Archive for the 'A Visitor Says…' Category


Charlene Teglia Talks To Us: Wicked Hot…Behind the Scenes

I was trying to figure out how to introduce Charli when I stumbled on this. So instead of an introduction, we’re all going to beg her to come back and guestblog in sonnet form next year. *g* The most creative beggar wins a signed copy of Wicked Hot!

It’s always hard to know what to say about a book. There’s the obvious: Here’s the cover!

Charlene Teglias new book!

Charlene Teglia's new book!

And the blurb!

The struggle between good and evil is about to get…Wicked Hot

Edana is a succubus—a breathtakingly beautiful demon who offers men their most decadent fantasy in exchange for their souls. No one can get close to her without being destroyed..until she meets Eli and Dal. Both men are Nephilim, immortal warriors who bind and banish demons. Edana’s mission is to arouse their lust and steal their souls before they can destroy her—she never expects to fall in love. Shared by two virile lovers and lost in a world of sensation, Edana begins to fall for one of the warriors, jeopardizing her mission. Only he has power to save her, but first she must give him power over her heart—and her destiny…

But while covers are shiny (and this one has a hot nekkid guy) and blurbs are designed to catch a browser’s attention and get them to pick up a book, it doesn’t say much.

So there’s the book trailer to convey more of the mood and tone:

But what about the story behind the story? Er, well, I wanted to write a book set on Washington’s remote and rugged Olympic Peninsula. I wanted to write about Nephilim because they’re fascinating. And writing about a succubus heroine posed a lot of challenges. Writing a ménage relationship that ends in a traditional hero/heroine happily ever after posed even more challenges. I mean, if she spends the book sleeping with both of them, how do you pull off the believable romantic resolution?

To be blunt, this book gave me fits. It forced me to rethink and reinvent my process and change the way I write. It stretched me. It frustrated me. It delighted me. And in the end, it was a book I could look back on and say with satisfaction, “I did good work.”

Wicked Hot is erotic and fun and romantic and hopefully will entertain readers as much as it entertains me. Unless they are Barry Manilow fans. In which case, er, sorry, but come on, they WOULD punish people with Barry in hell.

Charlene Teglia‘s latest releases are Wicked Hot and the Naughty Nights anthology, in which you can find her story ‘Wolf in Shining Armor.’ At least she doesn’t have a pink cover to embarrass me with this time. *g*

She’s also giving away a copy of Wicked Hot, which is, indeed, Wicked Hot. You guys know the drill, comment and one lucky winner gets a signed copy.


Shiloh Walker Talks to Us: How Writing is Like…

The Brat is back, this time with a new WIP. Wanna win a Bratty book? Details below.

Giving directions to your husband while going on a road trip…WITHOUT GPS.

You see, I know where I want to go. On the road trip. In the book.

On a road trip, it’s usually a bookstore, or a library, or a mall, in some town I haven’t visited before, or it’s been a long time since my last visit.

I know where I want to go. I just am not very sure on how to get there. It usually involves me scouring a map, looking for cross streets, checking on the printed directions from Google maps…and then me shouting at the last second, That’s where we gotta turn.

He acts like I do it on purpose. Hey, I can’t help the road doesn’t lead where I think it should.

Same with my story.

I know where I want to go. I’m just not sure how to get there. Even with outlines, notes, bouncing ideas off a friend’s head, I’m not too sure of the road I need to take. I think it’s this road, but this road doesn’t lead to that one after all and that one is the road I need to be on.

But my husband ought to consider himself lucky. Because in a story? Usually when I see the road I need, it’s always in hindsight. Like oh say… 30, 40, 50 pages past the turning point that I didn’t see until it was too late. Last minute is better than way after, right?

So in the story, I have to back track. And I realize there are other twists in the plot (roads) that I do need to keep, but I need to figure out how to work them in while still arriving where I need to be…when I need to be there…and without missing any of the other vital things.

My husband keeps telling me I need to learn to read a map. I think I’m just fine-we’ve got a GARMIN now. What I really need is some sort of GARMIN for authors-one that will spit out helpful little things like… Important plot turn in 5 pages, 4 pages, 3 pages, 2 pages…on the next page you need to work on a new plot development.

Somehow, I don’t see it happening.

Shiloh Walker’s latest release is Through The Veil. Excerpt coming up!

Contest: I’ll buy one lucky person a copy of any Bratty Book that you can find on Fictionwise up to 6USD.


Jes Battis, Tess Corday and Derrick Siegel Talk to Us

Want to get the inside track on the world of Occult Special Investigator Tess Corday, and the world of the Core? You’re in the right place. Details on the contest below.

Jes: Welcome to the studio. I’d like to introduce Tess Corday and Derrick Siegel, who both work for the Central Occult Regulation Enterprise, or CORE. Tess, can you describe your job for the readers?

Tess: I’m an Occult Special Investigator.

Derrick: Level One.

T: [glaring]. Yes. Level One. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

D: I can read minds. Some people might think that’s much cooler.

T: But I get better hours. And I have a gun.

D: So do I!

T: But you couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn with it–

J: [interrupting] Maybe you could both talk about what the CORE does, exactly.

T: Sure. They’re a transnational blanket organization that investigates occult homicides. They use a mixture of forensic technology and mystical rituals to analyze paranormal crime scenes.

D: Like on CSI Las Vegas.

T: Not, not like on CSI Las Vegas. They don’t have demons and warlocks.

D: But they have Bill Petersen. He’s hot.

T: Of course. But he doesn’t have to analyze vampire DNA.

D: Also, we don’t wear fancy clothes like the people on CSI. There’s no point, since we’ll just get blood and demon guts on them anyways.

J: What’s the most difficult case you’ve ever been on?

T: In Night Child, we have to investigate a crime-scene with a dead vampire’s body (really dead, not just undead). It turns out to be a big vampire conspiracy. Things get pretty hot and heavy.

J: What’s a “night child?”

D: Didn’t you come up with it? You’re the writer.

J: I’m trying to be mysterious.

T: Well, then–everyone should read the book so they can find out.

J: What did you find particularly hard about the case in Night Child?

D: [giggling] I’ll tell you what she found ‘hard’–

T: Shut up.

D: His name is Lucian Agrado.

J: Is he a love interest, Tess?

T: He’s a big pain in my ass. Like a black hole.

D: Imagine if Gael Garcia Bernal was a necromancer. He’s that hot.

J: What does a necromancer do, exactly?

T: They can manipulate necroid materia, which is forbidden by the CORE.

J: And your specialty is earth materia?

T: Yeah. I’m good at channeling geothermic energy. Derrick’s telepathy comes from dendrite materia, but we’re not even sure if that exists.

D: My materia is just as good as yours.

T: Sure [inaudible] you’re invisible materia.

D: I heard that, betch.

J: Were you two ever an item?

T [snorting with laughter]. Derrick’s a homo.

D: [proudly] I am.

T: We made out once. It was funny.

D: I’m a good kisser.

T: [stage whisper] He’s really not.

D: That was back in college, though.

J: Is that how you two met?

T: We were both working for the CORE at the time, but that was the first time we met, yeah. They tend to enlist you early. I joined when I was 12.

J: How do you think that affected your life?

T: Um–made it a lot less predictable?

D: Luckily, they have full dental.

T [nodding]: The benefits are quite competitive.

J: What’s the scariest thing about Night Child?

D: There’s a butt plug.

T: He’s serious.

D: And a shark demon. Oh, and cursed house music.

T: And a bondage chamber, remember?

D: Oh yeah. And also, there’s a horrible scene with a gumball machine.

J: I don’t remember writing that.

D: You were probably high.

J [shrugs] Probably.

T: There’s also a lot of gruesome autopsies, bloody fingerprints, demon DNA, an eyeball, and second-hand couch that swallows people.

D: And Tess gets naked.

T: I do not!

D: Well, sort of.

T: OK, fine. Sort of.

D: Oh, and the black playdough. Don’t forget that.

T: [shivers] How could I?

J: Derrick, do you have a love interest in this book?

D: Well, Jes, you should know the answer to that. I’m just hoping that I get a lot more action in Hextacy.

J: That can be arranged.

D: Have I mentioned how awesome you are?

J: Yes. Many times. Anything else you want to add?

T: This book will scare the crap out of you. Seriously. Mo Hayder and Karin Slaughter and Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs all think so.

D: None of them have read it.

T: Not yet. But when they do, it’ll scare them. I promise.

D: The cover is also amazing. Tess doesn’t look that hot in real life.

T: You’re an ass.

D: I’m just being honest.

T: You’re just jealous because I got the whole cover.

D: I’m going to be on the next one. Tim Lantz promised to make me look just like Zachary Quinto.

T: No he didn’t.

D: Ok…he didn’t. But I do sort of—

J and T stare at him.

D: OK. Never mind. Just read Night Child. It costs the same as a venti mocha raspberry frappe with an extra shot. That’s a bargain.

Jes Battis debuts today with Night Child, the first book in the series starring Tess Corday. He has just finished writing the second book, so head on over to his blog to congratulate him!

Now, for the contest. Comment to enter, but the devil’s in the details, as they say:

You have to live in an area that has a locally-based (in other words, I won’t have to pay for international postage) online bookstore through which I can order Night Child for you, and if you win, you have to write a review of the book that I will post here on the blog.


CE Murphy Talks To Us

It was hard, and she tried to talk me out of one of my precious blogging ideas–she didn’t succeed–but CE Murphy is here at last.

“Blogging is hard,” I said to May while I was trying to come up with a topic for today’s guest blog. “Let’s go shopping!”

Inevitably, this led to a discussion of shoes. This is inevitable only because I accidentally turned May on to Duo Boots last year, and while I am not *generally* weak in the face of shoes, I turn out to be very weak in the face of boots that will fit my sturdy calves.

The truth is, actually, writing is hard, whether it’s blogging (me, I keep a journal, because blogging to my mind is more topical and focused than a journal) or writing books. It requires a certain discipline, ’cause at the end of the day nobody but you is making you do it.

That’s one of the hardest bits of being a professional writer. I took solitaire off my work computer (which is not hooked up to the internet) about six months ago, because when writing was hard going I
was spending hours and hours losing games instead of working my way through the hard bits. It’s soooo much easier to do anything other than write. Clean the kitchen, clean the kitty litter, go for a walk, aaaaanything at all.

But it has to be done. One way or another, if you want to be a professional writer, you must write. No way around that one, I’m afraid. You do whatever it takes to get yourself into the chair: word wars (a battle with someone else to see who can write the most words in 30 minutes!), a promise that you can quit “after 100 (or 200, or 300, or…) words”, a chocolate bar with your name on it (though you better put that at the end of a 3 mile walk, because writing is a sedentary job!), look at your looming deadlines, get up early, stay up late, write on the commute; a friend of mine says if you have time to watch TV, you have time to write. It’s a matter of making choices, and that’s more difficult than it seems. Even for me, who’s been writing full time for more than three years now, it’s not as easy as I think it should be. Many days I still have to drag myself to the keyboard to get any work done. I think that’s just part of any job, and has to be dealt with.

On the positive side, on days when the writing isn’t easy, I can always wear my knee-high, 3″ heel suede Duo Boots stilettos to work in, if I want. 🙂

CE Murphy is the author, most recently, of THE QUEEN’S BASTARD, in which she believes there is no mention at all of shoes. House of Cards was released in March, and the third book in the same series, Hands of Flame, will be released in September.


Caitlin Kittredge Talks To Us: 5 Reasons Not to Write a Fantasy Novel (And 2 Reasons Why You Should)

Caitlin Kittredge is a novelist and former game designer. She lives in Seattle, WA with 3,000 comic books and two pushy cats. Her favorite word is ubiquitous.

I’d never try to discourage anyone from writing fiction, but if you want to succeed as an author just starting out, being prepared for the worst goes a long way. With that caveat in mind, here are all the reasons you should go get a real job like your mother wanted:

  1. The market is tough—and tiny.

It’s hard to get a fantasy, particularly urban fantasy, noticed by agents. The market isn’t saturated, but it’s reached a point where agents and editors can be pretty darn picky and still have a list overflowing with urban fantasy and paranormal romance. Yours must be a standout to get noticed. Also, ALL fantasy, from epic sprawling sagas to vampire bounty hunters, has something like an 8% market share. Your chances are slightly better if you’re going to be marketed as paranormal romance, but it’s still a niche, and it’s still full.

  1. Unless your name is Stephen King, your advance isn’t going to pay for that private island.

I know, you say it’s not about the money, but guess what? Most fantasy authors don’t live on their writing, and those that do aren’t usually holed up in Malibu sipping on mimosas. If you want to make a living as a professional writer and only a writer, expect to be dirt-poor for a two to five years, because the pay scale just isn’t there in our genre except for the big guns and the breakouts. And if you keep a day job, you’re going to be working two full time jobs when your novel sells. Stock up on No-Doz, or marry someone who will pay the bills while you’re getting your income up to speed.

  1. Genre writing is not for the faint of heart.

Remember the look your college English professor gave you when you turned in a fantasy short story rather than a piece about your mother’s music box? Yeah, you’re gonna get a lot of that if you do this for a living. People ask me, “What’s you’re book about?”. I say, “Werewolves,” and get an entire range of reactions from “Oh, cool,” to “I thought you said you wrote real books. The good news is, fantasy is becoming a lot more accepted as other media like TV, comics and film mainstream the supernatural. Develop a thick skin—you’re going to need it to deal with snob critics who don’t accept that genre writing is valid expression anyway, and it helps when explaining to your great-aunt Mildred that yes, you write about elves having sex, and yes, you get paid for it.

  1. You won’t get the luxury of writing one novel every ten years.

Fantasy novelists are expected to produce more than literary writers. It’s a fact, and it’s both good and bad: good because our sales numbers tend to be a lot better, hence the demand, and bad, because of the implication that your demon-hunter novel required less effort than their middle-aged road trip novel. Well, get past that second one and get used to writing on deadline—usually every six months to a year. You think you can produce a novel in six months, no problem? What about your job, hobbies, family, pets? What if you only get one hour a day to write? You have to be able to make that hour count every single day whether you feel like it or not. And there will be days when you don’t, trust me.

  1. The work is hard, lonely, and largely without tangible result.

You work alone, probably thousands of miles from your agent or editor in New York City or London. You work when you’re sick, you don’t get government holidays and you work even when you feel wholly uninspired—because of the deadlines, remember? If you don’t produce, you don’t get paid, and if you’re a full-time writer…that’s all you have to live on. You only see the results of your labor about once a year, when the book goes to press, and the rest of the time is a slog of wordcounts, checking your Amazon rating and venturing out to bitch with other authors about the industry. But, I will say this: when you hold your book in your hands, every hour sacrificed to the writing of said book is worth it.

Made it this far? There’s hope for you yet. Here are two reasons why you should write fantasy anyway, even with everything I’ve said above.

1. You’ve got something to say.

Fantasy has traditionally been the genre used for social criticism of the particular writer’s world, and it continues to be one of the most fluid and versatile genres because literally anything goes. Fantasy lets you say what you need to say, artfully and imaginatively, and you can’t ask for more than that.

2. Fantasy needs new authors with new ideas.

Just because the market is full-ish now doesn’t mean there’s not room for you, if you write with passion, have a fresh take on the genre and police your commas. Chin up. Shoulders back. Type on.

Caitlin Kittredge

Lucky readers, Caitlin’s giving away a signed copy of Night Life! You know you want it, so tell us, are you a night person or a day person, and why should the rest of the world be like you?


Linda Wisdom Talks To Us

50waystohex72.jpgIf Linda Wisdom is half as fun as her book is, then her guestblog today is going to be plenty of fun!

How do you brew up a hexy book?

You start with a full measure of sexy witch

Add essence of a sexy vampire

A pinch of a cranky 1950s era ghost

Stir in zest of magickal bunny slippers to add that extra boost along with a hint of elf, ghoul and even a bare bit of were and you have an energetic brew filled with a witch we’d all want to hang out with.

As long as she doesn’t conjure up some witchflame, that is!

That’s exactly what I did including the witchflame.

A snarky witch popped up in my head and introduced herself as Jasmine “Jazz” Tremaine and did she have a story for me, which is appropriately titled 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover. And the meaning of the book title is even explained in the book.

She’s a witch with an addiction to cotton candy and funnel cakes, loves to shop and pays her bills, hey, even witches have Visa and MasterCard, by working as a curse eliminator and a driver for All Creatures Car Service. Life should be good for her, but her ex has shown up. And said ex is one hot guy, been off and on in her life for the past 600 years. Wait a minute did I say 600 years? Yep. Easy to do when you’re a vampire. And Nick’s a vampire to be reckoned with. As a former member of vampire law enforcement, which doesn’t happen to have an appeal process, and now working as a private detective for the supernatural community, Nick’s trying to now bring down a serial killer of vampires. A creature from his and Jazz’s past and someone Jazz doesn’t care to confront again because that would mean confronting a horror she’d kept buried for 70 years.

Writing this book was sheer joy for me. I had characters that are downright fun and so surprising even I wasn’t sure what would happen next. Along with being so believable I check my bunny slippers every so often to make sure they’re not trying to take off with the dog.

I hope those of you who read the book will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. And I hope that reading it will have you believing in the unbelievable. Because, for me, that’s the most fun. The idea pretty much anything could be out there.

50 Ways to Hex Your Lover is out in the bookstores now and Hex Appeal, the next book in the series, will be out this fall.

Linda Wisdom

There will be prizes. Who would you have Fluff and Puff, the magickal, be-fanged bunny slippers, bite?


Sylvia Kelso Talks To Us: Under Two Hats…Or Is That Three?

We, referring to my multiple identities, present Sylvia Kelso, author of Amberlight, with an interesting look into SFF academia. Kinsale fans, meet your match!

When people ask what I do nowadays, I instantly recall an old novel by a 19th century popular writer, Ouida: she did “romantic” action with lots of angst, and the title was Under Two Flags. Nowadays I seem to work under two hats: as an academic who’s specialised in “popular fiction” – including SF, fantasy, horror, and what used to be Gothics – and as a long-term writer and now aspiring author OF popular fiction, newly embarked on the precipitous learning curve to discover how you (hopefully) stay out there.

Under those hats, though, is the person who acquired both – or maybe the third, original hat. That person is what I call an overflower, or active enthusiast. Overflowers, to me, share a common impulse: not just to enjoy reading a book, but to actively, in some deeper way, make it their own. The collector version wants not just this but all the author’s books. The fan collects the books and maybe writes fanfic. The academic wants to write an article or study about the text and/or writer.

For academics, this means translating, I just love this book! into acceptable academic form. First, you need something about the work that snags your critical eye – unusual, complex, striking in some way. Then the enthusiasm has to be strong enough to support your work. An academic article is quite an undertaking. The first and simplest step is to find a critical approach that will “open” the text for you. Then you have to apply the approach to the text and put the result analysis into academic format, complete with references, bibliography, etc.

I did this a couple of years ago with a Laura Kinsale novel, For My Lady’s Heart. As a reader I consider her pretty neat. Especially, she has a very good ear for non-contemporary dialogue– and I *hate* tin-ear dialogue, which is why I don’t read many historical novels. More, she researches well enough to catch the sensibility of the period. Heart is a variant of a very famous medieval romance, “Gawain and the Green Knight,” and Kinsale gets closer than almost any other modern author to the “authentic” Middle English idiom, and sometimes, even the correct usages of “thou” and “you.”

That is very seldom done correctly nowadays, because it varies very subtly according to relative rank of speakers, closeness of relationship, current emotional temperature, and intent. In The Lord of the Rings, a classic case is Aragorn and Eowyn – she addresses him as “you” – correct formal usage to somebody of higher rank – until she pops her chocks at Dunharrow, and breaks into “thou” and “thee.” HE never addresses her as anything but “you” – proper courtesy to a woman, even if of lower rank – until at the very last, when she’s safely married off to Faramir, and he can honestly and “lovingly” say, “It heals my heart to see thee now in bliss.”

Kinsale’s nearly as good. I just love (there’s the enthusiast) the scene where Ruck and Melanthe are making their makeshift marriage vows. She has “thee’d” him from square one, as a social inferior, even before she fell in love. Ruck, who has steadfastly avoided “thee-ing” her despite x days of trauma and flight together, starts off very formal “Princess of Monteverde, Countess of Bowland – my lady – I humbly take you – take thee – ah, God forgive me, but I take thee with my whole heart, though I be nought worthy …” There’s a shift that isn’t just careless writing or ignorant line-editing. The whole weight of the Middle Ages, rank and status and the outbreak of irresistible personal feeling, is in that one small change.

Those comments, though, are too enthusiastic for academe. In fact, I couldn’t even get them into the paper. Instead I had to find a critical text on “Romance” – which goes far beyond our modern genre, back to the imperial romances like King Solomon’s Mines, to the medieval romances like “Gawain,” and on to the Hellenistic Greek sagas of the late centuries BC. – and then apply its ideas to Heart. Discovering, for instance, that it works on the same principal as the theorist says fits all romance –its interest is not in going Straight There, like an action novel. And the core of Heart is indeed the long “detour” in the wastes of the Wirral, where Ruck and Melanthe really discover each other.

I spent a considerable time, too, working out comparisons with “Gawain and the Green Knight,” and learning about that work in the process. But the whole project, which ended with an academic paper and a reason to go from Australia to Glasgow for a convention where I could deliver it, came from the wellspring of reader’s enthusiasm: I just had to translate my delight in Kinsale’s ability to transport herself and her characters into the Middle Ages so well.

In the opposing hat, academic theory filters into my writing life. The latest novel I’ve published, Amberlight, began from a series of imagined images: a city in moonlight. Massive, smooth granite boulders on a local mountain range. But the next level came from my PhD, on feminism and Science Fiction, where I’d reached the SF theory chapter. And I was trying to figure what distinguished SF and Fantasy. Next thing, I was writing a novel whose intent was to balance it so closely on the border of SF and fantasy, no-one cd. decide which it was. I was quite delighted when I sent it to one of my very well read mates who really didn’t know which label to use on it. But again, the wellspring for all the effort was enthusiasm. Whichever hat I wear, it seems I should really extend the number to three, because the enthusiast has to bubble underneath them all.

Sylvia Kelso‘s current release is Amberlight, to be followed by Riversend in 2008, both out from Juno Books. She blogs at Fiction Beyond The Ordinary, with other Juno authors.


Joely Sue Burkhart on Fairytales, or Here Be Dragons

Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City, to take back the child you have stolen. For my will is as strong as yours and my kingdom as great. You have no power over me.–Labyrinth

Ah, but such tales do have power over us. Fairy tales, legends, and mythology, magical stories of goblin kings and fantastical creatures, princesses, quests, faraway castles, evil queens—they cast a spell on us even today.

I’m not speaking about Disney fairy tales, but the “original” stories that were often… Grimm. Those violent, darkly erotic, bloody tales of things that go bump in the night. They encompass our fear of the unknown, darkness closing in, risk to our immortal souls, the possible victory of darkness over light forever. Pulse racing, heart hammering, spine chilling tales, I still can’t get enough.

Here be dragons.

These tales both haunt and fascinate me. What if Jareth the Goblin King had succeeded in wooing Sarah? Just how close did Lily come to killing the unicorn in Legend? What if Sam and Frodo hadn’t made it up the side of the mountain to cast the One Ring into the fire?

I love many of the modern Disney movies, but I wonder if they’ve done a disservice to the fairy tale. The gruesome or painful ends of so many of my favorite tales have been forgotten. The “bump in the night” thrill has been lost. The pain, grief, and sacrifice—a huge part of the human condition—has been prettied up into “they lived happily ever after.”

But if you read the original fairy tales, you find the truth. Not every princess found her prince. In fact, sometimes a great price was paid for that love, and the love was still lost. This theme haunts me, permeating everything I write, and I can trace it back to one main influencing work. The original “Little Mermaid” by Hans Christian Andersen.

For love, she gave up her voice. For love, she walked on two feet, even while pain like knives stabbed her viciously with each step. And in the end, her prince chose another woman, and she was doomed to 300 years of service to mankind, trying to earn her immortal soul. Oh, what a lovely agonizing tail… er… tale.

In comments, tell me an unhappy or brutal ending to a fairy tale story that haunts or delights you to be entered to win a free download of my romantic fantasy novella, Survive My Fire; a White Dragon mug; and your choice of a fairy tale DVD (may I suggest Labyrinth, Legend, Pan’s Labyrinth, MirrorMask, just to name a few; to be ordered after the winner is selected in case of a non-USA winner).

You can get Survive My Fire here and here. An exclusive excerpt will be posted later, together with my thoughts on the book, or you can check out the one on her website.


Imogen Howson does Fairytales, or Playing With The Rules

Everyone knows the rules of fairytales. Heroines are beautiful. Princes are noble. Witches are evil. Stepmothers are cruel. Moving from a lower social class (scullery maid) to a higher (princess) is a good thing. The forest is dangerous and contains things that will eat you—usually in a nasty tricky way like pretending to be your grandmother first, or by building a house made of gingerbread.If someone mentions a ‘fairytale ending’ we know they mean ‘happy ever after’. You might want to check, though—they might mean the fairytale ending of the first print version of Little Red Riding Hood, by Charles Perroult, where Red Riding Hood doesn’t escape the wolf.

Which is the interesting thing. There’s a lot of darkness in fairytales—even in the ones that do have the ‘happy ever after’ endings.

It’s the cruel stepmother who insists Hansel and Gretel must be abandoned in the forest, but it’s their father, who loves them and grieves for them, who complies with her demand.

In Rumpelstiltskin, the scariest villain is, of course, Rumpelstiltskin, who tries to take the heroine’s baby. But coming in close second and third are surely the heroine’s stupid father who boasts that she can spin straw into gold, and the greedy king who threatens her with death if she can’t manage it—and whom she ends up marrying (now there’s an abusive relationship for you).

In Rapunzel, the witch doesn’t even need to steal the baby from her parents. Rapunzel’s father gives her away instead, in exchange for some salad for his pregnant wife.

This is in contrast to the wholly good characters—who are, sadly, often a bit disappointing. Heroines who are beautiful but kind of dull, and who sit patiently waiting to be rescued. And heroes who—well, I can’t be the only reader who prefers the Beast to the handsome prince he turns into at the end of Beauty and the Beast.

Maybe this is why, in recent fiction, people have started to write about the monsters, rather than the heroes—or have made the monsters into the heroes. In the England I live in, the old fairytale forests are now no more than a fairytale themselves—bears and wolves were hunted to extin ction some three hundred years ago. And although goodness knows there are plenty of girls who’d like to be princesses, nobody thinks that moving into Buckingham Palace guarantees a happy ever after.

Now—probably because it no longer exists—there’s something rather alluring about the deep dark forest where the monsters live. I don’t want to keep safely to the path and get back to my village, or be swept up onto the prince’s horse and taken off to his castle. I want to explore the wilderness, the darkness. I want to see the glowing eyes and find the tracks of something’s paws on the marshy ground.

I want to read books about the ‘other’—the werewolves, the beasts, the witches—those who are outside the safety of the village or castle. I want to find heroes in unlikely shapes. And the villains—why not take those hints of malice or indifference in some of the ‘good’ characters, and turn them into the real antagonists?

I’ve played with some of these ideas in Falling, my Drollerie Press story, which is a re-imagining of Rapunzel set in a futuristic world.

Imogen Howson



And, for a chance to win a copy of Falling, plus 300g of best-quality chocolate (your choice of flavour!), tell me in the comments—what’s your favourite version of a fairytale? The original Little Red Riding Hood? The Disney version of The Little Mermaid? Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me? The anarchic mixture of stock fairytale characters in the Shrek films? Robin McKinley’s rich-textured rewriting of Sleeping Beauty in Spindle’s End? Or which fairytale would you like to see rewritten—and why?

Excerpt coming up!


Alexis Fleming guestblogs!

Hi everyone,

First, thanks to May for having me here.

My name is Alexis Fleming and I’m thrilled to pieces to be one of the debut authors for Total-e-bound e-Books. It’s always a little daunting starting up with a new editor, but Claire Siemaszkiewicz, one of the owners of Total-e-bound and also my editor, has made it easy. She’s a dream to work for, although I must admit I wondered if she’d let me get away with the first couple of lines in the blurb for Sink Or Swim. Not everyone gets my quirky sense of humour.

Mind you, somewhere between now and August next year, I’ll need to learn how to pronounce her last name. I’m hoping to take a trip to England next year so I can meet my fabulous editor. Meanwhile, I need to finish up a couple of outstanding contracts I have with my other publishers so I can write the next saucy water-baby tale to send to Claire.

Alexis Fleming

Do mermaids have orgasms? Who knows, but she’d better find out quick before she exchanges her girly bits for fishy slits.

A mermaid who can’t swim? What could be worse?

When Samie McIntyre finds out she’s about to turn into a mermaid, a legacy of her selkie father and mermaid mother, she realizes she has one major problem. Well, er, maybe two… First, she can’t swim. And second, she has aqua-phobia. What good is a mermaid who’s afraid of the water? As far as she can see, there’s only one thing to do. Talk the sexy Jonah Billings into teaching her to swim.

And if she can convince him to indulge in a bit of horizontal wrestling before she becomes a pickled sardine, so much the better.

Here’s what Coffee Time Romance had to say:

“…Ms. Fleming shows the struggles they deal with and the heat they have between
them very well. I was impressed with how far she went and it had me reaching
for some ice water…Sink or Swim is one sizzling hot story!

~ 4 Cups – Krista – Coffee Time Romance

You could win a copy of this book by commenting here!

Continue reading ‘Alexis Fleming guestblogs!’


Beth Williamson Flies Like a Bat(ty Wonder)…out of the Lap-top?

Note: Beth originally titled it Coming Out…of the Laptop? but I decided to get a little creative…

I don’t think I’d call it a closet, per se, but coming out of the laptop I’ve hidden behind (I’m not a shiny stripper like Shannon dammit). You see, many people don’t know I write sensual/erotic romance (it’s all in what words you want to use). I live in the middle of what’s called the bible belt in North Carolina with a Baptist church on every corner (there’s one on the other side of my back yard – eep!). So I’ve kept mostly quiet the last two and a half years since I’ve been published.

Until recently anyway. That’s when I decided to ah, come clean. *snerk*

One of the ladies in my neighborhood found out I wrote romance novels and she loooves them (so she’s automatically my peep). I told her my pen name and that I had four books in print (at the time). When I ran into her months later, she told me she’d bought The Treasure and loved it. I was pleased silly and thanked her.

Then she decided to pick my book for the neighborhood book club. It’s a small neighborhood, about 20 houses or so. At first they didn’t invite me to the book club (WTF?) – suffice it to say that my status as a published author intimidated them. *snort* As if I am in any way, shape, or form intimidating. As they’re looking at the book, they’re all like what is that red writing? Um, that means there’s sex in it. *hoots of laughter* They read the back cover blurb and everyone joins in with more hoots and hollers. “Bring it on!” they all shout.

Ahem, so I uh, came out of the laptop. *BG*

So they read The Treasure , book 4 in the Malloy family series. Sex wise, it’s not the tamest, but definitely not the hottest of the books. It’s explicit, for sure, but the sex is all in the context of the story.

Anyhoo, everyone was tittering and giggling. I got more than one remark like “Who knew? Quiet you writes sexy books?”

I brought buttons, bookmarks and a copy of the next book in the series, The Gift, as a doorprize.

Let me just say my book club blew me away.

These ladies are READERS, real honest-to-God readers that spend a great deal of their spare time reading. Except for one or two of these ladies (13 in all were there), none of them read romance. I felt like a million dollars when I heard them talking about how much they loved the story, that my characters were so real to them. It was freakin’ awesome!

Now I’ve stepped forward at work and told everyone I wrote spicy novels with lots of sex. “These ain’t your mama’s bodice rippers.” *LOL*

So here I am, full of piss and vinegar, and a triumph in my own little book club and announcing to all and sundry that I wrote hot, sexy shit. Personally people see the sweet, innocent side of me and think, nope, can’t be.

Oh but it can. I’ve got a dark, passionate side that comes out at night. *cue the Barry White song* You’ve only to crack the cover of my book (no pun intended there) to see just how far I can go.

Or is that come?

Beth Williamson

The Legacy will be released today from Samhain Publishing

Her upcoming releases include Marielle’s Marshal (August 31st), Devils on Horseback: Nate (September 25th), and Branded (November 6th), all from Samhain Publishing.

She also blogs at Writers Across Time and Passionate Prose.

Remember to comment. There’s a contest!


Annie Dean Living In Mexico

Some things about living in Mexico are amazing. I love the Tuesday market stalls, for instance. You can find fresh fruit, vegetables, clothing, cleaning supplies, handwoven baskets, almost anything you can imagine at these roadside markets. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well here. People often sell things out of their cars, or just pick a corner and set up a folding table. The police mostly leave them alone, except for very congested areas downtown.The climate is gorgeous as well. Average temperature, year round, is between 60-85F. We don’t have heat or air con at our house, which was built to stay cool and shady even when it’s terribly sunny out. Everything is natural. Consequently, we have fewer colds. There are always flowers blooming here as well. I have roses, bougainvillea, hydrangea in my courtyard, along with a Noche Buena tree, and other blooms for which I don’t know the names. The gardeners bring their carts along the walk, and when they ring the bell, I just point out the ones I think are pretty, and they plant them.

What else is good about life here? Well, my mother in law throws the best parties. Saturday, we went to a bash at her place. They had a band, tables on the terrace, and they cleared the furniture in one of the salons so we could dance. My husband and I boogied for a good hour after dinner. The kids danced too. My little girl performed this wild salsa step with her abuelo that I didn’t even know she could do. Girl got some Shakira in her hips, and she was the center of attention for like fifteen minutes. People actually stopped dancing and ringed her and my father in law to watch their wicked moves. I was like, damn, in five years, she’s gonna be dangerous moving like that.

And that’s the cool thing about parties here. People age, but they don’t seem to get old. I lack a sense of the generational divide. You’ll find a seventy year old grandmother out on the dance floor doing the tango. Everyone drinks, everyone dances, everyone parties. My father in law taught my son how to do shots. Abuelo drank tequila and the boy did shots of diet Sprite. You should have seen him. All of seven years old and he had fifty people cheering him on, shouting, “Todo! Todo! Todo!” while he chugged his Sprite Cero. Much screaming and clapping commenced when he drank it in one gulp. People make kids feel like a part of things here. They aren’t shunted off to back rooms or babysitters. In Mexico, you party with all your friends and family, whatever age they may be.

For me, the not-so-cool part of living here comes in two flavors. First flavor, since I’m not fully fluent in Spanish yet, I have ample opportunities to embarrass myself. For instance, saying “Soy aburrida,” versus “Estoy aburrida,” offers the difference between “I’m boring,” and “I’m bored.” Isn’t that awesome?

I recently found something else out from my language tutor. I had labored under the impression that “Me gusta” works for “I like…(whatever).” Synonymous. Right? Not for everything. It works for things and places, but for people it takes on the connotation of romantic attraction. So if you ask a man, “Te gusta Rodrigo?” you’ve inquired whether he’s sexually drawn to him. I cringe in retrospect. Now I know I need to use “Te cae bien?” instead. I also wish to bitch at the Spaniards. Did you know one word means two things here? Esposa = wife and …you ready? Handcuffs. I was so pissed when I figured that out! My husband remains unwholesomely amused by my outrage to this day.

The second thing that makes me sad about living here is the shortage of English books. My Spanish teacher has assigned me to read Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea in Spanish, though, so I won’t have time to whine about this much longer. Have ya’ll ever lived in another country? How did you cope with the customs? Feel free to ask anything you want to know about life in Mexico and I’ll do my best to answer.

If you can’t already tell, Annie lives in Mexico. She says so in the first line. 

Comment to enter the contest for a copy of Your Alibi and a USD20 Amazon gift card. Details in the excerpt post. 

By the way, Your Alibi will only be available on Monday from Liquid Silver Books.


Jennifer Estep Talks To Us

I first heard of Jennifer Estep on Magical Musings, when she guestblogged there for the first time.

Then Sybil invited Jennifer to guestblog as well.

But it was only after reading her second Romancing The Blog column that I emailed her about coming by my blog, supposedly for her second release, Hot Mama. It didn’t occur to me that both of us would be mad enough to try and put this together in days.

So here she is, with an 8.5 IQ (that’s Insanity Quotient, not Intelligence Quotient peeps).

So, my first book, “KARMA GIRL,” came out on May 1. It’s about an investigative reporter who exposes the secret identities of comic book-type superheroes and villains – until she falls for one. Needless to say, I’m still glowing. Like radioactive glowing. Seriously, I could melt the polar ice caps with just my smile.

As any author can tell you, it’s a long, long, looong process from the time you sign that contract until your book actually hits the shelves. During the past year, through all the revisions and editing and waiting, I’ve had several folks tell me the same thing – that my life would change once the book came out. And I started to wonder – would it? Would it really change?

Because I’m still the same me. Sassy, sarcastic, slightly crazy. I still have to get up and go to work every day. Still have bills to pay and chores to do and more books to write.

Well, I’m two weeks past my release date now, and I can tell you that my life has changed.

A little bit.

Because now, I actually have a book out. It’s not theoretical or coming soon. It’s on the shelves. People look at me with a little more respect. Value my opinion more. Listen to me a little closer. But, I’m still going to my day job and still paying bills and still cleaning the bathroom every week.

In other words, I’m not a superdiva – yet. I’m working on it, though. It’s all part of my plan of world domination, one reader, one book, one blog at a time. Wha-ha-ha! … Oh, wait. The ubervillain should never reveal her master plan before she kills the heroes. That’s when disaster strikes …

Ahem. Moving on. Since I’m still feeling the book-release glow, I thought I’d share the best five and worst five things I’ve experienced in the two weeks or so I’ve been published.

Top 5 Things About Being a Published Author

  1. Readers who e-mail me or post blog comments to say how much they enjoyed my book. That I made them laugh and smile, if only for a little while. That they loved the story and can’t wait to read the next book in the series. There’s absolutely nothing better than that. Best. Feeling. In. The. World!
  2. Actually going into my local Barnes & Noble and seeing my book on the shelf, right alongside ones by Kim Harrison and J.R. Ward and all the other bigtime authors. My book is touching Christine Feehan’s book! Whoo!
  3. Seeing someone flipping through my book at the store, sidling up to her, and casually pumping her for information to see if she’s going to buy it or not. And then, casually introducing myself and slipping her some bookmarks to sweeten the pot, so to speak.
  4. Being able to whip out a copy at dinner and other social gatherings whenever friends or family ask the dreaded question – How’s that writing business coming along?
  5. Realizing that “KARMA GIRL” is finally done. No more writing. No more revisions. No more editing. No more waiting. Ever. It has been published, and no one can ever take this accomplishment, this feeling, away from me. Ever.

Worst 5 Things About being a Published Author

  1. Getting bad reviews. Good reviews can build you up. Bad ones tear you down pretty quick. I try to be as zen about them as I can, but they still zing me a little bit.
  2. Actually going into my local Barnes & Noble and seeing my book on the shelf looking dusty and unloved and like no one has bought a copy – ever. My book isn’t touching Christine Feehan’s book anymore – because it’s sitting on the shelf all alone, lost and forlorn and bereft of all hope of every going home with a reader.
  3. Seeing someone flipping through my book at the store, sidling up to them, and then watching as they put it back on the shelf, grab the latest Nora Roberts’ release, and head for the checkout counter.
  4. Whipping out a copy to friends and family in answer to their question and have them say something dismissive like – Oh, that’s nice, dear – before they go back to the buffet.
  5. Realizing that my second book, “HOT MAMA,” is coming out in six months – and that I need to get my butt in gear and start mailing out bookmarks and doing other promo for it. Because I’m already jonesing for my next book-release glow. It’s good for the skin, if nothing else.

What about you? What are the best and worst things about being an author? Inquiring minds want to know …


Lauren Dane Talks To Us: Locations as Characters

Okay so I’m always up to talk. I’m a talker, I love to visit with people and learn about them and hear what they’re interested in. So I was flattered and excited when May asked me to do this guest blogging gig.

At the same time I thought, “What the hell do I know about writing?” I mean, I do it and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to sell what I write, but I’m not an expert by any stretch of the imagination.

So instead of writing about Deep POV or something technical, I thought I’d write about something I love – cities as characters in books and why I think the choice of your setting can add wonderful layers to any story.

In April of 2003 I was in New Orleans to see Pearl Jam. It was there that the idea for Triad came to me. New Orleans is a magical city. Music in the air, magic, great food, wonderful people – it’s festive and colorful and jam packed with history and really great story fodder.

In my Witches Knot series, New Orleans is more than just the setting, it’s another character. When Em is walking through Pirate’s Alley in the rain in the beginning of A Touch of Fae, I always see it so vividly in my head, the colorful doors against the dark gray of the cobblestones at her feet. Not everyone has been there of course, but at the same time, it adds something, a layer of authenticity, a point of reference, a place a reader who’s been there or has seen it can add to her understanding and it creates a connection point.

To use another book and a fictional town, Temptation in Jenny Crusie’s wonderful, Welcome to Temptation is a great example. Temptation is drawn so wonderfully, with such a quirky hand, it’s as important as Phin or Sophie in its own way. We’ve got this place that could be any small town in just about any part of the country. Crusie gives us an understanding, small town life, small town mores, small town politics and she wields it well. Temptation and her phallic water tower and her grand city hall tells the readers something about not just the geography but the people who live there.

There are places that convey this because they’re part of our cultural reference book. Washington DC, Seattle, Boston, New Orleans, Prague, Paris – all stand out for me and when I read books placed in these cities, I automatically have a place to rest my story as I read. The setting in and of itself, creates a reference without even having to write it.

So there you go. My totally non-scholarly guest blog about my little fetish for cities as characters. I’d love to hear your favorite locations in books.

Lauren Dane

Current Releases: Tri Mates

To be released on November 21st:
Chase Brothers book 2: Taking Chase
Witches Knot book 4: Thrice United

And….because Lauren’s so fab and generous, she’s doing a giveaway! Comment in this post, and win a download of any one of her books, including Taking Chase and Thrice United! The lucky winner will have a difficult choice to make indeed.


Jenna Black Talks To Us: When Dreams Come True

Being a published author has been a dream for me ever since I was a little girl. Books have always been my passion, transporting me away from it all when the real world gets to be too much and letting me have fabulous adventures I would never really want to have. I also feel like books give me some insight into how other people think, give me a chance to take a surreptitious peek into the mind of someone who isn’t exactly like me.

With books having so prominent a role in my life, it’s no surprise that I turned to writing at a young age. I wrote my first book at the tender age of ten. It was an autobiography, complete with crayon illustrations and a construction paper cover. From then on, there was no stopping me.

I should have known it was my destiny to be a writer when I first stepped into my high school English class and discovered that it was taught by a man named Mr. Shakespeare. (Edward, not William, sorry to say.) He was the first person to encourage me to write fiction, and by the end of high school, I had completed what I considered to be my first novel. (In reality, it was a novella, but I knew nothing about manuscript lengths at the time.)

College saw the completion of my first real, full-length novel, and the beginning of an inkling that I might actually want to try to get my writing published. I dithered for a few years; then, in 1989, I decided I was going to get serious about my writing and try to become a professional. So started my sixteen-year journey toward publication.

Perhaps a sensible person would have quit sometime during those sixteen years. I mean seriously, how much rejection can one person stand? And how arrogant do you have to be to imagine that all those editors and agents who rejected your work were wrong? But, as is the case with many published authors, I couldn’t quit. This was my dream I was chasing, and every time I thought about quitting, I thought about lying on my deathbed someday and asking myself if I really did everything I possibly could to make my dream come true. I couldn’t stand the idea that the answer might be “no.” And so, I kept writing, and I kept submitting, and I kept hoping.

Ever since I sold Watchers in the Night, about eighteen months ago, I’ve had moments of hardly believing this was real. I had imagined the moment, had dreamed about it for so long, that somehow it was firmly ingrained in my mind as fantasy. (I say this in past tense, though I still have moments when I think I’m going to wake up from the dream.) For a while after the sale, I half-expected my editor to call and tell me there’d been some kind of mix-up, that it wasn’t really my book she’d wanted to buy, but someone else’s. Of course, that never happened, and I have since sold five more books to two different publishing houses–a feat that exceeds even the dreams I’d once had.

At the time of this posting, I have only a few more days to wait until my first book hits the shelves. I wonder if October 31st will be the day I finally believe my dream has come true? I suppose it would be nice to have that confident certainty. But then again, as long as I sometimes feel like it might be nothing but a dream, I have the continuous joy of waking up to discover it’s all for real after all!

Jenna Black
Watchers in the Night, coming October 31, 2006;
Secrets in the Shadows, 5/07; Shadows on the Soul, 9/’07
The Devil Inside (Bantam/Spectra urban fantasy), Fall ’07

She’ll be here to take comments and questions, people! (My bad, I forgot to add this)


Renee Alexis Talks To Us: What’s My Motivation

Characterization! That’s the power of a story. That’s my motivation. In the story, Detroit’s Finest, my female character, Tracey Shane, is a typical woman—a person who just wants a good life, like everyone does. She gets more than what she bargained for by staying on the trail of one hot officer, Troy Davenport. What brought a character like Tracey Shane to the spotlight was none other than wanting the little guy to win for the first time. Her life was average, working as a file clerk at police headquarters, 1300 Beaubien—a real place I might add, and right in the heart of good ole’ Detroit.

Working in a police station can be pretty much run-of-the-mill; you do your job, hopefully do it well within a sea of blue suits, and that’s pretty much your day. It was Tracey’s day, but it definitely got better. Officer Davenport was the ray of sunshine in the dull life of a beautiful young woman. He was like a dream come true—he made her day exciting.

I didn’t want to make Tracey an officer; I wanted everyone to see her as just a regular person, but with a highly imaginative mind and active libido. A bit of a smart-mouth, a slave to fashion and someone who despises her boss, Tracey wanted something special and strove to attain it. I think she appeals to many women, be they black, white or whatever because she has a soft personality despite the fact she has a closet full of mini-skirts. By the way, they look awesome on her.

Troy Davenport discovers her softer side by allowing himself the opportunity to get to know her. Naturally, he did notice her flair for fashion, and how she so well worked that body in any and every outfit. Most importantly, he saw the very dimensional side of her; the side that was the epitome of sarcasm, the top of the heap in sensitivity, the cream of the crop in beauty. Yes, Troy knew Tracey had it all. She, to him, was perfect from head to toe, and that is what made him fall for her.

For Troy, Tracey was a breath of fresh spring air. Coming from a loveless relationship, he was very reluctant to fall into another trap. However, he felt within his heart that Tracey would be nearly impossible to avoid. The day he followed her from the station let the reader know that he was interested—though trying his best to hold back. It didn’t work. Couldn’t work. Not with a woman like her who could charm the pants off the very devil himself.

In a way, Troy and Tracey were destined for one another. Both embodied the personality of an extremely sensitive and caring person. I wanted to make Troy that way because of his profession. Not all officers are hard and by the books do or die! Having Troy be as caring as he is brought out a side that all women want to see in men. What I like about Troy is how he still cared for Daisha’s feelings even though they were on the quits, relationship wise. He’s the kind of man, despite his profession, who really does want the best for everyone—including himself. I also wanted this story to be a sensitive, interpersonal one because most of the time, cop stories are about rough, hard, tough sex with rough, hard officers. There is another side.

What made Troy special to me was that he had the integrity to, at least, let Tracey know that he was still married to Daisha. In addition, I think Troy respected the fact that Tracey wanted him without Daisha hanging on. Neither of them wanted to interrupt a marriage simply because of their want of one another. Eventually, Troy knew he had to sever ties in order to get what he felt he really deserved—a loving relationship with the woman of his dreams.

Even Daisha, who was terribly hard to like, had a sensitive character in my story, though slight in reference. It was hidden to the public but very aware in the idea of her calling after Troy the night of the club get-together. There was a hard exterior featuring a living, breathing little girl who didn’t know how to handle the ‘grown-up’ world of men and relationships.

True, Tracey may have called her an entourage of farm animal names, but in the real, Tracey had an idea what her boss might be going through by losing a man like Troy. She felt empathy for her boss, yet Daisha continued to make life hard for a couple who simply wanted to know what true love felt like.

My two characters fought battles throughout the story including avoiding the ever -present attraction, fighting with Daisha, to losing jobs, yet they persevered. Another dilemma was dating a co-worker. Troy had more of a problem with that than Tracey did. There’s always problems when that occurs. After all, she was the type of person who went for the gusto, but not if it ultimately hurt all parties involved—even Daisha.

The dilemmas in my story are questions I have for my audience. What do you think about cop stories that center on the interpersonal relationship as apposed to the rough and tough, no involvement stories? Was Troy too sensitive? Was Tracey too aggressive? Where did Daisha fit in all of this? Is it a good idea to date a co-worker? Feedback is always good so…talk to me.

Renee Alexis

“The Cop”

“A Taste of Temptation (December 06)

“Gotta Have It”

“He’s All That.”

“Satisfy Me” (December 06)


Sasha White Talks To Us

Hi all!

SEX AS A WEAPON is my contribution to THE COP anthology. It’s a novella about a woman thief who is hired by “ex-wives” to get what they feel is theirs and that they didn’t get in the divorce. Sort of a twist on the “First Wives Club” type of thing. Thieving isn’t something Vanessa wanted to really get into, but she did it to help out a friend, and sort of grew into more than she’d anticipated. Now she bears the title Risqué Robber in the papers and the police are hunting her. Kane Michaels is the cop on the case.

I don’t know exactly why it is, but Bad Girl heroines fascinate me. Even when I try to write a good girl, she ends up having a surprise wild streak. For SEX AS A WEAPON it worked the other way around. Vanessa, while a thief, is basically a good girl. She wants a house, home and place to belong. But raised by a con artist for a father and on her own since he went to prison when she was teenager, she certainly knew what was needed to make her own way.

She took a job in a nightclub, and when the owner, Ophelia, took Vanessa under her wing, she started to build a home.

The “O” club, and what it represents to Vanessa, and her ability to use sex to manipulate, are key to who she is.

Among all the laws she learned to break when she was growing up with her con man Father, Vanessa also learned that loyalty was gold, and family was always loyal to each other.

So when O’s husband leaves her for a younger trophy wife, and leaves her pretty much nothing in the divorce, Vanessa uses her street knowledge to get some back for her friend and the Risqué Robber is born.

As Vanessa builds her life, buys a house and manages the nightclub for O, she ends up seducing her way into the houses of a couple of Ophelia’s divorced friends to help them get some back too. And just when she’s starting to doubt that Ophelia really is her friend, and she makes the decision to stop the stealing, Kane Michaels shows up in the club, on the hunt for Her.

I was invited by my editor to take part in THE COP anthology. He asked me to write a novella with the hero as a law enforcement of some type. I was thrilled, what could be more fun that putting a cop and a hot Bad Girl together for some fun?

Not a lot. *grin*


Cop Kane Michaels wants the Risque Robber, and he\’s followed the beautiful thief\’s trail to the city\’s hottest bondage club.

Finding his footing in this new world means trusting the mysterious and seductive bar manager. Now, with a stranger as a guide, one cop’s about to explore his forbidden fantasies and discover that trust it the ultimate aphrodisiac.

Advance Review:

Annmarie from Joyfully Review says “Ohhhhhh Sasha White has written a deliciously sexy tale in her novella, Sex As A Weapon! I am not normally a big fan of novellas but Sasha White proves it can be done well. Not only is the plot fully developed, the characters are well rounded and believable. And the sex…the sex will make you squirm! I did say it was delicious didn’t I? Sex As A Weapon is a lip biting, knee clenching, heart pounding erotic ride that will leave you begging for another go around!”

Read an excerpt:

Another Kick Ass chic I absolutely love is Lexy, from my story THE CRIB, in the PURE SEX anthology. Surf on over to my website and read the excerpt for that one too. Lexy makes a small cameo in SEX AS A WEAPON, and I hope to do more with her in the future. So, to start you off at the beginning, just ask me a question – about myself, about writing, about my characters… whatever you want – here in the comment section, and you’ll be entered in a draw for a chance to win a signed copy of the PURE SEX anthology.




Alyssa Brooks Talks To Us

Hi everyone!

First and foremost, I want to thank May for inviting me to contribute to her blog! I’m in a Kensington Aphrodisia anthology, The Cop, which releases this month, so I thought I’d talk a little about my novella within it, Arrested.

Arrested is my baby. My lucky charm. It’s the first erotic romance I ever wrote, the first erotic romance I ever e-published, and the first erotic romance I ever print published. Essentially, it not only began my writing career, but carried it!

Right from the start there was something about the idea—a Texas sheriff who places an innocent woman on house arrest in his house. I knew I had something…I just never knew how big of a something it would turn out to be.

I was preggers, so it took me four months to finish Arrested. At the time, being e-published was my goal, so I sent it off to a few places, and soon received a contract from Liquid Silver Books. I went on to epublish numerous other stories, but I was getting money hungry (babies aren’t cheap!). Feeling discouraged, I came a hairsbreadth away from quitting writing erotic romance to follow a second dream of mine—writing sweet romances (I know, I know. Talk about a spilt personality!). In fact, even now, a half completed attempt is sitting on my hard drive. Maybe one day…

Around the same time, New York publishers started getting hungry for sexy stories. A few friends passed on some info to me, and on a whim, I shoved Arrested in the mail to my editor. I immediately forgot about it. I’d mailed packages like it a hundred times before, waited on my tiptoes for weeks for some sort of response, only to greet disappointment. This time, I didn’t hang onto hope, and low and behold, literally two days later, the phone rang. My baby was crying and I was fresh out of the shower and I almost didn’t answer. But something told me \nto—thank God. My editor said she loved the premise, but where was the sex? She wanted the beginning to be hotter, could I do that? Uh, hell yeah! Ignoring the world and my uncombed hair, I sat at the computer all day and wrote, wrote, wrote, thankfully with my crit partner by my side with helpful suggestions. By five, I emailed off the new version and waited. All night, all the next day, I held tight to the phone and waited (and no, I never brushed my hair). Nothing. At quarter after five, I gave up. It was Friday, business hours were over, and I could safely give up the hope of hearing anything at least until Monday. I ran myself a bubble bath and five minutes later, my husband rushed into the bathroom carrying a crying baby—and yes, the phone. Standing there dripping wet, soap running in my eyes, with a screaming baby in the background (because despite my violent hand gestures, my husband wouldn’t leave the room), I tried to pretend all was normal and accepted my first deal. It was really amazing, but so surreal. I, of course, had no time for initial celebration—crying baby—and I think I was too shocked to even breathe.

I learned a good lesson from all this—the call never, ever comes when you expect it. Since then, I’ve accepted three other deals—all completely out of left field, one more of which I did soaking wet.

Needless to say, I hold Arrested close to my heart. A few weeks ago, I received my author’s copies and opening the box stole my breath away. I’m really excited to be a part of this anthology and to share my story with the world—and to get the ball rolling, I’m going to give away a signed copy! Just tell me the titles of the other two novellas within The Cop and post them here, or email them to me at You can find the answers at I’ll chose a winner tomorrow! Good luck!

It was nice talking here! Hugs, Alyssa


Jorrie Spencer Talks to Us: Sense of Place

Not all romances—or all novels—have a particularly strong sense of place, and not all need one. But I’ve been thinking of the handful of contemporary romances whose setting—world-building, I guess, though in this sense it represents a real place—stayed with me over the past couple of years. Chesapeake Blue was my first Nora Roberts novel. I didn’t know it was part of series when I picked it up. (It stood alone.) What hooked me immediately was the opening and its description of Seth, an artist, coming home.

Maryland’s Eastern Shore was a world of marshes and mudflats, of wide fields with row crops straight as soldiers. It was flatland rivers with sharp shoulders, and secret tidal creeks where the heron fed. It was blue crab and the Bay, and the waterman who harvested them… As he drove across the bridge, his artist’s eye wanted to capture that moment—the rich blue water and the boats that skimmed its surface, the quick white waves and the swoop of greedy gulls. The way the land skimmed its edge, and spilled back with its browns and greens. All the thickening leaves of the gum and oak trees, with those flashes of color that were flowers basking in the warmth of spring.

I loved “straight as soldiers” and remembered it forever. And descriptions of water and ocean, while not the only setting I enjoy, evoke a strong reaction. Seth is returning to a place he loves and this shines through. Suzanne McMinn‘s Cole Dempsey’s Back in Town is a category romance—my favorite category, soon-to-be-defunct Silhouette Intimate Moments—set in Louisana. In the opening, McMinn intertwines backstory and description.

Cole Dempsey stared up the oak-canopied drive to the classic columns fronting the antebellum Bellefleur Plantation. The Greek revival-style monstrosity had filled his waking fantasies and sleeping nightmares for fifteen long and bitter years. Someone owed. He was here to collect.… The mansion rose before him as timeless as the Mississippi that flowed behind it, holding its secrets, its lies, its fears, its ghosts. And sweet, false Bryn Louvel. Now that he was here, the emotions that came with the magnolia-laden air, the river-swept breeze, the memory-churned past hit harder than he’d expected. Amidst the buzzes, hums and whispers of the late-spring evening came the sounds of the past—the mental audio reel of another May night.

Like Seth, Cole is also coming home, but the horror of a certain night is laced through the description, which effectively roots the story in place and makes the reader ask what happened. And how can I not end with Jennifer Crusie, who does much with her book, but certainly manages to evoke small town in Welcome to Temptation. (WTT was also the book that brought me back to reading contemporary romances, so everything within its pages had a strong effect upon me.)

The town proper was on the other side of a muddy river that streamed sullenly under a gunmetal bridge at the bottom of the hill. Beyond the bridge, the land rose up green and lush behind smug little brick-and-frame houses, and as the hills rose, the houses got bigger, much bigger. Sophie knew the kind of people who lived in houses like that. Not Her Kind.… The flesh-colored, bullet-shaped tower thrust through the trees at the top of the hill, so aggressively phallic that Sophie forgot to fidget with her rings as she stared at it. “Hello. Do you suppose they did that on purpose? I mean, you couldn’t accidentally paint it to look like that, could you?” “Maybe Phineas T. is compensating. I don’t care. I love this town.

Sophie is not coming home. She’s a stranger arriving in a town she believes she will hate: smug and sullen. But Sophie (and Crusie) also has a sense of humor. What are some of your favorite romance settings? Places that have stuck with you for months if not years after reading the book? I wasn’t sure what I’d find when I came back to read these openings, but one thing is certain: each of these descriptions has an emotional component which I believe makes the sense of place more effective and more vivid.

Jorrie Spencer

On September 26 my book Haven goes on sale at Samhain Publishing.

She’s taking questions! 😉


Alexandra Sokoloff Talks to Us: Writing is My Insanity

In keeping with the title of May’s blog, I thought the topic for my
guest blog was pretty obvious.

My Insanity–is writing.

People always think it’s so cool when you tell them you’re a writer.
These are clearly people who are not writers. Writing is a really
startlingly crazy thing to do–it just doesn’t always look like it from the outside because it involves so much, well, sitting. But what goes on inside my head–WHO in their right mind would want to be inside my mind?

So why do I write? That’s absurdly simple–I can’t help myself. It’s a ompulsion. I know I’m not alone, there, because I know writers. My friends are writers, I work with writers in the WGA, I run a message board for over 1800 professional screenwriters–so I
know. Writers run toward the neurotic, the anxiety-prone, the
obsessive, the compulsive, the obsessive-compulsive, the bipolar – and
often all at once. (See Kay Jamison’s excellent TOUCHED WITH FIRE for an analysis of the creative temperament and bipolar disorder.)

In fact, I’m quite sure someday someone will identify writing as a form of OCD and there will be a simple medication we can take. Not that most of us WILL take it, of course, because like bipolar people, we writers get off on our disease.

And yes, I think writing, actual writing for a living, is a disease.
Because, look – it’s certainly not EASE, now, is it?

An artist friend of mine recently asked me what was the biggest
sacrifice I’ve ever made for my art. This is a good question. There are a million sacrifices, all the time.

But my actual answer surprised me. My biggest sacrifice has been peace of mind (and possibly my immortal soul, but that’s another blog. Actually it’s my next novel. Well, all right, never mind.)

Here’s the perfect example of what I’m talking about. My first book, THE HARROWING, comes out this weekend. My first book. Everyone keeps asking me, “Aren’t you excited?” Well, aren’t I?  MY FIRST BOOK. Published. In fine bookstores near you. I should be on Cloud Nine.

Instead, I’m still frantically arranging different promotional ploys.
I’m trying to keep up with the whole Internet thing (The Dark Salon Blog, MySpace, Writer Action, my own website). I’m trying to pack for my tour. I’m reaching out to libraries. I’m trying to figure out Vertical Response so I can send out an announcement. I’m putting the last touches on my second book, THE PRICE (due in to St. Martin’s on Sept.1), and already, compulsively, outlining the third one.

When do I just stop and celebrate?

The answer is–I won’t. I won’t STOP, anyway. I’m certain to do some celebrating at the many conventions I’m going to on tour this fall. Thank God for conventions–they make me feel I have something resembling a life. In fact, by the time you read this, I’ll be in New Orleans with my friend and soul-sister Heather Graham at her Writers for New Orleans Workshop, talking with Heather and Christine Feehan and Cherry Adair and Deborah Leblanc about vampires and ghosts and other things we love that go bump in the night and taking ghost carriage rides and performing some spooky, sexy musical thing with Heather again for the Saturday show. So, you know–it’s not that I can’t party with the best of them. Since I know that’s coming, I can delay some gratification for another week, right? Maybe the actual definition of professional writing is just that: delayed gratification.

And when I actually, finally HAVE to celebrate, I’m pretty darn good at it.

I asked a friend of mine (who as a retired librarian and library
liaison of Sisters in Crime knows everything there is to know about
authors and the book biz) if it was weird and abnormal of me to be so NOT excited, and she said that it probably had a lot to do with the fact that (as a screenwriter) I’ve been in the writing business for so long, now.

It’s true (and I was relieved to hear someone else be so logical about it.). I’ve made my living at writing for a good long time, now, and I know that the external satisfaction is fleeting and insubstantial.

So if seeing my book in bookstores is not the payoff, and if good
reviews are not the payoff, and if being contacted for TV and radio
interviews is not the payoff, and having total strangers write me
(already!) and tell me how much they loved my book is not the pay off (although I have to admit that’s pretty startlingly wonderful!)…

What IS the payoff, exactly?

The payoff is simply–FINISHING.

I write because there are these people inside my head who are so real to me that I can’t rest until I make them real for other people.
Because for some reason I feel an immense, endless obligation to these people–to let them out of my head into the world.

I do all this endless, constant, obsessive thing I do – for the sake of IMAGINARY people.

How crazy is that?

But that–is the only–fleeting–peace.

That’s my insanity.  And I love it.


THE HARROWING – now available from St. Martin’s Press

Alex is taking questions, so feel free!