Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How Big is Too Big?

By Daisy Harris (Guest Blogger)


First off, thank you so much, Lisabet, for hosting me today! I’m sure we’ll all have a blast.

I’m going to talk to you today about my new release, My Fair Dork.

My Fair Dork is the eighth book in my Men of Holsum College series. But since the beginning, I’ve nicknamed the story “Giant Dong of Doom.” The premise is simple: a dorky college freshman with a dick so big he’s embarrassed by it (Harold) is befriended by a handsome and popular hall mate (Owen) who wants to give him a make over. Hijinks, sex, and eventually love ensue.

But even though Owen and Harold have their issues to work out, the main conflict of the story is between Harold and his penis. Harold thinks it’s too big. He worries he’ll never be able to top during gay sex. He’s scared that potential sexual partners will be put off by his size, or let down when they learn they’re only going to be able to do certain activities with him comfortably. Basically, Harold is a giant ball of insecurity.

So, it’s a good thing Owen is laid back about pretty much everything. What’s more, Owen LOVES that Harold’s packin’. In fact, he loves it so much that he might be willing to let the whole campus know he likes boys.

In writing a story about a guy with a giant peen, I got one reaction again and again. That reaction was: “HONEY, there ain’t no such thing as too big!”

Gay, straight, it didn’t matter. Everyone’s first reaction to hearing about a giant shlong is “Yee-haw!”

Now, I understand this sentiment from a visceral perspective. There is something really impressive about a huge cock. They’re nice to look at, interesting to imagine. But, maybe it’s because of all the anatomy classes I’ve taken, but I do believe that a penis can be too big.

Here are some statistics:

  • The length of the average penis is 5.88 inches
  • A vagina is around 3-4 inches deep when unaroused
  • The vagina expands to 5-7 inches deep during sexual arousal
  • The anal canal is about 2 inches and the rectum 4.7 inches (6.7 inches total)
  • Some sources say that a longer penis will just keep going into the colon

So, when they say a guy is 10 or (Egads!) 12 inches long, I always wonder—where’s he planning to put all that? Sure, I bet it looks good in the shower, but really! My lady parts are shivering, and not in anticipation.

But Owen is a much better man than I am. I’d probably run away screaming upon seeing Harold’s cock. Even though Harold is sweet and smart and just flat-out adorable, I am a girl with limits. But Owen’s perfectly willing to work around (and reach around!) the problem. He’s patient, easygoing, and a perfect match for Harold in every way.

And if Owen’s a little bit of a size queen, more power to him. Harold needs a guy exactly like that.

* * * * *

What do you think? Can a guy be too hung? And how big is too big? Share your thoughts and you might win one of my great blog tour prizes: a large-size dildo, a scented penis candle, as well as a $20 gift certificate to the winner’s choice of Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

Blurb

They say a guy can never be too hung. Well, Harold Jacobs doesn’t know who they are, but they’re wrong. Socially awkward for as long as he can remember, Harold feels his enormous package is just one more thing to be embarrassed about. Especially once hunky and popular
Owen McKenzie notices it in the showers.

Owen knows he’s bi, but he keeps that secret close to his chest. He likes Harold, and wants to help him shed his dorky image and maybe even find a boyfriend. Still, Owen can’t stop obsessing about Harold’s equipment. And much as he doesn’t want to flip-flop on his sexuality, Owen does want to test-drive what Harold has between his legs.

Their friendship erupts into full-blown lust. But can Owen accept the loss of his golden child status and be Harold’s boyfriend? And can Harold outgrow his insecurity in time to keep the man he loves?


Excerpt
 
I was born in England. But I moved here when I was nine.” It had been too late to change Harold’s name to something more normal. But his mom seemed to think the move had been a good idea. She hated her ex-husband, Harold’s dad. And, apparently, she hadn’t been happy until there was an entire ocean between them.

Wow. So you’re foreign? You don’t have an accent.” Owen sounded impressed, or maybe hopeful. Like Harold would pull out a smooth, James Bond burr and a tuxedo to match.

I spoke with one when I first moved. But…” He shrugged. All the kids had made fun of how he talked when he started fourth grade. They thought he sounded posh. Some even said, “gay”. Harold didn’t know how an entire country—and all its former colonies—could be gay based on an accent. How would they make little baby Brits?

Of course, maybe the gay thing had bothered him more because at that age, he’d already realized he was.

Too bad. Girls love a guy with an accent.”

Harold coughed, spraying a couple droplets of tea across his scone. He cleared his throat, trying to recover. “Don’t think we have to worry much about that.”

Owen paused his assault on his eggs and looked up. His blue bell eyes were wide and confused. “What? Why?”

It felt surprisingly good to know something Owen didn’t. But it was silly, really. Harold figured everyone knew. “I’m gay.”

Oh.” Owen did a double take, and raked his eyes over Harold’s clothes once again.

Harold guessed that Owen had to re-arrange his opinion of Harold’s clothes now that he had to match them up with a different sexual preference.

Wow. It’s worse than I thought.” Owen stabbed a sausage and bit off half.

What?” Harold looked down at his shirt, wondering if he’d managed to spatter tea on himself during his sputtering. No. It was clean.

Aren’t gay guys supposed to be all stylish and hip?” Owen smiled as he said it—making it sound like he was flirting, or at least teasing.

Harold frowned. “Of course. And we all have lisps, and tiny dogs we spoil.”

Owen’s forehead creased in the middle, as if he wasn’t sure whether Harold was joking. “Nah.” He ate the other half of his sausage, and then picked up another. “I know that’s not true.”

Good lord. Harold closed his eyes and pinched his lips together to stop himself from laughing. Owen was so…he didn’t even know how to describe it. It was an optimistic innocence Harold had heard about but never seen in real life. Maybe it was a Midwestern thing.

This guy I knew from the football team, Tank, he’s gay. And he isn’t like that at all.” Owen thought about it for a moment, staring past Harold’s shoulder to look off into space. “Though I could see him with a dog.”

Harold wasn’t sure whether he was being serious or joking. But since Owen was so earnest most of the time, he guessed Tank guy was the kind to pamper a Chihuahua.

About the Author

Birkenstock-wearing glamour girl and mother of two by immaculate conception, Daisy Harris still isn't sure if she writes erotica. Her romances start out innocently enough. However, her characters behave like complete sluts. Much to Miss Harris's dismay the sex tends to get completely out of hand.

She writes about fantastical creatures and about young men getting their freak on, and she's never missed an episode of The Walking Dead

Links:
Twitter: @thedaisyharris


Monday, October 29, 2012

The Secret of Success

I was thinking about success this morning, during my morning meditation. Specifically, I realized that success in reaching a goal or completing a task does not depend on how many hours of work you put in. It doesn't depend how much you obsess and plot and plan, or even what skills you have. Yes, what you do does matter - of course it does. But not nearly as much as what you feel and believe. 

The most important step in attacking any challenging task is to prepare your mind and heart. Calm your anxiety. Quiet your chattering thoughts. Breathe deeply, and believe that you have whatever you need to succeed - knowledge, skill, determination, inspiration. Move forward in confidence, with faith in yourself, and you can accomplish far more than you would ever dream possible.

I realize that this sounds like mystical mumbo jumbo, but I've seen demonstrations of its truth in my own life, again and again. When I believe, I astonish myself. When I question my abilities, when I falter and lose heart, I stumble and fall.

I remember a simple but telling example. Long ago, one of my boyfriends had this neat trick. He could light a match with one hand, folding it against the striking surface of the match book and hitting it just right. Trivial, right? But surprisingly difficult. He taught me the technique, but I couldn't seem to get it to work. He grinned at me and said, "Lisabet, the problem is that you think you can't do it. Believe you can, and see what happens."

He was right. As soon as I let go of my conviction of failure, I was successful every time. When I let the doubts creep back, I lost the knack.

Recently, author Michael Lewis gave a baccalaureate address at Princeton, his alma mater.  One of his points - which generated a lot of commentary online -  was that success is much more a matter of chance than people normally admit. Successful people like to think that they've earned everything they have, that all their accomplishments can be attributed to intelligence and ability, but in fact, chance encounters and random events play a big role.

I agree with this - with one proviso. I think that one's attitude determines how we react to those random events, whether we turn them into assets or let them pass. If you believe in your own ability to succeed, you will be ready to capitalize on every positive accident that befalls you. And you'll be more able to shake free of the negative events, too.

When we tell ourselves we can't succeed, we are condemning ourselves to failure. When we approach  our goals with confidence, we're halfway to achieving them. Of course, we still have to do the work. I still have to write that novel, create the query letter, send it out to publishers, negotiate the contract, do the edits, plan and execute the marketing efforts. However, if I begin with the conviction that I can write that novel and get it published - well, it's only a matter of time and effort before that happens.

And now - it's back to work!

Ditched

[Today I've got a preview of a new M/M story by Lucy Felthouse. Enjoy! ~ Lisabet]  


Private Damien Stone is living in a nightmare. He’s out on exercise on Salisbury Plain with Lance Corporal Michael Scott—who also happens to be a huge pain in the arse. He’s a teacher’s pet who seems to delight in bossing Stone around. But that’s not the real reason Stone appears to dislike him so much. It’s because Stone—who’s bisexual—is seriously attracted to his superior, but he can’t do anything about it, because Scott is straight. Or is he?

Buy link: http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk/published-works/ditched/

*****

Excerpt

“This can’t be fucking right!” said Lance Corporal Michael Scott, checking his map for the umpteenth time.

“I can assure you, Scott, that it fucking is,” responded his colleague, Private Damien Stone. He nudged the other man, pointed to a place on his own map, then raised his arm and indicated a rise in the ground in the near distance.

“See, that’s that long barrow, so we are in the right place.”

Looking at the barrow—one of the many on Salisbury Plain—then down at the map, and finally at his compass, Scott had to agree.

“So where the fuck are they, then?”

Stone had no answer for that one. He looked up into the lightening sky, which in the distance was being slowly tinged with pink, but saw no sign of their pick-up helicopter. Straining to hear even the faintest sound of rotor blades, Stone remained silent. Hearing nothing, he shrugged.

“Dunno. Perhaps we got the time wrong, or something?”

“I hope not, otherwise they’ve gone without us!”

“Nah. We’re early, if anything. The sun’s only just coming up.”

Sighing, Scott stuffed his map and compass into a pocket, and said, “Well, I guess we’d better find somewhere to shelter. I don’t like the look of that.”

The that he was talking about was an ominous-looking black cloud being buffeted in their direction by the wind, which was picking up rapidly.

“With you on that one.”

On an unspoken command, the two of them immediately split up and started to look around for somewhere they could keep out of the wind and imminent rain. It wasn’t long before Scott shouted out, and Stone immediately turned and headed in the direction of his colleague’s voice.

When Stone arrived, Scott had already removed his backpack and dropped it into the ditch he’d found and was striding down the slope to join it. Luckily, there’d been no rain over the past few days so the ground was dry. If the coming rainstorm ended up being heavy, it was entirely possible they’d get wet arses, but for now at least they’d be reasonably comfortable.

Following his colleague’s example, Stone shrugged off his pack. Turning, he saw that Scott was standing with his arms out, ready to catch it. Tossing it, he gave a curt nod of thanks before heading down into the ditch.

Once there, he saw that some scrub covered a couple of sizeable rocks, meaning that they would at least be able to sit down. It would have to rain pretty damn hard for the water level in the ditch to get as high as the top of the rocks, so they’d be all right until the chopper arrived.

He hoped.

*****

Bio: Lucy is a graduate of the University of Derby, where she studied Creative Writing. During her first year, she was dared to write an erotic story - so she did. It went down a storm and she's never looked back. Lucy has had stories published by Cleis Press, Constable and Robinson, Decadent Publishing, Ellora's Cave, Evernight Publishing, House of Erotica, Ravenous Romance, Resplendence Publishing, Sweetmeats Press and Xcite Books. She is also the editor of Uniform Behaviour, Seducing the Myth, Smut by the Sea and Smut in the City. Find out more at http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk. Join her on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to her newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/gMQb9

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A M/M Embrace from Monsoon Fever

I've got a lovely snog for you today, a steamy M/M kiss from my historical ménage Monsoon Fever.

In their first years together, Priscilla and Jonathan enjoyed a marriage based as much on physical passion as on love. However, the travails of business and the tribulations of the Great War have taken their toll. When Jon's father dies in faraway India, the couple travels to the father's isolated Assamese tea plantation to settle his affairs.

Anil Kumar, a charismatic Indian lawyer who arrives on business, enchants both Priscilla and Jon with his god-like beauty and charm. In separate incidents, each of them succumbs to Anil's lustful attentions. Will the illicit desires excited by the handsome Indian be the final stroke that destroys their marriage? Or the route to saving it?

After you've savored the scene below, hop on over to Victoria Blisse's Sunday Snog page for more kisses from all your favorite authors!

Kumar snaked his arms around Jon’s body, pulling it back against his own. Jon froze. His cock jerked skyward. “Let me help you, Jon. You are so tense. You need to relax.” 
 
One of Kumar’s hands stroked Jon’s pectorals. Jon’s nipples spiked up into tight triggers that shot incredible pleasure through him when touched. The native’s other hand reached between Jon’s legs to cup the bulk of his erection.

No,” Jon moaned, but at the same time his engorged cock threatened to explode in response to the intimate caress. Kumar squeezed the rigid organ, and Jon groaned again. Please, I can’t…”

Kumar nibbled Jon’s earlobe. Sparks flashed down Jon’s spine to ignite in his groin .” Why not?” he murmured, his voice rich with encouragement. “Why not allow yourself the release you crave, that you need?”

Nimble brown fingers unbuttoned Jon’s trousers. Jon gasped at the first touch of Kumar’s bare skin on his own. He slumped back, letting Kumar take his weight as the Indian fondled his aching cock. Jon could feel the hard bulk of Kumar’s own erection pressing into his backside. Panic seized him. He had to escape.

At the same time, the rock-hard evidence of the other man’s arousal nearly took him over the edge. He leaned against the other man, not daring to move, trying to ignore the insistent tease of Kumar’s cock, knowing that with the slightest provocation he would experience the ultimate shame. Yet the humiliating image of his seed shooting out all over Kumar’s hand only drove him closer to that extreme.

Kumar slid his thumb back and forth over the exposed and sensitive bulb. Jon gave a strangled cry of pleasure and anguish. “Don’t resist it, Jon. Why not enjoy the flesh that the gods have given you?”

But—it’s an abomination. You, me…”

Perhaps in England. Here we know that male and female are merely two aspects of the One. Turn around now, and I will show you such pleasures that you will not doubt they come from the gods.”

Jon could not help himself. Kumar steered him around until the two men were face to face. The Indian fastened his ripe lips on Jon’s mouth in a sweet, deep kiss. He crushed Jon’s exposed cock to his own groin. Through the thin cotton trousers, Jon could feel the native’s rigid cock, duelling with his own.

The heat of the kiss stole Jon’s breath. He had never before kissed a man, but now something was loosed in him. He opened his mouth to Kumar’s agile tongue, welcoming the foreign sensation of being invaded, savouring the exotic taste of anise and coriander. He wrapped his arms around the Indian’s muscled frame. Kumar’s light cotton garments were no barrier to sensation. Jon could feel everything—the heat coming off the native’s silky skin, the dampness near his armpits and his groin, the stony pillar of flesh rising between his thighs.

The Indian finally broke the kiss. Before Jon could sigh his regret, Kumar had slipped to the floor, kneeling in front of the Englishman. Before Jon could think about propriety or shame, Kumar had sucked Jon’s cock into his mouth. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

If You Could Be a Super-Hero...

By R.J. Scott (Guest Blogger)


I've always wanted a secret *super* power. Very often this was because I saw it as a way to escape, or to understand, the situation I was in. How often have I wished I could control time, or be invisible.

My favourite comic superhero has got to be a combination of Spiderman crossed with Professor X. I'm not sure which of the latex wearing superheroes I would want to be if I have to select one, but I know for certain I don't want to be the Hulk (I just can't see the positives in his story!).

I love the idea of knowing things other people don't - maybe the power to see inside another person's thoughts or control those thoughts. I'd also like to be invisible and have freaky powers over technology. Oh, and fly, I'd quite like to be able to fly.

I have always been fascinated by the Greek and Roman myths and their Gods and Goddesses and the earliest kinds of superheroes. I have a favourite, Apollo, the sun God. I have to admit this is based on a combination of his back story and my unrequited love for Apollo from Battlestar Galactica (original version!)).

The first superheroes were a fascinating bunch of beautiful godlike men and strong Amazonian women. Their stories were dictated by the whims of a God and of fate. My favourite ancient story is of the Three Fates who sit up there watching us all deciding how long the thread of our life is, and when to cut that thread. It's intriguing to think that there is a trio of women somewhere who decide our destinies and the visceral idea of a pair of shears literally slicing your thread of life is creepy and very final.

I also love the stories about Troy, Jason, the Minotaur and so many others. I was brought up on the old Ray Harryhausen stop-motion films like Jason and the Argonauts, Clash of the Titans and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and loved the hero at the center of it all. The hero had Olympian-God-given talents and items were often sneaked to them by the capricious Gods that would help them win against the varied and amazing bad guys. And my love of Greek and Roman stories lives on. Every time a Harryhausen film pops up on the TV (normally in the slow week between Christmas and New Year) I sit and watch every second with absolute fascination.

When I 'created' Alex in Oracle he knew he had special talents. He never questioned why he had them; he could escape the bullies from his childhood and he felt powerful. He was a man who had no understanding of what he was or how he came to be like it. Then I gave Alex his Luke. Because every hero needs someone to ground them and explain to them what the hell is going on. I imagine if I was suddenly given the ability to read people's minds I wouldn’t automatically go "hey, I can read people's minds". Knowing me I would analyse why, and approach the gift with trepidation and more than a little fear. I would need a Luke just to calm me down.

In Oracle 1, Alex couldn’t fly, but I certainly gave him powers including a certain kind of mind control, the ability to *disappear* and the power to affect technology. In Oracle 2 things go from bad to worse for poor Alex but with great power comes a backstory. Alex's backstory is a little different to the normal but no less compelling than being the only survivor of a dying planet!

Hero's don’t have to save the earth or bring peace between ancient gods. They can be a carer, or a teacher, or a first responder, a soldier… But, if you were given one superpower, one gift or curse, what would it be?

* * * * *

Oracle is available

Oracle 2 is out today and is available here:

A list of all my published books is here: http://rjscottauthor.blogspot.co.uk/p/published-writing.html

* * * * *

About me...I live in the UK just outside London and most of my written work is published with Silver Publishing. I love reading anything from thrillers to sci-fi to horror; however, my first real love will always be the world of romance. My goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and more than a hint of happily ever after.

My website is here – www.rjscott.co.uk and my facebook is here: https://www.facebook.com/author.rjscott. I love hearing from readers and my email is rj - at - rjscott.co.uk

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Doing What Comes Naturally

By Azura Ice (Guest Blogger)

Hi. I’m a smarta** and I know it.

Many of my readers will tell me how much they love the snappy dialog and verbal humor in my books. I’m a natural smartalec. I use the tame version of the word here, lol, but in all honesty I am a major smarta**. Don’t confuse the meaning with the bad definition. My sarcasm and flippant words aren’t used as weapons—well, maybe if someone ticks me off. Okay, yeah. Every time someone ticks me off. However, I’m naturally goofy and have a warped sense of humor, so when I’m talking with someone, the smart-alecky part of me comes out and I don’t even realize it until the other person is cracking up.

So the bam-bam-bam dialog in my books comes naturally.

My family calls me blunt. I am, but mix that with wicked sarcasm and it can be an interesting combination. The other day my oldest son (21) took a heavy, red bowl from the cabinet.

“I used to have a set of these at my place,” he said. “Well, ‘cept they were clear, not red.”

I looked up from my laptop.

“You know,” he continued. “See-through. You could see right through—”

“Yes, I’m quite aware what the word “clear” means.”

He started laughing. “Why do you have to be a smarta** all the time?”

“You’re the one who had to give me the definition of clear,” I countered.

“See?” By this time he’s flustered and forgot what he was doing. “You’re doing it again.”

By that time, I was laughing.

Earlier that same morning he was in the shower and I hear, “MOM!”

I poke my head in the bathroom. He looks back at me through a crack in the shower curtain and has blood dripping from his nose. “The bottom of the tub has blood all over it and I can’t figure out where it’s coming from!”

“You have a nosebleed, you big goof,” I reply.

“Jeez, Mom, I just saw the blood but couldn’t find a cut anywhere on me. I didn’t know I had a nosebleed.”

“Well,” I snapped back, “If you would keep your finger out of your nose maybe it wouldn’t do that.”

“MOM!”

Laughing, I shut the door.

Snappy dialog might come easy to me, but I have to say that it really helps propel a story. Even in romantic scenes, a li’l humor can aid in giving the scene believability, making it realistic. And if it’s super sexy, a bit of quick humor gives much-needed relief when it’s boom chicka wow wow. Seriously, you can only climax so many times while reading before you need to rest.

{GASP!} Yes, I really did say that, lol.

Check out Darkest Kiss, Darkest Bliss and see what sort of fire-cracker remarks my character, Deirdre, has in regards to some female competition. After all, when another woman makes a play for your guy, you gotta arm yourself with whatever it takes to put her in her place...even if it is behind her back, lol.

*****
Deirdre loves Malachi, but the warning about his wandering heart has come true.

Shoved into a situation that tears Deirdre apart, she prays her suspicions about her husband are wrong. Glimpses of a powerful, handsome black man tantalize her, and his deep voice comes to her at unexpected times. Who is this stranger and how does he seem to always know when she needs him? The more Malachi follows his wandering heart, the more Deirdre finds herself drawn to her ghostly companion.

Soon it’s clear her husband has no intention of rectifying his playboy ways, so Deirdre turns to her grandmother’s book of Voodoo and faerie magic for help. Can she summon the power to keep Malachi with her…or will true love and magic from long ago release a new and powerful love?







*****

Author Bio

Azura Ice's work has appeared in a wide range of genres and publications such as: Would That It Were, Touch, GC, and Ohio Writer magazines as well as with publications in Canada and Turkey. Under her pseudonym, Molly Diamond, she was a regular contributor to Gent and Ruthie's Club and has had fiction published in Hustler's Busty Beauties, Penthouse Variations, and Twenty 1 Lashes. Ms. Bicknell is the author of many e-book and print titles, also writing as F.L. Bicknell and several other pen names. She has served as co-editor and managing editor for three different publishing houses. She is represented by TriadaUS Literary Agency.

*****

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mastering Maya Now Available!

My BDSM novella Mastering Maya is now available as a special VIP pre-release at Total-E-Bound! Click here to receive an exclusive 10% discount on this new ebook title.

Blurb

Behind the mask of control hides a spirit aching to surrender.

Mistress Maya bears the nickname 'The Ice Queen'. Her precision in administering discipline, her skill in evoking a submissive's devotion, and her unshakable self-control are legendary in the small but active Boston kink community.

From the moment newcomer Master Shark sees Maya flogging a sub at Club Inferno, he's obsessed with her beauty and power. He'd determined to break through her defenses and bring her the same release she grants to the lucky slaves she tops. When Maya dismisses Shark as young and inexperienced, he offers her a challenge: a night together, during which he'll show her what it means to be mastered. If he fails to bring her to new heights of sensation, he agrees to become her slave.

What begins as a test of wills evolves into something deeper and more intense. As the younger man uses his insight and skill to coax Maya into submission, he comes to understand the wounded spirit hiding behind her mask of control. Can he make Maya trust him enough to surrender? Or will the flawless, untouchable dominatrix take possession of his body as well as his heart?

New excerpt!

“Maya! I’m glad you’re still here. I want to introduce you to my old friend Shark. He’s just arrived in Boston.”

Tom’s booming voice matched his burly form. He dwarfed the wiry young stranger.

Calm. Calm. She flashed back to the pinnacles of ice for an instant. Then she accepted the new Dom’s outstretched hand. “Master Shark?” Her eyebrows arched and she allowed a hint of laughter into her voice.

“A pleasure. Welcome to Club Inferno.”

“Please, call me Stephen.” He kept hold of her hand several seconds longer than protocol demanded. She noted that he stood only a few inches taller than she, that he smelled of female musk and cured leather, and that he was somewhat older than she’d guessed from a distance—closer to thirty than twenty. “I’m only Shark to my subs.”

“I can see how you earned the name.” Maya gestured toward the schoolroom door, where clots of Doms and subs were now emerging. “You’re as voracious and implacable as your namesake.” Her hand still tingled from his grip. She ignored the sensation.

“I’ll take that as a compliment.” The stranger chuckled. “You’re no fount of mercy yourself—if I may say so.” He raked her with his eyes, deliberately assessing her physical charms. Maya kept her face impassive, even as her pussy moistened. “Your caning—well, it was magnificent!”

Genuine admiration rang in his voice, though his bold stare suggested there were limits to his respect.

“Long years of training, Master Shark—as well as skilled teachers.” She skewered him with what she hoped was an intimidating look. “And who taught you, young man?” The emphasis on ‘young’ was subtle but unmistakeable. “Where are you from?”

“San Francisco. I studied with Mistress Sylvia and Master Blade.”

“Ah, I know them well.” That partially explained his expertise. Sylvia and Blade both enjoyed stellar reputations in the kink community. “Though I haven’t played on the West Coast for many years.”

“I’m sure I would have noticed you if you had.” He looked as though he wanted to say more, but Maya cut him short.

“Nice to meet you, Stephen. But I’ve got to get home.”

“I’ll come with you.”

The suggestion was so unexpected that Maya, at first, barely noticed its rudeness.

“What? What do you mean?” Even she recognised the shock in her voice.

“I’d really like to get to know you better. You fascinate me.”

His frankness unnerved her. “Sorry, but I never take anyone home with me.” Maya tilted her head in Tom’s direction. “I’m surprised Master Thomas didn’t tell you.”

“Oh, I did!” Her long-time associate grinned at his companion. “He’s just the stubborn type. Won’t take no for an answer.”

“Not a desirable trait in a dominant,” Maya observed, covering her discomfort with disapproval. “When a bottom says no, that means no.” She shook her head, edging away from the pair. “But, then, you’re still young and inexperienced.”

Shark’s arm shot out. He seized her wrist, preventing her from leaving. “I’m not that young.” The dark edge in his voice sent a scary thrill straight to her sex. “I just know what I want. And I’m used to getting it.”

Maya pulled herself to her full height. “Arrogance is an even worse liability.” She laced her voice with scorn, staring pointedly at the hand restraining her. Shark released his grip, looking somewhat chastened.

“Sorry—ma’am.”

Her eyes narrowed. Was the little popinjay mocking her?

“Really, I apologise. I was totally out of line.”

“You were. I don’t know how things are in San Francisco, but here in the northeast we take SSC—Safe, Sane and Consensual—pretty seriously. And I definitely did not consent to you grabbing me.”

Even though you liked it, the imp in her head taunted. She couldn’t deny it. But she certainly wasn’t about to admit that to this cocky stranger.

“I know, I know. You’re right. Will you forgive me?” The hardness had vanished from his speech and his manner. He appeared as eager and harmless as a puppy.

“I don’t know.” She took another step backward, deeply confused by her mixed reactions. “Perhaps I should make you kneel and kiss my feet,” she added, thinking to inject some humour into the situation.

“Whatever it takes…” Stephen began to comply. Tom hauled him back to his feet.

“She’s just kidding.”

“Really? Because I wasn’t…”

“I was teasing you, Master Shark.  I accept your apology. But I do hope you’ll work on your manners, if you’re going to be hanging around the Inferno.”

“Yes, Mistress Maya. I expect I’ll be around quite a lot.”

As she bid them goodnight, she wondered whether that was a threat or a promise.

***

Interested? Get your copy today and read this tale of love, trust, pleasure and pain before anyone else!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Paranormal Snog from Rendezvous

Hello, everyone!

Today's snog is part of Victoria's latest fun event, the Blisse Kiss After Dark. There are two constraints in this celebration - the kiss has to take place in the dark, and every author has to give away a prize.



I'm serving up a quick snippet from my Halloween tale Rendezvous, about a young woman's initiation into BDSM by a ghost in a haunted motel room. Leave me a comment, and you can win your choice of either Rendezvous or my M/F paranormal Hot Spell. I'll draw the winner next Sunday.

There are lots of other prizes up for grabs, too. Go to blissekiss.co.uk for links to dark kisses from other authors!





The wind whipped the ends of my hair into snarled tangles and brought tears to my eyes. The moon wavered above us, its light fragmented in my uncertain vision. Everything was a blur. We drove faster than seemed physically possible. Other vehicles were no more than streaks of brightness left in our wake. Dizziness swept over me. The moon spun overhead.

The engine roared, its vibrations resonating through my body. I could feel its power, in my thighs, in my sex, a constant thrumming that had my cunt weeping all over Tony’s fancy padded seat. The seat stretched me, held me open. I gripped Tony’s body more tightly, riding on the edge of orgasm, while his black steed carried us into the night.

I was in some kind of trance state, sight and hearing muddled but touch made unbearably acute. The monster cycle bucked between my legs as its driver raced onward into darkness. He’s fucking me, I thought, fucking me with his bike as he takes me down to hell with him, to stay with him forever.

As if he heard my thoughts, Tony turned back to look at me, laughing aloud. His dark eyes sparked with unnatural joy. His sharp teeth flashed. The pitch of the engine rose to a whine. Our impossible speed increased. The wind ripped at my clothes. Ice crystals stung my cheeks. The world collapsed into a star-spattered velvet blackness whirling past, and the incandescent blossoming of a climax deep inside me.       

The dream blew away like tattered wisps of fog. We were parked on a quiet suburban street across from Christie’s bungalow. I tried to get off the bike, but my legs were jelly. If Tony hadn’t grabbed me, I would have crumpled onto the sidewalk.

“How...? Why...?”

“Shh.” Tony stopped my questions with a lingering kiss. “It seems that I can read your mind, a little. Enough to pick up your friend’s address, at least.”

He ran his fingers through my hair, gently working out the tangles, and straightened my dress, smoothing the satin over my breasts. He didn’t neglect the opportunity to tweak my nipples. Suddenly I was warm all over. My stripes burned anew; I almost expected to see them glowing.

Tony nibbled at my ear, then pulled my mouth to his. His tongue claimed me. His touch erased my doubts.

“So, are you ready, Justine? Are you recovered?”

“I think so.” There was a residual quivering between my thighs. “I’m kind of sticky.”

“Don’t worry about that. It’s just the beginning. Come.”

He put his arm around my shoulder and propelled me up the stairs to Christie’s door, between the rows of grimacing jack o’ lanterns.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Brit Love

By Tamara Carlisle (Guest Blogger)

In Away from the Spotlight, Shannon Sutherland’s romantic interest is Londoner, Will MacKenzie. I made him a Brit for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I am of Scottish descent and I’ve always had a thing for British men. In fact, my husband is a Scot. To an American woman, a British man is fascinating as a matter of course because he is different from American men. His speech is different, his frame of reference is different, and his interests are often different. When dating a Brit, you feel like it broadens your horizons. Based upon my own personal experience, thanks to my husband, I now have a fondness for British comedies, a good curry, and rugby. 

Second, I knew that Shannon would travel abroad after the California Bar Exam and I wanted Will to have a life over there as well as in the U.S. because it allowed for a fuller experience when Will and Shannon met during Shannon’s travels. Shannon stayed at Will’s flat in London, visited some of his favorite places, and met his family and friends. I suppose I could have created a character from another European country, but I wrote what I know. My husband is British and I have spent quite a bit of time in the U.K.

Finally, I had Will and Shannon meet at The Royalist, a pub that was based upon an old hangout of mine, the Ye Olde King’s Head Pub in Santa Monica. I always preferred pubs over bars because they seemed more casual and friendly, making it easier to meet people. And, although the King’s Head has changed a little since my heyday, when I frequented the pub, you couldn’t meet an American man there if you tried. Most were from the U.K., Ireland, Continental Europe, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa thanks to the pub’s location not far from a popular hostel, and the availability of British beers and the game of darts.

While I agree that a British accent can make a girl melt, all British accents are not created equal. My story is a fairytale of sorts with Will being more of a Prince Charming-type. (That said, Shannon, a newly-minted lawyer, was in no need of rescuing.) Will was raised in an affluent suburb of London. Consequently, Will had posh accent, very pretty to American ears, making him that much more attractive. To the extent Americans hear British voices, the speakers tend to have or mimic this type of accent. We’re somewhat used to it and, generally, don’t have difficulty understanding it. However, if Will had a rougher lower class accent and/or a regional accent from another part of the U.K., he might have been difficult to understand. This would have added other elements to the story I didn’t want or need (the guy from the other side of the tracks, communication issues, etc.).

When reading romance novels, I want an escape from my relatively mundane day-to-day tasks. I want to read about a life different than mine without being so over-the-top that it’s unbelievable. It is my hope that Away from the Spotlight provides this experience for readers. And who knows? Maybe one of those guys from Game of Thrones, Henry Cavill, or Robert Pattinson might meet an American law student who doesn’t recognize him sometime soon. It could happen.

[I want to apologize to Tamara. This post was supposed to be part of her virtual blog tour appearance at Beyond Romance last week, but I messed up. Thanks for giving me another chance! ~ Lisabet]

Erotic Romance and Rugby League? Well, Why Not?

By Donna Gallagher (Guest Blogger)


I’ve loved reading and rugby league for as long as I can remember. My mother was one of those readers that had a book beside the bed, one for the bus to work and another in the desk drawer. She passed that love on to me, and while I can only manage one story at a time reading has been a huge part of my life. My husband rues the day he bought me a smart phone because now I can take my library with me wherever I go. Writing is new for me and I have to admit that I just woke up one morning to find these voices in my head telling me their story. When I started to write them down I couldn’t stop, but I never imagined I’d be lucky enough to see them published and added to my ever growing library.

My passion for rugby league was inherited from my father’s side of the family, but I can probably thank my sister for my infatuation with footy players – she used me as a cover to ask players for autographs and photos! That same sister is now a sports commentator here down-under.

So it was just a natural progression to mix my two loves into one. What better alpha male than a muscled sportsman, who spends a great deal of time running around in skimpy shorts and chest hugging jerseys acting fearless on the field but completely vulnerable when it comes to the woman that steals his heart.

Caitlin’s Hero is the first book in my League of Love series.

Falling for him is easy. Dealing with his high-profile life—a life deemed public property by his fans and the press, plus an ex-wife out for blood—now, that’s the hard part.

Twenty-year-old Caitlin Walters was living a normal life. She attended university, socialised a little and had a good relationship with her mother and stepfather. But when her parents are tragically killed in a car accident, Caitlin’s life is forced to change. The once carefree girl becomes sole guardian of her stepbrother. Giving up her university course to support and raise eleven-year-old Riley, Caitlin struggles to deal with her new responsibilities.

Her job, singing at a local Italian restaurant, brings Caitlin some peace. On stage, she leaves her life and its troubles behind. Feeling comfortable and sensuous, she is like a siren calling out to lost souls. It’s on one of these nights that Caitlin begins a romance with Australian Rugby League captain, Brodie James. Brodie, not content with his so-called perfect life and struggling with commitment issues following a disastrous marriage, falls hard for Caitlin.

The relationship does not run smoothly for the self-sacrificing Caitlin, as she learns how to deal with Brodie’s nasty, jealous ex-wife, a muck-raking reporter and intrusive but well-meaning rugby fans. Along the way she makes new friends, and awakens the untapped sensual desires of the woman inside

Excerpt

Caitlin did not know how or when it had happened, but her blouse and bra were now undone, leaving her breasts bare to his heated gaze. She loved the way he was looking at her, touching her. She had never gone this far before, and was unprepared for the intensity of her feelings. Oddly, she was not embarrassed at all to be so open to him. She wanted to touch him and tried to pull his jumper up but couldn’t free him of it, so snugly did it fit over his bulging biceps and chest. Brodie pulled the wool garment over his head in one move, and she caught her breath at the sight of his muscled, masculine chest.

Curly, light brown, almost golden hair covered the upper part of his chest, and she couldn’t help notice it tapering down to form a path to his pants waistline and what lay beneath. She explored his chest, getting to know the feel of it, touching the hair and twisting it, brushing her hand across and around his distended nipple. He groaned and before she had taken another shallow breath, she was lying beneath him. He had lifted her off his lap and laid her on the sofa, stretching out next to her with his leg over hers.

Caitlin was unaware of how much time had gone by. All she knew was this man. She wanted to climb right under his skin and needed to feel closer. All the while he touched her and stroked her, and the hardness of his erection pushed into her hip. She wanted to touch him, but he had both her hands held in one of his, lightly pinning them above her head. The other hand was making its way up her skirt—he touched her through her panties. She felt the lips of her vulva swell at his touch. She was so wet she could feel the seep of liquid coming from her body. Unsure, she pulled away from him a little.

“Can I touch you, angel? Feel if you’re all wet for me?” Brodie whispered in her ear, the words both shocking and exciting Caitlin at the same time. “I sure hope you are wet for me. It’ll make me feel so good knowing that you’re as hot for me as I am for you. Trust me, angel, I won’t hurt you. If I do anything that you don’t like or feel comfortable with, just tell me and I’ll stop.”

She wasn’t scared, though he was clearly in control. He pushed a finger into her and moaned in her ear as he touched the sensitive nub of nerves just inside her folds. He began to swirl around it slowly. An uncontrollable wave of pleasure spread through her, but never quite broke over her. She panted, tossing her head from side to side as she searched for some sort of finality before she went mad.
Brodie hushed her and in a dark, sexy whisper told her, “Come for me. Let go. I’ll catch you.”

Links to Caitlin’s Hero and my website.

Bio

Sydney-born Donna Gallagher decided at an early age that life needed be tackled head on. Leaving home at 15 she supported herself through her teen years.

In her twenties she married a professional sportsman, her love of sport -- especially rugby league -- probably overriding her good sense.

The seven-year marriage was an adventure. There were the emotional ups and downs of having a husband with a public profile in a sometimes glamorous but always high-pressure field.

There were always interesting characters to meet and observe and even the opportunity to live for a time in the UK.

Eventually Donna returned home a single woman, but she never lost her passion for watching sport, as well as the people in and around it.

Now happily re-married and with three sons, Donna loves coffee mornings with her female friends, sorting through problems from the personal to the international. But she's on even footing with the keenest man when it comes to watching and talking rugby league.

Donna considers herself something of a black sheep in a family of high achievers. Her brother has a doctorate in mathematics and her sister is a well-known sports journalist.

An avid reader, especially of romance, Donna finally found she couldn't stop the characters residing in her imagination from spilling onto paper. Naturally rugby league is the backdrop to her spicy 'League of Love Series' available through UK publisher Total-E-Bound, tales of hunky heroes and spunky heroines overcoming adversity to eventually find true love.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday Snog: Tease

My snog today comes from my short story "Tease", published in my new BDSM collection Spank Me Again, Stranger. It's pure erotica - pure sensation. The narrator is blind-folded and bound.

Don't forget to check in with Victoria for more sexy lip action!



No one has touched me yet, but I know that they are there, around the table. Men, and women too, watching me, admiring my exposed and helpless body splayed out before them. No one has laid a finger on me, yet I am suddenly, overwhelmingly aroused at the mere thought of their presence and their gaze. My pussy swells and spills over. I feel a trail of moisture slip down over my butt cheeks and into the crevice between them. My unseen companions release a collective breath.

Then there is a shock, the first touch, someone's tongue briefly licking up the pearly drops beaded on my fevered skin. I shudder, close to climax from this one contact, which is gone almost before I can register it. I strain, unsuccessfully, to spread my thighs wider, mutely offering my aching sex to their fingers and mouths. Something like a laugh ripples through the crowd of watchers.

My knees are bent, my ankles fastened securely with something soft but strong, close to my buttocks. This position opens both my cunt and my ass to their eyes and their touch. My arms are loosely raised above my head, wrists bound together and then to the table. It is surprising how little freedom I have to move, considering how gentle these bonds seem.

My nipples tighten into throbbing buds of need. Someone notices and brushes his palms (her palms?) symmetrically over them, once, twice, sending electric shivers down my spine. Once again, the touch is transient, merely a tease. I moan, begging without words, arch my back toward those hands that I sense are poised above my breasts, just out of reach.

"Sshh", says a soft voice near my ear. "Hush." Then there are smooth lips sealing mine, a delicate tongue slithering between them, a taste of lemon and cinnamon. My nipples are caught between strong fingers that squeeze until pain blazes on the edges of the pleasure. I open my mouth to moan, but my voice is stopped by a suddenly rough tongue.

'The grip on my nipples is unexpectedly released. Rings of sensation radiate over my breasts like ripples on a pond. My cunt vibrates in resonance. Before I can catch my breath, someone takes my clit between finger and thumb, squeezing hard. I explode, neon colors flashing on my closed eyelids, my body twitching and shivering. For long moments, I surrender to the delicious spasms racing through me. I forget that I am not alone.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Tabou Quartet: An Interview with Suzanne Stroh

Please tell us about your current release.

Patience launches my sexy quintet of novels, TABOU, a saga that spans 100 years on four continents and recounts the erotic Odyssey of Jocelyn Russet, the 27-year old brewing heiress born in London and raised in the Virginia countryside. 
 
In each book, Jocelyn meets her destiny on one big night, when her fate turns on secret histories and forbidden encounters with a different woman every time. The novels interlock, as in The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell, and they can be read in any order, thanks to the Prologues that open each novel and the indexes that help readers keep track of the cast of characters. The whole project hearkens to the heyday of the 19th century novel, where readers could immerse themselves in detailed worlds peopled by dozens of characters. Edgy, modern action and full-spectrum erotic writing updates the series to give it a “classic modern” feel.

Book One is a double love story that is part rollicking adventure, part sexy romp through the glittering 1980s and 1990s, set in London and Los Angeles. It’s the tale of two British-born heiresses of different generations, Jocelyn Russet and Patience Herrick, both coming of age at the same time. Are they made in heaven, or star-crossed? What forgotten memories do they share, what secret legacies must they uncover and take charge of, and why are their families being targeted for terror?

Can you tell us about the journey that led you to write your book?

TABOU began as an unproduced Hollywood screenplay that focused on Jocelyn and Sylvie Russet and Jocelyn’s climbing partner, Zander Duffield. It fulfilled the basic requirements of good drama: three act structure and a compelling narrative with a love interest and an antagonist. I dreamed of Catherine Deneuve in the role of the 45-year-old Cognac heiress, Sylvie Russet, in the vein of INDOCHINE, the blockbuster epic Deneuve had just starred in so magnificently, but the movie project fell through.

My characters had really come to life, and now they wouldn’t let me go. Early on, I realized that there were deeper stories I wanted to tell about how love and Eros, business and spy craft, run in families just like other heritable traits. Telling stories that spanned four generations or more required a format more ambitious than film, or even a single novel. It took years for me to find the right “glue” that would bind nine families together on four continents over four generations. The day I realized Patience Herrick was an epic heroine strong enough to parry Jocelyn and Sylvie, with her own family business story that could carry a quintet, I knew I had a series on my hands. Aurore de Fillery and Valerie Drummond, Countess of Tiffin and Ross, sprung out of that seed. And soon I could see the organic whole taking shape.

So Book One of TABOU is a love letter to the real Patience. She is one of only two characters in TABOU modeled closely after a single person; the rest are truly composites.

TABOU is not autobiographical fiction, but it does draw deeply from my experience, and it is fair to say that as a mountaineer, motorcyclist, screenwriter, field medic and family business specialist based in the Virginia countryside, I truly live what I write about in TABOU.

I worked feverishly on the first draft of TABOU six days a week while still nursing my baby daughter, completing it in about seven months. Then I took a break and re-read a lot of period biographies, along with two great novel cycles from the late 1950s that compliment one another and balance the stylistic influences of TABOU.

First I re-read The Alexandria Quartet, a literary masterpiece by Lawrence Durrell, whose artistic aim was to explore the four dimensions of love in an era when Einstein had just discovered time as the fourth dimension of space. I followed that with another run-through of the Peter and Charlie Trilogy by Gordon Merrick, published after Merrick’s death from 1959-1961. This was a serious work of literary erotica by a successful author of gay “potboilers,” his explicit, homoerotic romances that critics had ghettoized. Merrick was a major talent. But as E.M. Forster had done with Maurice, he refused to publish the Peter and Charlie books during his lifetime. The subject matter was too taboo.

No longer! What really gripped me about the Peter and Charlie books, besides the first class erotic writing, was the family saga. What other gay epic gave the heroic lovers children—and the struggles of parenthood pitted against Eros? Merrick was taking Durrell’s “fourth dimension” (the enduring powers—both creative and destructive--of love over time) to the next level. Literary giants like Forster, Lawrence, Woolf, Sackville-West and others had dreamed about it—but never accomplished it. I wanted all that sexy continuity for TABOU…and more.

For readers around the world, generations of their own family histories have been lost because of taboos that forbid truth telling about the wide range and variety of sexual desire and experience, not to mention its power to transform history. Helen’s face launched 1,000 ships, remember? Bosie’s charms landed Oscar Wilde in prison. Who paid the price? Who inherited the spoils? 
 
Historians and biographers have become franker in writing colorful and meaningful gay, lesbian and bisexual lives. Recent biographies of Alan Turing and Walt Whitman vie with my personal favorite by Victoria Glendinning, Vita, in the pantheon.

But the living legacies of these lives remain unclaimed by their heirs, or else squandered. Who knows the adventures of her great-great gay uncle, or the heroic deeds of his three-greats lesbian aunt? Greta Garbo’s niece threatens legal action against those who pry too deeply into Garbo’s life story, as if their consanguinity is still a threat. For those of us who crave connection and continuity across generations, James Joyce made much of the difference between spiritual paternity and actual paternity in Ulysses, but does anybody remember? Dolly Wilde told anyone who would listen, in Paris between the wars, that she was more like her uncle Oscar Wilde than he was like himself. But when she died, that continuity appeared to have vanished…until, out of the blue, Jamie O’Neill wrote a brilliant novel called At Swim, Two Boys, which revealed him as the spawn of the gay Wilde and the hetero Joyce. Why have so few talented writers addressed this huge gap in consanguinity and continuity between us and our queer forebears?

This is the great question that spurred me on through many drafts to finish and publish TABOU now. My mission: to mind the gap. Then to bridge it, one erotic fiction at a time, since we have lost the links in the real human daisy chain over the last century.

I bring an unusual perspective to TABOU. As a descendant of John Hart, who signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, and as a fifth-generation owner of the international Stroh’s brewing business that had been in my family since 1848 in America, then back to 1509 in the Palatinate (Germany), it seemed like nowhere was this yawning gap more visible than in my own milieu. So I built the mythology of TABOU around the world I was born into and raised in and now pass down to my daughter: the world of political dynasties and business families that bears some resemblance to the Olympian heights. Here on Earth, with the help of the “chattering classes,” it’s a world that has taken such painstaking care to trace its own history from generation to generation for centuries. But it’s a history that has left out the biggest change agent of all: the wide variety of sexual experience that perennially inspires us, nourishes our souls, enlivens our art, and strengthens our connections between love and Eros in every generation.

I don’t want to spoil it for you, but one of my beta readers summarized what I’d accomplished like this: “At first I was like, ‘who are these people?’ And then I got it! They’re dripping rich and saving the world!”

Can you tell us about the story behind your book cover?

Great question. I’m very proud of this.

I worked with a very talented young designer, Andrea Kuchinski, on the cover design. We’ve been collaborating creatively for a decade, ever since Andrea was a teenage apprentice at the design firm that won a Hermes award for my web site, suzannestroh.com.

For this project, we needed to incorporate several key elements. We had a series title, and there are five books in the series. So we needed a family of covers, not just one cover. The series title, TABOU, is incomplete without the mysterious mirror reflection of currency symbols, £$F€£, used throughout the series as section dividers. I can’t explain the meaning of this, or else I’d be ruining the climax of Book Five, Valerie. So trust me: the title and the series of currency symbols are inseparable. We also had to incorporate the tree of life, with its nine withered branches representing the nine dynastic families of TABOU, and with its entangled root system. And finally, we wanted to express the eroticism and good taste that sets TABOU apart from contemporary trends in literary fiction.

Our process at the beginning of each new project is to talk things through over a coffee. Sometimes Andrea will record our conversation, but at this stage in our collaboration, we can pretty much read one another’s aesthetic. I leave her to work freely and come up with a concept.

As you can see from the Facebook page, Andrea’s first prototype was a family of covers that evokes the South Pacific imagery where Sylvie Russet grew up on Hiva Oa, near Tahiti. Dominated by the tree, the covers were whimsical, blocky, colorful and fun—but not edgy. We agreed we wanted to go for something deeper, bolder, starker and more profound, more beautiful.

To me, an art history major in college, nothing is more beautiful than the human body. I started looking for nude photographs that would hint at the mysteries of TABOU, showing the variety of sexual experience (and more critically, the powerful union of sex and love) that is central to my theme.

Meanwhile, Andrea had a breakthrough. She noticed that our tree of life contained elements in the root system which, if lifted out of context, resembled beautiful, flowing tattoos. By overlaying the root system on the nudes, we began to get some really extraordinary imagery that still evoked the South Pacific. We knew we had what we wanted, stylistically. What remained was layout.

Andrea drives this part of the iterative process, which usually goes very fast. It’s a back-and-forth exchange where we home in on color, typeface and layout until we feel that we’ve reached the full expression of our concept. Very soon we’d built a unified family of covers. Et voil√†.

We were both completely shocked when the iBookstore judged the cover of Book One too “explicit” and asked for a redesign—or else they would refuse to sell the book. I wasn’t happy, but agreed to the redesign. I love the aesthetics of Apple devices, and I myself am totally “Macked-out.” But the idea of censorship by Apple still sticks in my craw.

Since before the Renaissance, the highest measure of artistic greatness (in painting, sculpture and modern media) has always been depicting the nude--the magnificent form and structure of the human body. I disagree profoundly with the conventional American notion that expressing nudity, especially artistic nudity, is “obscene,” when expressing graphic violence is not. Censorship is not just a problem for authors. It limits filmmakers as well, as I know from my work as a screenwriter and film producer, driving the marketplace through the Hollywood rating system, which determines what movies our children can see—or cannot see.

I shouldn’t have been surprised when the iBookstore rejected the cover of Book Two. But I am still disappointed. As with Book One, I have redesigned the cover of Jocelyn for iPad readers. You can see the original artwork on my Facebook page.

What approaches have you taken to marketing your book?

This is an all-eBook publicity campaign organized through my publisher, Publish Green. To let readers know about TABOU, I am building momentum through word of mouth and Facebook advertising. With my Facebook page, Tabou by Suzanne Stroh, and my web site, www.workwithstroh.com, I am forging the authentic, personalized, one-to-one connection that readers crave from authors in a world of McMedia.

I’m also organizing a blog tour, and I’m available to support the book through interviews and personal appearances on blogs and web sites like yours.

What book on the market does yours compare to? How is your book different?

TABOU is a literary reader’s Fifty Shades of Grey, without the BDSM. It has great sex writing, like Fifty Shades of Grey, but it is neither mommy porn nor genre fiction built on the formula for stock erotica. The gaps between the sex scenes are much longer, and those gaps are filled with more intriguing plots that involve many more characters. It also presents all kinds of couples in love: gay, straight, bisexual, single and partnered, young and old, able-bodied and disabled, faithful and unfaithful to their spouses.

Like the novel series by Edward St. Aubyn, TABOU is set in a glittering world of bluebloods and elites. But these elites are not your typical “1%.” Unlike St. Aubyn’s abusive elites, TABOU’s international elites are productive, not destructive. They are on a mission led by a moral code, a reason for being—a higher purpose that is revealed progressively as characters accept hidden legacies and face life-threatening challenges after discovering secret histories.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I’d start with the sex writing. Very little literary fiction published today has truly great sex writing in it that explores the full range of sexual experience. And almost no erotica delivers the deep satisfaction of a good literary novel. My work bridges this gap. You won’t find hot sex every 30 pages, as in genre fiction. But you’ll keep every volume of TABOU by your bedside, no matter whom you share your bed with!

My writing is a personal blend of deep artistic influences in several genres, including biography, giving rise to some unconventional quirks. One of my goals has been to counteract the predictability of so much contemporary fiction, in part by re-inventing the experience of really getting lost in a juicy 19th century saga peopled with dozens of fascinating characters, each with his or her own vivid storyline. To make it easier for readers to follow all the characters, I’ve provided character indexes, the way a biographer would index a biography.

Technically, TABOU requires commitment from the reader, in the way that the music of Kanye West is challenging—but worth it. It’s not a breezy read; nor is it a slim volume. It takes at least 100 pages to “get into” a novel cycle this big, but then you’re hooked, if you’re like 50% of my beta readers who became addicted! TABOU’s pleasures are deeper. They grow on you.

For instance, TABOU is ambitious in throwing out the conventional linear narrative in favor of the pleasures of being able to peek into the future and to jump back into the past instantaneously. A benefit of blending the past, the present and the future together in every book is that you can read the books in any order. It’s kind of like enjoying the possibility of multiple endings in a computer game. You will have a unique experience of TABOU, depending on how you choose to read it. The dual narratives begin, in Book One, on the same March day in 1993 and 2003, each progressing from there. You know you’re in a flashback, recalling past events, when you see dialog ‘in single quotes like this.’ Dialog in the main story “looks like this.” And future events are written in bold italics. You won’t get confused because all this is explained in the Author’s Note that appears in the end matter of every TABOU eBook.

Readers will also notice lots of interior dialog, reflecting multiple points of view, along with lots of verb phrases in my books. Screenwriting has taught me to craft edgy sentences that begin with verb phrases. It’s a screenwriters’ convention that energizes the pace and adds immediacy to the narrative.

Open your book to a random page and tell us what’s happening.

It’s 4:00 p.m. in Los Angeles in 1993 at the height of the “British invasion” of Hollywood. Patience Herrick, daughter of the three-time American ambassador to Great Britain, pretty much rules the city’s social calendar. Tonight she needs to get out of throwing a dinner party in Bel Air for a French champagne princess, where the Hollywood elite will mingle with the US Vice President—all so she can celebrate her tenth anniversary with Jocelyn Russet, the love of her life, the brewing heiress Patience seduced in a London ballroom. So tonight is a date made in heaven—that Patience completely forgot about.

She calls her best friend Calandra Seacord for help. Calandra can definitely host the party in her place; she’s Greek and gorgeous, an Arianna Huffington double, married to the man running for Governor of California. Calandra and Patience grew up together in London. Patience knows her well and loves her like a sister.

But Patience doesn’t know everything. Calandra is a secret agent working for the champagne princess, hunting down unprosecuted Nazi war criminals, kidnapping them, and bringing them to mock trials in order to recover stolen assets. Calandra can’t risk being seen socially with the princess, so she has to make up a plausible reason why she can’t do this important favor tonight for Patience.

There’s another problem: Patience is a world-class judge of character. Nothing slips past her. Calandra can’t let Patience on to her secret. So in order to distract Patience, Calandra reveals the biggest secret of Patience’s life. And when she does, Patience begins a journey of recalling lost memories that will change her life forever….starting with her anniversary date tonight….

Do you plan any subsequent books?

Book Two, Jocelyn, is now available. Book Three, Sylvie, will go on sale in time for the 2012 holiday season. The cycle will conclude with Books Four and Five in 2013. Each TABOU book features a sneak preview of the next book.

Tell us what you’re reading at the moment and what you think of it.

I’ve always got a few books going at any given time. I love reading in multiple genres. Do you?

In erotic fiction, I’ve started Fifty Shades Darker by EL James, and while it’s a fun, breezy read with the sex writing as good as ever, I’m not surprised to find the thin plot growing even thinner. I love to read great sex writing, but I like it in better taste and more measured doses with deeper character development, more going on with more characters, and exciting story lines. I much preferred The Last Nude by Ellis Avery, which I devoured, almost in one sitting. It’s about the cocaine-fueled obsession of Modernist painter Tamara de Lempicka for her 17-year old model Raphaela, whose portraits secured Lempicka’s rock star status in Paris between the wars. I’m also reading Afterimage by Helen Humphreys, the fictional account of another muse obsession, this time by pioneer English photographer Julia Margaret Cameron for her housemaid.

Two graphic novels have captured my attention. I just finished really Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home. It’s the first work by Bechdel I can really connect with. It’s a very compelling, but heavy, memoir by a Midwestern intellectual whose closeted father took his own life when Alison came out as a lesbian. I’ve turned now to Logicomix, the story of Bertrand Russell’s quest to lay a unified foundation for mathematics, set in Edwardian England and beyond. Apart from The Invention of Hugo Cabret, it may be the most beautiful graphic novel I’ve ever read. It took four authors and artists to make it: Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos Papadimitriou, Alecos Papadatos and Annie Di Donna. What a cool collaboration.

Nonfiction titles are always by the bedside and on my Kindle. By the bedside is Marina Warner’s scholarly book about the Tales of the Arabian Nights, Stranger Magic. It’s well researched and beautifully published. Comprehensive. Kate Summerscale’s biography of Toughie Carstairs, The Queen of Whale Cay, made me laugh out loud. She was the very butch Standard Oil heiress who ran an ambulance unit in World War I and then became “the fastest woman on the water” racing hydroplanes between the wars. My father would have seen her challenge the Harmsworth Cup on the St. Clair River in Detroit in 1929 and 1930. After she lost both races, Toughie retired to the Bahamas, where she became the autocratic ruler of her own island.

I try to read in French as much as I can. Right now I’m gripped by Francesco Rappazzini’s biography of Elizabeth de Gramont, set in Paris during the first half of the 20th century, which has never been translated. The “red duchess” Lily de Gramont, from one of France’s oldest families, was Proust’s fact-checker; she was the best friend of the man Proust pined for; and she was the only woman Natalie Barney could never control: they were lovers for 45 years. If you don’t read French, you can get an idea of “Natly’s” escapades with Lily de Gramont in Diana Souhami’s wonderful and hilarious book, Wild Girls.

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Summary: Tabou: Patience, Book 1

Jocelyn Russet and Patience Herrick. Two powerful, British-born American lesbians, fiery heiresses of different generations. Both coming of age at the same time. Are they destined for one another—or starcrossed? Follow their ten-year Odyssey in a sexy romp through the rollicking 1980s and 1990s. Discover how their fate turns on secret histories that bind the Russet and Herrick dynasties in business, politics and espionage. Meet an international cast of supporting characters who must all choose between love and duty in book one of the TABOU quintet.

Suzanne Stroh's Bio:

Suzanne Stroh is a screenwriter and film producer, author of published case studies on family business. She grew up in Michigan where her family brewed Stroh’s beer for five generations. She studied art history at Wellesley College and Newnham College, Cambridge then worked in the New York art world before turning to writing. A mountaineer and field medic, she lives with her family in the Virginia countryside. TABOU is her first novel.

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Buy Tabou: Patience today!

Price: $2.50 ebook
Pages: 463
Publisher: Publish Green
Release: October 11, 2011

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