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Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday Spotlight: Cassandra Carr

A Day in My Writing Life
By Cassandra Carr


I don’t have “typical” writing days. I’m a stay-at-home mom with a toddler, in addition to being a writer, so every day is different. But here’s a peek into a specific day – today.

8:30 – climb out of bed, get myself ready

9:00 – wake up my daughter, get her dressed and in her high chair

9:15 – make my daughter’s breakfast, sit her in front of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse to eat (she takes FOREVER and I’ve long since given up trying to have her eat at the kitchen table)

9:20-10:20 – check e-mail, get organized for the day, fetch things for my daughter – she’s a serial eater, so she wants one thing and then another thing etc, and pick up the bottom floor of the house so my mother-in-law isn’t disgusted when she picks my daughter up

10:20-10:30 – get my daughter and mother-in-law out the door

10:30 – start my tasks for the day

1:00 – throw a frozen meal into the microwave, keep working

3:30 – go to kitchen for a snack, realize I have something for dinner thawed but no idea what to do with it

6:15 – start dinner

6:45 – hubs arrives with our daughter

6:45-8:30 – family time

8:30 – hubs brings our daughter upstairs to bed

8:30-12:30 – work again

As you can see, my actual workday is around eleven hours, with short breaks taken to eat, cook, put in laundry, etc. How much did I get done today? I wrote ten blog posts and got nearly 3,000 more words in on my work-in-progress. Gotta make hay while the sun shines!

What do you think of my schedule? What’s yours like?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Cassandra Carr lives in Western New York with her husband, Inspiration, and her daughter, Too Cute for Words. When not writing she enjoys watching hockey and hanging out on Twitter. Her debut novel, Talk to Me, was released by Loose Id on March 22, 2011. Head Games, Buffalo Intimidators book 1, will release on November 2, 2011 from Siren Bookstrand, and Caught will release December 13, 2011 from Loose Id. For more information about Cassandra, check out her website at http://www.booksbycassandracarr.com, "like" her Facebook fan page at http://www.facebook.com/AuthorCassandraCarr or follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/Cassandra_Carr.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Author Interview with Cardeno C.


Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome Cardeno C, whose latest m/m romance in the Home Series, Just What the Truth Is, has just been released. Cardeno (or CC) is working on the next book in the Home Series as well as books in a brand new series—paranormal gay romance the Mates Series.

When CC first started writing, all the stories were posted online for free.

"I wasn’t sure whether they’d be embraced and I enjoyed the freedom and simplicity of putting my work out there without any expectations. I received wonderful e-mails from readers, several of whom repeatedly encouraged me to publish my work. I actually found my publisher because a few different readers specifically told me that they felt it was a good publisher for my stories. Before those e-mails, I’d never purchased an e-book and I’d never read anything published by Dreamspinner Press (the publisher for all of my stories so far). Following my readers’ advice, I bought some e-books from Dreamspinner, liked the quality, and decided to submit a story to them. That was five books ago and I’ve been very happy with the publishing process so far. I don’t think I’d have gotten here if it wasn’t for the support and encouragement of my readers, so they have my eternal gratitude."

To CC, the difference between erotic romance and pornography comes down to the place of plot and story. In erotic romance the plot and story take center stage.

"Yes, there are sex scenes in erotic romance, sometimes very graphic sex scenes. But those scenes aren’t the crux of the story and they’re utilized to advance the relationship, plot or other aspects of the story," CC explained. "Pornography, on the other hand, has its own wonderful uses but I think they’re not so much for story-telling and more for personal, ehm, 'enjoyment.' As far as erotica goes, I’ve heard that phrase used in various contexts, so I think it can mean erotic romance or it can mean pornography, depending on who is using it."

CC continued, "I consider my stories to be erotic romances. The romance between the characters is front and center in my stories. I don’t shy away from sex scenes because I think they’re an important aspect of the characters’ relationships and I want readers to see and experience their passion."

"How do you judge what makes a good erotic story when writing your own fiction?" I asked.

"I feel happy with my story if it tugs at my heart when I read it. I want a connection between the characters that a reader can feel and a plot that holds the reader’s interest. Now, as far as a good 'erotic' story, well, I’d say that in addition to hearts tugging, there should be some tugging at areas lower down as well."

CC believes that a lot of people who have never read erotic romance might believe that the stories are all about sex and that plot and character are secondary. In CC's opinion, that's not the case at all. And, based on emails from readers all types of people—male, female, college age, and grandparent-age—read and enjoy m/m romance.

The books are set in contemporary settings and are very character based, so there's not much in the books that's outside the scope of CC's life. However, if there are questions about a certain career or something a character is experiencing, CC talks to friends in that line of work, or who have had the particular experience, or researches the information online. Although CC has never written a character completely based on a friend, characteristics of people CC knows are the foundations of the characters—with lives and relationships born from CC and friends' own experiences.

"I often find myself making a mental note of a funny story or comment a friend has made so that I can incorporate it into a story."

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

"I wanted to write stories about people finding happiness and fulfillment in their lives. I wanted to positively depict my characters and describe relationships that are supportive and committed. Sex is part of a relationship so I’ve always included it in my stories."

It's important for CC that the sex be within the context of the relationship between the main characters.

"Because porn is about the sex itself, there can be all sorts of scenes between varying characters. It advances arousal, which is the goal of porn, and its impact on relationships is irrelevant because relationships aren’t the focus of porn," CC explained. "For my own stories, I want the relationship between the main characters to be front and center. I want their love and their commitment to come through to the readers. Infidelity can be an interesting plot device, and I’m not against using it, but I won’t describe it in romanticized detail on the page. If it happens, it’ll be touched on for the sake of the plot and the impact on the main characters but it will not be utilized to arouse."

If CC could entertain a character for an evening, it would be Zack Johnson from He Completes Me.

"Zach is irreverent, lewd, and fun. I think an evening with Zach would involve a good bit of drinking, a lot of sarcasm, and maybe even a little Karaoke," CC said.

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

"If I could be anyone I wanted, I’d still be me. I’m sure I would have answered that question differently if I was younger. But over the years, I’ve gotten comfortable in my own skin. I like my friends and family, I have a wonderful career, I’m privileged to have time to contribute to my community, and I’m fortunate enough to publish my writing. I’d say I have it pretty damn good. And if it ain’t broke … well, you know the rest."

If CC had to pierce a body part, it would be a helix piercing at the outer rim of the top of the ear.

"I like how those piercings look – a little out of the ordinary, but not screaming, 'look at me!' As far as sexy, I think there’s still a little bad boy/girl appeal to piercings. Even though they’re more common than they once were, they still have that, 'I’m a rebel and I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks' mystique. Plus, depending on where a piercing is located, they can take sexy to a new place by enhancing sex. A tongue piercing can be enjoyable if it’s used to lick the right body part. And genital piercings have their own joys to both the pierced person and the person they take to bed."

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

"As simple as it sounds, I’d say go for it. You’ll never know if you can do something unless you try it. If you write your story, step back for a little while, and read it; you’ll know whether it resonates with you. And I think if it resonates with you, there’ll be readers out there who will enjoy it as well."

You can keep up with CC on the website, http://CardenoC.com.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Spotlight: Minnette Meador

THE BELLE STALKER
An urban fantasy thriller
By Minnette Meador
Click on the video to hear the author read the excerpt.


Chapter Two – Excerpt
Community Officer

Over his folded arms, Detective Michael Cranston carefully examined the worn out sneakers sitting on top of his desk. The chair he sat on bent so far back, it was like magic. Cranston loved these old chairs: indestructible, comfortable gravity-defiers.
He pursed his lips at the woman on the other end of the line, not sure if he was angry, bored or didn’t give a shit. Probably the latter, he thought.
His lids started to droop, and he had to blink them open. It was the end of a very long week. Shifting his eyes to take in the grungy clock hanging on the wall across from him, he adjusted the receiver and listened to her bitch.
“I understand, ma’am…” he tried to interject above the tirade. “We did talk to them. They are within the City’s…”
He tapped his sneaker-shod toes together. The piles of incomplete paperwork that obscured the wooden top of his desk gave him a plaintive rustle.
“Yes, I spoke to the bar owner and…”
Sucking his bottom lip into his mouth, he rolled his eyes.
He had to get tough.
“Yes, ma’am, I do understand. Did it ever occur to you that the bar has been there for about ninety years and your house only since last summer? Maybe you should loosen up a bit and go dancing. I’m sure the bikers would love you there.”
That was probably a mistake. The sudden dead silence on the other end of the phone confirmed that assumption. A wintry huff buzzed against the receiver followed by those fateful words, “I want to speak with your supervisor.”
“Sure thing.” Mike lifted his legs off the desk, bounced into a sitting position propelled by the ancient chair and smacked the hold button, condemning Ms. Thompson to bad jazz for the duration.
Standing up, he stretched and ran his finger tips over three days of beard growth. It crackled back at him. The stakeout garnered two meth dealers, but he hadn’t caught more than a wink or two in the last forty-eight hours.
He pivoted his chin from side to side admiring the stubble in a crooked mirror hanging among expired wanted posters. The usually bright blue eyes above them looked tired, and his blond hair was now a riot of dusky dishwater.
In one dingy corner, a yellowing photo caught his eye. A younger, cleaner, tux-encased version of himself stared back, apparently without a care in the world. The happy face sported a shit ass grin, and a beautiful bride dressed in billowing yards of lace clung to his arm. Cranston scanned her face.
Belle was the prissiest, most stubborn, biggest pain in the ass, impossible individual he had ever known. She could bring out the absolute devil in him with nothing more than a look. Every time he saw her, no matter what the circumstances, he wouldn’t sleep for a week or more until he got her sneaky little claws out of his consciousness. It was like going on a three-week binge.
He ran two fingers over her image. God, I miss her. Regret blew through him, but he pushed it down and forced his eyes, and his thoughts, back to the mirror.



Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thursday Spotlight: Minnette Meador

EDITED TO ADD: Unfortunately, the wrong clip was included with yesterday's post. Please go back to hear the correct clip.
THE BELLE STALKER
An urban fantasy thriller
By Minnette Meador
Click on the video to hear the author read the excerpt. 



Chapter One – Part 4
From the Shadows

Forcing her thoughts to behave, she couldn’t suppress a little smile. Belle had to admit, it was a lot more pleasant thinking about Cranston than it was about the asshole who had ruined her self-confidence.
Turning toward the elevator, she caught O’Donnell’s eye as he held the door open for a group of laughing, obviously drunk, tenants. He winked at her, which animated the kind old face, and tipped his hat. The worn uniform was dull gray against the dark night behind him.
Belle sent a quick smile his way and stepped inside before the noisy group crowded into the elevator. Tucking herself in the back, she leaned against the wall, tilted her head and closed her eyes. God, she was tired. The group stumbled out on the seventh floor, leaving her alone for the journey to the tenth.
When she reached the door to her apartment, she slipped the mail under her arm and searched for the key from the bundle. Glancing to her right, the lights from downtown Portland dazzled her for a second. The city was lit up like Christmas.
She found the right key and shoved it into the lock.
That’s odd. The door was unlocked.
A bolt of shock turned her knees to rubber and another flashback triggered. There was something about his touch…
Belle squared her shoulders and tightened her jaw at the door. “You’re not going to run my life. Cary probably just left it unlocked. Piss!” she whispered to the hallway. Cary was a dear friend, but he had the responsibility of a herring sometimes. Just Cary being an idiot.
But that didn’t stop a murky premonition that started as a pain in her left temple. Maybe she should call O’Donnell. And tell him what? That you’re afraid to go into your own apartment. Belle, you’re tougher than this!
She turned the knob and pushed the door open with deliberation.
The apartment was dark. Closing the door, she eased into the little hallway off a large sunken living room. Her instincts blazed like cannon fire, but Belle knew to ignore them; PTSD playing Russian roulette with her nerves, that’s all. She could defend herself. Hell! She had earned her brown belt in less than a year.
Setting her purse and the mail on a small table, she flipped the wall switch.
The kitchen lights flooded through the half-open wall and blinded Belle. Making her way down the two steps into the living room, she rubbed her eyes.
When they cleared, a jolt of cold wrapped around her head. She stopped.
There was something there. Something big.
It covered the sable couch, spilled over the white carpet, broke the black marble table under it into two sections. It was dripping syrupy pools of liquid onto the floor.
A gasping sound started in her chest, and she took a step back. Her mind couldn’t wrap itself around what she saw. Shock choked her throat. Her hands went numb. Everything faded from her vision except the tunnel that formed around the incongruity in front of her.
Spread over her furniture lay John Ian’s mutilated body.
Belle screamed.



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday Spotlight: Minnette Meador

THE BELLE STALKER
An urban fantasy thriller
By Minnette Meador
 Click on the video to hear the author read the excerpt.


Chapter One – Part 3
From the Shadows

The lobby was deserted. She could make out O’Donnell’s back through the glass double doors, his uniform as wrinkled as ever. He rocked on his heels watching the street, cigarette smoke circling his head, a stolen break from the security desk that gleamed in one corner of the lobby.
Belle really liked the rugged Irish guard. He was friendly, funny and had developed an almost fatherly devotion to her. Why, she didn’t know, but she didn’t mind. Despite her deeply rooted, almost radical independence, secretly she thought it was nice having someone looking out for her. Pride had kept her from asking him to escort her from the garage each night, though he had offered many times. She knew the demons she had to confront were her own, and she had to face them that way.
She was tempted to linger and chat, but her eyes were already drooping. Maybe tomorrow.
Crossing to the bank of golden mail boxes, she pulled a small key from the bunch. It slid easily into the worn keyhole, and the little door popped open under the stress of mail behind it. Belle pulled out the bundle and sorted it above the recycle box next to the panel of little doors, throwing most of it away.
Junk. Junk. Junk. Bill. Junk. Bill.
She froze at a small white envelope with her name printed neatly in the middle and no return address. Her heart caught in her chest.
It was from him.
As the police had instructed, she was careful not to handle it much. She wrapped a small flyer around the menacing post and tucked it under her arm, wiping her hand on her hip when she was done.
Belle imagined the stacks of little white envelopes tucked away somewhere inside police headquarters. There must be almost a hundred now. Each typed on plain white paper, folded exactly alike and stuffed into a common envelope. Every single one of them containing the same four words:
Just so you know.
She always turned the letters into the cops, and they always gave her the same answer: no fingerprints, no clues, no step closer to catching the son of a bitch who had taken away her independence—her innocence.
The night of her father’s murder snapped into her head unexpectedly, sparked by those four words, reminding her of what she had hidden from the police—from her therapist—from herself.
Those eyes—
In a panic, Belle pushed that memory as far down as she could manage, but it was getting harder all the time.
The world is deadly… there is no safe place…
With an audible, “Stop it!” Belle got herself under control by biting down on the inside of her cheek. “You’re not going to let him do this to you!” she whispered to herself. The top of the white post gleamed at her, and, in a frantic move, she stuffed it further into the flyer. She didn’t open the letters anymore. Her therapist had insisted.
Searching for anything to appease the anxiety, her mind took her to the one thought that always instantly trumped the rest.
Cranston could have solved this case in a heartbeat. She had almost called him more than once, but each time she managed to control the impulse, knowing it was a bad idea.
Cranston was the only man she knew who could drag the best and the worst from her. He was arrogant, irreverent, completely maddening and one of the most exciting men she had ever known. Is that why you married him? The question made her tighten her lips.
Since their divorce, she had seen him maybe a dozen times: police fund raisers, weddings of mutual friends and even a chance meeting once or twice. Every single time he had managed, with no effort at all, to anger her to the point of violence while at the same time reminding her deeply of emotional and physical needs that hadn’t been satisfied since their break up. It was infuriating that he could still touch her like that. She had moved on, made something of her life without him—hadn’t she? The thought of her ex-husband back in her life, in whatever capacity, sent a quick shiver down her arms. Belle wasn’t sure if it was pain or pleasure.
Let’s not go down that road, girl!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday Spotlight: Minnette Meador

THE BELLE STALKER
An urban fantasy thriller
By Minnette Meador
 Click on the video to hear the author read the excerpt.


Chapter One – Part 2
From the Shadows

Brahms’s Fifth Symphony suddenly buzzed like a hornet’s nest from her purse, impelling her into the air. Pinpricks like fireworks traveled up her arms. “Shit!”
Belle pulled the cell phone out of the side pouch and flipped it open. The neon green JOHN IAN on the screen fortified her enough to get her legs moving again.
“Hello?” She scurried toward the elevator, the jarring click-click-click of her heels against the asphalt vibrating up her naked legs.
“Are you all right?” John’s voice sounded strange, far away and full of static. She barely recognized it.
“John?”
“Who else would it be? Are you all right?”
“Yeah, fine.” Belle hit the up button next to the elevator door hard then turned around and bit her lower lip. “Thought I heard something. I’m sure it’s nothing.”
“Do you want me to come over?”
“All right.”
The elevator slid down to meet her and the doors whisked open.
“I—surprise—you.” The words broke into pieces.
“What?”
“—soon.” There was a strange lilt to John’s voice, but the phone went dead. She looked at the screen, and the call was gone. Probably just the connection. She’d call him when she got upstairs.
Putting the phone away, she backed into the metal box and jabbed the first floor button, a buzz of fear forcing her finger to hit it several times.
When the door closed, she blew out a breath and slumped against the cold metal wall.
The clang of steel on steel as the little room hummed its way up the cables was somehow comforting. Smells of cooking garlic mingled with flowery air freshener and the greasy mechanics of the old lift. Twisting her neck from side to side eased her muscles but not the persistent rapid beating of her heart.
Belle hated herself for being so paranoid. It was why she had let John talk her into his tae kwon do classes to begin with. It was also why she had allowed him into her life when she wasn’t looking for anyone. He did rescue you from that maniac, sister. She would have done just about anything he asked.
And I did…
A shot of guilt tensed her shoulders. She liked John, was grateful to him for everything, but she didn’t love him. They had become friends over the past year, but she knew John wanted something more significant from her. To make matters worse, in a moment of weakness spurred by his warm caring nature and a few glasses of wine, Belle had slept with him. That hadn’t helped at all. Another pang of guilt joined the first making it unanimous. Her roommate Cary asked her on a daily basis why she didn’t just dump John, but it was complicated. She didn’t want to hurt him.
A daily calendar taped to the elevator wall reminded her it was Wednesday; Cary would be out with his boyfriend tonight, so she’d have the apartment to herself.
The thought of spending the night alone in her little sanctuary helped to slow her breathing. Her wonderful office/bedroom was the only place in the world Belle felt safe. Smiling, she could almost hear her therapist saying in the background, Now, Belle, you need to expand beyond your little world into the bigger one. Go out. Have fun. Don’t stay cooped up so much. Belle couldn’t help it; her books, her research, her life was tucked into that four hundred square feet of security, and she wasn’t about to leave it for anything.
It suddenly dawned on her that she had just told John to come over. After spending several hours in high heels lecturing at Portland State, she just wanted to fall into bed with a book and a glass of wine. Her new graduate students were a lively bunch; they had questioned her raw. Belle thanked her stars that the adjunct professorship would end in the spring when she would leave for a Celtic dig in England.
The elevator eased to a stop on the first floor, and the familiar creak calmed her heart as the doors whisked open. By the time Belle stepped out, the voice in the dark seemed distant, almost silly. Maybe I should start parking on the street.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Spotlight: Minnette Meador


THE BELLE STALKER
An urban fantasy thriller
By Minnette Meador
Click on the video to hear the author read the excerpt.


Chapter One – Part 1
From the Shadows
 (Join us over the next five days to hear and read the next segment)

A faint laugh echoed against the steel I-beamed ceilings—a man’s laugh.
Or was it?
Belle pirouetted on the hard asphalt. Her hips warmed when they hit the hot side of her car. She squinted at the blinking fluorescent lights. They stuttered against the garage in fitful illumination.
“Hello?” The word echoed back to her unaccompanied, sending pins and needles through her hand as it tightened on the strap of her purse.
Belle’s senses sharpened almost painfully: the metal keys biting into the flesh of her palm, the blood slamming against her eardrums. A gust of fear rushed through her spine, setting her ears ringing, preparing her to fight—or maybe run.
Instincts. The word pulsed through her thoughts quickly.
She pushed her head forward, straining to listen, trying to penetrate the shadows to locate that chilling laugh. Instead, all she heard was the tick-tick-tick of her engine cooling and the muted hiss of silence.
Was it real?
A moment of doubt made her step away from the car. She stared at the oily surface of the garage floor, mesmerized. The scuffed blacktop triggered a memory.
A pale hand coiled around her face, clamped hard against her lips and nose, cutting off her oxygen. She desperately bit, clawed and fought, but nothing loosened that unnatural grip. It clung to her face like an iron mask.
Belle squeezed her eyes tight, willing the memory to go away. She knew the deeply masculine violation had permanently infected her confidence. There was nothing she could do about it. Uncertainty was her constant confidante. She had to pull strength from a deep will to fight the trembling.
It’s just a memory. A memory can’t hurt you. The mantra lost juice in the silence.
Even with a year of therapy and all her martial arts training, a cold chill still ran through Belle in this eerie-ass garage. The attack was a year ago today, wasn’t it? She knew anniversaries sometimes triggered memories, but knowing that didn’t help.
Broken lights deposited black shadows in one corner. Peering into the darkness, Belle fancied she saw two beaming pins of white, like eyes. Another blaze of recall weakened her knees.
Sliding backwards on broken heels into the shadows, she was a rag doll in his arms.
Belle shook her head violently to dislodge the flashback and deliberately rushed toward an elevator that seemed to fall away from her as she moved. Frozen bumps formed on her neck.
Ripples of static tingled against her face, electrifying her hair until it danced. A sweet smoky smell enveloped her senses. His smell. She couldn’t move—wouldn’t move—a kind of desire pushed through her, forcing her to comply. Her body went limp in his embrace, as if he had opened her soul and thrust himself inside her—
Pulling in a shaking breath, she scanned the solid concrete pillars as she moved and found the exact spot where John had stood that night, hoping that memory would expel the others.
Her ears rang with the sound of a stranger’s voice bouncing across the concrete. “Hey! You! What the hell do you think you’re…”
The monster dropped her. Her tailbone snapped sending waves of nausea through her bowels. She threw up and curled into a ball of shock. Everything fizzled like an ailing balloon into black.
From out of the shadows around her, another sound eclipsed the laugh.
Belle.
Her feet and heart stopped simultaneously. Fire rose in her cheeks and the back of her hands. The whispered word was soft, haunting—close. Ice wrapped around her spine.
“Who’s there?” she demanded, but only silence answered.



Saturday, October 22, 2011

Author Interview with Patricia Snodgrass


Whipped Cream is pleased to introduce Patricia Snodgrass, whose latest release Marilyn is out from Phaze Books. It's definitely a car story with a twist, so I asked her to tell us a little bit about it.

When Bobby Chandler picked up Marilyn, a 1958 Edsel in pristine condition, for a song he couldn't believe his good luck. He knew these great old vintage cars had their perks, but this one comes with features that blew more than his mind.

Is having sex with a haunted car considered kinky? Either way, Bobby may never leave the garage.
Patricia started off writing horror and suspense, but it went into paranormal romance with an erotic twist. Marilyn is a good example of this.

"It started out being a horror story, and a pretty gruesome one at that," Patricia told me. "But I had an editor that helped me refine the story and turn it into something wonderful. Marilyn is a haunted 1958 Edsel that gives sexual favors. Actually, the ghost in the car does, but even so, the story is a wild ride. Literally."

For Patricia, first and foremost an good erotic story has to have a plot and the characters have to be real to her.

"Otherwise they won't be real to anyone else," she explained. "No stereotypes, clichés or fake dialogue. I never write the dialogue as an excuse just to get the characters into bed. You know what I mean? Like the stinted dialogue you see in porn and badly done erotica films. The story must be plausible even if the circumstances are extraordinary. And the sex must must must must be integral to the plot. Sex scenes must always be written for the story, not the other way around."

The biggest public misconception about erotica that Patricia has personally encountered is that erotica is porn—"and really sleazy porn at that," she added. "And that those who write porn hacks that can’t write anything else. But of course we know that isn’t true. Erotica, when well written, is a beautiful expression of love for two people, regardless of what the sexual orientation of the couple may be. Personally I’ve never written gay erotica. Not that I’m opposed to it. I simply wouldn’t have a frame of reference."

"Is there a boundary between porn and erotic romance that you personally would never cross?" I asked.

"Oh yeah. Turning my erotic romance into flat two dimensional really boring porn is something that I’d never want to do. To me porn is phony. It’s dull. Occasionally funny, but boring for the most part. Porn gets a couple together, they bang it out and it’s over with. There’s no love. There’s no relationship, there’s no real connection except for a carnal one. And that just doesn’t work for me.

"It’s like watching animals mating. I lived on a farm when I was a kid and… yeah…when you see cows and bulls in a field being cows and bulls, and then later on watch porn and start thinking about cows and bulls and how much more interesting it’d be if you were washing the dinner dishes, then yeah…as far as I’m concerned, if I wrote that way I’d lose my audience quick fast and inna hurry. My characters must always be humans, not just humping machines."

Patricia has a non-erotic romance entitled Wild Swans which will be available in June of next year. She thought it might be problematic because it was the first "straight" romance Patricia has ever done—and even then it's not the typical paranormal romance.

"I had more trouble overbuilding the plot than I did with anything else," she admitted.

"What is the most embarrassing sex scene you’ve ever written?"

"Oh…I’m blushing just thinking about it…That scene is in another upcoming novel entitled The Man Who Loved Yolanda Dodson. It will be out sometime early next year, I think. There is a scene in the book that involves crushed ice, a dildo, and a hot dusty prop warehouse for a large movie studio. Heh heh."

Patricia's favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird and her novel, Glorious, was inspired by it. She tries to read To Kill a Mockingbird every summer and, if she could entertain a character from a book it would be with the Finches: Atticus, Jem, Scout, and Cal.

"I would love to sit in their living room just as it was set back in the 1930’s and talk. I’d love to listen to the programs on the radio, listen to Scout and Jem conspire at to how to get Boo Radley to get out of his house so they can see him. I’d love to sit in the kitchen with Cal and chat," she said. "Just talk, you know, like southern women do. And afterwards, I’d love to escort Jem and Scout over to Miss Maudies for a slice of lane cake and a glass of sweet tea. I’d love to sit on her porch and listen to the crickets and cicadas sing as the stars come out. We’d talk quietly among ourselves while Jem and Scout catch fireflies. It’d be a truly lovely evening, I think. And somehow cooler too. Summers in the thirties were probably not as hot as summers now, do you think?"

I also asked Patricia about her favorite food.

She laughed. "An easier question would to be to ask what food do I not like! I can’t help myself. I’m a chow hound. I love a good, well prepared meal. I’m especially fond of French cuisine, as well as Tex Mex. Chicken enchiladas in sour cream sauce…ooo la la! Strawberries dipped in rich dark chocolate…tiramisu…ice cold melon for breakfast…okay I’ve made myself hungry."

However, if the food has anything to do with organ meat, count her out. Liver makes her nauseous, as well as hot dogs, smoked sausages, or bratwurst.

"I can’t stand the smell, you see. When I was pregnant I’d get sick smelling hotdogs cooking in the microwave," she explained. "Someone tried to convince me to eat a Hebrew National once, said they were kosher. But since there was no rabbi around to verify it, I turned it down. I know, I’m a weenie snob. I can’t help it."

She can tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi.

"Pepsi is sweeter and tastes funky," she said. "And while we’re on the subject, I’ll tell you a secret. I don’t drink sodas of any sort any more. Know why? They’ve got a chemical additive in them that’s also used in wood pulping extraction. Can you believe it? Wood preservative! And I wondered in college (during my stint in Anatomy and Physiology lab) why Coke could dissolve a chicken bone. Imagine what that’s doing to your insides? Besides, sodas make you fat, even the diet ones. I haven’t drunk a soda in ages. I lost ten pounds just by turning down Cokes."

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

"Yes, my son can do it. It’s amazing to watch him do it too. He’s an adult now, has his own place and a smoking hot girlfriend. I’m sure he makes her very (ahem) happy."

"What is your strangest habit?"

"My strangest habit?" She whispered, "I put catsup in my chili."

"What about your most embarrassing moment?" I continued.

"Okay, you’re making me blush again. When I was fifteen we lived in a small town that the only entertainment for teenagers was to drive up and down the main drag and hang out at the local Dairy Queen. I was out with some friends, and we were goofing off in the DQ parking lot, talking, joking, you know how kids do.

"Two of New Boston’s finest was sitting in the DQ drinking coffee. And I, being the fifteen year old smartass that I was, found a Barbie doll head on the ground. So, without thinking twice, I went into the café, walked straight up to the officers, hiding the doll behind my back. I asked them if they’d like to have a little head. One of the cops said, 'Sure!' So I dropped the doll head between them and ran for my life. As I was making my getaway, I caught a glimpse of them both rolling in the booth with laughter.

"I can’t believe I did that. More, I can’t believe I didn’t get arrested."

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

"Please, oh please do it right. Get your basics down. Make sure your grammar and spelling are impeccable. Make sure your characters are real and not two dimensional, and don’t watch skin flicks for a reference. Unless it’s The Devil and Miss Jones. That one actually had a plot.

"Also—and I cannot stress this enough—read the submissions guidelines and follow those instructions to the letter, even if the instructions mean you have to stand on your right hand while you click the submit button with the left. The guidelines are there to help the writer. In order to succeed in this business, or any business for that matter, it’s important that you know how to follow instructions. I think the reason why I have been so successful with publishing is that I do follow the publisher’s guidelines to the letter.

"Whenever you do publish and get teamed up with an editor, please remember that the editor is the best friend you can have. They are there to help you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve submitted a story that I thought was pretty good, only to have it come out an outstanding piece of work thanks to my editor. Thanks, Judy!"

You can keep up with Patricia on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/patricia.snodgrass.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Spotlight: Rose Anderson

Calliope is the writer’s muse, so when I made my requisite author’s blog CalliopesWritingTablet I dedicated it to her because it too is dedicated to learning -- my learning the ropes as an author. Where did these ancient women of high esteem and achievement come from?

When Uranus the god of the vast sky melded his essence with Gaia the earth and mother of all life, the Titans were born. Sometime later, Mnemosyne who was considered to be the personification of memory, lay with her nephew Zeus for nine consecutive nights. The nine Muses came out of that union.

1. Calliope
2. Clio
3. Erato
4. Euterpe
5. Melpomene
6. Polyhymnia
7. Terpsichore
8. Thalia
9. Urania

These nine women were long considered the source of knowledge. Places dedicated to learning, were dedicated to them -- hence the name Museum. As a child growing up in Chicago, a city known world-wide for its museums, I used to stare at those Greek statues standing here and there outside the Museum of Science and Industry, and wonder. I wondered, if Zeus had only nine Muse daughters, then why did the Museum of Science and Industry have far more than nine Muses holding up the roof? I discovered they weren’t Muses, but architectural caryatids – decorative statues of women, their sole purpose to support the roof-line on their heads.

The Field Museum of Natural History on the other hand, has the real deal. The famed nine Muses of the ancient world, statues as large as their Titaness mother, look down on the main floor. I found these statues rather curious. I couldn’t imagine what they had to do with stuffed and mounted animals, mummies, and dinosaurs, and years passed before I figured it out. Each one held something, a clue as to who and what they represented and while some made perfect sense to me as a child, others were confusing.

• Calliope – Muse of Epic Poetry carries a writing tablet
• Clio – Muse of History carries a scroll
• Erato – Muse of Love Poetry carries a Cithara – sort of a lyre
• Euterpe – Muse of Music carries a flute
• Melpomene – Muse of Tragedy carries a Tragic mask
• Polyhymnia – Muse of Hymns carries a veil
• Terpsichore – Muse of Dance carries a lyre
• Thalia – Muse of Comedy carries a Comic mask
• Urania – Muse of Astronomy carries a globe and compass

I understand now as representatives of poetry, the arts and science, they’re there to be a symbol of the very best in the many cultures depicted in the vast museum collections. For centuries writers made a habit of dedicating to the muses. I’ve found these examples:

William Shakespeare, Henry V:
O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!

Charles Baudelaire, The Venal Muse:
O muse of my heart, lover of palaces,
Will you bring, when January lets loose its sleet
And its black evenings without solace,
An ember to warm my violet feet?
What will revive your bruised shoulders,
The nocturnal rays that pierce the shutters?
When you cannot feel your palace, just your empty billfold,
How will you harvest the gold of azure vaults and gutters?
You should, to earn your bread today
Like a choir boy with a censer to wave,
Sings hymns with feeling but without belief.
Or, a starving rip-off artist, selling your charm
And your laughter shades the tears so no one sees the harm
In bringing to bloom an ordinary rat, a vulgar thief.

John Milton, Paradise Lost:
Of Man’s first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste
Brought death into the World, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat,
Sing, Heavenly Muse

Homer’s Odyssey:
Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns
driven time and again off course, once he had plundered
the hallowed heights of Troy.

Dante’s Inferno:
O Muses, O high genius, aid me now!
O memory that engraved the things I saw,
Here shall your worth be manifest to all!

Emily Dickinson Awake ye muses nine
:
Awake ye muses nine, sing me a strain divine,
Unwind the solemn twine, and tie my Valentine!

The Aeneid by Virgil:
O Muse! the causes and the crimes relate;
What goddess was provok’d, and whence her hate;
For what offense the Queen of Heav’n began
To persecute so brave, so just a man…

Geoffrey Chaucer, Troilus:
O lady myn, that called art Cleo,
Thow be my speed fro this forth, and my Muse,
To ryme wel this book til I haue do…

Thomas Moore, While History’s Muse:
While History’s Muse the memorial was keeping
Of all that the dark hand of Destiny weaves,
Beside her the Genius of Erin stood weeping,
For hers was the story that blotted the leaves.
But oh! how the tear in her eyelids grew bright,
When, after whole pages of sorrow and shame,
She saw History write,
With a pencil of light
That illumed the whole volume, her Wellington’s name.

Mary Darby Robinson, Ode to the Muse:
While softly o’er the pearl-deck’d plain,
Cold Dian leads the sylvan train;
In mazy dance and sportive glee,
SWEET MUSE, I’ll fondly turn to thee;
And thou shalt deck my couch with flow’rs,
And wing with joy my silent hours.

William Blake, To the Muses:
Whether on crystal rocks ye rove,
Beneath the bosom of the sea
Wand’ring in many a coral grove,
Fair Nine, forsaking Poetry!
How have you left the ancient love
That bards of old enjoy’d in you!
The languid strings do scarcely move!
The sound is forc’d, the notes are few!

Phillis Wheatley:
There shall thy tongue in heav’nly murmurs flows,
And there my muse with heav’nly transport glow:
No more to tell of Damon’s tender sighs,
Or rising radiance of Aurora’s eyes,
For nobler themes demand a nobler strain,
And purer language on th’ ethereal plain.
Cease, gentle muse! the solemn gloom of night
Now seals the fair creation from my sight.

Catullus:
And so, have them for yourself, whatever kind of book it is,
and whatever sort, oh patron Muselet it last for more than one generation, eternally.

Wow. Those are inspiring. Today with the sun shining, the geese calling overhead, and the seasons changing right before my eyes, I’ll dedicate my writing efforts to all the muses and see what happens.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Have you ever fallen so deeply in love with the characters in a romance novel that thoughts of them linger long after the last page is turned? Have you ever been so completely immersed in a love scene that you’d swear you’ve just been kissed or more? Meet Rose Anderson’s strong, confident heroines and be seduced by compelling heroes you’ll wish were there beside you. Come see how their lives intertwine and through their stories discover love profound. From her current novels Hermes Online and Dreamscape, to the passionate stories that follow, this new author will sweep you away on a sensual tide of memorable story-telling.

People ask how I came to write romance stories of the sort. As I didn’t start out with this genre in mind, I’ve asked myself that very thing! I’ve several reasons actually, too many to list all of them here. First of all, I like seduction. That’s the reason I enjoy reading my favorite romance authors. Written seduction in a romance novel is a mind game, a ring-side seat to observe the psychological metamorphosis of the characters. Secondly, I like the physics of it. There comes a point where the connection between characters ignites into something neither has any control over–a 451° point of complete surrender that leads to total combustion. Lastly, because seduction is a cerebral thing, I find erotic romance to be the natural progression of the romance story.

I hope my imagery transports the reader to a time and place where, through the magic and power of words, they’re able to be inside the mind of the characters. Often from this intimate vantage point, the reader experiences the seductive transformation that will eventually send the hero and heroine hurtling toward the precipice. Come be the voyeur to their printed lives.

Open yourself and allow my words to take you there. Draw close as coals ignite and feel the climax build as if you yourself are there being plied with firm hands and soft kisses. And when all is absorbed and endured and nerves are strung bow tight, release this most cerebral orgasm and free fall to earth.

I hope you enjoy the flights of fancy I’ve created. When the last page is turned and the lovers roll into each others’ arms truly spent, know that I just may have another ember tucked away to warm your senses.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thursday Spotlight: Rose Anderson

I love a good quote -- contemporary, ancient, witty, or solemn etc. I especially love philosophical thought. Combine the two, mmm mmm mmm. It’s like chocolate to me…smooth…creamy…delectable…and I want more!

I collect quotes as I collect other words. Every so often someone says something that is so precise and germane to the moment in which it was uttered that it makes me stop in my tracks and absorb it like sunshine. I’ve been keeping favorites for years -- a habit begun in 6th grade, of all places, and it all started with this one by Max Ehrmann. I found it laying on the ground as I walked home from school and thinking on it now I’m able to recall the paper was blue. Imagine the power this little declaration held to a twelve year old standing on the cusp of womanhood and whose childhood just wasn’t making sense anymore. Powerful enough for the woman she became to remember it was blue all these decades later.

You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
~Max Ehrmann’s ~Desiderata


Max pointed out the fact I was indeed a part of something larger than I realized. When we’re young, children tend to believe they’re the center of the universe but we’re not. We’re something far more wondrous (I reference the third quote from the end of this musing). The words typed on a typewriter, with such firm keystrokes they made Braille of several letters on the blue paper, spoke to me. They said, you have a right to be here, and made me believe.

For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who do not believe, no proof is possible.
~The Talmud


When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
~ Lao Tzu


We are constantly invited to be who we are.
~Thoreau


These quotes come from my wanderings, my travels, education, and my assorted experiences. They appear when I need them. Need them? Yes, there are times when we need someone else to paraphrase for us. Sometimes the thoughts are too fragmented, the emotion to vague, the words too few. Sometimes another’s words just do your own thoughts justice, and sometimes they inspire new thought. Occasionally I’ll discard one, its meaning no longer pertinent or evocative. They come and go, and change as my mind matures. Some I keep because they create the craziest images in my active imagination.

And thus I clothe my naked villainy with old odd ends stolen forth of holy writ. And seem a saint, when most I play the devil.
~ William Shakespeare’s King Richard III


By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.
~ William Shakespeare’s Macbeth


I love Shakespeare. I had the privilege of having an honors English class my freshman year in high school. Compelled by the spelling of my last name, the teacher sat me right next to the model of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater and the stack of corresponding books I was allowed to read if I finished my work before the bell rang. Out damned spot! Good times. :)

If a few words can have such great impact as to be remembered and referenced, then how cool is that? And the words penned ages ago carry just as much power, just as much emotion today as they did when they were crafted. The well-phrased quotable comment has staying power. Time’s most memorable words have a way of seeping into your marrow.

There’s nothing to fear but fear itself.
~ Franklin D. Roosevelt


One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.
~ Neil Armstrong


Oh yes, our modes of transport, our advances in medicine and machines of war may change, but the human condition remains the same. It dates back to the first attempts by humans to understand themselves and their place in the universe.

Wisdom is knowing how little we know.
~ Socrates


The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.
~ Leonardo da Vinci


I know I am deathless. No doubt I have died myself ten thousand times before. I laugh at what you call dissolution, and I know the amplitude of time.
~ Walt Whitman


Funny thing about Walt Whitman, his writings were notable for their delight in, and praise of, the senses. You get a better feel for just what I mean by reading Leaves of Grass. I Sing the Body Electric was especially juicy for the time period it was written, and just so happened to come during a time when such candid thought was considered immoral. He’d get a kick out of my books. :)

These snippets of philosophical thought are essentially hours of condensed reflection and observation. How wonderful of these wordsmiths to share the insights they’ve been granted. We don’t need to sit on the steps of higher learning with Socrates and Plato. There’s no need to check out a scroll at the Library of Alexandria. Nor do we need to sit under a tree and have enlightenment come to us as we hunger and thirst. These minds, from fishmonger to philosopher have encapsulated their great thoughts for us with a few well chosen words.

Since everything is a reflection of our minds, everything can be changed by our minds.
~ Buddha


Souls are poured from one into another of different kinds of bodies of the world.
~ Gnostic Gospels, the Pistis Sophia


The virtues we acquire, which develop slowly within us, are the invisible links that bind each one of our existences to the others – existences which the spirit alone remembers, for Matter has no memory for spiritual things.
~ Honore Balzac


And so the Mind created harmony and life existed in the shimmering concerto of the Cosmos. But it was not enough for the Mind, for a mind once expanded never returns to its previous state. So the Mind allowed life to see and self- awareness rose out of the consciousness and walked the many earths and flew the many skies of the Cosmos.
~ Collins


I don’t know if any bit of brilliance my brain produces will ever hit an emotional chord but who knows. I get an occasional flash every now and again that I’m sure has nothing to do with hormones. I’ll end with these two:

The future is so bright it burns my eyes.
~Oprah Winfrey


Beware of the man of one book.
~ St. Thomas Aquinas


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Have you ever fallen so deeply in love with the characters in a romance novel that thoughts of them linger long after the last page is turned? Have you ever been so completely immersed in a love scene that you’d swear you’ve just been kissed or more? Meet Rose Anderson’s strong, confident heroines and be seduced by compelling heroes you’ll wish were there beside you. Come see how their lives intertwine and through their stories discover love profound. From her current novels Hermes Online and Dreamscape, to the passionate stories that follow, this new author will sweep you away on a sensual tide of memorable story-telling.

People ask how I came to write romance stories of the sort. As I didn’t start out with this genre in mind, I’ve asked myself that very thing! I’ve several reasons actually, too many to list all of them here. First of all, I like seduction. That’s the reason I enjoy reading my favorite romance authors. Written seduction in a romance novel is a mind game, a ring-side seat to observe the psychological metamorphosis of the characters. Secondly, I like the physics of it. There comes a point where the connection between characters ignites into something neither has any control over–a 451° point of complete surrender that leads to total combustion. Lastly, because seduction is a cerebral thing, I find erotic romance to be the natural progression of the romance story.

I hope my imagery transports the reader to a time and place where, through the magic and power of words, they’re able to be inside the mind of the characters. Often from this intimate vantage point, the reader experiences the seductive transformation that will eventually send the hero and heroine hurtling toward the precipice. Come be the voyeur to their printed lives.

Open yourself and allow my words to take you there. Draw close as coals ignite and feel the climax build as if you yourself are there being plied with firm hands and soft kisses. And when all is absorbed and endured and nerves are strung bow tight, release this most cerebral orgasm and free fall to earth.

I hope you enjoy the flights of fancy I’ve created. When the last page is turned and the lovers roll into each others’ arms truly spent, know that I just may have another ember tucked away to warm your senses.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wednesday Spotlight: Rose Anderson

What a journey I’ve been on. From the moment I sat down and put my goals on paper last summer, I was determined to become an author. I’ve been writing for years – large and small stories across genres, newsletters, official documents, and magazine articles. Exactly one year ago this past July I was a writer. A year later, I am an author. I can’t say enough about putting your goals on paper. That particular concept was a new one for me and it just blows me away that it works!

The dream that began as compiled external stimuli plied my brain and fired the synapses. Changing form, this force was then sent by electrical impulse along the nerves that ran outward from my spine, branching from the center cord like limbs on a tree. These electrically-charged nerves sent impulses that directed my muscles. These contracted and my fingers hovered over my keyboard with potential energy until the words were found. More electrical impulses coursed through my body as thought energy formed into written words. Armed with this knowledge and zapped to attention by current, my muscles worked my fingers and typed down the goal. All the while the concert of my bodily functions played on in the background making sure both muscle and brain had enough fuel and oxygen to facilitate the remarkable electrical device that is my body.

Electrical device? Yes, a remarkable machine but so much more than that. The whole of me is a dream facilitator. Along the way, the initial electrical energy of thought dramatically changed form. It rode the interstate of my central nervous system, changed form again as it animated my muscles, then changed form again as I typed my goals. And what occurred was not just writing down a thought. No, it was more than that. It was the First Law of Thermodynamics in play. Energy only changes form, it never disappears. There was no way the dream couldn’t be realized. The energy was in play because I released it on the world.

I treated that dream like a career before the career even started. It’s my job. I do this seven days a week and five of these are full eight, sometimes twelve, hour days with necessary breaks in between. The weekends will occasionally afford me some time to get a thought out but for the most part they belong to my family. Some days the words flow and worlds build and before I know it I’ve completed another book. Other days the words trickle and I use the time to organize thoughts and fulfill obligations. I’d be lying if I said things didn’t suffer for my art. From the bored expression on my dog’s precious face, to chores that mount whether I’m engaged elsewhere or not, my days are crammed tight with tasks that must get done regardless if my bad guy is in the middle of some diabolical plot or my lovers are amorously engaged. That’s ok. I’m a mom. My kids are grown but I still remember what it was like to juggle it all when I worked in and outside the home.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Have you ever fallen so deeply in love with the characters in a romance novel that thoughts of them linger long after the last page is turned? Have you ever been so completely immersed in a love scene that you’d swear you’ve just been kissed or more? Meet Rose Anderson’s strong, confident heroines and be seduced by compelling heroes you’ll wish were there beside you. Come see how their lives intertwine and through their stories discover love profound. From her current novels Hermes Online and Dreamscape, to the passionate stories that follow, this new author will sweep you away on a sensual tide of memorable story-telling.

People ask how I came to write romance stories of the sort. As I didn’t start out with this genre in mind, I’ve asked myself that very thing! I’ve several reasons actually, too many to list all of them here. First of all, I like seduction. That’s the reason I enjoy reading my favorite romance authors. Written seduction in a romance novel is a mind game, a ring-side seat to observe the psychological metamorphosis of the characters. Secondly, I like the physics of it. There comes a point where the connection between characters ignites into something neither has any control over–a 451° point of complete surrender that leads to total combustion. Lastly, because seduction is a cerebral thing, I find erotic romance to be the natural progression of the romance story.

I hope my imagery transports the reader to a time and place where, through the magic and power of words, they’re able to be inside the mind of the characters. Often from this intimate vantage point, the reader experiences the seductive transformation that will eventually send the hero and heroine hurtling toward the precipice. Come be the voyeur to their printed lives.

Open yourself and allow my words to take you there. Draw close as coals ignite and feel the climax build as if you yourself are there being plied with firm hands and soft kisses. And when all is absorbed and endured and nerves are strung bow tight, release this most cerebral orgasm and free fall to earth.

I hope you enjoy the flights of fancy I’ve created. When the last page is turned and the lovers roll into each others’ arms truly spent, know that I just may have another ember tucked away to warm your senses.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday Spotlight: Rose Anderson

Released this past July, Dreamscape is my second novel through Siren-Bookstrand. I crafted this story to be an Easter egg hunt -- a story within a story peppered with clues pointing at something behind the scenes. I planned the suspense carefully.

My first encounter with suspense was Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. I was eleven and visiting my sister’s home at the time. She was an avid reader and always had a stack of interesting books to pick through (she’s the one who first got me reading romances). She loved crime novels and Agatha Christie, and so recommended that one to me. And Then There Were None was filled with clues, though at age eleven, I didn’t see them. A few years after I read it, I saw an old black and white movie entitled Ten Little Indians. I thought, hey wait a minute, that’s Agatha Christie’s story! I reread the novel and saw what my younger self had missed. The story was literally filled with clues that pointed to the murderer -- so many in fact my mind practically tripped over a few! This time through, I already knew who the murderer was, so picking them out was easy.

I wanted Dreamscape to be such a story. I wanted readers to stop and ask, did she mean to put that there or is this a coincidence? Nope. No coincidences. It all has deeper meaning! In this tale, I introduce readers to Doctor Lanie O’Keefe: a confident, independent woman who’s just bought herself a Mid-Victorian mansion that the locals say is haunted. It certainly looks the part with its overgrown weeds and decades of vandalism. As the inside needs only minor repairs and major cleaning, Lanie moves in with grand plans to refit the mansion’s old coach house into a free clinic. She’s ecstatic. This is a dream house in the truest sense, for Lanie has been dreaming of the Bowen mansion since she was a child. Little does she realize the local legend is true.

For nearly one hundred and twenty years, the ghost of Doctor Jason Bowen roams his house contemplating the treachery that took his life. Then one day, his brooding thoughts are interrupted by a woman with valise in tow. Not only is she moving into his house, but she’s sleeping in the master bedroom as well – his bedroom. As a gentleman coming from a time of social propriety and impeccable manners, Jason tries to give Lanie space. But it doesn’t take long before he becomes infatuated with his house guest. Once he discovers the electric signature of his ghostly essence can ride her dreams, he follows where her dreams take him and finds himself in his time period as the date of his murder draws near.

I really like offbeat turn-things-on-their-ear scenarios. In my first novel, Hermes Online, there is the unlikely. In Dreamscape, there is the impossible. Doesn’t it make you wonder how such an impossible love story is going to work out? ;)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Have you ever fallen so deeply in love with the characters in a romance novel that thoughts of them linger long after the last page is turned? Have you ever been so completely immersed in a love scene that you’d swear you’ve just been kissed or more? Meet Rose Anderson’s strong, confident heroines and be seduced by compelling heroes you’ll wish were there beside you. Come see how their lives intertwine and through their stories discover love profound. From her current novels Hermes Online and Dreamscape, to the passionate stories that follow, this new author will sweep you away on a sensual tide of memorable story-telling.

People ask how I came to write romance stories of the sort. As I didn’t start out with this genre in mind, I’ve asked myself that very thing! I’ve several reasons actually, too many to list all of them here. First of all, I like seduction. That’s the reason I enjoy reading my favorite romance authors. Written seduction in a romance novel is a mind game, a ring-side seat to observe the psychological metamorphosis of the characters. Secondly, I like the physics of it. There comes a point where the connection between characters ignites into something neither has any control over–a 451° point of complete surrender that leads to total combustion. Lastly, because seduction is a cerebral thing, I find erotic romance to be the natural progression of the romance story.

I hope my imagery transports the reader to a time and place where, through the magic and power of words, they’re able to be inside the mind of the characters. Often from this intimate vantage point, the reader experiences the seductive transformation that will eventually send the hero and heroine hurtling toward the precipice. Come be the voyeur to their printed lives.

Open yourself and allow my words to take you there. Draw close as coals ignite and feel the climax build as if you yourself are there being plied with firm hands and soft kisses. And when all is absorbed and endured and nerves are strung bow tight, release this most cerebral orgasm and free fall to earth.

I hope you enjoy the flights of fancy I’ve created. When the last page is turned and the lovers roll into each others’ arms truly spent, know that I just may have another ember tucked away to warm your senses.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Spotlight: Rose Anderson

After long consideration, I think the best way to begin my spot here on Whipped Cream, is to describe the earliest days that put my feet on this author’s path. But before I start, I’d like to give a nod to the folks at The Long and Short Of It/Whipped Cream. Thanks for having me!

I’m a Wordie in the truest sense. I love words. I collect them. My bookshelves are filled with dictionaries, thesauri, and word origin books. I once had this fabulous 1880′s set of Cyclopedic Dictionaries with every word known to the English language. And I do mean every word. The local library was throwing it away. Can you imagine? True, it was missing half of all the G words. But really though, how many G words from the 1880’s does one need to know? The other volumes, with their ratty and taped bindings were still there and homely as it was, this set made Miriam and Noah’s dictionaries look nothing less than amateurish. I took them home and loved them. I regret not using them to their full potential when I had the chance, but I wasn’t writing at the time.

One day my husband found bookworms on our bookshelf, honest-to-god bookworms! My precious old Cyclopedias were the source. It broke my heart to get rid of them but their parasites were attacking other books. I thought about putting them in the oven but they were so old and brittle I was sure I’d burn the house down. Perhaps another set is out there waiting for a wordy like me.

Words not only add color to the world, they describe everything down to the smallest detail. They fill the emotional palette in the mind. Word by word these simple elements of language become brush strokes able to turn a blank canvas into a thought or visualization. Aside from loving their evocative potential, I also love that they describe how things work. I literally devour any and all informational materials from cookbooks to books on quantum physics. For kicks back in the 1980’s, I even tackled the entire World Book Encyclopedia and read them as one might read a magazine. My husband reminds me that I also read the extra addendums. He thinks I’m strange. LOL

I already knew how to read by the time I got into kindergarten. That was a curious thing as no one in my family recalled teaching me how. I can still remember how out of place I felt when the other kids were slowly sounding out c-a-t and d-o-g while I silently read the label on the jar of paste and knew it was scented with wintergreen. I read anything my eyes could land on in that room, and days of boredom endlessly stretched out in front of me. That experience started the ball rolling downhill as far as formal education was concerned. It didn’t help that I was sickly child. As a self-directed learner, I loved to learn. But I hated school. I became a teacher so other children wouldn’t see their days filled with endless boredom like mine had been.

While I don’t remember how it came to be that I could read when I was four years old, I do know this fascination with the potential of words all started with the Reader’s Digest. In the first ten years of my life, the Chicago Tribune came to my house in the morning and the Daily News arrived early afternoon. My father and I read both newspapers together on Sunday. It was a ritual of sorts. We’d divide the papers…he’d take the front page and car sections and I’d take the “funnies” and the sports page. We’d read those quietly to ourselves, then we’d switch. I remember lying on my belly in the shaft of sunlight just behind the sofa and reading words that weren’t all understandable to my six-year-old or nine-year-old self.

“Dad, what is a demilitarized zone?”

“It’s a border between armies where no fighting takes place.”

“Dad, who’s Chairman Mao?”

“He is the leader of China.”

“Is Chairman his first name?”

“No, that’s his job. A chairman is the same as a president here.”

“Does he have a first name?”

“Read the article again and see if you can find it.”

“Oh, I think see it. His name is Mao Zadong. Isn’t that backwards?”

It makes me smile to remember. When he’d had enough he say, “Come do the crossword puzzle with me.” My smile widens here. Up until he passed away, dad would bring me a half finished crossword puzzle to finish nearly every time he stopped by to visit. We’d finish that sucker too, and always use a pencil just in case. :)

But what about that Reader’s Digest mentioned above? By far the most interesting reading material in the house was my dad’s Reader’s Digest. I cut my teeth on Build Your Word Power. Every month Reader’s Digest put out a list of words intended to build one’s vocabulary. From ages six on into my early thirties, he’d hand me the digest and say, “Here, these are for you.” At his suggestion, I’d try to break them down and guess their meanings before I turned the page to read their definitions. It was here, where I saw for the first time, the relationship between words. Words like Cardinal, Cardiac, and Cardamom — red bird, red heart, red berries – they were all red. Unfortunately, by the time Latin class was supposed to come my way, it was cut from the public school budget. I would have kicked butt in ancient languages. I’ve taught myself the basics but I might have a go at ancient Greek and Latin classes one day.

I still do crossword puzzles but I don’t get the Reader’s Digest anymore. Just not enough hours in the day to read that along with everything else I read, but I do pounce on one if I happen to see it in the doctor’s office. First stop – Build Your Word Power. My dad challenged me to have a broader relationship with words because he loved words too. Essentially, he made me the Wordy I am and in a roundabout way, set my feet on this author’s path. I have two books out now, my most recent – Dreamscape through Siren-Bookstrand publishers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Have you ever fallen so deeply in love with the characters in a romance novel that thoughts of them linger long after the last page is turned? Have you ever been so completely immersed in a love scene that you’d swear you’ve just been kissed or more? Meet Rose Anderson’s strong, confident heroines and be seduced by compelling heroes you’ll wish were there beside you. Come see how their lives intertwine and through their stories discover love profound. From her current novels Hermes Online and Dreamscape, to the passionate stories that follow, this new author will sweep you away on a sensual tide of memorable story-telling.

People ask how I came to write romance stories of the sort. As I didn’t start out with this genre in mind, I’ve asked myself that very thing! I’ve several reasons actually, too many to list all of them here. First of all, I like seduction. That’s the reason I enjoy reading my favorite romance authors. Written seduction in a romance novel is a mind game, a ring-side seat to observe the psychological metamorphosis of the characters. Secondly, I like the physics of it. There comes a point where the connection between characters ignites into something neither has any control over–a 451° point of complete surrender that leads to total combustion. Lastly, because seduction is a cerebral thing, I find erotic romance to be the natural progression of the romance story.

I hope my imagery transports the reader to a time and place where, through the magic and power of words, they’re able to be inside the mind of the characters. Often from this intimate vantage point, the reader experiences the seductive transformation that will eventually send the hero and heroine hurtling toward the precipice. Come be the voyeur to their printed lives.

Open yourself and allow my words to take you there. Draw close as coals ignite and feel the climax build as if you yourself are there being plied with firm hands and soft kisses. And when all is absorbed and endured and nerves are strung bow tight, release this most cerebral orgasm and free fall to earth.

I hope you enjoy the flights of fancy I’ve created. When the last page is turned and the lovers roll into each others’ arms truly spent, know that I just may have another ember tucked away to warm your senses.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Author Inteview: Madison Layle


Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome Madison Layle, half of the writing team of Layle and Keaton. Their latest book Falke's Peak, book two in the Puma Nights series, was released yesterday.

I asked Madi (as she's known to her friends) to tell us a little bit about the book.

A graduate student working in animal genetics, Beth Coldwell is in town to track and tag big cats in the wild. Her prospects for the summer only improve when she meets Kelan and Reidar Falke and decides the sexy brothers are the right pair to fulfill her other, less than scientific, desires...

But her research is a threat to the Falke family secret. When Kelan, in cougar form, is captured, that secret comes closer than ever to being revealed. He escapes, but not before Beth draws a blood sample, and analysis shows this is no ordinary mountain lion.

Kelan and Reidar cannot deny the powerful attraction they feel toward Beth. She might just be their destined mate. But if they reveal themselves to her, will she embrace who they are or see them as just another science experiment?
Madi's first book was actually a very sweet romantic novella called Diary of Dreams, which is still available via Cobblestone Press online, but even before she released her second solo novel or even her first co-authored novel, she'd already made the switch to more erotic themes. She had a very hot dream and, when she awoke, all but ran to her computer and penned what because one of her best-selling novels, Owning Rachel.

"It’s a kinky, hard-core BDSM story about a triadic relationship between a successful female attorney and two incredibly sexy men. When I wrote it, I have to say I wasn’t sure any publisher would take a chance on it because it was so different and more risqué from anything I’d written before, so I showed it to my critique partner at the time. She loved it so much she encouraged me to submit it…immediately. Plus, it inspired her to write spicier stories, and we soon became writing partners and co-authors on the very successful erotic series called Incognito in which Owning Rachel is book #2."

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

"To me, pornography is the “lazy reader’s story” because, like the word itself implies, it has photography included. Porn doesn’t let the reader use their imagination to envision the tale through the author’s words, but rather through the photographer’s interpretation. Good erotica and erotic romance don’t need static imagery like that. They both take the reader on a journey of sexual exploration and pleasure through the written word, and the only distinction I give between the two is that erotic romance delves deeper into the characters and their emotional connection. Erotic romance tantalizes while also tugging at the heart strings, but really good erotica tickles other sensitive areas," she said with a grin.

She feels that one of the public misconceptions about erotica is that it's easy to write. She told me that even authors or other genres have been known to dismiss erotica as just a bunch of pages of sex with little substance.

"We’ve all met people who say, 'Oh, I could do that,' or, 'I’m going to write a novel,' but they never do. Or if they start, they never finish. And there are some people out there who take it up as a hobby thinking they can easily pen a bunch of steamy sex scenes that everyone will want to read, and of course they’ll land a publishing contract, too," she said. "Not so fast… Hobbies are fine if you want to get your hands dirty in a flowerbed, make model airplanes, or take up scrapbooking. But writing truly entertaining erotic fiction takes a lot of hard work, commitment, and sometimes painful honesty. It is not something you can succeed at if you only come at it half-assed." She paused and laughed, "Can I say that word here?"

Madi and her co-author, Anna Leigh Keaton, were working on what would turn into Falke's Peak. Their publisher was counting on them delivering something as great as the first manuscript that had landed the initial contract.

"We were shooting for 50- to 60-thousand words, and we reached just over 50-thousand, literally two scenes from being finished, when we reviewed the story and decided to scrap it and start all over from the beginning," she explained."Now, I know a lot of aspiring writers might think that’s crazy, because we’d put countless hours over several weeks into the story already. But we made the right choice. We take our writing very seriously and refuse to pen something mediocre for our readers, so if the story isn’t good enough, it’ll never see the light of day. That’s the kind of commitment I’m talking about."

When she's writing her own fiction, there are certain elements that go into making a story great. Of course, the sex scenes have to be hot, exciting, and non-typical. She also has to really like her protagonists.

"They can’t be perfect, because no one is, and it’s sometimes their faults that make them likeable," she said. "But they also have to like each other; I know that sounds strange seeing as how I’m talking about fictional characters, but within the story itself, their relationship and how it develops are absolutely paramount. Outside events can stir things up and keep a reader interested a little while, but if the characters are one-dimensional, then you might as well forget it. The story won’t hold the reader’s interest, and quite frankly I doubt I could finish writing the tale if that were the case. I have to care about the characters and be invested in what happens to them, so that my readers can do the same."

"Who is your favorite erotic author?" I asked.

"That’s easy, but you’ll think I’m biased, and I guess I am," she said with a laugh. "Still, Anna Leigh Keaton really is my favorite erotic author. I enjoy reading her solo works as much as I love having the opportunity to write with her on joint projects. She has an amazing way of bringing that extra emotional touch to her stories, and I admire that."

On a personal note, Madi's had her ears pierced for years, but if she had to get another body part done, she'd go with her belly button.

"On the right person, and when not done to extremes, I think piercing can be very sexy," she explained. "The allure might be because it’s like something forbidden, outside the norm. Unique surprises have the potential to be very sexy. And let’s be honest, it can sting. A tug on a piercing can get your attention, too, long after it’s heeled. For some, a little pain is pleasurable, even arousing. "

Madi's favorite food is seafood—she loves shrimp, fish, lobster, crab, and crawfish.

"And calamari," she said, "Yeah, I know that’s squid. Fried, it’s still good. I’ve even enjoyed caviar on special occasions. The only seafood I avoid is when it’s raw, such as raw oysters."

She can't bring herself to eat snails, however.

"Yes, I know there’s another name for them when they are on your dinner plate, but I don’t care. They are slimy snails, and I couldn’t eat them regardless of the name or seasoning."

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

"Two things: First, read some 'good' erotica. (Look for not just best-selling titles, but also those that have garnered awards/honors in the publishing industry. You want to write like a pro; start by reading stories written by them.) If reading it makes you blush, however, forget it. But if it makes you hot, then you might just be able to pull it off. The key is to know your genre. How else can you give readers what they want until you know what you, as a reader, likes?

"Secondly, don’t be shy. If you think you can skirt around blunt terminology during a sex scene and use flowery prose to tell the tale, think again. That might work for mainstream romance. But readers of erotica like it steamy, sticky, and direct. Tell it like it is or don’t bother trying to write erotica."

You can keep up with Madi on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/madisonlayle .