Monday, May 30, 2016

The Learning Curve (#pnr #series #writing @AuthorLolaWhite)

By Lola White (Guest Blogger)

Hopefully, every writer that sits down to create a story will get better with every tale told. But it can be an arduous process. There are skills that can’t be taught on blogs about writing, you can’t learn them through advice, or even by reading others’ books. These resources might be helpful as a starting point, but, eventually, you have to find your voice and you have to learn for yourself how to share it.

Writing a series turned out to be akin to jumping into the deep end for me. It also puts my learning curve front and center, on display for all to see. When I started writing the Magic Matched series the concept was completely different, but it soon settled into what became Betrothed. I thought I would write one book, but I hadn’t even gotten halfway through Betrothed when I realized I would need many, many more words to tell the story in my head and in my heart.

I didn’t want some horribly long epic adventure, yet that was what my main plot needed. So I started planning, and realized that I would need four books. However, the story is about two witches, and four books about two witches, especially an erotic romance when the two witches are forbidden from having sex, seemed a little…drawn-out. Learning, learning! I added more depth to what used to be secondary characters, and gave them each prominent roles on the main stage, then broke the whole into manageable chunks. Two romance stories in each novel…


I also learned that the first in a series is a breeze. It’s a blank canvas, you’re making up the rules as you go. The second in the series isn’t too bad, either. It’s not yet complicated enough to have you drawing graphs, and if you write the first and second back-to-back like I did, everything is fresh in your mind. It’s a fairly fluid continuation. Looking back, however, I can see how those first two books were influenced by my love of Stephanie Laurens’ romance novels. They have a prose-y-ness that most of my other books have outgrown. (Not completely because I do love a good turn of phrase, but knowing what flowery phrases to keep is also part of the learning process.)

Then came the third book, Motherhood. Just released on May 17th, I’m amazed it wasn’t delayed indefinitely. I started writing the book just after the second. I’d written most of it when my brain shut off—which usually means my subconscious thinks something is wrong with my story. I put the book aside until I could figure out what was wrong with it…and going back was torture. I despaired, for the first time in my life. I thought I’d have to scrap everything and start over, and I had no idea how to do that, where to start that wouldn’t lead me to the same mess.

That’s part of the learning process, too—not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I wrote a summary of each chapter on index cards and laid them out on my floor. I’ve never done that before, and haven’t since, but I did what was necessary to get my story in good order so I could continue.

Then I got to the emotions. I would have told you that I wrote with emotion, mine were always close to the surface, but Motherhood touches fears I’ve shoved to the very back of my mind. The next step in an author’s evolution, the next rise on the learning curve, is finally digging in to the core of who you are. 
 
Some get there faster than others. You can write with passion, you can tell an amazing, engaging, best-selling story…but eventually, all true writers break through that emotional wall, and nothing is ever the same again.

For me, it turns out that Motherhood was not only the hardest to write in the series, being a crucial turning point for my main characters, but also The Wall. I was a wreck, but now I feel like I can tap into my emotions more freely than before, and yet they are no longer so sharp as they were with Motherhood. One of my fears is what I’ll do when I lose my grandmother—we’re very close. In Motherhood, Georgeanne has to ask herself the same question, as her grandmother is very ill. Another one of my fears is fully trusting a mate…I’ll freely admit to being a commitment-phobe. It’s hard to hand yourself over to another—mind, body and soul like all epic romances should be right?—but Christiana Davenold is being asked to do just that by her husband.

And then we get into the heart of things. For me, the reason I shy away from a deep commitments is because I don’t want to be hurt, of course. That’s why we all run, and those who stay are the bravest people I know. Georgeanne and Silviu are at a point in their relationship where it’s all or nothing, but betrayal lurks and forgiveness can be difficult. How much could you forgive…because the betrayal in Motherhood is deep and decisions about the future will have to be made.

Now I’m writing the last book of the Magic Matched series. (Don’t tell, I’m pretty sure it was supposed to be done already!) And I’ve learned how far I’ve come. I’ve learned how to plot a series, how to connect all the dots and tie up all the loose ends. My style has changed, though I’ve tried to maintain a similarity to the other three books, and my voice became clearer. As a woman, I am more in touch with my emotions and more willing to risk them for great reward. As a writer, I have a firmer grip on my craft.

I’ve learned a lot, but it’s an ongoing process. I hope I never complete it.



Thank you Lisabet! For any who are interested in the Magic Matched series, you can find the first two books, Betrothed and Married, for a temporarily reduced price at Totally Bound and Amazon.

Magic Matched

Only magic and politics matter…until love comes into play

Silviu and Georgeanne must learn to open their hearts to each other in order to unlock their full magical potential. But with all that stands in their way—archaic traditions, murder plots, and a betrayal that threatens all they can be—they will need the group of allies they have built to help them navigate the dangerous world of witches, and succeed against the dark magic stalking them every step of the way.

About Lola White

Delve into the emotions, dive into the erotic.

An extensive traveler who loves to incorporate various legends from around the world into her tales, Lola White likes to twist reality at its edges in her stories. She likes delving into the emotions of her characters, finding their strengths and weaknesses, and seeing (and showing) how they get themselves out of whatever trouble has found them—if they can.



For news, exclusives and special deals, sign up for her newsletter at http://goo.gl/N4YZ1K

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In an ironic twist, I’m honoring the release of Motherhood with a celebration of fathers! In the US, Father’s day is in June, and I’ll be releasing my novella, Stolen Goods just in time to celebrate.

Comment below with a happy memory of your father, step-father, grandfather, etc. and your first name, then follow this link and let me know! I’ll send you a PDF copy of Stolen Goods.

*Please be aware, by giving me your email address, you are also signing up for my monthly newsletter*

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Scarborough Snog (#historical #kiss #contest)

Happy Sunday!

Yesterday marked the fourth annual (I think) Smut by the Sea extravaganza, organized by the vivacious Victoria Blisse (who is also responsible for the Sunday Snog tradition). Alas, I could not attend this year, but I marked the day by writing a brand new story, triggered by my memories of my visit to Scarborough for the event in 2015.

The mists of history lie heavy in Scarborough, from the Vikings to Victorians. As I wandered through the park on the hill overlooking the sea (complete with a statue of Queen Victoria), I could almost see the ladies strolling along the paths in their bodices and bustles. My story today brings one of them to life (and of course features a kiss or two). I've even illustrated it with some of my own photos from last week's trip.

Having gone to all this trouble, I decided to run a contest to encourage you to read the tale. After you read the story, leave me a comment with your email, and tell me what you think should happen next

I'll randomly select one person who comments. The winner can choose one of my historical romances as a prize: Challenge To Him (MF BDSM set in the Gilded Age in America), Monsoon Fever (MMF menage set in Assam, India, after WWI), or Shortest Night  (MM and MF set in Shakespearean England).  

Oh, and when you are done here, do head back to Snog Central for lots more sexy Sunday kisses.


Anything but a Gentleman

Meredith’s curls adhered to the back of her neck, stuck there with most unladylike sweat. Though several days remained until the end of May, summer had arrived with a vengeance. Perched on a tree-shaded bench in the elegant park near the top of the tramway, she found but scant relief from the relentless noonday sun. In her tight bodice and layered skirts, she could scarcely breathe. 

 

Her parents and sister had retreated to the hotel to refresh themselves before luncheon. Meredith had promised to follow soon.

Do let me sit for a few minutes, “ she’d pleaded. “The sea looks so lovely from up here. I will miss it when I’m in out in the country.” Reluctantly, her father agreed.

Now she was alone in the manicured gardens, a rare pleasure. All sensible holiday visitors had followed her family’s model. She trained her eyes on the faraway line where the pale sky met the blue-green ocean. If only she could sail away, to the Continent perhaps. Or to America! She’d gladly relinquish her privileged life, in return for her freedom. 

 

That was naught but an empty dream, though. Indeed, she would soon pass in deeper and more permanent servitude.

Life was so unfair. If she’d been born a boy, she might have found the adventures she imagined. Instead, in a month’s time, she’d be imprisoned on a country estate leagues from anywhere, wed to a near stranger twenty five years her senior. She screwed her eyes shut against the sting of gathering tears.

Why the sighs, pretty lady?”

Her eyes flew open. “What—what are you doing here?” The young man’s attire and manner made it obvious he was no gentleman. He wore no waistcoat or cravat. His shirt sleeves were rolled to the elbows, baring his tanned forearms, while his hands were buried deep in the pockets of his rust-brown trousers. A tartan cap perched on his unruly black locks. His open collar revealed a shocking glimpse of yet more hair. A man of the most common sort—though there was something familiar about him.

The speaker chuckled. “’Tis a public park. In fact, I have more right to be here than you, seeing as I was born in Scarborough.” His broad Yorkshire accent testified to the truth of his statement. “You, you’re just a tourist, come out from the city to enjoy our little diversions.” He gestured toward the distant horizon and the gleaming ocean. “But you han’t told me why you’re weeping. A lady like you, with every advantage the world can offer, should be all smiles.”



That is none of your business, sir.” Meredith emphasized the honorific, so inappropriate to this interloper. His confident grin unsettled her. Black sideburns, too long to be fashionable, framed his overly-red mouth. His smile broadened in response to her scrutiny, showing surprisingly good teeth. He met her eyes with a boldness that made her feel faint. What dreadful manners he had! With difficulty, she turned her gaze back toward the sea. “Please depart and leave me in peace.”

Yea, but you’re not. At peace, I mean.” Without asking her permission, he folded his lanky frame and settled him on the bench, not a foot from where she sat.

A wave of heat crashed over her. She snatched her skirts away. The young man laughed once more.

You’ll not catch anything from me, girl. Come now, tell me your sorrows. I know you can’t share ‘em with your own people.”

As I indicated, my sorrows, as you put it, are none of your concern.” Meredith knew she should simply stand up and walk away from this impudent stranger. Somehow, her limbs failed to obey her.

Let me guess, then. You’re about to be married off. Pledged to some gent who don’t interest you in the slightest.” He surveyed her slender form with obvious appreciation. “Here’s you, so young and beautiful, and all that’s going to be wasted on some lordling who don’t care for anything but his hounds and his horses.”

No, no, that’s not true...” she began. To her horror and mortification, she dissolved into tears before she could complete her objection.

There, there...don’t cry, my pretty.” He captured her gloved hand in his work-worn fingers and gave it a squeeze. “I’m sure Lord So-and-So isn’t worth your tears.”

Lord—Lord—Roderick Walters—of Rathborne Hall—Herefordshire,” Meredith sobbed. “He’s—he’s fifty six, and looks ten years older. Bald and paunchy, with a dreadful mustache... And I—I—in just four weeks...Oh, I can’t stand the thought of him! I can’t!” A fresh squall of tears shook her.

“’Tis a true shame, lady. You deserve better.”

Meredith raised her eyes and saw genuine sympathy in those of her companion. Moments ago, laughter had lit their green depths. Even now, when he was serious, they sparkled, gem-like. “I—I’ve never been anywhere, or done anything exciting. My parents treat me like some hot house flower. If only I were a man...”

I for one am glad you’re not,” he told her, with a half-smile.

Her chest ached. Her cheeks burned. Still, his attention made the moment easier to bear. “I’m barely seventeen,” she murmured. “And my life is over. I’ve never seen Paris. I’ve never been in love. I’ve never been kissed.”

Ah! That, at least, we can fix.”

Somehow he’d managed to take hold of her other hand. He pulled, and she slid towards him along the wrought iron bench, until his trousered leg touched her hip. The day grew immeasurably hotter.
Her protests died on her lips as they met his.

His mouth molded to her own with a firm pressure that hinted of great strength, held in check. He did not force himself upon her. Instead, he tempted her, the smoothness of his lips a thrilling contrast to the stubble that grazed her cheek. A vigorous, male scent rose from his flesh, sweat mingled with something sharper. It dizzied her. The world whirled around her as she closed her eyes and allowed herself to sink more deeply into the kiss.

Her partner sensed her surrender. Releasing her hands, he grasped her shoulders to draw her closer. Her frantic heart beat against his tightly muscled chest. She moaned as a tuft of the hair protruding from his shirt brushed her own throat. The intimacy—it was overwhelming! She knew she should stop him, that she’d be thoroughly ruined should anyone observe the liberties he was taking, but the sensations were too delicious for her to relinquish.

He took advantage of her parted lips to slide his tongue between them. Reckless and hungry, she opened further, inviting him to explore. He claimed her completely then, drinking her in while his fingers trailed down her sides, teasing her through the many layers of silk, linen and muslin that separated his skin from hers. She dared for a moment to imagine what it would be like to shed those oppressive layers, to truly bare himself to his touch. Oh, what a wicked woman she was! The bliss surging through her erased her dutiful guilt.

He tasted—sweet. Like the caramel toffies Alice had bought that morning as they strolled along Foreshore Road. All at once she realized why he seemed familiar.

You—you’re the candy vendor,” she gasped, struggling to extricate herself from his arms and catch her breath.

He did not try to restrain her. “Thought you didn’t recognize me. You seemed in some other world when you passed my stall today.”

She remembered him now, though—his bold eyes and the way he’d winked as her mother hustled her away. “You followed me!” she exclaimed. “What are you doing here? What do you want?”
Nothing, lass, that you don’t want to give.” His conspiratorial tone made her shiver. He knew perfectly well she wanted him to kiss her again.

A hot flush swept through her. What in the world was she doing? “I must get back to the hotel, before my family comes looking for me. I cannot be seen with you.”

The toffee man gave her a sad smile. “No, that wouldn’t do, would it? Run along then, my little lady.” He rose to his feet and tipped his cap. “Good day to you, Miss.”

Meredith lingered on the bench, one gloved hand clutching the other. “But...”

Yes?”

I—I don’t even know your name.”

His emerald eyes gleamed. “It’s Tom, Miss. Tom Barnes.”

I’m Meredith. ‘Tis best I don’t tell you my surname.”

Tom nodded, a cocky grin lighting his face. “A true pleasure, Miss Meredith. But maybe I should call you Merry. Seems like a fine name for a sad lady like you.”

She laughed, and felt the awful tightness under her breastbone relax. “Not as sad as before, thanks to you, sir.”

I could offer you further cheer, if you’d let me.”

Oh, what madness to even think on it! “I doubt that would be advisable, Tom.”

He shrugged. “Perhaps not. Then again, you should trust your instincts.”

Right now, my instincts feel far from trustworthy.” She offered her hand. “Goodbye, Tom. I’m very glad to have—ah—made your acquaintance.”

The candy seller pressed his lips to the back of her hand, in exaggerated mimicry of a gentleman. She couldn’t suppress a chuckle. When he finally released her, he fished around in his pocket for several moments.

Here,” he said, pressing something small and hard into her palm. “You know where to find me.” Turning his back on her, he headed down the stairway to the beach, whistling.

Meredith watched him disappear before she examined the item in her hand. It was a toffee. She unwrapped the twisted, waxed paper and popped it into her mouth. The taste reawakened luscious memories.

She was whistling, too, as she strolled back toward the hotel. After all, she’d be in Scarborough for another week. Anything was possible.


Don't forget to leave a comment with your email! 
What should happen next?

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Phantom: The Immortal (#paranormal #gothic #music)

The Story Behind an Erotic Sequel

A conversation between Mitzi Szereto and Ashley Lister


Mitzi: Can you believe Phantom: The Immortal has been ten years in the making? I have no idea where the time went, but you’d be surprised at how quickly ten years can pass for two very busy authors! I guess Ashley and I both ended up being pulled in other directions and onto other projects, but thank goodness we got there in the end.

Ashley: It’s been a wonderful experience. As writers we usually do things in isolation but being able to collaborate, especially on a story as exciting as this one, has been a lot of fun.

Mitzi: Ashley and I really liked the idea of doing a contemporary sequel to Gaston Leroux’s classic The Phantom of the Opera, and back when we began our novel, virtually no one had done such a thing. What we wanted was to take the main character and bring him into the modern day, adding in some paranormal themes such as immortality and reincarnation.

Ashley: The original is very sexy in its own way. You have characters who are overpowering, domineering and submissive. But the eroticism of that original story was very much between the lines. We wanted to produce something where the sexual frisson was a little more foregrounded.

Mitzi: In our version, the Phantom has been living beneath the Paris Opera House all this time when suddenly a beautiful young soprano, the mirror image of his Christine Daaé, appears for an audition. Needless to say, he must have her at all costs and he sets out to do precisely that. How he goes about it…well, let’s just say that our Phantom is no shrinking violet when it comes to making his desires known. He’s had a lot of time to get all hot and bothered in that underground lair of his and a lot of time to think of some interesting ways to satisfy his sexual (and kinky) urges!

Ashley: Kinky? I believe the saying is: it’s only kinky the first time. Personally I’d say romantic with a lascivious flair. Perhaps we should start marketing that as a new genre?

Mitzi: Indeed! But Phantom: The Immortal is a lot of things; it’s erotic romance, Gothic romance, paranormal romance and romantic suspense. I think it will fit a lot of reading tastes.

Technically, this is the first time I’ve worked with another author on a book, though as some of you may know. I’ve since gone on to write my cozy mystery satire series The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles with my celebrity bear Teddy Tedaloo. Trying to co-write a novel with another author isn’t easy, but Ashley and I came up with a wonderfully logical way to go about it. We decided to take on the roles of the two main characters: the Phantom and Christine Delacroix. I’d write a chapter as Christine, with Ashley writing the next as the Phantom, and so on and so on, switching back and forth until the book was finally completed. We even structured our novel in various “Acts” and “Scenes” to give it that theater feel. Both of these characters are so strong and have such individual voices; having us each write our character helps to strengthen that.

Ashley: In a way that approach was something of a double-edged sword. It was great to be working with a colleague whom I admire and respect. But it was also very intimidating. Once we began to exchange our chapters, Mitzi would send a fantastic piece of writing, and that would put the pressure on me to produce material to the highest standard I was capable of writing. Then, when Mitzi sent her next piece back, which was invariably better than the piece she’d sent before, I had to up my game higher.

It meant the pressure was on throughout the writing process, but I believe that means the finished product is something better than I could have ever produced on my own.

Mitzi: Ashley is too modest! But now that I see the finished product, I can’t even imagine having done this book any other way or having written it with any other author. And I’m sure Ashley will agree with me there. Or at least I hope he will!

Ashley: I agree absolutely. Now, all I need to do, is try to convince Mitzi that we should collaborate again!



Blurb

Sexual desire and soul-searing need fuel this contemporary erotic sequel that relocates the original character from Gaston Leroux’s classic novel The Phantom of the Opera to present-day Paris…

While attending an auction of music memorabilia, young soprano Christine Delacroix bids on some letters written by another young soprano, Christine Daaé, who lived during the 19th century. Here she meets the handsome Compte Rezso Esterhazy, who immediately sets out to court her. Despite his attentions, Christine becomes obsessed with the Daaé letters and her namesake’s mysterious “Angel of Music”—a masked man who lived beneath the Paris Opera House.

Seemingly immortal and frozen in time, the Phantom is condemned to life below the opera house and in the shadows…until Christine Delacroix auditions for a minor role in Faust. Convinced the Christine from his past has been returned to him, he sets out for her to have the lead female role. He visits her in her dressing room to give her singing lessons, all the while remaining hidden from view. Insanely jealous over Christine’s budding romance with the Compte, the Phantom abducts her and takes her to his underground lair, where the singing lessons continue. Only this time they are far more depraved and sexual in nature.

Excerpt

Just like Christine,” he murmured. Without thinking, he placed one gloved hand against the back of the mirror. If the glass hadn’t been there, he knew he would have reached out to touch her and reassure himself that she wasn’t an apparition. He snatched his hand back to his side as though he had been scalded.

Pausing briefly in her aria, Christine pulled the T-shirt over her head.

She was naked beneath.

His eyes widened. He pressed his lips tightly together, scared that the slightest sound would alert her to his presence. Fearful she might hear the deafening timpani that had replaced his heartbeat, he placed a hand over his chest as she slipped out of her jeans.

And still she sang.

The sensory overload threatened to push him past the brink of sanity. The world’s most glorious music; his life’s most profound love; her truly angelic singing voice; and the magnificence of Christine’s nudity. Swallowing, forcing his mind to go past the arousal she inspired, he tried to work his thoughts into a semblance of appropriate order. He needed to understand why and how she had returned to him, and then decide what he should do to make sure they were never again separated. He needed to approach the situation rationally and with cool detachment. Common sense told him that he would only be able to win her love by displaying reserve and restraint.

He was sickened to find himself appraising her.

In the gaudy light of the dressing room darkened only by the glass that separated them, her skin looked perfectly taut. His fingers flexed and tightened within his gloves as he imagined stroking and caressing her curves. Her bare breasts—beautifully rounded, exquisitely plump, and tipped by crinkled areolae and mocha nipples—silently begged for his touch. His gaze slipped to her crotch, and he didn’t know whether he was delighted or dismayed to discover that she was modestly wearing white panties. The flimsy cotton was darkened at the crotch by the thatch of her pubic curls. The high waistband accentuated her slender waist and drew his attention to the roundedness of her hips.

He stifled the urge to groan.

Buy Links







About the Authors


Mitzi Szereto (mitziszereto.com) is an author and anthology editor of multi-genre fiction and non-fiction. She has her own blog of humorous essays at Errant Ramblings: Mitzi Szereto’s Weblog (mitziszereto.com/blog), and a web TV channel Mitzi TV (mitziszereto.com/tv), which covers the quirky side of London, England. Her books include Rotten Peaches (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) and Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles)—the cozy mystery/satire series co-authored with her sidekick bear Teddy Tedaloo; The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray; Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts; Darker Edge of Desire: Gothic Tales of Romance; Love, Lust and Zombies; Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire; Red Velvet and Absinthe: Paranormal Erotic Romance; Getting Even: Revenge Stories; and Dying For It: Tales of Sex and Death. Mitzi has pioneered erotic writing workshops in the UK and mainland Europe, teaching from the Cheltenham Festival of Literature to the Greek islands, as well as lecturing in creative writing at several British universities. Her anthology Erotic Travel Tales 2 is the first anthology of erotica to feature a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.



Ashley Lister (ashleylister.co.uk) is a prolific writer, having written more than two dozen full-length novels and over a hundred short stories. His most recent titles include the Sweet Temptation series from HarperCollins and the horror novel Raven and Skull, due to be released mid-2016. Aside from regularly blogging about writing, Ashley is also an occasional performance poet and teaches creative writing. He has hosted creative writing workshops at Eroticon, the annual conference for sex bloggers and erotica writers, and is the editor of Coming Together in Verse, a charity anthology of erotic poetry. Ashley is currently studying for a PhD in creative writing, focusing on short fiction. He lives in Lancashire in the UK. Visit his blog at ashleylisterauthor.blogspot.co.uk.

Author Links

Mitzi Szereto website: http://mitziszereto.com

Mitzi Szereto on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mitziszereto


Ashley Lister website: http://ashleylister.co.uk

Ashley Lister on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ashleylister

Phantom: The Immortal website: http://mitziszereto.com/phantomtheimmortal/

Friday, May 27, 2016

Memoirs of a Sex Goddess (#self-confidence #conformity #joy)

I'm not beautiful. Never have been. I've got a long face (a “horse face”, some would call it) and I'm so myopic I've worn coke-bottle glasses since I was seven years old. For most of my life I've been plumper than what is currently fashionable. Throughout childhood and my teen years I was awkward and socially inept, the shy, smart girl whom most guys avoided, either out of disinterest or feelings of inadequacy.

Then, when I reached my mid-twenties, I suddenly became a sex goddess.

I'd had a few boyfriends, including one multi-year relationship in graduate school that fell apart because he wasn't ready for a commitment. After we broke up, I moved out of the group house where he and I had been living with three other guys (that's another story!) and moved into a tiny apartment of my own. And that's when it all started.

All at once, or so it seemed, men began crawling out of the woodwork – men who wanted me. Friends became lovers. Strangers became lovers. I seemed to be broadcasting pheromones or something, because despite my average looks and body, I apparently inspired desire in a significant fraction of the male population.

I didn't understand this change, but I can't pretend I didn't like it. This was after the Pill and before AIDS – sex was much safer and more spontaneous than it could possibly be now. Though I was still fundamentally shy, somehow I found the courage to let go and experiment. I had some delicious adventures. I experienced some profound connections. I learned that most men were as insecure about their sexual attractiveness as I'd been about my own, not to mention deeply grateful to encounter a woman who honestly enjoyed making love.

My sex goddess period didn't last all that long – a few years, at most – but it changed my life and my perceptions of both the world and myself. I realized that looking sexy isn't nearly as important as feeling sexy. This turns out to be true on both sides of the gender divide. Some of my most skilled, imaginative, attentive and caring lovers were guys you'd never look twice at - guys who'd certainly never make it onto the cover of a romance novel!

Furthermore, I concluded that society's rules about sexual behavior can be seriously destructive of relationships and of happiness. Nice girls don't like sex, we're told, or at least, they don't admit they do. We're encouraged to feel guilty and ashamed of our own healthy desires, to hide or suppress our “improper” needs. We're all terrified to be labeled sluts. Meanwhile, men are left feeling frustrated, confused, and concerned about turning the women they want into “sex objects”.

This is not a positive situation – although I suspect that the level of mutual dissatisfaction experienced by modern men and women is one reason for the popularity of erotic romance!

I've been married for more than three decades at this point, but I've taken the lessons of my sex goddess years to heart. Desire should celebrated, not denied. I'm not advocating unthinking promiscuity or total irresponsibility, but I do believe it's worth the effort to honestly examine our choices about sex. If you weren't worried about what “other people” would think, would you choose differently?

I use these insights (plus my rich trove of personal erotic memories) whenever I sit down to write erotic romance. My heroines, for the most part, aren't reticent about sex. They're lusty, self-confident women who are comfortable claiming their own pleasure. Sometimes, they're more open to sex than they are to love. It's the heroes' job to demonstrate that they need both.

I write to primarily to entertain my readers, not to convey some sort of deep message. Still, if there were a consistent moral to my work, it would be this:

Don't listen to the voices that try to make you feel selfish or guilty. Believe that you're entitled to love and to pleasure. There's a sex goddess inside each one of us. We just have to release her.

P.S. The image at the top of this post is a sketch by my mother, who was a sex goddess in her own right.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Sneak Peek: The Trouble with Misbehaving (#historical #romance @VictoriaHanlen )

[Goodness, but this sounds like one feisty heroine! And don't miss the giveaway at the end of the post ~ Lisabet ]


Blurb

Love, betrayal and redemption

Calista ‘CC’ Collins is used to being the talk of the town. With her scandalous past she’s learnt the hard way that a woman needs to be strong to get what she wants in a man’s world. And what she wants is the infamous Captain Beauford Tollier—roguish son of an earl, notorious blockade-runner and all-round knave of the seas.

However, Captain Beau is not one to be cajoled—he is done with the dangerous sea life and ready to follow the life of the straight and narrow. But with many powerful forces circling around him, Beau doesn’t stand a chance…

Excerpt

Since you burned my letters we still have much to discuss.”

He squared his shoulders. “I think not. Our brief association is at an end. I do not wish to be a part of your mad games. After the night before last—”

After the night before last?”

It seems best to allow you your distance.”

He heard a quick intake of breath and a rustle of silk. Her voice seemed to rise in pitch, “Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone what you almost did with crazy ol’ Miss Collins. But then you have lots of secrets, do you not, Captain Tollier? What’s one more?”

I don’t know what you mean, nor do I care.” He started walking again.

Looking at all these…lovely portraits, I can see why people whisper you’re the family’s cuckoo.”

Lurching around, he clenched his fists in an effort to control his temper. Not only did the insult shock, it cut into one of his earliest, deepest insecurities. He lowered his voice to a dangerous calm. “You are fortunate to be a woman, madam. Were you a man, such an insult might force me to call you out.”

She stood and gave him a look so sultry it almost begged him to teach her lessons of a different sort.

Ah yes, call me out. And what should I call you?”

He turned to leave, hoping to prevent saying or doing something he’d regret. Before he’d taken two steps, C.C. said in a voice full of authority, “Mr. Wainwright. Perhaps Captain Scott? Or would it be Cornelius Dolan?”

The hairs on his neck stood straight out.



About the Author

Award winning, historical romance author, VICTORIA HANLEN, has worked at a wide range of jobs, from fashion, to corporate business, to treading the boards of stage and professional opera. A lifelong writer, she once put her skills to use in PR and advertising. But her favorite form of writing is happily-ever-afters spiced with a dash of wit and a page-turning mystery. Victoria and her husband live in rural New England surrounded by a host of wildlife.
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