Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Looking for Validation in All the Wrong Places

By Jan Irving (Guest Blogger)

[News flash from Lisabet: Jan will be giving away a copy of Subspace to one person who leaves a comment on this post!]

When I began writing my first m/f romance, I met with resistance. Some of my betas weren’t interested in reading that type of story from me since they were more accustomed to m/m, but that was fine. I now have a circle of readers who read all my works, some who only read the m/f or m/m/f and some who read just the m/m.

I also met with resistance such as ‘why don’t you write ménage instead of m/f? Your readers are unlikely to want to read m/f.’ Oddly, I discovered that initially the m/f was more popular than the ménage. I think a lot of my readers are suspicious of ménage and don’t think it’ll be romantic, which I find interesting.

I’ve since written two more m/f stories, one is His Landlady in the Subspace collection from Total-E-Bound, an older woman/younger man multicultural romance which has a twist on subspace gone wrong and I recently finished a story called Bird Bones, about a step brother and sister who have been suppressing their forbidden feelings for years. I can’t wait for that one to come out at the end of February—I had a wonderful raving letter of acceptance for it—which was a nice form of validation after the fact.

Initially it’s been a lonely road, making changes and expanding genres, but it’s made me happy and there is nothing like hearing from someone who really appreciates the work in the way you’d hoped. Recently I had a wonderful review of my first ménage, A Pastry Princess. Because the reviewer completely got the story I’d been driven to tell. It might have happened months after I’d written the story, submitted it, gone through edits…but it was one of those moments that told me I was on the right path.

Meantime while all this has been happening in my writing life, in my meditation, I’ve been looking at the role validation plays in my life, where it is helpful and unhealthy. I think if I’d not listened to my inner need to write what I want, it would have been bad for me. But it is nice to hear from people who like what I am doing. Right now I’m anticipating writing all kinds of different stories, like plucking different jewel fruits from a tree. Life is good.

Blurb from His Landlady:

I know I should have waited, bided my time like a good boy but...I am not a good boy,” seductive younger man Sloan Kent tells Diana Moore the first time they meet, when the martial arts instructor lures her into an act of unexpected submission.

Diana Moore is edgy around new tenant Sloan Kent, owner of a kick boxing school. From the moment she glimpses a martial arts poster of the lean, beautiful man, she wants him, but she can't see a focused warrior athlete and an earth mother like her having much in common.

Sloan's calm Zen facade lulls Diana so that she submits to him the first time they are alone together. Diana has never had such an intense experience, but he's too young to be her master, isn't he?


Diana Moore hesitated outside the kickboxing studio, caught by the sleek body of a young male kickboxer, his leg straight up in a martial arts kick.

Although every muscle was warrior defined, it was the expression on his face that fixed her attention. He was gazing into the distance, a half smile touching his lips, a look of transcendent pleasure that didn’t make her think of the martial arts…

Perv,” she muttered to herself. She had better things to do than stand here lusting over a beautiful man on a poster who was probably too airbrushed to be true. She adjusted her grip on her attaché case and almost walked into another young man, this one short and covered with black and red tattoos.

You here for class?” he demanded. “Come back in an hour.” His street accent made the word ‘hour’ a match for ‘sour.’

Di gulped and stopped herself from taking a step back. The stranger had an aggressive energy that she could feel like a force field.

No,” she said. “I’m strictly a yoga person.”

The man stared at her, unblinking, and Di felt as if she’d told a proud Doberman owner that she was the golden retriever type.

We don’t do yoga here,” he said, crossing his arms.

No, I know that…” She was flustered and it was stupid. But the studio made her uncomfortable. It so wasn’t her thing. “I’m the landlady of this strip mall. I’m here with some paperwork for the owner.”

Huh.” He didn’t look impressed.

Nath, behave!” A mellow voice interrupted. There was a thread of laughter in it that stroked down Di’s spine. “Hello, landlady. I’ve been waiting to meet you.”

A tanned hand was held out and when she automatically took it, calluses brushed against her palm. The grip was strong, confident, and didn’t crush her fingers; this was a man with no need to prove anything.

Uh.” He was also the man from the poster. Except he was stripped down to black shorts and his dark hair was sweaty against his forehead. Almond shaped amber-brown eyes regarded her steadily, hinting at a slight Asian heritage while his unshaven jaw and shaggy brown hair were sexy mongrel. “I’m Diana Moore,” she said.

My landlady is a Roman goddess, Diana the huntress,” he said and although those dark eyes didn’t move down to her full breasts, Diana felt as if they had. Her nipples peaked through her thin blue silk tunic. “Sloan Kent—owner and operator of Soul Kickin’.”

Soul Kickin’,” she repeated, seeing with relief that the other man, Nath, had disappeared into the studio. He’d been a bit intense for her to handle before she’d had her morning espresso. “So you decided on a name.”

A smile tilted his perfect lips. If he’d caught her attention in two dimensions, it was nothing to the real man. The real young man, she reminded herself. He looked to be in his early twenties and she definitely was not, at thirty-five.

Yeah, I know I kept you waiting. But waiting can be good.” His brows rose as an expression that was part teasing and part earnest lit his eyes. “You gotta live in the present moment. Grab every second.”

Ah…right.” Now she wasn’t imagining he was looking at her. She ducked her head, knowing with her curves she didn’t look as good as he did in shorts. More earth goddess than sports queen. “I brought the paper work over.”

Sloan nodded. “Come on in,” he invited, opening the glass door of his studio for her. She walked into what had previously been just bare brick walls, scarred from a previous incarnation as a sports retailer. The floors were half way through a polish job, stripped down to sawdust and bleached maple so the scent of wood was strong and tangy.

Nath has been doing the floors,” Sloan said, as if he’d noticed her interest.

They were a mess,” she admitted. In fact, she hadn’t been able to lease the space for months. She was glad she had finally managed it, despite her mild discomfort with the type of business that had taken the storefront.

When her father had given her the strip mall, she’d known he’d expected her to fail but Diana had put a lot of extra time into it, determined to make it the basis for a stable home for herself and Jeff.

Nath’s gone for lunch,” Sloan said, picking up a towel and wiping his face as Diana took in the metal rails hanging across the ceiling and the heavy black bags suspended from them.

I can’t imagine hitting something for fun,” she said.

It’s liberating,” Sloan said. “It can give you confidence that spills into the rest of your life.”

She grazed a hand down one bag. “I’m not comfortable with aggression.”

Sloan’s expression was serene as he shrugged and she got the feeling that while he didn’t agree with her, he was comfortable enough with himself he didn’t need to argue about it. His confidence was beginning to get to her. He was so young…he shouldn’t be so self-assured. She cleared her throat and opened her attaché case, sitting it on a bit of finished flooring since the room was bare of anything else.

Suddenly a pillow was thrust at her face and she froze before looking into intimidating dark eyes under straight, heavy brows. She took the lotus shaped pillow, familiar to her from her yoga practice.

Thank you,” she said.

You’ll need help sitting down in those sky scraper shoes,” Sloan said, cocking his head as his gaze ran down Diana’s long legs. He shocked her by kneeling at her feet and placing one warm, callused hand around her left ankle, running a finger under the rim of her ankle bracelet. His touch bypassed politeness and zapped straight to her sex, making Diana gasp.

Hey, I just want to take your shoes off,” Sloan said, stroking the slope of her foot.

Oh, yeah, but I can—"

Allow me.”

Flustered, Diana watched Sloan as he slowly unbuckled each of the three black straps on her sandal. When he gently pulled her foot free, he massaged the sole, making Diana give an involuntary moan, but damn, that felt good.

Probably these shoes aren’t the best thing for your feet but they look very hot on you,” Sloan said. He put down the liberated foot and reached for the other and dazed, Diana allowed it, her hands on his bare shoulders for balance now, making direct contact with hot, sweaty skin.

Sloan took his time with the second sandal, caressing the underside of her foot and eliciting another moan. Her feet seemed to be directly wired into her pussy, so he might as well have been touching her intimately.

When he looked up at her, she realized he knew exactly what he was doing, the effect it was having on her.

Sit down, Diana,” he ordered gruffly.

Bemused, Diana sat down, smoothing her short blue skirt so she didn’t flash him.

Sloan was within kissing distance as she passed him the paperwork she’d brought over. She scolded herself for noticing, but her feet—and other parts—were still tingling from the unexpected foot massage.

He reached into a pocket in his shorts and pulled out a pair of glasses, slipping them on. They were a dramatic contrast to his tangled hair and hard, glistening body. He looked up through the lenses, his eyes sober now, back to business.

I want to put the lobby there, by the door, along with a console for handling payments from clients,” he said, gesturing toward the front of the empty studio.

That shouldn’t be a problem,” Diana said. “You’ve done a lot of amazing renovations already.”

Motivation is not a problem for me when I see what I want.” He looked up at Diana. “Are you the same, Diana?”

She’d been chewing on her pen, something she’d broken the habit of doing as a college student. “I am definitely motivated to see this strip mall do the best it can,” she said.

I think everything here is in order, but I’ll want some time to look it over before I send it back to you,” Sloan said, putting the paperwork aside and removing his glasses.

Of course,” Diana said. She looked at her bare feet and her shoes, feeling awkward. The charged interlude was over and she had to put her shoes back on and retreat.

Now that that’s done with…” Sloan’s voice was gravely. “You liked it when I touched you.”

Shocked again by Sloan’s confidence, Diana could only stare at him.

It wasn’t an accident, where I touched you,” Sloan went on. “I used to give reflexology massage. I knew how to arouse you.”

She shook her head. “I don’t understand.”

Yes, you do. Take a moment, just breathe…” Now he reached out and stroked her arm as if he felt the sudden spike of her anxiety. But this couldn’t be happening. She’d seen him, she’d wanted him, but he was a fantasy. This couldn’t be happening…

Breathe…” He was closer, sharing her breath. She couldn’t stop studying his face, those slightly exotic earnest eyes, holding her captive. He cupped her cheek. “You made quite an impression on me.”

She laughed when she remembered seeing his poster and the look of bliss on his face—she’d pictured him making love. Oh, yeah, he’d also made an impression on her.

I should go.”


This isn’t me.”

I think it’s very much you. Ground zero.” He lifted her onto his lap, both her legs on either side of him, her body flush against his so she could feel the blunt shape of his erection through his tissue thin shorts.

Panting, she began to tremble. His hand felt hot against the silk of her skirt as he placed it on her ass.

Easy,” he said, still with that assured manner. This was crazy. Why was she allowing him to do these things? She was always so guarded with men, peeking at them from behind her walls. “You have to do something, Diana,” Sloan went on in that same hoarse, silky voice.

She blinked and then frowned. “What?”

Ask me to please you,” he said.

I…” How could she? She’d just met the man. Now she was sitting on him and he was touching her. One hand moved down her body and under her skirt, lifting it as he held her eyes. His fingers brushed against her underwear, found her hot for him, a stranger.

**** You can find His Landlady in the Subspace anthology here:

It will be released as a stand-alone ebook, with the wonderful cover above, in mid January.

And you can read more about my work—and my m/m romance The Wizard’s Boy which is coming out the same day as His Landlady—here on my website:


Debby said...

wow sounds like a great book. Glad you decided to write it.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Lisabet Sarai said...

Welcome to Beyond Romance, Jan!

You should never listen when somebody tells you what you "should" write. If you don't write from your heart, readers can tell.

HIS LANDLADY sounds like a fun and different take on D/s dynamics.

Jan Irving said...

Thank you, Debby. Yeah, I hadn't had a lot of encouragement by the time I'd written His Landlady. That came after. But I wanted to write it, so I'm glad I followed that instinct.

Lisabet, I remember reading an RWA keynote speech from an author who said the book she wrote to fit in and be popular sunk. I think that's very true. You have to be true to yourself.

I'll be giving away a copy of Subspace when it comes out to a reader who comments and leaves their information here on this post. The book will be released on Monday. Spicy reading!


Liz said...

I think it's great to break out of your own comfort zones and write something new. I wrote a trilogy with 3 completely "new" elements for myself. great post and I look forward to reading the book!

Unknown said...

Oh my, that was hot!! If the rest of Subspace is that spicey, I might have to read it outside to keep the flames under control.

drainbamaged.gyzmo at

Nina Pierce said...

Since writing requires that we pour so much of ourselves in to a story I think it's important that you follow your heart when it comes to storylines and the characters who live them out. Continued success.

Jan Irving said...

Thanks, Liz. I think it's breath and life to us to break out of the mold constantly. I hope you enjoy the book.

I think the collection is going to be scorching, Kathryn. I'll be sending it to you on Monday. Hope you enjoy it.

Nina, exactly. And thank you!


Janice Seagraves said...

Something I learned when I started doing artwork back in school was to not listen to what someone tells you to do (unless its the teacher). I got all kind of busy buddies in school telling me not to do this or that, even "that's going to look awful." But I learned that I have a choice in what I do and when I listened to my inter-vision, I won awards for my artwork.

Your personal vision is yours and yours alone. Write what you feel you need to write.

If I listened to my mom I wouldn't have sex in my stories and what would the fun be in that?

Jan Irving said...

Janice--see? I always hear stories that 'when I did my own thing I succeeded more than I thought I would.'

It's inspiring.


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