Recently our downstairs neighbors invited us to a party. We didn't really know them, except to say hello in the elevator. Their invite said they'd be "having a few friends in". Imagine our surprise when we found there were at least fifty guests! The party was catered by a local, very fancy German restaurant. There was a massive buffet. In addition, the caterers brought in kegs of draught beer, which was being served by the restaurant staff (dressed in Bavarian costume, yet!)
I have to admit it. I was intimidated by this show of wealth.
We live in the same building. Their apartment had more or less the same layout as ours. However, they'd obviously spent thousands of dollars renovating their space. Now I love our apartment - it's huge and comfortable, and for its size and location, incredibly cheap. But it's a bit rundown. We don't want to bother the landlords concerning cosmetic improvements - we don't want them to raise the rent!
My family brought me up to feel that being thrifty was a virtue. I was budgeting my allowance from the time I was eight or nine. I worked as a department store salesgirl and a supermarket clerk in high school so I could augment my pocket money. I learned the thrill of bargain hunting from my mom and grandma. Even now, I really can't enjoy a new purchase if I have to pay full price for it.
My husband and I live modestly. Our salaries are low by American standards; our expenses are pretty low as well. We have virtually no debt and even manage to save a bit. We're self-sufficient. Yet experiences like our neighbors party sometimes make me feel as though we're worth less because we're not rich.
These days, it seems, people equate money and value. The wealthy are admired as role models. If you're rich, that must mean you're smart and skillful. If you don't have a lot of money - and the material things to show it - this implies that you're either lazy or incompetent.
Well, I'm not either of those things. It's just that I've chosen comfort and lower stress instead of chasing after the cash. I hate myself for allowing the current adoration of wealth to affect my self-image, but sometimes it does.
I really liked our neighbors. We seemed to have a lot in common with them. So my husband and I left an invitation in their mail box, suggesting that they come up for a glass of wine.
They never replied. And I wonder whether it's because they think we're poor - and thus not worth much. Or am I just being paranoid?
Does anyone else suffer from this sort of delusion - the notion that you're being judged as less worthy because you have less money? I'm really curious.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
By Pauline Allen (Guest Blogger)
Hello everyone. I wanted to take a moment to thank you, Lisabet, for hosting me here on Beyond Romance. I'm excited to join your readers and chat about my personal writing process and how I used my style to develop the characters for my debut novel with Loose Id.
A writer's process is sacred and as personal as any emotional attachment one might develop in a lifetime. For me, it begins with music. I'll be in my car and hear a new song I've downloaded and the "click" will happen. I zone out, drive, and the movie in my head begins to play. I'm just a bystander, watching as the pictures progress and the story unfolds. I can develop my hero and heroine character arcs and plot summary in approximately one hour when the muse of music hits.
I then frantically write down everything flowing through my head into a spiral bound notebook, returning later with a fine-tooth comb to work out more detailed plot points and the character's tone of dialogue. My "voice" is quite distinctive. I have, what I call, a Trent Reznor vs. Alice in Wonderland tone. My characters are broken and disheartened with life, but there is always a sense of something more out there for them, that they can find love through the darkness. Alice comes into play because I have a whimsical sense of humor that is always injected into the shadows of my writing.
The music that inspires me reflects my style. I listen to everything from downtempo like Portishead and Osho, R and B like Tank and Chris Brown, or singer/songwriter like Lykke Li and Damien Rice. There's always a little Madonna thrown in there for good measure. For See Me, my novel with Loose Id, the song that "clicked" is by Kelly Dalton. "Let Me In" spoke volumes to me about Sean, my hero, and his struggles with incarceration and building a life after being in prison.
Now, how in the devil did I get to a point with my character that he was in prison? I drive by a state prison facility three times a week on my way to work. At four in the afternoon, on warmer days, the "boys" are out in the yard playing basketball, baseball, or running on the track. One on particular day, I was driving along on my merry way and there was a young man leaning on the fence with his arms over his head, watching the cars go by. Now, mind you, I live in a rural area and the cars are few and far between. My eyes caught his and I slowed my car to watch him as I rolled by. Our gazes locked and in that instant I knew him.
I sped up and the pictures started. His name was Sean and he was in for illegal mixed martial arts fighting. The fight went bad, the cops came, one blow to his opponent's head and the guy died. Sean was convicted and sentenced. When he got out...now "Let Me In" by Mr. Dalton started playing in my head...he struggled to find employment. He wanted to better his life, met a friend at the gym, and the start to his new life began.
My heroine sparked to life with a song as well. Her spirit came to me in a song by Tori Amos. "Me and a Gun" is a story about rape and violence against women. Abigail's story was saturated with loneliness and fear. Her business, Fantasy Emporium, was inspired by one thing. Pornography! I interviewed a performer and built the adult entertainment world in my book from information I gathered on the inside of the industry.
The evolution of See Me is typical for all the books I write. I hear a rhythm and the process ignites like a wild fire. During the writing phase I'm obsessed with the characters. I hear them whisper to me. They become true entities in my life and I speak about them as such. My friends and family get to laughing because I feel such a rollercoaster of emotions when I'm writing. If my heroine is hurt or depressed, so am I. If my hero is cocky and lustful, so am I. I tend to have a heavy hand on the male point of view and write more from the inside of his head. Maybe because the male species is a total mystery to me and writing in their consciousness makes me feel like I'm getting to listen in on a juicy secret.
I'm a writer who writes in every environment once the story gets flowing. I write on vacation, in the car, at work (yes, I will still bring you your pain meds. *giggles*), and on my huge front porch. Every time I change the scenery, a new part of the story twists and richens the plot. I do, however, have an office in my home.
Stephen King in On Writing stated that a writer must have his/her writing space close to home. My husband and I live in a three story Victorian Presbyterian Manse. It was used by the church for the pastor's home and social functions for the church in the 1900's. My wonderful husband took the painstaking time to make my writing room a replica of a bordello in the old Storyville in New Orleans. Storyville was the red light district of the city of New Orleans. My room in decorated with all the paraphernalia that I've collected from the naughty city over the years.
I travel to NOLA twice a year to recharge my creative battery and of course eat the hearty cuisine. The city is steeped in a velvety history of violence and lust. It's the perfect playground for Erotic Romance inspiration. Writing is an essential part of my being. Life eases forward at a proper cadence when I'm entrenched in a harrowing plot or fleshing out why a character is so complex. The phrase, "Life is Good" was written for a writer who is in the zone, stomping out the keys, listening to the voices, and wading through the arcs. As for this writer, life is pretty damn good.
My debut novel with Loose Id is titled See Me. It's a contemporary erotic romance novel with a sexy, street-wise hero and a curvy, brave heroine. Abigail Swanson’s spirit has been battered, a body left for dead to recover to find fear and loneliness. Due to an abusive relationship, she is unable to feel the one thing she longs to have again. She builds a lucrative business specializing in the commodity she can’t afford to experience. Passion.
Sean Drennan traded his fists for a portfolio, but the cost was too great. Now, considered damaged goods, he’s unable to find employment. Desperate to gather some quick cash, he reluctantly agrees to take a job in the field guaranteed to make him sell his soul.
So what does a successful pornography entrepreneur do when her clients are demanding a tattooed hunk and her performers don’t fit the bill? She puts all her trust in an ex-con who has nothing to lose. Can he save her business and her heart at the same time or will his fighting ways leave him cold and lonely yet again?
For one voluptuous, scared woman it’s love at all costs. For one man it’s a new experience he’s more than willing to fight his way into. But can Sean and Abigail survive the dangerous ride?
“Abigail Swanson, this is Sean Drennan.”
Ron introduced him like it was a legitimate interview, like he wasn’t standing there in the spacious office applying for a job in porn. It felt weird.
“He’s finished the application. We’ll do the rest after he’s done with you.”
Sean extended his hand and was quickly greeted with a sweet smile. An innocent, full pair of lips parted to reveal white teeth beneath. Had he ever seen a sweeter smile? Not one focused in my direction.
She took his hand into her soft grip. “Mr. Drennan, it’s nice to finally meet you. Ron has told me a lot about you.”
He has? Like what, the size of my dick or how many reps I can do on the trap bar?
He knew his hand lingered too long, but God, she was fucking with his head. Abigail Swanson was supposed to be a porno filmmaker, one of those dirty women wearing black latex and carrying a riding crop. A Jenna Jameson or Heidi Fleiss.
The woman standing behind the metal desk was no Jenna and definitely no Heidi. She was apple pie and pompoms. She was the girl who wouldn’t have given him the time of day in high school. She’s a sly-look-and-run-away, just like the woman in the café. Only ten times hotter.
The long auburn waves hung past her shoulders, and that shirt… Betty Boop, really? And jeans? He wasn’t complaining. They hugged her full curves. He’d been so used to the gym girls he’d forgotten what real women looked like. They looked like Abigail Swanson. Think, dumbass! “Sorry I’m late, Ms. Swanson.” He let her soft skin slide across his palm as she released his hand. The loss was instant.
“It’s all right. The rain was coming down pretty hard. I’m sure the drive took a while. Please.” She motioned to the wingback chair in front of the desk. “Have a seat.”
Sean swiped his gaze over the room. It was decorated like the lobby, only more spacious… and with more plants. He wanted to smile. The air carried a hint of something spicy, exotic. Incense, he concluded when he glanced over to see the ceramic Buddha holding the thin stick. Filmy curls of smoke waved up only to disappear. It was massage-parlor-meets-boardroom.
Ron handed her his application. “I can fax a résumé over.” They both stared at him as if he’d spoken Vulcan. “I mean, if you want it.”
Ron grinned. “And what kind of qualifications would we find on that resume, Sean?”
The guy was fucking with him. He felt like an ass. Of course they didn’t want to hear about his internships and degree qualifications. There was only one requirement for this job, and it sure as hell wasn’t listed under the achievement section on his résumé.
“Right.” Sean decided to shut his mouth and stick to just answering their questions.
“Ron, could you shut the door on your way out?” Abigail’s expression was neutral as she continued to flip through the pages of his application.
“Sure you don’t want any coffee?” Ron asked.
Sean readjusted in the seat. The chair felt too small. “No, thanks.”
Ron left, leaving behind a room full of silence. Sean waited for her to read through the application and drop the bomb that he’d heard so many times before.
“I see you left the fetishes section blank.” She finally looked up at him. Her gaze flitted to the computer screen, then back again. “Is there a reason why?”
Sean wanted to swallow his tongue. That section was on the next-to-last page. That meant she’d already read his answer to the have you ever been in jail question. He’d been incarcerated, and she chose to ask him about his lack of fetishes? He didn’t know what to say. He decided to treat the conversation like one of the million other interviews he’d been on over the last year.
“I don’t have any fetishes, but I’m open to new experiences.” Good answer.
“I see. So you don’t prefer blondes to brunettes. How about voyeurism to exhibitionism?”
What to what? “I like to watch women swim in the nude. Does that count?”
He didn’t smile until she did. Her lips parted like a blossoming rose.
“Of course watching women swim naked would count. It’s rather vanilla, but it counts just as much as a man who enjoys watching a woman smoke a cigar. It’s all relevant to the one with the fantasy. Do you have a preference for skinny women or full-figured women?”
“Men like that, watching women smoke cigars? I have a preference, I guess, but it wouldn’t interfere with me performing my job.”
By the way she ignored his answer, she didn’t seem too happy with his response. “Sure, men and women like a lot of things, even smoking cigars. We’re here to provide a visual experience of their fantasies. Has Ron filled you in on what Fantasy Emporium really is?”
Sean thought about it. No, he hadn’t. All Ron had said was that he had what the company was looking for, and he could make some fast cash doing porn films. He didn’t want to sound like he hadn’t done his research, but he hadn’t done his research. “Yeah. Yes. He told me the company makes pornographic films.”
By the way she lifted her eyebrows, he knew she’d caught him bullshitting. “Come here.” Sean leaned against the edge of the desk as she turned the computer screen so he could see it. Her nimble fingers flew over the keys. Her fingernails weren’t the ones with the white tips. All the women who talked to him had fake fingernails, fake tans, and fake tits too. The chipped pink nail polish made his stomach do something weird.
“This, Mr. Drennan, is Fantasy Emporium.”
See Me can be purchased at:
Bio: Pauline Allan is a woman on a mission. Curvy girls of the world unite! She writes erotic romance for the ordinary woman who fantasizes about extraordinary possibilities. Pauline strives to make every reader feel sexy and desired by the time she turns to the last page. The Midwest is home, but her heart stays tethered to New Orleans where she travels three times a year to recharge her creative muse. She is amazed that she gets to wake up every morning next to her hero and go to bed each night listening to her two little boys argue over who gets to put the hamster to bed. When not writing, Pauline enjoys listening to music and watching Mad Men. She has a writing room that she considers a sacred space. A place draped with velvet tapestries and colorful masquerade masks. A place where forbidden fantasies come to play.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
In a world with precious little good news, I'm celebrating last week's successful launch of the first commercial space vehicle, and the delivery of the Dragon supply capsule to the International Space Station. As a child of the Sputnik era, I've been dismayed by the decline of U.S. space program. Now it seems that private industry may be stepping in to keep humanity's eyes on the stars.
I don't know about you, but I'm thrilled. Finally we're moving forward, when we've been stalled for so very long.
Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, has indicated that the ultimate goal is a mission to Mars. I applaud his vision. I grew up reading science fiction, watching Star Trek and dreaming about space travel - I'm wondering what has taken us so long.
Space travel has been one of my lifetime goals. I wanted to be an astronaut when I was in primary school. When I discovered that you had to be a perfect physical specimen to qualify, I was crushed. My extreme myopia and flat feet pretty much disqualified me. Today there are a handful of wealthy people who can afford to buy a brief trip into space - space tourists - but I'm not one of them.
So have I given up on my dream? Not necessarily. Who knows how long I'll live and what wonders I'll see during that time. Even if I don't make it, I'm pleased to see the likelihood increase that today's kids will get a chance to venture into the solar system and maybe even beyond.
I hope they feel the same sense of wonder I do, seeing the Dragon flying against the backdrop of a cloudy earth. Though I may well not be around to see it, I hope that at least some of them make it to Mars.
Sunday, May 27, 2012
My Sunday Snog comes from my short story "Body Electric", the lead tale in my collection of the same title. It's pretty brief, but I think it does the job!
If you haven't been there already, go visit Victoria Blisse at Snog Central, read her delicious kiss excerpt (her kisses are always a lot more elaborate than mine!) and then follow the links to more sexy snogging fun!
"Should I -- do I have to call you Master?" He grinned at me. I thought I'd die of embarrassment.
"Do you want to?"
"Um -- I don't think so. It would seem artificial."
"Well, then. It's your choice, you know. This is all your choice."
I couldn't believe that. I felt compelled by him, controlled by his will, ensnared by his lecherous mind.
"Why don't you just address me as 'Sir'? Or better yet, how about 'Doctor'?" His smile was half-mocking, half-gentle. "How would that be?"
"That would be fine -- Doctor."
"Excellent. But you shouldn't say anything unless I give you permission. You know that, don't you?"
I nodded. This seemed like the natural order of things.
"Good. Now, then. Let's get rid of those clothes."
I began to unbutton my blouse. "No, don't move. I’ll undress you, this time."
He undid the first three buttons and pulled the garment open to reveal my unglamorous cotton bra. He brushed his fingertips over my swollen nipples, clearly visible as they poked out the fabric. Pleasure shivered across my skin and down to my already-aching pussy.
"You have such lovely big nipples. So sensitive." He pinched the right one. I gasped. "I don't want you to wear a bra anymore. I want everyone to be able to see those luscious tits of yours."
"But, when I teach... It's not proper..."
"Did I say you could speak?" He frowned briefly. I wanted to drop through the floor.
"If you want to please me, you'll go braless. It's up to you."
I was silent. I craved his approval, more than anything.
He laid a cool palm against my cheek. "What other people think doesn't matter, Colette. You only need to worry about me."
All at once he leaned down and kissed me. I expected brashness, energy, power. Instead it was a gossamer kiss, delicate, the barest contact of his lips on mine.
It set me on fire. Tremors raced through my body. I felt his hands everywhere, exploring, exposing my raw need. I felt his mind, questing, tasting the flavors of my lust. Yet only his lips were touching me, and just barely.
I wanted more. I wanted his tongue, his fingers. I wanted his cock, which I knew was hard though I hadn't seen it. I was acutely aware of his lust, controlled and hidden as it was. I tried to press my body against him, but he pulled away.
"Not yet. Not until you're ready." He resumed the process of methodically removing my clothes. He did not touch me again. I could swear that he was trying to frustrate me. I promised myself that I wouldn't beg.
You can get your own copy of Body Electric at Amazon.com!
Saturday, May 26, 2012
By Julia Kanno (Guest Blogger)
First off, I want to thank Lisabet for having me here at her blog. I’m just starting out in the writing world as far as publishing under my own name and I haven’t really taken the time to dive into the marketing aspect of things yet. I’ve done lots of research, but I just haven’t taken a real step toward getting myself out there until now. And I must thank Lisabet for that. She so graciously offered me a guest spot on her blog. And I must say: I love this blog. It is one of the few that I have directly sent to my e-mail because she always seems to nab the coolest authors and now I’m one of them!
All right, enough with the girlish babblings and on to the topic at hand: crime. Well, more like partners in crime.
Most authors have either a few beta-readers or a critique partner and I’m telling you right now, those few people who offer you feedback on your work are absolutely invaluable. Yes, reader feedback is amazing, but critique partners and beta-readers are just as important, if not more so.
Recently, I contracted my first story (first in a series) with Total-e-Bound Publishing and I know that wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t have my handy-dandy Jenny and my Super Alix to the rescue.
Jennifer, my critique partner is amazing. She’s brutal, sarcastic and unbelievably funny. We’ve been critique partners for over two years now, and best friends almost as long. I mean, sheesh, I have her son’s artwork on my fridge.
That’s not to say we don’t have our differences. There are quite a few times we’re ready to wring each other’s neck and I’m no stranger to receiving comment boxes that say: “AHHHHH!!!!! What is this inane twittery, you twit!?!?”
And I love her for it.
I’ve always been open to criticism when it comes to my work. Now, that’s not to say I haven’t found a particularly high ledge alarmingly attractive once or twice after I’ve received a critique from her, but over time I’ve come to the realization that critique partners are important for more than just the “editing” portion of the partnership. Yes, every author needs a different level of help when it comes to copy and content editing, but critique partnerships give authors something I think is lacking amongst some of the “diamond district” of our industry. And that’s humility.
Every time my ass begins to get too big for my britches, Jenny does a great job of giving me a swift kick to remind me that I’m not the best thing since sparkly vampires. After which, she helps me up and encourages me to try again. I know “self-worth” is an issue for a lot of authors. Actually, I think it’s a demon for most creative people. Regardless, sometimes I think we let a bit of success go to our heads and some authors even drop their critique partners once they get their foot through the publishing door. I think that’s a mistake. As long as both parties are still benefiting from the relationship, I think that is something that needs to stay and continue to be nurtured.
I think if Nora Roberts had a critique partner telling her “my dear, Nora, you’re head hopping every two seconds,” the quality of her most recent releases might be different. Yes, I think editors are important. But I think an awesome critique partner is even better at pointing out when you’re starting to slip in terms of writing quality. And the best part is, they are with you every step of the way and get to watch you grow as an author. Jennifer and I have gotten to the point where we don’t really have to make most of the corrections in the text. Instead, we leave each other long notes of feedback, pointing out where we’re struggling and giving ideas on how we can fix it.
Now, when that’s done, I move on to my beta-reader. Alix does an amazing job of reading through my stories and letting me know if I’ve drifted toward the predictable. She catches all the stuff that Jennifer doesn’t and by the end of the process, I’m so excited to send of my new work that I’m practically jumping up and down as I hit “send.” Alix is also the person who reads my work as I’m writing it. She encourages me and pulls me out of bed some days. And since we’ve been working together, my word count per day has drastically increased. I swear, if she wasn’t my sister-in-law (something that happened after we’d been writing buddies for a while), I’d probably up and marry her.
The point of the matter is I think as authors it is important that we all learn to accept all kinds of criticism. And I think it’s especially important that some of those critics also be writers. Writers will dig deeper into your plot than any other person. I know I get twice as excited when another author tells me I blew them away. After all, for that to happen, I must have accomplished something they haven’t yet. I must have touched their stony writer hearts. It’s like a world famous comedian laughing a newcomer’s jokes. It’s positively soul cleansing.
I don’t care what anyone says: If you don’t have a beta-reader or a critique partner you’re missing out on
one of the most fulfilling relationships an author can have.
Because of those two people I mentioned, I’m able to happily exclaim that my new release: No Strings Attached will be available for release September 3, 2012. I’m not going to bother with posting the blurb or anything like that and instead just leave a link to my website.
There you’ll be able to browse and read at your leisure.
I would like to end this little post by saying that: Lisabet is a true gem. She’s actually the kind of author I think most people don’t think exists. I mean, we all know, she’s not lacking in writing talent, but I’m talking about something different. I recently read a book of hers I didn’t care for. It made me angry. That’s how much I didn’t care for it, but regardless, I e-mailed her my reaction and she responded with politeness and warmth. Readers like me tend to have strong reactions to books, especially those dealing with the intimacies of a Dominance and Submission relationship. I went as far as to rant about “Barbie and Ken doing butt plugs and bondage” and she was kind enough to listen to my rant, offer her own insight and I’ve never been so impressed.
Criticism and stinging reviews hurt—believe me, I know they do. And yet, she handled herself with utter class. After I received her response, I suddenly realized that it didn’t matter whether I had liked that book in particular, I would always respect and commend her grace and willingness to accept criticism and feedback. And thus, I went and purchased a few more of her books. I haven’t read them yet, but if it turns out I don’t care for them either, it won’t matter. I won’t feel like I’ve wasted my money. As authors, we need to support one another through our endeavors as writing erotic fiction is a particularly treacherous breeding ground for cruelty.
That is my point: that regardless if your feedback comes from beta-readers, critique partners, your mom (in which case, I would love to hear how your “coming-out” about the kink you write occurred), it is always important to remember that we, as authors writing the most glorious kink since Deep Throat, know that no matter what we’re all partners in crime.
To learn more about Julia Kanno, please feel free to visit her website: www.juliakanno-author.com
To learn more about Handy-Dandy Jenny Blackstream, please free to visit her website: http://www.paranormalpassions-romance.com
To learn more about Super Alix Richards, please feel free to visit her website: http://alixrichards.snappages.com/home.htm
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
By Elizabeth Lapthorne (Guest Blogger)
When Lisabet so kindly offered me a spot in her blog I was bombarded with all the different things I could discuss here. Ideas are usually not a problem for me – it’s the reining in of them and putting them into coherent order. Something that really struck me on a number of levels, however, was the idea of how frequently we as authors and readers search for the good stuff in bad things.
I love to read about how a heroine’s bad boy that she grew up with can turn around and help fix a situation when she gets back in touch with him. You know the kind of man I mean, the naughty guy who was the first to ride his motorcycle, who kissed you behind that large tree in the park when your friends and parents weren’t watching and maybe even stole a quick touch of your breast while he was at it.
It’s not just writing these stories that I love, but I read them as well, over and over again. There’s something so wonderful, hopeful and satisfying in knowing that even in abject darkness, when everything seems lost there can still be good in there. Whether it be finding lasting love, discovering the goodness inside a person you thought beyond help or just working hard with others to right the wrong in your circumstances.
I think so much of reading regardless of genre, style or author has this within it in some form.
My releases usually are no exception. Whether I’m writing about the fantasy of the student seducing the teacher (Wicked Teacher), retrieving stolen artifacts in Chicago while a magical hit team are trying to track you down (Retrieving Love) or about having that one person you can turn to and trust when Bad Guys are trying to kill you and chase you around London and have kidnapped your father (Flirting with Danger), almost always one part of the story is in making bad situations good again.
My newest release from TEB, Flirting with Danger, is a classic example. Skye Adams is a regular London girl, waiting in a Thai restaurant for her father to celebrate her birthday. Gunmen show up to kidnap and kill her and her day goes seriously downhill from there. Being able to turn to Jack Berick is her only consolation, a man her father informed her was trustworthy and someone she could rely on.
The Agency is a new series I’m beginning at TEB and it’s full of adventure and thrilling characters. I’m delighted to share this excerpt with you and hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
Unedited Extract from Flirting With Danger – Elizabeth Lapthorne
Swallowing more of the tea, she replaced the mug on the coffee table with a small sigh, her stomach sated. She turned to face Jack and once again her heart fluttered in her chest.
He was so handsome.
“I’m not a lost schoolgirl who needs returning to her parent,” Skye chided him. “But I would definitely like to stick close to you. At least until the vision of that rocket launcher and those four men dims somewhat in my memory. Right now it’s far too vivid for comfort.”
“Hey,” Jack said softly. He leant forward and rested one large, warm hand on her thigh. Heat from his skin soaked through her leg. Skye caught her breath, her gaze lifting to catch his.
Chemistry burned between them as they stared at each other in silence.
Skye lowered her hand to lace her fingers through his, testing the waters between them. His fingers clenched hers, his grip tight but not painful. For a suspended moment she felt as if they were hovering on the brink of an enormous, sheer drop. They leaned in and their lips touched.
The world ignited, her ears rang and Skye felt as if she had just been electrocuted.
Tingles shot across her body and without even realising it, she scooted closer to him. Jack moved forward and soon she straddled him, eating at his mouth with her lips as they strained against each other. She ran her hands over his shoulders then down his back, loving the warmth of his body even through his shirt.
He threaded his fingers through her short curls, his palm cupping the back of her skull. He wound a strand around his digit, his touch tender, as if he wanted to memorise its texture. She stared into his fiery gaze, ensnared in its depths. Need washed over her as her pussy flooded with moisture.
Rocking into him, Skye rubbed her spread centre over his jean-clad erection. Even through the thin denim she could feel his searing heat, the hard, thick length of him straining as if to reach out to her in kind. Their tongues tangled and it took a moment for her to hear their joined gasps as they both struggled for breath.
“This is just a reaction to how close to death you came earlier,” Jack finally managed to pant as he pulled his mouth from hers.
Her cheeks flushed and Skye could only shake her head at him.
“Trust me, darling, I don’t want to take advantage of the scare you’ve had. It’s understandable—”
“Can’t you feel the attraction between us?” Skye cut him off. “It’s electric and potent. It wouldn’t matter if I’d met you at the bus stop, Jack. I want you and I need this. Please don’t deny me.”
“I must be mad,” he muttered. Regardless of his words, he cupped her jaw and dragged her closer to him. Wrapped in his warm embrace, Skye gave herself up to the soul-searing kiss they exchanged. She tasted him, his spicy scent enveloping her. Her hands fell to the waistband of his jeans and she struggled to unsnap them and drag them down his legs, realising it was impossible while they were both sitting.
“Not on the couch, dammit,” he groaned as he raised his head again. “If we’re doing this we’re bloody well going to do it right.”
Bio: Elizabeth Lapthorne has been writing professionally since 2002. She has a number of books released and is continually surprised by how much fun she has starting a new book and discovering new characters and situations that they put themselves in. She enjoys going to the gym (usually to chew over her latest problem scene), is rarely without a partially read book and has a weakness for chocolate.
Elizabeth loves to hear from her fans and checks her email religiously. You can email her at elapthorne999 [at] hotmail.com, or check out her website with free extracts of all her current works at: http://elapthorne.mmebj.com/index.html
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
THAT FILTHY BOOK by Natalie Dae and Lily Harlem
Karen and Jacob have been married for nearly ten years. They're still deeply in love, but the demands of Jacob's job, their two school age daughters and other everyday responsibilities have taken a toll on their sex life. It's tough for them to find time to connect physically, and even when they do, they have to keep quiet to avoid waking the children. Meanwhile, after a decade of aging and two pregnancies, Karen feels dumpy and sexually unattractive. She knows she's not the girl she was when she and Jacob met and she worries the erotic intensity of that time is lost forever.
On a rare weekend away from the kids, Jacob coaxes Karen into “talking dirty” the way she used to. In the throes of love-making, she blurts out one of her most shameful fantasies. Her beloved Jacob challenges her to make that fantasy real.
Thus begins Jacob's and Karen's sexual odyssey, as they explore the desires they've hidden even from one another, and discover a new level of love and trust. I won't spoil the suspense by revealing all the nasty, kinky, and incredibly hot erotic adventures the two experience, but I can guarantee that if you're open-minded, you'll enjoy them as much as the protagonists.
That Filthy Book is a steamy example of romantic erotica, with a sex scene in practically every chapter. However, what impressed me most about this book was the authors' skill in conveying Karen's doubts and insecurities. It's difficult to be honest about one's sexual fantasies, even with someone you know well. There's always the fear that you'll be condemned as evil and perverse – or perhaps even worse, laughed at. With her fears about her physical attractiveness, her preoccupation with her kids, her worries about whether her desires are “normal”, Karen is totally believable. I suspect that many readers will strongly identify with her. As the book is narrated from Karen's point of view, we see less of Jacob's insecurities, but in the one scene where Karen dominates him, his confusion is brilliantly portrayed.
I also want to comment on the seamless quality of this collaborative narrative. The style is consistent throughout the book. I couldn't tell which parts were Natalie's and which parts were Lily's, which is of course the way it should be.
If you want to be convinced that there is indeed (super-hot!) sex after marriage, buy this filthy but delightful book.
Monday, May 21, 2012
This hotel didn't do too badly in terms of accessibility. It had ramps and even a wheelchair we were able to borrow. There was a tiny but functional elevator leading to the lower level meeting rooms and auditorium. The staff were unfailingly helpful in positioning seating, pulling obstacles out of the way, and so on. I was thrilled to see that our room featured a big shower stall complete with a seat. (I'd been dreading the notion of three days on sponge baths - there's no way I could get in and out of a tub!)
At the same time, many everyday aspects of the conference turned out to be more difficult than I'd expected. All the meals were buffet-based. Let me tell you, there's no way you can walk on crutches while carrying a plate of food! My poor husband had to fetch food for me, and I had to be content with what he chose on my behalf. (I think that I probably lost a pound or two, not the usual when one attends one of these events!)
Another unexpected problem was the bathrooms. All the regular rest rooms in this hotel featured weighted, self-closing doors. I discovered that it's very difficult to pull open a door that provides any resistance without losing your balance! I had to rely on passers-by to open the door for me. Then I had to wait until someone left the restroom in order to exit myself. I could lean my weight on the door from the inside, but once it began to open, I had no way of moving forward without tumbling onto my face. The hotel did have a couple of handicapped rest rooms, but whoever designed them didn't really understand the requirements. Yes, they had wide doors (not self-closing!) and plenty of space, but the bar on the wall next to the toilet was several feet away, far too distant to provide support for sitting down or standing up. I managed, but someone whose quadraceps were weaker than mine might have had serious problems.
Then there were all the electric cables stretched out along the floor, jury-rigged for the conference presentations. As long as I noticed them, I could avoid them, but I lived in fear of letting my mind wander. I had terrible visions of tripping, falling and undoing seven weeks of recuperation! Moisture was even more of a problem. This is a tropical country and we're entering the rainy season. I discovered weeks ago that crutches become perilous when the bottoms are wet.
To attract higher attendance, the conference took place at a beach resort. Alas, I could gaze at the sea from our balcony (and I did enjoy doing that), but there was no way I could go swimming, even at the pool. Moisture, remember? Not to mention that there was long walk with multiple stairways to get to the pool area, and then even a longer stretch to the beach itself.
I don't intend to complain. I enjoyed the trip. It was a welcome change from the inside of my apartment where I've mostly been cooped up for the past month and a half! However, it was a real eye-opener to sample the experience of disability.
Most of us, I think, if we're able bodied, tend to forget about disabled individuals when they're not around. After this past week, I have new admiration for people who live with this sort of restriction for years. I hope I can remember what it's like - and do what I can to make things easier, including advocating for accessibility. I don't want to forget the lessons I learned walking in someone else's shoes.
Sunday, May 20, 2012
I'm superstitious about sharing unedited excerpts from upcoming work. However, yesterday I sent my editor the updated manuscript for my M/M scifi romance novel coming in July, Quarantine. I noticed as I was working my way through the book, reviewing the editor's changes, that it contains a lot of sexy snogs! So I'm posting one for you today – along with the cover, which I just received and which I absolutely adore!
Don't forget to visit Victoria Blisse at Snog Central for lots more sizzling, sensual lip action.
Blurb for Quarantine
Love is contagious.
Dylan Moore will do anything for freedom. Seven years ago, a gay plague spread to heterosexuals, killing millions and sparking brutal anti-gay riots. The Guardians rounded up men who tested positive for the homogene and imprisoned them in remote quarantine centers like desolate Camp Malheur. Since then, Dylan has hacked the camp's security systems and hoarded spare bits of electronics, seeking some way to escape. He has concluded the human guards are the only weakness in the facility's defenses.
Camp guard Rafe Cowell is H-negative. He figures the lust he feels watching prisoner 3218 masturbate on the surveillance cameras must be due to his loneliness and isolation. When he finally meets the young queer, he discovers that Dylan is brilliant, brave, sexy as hell – and claims to be in love with Rafe. Despite his qualms, Rafe finds he can't resist the other man's charm. By the time Dylan asks for his help in escaping, Rafe cares too much for Dylan to refuse.
Dylan's plan goes awry and Rafe comes to his rescue. Soon they're both fugitives, fleeing from militant survivalists, murderous androids, homophobic ideologues and a powerful man who wants Dylan as his sexual toy. Hiding in the Plague-ravaged city of Sanfran, Dylan and Rafe learn there's far more than their own safety at stake. Can they help prevent the deaths of millions more people? And can Rafe trust the love of a man who deliberately seduced him in order to escape from quarantine?
Rafe had already been snoring when Dylan came upstairs, his head pounding, numbers and symbols dancing in his brain. The black man’s features were twisted into a scowl. Even in sleep, his fists clenched. Dylan had brushed his lips across his lover’s brow and stroked the incipient beard. Rafe didn’t wake, but his tense features relaxed somewhat and he breathed more deeply. Although Dylan’s body had cried out for comfort, he didn’t want to be selfish. He’d stripped and taken his place next to the ex-guard, careful not to disturb him.
Poor guy has endured a lot for my sake. Dylan shook his head. The camp had accustomed him to the constant fight for survival. He’d realised long ago that carrying the homogene marked him for an early death, one way or another, and that his intellect was his only defence. Rafe, though… Sure, he’d been in a gang, but there was something innocent and vulnerable about the man nevertheless. He wasn’t used to being hunted the way Dylan was.
A Guardian armoured vehicle rumbled past, sweeping its spotlight across the battered facades on either side of the street. Dylan pulled back, away from the window, though with the room unlit it was unlikely they could detect his presence.
Will we ever have a peaceful time together, without this constant fear? Dylan recalled his months with Miguel before the Plague hit, the glorious freedom to finally be himself, the joy they’d found in each other’s arms. It seemed like a long-ago dream now—one that belonged to someone else. Would he and Rafe ever experience anything like that?
“Dylan, baby?” Rafe’s groggy voice pulled him back to the present. “I missed you.”
Dylan turned his back on the window. “I didn’t want to wake you. It was after midnight by the time we finished.”
He hoisted himself onto the tall four-poster and pressed his body against Rafe. His lover still wore an undershirt and briefs. Dylan slid his hands under the shirt, across Rafe’s warm, smooth belly to the furry swell of his pecs. When he flicked the nipples with his thumbs, Rafe moaned.
“I missed you too,” Dylan added, pushing up the fabric so he could duck down to purse his lips around one of the tight little nubs.
“Oh…oh, fuck, that’s good!” Rafe reached around to grip Dylan’s butt. He rubbed his stiffening cock against Dylan’s stomach. “C’mere, boy.” He hauled Dylan up until they were face to face, then seized him by the back of the head and mashed their lips together.
Dylan opened to Rafe’s probing tongue, letting the other man take the lead. Rafe was like a starving man presented with a feast. He devoured Dylan’s mouth with a ferocity that sent stabs of pleasure straight to Dylan’s groin. A taste of copper mingled with the mint of Rafe’s toothpaste as the ex-guard’s teeth tore into Dylan’s lip. Lust crashed like lightning through Dylan’s body.
“Oh, God…” he breathed into the hot mouth sealed to his. “Oh, Rafe…”
He clutched at the stretchy material of Rafe’s shorts, seeking the hard flesh underneath. The briefs clung to Rafe’s ass, defeating Dylan’s attempts to remove or push them aside. Rafe dragged him closer, grinding Dylan’s cock against his own clothing-sheathed erection. Dylan groaned in frustration.
“Get these damn things off,” he gasped, breaking the kiss. “Please—I need to feel your skin on mine.”
Thursday, May 17, 2012
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18
This isn't a blog post about religion, even though I've started it with a quote from the New Testament. No, my topic today is homophobia, as part of a 'net-wide blog hop by authors of gay-oriented fiction to raise awareness about the issue.
These days, any discussion of homosexuality seems to generate a lot of anger and hostility. The typical rhetoric tends to be militant, whether supporting or opposing the rights of people to pursue sexual relationships with individuals of their own gender. When a state votes to legalize gay marriage, GLBT activists celebrate a “battle won”. When a court rules that a gay couple can't adopt children, jubilant anti-gay organizations vow to “continue the fight” against the abomination of homosexuality. Either way, there's a strong tendency to consider people on the other side of this contentious issue as “the enemy”.
Now, I believe that adults should be free to choose their sexual and life partners without any constraints related to gender. I think that two men or two women who are attracted to one another should enjoy the same rights , privileges and protections as a male/female couple, that this equality should be legally guaranteed, and that the relevant laws should be enforced. To me, this position seems rational and fair.
However, I understand that many people on the opposite side of this debate hold positions based not on reason but on emotion – specifically, fear. After all, that's what “homophobia” means, literally – fear of homosexuals. You can't argue away fear. And treating someone who harbors that kind of fear as the enemy won't help change that person's beliefs or feelings – if anything, it's likely to make those feelings more extreme.
What are homophobes afraid of? In some cases, their own sexual curiosity or repressed desires. In many cases the fear is based on misinformation or ignorance. Some homophobes believe that most gays are pedophiles, and thus fear for their children's safety. Some subscribe to the popular but ridiculous theory that homosexuals are more sexually voracious or extreme than heterosexuals, and thus somehow obscene, dirty or dangerous. Some are simply afraid of the unknown. Men who love men (or women who love women) are strange and thus threatening.
Of course many homophobes cite religious arguments for their opposition to homosexuality. Personally, I think this is just a convenient justification, masking the underlying fear. And some people truly hate gays and lesbians, considering them subhuman and worthy of extirpation. Even that kind of hate may be rooted in fear. In any case, that's why legal protections for GLBT people are so important.
I'm not sure what sort of intervention is needed to deal with extreme homophobes, the sort of people who perpetrate hate crimes. However, for less extreme cases, I believe that the solution is love.
Love? Oh come on, Pollyanna! What sort of pastel fantasy world are you living in?
I don't mean love in the romantic or erotic sense, but more in the sense of the Golden Rule. To reduce the amount of homophobia in a society, anti-gay individuals need opportunities to really get to know gay people. Only specific, positive experiences with real homosexuals will be effective in counteracting the stereotypes and myths about homosexuality in general. The more homosexual neighbors you have, the more you enjoy their company, the more you see that they're just people, not some alien, sex-crazed demons, the less strange and “icky” the whole idea of same-sex relations will become.
I'd like to believe that in some small way, my M/M fiction and that of my colleagues can play a small role in helping to diminish the fears of homophobes. Of course, M/M romance has become wildly popular, even in the conservative heartlands. The fact is, there's not much emotional difference between a gay romance and a heterosexual romance. Both deal with the growth of a loving relationship in the face of challenges. The specific problems encountered by M/M couples might be somewhat different, but the emotions are predominantly the same.
Although our characters aren't “real” gay people, they're far more realistic than the stereotypes that feed homophobia. To the extent that people can accept gay lovers in our fiction, they're more likely to be comfortable with homosexuality in real life.
But what do you think? Am I overly optimistic? Leave me a comment and I will enter you in a drawing for a copy of the M/M erotic romance anthology Gaymes, which includes my story Crossed Hearts. Be sure to include your email address in your comment if you want to part of the giveaway. I'll draw a winner on Monday the 21st of May.
And please visit the blogs of some of the other authors participating in the Hop Against Homophobia. You'll find a full list at: http://hopagainsthomophobia.blogspot.com
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
By Slave Nano (Guest Blogger)
During the second week of my two week blog tour to promote my new book, Adventures in Fetishland, I’m discussing some of the diverse themes related to the book.
One of the sub-themes of the book is paganism. The book is set against a back drop of a centuries old conflict between the old religion (paganism) and new (chistianity/islam) in which the latter have usurped and suppressed the concept of female divinity embodied in paganism and subverted it with the portrayal of women as either virgin or prostitute as embodied in Christianity by the cult of the virgin Mary and portrayal of Mary Magdalene as a prostitute.
Adventures in Fetishland describes the journey of submission to the Red Queen that the main character Kim takes, a crucial part of which is related to her own past. The Red Queen, in one of the many personae she adopts through the book, is also Goddess Nemesis, who has assumed the mantle of, and is the spiritual descendent of, the Greek Goddess of fate and retribution of that name. Without hopefully giving too much away, part of her role in the story is to turn around Kim’s ‘tyche’, the Greek concept of fate, and also distribute deserved retribution. Kim’s journey is not just one of her submission to her mistress but also about the understanding of her past, her place in the strange world she finds herself and how her story is bound by the fates to that of Goddess Nemesis.
This emerges in the book in a series of stories within a story that explain Kim’s past, her relationship with the Red Queen and why she’s been brought into this fetish fantasy land to serve her. In these stories Kim gets caught in the battleground between paganism and the new faiths, which is played out in an imagined world where the forces of the new religion (Christianity) are aligned against those of the ancient pagan Goddesses.
In this bdsm re-invention of the Alice stories Kim’s life takes an unexpected twist when she is taken from the massage parlour she works in to a fetish fantasy world ruled over by the Red Queen, a powerful dominatrix. There, an intense psychological drama is played out between the two women as Kim enters a journey into submission. The Red Queen assumes different characters who torment Kim in a series of trials ranging from the funny and strange to the sadistic and erotic. Kim is lured deeper into this world by hints the Red Queen knows something about her past. Why has she been chosen to serve this powerful female? Why is the Red Queen so interested in her? When Kim finally finds out the truth, it is shocking and bizarre.
Adventures in Fetishland is available at:
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B007MPYV3I/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=lucyfelthouse-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=B007MPYV3I
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007MPYV3I/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=lucyfelt-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B007MPYV3I
Extract from book
“You see me now transformed into another guise,” she pronounced, her voice clear and formal. “I appear before you as the Greek Goddess Nemesis, my name-sake, whose mantle I have assumed. You have passed through many trials in your journey through Nemesisland and now the time for revelation and judgement is nearly here. Have you heard of the Greek word ‘tyche’ Kim?”
Kim nodded her head. She hadn’t.
“’Tyche’ is the ancient concept of fate of which I am the personification. It is my place to administer fate and judgement. I am a goddess of divine indignation and retribution against evil deeds and also of undeserved good fortune. Happiness and unhappiness are measured out by me so I can restore the balance of the fates. For my male slaves I am the wielder of fairness and I bring balance by correcting them and disciplining them. For you Kim, this is more subtle; for you, I restore the balance of the fates for one who has been wronged, but to do that I must have your complete subservience. Do you understand this Kim?”
“Yes mistress.” Kim was not a little bemused by this speech, “I don’t know much about ‘tyche’ or fate but I get this; I do know that in my heart I want to serve you. I’ve gone through a lot and understand your power and want to submit to you more than anything else.”
Kim felt that with all her heart and soul. It was hard to explain despite all the strange things that had happened to her and psychological games played on her, but she really meant it.
Goddess Nemesis nodded quietly, acknowledging Kim’s expression of subservience, “that is good Kim; your declaration is sufficient for me to proceed with my purpose.”
“You want to be my slave girl, my special servant.”
“Yes mistress, I do.”
“You want to give yourself up totally to me.”
“Yes, with all my heart.”
“Yes, I believe you Kim. I see you have committed yourself to me. This is a cause for celebration.”
Slave Nano writes stories drawing on the themes of female supremacy, goddess worship, bondage, domination and submission, sado-masochism and fetish, frequently in fantasy, paranormal or historical settings.
His work usually has dominant female characters and submissive males. His stories explore the tensions between dominant and submissive and the boundaries between pain and pleasure, physical and mental bondage and retribution and reward.
Slave Nano lives in Yorkshire in the United Kingdom. He works full time and juggles his writing with this. His work has been published by Xcite Books and House of Erotica.
Find out more about Slave Nano at www.slavenano.co.uk
Nano facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002876113960&ref=tn_tnmn