Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Naughty Victorian Lady advises you on how to dress like a naughty lady

by Lady Carlton née Katie O’Roarke, heroine of “The Blonde Samurai

Did you observe all heads turning to watch the Duchess of Sussington enter her box at the opera last night? Even the hefty baritone warbling Figaro lost his place when Her Grace made her arrival like Lewis Carroll’s Red Queen of Hearts toppling heads.

And stealing hearts.

Resplendent in a rose-red satin gown, her long train swishing behind her as if brushed by the magic of an Impressionist’s imagination, she showed off her long neck, graceful like that of a supple swan but bare–

Nary a jewel adorned her throat. Her head. Or her wrists. Wearing long, thirty-two button white gloves that covered her arm almost to the shoulder, her hands fluttered a black lace fan about as she leaned over to utter a witty remark to the gentleman next to her. Then she smiled at the handsome lord behind her.

And was that HRH himself entering her box?

The corset régime*** says the duchess is the naughtiest lady in London. Yet her mode of fashion is neither gaudy nor garish but rather plain, though more than one roguish blade has proclaimed that she has a pair of “sister hills” that can drive a man mad.

What does this naughty lady have that you don’t?

I shall tell you, dear lady reader.

I had on previous occasion the opportunity to make Her Grace’s acquaintance at the Viscount Aubrey’s town house residence in London where she imparted to me her secret: It is her manner of dress that attracts the gentlemen.
No jewels, no lace, no ribbons. Her only adornment is her personality and her wit.
Where did she chance upon such an idea? I asked her. She smiled and invited me to take tea with her at her red brick palace outside the city, a casual retreat with red velvet wall coverings and pink paint in the sitting room. A grand afternoon it was, me, Katie O’Roarke, sipping tea and munching on raspberry dainties with the Duchess of Sussington.

This is what she told me:

"My dear Lady Carlton, you of all personages should know the answer to my success. For ’twas from the recent craze in England of all things Japanese that I discovered the geisha depicted so well in the woodblock prints and photographs. Drawings and prints of these beautiful women posed with parasols or arranging blossoms or playing the lute and dancing.”

How did she obtain such prints? I asked her, daring to lick the raspberry jam off my lips when no one was observing me.

“I am privileged to enjoy the company of a famous British statesman who travels frequently to the Orient. This grand gentleman visited a tea house while in Tokio, where the geisha in her subdued kimono and sash entertained; she is known for her witty repartee and intelligent conversation on politics, the arts and the news of the day.

Imagine spending your life having to look beautiful every day as the geisha does. We ladies of Mayfair spend days preparing ourselves for a ball or a night at the opera, choosing our gowns and jewels, while the geisha spends her waking hours studying her art.

“I decided I would emanate the geisha in her long, slim-fitting kimono. Accordingly, the richness of the fabric and the simple cut of my gowns are like those of the geisha, whose understated garments hint at the deep feelings she possesses inwardly.

"I use bold colors sparingly and consider it a must that my gown hugs the curves on my body but is never too tight. Only the best dressmaker will do.

I limit my accessories to a parasol or a fan but never both, since too many accessories tend to make a lady look as if she isn’t a lady but a hatless girl from York Street.

“I never wear soiled gloves, taking a hint from the geisha who wears only the most pristine white tabi or stockings when entertaining a gentleman.”

“A geisha is also known for her deportment and how she carries herself. A lady’s posture can make her appear as slim as the geisha in her long kimono. Chest up, stomach in, bosom aligned.

“And when I thought I had studied all the photographs and woodblock prints, my gentleman friend told me something I didn’t know.

‘Geisha do not wear drawers underneath their kimono but merely a slim underslip,” he told me.

"I immediately adopted this practice and have found nary a gentleman who doesn’t applaud my decision.”

And there you have it from Her Grace, the Duchess of Sussington:

If you wish to dress like a naughty lady, dear lady reader, abandon your drawers.

Mercy, what will his lordship say?

*** The corset régime is that stalwart group of Society ladies who shake their ample bosoms and rattle their tiny parasols whenever a new idea creates social upheaval in their ordered world.

The Blonde Samurai:
“She embraced the way of the warrior. Two swords. Two loves.”


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Say It Isn't So!

Okay I’m just going to rant. This is my rant day.

Because I’m upset.

I’m hurt.

And disillusioned.

Ricky Martin just came out of the closet. He’s gay.

What the #$%&#@??!!!

When I read the article online my jaw dropped! My husband tossed me that “what the hell” look, like I should’ve known. Well hell no, I didn’t know! Ricky rocked my world back in the day with Living La Vida Loca and Shake Your Bom Bom. I mean, I kind of thought everybody in Menudo was gay, but Ricky made a believer out of me! And now…now…*sob* this!!

I had to call my sister and the conversation went like this:

Me: Nina, Ricky Martin just came out the closet!

Nina: gasp!

Me: Yes!

Nina: gasp!

Me: Yes!

Nina: Don’t bring me bad news like that.

Me: I know! Go to Yahoo!

Nina: I had plenty of fantasies about that man and you’re telling me he wouldn’t have wanted me and it didn’t have anything to do with my size?

Me: I know!

Nina: This is a travesty! I didn’t see this coming like I didn’t see George Michael coming!

Me: I know!

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not the gay part that hurts me. It’s the Ricky Martin is gay part that tears me up. Okay, sure, sure. You probably think I’m overreacting. But there are certain men we all have fantasies about. Men who play the lead role in every erotic dream. The swash-buckling pirate. The bad boy returning to his hometown. Or the dark, broody executive who calls his secretary in his office during work hours and lays her out on his desk for a business lunch…oops! Wait. That’s my fantasy. Hee-hee! My point is Ricky Martin was that man for me once upon a time. He made me shiver! In memoriam of my dreams I watched the Living La Vida Loca video on YouTube…nope. Unhuh. Sorry. I didn’t see it coming. This isn’t Boy George or Clay Aiken obvious. This is George-Michael-I-Want-Your-Sex-Father-Figure-tight-blue-jeans-leather-jacket-and-guitar shocked!

*sigh* As my rant winds down (I’ve calmed but I don’t know about my sister. When I called her back, she was at Starbucks drowning her sorrow with an extra shot of espresso), I find myself approaching acceptance. Of course I’m happy for Ricky that he can now live an unburdened, honest life and be open about his sexuality. Great. It would be downright callous of me to begrudge him that. Yeah…callous…

So good for you, Ricky. It’s a brave thing you’re doing.

But all’s I’m saying is if Vin Diesel decides to make the same announcement…there’s going to be one naughty author chick on the 6 o’clock news being hauled to the pokey after she chained herself to his car in protest!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Please welcome my guest today, author Saskia Walker, author of many romance genres - all of them with erotic content.

Hi folks! First of all let me thank my hostesses. It’s lovely to be here at the Naughty Author Chicks blog. Seeing as I’m amongst fellow naughty writers and readers, I thought I’d talk about the erotic theme of my latest novel-length publication—pagan sexmagic.

RAMPANT is set in the Lowlands of Scotland in an area called Fife, where there is a long history of witchcraft. The heroine, Zoë, travels to the area from London for her first vacation in a long while. She’s very practical sort, and she doesn’t believe in any of that paranormal nonsense. ;-) However, when she arrives in the village of Carbrey, she quickly finds herself immersed in erotic magic. There are witches aplenty, and a ghost who seems intent on sharing erotic visions with her. It’s quite a baptism by fire for our Zoë, as you might imagine.

There are several men pursuing our heroine, and she quickly figures it’s something to do with the cottage she is staying in. More to the point, it’s to do with a previous occupant—a long dead witch who haunts the place, and who some of the locals want to bring back to life. Luckily for Zoë, an attractive neighbor steps in to guide and protect her. Grayson, a white witch himself, tries to educate the newcomer about the local traditions and beliefs. At first she thinks its all nonsense, but he really captures her attention when he talks about the power in the natural world, and the concept of sexmagic.

Sexmagic relates to a pagan set of beliefs which suggests we are closely linked to nature and we can source the power there. In the act of lovemaking, the magnetic energy between lovers is something that some practitioners believe can be harnessed. Zoë finds it very hard to believe, but before long she’s given plenty of demonstrations!

Here’s an excerpt from the scene where Grayson tries to explain the concept to her:

Sexuality. Just the way he said it made Zoë’s body tighten with anticipation. “I take it this ties in with what happened between us last night, about sensing the atmosphere?”

“Yes, it does.” Grayson’s response was steady, but he was looking at her as if he was savoring the memory of what had happened between them, as if he wanted to do it again.

She had to reposition herself on her seat, because her body responded so rapidly to the suggestion of having sex with him again. Casually crossing her legs, she wondered if she looked as keen as she felt. “Go on, you have my full attention.”

He took a moment to respond, his gaze lingering on her. “Okay, we understand the part about the age-old, pagan belief that you can harness the power in the natural world?”

She nodded.

“That belief extends to the energy, the power, and the magic that is inherent in the act of sex.”

She didn’t doubt the power of it, that part was all too overwhelming last night. She’d never had sex quite like that before; she’d practically passed out afterwards. His voice had gone low and soft when he said “sex,” and she had no doubt that he was thinking about it is well. “So how does one get at this...power?”

“It’s quite simple. It’s the same as any natural power source, just like the power of the moon or the sun. Be open to it.”

That easy, huh? She tried not to be skeptical.

“And when two or more people create it together,” he continued, “it’s an intense form of energy that is deeply connected to them.”

Two or more? That made her think about the orgiastic dreams she’d had.

“It’s a potent life force that can be harnessed in a psychic manner, if you know how.”

She frowned. “Are you saying you’re psychic, if you were able to sense that energy, last night?”

He took some time to respond to that one. “Let’s just say I’m open to it.”

Open to it, as am I, she thought. What was left of the food had been abandoned.

“Is it like tantric sex?” Someone in the office had recently been extolling the virtues of that one, she recalled.

“Tantric sex identifies the energy in a similar way, yes, but practitioners tend to focus on the sex act itself, or use the spiritual energy as part of a meditative cycle.”

He lifted her hand in his and held it for a long moment. Her pulse raced. Then he bent and kissed her palm. “Tell me, what did you feel when I did that?”

It took a moment to put her brain back into gear, after the unexpected sensual offering. “The touch of your mouth, and then heat running over and under my skin, I guess.”

“Like an energy force, yes?” He was looking up at her from where he was bent over her hand, and then he breathed along the inside of her wrist, offering her a whisper of sensation, powerfully erotic, nonetheless. “The more aware of the energy we are, the greater we can experience and adapt it.”

Returning to her hand, he licked her palm. A shiver ran through her, right to her clit, and she exhaled loudly.

He looked at her with a question in his eyes.

She nodded. “I see that you’re getting at.” She swallowed, aware that her hips kept rocking backwards and forwards on the stool.

His gaze dropped. “What did your body do, when I licked your hand?”

Was talking about sex usually this sexy, she wondered? Had she ever even talked about it with a man, before? A man she was going to have sex with? “I got aroused, and my body gravitated to you, I suppose.”

“Like a kind of magnetic energy, like so many natural forces—the tides, the phases of the sun and moon.” He put both his hands on her stool and dragged it closer, positioning her knees inside his open thighs.

The bounce made her pussy want more of that kind of action. He rested his hands around her bottom, and leaned in for a kiss. Static seemed to cling to her face when he brushed his mouth ever so softly over hers, barely making contact. Every nerve ending in her body reacted, keyed up with anticipation, edgy and ready for the contact.

Moaning softly, she leaned into him, wanting it so much, needing it, until it was her that kissed him, and she put her hands around his head and drew him close, her back arching as she opened up to him.

Mmm. He’d have my full attention, how about you? :-)

I’ve got a signed copy of RAMPANT to give to one commentator today Tell us if the idea of sexmagic appeals to you – or indeed if Grayson appeals to you! Let’s face it, he’s kissing her, and he is gorgeous. All this talk of ghosts and magic and yet our London lass is not running away. The Naughty Author Chicks will draw a name and I’ll post the book to the winner.

RAMPANT is due out from Harlequin Spice in just a couple of days. If you’d like to read another excerpt from the book, go here:



Saskia Walker

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Guest Author K.C. Burn & Guilty Pleasures

Please welcome guest author K.C. Burn to Naughty Author Chicks! She just had her first debut from Loose Id and since she's one of my 'real life' writing buddies, I can attest that she's just as nice and awesome in real life as she is online! Since she's too humble to mention it, I'm also gonna throw out there that she's been on Loose Id's best seller list for quite a few weeks! And have you seen her first cover?? Yummy! Without any further rambling from me, here's K.C.!

Hello! I’m so pleased to be here. I love the Naughty Author Chicks and their books, so being in such great company is awesome. Let me get some quick promo…er… introductions out of the way. I’m KC Burn. My first release is out from Loose Id and it’s a gay erotic paranormal romance (try putting that on a business card!) called MIA Case Files: Wolfsbane. You might be able to figure out it involves werewolves J I’ve got a blurb and excerpt posted on my site if you want to check it out. Here’s the super-short blurb:

Werewolves are coming through an open portal and one of them wants Adam Farelli. Agent Lachlan Carmichael can't let that happen, even if it means stepping out of the closet for the town's sexiest screw-up.

However, I’m actually here to discuss guilty pleasures. We all have them, right? Those things that make you happy but you’re embarrassed to tell anyone about? Maybe your spouse or best friend or kids know. Maybe not. My husband knows mine, and mocks me, but that doesn’t stop me from liking them!

One of the unexpected delights of moving to Florida from Canada is that my guiltiest pleasure is no longer that embarrassing. Why? Well, there’s a Canadian hair band called Platinum Blonde that I love. They were more pop/new wave rather than rock/metal. But they never made it big in the US, as far as I know. If there are any Canadians reading this who grew up in Canada in the 80s - well, now you know my secret.

OMG - those pants! Those jackets! I love them and I hate them at the same time! Much of my embarrassment stems from the fact I mostly listen to punk, industrial, alternative & a bit of emo. Platinum Blonde does NOT qualify for any of those.

My other guilty pleasures are movie related. I love teen comedies, slapstick and bad horror movies. Maybe that doesn’t sound so awful -- until I tell you my top picks in each category. Josie & the Pussycats, Weekend at Bernie’s, and Lake Placid. Have you lost all respect for me yet?
Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t judge others… I have a friend who loves Judge Judy and Saved by the Bell reruns. And yes, I mock her for it (lovingly, of course). I have another friend who adores Sweet Valley High novels. Remember those?

Soooo…. Who wants to share their deepest, darkest, guilty pleasures? I’ll give away a copy of my book and a Starbuck’s gift card (in honor of one of my book’s heroes , Adam… you’ll see why when you read it) to one lucky commenter who shares a guilty pleasure AND can tell me the topic of one of my blog posts. I’m a total newbie, so there aren’t many, I promise! Are you wondering if there are any guilty pleasures in my book? Or, more specifically, are you wondering if I can tie the blog topic back into promo? Yep, I can! ;)
  • Until Carmichael has the courage to come out of the closet and openly love another man, Adam is his guilty pleasure.
  • Adam’s guilty pleasure is spending money on luxuries like expensive cologne and club cover charges when he’s totally broke (he’s not as shallow as that makes him sound, I swear!)

But really, I just want to know your deep, dark, embarrassing secrets. So, spill!

Friday, March 26, 2010


My husband and I are semi-obsessed with the show Supernatural. Translation, I'm obsessed and he just likes it a lot so it balances out. A few years ago I picked up one of the seasons via Blockbuster and was telling him about the show and he mocked me when I laid out the concept. Later, once he'd seen the pilot, he apologized profusely and got on the Winchester train (Lord, that sounds dirty doesn't it?). Last night there were zombies in the episode and if you know me, you know that I'm also obsessed with anything related to zombies. So for me, it was a double dose of goodness! Maybe in a couple weeks I'll do a post on the awesomeness of the undead. Anywho, it's Friday, I'm feeling quite lazy so I'm posting completely gratuitous pictures of Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki & Jensen Ackles)

So, who is your favorite? It's so hard for me to decide. On paper, I'd prefer Sam, but Dean....oh my, I heart him! Team Dean all the way.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

5 Tips to Writing Erotic Fiction that I learned from writing kids' cartoons for TV

I didn't always write erotic fiction. I started out writing kids' cartoons for Disney, DIC, Hanna-Barbera and other Hollywood studios (including a Japanese film company).

When I was preparing for a teleconference with Heidi Richards, author, entrepreneur and business coach, for her Women’s Writing & Publishing Series re: writing fiction, I thought about my early days in TV and the valuable lessons that I learned from writing scripts.

I discussed this topic in depth with Heidi in the teleconference, but I've included my 5 tips for writing erotic fiction for you at the end of this blog. But first--

How did I start writing erotic fiction?

When I wrote a monthly column for a computer magazine called Sweet Savage Byte, who knew years later mainstream would meet bitstream, making erotic fiction available at the click of a mouse. The Internet's easy access and anonymity made it all possible.

It also gave the opportunity for so many writers to bring out those stories from underneath their beds and see their works published.

My erotic coming-of-age story "The Blonde Geisha" was published by Harlequin Spice during that time. My first erotic fiction was then followed by several other titles that I've written for Spice as well as a non-fiction book for Stone Bridge Press, "The Japanese Art of Sex: how to tease, seduce and pleasure the samurai in your bedroom."

Here is the short version of my 5 Tips for writing erotic fiction that I learned from writing kids' cartoons for TV: ***

1. Beat It: know your story beats.

2. You gotta have heart. What is your emotional theme?

3. Dialogue is king (or queen).

4. The white rabbit syndrome: getting into the scene as late as you can and out as quickly as you can.

5. Writing is rewriting.

So the next time you sit down to watch your favorite TV show, watch it with the eye of a television writer: note the story beats, boil down the emotional core of the story to one or two words, listen to the dialogue, watch how they get in and out of a scene, then press rewind and watch it again.

And don't forget the most important tip of all when you write your story: let your imagination soar.

It's the magic that makes the elephant fly.

*** From the Inventing Women Website : "For access to the recordings of this and at least a dozen other interviews planned, you can buy a 6 week pass by clicking on the PayPal link below [on website]. Your investment for this series is on $17!"

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bring on the wine and candles ...

I’ve noticed a trend during the past few months while checking the stats on my blog. It seems like a lot of people have nookie on the brain when they stumble upon my website. Imagine that! Heehee ...

One of the top searches that has led people to my site is the quest to find great "lovemaking songs". I blogged on the subject in August 2009, and it's still the most viewed post of the 212 entries I've made on my blog so far. And it was just a random post too, because I couldn't think of anything else to talk about (kind of like right now. LOL)

I know, as authors, we tend to stick to certain types of music to get us "in the mood" to write our stories, but I can honestly say that not many of these songs top my list, except for maybe Duran Duran and Moody Blues. Most of these I've never even heard of. I can't recall where I got the list from, but I do remember stumbling across it one day while doing some research online for a story.

So ... tell me what you think about it. Was the list-gatherer, whoever he or she might be, on the right track? Do any of these melt your heart into a puddle? Inquiring minds want to know. *wink*

1. Nights In White Satin – Moody Blues
2. Love Song – Polyrock
3. The Crystal Ship – The Doors
4. Same Deep Water As You – The Cure
5. Come Undone – Duran Duran
6. Fade Into You – Mazzy Star
7. Great Gig In The Sky- Pink Floyd
8. Water – The Sugarcubes
9. Remnants of a Deeper Purity – Black Tape for a Blue Girl
10. Breathing – Kate Bush
11. Don’t Stop The Dance – Bryan Ferry
12. Mystery Faith and Love – Ofra Haza
13. Drifting – Lycia
14. Dream of Life – Patti Smith
15. el Pedregal – Love Spirals Downwards
16. All I Want is You – U2
17. Christiansands – Tricky

Monday, March 22, 2010

Not my Books

In other blog locations I've waxed on about a writer's need to research. Yes, erotic romance authors need to do research as much as the next literary artist. And we're not talking about research in bed, thank you very much. In the course of creating my stories I've needed to study mountain climbing and motorcycles, the Denver zoo and Appalachian dialects. I've searched street maps in cities I've never visited and looked up trends and articles about polar ice cap melt and global warming. And this is just the tip of the iceberg (like the ice cap humor? -- grin).

Despite these diverse needs, the simple fact of the matter is I do write about sex. And as much as I pick up all sorts of wonderful images and ideas from reading the stories of other erotic romance authors, sex deserves it's own share of research. Again, I'm not talking in bed. If I want my characters' sexuality to reflect their identities in a genuine manner and fit with the complexity of their general internal conflicts and movement toward growth, I need to be a student of human sexuality.

There are any number of fascinating non-fiction books out there on this subject. I thought I'd offer up two recent ones I've run across. One I'm in the process of reading and the other going into my to be read pile.

A friend called up the other day excited because she'd just heard an author by the name of Melissa Febos featured on NPR talking about the release of her memoir, Whip Smart. In it she chronicles her move from Boston to NYC to attend college and the subsequent years she found herself working as a professional dominatrix in a Midtown dungeon. Given that I write BDSM romance, my friend thought I might like to check out the interview or order the book. I did so and although I have yet to finish it I find it thought provoking and engaging. Rachel Resnick, author of Love Junkie, had this to say about the book. "Mesmerizing. A brave, darkly wild, and powerful memoir...Melissa Febos's fearless journey through drugs and dungeons into the uncharted territory of true intimacy will shock, inspire, and leave you breathless."

There are many great non-fiction books out there about the kink lifestyle and culture, but it's always nice to run into something new.

A second book on my TBR pile was referenced in Dan Savage's Savage Love column last week. When he was replying in his sex column to a wife's shock discovering her husband's kink for women's running shoes, he suggested a volume by Daniel Bergner entitled The Other Side of Desire. Judging from reviews of Bergner's book, it examines how humans become who they are sexually, whether common or uncommon, and does so with empathetic sensibility. If you are interested in understanding more about the role fetishes play in human sexuality, this might be a good place to start.

So whether you are an erotic romance author who is predisposed to be interested in human sexuality or a reader of the same, do you have any non-fiction suggestions for others? Any information that surprised you or led to new story ideas? Let's point each other in new directions to share the educational wealth.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sexy Hunk in a Sexy Commercial!

Yay! One of my favorite commercials is finally on YouTube, so I can finally share it with you! I first saw it during the Olympics and thought the guy in it was totally a hottie!

So, who wants to go skinny dipping?! LOL!

Oh and if you want to check out my other favorite commercials, visit my blog at


"Stories so hot, they'll make your cheeks blush!"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What is sexiness?

by Cara McKenna

Quick, compulsory self-pimp: Shivaree, my second erotic novella, came out last weekend from Ellora's Cave. It's cheaper than a glass of wine in a restaurant and it's full of dirty m/f/m sex, with all possible combinations of f/m and m/m and m/f thereof. If you dig ménage where the fellas get it on, you can check it out here:

Now on to the real topic of this post: sexiness. What is it? And how do we write it? Since it's an integral part of our jobs as Naughty Author Chicks to attach this elusive and squirrely quality to our characters, I want to explore what it is and how to convince the reader your hero's got it.

There are few things worse than picking up or [cough cough, legally] downloading a new erotica or romance title only to find the experience of reading it a complete turn-off. That's like shelling out for a meal that makes you nauseous. But everyone finds different things sexy, so how can we possibly imbue a male lead with a sexiness that won't alienate a huge chunk of our readers?

Hell if I know. But I'll try and fumble my way to an answer over the course of this post.

Obvious things first, sexiness is many things, a hot mess of factors: physical attractiveness, virility, power, compatible pheromones, charisma, mad bedroom skillz…a zillion personal preferences as unique as the people who might care to list them. For the purposes of this post, I'm boiling sexiness down into three components: looks, charm, and actions. We'll never agree on any of these things, but let's examine them anyhow. We'll start with the physical.

I posed the "What is sexiness?" question on Twitter and my buddy Charlotte Stein proclaimed, "Sexiness is giant black eyebrows." I countered by suggesting her only requirement for sexiness is Be Zachary Quinto. She did not deny the allegation.

But not every hero can be Zachary Quinto. Not every hero can be Josh Holloway or Tyson Beckford or MacGyver or your long-lost high school crush. Even if he was, for every woman whose panties caught fire at the mere thought, there'd be another five or ten or a thousand flaring their nostrils like somebody cut one on page 4 of your precious literary masterpiece.

One solution to the problem of alienating readers is to omit details. Folks like room to fill in a character's features in a way that appeals to them. I do, anyhow—I can't tell you how many romances I've recast to star Jude Law [I know he makes Dalton's skin crawl, so I'm including a pic just to gross her out]. I also can't tell you how many unpublished romance contest entries I've judged in which the painful over-description of every damn detail of the hero's face got on my everloving nerves. Not only is it unlikely the heroine is carefully inventorying each of these things as she gazes upon him for the first time (and she always gazes), if there's too much detail you rob your reader of the fun of creating their own mental composite. Of course, take this too far in the other direction and the reader will feel like they're following the Adventures of Captain No-Face.

I say to aspiring writers: give us the hero basics. Hair and eye color, hair style, skin tone, build [but don't go on for a paragraph about his sinewy ripplings, thank you] a quick overview of the clothes [say "jeans", please, not your specific favorite brand and style and wash of jeans, lest you risk dating yourself] and a couple things that make him unique: a squint, stubble, scars, tattoos, a deep voice, an accent, a certain breed of smile, a manful scent, a way of walking, etc. Special details that work overtime by speaking to his personality. But don't go nuts—you're not a photographer, you're a writer. It's not your job to produce a spitting image. It's your job to lure the reader seamlessly into the story, and that means not bonking them senseless with flowery details. If I'm meeting your hero for the first time, I don't care about his proudly jutting cheekbones, I promise you. I can fill those in myself and make your hero into one I'll swoon over, even if it deviates from your perfect vision. I'm sure you'll do the same if you read one of my smutty books. Whatever gets your bloomers in a bunch is cool with me.

At the end of the day, we authors have to write what turns us on as individuals. If we don't, no reader's going feel the heat in our words. I asked my fellow Naughty Author Chicks to weigh in on what is and is not sexy. Stephanie Adkins said, "I don't like it when men have soft and smooth hands. I want them rough and callused. I want to feel a man's hands on my body." Similarly, Savannah Stuart said she's turned off by "guys who get pedicures and manicures. I was at the nail salon getting a pedicure and there were three men there with me. And we were the only customers. I want a man's man who's not afraid to look under the hood of a car or build me something with his bare hands." Michelle Polaris said, "I'm willing to be flexible, although I do like smooth chests, tattoos, piercings (you imagine where) and sometimes sexy glasses for that intellectual look. But I can go for most every look. I'm not a big muscled hulk of a guy fan, but on the right guy I'll be on board." Dalton Diaz said that as features go, she's drawn to "vivid blue or green eyes, dark hair, and a fine chest and biceps. Not overblown, mind you, but fiiiiiine." I'd toss in a pair of tired-looking eyes and an inability to shave regularly. And as individuals, that's what we'll likely write, dissenters be damned, because first and foremost, we need to be attracted to our heroes so that our heroines will be, too. If we're wise, we'll mention our favorite details but not ask them to stand in as shorthand for "undeniable sex appeal". Again, keep the details to a minimum; nobody shares your exact vision of manly perfection, so leave some room for reader modifications.

Brief aside here. Even though I was going to just cherry-pick the relevant comments my fellow Chicks so graciously offered, Naima Simone sent me nothin' but pure gold, so I'm going to air her hysterical ode to Vin Diesel its entirety:

"Physically, I luvs me some Vin Diesel. But let's look at Vin. If you dissect him feature by feature he is not the most attractive man out there. But put it together. The skin, the dark eyes, that beautiful BEAUTIFUL smile, the body (wide shoulders, lean, slim waist and gorgeous rock hard thighs)…but most of all…good God his VOICE. It's deep, dark, sexy—makes you think of rough, naughty things done in the dark that you fantasize about in the light of day. Hee-hee! And the way he moves? Oh. Like a dark, sexy panther…oooohhhh *shiver*"

Right, thank you, Naima…oh but wait, there's more!

"You know what's a turn off for me? Sweat suits on a man! Eeww! It just comes across sweaty and unkempt—and not in a good way. It says you don't care enough to pick out something neat but just throw on something that didn't require any thought at all. But don't get me wrong, I like sweat pants that hang low on a man that shows Deangelo hip action after he's just drawn them up his naked thighs to get me some juice because I'm parched from all that hot sex!! Oh Lawd! Let me stop!!"

Sing it, sister. Now go find yourself a cold shower, please.

Now on to charm, a.k.a. charisma or It. Charm is tough. I've read many a book where I'm told by the author that the hero is charming and charismatic, but I don't really see it in the narrative. Ditto movies where a lousy actor is charged with being intriguing and charismatic, but he simply isn't. I think some celebs just have It—Alan Rickman does, and I'll argue with you all night long on the topic. Johnny Depp usually does [no comment re: the new Alice], as do Daniel Craig, Jack Nicholson, Gene Kelly, Justin Timberlake… Some people just have It, and It can be damn sexy, even if their physical package isn't meeting all our usual standards. Charisma is like that elusive love serum that makes us fall in spite of everything wrong with the object our of affection. Charisma is a squirt gun that shoots insta-fatuation goo at unsuspecting innocents. It's not a universal appeal, but people tend to agree on whether a person's charming more easily than they will about whether he's plain old good-looking. "It" is pure magic, something largely intangible about the way a person moves and speaks and radiates.

Charisma can also be linked to talent [see again: Gene Kelly—and why not? He's so damn easy to look at]. There is something absolutely mesmerizing about watching someone doing what they love, and doing it mind-blowingly well. As always, this fact was driven home for me during the recent Olympic Games. I don't care much about sports, but I couldn't take my eyes off the men and women competing, I was so knocked out by their abilities and their drive.

Confidence is another major component of the It factor. Few things are more magnetic than the calm that oozes out of person who's completely at home in their own skin. Michelle said, "I think it's a sense of purposeness and centerdness in a man that turns me on and makes me think he's sexy. Like he knows who he is in the world and is not ashamed. There's an intensity about being genuinely yourself." Conversely, few things are as cringe-worthy as watching someone with no self-worth put themselves down, whether you can sympathize or not. Ditto general jackassery. Bravado will never take the place of actual confidence. Dalton said, "An instant turn-off is if a guy is full of himself, or a poseur. Looks fade, and what you're left with is personality. Make it a keeper." Similarly, Stephanie offered, "There's nothing that annoys me more than just all-out rude behavior or a man who thinks he's 'all that'. I don't give men like that a second look, even if they're drop-dead gorgeous."

But if you want your hero to have It, how do you get that across? All the well-written quips in the universe won't convince a movie viewer a character's charming if the actor doesn't have It. It's not something we can read like "he had blue eyes" then simply take at face value. Charm is a tall order and it requires evidence to back it up. Charm is communicated through a plethora of tiny cues: body language, facial nuances, energy…pheromones, for God's sake. How are you supposed to convey pheromones on paper?

My best advice for someone trying to convey a character's charisma through writing is to focus not on the hero's having it, but on the POV character's feeling it. Cause and effect can work wonders. The hero can murmur clever somethings in his Scottish brogue all day long, but if we don't feel the heroine shiver, feel her cheeks heat when the two make uncertain eye contact, experience our own throats contracting alongside hers as we wonder what she'll say in response, there's something missing [exception for any Scotsmen reading: you can haz Savannah and Dalton any old time you like, charm be damned]. I'm going to suggest that charisma isn't something that simply comes out of a person, but that it's something that is done to us as the person on the receiving end. Treat it like a sense, like a touch or a flavor, and focus on the POV character's physical reactions. That gives charm tangible believability.

Lastly, onward to the trait I think we as writers have the most control over: actions. You can't argue with actions. Unlike the attractiveness of irises-blue-as-a-tropical-sea or Quinto's giant black eyebrows or Depp's charisma, if a dude runs into a burning house and saves a baby or a puppy or his grandfather's war medals, we're probably going to cream our shorts. Unless you've got an evilness fetish, acts of bravery and worthy self-endangerment are pretty safe bets for getting ye olde lady-juices oozing. What a man does is the most concrete tool for convincing a reader he's a keeper and deserves to have his altruistic brains fucked out just as soon as his third-degree burns scab over.

That said, make sure he's not an idiot. If he's got children, don't make him run into that inferno to save the goldfish—burning up and leaving the kids fatherless isn't worth a guppy. If there are firemen on the scene and he's not one of them, don't send him in there. He could get in the way and make the pros' jobs way harder, and boneheadedness isn't a turn-on.

Let me amend that. Boneheadedness brought on by mind-warping love for the heroine can sometimes be sexy. I don't usually have a qualm with a man getting too-easily provoked and drawn into a fist fight over the heroine. And if he's got a black eye by the end of it? My thighs are a-tremblin'. Just don't overdo it and wander into gender-reversed TSTL territory.

Swoon-worthy actions don't have to be that dramatic, either—no grand romantic gestures required. We'll swoon for most anything that shows that the hero is putting someone else's needs above his own desires, that he values their wishes as much as his own. I get weak-kneed when I'm having a shitty day and my husband runs an errand for me so I won't have to face the stress of driving. He doesn't like braving the Thunderdome of Massachusetts's highways any more than I do, and that's why the favor's so damn dreamy. Kindness is sexy, so is passion [shown through more than just "a vague intensity burning behind his sapphire gaze", please], a sense of humor, a solid work ethic, etc.

And of course, actions can turn us off like nothing else, too. Cruelty is generally a mood-killer—outside of orchestrated BDSM play, perhaps—as are emotional manipulation, unprovoked rudeness, cowardice, laziness, bigotry, irresponsibility, and a plain old lack of common sense. With the exception of that last one (few readers will ever forgive or forget if an author weaseled money out of them for a book rife with illogical character actions) many initial negative behaviors can be redeemed, and showing a hero's growth can give him an extra dimension and regain some appeal you may have sacrificed in the name of maturation. That said, don't push it. Don't make him a hard-drinking, womanizing, devil-worshipping, servant-abusing Duke in pages 1 through 398 then expect us to orgasm when he professes his love in the closing paragraphs. Sorry, no dice. Once a dick-bag, always a dick-bag, even if his mother never hugged him, and tacking honor on like a false mustache isn't going to trick us. Especially not Dalton, who's turned off by men with facial hair.

So predictably, this post is too long. Also predictably, I don't have an end-all definition for "sexiness" or a surefire set of DOs and DON'Ts for convincing the reader your boy's got it. But I'm going to sum up with Naima's exquisitely articulate stab at defining sexiness, as it incorporates all the things I've been discussing:

"It's an aura, a confidence. It's a man who, even silent in the midst of a crowded room, draws your eye and attention just because of his presence. Without words he declares, I know I'm a man. A real man. One who can take care of himself, his woman—emotionally, physically, sexually and financially. It's that something that a woman knows she is secure and cared for with him."

And so, in closing, um…uh…

Quick!! Look at this picture of feminist Hugh Jackman holding a rescued puppy!!!

Thanks for reading, everybody. See you in the comments.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Naughty Victorian Lady tells the tale of a naughty Irish maid on St. Patrick’s Day

by Lady Carlton née Katie O’Roarke, heroine of “The Blonde Samurai”

Did you notice the gleam in his eye and the snicker on his lordship’s face when he kissed you goodbye on this grand morning and left for his club? Did he sport a green silk puff in his lapel, perhaps? Or a green plaid cravat tucked under his portly chin?

Then I chance to wonder if he was on his way to Madame Moiret’s on York Street on this fine St. Patrick’s Day, a lucky day for the wearing ‘o the green and for all the gentleman who visit there.

Including his lordship.

What is the attraction? you ask. Green Guinness? Green-eyed mistresses wearing green stockings and rose garters and nothing else?

No, ’tis one plucky young Irish maid by the name of Darla O’Clancy.

What makes her so popular, you wish to know, a maid no less?

Before I tell you, I shall recount a passage from my memoir, The Blonde Samurai, about the similarity between the lucky shamrock and its counterpart in Japan, the maple leaf.

“Content to be on my own, I took long walks in the late afternoon on the Bluff [Yokohama], strolling through dusky gardens with paths and stone lanterns warmed by the deepening sunset, a unique shimmer upon them glowing like tiny sparks among gray ashes. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the season for the delicate maple trees with their seven-pointed red leaves, but that didn’t stop me from wishing I’d find an eight-lobed maple leaf, thought to be as lucky to the natives as a four-leaf shamrock is to the Irish.”

As for this Irish maid, ’tis no doubt the name of Darla O’Clancy is bantered about in houses of high standing since she possesses a rare gem deemed to be a lucky charm by the gentlemen who visit Madame Moiret’s. They descend upon her establishment on this day to–

I shall not tell you just yet, but instead recall from where the lass came. ‘Tis a small town in Ireland on the coast called Killian’s Cove, a town so small it has yet to find its way onto a map. And a town so green it makes your eyes blink with wonder as you gaze upon its rolling hills filled with shamrocks for miles and miles.

‘Tis said that the mother of Miss O’Clancy so loved these hills she insisted her handsome young husband make love to her there among the shamrocks. And so he did. Three times. And each time, she bore him a beautiful daughter: Emmie, Lenore and Darla.

And each lass, they say, bears a lucky shamrock birthmark in a most unusual
place on her body.

Emmie, the shy one, has a shamrock on the inside of her thigh near her sex.

Lenore, the brazen one, has a shamrock on her left breast.

And Darla, the plucky one, has a shamrock on her right buttock.

Now you know the secret of The O’Clancy Sisters, who left Ireland and came to London looking for husbands. ‘Tis Darla I write about today and how she found work as a maid at Madame Moiret’s. She is not one of her girls, but instead guards the pot o’ gold between her legs fervently, waiting for the right lad to find it.

But once a year on St. Patrick’s Day, she drops her drawers and allows the gentlemen callers to rub the shamrock on her naked bottom for good luck.

And where are Emmie and Lenore? I dare not say, except that they are also Irish maids serving in Mayfair houses.

Yours, perhaps? I would check my household staff if I were you.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

The Blonde Samurai: “She embraced the way of the warrior. Two swords. Two loves.”

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

If I Could I Would...

As a reward to myself from myself for completing and submitting my new manuscript I took a week to read, read, read! Several of my favorite authors came out with new releases this year and I hadn’t had a chance to read any of them. So as soon as I hit “Send” and that story was on its way to my editor, I rushed to Books-A-Million, snatched up my books (hey, I only body-checked that sweet old lady! She’s fine!) , and raced to the Checkout counter with all haste. Slightly out of breath, too, because I’ve been working so hard on that manuscript I haven’t had time for anything else…that’s my story for not working out and I’m sticking to it!

Out of the three books I bought, two were paranormal romance. Kresley Cole’s Pleasure of a Dark Prince and Nalini Singh’s Archangel’s Kiss. Can you say, Great Caesar’s Ghost!! They are two different books but sooo wonderful! The characters. The world-building. The love story…*sigh* Just wonderful. Believe it or not, this blog isn’t to extol the virtues of both books…but Kresley Cole and Nalini Singh, if you have Google Alert and you read this by chance…I’m extolling your virtues…I meant that in a totally platonic-number-one-fan-but-not-in-a-Stephen King’s-Misery sorta way.

As I finished Archangel’s Kiss and placed it on my bookshelf I realized most of the books there are paranormal. I am a lover of paranormal! Vampires. Werewolves. Angels. Valkyrie. Creatures of myth do it for me! Fantasy worlds with superhuman beings that speak languages I need a glossary to decipher curl my toes. Sets me to drooling. Okay, you get it. The thing is though, I write romantic suspense. Writing paranormal is like me having a ménage: dream about it but so not gonna happen.

Now I can issue up a psycho that would make Lizzie Borden look like a Girl Scout. But to conjure up an imaginary world with its own government, mores, customs and language? It wows me. Don’t get me wrong. I love writing romantic suspense. But one of my first—and favorite—movies was Clash of the Titans. And one of my first—and favorite—books was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. So I’ve always been hooked on fantasy for, uh…let’s just say a lot of years. The only thing is…writing paranormal is beyond me. I don’t know if my imagination has an Off switch or if I don’t have enough patience to create the intricacies involved with a new world and race. Oh but if I could…one day I’m going to write my dream book. A paranormal with an ass-kicking heroine, a delicious Alpha male who is her equal in attitude, skill and strength in a mythical world that encompasses all manners of races from Harpies to mermaids to Centaurs to Amazons. And since it is my book I can still have a homicidal psycho…he’ll just be horned and winged.

Okay, I shared the genre I love but don’t write…for now. What’s yours? Is there a genre you dream of penning one day but presently write something different? Share it…no seriously. Why are you still reading? This is the end. Go comment!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Literary Agent Lucienne Diver on Erotica

Please welcome the lovely and talented Lucienne Diver to the Naughty Chicks clubhouse today. Aside from working as a successful agent, Lucienne is also a very talented YA author. Thanks so much for coming, Lucienne.

As I sat down to write this guest blog, I wondered if I had anything new to say about erotica beyond, “I enjoy it and my husband certainly appreciates when I read it.” So I wracked my brain. I could talk about the market, which boils down to, “Yes, things have tightened up everywhere, but there’s always room for original stories, well told, the hotter the better, whether they’re labeled erotica or not.”

That won’t do, I thought. They’ll be expecting more. So, I puttered. I made myself dinner. (Okay, I reheated dinner my husband had made because he’s the one with the skillz.) And I thought about it. What makes erotica so successful? What keeps us from skipping right to all the naughty bits? If any of you have heard me talk on the subject of erotica, you’ll know I’ve defined erotica vs. romantica in terms of chick-lit versus romance. Erotica and chick-lit are both more about the heroine’s search for self, whether it’s through sexual expression and discovering her deepest desires or finding the strength to go for what she truly wants, regardless of risks. Chick-lit and erotica are very much about a personal journey. Romance and romantica are a journey as well, but one in which the growth and the happily-ever-after are very much about finding the one and overcoming any obstacles to being with him or her. In romantica, whether it takes place in a sex club, a board room or a boudoir, it’s about a dedicated couple (or trio or…) finding and accommodating each other.

Ah ha! I thought. There lies the true crux of these genres – erotica, chick-lit, romance, romantica…the focus in many other fields is on what the characters have to lose, what’s at stake. It might be their lives in suspense/thrillers, or perhaps their freedom or their humanity in historicals or paranormals. But romantic women’s fiction in all its forms is more about how much the characters have to gain—their soulmates or themselves. It’s that that keeps us reading. Not just the sexy shower scenes or the hot and heavy threesomes, but the transformation, the brass ring at the end, whatever it might be, and the sense of satisfaction when the characters achieve it and the readers have made the journey with them.

So, yes, I like erotic fiction because it’s erotic. But I also love that in each novel or novella the characters haven’t merely thwarted a terror plot or brought a murderer to justice or kept from being burned at the stake—not that the word “merely” really applies to any of these!—but they’ve gained something very precious and truly to be celebrated.

Lucienne Diver joined The Knight Agency in 2008, after spending fifteen years at New York City’s prestigious Spectrum Literary Agency. Over the course of her seventeen-year career she has sold over six hundred titles to every major publisher, and has built a client list of over forty authors spanning the commercial fiction genres, primarily in the areas of fantasy, romance, mystery, suspense, erotica and young adult fiction fiction. Further information is available on The Knight Agency website: She also blogs at

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Agent Lucienne Diver

This is a sticky note - Come by Monday, 3/15 and see what the Knight Agency's Lucienne Diver has to say about erotic genres.

Friday, March 12, 2010

10 Reasons I Love Being a Writer

I thought once I got an agent, getting rejections would be easier. Turns out, I was wrong. Like really really wrong. Rejections still suck. Got one yesterday that while it was actually nice, still stung. It’s cool though, I plan on drowning myself in a bottle of wine tonight and tomorrow, I plan to shop til I drop. Not literally of course but I’m splurging on a couple new summer dresses and new shoes…probably more than I need. I know it’s not summer yet, but I live in FL so we sort of gloss over spring and bam, it’s summer loooonnnnggg before I wish it was and then I’m sweating buckets and cursing the humidity.

So, I need a reminder why I love being a writer. There are many but I narrowed it down to ten.

1. I get to read for research. Considering reading is one of my favorite things to do, it doesn’t get much better than that.

2. Fan mail. I love it when people who are NOT related to me take the time out of their busy schedule to email me and let me know that they liked something of mine. On days like today, when I’m feeling particularly sorry for myself, fan mail makes me feel a thousand times better.

3. I love seeing the expression on people’s faces when they find out I write erotic romance. Priceless.

4. The voices in my head have an outlet. For real. If I wasn’t a writer, I’d probably be locked up in a loony bin.

5. My work clothes consist of yoga pants and t-shirts. And if I’m feeling really saucy, I forgo the pants.

6. I already mentioned reading, but I love the research aspect of it. I’m always learning something new. Like some states don’t have District Attorneys, but State Attorneys instead. It just depends on where you live. Also, not all guns have actual safety restraints. Though, I already knew that before becoming a writer, but there’s another tidbit anyway.

7. If I want to take a break in the middle of my work day and lay out by the pool for an hour, I can.

8. Since becoming a writer, I’ve met other writers. And they’re awesome. Writers are the nicest, most giving people on the planet.

9. No matter how crappy I’m feeling, once I start typing and immerse myself in a new world, my feelings of rejection and gloom disappear.

10. I can write anywhere.

Are you wondering about that cover? I just got it and I love it! I haven’t even gone through edits yet or gotten a release date for Power Unleashed but the cover gods were apparently shining down on me. Maybe I should add something about covers to my list… ;) Have a good weekend everyone!!