Thursday, June 30, 2011

Romance Therapy


I recently had a conversation that made me very sad. I take my mom to a widow's group every week, and the ladies there know I write, and what I write. Last week, as we were waiting for them to go in, one of the women told me how much she enjoys reading romance because she needs the Happily Ever After in her life. Great, but then she went on to say that she feels guilty when she reads one or watches a “fluff” movie or TV show because her husband - a “brilliant” man - couldn’t abide by anything you can’t learn from.

What?

As we spoke, it became clear that for 42 yrs of marriage to this man, she had not been allowed to watch or read anything that he deemed a waste of time. In fact, those were his exact words.

I countered, believe me, though as gently as I could. I told her there are plenty of HEA romances that are not “fluff”, though there’s nothing wrong with that, either! It’s important to have an escape. I said that I've learned a lot from romances, with their vast topics and word usage. I also pointed out that there are truly brilliant people who not only read HEA romance, they write it. I personally know doctors, attorneys, PhD’s; graduates of Smith, Harvard, Tufts, etc., who are authors for Harlequin, Ellora’s Cave, and many other venues. God knows they need a break from the required dry reading they have to slog through.

All the while, what I was really thinking was how miserable parts of her life must have been. Or the whole of it, considering the conversation answered a lot of questions about this woman’s unhappy personality.

I’m writing this now and trying hard not to cry for her. Can you imagine 42 years of not being able to enjoy a few hours of simple escape through a romance book, a quirky movie, a sitcom that makes you laugh?

Her husband missed out, too, pure and simple. He never took that time to relax and just be. She said she would have loved nothing more than to sit on the couch holding his hand while watching a comedy. Something I take for granted quite often.

It’s too late for him, for them, but I hope she can find a way to enjoy these things without guilt now.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Titanic and Gamblers

When the Titanic hit the iceberg on April 14, 1912 at 11:40 p.m., a gentleman in the second class smoking room joked about getting ice from the berg for his drink. Other gents barely noticed when the ship struck the iceberg.

They were too busy playing cards.

According to reports from survivors, several gentlemen went down with the ship playing their last hand. Whether or not it’s true, what is true is that gambling was a popular pastime during the maiden voyage of the Titanic.

So popular that the chief steward relaxed the White Star Line rule of “no gambling on Sundays.”

Gambling on board, however, didn’t come without its dangers.

And I don’t mean a losing hand.

“Boatmen” or professional gamblers were a notorious group of cardsharps who traveled the North Atlantic route relieving wealthy male passengers of their ready cash (women were not allowed in the smoking room).

It was such a problem that a notice was posted in the first class Smoke Room warning passengers about “Games of Chance” and the likelihood of professional gamblers looking for easy pickings at high-stakes card game.

No one paid any attention, including the hero of my story, Captain Lord Jack Blackthorn.

We first meet his lordship after the ship leaves Cherbourg, France on April 10th after picking up passengers and mail–



If there was one thing that made Captain Lord Jack Blackthorn smile more than holding a pretty woman in his arms, it was a winning hand at cards.

To his dismay, at the moment he had neither.

“I’ll raise you fifty pounds,” Jack said, stretching his long legs under the green-topped playing table. An uncomfortable itch stung his palm as he laid down the one-sided British notes. He never did enjoy playing against boatmen, professional gamblers who followed the sea, but he was in desperate need of funds.

Katie O’Reilly
is the story of a poor Irish girl and a British lord–both willing to risk everything on the maiden crossing of the Titanic for love…

Next on Titanic Wednesdays: How I found Katie O’Reilly’s Irish voice in me

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Words of Wisdom


So I recently celebrated a birthday--if you ask which one I might black out, so don't ask! Let's just say I am waaaay legal and leave it at that. As I "elevate" in age, I'm thankful for every single year, month and day. Believe me! I'm getting not only older, but more experienced, sexier and wiser. Did I mention sexier? I asked the hubby and he assured me that I am...he better had...

As I age like a fine, one-of-a-kind wine, I've realized several things. Encyclopedia Brown, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and Beezus and Ramona are timeless classics. Red meat really does take a long freakin' time to digest and forty is the new thirty. Yet there are other nuggets of wisdom that a twenty-one year old has not lived long enough to know or understand.

1. Dying the va-jay-jay is suddenly not as absurd as it once sounded.
2. Yes, it is possible to pull your back by sneezing.
3. There really should be a font for sarcasm.
4. MTV actually used to play videos...I should know since I remember when the channel debuted...
5. The Ten Commandments is not an accurate biblical accounting. Neither is Ben-Hur, by the way...
6. A good bra is a girl's best friend.
7. Spanks is a girl's BFF!
8. "Bad" does not mean "good" anymore...it's just bad to use, period. "Sharp" is too...
9. There comes a time when you are the embarrassment to your kids.
10. You will one day wake up and have morphed into your mother, including spouting such idioms as "I brought you in this world, I'll take you out."

So to all you barely legal people, you may have elastic skin and a metabolism that burns at the speed of light, but, um, er, I can quote The Facts of Life theme song! Take that!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Birthdays and Brainstorming


My mind's jumping ahead a week from today to the Fourth of July celebration. Isn't the United States lucky having her birthday during the summer? Folks are on vacation and they can have outdoor barbecues and pool parties to celebrate the red, white and blue. As my birthday comes up soon after, I'm lucky enough to mooch off long weekend celebrations and the colorful booming explosions. Fireworks are excellent reminders of the vibrancy of life.

But everything is fodder for stories when one is a writer, so thinking about July 4th was no exception. Remember I am a fantasy/sci-fi writer by nature so my mind strayed to the fantastical. What about creating a sentient country as a protagonist? We do sentient planets, sentient electronics (robots, androids and such) and sentient animals. Why not a particular country? And it could be the eve of that country's birthday but it is unhappy with its citizens and the way it is being managed. Hell, maybe it's plotting to start it's own revolution inside its borders. The aspect on which I'm fuzziest is how to work in the love story. Can a country and a human being fall in love? Maybe the country can temporarily transfer its consciousness into a human body. Or do I have the country fall in love with another country? How would the sex work? Are we talking tectonic plates sliding together? Talk about fireworks (or should I say volcanic eruptions) at the point of orgasm. I see a whole new subgenre of erotic romance forming.

Another moment of genius in the making, ladies and gentlemen. You can say you were there when it happened (grin). Don't you just love this brainstorming stuff?

Happy birthday in advance USA. Enjoy your fireworks.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Titanic and the Irish and Katie O’Reilly

Did you know the first immigrant registered at Ellis Island in 1892 was Irish?

Annie Moore was her name and there’s a statue of the fifteen-year-old girl at Ellis Island.

Years later in 1912 when the survivors of the Titanic arrived in New York, many of the 705 survivors were Irish who had boarded at Queenstown, Ireland on April 11th; many more were lost in the sinking.

Margaret Rice and her five sons were lost on the Titanic. So were Julia Barry, Norah Hemming and Mary Mangan, according to the passenger list in Walter Lord’s “A Night to Remember.” Names that should never be forgotten.

I decided my heroine, Katie O’Reilly, would board at Queenstown because…

Well, because I’m Irish. No surprise here. Me grandmother came to America from Ireland with her fourteen brothers and sisters and used to regale me with stories about fairies (the “gentle people”) and green hills and grand houses.

Like every good Irish family, we had a priest and a nun among the siblings.

And then there was Aunt Marie. A somewhat scandalous lady, from what I remember. She had studied to become a nun, but she didn’t take her vows ( I never found out why); however, she lived and worked with the nuns. She was a forward thinker and a strong believer in women getting ahead in the world and a follower of the saints. I still have the statue she gave me of Saint Catherine Labouré, a sister of the Daughters of Charity.

But I digress…

Growing up with my grandmother and Aunt Marie, I developed a strong sense of faith and that became a very important part of Katie’s character. Yet, like Aunt Marie, she also has her own mind and tends to do things “her way,” while trying to keep her faith intact.

So there you have the beginnings of Katie O’Reilly, my heroine…

Remember Margaret Rice and her five sons were lost? When her body was recovered, she was identified as being a Catholic by her rosary.

Many survivors said they saw passengers--including many men--on bent knee saying the rosary at the time of the sinking.

The word “rosary” comes from the Latin meaning “garland of roses.” Rosaries are usually made from plastic or wood. I remember my grandmother making rosaries by hand for the missions. I still have the cornflower blue rosary she made for me among my keepsakes.

In my story, my heroine Katie O’Reilly takes her few possessions with her on the ship, including her mother’s black rosary beads. They’re a symbol of everything she’s left behind in Ireland.

And of her faith.

Katie grabs her rosary when she’s at her lowest point after the ship hits the iceberg:


Hot tears veiled her eyes and they burned something awful. In the whole of her life Katie had never felt more alone. She wiped her face, picked up her black rosary, then huddled in the corner of the bunk with only her wounded pride and lost hope for company.

Abandoned by her God she was, for surely He had listened without sympathy to her pleadings and sent the girls to give her hope, then take it away.

How Katie gets her faith back and learns to believe in herself is an important part of my story.

Also, how her staunch beliefs change the life of Captain Lord Jack Blackthorn, a gentleman gambler, is even more amazing…

Next time: Titanic and Gamblers

Monday, June 20, 2011

Three in the Hole

I just mailed off an envelope to Ellora's Cave containing three contracts for a brand new series - my very first series of romantic suspense books.

I've always been a fan of related books but I've never thought far enough ahead to actually plot any out and write them -- until now. From everything I've heard, series books can sell better than independent books because as each new edition is released, the previous books get a healthy bump in sales. And frankly, as a reader, I enjoy glimpses of characters I've read about in previous books that pop up, kind of like old friends.

All this makes me feel a little better about not going to the RWA conference in New York City next week. Although I must admit -- I am completely jealous of everyone heading there. The conference promises to be big and awesome and so many of favorite authors will be there along with just about every editor from all the major publishers. And did I mention that I was born and raised in Queens? But since we're having a family vacation later this summer, it wasn't feasible for me to go.

What about you? Readers - do you prefer reading series to stand alone books. And to all you writers out there - are you going to RWA 11 or are you staying home wallowing in self-pity like me?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Lori Foster Get Together




The Lori Foster Get Together is always awesome, but Lori and Dianne and their volunteers totally outdid themselves this year!

My hubby and I got there on Thursday. We had dinner with my good friend Moni Draper, her husband, and author Linnea Sinclair, who is awesome! We had so much fun with them that after coming back to the hotel, we quickly unpacked and went down to the bar to hang out with them some more!

The Get Together officially starts on Friday, and begins with stuffing the goody bags! This year, there were four hundred attendees, so that's a lot of bags to stuff with swag! But it's a great opportunity to hang out and talk with everyone, so it goes fast.

Since we had some time before registration started, my hubby and I went to the IKEA store. We've been hearing about it, but hadn't ever been to it, so we wanted to check it out. The place is huge! Let me tell you, it definitely lives up to the hype!

Okay, back to the Get Together!

After registering, we went into the ballroom to sit at our table. This year, authors made up centerpieces for the tables, so Lori asked us to sit at the tables with our centerpieces. I showcased my new paranormal romance GHOST HUNTER with a signed copy of the book, an EMF Ghost Detector, a collector's edition of Ghostbusters, the Best of the TV show Ghost Hunters, a book on the ghosts of New York, chocolate chip cookies, Ghiradelli chocolates, and the cutest plush Casper! It was a huge hit and Melanie, the person at the table who won it, loved it!

The Get Together is all about hnging out with friends, and that night it was at a pizza party. I got to see lots of friends I made at previous Get Togethers, as well as meet a lot of new friend, including some of my fellow Ellora's Cave authors, and Romance Divas, which I was really excited about! It's so much fun to finally meet people you talk to online! They all totally rock, by the way!

On Saturday, we sat in on a workshop taught by Jenn Stark about promotion and what works and what doesn't. Then after lunch, it was time for the book signing. At previous Get Togethers, we did it in the ballroom, (that sounded naughty, didn't it?! LOL!) but this time we did it (couldn't resist!) in the atrium. It was so much better, and as always, so much fun! Oh, and the awesome Kate Douglas, whom I met at previous Get Togethers, and who was also signing books, specifically asked me to keep my Ellora's Cave book IF YOU DARE for her because she'd been wanting to read it! I was so flattered!

Throughout the weekend, they raffle off the baskets the authors make, finishing it up Saturday night after dinner. Fellow author and good friend Renee Vincent won my basket. And no, I didn't rig it! LOL!

After that, we hung out with friends, talking, laughing and saying how we can't wait for the next Get Together!

Oh, almost forgot! I'll be posting more pics on my Facebook as soon as we download them! I'll let you know when I post them!

*hugs*
Paige

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

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Huge NAC Welcome to Guest KA MItchell!

Dalton, here. Have you ever wondered if the Naughty Author Chicks have fave authors? Of course we do! I've yet to meet an author who doesn't read voraciously, and you don't stop being a fan when you get published. And if you're really lucky, sometimes you get to meet your favorite authors and find out they're wonderful people.
Today, I get to share one of my faves with you. Please welcome, KA Mitchell!

To Smut or Not To Smut
by KA Mitchell
www.kamitchell.com

I thought that might not be a bad question over here on Naughty Author Chicks. Thanks for having me, guys.

I'd apologize to the Bard of Avon for appropriating his words like that, but I think he'd understand. After all, Shakespeare was someone who was using his creativity to make money, you know, a commercial fiction writer, so I'm going to go out on a limb and say one of the reasons his initially mercenary endeavors survive is because he let the characters drive the plot.

I can't say enough about letting the characters steer the book. It makes the things that happen more believable and when your plot fails, readers (like me!) will stick with you because we love your characters. This goes for when, how and how often your characters get naughty, which takes me to back to the focus here.

I love letting my characters grow and change and fall in love through sex. They're guys—hey now, is that the stuff up there in the heading on this blog? It looks kind of strange from my world—so they're comfortable with that too. It's been said of sex "Women need a reason, men just need a place." (As a visiting Naughty Author Chick, I'll say women sometimes just need a place too, but we're still talking romance, so I'm going to run with the other version.) My guys aren't always using their downstairs brain when they first lay eyes, hands, lips, tongues and other parts on each other, but—and here's the point—BUT, what they do and when they do it still has to be about who they are, what drives them as people.

I just wrote two books with connected characters, Bad Company, which came out on June 7 and Bad Boyfriend which is coming out December 7. In Bad Boyfriend, it's a matter of an hour from a wink to sex—which includes spanking and some other D/s kink. In Bad Company, it is weeks before the characters get there—like a hundred pages, which may be an all-time record for me (and it's pretty vanilla). The thing is, that's what Nate and Kellan needed. I wanted them doing it earlier—man, did I. I have a reputation and all, but it didn't work for them. And I had to respect that or lose the story, the characters, the romance. On the other hand, Eli and Quinn both needed the kinky sex they had within an hour of seeing each other to start them on their story. Eli and Quinn were strangers to each other, Nate and Kellan had known each other since they were seven. Sometimes history gets in the way.

Regarding the "to smut or not to smut" dilemma (which is much better than contemplating suicide, eh?), in my eleventh book, I seem to have come full circle from my first. Custom Ride, the first thing I sold, opens with, "Ryan didn't do random hook ups. But try telling that to the hand around his dick." In Bad Company, one of the first things Kellan says to Nate is "I need a boyfriend." Kellan wants to fake romance, needs a long time to get ready for the reality of it. No random hook ups, really this time.

As fun as a generalization like "Women need a reason, men just need a place" is, the characters—no matter internal or external genitalia—have an attitude about sex. The more authors, Naughty and Nice alike, let that feeling drive the where, when and how, the better outcome (sorry, I'm a punner) for them, the writer, and the readers. To mess with the Bard again, "thus conscience does make players of us all" whether we're teasing with a will-they/won't-they have sex or fall in love, and that keeps readers turning pages. Which is all any Naughty Author Chick—or guest—could want.

Thanks again for having me.


BAD COMPANY
Copyright © 2011 K.A. Mitchell
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication

Buy Now






Blurb:

Some things are sweeter than revenge.

“I need a boyfriend.”

Hearing those words from the mouth of his very straight ex-friend is enough to make columnist and editor Nate Gray choke on his Corona. It’s been thirteen years since Kellan Brooks’s father crushed Nate’s family on his climb to wealth and power. Even longer since he entrusted Kellan with the confession that he might be gay—only to have his best friend out and humiliate him to their entire high school. The last thing Nate expects is Kellan begging for his help.

Breaking off his engagement to a senator’s daughter was the last straw for Kellan’s CEO father. Frustrated at being cut off, his father’s stinging words—that he wishes Kellan had never been born—still ringing in his ears, Kellan turns to Nate. In a move worthy of a corporate raider, Kellan plans the ultimate revenge. Come out as the boyfriend of the man his homophobic father betrayed.

Convincing Nate to play along isn’t easy. It’s even harder to figure out why the lie feels so close to the truth.

Product Warnings: Contains old friends, old enemies, a dramatic cat rescue, soft drink references and a lot of teasing before the steamy sex. Readers are cautioned against drinking any beverage while reading to avoid accidental snorting or spraying of said beverages.

Excerpt:
Chapter One
Kellan licked dry lips before tugging open the door to J.J.’s bar. Stepping into the cool darkness after a long walk under Baltimore’s late-spring sun had him blinking rapidly to keep from crashing into anything. Not that there was much to crash into. The bar was almost deserted.

He wasn’t sure if that was a good thing. He’d never been in a gay bar before, and from the way they looked on TV and in the movies, he’d expected to be tripping over guys grinding away on each other. There wasn’t anything wrong with that, but Kellan hoped he’d have time to work up to shirtless guy-on-guy grinding.

In addition to the absence of grinding, Kellan also noticed the lack of a disco ball and a thumping soundtrack. J.J.’s could have been any Baltimore bar at five thirty on a Monday afternoon, right down to ESPN playing on the set hanging over the bottles arranged behind the bartender.

The barstools weren’t completely empty. As his eyes adjusted completely, Kellan saw what he’d come here for.

Kellan hadn’t seen Nate Gray for fifteen years, but even with Nate’s back to him, Kellan could have picked him out of a crowd much larger than the five guys in the bar. Who else would sit up that straight, especially on a barstool? Nate would never change. Kellan pictured the too-serious expression Nate always wore, lips tight like he was afraid to smile too much, dark anxious eyes behind those round Harry Potter glasses—which Nate had worn years before anyone knew who Harry Potter was.

Nate turned like he could feel Kellan’s stare then quickly turned away. Had Nate recognized him? Even if Nate wasn’t happy to see him—and given the way Kellan had acted back in ninth grade, he couldn’t blame him—it didn’t matter. The long walk had given Kellan more than dry lips and sun blindness. It had made him twice as goddamned sure he taught Geoffrey Brooks he couldn’t control his son the way he ran his company.

That determination had Kellan striding down to the end of the bar to jostle Nate’s elbow and blurt out, “Hey, Nate. So, you’re still gay, right?”

Unfortunately, Kellan’s timing sucked. Nate choked, spewing what he’d just drunk from the Corona bottle across Kellan’s left sleeve. Kellan used the excuse of slapping him on the back to wipe off his arm.

Nate shook him off, wiped his own face with the back of his hand and turned. Kellan had been right. Nate didn’t look very happy to see his old friend.

Well, maybe friend was pushing it after the way things had gone back then. But they’d been friends for seven years before that one year when they weren’t. If Nate would let him, Kellan could make it up to him. The sneak attack might not have been the best idea, but it was getting late and unless Kellan wanted to spend the night on a park bench, he needed to get the ball rolling. Besides, once Nate heard the plan, Kellan knew he would go for it. Nate had almost as much reason to want to put the screws to old Geoffrey as Kellan did.

Nate’s eyes, already uncomfortably different without the familiar glasses, were half-lidded and lazy as he took his time looking Kellan up and down, gaze lingering on Kellan’s crotch long enough to make him squirm. “Kellan Brooks. My day from hell is complete. Yes. I’m still gay. And guess what?” Nate leaned in like he had a secret and then said in a loud whisper, “I think this is a gay bar. You might want to cover your ass with both hands as you run for the door. Wouldn’t want to get any queer on you.”

When this brilliant idea first hatched in Kellan’s brain, he had skipped over the explaining-it-to-Nate part to get to picturing the look on the old man’s face when he got the bad news.

Kellan could do this. Nate had always given in before. But it would be easier if he stopped sneering at Kellan as if he were dog s**t stuck to Nate’s shoe.

“Okay,” Nate said, rolling his eyes after a long pause. “Now that we’ve cleared that up, I need another beer.” He pushed the dripping bottle across the bar.

Kellan slid onto the barstool next to Nate. “I need a boyfriend.”

Nate looked like he was going to start choking again, though his beer was empty, then his face went hard and still. “Blow me.”

Kellan put a hand on Nate’s sleeve, and Nate shook him off again. “You don’t understand. I really need a boyfriend.”

“No, you don’t understand. I really need some head, so if you’re not going to blow me, leave me the f**k alone.” Nate shifted on his barstool, leaning forward and back, glancing over his shoulder. “I swear if someone from the paper is punking me—”

“Can I explain this to you?”

The bartender set a fresh beer in front of Nate.

“If you’re paying, I’ll listen.” Nate nodded at the beer.

“I can’t.” Heat hit Kellan’s cheeks, and he dropped his gaze.

“Right. You can’t afford a beer.” Nate slapped a ten on the bar and glanced around like someone would save him from having to deal with Kellan.

“I spent my last twenty on a cab to get to the paper. They said you’d be here, so I walked.”

“A whole five blocks? Alert the media.”

It had been more like fifteen. But with Nate sneering at him, showing the same kind of disgust Kellan’s dad was always quick to dish out, the words died in his throat and the flush got hotter, spreading into his neck. His cheeks felt as lit up as Rudolph’s famous nose. He’d never been able to stop it, but until now, Kellan thought he’d given up being ashamed. Funny that Nate could make him feel worse than the old man could. Even with what he’d thrown at Kellan today. He tried to catch Nate’s gaze. “Will you listen to me?”

“Can you give me one single f**king reason why I should?”

With a desperate hope that Nate’s memories went back a lot further than that year where things had gotten weird, Kellan shoved up his sleeve to show the scar on his forearm, knowing Nate had one to match, a gift from a spike on a cemetery fence to two seven-year-old boys who had snuck off late one night because Kellan had wanted to introduce his brother to his new friend. When they fell bleeding onto the ground outside the cemetery, Nate had suggested that they become brothers the way some kids had done in a book he read. Nate understanding how much Kellan missed having a big brother had been worth his mother’s freakout and the terrifying tetanus shot when their adventure became public knowledge.

“That still count for anything?” Kellan pulled his sleeve back down.

“Didn’t count for much as I remember.” Nate’s eyes narrowed, but there was nothing lazy about the look this time. “Cash, grass or ass, man.”

“Huh?”

“Nothing’s free. You won’t blow me, you won’t buy me a beer, and for damn sure I don’t owe you any favors.”

Kellan shrugged, trying for an ease he didn’t feel. “Maybe you’ve got me confused with my dad, man, because I never did anything to you or your family.”

“So that wasn’t you laughing while your asshole friends showed the little faggot what a swirly was on the first day of high school?”

There wasn’t anything Kellan could say to fix that. Couldn’t explain why instead of sticking up for Nate the way he’d always done, this time Kellan had gone along, promising himself he was there to make sure things didn’t get too carried away and that Nate didn’t get hurt. Kellan knew that didn’t count for much.

Nate slammed his beer onto the bar and stepped off the stool. “Well, this has been a f**ked-up end to a long day. Good luck with that boyfriend thing. Play safe and remember to use lots of lube.”

“Dude, wait.”


Dude, man, Nate was sure there was a bro waiting somewhere behind lips that were a shade too full to go with the rest of Kellan’s sharp features. Maybe the asshole really thought he could dump the blame on his dad then pretend it was just like the old days. Nate kept right on walking out of the bar.

He pulled his scooter off the sidewalk, strapped on his helmet and turned the key. Kellan grabbed the handlebars.

Nate probably could have managed to take off without dragging seventy-five inches of Kellan Brooks across the sidewalk, but he snapped, “What?”

“I don’t have anywhere to go.”

What Nate meant to say was Why the f**k is that my problem? but what came out was “What do you mean?”

“My dad threw me out—cut me off—and…”

“What about your friends? Your fiancée?” Nate wanted to bite the words back and ended up biting his tongue. Now Kellan would know Nate had bothered reading up on the dickhead’s life on the gossip sites, watched clips of him in that reality show he was on. In Nate’s defense, he worked for a newspaper. There might have been a reason other than that he still gave a s**t about the big idiot.

“We broke up,” Kellan said flatly.

“Again? What was she, fiancée number five?” Damn, like that wasn’t obviously bitter.

“Three.” Kellan licked his lips.

Nate knew damn well Kellan wasn’t flirting, sudden inexplicable quest for a boyfriend or not. But Nate didn’t have a boyfriend, hadn’t even had a hookup in over a month, and his eyes moved from the pink tongue on Kellan’s lips to his green eyes and sun-streaked dirty-blond hair before Nate could remind himself that was a bad idea.

With a mental shake of his head, Nate said, “You’ve got to have some other friends. Because whatever I am, I’m not that anymore.”

“I owe most of them money.”

“Well, if you came looking for cash, you came to the wrong place.”

The scooter between Nate’s legs had suffered greatly in its previous existence as a vehicle of Chinese takeout. Despite the amount of non-wok oil and grease Nate had used to get it running again, the smell still hovered, unpleasant enough to cure him of a life-long craving for Kung Pao chicken.

Kellan still clung to the handlebars.

“Why did your dad throw you out?”

If Kellan said it was because he really had come out, Nate supposed he could find some sympathy in the midst of a big pile of serves-you-f**king-right. But the spark of sympathy drowned in a sudden stream of porn featuring Kellan’s wide mouth panting and bruised from hard kisses sliding down Nate’s c**k, making him shift uncomfortably on the thin seat.

“Can I— Can we go someplace so I can explain it to you?”

Kellan didn’t have the kind of big round eyes that should be necessary to pull off that wounded-puppy look. But it wouldn’t be the first time that appeal had suckered Nate in. And his tendency to take in strays had convinced his parents Nate was destined to be a veterinarian.

He nodded.

Kellan let go of the handlebars.

“Are you going to hop on or jog alongside?” That sounded a lot more confident than the situation warranted. Nate wasn’t exactly sure the scooter would make it ten blocks with Kellan’s added weight.

Kellan swung a leg over from the back, the careful way he arranged himself a clear indication he was trying to limit his touch to scooter rather than anything made of Nate. That lasted until they lurched away from the curb and into rush-hour traffic. Kellan’s hands landed first on Nate’s shoulders, then on his hips.

As they stopped for a light on Eastern, Kellan leaned close, breath tickling Nate’s ear. “What’s that smell?”

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Titanic was called the Ship of Dreams…

The Titanic has fascinated me for years. I’m not alone. Even before James Cameron’s film “Titanic,” what happened on her maiden voyage has captured the imagination of anyone who has ever wondered what it was like to stroll her decks.

From first class…to second…to steerage.

I decided to find out and “Katie O’Reilly” was born. A saucy Irish maid who dreamed of going to America to escape a prison sentence for something she didn’t do. It’s only when she meets the notorious Captain Lord Jack Blackthorn on board the Titanic that she realizes it’s more than a new life she’s after.

She wants him, too.

"Katie O’Reilly” is a romance, but I’ve strived to make it as historically accurate as possible, even down to the times of the launching of the lifeboats after the ship hits the iceberg. I learned so much about the ship, but also about the passengers. Who they were, why they were traveling on the ship, what they experienced that fateful night.

My purpose is not to repeat facts and stories…there are many wonderful books available that do that very well and we’ll discuss them…but to take you along on my journey writing “Katie O’Reilly” as we lead up to the 100th anniversary in April 2012.

The Titanic passenger list that never was…

No one really knows exactly how many passengers sailed on the maiden voyage of the Titanic on April 10, 1912. Modern historians have settled on the number 2,228 passengers, though no complete passenger list exists.

What is known are the passenger names recorded on thirty-four handwritten pages from 1912 currently stored at the National Archives in London.

A rare second class passenger list was sold at auction a few years for $33,900 (Christie’s auctioned off a first class passenger list in a booklet in 1998), but no one really know for sure who was on that ship.

Fascinating fodder for a novelist…so many what ifs come to mind.

What if your heroine was traveling under an alias?

Not unusual for passengers at that time to travel under an assumed name. Like Lady Duff-Gordon and her husband traveling as the “Morgans” to allegedly avoid the press; or a Frenchman who kidnapped his two children and listed himself as a Mr. “Hoffman.” We can’t forget the gambler, George Brereton, who traveled first class under the alias “George Brayton.”

We know the Titanic wasn’t filled to capacity (the ship could hold 3,547 passengers and crew). And since no official passenger list will ever be completely accurate, it was exciting for me to create a heroine named Katie O’Reilly because she could have been on the Titanic.

And no one would have ever known.

Until now.

Next time: creating a backstory for Katie O’Reilly.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Guilty as Charged!

When I hear the phrase “guilty pleasure”, automatically my mind goes to snitching the kids’ lunch snacks or eating a Symphony chocolate bar while the hubby is in there working it out to “Michael Jackson Experience”. I feel immense guilt, but the pleasure of those Chili Cheese Frito-Lay Corn Chips or that endorphin –pumping milk chocolate… *sigh*

Yet there are other guilty pleasures. The ones that if you were in a room full of people, you wouldn’t admit to unless about five people confessed them first. I thought of this while watching Mob Wives on VH1. Yeah, I said it.


And while I’m on a roll, I never miss an episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey (nobody flips a table like Teresa!), and was cheering for Nene during the infamous Nene vs Kim smackdown on Kandi’s tour bus on the Real Housewives of Atlanta. I would use the stand-by excuse of “it’s for research”, but really, who am I kidding? It’s just sheer WTF fun! I mean, who could make this stuff up? Does anyone see the irony of Sammy the Bull’s daughter writing a tell-all book?? Or the hilarity of a woman who proudly croons, “Amazing Grace…that saved a wench like me”. If I were to submit half of this material to my editor, she would order me to revise and resubmit because it’s just not believable!


Everyone needs a guilty pleasure. Something that you watch, listen to or eat out of pure enjoyment. It shouldn’t have any educational or nutritional value or redeeming qualities—just good ol’ fashion fun. Also at the top of my list are “The Expendables” with Sylvester Stallone, “Bicycle Race” by Queen and sugar on my hotdogs. Share yours!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fuzzy Definitions






Alice Dreger delivered this fantastic TED presentation about the fuzzy anatomical definitions of human social categories and the implications of this on both understanding democracy and building our humanity.

The talk plays into so many of the ideas that we as creative erotic romance writers often use, challenging mainstream sexuality and the social norms of relationships. She talks about viewing the world by seeing the commonalities of anatomy and not the differences and uses examples of individuals who are born seeming to be one sex, but whose DNA and actual anatomical structures are not just one thing. What do we do as our science leads us to a point where all of the definitions on which we've built our culture and democracy are shown to be much more complicated and unclear?

Please take the time to watch. I really think you will stretch your mind and will enjoy this one. Let's keep thinking ladies and gentlemen.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Rejection--ouch!



I've never been a fan of rejection. That's putting it mildly. I hate rejection and I suspect I'm not alone. Writers, however, get more than their share and have to get used to it or find another job.

I recently had a couple of my babies rejected. Not literal babies...that would be awful. These were just brain babies. My stories. Certainly, not every idea will make a marketable story. When remembering that's the publisher's one and only goal--sales--accepting rejection gets easier. No, scratch that. It's never easy, but it makes sense. It's not personal.

So, back in the day (am I really getting to that point in my career where nostalgia occurs? Yikes.) Anyway, once upon a time, there was nothing you could do with a rejected manuscript but use it for scrap. Then came the e-pubs. (Yay e-publishing!) They could afford to take chances on stories that were "different" and didn't have a proven track record. Sci-Fi romances, werewolf romances, etc.

If an e-pub rejected your ms. it just stayed in a file, never to see the light of day. Or, perhaps if it did, the writer had cannibalized it for scenes that were too good to abandon completely. But good e-pubs have standards, and for whatever reason, they can reject your stories too.

Today there's a third option that's getting a lot of attention. Self-publishing. I was never a fan. It required the writer to shell out money for editing, cover art, and sometimes the printing process if they wanted to make a paperback. I know what you're going to say..."Oh, but you don't have to do that anymore. You can proofread yourself, slap together a basic cover, and put it up on Kindle and Smashwords." Oy!

No, you can't. Even the best of us miss our own typos and spelling errors. Most of us don't carry the Chicago Manual of Style around in our heads and make occasional mistakes in grammar or punctuation. All of that can detract from the reader's enjoyment. When you ask for their money, you really need to provide them with some quality. Editors aren't a guarantee, but they're a darn good investment--if you can afford one.

My point is this: If you self-publish, you really shouldn't do it all by yourself. Have someone with a terrific gift for written English read it over. Don't be opposed to taking a few suggestions. If you want sales, invest in a good cover. And just because you self-published, that doesn't mean you won't experience rejection. Reader reviews tend to run the gamut these days. What one person loves, another one hates. If you're very sensitive to rejection, you might not want to read them at all.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Guest Author - Gemma Halliday!

CONFESSIONS



Thanks to the Naughty Author Chicks for hosting me today, and letting me chat about my latest release, Hollywood Confessions. I have one week left of my two week Hollywood Confessions Blog Tour, so please check out my website for more tour stops, as I’ll be giving away cool prizes (including gift cards, free books, cameo appearances, and Hollywood Headlines collectibles) at each stop!





Hollywood Confessions explores the sexy, scandalous, and sensational world of Hollywood through the eyes of tabloid reporter, Allie Quick. Allie has high aspirations - much higher than reporting on the latest celebrity gossip for the L.A. Informer, Hollywood's most notorious tabloid. But if she's going to join the ranks of the real reporters, she's going to need a headline worthy story under her belt. Luckily, she gets just that when the producer of the trashiest reality shows on TV winds up murdered, and Allie convinces her editor, Felix Dunn, that this story has her name written all over it. Between an aging dance-off judge, a family with sextuplets and triplets, and the star of a little person dating show, Allie has no shortage of reality stars to question. But when she finds herself falling for her prime suspect, Allie's relationship with her editor is suddenly on the rocks, and her life is in danger. This is one deadline Allie can't afford to miss!


While writing this book, I had a great time coming up with scandalous confessions for my suspects to spill to Allie. And pretty much every character had some sort of confession to blurt out when pressed – whether a confession of a scandalous affair, a calculated murder, or a sweet confession of love. In fact, I would venture the say that most people have a secret to confess. I know I do. So, in the spirit of confessions, here are a couple of mine that I am swearing you all to secrecy not to let out:


I don’t know how to type. Seriously. I am a writer who can’t type. Shameful, isn’t it? I’m one of the fastest hunt-n-peckers you’ll ever meet, but I always have to look and always make a ton of mistakes. A good proofreader is my life saver.

I absolutely love the movie The Three Amigos. I know it’s probably known as one of the cheesiest films of all time, but I can quote 90% of it by memory. And, much to the annoyance of my family, often do.

I can’t stand Dancing with the Stars. They’re probably going to revoke my Chick card for that, but I hate that show. Truly do not get it.

I failed 8th grade algebra. If my middle schooler ever finds out, I will never live it down. But, it’s true. I flunked out of the class. Numbers and I just don’t get along.


What about you? Any confessions that you’re willing to spill? For everyone brave enough, put your confession in the comments section and you’ll be entered to win a limited edition Hollywood Confessions shot glass! I’ll post the name of the lucky winner (chosen at random) in the comments at the end of the day.




Happy reading!




~Gemma Halliday

http://www.gemmahalliday.com


HOLLYWOOD CONFESSIONS

available now in:

Paperback Print
https://www.createspace.com/3621092


Kindle
http://www.amazon.com/Hollywood-Confessions-Headlines-ebook/dp/B0052U9GQC


Nook
http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Hollywood-Confessions/Gemma-Halliday/e/2940012613325


Ebook
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/62229

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Like a Virgin: Part Two






I spoke in my previous post about the act of deflowering a virgin and indeed I promised to enliven you with a post of how it is done in Japan.

First, we need eggs.



During the defloration ceremony, the gentleman acts like a male honeybee.


He cracks open three eggs and swallows the yolks then rubs the whites between the lady’s thighs. Then he wiggles his fingers slippery with the egg whites inside her.

A little deeper each night so that by the end of the week, the lady is accustomed to the ritual and is very relaxed and ready for the act of making love.


Controversial, yes, but I must explain to you that virginity does not possess the same sanctity in Japan as it does in our society. The Japanese consider sex a natural act and relegate it to a part of their lives where no sin exists for indulgence in pleasure.


They retain an open and a natural approach toward sex and thereby their attitude is–


If the vase must break, make it as easy as possible…

So many young brides approach their wedding night with nary an idea of what to expect. As my heroine's Victorian mother in The Blonde Samurai told her daughter:

“So you can understand why I smiled when, after the lavish wedding reception, my mother kissed me on both cheeks and whispered in my ear I could loosen my night corset but not remove it. And if I lay very still, she assured me in an even voice, it would all be over quickly.”

Wild, raucous scenes from her wedding night come to mind, whips flying, nude buttocks up in the air, females shrieking…yet she remained a virgin as she wrote in her memoir, The Blonde Samurai:



“But I was, at this moment, still a virgin and untouched by any man. I have nothing to gain here by delivering an untruth to you. Still, I prayed my virginity was intact, for a wild idea was forming in my brain, a way to save my virtue and my pride. But without proof of my purity, I had nothing to bargain with, for his lordship had made a contract for a virgin and I feared more wrath from him if he didn’t believe me untouched.”

She arrived in Japan a virgin bride.

All that changed when she met Shintaro...

According to Lady Carlton: "I found the deflowering experience with him exhilarating and unique of our love and passion for each other. I felt adored, desired, empowered."


So I offer you this solution if you are yet a virgin: choose a worthy and sincere gentleman with experience and allow him to seduce you before your wedding night.

And if you are not a virgin, why not engage your husband or your lover in the deflowering ceremony as it is done in Japan?

Seven days of teasing and foreplay, slippery fingers inserted into you, probing and exciting you.

What could be more delicious? And naughty…

The only difficulty will be when you go to cook Sunday morning breakfast for him and you're out of fresh eggs.





The Blonde SamuraiShe embraced the way of the warrior. Two swords. Two loves.”

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Working At It

There are many writers out there who hardly seem to struggle with plotting, structure, characterization and dialogue. People like JK Rowling, Jodi Picoult and Nora Roberts, who churn out bestsellers almost right out of the gate.

A while ago I asked my friend and bestselling romantic suspense and YA author, Roxanne St. Claire if she knew of any good books that dealt with plotting. She replied that she didn't. For her, plots unfold organically.

Well, I'm not one of those what I call born writers. I am continually working on my craft, struggling to make each element better and better. And sure, the evidence is clear that my writing has improved, especially when I look back at my earliest works. But right now I am struggling with my WIP and I fear I'm losing!

So what's a writer to do? I stopped work on the manuscript and decided to devote at least a week to rereading the books that have helped me so much in the past -- Deb Dixon's Goal, Motivation and Conflict, Dwight Swain's Techniques of the Selling Writer as well as handouts and notes from the gazillion classes and workshops I've attended. I'll pull out my RWR magazines and mine the very best articles. And at the end of the week, I will get back on track.

What about you? Do you ever have to stop and regroup? What do you do when you get stuck on a manuscript?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Romance Trading Cards

I first heard about Romance Trading Cards from author Jeannie Lin. Having collected Charlie's Angels Trading Cards when I was a kid, I was immediately excited by the idea and ready to run out an order them right away. Then I remembered I first had to pick which characters I wanted to feature!

After thinking about it for a little bit, I decided to go with Drake Parrish, the hero from DEAD SEXY and Trace McCord, the hero from GHOST HUNTER. Okay, so I was off and running again to order them! Then I realized I needed to put some stats on the back of the cards!

So, I did some more thinking and came up with what I think are some pretty fun details about each hero. On the back of each card, you'll find the hero's name, occupation, strength, weakness and his best line.

I really love the way they came out, and if they're as popular as I hope, then I'll get some made for some of my other characters!



Drake Parrish from DEAD SEXY!







Trace McCord from GHOST HUNTER!










Oh, almost forgot! I'll be handing them out at Lori Foster's Get Together and Ellora's Cave RomantiCon, so if you'd like to add them to your collection, come on over and see me!


To read more about DEAD SEXY and GHOST HUNTER, visit my website at http://www.paigetylertheauthor.com


*hugs*
Paige

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

http://www.paigetylertheauthor.com
http://paigetylertheauthor.blogspot.com

Thursday, June 2, 2011

You Live Where?

There are some street names, for different reasons, that should never have come into being. I’ll start with one I pass all the time that got this thought process going.

Hemlock Lane. Sounds kind of nice and peaceful, doesn’t it? NOT! Hemlock is a poison. Watch your neighbors, and for the love of Pete, don’t piss them off. Just move in? Don’t eat anything from the welcome wagon.

Woodlawn. This is the name of multiple cemeteries throughout the US. It’s not a street name, it’s a final address. It’s where you end up if you take a stroll down Hemlock Lane.

Which brings me to Funeral or Cemetery Street, Lane or Court. We have one in my town, and there is a funeral parlor on the street, but there are also houses. How do you tell someone you live at the end of Funeral or Cemetery Lane? Or worse, the dead end of Funeral or Cemetery Court. I mean, you’re going to end up there eventually, why tempt fate?



Bridge St. Not bad by itself, and usually has a reason for being called that. However, when it’s the last street in one town and the first street in the next town, it causes major headaches. One of them was there first, so who’s the smarty who didn’t check?





Does it make your head spin when you have one street, let’s call it Elm, but along with Elm St, there’s Elm Way, Elm Terrace, Elm Place, Elm Circle, etc., all within a stone’s throw of each other? Seriously, it’s cruel, not funny. If you have no sympathy for people like me who own lying GPS’s, think of the poor mail carrier and delivery folk.



Numbered streets. Makes sense in NYC if you’re looking for intersections, but if you live on the streets themselves, it can get out of hand. Imagine if you live at 2395 44th St W, Apt 56, 12th Fl. You ever tried to address an envelope, or punch that in as data?

And my favorite, Dick Rd, St, Way, whatever. Okay, I’m being immature now, but would you really want to live at 8 Dick Rd?

Think about it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Like a Virgin: Part One

I have always thought of a virgin as being like a grand ovular vase painted with pretty blooms and fancy chinoiserie and trimmed with bright gold leaf around the rim to attract the gentleman buyer in a posh shop on Bond Street.

Looking it over from head to tail with an experienced eye, the gentleman speaks of his desire to acquire the vase for his collection of beauteous objects.

But does she possess the high quality desired to grace his collection? he wonders, puffing on his cigar. Admiring her lovely shape and pretty accoutrements, he flicks his cigar ashes into the vase when no one is looking to hide his indiscretion.


He visits the shop daily and stares at the vase until the day arrives when he purchases the precious objet d’art.


He takes her home with much fanfare then, in the privacy of his bedroom, he thrusts his long cigar into her depths.


The force of his action is not altogether violent (he attempts to be gentle), but nevertheless the vase cracks. She is no longer an item to be cherished but relegated to the less substantial pieces in his collection. Sitting on a shelf. Occasionally admired by the master of the house or a visiting colleague. But she never again retains the same stature in his eyes.


She is no longer a virgin.


Such is the way in the West, where virginity is a prized possession deemed to be part and parcel of a bride’s attraction for marriage (not to mention her sizeable dowry). In Japan, a more “civilized” deflowering ceremony is performed, where the new vase or virgin does not undergo the pain of penetration by an overzealous husband.

Rather, the ritual is performed by a complete stranger.


Some claim this deflowering ceremony is performed only upon courtesans, though others also include the maiko or apprentice geisha, where the mama-san chooses the gentleman.


Not a young man who would be too rough.


He must be an older gentleman with experience. I have heard the custom of ritual defloration is deemed a privilege bestowed upon the highest bidder.





Come back for next week when I continue to explore this fascinating ritual in Part Two of Like a Virgin.





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