Saturday, April 19, 2014

Switching Gears

By Aurelia T. Evans (Guest Blogger)

Thank you so much for letting me guestblog today, Lisabet!

Winter Howl was my first novel and features a young woman who suffers from agoraphobia and accompanying panic attacks. Renee requires a service dog to get around outside her property—a service dog who is also a canine shapeshifter and her best friend and lover, but a service dog nonetheless around the rest of the world’s population.

Renee is the only person who lives at the sanctuary who’s human. Everyone else is a shapeshifter or a werewolf, and so she’s used to being the least powerful in the room (practically speaking). She’s awkward around people and doesn’t think much of her abilities and worth, the events of Winter Howl notwithstanding. She thinks she depends a great deal on her core pack of shapeshifters that help her run the sanctuary, and she’ll defend her sanctuary and its inhabitants to the death long before she’ll fight for herself. (None of those were spoilers for Winter Howl’s ending. They’re descriptions established in the first chapter of the novel.)

Enter Kelly in Cry Wolf, the second book in the Sanctuary series and a bit of a standalone, although it features significant spoilers for Winter Howl. It starts a few months after Winter Howl ends and directly deals with some of the repercussions of it.

Winter Howl was written from Renee’s perspective, and Call for Blood, the last book in the series (as far as I know), will also be written from Renee’s perspective, because in the end, the series is about Renee and her sanctuary. However, to understand Renee better, we have to bring in Kelly and tell her story, stepping back a little from Renee’s head and seeing her and her sanctuary through a different set of eyes.

If Renee’s a small, scared little girl in a big world, Kelly switches gears almost entirely. She’s a witch who was turned into a werewolf and really has more power than she knows what to do with, so she tamps down as much as she can. And she’s just left her werewolf pack after killing the alpha in order to protect Renee, and because she’s a bitch, she can’t just take alpha’s place, natch (there’s some serious misogyny ingrained in the werewolf pack dynamics, but that’s “just the way things are”). She could have been killed for it, but she had to be exiled instead because everyone else was afraid to take her on, although they’d never say so out loud.

Seems like the polar opposite to Renee, and in some ways, Kelly has to be for this series. But while it was a true pleasure to write someone with shitloads of power who got to choose to defer, choose to submit or dominate, choose to join a pack or not—all these different choices that a girl gets to make when she can kill you with her brain or her teeth or any number of ways like a mystical Swiss Army Knife—one of the big themes of the Sanctuary series is fear. Fear that requires the need of a sanctuary in the first place. And while Renee’s fear stems a great deal from seeing herself as weak, Kelly’s is the flip side of that coin—she’s just too darn powerful. Renee fears not having control, and Kelly, of course, fears losing it. Renee fears she doesn’t have any power. Kelly fears she has too damn much.

It’s really no wonder why they get along, or why telling Kelly’s story also tells a little bit of Renee’s as well. And fear, my friends, is something that I truly love—it is a destructive love, but addictive nonetheless—and so I need to write about.

Cry Wolf Blurb

As a werewolf and witch, Kelly belongs to neither pack nor coven, making her a perfect addition to the ragtag collection of dogs, humans and canine shapeshifters at the Chambers Dog Sanctuary.

After recently being transformed against his will, Malcolm—one of the Sanctuary residents—wants nothing more than to shed his werewolf skin and return to his shapeshifter pack. Kelly tries to help him accept his new wolf nature, but then some of the shapeshifters discover Salvation, an organization that claims to cure magical hybrids. Kelly has long since made peace with lycanthropy, which tempers her volatile magic, but when Malcolm begs Kelly to accompany him for one last attempt to resume his old life, she agrees for his sake.

Upon arriving at Salvation, however, the already shaky balance of her life becomes even more tenuous, forcing Kelly to decide which part of herself, wolf or witch, she loves—or fears—more.


Kelly and Malcolm have already had the wild, crazy, naked, woodsy sex with the feral edge that Kelly loves and Malcolm’s getting accustomed to. Now Kelly gets to experience something she’s not used to and isn’t sure about at all—tenderness.

Although she had been unconscious for several hours, she was actually tired by the time she made it to her trailer. When Malcolm stepped out from behind it, she was fully prepared to tell him that she just wanted to go to sleep. Surely he could run on his own.

But he smelled of the forest. He had already been running.

What—?” Kelly began.

Malcolm took her hands in his, his hands swallowing hers as he leaned down and pressed his lips against hers. As slow and gentle as his kiss, he pushed her up against the trailer. His erection was an insistent bulge confined in his jeans, yet his actions were anything but urgent. His body seared her with the most delicious kind of heat.

When he broke the unhurried kiss, Kelly followed his lips.

He smiled then pulled her closer against his strong, lean body. He used his height to his advantage, standing straight so that she could not reach him. Kelly was dizzy with the kiss. His taste mingled with the whiskey that still hazed her head and coated her tongue.

What are you doing?” she asked, surprised by the tremble in her voice.

Malcolm put one finger on her lips. “Shhh. I just want to know if I still can.”

He reached behind her and opened the door to her trailer then lifted her up so that they did not have to separate. As soon as they had made it in, Malcolm captured her mouth again, sliding his tongue deliciously over hers. She expected him to bite sharp teeth on her lip, but he didn’t.

He smoothed his maddening hands over her back and thighs through the fabric of her dress. The fact that Malcolm could not stand up straight in the short-ceilinged trailer served as an excellent pretext to bend her over his arms, to take control of the kiss but not dominate. Kelly’s legs grew weaker the deeper he kissed her, but beyond the pleasured mists in her mind was deep-seated confusion she could not articulate.

Butch Cassidy yowled for attention on the kitchen counter. Kelly automatically held a hand out for him to rub his cheek over her fingers.

Malcolm tried not to laugh. He relinquished her mouth to look around for Butch Cassidy’s food container. He poured a little into the empty bowl. Butch Cassidy gave the interloper a glare, but he accepted Malcolm’s gift with a flip of his mostly lame tail—limp from an early injury.

Where were we?” Malcolm murmured against her cheek.

I’m not entirely sure,” Kelly said.

I may be wrong, but I think we were headed to bed,” Malcolm said. He kissed her chastely on the lips before moving less chastely down to her neck.

As his hot, wet mouth did the most sinful things to her neck from ear to collarbone, he unbuttoned the front of her dress. He made quick work of each small, pearly button with surprisingly deft fingers. Again, Kelly kept waiting for the teeth, to feel his canines rake across her flesh and spike the simmering excitement in her blood, but although he bit at her, they were nothing more than nips.

Once he had unbuttoned the dress past her waist, he pushed the sleeves down over her shoulders and let gravity do the rest. Kelly had to let go of him to shed the dress in favor of skin, the long length of pale, inked limbs. The moonlight came in through her bedroom window and illuminated the rumpled bed.

She tingled all over. As soon as she could, she tangled her fingers in his black hair, raked her nails over his back, but he pulled that hand off.

I don’t understand,” Kelly said, another quaver in her voice. She realized that she was near tears, though she didn’t know why.

This is how I made love,” Malcolm murmured, twining their fingers and pressing an open-mouthed kiss to the black ink on her sternum. “When I needed it, this was what I did. I need to know if I still can.”

But why don’t you—?” Kelly began.

Just relax, Kelly,” Malcolm said. He flicked the tip of his tongue over her nipple, catching slightly on the bar piercing through it. “Just relax and let me try. Let me take care of you.”

Kelly’s eyebrows drew together, but she combed her free hand through his hair down to the back of his neck and bit her lip, nodding.

Get your own copy of Cry Wolf

About Aurelia

Aurelia T. Evans is a hopefully up-and-coming erotica writer with a penchant for horror and the supernatural. She’s had short stories featured in Amber Dawn’s Fist of the Spider Woman, Kristina Wright’s Fairy Tale Lust, and Mitzi Szereto’s Thrones of Desire. Her first novel about shapeshifters, werewolves, and the woman who loves them, Winter Howl, debuted November 2012. The sequel, Cry Wolf, was released February 2014.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Three in the Bed Have a Life of Their Own

By M.Q. Barber (Guest Blogger)

We call them “characters,” as if the book were a stage and the author an actor in the wings, donning the new persona for the length of the scene and discarding it afterward.

But we know that’s not true. A book is a cultivated narrative. Bits and pieces chosen for their combined effect. The author tries to include the meaningful pieces and discard the rest.

Sometimes, stray bits creep in. Those little lines that allude to the lives characters lead when they aren’t onstage. They aren’t meaningless so much as they aren’t relevant to the current tale.

They’re side stories. Back stories. Road-not-taken stories.

And I’m addicted to them.

As a reader, I love glimpsing the edges of untold stories and imagining how they played out. Naturally, I hate it, too. Those offhand references to offstage events become challenging puzzles with no one true answer. They expand the world. They remind me that these “characters” have lives I’m not seeing.

Detective stories are lousy with references to other cases. Sherlock Holmes, anyone? And fantasy stories make references to historical events to firmly plant their imagined worlds in their own realities.

But enjoying the richness and depth as a reader never quite prepares one for the experience as an author. The writing’s going well, the words are flowing, the scene is almost—

This is like that time my sister got hit by a line drive and fractured her collarbone.”

Wait, what? Where did that come from?

Sometimes I think the characters like to wrest control away from the author just to prove they can. They drop a surprise in the center of the writing headspace and watch the dominos fall.

The Neighborly Affection series focuses on the growing relationship between single, independent gal Alice and her neighbors Henry and Jay. In the first book, Playing the Game, Henry offers her a chance for sexual adventure – an intro course in dominance and submission, more or less. 

Because the story is from Alice’s point of view, it could have had long stretches without interaction between the main characters. Her “classtime” is only every other Friday. Following every minute of her life would’ve meant chapter after chapter of Alice at her day job. And while mechanical engineering is an interesting discipline, watching Alice work through computer-aided modeling, testing metal thickness and angles and curves, doesn’t add meaning to the romance going on in her personal life.

Deciding not to include that part of her life in the book, or to show it only in glimpses, was easy.

But then Alice went and made an offhand remark about Jay, and I had a tough decision to make. I don’t doubt that she’s correct when she says she and Jay have lunch every Tuesday. The character is always right, even when the author doesn’t know why yet. The problem was whether to make those lunches part of the main stage production.

Ultimately, they ended up becoming one of those things mentioned but never shown. Not because they aren’t meaningful, but because they aren’t Alice’s story to tell. The changes in her, the strides she is making in her romantic life, are all shown through her nights with Henry and Jay.

The lunches? Those belong to Jay. They’re a central piece of his story, not hers. Eventually, he started opening up and sharing what they meant to him. They don’t graduate to the main stage until the third book, Healing the Wounds, when Alice needs to ask Jay a question away from Henry’s dominating presence. 


Until then, those secrets are Jay’s to keep. He’s told me a few – including one I’m sharing with newsletter subscribers this month -- and held some others close to the vest, but that’s all right. The characters don’t have to share everything with me. I’m only the author, after all. The life is theirs.

Crossing the Lines (Neighborly Affection #2) by M.Q. Barber

A safeword won’t save her from love.

After six months of cavorting in her neighbors’ bed, Alice admits signing the contract to be Henry’s sexual submissive is the best decision she’s ever made. He delivers on his promise to give her sexual satisfaction. But submitting to his dominance alongside his long-term lover shows her the sharp line between sex and love. Henry loves goofy, eager-to-please Jay. Neither man has promised to love her.

Hiding her feelings grows harder every night she spends with them. As they struggle with wounds old and new, her emotional turmoil threatens to shred their arrangement. Is it time to bow out before they show her the door? Or can a triangle be the shape of true love?

Crossing the Lines (Neighborly Affection #2) excerpt

Silver metal attachment points dangled from brown leather straps dark as a liver chestnut and loose-wrapped in deep green silk. Green like the cloth peeking out of Henry’s pocket. Green like Jay’s ring. She bounced on the balls of her feet, giddy with relief. These cuffs were hers. She belonged.

Do you remember your safeword, Alice?”

Yes, Henry.” Yes, yes, I know it, please put those on me.

Tell it to me now, please.”

Pistachio.” I won’t need it.

Good girl.”

She struggled to restrain her impatience under his thoughtful gaze.

Hold out your arms for—”

Thrusting her arms forward, she offered her hands side by side and loosely fisted.


Henry raised his hand until his palm brushed her fingers where they curled under her hands. He bent at the waist and bestowed two gentle kisses, one to the back of each hand. He revealed a slight smile as he straightened. “Your eagerness pleases me. Perhaps it’s been too long for us.”

Always. Two weeks of waiting and wanting, and such a short time when fulfilling her sexual desires became a joyful hobby for him. He’d taken a year to make the decision, to agree to invite her into his relationship with Jay. How hard had Jay pushed to make that happen? Gratitude flooded her, both for Jay’s interest and Henry’s willingness to play along.

Henry slipped the cuffs on her and tightened the straps. The silk slid over her skin. Two inches of chain separated her wrists. Henry lifted them over her head, extending her arms until the stretch hurt before lowering them a smidge. “Is this position comfortable, Alice? Be truthful, or our time together will end early tonight.”

Jesus. Was he trying to scare her? His voice held a sharp edge of command. A safety reason, muscle strain, probably, had to be the cause, but to threaten to end the night early… “It pulls a little on my shoulders, but it doesn’t hurt.”

He lowered her wrists another fraction of an inch. “Better?”

Yes, Henry.”

Good. Be still for me.”

She complied while he made adjustments above her. Metal spun, whirring like screw locks on carabiners.

Henry backed away to the edge of the light. “Relax your shoulders, Alice.”

She lowered her shoulders as best she could and shivered at the secure grip of the cuffs around her wrists.

Rotate your hands for me. Wiggle your fingers.”

She obeyed without question. His safety concerns were for her benefit, and she wouldn’t interfere no matter how desperate she grew to feel his touch. Having the length of his body grazing hers as he’d held her arms above her head hadn’t helped. Holding still had been difficult when she’d wanted to rub herself against him like a cat.

He circled her, always at the edge of the light, prowling. Jay stood somewhere in the darkness, his role in this game as shrouded as his body.

You’re a very good girl, Alice.” Henry spoke in conversational, relaxed tones. He stepped in front of her, a foot away, and unbuttoned his jacket. “I want you to understand that now, before we begin. You haven’t displeased me in any way. Do you understand?”

He held his coat out behind him, and Jay stepped from the darkness to take it.

Yes, Henry. I haven’t done anything wrong.”

Henry unbuttoned his shirt cuffs and rolled his sleeves to the elbow.

Correct.” He leaned in and kissed her, hard, one hand on her chin holding her in place as he nipped at her lips. “This is not a punishment but a pleasure.”


Leave me a comment that includes your email address, and you could win an e-copy of each of the first two books in the series, Playing the Game and Crossing the Lines. In fact, I'll pick two winners!

About M.Q. Barber and the Neighborly Affection series

Henry, Alice, and Jay’s romance began in Playing the Game (Neighborly Affection #1) and continued in Crossing the Lines (Neighborly Affection #2). The trio will be back June 2 in Healing the Wounds (Neighborly Affection #3).

M.Q. Barber likes to get lost in thought. She writes things down so she can find herself again.

Often found staring off into space or frantically scratching words on sticky notes, M.Q. lives with one very tolerant, easily amused husband and one very tolerant, easily amused puppy.

She has a soft spot for romances that explore the inner workings of the heart and mind alongside all that steamy physical exertion. She loves memorable characters, witty banter, and heartfelt emotion in any genre.

The former Midwestern gal is the author of the Neighborly Affection contemporary romance series. Pick a safeword, grab a partner or two, and jump in.

Keep up with the series via M.Q. Barber’s website (, Facebook page (, Goodreads profile ( or Twitter feed (

Monday, April 14, 2014


By C.A. Szarek (Guest Blogger)

Villains are tough. 

They’re people. People are flawed. Even the hero and heroine of any given story isn’t perfect. (I find I don’t like a story when they are anyway.)

So, back to the bad guy.

He/she has an important role to the story, especially in romantic suspense. The villain has to be real, but he or she can’t be SO awful that the reader skips sections of the book to get back to the love story.

They have a necessary place, and their place needs to be well articulated. The author has to explain what the villain wants, why, and how they’re going to get it. (Or how they think they’ll succeed. Hopefully our hero has something to say about that).

No one is 100% evil, so sometimes a villain has a redeemable quality or two. Or at least something the reader can relate to. They have to be interesting in some light. Quirky maybe. Or heck, even funny.

Something that keeps the reader going until we get back to “the good stuff” in a story.

Not to slight the villains (they tend to get testy about that). Sometimes “the good stuff” very much involves our love-to-hate person in the book—action, danger, heck, maybe even a little sex. (Or a lot of sex?)

They have to be multifaceted enough to make the reader want to turn that page. After all, that’s the goal, right?

The villains I love most to read about ride that line between good and bad—right and wrong.
They make choices that make me cringe, but they have to feel (and have it be credible) that they’re making the decision(s) for a good reason.

We love to hate a good villain—or even better, have a hard time hating them, when we feel like we should.
It’s even better when they’re hot, too. Just a personal choice. It complicates the feelings for them, because pretty things shouldn’t be bad, right? *snicker*


So what’s your favorite quality in a villain? What’s a peeve about a villain?

Two winners will be selected from all the commenters, and I will give away an ebook of The Tartan MP3 Player to each!

I’m excited to see what makes a good villain to you guys!

The Tartan MP3 Player by C.A. Szarek


Book One in the time travel, fantasy romance series, Highland Secrets!

She never believed in magic…

Claire McGowan, Scotophile and historical romance novel addict, finally saves up enough for her dream vacation to Scotland.

She never imagines she’ll get sucked back to the seventeenth century while running on the beach—that’s what she gets for exercising when she should be relaxing.

He knows with a harsh certainty magic exists...

The Fae have taken his brother—Laird of his clan. Duncan MacLeod finds a bonnie naked and confused lass. He’s convinced Claire arrived in 1672 through the Faery Stones—a magical portal he’s been scouring the lands for over the past six months.

At last, he has someone who’s been through the Faery Stones and can help him find them—and get his brother back.

Duncan promises to help Claire get home, even though his desire to have her wars with his vow.

Torn between familiarity of the present and what she wants in the past, can Claire help Duncan find his brother and get back to the future? Will she even want to?


“Who goes there?” A deep, accented voice made her jump.

Her MP3 player crashed to the sand, the wires from her headphones ripping over her shoulders as they flew away from her body, but she didn’t go after the devices.

Claire’s heart kicked into overdrive, and she shot her arm across her naked breasts. Plastered her palm over her bare sex.

“Okay, don’t like this dream anymore.” Her voice jumped up an octave.

Why can’t I wake up?

Maybe a touch of fright would make her wake the hell up.

“Ummm….hello?” Claire ventured even though her pulse pounded in her temples. She didn’t see the voice’s owner, but she was stuck now.

Not like I can run and hide.

She wasn’t fond of a stranger seeing her nude, even if gym time had given her a rockin’ body.
Claire smirked. Her sister would’ve declared her egotistical right then and there.

Three figures came into view, standing atop a grassy overhang and staring down at her. Two men and a boy.

“Lass?” One asked.


Okay, no more Scottish Highlander romance novels before bed for you, Claire McGowan. But at least she’d placed the accent.

All three were dressed in period clothing. Like—seventeen hundreds or something. The tallest one had a tartan kilt on.

The man who’d spoken was older, wearing a thick grey beard he was currently scratching, as if he was trying to figure her out.

Well, duh. Naked girl on the beach at the ass crack of dawn should do it every time.

The boy looked about ten. He scrambled down the incline, stopping about three feet from her and staring. Wide blue eyes. Dark, messy hair that needed a good cut.

Claire backed up, squeezing her eyes shut. “Seriously, wake up.” Though she should pat herself on the back for the vivid imagination—if she didn’t have to cover her tender parts—she would’ve so been on that.

This place looked and felt real.

“Are ye Fae?” The kid’s brogue was thick, but his voice was high, making him sound younger than she’d guessed.

“Wh-what?” Claire asked, taking another step back.

“Angus, hush.” The last man admonished. His voice was familiar; he’d been the one who’d called out first.

He jumped down to the beach with little effort.

Claire almost forgot to cover herself as she gazed up at him.

Had to be about six-five or six-six.

Definitely had a foot on her, for sure.

Blue eyes, like the kid. Long black hair that flowed in the wind. He was wearing a kilt, and had the same tartan pattern strewn across his body, shoulder to waist and held down with a belt, but no shirt beneath. A huge, defined pec peeked out and her stomach fluttered.

Good job, Claire. At least you dreamt up someone yummy.

The model on the cover of the book she’d been reading before bed had nothing on this guy.

“Lass? Are ye all right?” His voice was concerned, as was his expression. He spoke gently.


Way to go on the stutter, Clair-bear. Her sister’s nickname popped into her head with ease. It should’ve grounded her, but she still didn’t wake up.

“She talks funny, uncle!”

How can he tell?

She’d said two words, literally.

“Where am I?” Claire whispered. The sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach made her shift on her feet.

“Isle of Skye.” The boy jumped up and down. “We were supposed to go fishing. But I found ye, instead.”

“Hush, Angus MacLeod,” the man said, but there was amusement in his tone. However, he didn’t take his eyes off Claire.

A tremor slid down her spine when his gaze travelled her frame.

Still. Naked.

She wanted to sink into the sand, her earlier confidence about her body gone. Claire shivered, her teeth chattered.

“Jesu, lass. Yer freezin’.” The huge man unbelted the plaid from his waist and whipped it off his torso. It was a separate piece from his kilt, and now he stood before her bare chested. His accent was as thick as the boy’s, but she could make his words out clearer.

Sexy as hell.

“Yeah, kinda naked over here.” A nervous titter fell from her lips and made Claire wince.

“Is she Fae, uncle?” Angus asked.

“Ye’ve been spending too much time with my father. Da, stop clouding the lad’s head with faery tales,” the man called.

The old guy on the hill chuckled. “Och, then ye shouldna leave the lad with me when you go off.”
“Like I have a choice.”

Buylinks for The Tartan MP3 Player:

Author Bio

Multigenre, award winning and bestselling author, C.A. is originally from Ohio, but got to Texas as soon as she could. She is married and has a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice.
She works with kids when she’s not writing.

She’s always wanted to be a writer and is overjoyed to share her stories with the world.

Where to find C.A.:
Twitter: @caszarek

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Snog #121: Quiet Evening at Home (M/F/F)

Happy Sunday! Today I've got a F/F oral moment from my short story "Quiet Evening at Home", one of the tales in my collection Body Electric.  The book is currently being  featured in a Kindle Countdown at both Amazon and Amazon UK.  The price starts at 99 cents/99 pence and goes up day by day. The sooner you buy, the more you save!

When you've recovered from my snog, please visit Blisse Kiss Central for lots more oral action!

"Lucia," I said, somewhat breathless. "Why don't you take over? I need to make myself more comfortable." Roughly, I pulled my blouse off and began unzipping my jeans.

"Delighted," she said. She stood in front of Michael, thighs spread wide. I knew she was bare underneath her brief skirt. From half a room away I could smell the aroma of her sex; I knew that Michael would be drowning in it.

"What do you say, Mike? Should I spank you for a while?"

He just looked at her, his sweat-damp hair falling into his eyes. Helpless with lust. I knew exactly how he felt.

She strutted off into the kitchen area on her spike heels. Michael and I both followed her every movement with our eyes. She returned with a wooden spoon, which she showed to our shackled lover.

His eyes widened with fear.

"No, Lucia, please! I can't take it!"

"Of course you can, Mike. You're a big, strong man. Strong enough to satisfy two women, right?"

"But I'm already so sore..."

"Sorry, but I really don't want to wreck my fingernails..."

I watched with fascination as Lucia began to use the spoon to belabor poor Michael's crimson buttocks. He yelled and twisted, trying to get away from her blows, but to no avail.

"Hush, Mike, more quietly please. We don't want the neighbors calling the police about some domestic dispute." However, she dropped the spoon and began to spank him with her open palms, first one hand, then the other.

My clothes scattered on the floor, I sat on the couch and watched the tableau unfold. Lucia was magnificent. Michael was reduced to whimpering and twitching feebly with each slap.

My fingers crept into the hungry cleft between my thighs. My sex was a raging furnace.

It seemed to go on a long while, but sexual arousal does distort time. I should mention that Michael was still hugely tumescent. Finally, Lucia stopped.

"I think that's enough. For now." She glanced over to where I lay on the couch, legs splayed, both hands busy in my cunt. A smile dawned on her dark features like a tropical sunrise.

"However, I have an idea for another, gentler punishment." She rotated the bar stool so that Michael could see me on the couch.

"See what you're missing, Mike? You know, you really don't give us the appreciation we deserve." Slithering down next to me, she kissed me long and deeply. My heart leaped; I wasn't going to scare her away, that was for sure.

She scooped her breasts out of the cups of the bustier and fed me her ripe nipples, one at a time. I trailed my tongue down her neck, marveling at her silky skin, wallowing in her perfume. Soon she was as naked as I was, and all was fingers, tongues, musk and salt. Soon time stopped.

After a long while, I raised my head from Lucia's delightfully curly bush to look over at Michael. I'll give him credit. His swollen cock looked purple and painful, but he hadn't come. His eyes silently pleaded with me.

"Maybe we'll let you loose soon, Michael," I called to him. "We don't really need you, but a hard cock might turn out to have its uses." He brightened visibly and I gave him a grin. "Meanwhile, I really must compliment you on your excellent taste in women." I buried my face back in Lucia's sweet cunt.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

10 useful things I learned from the RNA’s scheme for aspiring authors

By Helena Fairfax (Guest Blogger)

Each year the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association runs a New Writers’ Scheme. At the end of the year members of the NWS submit a manuscript – or a partial manuscript – for a full critique by one of the members of the RNA. For two years I was a member of the NWS, and last year I became a proud graduate with the release of my debut novel, The Silk Romance.

I thought it might be of interest to share some of the things I learned through this excellent scheme. When I first started out, like a lot of writers I had no idea just how much I didn’t know! Some of the points on this list might seem obvious, and nowadays I take a lot of these things for granted, which just goes to show how much I’ve grown as a writer since being on the scheme. I owe my reader at the RNA so much for the way my writing has matured.

  1. 1. The first thing I learned was that my fictional characters are living and breathing people. When I first had a manuscript read I found it both exciting and strangely alarming to find that readers and editors take my creations seriously. Up until then, my hero and heroine were just people in my head. They are not – they’re alive!

  1. 2. Because the characters are living and breathing people, they MUST have clear motivations and reasons for their behaviour. It’s not enough to say that the heroine has issues trusting people, for example, or that the hero fears losing control. Readers expect to know WHY this is the case. What is it in the characters’ past that has made them this way? My reader advised, ‘Keep asking yourself why/why not?’

  1. 3. A romance story must contain emotional tension. As my reader said, ‘It’s about why the hero and heroine, so obviously attracted to each other, not only won’t admit they have fallen in love but feel that they can’t….Your hero and heroine should have goals that are in direct opposition to each other.’

  1. 4. Next is the question of plot. There must be a situation which FORCES the hero and heroine together. If not, why don’t they just part on page four, if they are in opposition to one another? What will force them to stay together throughout the course of a whole novel?

  1. 5. Again on the subject of plot, my reader pointed out: ‘When you’re structuring a romance, you should be thinking about the plot not so much as moving your characters from A to B but as a series of situations that test their fears and bring their goals into conflict.’ The emotional conflict is NOT plot-driven and therefore requires a lot of skill to sustain in an interesting way - as all romance writers know!

  1. 6. In a romance novel, it’s OK for the hero and heroine to have flaws, but they must come across as essentially likeable characters who readers want to get to know. This can be quite hard to do, especially if you have an alpha male hero, who can sometimes come across as an impossible arse. Or you may have a heroine who makes mistakes. We all make mistakes, but your heroine shouldn’t be TSTL (too stupid to live! :) )

  1. 7. The synopsis. Most romance publishers ask for a synopsis of the novel. It’s absolutely vital that the synopsis shows these points clearly: characterisation, motivation, cause of emotional tension, and reason why the characters are forced together.

  1. 8. The dreaded rewrite. In the first year of the NWS I submitted only the first three chapters, as I wasn’t sure I was going in the right direction. After taking my reader’s advice, I had to substantially rewrite. But I took heart from my reader’s last words: ‘This is a story with lots of potential and although it does need some restructuring, and yes, some extra work, I’m sure it won’t be as bad as you think once you get started!’ And my reader was right. At first, I was daunted, but now I never mind rewriting. I don’t find it too hard and, as a perfectionist, I enjoy the feeling that I am manipulating the words to get the best story I can.

  1. 9. Handling rejection. Of course I was disappointed the novel wasn’t quite right first time, but the accompanying letter from the RNA’s president gave some very positive advice: ‘Always bear in mind that most published authors have experience of rejection. All writers, published and unpublished, need to be tenacious and determined…Have faith in yourself!’

  1. 10. I resubmitted the entire novel the next year. This taught me another great lesson – in order to get a book written, you have to sit down and WRITE. No excuses or procrastination. If I’d missed the scheme’s deadline, that would have been it. I had to force myself to write, whether I felt like it or not, in order to get the book finished on time.
With my rewrites, my reader felt The Silk Romance was ready for publication. What a great feeling that was! And it was even better when my book was finally released. I owe the RNA and my reader a massive debt and learned so much through them!

If you’re interested to know what The Silk Romance is all about, here is the blurb:

Sophie Challoner is sensible and hard-working, and a devoted carer of her father. One night her grandmother throws a ball for her in Paris…and Sophie does something reckless that she can never forget.
Jean-Luc Olivier is not a man to treat lightly. And so when fate takes a hand years after the ball and reunites him with Sophie in Lyon, he is determined not to let her go a second time.

But it seems the fates are conspiring against their happiness. Jean-Luc has secrets of his own. And when disaster strikes at home in London, Sophie is faced with a choice—stay in this glamorous world with the man she loves, or return to her family to keep a sacred promise she made her mother.


The heat of the day had turned cool when they stepped outside to the waiting car. Night had fallen. Jean-Luc held the car door for her wordlessly. Sophie slid inside, edging her way along the cool leather to the further corner. As she reached to click her seat belt in place, she felt Jean-Luc slide into the seat beside her. He turned, and their eyes met. What Sophie saw there dissolved her anxiety in an instant, and she drew in her breath in an unexpected rush of compassion. All the anger he had displayed inside the restaurant had left him. She was struck by the hollowness in his eyes on hers. Impulsively, she reached forward to catch both his hands in hers.

I’m sorry,” she said, the words tumbling out of her rapidly. “I didn’t realise… If I could take that night back, I would.”

Take it back?” His hands tightened fiercely on hers, his tone incredulous. “Sophie—”

Before she could react, before she even guessed his intention, Jean-Luc pulled her toward him with the sweep of one powerful arm. Her breath left her body in a small gasp. With his other hand he swept her chin up to meet him, and then his lips were on hers. In an instant she was responding with an urgency of her own. He was holding her to him with all the force in his powerful arms, her body so tight against his chest she could feel the violent thudding of his heart against her ribcage.

Dimly, she registered the car was moving. Her senses filled with the warmth of him, the urgent heat of his mouth exploring hers. With no thought of breaking free, she reached up one hand to circle it around his strong neck, leaning in towards him, pulling him closer. Her gentle, passionate response brought Jean-Luc to his senses. He pulled himself away, muttering under his breath. Sophie felt the grip of his hands on her shoulders as he pushed her at arm’s length, the force in him eating into her so that she felt like a rag doll under his grasp.

What is it?” Her breathing was uneven. She tried to regulate it, to sit up straight, but was powerless to move. She saw the direction of his gaze fall on her long bare legs as she twisted herself under the strength of his grip. With a curse, he dropped his hands from her shoulders and ripped his gaze away, so that now all she could see was his stark profile.

Sophie,” he began again huskily. “Sophie, this is not what I want.”

Isn’t it?” In that moment, a hollowness rushed to fill her, so that she could barely bring herself to speak. She turned her own face away in bewilderment. Outside the window, the black waters of the river Rhône could be seen as they crossed the bridge, orange lights bobbing and rippling on its surface.

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Author Bio

Helena Fairfax was born in Uganda and came to England as a child. She’s grown used to the cold now and that’s just as well, because nowadays she lives in an old Victorian mill town in Yorkshire, right next door to windswept Brontë country. She has an affectionate, if half-crazed, rescue dog and together they tramp the moors every day—one of them wishing she were Emily Brontë, the other vainly chasing pheasants. When she’s not out on the moors you’ll find Helena either creating romantic heroes and heroines of her own or else with her nose firmly buried in a book, enjoying someone else’s stories. Her patient husband and her brilliant children support her in her daydreams and are the loves of her life.

You can find Helena on her blog:
on Facebook, or on Twitter @helenafairfax

Thanks so much for having me today, Lisabet!