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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wednesday Spotlight: Ashley Ladd

Writing Part Time With Family and A Day Job

This month I have not just one but three releases. Two erotic romances by Ashley Ladd and one sweet romance by my alter ego. I also have a revision to do.

That feels like a lot on my plate. Not only do I have a lot of promo to do but I have to do it for two different names. It's confusing to remember who I am every time I write an email or post. Occasionally I've signed the wrong name. Oops!

If that was all I had to worry about, it might not be too bad. But I also have a full time day job (for which I work a lot of overtime) and I have a big family still at home. My youngest two are in their teens so I don't have to worry about diapers and my kids help a lot around the house.

As blessed as I am to have their help and as much as it helps me, they still want and need a lot of attention.

Last week, my younger daughter got upset with me as I was writing. She started crying because she wanted my undivided attention. It wasn't sufficient this time that we were together at Borders, sharing the same table as I wrote and she read. She wanted to do something else, something that didn't include my books, my computer, my pen and paper.

I was already stressing that I had a lot to do and I was behind. I was doing my best to set up a blog tour, answer interview questions, fill out a cover art request form, and hoped to start the revision. As of the time I'm writing this, I haven't been able to touch the revision.

I KNOW I'll look back at this time and wish it were back. When my daughter's grown and perhaps married and moved away. When the rest of my family is also gone. When I'm all alone except perhaps for my husband and the day job. Knowing that, I packed up the computer and said goodbye to it for the day. I spent the weekend with my kids having fun. My editor has children of her own so I'm sure she'll understand if my revision is a couple days later than usual. Our kids won't stay young forever, our loved ones may not be with us forever, either.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday Spotlight: Ashley Ladd

A lot of my stories are cathartic

A lot of my stories are cathartic. I haven't reached the age I am without having a few issues.

I may not have realized it at first, but some of my stories revisited issues in my life - a boyfriend who told me he was bi and wanted to keep his boyfriend and me at the same time. A rift with my father that affected me deeply - and then the painful process of reconciliation and rebuilding trust. I lost a lot of weight a few years ago and my heroine at the time felt like she was my partner in that journey as she was also losing weight. Not just a little but a lot. It wasn't easy to change my lifestyle and it helped me to write about it. It helped to inspire me to achieve my goal and get through the rough parts.

And now, I'm facing one of the largest issues of my life and I want to write about it. But I'm not sure if I should write about it, or if anyone would be interested. However, as I read over other spotlights here on Whipped Cream, I was surprised to see a romance writer writing about transgender romance. I don't mean that to be offensive. I've just never heard about them before which is probably surprising as I write so much M/M, MMF, and MFM erotic romance.

As I mentioned a person very very close to me has just announced he is a transgender female. I'm not even sure I have the term right. I'm still in the beginning stages of learning about all this. This person just came out to me. The same day I attended the counselor's appointment with this person, he started his hormone therapy. Eventually he plans to have sex reassignment surgery (SRS). He's not sure when he'll start dressing as a woman or when he'll change his name.

Right now, I'm still trying to process this change. Whereas I am supportive, or at least trying to be supportive, I'm still confused. I'm not sure what I feel. I'm not sure how to react.

Perhaps this is the best time to pen such a story to capture all the emotions on both sides as they're flying high and all over the place.

This person means a lot to me and no matter his (or should I say "her") sex is, I love him (or do I mean her?). He's still in love with his partner and vice versa. They're going to stay together. He still loves all the same people and things he did before. He's still the same person even if I didn't realize this one thing about him that was just revealed.

Excerpt From: Crazy in Love - released March 22, 2010

A mixture of awe, disbelief, enlightenment, and grief washing over her, Kacey Carlisle poured over her great-great-grandmother’s pension claim records. The ancient handwriting was almost illegible in places yet it was clear—her grandfather, August, hadn’t left his wife and family as the descendants had believed all these years. Her grandmother, Emma, had kicked him out.

Emma had sworn under deposition she’d feared for her life after August had returned home from the Civil War, physically and mentally ill. Other acquaintances had also testified under oath that August had suffered from crazy spells, that he’d thought spirits were chasing him. Others claimed August believed Emma to have been unfaithful. For sure, he’d been a tortured soul.

Kacey’s head spun so she took another sip of her soda as she tried to make sense of her readings. Clearly, there were two sides. Still, she sympathised with Emma. Her own husband, Heath, while not insane or abusive, had been ignoring her for a long time and so her thoughts had turned more and more to divorce. It broke her heart, but she could no longer deny it. Heath had fallen out of love with her. If she paraded naked before him, he’d only tell her to quit acting silly and stop blocking the TV.

Oh, yeah. She empathised with her ancestor. Men could be real shits. Who needed them?

Her heart cracked a little more. Who was she fooling? She still loved her husband, desperately, madly. Insanely. At least, they didn’t have kids who would get hurt.

Miffed at herself, she chewed her lower lip. So it would seem she was insane, too. Who would hang on when the situation was so hopeless?

Only a crazy person. Maybe she’d inherited Grandpa August’s crazy streak.

”It’s late. Come to bed,” Heath muttered on a growl. Barefoot, he padded through the hall and scowled at her. He scrubbed the heel of his hand over the beginnings of new stubble on his chin. “I’ll lose my job if you keep me awake all night. I won’t be able to function at work tomorrow.”

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday Spotlight: Ashley Ladd

Romance Writers' Conferences

The best, most memorable romance writer's conference I ever attended was at a haunted hotel in French Lick, Indiana about ten years ago.

It was one of the few, maybe the only, conference put on by WRW (World Romance Writers).

A small group of us gathered at the hotel, but it was an intimate one. (No, not THAT way.)

Most of us were already pretty well acquainted online but we got to know each other much better that weekend. Scaring each other and getting scared out of our wits did the trick pretty well.

We begged the staff to take us on a ghost tour, or maybe it was more of a ghost hunt. Legend had it there was a red elevator that went to the haunted floor that was closed off because of the hostile ghost. We searched through the entire hotel and finally found it in the basement. It turned out that elevator stopped across the hall from my room, so I was freaked out. Of course I was already freaked out when I was alone as parts of the hotel reminded me of the one in Stephen King's "The Shining".

As our group headed up to the haunted floor, my friend's husband decided to jump at us and yell "boo" when we exited the elevator. I jumped almost to the ceiling of the elevator. I think we all did. I'm sure our screams were heard in the hotel's other buildings.

We also held a giant pajama party one night. We had a casino. One of the keynote speakers also read our tarot cards.

One of the things I found really cool, too, is that it was the same hotel my dad's parents used to frequent for vacation. And it was the same hotel Al Capone escaped to when things got too hot in Chicago.

Some day, I'll write a ghost story set in this hotel. It's so full of history and it's so charming, despite or maybe because of the ghosts.

This summer, I'll be attending Lori Foster's Readers and Writers' conference for the second time. Again, it's a conference near Cincinnati which is my home town. As I work full time and have children still at home, I try to make my vacations do double duty - a romance writers' conference combined with a visit to my family back home.

I'm looking forward to this conference as two years ago I attended and loved it. Unfortunately there were no ghosts to hunt (at least none I know about), but I made several friends I look forward to seeing again that I've kept in touch with. One is my awesome critique partner.

The last time, four of us went to see "Sex in the City - The Movie" at the theater. We're just in time I think, to catch the sequel together. I know at least two of us from that group will be attending. And my critique partner.

This year, alas, Lori's conference is the only one I will attend in person. But I will be attending at least two online conferences as well. We writers who have more than one job and/or kids at home have limited time. One day, when the kids are grown and I can afford to travel more, I'll attend more conferences again. For now, I can't wait to attend this one.

The ghost of Kacey's crazy great-grandfather threatens her life but just might save her marriage.

When the ghost of Kacey's crazy great-grandfather mistakes her for her great-grandmother, he threatens to kill her for cheating on him. Meanwhile her husband, Heath, finds out she believes he's fallen out of love with her and he sets out to show her just how much he loves her. However, he fears she's crazy as she claims to see homicidal ghosts.

Although Kacey longs to save her marriage, she doesn't know if she can stay with a man who doesn't believe her and thinks she's insane.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Naked Hiking by Giselle Renarde

I read a brief news article a little while ago that really got me wondering. It was about a surge of arrests in Switzerland when groups were caught in the act of a sport I’d never even conceived of: Naked Hiking.

Naked Hiking? I thought. Seriously? What appeal could anyone possibly find in traipsing nude through poison ivy, thistles, and stinging nettles? I couldn’t imagine the itch. Well, my opinion changed last week when Tim and I headed into the woods for an invigorating ramble.

We were deep out in the forest, far from people and concerns and interruptions. The weather was warm—hot, really—and everything was green, lush, and fragrant. Somehow, we found ourselves in paradise: a perfect, spontaneous garden enclosed by ivy and trees. Soft grasses, moss, and little purple violets carpeted the incredible spot. When I looked up, a thousand shades of green glowed against a sky as blue as Tim’s eyes.

Suddenly, I felt drops against my face. Sun shower! There was something paradoxical about a sun shower. How could the sky be shimmering with sunlight as it poured with rain?

I don’t know why, but this mundanely cosmic event inspired me somehow. I started by taking off my shoes and my socks, then my shorts and tank top. There was no context for this action beyond wanting to be naked with Tim in the sunny downpour.

In my black cotton sports bra and panties, I turned to Tim. Without a word, he followed suit, stripping off his T-shirt and shorts. It made me smile that we were coordinated: he was wearing black cotton too. But not for long, as I ripped off his jockeys and he tore my bra over my head. When I’d squirmed out of my panties, we threw all our clothes in a bag and out of the rain.

The cool drops of water were so refreshing against my skin that I opened my mouth to catch them on my tongue. Tim laughed at me, but he did the same, lightly touching the wet skin of my arms. The leaves and branches overhead sagged. The rain came down harder, nourishing the earth as it revived us.

Tim and I looked at each others’ wet bodies like people who’d spend their entire lives in the desert, wanting water, wanting cool. It started to pour, and the sky turned grey. My hair was soaked and weighted. It brought me to life.

I jumped into Tim’s arms, wrapping mine around his neck and my legs around his waist. His hard cock couldn’t wait any longer, and I was wet as rain. He penetrated my pussy energetically as we kissed. Supporting me in his strong arms, he bounced my body against his. With rain pounding against us, I rode his cock in disbelief that he was still standing. Only the strongest of legs could hold up the two of us.

“Sit down,” I begged him. “Let me take over.”

He sank down to the spongy wet moss and I rode him some more while he played with my rain-soaked breasts. When my thighs got too tired to go on, I fell onto his wet chest and flipped him on top of me. He thrust inside, harder and faster as the rain pelted down. I felt like I might sink into the wet soil with Tim on top of me, pounding me into the ground. Tim has a knack for getting me off, and when we came together our orgasm attracted Mother Nature herself.

As we lay panting in each other’s ears, the rain let up and the sun came out to play. We stayed together, speechless, body on body and hand in hand. Nature showered us with white butterflies, like confetti at a wedding of souls.

“Do we have to go back?” I asked those butterflies.

Tim answered for them: “I’m afraid so.” We stared for a while at the plump leaves drying in the sun like stained glass in our very own cathedral.

When we got up to retrieve our clothing from the bag we’d hidden, Tim and I looked at each other and I could tell we were having the same idea.

“You don’t want to get dressed yet, do you?” he asked.

“Not even a little bit,” I admitted. The sensation of mild sunlight drying my rain-soaked skin was almost as incredible as the orgasm Tim and I had shared. “What would you say to a bit of naked hiking?”

About the Author: Eroticist, environmentalist and pastry enthusiast Giselle Renarde is a proud Canadian, committed volunteer, and supporter of the arts. For Giselle, a perfect day involves watching a snowstorm rage outside with a cup of tea in one hand and a chocolate truffle in the other. Ms Renarde lives across from a park with two bilingual cats who sleep on her head. Giselle Renarde is author of Cunning Little Vixens,Tangled Roots, The Birthday Gift, and Kandinsky's Shirt Button (eXcessica), Beneath the Ice and Third Rail (loveyoudivine) and short story contributor to numerous anthologies. For more information on Giselle and her work, visit her website at or her blog, Donuts & Desires,

Author Interview: Ceclia Tan

Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome Cecilia Tan.

When Cecilia was growing up, she thought she wanted to either Roger Zelazny or Marion Zimmer Bradley. She read all of their books and started writing, as kids will, her own fantasy epics. When she was around 13, even though she didn't have any experience of sex nor had she really read any, she started writing some erotic-themed pieces. Then she started writing erotic love stories for her friends, pairing them with famous celebrities.

Once she got to college, she was told she couldn't write "genre" fiction, but since she has already made up her mind she was going to become a science fiction/fantasy writer, she took the writing classes to hone her craft, but wrote her own stuff in her journal to, as she puts it, "hone my vision."

"When I got out of college and sat down at my computer to 'start writing for real,' the first real story that popped out was Telepaths Don't Need Safewords. The erotica just flowed naturally with the science fiction/fantasy. That was in 1991. I said, hm, maybe I am onto something here? At the time paranormal romance hadn't taken off yet, the science fiction magazines were averse to anything sexual at all, and the porn magazines wouldn't take a story that had a science fiction plot. So I had this great story and nowhere to publish it."

This was the very reason she started Circlet Press—to publish that particular story and two more she wrote which were in the same vein.

"On the Internet there's a saying that 'you're never the only one who likes____.' If you're turned on by something, chances are there's someone else out there who is, too, and via the Internet you can find them," she explained."I thought, I can't be the only one who likes to mix fantasy and erotica together, am I? So I started this publishing company and sure enough, I was NOT the only person who liked to mix them! I started getting manuscripts from writers all over the country who had erotic sf and erotic fantasy that they couldn't sell, and bookstores all over the country started selling our books. Telepaths… eventually sold about 4000 copies before I put it out of print, which is a lot considering that Circlet Press was, and still is, one of the smallest publishing houses ever. "

Telepaths Don't Need Safewords caused a bit of friction between Cecilia and her mother when it was first published.

"At the time I was already out to her as bisexual, but not as kinky," Cecilia remembered. "So I waited like 8 months after publishing it to finally send her a copy. I get this phone message a few days later. You know how you can just tell somehow that your mother is mad at you? Her message sounded totally normal to anyone else, but I knew I was in deep trouble. So I call her back and I get this pre-prepared lecture that she's clearly been practicing in her head for hours since leaving the message about how she didn't spend her youth fighting for civil rights in the South so that I could grow up to eroticize slavery. At which point I said, but mom, did you actually read the book? She had to admit that she had only read a little of it. I suggested she actually read the whole thing before making judgments, and she said okay. Meanwhile, our conversation went on about other things, politics, movies, the usual stuff, and then she started to gripe about my dad. Which somehow opened the door to me explaining the entire basis of consensual BDSM being mutual respect and how consensuality requires both partners to communicate openly about their needs and desires... the whole works. After which she said, 'Oh. I think I understand your book now.'

"She's been my biggest fan ever since. A few years later HarperCollins published my collection of erotic short stories, BLACK FEATHERS, and she threw a huge book party for me in her back yard in New Jersey, with a party tent and caterers and a live band and everything. She invited all our relatives, even the obscure ones, as well as all my old English teachers from my junior high and high school, our family doctor, chiropractor, her tennis pro, all our old family friends, you name it. I sold and autographed about 75 copies of the book that night. I have no idea if most of them actually dared to read the book, but no one would ever dare say anything bad about it. Ultimately my mom supports me writing erotica as part of who I am the same way I'm sure she would have supported me if I had wanted to marry a same-sex partner."

Cecilia says the love quotient is, to her, what distinguishes erotica from erotic romance.

"There's a lot of really good, high quality, enjoyable erotica out there where there's no love story, or where the love between the characters is really in the background. Erotica can be celebrating the female body, and empowering the reader to pursue pleasure, without the sex being linked to love. For it to be erotic romance, though, it has to be about the heart as well as about pleasure. It has to have both elements," she said. "The word 'pornography' has almost no meaning to me, or if I have to give it one, it's a negative one. Anything that someone doesn't like because it turns other people (or even that person themselves!) on is therefore pornographic to that person. By that definition, I think there are TV commercials that are pornographic. When Fox News runs an expose on a swinger's club and violates everyone's privacy, that's pornographic. So to a really prudish person, even the most mild HEA romance with just one kiss at the end could be pornographic to them. Everyone draws the line in a different place, I'm sure. It's like that old George Carlin routine: anyone who's driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone driving faster than you is a maniac!"

To Cecilia, one of the most common misconceptions about erotica is that it is somehow anti-woman or anti-feminist.

"To me, it's very clear that the rise of eroticism in romance and women's erotic fiction and the rise in women controlling, understanding, and celebrating our own sexuality more and more are linked together," she told me. "There is no 'women's liberation' if we don't take charge of our own sexuality and our own pleasure."

Cecilia loves to read and travel, and most of the ideas for her stories come from her own life experiences.

"I don't just mean that about sex, but about cultures and cuisines and cities to visit. I like to use real restaurants in my books, and real cities I've visited. And then there is the sex itself. I know some writers fantasize and write about the sex they would 'never' do in real life, but I take a more hands-on approach. I've been going to dungeons and BDSM play parties for almost 20 years now. I've been blessed to have lovers who were happy to experiment with me, too, for the sake of finding out if something is fun or hot. They've been uninhibited enough to actually go through with making an ice dildo, for example, and seeing if it really worked. (It did.) To try out different toys or positions or kinds of clothing. The main thing is not to get caught up in 'sex as research' which would be boring, ultimately. It's not like I say, hmm, I want to do a story with such-and-such in it... Honey? Will you come in here and try this? It's more the other way around, that the interesting sexual experiences and experiments I've had end up showing up in my fiction later, not always in the ways I expect."

You can keep up with Cecilia on her blog,

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Spotlight: Lee Rowan

Getting down to business: shut up and kiss him, already!

My friend Erastes went through a long stretch of writing a story with two proper British gentlemen who talked one another's ears off but, she lamented, could not seem to shut up and get down to what they were there for.

This happens—but I don't think it's exactly the Union Jack so much as the time and setting. In historicals set in an era where being caught in sodomy can be fatal, a man with any sense isn't going to just charge on in without feeling his way—verbally—before committing himself.

In my most recent book, Tangled Web, one of the main characters, Brendan, is a young man just out of college who has had a physically exciting affair with his college roommate but realizes that guy's not someone he can depend on for much of anything. Philip is an older man, a widower, who had a crush on his commanding officer while in the army, but has never had sex of any sort with another man. Brendan's absolutely smitten, but doesn't think he has a chance, while Philip is distressed at how much he has come to enjoy Brendan's company.

A sexual connection would mean complete disgrace and probably death if they were discovered. Brendan doesn't want to sully Philip with his desires, and Philip only belatedly becomes aware that he's got such desires at all. They are both honourable gentlemen, they have considerable self-control, and it's almost three-quarters of the way through the book before they manage to kiss. It's a stolen kiss, at that, and Brendan's running on liquid courage, and even so, he backs off immediately--

Carlisle pulled a second chair close, retrieved his own glass, and took possession of the decanter as subtly as he could. "Young man, that was a remarkably foolish thing to do."

"I couldn't agree more, sir. You are kind to call it merely foolish."

Yes, Carlisle thought, a little drunk, but only to the point of in vino veritas. "Why?"

"Because I am a—a lover of men, and I have never felt about anyone the way I feel about you." Brendan bit his lip. "I might plead that I did it because I had had too much to drink…" he shrugged, recognizing the weakness of his own argument. "But I drank deliberately, to get my courage up. And as my mother would say, a second mistake does not repair the first."

Carlisle took that as an opportunity to stopper the bottle and set it aside. He thought he might regain control of the situation with a fatherly lecture, but he could feel the ground slipping away beneath his feet. "Some things can only be learned as the result of making mistakes. And very few of us are disciplined enough to avoid succumbing from time to time. What matters most is the company one keeps when drinking."

"Yes, I know that now." Brendan looked down at Carlisle's hand where it lay in his lap. "I feel quite safe now, in your hands."

"As well you may," the older man said, "because if you begin to look too fuddled, as you do now, I would lock up the bottle and send you off to bed."

Brendan reached over and slipped his hand into Carlisle's. "Alone?" he asked.

And they still go on talking for a page or so, all the way upstairs—and there are more complications after that, because there is so much at risk.

I don't think that much conversation would be necessary in a contemporary story—certainly not for characters in an England that has legal same-sex partnerships, for men who know that they're gay and know what (and whom) they want. In my contemporary Walking Wounded, the characters met, clicked, and:

It had been so easy, so natural. They were sitting on the sofa, watching the late sports news—nothing important to either of them, and they talked over the news reader’s monologue. It was the usual caution at first, hints about pubs and films, the little signs and countersigns of establishing gay identity, until Kevin said, quite frankly, “Why don’t you just ask? I don’t have a girlfriend—have had, but probably won’t again. Don’t have a boyfriend, either.”

The unapologetic challenge in those beautiful eyes captured John’s heart, then and there. He’d always been shy, never good at quick clever lines, but he heard himself say, “Mind if I apply for the position?”

And Kevin returned, grinning, “Which position? Or are you versatile?”

“Side by side,” he’d answered, embarrassing himself again.

Kevin’s smile lit up the room. “I’d like that.”

John smiled back, reached up tentatively to touch his face, and closed his eyes as Kevin leaned in for a kiss.

It had been like coming home. The taste of his lips, the warmth of that strong, muscled body, even his scent—it all held a faint familiarity, as though this were something they had done many times before.

Nothing simpler. What a difference a century or two makes!

And yet… as someone who has found that a good friendship can make for a solid partnership when that friendship catches fire… in some ways I think there's a lot to be said for the tactful, tentative gentlemen.

Copyright Lee Rowan, March 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thursday Spotlight: Lee Rowan

Collaboration—I Do! and I Do Two

As a woman who's married to another woman, I have a serious personal stake in the issue of marriage equality, and like many other people gay, straight, and everything in between, I was sad and angry to see the forces of prejudice push Proposition 8 into effect in California, and similar fear-and-loathing campaigns succeed in other states. Yes, my wife and I are in Canada, but all things being equal—what a different interpretation the phrase has in this context!—we'd rather have been able to stay in the country where we were born, and enjoy equal protection under the law, as the Constitution promises.

Angry and frustrated, I was surprised when Alex Beecroft suggested, somewhat tentatively, that a fund-raising anthology might be a way to help support the fight for marriage equality. I offered to help in any way possible, and soon found myself working on the project with Alex, Charlie Cochrane, and Erastes—reading submissions sent from all over the place, because it was clear that an awful lot of writers wanted to do something.

It's an interesting experience, being part of a team that's working for something bigger than any one person. The first anthology was inventing the wheel—keeping a log of all stories donated, and then, once it was clear there were more submissions than would possibly fit, selecting not only by quality of writing, but by other factors that would reflect the diversity of the glbt 'rainbow' – we had only a couple of stories with characters of color, and relatively few f/f submissions. We found ourselves in agreement most of the time—surprisingly often, I think, considering that we each have very different writing styles. The writers involved were incredibly selfless; we got some wonderful work and no artistic 'temperament' that I can remember. Everyone wanted to do something to make a difference.

I Do! was a success, in terms of a small-press book. Published by MLR Press, it has raised well over $1000. Reviews were outstanding.

For the second anthology, Erastes bowed out due to time constraints, and we invited a terrific new writer, Sophia Deri-Bowen, to join the selection committee. Sophia was a surprise—not in her writing, I'd seen her earlier work, but her very presence. She contributed a superb story and kept the lineup organized with her amazing spreadsheet-fu, but I think her most significant contribution was her point of view—something we didn't know we needed. Alex, Charlie and I are somewhat older—to put it plainly, I'm old enough to be Sophia's mother. Hearing the opinions and ideas of a member of a new generation made me realize how different things look to someone who did not grow up in a world where the only 'normal' orientation was heterosexual. Any number of surveys show that equality is eventually going to happen because the majority of younger people simply do not see same-sex partnerships as some kind of terrifying threat. It's an eye-opener, and a cause for rejoicing.

And for a second time, we had that same terrific synergy. There were complications, of course—Yahoo mail managed to lose a couple of contributions, and at least half a dozen communications both from us and from writers—but overall, the biggest difficulties came from the tight timeline for getting the book out on Valentine's Day (with MLR's Kris Jacen editing practically down to the wire.)

Speeches always seem to include the old 'honor and privilege' line, but when it comes to this project, I have to say that being a part of this project really has been both. Coming off the Olympics, I'm struck by all the energy expended in fostering competition, and all the hostility on the part of some fans. I'm fed up with competition. I think that there's so much more that can be accomplished with cooperation, and the I Do project is living proof of that.

Thanks, Alex—and everyone else who joined in, and anyone who supports equality by picking up one of these books!

Copyright Lee Rowan, March 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday Spotlight: Lee Rowan

Reading: the old familiars

I find myself re-reading more these days, and picking up new books less often. Part of this is because I'm in the middle of writing a book, and for some reason it's easier to stay focused on my own plotline when I'm not feeding my subconscious with new stories. Those books—Ruth Sims' The Phoenix, Don Hardy's Lovers Knot, the newest books from Charlie Cochrane and Alex Beecroft—those are sitting on my shelf or hard drive, waiting for a post-partum binge.

But I can't write while I'm eating, and after hours at the keyboard the spring dries up, my characters sit down and refuse to budge, and I need someone to tell me a story—not a new one, but one that's familiar, like visiting with a friend even when you know how the conversation is likely to go. Mealtime is reading time—I firmly believe that reading aids the digestive process. Never mind the TV, just give me something to prop on my book.

I lean heavily toward mysteries—whether it's true that the whodunnit is a morality play where justice triumphs and the bad guys are held accountable (so delightfully unlike real life) or just that I enjoy a puzzle, that genre is the top of my re-reading list. If this house ever collapses, it will probably be from the weight of all our books—over two tons of them, according to the moving company that had to lug them all up here.

Some of my favorites:

The Sherlock Holmes mysteries by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. If Irene Adler was The Woman to Holmes, he is The Detective to much of the reading world.

Elizabeth Peters, whose series heroines are so much larger than life that they could not possibly be restricted to a single book. Amelia Peabody and Jacqueline Kirby are the kind of women who are so outrageously outspoken (and always right, at least in their own minds) that they'd probably be very difficult to deal with in person. But on the printed page… priceless!

Joan Hess has two mystery series. One of them stars a librarian who is such a doormat I wanted to slap her after a couple of books. But the other series, featuring small-town cop Arly Hanks, is a gem. If my own dad hadn't been born in just such a small Arkansas town, I'd think her fictional town of Maggody, sort of a run-down Mayberry RFD, was hyperbole. But… well, Hess is an Arkansawyer herself, and I've met the sort of people she writes about (some of them in my own family). There's a little exaggeration for effect, but not that much, and a delicious skewering of religious hypocrisy and small-town bullies, both male and female. Hess also has a knack for showing the good side of her characters—most of them—and some of them rise to the occasion with an unexpected warmth and honesty when the chips are down. And these are good mysteries, with fair clues sprinkled throughout.

Dr. Gideon Oliver was detecting fictitious crime from skeletal remains before "Bones" was a twinkle in television's eye, and Aaron Elkins has taken his forensic anthropologist from a grieving widower to a married university professor whose ears perk up like a tracking dog when someone calls him in to inspect a pile of bones. Elkins is one of a very small number of male writers I've run across able to write a male character who is both happily married and in love with his wife, and writes the female lead, Julie Oliver, as a competent professional who contributes to the solution of the mystery. The ongoing supporting cast is also a delight, and the technical details always have to be explained to one of them, so the reader is gently instructed without ever being lectured or talked down to.

Robert B. Parker. Sigh. Rest in peace, sir, and thank you so much. Another man who wrote an intelligent, sexy adult male who could maintain a long-term, monogamous relationship with an intelligent adult female. The books are better than any of the TV or film adaptations, though I liked his Spenser and Jesse Stone series more than his Sunny Randall series. I was hoping Parker would have a PG Wodehouse lifespan, but he left us at only 77… the books are eminently re-readable, though, and a bounty of them—eighty or so, a superb lifetime's accomplishment.

Dorothy L. Sayers was, by all accounts, a very difficult person. But her craftsmanship was first-rate, and the Lord Peter Wimsey mystery series is, I think, some of the best detective fiction ever written. Stylish and sophisticated, they give a wonderful sense of their place and time, as well as an interesting look at the changing relations between men and women in the early part of the 20th century.

Charlotte MacLeod (aka Alisa Craig) wrote a string of slightly screwball mysteries, four different series' worth. They're well-crafted mysteries and she has good points to make, but trying to describe any of them in a short space is difficult. Try "Rest You Merry," or "The Grub-and-Stakers Move a Mountain" to see if they're to your taste.

Rex Stout was a mathematical prodigy whose life was as interesting as that of his best-loved sleuth, Nero Wolfe. He wrote some 70-odd books between 1934 and his death in the 1970's, and his narrator, Wolfe's leg-man Archie Goodwin, is the archetypal wisecracking private eye. Good, compact mysteries, always worth another read.

But woman does not live by mysteries alone. I could survive for a year with nothing to read but Lord of the Rings, the collected works of Terry Pratchett, a set of Heyer's Regency romances, the Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian, and Lois McMasters Bujold's Barrayar series—intelligent sci-fi that has all the trappings of space adventure but also solid science, a critical look at serious ethical issues, and a cast of characters, male and female, who are three-dimensional, complete human beings. Bujold's been winning awards practically since she first started writing, and she deserves all of them.

Oh, and of course there's PG Wodehouse, Mark Twain, Richard Armour… and I could go on, but had better rein in my enthusiasm and get back to my long-suffering WIP.

Copyright Lee Rowan, March 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tuesday Spotlight: Lee Rowan

Gardening: Seedlings and Other Beginnings

Five days to germination! Last Friday I looked at my seasonal indicators (the long-range forecast, the fur flying off the dog and cats in response to the longer days, and the empty plastic box from the organic baby spinach that was on sale at the farm market), and knew The Time Had Come. It was time to hunt for the peat pot starters left over from last year.

One of my grandfathers was a farmer and the other was a gardener, so I come by it honestly. I'm not the by-the-book sort of plant nanny, but even during the many years I lived in rentals, I always found someplace to put a pot of tomatoes. What's summer without the real thing? And in the decades I lived in Ohio, I got reasonably good at the basics.

But life is all about change. I fell in love with an old friend, and this time it was the real thing… and politics got ugly, and Ohio passed a version of Proposition 8 that would invalidate our attempts to establish legal protection for our home and our right to care for each other. The prospect of legal marriage, combined with the awful downturn in Ohio's economy, made Canada look like the way to go. We applied for immigration and were accepted. A job turned up for my wife—a very good job.

We made the jump.

We moved to Ontario a couple of years ago, too late to start a garden when we arrived. The new place was a letdown, in any case. Our yard in Ohio had been a treasure, left to run wild by its aging owner. The five years we spent was mostly a matter of discovery under the hundred-year old ash trees—a hardy raspberry patch that had been mowed down by the realtor sprang back up, the cherry trees we planted bore fruit after only a year, and all sorts of wildflowers, even trillium and dutchman's breeches, appeared in the shaded nooks and corners. The little ecosystem lured both hawks and hummingbirds.

The yard in Ontario had … a regulation horseshoe pitch. No full-grown trees, just a dark maple sapling and a weeping mulberry in the front yard, neither of them as tall as the one-story house. And the house behind us looks like a barracks—grey brick, grey wall, faded grey cedar fence. We'd moved in a housing crunch, with a fifty-pound dog who had to be carried in and out, and two days to find a home. We had to settle for what we could get.

So we put in trees the following summer—not much more than a gesture, since I'm not likely to live to see a baby oak grow up, but nothing else would screen the barracks or its rather surly inhabitants. You move to another country, you expect some things to be less than you'd hoped, but this house, this yard… it was all 'settle for.' The only thing I could really look forward to was gardening. There was plenty of sunshine, at least, and a big yard. Big and empty; I told myself it was full of potential.

The first spring was late due to heavy snow, the last of which melted in mid-April. When the ground thawed we dug up an 8x4 foot stretch of lawn, set up a raised bed, and dumped in the compost that had been collecting since we got there. I managed to raise a beautiful bunch of Brandywine heritage tomatoes. Massive and firm, most of them were at least a pound apiece, great for eating fresh or cooking down into sauce for the freezer. It looked to be a wonderful harvest.

And then the plague struck.

Ever hear of Season End Blight? You have if you're a gardener. The disease, the same virus that caused the great potato famine in Ireland in the 1800's, hit tomatoes all over North America in late summer of 2008. It takes a lovely, nearly ripe tomato and turns it into a mottled, grey-brown, inedible mess. We had picked maybe half a dozen ripe Brandywines before the blight hit, and lost probably a hundred pounds in less than a week. And the virus stays in the soil; we can't put tomatoes in that bed ever again. "Disappointed" is not the word for it… the only thing that lessened the blow was knowing that almost everyone in the area had the same problem; it wasn't just my unfamiliarity with the local climate.

Last summer I was still too disheartened to bother with much in the way of expanding the garden, but I put a few tomatoes in other spots in the yard, hoping the blight wouldn't spread. I didn't get them in soon enough, though, and it was a long cool spring… the second year, we lost most of the crop either to frost or rot, waiting for them to ripen indoors. The one good note was the cherry tomatoes—hundreds of them, and while I must've looked silly wrestling the oversized tub in from the front step when the nights got cold in the spring, it was worth it when we had the first ripe, home-grown, tiny but delicious tomatoes by the first of July.

A few other things looked hopeful last summer. The pussywillow I started from a cutting is taller than I am, from last summer's growth. And the daffodil bulbs and iris we planted came back and multiplied. We lost two miniature roses; two survived. But the birds started coming to the feeder, and so have chipmunks. And a hawk. And a hummingbird.

This year we seem to be getting milder weather and an early spring, but this is Canada, and I'm not going to be caught by Ma Nature's April Fool's joke. A real greenhouse or cold frame is on my wish list, but I went ahead and splurged on a plastic tent 'greenhouse' that can be set out on the porch. At least if it has to come indoors at night, it's got wheels.

So it's time again. I started a set of a dozen Brandywine seeds on March 5 in a plastic salad box with a fold-down lid, and put it in the big south window in the living room. Five days later, one peat pot had two tiny green leaves, and two more seedlings were poking above the earth. Today it's three seedlings and two more showing. Outside, the winter's snow is melting.

I guess if the plants can keep trying, so can I.

Copyright Lee Rowan, March 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday Spotlight: Lee Rowan

Writing a series: Balancing Act

My current WIP, Home is the Sailor, the fourth and possibly last novel in the Royal Navy series, is giving me my first serious deadline problem. There are lots of reasons, including the cumulative stresses from a major move and the seemingly interminable grind of getting my books back into print after the past year's game of musical publishers, but there's something else: I know that no matter what I do with this story arc, it's going to tick off some readers. But I'm equally certain that if I try to write what I think people expect (and there's always a good chance my guess is wrong), I'll be selling my characters short. I don't want to do that.

Will Marshall and David Archer have occupied most of my published work—Ransom, Winds of Change, Eye of the Storm, all novels, and two novellas—Castaway and See Paris and Die (in the latter they are major supporting characters). A few short stories are floating around, too, that will eventually be collected in the revised Sail Away, and another novella in the works that deals with the 'lost years' while they were shipmates but not yet lovers.

And when characters spend that much time floating around in one's head, they do begin to acquire a sort of reality. No, I don't hear them 'talk' to me; they don't have tantrums—they are fictional, after all—but I do have an obligation not to twist them out of shape. If you've documented an individual, human or otherwise—let's say a dog—and you have established that this dog is female, a German Shepherd/Chow cross, has a blocky Chow body but Shepherd coloring, is brave but stubborn, and loves smaller dogs but tends to be overly assertive with big ones, you can't write that same dog into a story and have it be a male Dalmatian and a complete coward who bullies little dogs. An established character has to act in a way that's consistent with his or her history.

When I wrote Ransom, I had a vague notion that David Archer would not spend his whole life in the Navy. He is a natural rebel at heart, and as a bullied younger son he has a tendency to sympathize with the underdog. This is a problematic attitude in a society that cherishes its hierarchy and believes that the best use of a nation's resources is to reinforce the status quo and keep those on top firmly in control, and the underdog in his place. It's a particularly difficult personality for a military officer tasked with enforcing those values. Davy can do the job, but he's come to the point where he's not willing to make the effort unless it means he can serve under Will, because as far as he's concerned Will is the only reason for remaining in the Navy.

Will has surprised me a bit. He's the sort of person who generally accepts 'the way it is' and adapts himself to the system. He doesn't reach out to others easily, either—he is so very shy in personal matters that he might have gone to his grave a virgin if circumstances had not pushed him and Davy together, and though he's recognized their love as a good thing despite social prohibition, he's far more uncertain emotionally. Will got a bad shock in Winds of Change, and he has never quite recovered—he may never recover completely. (He had a bit of a shock in Eye of the Storm, too, when he discovered that he could find someone besides Davy attractive!) But in Eye of the Storm, set during the year-long break in the Napoleonic Wars, they're ashore and trying to deal with the changes in their lives, and figure out a way that they can be together. If he couldn't serve with Will, Davy would leave the Navy altogether, and at some level Will would actually prefer to see that happen—not because he doesn't love Davy, but because he nearly lost him and is terrified that it could happen again. If it did, that would break him. And I don't want to take this series in that direction.

What I'm attempting to do in Home... is to let them find a solution to this, but they're seriously distracted by a family tragedy; the Home of the title is Grenbrook Manor, David Archer's family seat. When he brings Will back for a visit, they're immediately drawn into a problem that is going to change Davy's life forever. That will to have a major impact on Will's life, too, no matter what choices they make.

And I know that no matter how I resolve this story, there will be readers who want them to just go on sailing forever, and will be upset if I do anything else. On the other hand, I really want to give these characters a believable happy ending, and a quick look at the casualties among officers of His Majesty's Navy suggests that if I send them sailing off into the sunset—into another decade of battle—it's likely to be a pretty short trip.

So… I've just got to stay honest, stick with the story and hope to come up with a solution that will make Will, Davy, and the reader equally satisfied. Or content, at least; when they get a little time to themselves, the boys can manage the 'satisfaction' part well enough.

Copyright Lee Rowan, March 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010

It Can Be Done by Victoria Blisse

“I had almost forgotten what the sun looked like. Thank goodness spring is here,” Debbie sighed.

“Yeah, you get grumpy in the winter,” Ed replied, “I can see why animals hibernate through it.”

“Hey,” Debbie thumped his arm, “I don’t get that bad.”

“Yeah, yeah you do,” he laughed, “It’s a good job I love you, really it is.”

“Oh, you’re lucky the sun is out and the flowers are blooming,” Debbie gestures around at the daffodils and crocuses decorating the forest trail, “and I have no violent urges at all or you’d have been in trouble, bub.”

“And that is why I didn’t bring it up in the dead of winter,” he laughed, “ha, you walked into that.”

“Well, yes, all right, good point. Now hush up and let me enjoy the sunshine and the flowers and the rising sap of spring, all right?”

They walked together in silence for a while, hand in hand, drinking in the bright colours of spring. It was their favourite forest walk and they’d not visited in many months.

“It’s quiet today,” Ed said as they walked through a dense area of trees.

“Yeah, it is. We’ve not seen a soul yet, have we?”

“We’re all alone.” He grinned and pulled Debbie into his embrace. She squealed, but her cries were muffled by his hard, sizzling kiss, “we could get up to all sorts, couldn’t we?”

“Well, in theory.” Debbie smiled, cupping her husband’s face with her hand. “But although it’s spring I still have several layers on and I sure as hell am not stripping off right now even if it is quiet. It’s too cold. We’ll be home soon then I’ll strip off for you.”

“You don’t need to take off all your clothes,” he replied with a wink. “In fact, you don’t have to take off any of your clothes.”

“Oh, come off it,” Debbie laughed. “You can’t fuck me through all these layers.”

“I bet you I can. I’ll do the dishes for a week if I can’t.”

Debbie thought for a moment and decided it was a win-win situation. “All right then, super stud, I’ll take that bet. Show me what you’ve got.”

His lips met hers and as they kissed he pushed her back until she hit a tree. She gasped, but he only continued to kiss her and press his body hard into hers. He certainly had proved her could turn her on through all those layers; her body zinged with lust as she glanced left and right to make sure they weren’t being watched.

“Turn around,” he whispered in her ear, “hold on to the tree and stick out your arse for me, sweetheart.”

She followed the instruction aware now that if anyone stumbled upon them there would be no doubt as to what they were up to. Debbie found that idea a turn on. They might get caught, they might be watched and her heart thudded inside of her partly with nerves but mostly with arousal. She often fantasised about having an audience when they fucked.

Ed lifted up her heavy cord skirt and rolled it up onto her back exposing her legs encased in their thick winter tights. Spring might have sprung but there was still a chill in the air. He rubbed his hands all over her buttocks and down her thighs then as he reached a vulnerable part he gripped the nylon in his hands and pulled. The tights ripped and Debbie gasped in surprise.

“You owe me for new tights,” she hissed as he ran his hand into the large hole he’d made and slipped between her thighs. He rubbed her over the sensible white cotton of her panties, pressing the wet material against her clit which elicited a moan of pleasure from her lips. He yanked the crotch of her knickers to the side and forced a finger inside her. She was so wet it slid in with ease. She heard the rustle of clothes and the harsh rip of a zip being lowered and then she felt his body press against hers. She arched her back and pressed against him as he manhandled his cock until it was at the opening of her pussy. He paused for only a moment to pull her knickers more to the side and then he plunged into her.

She was full of his cock in public and still fully clothed; he’d won the bet. At that moment though she wasn’t thinking of the weeks - worth of pots that awaited her; she just concentrated on the delicious warmth of his cock inside her and the rapid thrusts that brought her so much pleasure. His fingers gripped into her hip, holding her still while he fucked her. She was no longer listening for tell-tale noises of an approach. She was lost in the sensations that flooded her body.

Ed grunted and stilled; he’d reached his climax and his cock throbbed inside of her. He pulled out and as she moved to straighten he put his hand on her back. “Not yet, you’re not finished yet. Stick your fingers down into your knickers and wank for me; I know you want to come.” He was right, she did want to come. She forgot the scratch on her cheek from the bark and the cold wind on her buttocks excited her. She could smell the earth, the crushed grass-- the heaviness reminding her of the smell of sex. Bracing herself with one hand she dropped the other down to her front. She reached underneath her dangling skirt and gathered it up in the crook of her arm as her fingers disappeared into her knickers. She massaged her clit gently at first then slipped down to her slit to pull up their combined juices to lubricate her masturbation. Her flicks became quicker and more urgent as her breath escaped in pants groans until the pressure became all too much and her orgasm escaped with a grunt as her body melted with the intense heat of pleasure.

“I told you so,” he said as she straightened up and brushed down her skirt. “You need more layers than that to deter me, love.”

“Is that a challenge?” Debbie laughed. “Thing is though, I don’t really want to deter you, sweetheart, I want to encourage you.”

“Oh, that’s easy,” he replied, “I’m completely under your spell.”

“Oh, good,” She rubbed her hands together. “That means I can still make you do the pots tonight after dinner!”

About the author: Victoria Blisse is a mother, wife, Christian, Manchester United fan and erotica writer. She is equally at home behind a laptop or a cooker and she loves to create stories, poems, cakes and biscuits that make people happy. She was born near Manchester, England and her northern English quirkiness shows through in all of her stories. Passion, love and laughter fill her works, just as they fill her busy life. Website: facebook: Twitter:

Author Interview: Erin O'Riordan

Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome Erin O'Riordan, whose latest novel Midsummer Night was released in December 2009.

I asked Erin how she distinguished between erotica, erotic romance, and pornography.

"I don't! I write what I want to write and let the editors and readers decide which category to file it under. To me, it all falls under the broad spectrum of erotica. I'll write any sexual scenario involving consenting adults over the age of 18 and bring the same artistic sensibilities to each, whether I'm writing for Hustler Fantasies or"

Erin completed her first novel, Whip, in 2006.

"I had the best luck pulling out the sex scenes and getting those (well, at least one) published," she told me.

"What is the most embarrassing sex scene you've ever written?" I wondered.

"'Robo,' the piece I submitted to’s erotic fiction contest in 2008. It took an honorable mention, so someone must have liked it. Still, the subject matter (cleaning woman desires lesbian experience with sex doll) is so unconventional, I’m a bit surprised I thought of it."

She's discovering new erotic authors to enjoy all the time, but a few she really enjoys include Kate Douglas, Emma Holly, J.R. Ward, and Katie McAlister. Her favorite erotic novel is, understandably, Beltane, the first book in her Pagan Spirits series, but if she were stranded on a desert island, she admitted she would choose The Mammoth Book of Erotic Confessions.

"Not just because I'm a contributor," she explained, "but because these stories are erotic and true. Give it an extra zing."

For a good solid foundation if a writer wants to write erotica, Erin recommends How to Read/Write a Dirty Story by Susie Bright. It is also helpful to visit the Erotica Readers and Writers' Association online and check the calls for submissions.

She added, "Write and submit often, be persistent, and avoid excessive onomatopoeia."

If Erin could be anyone she wanted, she would choose to be Linda Lael Miller.

"I’d love to write 20 books a year and have them sold at every drugstore and supermarket in the USA. People browsing my novels while buying cough medicine is what I yearn for," she explained.

If she had to piece a body part, she would pick to pierce her navel again.

"The navel is great body part to draw someone’s eye to. I miss my little butterfly navel ring, but it fell out. (Ew, right?) Body piercing is sexy because it’s still a little bit forbidden, a little exotic. Plus, having the actual piercing done is intimate and a bit of a boundary violation, which gives it a kind of eroticism. It’s like mild BDSM."

She likes colored mini-marshmallows for eating off another's tummy, but chocolate sauce for all other parts. And probably dark chocolate sauce, since dark chocolate takes the prize as Erin's favorite food.

Erin can also tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi—but she prefers the caffeine-free, diet versions of each of them.

"My favorite cola is sold as a generic at the Meijer chain of stores," she told me.

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

"When my mom pointed out to me that I’d given the same character two different names in 'Oliver’s Famous Clam Chowder,' and neither I nor the publisher’s editor had caught the mistake in time."

Finally, I asked Erin, "What does your family think of your writing? Do they read it?"

"They keep promising me they’re going to read it, but I wonder if they ever do. As long as they pay for it, I’m happy."

You can keep up with Erin on her website,

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Spotlight: Viki Lyn

Top Five Desserts or Wow, bring on the calories!

I'm a real dessert freak. I will break my healthy eating habits for a piece of luscious cream cake. I blame my mother. Don't we always blame our mothers? But seriously, she's a dessert freak, too. We'd go to the neighborhood bakery and buy maple bars for breakfast. She'd fix French Toast and pancakes and waffles and always have cookies or some kind of dessert on hand.

I'm a Weight Watcher Lifetime member, and there's a good reason for it. Being Italian, every celebration is centered around the dinner table. I love to try new restaurants, and there's nothing better than NOT cooking.

With this typical pear shape body, it'd all go to my hips and thighs if I didn't watch it. But there are times I just have to bring on the calories - and there's no better way then by topping off my meal with dessert!

Here are my top five choices:

1. Lemon Meringue Pie - Especially made with fresh lemons and a fluffy high meringue topping. Any citrus dessert is high on my list - usually it makes a refreshing dessert after a rich meal.

2. Cinnamon Rolls/Maple Bars - I'm a sucker for bakery goods, but the two that really push my sweet tooth are cinnamon rolls and maple bars. I can't resist when I smell that aroma of baked cinnamon rolls.

3. Italian Rum Cake - the kind with real whipped cream frosting and nuts around the lower edge. The neighborhood bakery near my childhood home made the best - and I mean the best rum cake. I haven't had another slice that lives up to it.

4. Crème Brûlée - This is one of my favorite desserts if I've had a light dinner. The creamy texture and crunchy caramel crust make for an awesome combination.

5. Fruit Cobbler - Any dessert with fresh fruit does it for me. Especially a cobbler that is served with homemade ice cream.

Okay, I just added several pounds to my weight just by writing this post!

I've had so much fun this week. Thank you for visiting my blog posts.

Happy Reading,

Viki Lyn

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thursday Spotlight: Viki Lyn

Top Five Angst-filled Songs or Wow, Shazam it!

I just heard about Shazam the other night. It's an application for your iPhone or Blackberry that let's you know the song that's playing on the radio, on the television or in the elevator. Okay, I'm not so sure about the elevator but it sounds cool.

Not that I have a iPhone or Blackberry, but I like writing "Wow, Shazam it"!

I have several playlist on my iPod, one labeled romantic songs. This is the playlist I use when I'm writing romantic or emotional scenes. Music has a way of setting the mood. Have you ever watched a movie on mute and realize how different you respond to a scene without sound. Same as books, in a way that a writer sets the rhythm of a scene.

So here are my top five songs I play when I need to write angsty romance.

1. "Falling Slowly", Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova - from the movie Once. It's folksy and the lyrics are beautiful, hopeful and sad.

2. "In Your Room" by Depeche Mode - shows my love of the 80's! Talking Heads is another favorite band of mine.

3. "Avalon" by Roxy Music - this is song sung by the lead singer, Bryan Ferry, one of my all time favorite romantic singers. I love his voice.

4. "Building a Mystery", Sarah McLachlan - a strange song that invokes other worldly creatures, especially creatures of the night. It's especially perfect for writing vampire stories.

5. "Collide" - Howie Day - oh boy, this just leaves me in tears.

Bonus song: "Goodbye My Lover", James Blunt. I can't leave this one out.

Whew, that was difficult list since there are so many songs on my iPod that fit this category. What songs make you bring out the Kleenex?

Happy Reading,

Viki Lyn

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wednesday Spotlight: Viki Lyn

Top Five Gay Murder Mystery series or Wow, I can't wait for the next book to come out!

Good morning! I'm having a blast creating my Top Five lists. Today it's all about reading a good book. What writer doesn't like to read? It's finding the time that's difficult. That, and not feeling guilty for reading instead of writing. My nights are reserved for catching up on my TBR pile - which is about to topple over!

My book list is a mix bag but my favorite genre is murder mysteries. I've read them since I was a kid, and haven't stopped. I combined my love for mysteries with my other love - gay fiction. Here are my Top Five Gay Murder Mystery series. I've listed the first book in the series.

1. Victor Banis - Deadly Nightshade - The first in a series featuring straight cop, Tom Danzel and gay cop Stanley Korsik. What's great about this series is the twists and turns the two men experience and how it profoundly changes their lives.

2. Joseph Hansen - Fade Out - I bought every one of his Dave Brandstetter mysteries. Fade Out introduces gay insurance claims investigator Dave Brandstetter. This book came out in 1970 and was one of the first books that featured a well adjusted, ruggedly handsome gay man. It's written in a hard boiled style similar to Hammett.

3. Josh Lanyon - Fatal Shadows - This is the start of a hot, angst ridden relationship between book seller Adrien English and L.A. cop Detective Riordon. I enjoy Lanyon's clean writing style and how he builds the tension between Adrien and Jake through his five book series.

4. Mehmet Murat Somer - The Kiss Murder - Software programmer by day, drag queen by night, you can't help but fall in love with the Audrey Hepburn look-alike. It's often hilarious and sometimes somber. Set in Istanbul, it makes for one unique series.

5. Scott Sherman - First You Fall - Okay, I'm cheating here, because this is the first book, and I'm just crossing my fingers it becomes a series! Kevin Connor is a male prostitute with a heart of gold - cliché yes, engrossing, yes. Somehow it works. It's laugh out loud funny and I fell in love with all the characters.

Not that I need a bigger TBR pile, but any that I must put on my reading list?

Happy Reading,.

Viki Lyn

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesday Spotlight: Viki Lyn

Top Five Sacred Sites or Wow, the energy of the place is awesome!

Good Morning! I've always been fascinated by ancient cultures. This, and my love for travel, as led me to visit many sacred sites around the world, some more famous than others. This love has also led me to writing paranormal. So much of my imaginary worlds are based on myth and ancient lore. So here's my list of sacred places. There are so many wonderful sites that it's hard to whittle it down to five. I've chose sites where I had a profound experience just by taking in the energy of the sacred place.

1. The Hypogeum in Malta - this was breathtaking experience to climb down the path leading into carved out rooms in stone where rituals were most likely performed and the dead buried. It's said to be the only prehistoric underground temple in the world.

2. Fátima, Portugal - When I stepped on to the square of the Sanctuary of Our Lady Of Fátima it brought tears to my eyes. I felt at peace. Pilgrims were on the hands and knees crawling toward the sanctuary, candles were lit as offerings in the square. It was a profound moment.

3. King's Chamber inside the Great Pyramid, Giza, Egypt - I am slightly claustrophobic but I wasn't going to miss climbing inside the pyramid to reach the King's Chamber at the top. The narrow passageway ascends 129 feet, and is 3'6" wide and 3' 11" high! Once I reached the chamber I had to bend to cross the threshold.

4. Zeus Cave, known as Ideon Adnron, Mt. Idi, Crete - This was a climb down into the bowels of the damp wet earth. It's not the most beautiful cave I've ever seen, but the atmosphere held a quiet dignity and mystery.

5. Eremo delle Carceri, Assisi, Italy - On the slope of Monte Subasios, St. Francis and his followers gathered in 1205. The Carceri Hermitage was established and the stone monastery still stands today. It's a lovely place for contemplation.

I left out so many other wonderful sites. If you have a favorite, let me know. If I haven't been there, I'll put it on my bucket list!

Happy Reading,

Viki Lyn

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday Spotlight: Viki Lyn

Top Five Sexy Men or Wow, that's one sexy guy!

Good morning! I will be in the Author's Spotlight this week. Here's a quick introduction -- my name is Viki Lyn and I write male/male romance. I've had my first book published by Aspen Mountain Press, Blue Skye, last summer. Since then Loose Id has published two of my paranormal romances, The Tiger Within and Last Chance. And, I have a second book coming out with AMP this month (March 26) - Ryan's Harbor, a second book set in the same town as Blue Skye. Whew! I've been busy, and currently writing the sequel to Last Chance. To find out more about my writing visit my website!

For each day this week, I'm going to list a Top Five relating to what I enjoy in life. For Monday I'll start with my Top Five Sexy Men or Wow, that's one sexy guy!

These are men that at some point I went - WOW - either from a movie role or on a billboard or magazine cover or seeing them action.

1. Johnny Depp - Did any one see him on the cover of GQ last month? The man has such a sexy, individual style about him.

2. Viggo Mortensen - I absolutely fell for him as Lord Aragorn. He pulled off that role to perfection. Those pale serious eyes did it for me.

3. Clive Owens - I was walking down the street in London and 'bam' - there he was plastered on a billboard, bigger than life, and more than bigger than knock out gorgeous.

4. Apolo Ono - He has the wonderful combination of boyish charm and sultry looks. And I love to watch athletes in motion.

5. Adam Rodríguez - Okay, I must be the only person who hasn't watch a CSI episode! The first time I saw Adam Rodríguez was on Ugly Betty this season and fell for his leather jacket bad boy image.

Okay, these are my picks for the moment. What about yours? I'd love to hear from you.

Happy Reading!

Viki Lyn

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Author Interview: Carolina Barbour

Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome Carolina Barbour whose latest book The Best of Both Worlds was released by Siren Publishing.

Carolina always wanted to write, and in fact wrote several manuscripts before submitting anything.

"I didn't have confidence in myself," she explained. "Finally, after going through two lay-offs, I thought wait a minute. Why not try something you like? I decided to pour my energy into myself, and see what happened. One night while I was looking for a job, I just told myself to find something to do where I’m investing my time and energy into me. I’m glad I did!"

When Carolina puts a story together, she judges whether or not the story is good by the same standards as a non-erotic book. Are the characters believable? Does the story make you feel emotions? Does it make you laugh, cry, or get angry?

"Feeling the emotions of what the characters are experiencing makes a good read for me," she explained. "I like my readers to not only read the text, but live through the pages. In the end, a good book is a good book if the readers has identified with a character, shared the character’s emotion as a result of a scene, or can relate to something in the storyline. When a reader tells me they experienced a similar thing, emotion, or personality in their day-to-day lives I feel as if I’ve done my job. Of course, having a good suspense plot is key, also."

Carolina's books are not just about two people having sex—and the love scenes are not the main focus of her books. She finds that many people think that's all erotica is.

"I always tell people who ask me about writing that the erotica aspect should not be the focus of your storyline. In fact, I suggest they come up with a good story, characters, and plot first, and then fit the erotica in where it is appropriate. Erotica is no different from any other genre, in my mind. I challenge them to remove the erotica, and then see if their story is still appealing. If it is not, well, I advise the author to rethink the book idea.

"My love scenes are placed in the storyline when appropriate. Not just for filler. If you remove the erotica factor, you still get a good suspense novel," she said.

She doesn't make it a habit of reading other erotic novels. However, she did pick up a book by Lora Leigh one time, not realizing it was erotic. She enjoyed the storyline, the characters, and thinks that Lora is an excellent writer. But, Carolina's favorite erotic story is Pure Distraction, her first published novel.

"The characters just clicked from the beginning, and I enjoyed the playful banter between Xander and Lana. The steamy attraction between the hero and heroine was a plus. The storyline was suspenseful, and writing it made me feel so many emotions that it was hard for me to end the book. Hence, why I started the Pure Series," she explained.

Carolina only does research for her books if they are set in a specific era where she needs to get the facts right—and she finds the Internet a good source for that.

"Otherwise, everything I write is my imagination. Normally, real life things that are going on around me ignite an idea for a story," she told me. "People, places, or something somebody says usually sparks a plot. Mostly, I study people, and try to mimic them so that my characters are believable. Sometimes I ask people about how they feel about different sex acts, etc., if I need a point of view other then my own. My husband comes in handy when I’m writing from a male perspective."

There are some areas she won't go into in her own writing.

"Some porn movies go to levels I wouldn’t touch," she told me. "Especially when there are multiple partners, too many partners, and I begin to wonder if that person (any person) could really enjoy being treated like that. I don’t care for gangbang scenes, bodily functions, or anything I feel is degrading."

On a more personal note:

Carolina's favorite food is crab cakes. In fact she admitted she can't eat enough of them.

She used to live in a divided household. Her husband drank Coke and she drank Pepsi. "Finally, one year he converted me," she said. "It’s a long story. Anyway, now if I drink a Pepsi I can tell the difference because I think it is much sweeter then Coke. Though, my friend, who is a devoted Pepsi fan, disagrees."

Her most embarrassing moment is when she tells people she writes erotica.

"People have a preconceived idea of what a person is like if they write erotica. People always look me up and down, and kind of give me that look." She laughed. "I always get asked where do you get your material for the love scenes. I just laugh and say, Stephen King writes murder scenes, but that doesn’t mean he’s killed anyone. A good writer can write about anything, whether they have experienced it or not."

Finally, I asked, "If you could give a new writer one piece of advice, what would it be?"

"I would tell them a few things. First, like my husband told me-'just do it'. Second, have confidence in yourself. Third, don’t let anyone convince you you don’t have what it takes to follow your dreams. Forth, just write and get the story down first, and think about the editing later. But, mostly, I honestly tell people who want to write that it isn’t an easy thing. Like any of other art it takes skill, but also you have to have a passion for what you do."

You can keep up with Carolina on her website,

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Spotlight: Chloe Waits

Flirty Friday Fifteen

I’ve recently joined a new multi-author blog, Romance Writers Behaving Badly.

We’re up to all kinds of naughtiness, and I wrote this post in honor of our Flirty Fridays, which I did as top fifteen list:

How to keep Romance Alive.

1. A man’s heart is through his stomach, so cook naked

2. Never wear granny panties

3. Tell him your fantasies, and then star in his.

4. Watch his adventure movies, provided he sits with you through The Notebook

5. The calories in chocolate body paint doesn’t count

6. Write sexy love notes and pack in his lunch

7. Kiss him like you’re about to separate forever

8. Act out a scene of his favorite erotic movie

9. Play naked Twister

10. Take a soap bar and write across the bathroom mirror what you’d like to do to him

11. Learn dirty words in another language, and recite them

12. Eat a sensual feast together blindfolded eg: Strawberries

13. Heard of a mixed tape? Make our own mood music for love making, all sexy songs

14. Play a competitive game, but play for sexual favors

15. Love coupons, with no expiry or conditions

Have fun, and thanks for joining me this week!

Chloe Waits ~Romance With No Inhibitions
Demon of Desire - a Book Vamps' Top Pick
Flesh for Fantasy -Newest release out now at Phaze

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thursday Spotlight: Chloe Waits

Romance: Fiction’s Disrepected Child?

I heard an expression over at a Coffee Time Romance forum I haven’t heard in awhile: ‘Bodice Ripper.’ It was said there with affection and appreciation for those sensuous historical romance covers, but it got me thinking.

Do you ever feel like romance is disrespected? I do. The term ‘Bodice Ripper’ was really coined to poke fun at the covers and at the romances themselves. Mmm, all those swooning half reclined couples posed in erotic! I remember when Fabio was the cover model for half of the releases out there! But there was quite a bit of teasing about it, and that teasing continues about all things falling under the genre.

Whether its films labeled dismissively as “chick flicks” or people rolling their eyes when they see me reading a romance, I don’t think romance gets the respect it deserves.

Granted, I know some movies are called “guy flicks” too. But it seems as soon as there is a bit of romance, there is a label indicating only a female audience can appreciate it. I find that derogatory. I know writers of other genres that look down at romance as a genre...and erotic romance? Don’t even get me started.

Why does romance have such an unfair rep? I think the problem some people have with it is the aspect of wish fulfillment. Romance is often about happy ever after. Maybe people don’t find this realistic. And yet the goal of many fiction genres is to entertain. Are thrillers and mysteries not about entertainment too?

Fictions many different genres are about trying to meet the reader’s expectations in some way. Some call it a formula. I would call it a promise. When you pick up a romance, you know you are going on a journey that may have twists and turns, but will ultimately work towards a happy resolution. And you know what I call that?

Satisfying. I think I will put my nose back in my ‘Bodice Ripper’ now.

Please join me for tomorrow’s post, Flirty Friday.

Chloe Waits ~Romance With No Inhibitions
Demon of Desire - a Book Vamps' Top Pick
Flesh for Fantasy -Newest release out now at Phaze

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wednesday Spotlight: Chloe Waits

Warning: This blog has...

Did my heading make you want to read? It could. It could also do the opposite.
I am blogging today about warnings, namely in the form many publishers and writer are issuing with Erotic Romance.

I could go to any book site right now and usually get a rating on how steamy the book is I want to buy, to aid in my consumer decision. But it goes much further. Now we have warnings for what might be objectionable material to help as well.

Warnings usually bring to mind "stay back" biohazard signs, so many writers, bless their hearts, have taken to making them fun cheeky selling points, like:

Warning! The following book has super hot ménage action featuring not one but TWO sexy cops, and one happy and exhausted heroine (I just made that one up).

I always hoot when I read these, and applaud authors for having fun with it. We can spin doctor with the best of them. It could lure a reader right in. Or it could make them summarily dismiss the book! There are two sides to this story. One is the reader trying to make a good purchase to their tastes, and the other is writer hoping you will buy their work.

I have been on both sides. Firstly as a reader. There is an epublishing house, whose books I have bought and enjoyed, that appears to not to use a heat rating, or warning for objectionable material. I am always flying blind when I buy, and sometimes I get irritated when I buy a book, which if I’d had more info about, would have known it was not to my taste. And, the flipside is I have also received books as a reader and may thought I would not enjoy it based on the labels, and found I did. The third issue is the reader believing the warning to be listed incorrectly, which also could annoy.

Writers are in a bit of a bind. They may not want to give away too much plot for suspense reasons which are one tricky bit of it. It can be hard to determine what you should warn about too. For instance, my character is tied up briefly in Flesh for Fantasy. I don’t really want to list it as bondage, because I don’t want people buying it to expect I am writing about the s/M lifestyle. They would feel misled, and probably disappointed. But I don’t want to alienate anyone who would be upset by it either by not mentioning it. Here’s my warning then that I list when putting excerpts on loops:

Warning: Contains hot erotic fantasies shared with a handsome stranger, and being sexily restrained (light bondage)

I had the same issue with Demon of Desire. Sometimes there are block type warnings by publishers or reviewers eg: multiple partners. I was upset when my book was listed as that at a few places. It did not tell the whole story. I have two heroes, or love interests in the story. It is not group sex or ménage and if you bought it looking for that, uh, oops.

Warning: Contains one hot-as-hell love Demon possessing magical seduction powers, one sexy sensitive Beta male, and one confused but exhausted heroine.

For writers, depending on what we say or don’t say, or how we say it, you may not buy our book. I don’t think anyone can write to all tastes, so this may be pretty fair if wouldn’t be interested in our work. But it can put up these weird kind of gates to people that may like your work, and choose to hang back because of the warning.

It’s a double edged sword.

So, what are your thoughts on warnings?

Please join me tomorrow where I talk about it being dissed?

Chloe Waits ~Romance With No Inhibitions
Demon of Desire - a Book Vamps' Top Pick
Flesh for Fantasy -Newest release out now at Phaze

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tuesday Spotlight: Chloe Waits

What are your Fantasies?

My newest release, Flesh for Fantasy, is about...wait for it...fantasies. (lol). And it got me to thinking, what are the most common female fantasies? Granted I knew a few already, but what makes it to the list most frequently? This is a hard one because keep in mind, every list is different. I looked mostly at a list from Canoe for this one, but I renamed them as you will see...

10. The Sexy Stranger: That’s right. There’s no ‘Stranger Danger’ here. Well, maybe a little but only kinds you would enjoy...

9. Show me Yours: You like to watch, don’t you?

8. Sapphic Delight: Some same sex lovin’ gets quite a few heartbeats pumpin’

7. Peek-a-boo: This one brings a whole new meaning to the word ‘performance’ doesn’t it? Whether performing solo for a lover, or performing with them, being watched was high on the list

6. Domination for the nation: Who’s your Daddy? Plenty an Alpha has asked this question, and gotten an enthusiastic response to it. Being with a dominant man, or dominated by one is a big female fantasy.

5. Mrs. Robinson, Revisited: They used to call her Mrs. Robinson. Now she goes by the name cougar. And she has many cubs that would love to be caught when she goes on the hunt...

4. Working Girl: Get your check book out because she works hard for the money. Whether bumping and grinding against a pole to hypnotic beats, or being a high class call girl, this naughty fantasy is always in currency.

3. Double the Fun: I can just bask in the approval from the ménage fans in the room, nodding emphatically with choruses of ‘here, here!’ Being the filling in the middle of a tasty male ménage sandwich clearly made it towards the top of the list.

2. Sex in a Public Place: A dirty bathroom, a crowded plane or a public park—all are fun for a lark!

1. Ravished: I could say another word that starts with R, but I would get my wrist slapped for sure. It may be divisive, it may not be politically correct, but being the innocent vixen of a forceful male routinely makes it to the top of the female fantasy heap.

NB: I am happy to report that Flesh for Fantasy features 10, 7, 6, and 4 (I am stretching 4 a bit: does fantasy operator count? Let me know!)

Flesh for Fantasy blurb

‘Cheyenne’ is every man’s fantasy—over the phone. Playing the popular fantasy mate, Cynthia Stewart seduces callers nightly, despite swearing off men in real life.

Separated and struggling to reclaim her career, Cynthia’s heart and libido are simply on the shelf. All this talk about fantasies has little effect on her.

Until Cynthia meets a man who wants to know hers.

All of them.

Opening up her private thoughts is a big step for Cynthia. Yet she can’t resist the man who describes himself like the perfect tall, dark, handsome stranger. And his calls slowly push her personal and sexual boundaries open.

But Cynthia starts to wonders if this is someone she can truly trust.

Because she has been giving him the blue print to seduce her for real...

Chloe Waits ~Romance With No Inhibitions
Demon of Desire - a Book Vamps' Top Pick
Flesh for Fantasy -Newest release out now at Phaze