate the terms of our deal? Ethan and I would be doing something outside of work, just the two of us, something intimate. Almost like a date. But he hadn’t suggested anything physical. It was lunch. We both had to eat, right? It seemed perfectly harmless.

Since I was working from the company petty cash fund, I called up the neighborhood yuppie café where they served giant organic sandwiches. On my budget, I would have gone for a Subway footlong. But Ethan would no doubt demand something better.

We held our picnic on a concrete bench in a sweltering park a few blocks away from the office. Dog walkers and stroller-pushers, listless from the heat, wandered by now and then, but otherwise we were alone. The humid heat pressed on us like a steam iron. My hair stuck to my cheeks as I bit into my upscale sandwich.

Ethan didn’t comment on the slabs of free-range chicken that had probably been hand-raised and read bedtime stories before being slaughtered and inserted into a sandwich. He did remove the unruly mound of bean sprouts and toss it to a nearby pigeon. The pigeon pecked at the stuff, clucked scornfully and waddled the other direction.

I couldn’t help giggling at Ethan’s wounded expression. “I wouldn’t take it personally,” I told him. “He’s a New York pigeon. He’s used to eating dog crap.”

He chuckled. “Have you lived here your whole life, Dana?”

The sheer ordinariness of the question unnerved me. “Well, except for that semester abroad in Paris, and the year I spent in Fiji with the Peace Corps. I’m joking,” I added, when he didn’t laugh.

“Oh. Well, I’m certainly familiar with your sense of humor, but I confess I don’t understand the joke. You could have done those things.”

I let out a spurt of laughter that startled the pigeon. “I had other things to do.”

“Like what?”

“Like dodge my father’s fists after a drinking binge.”

“Ah.” Ethan didn’t show sympathy or disapproval or anything else. He chewed on his stack of multi-grain goodness. “And your mother?”

“No clue. My father always said she ran away, but for all I know he has her body dismembered in a freezer somewhere.”

That earned me a sharp taste of Blue Fury.

“I’m kidding. I have a dark sense of humor. My father’s not that bad. And my stepmother would have gone for poison instead.”

A crack of laughter from Ethan. “You really are something, you know that? You fascinate me.”

I filled my mouth with sandwich so I didn’t have to answer that. I was very much afraid the fascination was mutual. We settled into a munching, digesting kind of silence. He had one ankle crossed over the opposite knee, and occasionally his bent leg would brush against mine. Every time it happened, a little jolt of awareness zinged straight to my groin. Did he know it was happening? Was he doing it deliberately?

“Your knee keeps touching me.”

“Does it?” He didn’t move away.

“That’s against the rules.”

"So sorry.” But he didn’t look sorry. He looked entirely unconcerned, even though he moved his knee away. “One of these days we must write these rules down. For instance, is all physical contact forbidden while Simon is away, or only that of a sexual nature?”

Lord, why did he have to say “sexual” with that spark in his eyes and that slant of his eyebrow? It wasn’t fair, damn it.

“Another example. I’ve been longing to tell you how delicious you look today and how the shadow of your nipples through the fabric of your blouse keeps drawing my eyes. But is verbal praise also off-limits, since I’d be unable to keep it G-rated, I’m afraid?”

“You can’t see my nipples through my blouse!” I looked down to make sure.

“Oh, yes, I can. I know what they’re doing right now. They’re just beginning to stir to life. You’re probably feeling a pleasant prickling as they become engorged. I’ve realized something about you, you know. The sound of my voice has a powerful effect on you.”

So right he was. I tried to block out his voice. Might as well try to stop the Hudson River.

“In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if I could bring you to orgasm just with my voice. I wouldn’t have to touch you at all. All I’d have to do is tell you what I wanted to do to you. I’d tell you how much I want to bend you over this bench and take you in the open air. Or how much I’d like to tie you to that birch tree over there, open your blouse and bring you to orgasm with my fist up your cunt. Sure, someone might see. For instance, those three fellows playing Frisbee over there. It’s entirely possible they’d start to notice when I tied your hands behind the tree and ripped off your blouse. Maybe they’d even come running to your rescue.”

His gravelly voice hypnotized me so I could practically picture the scene. My body melted into a shivery puddle of craving.

“And then, of course, I’d have no choice but to invite them to join us, either as witnesses or participants. They look like red-blooded, able-bodied, clean-cut gentlemen, nothing to fear. I’d have to convince them you were willing. More than willing. Eager. I’d have to show them how wet you already were, just from having your breasts exposed. You like being exposed, don’t you?”

“Stop,” I murmured. This was going into an area we’d never touched. Other men had had no place in our games so far.

As soon as I told him to stop, he did. And as soon as he did, I wanted him to start again. After all, what was the harm? He was going there in imagination only.

“Well…” I cleared my throat. “Would you let them touch my breasts?”

“I’d give them a chance, see how they behaved. Not just anyone gets to touch my Dana. Our Dana, I should say.”

I winced at the reminder of the absent Simon. But I was too caught up in Ethan’s hypothetical scenario to be bothered for long.

“Our Dana’s luscious nipples deserve nothing other than sweet tender care. Long, lingering suckles. Perhaps a man to each nipple, and one to jerk himself off as he watches. That should get you started, I’d say. You’d be making those adorable little whimpering sounds. But perhaps I’d begin to sense that you want more, that you need the grip of cold metal on your flesh.”

The image made my belly clench with need. My nipples were as hard as the bench we sat on. I thought I would suffocate if this went on much longer. I turned a pleading look on him. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a set of nipple clamps.

This was way over the line, totally against our rules, but I banished that thought from my mind. I nodded, biting my lip. I didn’t care who watched as he reached inside my blouse and fastened the silver clips to my nipples. The sweet pain of it made me sag against him and sigh. Exquisite relief flooded me. I leaned against him as if he were a boulder. When I looked down, the clips were clearly visible through my blouse. But I didn’t care. Ethan would take care of me.

[From Lisabet - you can read my review of Juniper's first book in this series here!]

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Review - Ever Unknown

Ever Unknown

by Charlotte Stein

Total-E-Bound, 2011

Imagination is the ultimate aphrodisiac. Molly's imagination is more active than most. When she receives a email noting that the author would be "deliciously pleased" if she would comply with a work-related request, she can't help wondering whether this is some sort of sexual innuendo – especially since rather than identifying himself, he signs his message "Ever Unknown". She pens a subtly provocative reply. Almost immediately she is drawn into an escalating series of sexual adventures that simultaneously shock and arouse her.

Unlike a textbook dominant, Ever Unknown does not order her to perform the various naughty actions he proposes in his emails; he merely suggests that it would please him. But it seems he has the ability to read Molly's mind. She finds herself unable to resist complying, even as the suggestions grow riskier and more outrageous. As long as her clever partner remains anonymous, Molly can pretend the whole thing is just an exquisitely exciting game. When Ever Unknown finally removes his mask, though, she must face reality. Will she be disappointed when she discovers his identity? Will the intoxicating suspense of their shared kinkiness evaporate? Or is their incredible sexual communication a sign of a deeper connection?

Charlotte Stein's enticing tale had me squirming (in a good way!) from the very first page. Her casual, breathless prose pulls you into the story, into Molly's mind - and body. You experience Molly's lust, doubt and confusion with an intensity heightened by Ms. Stein's choice of first person present POV for her incendiary narrative.

Ever Unknown violates most of the conventions of the BDSM genre and yet is true to the spirit of dominance and submission. It focuses on the seductive thrill of playing out complementary fantasies, the excitement of exploring and overcoming one's limits. I'm a BDSM afficionado; I found the story incredibly hot. In short, I loved this book, especially the conclusion, which shatters romance stereotypes while delivering a satisfying and surprisingly realistic happy ending.

If you like BDSM romance - or even if you don't - I highly recommend you get yourself a copy of Ever Unknown. Trust me, you'll be "deliciously pleased".

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Spirit of the Past

By Anita Davison (Guest Blogger)

I was born in London, a city which has a unique atmosphere; a sense of time passed that I connected with, even when I was quite young. When the other children on the school trip coach were throwing the contents of their lunch boxes at each other, I was staring out of the window at the ancient buildings, imagining men in wigs and heeled shoes coming out of coffee houses to climb into sedan chairs on the cobbles outside St Pauls Cathedral.

Writing about the past may be more intricate than contemporary fiction because there are so many details to get right, and even more ways to get it wrong - but the truth is: historical fiction chose me.

Trencarrow Secret began with the character of the heroine's brother, David, and although he plays a minor part in the story, his relationship with Isabel is the backbone of the story. One restriction of modern writing, is you cannot simply write a story. It has to be categorised, put into a box so it is instantly recognised. Trencarrow Secret is more historical coming of age than historical romance, with a heroine who struggles through revelations, self doubt and danger before she discovers her soulmate.

I chose a Victorian setting for the novel mainly because the house I chose for the Hart's summer home is well known to me and I described some of it in the book - although I gave it's provenance as Queen Anne, which would make it historic in 1882. Also the village of Marazion and St Michael's Mount have changed little since the late 19th Century, which made them easier to portray realistically. I tend to write about places I know, as I feel it's important they come across as believeable.

Writing historical fiction is complicated and challenging, but my spirit lives in the past and I cannot imagine myself writing anything else.

Book Blurb: Trencarrow Secret

Isabel Hart is afraid of two things, the maze at Trencarrow where she got lost as a young child, and the lake where her brother David saved her from drowning in a boating accident.

With her twenty-first birthday and the announcement of her engagement imminent, Isabel decides it is time for her to face her demons and ventures into the maze. There she sees something which will alter her perceptions of herself and her family forever.

The house party gathers and as more secrets are revealed, Isabel doubts she has chosen the right man, although her future fiancé has more vested in this marriage than Isabel realizes and has no intention of letting her go easily.

Will Isabel be able to put her preconceptions of marriage behind her and take charge of her own life, or is she destined to be controlled by others and a past she cannot break away from?

Excerpt:

Reciting the route she had worked out a hundred times from her bedroom window, a burst of confidence sent her through the next gap into a small clearing where white colonial roses covered a wrought iron ornamental arch, its ivory blooms exuding a sweet, cloying fragrance.

Their unexpected beauty stilled the moment and Isabel paused, entranced. Had she got this far on that long-ago birthday, how different her childhood might have been without the insidious fears the maze always engendered. Her foot raised to move forward, a movement caught her eye. She turned, and sucked in her breath.

The scene before her made no sense.

Tall and imposing in his ubiquitous charcoal grey tailcoat, his dark hair touched by silver wings at the temples, Father stood with his arms wrapped tightly around her mother’s nurse.

Amelia clung to him, her head tilted to receive his kiss; her long, white fingers entwined in his hair. Fingers that messed the pristine order in a way he would never have tolerated in a hug from Isabel.

Pressed close, he held his broad hand spread across Amelia’s back, while with the other...

Isabel backed away, pressing against the hedge where sharp privet scratched the base of her neck. Like a small child caught in a misdemeanour, she waited as the seconds passed, each loaded with anticipation of her father’s voice raised to summon her back.

Apart from a low rustle and a murmur of wind, the maze remained still and silent.

Isabel bounced onto her toes and ran. Her heart pounded in rhythm with each step as she pleaded with the fates she had chosen the right path. The statue of the boy flashed past and giddy with relief at the sight of the entrance looming ahead, she burst between the hedges into bright sunlight.

Her skirt threatened to wrap around her ankles, but she reached the far side of the lawn without mishap. The arched wooden gate in the wall at the bottom of the garden stood open and hurtling through, she shouldered it shut. The click of the latch sounded over loud and the old wood cut into her shoulder through the fabric of her blouse.

Her hand clutched her chest to massage away a sharp pain. Her eyes snapped open, and she gasped.

That’s where his hand lay, on Amelia’s...

Trencarrow Secret coming June 2011 from MuseItUp Publishing Book Blog: http://trencarrowsecret.blogspot.com Anita's Blog: http://thedisorganisedauthor.blogspot.com

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Of Corsets and Clockworks

News flash! I just received the table of contents for the upcoming collection SteamLust: Steampunk Erotic Romance. The book is edited by my talented friend and fellow Oh-Get-A-Grip blogger Kristina Wright, and it looks fantastic! It's not due out until October 11th, but you can pre-order it now from Amazon.

The collection includes stories by many of my favorite authors - Charlotte Stein, Nikki Magennis, Liz Coldwell, Sacchi Green - as well as, of course, by me!

My contribution is entitled Green Cheese. It chronicles a love affair between the daughter of the British ambassador to Siam and the son of a prominent Siamese merchant, during a period when Britain and France are at war on the moon. A bit light-hearted, as you might expect from the title, but sexy and sweet, too, and chocked full of the delightfully baroque mechanical devices that make steam punk so much fun.

My story hasn't been edited yet, but here's a brief snippet, just to whet your appetite.

******

He stood far closer to her than would be normally be proper, his bare hand clutching her gloved one. When she took a shallow breath (the only sort permitted by her corset), she caught a hints of cloves and jasmine. The scent, in combination with the pitiless sun, made her briefly dizzy.

She examined him more closely. Although he was dressed in Siamese costume, silk pantaloons and a form-fitting white jacket with brass buttons, he wore his coal-black hair cut in Western style rather than bound into a top-knot. His complexion was the color of antique ivory. Behind his wire-rimmed spectacles, his eyes were like pools of melted chocolate. His beardless features looked boyish but his broad shoulders and narrow waist suggested he was at least as old as her own twenty three years.

"Quite impressive," she said, finally. "My father will be interested to hear about this."

"Your father? Oh dear, please forgive me once more. I get so involved with my little projects that I completely forget my manners." He drew himself up to his full height, a few inches taller than Caroline's petite stature. "Allow me to introduce myself. I am Ruangkornpongpipat Suriyarasamee. Please, don't even try to pronounce it! My friends call me 'Pete'." He squeezed her hand and gazed boldly into her eyes. "I hope that I shall be able to count you among them."

Caroline felt hot blood climb into her cheeks. "Suriyarasamee - I've heard that name, I think."

"My father is one of the wealthiest merchants in Bangkok - quite fortunately for me, since he has ample resources to support my investigations. I am surprised that a foreigner would be aware of him, though. Who are you, if I might ask?"

"Caroline Fortescue-Smythe, at your service," she replied, still embarrassed by her earlier rudeness. "The daughter of Thomas Fortescue-Smythe, Her Majesty Queen Victoria's ambassador to Siam."

"Ah, that explains it. My father frequently attends diplomatic parties. You may even have met him." He released her, reluctantly it seemed. "Well, Miss Caroline - I do hope you will allow me to use your given name according to our custom, since Fortescue-Smythe is almost as much of a mouthful as my own moniker - I am truly delighted to meet you. And I apologize most sincerely for my clumsiness."

"There was no harm done." Caroline realized that she was still blushing. Meanwhile, her heart danced a hornpipe under her tight bodice. "I - um - I should get back to our box. My father will be concerned. Please excuse me..."

"Wait!" He snagged her hand once more and heat shimmered through her. "Do not go yet."

"I must. I'm sorry..."

"It's such a pleasure to converse with you. It's not often I meet a woman, Siamese or European, with any interest in technology. Look, are you engaged this evening?"

"Tonight?"

"I've arranged a little performance at my house, for some of my friends. Another one of my creations. I'd love for you to come see it. With your father, of course..."

"Well ..."

"I'll send an invitation with the details to the ambassadorial residence this afternoon. I hope I will see you this evening. Until then, Miss Caroline." Pete raised her hand to his lips as though to kiss it, but appeared confused by her glove. Finally, he turned her hand palm up and pressed his lips against her bare wrist. He lingered there for an endless moment. The wet tip of his tongue flicked across her pulse point. Electricity arced up her spine.

He smiled into her eyes, nodded, and moved on, pointing his recording device once again at the horses thundering down the track. The strip of naked skin between her glove and her sleeve tingled long after he'd disappeared into the crowd. It was several minutes before she recovered.

****

Here's the full list of contributors and stories.

Foreword Meljean Brook

Introduction: A Passion for Steampunk Kristina Wright

Iron Hard Sylvia Day

Heart of the Daedalus Saskia Walker

Fog, Flight and Moonlight Sacchi Green

The Undeciphered Heart Christine d’Abo

Mr. Hartley’s Infernal Device Charlotte Stein

A Demonstration of Affection Elizabeth Coldwell

Undergrounded Vida Bailey

Sparks Anna Meadows

Green Cheese Lisabet Sarai

Lost Souls Andrea Dale

Golden Moment Lynn Townsend

Liberated Mary Borsellino

Make Your Own Miracles Nikki Magennis

Rescue My Heart Anya Richards

If this piques your interest, I hope you'll add SteamLust to your to-be-read list today!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

War and Romance

By Claire Matthews (Guest Blogger)

I've always been a sucker for World War II stories. There's just something about the global drama, and the clear line between right and wrong, that make it a very enticing subject for me. I remember reading both The Winds of War and War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk when I was a teenager, and the combination of wartime drama and epic romance made me swoon as only a 14-year-old can!

So I guess it's no surprise that my very first publication, for Total-E-Bound, is a WWII romance. Turn To You is the story of Amy and Ben, who meet stateside in 1943. Amy's a young war widow, and Ben's a soldier on his way to Germany. Of course, they fall in love, and of course, the timing's pretty crappy. And of course, there's lots of drama and romance, because that's how I roll...

Blurb:

Torn between war and passion, will Ben and Amy find their way to each other?

Amy Maddox is a young war widow in the winter of 1943 when she's hired to tutor Sergeant Ben Schuester in German. As their mutual attraction blossoms into love, they are faced with Ben's impending deployment, and the dangers of the war in Europe.

Can Amy open her heart again? Can Ben face his feelings for Amy, knowing that his future is so uncertain? After spending a brief but idyllic Christmas together, Ben must leave, and his journey tests the strength of their burgeoning love.

Through the dramatic backdrop of World War II, Ben and Amy deal with passion, loss and heartache in search of their happily ever after.

Excerpt:

He trotted up to the front door and knocked softly, anxious not to startle her. After a few seconds, he heard footsteps in the back of the house, growing closer until the door swung open abruptly.

She stood staring at him silently, her eyes wide, and Ben stared back―there was too much going on inside him to speak. She was in a long, fuzzy pink and white robe, with house slippers, and her hair pulled back in a ponytail. She had no make-up on. She looked closer to fifteen than twenty-four. Her eyes were red and swollen and wet.

“Amy,” he managed to choke, before she grabbed his coat sleeve and pulled him inside, closing the door firmly behind him “Amy, I’m sorry, I wanted to call, but I had to go with some officers into town…” she buried her face in his chest as he continued, her ponytail bobbing under his chin. “…and they said ‘all work and no play, Schuester’…” he rambled, as her hands reached down and grabbed his, warming his bare fingers with her touch. “…and I couldn’t get to a telephone…and they wouldn’t stop drinking beer…oh…” he sighed, as her head moved up and her warm lips touched the pulse point on his neck, making it race.

“Ben,” she whispered against his skin, her breath cooling the wet spot that her lips had left behind. Her hands moved up and under his coat, peeling it off his shoulders and letting it fall to his feet. “It doesn’t matter…you’re here now,” she sighed, her arms wrapping around his neck as he encircled her waist and pulled her closer, harder against him.

Bio: I currently live in Houston, Texas, where I have taught political science at a local community college for the last 15 years. I live with my husband, two daughters, and one anti-social dog, and enjoy reading, writing, and all kinds of social media. I've been an aspiring writer all of my life, and I'm enjoying the romance genre immensely.

Blog: www.clairematthews.yolasite.com

Buy Turn To You at Total-e-Bound.com!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Back in the Saddle

It's been sitting on my hard drive for the past six months, gathering digital dust. I'm talking about my homoerotic scifi novel Quarantine. I wrote about a third of Dylan's and Rafe's story, and then, I lost confidence in my ability to create a plausible future society. The book takes place in the near future, after a sexually-transmitted plague has decimated the U.S. Homosexuality isn't just frowned upon, it leads to lifetime imprisonment in a quarantine camp. The book describes the struggle of two very different men for freedom to be themselves and love one another.

As I've written before, I think science fiction is one of the most challenging genres (although easier than historical). It simultaneously requires great imagination, in order to envision an involving and surprising other world, and the ability to make these imagined details plausible and internally consistent. When writing a contemporary story, one can let loose and focus mainly on the characters and their interactions. Writing scifi, in contrast, demands that the author devote constant attention to the premise, background and setting, as well as the emotional content. It's a far more cerebral process.

Anyway, yesterday I pulled the manuscript out of the digital drawer and started to work on it once again. When I froze half a year ago, I went to one of my favorite crit partners, who writes amazing speculative fiction, and asked for his help. He read what I had so far and asked a lot of excellent questions: why is this so? what is the underlying motive for this behavior? where did this detail come from? He also made lots of far out suggestions for where I might take the book - he's far more original than I am - but really, his questions were what helped me to figure out more of what the book needed.

I wrote a chapter yesterday, and I'm hoping to do at least two chapters a week from here on in. I've got a scene list/rough outline, although there are still some holes in my plot. I'm trying to trust that I'll figure out how to fill them when the time comes, and meanwhile, to move forward.

Yet happy as I was at my progress yesterday, I started to squirm with recurrent self-doubt. Would people really like this? Is it too obvious? Too shallow?

I'm not going to listen to those questioning voices. I'm going to push them aside and forge ahead toward my goal - a finished novel of 60-70K words. I haven't written anything long in nearly three years, and I'm eager to have the space for a more complex plot and more nuanced relationships than you can create in a short story or novella.

Yes, I'm back in the saddle again, and I'm not getting down until I get where I want to go!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Aquarians

By Gigi Brevard (Guest Blogger)

I know I will be asked one question more than any other: Are you sexually attracted to dolphins? No.

And the inevitable follow-up: Do you think this book promotes zoophilia? The answer to that is a little more complicated. I did not write it with that intention, nor did I write it to shock and disgust. Rather, I wanted to analyze what constitutes a truly open mind, and whether having one is a form of self-sacrifice.

The adjective “open-minded” is often used in a positive light, and it’s true that open-mindedness has facilitated breakthroughs in every area from music to civil rights. But on a personal level, because the open mind must by definition remain objective, it must also lack passion. And a mind lacking in passion may imitate others’ passions.

Am I against striving for approval from others? Certainly not. After all, I sought publication for this book, which is a form of approval. But striving blindly, seeking self-knowledge outside the self? That, I am against.

Am I sexually attracted to dolphins? No. Would I be, even if I fell in with a crowd that considered it okay? No. If I want to expand my horizons, I’ll take up knitting.

How about you, dear reader? Do you know which aspects of you will never change? I hope The Aquarians will accompany you on the ever-shifting path to self-discovery.

The Aquarians by Gigi Brevard

Now available from Freaky Fountain Press!

Blurb

Natalie lives the sweet life as a dolphin trainer and performer aboard the Oasis, a large and opulent cruise ship. She is continually wined, dined, and laid by wealthy passengers in awe of her glamorous profession. But her life is turned upside-down by a team of visiting scientists, including the irresistible-yet-aloof Michael. Upon discovering that these “scientists” aren’t who they say they are, and their reasons for joining the Oasis are less than savory, Natalie faces a difficult decision: should she keep their secret as a last-ditch effort to conquer Michael and escape the shallowness into which she believes her job has trapped her, or rat them out in order to preserve the status quo?

Excerpt

Lauren and I had just finished our training session when Jeff returned with Blake Townsend and his team. I took Townsend to be the oldest and most authoritative of the three, who chatted with Jeff while the others trailed behind. He was pushing seventy. His arms had been burned to a deep mahogany, but his face was protected by the brim of a canvas hat more suited to a safari than a cruise ship. He wore a Hawaiian shirt and a bright band of zinc oxide across his nose. Lauren and I couldn’t decide who looked more ridiculous—Townsend himself, or poor Jeff who had worn a suit to greet him.

Once I was over humor of that scene, however, I couldn’t stop staring at the remaining two team members.

One was a blond in her twenties. Not the Beverly-Hills-type blond in her twenties that we see come and go so often aboard the Oasis, but a Midwestern-type blond with a genuine smile, elf-like ears that were just pointy enough to be cute, and feet that tap danced wherever they went. Unlike many young professionals, she didn’t seem concerned about appearing too childlike to be taken seriously.

The other was a guy. His age was difficult to place. The receding hairline said at least thirty-five; but he was punked out in fraying jeans and a black tee-shirt advertising some militantly vegan band, which indicated he must be more like thirteen at heart. Underneath the sleeves of that tee-shirt rippled muscles that were the size I dug. Not so big they could crush you with a casual embrace, but big enough that they could cradle me after sex and I would fall asleep safe and warm.

“Hi!” exclaimed the blond, tap-dancing over to Lauren and me. “I’m Sue. It’s so awesome to be here. This is the first time anyone’s ever paid me for my sciencey stuff… well, I don’t really get paid, but you know. Room and board. I’ll probably eat peanut butter crackers the whole time I’m here, but hey, I’m in the field. That’s what you do in the field. Am I right?”

“You tell me,” Lauren said.

She was unimpressed, but I thought this chick was cute, so I put out my hand for her to shake. “Hi, Sue. I’m Natalie. This is Lauren, my other supervisor. I see you’ve already met Jeff.”

“Oh, my God.” She dropped her voice and grabbed my hand in a way I had not meant for it to be grabbed. “Can you believe how studly he looks in that suit? I thought I was going to die. And to think we came in jeans! Except Blake. He is such a nut.”

Lauren pried an empty fish bucket out of the hand to which Sue wasn’t clinging. “I’ll just go clean this for you.”

“Thanks.”

Jeff, Dr. Townsend, and the thirteen-at-heart guy joined us as Lauren rushed off to clean buckets.

“Where’s she going?” Jeff demanded. His feathers had been ruffled by the suit thing, and he’d probably hoped that Lauren would take the scientists off his hands for a bit so he could go change.

“Play in fish blood,” I answered.

Sue howled and fell against me. “Play in fish blood. That’s a riot.”

I shook hands with Townsend, who gave my body a brief once-over before looking me in the eye.

I’m used to it. I practically live in a bikini.

“Nice to meet you, Dr. Townsend.”

“Call me Blake.”

The other guy introduced himself as Michael, and kept his gaze straight ahead. My crotch felt as if it were being dragged toward him on a fishing line. It drove me crazy that he was too polite to check me out. I both resented him and fell in love with him for it at the same time. “You know, I always wondered if the dolphins thought I was hot,” I said.

Blake laughed. “Well, no way we’ll ever know for sure. But we can gather some solid evidence.”

“I’m going to change out of this solid suit,” Jeff announced. Sue laughed again. “Nat, do you mind showing these guys the ropes?”

“Like what?”

“Oh, you know… just point out which dolphin is which, and tell them a little about the facility and so forth. I’ve already been over all the bad guy stuff, like the no-touching rule. So feel free to take them around, have some fun.”

The no-touching rule always perplexes visiting researchers. They think if they’re allowed to touch our dolphins under supervision as part of the experiment, they should also be allowed to give free rubdowns at poolside on a lunch break. Trust me, they shouldn’t. We train our dolphins using a reward-based system. A rubdown is one of the rewards we use. So if Joe Researcher decides to give Twitch a rubdown because he thinks it’s cute when she steals the hat off his head, he’s rewarded her for that behavior; and weeks of training Twitch not to steal hats (for which she is notorious) will be negated. This confuses and frustrates both us and the animals.

“I’ll be back in a sec,” Jeff promised, and disappeared into the men’s locker room.

“Well, we’ve got two pools,” I began. “The one behind me is the show pool. It’s three stories deep, so over thirty feet. Both the restaurant below us and the club below them have a wall made of glass so people can view the dolphins. So even late at night, after we’ve had our last show, they still light this pool up all crazy.”

Michael cringed. “And that doesn’t bug the dolphins?”

“I dunno. You want to do a study on it?” I react crabbily to do-gooders who have no idea what they’re talking about. Of course dolphins in captivity face challenges that they wouldn’t in the wild. But the flip side is true as well. Of all people, I would have expected a behavioral scientist to understand that; and particularly to understand that without us, his study would be infeasible.

“Well, I’m sorry, but I don’t think keeping the lights on all night shows a great deal of respect for them. Especially colored lights that would look unnatural to them, anyway.”

“Most of our dolphins were born here, or in some other aquarium. So what looks natural to them isn’t the same as what looks natural to a dolphin out in the ocean.”

“Let’s talk about something else,” suggested Blake. “Oh, who have we here?”

Bailey, Chicken, and Twitch were spy hopping at poolside, checking out the newcomers. I recited their names and rattled off the tricks we use to tell them apart; but the whole time I was thinking about Michael, what a dick he was, and how much I wanted to do him.

Bio: Gigi Brevard is the author of numerous short stories; including “I Love Vegetables,” which appeared in the UK publication Forum; “Kingdom of Sweets,” which appeared in the anthology ‘Twas a Dark and Delicious Christmas; and “New Girl, New Pearls,” which appeared in Hustler Fantasies. She was orphaned at a young age and raised by a passionate animal rights activist. At sixteen she dropped out of school to join her guardian in sustained protest against a whaling fleet, and tragically lost her right eye to a harpoon. During her recovery, she developed an intense fascination with the psychology of sexual attraction. Two years later she spearheaded the infamous Tea for Too Many, a weekly orgy party in an affluent East African region that led to the arrests of royals and dignitaries from around the world. She resides in a secret wing of the Ernest Hemingway house, where she collects classic boats and vintage diving equipment.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Write or Die

Yesterday I finished my latest work in progress and submitted it to Total-E-Bound. It's a M/F paranormal novella called "Hot Spell", featuring a gorgeous, tanned hero who just happens to be a Fire Elemental. All in all, I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out, but it's a bit of a departure for me in several ways. Most notably, about a third of the book was written in timed "sprints" using the tools at Write or Die.

Let me give you some background. I've been working on this tale since mid-May, and having a terrible time. I found myself editing and re-editing every sentence, as I was writing. Not only was this non-productive, it was also no fun at all!

I posted a blog about my problem, called Dirty Little Secret, and received a raft of comments from other authors. Some were sympathetic, commiserating and confessing they suffer the same malady ("Get out of my head!"). Others offered specific suggestions for improving my spontaneity and shutting off the internal editor.

My Australian colleague Maggie Nash mentioned that she sometimes used something called Write or Die to break through those kinds of blocks. When I asked her what this was, she sent me to Dr. Wicked's site. The next time I sat down for a writing session, I thought I'd give it a try.

So what is Write Or Die? Basically, it's a tool for timed writing. You choose a word count goal and a time limit, then press "Write". You are presented with a blank screen, which you then proceed to fill with words, as fast as you can. The application tracks both the clock (counting down) and your word count. When you're done, you click a button and the tool tells you how much you wrote, and how long it took, then displays the text to you to be copied and pasted into your story document. I gather that in some of the more stringent modes the text will actually disappear if you don't make your count within the requested time. Needless to say, I didn't try that!

Maggie said she couldn't do more than 30 minutes at a time. I was less ambitious. I tried 10 minutes and 300 words. I made my goal, the very first time I tried!

I was amazed and proud. Even more surprising, when I pasted the 300 words into my story and massaged them a bit, I found they weren't bad at all. Certainly they were not noticeably worse than the paragraphs I'd been laboring over the previous week.

So I went back to do another ten minute sprint, and then another. The first day, I did six sprints (interspersed with edits) and produced almost 2000 words. And guess what? It was fun - far more fun, at least, than the self-scrutinizing composition I'd been doing previously.

I found that Write or Die worked particularly well for sex scenes. The prose that came out of my sprints had a rushed, breathless quality that fit the emotional tone of a heated encounter. (Probably wouldn't work as well for slow, sensuous love scenes!)

I didn't write the entire remaining book using Write or Die. But when I seemed to be getting stuck, I'd hop over and pound out a couple of 300 word chunks, to shake myself loose. I found that my ability to produce during the sprints improved, too. By the time I finished the book, I was generating 320 to 350 words in ten minutes.

I gather that Dr. Wicked, the author of Write or Die, created the tool to help him do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The objective of NaNoWriMo is to produce at least 50K of a novel in one month. Quantity, not quality, is the focus. You're only allowed to edit after the month ends.

I still don't know if I want to commit to NaNoWriMo, even with the help of Write or Die. I'm not sure I could stand the stress of sprints longer than 10 minutes. By the time I finished one, I felt like I'd been on the exercise bike, my heart pounding, my breathing ragged. I don't know if I could physically handle half an hour or more!

But after my experience with "Hot Spell", I'm very tempted to try!

(By the way, Dr. Wicked also has a desktop version of Write or Die, which he sells for $10. I haven't tried that, but that's what Maggie Nash told me she uses.)