Beginning January 1, 2013

Stop by the new site and take a look around.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wednesday Spotlight: Kiyara Benoiti

One more thing that I thought I would mention is that I’m now on Twitter (www.twitter.com/kiyarab) and Myspace (www.myspace.com/kiyarabenoiti) as well as Facebook; just type my name into Facebook’s feature because I haven’t figured out how to set up my ID there, lol.

Breathless Press asked me in an interview what books I have on my to-be-read pile, so I thought this would be a good topic for today’s essay.

One of my favorite genres to read is historical romance. I have The Historian on my bookshelf waiting for me to pick it up, and one of the reasons I bought it is because I read a review about how long it took the author to write it and how much research she did over a ten-year period. The other reason I purchased The Historian is because I’m a huge fan of vampire fiction, but the trouble with reading vampire stories is that I seldom find anything that is unique. I also like to read anything, whether fiction or nonfiction, about werewolves. I’m not sure why, but anything involving lycanthropy will keep my attention for hours. Lastly, I love a good science-fiction novel with a sound romantic subplot.

Who are some of my favorite romance authors? For the last year or so, I’ve been collecting the books of Jane Porter and Susan Squires. Porter’s use of dry humor keeps me giggling, and Squires’ unique twist on vampire legends keeps me turning pages.

And my favorite place to read is in bed. I get comfortable, grab a good book, and have a cup of coffee on the bedside table.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday Spotlight: Kiyara Benoiti

Many people ask me questions like what inspires me or how long my writing sessions are. There really isn’t an answer for either one of those questions. I never know what will inspire me. It could be anything from an aroma to something I see on television. Although music does help me get in the mood to write, it seldom inspires ideas.

My writing time is usually during the day. Once my husband gets home from work I close the stories and we spend the evenings together. Weekends are normally devoted to family things. I’m a private person, and dedicated to becoming a successful author, so I’m the type of person who keeps her nose to the grindstone. When it comes to writing, whether fiction or nonfiction, I take it very seriously.

My desk is a sea of scribbled notes on scrap paper, Post-It pads, notebooks, and even the backs of receipts and bills. Pens lay helter-skelter, reference books topple this way and that way, and there is always grammar books mixed in the madness. On a nearby shelf, my little stereo system keeps me company with pop or rock, and if I grow bored with the radio, I turn on my computer’s music program.

My mind is constantly buzzing with ideas, plots, characters, that perfect sentence just waiting for a home in the perfect manuscript, and my husband just looks on and says he can almost see the worlds and people in thought bubbles over my head.

Romance is a dominant theme in my stories, but whatever the genre or the premise, life is portrayed as it really is. Characters must be real, and for them to be real, a writer must be one with them.

See you Wednesday!

Wickedly yours—Kiyara Benoiti

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday Spotlight: Kiyara Benoiti

Hello! My name is Kiyara Benoiti and I’m a freelance writer who recently branched out into e-books. Well, that’s not one hundred percent true. Actually, I do have a background in the world of e-books, but I was one of the unlucky ones who made the mistake of getting mixed up with a bad e-publisher when I was young and just starting out. The experience was so terrible that it took two really good fellow writer friends as well as my family to talk me out of walking away from writing.

It was partly my mistake, though. Since I was young and inexperienced in the e-publishing field, I didn’t research e-publishers very well and jumped at the first offer. The end result was heartache, a little bitterness, and an aversion to the e-book world.

My friends convinced me to try again because the world is going digital. After much soul searching, I realized they were right, so I’ve set up a new, humble website (http://kbhotromances.wordpress.com) and began submitting my manuscripts. In the past few weeks, I have stories contracted with BreathlessPress.com and LoveYouDivine.com and I have many other manuscripts circulating. My experience with Breathless Press has been nothing but wonderful; the publisher and owner, Justyn Perry, and his staff, have been terrific to me. You can find The Candy Bar Liaison at this link. Margie’s Room and Blue Moon are coming soon from Breathless Press.Bloodlust, an erotic fantasy, will be released soon from LoveYouDivine.com. I’m very happy with my titles, so I hope you’ll check them out.

I have more stories in various stages of completion. My work is often edgy—that’s where my tagline, Romance with an Edge, comes from—and you’ll find my romantic plots in genres that range from contemporary to paranormal. Oh, and I do write some erotica from time to time. If you’d like an example of what my fiction is like, visit my site link above and download a copy of On the Wicked Moon, which is the first free e-book I’m offering there.

What else can I tell you to launch my author spotlight this week? Well, I have several cats that I rescued from going to the animal shelter. They’re always nearby no matter if I’m outside or in the house. They like to curl up with me when I crawl into bed to read a book too. Also, I write to music all the time. The more bass beat in a song, the faster I type.

Be sure to visit each essay this week. At the end of the week I’m giving away a cute Mr. Goodbar Necklace with a matching set of dangly earrings to one lucky winner! The charms even have the ingredients on the backs.

Meet me here tomorrow. Thanks for reading!

Wickedly yours—Kiyara Benoiti

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Not Even Death by Jennifer Katherine Shepherd

Nadine lay stiff on the too-empty bed, as if even a light breeze would break her into hundreds of tiny pieces. Her pillow offered no respite from the pounding in her head. The sodden material crumpled against her now dry face. There were no more tears left inside her, only the heavy dryness that comes after hours of weeping. Her hand clutched the letter that had brought with it the end of her dreams and hope for the future. No amount of reading could change the words: her husband, Hudson, was gone. Killed in a senseless, random accident.

A slight whimper escaped their dog from his pillow against the wall, and almost as if Nadine's need had communicated itself to the beloved pet, the bed dipped and a furry warmth pressed against her side.

As quickly as sleep and dreams sometimes come, Nadine welcomed the pressure of her husband's lips on hers.

At least in my dreams we can still be together.

Keeping her eyes tightly shut against any intrusion of reality into this welcome gift, praying that she would never awaken, she gave herself over to the familiar taste of his mouth, his tongue sparring with hers. She explored his body with her hands—fingertips bumping over a scar where there had once been smooth skin.

Hudson's letters had been so detailed in the six months he had been gone, it was as though she had been with him through every battle, had felt every bruise and every wound. It was no wonder her dream had placed scars on his body.

Cool air passed over her body as his calloused hands unbuttoned her shirt and pulled it open to expose her pale skin to his searching eyes. Her nipples puckered from the dual sensation of the cool night air and the arousal that burned inside her. The slight chill was replaced by the warmth of his mouth pulling and nipping at one hardened tip, while his fingers gave equal attention to the other. A thread of heat wove itself between the heavenly sensations in her tits and the hungry desire in her pussy as cream coated the inside of her thighs. Hudson had always been able to make her wet just with his presence and it had been far too long since she’d felt his touch.

He slipped down her body, his mouth trailing kisses over her ribs, tongue swirling in her navel and making her body clench with need, his hand stroked the skin of her thighs and she moaned and begged for him to take her, to give her the release she reached so desperately for.

Finally, his mouth reached her wet center and toyed with her labia, pressed into her vagina before he drew her clit into his mouth. Her pelvis rocked against him as he suckled and flicked and nipped until she thought she would scream. Her own hand sought to relieve herself of the pressure, but he slapped it aside and slowly, agonizingly pressed first one and then another finger inside her, plunging in and out in a rhythm that matched the one his tongue made on her clit. She arched off the bed as the first convulsion took her over the edge and then she cried out his name as she squeezed his still moving fingers with the last of her orgasm that lasted for what felt like eternity.

"My love, my only," he whispered.

She murmured a tired protest when he moved, but he wasn’t leaving, only shifting to lay beside her. Once settled, he pulled her into his arms, settling her ass against his still erect cock. She wanted to feel his length inside her but the fatigue of the past two days of sorrow overtook her, and she sank deeper into the welcome darkness that surrounded her, hoping only for the dream to return with the morning.

Light pricked her eyelids and with it came the unwelcome realization that she was awake and that the dream was over. As full consciousness returned, there was also the realization that warm, familiar arms held her close. She also realized he was hard against her and that she was wet and ready for him.

With a quick movement, she flung a leg over his thigh and took his cock into her hand, rubbing it up and down until a moan rumbled in his chest. His hand reached over her waist and toyed with her, alternately flicking her clit and then slipping into her core and back. When she could stand it no longer she took him inside her and reveled at the feel of his length reaching to her heart.

He held still, deep inside and she turned her head to look at him with a question in her eyes.

He pulled out and then slowly pushed his cock in until his balls pressed on her ass then gave a lazy smile.

"Don't believe everything you read, my love."

Before she could respond he flipped her onto her stomach and pumped into her from above, balls slapping against her, thumb circling her clit until felt her walls tighten with her release. He beat her to it, giving a hoarse cry and emptying himself into her as she clenched him and sucked him dry.

They collapsed onto the bed and she pushed back the hair from his beloved face. “Welcome home, husband. I should never have doubted.”

“I love you so much even death has no hold on me.” He pulled her on top of him and held her as he slipped back into sleep.

Nadine was no longer tired, however, and simply watched him as he dozed.

Her husband. Forever.

About the author: Jennifer Katherine Shepherd, or Jenny Kat to her friends, writes erotic romance for the fanciful in mind. Her stories are seldom set in the everyday world, but in worlds far away. No matter how far away the worlds are, though, romance is romance. Passions ignite when Jenny Kat’s characters get together.

When Jenny Kat’s characters aren’t keeping her busy telling their stories, she enjoys skinny-dipping in her pool, sipping exotic drinks brought to her by her Cabana boy, Carlos, and dreaming up new fantasies on far-away worlds. Visit her at http://www.menagerieauthors.com or http://www.menagerieauthors.blogspot.com

Author Interview: PG Forte

Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome PG Forte, who is a New Jersey native transplanted to the extreme West coast. PG told me that if anyone were going to play her in a movie, she thinks it should be Janeane Garofalo. "She’s short, she’s Italian, she’s from Jersey," PG explained. "Seriously, the girl could sleepwalk through the part and still hit all her marks. Plus she’s got great delivery so she’d make me sound funny as hell. And she makes weird look good—I like that."

PG got a taste for writing stories in high school when she wrote a long, convoluted serialized adventure story to pass the time, giving all the characters names of people she knew. Soon she had people she barely knew stopping her in the halls asking to be written into the story.

When she was in her early twenties, she tried writing a novel. She enrolled in a writing class at NYU, was invited by the professor to join a private advanced writing group and wrote tons of short stories.

"The stories kept getting longer and then they began to want to be books and I wasn’t at a point in my life where I could commit to that kind of writing," she told me. "Novels are a commitment—don’t believe anything to the contrary. By then, also, I had kids, had moved to California, and lost my focus.

"I wrote some documentary scripts, PSAs, commercials, did some copywriting, even a little ghostwriting. But I missed fiction.

"Finally, when my son was about ten, it occurred to me that while I had always considered myself a writer, neither of my kids had any idea that was the case. Also, I think someone might have asked me the classic, 'If your life was over tomorrow, is there anything you’d regret not having done,' question. And I realized, 'Hell, yeah, I never wrote a book!'

"So I did. I thought that first book was going to be a mystery but I got about halfway through it and realized it wanted to be a romance, instead. Or, as I like to put it, I chose sex over violence. "

One thing led to another, and now PG has fourteen books released and another two written. She also has, she said, "A WIP file that should keep me busy for the next several years."

PG never really set out to write erotica and, in fact, wrote her first erotic romance on a dare. She thinks, though, that the writing of it was very therapeutic. "It was a very light, very short, very happily sexy story," she said. "And I needed that because I had just finished writing a very long, very dark book involving a villain who was a sexual sadist."

In PG's books, nobody other than the villain will get sexual pleasure out of inflicting pain. "Mind you," she clarified, "I'm not talking about BDSM. As one of my characters likes to say, 'There's pain, and then there's good pain.' The latter is the only kind he's interested in causing, and it's the only kind I'm interested in portraying in a positive light. Yes, sometimes bad things happen to good people, and sometimes that finds its way into books. But it’s not erotic and it’s definitely not romantic."

Erotic romance, in PG's books, is basically a love story. It's romance—"very hot, very sexy, very explicit romance," she said. "In erotic romance, someone has to fall in love with someone. I know the trend these days, especially in some of the hotter lines, is to allow for a 'happy for now' ending where commitment is optional, multiple partners are standard and the characters might only fall in like with each other, rather than love. But I stand by my definition. It may only be a case of the reader falling in love with one of the characters, but all the same, someone has to love someone—or it’s just a really sexy read and not erotic romance."

Erotica, to distinguish from erotic romance, is "grown up chick lit" and "all about the story." "It usually takes us inside the head of a single character," PG expanded, "because it’s essentially one person’s story. Usually, it’s the story of how the main character changes, or fails to change, as a result of his or her sexual encounters."

On the other hand, in pornography, the sex is just sex, with very little emotion attached to it. "Not that it matters," PG told me. "Since we never get the chance to know the characters, we can’t really identify with what they’re feeling anyway. Other than the purely physical…maybe.

"Everything in pornography is viewed from the outside. Usually there’s not much of a story. When there is, it tends to function as little more than a delivery system, a way to bundle the sex scenes together and present them to the viewer/reader in something approaching coherence. "

She has heard one people distinguish pornography by saying that it is material intended to arouse sexual feeling. And, while that is certainly the literal definition of the word, PG doesn't believe that this fact is where pornography differs from erotica or erotic romance.

"If you’re a writer of fiction—or, for that matter, if you’re a poet or a speechwriter, an actor, a musician or even a politician—you are always attempting to arouse some type of feeling in your audience," PG said, "to influence (some might say manipulate) them, to play on their emotions, to make them think or feel or respond in the way you want them to. That’s the purpose of fiction, no matter what form it takes; it could be a book, a play, a movie…an advertising campaign. It’s also the purpose of most music; and definitely it’s the purpose of any political speech that’s ever been written.

"So, for any writer of erotic romance or erotica to say she is not writing with the intention of arousing her audience, my question is, exactly what do you think you are doing then? And why?"

Writing good erotic romance is not easy, even though PG says that one of the common misconceptions about writing erotica is that it's easy. "Trust me, it’s not. Bad sex is easy to write, " she said. "Just line up the pieces, slip Tab A into Slot B, and repeat ad nauseum—that’s easy. It’s also boring to read and, OMG, soooo boring to write! Another misconception is that it’s all about the sex—again, it isn’t. It’s all about emotion.

"I think the best erotic romance stories are the ones where there’s a reason for the sex; where the sexual relationship between the main characters is such an integral part of their story that you just cannot tell the story without it."

On a personal note, I wondered about PG and piercings.

"I love piercings—and tattoos, as well. My ears are pierced—four in one ear, five in the other—including two gauges. I’ve also pierced my nose, my tongue and my navel. I want to get my wrists pierced next—it looks incredibly cool," she said. "At the moment I only have seven tattoos, but my son is a tattoo artist, so there will be more. I like tattoos because they have meaning (or, at least they could) they speak to where you are in your life at the moment. They say: 'this is who I am right now. This is what I think is important enough to memorialize (in the flesh, so to speak).' Unfortunately, from the artist’s POV, they also speak to their own creativity—what they think is cool. My son and I argue this point—a lot!

"Piercings, on the other hand, are mostly just decorative. They’re accessories. Although, as Clairee says in Steel Magnolias, 'The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize.'"

PG feels her strangest habit must be the fact that she absolutely has to have a plot outlined before she begins to write a book. "To me, it seems natural, but I have so many friends who are writers wouldn’t take a plot as a gift! So I’ve begun to think I must be very strange for wanting one. Other than that, my strangest habit would undoubtedly be playing with my tongue piercing—incessantly. Repetitively. Loudly."

"What can you usually be found doing when you're not writing?" I asked.

"When not writing I can usually be found playing with my tongue piercing. Or attempting to plot." She laughed. "Okay, really, if I’m not writing I’m usually complaining loudly about the fact that I’m not writing. Once upon a time, the answer to that question would have been reading. I used to read all the time. All. The. Time. But writing has absolutely ruined my ability to read. So, these days, if I’m not writing I’m either exercising, spending time with my kids or my husband, having coffee with friends, doing anything I can to avoid housework…or thinking about what I’m going to write next. "

Finally, I asked PG, "What is one piece of advice you'd give to authors who want to write erotica?"

"If I were to give one piece of advice to authors wanting to write erotica it would be this: don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable. And actually, I think this goes for all writers.

"I think writers should approach their craft the same way method actors approach theirs. Find those places inside yourself where you’d rather not go. Ferret out all those memories of the times you were unhappy, when you felt guilty, embarrassed, vulnerable, unloved. Remember all those things you’d rather not remember. Put words to those feelings. And then give those words to your characters."

You can keep up with PG on her blog, http://www.rhymeswithforeplay.blogspot.com

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Spotlight: Dakota Trace

An Unexpected Response

I had a rather unique experience happen to me over the weekend. Or maybe not so unique but definitely a first time thing for me. I guess I've been incredibly lucky when it comes to my writing. Pretty much everyone I've spoken to about my writing has been supportive. Giving me such platitudes as, that's wonderful; where can I find your work? I bet your husband loves the idea you write erotica...etc.

But this weekend I had the unpleasant experience of having another published author, one of the mainstream variety, abandon a chat we were having once she found out what I wrote. At first I thought everything was running smoothly. I was upfront with her about the fact I wrote erotica. Perhaps it was her perception of what erotica is that I came up against. When she inquired what type I answered honestly. I write everything from contemporary, to shape shifter (paranormal/sci-fi) to BDSM. I've always been the type to not limit my horizons when it comes to my writing.

Within seconds of my typing the BDSM, she went poof! At first I assumed that Facebook was acting up again and booted her. So I went to her profile, which had the little icon showing she was online, to leave a message that I was sorry that the connection had acted up but I was still on if she wanted to continue our conversation. I went about my way for several minutes and received no answer. So before leaving Facebook, I sent an email through it, thanking her for befriending me and chatting with me. I also included my yahoo IM.

Then I got an email back stating that she found me pleasant to talk to but did not consider me an author but just someone who had an 'overactive' libido and was using writing as an outlet for deprived fantasies and while she would be happy to chat with me again, she'd prefer the subject matter of my writing to not be mentioned.

Okkkkkay, this is not what I had expected in the least bit. Happy to chat with me as long as I didn't talk about my writing? One of the reasons I use Facebook is because of the fact that it's a great way to network and get my work out there. Not to mention I've made several great friends on there.

But the reason I mention all of this is not to sling mud at the person who made the comment. After all she has a right to her opinion even if I don't agree with it. Instead I wanted to talk about how other authors view those who pen erotic stories. Do erotic authors really have that bad of a rap in the literary world? Let’s face the facts here, erotica, if written well, has a background, plot, well developed characters and flow which is present in all types of fiction. Whether it's a J.D. Robb book, Danielle Steele romance, or J.K. Rowling fantasy book all these elements are there. With creativity of these authors they bring to life a story to entertain and ultimately sell books.

So why is it different when an author such as myself chooses to focus on the erotic fantasy of a woman finding her own sexuality after being abused instead of a lawyer who figures out who did it and saves an innocent? Or if I prefer to write about a sexy alien warrior who finds trust again in an arms of a sassy earth woman instead of a tale teen aged wizards who fight evil?

Perhaps someone else can shed some light on this subject for me because frankly I'm at a loss.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thursday Spotlight: Dakota Trace

It’s All For A Good Cause

When I was started writing A Moment Out Of Time, my youngest sister had just found out her youngest son Cameron has Cerebral Palsy. While I don't claim to be an expert on this watching my nephew struggle with it affected me. It's so heartbreaking. He's such a little trooper and smiles a lot even though I know he has to be in pain. When I found out about it, I was in the process of writing a short story for an anthology. It was a summer anthology and the original idea I'd had was to write about a couple who met during a flood and reunited a year later. Instead of completely scrapping the story, I tweaked it and had my heroine, 'George', be affected by it. I felt better about it by doing this. I wanted to draw attention to the fact the disease exists but many people who have it don't let it get them down and continue to have as normal as a life as possible.

Then today, when my sister called and said they may have to operate on my three-year-old nephew I was nearly beside myself. I just didn't feel like I was doing enough. Being supportive and listening to her is what a good sister or aunt does. But what about the author? Writing is such a big part of me. So I've decided when A Moment Out of Time comes out I'll be donating all my proceeds to United Cerebral Palsy.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wednesday Spotlight: Dakota Trace

Is Just Me or Is It Getting Crowded In Here?

Recently I was asked where I got the ideas for my characters. Do I base them on people I know? Sorry to say, nope they’re not based on anyone I know. They pop fully developed into my head. Once I have my plot or an idea for a story, the characters are born. They then reside inside my head until I finish the story. At times it can get awfully crowded inside my head. At the moment, I have a Dom, a sub, a wizard, a witch, and a pair of ornery shape shifting tigers running loose in there.

My favorite method of interacting with the characters is to hold one on one conversation with them, usually out loud. That’s right. I talk to my characters. Never when anyone is around of course, I don’t want to people to think I’m crazy. Well, any crazier than I already am. My favorite time and place to talk to them is in the car when I’m by myself. Going off to pick the kids up, going to get groceries, running errands or on the way home from dropping Mr. Trace off at work. In the quiet of a car, with nothing but the soft sound of music on the radio, is the perfect time for this. Although I will admit I have taken to wearing my Bluetooth so people in the passing cars think I’m talking on the phone. I can only imagine what people would think if they saw me talking to no one. :-)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday Spotlight: Dakota Trace

Enny, Meeny, Minny, Moe…Where to Go? (genre)

Hmm, where do I want to go today? To Venus, to Chicago, or perhaps China? All sound like lovely places to explore. I visit each one of them every week. How? Through my writing of course. On Monday I might decide to work on my sci-fi/ fantasy series and visit Venus. Wednesday may bring a trip to Chicago while I hammer out the next chapter on my bdsm story. By Friday, I’m ready to head off to China to work on my shapeshifter story. Why so many different genres?

It’s simple. I’ve got a short attention span. I write in rapid bursts of energy when the mood strikes. My muse is a fickle woman. I swear she must have ADD, she flits from story to story so much. I do have to draw the line though when she wants more than three WIP’s going on. “Come on,” I beg. “Let me finish something first. I’ll stick the idea in my idea file and we’ll come back to it.” Usually after bribing her with a package of Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, she relents and I’m back to work.

One thing I decided when I began writing professionally I didn’t want to be pigeon holed into one genre. I love the challenge of writing a story in the unknown. When I started writing in the BDSM genre, I had a lot of misconceptions and knew enough about the subject matter to fill a thimble. With the support of a Dom/sub couple and the wonderful use of internet, researching for it has been a breeze and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of crafting a story inside a new and unfamiliar genre.

So what’s next for me? I think a trip to the old west to satisfy my muse’s hankering for a western erotica. Will my muse ever be satisfied to write in one genre? I highly doubt it but then again who said I had to limit her?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday Spotlight: Dakota Trace

Forwards, Backwards, It’s Still Me

Hi, I’m Dakota, an under pressure mother of three, wife to my perfect mate and writer. While I can say I took to the first two roles like a duck to water, I really struggled with the last. Making up stories came naturally to me as breathing but unfortunately the English language wasn’t as nice. When I was in school, I was in remedial reading and writing until I hit junior high. My sixth grade language arts teacher took one look at my writing and reading skills and with input from my first typing teacher decided to call my folks. ‘Mr. and Mrs. Trace, your daughter isn’t stupid, we think she maybe dyslexic.’

Dyslexic? Back in the early eighties I wasn’t even sure what that meant. It was not a common place term in the school systems. I was just considered slow with a speech impediment. I later found out when my own son was diagnosed with it, it is learning disorder that occurs on the neurological level. It’s a decoding issue with written language. Some people see letters backwards while others, like in my case, have problems decoding words and sentences. It can affect writing, reading and speech.

So as a writer, how do I deal with it? Technology is wonderful. With the use of keyboarding skills a whole new world opened for me. I still have the disability. My handwriting is atrocious. My ‘b’, ‘d’, ‘p’, ‘q’ and ‘g’ still get all tangled up and turning words around are common place for me. I can type all my work. I don’t physically write any of my ideas down. So the letters I have such issues forming are avoided. The biggest help I have comes in the form of wonderful friends who don’t mind reading over my writing before I submit it. Thanks, Gloria and Sheri, without you I wouldn’t have a prayer of getting published.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Author Interview: Lee Rowan

Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome Lee Rowan who writes the Royal Navy Series, among other books. The first three books of the series are being rereleased by her new publishers, Cheyenne Publishing (print) and Bristlecone Pine Press (ebook) just in time for her brand new book, Tangled Web, from Running Press, to be released next month. So, there's some exciting things going on in her part of the world.

She told me she never set out to write erotica, though. She wanted to write romantic adventure, but found "there's so much you can show about a character through how they behave in sexual situations that it just kind of evolved that way." She grinned and added, "And hey, I'm a Scorpio…"

Her research is done mostly for the facts of the time period and the details of incidents in the plot. She recently researched equine obstetrics because her heroes started bonding while one's prize mare was giving birth. She doesn't usually write really exotic sex, because her heroes tend to be pretty straightforward in how they demonstrate their affection and are more likely to be emotionally intense that elaborately kinky.

A few books that might be helpful are The Joy of Sex, The Joy of Gay Sex, The Joy of Lesbian Sex, as well as Sex in History which is useful for historical stories and also for a general perspective.

"I think it's a mistake for anyone to try to emulate another writers' style when it comes to erotica. Formula is boring – use your experience, use your imagination," she said. "Every writer has a sex drive, so that isn't something you need to look for somewhere else. Research is to get facts so you can make your story real, but as they say, the biggest sex organ is above the eyebrows."

Lee laughed when I asked how she personally distinguished between erotica, erotic romance, and pornography.

"My own reaction—is it hmm, yay, ho-hum, or blergh? Erotica is sexy with a bit of plot, erotic romance is sexy with a plot and HEA or HFN (happy for now) and porn is sex, no plot, no HEA, and probably no affection," she explained. "The first two are about people having sex, the last is about sex organs. If I can't like the characters, or at least care about what happens to them…and if the characters are just fucking and don't seem to care about each other, it's probably porn in my book. I used to enjoy a bit of porn when I was younger and unattached, but now that I'm happily married I'm more interested in characterization and a good story in addition to erotic content."

The sex, in her opinion, needs to come as a natural part of the storyline, not just added in for heat. "I'm not really much good at sex for its own sake," she told me. "If it's there it should be hot, but it needs to be there for a reason. I usually run it past my wife for a second opinion—after a few rewrites even sex can get boring."

Her favorite erotic book, right now at least, is I Do!. When it comes to erotica, Lee tends to have favorite parts of various books, rather than an entire story. She likes plot-heavy novels, but for actual erotica she prefers short stories. I Do! is an anthology with some wonderful erotic stories in it, and the proceeds go to Lambda Legal.

She's written one non-erotic story, "The Captain's Courtship" in Sail Away. The heroine was of a time, culture, and character that required her to wait until she was married to have sex.

"It was slightly less challenging than writing erotic because it was easier to stay with the conversations and the setting," she said. "I find there's a fine line between erotic and comic--there are so many clichés (like the infamous 'weeping cock' – quick, hand it a tissue!) that it can be challenging to find a way to write a sex scene that's not over the top or unintentionally funny or, worse, the same sex scene you wrote six months ago."

If she could entertain any character from fiction, she told me it would end up not being an erotic night. "I'd like to have Dr. John H Watson to dinner and quiz him on all the cases he mentioned in the Sherlock Holmes stories, but never wrote about," she said. "Of course, if there were some interesting stories about him and Holmes in more intimate situations, I would naturally be all ears."

On a personal note, Lee is a vegetarian and her favorite foods change depending on the time of the year. In the summer, she likes garden tomatoes and corn on the cob; in winter, mashed potatoes with butter and broiled Portobello mushrooms, or waffles with maple syrup. And, she finds that string beans are best for eating off another person's stomach. "They're not sticky; they don't roll much; and properly handled they can be pretty suggestive," she said. "And they're low-call and have lots of B vitamins." She also makes a mean vegetarian French onion soup.

Lee has pierced ears because she loves earrings and hates pinch-fasteners, but she doesn't think body piercing or tattoos are sexy. "Will those perforated nostrils still seem like a good idea when you're 80?" she asked.

Finally, I asked Lee what advice she would give to new writers or writers who wanted to write erotica.

"Read. Read everything you can get your hands on, read outside your preferred genre, read nonfiction, including at least a book or two on grammar. Some, like The Transitive Vampire, Woe is I, and Eats, Shoots and Leaves, are actually funny. You may not think good English matters, but any decent editor will. And a poor editor who lets you get away with bad English is letting you make a fool of yourself in public.

"Read books that are not erotica—nonfiction can provide all sorts of plot bunnies, because before things can get erotic, your characters have to get together. I'd also suggest reading love poems—they can inspire imagery, and sometimes provide a character with an evocative quotation. Oh, and if you're writing m/m and you're f, find a gay friend who will give you feedback and tell you if your characters sound plausible."

You can keep up with Lee on her website, http://www.lee-rowan.net/

The Awakening by Elyzabeth M. VaLey

She went into the chamber.

The battle had been hard, yet she had prevailed. She brushed her curls away from her face and took in a deep breath. At last, after months of hardship and toil she stood in the room where her beloved lay under a deep spell.

The evil sorceress had stolen him from her side because of some nonsense about revenge, a prince’s seed and the birth of a future generation of immortal witches.

Talia shook her head. It no longer mattered. It was over and she had won the battle. She took in another breath, nerves coursing through her veins, making her heart thump in urgent distress. What if he didn’t wake up? No, this was not the time to contemplate that option.

In three strides, she was standing next to his bed.

Talia gasped. She knew she had missed him, that she longed for him, but nothing had prepared her for the swell in her chest at his mere presence. Tears came unbidden to her eyes. She swept them away angrily. Crying was useless. She had yet to accomplish the hardest task: waking him up from his trance.

Not daring to touch him yet, Talia took in the sight of him. Adalair lay naked before her in all his splendid glory. He was slightly thinner than she remembered, and a thick beard coated his usually smooth face. His hair, long and golden fanned out around him. With a shaking hand, she brushed away a strand from his shoulder; her breath caught in her throat as she saw the bluish bruise. She gasped alarmed. She peered closely and noticed with a heavy heart that he had been hurt. His whole body was covered in small bruises and cuts. Everything, except his cock, she noticed. Due to the enchantment, it rose hard against his belly, precum making its purplish tip glisten.

“Oh, Adalair,” she whispered, bending over to kiss his lips.

Talia straightened up and quickly disposed of her gown. It was time to wake up her soul mate, the love of her life, and there was only one way to do it-- through lovemaking. To break the spell, love had to be present in every action, not reduce it to merely the carnal act that could occur between any man and woman.

Lying next to him on the bed, Talia tentatively touched his exposed skin. Unexpected heat met her fingertips. He was asleep and yet his body responded. Desire and longing cursed through her. Straddling his still body, she began to kiss him. She started at his lips, nibbling at them softly. With delicacy, she lowered herself to his shoulders, his chest and his firm stomach, leaving behind a trail of wet kisses. As she moved, his hard shaft rubbed against her thighs, causing heat to pool between her legs.

Casting a quick glance toward his face, she lowered her head to his groin and kissed the tip of the hard member. Deepening the kiss, she let his cock slide into her mouth, while at the same time she gently caressed his balls.

Talia moaned in pleasure. Her hand found her breast and squeezed, but it was not the same. She craved for Adalair’s firm but gentle touch, to have his mouth gently but unrelentlessly suckling her nipples, to feel his body vibrating against and inside of her. Releasing his member, Talia eased herself onto him. Bending her knees, she filled herself with him. Slowly, she began to roll her hips back and forth. Arching over, she kissed the motionless figure of the man below her.

Was he warmer? She planted a firm hand on his chest, steadying herself. A light sweat seemed to have broken upon his skin.

With renewed vigor, she bounced up and down building a steady rhythm. Closing her eyes, she mewled in pleasure.

“Adalair, come back to me,” she whispered.

Talia’s eyes flew open. Large hands gripped her hips, pulling her down hard. Her orgasm peaked as her eyes encountered Adalair’s intense blue gaze.

Adalair felt her shudder above him. She was a remarkable sight. Her hair, the color of dark chocolate was disheveled, falling well below her shoulders. Her green eyes were wide open, desire, love and relief etched in them. Her mouth was slightly open and her lips red and swollen. Her firm breasts jiggled with every thrust, their pinkish hue and stiff nipples beckoning to him. He reached and tweaked them, causing a moan to escape her lips. Adalair gripped her ass cheeks and pumped harder.

“Talia,” he sighed, as his climax reached him.

Talia collapsed over him. Tears of relief fell from her eyes. Adalair lifted her head and looked deep into her eyes. Words were not necessary. Like windows to their souls, their eyes expressed the love that the one felt for the other.

About the author: Shy, quiet, and always with a book or notebook under her nose; a good student, is what you might think of Elyzabeth at first sight, but at closer inspection you might discover that what she's reading and scribbling into her notebook might just melt you into your chair. http://www.inadreambeyond.blogspot.com

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Spotlight: Brenna Lyons

Charity Anthologies

Everyone has a concern she'd like to support. Some of us have many of them. You don't always have to give money to a cause close to your heart. You can give time and effort. If you're an author, you can give short stories (or non-exclusive rights to a short story, which means you can also use it personally, if you'd like to) to charity anthologies that will benefit a good cause.

Many authors do free short stories as promo anyway. Why not earn money for a cause you care about along the way? That was my thought process. Even if you wanted to earn money on an anthology short, most anthologies are going to pay you $25-50 plus author copies for your piece. You not only get the exposure of a free read (or the loss of only $25-50 you would have conceivably made, which you can make up later with nonexclusive rights), but you get to do some good, on the way.

What anthologies or sites you'd submit to depends entirely on your genre and your causes. Sites like Simecenter take spec fit art and writing. Allromanceebooks is doing a call for sensual and erotic romance stories to benefit the American Heart Association. And so forth.

But one of my favorites is Coming Together. Coming Together anthologies benefit everything from Hurricane Katrina and SOCal wildfires to autism, breast cancer, HIV, and premature babies to stopping violence against women. In these anthologies, editors, authors, and cover artists take nothing. All proceeds are donated to the cause.

So far, I'm involved in three Coming Together anthologies--Coming Together: Under Fire (which benefits the SOCal wildfires), Coming Together: Against the Odds (which benefits Autism Speaks) and Coming Together: Into The Light (which benefits V-Day, fighting violence against women...coming January 2010).

If you enjoy erotic romance and erotica, consider scanning the Coming Together site and finding a cause you might want to support by buying an anthology of great erotic fiction. If you're an author, check out the calls for coming anthologies; you might find a cause you'd like to support.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thursday Spotlight: Brenna Lyons

Spirit of The Law

“There are three rules in writing, and no one knows what they are.” Anon

Well, my personal three all involve treating writing as a career and presenting yourself as a professional, but today I'm referring to the things people tell you never to do in your writing.

Let me preface this by saying I'm the quintessential Libra. I want the rules and laws to make sense, though they rarely do. I firmly discard the idea of fair and unfair and substitute equal, equitable, or unjust.

I have never been a lawful good type of person. Neutral/unaligned maybe, but I was always the type that weighed the laws against needs and meeting those needs. I'm definitely a spirit of the law type of individual.

The reasons for the 'rules' are sound, though few rules should say never, in my opinion. Anything that pushes readers out of the story--that breaks the reader's immersion in the spell the author weaves--is a bad idea.

Head hopping makes the reader stop and sort whose head you're in. Head hopping is one of the few things I'd put a never to.

Some POV purists will tell you never to switch POV in a scene, even if you do it skillfully and don't confuse the reader on the way. Some POV purist editors won't sign a book that does it skillfully; some editors will. In the end, if you can change heads without losing the reader or disrupting the flow, whether or not to do it is a stylistic choice.

In the same way, many of the other 'rules' of writing are designed to discourage practices that novice writers often do poorly. In the end, I go with the spirit of the law. If the readers aren't evicted from immersion in the story, and you're not confusing them, it can probably be done skillfully enough to publish it, though the 'rules' say it's not allowed.

One thing never (oops, I said it again) to do is bait and switch a reader. If you write genre romance, there is an expectation of a HEA or HFN. Not every book requires one to be enjoyable; it just has to fit the characters, world, and plot. But, there is an expectation of a HEA/HFN in romance, as there is an expectation of a crime to be solved in mystery. If you bill your book as a certain genre, it has to meet the minimum requirements of that genre.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesday Spotlight: Brenna Lyons

Writers and Readers

Every once in a while, a reader surprises me with the idea that writers are perceived as different than readers. For some reason, people get surprised that writers are as avid of readers as non-writer readers are.

There's an old saying that you don't have to write to be a reader, but you have to read to become an accomplished writer. In addition to getting a feel for the lines you'll be submitting to and the successful authors in the genre, you broaden your experience and enrich your writing by reading.

But reading isn't all business for an author. Though we might be able to put technical terms to a review of another author, we read for enjoyment.

Believe it or not, authors have favorite genres, favorite authors, and favorite series...sometimes a wide range of them. We enjoy talking about our favorites. We enjoy exposing other readers to them. We enjoy postulating on what comes next in their series, much as we write the story arc of our own.

Like most authors, I'm an avid reader. Asking me to choose my favorite author would be like asking me to choose a single food to eat every meal for the rest of my life. Impossible to conceive of. Asking me to choose a favorite genre would be like asking me what food group I'd eat exclusively for the rest of my life. Same answer.

My tastes in everything from food and clothing to reading materials, music, and movies are varied. It depends on my mood and how in need of a break to something new I am.

Most authors read in the genres they write. So you can probably guess I write all manner of fantasy, science fiction, horror, contemporary, historical, futuristic, romance, (sweet through erotic romance and into erotica and dark romance) and even YA and poetry. In addition, I read true crime, mysteries, and thrillers.

So, who are some of my favorites that I'd highly suggest others read? Sherrilyn Kenyon/Kinley MacGregor, Robin Owens, Tee Morris, Rowena Cherry, Elaine Corvidae, Angela Knight, Kate Douglas, Christine Feehan, Margaret Carter, Jeff Strand, Jane Graves, Gloria Oliver, Piers Anthony, John Saul, Stephen King, David and Leigh Eddings, Steven Gould, Scott Westerfeld, Susan Kearney, Jacquelyn Frank, Jacqueline Elliott, John Moore, Charlotte Boyett-Compo, Elizabeth K. Burton, Tracy L. Carbone, Linda Fallon, Fae Harlow, Deborah Lynne, Sheri McGathy, Janet Miller, Rowan West, and more.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tuesday Spotlight: Brenna Lyons

Writing for Multiple Publishers

One of the other popular questions I face is how it's possible to juggle writing for five or more publishers at a time. At the moment, I write for Logical-Lust, Loose Id, Mundania, Phaze, and Under The Moon. But how do you make that work?

1. Be prolific. Ideally, you want at least three releases with each publisher to maximize exposure and avoid spreading yourself too thin. In NY, you have little say over release schedules. In indie press, those releases should be within two years or less...a best case scenario.

Note that not everyone is capable of being prolific. An author who naturally writes at a moderate speed will decrease quality by artificially increasing volume of words produced.

2. Have a good feel for what fits each publisher and submit accordingly. If you write in several genres, this may be clear. Other times, it may come down to shades of heat level or kink, dark vs. light, or even the style sheets of individual publishers.

3. Keep a series with a single publisher, barring a complete split with publisher A and move to publisher B; in which case, be prepared to move the series books from A to B, at the end of contract. Note that free reads or anthology shorts for exposure can break this rule.

4. Get yourself into as few deadline dependent situations as possible. Sell already-completed materials as often as you can. When you're on deadline, you have less flexibility. If several publishers send you edits in the same week, it's best if you can drop your writing for a week or two to complete them. Deadlines interfere with that.

5. Be prepared to say 'no.' All publishers have collections, seasonal or themed calls, and so forth. It's nice if you can take part, but commitments to other publishers may preclude it. Don't be afraid to say: “Not this time.” No one takes part in every opportunity.

6. Be up front about your schedule. Don't use it as an excuse, but share your expected release schedule with other publishers when a contract is offered. I already have one release scheduled each for November and December of 2009, February 2010, March 2010, and May 2010 and two for January 2010. Knowing that, if a publisher suggested another January release, I might suggest that February would be better, to spread out the edits and galleys. A publisher would rather have your full attention to a later release than dubious attention to an earlier release.

7. Keep track of style sheets for each publisher, in a database, if necessary. Forgetting which one uses the 14th vs. the 15th edition of Chicago Manual of Style is a minor thing. Submitting in the wrong formatting doesn't win you friends.

8. Remember to stay on topic on a publisher list or chat. Only promote your work with the publisher in question on their lists, blogs, and spotlights. If a reader asks about a book with another publisher, answer off list.

9. Don't sign contracts that counter existing ones. If you've signed contract A with first right of refusal for a series, you cannot sign contract B to another publisher that includes first right of refusal on an entire genre (never a good idea, anyway), which includes the series in contract A. It's a nonenforceable clause and has to be red-lined or tweaked to reflect the preexisting contract.

10. Give all your publishers/books promotional time. Don't short change anyone.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday Spotlight: Brenna Lyons

Where do writers get their ideas?

It's one of the most popular questions readers asks authors, and the answers to it range from the mundane to the ridiculous. What question? Where do authors get their ideas?

To answer this question, I think we have to look at an author's mind. An author is...

1. A people-watcher- Though many of us build characters from scratch, we keep a mental (or even physical) database of character traits and quirks. We might make a note of tics, comments, looks, etc. Any little thing might spark a character or idea for a story. Moreover, a peek at a secondary character in book A often prompts an in-depth exploration that spawns book B, where the secondary character is often a main character.

2. A dreamer- Clichéd but true, more than one book or story has grown out of a dream. My first serial novel (PROPHECY) started as a dream of a single scene in the book. Ironically, one of my most popular books (TYGERS) grew very loosely out of a dream my husband had.

3. An avid reader, almost invariably- One of the top five reasons authors have for writing what they do amounts to: “I just couldn't find what I wanted to read, so I wrote it.”

4. Inquisitive- Your average author excels at free association. We just can't help reflecting on something we've seen (in real life or dramatized) or read and playing 'what if' from there. We love taking a submissions call and free associating ourselves to a unique approach to meeting it, like when I wrote NEVERMORE to fill the call for the Raven Heat Sheets at Phaze. Being a lover of Poe served me well.

So, where do I get my ideas? All of the above. With more than 75 published fiction works in 20 series worlds plus stand-alones, I can't rely on just one source for story ideas.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Author Interview: Phyllis Campbell

Whipped Cream is pleased to have Phyllis Campbell with us today. Most of her reviewers have given her the title of "Queen of Sexual Tension." Her first erotic romance, Breaking All the Rules, was released by Carnal Passions this year, but it was by no means her first book. Phyllis is an award-winning, multi-published author with several publishers.

Phyllis started reading romance novels in 1985, a year after she was married, and fell in love with them. She admits to being a romance novel junkie. Then, she started dreaming her own stories like she was watching a movie. One night, she'd watched a romance movie that didn't have a happily ever after and she went to be angry. That night, once again, she had a dream in movie form. This time, however, when she woke up she realized it would make a good book.

"So, I bought a notebook and a package of pencils, and started writing," she told me. "That’s all it took to kick-start my muse. Now the stories come to me all the time. It’s a great feeling! "

Phyllis had several books published when she wrote her first erotic romance and, as a matter of fact, when she wrote Breaking All the Rules, she didn't really intend to write erotica.

"I was one of those writers that was never going to write erotica. Never! So one day I was trying to figure out a premise that was very sexy, yet all I wanted to do was tease my readers, and my characters. I’m good at doing that you know," she said with a wink. "So I started writing Breaking All the Rules. Story takes place in a sex resort. Hello! That should have been a dead giveaway that my story was going to turn really hot. So yeah, it did. I submitted this to my publisher, who about died from shock…then from laughter when she told me my story was erotic and not a typical romance. I thought she was joking. Nope, she sent it to the erotic line, Carnal Passion." She added with a laugh, "I think I’m still in shock."

Even though Phyllis mostly writes "straight" romance, she told me, "Now that I’ve crossed over to the dark side…it’s hard for me to write a straight romance because my characters want to be naughty. I want to explain more…show more. So yes, it’s a little hard to cross over like that without wanting to write naughtier. "

Regardless of whether the story is romance or erotic romance, however, Phyllis believes that the plot is what makes a good story.

"For some reason, some erotic writers don’t think they need a good plot in order to write," she said. "I don’t care how many of the characters are horny…the plot MUST be good! In my opinion, the more you tease the reader (and your characters) before their first sex scene, the better the story is going to be. Yeah, bring on the sexual tension, baby! "

"How do you do your research for your books?" I asked.

She laughed. "Well…it’s not the way you think. I have a very vivid imagination. Not only that, I have fantasies, too, you know." She winked. " Besides that, I read other erotic romances, which is mainly my research. I don’t have any ‘different positions’ kind of books. Nope. Just my fantasies. "

Speaking of fantasies, Phyllis shared with me that since writing the jet tub scene in Breaking All the Rules she would like to try that one out, if she could entertain a character from a book. "Don't care which hero I was with," she said, "because I know it'll be very exciting...THEY will be very exciting."

I asked Phyllis if her family reads her erotic fiction.

"Oh, hell no! My family doesn’t even approve of my ‘straight’ romances. Sheesh! My husband would have a fit if he knew I had written an erotic. My daughters would wear bags over their heads if the neighbors knew…. You get the picture. And…I don’t even dare tell my mom. Oh dear!"

She added, with a laugh, "She doesn’t need to die that way."

On a more personal note, Phyllis said if she could be anyone she wanted, it wouldn't matter who it was as long as she had a perfect figure, could eat all she wanted without getting fat, and be drop-dead gorgeous. "Guess I'm still in my fiction world, right?" she quipped.

"What is your most embarrassing moment?" I asked.

"Gads, which one? According to my kids, anything I do or say is embarrassing…well, to them, anyway. lol But for me, personally, it was a year or so after I had married. Hubby and I were moving. My ex-boyfriend (who happened to be friends with my brother) was helping us move. So, they helped move the waterbed…and behind it was a couple of used condoms." She shook her head. "I blame hubby for that one! "

Her favorite food is brownies. "But, they have to be the ones with nuts in them," she stressed. "Yup, nuts always make things taste better. (Take that how you want...)."

She can tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi and is a Coke drinker (even winning a taste test at work. And, if anyone knows someone who can tie a cherry stem with his tongue, Phyllis would like an introduction...for research purposes.

Phyllis is a fan of painted toenails, especially if you wear a lot of open-toe shoes. She made this stipulation, though. "If you let your body get big and fat and can’t bend over, then no, unless you have a wonderful husband (or daughter) who’ll do it for you. "

And she thinks, even though the hair color is different, if anyone would portray her in a movie she would like it to be Meg Ryan. "She’s silly…which I happen to think fits me perfectly," Phyllis explained. "And I can’t help it…I love her snorty laugh! "

Finally, I asked Phyllis what advise she would give to authors who want to write erotica.

"Write what’s hot," she said, "but whatever you do, make sure it has a plot. Pile your characters together naked in one scene, it doesn’t matter, as long as you let the reader feel the emotion in your story. Your characters must have goals and motivations. They must be three-dimensional and not cardboard. " You can keep up with Phyllis on her website, http://phyllismariecampbell.com

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Spotlight: Cate Masters

Leave ‘em Smiling

One of the things I love about romance is its positivity. Especially in these tough times, you know if you pick up a romance, you’ll escape from the drudgery of everyday life to an adventure, or a fantasy, or mystery, or inspirational, or a hot read—any one of which will leave you blissfully satisfied. Sales statistics bear this out. Romance is one of the few genres on the upswing when all else is in decline.

One of the best experiences as a writer is to hear back from a reader who loved one of my stories because it resonated with her in some way. Putting all my heart into my writing creates a shared positive experience between author and reader.

As Maya Angelou said: “The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.” Though a poet, I’m sure Maya understands that every great book has a love story at its core. As a genre, romance novels often get a bad rap, but just as often, it’s from those who haven’t looked at a romance novel since decades ago, when they were labeled “bodice rippers.” More likely, they’ve never read one themselves, but are echoing someone else’s opinion. It’s their loss, I say.

Nora Roberts said romance novels "are a celebration of relations, finding love, overcoming obstacles, and making commitments. I think that is something very worthy of respect. They're not just about naked pirates, although what's wrong with a naked pirate now and again?" I can’t think of anything, can you? ;)

Have a wonderful weekend! Read a romance novel!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thursday Spotlight: Cate Masters

Busting Writer’s Block

You sit down in front of your computer, and the cursor is blinking on the screen, as if tapping its little foot, waiting impatiently for you to begin. But you're stuck. You'd started with great ideas and had been typing the words as fast as they flowed from your brain to your fingertips, but then--you became blocked.

Writer's block, I believe, happens for a reason. Rather than let it paralyze you, you must use writer's block as a tool—recognize that your subconscious is trying to tell you that you're not quite ready to commit to writing this story just yet. You need to get to better know some element of your story or a certain character before you can even begin it, let alone finish it.

That's what I did when I became stuck a few years ago. Because the novel spans 30-odd years, I had already researched what happened during those years and created a timeline. But on the timeline, I added notations: what music a character might have liked, what current trends or fads the character may have followed, how s/he might have been impacted by the major events that occurred in the world. Next to each year, I noted her age--obviously, a five-year-old will perceive and react differently to any given situation than a 20-year-old would--as well as what grade she would have been in, noting graduations and post-graduation events like marriages and pregnancies. I also jotted down notes about other events that may have occurred in this character's personal life. Doing this provided a framework that helped me to more fully construct the character and to get to know her better. This exercise was useful for not only this specific character, but for all the characters, giving better perspective and, in general, making the novel richer in detail and authenticity.

Don't let writer's block paralyze you! When it happens, it can also be a signal to step away from a story. Sometimes when we concentrate too hard on a thing, our focus can become too narrow. Stepping away can renew the story, help us see what element is missing--maybe a character wasn’t developed deep enough, or an idea not followed far enough. It's always a good practice to walk away from your story for a little while, so you can approach it again with fresh perspective, and fill in any holes or flesh out characters or descriptions later that might seem a little thin upon a new reading. Recognize that writer's block is sometimes a necessity, a sign that your work needs refinement. Don't fear it-- use it to your advantage. It will lead you to something better in the end.

Cate Masters’ novels, novellas and short fiction appear at The Wild Rose Press, Eternal Press, Wild Child Publishing/ Freya’s Bower and Shadowfire Press. The proud mom of three adult children, she currently lives in central Pennsylvania with her husband, Benji the dog and their dictator-like cat, Chairman Maiow. Visit her online at www.catemasters.com and http://catemasters.blogspot.com, or follow her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Cate-Masters/89969413736?ref=ts or Twitter: www.twitter.com/catemasters.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wednesday Spotlight: Cate Masters

Making Characters Come Alive

I have another confession: I hear voices in my head. Not only that, but I see people (no, not dead people—though I hope to soon, because I have a great idea that includes a ghost). Most of the stories I write play out like videos running through my mind. The characters appear as vivid as if I’m watching a movie—and many times, I’ll have a definite actor in mind for the hero and heroine. The challenge is then to bring them to life on the page.

Someday I’m hoping a genius will invent a USB port to allow a writer to download directly from our brains. Until then, we must rely on basic hard work. :)

When one of the characters in a book I wrote several years ago bogged me down by rooting herself squarely in my path, I cowered at first. I had an image of her, but it was unclear and one-dimensional. And cardboard cutouts don't work well in novels.

I tried writing around her. This worked for a little while, but I still had to deal with her, finally, after I'd written all the other characters. She was stubborn, but I forced her into submission with a few tricks.

I tried calling her profane names, to loosen her up a little, but this only made me feel better for a short while. I tried forcing myself to write her, but this resulted in stiff, boring paragraphs that even I didn't want to read. I thought about why this character was such a problem. I decided that I couldn't get inside her head because I couldn't relate to her and didn’t like her all that well. In fact, I didn’t know her well enough to write about her. Like an actor preparing for a role, writers should be able to get into their character’s skins to effectively portray them on the page.

First, I conducted an "interview" with the problem character. I asked her questions such as: what was important to her in her life, how she really felt about the people, situations and events in her life. I did the same with the character's sister, her parents, her husband. Ultimately, most of this was set aside, used mostly as a foundation from which I could write the character's real story.

After I had done all of this, I felt more ready to approach this character. She still was the least cooperative, but this character evolved into one of the most complex and interesting in the novel. I never did get to like her much, but I understood her much better. I was able to make her less of an outright bitch and show her faults, her fears--in other words, she became human. To me, it's fine to portray a character as a villain, but also convey to the reader the underlying issues that cause that character to react to the world in a certain way. This enriches the reading experience for them, and the writing experience for you.

Cate Masters’ novels, novellas and short fiction appear at The Wild Rose Press, Eternal Press, Wild Child Publishing/ Freya’s Bower and Shadowfire Press. The proud mom of three adult children, she currently lives in central Pennsylvania with her husband, Benji the dog and their dictator-like cat, Chairman Maiow. Visit her online at www.catemasters.com and http://catemasters.blogspot.com, or follow her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Cate-Masters/89969413736?ref=ts or Twitter: www.twitter.com/catemasters.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tuesday Spotlight: Cate Masters

Work that Muse!

Long ago, someone told me “you’re not a writer if you don’t write every day.” I don’t believe that, but I do believe it’s important to write as often as possible. Even if you can only squeeze in a few minutes a day, just write. Jot down your ideas as they come to you so you don’t lose them (one of my biggest faults!) You might have thousands of wonderful ideas, but if you don’t capture them on paper, they’ll disappear like fireflies. And once you begin your idea, don’t stop. "I write when the spirit moves me," William Faulkner said. "And the spirit moves me every day." So sometimes your muse needs a little nudge.

Last year, I participated in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWRiMo. Set in November of each year, the goal is to finish the first draft of a 50,000-word novel. Figuring the days before and after Thanksgiving as a total loss, that’s about 2000 words a day. Broken down, it doesn’t seem such a daunting task. I followed author Barbara Kingsolver’s advice: “Chain that muse to the desk and get the job done!” In other words: sit your rear in the chair and place your fingers on the keyboard.

Bestselling novelist Jodi Picoult, who averages one book per year, said: “When you only have 20 minutes, you write, whether it's garbage, or it's good … you just do it, and you fix it later." Keep a notebook and working pen in your purse, in your car, by your bed. I once went to a conference where the keynote speaker said she had a two-hour a day commute, but used that time to plot. Even when you’re not actually writing, you can use downtime such as driving, the grocery store line or even a shower to work out plot points or flesh out a character a bit more.

The more you work your muse, the better shape she’ll be in so that when you call on her, she’ll be there, ready to get to work.

Another favorite quote of mine (I have a lot, as you’ve probably noticed!) is from William Wordsworth, who said: "Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart... Write from the soul, not from some notion what you think the marketplace wants. The market is fickle; the soul is eternal." Great advice. I’ve always been a big believer in going with your gut. Write the story you want to read. Let your heart guide you – it won’t steer you wrong.

Cate Masters’ novels, novellas and short fiction appear at The Wild Rose Press, Eternal Press, Wild Child Publishing/ Freya’s Bower and Shadowfire Press. The proud mom of three adult children, she currently lives in central Pennsylvania with her husband, Benji the dog and their dictator-like cat, Chairman Maiow. Visit her online at www.catemasters.com and http://catemasters.blogspot.com, or follow her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Cate-Masters/89969413736?ref=ts or Twitter: www.twitter.com/catemasters.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Monday Spotlight: Cate Masters

Research Is Not Just for Geeks!

Hi, my name is Cate, and I’m a research junkie. I admit it. I get carried away with research—or vice versa. Sometimes it’s hard to tell. Case in point: a few years ago, my family vacationed at Key West, Florida. The island’s surrounded by a clear aqua-green sea and is so steeped in history, its streets almost seem like characters. While visiting a maritime museum, a story flashed in my head, and I spent the next two days in the Key West library copying old articles and letters while my family went parasailing and snorkeling. Do I regret it? Not in the least. I knew I wouldn’t be getting back there any time soon, so finding that information felt like unearthing sunken treasure! I was fascinated by the history of the wreckers, men who salvaged wrecked ships long before any diving equipment had been invented. All the careful research paid off. Soon Freya’s Bower will publish Angels, Sinners and Madmen, my historical romance novel.

No matter what genre I’m writing in, I always research some aspect of the story. Authenticating details help bring the setting into the reader’s imagination. A few stories are set in cities I know well, but others are in places that fit the story, or I wish I could go! Such as Hawaii, or in my WIP, Malibu. Adding authenticating details for locations I’ve never visited is easy. If the Internet doesn’t provide all the information I need, I send for a Visitor’s Guide to the city to learn its restaurants, museums, clubs and other hot spots. For Wilderness Girl, I had to brush up on my camping info, and learn a bit about recycled art. One of the worst pieces of advice to writers is: write what you know. How would anyone ever stretch the limits of their imagination following that adage? There would be no speculative fiction, no fantasy, no scifi. The writer would get bored silly in a hurry. And when the writer’s bored, so will the reader be.

So I say: Let your writing take you to places you only dreamed of visiting, or that might never exist if you didn’t create them. Your readers will thank you! And your imagination will reward you with more ideas.

Cate Masters’ novels, novellas and short fiction appear at The Wild Rose Press, Eternal Press, Wild Child Publishing/ Freya’s Bower and Shadowfire Press. The proud mom of three adult children, she currently lives in central Pennsylvania with her husband, Benji the dog and their dictator-like cat, Chairman Maiow. Visit her online at www.catemasters.com and http://catemasters.blogspot.com, or follow her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Cate-Masters/89969413736?ref=ts or Twitter: www.twitter.com/catemasters.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Author Interview: Anya Delvay

Whipped Cream is pleased to have Anya Delvay, who has two books out with Samhain Publishing.

Anya said you can blame NaNoWriMo for the fact she writes erotic romance. If you aren't familiar with it, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, which takes place every year in November. During that month, writers all over the world dedicate themselves to writing a 50,000 word novel.

"About three years ago I decided to do NaNoWriMo," Anya said. "I knew I could achieve the word count because of my work schedule at the time and the speed at which I write, so I gave myself the additional challenge of ending with a halfway decent first draft. I also decided to try my hand at a Regency romance, since the two other novels I’d written were Medieval. So, on November first I started off, happy as a pig in wallow. I even had a plot in mind and the characters of the hero and heroine. I got about ten days into it and realized I absolutely hated what I had written. I hated the story, the characters, the setting, everything! It was November eleventh, and my story had stalled, big time.

"By then I had heard so much about the whole erotic romance evolution and started buying some of the books. I thought it was great women were finally feeling comfortable enough to explore their sexuality openly in this way. It never really occurred to me to write one. I mean, seriously, my DAD read my first book and I had no issues talking to him about it afterwards! It wouldn’t be the same if I wrote erotic romances. But by November fifteenth I was feeling desperate. I’m damned stubborn, and I just couldn’t give up, yet I couldn’t bear the thought of even trying to go back to the novel I’d started. Then a premise came to me, a great 'what if?' and it was perfect for an erotic romance, and I thought: why the hell not? I actually got to the 50,000 word count on November thirtieth, and had the bones for my first completed erotic romance novel. I also developed a taste for writing the hot stuff..."

"What does your family think about you writing erotic romance?" I wondered.

"Easiest part of the answer to this question is that my sister is one of my crit partners. When I wrote my first novel, my husband read the entire book and could discuss characters and everything else with me objectively. Once I started writing erotic romances and erotica, he suddenly stopped being able to give me any feedback except, 'It’s HOT!' So he’s my official sex-scene barometer," she said with a laugh. "My kids, who are all in their teens and early twenties, know what I write but haven’t read any of it, as far as I know. And if they ever do, I don’t really want to know about it. My youngest and I have a joke about him telling people I write religious tracts. My wider family has no clue what I write and I like it that way...I’d hate to be the cause of one of my old aunties spontaneously combusting!"

Whether writing historical or contemporary erotic romance, Anya feels it makes sense for part of the conflict to revolve around sex. "Then the sex has layers of meaning," she explained. "It become more complicated than simply being the culmination of attraction or love."

Anya loves writing historicals, so she's always researching something because she wants to focus on making the setting and characters believable. When I asked her about research, she waggled her eyebrows and asked, "What kind?" She declined, though, to talk about the sexual research except to confess, with a smile, that her husband is always offering himself as a Guinea pig.

For all other research, she said, "I love, love, LOVE the internet but you have to be so careful to make sure what you’re reading is accurate. If I find information that seems iffy and I can’t verify it, it’s off to the library to hit the reference books. I’ve also started an itsy-bitsy library of my own on subjects that interest me. Both my husband and son would tell you it’s already too large, since they were the ones who had to heft the boxes when we moved last year!"

Her favorite form of research, though, comes from talking to people and hearing their stories. She also enjoys people watching from a descriptive perspective, but says, "When you sit down and really listen to what others have to tell you about their lives it’s truly informative. Our pasts mold us into what we are, just as our character traits help us to either overcome that past or keep us stuck in it, so each life story gives me new insight. People are infinitely amazing in how they cope with all the…eh-hem…crap life throws at them. In the same vein I like reading biographies and watching true crime shows, but talking to people is a lot more fun!"

On a personal note, I asked Anya if she had to pierce a body part, which one she would choose. "My husband’s nose, so I can put his wedding band through it!" she said promptly. "Oh, you mean on my body??"

Anya then told me that she is a craven coward around needles, so the answer she was about to give would probably shock anyone who knows her. "It would definitely be my nipple," she declared. "I just think it looks so cool. I would have a nice gold hoop through it, with a diamond dangle." She sighed. "Ain’t gonna happen, but it would be rockin’."

I asked her why she thought body piercing was sexy.

"It can be sexy because it attracts you to areas of the body you might not necessarily pay that much close attention to," she said. "The sparkle of a belly button piercing makes you look, really LOOK, at the stomach, where before it might just be a nice expanse of skin but not much more. I’m a bit of a fuddy-duddy, so I don’t find the facial piercings very attractive, although some people can pull off a nose stud nicely. I’ve already told you how I feel about needles, so unless you want me to faint I won’t even get into a discussion on the piercing of the more sensitive areas!"

Finally, I asked Anya what advice she would give to authors who want to write erotica.

"Read widely in the genre. And don’t limit yourself to only one type of novel. Read contemporaries, historicals, fantasy, literary novels—everything, even the sub-genres you think you won’t like," she suggested. "If you have a specific publisher in mind, read their releases in particular, but I would suggest reading as much erotica as you can. While you’re reading, stop and take note of what you liked and what you didn’t, and why. If you’re turned on by it, whether physically or emotionally, you’re more likely to be able to write something similar in a convincing manner.

"Expand your sexual vocabulary. Do research into various sexual lifestyles, fantasies, fetishes and phobias. How you do that is your business, but although we’re always told, 'write what you know' it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to take that advice literally! Ask yourself if you’re 100% comfortable in using the language necessary to describe the human body and sex the way you need to. I’ve seen a few manuscripts were the author falls back on euphemisms as soon as things heat up, or starts out great guns, then pulls back at the end. If you’re not completely comfortable with the subject matter, it shows in the writing."

Her most important piece of advice, however, was to any inexperienced author, no matter what they wanted to write.

"Hone your craft," she said. "Nothing, not even the hottest, best sex scene ever written can overcome shoddy writing."

You can keep up with Anya on her blog, http://anyadelvay.blogspot.com

Amazed by Wendi Zwaduk

Kellen stood next to Blaine and rolled his shoulders. Only three or four more guests and he could escape the receiving line. Oh, he could probably take off early, but why leave his post when the end was in sight?

Besides, he loved Mallory like she was his sister and would easily give his life for Blaine. The middle aged couple shook his hand and nodded their congratulations. He smiled at the little blonde haired flower girl and puffed out a long breath.

Right now Kellen needed a moment of private time. He glanced across the expanse of the hotel lobby and licked his dry lips. The woman of his dreams, a slender blonde swathed in black chiffon held the door open for one of the elderly female wedding guests.

He tugged at the collar or his tuxedo. The desire to abandon the line and stroll to the other side of the room flicked across his brain. The last guest made it through the line, granting him his freedom.

“We’ll need you in the reception hall in fifteen minutes if you can peel your gaze from Taryn. Don’t forget she’s married to a jealous man.”

Kellen dragged oxygen into his lungs. He nodded. “Yeah, Blaine. I’ll be there.” After I see to someone...

Kellen strode across the plush carpet and nuzzled Taryn’s golden curls. She sighed and leaned into him. He chuckled. “May I accompany you upstairs?”

She rubbed her nose against his cheek. “Do you think my husband would mind?”

Her voice reminded him of Lauren Bacall. His cock strained against his trousers. He wrapped his arms around her lithe waist. “I think he’d be agreeable.”

She tangled her fingers with his and tugged him to the elevator. “Then we’d better get moving.”

The bell pinged and the burnished steel door opened. Kellen held out his hand. “After you, my love.”

Taryn giggled and stepped into the empty car. “Sshh. Someone will hear.”

He followed, tugging his tuxedo jacket down his arms. “I hope they do.” Kellen pinned her against the tile wall and nipped her neck and collarbone. “Do you know how sexy you are?”

She gasped as the car ascended to the penthouse in mere seconds. Her nails dug into his forearms. “It’s been mentioned on occasion. Pick a floor.”

He chuckled and pressed a button on the wall pad before they reached the pinnacle of the building. The elevator car screeched to a halt at the twenty-second floor. “None of them.”

Taryn ground her pelvis into his groin. She dug her nails into his ass to hold him tight against her heated body. His nerve endings tingled. Her perfume turned his senses inside out. “The emergency brake?”

“Yes.” Kellen draped the jacket across her shoulders. He worked the knot holding her dress in place behind her back and bared her breasts. “I need to feel you, baby.”

She whimpered. “You are.”

Her peaked nipples brushed against his shirt, yet he felt the sparks as if they were both nude. His cock strained behind his zipper. God, he needed to be inside her and soon.

“Someone will see us through the security camera.”

“So let’s give them a good show.” Kellen slid her silky chiffon dress past her creamy thighs and caressed her nether lips with his middle finger. “You’re so wet. Open for me, babe.”

“Yes.” The word slipped past her lips in a hiss. She wrapped her leg around his waist. Her hand slipped over the barrier to his dick, caressing him. “Show me how well you can use this.”

He shivered. God, she turned him on. “You want to talk dirty?”

Taryn popped the button on his trousers, releasing his cock. She wrapped her fingers around his girth, kneading him, learning him. Blood pounded in his ears. Her nails scratched the delicate skin of his sac, sending tingles of desire surging through his veins. He wasn’t huge, but she made him feel enormous.

Her mons ground into his groin, eliciting a moan from deep in her throat. She rubbed his dick along her slippery lips. “Nah, I want action. I want you.” Her eyes drifted closed and she nipped her bottom lip. She gasped. “Oh, God! Kellen!”

He eased her leg around his waist and tore the wispy fabric of her silk panties away from her body. He could listen to the sounds of her arousal all night long. “You want me?”

She grabbed his ass again, pulling him to her. “Yes. I want to come.”

He entered her with one sure thrust. His heart thundered in his chest. With Taryn, he was complete. He plunged into her, swallowing her moans with his kiss and tasting her sweetness all the way to his soul.

She raked her fingers through his hair. Her body quaked with the oncoming orgasm. He added a couple of residual thrusts and dropped his head to her shoulder. “Fuck, yes.”

Taryn groaned and gulped air. “I love you, Kellen.”

“I love you, too, sweets.” He tangled the fingers of his left hand in her hair and pressed the button to move the elevator car. He smoothed the silky fabric down over her hips, covering her modesty. The bell signaled their stop at the selected floor. “Now do you feel like a boring married woman?”

She giggled, pressing her forehead against his cheek. “Not in the least.” Kellen’s heart swelled. He and Taryn wouldn’t be down to the reception for quite a while. “Then I made my wife very happy.”

She snuggled into him and wrapped her arm around his waist. “You did and I am.”

Kellen produced their key card. “Then shall we continue?”

Her eyes flashed. “Absolutely.”

About the author: Thanks for enjoying this work by Wendi Zwaduk. By day she’s a SAHM of one son, two dogs, and two cats, but at night she lets her inner muse run wild and writes tales of love won, lost, and won again. If she’s not at her computer, she can be found at her local dirt tracks cheering for the Late Model cars or haunting the local library in search of new authors. Her first novel comes out in early 2010 from the Wild Rose Press. Check out her blog at http://www.wendizwaduk.blogspot.com