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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wednesday Spotlight: Scarlett Valentine

A Garden of Inspiration


Happy Hump Day! And thanks for joining me again. By now you should have a warm neck and have your senses stimulated. I hope it’s all good in your house today!

If you liked my recipe yesterday, maybe you want to grow some vegetables of your own to cook, but maybe you don’t have a lot of room in your garden. Why not grow them in your house? Really! My office is at the front of the house and has a big window that gets a decent amount of sun. I say ‘decent’ because it rains a lot here! But it still gets a lot of light which is what vegetables need.

We’ve been in our current house two years now. Last year I thought it would be fun to try tomatoes again. I’d tried them years ago, but they never did well. Not enough light. Water wasn’t the problem, as the pot was on my kitchen sill just behind the sink. But my office gets a lot of sun, which tomatoes love. A friend grows them in her enclosed front porch in grow bags so I thought why not in a proper pot of dirt?

So I got a pot, filled it with dirt and put in a couple seedlings. They went all kinds of crazy, but I didn’t get a lot of tomatoes out of them. Head in hand, I talked to my friend, Chris, who’s a gardener extraordinaire, and learned a few things for next time.

Next time was this year. I grabbed the same pot filled it with fresh dirt and put in a couple seedlings. This year for fun, I thought I’d try yellow tomatoes—Golden Sunrises. How’s that for inspiring? Just the name reminds me of the old bodice ripper romances with the hero holding onto the heroine with the heaving bosom against a . . . well . . . golden sunrise. I also planted a Roma tomato because they’re one of the most flavorful tomatoes to cook with.

As it turns out, the lessons I learned from last year, and the great and friendly advice, came in handy. My vines this year have been wildly producing loads of little yellow fruits. {yes, tomatoes are fruits, folks!}

And here it is, the end of November, and the plant is still a triffid.

What lessons did I learn? Pretty simple, actually. Pinch the suckers—they grow between the leaf and stem. Water—a lot. Fertilize—regularly.

I also learned that tomatoes require fertilization, which is where bees come in. But being indoors, how was I going to make this happen? Easy! I got a little {and clean} paint brush and went around dabbing all the flowers. Kinda tedious, but necessary. And with all the fruit that came on in subsequent weeks, the fruits of my labor resulted in . . . well . . . fruit. The odd part is the Golden Sunrise pretty much took over. I only got two . . . count ‘em . . . two Romas. But how cool was it to see them growing in an irregular red shape against the round yellow ones?! And they were tasty. I used them and a bunch of the yellow ones in the recipe from yesterday.

So what do I do with all my homegrown tomatoes? Loads of things—Frittata, Quiche, Salsa, my aforementioned simmered veg, and my husband likes them in his sandwiches and salad. Hmm . . . maybe I should be thinking Fried Green Tomatoes some day.

How about a recipe for homemade salsa?

2 medium ripe tomatoes, deseeded, skinned and rough chopped
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 medium garlic clove, finely diced
1/2 small jalapeno pepper, deseeded and finely diced {can use Ortega roasted chilies, about 1 tbsp or to taste}
cilantro, a small bunch, finely chop the leafy parts, discard the stems
splash lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

Add all of your ingredients to a bowl as you cut them. Mix well with a spoon, adding a small splash of lime juice. Grab your favorite tortilla chip to taste for flavor, adding salt and pepper to taste, or more lime, cilantro or chilies. Salsa is subjective, so just add whatever extra flavors you want until it's perfect for you.

This recipe is very easy to double or even quadruple if you’re feeling hungry or having friends around. It goes great as an accompaniment to a frittata or quiche, on pretty much anything Mexican, and if you have any ripe avocados, add the salsa to the mashed avocado for a FABulous guacamole.



Good lord! I’m craving Mexican food now. LOL

So you may be asking, how does gardening inspire my work? Gardening, like any hobby, is relaxing and therapeutic. Maybe it’s the communing with nature thing—I enjoy getting my hands in the soil and imagining how a medieval healer would have grown her herbs and kept her garden. Maybe it’s sometimes I grow the food I eat and I wonder how the taste of foods have changed over the centuries. And maybe it’s that all my plants fill the office with fresh oxygen—really, there are a lot of plants in my office!

Whatever it is, I find having plants around me makes me happy. And a happy writer is a prolific writer.

Thanks for hanging out with me again today. We’re getting to be great pals, aren’t we?

Drop me a note in comments and let me know if you grow produce in your house, and if so, what is it and how did you cook with it? Do you have a recipe you’d like to share?

I’m sure I don’t have to mention there are prizes this week! So come back again tomorrow. I’ll be talking about yet another of my passions—Castle hunting!

~ Scarlett
“What’s a little bondage between friends?”
www.Scarlett-Valentine.com
Available now – Awakening, book one of The ABCs of S-E-X: Love by the Letter series

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday Spotlight: Scarlett Valentine

Cooking Up A Storm


Hey! Welcome back. I hope you enjoyed the pattern yesterday. Did anyone cast-on? If so, email me a picture and some details. What kind of yarn did you use? Who’s the scarf for? Comments? Photos! Remember, there could be a spot prize in it for you.
Not into knitting? Maybe today’s topic is more up your cutting board. Today I’m talking about one of my other passions—cooking.

When did I first realize I liked to cook? Probably the instant I realized I liked to eat and if I wanted to keep eating I needed to learn to cook! Vicious circle.

One of my first memories of ‘cooking’ was when I was five, maybe six. Mom would make these great pecan cinnamon rolls very early in the morning. She’d set them out to rise then spend a couple hours helping Dad pack up the van for a camping trip. We were always ready to go just about the time the rolls had risen properly for baking. Mom would wrap them in thick layers of tinfoil and give them to dad who would then wire them to the engine block. True story! I swear it. {crossing heart} The heat from the motor cooked the rolls while we drove. We’d have milk chilling in the cooler, and when we got about an hour out of town, we’d pull over at a rest spot. Mom would get out the paper plates and plastic forks and Dad would get out the oven mitts and wire cutters. Then we’d sit down to homemade, freshly cooked, gooey pecan cinnamon rolls and cold milk. Oh man, those were the days! I’m drooling just thinking about those rolls. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little tug on my heart with nostalgia.

Through my formative years, I remember all kinds of foods I loved. Today, those same foods bring back the same nostalgia those pecan cinnamon rolls do—chocolate chip cookies, taco feasts, pumpkin pies . . . even going fishing with my dad, bringing home our catch, preparing the fish and serving it up for dinner. Yes, I’ve gutted my fair share of fish. Not for the squeamish, but it was real ‘farm to fork’ eating. Really, the way it should be.

When I made the big step to get my own place, suddenly gone were Mom’s fabulous dinners and Dad’s barbeque. I had to learn to cook! I can’t begin to list the different dishes I’ve made or tried to recreate from Mom’s repertoire {really, who can match Mom’s cooking?}, but with time and practice, I’ve actually created a couple things that have become my own signature dishes. One of which I’ll share with you. Get your bib on. I’ll wait!



First let me say, on their own, I’m not keen about any of these ingredients. Some I tolerate. Generally speaking, they wouldn’t be first on my grocery list for a stand-alone dish. Some of you may think the same thing when you read the recipe. But if you trust me on nothing else, try this dish. I bet if you don’t love it, you’ll at least like it a whole lot. So here it is—

Simmered Vegetables with Poached Chicken and Potato Skin Croutons


Ingredients

Olive oil
2 big onions {I like white, but yellow are more flavorful}
2 yellow bell peppers
2 zucchini {or courgettes if you’re in the EU}
1 small eggplant {or aubergine if you’re in the EU}
2-3 big cloves garlic
2 Tbsp dried mixed herbs
2 chicken stock cubes {I prefer Knorr’s stock pots/gelatin based stock}
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 can of chopped tomatoes {or about a half pound of prepared fresh, deseeded tomatoes}
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 large prebaked Russet potato skins, or other large potato with a thick skin



Get out a big pan with a lid and let’s get cooking!

Going down the ingredients list, put the pan on medium-high heat to warm and drizzle in some olive oil. You can be generous because it’s good for you, just don’t put too much that you end up shallow frying your vegetables.

While your pan is heating, rough chop the onions and peppers and toss them into the pan. Give them a little stir to coat them in oil so they cook evenly. While those are sautéing, rough chop the zucchini and eggplant then toss them in the pan too, mixing well.

Rough chop your fresh garlic. Add more if you like garlic, less if you don’t, but garlic is good for you too, so whack it in. Then add in the chopped tomatoes, mixed herbs, stock pots/cubes and paprika, mixing well.

While the pan is coming up to simmer, chop the chicken breasts into big chunks and scatter on top of the veg. Press them down into the veg so their surrounded but not totally covered. Cover the pan and turn down the heat so it simmers slowly. Give it about 45 minutes to an hour on low. Check occasionally to be sure enough liquid is developing from the vegetables as they cook down.

About 15 minutes before you’re ready to serve up, prepare your potato skins.
Pour some olive oil into another pan, enough to shallow fry them. Alternatively, if you’re bold and have a deep fat fryer, use that.

The potato skins should be from prebaked and gutted potatoes. Chop the skins into big chunks roughly the size of the veg when you chopped them.

Fry the skins until they’re crispy. Cook in batches to ensure crispiness. As you pull them out of the oil, drain them on paper towels. Use a little sea salt to flavor, or a mix of salt and paprika.

Dish up the veg and chicken, and top with your potato skin croutons.

Eat with a big spoon!

Note: This is a dish you can prepare ahead of time, perhaps a day, and reheat. I like to make a huge batch and portion out two servings per container {one for myself and one for himself} and freeze. When I want to use one, I either defrost it in a pan on low heat until it simmers, or put it in the microwave. In the time it takes to do either, you can make the croutons.

So, how does cooking inspire my writing? Well, food can be very sensual. It awakens all of your senses—flavors on your taste buds, scents fill your nostrils, the color contrast in the pan can entice, the texture of the meat and veg in your mouth and its warmth is so comforting, and you just can’t help but groan with pleasure as the flavors envelop you.

Some believe certain fruits and vegetables have aphrodisiac qualities. For example, zucchinis, and to a degree eggplant, are phallus shaped. Tomatoes are known as ‘love apples’ and contain high doses of lycopene which is a known libido-enhancer.
Peppers, including bell peppers, onions and garlic turn up the body’s heat, sending blood to ALL the organs. And chicken is a great source of protein and releases nutrients slowly into the body, meaning you can go . . . all . . . night!

So what’s not to love about this dish? Have a bowl and crank up your libido!

I hope you enjoy this recipe. I’d love to hear comments back from readers. Let me know if you tried it and liked it {or didn’t}, and any additions or substitutions you might make if you make it again.

Thanks again for hanging out with me today. Remember there will be prizes this week {a spot prize and a grand prize at the end}, so join me tomorrow when I’ll be chatting about another one of my passions—Gardening. Get on your gloves and find a sunny room in your house, as I bring outdoor gardening inside!

~ Scarlett
“What’s a little bondage between friends?”
www.Scarlett-Valentine.com
Available now – Awakening, book one of The ABCs of S-E-X: Love by the Letter series

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Spotlight: Scarlett Valentine

Knitting Up A Story


Thanks for asking me to visit Whipped Cream Reviews this week. I’ve been looking forward to this. And thanks for asking me to talk about some of my hobbies and interests.

As some know, I just came off a two week virtual blog tour. I had an amazing time, met some great people and doled out a few prizes. {stay tuned, as I will be giving out more this week!} As book tours go, every day is filled with discussions about the book: setting, characters, history, why I chose the genre, etc. Readers got to learn a little about me as an author, too.

This week, I’d like to talk about me again, but a little more informally—Scarlett Valentine away from the computer and what she does when she’s not writing, plotting or otherwise being abused by her muse. Also how my hobbies inspire my writing.

One of my favorite past times is knitting. Really, I’ve been crafting since I was very young. My father bought me a French knitter when I was about seven—you know the one that looks like a doll with pins in her head and a hole down the middle, yarn is wrapped around the pins and you use a hook to overlap the yarn, creating a cord. I could make cords for days on that thing. Mom taught me macramé, needlepoint and sew. She also taught me to read early, but that’s another story.

It wasn’t until my great-aunt Tropha came to stay with us for a while that I learned pattern making, knitting and crochet. I would sit for hours with my aunt, listening to her tales of ‘comin west’ in a wagon and living in soddies while her fingers flew over her work.

Aunt Tropha was one of the strongest women I knew. She was born in 1891 and those stories about the wagon and the sod houses were true. A woman was born strong in those times or they never would have survived harsh conditions and wagon trains. Tropha was the youngest of a large brood, each of whom had their daily chores. Even her sister who was named Princess! One of the stories Aunt Tropha told took place when she was three. Her chore was to set the table at each meal with the cutlery. Well, being three and rambunctious I probably don’t have to tell you how she lost an eye. You can just take it that she did. But that never stopped her from doing anything she wanted, including needlework. She once told me, ‘It saves me from having to close one eye to thread a needle!’ She was spunky like that!

I loved writing from the time I was young, and Aunt Tropha’s stories inspired me. I’ve yet to write that kind of story, but her tales are always in the back of my mind. And now, as then, I still find myself remembering her stories while I’m doing needlework. Because it’s also so relaxing, I find doing needlework is one of the best times for story-plotting.

I haven’t crocheted much in recent years, but I did pick up knitting again. I knit for a couple hours at night in front of the tellie. After typing most of the day, one would expect I’d have tired fingers. They’re anything but. I fidget, want to nibble on snacks or pick my nails if I don’t have something in my hands. Needlework satisfies me.

One of the things that has come about since getting back into needlecraft is my love of unusual yarns. I love hand-spun and hand-dyed yarns; unusual fibers like silk, bamboo, milk, corn silk, and exotics like buffalo! As a result, my yarn stash has threatened to get out of control. Currently, it’s contained in an antique wardrobe, but the doors have trouble staying closed! Just two weeks ago I added to that overflowing stash when I attended the annual Knitting and Stitching Show in Dublin! I go every year with a girlfriend and stay for hours drooling over everything and coming home with more than I can really afford. I’m terrible! I still have yarn from the last two shows in my stash I haven’t used yet. I just can’t help myself. I’m a yarn junkie and need a YA {Yarnaholics Anonymous} program to get clean!

With that in mind, I thought I’d share a pattern with you. It’s a Moss Stitch Scarf. It’s quick and very easy to do, and moss stitch creates a reversible garment. And with Ho Ho Day in just four weeks, there’s no time like the present for . . . presents!



Any size yarn will do. I like an Aran weight/double knitting yarn that uses 4-5mm/6-8US size needles. You can use any type of yarn too—wool, acrylic, silk, cotton, bamboo, etc. Just be sure it’s soft because it goes around the neck.

Using a solid color yarn will show up the moss stitch pattern very well. Using a self-striping yarn gives the scarf more dimension, as you can see by my scarf, shown here by my reluctant model, Poppy. My scarf here was made with Noro Silk Garden which is a silk wool blend and self-striping. I used three 50 gram balls {about 6 ounces}.

For casting on, I like the two-needle method for scarves, but feel free to use your own preferred cast on method. For two-needle: Make a slipknot and place on a needle. With the second needle, insert into the loop on the left needle knitwise {as if you are going to knit the stitch}, pull the loop through and place onto the left needle. Add loops by now inserting needle between the loops, yarn over, pull the loop through and place on the left needle. It’s the same technique for knitting, but instead of keeping the stitch on the right needle, it’s placed on the left. Two-needle cast-on makes a neater edge for the finished project.

So let’s get started—

Cast-on 20 stitches. This should give you a scarf of about 5 inches in width. Add sets of 2 stitches for a wider scarf . . . 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, etc.

Row 1—Knit 1 {K1}, Purl 1 {P1} to the end. You will end with a purl stitch. Turn the work.

Row 2—P1, K1 to the end.

Note: Use the same type of stitch as on the opposite side of the work. If the stitch was knitted on the first row, knit it on the back. If you purl on the back of a knit stitch, you will create a rib stitch, which is not what you want.

Repeat rows 1 and 2 until the desired length of the scarf, usually around 4 feet, but you can knit longer if you have yarn leftover {leave enough for the cast-off} or if you like really long scarves.

End on right side row, where you would begin with a knit stitch.

Cast-off in pattern—

K1, P1, slip K stitch over P stitch.
*K1, slip P over K stitch.
P1, slip K over P stitch.*
Repeat * to * to end.

When you have one stitch left, take it off the needle, pull one loop through the stitch to lock the stitch, then snip the yarn with about a 4 inch tail, pull through to knot the stitch.

Weave in ends.

Voila. One moss stitch scarf.

I hope you enjoy this pattern. Let me know if you make this scarf, or something else with moss stitch. I’d love to see pictures of your finished garment.

Thanks for hanging out with me today. Remember there will be prizes this week {a spot prize and a grand prize at the end}, so join me tomorrow when I’ll be chatting about another one of my passions—Cooking. Get your taste buds, and your kitchen, ready for a great recipe!

~ Scarlett
“What’s a little bondage between friends?”
www.Scarlett-Valentine.com
Available now – Awakening, book one of The ABCs of S-E-X: Love by the Letter series

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Author Interview with Carolyn Rosewood


Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome Carolyn Rosewood, whose latest release is Playing for Keeps, book 3 of the Seduced by a Demon series from Evernight Publishing.

Carolyn's been writing stories since she could print, admitting, "I was the geeky kid in middle and high school, carrying a notebook filled with stories."

When she would get bored in class, she'd write, and her English teachers loved her because she was one of the few who didn't groan when a writing assignment was handed out. She didn't major in English in college nor did she get serious about writing until about twelve years ago, but she always wrote.

"The stories would start writing themselves in my head, from the most common objects or pictures." She told me. "I’ve been reading romance since I was 19, and I wrote my first romance manuscript about twelve years ago. It was a mess, filled with every newbie mistake imaginable. I didn’t even have a computer! I wrote it on an electronic Smith Corona typewriter. I wasn’t an RWA member, and I had no idea how to query agents. Two years ago we had a devastating tornado in the town where I now live, and I realized first-hand how everything can change in an instant. I also realized if I was going to pursue my dream of being a published romance writer, I’d better get my butt in gear and get serious about it. I joined RWA and our local Nashville chapter, the Music City Romance Writers. I learned my craft, asked a million questions, and began to write for publication, not just for fun."

Carolyn writes both erotic and non-erotic romance, and I asked her which was more challenging.

"My sexy romantic suspense, Haunted Heart, wouldn’t be considered erotic by most. The heat level is three but the sex scenes are toned down as compared to The Last Soul and Hunted. I don't really find one or the other more challenging. A story is still a story. The challenge is in making it believable, and in coming up with enough conflict to sustain the story without throwing in random obstacles that seem to come out of nowhere. I hate it when I read that in a story. Makes me want to throw my Kindle across the room."

The difference, in her mind, between erotica, erotic romance, and porn is simple.

"Erotica focuses primarily on the sexual relationship as opposed to the romantic one. There still needs to be a story – plot and conflict – but the MCs are together for a sexual relationship. Erotic romance focuses on the relationship. It’s a developing love story, like all traditional romances, where the sex scenes are more frequent, more graphic and descriptive, or a combination of both. In both erotica and erotic romance the author still needs to show the emotional connection. Pornography does not an emotional connection. Porn is just straight sex, like reading it from a how-to manual. There doesn’t need to be a relationship between the participants other than a physical one, and there doesn’t need to be a story behind the sex."

Story is the main distinguishing mark when it comes to a good erotic story, she told me.

"Characters need conflict that can’t be overcome with a nice sit down and chat; they need goals that are believable and meaningful; and their actions need to spring from the motivation to achieve those goals. Even the sex scenes need a reason to be there. When I was writing the first draft of Hunted, Book 2 of my Seduced By A Demon series, I made the mistake of putting a sex scene in a place where the hero and heroine should have been more concerned about saving the heroine’s friends from the villain. The timing was all wrong. Sex simply for the sake of sex will pull a reader out of the story. Think of it this way. If you got a call that a loved one was in the hospital, just as you and your lover were about to make love, most people would postpone the lovemaking and rush to the hospital. That same common sense needs to be in every story I write."

Among the authors that Carolyn believe write excellent erotic fiction are Stacey Espino, Xondra Day and Anna Karaleigh.

"Not only do they write well, but there’s an instant emotional connection to the characters in their books," she explained. "I care about what happens to them and I understand their motivation. Their characters’ actions and words make sense, and the sex scenes are HOT and believable."

"What are the biggest public misconceptions about erotica?" I wondered.

"That it’s porn for women. No, it’s not porn. We read erotic romance for the same reason we read any romance. We enjoy the journey of two people falling in love. Spicy sex scenes don’t make it porn. Lack of emotion and sex for the sake of sex, even when it makes no sense to the story at the time, makes it porn."

The amount and kind of research Carolyn does depends on what she's writing. For the first book in her Seduced by a Demon series, The Last Soul, she researched theories and fiction on succubae, because she'd never written one in a story before. Because it was set in Los Angeles, she also researched the city's buildings, neighborhoods, and cultural events.

"For Hunted, I did some quick research on the Inglewood Park Cemetery, because that’s where the showdown between the hero, heroine and the villain takes place. In Playing for Keeps, the third book in the series, I made up a town in Ohio, but researched Chicago in the mid-nineteenth century because that’s where the heroine, Teresa, lived when she was still alive."

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

"I have sexual inhibitions just like anyone, and my stories reflect them. I can’t write something that isn’t authentic for me. If it doesn’t personally turn me on, I can’t write it. It feels forced and unnatural to me. I place my characters in sexual situations that I’ve either experienced myself, or that I fantasize about. And then of course I turn up the heat! But I can’t write certain things simply because I don’t find them erotic myself."

Some personal things you might not know about Carolyn:

~ she's a chocoholic. Also, she loves anything dipped in batter and fried.

~ she doesn't mind trying new foods—as long as it's not still moving.

~ she can "absolutely" tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi, saying "They have very distinct tastes. Coke is sharper, edgier. Pepsi has an underlying sweet taste to it, even in diet."

~ her favorite letter is S—"I love the sibilance of its sound, and I like the shape. It’s easy to print and it’s really cool when stylized and dressed up."

~ her strangest habit is biting the inside of her left cheek (never her right) when she's nervous.

~ she plays the cello (although she admits that "play" is a relative term.)

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

"Learn to take constructive criticism. That’s the biggest obstacle I see in aspiring and new writers, and even some well-established ones. They can’t handle it when someone says, 'try doing this instead' or 'you might want to consider doing this.' We all love our work but it’s extremely difficult to look at it objectively. If you ask a writer or industry professional for help, and you’re lucky enough to get it, don’t get defensive and bitch to your friends about what they said. You not only shoot yourself in the foot, but you block any learning about how to improve your writing. Even best selling authors have critique partners, belong to critique groups, and have editors. None of us is above learning how to improve a manuscript. There’s no law that says you have to take anyone's suggestions and apply them, but at least consider the possibility they might have something useful to offer you."

You can keep up with Carolyn on her website, http://www.carolynrosewood.com/ .

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday Spotlight: Cassandra Carr

Five ways to show authors some love on Amazon
By Cassandra Carr


You guys love authors, right? After all, we’re the lovely (demented) people who bring you your favorite books. It’s possible you’ve heard all this before, but it bears repeating: there are a ton of things you, as a reader, can do to support your favorite authors. To make it easy for you, I’ve created a handy-dandy list, using Amazon as an example!

1. View our book. Amazon, silly people that they are, uses a complicated algorithm to determine where in the search results our books land. The more our books are viewed, the higher it will be placed on the list.

2. “Like” our book. Somewhere right near the top in the area close to the price, is a “like” button. Any book with ten or more “likes” is considered popular and is bumped up in the search rankings.

3. Agree with the book’s tags. Down below the information about the book is an area with tags, such as “romance”, “firefighter”, “western”, etc. The more people who agree with these tags (again, I’ve heard the magic number is ten), the higher the book climbs in the search order. Now, here’s something that’s important. Don’t click on “agree with all tags”. It almost never works. Instead, click on each tag individually to agree with it.

4. Leave a review. You don’t have to buy the book on Amazon (or Barnes & Noble, etc) to leave a review there. It doesn’t have to be long – most of the reviews I give are three to five sentences. Be short and sweet – tell other readers what you loved about the book and encourage them to try it out for themselves.

5. Go to the author’s profile on and “like” that too. It’s not only important for the books to be popular, but the author, too. Once again, the magic number seems to be ten. Don’t ask me why…

So now that you know some ways to show your love, can you think of any I missed?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thursday Spotlight: Cassandra Carr

The worst writing mistake I ever made
By Cassandra Carr


Every writer makes mistakes, especially when they’re first starting out. What was my worst mistake? Writing a heroine I didn’t like. I had an interesting concept, which I won’t go into here, but let’s just say the heroine really should’ve been a strong woman, considering her occupation. But was she strong? Not the way I wrote her at first.

In fact, she was a weak, whiny little complainer. A woe-is-me’er. And I can’t stand people like that!

So why did I write her that way?

Because I thought that’s how you had to write a character in conflict, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Characters in conflict can be incredibly strong people, like the hero in my upcoming book, Caught. Jack is a college professor who also happens to be a rough, edgy Dominant. There’s nothing weak about him, and yet he’s incredibly conflicted.

I bet you’re wondering if I fixed her, aren’t you? Well, I did. But I still haven’t sold that book. It was my first novel, and it’s riddled with other problems, many of which I could probably fix if I had the time or inclination. I don’t have either at the moment, so it languishes on the shelf. Maybe I’ll go back to it someday, or maybe I won’t. But I do know one thing – I’ll never write another sniveling heroine!

What are some of your pet peeves about heroines in romance novels?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wednesday Spotlight: Cassandra Carr

Quirky Secondary Characters – yes or no?
By Cassandra Carr


I’m seeing more and more quirky secondary characters these days. And not just in books – they’re all over TV and movies too. So what do we think of quirky secondary characters? Not sure who I mean? I’m going to date myself here, but I’ll give you some examples from TV: Cliff from Cheers, or Rose from The Golden Girls. Both are quirky secondary characters. More modern examples are Howard from The Big Bang Theory and Sam from Burn Notice.

Do quirky characters make stories more interesting? Or do they distract from what you really want to see, which (I assume) is the main characters fighting their way through the world.

I don’t tend to use quirky characters. My stories are very much centered on my hero(es) and heroine, and their battle to overcome the various obstacles to achieve happiness. Sure, there are secondary characters, but most would be classified as “window characters” – characters who are in the story purely to give the main characters someone other than the other main characters to talk to. My secondary characters are best friends, co-workers, all the different things you might expect a quirky character to be, but they’re straight shooters. They keep the main characters focused on their objective and they help the main characters figure out what to do.

Am I missing the boat here? Should I make my secondary characters more quirky?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday Spotlight: Cassandra Carr

The novels on my nightstand (or in my Nook, as the case may be)
By Cassandra Carr


I read romance almost exclusively. Yes, I’m sure I should be reading other genres, if only to see what writers in other genres do – what their voices are like, how they handle plot points, etc. But my time is both valuable and limited, so I read what I like best: romance.

Within romance, I read very little paranormal. Just not my thing. Ditto for sci-fi/fantasy. I also don’t read inspirational romance. There’s nothing wrong with inspy, and I’ve read some interesting inspy-type books in the past, but it’s not my first (or second or third) choice.

You’re probably asking yourself – what the heck DOES she read? Contemporary, western, historical, and erotic romance, for the most part. My favorite authors include Jennifer Crusie (or Jenny Crusie, as we call her in the biz, lol), Lisa Kleypas, Deidre Martin, Rachel Gibson, Lauren Dane, Maya Banks, Jaci Burton, and Eloisa James. I was surprised when browsing through the bookstore at the airport the other day to see that Lisa Kleypas had released a book I didn’t know about. How did that happen?!?

Yes, I obsessively track my favorite authors, just like you do. Every writer I know does. After all, at the end of the day, we’re all readers too.

What novels are on your nightstand?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Spotlight: Cassandra Carr

The FBI probably wants to talk to me…
By Cassandra Carr


Most of the writers I know do the majority of their research online. And as we know, Google is like Big Brother – it’s watching us. It’s also recording every Internet search we do through their engine. If you didn’t know that, there’s your wakeup call. How do they use that data? Lots of ways, but one of them is for law enforcement officials.

Now, I’m not saying that myself or any of the other writers I know are doing anything wrong when we do research online, but can you imagine the dossier that’s got to be building for us? Mine says I’ve searched for steel BDSM collars, Gatling guns, nylon rope, and a whole lot more. You’d think I was planning some sort of invasion, but nope, I’m just doing research for my various books.

And can you imagine what it’s like to be a horror author? Or one that writes murder mysteries? They search for stuff like “how to get blood out of carpet” and “types of hunting knives”. *shudder* But hey, there’s a bright spot to all this – the FBI probably just thinks I’m a pervert. That’s okay with me.

What would your Internet searches reveal about you?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Author Interview with Ella Jade


Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome Ella Jade, who has a brand new release that just came out yesterday. I asked her to tell us a little bit about it.

Successful businessman Alec Carter realizes his life is less than fulfilled when he meets beautiful Princeton University senior Clara Whittaker at a local coffee shop. Alec experiments in the BDSM lifestyle but doesn't consider himself hardcore until he crosses paths with the obviously submissive Clara. The more time Alec spends with young Clara, the more his dominant tendencies push to the surface. She could be what has been missing.

After her grandmother's death, Clara ends up a guest in Alec's home until she can finish school. She quickly learns she's a natural submissive and decides she wants to explore this new side of herself with the man of house. Alec shows her a life she never knew existed as they enter into a world of role playing, fantasy, and desire. Alec may be the Master, but Clara holds the key to his heart.

As the semester comes to an end, so does their arrangement. If Alec doesn't admit his true feelings for Clara, she could walk out of his life forever. But, Alec isn’t sure which she craves more . . . his dominance . . . or his love.
She also has some exciting news to share. Her last release Be My Everything is an Amazon best-seller, holding in the Top 100 List for Erotica for the last three weeks.

Ella told me she'd always been a writer—even as a child, she had a notebook and pen in hand all the time and now she's an adult, her laptop is never far away.

"I had all these ideas but I didn’t know what to do with them," she explained. "About two years ago, I stumbled onto a fan fiction website and read all of these really great stories. It wasn't long before I decided to try it. I found much success and picked up a pretty big following spinning alternate tales of a popular vampire series. That experience gave me the experience to begin submitting my original stories to publishers. And, here I am, sharing it with all of you."

She's always been a love story and HEA writer and with her experience in the fan-fic world also came her experience in erotica.

"The very first time I tried it, the response was insane and that fueled my fire. I had no idea I was any good at it until people starting contacting me and telling me how hot my stories were and how happy their husbands were they were reading my stuff. I'm credited for spicing up a few marriages," she said. "It wasn't something I set out to do, but with each sex scene I wrote, I learned a little more about how to go about it. Those scenes are still not my favorite things to write and I usually save them for when I'm finished with the rest of the chapter. I'll go back in and insert (no pun intended) the sex. When I read back the final product I can see how the heat enhances the story. It’s still a learning process for me, but I get a little better each time I write one."

One important thing for Ella, there needs to be a strong emotional connection between the characters—she wants to show why they are drawn to one another.

"I don't always want it to be about the physical attraction," she told me. "It's important for them to have chemistry, sexual tension and have the potential to fall in love and live happily ever after. For me it isn't about one sex scene after the other. I'm big with realistic dialogue and creating characters that will stay with the reader long after they're finished the story."

She feels that a lot of people who don't read erotica quickly dismiss it as porn.

"There are lots of stories out there that showcase sex for the sake of sex," she agreed, "but most well written stories have a plot and good characters. Yes, there is sex and lots of it, but if it moves the plot I don’t necessarily classify it as porn."

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

"I read a lot. I've also been known to Google everything! I'm drawn to sexy, strong, well educated men when I read, so I research many different professions and Ivy League Schools. Several of my stories are set in towns that have good universities.

"My friends think all the sex scenes in my books are from activities that are actually going on in my bedroom. Trust me, I don't that have that much time! Reading many genres of erotic fiction helps get my creative juices flowing.

"The dialogue is what moves my plot in most cases, so there isn't much research I can do with that. I just run the scenes in my head and read back the conversations to make sure they sound realistic."

"What does your family think of your writing?" I asked.

"Most of my family can't believe this is what I write," she said with a laugh. "They don’t expect it from me. A few of them have read my YA Romance Jocelyn's Choice and were surprised at how detailed the sex scenes were. I told them if they thought that was steamy then they probably should skip the next few which include BDSM and M/M. I can appreciate erotic fiction isn't for everyone, so I don't push my work on them. There are plenty of readers out there who want to read what authors like me have to say. To them I say, Thank You!"

On a more personal note, I asked her, "If you had to pierce a body part, what would you pierce and why?" I was also curious what she found sexy about body piercing.

"I'm more into tattoos than body piercings, but if I had to pierce something it would probably be my bellybutton. I've always thought that was sexy, but never really felt I had a toned enough stomach for it. There's always next summer!

"Now on a guy, I like when he has an eyebrow piercing and if he's really hot, I like to see a nipple ring. I've read a few erotic books where the lucky heroine gets to bite the hero's nipple ring. Yum!"

Ella's favorite food is anything Mexican, but especially cheese and onion enchiladas. She's not big on fish, however. She'll eat shrimp or crab meat, but that's about it as far as seafood goes. Her eleven-year-old son, on the other hand, loves fish of all kinds and orders it every time they go out.

"I don't know where he gets it!" she said.

She's also a Coke girl through and through, and she's been known to refuse to eat at certain restaurants because they don't serve the 'real thing.'

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

"I'm thinking Catherine Zeta Jones. She's beautiful, sophisticated and a great actress. Plus, I'd love for her to play me and speak with her really cool British accent. Yeah, I want a British accent!"

You can keep up with Ella on her blog, http://ellajadeauthor.blogspot.com.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Spotlight: Riptide Publishing

In addition to being entered into the weekly spotlight contest, all commenters on today's post will be entered into a drawing for winner's choice of Infected: Prey or Making Contact.

You may or may not know who I am, so to help us get acquainted, I thought I’d catalog a day in the life of procrastinating writer Andrea Speed. Now keep in mind this only takes place in the hours I’m supposed to be writing. I’ve saved you all from the agony of my day job and my personal life (ha ha - what is that).

12 - Finally get on computer

12 - 1:30 - Emails. Read all the emails, sift through them, wonder how I get so many emails when I’m not that popular, question why I’m signed up to so many groups, refuse to answer any emails until I’ve written a bit.

1:30 - 2 - Respond to emails.

2-3 - Check out a couple of blogs I like to hit. But just skim. No time to read! Must write.

3 - Cat jumps up on lap. Well, maybe I can read for just a little while longer …

3:15 - Check up on my social network pages … AUGH! Time vampires! You’re all damn time vampires! Why do I even have so many pages?! I won’t spend any time on you! Be gone, monsters!

4:30 - Finally escape social network pages.

4:30 - 4:45 - Write a bit.

4:45 - 5 - Real life interrupts.

5 - I will not check my email again!

5:15 - Stop with email, write a bit.

5:30 - 5:45 - Phone call!

5:45 - 6 - Write a bit.

6 - Offline.


Get back online about 11:30.


11:30 - to 12:30 - Email.

12:30 - 1:30 - Damn you Twitter! Damn you!

1:30 - to 3:00 or so - Write, download podcasts from iTunes.


So that’s a typical writing day for me. It’s amazing I ever get anything done, just like it’s amazing that Riptide Publishing would take a chance on me.

Perhaps this is why I can identify with Josh of my Josh of the Damned series so much. He can often find other things to do besides his job, although he does work the late shift, and has to deal with stoners and zombies alike. What’s my excuse?

Wish Riptide Publishing good luck with me. They’re going to need it.

Here's an excerpt from my short, Pretty Monsters:

The first time the hell vortex opened in the Quick-Mart parking lot, Josh very seriously considered quitting his job. But all that came out of it was a lizard guy, and all it did was amble inside, buy a bag of chips, and leave. All the monsters, while ugly, seemed nicer than his late-night human customers, and Mr. Kwon offered him hazard pay, so he stayed on.

Besides, it wasn’t all bad on the night shift. For instance, right now he was looking forward to the return of Hot Guy.

Of course it was a super hot night, still eighty degrees around midnight, and the air conditioner had to pick now to die. Josh peeled off his polyester work smock and put his nametag on his t-shirt, hoping Mr. Kwon wouldn’t suddenly show up and demand he put it back on. It breathed like a trash bag.

His latest customer was an obviously stoned guy buying a wheelbarrow full of snacks. Not only were his eyes glassy and red, but he reeked of pot smoke, making Josh wonder if he’d spilled the bong water. Pot Guy left and someone else came in. Josh leaned over the checkout counter, hopeful, but it wasn’t Hot Guy, just a lizard guy.

“Guy” in a generic, gender free sense of the word, of course, because Josh had no idea how to tell if they were male or female. Maybe they didn’t even have genders. He didn’t know how to ask without being a rude bastard, and there was a chance he wouldn’t understand the answer anyway.

The lizard guys were all tall, and this one was no exception, at least six foot five and so broad across the shoulders it could barely fit in the aisle. They had all your basic equipment—two arms, two legs, a recognizable face—but their mouths were huge, they had no nose, and their scaled skin ranged in color from moss green to primer gray. This one was a kind of greenish-gray, like his roommate that time he got food poisoning.

Like all lizard guys, this one had a weird gait because its feet were huge, with six long toes that almost looked like fingers . . . which was extra weird because their hands were always small and had just four stubby fingers. They looked like they’d been put together by a five year old with a bad sense of proportion.

They also made such a racket you could hear them all the way from the back room. It reminded him of his first Craigslist roommate, Barry, who couldn’t do anything, even open the damn curtains, without making several decibels of needless noise. For the brief time they’d shared a place, Josh had been convinced Barry was hiding a megaphone to fart into just for effect.

Thwak-thwak-thwak echoed in the shop as Lizard Guy waddle-stomped down the aisle, making a beeline for the Fritos display. It grabbed two bags and turned back, waddle-stomping to the register.

Pretty Monsters is available at Riptide. You can purchase it by clicking the cover.

The sequel, Peek-A-Boo, is now available for pre-order: http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/peek-boo-josh-damned-2

Find me online here:
Email address: aspeed2@gmail.com
Website: http://andreaspeed.com/
Blog: http://andreaspeed.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/aspeed
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Andrea-Speed/161826617217710

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thursday Spotlight: Riptide Publishing

In addition to being entered into the weekly spotlight contest, all commenters on today's post will be entered into a drawing for the First Wave Winner’s Choice: Pick any one backlist book from Rachel Haimowitz, Aleksandr Voinov, L.A. Witt, Brita Addams, or Cat Grant (“Frontlist” books, i.e. Riptide releases and newest non-Riptide release, are excluded, as are the Courtland Chronicles).

Etzweiler. Rhianon Etzweiler. Resident of Hershey, PA. The eccentric owner of an equally odd speckled dog. Writer of speculative fiction – read that as a catch-all term for anything not contemporary, historical, or mundane (lacking fantastical aspects) – and romance stories with varying degrees of erotica and abnormal queerness. “Gay romance” is so limiting.

Blacker Than Black is my pending December release from Riptide and my debut solo project. I co-authored with Aleksandr Voinov, an August release from Carina Press titled Dark Edge of Honor. Before that, I dabbled a little bit in slash fanfic and could be found perpetually writing and editing my original fiction. And Nanoing like a person possessed. And reading. I don’t find time to do much of the latter anymore. Not nearly as often as I’d like, at least. My TBR pile keeps growing, with no end in sight.

When I’m asked to label my stories within a specific genre, I run into difficulties. There are aspects of many. And then there are the stories that blatantly defy labels beyond the most general. Well, it’s fiction. Speculative fiction. And, um… I’m not a big fan of labels, but I understand the need for them, in defining a story. A reader needs to know what to expect on the pages between the cover art and the blurb on the back.

I don’t consider myself a romance author. The romances in my stories rarely have first chair when it comes to plot arcs. They develop organically, from the interactions of two characters through the course of the story. I don’t make an attempt to downplay the romantic aspect or emotional involvement, but neither do I highlight it. As a theme, it’s a minor one.

One of the prevalent themes of the stories I write is, quite simply, The Unexpected. I don’t mean anvils falling out of the sky like a Wyle E. Coyote cartoon, but the sort of plot twists that resemble unmarked hairpin turns on the Autobahn. Please secure the lap bar firmly against your hips, and keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times…

I revel in writing situations that force my characters to make tough choices where neither option can be clearly pointed out as the ‘correct’ one. I won’t hesitate to strip them of everything, down to the core of their being, and stand them naked before their enemies. Preferably in a corner, so they have to fight their way out, or surrounded on all sides so that even their back is unprotected from attack. That’s the only way to truly show, I think, the hard indestructible core of a strong character. Not everyone will like or sympathize with them; some might want to smack them around, instead. If a reader has to pause and question which warring faction is antagonist and which is protagonist… then I’ve succeeded. If the reader cannot find the answer to the question, I’ve done it in spectacular fashion.

Despite this, not all my stories are dark and gritty. Dark Edge of Honor was written that way deliberately – Blacker Than Black is quite the opposite. Though still indelibly twisted, the aspect and execution are entirely different. Much of it has a humorous side, thanks to the POV character and the first-person perspective. Black is definitely not a depressive pessimist, quite often highlighting the humor in situations intended to be somber or serious.

Black’s story began about four or five years ago, during NaNoWriNo. My original goal had been to write a short story for an anthology call titled “The Red Light District.” (Black still laughs every time I mention that.) The first chapter was designed as a standalone, but I kept writing until I hit 50k on it. The next year, I continued on during Nano, and ended up with a rough draft. It was actually that version of the story, which an established author offered to beta for me, that resulted in DEoH even happening. Aleksandr Voinov fell in love with Black and, on the merits of that first draft, asked to jump in on the war romance.

The heavy editing that transformed the storyline of Blacker Than Black into what it is now took place early in 2011, during lag in DEoH’s editing schedule. When Riptide began formally approaching authors for their First Wave, they offered to contract me for it. I expect it will be the first of many stories that find a home at Riptide.

Here's the blurb from Blacker than Black:

Apparently, my twin and I are two of York’s most notorious criminals. We’ve been Nightwalkers in the blue-light district since the vamps took over the world. Don’t know how many years it’s been. Long enough that a stream of fellow ’walkers have come and gone. Most don’t last long selling their chi. End up face-down in the gutter, or worse.

For us, one night and one sale change everything.

Monsieur Garthelle is the first john to hunt me down. He calls me a chi thief in one breath and offers absolution—servitude—in the next. Maybe I’m a sucker, but I like living and breathing. Strange that such a powerful vamp would show leniency to a mere human. And something’s not right with the chi I took from him. It won’t go away.

Neither will he, and he’s forcing us to spy on his peers. Then a vamp turns up dead, and we go from playing eyes and ears to investigating a murder. This isn’t what I signed up for. All I ever wanted was to sell a little chi, maybe steal some in return. I should’ve kept my damn hands to myself.

This is my story. Look through my eyes.

Blacker than Black will be released on December 12, but is available for pre-order by clicking on the cover above.


Rhianon Etzweiler spent her formative years seeped in military culture, and many of her writing inspirations bear that mark – with a definitive twist. Her main genres are science fiction and fantasy, but she enjoys spicing things up with a speculative mixture that sometimes defies an easy label. Next to Elizabeth Moon and Meredith Ann Pierce, she still counts Jane’s Defense and Popular Science among her influences. “I used to read these articles about cutting edge technology and science, and wonder what impact it would have on society and culture. How it would change us.”

Her biggest failing is the inability to write a "short" story – they may begin that way, but they rarely stay small. “It’s like asking someone to tell you about their life,” Rhi says of her muses. “Like any real person, once you get them talking, it’s unlikely they’ll shut up any time soon.”

Where to find Rhianon:
Website: http://www.rhianonetzweiler.com
Blog: http://rhianonetzweiler.blogspot.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rhianon.etzweiler
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/musefodder

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wednesday Spotlight: Riptide Publishing

What genre do you write mostly and what appeals to you most about your genre?

I write m/m and menage contemporaries, fantasy, paranormals, AU and BDSM, with a heavy leaning toward BDSM at the moment because...Whoa. Writing BDSM is so way beyond cool. Why? OMG, the head space is just amazing, the push-pull dynamic between a Dom and a sub (and inside a sub in response to his Dom). Then again, the subs I write tend to struggle with their submission, desiring to submit but at the same time fearing it. It's such a delicious contrast, those conflicting emotions. Plus, I adore exploring the extra journey my heroes can take in a BDSM story -- their individual journey and the romantic journey they make together, but also the journey their kink relationship takes them on. I love it, just love it.

Where do you get the names for your characters?

Any- and everywhere. Connor's name came from a guy I'm only casually acquainted with in real life. He's nothing like my Connor, not at all, but the name stuck in my head and wouldn't jar loose until my Connor took form.

Tell us about your latest releases?

Collared is a m/m D/s AU available November 28th from Riptide. Connor Witt is a successful and ambitious IT manager for an investment firm with a new lover and his life exactly where he wants it when authorities announce a biological disaster -- genetically engineered crops have mutated and propagated in the wild, producing a biological shift that alters brain chemistry. While everyone else is becoming bigger and badder, though, Connor's an anomaly. His center of aggression has been suppressed. As the world becomes increasingly dangerous to him, he is forced to choose a master to protect and nurture him. When security consultant Emmett makes his move, Connor's boss collars him to protect him. One man offers safety, but the other is the safer bet. Who will Connor choose?

My first BDSM title, a paranormal (shifter) novel called I, Omega also released at Loose Id on September 6th. Gabriel is an experienced sub who is bitten by a shifter Dom and forever changed. He lives on the streets as a vagrant to evade the new master who both terrifies and enthralls him until his master finds him and carries Gabriel back to pack territory where Gabriel

What are you working on next?

In the Red is a m/m D/s mystery for Loose Id

What do you enjoy reading the most?

Erotic romance, of course, primarily m/m, but also menage and a bit of poly. Quite a bit of BDSM. I'm totally in love with dub-con/capture type stories and only wish there were more of them.

What are you reading now?

Sudden Sea: The Great Hurricane of 1938 by R.A. Scotti. Just finished re-reading Jet Mykles Heaven Sent series, for my fic fix. ;-p

Who are your favorite authors?

Oh, Lord, so many. Josh Lanyon, K.A. Mitchell, L.B. Gregg are faves for non-kink. For kink, I'm a total fangirl of Kim Dare, but J.C. Owens, Thom Lane and Jamie Craig have written some awesome repeat reads, too.

What would you advise an aspiring author?
Be stubborn. Learn your craft, don't quit and it will happen.

Is there anything you'd like to tell your readers?

For your Netflix viewing pleasure, Megashark vs. Giant Octopus is the bestest, most cheesiest SciFi original movie, EVAH. Pheremone-driven sea creatures? Awesome. Two thumbs way up.

How can readers connect with you?

If you would like to catch up with Kari, caffeinate yourself and head on over to http://www.KariGregg.com
Friend Kari on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Kari.M.Gregg
Follow Kari on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/karigregg

Kari Gregg lives in the mountains of Wild and Wonderful West Virginia with her Wonderful husband and three very Wild children. Once Kari discovered the fabulous play land of erotic romances at RWA’s National Conference in 2009, the die was cast. Finally! A market for the smoking hot stories she loves!

When Kari’s not writing, she enjoys reading, coffee, zombie flicks, coffee, naked mud-wrestling (not really), and . . . coffee!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tuesday Spotlight: Riptide Publishing

In addition to being entered into the weekly spotlight contest, all commenters on today's post will be entered into a drawing for the First Wave Winner’s Choice: Pick any one backlist book from Rachel Haimowitz, Aleksandr Voinov, L.A. Witt, Brita Addams, or Cat Grant (“Frontlist” books, i.e. Riptide releases and newest non-Riptide release, are excluded, as are the Courtland Chronicles).

Visions and Revisions: A Writer Gets Schooled


When I was in college, I had a lot of pretty typical college-kid writing foibles. I thought critical feedback spoiled my vision, I thought imitating Jack Kerouac was cool, and I thought I was going to be above petty little things like "genre." (For the record, I still think imitating Jack Kerouac is cool, but I know better than to do it in public.)

My sophomore year of college, I had the gall to trot that business out in a workshop writing class, where I listened to the other students explain the difficulties they'd had with my stories. I gave them very grave little nods when they debated the physics of my fight scenes, and I manfully restrained my rolling eyes when they collapsed into a writhing mass of folklore over my four-page zombie story. I wanted to be on my best behavior, because it was a class and not a pro wrestling arena, but frankly I fantasized about thwapping the lot of them upside the head with a folding chair. They didn't get my vision—and I was maybe nineteen years old, so of course I had a vision.

"Do you realize that you've written a romance?" the professor asked me, while we were workshopping my story about a pair of queer college kids hunting ghosts and finding each other. "I think this is the first romance we've had in this class." I cocked my head at that like an excessively obtuse Jack Russell terrier, because of course it wasn't a romance. I wrote it; I didn't write romance; thus, it wasn't a romance. QED, or some other Latin abbreviation. Clearly the woman was delusional.

In short, my first creative writing class kicked my ass.

You have to understand, it was kind of a delayed ass-kicking. An ass-kicking deferred, if you will. I got out of that class with my asshole notions of my own superiority still intact, still pretty damn sure I didn't write romance and didn't need critique and couldn't get better if I tried. I didn't actually realize how thoroughly I'd been schooled until I started teaching writing, when I got a chance to rip kids' papers and stories apart the way my teacher had ripped mine apart. I got the same asshole responses from my kids that I gave my teacher, all "This is good the way it is" and "That's just my style" and "Stop trying to box me into your stupid little categories." The pupil has become the master, and the master wondered what the fuck the pupil had been thinking.

Over the years since that class, I've come to understand what I was missing when I walked into the classroom—and part of it was humility, sure, but the bigger part was self-awareness. I went in thinking that writing was this sort of magical process where the author would go into a semi-conscious, energy-drink-fueled trance and then THE WORD would appear. Any failures in my fiction couldn't be failures on my part; they were obviously failures of the magic.

I wrote a lot faster in those days, channeling pure inspiration onto the page, but I had only a little control and not even a smidgeon of self-awareness. If I couldn't watch myself writing and see why I made each choice, then I couldn't see those choices as choices that I could un-choose at will.

Just because I wasn't aware, though, doesn't mean I wasn't watching. Some part of me—the real, writerly part—had its eyes open as I glugged cans of Amp and had WWF-related workshop fantasies. When I finally pulled my head out of my ass and got ready to be an active agent in the creative process, that open-eyed part of me unfolded my choices for me and showed me where and how I could intervene.

No, of course that zombie story didn't work; it was structured all wrong. No, the kind of gun my character was using was really fucking heavy; I should've used a lighter, more maneuverable one. Yes, that ghost-hunter story was totally a romance. Thus, I was the kind of person who wrote romances. QED.

I could revise. I could rewrite the fabric of the universe and transform dreck into gold. I could make the magic happen.

That long-delayed boot to the ass finally connected.

The dog watch shaded into the first watch, and at the eighth bell, Edouard Montreuil put aside his pen and rose from his bunk. He locked his letter carefully in his sea chest, then buttoned his shirt collar up against his throat. A useless gesture, he knew—it’d be undone for him within the first moments—but he took pride in small signs of resistance.

The other men on first watch went to their stations at the observation deck or the con, and the night crew of engineers went aft to spell the men in the engine room. Edouard walked with them, as he always did, and they ignored him, as they always did. They, too, had their reasons for serving on the Flèche; better not to ask what debts a fellow crewman was repaying beneath the waves.

They’d been submerged for three days now, and the air was thick and hot and stale. The engine room hummed faintly. Behind their tight steel cages, the electric lights gleamed white and steady.

An assistant engineer on dog watch gave Edouard a worried look, and he raised his chin at the pity in it. “Go to your bunk, Valancourt,” he said. If he didn’t have the rank to enforce the order, neither did Valancourt have the will to stay. The crew knew why he passed through the engine room to the captain’s cabin night after night. If they didn’t, it was only willful ignorance.

He ducked his head and slid through the aft portal sideways, like a long-limbed crab. Stork, Ruiz had called him back in la Légion, when they’d all been looking for new names. All long legs. For a moment, Edouard stood in the narrow passage between the officers’ quarters and the engine room, remembering the way the sun had beat down on his brow in Algeria and the way Ruiz had laughed. He passed the alcove where the officers bunked, and rapped on the door of the captain’s cabin.

“Come in,” said a voice from inside—inside the cabin, or inside his own head, he’d never been able to say. It made his ears ache; it made his blood heat and his heart thrum in time with the engines until he thought his skin would burst.

He turned the handle and swung the door open, then shut it behind him. Closed away the light of the engine room, and closed himself into the darkness.

“Sir,” he said, and swallowed against the constriction of his collar. “Reporting for duty.”

“Good,” said the captain, and a limb like a wet cable fell cool and slick upon Edouard’s wrist. His lips found Edouard’s throat, sharp teeth catching there as he undid those carefully-closed shirt buttons.

A second mouth brushed over Edouard’s ribs, tongue wet with a viscous fluid that chilled his skin. A third latched at his hip, needle-teeth scraping, seizing. “Very good,” said the captain, against his throat and chest and hip, as his boneless fingers wrapped slowly over Edouard’s cock and coaxed it hard. Edouard’s skin crawled, but he willed himself still.

Two of those hungry mouths smiled, and the third whispered, “Then let us begin.”

My dear Farid Ruiz,

I cannot say how many times I have begun this letter and failed to send it. At first I thought I would charm you in French, but I have nothing charming to say, so I beseech you plainly in this formal Spanish: Come to Tarifa with all speed. My letters may be read, so I will say only that it is an urgent matter requiring your utmost discretion.

I will be waiting for you in a restaurant known as El Pobrecito, and there I shall remain at six o’clock every night until I am forced to depart.

Yours sincerely,
Edouard Montreuil.
Tarifa, Spain
3 July, 1926.


A flash of lightning illuminated Edouard’s cup, casting a stark shadow along the curve of the rim. He brought it to his lips, sipping only sparingly at the coffee. They made it black here, and bitter; Edouard had never much cared for coffee, but they hadn’t any tea, and he needed his head clear.

Beside him, the wind dashed braids of rain against the windowpane. He tilted his chair back, letting it rest on the rearmost legs as he raised his arms in a stretch. He glanced out the window as he cracked his neck from one side to the other, but the rain was too thick for him to make out the far side of the street. Come on, Ruiz, he thought, as though it would bring the man running with the lightning at his back. Come out of the rain.

He would have counted the seconds before the thunder came, but the peal rolled in on the lightning’s heels and rattled the glasses behind the bar. In the relative dimness after the flash, he finished his coffee and frowned at the dregs.

“More coffee?” asked the young serving woman, and he raised his cup for her to fill anew. She spoke Spanish with an accent he couldn’t place; it wasn’t Castilian or Catalan, and it certainly wasn’t from the former colonies. He ought to have found it unremarkable, in a port city like Tarifa, but his hackles were already up—and she must have seen that he was giving her a hawkish look, because as she poured his coffee, she said, “If I can help you with anything . . .”

“I’ve been trying to place your charming accent,” said Edouard, and his own native French colored every consonant. “You’re a long way from home, I suspect.”

“Asturias,” she said. Her eyes crinkled a little at the question; she looked so delighted to have been asked he felt his suspicions evaporate. “I followed my husband from there when he was called to serve. He’s a lieutenant—”

The door crashed against the wall and sent the hatstand spinning, and the serving-woman startled at the clamor—she canted the coffee pot up too quickly, spilling a long line of tepid coffee across Edouard’s sleeve. The storm swept across the threshold, and with it, a man in a black Mackintosh coat. He drew off his hat, shaking his head like a long-haired pup and scattering drops of water over the nearest patrons. “Where’s Montreuil?” he demanded. “Edouard Montreuil, where is he? I’m here to meet with him.”

Edouard rolled his eyes up toward the ceiling. He hasn’t changed a bit. “Farid Ruiz,” he said with a rather fixed smile. “When I tell you that I’ve an urgent matter requiring your utmost discretion—”

“I nearly didn’t get your letter,” said Ruiz, his wet boots squeaking on the polished wood as he crossed from the doorway. “If it had come even a day later, I’d have been on the next flight for the Canary Islands, and then you’d have been drinking alone—and so much for your urgent matter! So much for your utmost discretion! Buy me a glass of good beer, Montreuil; I’m soaked to the skin.” He dropped into the seat across from Edouard’s, propping up his elbows on the table. He was indeed soaked to the skin, and the rain slicking his black Mackintosh had already begun to puddle beneath his chair. The Asturian serving woman smothered a laugh with her hand and brought him a cup and saucer, but he only gave her a tragic look when she began to fill it with coffee.

“Not a drop of beer?” he asked, and he fluttered his long, dark lashes at her. “Not a drop of rum? It’s not proper coffee without a drop of rum in it.”

“Not a drop,” said Edouard firmly. “We’ve business to discuss, and we’ll drink once we’ve concluded it.”

“Then on to your business, you old stork.” Ruiz downed the coffee in a long gulp, grimacing at the bitterness. “There, I’ve fortified myself. I assume it’s something to do with la Légion, if you wrote me about it?”

“Something like that,” replied Edouard, voice lowered—he didn’t particularly expect Ruiz to take the hint, but at least his own half of the conversation might be quiet. “Do you remember Algeria?”

“I’ll never forget Algeria. Mosquitoes everywhere, skirmishes with the locals, damn Belaire with his Carthagum delendum esta.”

Carthago delenda est,” Edouard corrected absently. “And you remember what you did, when your colonel took that little Algerian boy and—”

Ruiz’s hand tightened on the coffee cup until the delicate handle cracked free. A shard of porcelain must have scored his skin, because a drop of blood fell to the saucer. “That bastard,” said Ruiz, and now his voice was as soft as Edouard might have wished. “He deserved what he got.”

“And la Légion went on functioning just as it should. No snags in the business; no pauses for the damn courts-martial to decide whether he’d disqualified himself for duty; the men decided the sentence and carried it out. Everyone was happy with it.”

“As happy as you can be, when you’ve killed one of your own,” said Ruiz. Behind him, the serving woman was turning up the gas lamps against the oncoming darkness; the occasional flash from the window was blue and sharp with sea-lightning.

Pobrecito, indeed. Too poor to have been electrified.

Ruiz sucked the blood from his thumb, then rested his chin on his fist. “If you dragged me here to bring up the worst parts of my service, I’m putting my hat back on and going to find a drink.”

“I’ve dragged you here,” said Edouard, “because my captain is a monster, and we go to sea as soon as we’ve a full crew.”

Ruiz tilted his head at that, his dark brows going up. He had strong features, only very faintly Spaniard—Edouard imagined he was the scion of conversos and morenos, simmering for generations under the Spanish thumb. Small wonder Fernando Ruiz had changed his name and joined la Légion. And small wonder he’d put a gun to his colonel’s head and blown him away.

Edouard’s hands were shaking. If he were to put his cup down on the saucer, the rattle would give him away.

“By the time we reach port in Tartous,” said Edouard, “I want him floating belly-up the Mediterranean. I want the crew to come out of it thanking me for killing him.”

“And following your orders? That’s what you’re after, yeah?”

“I don’t like your tone, Ruiz.” He took a long drink of coffee, giving himself time to calm his nerves, then set the cup very deliberately down. “I can live with another man’s command. If he’s a good man.”

“You don’t get many of those,” said Ruiz, bracing his chin on his hand. “I thought I could kill all of the bastards, and then the good men would rise to the top. But all I got were more bastards.” He raised his empty cup, and that toast said, To the revolution that never was.

Edouard raised his cup in answer, letting it click against Ruiz’s before tossing back the last of his coffee.

Outside, lightning cut across the street. Three seconds later, thunder rolled in behind it. “Promise me,” said Ruiz. “Promise me you have good reason to want your captain dead.”

A dozen clinging mouths, a long limb like a rope, wrapping around his throat and squeezing until he saw stars . . .

For a moment, Edouard’s throat closed. He couldn’t bring himself to meet Ruiz’s eyes. “If I thought there was any other way to do this, I’d have done it,” he said, still thick-tongued and aching. “If I thought for a second I could just kill him myself, or even walk away—”

“You can’t walk away from a monster,” agreed Ruiz.

“You can’t. Because he’ll find you.”

Ruiz brought his hand up to gnaw lightly at his thumbnail, but he said nothing. His breathing was even, his gaze clear and steady.

“Will you help me?” Edouard asked, and he hated how small and weak he sounded. “I’ll be happy to repay you—”

“I’ll help you because you need helping. Now, buy me a fucking beer, stork. If I’m to turn mutineer, I’m going to need a damn good drink.”

Peter's debut book, First Watch, is available at Riptide Publishing.

Peter Hansen is a teacher, writer, and former spelling bee champion who lives a stone's throw from the Erie Canal. He got his start in publishing with his college newspaper, where he was forced to write "I will not rake the muck" one hundred times on the chalkboard before they let him write editorials. With that gritty, real-world experience under his belt, he promptly turned to science fiction and fantasy. He spends his days teaching young writers about the pathetic fallacy, his evenings mainlining iced tea, and his nights building a time machine in his basement.

Where to find Peter:
Website: http://peterhansenfiction.weebly.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/P_HansenWrites
Email: peter.hansen.writes@gmail.com

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Spotlight: Riptide Publishing

In addition to being entered into the weekly spotlight contest, all commenters on today's post will be entered into a drawing for the winner's choice of Shift Happens, Gym Dandy, or Tart & Soul.

Interview with Storm Grant


Who are your latest crushes (celebrity, book character, or otherwise)?

I’ve been re-watching an 80s vampire show called Forever Knight, and I do find Det. Nick Knight sexy. I like Atticus in Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles. But I think I’m actually between crushes at the moment. My last huge crush was Dr. Rodney MacKay on Stargate: Atlantis. (I’m all about the characters, rarely the actors.)

Do you ever keep those people in your mind when writing your own works?

You’d think that would be true since I cut my teeth writing fanfic, and indeed, many authors use celebrities or TV characters as a basis for their own. But I prefer to come up with my own people. Within a very few paragraphs, my characters become real people to me. I wish I could hang out with Dolly and Oz or Adrian and Tom.

If you could pick anyone in the world to be the cover model(s) on your latest release, who would it be?

Funny, but a bunch of writer friends and I were talking about that over dinner yesterday. In Few Are Chosen, my POV character is a 19-year-old boy who is tall, with blonde hair long enough to be tied back. I was trying to figure out who, among today’s young actors, would fit that description, and came up blank. Any suggestions?

The love interest, Shadow, is also 19, black, with dark skin tones, knife-sharp cheekbones, soft, generous lips, and a medium-length, natural afro.

I’d love some suggestions.

With humorous books, they often create art covers rather than using photographs. I know I can stand in the sci-fi and fantasy section of any bookstore and pull out the funny books just by the spines. I actually commissioned an artist I found on the Deviant Art site to do my cover for Gym Dandy. We’re three years in and I’m still not sick of it.

What’s your favorite hobby outside of writing?

Dogs. I have two rescued dogs who are the center of my universe. There’s an amazing chain of old-growth forested parkland running through Toronto and I’m there with my dogs every morning before 7:00, winter or summer. It’s good for all of us.

What would constitute your own personal happily ever after?

I’m pretty much living it. My husband and I are childless by choice, but active with our many nieces and nephews. We have a nice house in a nice neighborhood of Toronto. I’m writing full time, and I have two groups of wonderful friends, the first I met over a dozen years ago through fandom, and the second I met three years ago through the RWA (Romance Writers of America). I have an active online life, and a satisfying offline one, as well.

Although we aren’t wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, we are comfortable. And I’ve found a wonderful, cheap place in Mexico to spend a month each winter. San Miguel de Allende is a writer’s paradise, and my husband loves it too. He spent so much time out cruising the town while I wrote, that he became known around town as “Walking Guy.” “Hey, look. There’s Walking Guy!” or “I know you. You’re Walking Guy.”

Do you own an e-reader?

The gals I worked with gifted me with a Kobo as a retirement gift. I wouldn’t have bought one, but it is very handy. Even though I read fanfic on the computer for years and years, I still prefer longer works in hard copy. If anything happened to it, I would probably replace it with an iPad rather than another dedicated e-reader.

Are you a book hoarder?

Not really. If I read a book, I add it to my Excel spreadsheet and then decide, “will I ever look at this again, either for research or for pleasure?” If the answer is yes, I add it to the bookshelves. If the answer is no, out it goes to someone else who might enjoy it.

What’s the one question you wish people would ask you when you tell them you’re a writer?

“Tell me about your work.”

Maybe it’s just me, but a lot of people only ask you a question as a segue to talking about themselves. Author Fran Lebowitz once said, “The opposite of talking isn't listening. The opposite of talking is waiting.”

How would you answer it?

I find the people who are genuinely interested in my work are usually older and more literary. So I tell them I write urban fantasy. Of course they don’t know what that is so I clarify by saying, “You know, like with vampires. Or Harry Potter.” Then I lose them.

If you were doomed to spend the rest of your life on an island with only one book, one person, one food (coconuts and fish aside), and one object from the modern world (computer, deodorant, vibrator, etc.), what would they be?

One object: Computer with internet access.
One book: Good Omens by Sir Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.
One food: Thai Green Curry. Yum!
One person… hmmm. Someone trained in the art of surviving on a desert island.

Do you have a favorite character out of all the ones you’ve written

Captain Thomas Ferrell from Shift Happens. The guy is so straight-laced and then he ends up working with an entire agency comprised of supernatural beings, and then discovering that he’s a supernatural being himself! He spends have the book stuck in the form of a giant jaguar, with his humanity slipping away.

Here’s the blurb about my uptight Captain: Captain Thomas Ferrell hates the supernatural. But when the Army kicks him out for weird behavior, he signs on with paranormal investigators Borderless Observers Org. Three missions in, Tom’s learned BOO does a lot more than observe. And that their paranormal investigators really are paranormal investigators. Sent to stop a drug operation in the Amazon basin, he’s unwillingly shapeshifted into a huge black jaguar. He believes he must regain his humanity before he can complete his mission. Is he wrong?

Why is he your favorite?

Because he’s fearless and sexy and willing to risk his life to help others, and absolutely nothing like me.

Where are your favorite online hangouts? What are your daily must-stop blogs and websites?

I have a LiveJournal filter that includes all my favorite blogs and I read it every single day. It includes people I know through real life, other m/m writers, agents and editors, and of course, I Can Haz Cheeseburger.

I don’t Facebook much and haven’t really checked out Google+ yet. I do go on Twitter fairly often, but I’m a blogger at heart.

Speaking of online hangouts, where are yours? Where can your readers find you?

Author Name: Gina Grant w/a Storm Grant
Email address: storm.grant@gmail.com
Website: www.StormGrant.com
Blog: http://storm-grant.livejournal.com/
Twitter: @stormgrant
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/stormgrant

Here's an excerpt from Sucks & Blows, my new release from Riptide Publishing:

Cary was just about to jerk off again when the electronic door chime squawked the first few bars of “Another One Bites the Dust.”

He rushed out to the reception area. “Hello. Welcome to Drewel’s Dentistry!” He hoped he didn’t sound too anxious. And that his residual hard-on wasn’t tenting his racy black dental smock.

That the visitor was tall and handsome, with a muscular build and chiseled cheekbones, did little to dampen Cary’s arousal.

“I . . . I thaw your brothure.” The man held out Cary’s carefully crafted (but badly printed) flyer:

Grand Opening!
Drewel’s Family Dental Clinic
~ Vampires Our Specialty ~


“You do vampireth?”

“Absolutely.” Cary grinned. He’d included the vampire reference to show he was the dentist with a sense of humor. And also to attract the Twilight age group, which was ripe for expensive orthodontia.

“Hurths.” The man pointed to his upper lip, red and swollen on either side of his sexy little cupid’s bow.

“I can help you with your dental breakdown, Mr. . . .”

“Tharpe. Pierthe Tharpe.”

“Nice to meet you, Mr. Sharpe. May I call you Pierce?”

“Thure.” Pierce held out his hand.

“Call me Cary, then.” Cary grasped the outstretched hand, surprised at how cold and shaky Pierce felt. This guy was in bad shape. He looked like death—if death were really cute, that is.

Withdrawing his hand, Pierce shoved it deep into his jeans pocket, maybe to hide the trembling. “I haven’t eaten in dayths. Hurths too much.”

“Okay then. You’re in luck. I was about to close, but I can squeeze you in. Let’s get you in the chair right away.” He led Pierce through the pristine reception area, which, he hoped, would one day have an actual receptionist. “Climb aboard.” He gestured at the shiny new-and-not-yet-paid-for dental chair.

Pierce clambered into the chair and lay back. Cary took a moment to look at him—professionally, of course. He’d been so excited at getting his first actual patient he hadn’t really checked Pierce out.

Sprawled in a chair was a good look for the guy. He had a terrific body, nicely showcased by a tight black T-shirt and faded jeans. His lips were reddish and swollen and brought to mind other things that made a guy’s lips red and swollen—but in a good way rather than an inflamed-gums way. Short dark hair contrasted nicely with blue eyes that were a little bloodshot. And staring back at Cary.

Click the cover to buy Sucks & Blows.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Claiming the Huntress by Elyzabeth M. VaLey


Faye aimed the bow at the snarling grey wolf. She narrowed her eyes and drew back the string. The beast did not move. His face was placid as it regarded her with impossible blue eyes. They bore into her, almost as if he were seeking to tell her something. Her eyes began to water and she blinked. Before she could react, the animal was upon her.

She cried out as she fell to the ground, the bow and arrow skidding away from her grasp. She grappled with the large animal, aiming to reach the dagger in her boot, but he was too quick. He pinned her to the ground, his giant paws on her shoulders and his muzzle inches from hers. Faye shut her eyes, awaiting the bite that would take her to the other world, but it did not come.

She waited. Nothing happened, so she chanced a glance. The animal was studying her features. He took in a deep breath and his pupils dilated. His mouth opened to reveal a wolfish grin. Faye swallowed. Certainly, there was something wrong with this beast but she refused to stay and find out. Once again, she struggled to remove him from her but the animal lay atop her, his heavy weight holding her down. He watched her with what she could swear was amusement. The beast lowered his snout to her neck.

She held her breath, waiting for the animal to strike once and for all. The wolf opened its maw, the last rays of the setting sun making the saliva on his large teeth glisten. She screamed as the sharp canines pierced through her throat.


*******

Faye opened her eyes to a sky riddled with thousands of stars and a full moon. She turned her head and a stab of pain pierced her neck. She raised a trembling hand to her throat and gingerly touched the place where the wolf had bitten her but felt nothing more than a bit of dry blood and discomfort. For some strange reason that escaped her comprehension the animal had not bitten to kill but simply to injure.

She wasn’t one to stay and ponder about fate’s hand. She stood and stretched, removing the stiffness from her joints. Faye looked around her, searching for her misplaced bow and arrow. A sudden movement through the trees caught her attention and she froze.

The animal came into view and her chest tightened. The wolf was back. She knew she should run but something prompted her to wait. The animal trotted towards her, stopping barely a few feet away.

Neither of them moved for a few minutes. Then, the light of the moon bathed the large beast. She could have sworn he winked at her, but the action barely registered in her mind as the animal began to change before her eyes.

Where a wolf had been sitting mere seconds before, now sat a naked man. Faye stared in awe. The man was vaguely familiar. He had a thick prominent jaw, a straight nose and the blue eyes of the beast. His black hair fell well below his shoulders, trailing over the broad planes of his chest. Faye stood rooted to the spot as the man rose, the corded muscles in his arms and thighs flexing at the movement.

"If I had known you were so close I would have claimed you long ago."

A shiver raced down Faye's back as she perceived a familiar lilt in the man’s deep and husky voice.

"Do you not recognize me, Faye?"

She shook her head. The man laughed.

"It is true that we have not seen each other for years but when we were children I counted you among my closest friends, even if you were a girl."

Faye's eyes widened as she recognized the quip of her old childhood friend, a young boy that had disappeared on her fifteenth birthday.

"Gerule?" She said in a barely audible whisper. The man smiled warmly.

"'Tis me.”

"How can it be?" She struggled to understand, searching in the depths of his eyes for an answer.

"It just is, Faye. You will understand soon."

Faye stared at him, her mind reeling. Gerule approached her and she took a step back.

"Don't fear me, Faye." He reached out with his hand and tenderly caressed her face. Unbidden tears began to stream down her cheeks. Gerule gathered her into his arms, comforting her. He tilted her head and his lips landed over hers, warm and gentle, the tip of his tongue beckoning her to open for him. She sighed into his mouth and his tongue wound inside to entwine with hers.

Gerule brought her closer and she realized with a start that he was nude, his cock hardening against her clothed body. He caressed her back, his hands slowly sliding down to her ass, cupping it. Her body responded to the touch, hot liquid pooling between her nether folds.

Her passion inflamed, Faye aided Gerule as he removed her clothes. Gerule pulled her against him, his large calloused hand stroking the swollen flesh between her legs.

Faye ground against him. She moaned loudly when one of his fingers entered her sodden pussy and inflamed her heat even further. Gerule easily picked her up and she wound her legs around him, desperately searching for his manhood to fill her. Another finger intruded her swollen cunt and she cried out in delight.

"Please," she asked, arching her back.

Gerule's hard cock rested between them and she wrapped her hand around its wide girth. Another digit entered her and she tightened her grip.

"I want this inside me"

Gerule chucked cheerfully.

"Already you order me like a true female alpha."

She glanced at him uncomprehending, but she was far beyond caring. Her body craved for his touch, her pussy throbbing with want.

Gerule laid her down on the forest floor and nudged her legs open with his knee. He rubbed the thick purple head of his shaft against her gaping lips. Faye lifted her hips and with a determined push he was past the inner lips of her spread cunt and deep into her slick wetness. Gerule pulled back, easily sliding back to the mouth of her sopping canal before driving back inside.

"Tell me how it feels, Faye."

Faye opened her eyes. Gerule observed her intently, his blue eyes piercing into her very soul. "It feels so good, Gerule. Like --" She cried out as she felt the cockhead of his manhood meet her cervix.

"Like?" He prompted, slowly pulling back out.

"Like you belong inside me, like this is my connection to life. There is nothing more to life than this moment with you." She lifted her hips and locked her ankles over his firm bottom, forcing him to drive into her.

Gerule lifted her almost to a sitting position. He captured her lips in a scorching kiss. She nibbled on his lower lip and his excitement increased, his thrusts becoming faster and rougher. He nuzzled her neck before grazing the indentation of her throat with his teeth. A thousand little needles danced across her skin and landed on her clit at the contact.

“Gerule!”

As she cried out her orgasm the man turned wolf bit her neck. She let her head fall onto his chest, listening to his rapid heartbeat. She knew at that moment that something had changed. She glanced up at the moon’s round face and she knew that she was stronger, faster, and not entirely human.

She glanced into Gerule’s eyes. His gaze bore down on her, waiting. Everything became clear to her: His transformation on the night of her birthday, his escape, his fear, and his loneliness as night after night he searched for the perfect companion with which to worship the moon. She lifted her head and captured his lips. She was his mate. She had always been. With his cock still buried inside her to the hilt, she flipped him over onto his back with a joyous cry. Leaning onto his chest, she began to rock her hips and lift her body so that only the head of his cock remained inside her. Gerule laughed merrily. He grabbed one of her breasts and squeezed lightly. He caressed her jaw and lifted his head, pulling her down at the same time for a kiss.

“I love you, Faye. You set out to hunt me and instead I captured you. You are now wolf and my mate in this life and beyond.”

Fuelled by her love and her new nature, she ground her hips faster and harder, her clit bumping against the hard ridge of Gerule’s pubic bone. She cried out, lifting her head to the moon. Gerule's seed spurted deep inside her and his cry echoed hers. Faye collapsed on his chest and he hugged her to him.

"I love you, Gerule. Have no fear for no longer will you howl to the moon in solitude."

About the author: Appearances are deceiving. By day usually shy and quiet; another face in the crowd. By night Elyzabeth’s calm demeanor transforms. Words flow from her fingers giving life to elaborate fantasies of love and desire. Visit her realm at www.InADreamBeyond.blogspot.com