Beginning January 1, 2013

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thursday Spotlight: Savannah Frierson

You’re Gonna Love Me!…Hopefully?…


During this writing journey, one of the biggest challenges for me has been anticipating readers’ expectations of me. When an author releases her first book, there are no expectations and that author has a free pass of goodwill from potential readers. If a reader doesn’t like it, at least the author has (hopefully) a second chance with a second book to improve. But what if readers like that first offering? What does that author do?

Some authors choose not to deviate too far from the formula that brought them success, maybe changing one or two details and the story is basically the same. I, on the other hand, do not set out to do that purposefully. I write the story as it comes and let the readers decide. I have had readers tell me they really enjoyed one book and really couldn’t stand the other. I’ve had readers tell me they really liked one book, but everything else I’ve released just doesn’t compare to that “one book”. I would be lying if I didn’t say every negative review didn’t pierce me in some way, no matter how strong I try to be in the face of it. It forces an author to have humility and be grateful this reader thought enough about you to give you a chance. Then again, if I can get a reader to write a scathing review about my work, at the very least I know my work was memorable!

Besides learning how to be graceful in the face of criticism, I’m also learning how to accept the fact I do have readers who like my work! When I meet people who are self-described “fans”, I still have this moment of cognitive dissonance before I give a gracious, genuine smile and thanks for their support of me. Oftentimes I feel as if my gratitude isn’t enough. It is so hard for an author, harder still for one who is primarily self-published, that every person who appreciates my effort is precious. Perhaps this is why negative reviews are harder for me absorb. I don’t have the thousands of other readers to offset those critical reviews. And then I will get a review or an e-mail from a reader and I realize I don’t need those thousands of readers to offset anything (although my work reaching that many people would be fantastic!); just knowing I could positively affect one person’s day is a wonderful and humbling experience.

I know for me personally, everything I write I try to make sure I’m proud of it. I don’t want to put my name on trash, even if it’s not my most favorite story. Writers everywhere know everyone won’t like every book you release, and sometimes a book you consider your baby have readers giving it the “thanks, but no thanks” treatment, or even worse than that. And sometimes a book you didn’t think was particularly your greatest work turns out to be a fan favorite. It can be difficult balancing your respect and gratitude for readers with your own personal expectations for your work, but I’ve decided the main people I have to answer to are my characters and myself.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday Spotlight: Savannah Frierson

Knowing What You Write


Research is important when writing in order to get as authentic as possible when telling a story. Many of the stories I’ve written feature characters with international roots. Aaron from Reconstructing Jada Channing, for example, is the child of a father who was a first-generation Irish-American and a mother who was a first-generation Italian-American, which meant his parents still knew their mother tongues and spoke it around him. Aaron had Irish endearments for his ladylove Jada while his mother Isabella called him Italian pet names (Aaron is also not my only Irish lead; but Patrick’s story will come at a later date). He also swore in Italian too. It can be difficult having characters speak in a language you don’t fully know, so that definitely requires a lot of research as to syntax, grammar, which endearments are used when. I put good faith effort into it, so much so I try several translation sites and browse multiple forums just to make sure the choices I’ve made are more right than wrong.

Gunnar from The Beauty Within is another character who required much language research, as I had even less familiarity with Norwegian than Italian, but I learned a lot about the language as well as the country, having to find from where Gunnar’s mother was in the country. A Southern boy with Norwegian roots was fun to write, though; and Tyler, Gunnar’s ladylove, certainly didn’t mind being called elskling (darling) or kjære (love).

But it isn’t just the heroes who are international. Both Tyler from Beauty and Rosita from Trolling Nights and “I’ll Be Your Somebody” speak Spanish. Tyler’s mother is from Venezuela and Rosita’s parents are from Cuba. At the very least, writing those characters was a good way to keep at least some of the Spanish I learned in school fresh on my mind!

The two published stories that have required the most research have been AJ’s Serendipity and Go with Your Heart—my two novellas. There is a bit of irony in that as they aren’t as long as the full-length novels, but they required a lot of care. AJ because it was set in a country I’ve never been to and a language I truly didn’t know; and Heart because it is set in the past featuring a language I didn’t know at all.

However, I learned so much as I was writing that I often found myself getting distracted because I just wanted to learn more, irrespective of the story I was currently writing! I spent days—yes, days—searching for the right yacht AJ would own, considering he wasn’t very wealthy, but he did have a fair amount of disposable income. It was a lot of fun researching the different types of boats, and finding one that would match AJ’s personality as well as the boat I’d envisioned in my head. The Greeks are known for sailing and shipbuilding, so it was important AJ’s vessel would reflect that knowledge. For Nashoba, on the other hand, it was a little more difficult because I had to marry history with fiction and be respectful of a culture and language for which I had little prior knowledge. I’d even had a document just full of research of Choctaw words, phrases, beliefs, and its history in terms of its relationship with the Confederacy and its stance on slavery, and how did Choctaws navigate between their personal customs and those of an encroaching outside presence. Nashoba, in a sense, was allegorical, but I also wanted him to be his own man who’d eventually fallen in love with his own woman, Shiloh.

Writing and researching is a fantastic way for me to visit places and times I can never go or I’ve never been. I do plan to make to Greece one day, however. Perhaps I’ll find my own AJ browsing through the Monastiraki in Athens as Samara did!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tuesday Spotlight: Savannah Frierson

Inspiration


Many times when I give a talk or get into a conversation about my writing, this question invariably arises: “How/Where do you get your story ideas?” At first, I used to answer, “From everywhere!” And while that answer is true to an extent, I realized that wasn’t exactly the question most people want answered. People want to know how were you able to sustain a plot from beginning to end and did you make that plot compelling enough for a reader to want more long after they finished the book…for the third time. Once I figured out the underlying question, I changed my response to, “My characters.”

On my hard drive, I have a file that has story idea after story idea; but less than half, probably even less than a third, have either been started or completed. The idea isn’t enough to begin writing; I need a character to claim that story as his or hers. So, essentially, I have a library of ideas and I’m merely waiting for a character to check one out. Sometimes, multiple characters check out similar ideas, and instead of feeling panic, I just roll with it. Every character isn’t the same, so every character won’t react to a situation the same. It’s the same as when a friend and I could watch the exact same movie and have completely different interpretations of what we see. I do enjoy watching the story unfold; it’s surprising how many times I’ve been surprised by my own stories as I write them!

Of course, it’s much easier when a character comes in with his or her own story in hand, as Gunnar did with The Beauty Within; unfortunately, this also means I’m on call 24/7, for Gunnar presented me with his story at 3 in the morning! This isn’t to say the characters have free rein, either. I still must learn about their likes and dislikes, their goals and ambitions, their hopes and fears. Sometimes I think a character is one way, and then I write something and he or she reacts in a completely unexpected way but it’s so right that I have to go back and make sure 1.) the clues had been there all along and 2.) it will help the story move forward. Nine times out of ten, the character is right and I have to learn to go with the flow. On the other hand, when the characters stop speaking to me, then I have to set the story aside until they decide to inspire my muse again. There is nothing worse than forcing a story to be told.

At times, there are some details I have to change in order to satisfy the potential market/editor/agent, but it’s usually something like age or height if it’s something not too incredibly important to the character’s essence. There are people I trust off of whom I bounce ideas or even help me shape and mold the characters and their personal stories to help me write. Those people are invaluable to me and every writer needs that type of person to give worthwhile feedback. Yet in the end, it’s my job as the author to sell this character and his or her story. I take that responsibility very seriously. This character chose me to be his or her bard; I can’t half-step with that task.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday Spotlight:: Savannah Frierson

The Writing Journey


I started writing against my will when I was twelve years old. My uncle had signed me up for a summer writing camp, and I knew then my status as a dork and a nerve was irrevocably set for the rest of my academic career. Now, at twelve, this would be a horrendous fate; but by the time the camp had ended, I couldn’t wait to return next year. I’d started out with poetry because it was quick bursts of what I was feeling; but the older I got, the more I kicked around whether to actually try my hand in prose. It wasn’t until junior year in high school that I had my epiphany moment—I wanted to be a writer. However, I knew I had to graduate both high school and college before I seriously pursued it.

In college, I continued with my poetry, but I also started writing prose. I took writing classes in both poetry and short stories in college; and I decided to write a creative thesis for my concentrations. Thus, in the summer of 2004, Reconstructing Jada Channing was born. Then, however, it was called A Life to Live. Very soap opera-y. I had Jamaica Kincaid as my advisor and she told me flat-out it needed a new title! Also, it was too long. I think I’d written over 100K words of absolute “what?” that summer! However, not all was lost. I had a story in there somewhere; it just needed to be distilled.

Professor Kincaid was very hands-off; and on the one end it was very frustrating because I really didn’t think I knew what I was doing. In fact, I was so unsure, I began writing Being Plumville as a “backup” thesis (and because of National Novel Writing Month). Working on two stories at once was probably not the wisest thing to do; but it did force Professor Kincaid to tell me, in no uncertain terms, to keep going with my original idea. So, I set Being Plumville to the side and continued Reconstructing Jada Channing.

The most nerve-wracking day of my life was actually not turning in the thesis. In fact, I was so relieved to be done with it, having pulled my very last all-nighter of my college career while freshman performed rituals in the Eliot House courtyard (the sadly misinformed freshman actually thought these rituals would get them in the house of their choice when in actuality…house selection was random. The rituals were, however, very annoying). The most nerve-wracking day was getting my grade back. I’d received the e-mail from the English department telling me my grade was ready, and I spent the rest of the afternoon pretending I hadn’t seen it until it was maybe ten minutes until the department closed. I went and picked up my grade, then ran immediately upstairs to the African and African-American Studies Department to the program officer’s office and sat with her to reveal my grade.

I screamed. Magna plus; a solid A. Both departments eventually graded it so. I received an A writing a romance novella to graduate college. That novella also won the Dorothy Hicks Lee Prize for Outstanding Thesis on African-American Literature, a prize awarded university-wide, not just departmental. These two achievements definitely gave me the boost and confidence I needed to firm up my resolve of making a career out of this writing thing.

It’s now six years since I first started writing Reconstructing Jada Channing and three years since the release of my debut novel Being Plumville. This writing journey has extended far beyond my career; it’s a journey of the self as well. I have nine publications to my name and many more stories completed and in the works.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Greyson by Ashlyn Monroe


Jarred into painful reality, Greyson awoke in a coffin. It was a mistake; he was alive! Screaming, he pounded on the lid trying to get the attention of the gravedigger who shoveled dirt on top of him. He searched his mind, but there was no memory of how he’d ended up buried.

Horrible grief filled him at his last memory. His brother had been devoured alive by something terrible. Greyson remembered the pain as the thing attacked him too. Dirt from his burial trickled into the cracks of the coffin, burning his eyes. Gasping with the memory of the creature’s mouth on him his hand flew to his neck. Feeling for damage, he realized that his skin felt unblemished. The coffin rocked with the weight of more dirt.

Greyson screamed until he was hoarse. No one heard him. All he could think about was Evelynn. He’d never hold her again, never touch her or taste her. They’d only been wed a single blissful year. He knew he was changed, and she was lost to him. Something waited for him in the darkness; he felt its call. It owned him now.


****
Kimber sat on the park bench watching the coming twilight. Memories of him filled her. The dark savior with his fearsome terrible red eyes had come out of nowhere to save her. She’d been sixteen and out past curfew. Riding home on her bike she’d felt pain as something ripped her off her seat and pinned her to the cold damp ground.

The darkness opened and a handsome man came to her rescue. He wasn’t really a man; not with his eyes glowing red. He’d taken the monster away, ripping it in half. The carnage had made her ill. Kimber tried to thank him, but he was gone as quickly and mysteriously as he’d come. She’d never forget that night or that the darkness held more danger than most people imagined.

Kimber dreamed of him often. He haunted her memory, but also she felt something deep and kindred when she’d looked into his frightening eyes. Each year she’d grown more sure that he was still somewhere in the shadows of her life. At twenty-two, she wasn’t fanciful, but still his presence lingered. She would dream of him holding her, loving her in the courtly way of bygone days-- his eyes grey instead of red. There were times when she knew things about history that she hadn’t studied. Seeing the monstrous guardian angel had triggered something profound inside of her.

Kimber felt him, watching her in the darkness. For the first time she had the courage to call to him.

“I know you’re there. Please, I have so many questions.”

No sound or movement gave him away. Feeling foolish, she continued.

“I don’t know why I feel like this, but please I need to know you’re real.”

The shadow moved. He stepped out just enough that she could make out his form in the darkness. He was just as tall and imposing as she remembered.

“Why do I feel like this? Why do I love you?”

She’d never admitted the truth of her feelings, not even to herself, until that moment. Stunned by her own admission she sat back quietly, waiting.

“You’ve lived before. When I was a man, we cared for each other. I’m a monster, Kimber, and you are not Evelynn.”

Hearing the name falling from his lips triggered something profound and beyond words inside of her soul. Crying out she rushed to him, throwing her arms around him. Whether he wanted to admit it or not, whatever was left of Evelynn lived in her. They were separate, yet one. Touching his face, she felt her body respond to the sensation of his skin under her fingers. His scent was even the same and the long dead woman’s memories lived in Kimber’s own heart. Sighing she stood on her tiptoes to kiss his hard cold lips. Her soft words caused him to shudder with emotion.

“If you are cold; let my heart warm you. I don’t care what you are, Greyson, as long as you’re here with me now.”

Finding herself quickly in his arms, she sighed against his lips, moaning his name. Heaven or Hell couldn’t have convinced her to let him go. They stood in the twilight as the public park darkened. Without thought to potential spectators, she felt his hands under her shirt, unhooking her lace bra. The matching panties felt soaked with her hot desperate need as she gasped with each new delightful sensation. Greyson’s skillful fingers soon had her in frenzy. Her pussy clenched with want. She literally ached for him to touch her clit and, clinging to him, she whimpered in her need for him.

He’d backed her up against a tree; the cool night breeze stirred her hair. The skirt that she wore had hiked up to her hips. He’d ripped her panties off one hip. His fingers rolled over her slick clit and she threw her head back crying out his name like a song. He’d undone his fly at some point; she was so close she could feel her body trembling as the first wave of orgasm took her. With only a minor adjustment his long thick cock slid into her, a perfect fit. Strong hands and skilled hips thrust his cock deeply into her body. She clutched his shoulders as her pussy spammed against him and, without a single care for the fact they had no privacy, Kimber came with a fierce joy that left her feeling more whole than she’d ever felt in her entire life.

A moment later, he whispered his eternal devotion against her long soft fragrant hair as he came, her body wringing pleasure from him.

Quickly they righted their clothing as well as they could. Greyson tipped her head back and looked into her eyes. His one word sent a thrill of promise through her soul.

“Eternity.”

About the author: Ashlynn Monroe is a busy wife and mom. She’s been writing since she was a teenager for her own pleasure but in her thirties, she decided it was time to share her stories. She enjoys writing about anything and everything paranormal or fantasy related while maintaining a career as a full time customer service professional. When she is not lovingly raising her young family, she is dreaming up her next tale of romance. Visit her website at http://ashlynnmonroe.webs.com/

Author Interview: Tim Smith


Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome Tim Smith whose latest book The Sweet Distraction was released in June.

Several years ago Tim had an idea for a mystery thriller and one day challenged himself to either write it or stop talking about it. After it was completed, he showed it to some friends who encouraged him to seek publication. After publication, the book was successful with reviewers, won a couple of award and was followed by two sequels. Then he decided to try his hand at a contemporary romantic comedy.

"When I showed a draft to some female friends who'd read my first three books they all came back with the same question," he said. "'Where's the sex???'"

For a book to be a good erotic story, Tim told me there has to be a certain amount of foreplay and tension, either physical or mental.

"Teasing conversation laced with sexual innuendo is a must and I need to show chemistry and attraction between the characters to make it real. I shy away from writing things where two people meet and by the next page they're breaking the bed," he explained. "I think you need to build up the tension and desire, have a lot of flirting and teasing to make them really want each other, then let them get together."

He feels that one of the biggest public misconception about erotica is that the word is just a politically correct word for porn.

"I've had people tell me they thought erotica was just pornography with a story wrapped around it, which I think is unfair. I think some people don’t understand that when you read an erotic romance there really is a plot beyond the sex. Some friends have gone to my publisher's website to check out my books, saw the you must be 18 disclaimer and quickly exited, thinking they were getting into something on the federal watch list. Of course, the fact that they were surfing at work may have had something to do with that."

One way Tim researches his books is by visiting the location he's chosen.

"I like to be very accurate in describing atmosphere so I can take the reader someplace they might not have been," he said. "If the reader is familiar with the location I don’t want them questioning if I've ever been there. Research for the erotic segments can take on many forms, including personal knowledge. As an example, when I wrote Anywhere the Heart Goes I chose to make the female lead an expert in the Kama Sutra, with which I wasn't familiar, so off I went to my local book store to get a copy and see what it was all about. For the relationship aspects, I bounce things off my sig other, who isn’t shy about telling me if I've missed the target in writing the female point of view."

For authors who might want to write erotica, Tim has this advice:


First, be sure your family and friends won’t be embarrassed by anything you write. Second, be sure you won't be embarrassed, especially if you plan to use your real name. I would recommend researching the difference between erotica and "purple prose" and decide how far you want to go. When I got into this I discovered it was perfectly okay to use slang references for certain body parts and sexual practices, as long as I could write them without blushing.
Speaking of street slang, though, there are certain words Tim won't use in his writing—words he's read in numerous books to refer to parts of the female anatomy using crude terms that a lot of women find offensive.

"The same goes for the sex act itself. In none of my books, be it erotic romance or action thriller, will you find the dreaded f*** word," he assured me. "I also won't cross into anything degrading or humiliating. I think you can tell a hot story without wallowing in the gutter or going for shock value."

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

"In The Sweet Distraction I wrote a scene where the woman wants to use sex toys. I'd never included anything like that before and wasn't sure I could pull it off, but it worked. I also wrote a scene using mutual masturbation as foreplay, which at first seemed rather personal."

On a more personal note, I asked Tim, "If you could be anyone you wanted, who would it be?"

"Frank Sinatra, just so I could find out how he did what he did so well for so many years."

In addition, Sinatra is one of his choices to listen to while he's writing. The other? Jazz.

"What's your most embarrassing moment?" I asked.

"There have been many, but one that stands out was when I was on a date with someone I'd just met and I ran into another woman I'd had a fling with a short time earlier. What made it embarrassing was the fact that I'd stopped returning her calls and she reminded me of it in a voice that was probably heard in the next time zone. By the way, a variation on that incident appears in The Sweet Distraction."

A few things you might not know about Tim:

His favorite food? Italian.

His favorite food for eating off another person's tummy? "I've found chocolate sauce with whipped cream and a cherry to be a nice desert when served up on a woman's tummy. Of course, the real fun is when it slides further south and a spoon gets in the way."

His least favorite food? "Yellow wax beans. They're like eating plastic fruit."

He can not only tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi, he told me, "I can tell the difference between good Scotch and the cheap no-label stuff they try to palm off on you if you don’t request a specific brand."

Finally, I asked Tim, "If someone were to play you in a movie, which actor would it be and why?"

"Pierce Brosnan.. We're about the same age and in the same shape, we're both a couple of smart-asses and we share the same offbeat sense of humor."

You can keep up with Tim on his website, http://www.timsmithauthor.com/

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Spotlight: Marteeka Karland

Do You Have Too Many Irons in the Fire?



Marteeka is sitting in her den trying to do her fifth essay. She's had a long day with working full time in addition to being a mommy, a wife, and the official CGI artist of the Empire (um, Beautiful Trouble Publishing), which means that she basically listens to a barrage of demands. Thinking back on the movie Multiplicity she considers cloning herself, but knowing the people in her life they’d wear the clones out too. The ding of the IM awakes her just as she nods off.

BTP: Teeka? Are you busy?

MK: I’ve been talking about myself in the third person, of course I’m busy.

BTP: Real busy or only kinda busy?

MK: I will kill you.

BTP: Yeah but before or after you hear what we want?

MK: Seriously. Death…

BTP: We know you went to work, took your son to soccer, and pulled two double shifts last week...but could you please pretty please do a cover for us? It needs a T-Rex and a dragon, a hot BBW woman, a smoking hot naked man. Fire. Smoke. And we need it tomorrow. Also, when are we getting another submission from you?

Before she can answer, a little voice says, "Mommy? Can I have a snack? I just want a Poptart. I can take it out of the package, but will you put it in the toaster? It's hard to get out without burning my fingers."

Husband. "No, son, Mom's about to fix supper, aren't you, Mom?"

Another ding on IM.

KK (editor from another publisher): Teeka? Do you have any idea how late your book is? M's gonna kill us both if you don't get it in! Where are you and when can you get it to me? I love you to death, but you really suck and it takes me a while to edit you.

Another ding on IM.

AG (cover art director from another publisher): Hey. Cover for ya. It's not officially a rush job, but it IS slated out for two weeks and the author really needs the cover for promotional art.

Another…. Oh, you get the point.

AA (anonymous author from above): I really hate to rush you, and I'm so sorry (she really IS a sweetheart and isn't pushy) but I've got to get something up on my website to promote with. Please???

Marteeka shuts her laptop, not answering any more IM's because her sanity is in serious question at this point. She stumbles off to the bathroom because it's the only place in the house where someone else ISN'T. She shuts the door. Locks it. Turns up the CD player… some loud, blaring, screamy stuff because she knows that will drive away even cockroaches. She fills the bath with hot water and bubble bath and sinks gratefully to her neck.

She closes her eyes…

Only to have the door open, close, and a solid, muscled, hair roughened body sinks into the bath behind her. She sighs happily.

"What took you so long?"

"Had to fix Poptarts for the boy," he replies as he gently takes one peaked nipple between his fingers and rolls it between the pads. "He'll be occupied for a few minutes…"

"And what did you have in mind for those few minutes?" Marteeka purrs. He knows just how to touch her, just how to make her want more of his caresses.

"Oh, I thought we'd…"

There's a pounding at the door.

"Mommy? Daddy? What's going on in there?"

He grinds his teeth in frustration. Marteeka has to stifle a giggle.

"We're saving water and taking a bath together. We'll be out in a minute."

"But, I need a bath too. It would save even more water if we had family bath time. Then we could have family cuddle time and all go to sleep TOGETHER."

Sigh.

Just like everything else.

NOTHING FINISHED!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thursday Spotlight: Marteek Karland

Go with the Flow


Some of you may know I also do cover art for Beautiful Trouble Publishing, Changeling Press, and as a freelance artist. What you may not know is that, sometimes, my books actually start out as "cover art," or wallpaper.
For every cover I do, at least one image is either rejected or altered enough by either me or the customer that I end up with a desktop pretty. Sometimes, those pretties inspire stories of their own. One of my most popular series started out as a desktop pretty several years ago.

Alternately, I've done pretties for authors as inspirational art. They tell me to make a hunky dude with a sexy chick in an interesting situation and those images end up as characters. As an author, you never know where the inspiration will strike you. Images are always a good start. It really is true that a picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes, more than twenty thousand words actually. :-)

And the best thing? Once the story is done, I've got a cover that's almost finished, tailored to my book AND I've got promotional art to give away and use until the cover is finished. It's definitely a positive creative outlet and works for me on many different levels for many different things. I don’t recommend it. Mainly because if you get good, I'll be out of a job. *grin*

[Jeanie and Jayha wait until Marteeka leaves the room to check the score of the Kentucky game. They sneak into Marteeka’s office and ogle the pretty artwork there before adding their two cents. Jayha has to stop The Jeanie from licking the screen at the hotness that Marteeka has as her screen saver.] “Marteeka’s art has created an entire series. In fact, they’re the subject of BTP’s challenge stories. We beg, plead and threaten before finally begging some more for Marteeka to make us something. When she does, we make it the basis for a challenge story and dare our writers to come up with a story worthy of the cover. [Hearing Marteeka come back, Jeanie and Jayha wipe the drool off the laptop and scurry out of the room.]

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wednesday Spotlight: Marteeka Karland

Oh, You Didn't Know?


Your azz better…

DO SOME RESEARCH!

You're an AUTHOR, not a nuclear physicist. But if your character is a nuclear physicist, you'd better make him/her speak the lingo and do it correctly. Use as many details as you can, as accurately as you can. Know what you're talking about, and I don't mean just from movies either. If your story is about more than the romance between your characters--and it most likely will be--then make sure you know what you're writing about. Nothing will turn a reader off more than if she's a nuclear physicist reading about your nuclear physicist going… "uh, no. Uh HELL no."

Make your story as realistic as you can. Research the details and create them accurately in your writing. Details can make a good story great. If you're not sure about something, LOOK IT UP. Don't guess. Yes, poetic license is allowed, but don't have your nuclear physicist handling naked uranium bare handed or something. (Er…unless that's how he/she got his/her superpowers.)

Personally, I highly recommend wikipedia. It's a great starting place and can point you to places you'd never think of. Scour the Discovery Channel and the History Channel for documentaries. They may not give you all the information you need, but they may show you still more places to search. And don't forget your local library. I once wrote a book about Atlantis where I had the mythical city located in the Challenger Deep off the shore of the Philippine Islands. It was only a few paragraphs in the story detailing where the city was, but I tried to make it as geographically correct as accurate as possible. It may not be noticed by everyone, but I guarantee you, it's better than even one reader noticing how royally you f*cked up. Those are always pointed out and could cost you readers in the long run.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday Spotlight: Marteeka Karland

Know Your Role!


As a writer, I tend to create stories that appeal to me, which is great if I'm buying my own books. The trick is, to find an audience who loves the same stuff I do. How does one do that? Picking the right publisher is a great start. Pick a publisher that sells books you like to read. Buy some of their books in different genres to get a feel for what they sell.

BE AWARE!!

The first book you write for that publisher will be what your audience expects. ESPECIALLY if you write something with a speciality audiance. Menage. Slash. Manga. Shunga. Fem dom. It's much easier to cross genre if you start simple. M/F audiences will cross over easier than say ménage readers will cross to straight M/F books. Likewise, if your publisher specializes in a genre like science fiction or paranormal, it will be easier to cross over, more than if your publisher specializes in historical or sweet romance. That's an extreme, but you see what I mean.

Likewise, IR publishers will publish ménage, but it's not necessarily what their readers expect. You may contract the book, but don't expect to set any sales records.

Bottom line? Write what you love —it's what makes a good writer a great one—but research the market. Find a publisher that suits you and has a good track record of selling books in your preferred genre. Once you’re in, you'll be on your way to building a dedicated readership.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday Spotlight: Marteeka Karland

Erotic romance author by night, emergency room tech/clerk by day, Marteeka Karland works really hard to drive everyone in her life completely and totally nuts. She has been creating stories from her warped imagination since she was in the third grade. Her love of writing blossomed throughout her teenage years until it developed into the totally unorthodox and irreverent style her English teachers tried so hard to rid her of.

Now, she breathes life into faeries, space hunters, werewolves, vampires, shapeshifters, and a few just plane ole ordinary people. She loves to see the awkward, self-conscious band geek get the captain of the football team and make him beg for it. *snicker*

Marteeka Karland loves pretty pictures. When she was introduced to DAZ Studio, she decided she'd try making her own. Took her a while, but one thing led to another and she eventually got pretty good at it. Her relationship with J and J began in the Fall of 2009 and, together, they've created some pretty amazing images. Marteeka loves to try new techniques and watch her style grow and change at every opportunity. Though she admires many digital artists, Ulf and Angela Knight are two artists she idolizes. Don't tell them though. They might get an idea of how much she dearly loves both of them. :-)

Want to see what's up with Marteeka? Check out her website at www.marteekakarland.com or join her Yahoo! group at marteekakarland-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Marteeka always welcomes e-mail from her readers. You can reach her at mkarland@gmail.com.

You can see samples of Marteeka's work at her Deviant Art page here: http://marteekakarland.deviantart.com/gallery/.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Come Back Soon by Jennifer Katherine Shepherd


Nadine stood there, hands clutched by her sides, glaring at Hudson. He instantly realized the night before you have to leave may not be the best time to tell your wife the king has sent you a missive about a new mission. Not that there is ever a good time to tell your six months pregnant wife you have to leave for an extended period of time. Some days it seems simply talking about the weather is going to set off a storm inside. He saw her eyes shift to the full coffee cup on the table beside her and he grabbed it first, before she could, moving it out of harm's way.

Her eyes changed from thunderously angry to something worse – something he struggled to bear. They filled with moisture until it seemed they were swimming and then tears rolled down her cheeks, her arms cross protectively in front of her swollen belly. The mound moved as the twins shifted inside her—restless, as if they were picking up on Nadine's own agitation. It wouldn't be surprising if one or both had inherited her psychic talents.

"You nearly died out there the last time," she gasped out through the sobs that shook her small body.

Hudson stepped forward to take her in his arms, but she twisted away, bracing herself against the table as if she couldn't stand without help. His heart sank as he remembered the pain they had both gone through the last time.

"Shhhh." He overcame her resistance and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her against him, stroking her belly—feeling our children begin to settle. "If there were any other way, you know I wouldn't leave you, but…"

She took a deep shuddering breath and leaned her head back against his chest.

"I know…and I know I'm letting my hormones rule, but…" her voice broke…"I don't want to raise these children alone."

He chuckled then. "How many visions have you had with both me and the twins together in them?"

"Hormonal emotion has nothing to do with intellect, visions, or anything. I… I need you here, Hudson, not off playing spy for the king."

He ran his hands up her ribcase, cupping her breasts. They were swollen with her pregnancy and more sensitive to his touch. As he lightly teased her nipples, they stiffened under his fingers. "No one else can get inside. I'm already accepted as a part of their group. And, the king has received word something major is going to happen soon. I have to be there."

In answer and perhaps acquiescence, she pressed her ass against his stiff cock and ground into it. Lifting her cotton shift above her waist, he discovered she had neglected to put panties on—not unusual since she planned on staying home. Moisture coated his fingers as he stroked her core gently.

She turned in my arms and pressed her lips to his neck, mewing softly.

Despite the additional weight from pregnancy, she was still a little thing and he lifted her easily in his arms and carried her to their bed. As he divested her of the thin cotton, he marveled at how beautiful she was to him. He’d not thought it possible for Nadine to grow any more lovely, but pregnancy had given her a glow he’d always thought was just rumor. Light blue veins were obvious on her heavier breasts, and he traced them with his finger as he moved toward her nipples, the areolas darker and larger than they had been just a few months before. Replacing his fingers with his lips and drawing her nipples into his mouth caused Nadine to writhe on the bed.

He knelt beside the bed and angled her hips toward him, worshiping the goddess that was his wife. He nibbled kisses up her inner thigh until he reached the real treasure of her wet core. He flicked his tongue across her clit, slipping a finger into her cream soaked hole. His cock pressed uncomfortably against his trousers, so with a quick movement, he freed it, stroking himself with the same rhythm he used to fuck his wife with his tongue and finger. Nadine's moans fill the room as she entwines her fingers in his hair and pulled him closer to her, pumping herself against him in the age-old rhythm of love.

Suddenly, before she comes, she pushed his head away. He looked up, stunned at her sudden reversal, only to be met with her radiant smile.

"Come up here to me and make love to me properly," she whispered, pushing herself back further on the bed.

"But…I don't want to hurt the babies."

She laughed. "Don't worry about that…come here and lay with me."

He settled himself on the bed and she rose above him, lowering herself onto his cok—her wet cunt clutching around him as she engulfed him. Her tits swayed above him with her movements and he propped himself up on his elbows in order to capture one of them with his mouth. She groaned in pleasure, slowing her movements for a moment and simply enjoying being impaled on him, arching her back and pressing her breast further into his mouth. Then, unable to wait any longer, he bucked beneath her, encouraging her to ride him. Faster and faster, their passions and physical pleasure built until she cried out her release just as he emptied his seed into her.

He held her in his arms, rolling her onto her side without pulling out from her. The swell of her belly rested against him, and he rested one hand on his children as they fell asleep.

He woke her the next morning and leave her with a light kiss. He will worry about Nadine while he’s gone and determines to be back before the birth of their children because, while she's often had visions of him with the twins, he’d never heard her mention seeing herself.

For more stories with Nadine and Hudson, click here.

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 and http://www.menagerieauthors.blogspot.com

Author Interview: MA Ellis


Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome M.A. Ellis, whose latest book Filigree and Fantasy is out from Ellora's Cave. I asked her to tell us a little bit about it.

Whitney is ecstatic over her internship in Macedonia and the opportunity to hone her craft at the hands of a filigree master. Little does she know the old man has an ulterior motive for her presence—using her talent to save the dwindling numbers of his family’s canine shapeshifters, the Sharplanjat.

Jovan isn’t a shifter, but his sense of duty rivals that of the Sharplanjat—until his unbridled attraction to the woman who might very well hold his family’s future in her hands forces him to throw caution aside and hold her. Taste her. Drive her to the brink of exquisite passion and beyond.

Mesmerized by the virile, violet-eyed foreigner, Whitney is more than ready for a quick, steamy affair. But the extremely determined Jovan has more than several days of scorchingly wild sex in mind.

But when she finds out his family secret will she run screaming in fear or embrace the fantasy that can only be found in his protective arms?
"How do you personally distinguish between erotica, erotic romance, and pornography?" I asked M.A.

"I’ll give you the simplistic answers. Straight erotica has a central focus on sexual enlightenment in some form. Erotic romance has romance and emotionality at the core, coupled with physical attraction which leads to amazing sexual moments. Porn is sex for the sake of sex. There isn’t a remote chance it can be misconstrued as ‘love’ in any form."

Some of the authors she believes write excellent erotic fantasy include Emma Holly. Joey Hill. Lora Leigh.

If characters are able to have one night of hot, passionate sex and then walk away, in M.A.'s opinion, it's not erotic.

"Erotic romance is just that—an ongoing attraction that might have started as the pure physical attraction but quickly turns into an emotional bond," she explained. "If you get that down, then the eroticism follows. I want my characters to have innocuous conversations with each other but secretly be thinking how hot the other person is making them. To me, that’s real life. And if I’m writing a love scene and I don’t get some sort of visceral reaction, then it’s just sex and we have to start over."

One of the biggest public misconception about erotica is that it's a form of porn.

"I’ve done radio interviews where the term ‘soft-core porn’ often comes up. I point out there is absolutely nothing wrong with a woman exploring her sexuality," she told me."If she’s on a journey to find out something about herself, that’s not porn. In my opinion, there’s a difference between a woman coming to terms with something she wants to experience and an author weaving a tale of how she achieves that goal versus the image of bodies frantically jumping from one sexual position to the next until everyone’s screaming ‘harder’ and ‘faster’ as they work toward the money shot."

M.A. told me that you won't read anything in her writing where the characters' actions are explicitly described if they are into something she finds pornish or degrading. She does let her characters do what they want, however M.A. writes what she feels the readers need to know.

"An example, I had a heroine who shocked my hero when, during the course of some verbal foreplay, she made a comment about ‘face painting’. But there was no way I was going to do a choreographed scene with that happening. That’s not to say I’m going to slam any authors who write that. If it’s part of the character’s desire and her partner is fine with it, then it’s between them. But I do get to be omnipotent on some things. Ahhh, the power! I mean, really. Fists are for boxing and thrusting in the air at concerts…not thrusting elsewhere," she said.

" Did you always set out to write erotica or did it evolve from something else?" I asked.

"I wrote an 80,000 word historical that won a contest in 1989 and was promptly rejected from a NY publisher. It still hasn’t seen the light of day. But the impetus of my taking the plunge into erotic romance was an erotic poem I did for my writing portfolio at college. And let me point out, this was when I went back to school after a ten year break that included motherhood and corporate wife duties. I got great feedback from my peers and the professor on that poem. When I finally decided it was time to quit making excuses and work toward my goal of publication, that poem came to mind and I thought, ‘what the heck’. I did my research and decided to aim high and submit to Ellora’s Cave. I feel very blessed that they liked my voice and took me on."

Her family is very supportive in their own way. Her former husband continues to promote her "like a wild man, which is awesome," she told me. Her son is her webmaster. Her daughter tells everyone what she does and that her career started later in life, which she finds inspirational.

"None of them read my stuff, which is fine with me," she assured me. "That they regularly tell me how proud they are that I pursued my dream is enough for me."

I asked M.A. to share with us her most embarrassing moment.

Once upon a time, many years ago, I used to speak without thinking…the most embarrassing moment cured me of that. I was at a comedy club in this small town where my husband was orchestrating an expansion of a pet food plant and some of the workers showed up and we invited them to join us at our table. During the course of the show—and there was half-priced drinks involved—the comedian did the ‘shout out’ question and asked all the ladies in the audience what occupation they found sexiest. I immediately yelled out “construction worker”. Hoots from the audience reaffirmed I wasn’t the only one who fantasized about guys with huge tool belts. Pleased that I had ‘interacted’ I turned around to whisper something to my husband and met with two shocked, one amused and one cocky expression from the guys at our table…all construction workers!
Finally, I asked M.A. what advice she would give to authors who want to write erotica.

"Read the genre. Over and over. And not just one publisher. This works twofold: it gives you an idea of the variety of writing and it also helps you consider where you might want to submit your work. You’ll see what calls to you and then write YOUR story. Don’t try patterning it on anything else because that’s probably not going to work for you. I’d also suggest checking out the calls for themed submissions at a publisher’s website. It’s a great way to get your work in the door."

You can keep up with M.A. on her website, http://www.maellisromance.com

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Spotlight: Lex Valentine

Heroines: Goths Got Nothing on Them


The tragic heroine, the tormented one, often draws me in more than any other. However, I have to admit that I need to be in the right frame of mind for it. I love it when an author draws a heroine as dark, secretive, wounded emotionally and sometimes even physically. I especially love when these heroines find happiness and overcome the darkness.

My two most tormented souls are red dragon Emily Carrington in Ride the Lightning and Captain Tait Boland in Unbreak Me, coming later this year. Emily comes from an abused childhood and has a pain fetish she indulges at BDSM clubs. She’s a natural submissive except when it comes to her work where she’s a high-powered finance executive. When her mate spurns her she rides that pain for three years until the torment of their situation drives her to a suicide attempt. When her mate redeems himself and shows Emily how much he loves her, she has trouble believing that her life of pain is over. Her rise out of the dark abuse of her past is shown to the readers through the pristine white bedroom where Vahid takes her after he rescues her from a beating. The strength in Emily’s core helps her leave her past behind and embrace a new strong future with her mate at her side.

For Tait Boland, weakness meant death. An assassin assigned to an elite group of warrior-soldiers, Tait has spent her military career killing. When her lover’s unit is ambushed and she’s told of his death, she doesn’t stop until she finds out who betrayed him and then she kills the betrayer in cold blood. Courtmartialed and sentenced to prison, Tait spends the next few years being tortured. She escapes by faking her death in a prison fire. When her lover Ren returns from being held prisoner, the two are brought together by a magical heart that holds a piece of each of their souls. Ren thinks Tait betrayed him. Tait thinks Ren can’t want a scarred woman who is definitely broken. As betrayal upon betrayal is discovered, Tait tries to find herself again while Ren finds that he’ll do anything to unbreak her.

Both Emily and Tait are broken women. Yet both still have a core of strength they didn’t really know they had. They draw on that strength to hold them together through the more horrendous situations. In the end, they come out on top, vanquishing the darkness within themselves as the steadfast love of the heroes heal the broken parts of their hearts and souls. In the end, their strength only had to come from their belief in the love of their men.

I write stories like this because I’m a sucker for a poignant ending that makes you cry. And I’ve always written what I like to read. This type of theme is one I will come back to again and again when reading and writing because I so love a strong heroine who overcomes pain to find happiness.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thursday Spotlight: Lex Valentine

Heroines: Girls Rule


My two favorite types of heroines are the tormented, broken ones and the spunky, asskicking ones. The heroines who kick ass and take names are like super heroes to me, wearing a “Girls Rule” shirt. Occasionally, I like to combine the two together as I did in Hot Water where black dragon Eden Antaeus hides how broken she feels at being the black sheep of the family behind a totally in your face persona. Eden’s not faking that tough girl attitude either. Later in the book, she gets over feeling like the black sheep and she slugs her brother Sean for treating her that way. Go Eden!

In Common Ground my heroine is a diminutive spitfire of a wolf. She doesn’t take any shit from the hero and deliberately maneuvers him into a ménage a quatre he never saw coming. Don’t let Sair’s size fool you. She may be small but she’s a forceful personality who had learned to be strong and in control. Even though her mate is Alpha, he soon learns that sometimes life’s a lot easier if he just gives in to Sair.

Most readers wouldn’t see a submissive character as strong and in control, but Ainsley Connor in Insolence is exactly that. Ainsley wants Aric and she’ll do anything to have him. That includes becoming his submissive for the weekend. Aric, a renowned Dom in his community, doesn’t feel all that dominant when Ainsley drops her clothes on the floor and calls him “Sir.” Everything that happens between them occurs because Ainsley is strong enough to ask for it.

My ultimate “Girls Rule” heroine is Lilah in the non-romance story Ain’t Nuthin’ But a Hellhound (Weirdly III.) Lilah manages to best not only the father whose very nature she abhors but his second in command, a man Lilah shares a romantic past with. Both men are demons, powerful and dominant. But Lilah uses her smarts to turn the tables on them both and come out on top. Kickin’ demon ass and takin’ names!

There’s something just mesmerizing about a heroine who can be just as strong and resourceful (if not more) than the men in the book. I love heroines who shape their own destiny and don’t let stuff just happen to them. Even then the worst does occur, they have an indomitable spirit that you know is there waiting for its moment to shine again. Heroines like that are ones you can cheer for and who make you woot when they get their man.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wednesday Spotlight: Lex Valentine

Heroes: The Fun Guy


You can’t always read books about angsty characters. Sometimes you need lighter fare. Stuff that’s more fun. Characters that don’t really have things to overcome. Stories that are just feel good stories that make you smile from start to finish. I know I love this kind of book. Even though I have to be in the mood for it, I just have the most fun reading them!

Since I tend to be a little broody myself, I don’t often find myself in the mindset to write just stories. Sure, I can be a little humorous, but humor from start to finish isn’t really my thing. Yet I managed to do this with The Pixie Prince. Max is an outgoing guy. He’s got a sunny personality and he enjoys life. An underwear model, Max is comfortable with people both in and out of his clothes. His best friend and sidekick Alexa is a broody vampire with a tragic past. However, her snark is admirably played off against Max’s irrepressible good humor.

When Max meets his mate he discovers she’s a lot like him. Her younger brother is like Alexa, broody with a tragic past. Poor Bliss finds it tough to constantly deal with an angst ridden younger brother and an overprotective older one. She loves how free being with Max makes her feel. The book is filled with little quips and humorous banter. It will make you smile and laugh out loud. I love that in a book!

My other feel good hero is Randall Wise in The Wise Guy. Rand is a good guy who’s decided he’ll have better luck in love if he’s a bad guy. After all, the bad boys always get the girl! When a sexy woman moves in next door, Rand decides to try acting the bad boy to see how far it gets him with her. Brenna Thorne is a nice girl. The girl next door type. But Brenna thinks she needs to act the sex kitten to get a man. After all, the sex kittens get all the men! Rand and Brenna try not to act like themselves but fate and a cat named Rambo conspire to ensure that the two fall in love no matter what they’re pretending to be.

The humorous and comical parts of The Pixie Prince and The Wise Guy are the most fun I’ve ever had reading a book. Books that can make me laugh out loud or giggle behind my fingers as I keep turning pages…those books are keepers. Heroes who are fun guys, who make even the more boring of things into something amusing, are among my most favorite heroes ever! Who can forget a hero who is funny and sexy at the same time? And who wouldn’t want a hero who puts the Happy in the HEA from page one?

I’d be interested to see who think are fun heroes. Tell me whose heroes make you laugh!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tuesday Spotlight: Lex Valentine

Heroes: Strong, Silent Types


The strong, silent hero has long been a favorite of women. The Gary Coopers and James Deans. John Wayne and Heath Ledger as Ennis Del Mar. Men who can’t seem to articulate what they feel, but whom you know you can count on. To me, the majority of these characters seem to be cowboys. I guess there’s something about riding horses and working outdoors that make those characters less likely to spill their guts to you.

In my own backlist, the most obvious strong, silent type is Declan Antaeus in Shifting Winds. At six foot five, Declan is a big man. He’s the guy who makes his brother Sean’s edicts happen. Sean relies on Declan because his brother always gets the job done. For years, Declan carried a torch for a woman he could not have. He stood in silence and watched as her fiancé broke up with her in a very public and humiliating manner. Then he swooped in and rescued her, taking her away from all the eyes on her. Years later when he’s given an opportunity to be with her, he grabs it with both hands, eager to give her the love and commitment the other man would not.

Other than Declan, the rest of my strong, silent heroes seem to all be gay. Or bi-sexual in the case of Garret Renquist in Fire Season. Zander from Where There’s Smoke is the epitome of the strong, silent type. He doesn’t mince words. He’s a warrior first and everything else second until he meets his mate. Then he uses his warrior skills to ensure nothing and no one lays a hand on Voth. Not that Voth is weak. He’s actually physically bigger than Zander, but he’s more cerebral and less prone to shoot first and ask questions later.

Caine Carruthers in Rousing Caine (Love Me Dead anthology) is also a strong, silent type. Not so much verbally because he’s forced to talk a lot about his past and his emotions by the circumstances he finds himself in (dead.) But Caine is an athlete, more at home with action than words. His love interest, Jason Rockham, is a restaranteur. Jason deals with people all day long, talking to his employees and his customers. He and Caine are polar opposites in many ways, but it’s obvious Caine is the strong, silent type.

In Christmas Catch I pair two men of this type together, a former Air Force pilot and a former rodeo star. Both men aren’t really the type to be comfortable spewing their guts, yet they do it because of the force of the attraction between them. Men like this are more comfortable with action. They prefer to let their actions show how they feel. For the recipient of those actions there is nothing better. Who wouldn’t want to be the center of this hero’s world? To have all that masculinity focused on your pleasure and well-being should make any heroine (or hero) feel completely adored. And that’s just want readers want and authors strive for, making the reader feel as if she was right there with the hero.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday Spotlight: Lex Valentine

Heroes: Bad Boys vs Assholes


There are all kinds of heroes in books. I write just about every type you could think of from the good guy to the tormented hero. However, there’s a breed of hero out there that I think is gaining a lot of momentum with readers: the heroes who aren’t all that sterling. Of these not so wonderful heroes, the two I like most are the bad boy and the asshole (jerk.)

The bad boy is the guy who appears to be not squeaky clean, not the boy next door, and definitely not the sweet, good guy. The bad boy may not be all that bad in actuality. He may not have a criminal record or have done anything that could remotely be called bad. He may be a bad boy simply by virtue of the fact that he’s unconventional. He wears biker boots or work boots instead of wingtips. Faded, ripped Levis instead of a suit. He may ride a motorcycle or drive a beat up truck instead of a sports car or fancy sedan. These guys are bad boys by virtue of their appearance.

Then there are bad boys who actually aren’t all that nice. These guys could be suit wearing corporate raiders or leather jacketed ex-cons. Their commonality is that they do what they want and brush aside the feelings of others. In other words, they are arrogant assholes.

In my series Tales of the Darkworld, I have both bad boys and assholes. In Ride the Lightning, the hero Vahid Delrey is a total asshole. He spurns his destined mate in favor of moving in with his boss’s sister. He’s horribly rude to his mate, judgmental and uncaring of her feelings. Eventually, he begins to change his attitude and his feelings about her. In the end, he takes responsibility for his poor behavior and the detrimental affect it’s had on Emily. He realizes that he needs to put her and her needs first and his attitude does an about face.

Seth Dylan who first appears as a secondary character in Common Ground gets his turn as the bad boy hero in Sunstroked. He’s the boot and jeans wearing, scowling and dour Scots werewolf who doesn’t recognize his mate when he finds him. Sunstroked will be out next month and those of you who read this series will find Seth to be pretty much a classic bad boy. He admits that his sexual relationships with men aren’t relationships. He admits to using those men to get off with complete disregard for whether they might be interested in more from him. When the man who took his virginity appears in his life after nearly two years, Seth realizes he’s held himself distant from other men because it’s Corey he wants, needs and loves.

The penultimate bad boy in my series is black dragon Sean Antaeus who won’t have his own book until the very last of the series. Sean is both bad boy and asshole. The arrogant, take no prisoners head of the Antaeus family and the conglomerate Antaeus International can be ruthless when he needs to be with family, friends, and in business. But a good potion of his bad boy image is just that, an image. One that equals the leather, ripped jeans and motorcycles of other bad boys. Sean uses it to hide how much he loves his family and how much they mean to him.

Whether you’re a fan of the bad boy hero or not, you can’t be indifferent to them. They always bring out some sort of emotion in you even if it’s annoyance. But I see more and more readers of my series calling for Sean’s story and exclaiming over Vahid’s redemption. The asshole and bad boy heroes are gaining ground on the nice guys. I like to think it’s because we all admire a man who is strong and forceful but still caring and loving. We all want to believe that everyone has good qualities. And who wouldn’t want to be swept away by a primal man with a fiercely loving heart?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Gypsy Dancer by Elyzabeth M. VaLey


The gypsy danced with ease. Her long black hair fell around her in soft curls as she twirled. Her hips, covered in a revealing flowing burgundy skirt, swayed and rolled. His thoughts strayed and he pictured her over him. He’d lift his body trying to enter her, but she would seductively avoid him. He’d grab her hips firmly and pull her against him. She’d relent with a sigh of satisfaction.

Ashton blushed at the sudden erotic onslaught. Taking a deep breath he tried to enjoy the girl’s dance. The gypsy stepped closer to him, her tambourine moving in rhythm to the bells on her ankles. His loins stirred at her closeness. Flustered, he looked at her bare feet. He envisioned her sprawled on his cot, her tanned legs spread open for him. He would be between her, slowly kissing and licking each of her toes. She would giggle and squirm but he’d hold her still, and continue teasing her. He would make a path with his tongue that roamed from her ankles, to her calves, across her thighs and finally concluded in her moist center. She’d be wet and wanton, her breath labored. Her supple body would buck uncontrollably as she begged for more. He would comply and delve deeper inside her, drinking her sweet fluids.

He shook his head, frustrated. What was wrong with him? He’d never had such a reaction to any woman.

Still dancing, the woman looked directly at him and smiled. His heart danced in his ribcage. Her body was sinful but her smile belonged to an angel. How could he have had such thoughts about her body, when clearly this woman, this goddess, deserved veneration?

Oblivious to his scrutiny, the gypsy raised her arms and his eyes immediately fell on her bosom. She entwined her hands and shook the tambourine. Her moves caused her breasts to jiggle and his mouth to become dry. Unexpectedly, she swooped to the floor and he caught a glimpse of her cleavage. His breath hitched in his throat. She continued dancing, but he paid no attention to the complex routine. His cock twitched and Ashton daydreamed. He saw himself ripping her bodice. Her full breasts would spring out, her chocolate colored nipples already hard. Beckoning him to take them, he’d lower his head and suck, lick, nip, and feast on them like there was no tomorrow.

Passing a hand through his fair hair, Ashton groaned. Why had he even stopped to see the gypsy dance? He had been on his way to the castle to beg for another mission, when the crowd of people and the chimes of bells had stopped him in his tracks. Then he had seen her: a raven-haired beauty dancing for some coins. All his thoughts about being a soldier and protecting the kingdom had fled with the wind. Instead, his body had taken control over his mind and he had imagined this woman dancing naked for him, forever. He shifted, uncomfortable. Nay, it had been more than his body speaking. His heart sung at the sight of her. Gods, he had even imagined the children: a boy and a girl, they’d have her dark locks and his fair eyes.

The gypsy danced closer to him and he smelled her hair. Wild and sweet, like strawberries, peaches, and a storm over the sea. He closed his eyes to the performance, ignoring it all together. In his mind he saw them lying together, their limbs entwined as he pushed into her with tenderness. As her moans of pleasure increased and her nails dug into his back, he’d thrust into her, hard. He’d nip at her neck, her special spot, and she’d come undone, her orgasm triggering his own climax. Then he’d take her into his arms and –

“You are absent, my love,” the sultry voice broke his thoughts.

He turned to the woman lying next to him, and kissed her deeply. His hands roamed over her body, reveling in the feel of her naked skin.

“I was remembering the first time I saw you, my love.”

Ariadna, the gypsy woman, his love, his wife, laughed.

“You have no idea how I lusted for you, how I yearned to get closer to you. It took me days to court you, you know?”

“I can imagine, love, for it was much the same for me. After I saw you in the crowd watching me dance that first day, I knew that forever my dances would be dedicated to you, that my wandering soul had finally found home,” she whispered in his ear. Her sensual voice and warm breath consumed him. The rasp of her teeth on his earlobe caused his cock to jump with vengeance. Her hand circled the growing member and she giggled, clearly amused at his rapid rise.

Ashton grinned. With a playful slap on her rump he rolled Ariadna over and helped her settle over his wanton cock.

“Now, dance for me, my gypsy love, dance.”

About the author: Usually shy and quiet, with either a book or notebook nearby, at first sight you might think that Elyzabeth is nothing more than a hard working student. However, at closer inspection, you might discover that behind her serene demeanor she might be concocting an elaborate fantasy of love and desire. http://www.inadreambeyond.blogspot.com/

Author Interview: Eliza Knight


Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome Eliza Knight whose latest book Take It Off, Warrior was released in June by Ellora's Cave.

Eliza told me she's always been a writer—from her very first story about a mouse who stole cheese to YA stories about mean girls, to romantic suspense, historical romance, historical fiction, and finally erotic romance.

"I like to write, and I like stories. For me it’s all about a good story that is interesting and entertaining. I want readers to escape into the pages of the story, live the story," she said. "When I decided I wanted to write professionally, I wrote stories. I wrote a few novellas, and a couple novels. About a year after starting, I received my first contract, in 2008. Since then I’ve published 8 novellas. Recently I signed with an agent, and she is shopping around my novels."

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

"All three are about the sexual journey for sure, but there are also major differences. Erotic romance is about the sexual journey experienced by both the heroine and hero, and with each other. Ultimately, the story ends with either a happily ever after or a happy for now. Erotica is about the sexual journey and how a character grows and changes. There doesn’t have to be a HEA between the hero and heroine, and there doesn’t have to be one specific hero for each heroine. It’s all about the main character. Pornography is all about the sexual journey, and heightening the arousal of the reader. Now I will say, that erotica and erotic romance both heighten arousal, but that is not the only purpose of the story."

A good erotic story for her will include having two hot characters that mesh well both physically and mentally, an engaging plot, hot sex, and love. Some of her favorite authors are Jess Michaels, Julia Templeton, Cheryl Holt, and Lacy Danes.

Eliza has also written non-erotic romances, but admitted that even it was sizzling.

"For me the biggest difference in my erotic romance and 'straight' romance stories are the graphic language, the types of sex, and the details," she explained. "Everything else is the same. You need an engaging plot and great characters in both types of stories."

For research, Eliza told me that she loves the book The Bald-headed Hermit and the Artichoke: An Erotic Thesaurus by A.D. Peterkin.

"I liked this one," she said, "because it gives you a lot of different words to use for body parts and acts; if nothing else, it gets your mind thinking."

She also uses the Internet for searches and, for one scene, she told me it would be both hilarious and mortifying if someone was to look at her search history.

"In one of my books the heroine does a little anal play with the hero," she told me. "It was only embarrassing because I’ve never actually tried it, and I had to make it seem real. Had to do some research online and in books to get a better idea. If someone looked at my internet search history!! OMG!!!"

"If you could entertain a character from a book, who would it be and what would the evening be like?" I asked.

"Oh, good question! I would definitely entertain Camden MacLeod from TAKE IT OFF, WARRIOR. He is the sexiest hero I’ve created yet! And he’s talented in so many different things! We’d have a nice dinner, and then I’d let him serenade me with his music until I couldn’t take it any longer." She added with a smile, "Then we’d act out each of the love scenes from the story."

On a more personal note, I wondered who Eliza would choose to be if she could be anyone she wanted.

"I’ve never wanted to be anyone else," she told me. "I really love being me. Now, if I could have another body? That I’d say yes to! (and I’d keep my own face) If I could have another woman’s body, that would be Scarlet Johansson, she is curvy and toned."

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

"Oh God! So my daughter takes swim lessons. Her teacher was always yelling at the kids not to doggy paddle, but to use freestyle strokes. I was working on a story in my notepad, and trying to pay attention to her swimming at the same time. I saw her doing the doggy paddle, and in my infinite wisdom, shouted out: 'Sweetie, don’t do it doggy style!' *Gasp—clapped hands over mouth* 'I mean, doggy paddle, do freestyle.' My face flamed red, and I broke out into fits of giggles for the next 30 minutes left in the class… I had more than one dad and the teenage life guard staring me up and down the rest of the time!"

Eliza's favorite food? "Hmm… tough question… Peanut butter? I love peanut butter on almost anything—bread, crackers, carrots, celery, cheese, a spoon, a finger, a man…"

However, she can't bring herself to eat tongue. "I’ve had some pretty exotic cuisine," she said, "but I’ve never been able to eat tongue… just talking about it makes me a little nauseous."

"Have you ever known anyone who can tie a cherry stem with their tongue?" I wondered.

"Yes, my husband," she answered with a wink.

Her strangest habit? Making big steaming pots of coffee and not drinking them, just because she loves the smell.

Finally I asked her, "What advice do you give authors wanting to write erotica?"

"Go for it! Writing in itself is a lot of fun, and if you love the erotic genre, you know you’ll have a great time expressing yourself and getting the story out there. Recently one of my best friends decided to embark on her own writing project—she’s never written before—and she is totally loving it! As for actual crafting advice: use the five senses, make it active, have well thought-out characters (goals, motivations, conflicts), a well planned and engaging plot. It isn’t only about sex."

You can keep up with Eliza on her website, http://www.elizaknight.com

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Spotlight: Shara Azod

I think every author goes into writing more for the love of telling stories and having others enjoy reading it more than the money or whatever fame they may receive. I personally don’t think I will ever be famous, but I would LOVE to be able to make a living out of writing. Most people have the false notion writer make a lot. That is hilariously far from the truth. Only a very few on the very top make real money writing.

Unfortunately the advent of epirates have made it harder and harder for authors to keep doing what they love. It is really a shame when others think it is perfectly fine to upload a book to give away for free. I think a lot of people don’t realize you aren’t hurting the big guys, you are killing the little guy.

eBook writers for the most part only get a percentage of total net sales. When people actively seek out those books for free, it takes money away from your favorite author to publisher, who cannot afford to give it away for free. I actually had a conversation with a person who had uploaded my books about it. She informed me it is no different from going to the library. If only that were true. When sales slip, authors (most of whom have full time jobs) have to work harder to make a decent living. Sometimes that means overtime or a heavier concentration of day jobs. Several popular authors have quit altogether rather than fight a bunch of people who feel entitled to an author’s work.

The notion boggles my mind. Who is that entitled that you can just take some else’s hard work. And it is work. Building a world from your imagination is harder than most think. Coming up with fresh stories that unique is always a challenge. Having to fight epiracy is even trickier. I would really love it if the fans of authors would join in the fight. Don’t patronize the sites that give books away. If you can, tell people – spread the world. ePiracy kills the market, kills creativity and only serves to make the big guys bigger because they can afford international attorneys to fight these sites. In the end, it is up to all of us to ensure our favorite authors are around for a while.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thursday Spotlight: Shara Azod

I think the most sexual adventurous people in world would be academics. People like professors and librarians, philosophers or scientists. They tend to be free thinkers, not all of them, but a lot just practice the philosophy that there is nothing particularly wrong with letting your freak flag fly so to speak . I worked in academia and I was always fascinated how open and honest a lot of people were about who they were and what they were into. It wasn’t even like bragging or being gross, just matter-of-fact admission and embracing of their inner freaks.

I realize that may be grossly over simplifying. I know that I learned a lot working in a world where there were fewer absolutes and questions were a good thing. It helped me grow a lot and accept people for who they are, not judge them by any kind of preconceived notions I might’ve had. Life would be so much easier if we all learned to accept others as is. As long as consenting adults are not hurting one another or others, why judge it? If you don’t like it you don’t have to live it or read it.

I think that may be why you see a lot of academic types in erotic romance. It is not so far outside the box to think of these types of people having a really passionate love life. When I was asked to write for Beautiful Trouble Publishing in the Laurea Library Series I jumped at the chance.

Ambushed is a story about a librarian who in effectively ambushed by her high school crush. It could have easily been a sweet romance, but I don’t think a librarian would really appreciate something too sweet. I think they would want steamy, hot, titillating.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wednesday Spotlight: Shara Azod

A little known fact about me is that I am kind of despotic. If I could be anyone I wanted, I think I would be Cleopatra I- not the one who got Marc Anthony killed, but the first one. I think I deserve to rule a country for a little while. Or maybe Elizabeth I, or even Catherine the Great. I have this absolute rule fascination thing going on. I would probably never admit it again, but I have a deep enthrallment with people like Ivan the Terrible. I mean, how scary do you have to be before someone tries to chop you into pieces?

Beside the whole total power thing, if I was the absolute ruler I could eat the most fantastic, decadent chocolate desserts all the time. Chocolate would be like a national treasure in all its forms. Dark, milk, white, swirl, I don’t care I love it all. I would immediately outlaw banish Brussels sprouts because really, do we have need of these disgusting bundles of ewwww? And I would make Pepsi put in all their commercials that it is simply Coke the Lesser. And, yes, you can tell the difference. Coke has a much more robust taste where as Pepsi is too sweet. I know all soda is sweet but Pepsi to me is like the knock off Coke. I would also decree that everything should have an “x” word in it. I just love that letter, simply because it has so many naughty meanings. What other letter can boast such a thing?

In the future I really want to do a series starring anti-heroes . I think it would be so cool see the bad guy get the girl and totally be vulnerable for the first time in their lives. I would so love to explore the darker side of romance, love on the razor's edge of being dangerous or even obsession. I don’t in any way advise anyone to go out looking for that in real life. When you have an inkling for some danger, it is usually better to curl up with a good book and let the characters do it for you.

That is the really great thing about eBooks, you can always think outside the box and let it rip. Some of the best plots, the best stories ,the most interesting characters can be found in eBooks. I think the most interesting books I have written could have only been published electronically. Like the 1001 Nights series, which a play off of 1001 Arabian Nights. Now all I have to do is write more of them!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tuesday Spotlight: Shara Azod

I swear it is a true story; I once was approached by a real life sheik. Okay, so the actual sheik didn’t deign to converse with mw at all; he had members of his entourage do it. I was honest-to-goodness in the Navy once upon a time long, long ago- back before United Arab Emirate wasn’t quite as posh as it is now. The ship I was on pulled into Abu Dhabi, and instead of having scores of sailors roaming around in town, the government had built an Oasis club not far from the pier were the U.S. Naval ships were docked. It was one of the very few places you could drink alcohol in the city. There was really nice bar, a pool slot machines, pool tables- everything us heathen could use. A lot of us from my ship went there most nights because what else were we going to do, right? To go into town you had to be covered from neck to ankle, not swathed but in a shirt that went up to the neck and pants that went covered the ankles, and it was way too hot for that.

I was minding my own business one night, walking past the table where this sheik dude hung out every night. No one ever paid him any attention after a while, we were used to seeing him there. That’s why when one of his “people” stopped me one night, I thought nothing of it. I actually had a seat. He didn’t speak to me directly, but he was staring at me the whole time. Not a good stare, not a bad stare just this really intense look. It made me feel a little like some kind of specimen. One of his people asked what I was drinking, so I said, rum and Coke. They bought a bottle of Bacardi 151 and I kind of had the feeling I really needed to get back to the ship and stay there for a little while.

I excused myself to go the rest room, grabbed a couple of friends and booked it back to the ship. I didn’t venture far from it for like three days. I never, ever walked past that table again. When I was telling someone else that story they totally didn’t believe me, because let’s face it, it just doesn’t happen to anyone you know.

So I decided to do a small series on Navy couples and I incorporated some of the most ridiculous unbelievable stories that I had actually seen happen (though I must stress NONE of it ever happened to me), and the Anchors Away series was born. Trust me, the worst stories were never told and I always changed the names and endings to protect the identities of the guilty.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Monday Spotlight: Shara Azod

The first time I read porn I was confused. I was a kid, so that was part of it I am sure. With limited sexual knowledge, I was aghast at what I was secretly reading in the dark with a flashlight. I know I just didn’t get it. Yeah, they were going at it and everything, but I had no idea why they were. The first time I read erotica I was a great deal older, wiser, and I knew I had found the one thing I wanted to write. There was a reason behind (most of the encounters in true erotica. It doesn’t always have to be love, but there is always a story there.

I cut my teeth so to speak on Ellora’s Cave. I was fascinated and astounded when I stumbled across the company. I never knew you could actually write romance like that! It was so hot, so steamy, so good. Lora Leigh quickly became one of my favorites, but I soon discovered so many more out there, and I could read it in secret on my PDA too! I was soon devouring Lora Leigh, Jaid Black, Cheyenne McCray and Marianne LaCroix. And then OMG! There was IR erotic romance too? No way! I remember the first time I read Eve Vaughn; I couldn’t put the book down until I had read every word. I was soon an eBook erotic romance junkie, gobbling up everything I could get my hands on- no matter what genre. I think my all time favorites have to be the Blood Brothers series by Eve Vaughn and Smokin': Carolina in the Storming by Jeanie Johnson & Jayha Leigh. They are all so full of passion and a right amount of angst. Smoking hot leading men is always a plus too.

I know that when I sit down to write, I generally do try to find out all I can about the main characters before the story starts to take shape. If I am writing a historical, I want to find little tidbits not taught in schools, just to add a tiny, itsy bitsy lesson. My main objective however, is to make it as believable as possible, even though let’s face, life never works out the way it does ion any HEA romance. Still, I want to believe myself that it could happen. Even if I am writing about an ancient Celtic deity, I want to get the details right, just in case.

I have heard a lot of grumblings lately about people who start in romance and then take beloved characters or plot lines and veer off into something else. I don’t believe I could ever do that. I just love writing steamy romance. I have written a couple of “sweet” romances, but I find in general, I just can’t do it. Maybe because I don’t really believe anything can be that sweet, or maybe I am just jaded. I love to read a sweet romance every now and again, but when I try to write it, it just seems so off to me.

I would advise any newbie thinking about writing to just do it. I have found that what works for some, may not always work for others, so find what works for you, i.e. outlines, or story boarding and just get at it. And let your characters speak, but learn when to shut them up. A thrice over is never a bad idea. I really wish I had gone over my first book My Cherie Amour more before it was published. I read it now and I am like Ugh! It could have been so much better.

I think my work now is better, I hope so anyway. I think Ropin’ Eli, my first release at Beautiful Trouble Publishing is the start of a really great series. I hope I can do it justice!