Monday, May 31, 2010

An Excerpt from "Domestic Goddess"

It's been a while since I posted any excerpts here at Beyond Romance. So I thought I'd share with you a bit from "Domestic Goddess", one of the stories in Rough Caress, my collection of BDSM erotica published by Eternal Press.

Although I categorize Rough Caress as erotica, many of the stories have romantic elements, featuring couples with committed D/s relationships. "Domestic Goddess" is one of my favorites, a playful exploration of what might happen when a Dom stopped acting so dominant.

The excerpt is R-rated. The story, however, like all in the collection, deserves at least one X.

She's glad to be his slave. She's just not too crazy about being his housekeeper and maid, at least not these days.

When they first moved in together, he used to make her strip before she vacuumed the carpets or washed the floors. He'd watch her, sitting in the wing-backed chair that they bought together at the garage sale, as she strutted around in her collar and high heels, pushing the mop in front of her.

"Arch your back," he'd order. "Stick out your butt."

She'd struggle to keep her balance as she obeyed, her pussy liquefying as it always did at the sound of his voice. She could feel his eyes on her buttocks like a physical caress. He wouldn't miss the signs, the flush on her face, the taut nipples, the musky scent that wafted through the apartment. When he was paying attention, his powers of observation were astounding. Not to mention his powers of seduction.

She loved housework in those early months. Of course, it wasn't often that she got the chance to finish her household tasks. She would get hotter and more frustrated, while he would be increasingly amused. Finally, he would take pity on her.

"Go get the rug-beater, Elizabeth," he'd order, and she'd scamper off to the closet to find that wicked implement of twisted rattan that she both hated and loved. Or else he'd pat his lap and say, "Get your slutty little ass over here" and she'd be there in flash, draped over his knee, shivering in anticipation, triumphant as she felt his hard-on through his trousers.

Since he lost his job, though, household chores were just that. He spent most of his time slumped on the couch watching TV, or at the computer playing video games. He complained about everything she did, it seemed, but not in the old tone of the beneficent, omnipotent Dom chastising his sub. No, he was just whining.

Meanwhile, his formerly prodigious interest in sex had dwindled almost to non-existence. Maybe once a week, he'd wake her in the middle of the night, fuck her, then fall back into near-comatose sleep. He wasn't cruel or rough—she could have borne that, would have welcomed it. It was like a reflex for him, like sneezing or scratching an itch. He might murmur her name as he came, but the old connection just wasn't there.

And he hadn't beaten her or tried out any kinky new ideas, in more than a month. She wanted to cry with frustration.

She tried everything she could think of, to cheer him up, to get his attention. She ordered outrageous costumes from Frederick's and wore them as she worked around the apartment. He barely looked up from the monsters he was blasting on the screen.

She left various paraphernalia lying around suggestively, draping the flogger over the seat of his chair, leaning the crop against his computer monitor, carefully arranging her custom-made leather cuffs and butt plug on his pillow. He simply pushed the toys out of the way with a weary sigh.

She tried directly disobeying his orders. The trouble was, lately he hardly gave her any orders. He walked around like a zombie. The zombie Dom.

More than once, she considered removing her collar. Would he notice that? Somehow, she couldn't bring herself to that point. The collar defined her, defined their intense and magical relationship. She didn't want to repudiate that relationship, not at all. She wanted it back.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Isn't it romantic?

By Ava Delany (Guest Blogger)

Hello my lovelies, and thank you for stopping by to join me to hear what I have to say in this guest blog. I usually like to fool around a little when I talk, bringing a playful and erotic sound to my blogs, however, this time I would like to speak plainly on something I believe is important when writing erotic romance: namely, the romance. I really strive to make the connection between the hero and the heroine palpable in all my stories.

I think some erotic writers forget that we’re writing more than just sex/lust between the two main characters (or more for some eroticists). We are telling a love story, first and foremost. The reason they are together must be apparent, the romance has to be believable, and the love should to be tangible. It shouldn’t simply be “Wow, he’s hot. I think I’ll do him,” it should have the heart and soul of the character’s involved. Or at least show how they could easily get involved with more time.

In stories where the couple is already married (such as in my flirts - The Wedding Night, and The Soldier’s Return), some seem to feel the attachment comes in almost on autopilot, yet the bond should be obvious beyond the marriage itself. In my opinion, the reader needs to feel that the couple still want and love each other, even after all the time and distance (and possibly numerous fights). In stories where the couple is reunited (as in my flirt - The Librarian’s Love) or the hero and heroine haven’t met yet, (as in my new longer Fetish Club series - Captivated, Dominated, and Fallen) this connection needs to be even better established. The reader should feel the intrigue and desire the characters feel. Personally, I strive to help the reader understand why the two come together in such an explosive way and why they might well stay together forever. After all, the reason readers choose this genre is to feel the passion, excitement, and romance of that first time all over again, and to believe that feeling will last forever.

I know there will be those who do not agree, but I just thought I would share my feelings on the genre. Thank you for taking the time to visit me here and listen to my thoughts on the subject.

Visit my website for more info about me and my novels, and I hope you will stop by Breathless Press ( and read more about my Fetish Club series. The books in this series are interconnected, each showing the perspective of one of three friends. Tanya and Jacqueline take a reluctant Mandy to visit a fetish club for her birthday, telling her she needs to loosen up and get wild. Though they may not want to admit it, each one is motivated by desire and a very personal reason for going to the club. Find out more about Tonya’s reason in - Captivated (May 14). See what Jacqueline needs in Dominated (June). Then discover Mandy’s story in Fallen (July 6).

Friday, May 28, 2010

One Day

So I've been back from the hospital, after my hip replacement operation, for about a week, and trying hard to adjust.

I was euphoric the day they let me go home. I'd spent the absolute minimum time--five days--and the entire process had been far less difficult than I had feared. I was awake and coherent a few hours after the operation. The pain was far less extreme than I'd feared. My room had an extra bed so that my husband could spend the night and keep me company. The doctor sent me down to physical therapy on the third day to learn how to use a walker and crutches and that freed me from the nightmare of the bedpan. The hospital staff were all warm, friendly and supportive. I actually had a good time.

I immediately sent out emails to friends and family, colleagues and readers, waxing enthusiastic about how positive the experience had been. Surgery? Cool. A piece of cake.

It didn't take long for reality to set in. First, the pain has gotten worse rather than better. The doctor tells me not to worry, that this is normal and may last for several more weeks. I'm taking medication around the clock, something I hate to do. It helps, some, but it's still hard to sleep, especially since I can't lie in my favorite position.

Second, my poor husband is stuck doing all sorts of things that I can't manage because I'm on a walker. Going grocery shopping. Feeding the cats. Cleaning their litter. Fetching and carrying stuff that I can't. We're relying heavily on take-out, but occasionally he's had to do some cooking. Now don't get me wrong, he's a great cook, but he's almost completely unfamiliar with my kitchen--or my methods. It's difficult for both of us.

I have to avoid putting weight on the affected leg for another five weeks. And I'm really not very skilled yet with the crutches. I went to work for the first time yesterday and nearly fell. My husband and I were both terrified. The walker is easier, but it still takes a lot of effort. The palms of my hands are bruised from carrying my weight.

Five more weeks of this? How am I going to stand it? And of course that's just the minimum. If XRays show that the hip isn't healed yet, I may have a few more weeks as a cripple, driving myself and my husband crazy...

At this point, with all these complaints running around in my head, I just have to stop myself and take a deep breath. Where's all that patience I vowed to cultivate? Where's that positive attitude that I blogged about before the operation?

Okay. Enough. I'm not going to think about the five weeks stretching ahead. I just need to deal with today. And actually, today hasn't been all that bad. I finished a blog post for Oh Get A Grip. I got several guest blogs posted. I completed and submitted the conference paper that I've been working on, three days before the deadline. My husband made some delicious scrambled eggs for lunch and we're planning to collaborate on dinner. (I can cut things up and such, as long as I'm sitting down.)

I remind myself to take thing one day at a time. I've shared before that when I was in my late teens and early twenties, I was anorexic. After I got past the crisis phase, I joined Overeaters Anonymous. Despite the name, this is a Twelve Step program (like AA) for anyone who has problems with food, including people like me.

One of the Twelve Step mantras is "one day at a time". If you try to tackle your entire life at once, you will become discouraged and fail. Focusing just on today makes things a lot easier. And really, all we have is today. Yesterday is gone; we can't change the past. Tomorrow is an unknown. It may bring the things we fear, but perhaps not. The only reality is "now". And it's up to me to decide just what kind of "now" it will be.

I can make myself miserable, fretting about the pain and my current limitations. Or I can move forward and do something positive, something to make myself or my husband or even a stranger feel better.

It has been quite a long time since I thought about OA and what I learned there. Just for today, I resolve to be cheerful, productive and patient.

Heck, I can bitch tomorrow, if I really want to. For now, though, I'm going to focus on appreciating the present.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

R. Ann Siracusa’s Travelblog: Morocco

By R. Ann Siracusa (Guest Blogger)

Novel Ideas Come From Everywhere

One of the favorite interview questions for authors is, “Where do you get the ideas for your novels?” My answer: Everywhere. Everyone has a story. I keep my eyes and ears open and always ask, “What if ?”

But in particular, I get many ideas from traveling. Initially, being an architect, my main interest in travel focused on ancient cultures and the ways in which those cultures manifested themselves in structures, buildings systems, and design. I never guessed that interest would eventually blossom into a major source of inspiration for writing novels. But it has.

Now, when I travel, I look for the unique features of the country or for pieces of information about the culture that spark a story idea. Sometimes just a word, a phrase, a street scene, an historical event, etc. can spark a full storyline, other times they provide incidents to enrich a novel.

My current humorous romantic suspense series features a young tour director, Harriet Ruby, and a handsome Europol spy, Will Talbot, with a dark and troubled past. And what do you know? Every adventure takes them to a different part of the world where I have traveled. What a coincidence!

Why Morocco?

So, why Morocco? My second international trip [other than many trips to Italy and Sicily because my husband is Italian] was made to Spain, Portugal, and Morocco. That trip gave birth to the idea for my first novel in my current humorous romantic suspense series [Harriet Ruby: Tour Director Extraordinaire] and sparked my use of travel in my fiction writing.

But first, let’s talk about the Kingdom of Morocco [al-Mamlakah al-Maġribiyya]. Sounds incredibly exotic, and it is! Morocco, an Islamic country in North Africa, has a population of approximately 32 million and a land area of approximately 274,000 square miles. It is separated from the southern coast of Spain by the Strait of Gibraltar. Moroccan history goes back at least twelve centuries. In spite of a long and colorful history, it became an independent country only fifty years ago, March 2, 1956, when the French relinquished their rule.

Like many other countries, it has been conquered and inhabited by numerous cultures. The original Neolithic inhabitants, dating back to 8,000 B.C., were ethnically Amazighs/Berbers. As early as the sixth century B.C. the Phoenicians established settlements and eventually the area became part of the Roman Empire until around the fifth century A.D. when it was conquered by the Vandal, Visigoths, and then the Byzantine Greeks [in rapid succession]. The first Islamic conquest in North Africa in 670 A.D. brought Islamic expansion into this region. In modern history, France showed an interest in Morocco as early as 1830 and, after a series of crises, the Treaty of Fez made Morocco a French Protectorate.

Traveling in Morocco Today

Tourism a big part of the nation’s economy and Moroccans work hard at catering to visitors. It’s generally a safe place to travel [the crime rate is low, and the government is stable], but you have to expect to be hassled to buy things. The vendors can be very “in your face.” Everyone should respect the customs of the country/culture in which they travel, but in Morocco, in particular, women should be attentive to what they wear.

An increasing number of urban Moroccan women no longer completely cover themselves after marriage; you even see women dressed Western style in the cities. But you won’t see bare midriffs, low cut sweaters or shorts. Outside the major cities, it is rare to see a woman who is not wearing traditional clothing. In rural areas and small town medinas it is rare to see an unveiled woman.

Generally, female tourists traveling in Morocco are safe and are treated with courtesy, but sometimes are regarded as fair game by some Moroccan men. This is partly because of the way they dress and partly a result of widespread westernised pornography, which gives a distorted view of western women’s availability.

Getting lost in the Medina and the idea for “All For A Dead Man’s Leg”

The original idea for “All For A Dead Man’s Leg,” the first book in my humorous romantic suspense series, predates the writing by nearly ten years. On my trip to Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, and Morocco in 1994, I asked our guide, Carl―I don’t remember his last name―about his worst experience as a tour director. His answer: when he first started working as a tour director, one of his tourists died in Morocco and they had to smuggle the body back to Spain to avoid delaying the tour.

What a great idea for a novel! Over the years, I tried several approaches, but none of them worked. In 2003, my tour director on a trip to Central Europe suggested I use it as the plot for a dramatic WWII novel set in Germany. That same tour director―Paul Fletcher―also told me his worst experience was when a tourist slipped crossing a ramp, caught his foot between the sides of two boats, and lost his prosthetic leg in the river.

Yes, that really did happen! As soon as Paul told me that―Boom―the tourist dying in Morocco came together with the tourist losing his prosthetic leg, and I was off and running. As soon as I got home, I started writing the novel.

Not only did the story idea for the first book come from the Morocco/Spain trip, but also the opening scene. There I drew from personal experience. In Tangier, with my tour group, we went to the Medina [the old walled city] which is a souk or outdoor street market. The streets [if you can call them that] were narrow and winding, it was crowded and hot. I stopped to buy post cards, and when I turned around, my group had disappeared. Instead of staying put, I set out to search for them and became hopelessly lost in the twists and turns of the market. Of course, I couldn’t speak Arabic and couldn’t find my way out. That’s when I realized I didn’t know the name of our hotel and couldn’t have pronounced it in a million years, even if I’d known. Since then, I always carry with me a business card from the hotel. You can show that to a taxi driver, even if you can’t say the name or the street. Live and learn.

Needless to say, my panic grew. Finally, I found and followed another English-speaking group, thinking that it would end up at the plaza where the tour buses parked. Wrong! It was a group from a cruise ship which, I found out later, was headed for an entirely different location. When the tour stopped at a carpet factory showroom for a sales pitch, I spoke to the guide and the showroom manager. He summoned an employee who dealt with, and knew, most of the tour directors. I described my guide. The man took me back into the Medina to look for Carl. When he found my group, I was so relieved and flustered, I gave him a fifty dollar tip.

I know now, the tour director would not have left me there, although I would have spent a couple of hours wandering around on my own and getting into who-knows-what kind of trouble. Assuming they didn’t miss me sooner, when the tour got back to the bus and Carl did his head-count, they would have sent someone back to find me. But what did I know? Not much, apparently, in spite of having traveled in Italy rather frequently. I saw this quote the other day, although I don’t know who said it. “Bad Choices make good novels."

About the Author

R. Ann Siracusa is involved in many activities, but her two favorite are traveling the world and writing fiction. This talented author combines those loves into novels which transport readers to exotic settings, immerse them in romance, intrigue and foreign cultures, and make them laugh. Her current humorous romantic suspense series, published by Sapphire Blue Publishing, features a young tour director, Harriet Ruby, and a Europol spy, Will Talbot, with a dark and troubled past. Each book takes the reader with them on an adventure in a different foreign country.

Travel to exotic lands for romance and intrigue with a novel by R. Ann Siracusa
The “Harriet Ruby: Tour Director Extraordinaire” Series
All For A Dead Man’s Leg
First Date
First Christmas Follies
All For A Fist Full Of Ashes
Coming this fall --Destruction of the Great Wall

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Back in North America...

From my articles this week you might get the idea that all of my writing is set in exotic foreign locales. It's true that I'm currently editing a vampire story set in Jamaica, but I've written lots of tales set in the good old U.S.A.

My second novel INCOGNITO takes place in Boston's historic Beacon Hill district. My third novel RUBY'S RULES begins in London but soon moves to Los Angeles and the action in my fourth, EXPOSURE, happens in Pittsburgh. I've written stories set in San Francisco, New York City, New Orleans, Minneapolis and several cities in Nebraska. My recently-released M/M paranormal romance, NECESSARY MADNESS, is set in the decidedly unexotic city of Worcester, Massachusetts.

One property that sets my work apart, perhaps, is the fact that I almost always have some specific location in mind when I set out to write a story. I've talked to lots of other authors who say that don't spend a lot of time thinking about the setting, but for me it is an essential consideration. As I see it, people--characters--are shaped by their environments. Characters in San Francisco are going to have different experiences and world views than folks from Omaha. Even if I don't describe the setting, I'm always aware of it. It shapes my perceptions of the characters and their moods, desires and passions.

Over the past week I've taken you on a whirlwind tour of some of the places I've enjoyed. For a more in-depth experience, pick up one of my books. Enter one of the worlds I've visited and tried to bring to life for my readers.

It's a lot cheaper than a vacation!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Blogging Protocol for the Newbie

By Barbara Edwards (Guest Blogger)

I took an on-line class about promotion and found I needed more to understand about blogging. I decided to list what I think it takes. So…

Are you nervous or new to using the 'Net for promotion? What’s the big deal? Ask a few people to be your guests, announce it on-line and let the people come. Hah!

If it were that easy, I’d be doing it with a wide audience of devoted fans. So I have given the method some consideration. Decide what you’ll blog about. Stick to one area or theme. Writing topics are wildly popular, as are guest interviews, not so much personal experiences. Since my book Ancient Awakening was released, I’ve been interviewed on a number of blogs and have strong opinions on the process.

Here’s what I’ve seen work:

1. Set-up a calendar you can live with. Blogging takes a commitment you need to fulfill to keep followers.

2. Decide if you will provide interview questions or have guests write on a chosen topic. Or both. Make it interesting to you. Readers can tell.

3. Ask for guests from various loops. Have a specific list of what you need from each guest. Live chat? Answers to comments? Announcements to her loops, family and friends?

4. When someone responds to your invitation, check her/his website. Specific questions raise interest and show you’ve done your research.

5. Schedule a date.

6. Send the questions. Ask for photo and/or cover.

This is where it gets sticky. The guest needs to respond in a timely manner so you can get the posting ready. If the post is not returned promptly, send a reminder. Check the text before you post it. I've been surprised at the number of misspelled words I've found or images I couldn’t open.

7. Send your blog address to your guest a week before posting. This can serve as a reminder, too. Suggest she write a cute invite or tell her what you intend to use. Remind her you expect answers to comments, promo, whatever.

8. The day before the guest appearance, send your promo to your guest so she can forward it to her contacts.

9. Post the blog. Send out your own promo. Remember to say thank you to your guest. Check the comments. A number are often aimed at the blog host, not the guest. I think it’s polite to respond to each one.

10. Keep a file. I didn’t do this and wish now that I had hard copies.

Do you have other recommendations? I’d love to know what others find helpful. Email me at or visit my blog

Visit my website

Ancient Awakening by Barbara Edwards

Paranormal, strong romantic elements, sensuous

Available from Wild Rose Press.


Police Officer ‘Mel’ Petersen investigates a death only she believes is murder. By disobeying direct orders from the Rhodes End Chief, she risks her career to follow clues that twist in circles to her backyard and lead the killer to her.

Her neighbor Stephen Zoriak is a prime suspect. Steve worked for a major pharmaceutical company where he discovered a weapon so dangerous he destroyed the research. He was exposed to a dangerous organism. He suspects he is the killer and agrees to help her find the truth.

In the course of their investigation Mel and Steve find the real killer and a love that defies death.


Legend gave him many names, but the wide halls of his mountain retreat no longer echoed with countless worshipers. He could have ruled the world had his ambition not died with the passage of time. The endless whispers were from the cold winds and the few praying priests. He didn’t care that he couldn’t remember his real name or birthplace.

For an eon he’d regretted the loss of softer emotions. Love had been the first feeling to die, along with the woman who had insisted he would never harm her. He couldn’t recall her features just the merry tinkle of her laughter and the bright smile she had greeted him with every morning. He licked his lips. She’d tasted sweet.

Fierce need flared in his gut and he sniffed the air. Outside his chamber a single acolyte in long brown robes waited to escort him. His mouth curved with a mirthless smile. The silent servants had ignited the flickering wall torches. Shadows jumped and shivered in the drafty halls like nervous virgins.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time...

By Bailey Bradford (Guest Blogger)

It seemed like a good idea at the time…

Maybe it even seemed like a great idea, inspiring, interesting, complex. Your fingers are twitching to get to work on the keyboard, and the plotline and characters are bright and shiny in your mind.

Then, several thousand words into it, something changes. Not a small something, but a great, big, holy-crap-what-was-I-thinking something. That writer’s euphoria evaporates and you’re left looking at a bunch of words that now seem wasted.

How did this happen? Even with an outline that had seemed to ensure the production of a successful story, you’ve come to a screeching, frustrating halt.

Walking away for a day or two doesn’t help; it just gives you more time to think about how wrong the story’s going. The whole plotline needs to be tossed, because a better idea has come along. You’ll get on it right away.

I know that I’m not the only one this has happened to. It’s frustrating, but, I try to look at it as a learning experience. It’s either that, or have a slight emotional meltdown. I’m a little on the slow side with the learning bit, since the manuscript I’m working on is the fourth version, or, to be completely accurate, it’s the second attempt on the second version. Good thing I didn’t delete the previous aborted attempts, since this one seems to be coming along nicely. All it took was a helpful suggestion from my husband to see where I’d gone off track.

It didn’t help to clarify why I’d bumbled three times before, however. That’s something I’m still not totally clear on, although there are a couple of things that I suspect weren’t helping at all. There’s been a mad mix of drama in my family life—with four daughters, that isn’t surprising. A few health issues have popped up.

Then there’s been the pressure—to write, write well, and quickly. All put on my shoulders by myself. No one is nagging or counting my word output, other than myself. I tend to always rush, and slowing down makes me jittery in my own skin. Stop and smell the roses? What roses? I saw a blur of color as I was speeding through life…

Definitely a problem there. Learning to slow down even a little is difficult, but necessary. Slamming into the figurative brick wall is not my preferable way of slowing down. The recovery time is tedious. I don’t do well with tedious. A healthy dose of introspection helped, as well as talking about what pressures and worries were weighing on my mind. It’s a good thing my husband is such a thoughtful, solid guy.

Together, we went over the previous plots and characters, potential twists and turns the story could take, and what I wanted the end result to be. Having his input was invaluable, almost as invaluable as his support. He’s always been a calming presence, and I should have talked to him sooner instead of trying to carry everything on my own. Next time, I will.

I’m still feeling my way in the writing world, learning about self-promotion, edits—and, really, the entire business aspect of e-publishing. Learning how to work through good ideas gone bad has been tricky, and I’m not done yet. What do you do when you hit a stumbling block, whether it’s one like I’ve described, or any other type that inhibits your writing? I know there’s not an easy or perfect solution, but I’d love to hear your suggestions.

I promise I’ll sit still and read them all. Out now: Rescued Book 1 in the Southwestern Shifters from Total-e-Bound Breaking the Devil from Loose-id

Coming soon from Total-e-Bound: A Subtle Breeze-- June 7th 2010 Book 1 in the Southern Spirits Relentless—August 16th 2010 Book 2 in the Southwestern Shifters When the Dead Speak—September 20th 2010 Book 2 in the Southern Spirits

Bio: A native Texan, Bailey spends her days spinning stories around in her head, which has contributed to more than one incident of tripping over her own feet. Caffeine and chocolate are permanent fixtures in Bailey’s office and are never far from hand at any given time. Removing either of those necessities from her can result in what is know as A Very, Very Scary Bailey and is not advised under any circumstances.

Friday, May 21, 2010

South American Sojourns

I have far less experience in Central and South America than I do with other parts of the world. Believe me, I am eager to remedy this gap--especially since all my travel in those regions occurred more than twenty years ago.

We spent about ten days in Costa Rica, attending a conference as is our habit and then renting a car and touring the small but diverse country. The highlight of that trip, for me, was piloting our jeep up a long, rocky, rutted track to the mountain-top “cloud forest” of Monte Verde. The isolated community residing at the peak was composed of Quakers who had moved from the U.S. because Costa Rica is the only country in the world that has abolished its army. They supported themselves with tourism and cheese-making. After we spent the night at their bed and breakfast, they escorted us through the forest, a unique ecosystem that is so humid it generates a constant mist that shrouds the peak (hence the name).

Our other southern adventure was a one week trip to Peru. This was the only trip we've ever taken where our lives were seriously endangered. Eager to see the ruins of Machu Picchu, we flew to Cusco (a remarkably well-preserved Spanish colonial town 10,000 feet above sea level) . We rose early the next day to take the narrow gauge train that leads to the foot of the Andean peak housing the ruins. Unfortunately, a combination of rainy season weather and railroad strikes meant that the track was blocked by mudslides in several places. We had to stop and wait for earth moving equipment to clear the way. The normal four hour trip took all day. We did not arrive at Machu Picchu until sunset and had to travel back to Cusco by night.

About eleven P.M., we were nodding in our seats when we heard a terrible roar. The train lurched to a stop. We discovered a huge mound of mud had just landed on the tracks, no more than twenty feet ahead of the train. The track at this point hugged the mountain on one side. On the other, a sheer cliff dropped fifty feet to the raging Urubamba River. The train barely missed being swept off the tracks into the river.

We arrived back in Cusco at dawn, exhausted and shaken. Alas, we had to fly back to Lima within hours. Was it worth nearly dying to see Machu Picchu for half an hour? I'd have to say yes.

Last year I published a paranormal romance called SERPENT'S KISS which is set in Guatemala. I've never visited that country, but between my research and analogies to other developing countries I have seen, I hope that I got the setting right. The book is loosely based on Mayan mythology. One consequence of writing this tale is that now I really want to travel to Guatemala and tour the ancient ruins at Tikal.

Maybe next year...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

European Encounters

My first international trip, and really my only one without K., was a five week sojourn in Spain. My companion was a dear college friend who just happened to speak fluent Spanish and was an expert on Spanish culture and geography. Like I said, I'm a lucky woman! We had an open air ticket and criss-crossed the country, spending time in Madrid, Malaga, Torremolinos, Cadiz, Toledo, Granada, and Barcelona. We even managed a week-long side trip to Morocco.

That holiday was my only backpacker adventure. Neither B. nor I had much money but at that time Spain was very cheap. We slept in pensions for five dollars a night and shared two dollar carafes of vino tinto. We ate tapas in the cafes and chatted up the local guys. (Well, B. did. I spoke a bit of Spanish but realized before long that I must sound like an idiot because I knew only the present tense and so couldn't express any kind of complex idea at all.) We watched free flamenco and marveled at the Moorish filagree of the Alhambra and Gaudi's surrealistic cathedral.

For a long time, when K. and I had a chance to travel, we headed for Asia. Lately, though, we've been expanding our experience with Europe. We spent a wonderful ten days exploring historic, picturesque Provence. The twelfth century abbey of Thoronet provided me with the setting for one of my most popular stories, “Communion”, which has appeared in five different collections.

On a more recent trip, we visited Vienna, Venice and Trieste, then spent a week traveling down the Adriatic coastline of Croatia. The fortified Renaissance city of Dubrovnik has to be one of the most amazing places I've ever visited. Other European trips during the last decade have seen us in Heidelberg(Germany), Lisbon (Portugal), the Greek island of Rhodes, and Amsterdam (the Netherlands). The only one of these places to appear in my writing so far is Amsterdam. My story “Shades of Red”, in my collection ROUGH CARESS, is set in that city's infamous red light district.

Two very special European locales, for me, are Prague (the Czech Republic) and Instanbul (Turkey). As it happened, we visited both of these cities on the same trip (since we traveled to Turkey via Czech Airlines). Although extremely different, both places offer a thousand years (or more) of history and unique cultures. Surprisingly, I haven't yet written anything set in Turkey. However if you read my vampire story, “Prey” (on my Free Reading page,, you might get a sense of Prague's mystery.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Adventures in Asia

I've done more traveling in Asia than anywhere else in the world. Hong Kong was the first Asian locale that I visited. Back then (in the 1980s), Hong Kong was still controlled by the British. It was a fascinating mixture of proper English and ancient Chinese culture.

Not long after that trip, my husband and I spent two wonderful years working in Bangkok, Thailand. In those days, you couldn't really get further away from the U.S., which was our home base. Telephone calls were prohibitively expensive and postal mail took three to four weeks if it arrived at all. Email, of course, did not exist. Everyone thought that we were crazy to move there, even temporarily. We loved every minute.

Thailand had a huge influence on me. My first novel, RAW SILK, is set in Bangkok. I tried to capture the exoticism, grace and sensuality of the culture and the people. The book includes many scenes drawn from my own experience. (However, the infamous sex scene involving chili peppers is entirely imaginary!) I've also used Thailand as a setting for a number of short stories, including “Butterfly” and “Bangkok Noir” (in my short story collection FIRE) and most recently in “Refuge”, my contribution to the charity anthology COMING TOGETHER: AT LAST.

Thailand is located smack in the center of Asia, so we had opportunities to visit other countries in the region, including China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. (We also did a two week trip to New Zealand, which is not exactly Asia but closer to Thailand than to North America-- “only” a ten hour flight!) After our contract in Bangkok expired and we returned to America, we continued to aim for Asia whenever we could. Since then we've added India, the Philippines, Mongolia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Japan, Taiwan and Korea to the set of Asian destinations we have explored. You can read stories set in Laos (“Vows”) and ancient Cambodia (“Ruler”) on the Free Reading page of my website (

There are still many Asian countries on my wish list, though. Bhutan and Nepal are at the top (no pun intended). I'd love to see Burma, though I may wait until the political situation there improves. Then there's Papua New Guinea and of course the 9,997 remaining islands of Indonesia. (I've visited Java, Sumatra and Bali, but that's all.)

Nowadays wherever I travel, I'm alert for story ideas. I'm thinking that at some point I might put together a short story collection consisting solely of travel tales.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Travel Fever

I'm a very lucky lady. Unlike many people, I've been fortunate enough to fulfill my dreams―in particular, my dreams of international travel. As a child I spent my mid-day naps fantasizing about trains, planes and hotels. In my French classes, I imagined myself standing awed before the majesty of Notre Dame. In my biology classes, I mused about what it would be like to follow Darwin's footsteps to Patagonia. In Ancient History, I dreamed about the Parthenon and the pyramids.

Now, more than three decades after graduating from college, I've visited every continent except Australia and Antarctica. It's true that I still haven't seen Athens, Giza or the Galapagos, but after all, I still (hopefully!) have some traveling time left!

I mostly have my husband to thank for my world-wide peregrinations. On our first date, he took me to a Burmese restaurant and kept me spellbound for more than two hours with tales of his voyages in Asia and Europe. Finally, at the end of the meal, he looked me in the eye and said, “I've been looking a long time for someone to travel with.” I was hooked. (Well, truthfully I wasn't one hundred percent convinced until I saw the photo of K. in Indonesia, wearing nothing but a batik sarong.)

We're not rich members of the leisure class, so our travels have been piecemeal, but it is a rare year that we don't take at least one foreign trip. Often we combine business and holiday, attending an overseas conference or scheduling a meeting with international colleagues and then extending the time with some purely touristic activities.

K.'s and my travel preferences are amazingly compatible. We both enjoy the ocean but we're not beach people, shying away from sand and sunburns. We seek out places steeped in history and culture; modern marvels do not have much appeal. Often we spend most of our travel time just walking around, getting a sense of a place. Food is an important component of the ideal trip for us, too.

During the coming week, I'll be taking you on a tour of some of the places I've visited, and also pointing out how I've used my travels to provide background for my stories.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Three Sexy Stories (Free, of course)

In case you didn't get a chance to look at my newsletter, you might like to know that I have three full length free reads for you this month.

Red Eye is erotica with a touch of romance (rated XXX) thrown in.

Vegas is bittersweet, rated PG, and just might bring tears to your eyes.

Finally Something Borrowed is a naughty M/M/F ménage that's based (rather loosely, alas!) on a real experience.

My newsletter also includes information about new releases, reviews, my monthly contest, and my Pick of the Month. If you have a minute, check it out at!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


By Chris Redding (Guest Blogger)

quandary \KWAHN-duh-ree; -dree\, noun:
A state of difficulty, perplexity, doubt, or uncertainty.

I’m often in a quandary. Some would argue I’m simply confused.

Which manuscript should I work on next? What should I get my husband for his birthday? Paper or plastic? Oh wait, I have totebags from a bajillion conferences that I can use. Whew, one problem solved.

I have two boys, a teen and tween. When they were little, I knew instinctively what to do. Now I find it harder. I was never a teen boy and there’s all that “having to break away from mom” stuff that I don’t want to stifle. It’s tough on a mom letting go of the kids you’ve raised for all these years, but you have to, especially with boys. Luckily I’m not doing this alone and my husband has a great perspective on it all that. I think he likes that I rely on him more.

Here’s a big one for a published author: Which promotional efforts are worth it? Book signings for me sound fun, in a way. I love to meet people. Oh wait, I’m not a good salesperson. I couldn’t sell a thirsty man a drink of water. Reading my work in front of people is odd enough when I do it in critique group. How can I do that in front of strangers?

I like Facebook, but am I using how it should be used? Twitter? Love it, but again, is it the right way to spend my time? I guess since I didn’t use these things with the last book that I’ll know if they work for this book.

I saw a quote recently on Facebook that went something like this: You make more friends by being interested in people than by trying to be interesting. Neat. Reach out to others and they are more likely to reach out to you. I think sometimes I forget that lesson in life, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post. So, I comment on people’s blogs. I comment on FB statuses. I retweet when I can. I hope I’m doing what the quote above says I should.

Who knows?

I’m a decisive person, really, I am. It’s just when the choice isn’t clear cut I find it harder. I was in a quandary for several months over quitting a job. My poor friends had to listen to me that whole time. I had another one lined up. The new one had a better boss. (Turned out to be the right decision to quit that job.) Guess I don’t like change. Maybe that’s part of being in a quandary. I don’t know what lies ahead. We never do. We can’t. Frankly life would be boring if we did, but I wish sometimes I knew if the outcome was good or bad.

What decisions do you make on a daily basis that put you in a quandary?

Chris Redding lives in New Jersey with her husband, two kids, one dog and three rabbits. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in Journalism and a minor in English. When she isn’t writing she works per diem for her local hospital.

Her new novel Incendiary, a romantic suspense, will be out in June of this year.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Review: Making the Hook-up

Making the Hook-up: Edgy Sex with Soul

Edited by Cole Riley
Cleis, 2010
ISBN 978-1-57344-383-8

Making the Hook-up is an anthology of erotica by Black authors. In his Introduction, editor Cole Riley writes that he wanted this book to transcend stereotypes of Black sexuality, to explore a broad range of emotions and relationships while still retaining distinctive elements of Black culture. I think that the collection succeeds in this objective. The stories in Making the Hook-up run the gamut from anonymous mutual masturbation (Shane Allison's “Dangerous Comfort”) to eternal love (Zaji's “Lights on a Cave Wall”) with everything in-between.

Three Kisses” by Preston Allen leads off the book by boldly satirizing the stereotypes Riley wants to demolish. Docta Love is a high-rolling gambler, dripping with gold, more super than Super-Fly. He sets his sights on a glorious fat-assed, big-bosomed Puerto Rican casino dealer, but she leads him a merry chase before she'll satisfy his lust in the back of his souped-up Lovemobile. There's a twist, though. Neither the good Docta nor his prey is exactly who they pretend.

Hung” by Zetta Brown is one of the best-crafted tales in the volume. Ms. Brown gives us a forbidden encounter between two members of a sequestered jury. The sex is hot, but what made the story stand out for me were the finely observed sketches of even the most minor characters.

Tenille Brown's “Lonnie's Licks” offers a believable pair of friends and fuck-buddies, one of whom has a dangerously addictive personality. This tale eschews the temptation of happily-ever-after for a more realistic conclusion that satisfies from a narrative perspective, at least.

As an antidote to this not-so-happy ending, I recommend Asha French's “All Day”, a horny roller coaster ride, or Reginald Harris' tongue-in-cheek “Keeping Up with the Joneses”, in which echoes of a neighboring gay couple's passion reignite the sexual flames in a marriage. Both these stories come (so to speak!) to rollicking conclusions.

One of my favorite stories is about fantasies unfulfilled, lust ultimately denied. Eroticism derives from desire, not necessarily its release; Leone Ross demonstrates this beautifully in the lyrical “When the River”, a tale of unconsummated attraction between two chance-met strangers. In this story, “blackness” is not a primary focus, but the culture and history of the characters is always present in the background:

She found the country an odd place, not green or red or orange like Trinidad, where all things, especially secrets, were Technicolor, but instead full of rare moments of light: a brilliant flower in amongst the shadowy walls, a flag on a car whizzing past, or the calm eyes of this man of integrity whose room faced hers on the other side of the hotel courtyard. They met in the middle, laughing at the queer accoutrements on show: a game of bowls set out for visitors; a giant chess set with figures as big as a small child and a brilliant blue and purple peacock stalking around a cage in the background.

Finally, I want to mention “Velvet” by Fiona Zedde, the only lesbian tale in the collection. This coming-of-age story about a college freshman's deflowering left me on the edge of tears.

Raven looked away from Sara to the discarded velvet dress on the floor, the balled up panties. “What did she do to you?”

Nothing I didn't want.”

Is that really true?”

Was it true? Had she wanted Rille to feast on her like a snack, to peel away her wrapping, gorge herself and leave Sara vulnerable and empty, on the balcony?

I swear. Yes.”

The tale awoke all sorts of memories of desires fulfilled in unexpected ways, of my own lost innocence.

Not every story in this book deserves praise. Some of them bore the marks of inexperience: lack of focus, excessive verbiage, drifting points of view. Others offered little in the way of originality or were just plain implausible. Nevertheless, this collection is worth reading for its stronger tales, which give voice to the multi-faceted nature of Black sexual experience.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Here are some words of wisdom, shared by a dear friend:

Real Mothers don't eat quiche; they don't have time to make it.

Real Mothers know that their kitchen utensils are probably in the sandbox.

Real Mothers often have sticky floors, filthy ovens and happy kids.

Real Mothers know that dried play dough doesn't come out of carpets.

Real Mothers don't want to know what the vacuum just sucked up.

Real Mothers sometimes ask 'Why me?' and get their answer when a little voice says, 'Because I love you best.'

Real Mothers know that a child's growth is not measured by height or years or grade... It is marked by the progression of Mommy to Mom to Mother...

The Images of Mother

4 YEARS OF AGE - My Mommy can do anything!
8 YEARS OF AGE - My Mom knows a lot! A whole lot!
12 YEARS OF AGE - My Mother doesn't know everything!
14 YEARS OF AGE - My Mother? She wouldn't have a clue.
16 YEARS OF AGE - Mother? She's so five minutes ago.
18 YEARS OF AGE - That old woman? She's way out of date!
25 YEARS OF AGE - Well, she might know a little bit about it!
35 YEARS OF AGE - Before we decide, let's get Mom's opinion.
45 YEARS OF AGE - Wonder what Mom would have thought about it?
65 YEARS OF AGE - Wish I could talk it over with Mom.

Happy Mother's Day to my readers! (I wish I could have a nice long talk with my mom...)

Friday, May 7, 2010

When Sex Was Fun

Last night my husband and I watched Radley Metzger's 1972 film “Score”. We'd seen it before, in the nineties, when we first discovered a collection of Metzger's work on VHS (remember VHS?) at our local independent video store (remember independent video stores?). The film was as lively and erotic as I had remembered, though some of the more dated references evoked a laugh or two.

Most of my readers are probably not familiar with Metzger. He began making sexually-oriented films in the late sixties and is responsible for ground-breaking efforts such as “I, a Woman” and “Therese and Isabelle”, one of the first films to concern itself with lesbian love. Later in his career, under the name of Henry Paris, he directed hard-core features including the classic “The Opening of Misty Beethoven”. The movies that initially made his name, however, skirt the edge between art and porn. They include nudity and simulated intercourse, but the attention to characterization and dialogue, not to mention the elegant cinematography and breathtaking locales (many of Metzger's films were shot in Europe), move these films into a category all their own.

I don't know how many of you have watched modern “adult” movies. Based on my experience, most contemporary porn is pretty boring. The characters are primarily presented as bodies, who are largely interchangeable. They have no connection with one another beyond the physical tab-A into slot-B. There's little or no conversation, no buildup of tension, no feeling of transgression. One has no sense of any of the participants as individuals. Furthermore the sexual interactions tend to be annoyingly stereotyped and predictable. There is zero suspense.

Metzger's work, in contrast, and “Score” in particular, focuses on the development of sexual attraction and the lure of the forbidden. Some of his films are more serious than others, but all are concerned with the experience of desire as much as with its fulfillment.

“Score” is one of his more light-hearted offerings. Jack and Elvira are a sophisticated, swinging couple who compete in their seductions. They set their sights on Eddie and Betsy, a pair of apparently innocent newlyweds. However, this is swinging with a twist. Elvira lays her snares to attract and corrupt angelic-looking Betsy, while Jack is determined to fulfill Eddie's barely-suppressed homoerotic fantasies.

Neither Betsy nor Eddie falls immediately into bed with their pursuers. Elvira and Jack are gradual and subtle in their seductions. The characters are naked by the middle of the film, but it takes many sensual touches and intense, smoldering stares before the victims actually fall. Metzger vividly communicates the embarrassment and fear that mixes with Betsy's and Eddie's burgeoning lust. When they finally succumb to their hosts, the viewer feels a release of tension that goes far beyond the physical.

Metzger's characters live in a permissive world where any sort of sexual activity might occur, including same-sex interactions. “Score” is cheerfully kinky in its acceptance of homosexuality, orgies, voyeurism, even a touch of S&M. It aims to arouse but not particularly to shock. Watching the film brought me back to the days when sex was fun, when it was relatively safe to surrender to desire.

Modern porn has much to learn from Metzger's work. Even if you find porn offensive, you might well appreciate Metzger's films. He has a healthy respect for his characters and their sexuality. In his world, sex is made to be enjoyed—and the chase is as exciting as the consummation.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Subtleties of Romance Genres

By Fiona Jayde (Guest Blogger)

I spent most of last week at the Romantic Times convention, meeting a lot of authors and readers of romance, and it struck me how widespread and diverse the genre "Romance" has become.

There's subgenres mashing onto subgenres to create something completely different and new (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?) and there's the traditional we still can't get enough of - Historicals, Contemporaries, Action Adventure, Paranormal, you name it.

For someone who generally sticks to romance for her reading pleasure (what can I say - I'm a sap!), this opens up a wide avenue of reading material to look forward to. I can read about vampires in Regency London, and also about a newly recruited spy who may or may not freeze on her very first kill. There are unique and delightful flavors for every taste: whether you like spicy action, nail biting suspense or transform your world fantasy - there's a romance out there.

Perhaps the common view of a "traditional romance novel" or "trashy beach reads" as my cousin calls them (I think she is embarrassed about being caught reading one) is finally changing?

The RT craft panels echoed this diversity - offering workshops on writing Suspense or Humor or Action Adventure or Historical, and isn't it wonderful that any of these could be applied to a Paranormal Vampire story to spin a truly unique tale? What struck me as interesting at RT was meeting a number of male authors - both published and aspiring, who were interested in writing a romance.

At the RT book signing event, an erotic romance author sat next to an author of a "traditional" Regency historical, and both were chatting about the subtleties of sexual tension or creating a hero readers would melt for. And wouldn't it be interesting if they switched for a day and we could see what types of stories they could come up with?

To the readers - what are some of your favorite traditional and non-traditional romance genres?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Thoughts on Becoming Bionic

In the next few weeks, I will be going into the hospital for hip replacement surgery. My younger days as a dancer apparently took their toll on my joints. I've had problems for more than a decade but in the past two years the pain has become sufficiently bad that it's seriously interfering with my ability to walk.

Needless to say, I'm a bit anxious. I've been blessed with amazing health for most of my life. As a result, this will be the first time I've been hospitalized since I was a teenager, and certainly the most serious medical intervention I've ever had: at least a week as an inpatient and then a minimum of six weeks on crutches.

I start imagining what it will be like, lying awake at night, alone and in pain. I fret about being catheterized. I remember horror stories about vicious staph infections resistant to antibiotics, about flawed medical devices kept on the market even though the company knows they are defective. I haven't been sleeping as well as usual. I'll wake at three in the morning and start visualizing what it will be like in the hospital, making myself too tense to fall back into refreshing dreams.

I believe that one's thoughts determine one's reality, to a very large extent. Thus, I've been working to readjust my mental position regarding the upcoming operation. Instead of looking at it as scary, I'm trying to view the whole process as "interesting". After all, the doctor is going to replace a significant part of my anatomy with a mechanism: a ball of titanium in a socket of polyethelene, and a rod of porous metal extending down into my leg. From now on, I'll be setting off metal detectors everywhere I go. I'm going to be bionic!

It's pretty amazing, actually. I know many people who've had the same surgery. They all agree that it made a huge positive difference in their quality of life. Half a century ago, I would have been destined to be a cripple for the rest of my days. Now, with the assistance of modern medicine, I'll hopefully end up almost as good as new.

I want to make this experience a positive one. I want to observe and to learn from it. I also see it as a chance for spiritual growth, to build my faith, increase my patience and reduce my fear. I'm going to try and write during as much of the process as I can. After all, it's a great opportunity to come up with blog material!

And who knows? Maybe I'll meet someone in the hospital who'd make a great hero or heroine for some future book.

Monday, May 3, 2010

April Contest Winners!


April has come and gone, leaving some very lucky people behind. Here is a full list of my weekly winners, drawn from the commenters each week:

  • Tracey (booklover0226)
  • Angelia
  • Carol L.
  • Pat (horseunicornkey)

Each of you wins a free ebook. Please email me at lisabet [at] and let me know which one you'd prefer: Serpent's Kiss, Truce of Trust, Ruby's Rules, or Monsoon Fever. For more information on each book visit my books page on my website.

My grand prize winner is Mary Ricksen. Mary, your prize is a custom written romance story. Contact me by email so that I can find out what you'd like!

Thanks to all who visited and commented. Keep coming back, please, for more fun and prizes.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

An Excerpt from "Stroke"

My BDSM short story "Stroke" was just published in Please, Sir: Erotic Stories of Female Submission, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel. In writing this story, I tried to demonstrate that the appeal of submission has little if anything to do with physical sexual activity. The master in this story is half-paralyzed yet he still manages to fulfill the heroine's needs.

Here's a short excerpt for you to enjoy.

"You have a boyfriend, don't you?"

"Yes, Sir, I do." An image of Ryan rose in my mind, his brown curls and uneven grin, muscled chest and hard thighs. I did love him, truly I did, with his quirky humor, his gentle fingers and his boyish ardor. He was a fine young man. My mother approved of him.

"He doesn't satisfy you." It was a statement, not a question. Tears of remembered frustration pricked the corners of my eyes. "Why not, Cassie? Is his cock too small?"

I couldn't believe I was having this conversation with a stranger, a patient, a half-paralyzed man forty years older than I was. I stole a glance at Dr. Carver. His mouth was firm but his eyes sparkled with suppressed mirth.

"No, Sir. His cock is fine." Ryan was justifiably proud of his meaty hard-ons.

"What is it then? Is he a selfish lover? Does he come too quickly for you?"

Guilt washed over me. Ryan would happily spend hours licking my pussy and fingering me, trying to get me off. The only way I could manage it was to think about scenes from the kinky porn I hid from him. Whippings and spankings, gags and handcuffs, all the clichés that I couldn't stop myself from wanting.

"Well? Tell me, Cassie. What do you need that he doesn't provide? What do you want?"

My mouth filled with cotton. I couldn't speak. I was acutely aware of my rigid nipples pressing against the starched fabric of my uniform. My clit pulsed like a sore tooth inside my sodden panties.

"Cassie, I'm waiting." His sternness sent electricity shimmering through my limbs. "Don't disappoint me."

I dared a glance at his face. His left eyelid drooped slightly. His eyes snared mine. I couldn't look away. One eyebrow arched in an unspoken question.

"I—um—I want him to, uh, to do things to me. That he doesn't want to do.” I tried to break away from his gaze, but the force of his will held me.

Things?” He sounded amused. A fresh wave of hot, wet shame swamped my body. “What sort of things?”

Uh—tie me up. Spank me. Use me. Treat me like his slave.” It all came out in a rush, the desires I'd never shared with anyone except Ryan. Even then, I'd only shown him the tip of the iceberg, the least perverted of my needs. “He wouldn't, though. He was shocked when I told him. Disgusted. Said that I had a filthy mind.” The tears that had gathered earlier spilled out over my cheeks.

I imagine that you do, little one, delightfully filthy.” His voice was a caress, soothing and seductive. “I knew that right away, just from your reactions to my voice. Your deepest desire is to submit to a strong master, isn't it?”

Yes—Sir.” I felt relief, now that I'd admitted my secret. He at least didn't seem to condemn me.

You want to be beaten and buggered, shackled to the bed and split open by a huge cock. You want to bath in your master's come, maybe even his piss. To be forced to service his friends.”

It was thrilling and horrible, listening to him enumerating my darkest fantasies out loud. My clit felt the size of a ripe plum, swollen and juicy, ready to burst. I nodded, still finding it difficult to expose myself so completely.

I will do those things for you, if you'd like.”

You?” The suggestion startled me enough that I forgot the honorific, but he seemed to forgive my lapse. I searched his handsome, ravaged face. “How...?”

Don't underestimate me, girl. I may not be the Dom I once was, but I can still make you burn for my touch. I can still make you beg.” He snagged the button on the end of its cord and raised himself to full sitting position. He moved more smoothly and easily than before. “Remove your clothing.”

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Putting the Spice in Your Writing

By Christi Barth (Guest Blogger)

My mother is not an adventurous cook – and that is putting it very politely. Growing up, a standard dinner consisted of poached chicken breast (which gives it no flavor whatsoever) and over cooked zucchini (which leaches out all of the flavor). Give me a second to shudder at the memory. It’s a wonder I grew up to be such an adventurous foodie.

I’m sharing my childhood trauma with you because writing is similar to cooking. As a contest judge, I’ve read more than my fair share of flavorless entries. Even with correct grammar and a forward moving plot, a book can still fall flatter than a whisper-thin crepe. That is the difference between a simple narrative/dialogue exposition and a full fledged story. Details are the seasoning. What is spaghetti sauce without herbs and spices? Ketchup! Who wants to eat a plate of pasta covered in that? But once you add oregano, fennel, salt, pepper and red wine, now you have a sauce.

But just adding in a little color isn’t enough. Identifying each speaker as they enter a scene by describing their clothes leaves the distinct impression a writer worked off a checklist. In addition to stark details like a blue shirt or blond hair, you want to add in finer points that transmit the feel of the character. Which description do you like better:

Mrs. P. was an old lady who liked to gossip.


With a smack of her loose dentures, Mrs. P. leaned across the counter. She had a reputation for twisting and squeezing to extract every last drop of gossip, leaving her victims as raw and wrung out as an over juiced orange.

One more choice for you to ponder:

A man who must be a photographer stepped forward. He wore a blue polo shirt that matched his eyes and was heavily muscled.


A tall man with a camera around his neck, one in his hands and another in a pouch at his waist stepped forward. His biceps strained against the confines of his aquamarine polo shirt identifying him as crew. Eyes almost the same color as his shirt twinkled from behind horn rimmed glasses.

If you have trouble with this, I recommend pounding out your first draft. Then go back and, only by using the cues in what you’ve written, try to draw a picture of the scene (no actual drawing talent required). If all you have are two naked stick figures on a blank page with maybe one doorway, then you’ve left out some vastly important minutiae. This process can help you identify the holes where you need to work in descriptions. Does this mean you have to describe every item on a desk from the keyboard to the post-it notes to a legal pad? Of course not. Mention a cluttered desk, buried under listing stacks of paper. Or a chrome and glass desk with every item lined up with military precision. You’re picturing two very different people, different rooms at this point, aren’t you? And therein lies the fun.

A story with depth and richness resonates with readers. It gives them an emotional buy in, and transports them away from their everyday lives into the multi-layered world you’ve created. Because would you rather have a five course meal, or a sandwich of lettuce and mayo on white bread?

You can learn more about Christi and purchase her book at .

Blurb: Put a workaholic Yankee together with an amiable Southerner and watch the sparks fly! Annabelle travels to Charleston, where she stumbles across the trail of a long-buried Civil War mystery and along the way finds steamy passion, steadfast friends, mortal danger, and the love of her life. Well-known journalist Annabelle Carlyle is stunned by the personal twist of her latest assignment: her best friend Vanessa is missing. Annabelle goes undercover in the Old South to search for answers. Full of thick accents and a way of life rooted in the past, Charleston is as foreign and strange a place as any she's visited. Before finding a single clue, Annabelle encounters a sexy man she can't shake. Tall, dark and charming, Mark Dering is happy to show the gorgeous Yankee his hometown. He's captivated by the quick witted, quick tempered redhead. But when they're shot at, he realizes she's far more than just another tourist. Soon they're deep into a mystery that goes way back to the Civil War. For once Annabelle is in over her head. Desperate to find Vanessa, she reluctantly accepts Mark's help and it isn't long before romance blooms. The stakes grow higher when a body is discovered. Someone is willing to kill to keep a century old Confederate secret hidden. With her best friend missing and a killer on the loose, it's the worst possible moment for Mark to try and unlock Annabelle's heart. Or is love exactly what her life's been missing?

Step into the world of Carolina Heat.......

Annabelle pushed through the baggage claim doors and stopped dead as a dense wall of humid air immobilized her. No, it was more like being slowly smothered. The humidity was a wet blanket lying over the entire city of Charleston and it sapped the tiniest dreg of energy she had left.

Spotting a cab idling in the pick-up lane she hurried forward, wincing as her laptop case banged against her hip. A quick shrug brought the strap back onto her shoulder. It also threw her off balance enough to slip right off the edge of the curb. Her knees crumpled. Exhaustion dulled her reflexes, so she was on her way to the ground when a well-muscled arm sprinkled with curly black hair shot forward and grabbed her wrists, keeping her upright. "Careful there. I guess it's too late to tell you to watch your step?" Annabelle stared at him for a moment without responding. The only thought in her brain was Wow! The man had to be several inches over six feet, and every speck of skin she could see was tanned. The way his muscles bulged under the plain white T-shirt told her his amazing physique didn't come from weekly visits to a gym. And were those really dimples bracketing his smile? "Uh, thanks," she said belatedly. This behavior was ridiculous. She'd interviewed world leaders, celebrities, but was struck dumb by a complete stranger in an airport parking lot? Another part of her brain catalogued how well his deep black eyes were offset by his olive complexion and thick, black wavy hair. "Are you okay?" "What? Oh, yes, I'm fine. Apparently too tired to walk a straight line, but overall I'll live." His dimples deepened. "Good to hear." "Thanks for catching me. The way my day's gone, I would've fallen and broken my wrist." "Pleasure's all mine. Now I can scratch `rescue damsel in distress' off my to-do list." "Hmmm. When you look at it like that, it's almost as if I did you a favor," Annabelle teased. "Then I should pay you back. Would you let me buy you a drink?" This guy was smooth. And fast. On the other hand, this was the most fun she'd had in days. He cocked his head to the side. "Come on, take a chance. I promise – no nefarious schemes. I'm gainfully employed, straight, single, and I think this could be fate. After all, it isn't every day a gorgeous redhead falls right into my lap." "I appreciate the offer, but I don't even know your name," she stalled. "I'm Mark." "Annabelle." "It's a genuine pleasure to meet you, Miss Annabelle." His voice was flat out amazing. The vowels oozed like warm honey from between the consonants. This was her first encounter with such a thick Southern accent, and she was completely enthralled by his slow Charlestonian drawl. She realized her hand was still clasped in his, and abruptly pulled free. Annabelle didn't make a practice of standing in the middle of the street gaping at a man, even if he was unbelievably handsome in a brawny sort of way. As an investigative reporter she was used to meeting people, quickly cataloging her first impressions, and moving on. Being phased by a syrupy accent must be an oddity brought on by the extreme heat, she decided. This weather was enough to melt even her composure!