Monday, August 30, 2010

It's All Good

Being a writer isn't easy. Sure, you have to possess a fair amount of creativity and talent, be willing to learn and hone your craft. But there's one thing it's nearly impossible to learn - patience. That's not something anyone can teach you. I may have mentioned before, patience isn't my strong suit. But good things truly do come to those who wait.

All this to say, I've had a really good week. I'm happy to share that I just sold a full length erotic romantic suspense story to Carina Press. Since Carina is a brand new publisher, no one really knows how well it will do, but having Harlequin as its parent company will certainly help. All my dealings with my editor and with the managing editor, Angela James, have been so positive, I'm sure it will be a terrific experience.

Aside from that good news, I've also signed with a literary agent. In romance writing circles, that's a pretty big step up. Many major publishers won't even look at a manuscript submission unless it is submitted by an agent. Even those publishers that do take unagented submissions push the agented ones ahead in line.

After all that good news, I went to a women's forum a couple nights ago where I met a lady who owns a "Romance Boutique." What is a romance boutique you ask? Apparently it is a boutique that provides women & couples with an upscale and elegant shopping experience for all their sensual and erotic needs. Sounds pretty interesting, huh?

The owner of said boutique invited me to their October "Erotic Bliss pARTy" as the literary featured guest. That sounded too good to pass up. I will let you know how that turns out.
Overall, I feel like many wheels have been set in motion for me this week that will lead to good things. I hope you had a great week, too.

Friday, August 27, 2010

I Heart Fridays

The past couple weeks have been one round of edits after another. Trust me, I’m not complaining. Edits are an essential and sometimes actually fun (yes, I said fun) part of writing. Recently I added about 8K to a story and it helped the book more than I’d imagined. Writing new scenes for a story I’d considered finished is actually one of the fun things I’m talking about. That said, I had a release last week with Ellora’s Cave so I hope y’all don’t mind me talking about it.

What's Tempting Alibi about?

Scott got into a fair amount of trouble as a teenager, but now he’s grown and runs a respectable auto body shop. Unfortunately, the sheriff of his town has it out for him, no matter how much he’s cleaned up his act. When he’s accused of a crime he didn’t commit, no one is more surprised than he is when straitlaced Michaela Miller provides him with an alibi.

An alibi that’s a complete lie.

Determined to find out why his sexy next-door neighbor helped him out, he puts himself in danger of losing something he’d never considered. His heart.

Surprisingly, I’ve already gotten a review on it! Even better, it’s fantastic! “This spicy novella starts with a bang and doesn’t lose momentum. Michaela is strong and independent, and surprised me with her bravado….If you’re looking for a hot, sweet read, be sure not to miss Tempting Alibi. It’s one I know I’ll revisit again and again.” For the full review, click here.

For more info on this story, click here.

And just fyi, I’ll be blogging at the Southern Sizzle Blog tomorrow helping them celebrate their year anniversary! I’m also giving away a book so you have more incentive to stop by!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Other Side of Taboo

by Cara McKenna

Sorry to be plugging yet again, but I've got four books coming out in just over a two-month period, so the promo train chugs on!

This is a strange post to be writing on the heels of my last turn up at bat. Two weeks ago I blogged about "how far is too far?" in the erotica genre, spurred by my experience writing a controversial novel that included rape role-play. Oddly enough, Ellora's Cave, which published that book, passed on the release I have coming out on Tuesday. The taboo subject at the center of that one? Drumroll…


Funny, huh? And actually taboo has nothing to do with EC's aversion to publish stories centered around babies, motherhood, pregnancy, and conception. It's all about sales and reader demand. Readers don't clamber for reproduction-centric erotica. Neither do I clamber to write it, normally… This story came out of nowhere, hot on the heels of Brazen. I got clued in early on that EC wouldn't be interested in this book because of its theme, so I shelved it before it was even finished. I was bummed, too—I really liked the characters. But if it wouldn't sell it wouldn't sell.

Months and months later, an editor from Loose-Id who had read Brazen contacted me about potentially working together. I asked if LI might be open to the conception story. Loose-Id's publishing M.O. is fantasy-fulfillment—sweeping readers into a given fantasy and leaving them satisfied. Would readers be into my book's scenario? Well, fingers crossed all around, since Loose-Id decided to buy it and I jumped at the invitation to finish it… Though I so enjoyed these characters and the process of writing their story, even if it only sells three copies, I'm pleased. True, the Loose-Id marketing department might not be so chipper, but I'll be happy!

So, Ready and Willing goes something like this:

At thirty-two, Abby’s pretty much got her shit together. She has a good job, a cozy home, a supportive family…and a biological clock that’s starting to feel more like a time bomb. Turned off the by the cold science of artificial insemination but wary of the complications that might come from enlisting a close male friend, Abby settles on a happy medium—she places an ad in a newspaper and goes in search of guys who are willing to help her conceive the good old-fashioned way. In the end she selects two men and winds up with far more than the no-strings-attached sex she bargained for, including an impromptu threesome and an unexpected romance.

Bit of a change from my last release with its gritty themes and characters! It was easy writing as Abby. She's thirty-two and I'm thirty-one, we're both being sneaked up upon by our maternal inklings. Plus she works and lives just blocks from my old office and apartment in Boston and Somerville, respectively.

The excerpt is long so I won't paste it into this post (I know, me avoiding a lengthy post? Oh Cara, ha ha ha, to laugh!) but if you're curious, you can read it here. Ready and Willing is set to come out Tuesday, August 31. Oh and look, Loose-Id made me a spiffy banner version of the cover!

Also, two weeks from now I'm back in the literary red light district, but this time I'll be pimping someone else's work for a change! My good Twitter buddy and fellow off-beat erotica author Charlotte Stein has a book coming out the same day as Backwoods—Friday, September 10. We both dread self-promo, so we decided collectively to simply skip it this time around and pimp each other's books instead. The idea quickly snowballed into what's promising to be two simultaneous posts of outrageous one-upmanship (she's threatened poetry so I've countered with assurances that my Photoshop skills shan't go to waste). Be sure to swing by to see how thoroughly I can embarrass her, while she does the same to me on her website. Plus we're both giving away books! Should be shameless. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Something Cool: 5 Tips to Keep Cool while writing Hot Sex Scenes

Unlike my heroine, Breezy Malone, in Spies, Lies & Naked Thighs, who’s been known to cool off on her job as a sex agent interrogating Russian spies with an ice cube between her legs, I find the soothing sounds of water running in a brook keep me cool while I'm writing hot sex scenes.

So as summer winds down and we’re all trying to figure out how to keep cool as the temperature goes up, way up, here are my 5 tips to keeping cool:

1. Keep the d├ęcor in your work area simple, selecting “cool” tones such as green, blue, or lavender. Avoid hot direct overhead lighting, use natural light whenever possible.

2. Cool fans. Not just the electric “blowing in your face” kind, but hand fans at your fingertips when you want to feel a cool breeze. Have some fun and paste photos of sexy nude hunks on the each side and fan away.

3. Create an illusion of coolness by diverting your senses. Hang wind chimes or Chinese lanterns where they will catch a breeze. Add beaded curtains in your doorway that move gently in the breeze. Then put on a sarong around your hips and write topless.

4. Tall, cool drinks. Make ice-cubes out of your favorite beverage (juice, cola, sports drinks), then toss the ice cubes into a tall glass of unflavored sparkling water. Add a sprig of mint. Spoon sorbet into ice-frosted glass bowls and enjoy!

5. Cool, running water soothes the senses and conjures up scenes of a man and a woman kissing passionately in the surf as foamy waves rush around them. Sounds delish…but if you don’t happen to have a running brook nearby, here is a short video of running water in a brook.

How hot the scenes are that you write while you’ll listening to the sounds of the running brook is up to you.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What Did You Say?

Okay. I admit it. I am a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanatic—except for the last two seasons after she comes back from the dead. When will they learn? It didn’t work for Bobby on Dallas, it’s just not a good story twist! Sheesh! *sigh with a flip of bangs out of eyes* Now, as I was saying. I loves me some Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The characters. The humor. The kick-ass heroine. The monsters and magic…Angel.

And of course we can’t forget, uh, what’s his name? Um…it’s right on the tip of my tongue…oh yes. Angel.

So out of Buffy and what’s-his-name having sex for the first time and him ultimately losing his soul and finding out Oz was a werewolf and Zandar almost becoming the lover—and dinner—to a praying mantis aka his teacher, there is one episode that stands out in my mind.


Only one of the best and scariest episodes of the entire series. But it is also one of the most unique. Why? Forty minutes of the episode was in complete silence. No dialogue at all but the story was conveyed through body language, facial expressions and emotion.

Brief synopsis. The town of Sunnydale and its campus are terrorized by fairy tale ghouls called The Gentlemen. They steal everyone's voices so they are unable to scream as the skeletal men with their huge toothy grins and pristine black suits carve their beating hearts from their chests. Pretty freaky stuff. So Buffy and the gang must find a way to defeat them without using verbal communication. Classic moment: While discussing how to kill the knife-happy-but-oh-so-polite ghouls, Buffy emulates a stabbing motion by jerking her fist up and down but Giles, Zandar and Willow interpret it as something totally different…hee-hee! Get it? Get it? Fist pumping up and down...whew. Tough crowd.

Okey-dokey. So, in forty minutes of silence...

  • Riley and Buffy discovered the truth about each other's identity and kissed for the first time.
  • Zandar declared his feelings for Ana
  • Willow and Tara realized they other was a practicing witch and established the foundation for their girl on girl thing.
  • Giles discovered that blacker the berry sweeter the juice.

All this without one word.

As writers we rely heavily on dialogue. But we also balance it with the body language, the nonverbal expression. Describing whether the hero stalked, paced or sauntered across a room conveys without words whether he is aroused, worried or smug. If a heroine beams, smirks or grimaces we know without dialogue if she is happy, cynical or in pain. There are times when a character’s words are the opposite of what is felt. The words may be lies but the facial expression, gestures and sexual contact relay the truths. Some of my favorite loves scenes are when the hero and heroine express their love through their bodies when their hurt or pain won't allow them to verbalize it. It's at times like these when the nonverbal communication can be more powerful than verbal.

Hmm…see. I told my husband watching Buffy was research…

Monday, August 23, 2010

Review Magic!

As we speak I am sitting on a 40 foot sailboat riding the waves around Cape Cod and the islands with my family (including my two young children) and a few friends (with their two young children) Oy! We're sailing for a week, and if I make it out alive after that time I'll post about the trip.

For now, you'll have to make due with my recent good news. TWO stellar reviews for Magician's Chains. The first was at Literary Nymphs Reviews where I received 4.5 Nymphs out of 5.

Critter Nymph said, "Michelle Polaris' Magician's Chains will please those who enjoy fantasy, as well as BDSM. The story is strongly written, pulling the reader in from the beginning and leaving them wanting to know both the men's secrets....Not only is the story strongly written but so are the characters....The chemistry between these two men is very intense. Be prepared as they burn up the pages almost from the beginning."

Click here for the full review.

The second was at Rainbow Reviews where my book received FIVE STARS.

The reviewer said, "Throughout this novel, Polaris has captured the tension and the magic that is possible when the world of Fae meets the world of the humans. This is an excellent example of gay BDSM fiction taken to the next level. Polaris provides some subtle and suitable nuances to drive the plot....Readers interested in otherworldly genres, in hot gay sex, or in well written BDSM fiction, will enjoy and relish this book and thank Polaris for sharing her understanding and writing magic."

For the full Rainbow review click here.

You can see how both of these pleased me. The second in particular was a treat because this was the first time I've written a male/male romance.

So imagine me glowing from the praise as I ride the waves and pray like hell the kids don't fall off the boat. I'll submit my full report later. Wish me luck.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Oh no! I'm repainting again!

Dalton Diaz will tell you we first got to know each other over paint brushes. Fortunately, she did the cutting in and I did the easy part.

Recently, for some insane reason, I decided to paint the guest room by myself. My hubby's busy with work, so he bought me tools. Everything he could think of to make it easier. So, why am I still making a mess? I've hit the ceiling twice, and the idea of an accent wall is out since the adjoining walls are sporting the same dots of Pueblo Sand. Oh dear.

SO what does this have to do with writing? Ever had a manuscript with a couple of boos on the ceiling? Maybe something you thought would only need a tweak or two, but when you step back and look at it, suddenly you realize it needs to be completely revamped? Yup. Me too.

I had written 3/4 of a novella last year. When I was given some tight deadlines for other projects, I put it aside. Now I've finished all three novels (Yay!) so I'm going back to finish this novella. I have a new publishing target for it too.

I took a quick look at it and uh-oh. Here's a boo boo, there's a boo boo. Everywhere a boo boo. Have I improved that much or was I rushing to get it done? Like the painting job...

Yeah, I have a deadline for painting. My family reunion on Sept 5th. It's my turn to host. suddenly we're revamping the house like crazy. We replaced the horrible bright blue laminate counter tops in two of the bathrooms with granite and under-mount sinks. A better quality product. Gone are the bright brass light fixtures. Yesterday I bought a gorgeous new mirror to replace the builder grade plain one.

Back to writing...
My new publishing target seems to require a better quality finished product as well. That means I can't leave a weak streak here or a smudge there. Fortunately, I have time. I love not having deadlines. e-publishing is awesome in that way. I like taking my time and getting the details right.

But just like there comes a time when a room needs to be repainted, there also comes a time when career goals change. Is it scary? Of course. Deadlines were part of my accepting an advance. But I did it. And guess what? I met them...with a little time to spare.

And that's when I decided to pick up the paintbrush and roller. Dang. Well, I surprised myself with a project I was proud of coming in before deadline...maybe I'll be happy with the final result of our guest room.


Friday, August 20, 2010

DEAD SEXY has a COVER and it's DEAD SEXY! A new one from Ellora's Cave!

Isn't it too hot for words?! When the art department at EC sent it to me, I probably gazed at it for a good ten minutes in mouth-drooling appreciation before I could email them back telling the artist it not only rocked, but totally fit the book. The hero is "Dead Sexy," after all! LOL!

Romance author Simone Kent thinks she might just have found the most perfect guy in all of New York City - in bed and out.

But Drake Parrish is about as far from perfect as any man can get. Eight years ago, he was cursed by an evil Voodoo priestess to live part of his life as a zombie. Since then, he has lived like a recluse on New York's Upper East Side, afraid to go out for fear he'll suddenly turn into one of the walking dead.

Being with Simone reminds him of everything he was forced to give up and Drake finds himself feeling things for her that he hasn't felt in a very long time. When the Voodoo priestess learns of their relationship, however, she comes after him again. She doesn't believe Drake has paid for his sins and is determined to make sure he won't have a future with Simone.

DEAD SEXY is coming soon from Ellora's Cave!


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

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Jina's Venice Videos: Jina's adventures at La Biennale Arts Festival

I never dreamed when I wrote my book, The Japanese Art of Sex: How to tease, seduce and pleasure the samurai in your bedroom, I would be speaking about geisha and performing Japanese dance in Venice, Italy at La Biennale, the oldest and most prestigious cultural arts festival in the world.

My Japanese Art of Sex book was translated into Italian as "L'arte giapponese del sesso."

Going to La Biennale on a boat taxi!

I also had the opportunity to meet my Italian Harlequin Editor, Alessandra Bazardi, and sign copies of my Spice novel, The Blonde Geisha, in Italian: Passioni di una Geisha. 

How did this all happen?  It was just like a fairy tale…

Once upon a time my nonfiction book featuring geisha, The Japanese Art of Sex, was translated into Italian…

Along with my coming-of-age novel, The Blonde Geisha.        

Rino De Pace, the coordinator, at La Biennale invited me to be part of the dance festival and on the panel debating on the subject of using the body as an erotic medium of expression with critics and performers from around the world.

Stefania Lora helped me finalize the plans and the PR director, Lucia Da Re (you’ll meet Lucia in the video) assisted me when I was there (you met Enrico Dal Bianco, my Italian bodyguard, in my private boat taxi video).

And then there was Alessandra Bazardi from Harlequin Italy.  She was fabulous! Bringing copies of my Passioni di una Geisha books from Milano, setting up a book signing and taking me to dinner afterward.  Grazie, Alessandra!

Grazie a Alessandra Bazardi di Harlequin Italia e Stefania Lora di La Biennale!!

Click on links below if you've missed previous posts re: Jina's Venice Videos:

Jina's Venice Videos: My Private Boat Taxi to Hotel Saturnia

Jina's Venice Videos: Hotel Saturnia: Jina’s room

Jina's Venice Videos: Jina takes you on a tour of Hotel Saturnia

Jina's Venice Videos: Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square) and Gondolas

Jina's Venice Videos: Bookstores and Gelati Shops

Monday, August 16, 2010

Virgin in an Erotic Romance?

Today we welcome erotic romance author Nicole North to the Naughty Chicks clubhouse. Nicole's erotic romance novellas have been described by reviewers as "exciting, high octane, captivating, scintillating, sinfully delicious and pure romance." Her stories contain "heart and heat, killer love scenes, magic and extraordinary characters." Her latest release from Red Sage, a paranormal historical, Beast in a Kilt, is in the Secrets Volume 29 Indulge Your Fantasies anthology. Her last story, Kilted Lover, is contemporary erotic romance novella with a touch of paranormal. Her first story, Devil in a Kilt is in the anthology Secrets Volume 27 Untamed Pleasures. Her works have finaled in over a dozen writing competitions and won several awards. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and three chapters. She teaches online workshops about various aspects of writing, including sexual tension and how to write great love scenes. Though she has a degree in psychology, writing romance is her first love. She and her husband live in the Southeastern US, but she wishes she lived in the Scottish Highlands at least half the year.

Thanks for allowing me to visit with you ladies today!
Virgin in an Erotic Romance? Sure thing! The heroine, Catriona, in my paranormal historical erotic romance, Beast in a Kilt, Secrets Volume 29 Indulge Your Fantasies, is a virgin. But she’s a very adventurous, brazen one. She’s never experienced anything more than a kiss, but she’s seen a few things she shouldn’t have and had an erotic dream. Add to this the fact that she’s been in love with the hero, Torr, for ten years and she’s ready to pursue and seduce him. She may not know what she’s doing, but she’s willing to learn along the way. And hopefully Torr will teach her a few things… okay, several things in the process. I’d always heard it was very difficult, if not impossible, to write a virgin into an erotic romance. I actually found it to be pretty easy. It all goes back to motivation and emotion. Plus she’s not a 30 year old beautiful virgin in modern day (slightly more difficult to believe.) Historical virgins are easier to write, in my opinion. Catriona needs to seduce Torr (she believes) so he’ll marry her and she won’t have to marry the terrible man her mother picked out for her. Death would be preferable. Besides, she’s been in love with Torr and aroused by him even before she know what those two things meant. Torr is determined not to take her virginity because of some possible life-or-death consequences, but that doesn’t prevent him from showing her some other interesting pleasures they might indulge in. But she doesn’t fight fair! He had no idea the innocent little lass could be so manipulative as to spike his drink with aphrodisiac. What’s a hardened Highland warrior to do but give the lady what she wants? How do you feel about virgins or almost innocent heroines in erotic romance? I'll give away a copy of my ebook Kilted Lover to one commenter. I'll put a blurb about Kilted Lover below.

Beast in a Kilt: Scottish lady Catriona MacCain has loved Torr Blackburn, a fierce Highland warrior, since she was a young lass, but Torr only sees Catriona as his best friend’s little sister. When Catriona’s family promises her in marriage to a detestable chieftain, she desperately needs Torr to save her from a fate worse than death. But Torr is under the spell of a witch of the dark arts and is cursed to spend his nights as a kelpie water demon. He doesn’t believe himself worthy of the virginal Lady Catriona. However, she is determined to seduce Torr and claim him… body, heart and soul, if only they can banish the curse and defeat the enemies who have vowed to possess and enslave them both.

Kilted Lover: When kilted cabertosser Scott MacPherson tosses Leslie Livingston over his shoulder to rescue her from two armed thieves trying to steal her priceless amulet, they are thrust into a deadly but sexy adventure. Though Leslie already has a lukewarm, uninterested boyfriend, her attraction to Scott is whitehot and undeniable. She wants to lick this tall, muscular alpha male all over and explore the depths of eroticism with him. But will he want anything more than one night once the danger is behind them?

You can follow Nicole by going to:

Friday, August 13, 2010

Research in Fiction

As a writer, I occasionally bend reality to fit my needs but some things absolutely need to stay true. Since we don’t have cable I’ve become addicted to If you haven’t checked this site out, it’s awesome! A lot of new shows on tv are played a day or a week after they air on hulu (for free). As I’m slightly addicted to Burn Notice now I don’t have to miss my hottie Michael Westen every week. Okay, moving on and wiping the drool from my face.

Hulu also airs old shows that went off the air. There’s a show that shall remain nameless that went off the air in 2006 that I recently discovered. Basic rundown of the show. It’s about a group of FBI crisis negotiators and the FBI’s hostage rescue team (HRT). In the first episode one of the FBI’s crisis negotiators traded herself for the hostages. That would never, ever happen. Like ever. Unless that person wanted to get fired of course. Still, I can live w/ that mainly because I’ve seen it done before on tv so it’s almost as if that faux pas is accepted. The second episode however just pissed me off. The negotiator convinced one of the hostages to go back into the hostage situation. That would never happen. EVER. I might watch another episode, only if I’m bored or perhaps for blog fodder but that second episode pretty much lost me. I’m all for creative license in fiction but there are some things that need to stay true to life. This showed how little research the writers had actually done and it irked me something fierce. No surprise the show isn’t on anymore.

What about you? What’s forgivable in fiction? Not paranormal stuff, but basic contemporary fiction whether it’s romantic suspense, historical, or erotic? What’s not? I really hope I’m not guilty of some of your ‘nots’!