Monday, May 30, 2011

That's All Folks

Someone once told me that people tend to be better at either beginnings, middles or ends. By this they meant as a general pattern in life. For instance, it might be easier to start a new project or new relationship or new life stage than keep going with it over the long haul (a middle) or in fact finish that project or cope with goodbyes or endings.

Indeed, I am a beginning person myself. I love the promise of something new and the hope it imbues. Spring is my favorite season. I don't mind taking risks to try something brand new. I'm impulsive enough to make this relatively easy without sinking into paralysis. And I'm passable at middles, with enough will power and stick-with-it-ness to get work done and ride the twists and turns of an experience or relationship, although I don't always get these right or make the most of the potential. Still, I'll slog through toward the other end.

But endings? I'm still working on those. I don't do them well. They are not real to me. Until this point I've been lucky enough never to lose someone close to me. And I've never ended a relationship on purpose save once. Usually I've let them drift away. When I leave jobs my goodbyes are brief and haphazard. I moved around so much when I was young perhaps endings were too painful. Or so brutally out of my control I'd rather walk away in an unplanned fog than face goodbyes. Endings mean there are no more chances, and if I haven't felt satisfied with what has happened I struggle with accepting that possibility. I have a few more theories about why they are so difficult for me, but I won't bore you with those here. Instead, I'd like to talk about how this personal pattern affects my writing.

I've noticed in the brief history of my writing career that three of the five new projects I've begun have turned out to be series. Two of them are series that involve the continuing story of the exact same characters, not minor characters taking center stage for their own stand alone books. The third series may not focus on the same protagonists, but involves a specific overarching plot twined through the different stories. I suspect this tendency to write series is not because doing so has become popular. It's more of that hang-up I have about the finish line.

I've also been accused of rushing my endings. Bound Odyssey, which met with rave reviews, was criticized as having a rushed ending. I laughed reading those comments because the book was so long I had to edit it prodigiously to get it to fit my editor's outside length limits. But it's true that endings make me uncomfortable. Once I've written the meat of the story and resolved the emotional conflicts I don't like drawing things out. Sometimes this works better than other times.

And the times I have finished stand-alone projects, the endings are always beginnings. Of course in romance this is easier to achieve than elsewhere. In those stories the successful embrace of love means the couple have a whole life ahead of them. Love is not always so neat in real life. Yet symbolically, all endings are new beginnings. When one door closes, another opens. I like this concept. It helps me fight whatever fear endings represent.

I dreamed of becoming a writer for years before I completed a project. And the key to finally doing so was imagining an ending to my story idea. I am not a pantster, but a plotter. I am unable to create an ending organically as I write my tales. I have to have one in mind before I begin. This allows me to begin the book, even if the story changes along the way. It eases my anxiety over endings and keeps it from blocking my character and story resolutions. If I know the end then I can prepare.

Ahead of me looms the need to complete one of my series projects. I cannot stretch them endlessly (pun not intended) no matter my struggle. Maybe as I age and gain wisdom (if I'm lucky) I'll mature into handling endings differently. My readers will just have to wait around and see.

What do you believe about endings? Are you satisfied with the ones you read in most novels? Do you struggle writing them if you are an author?

And so I am done with this blog. I think. Just kidding.

The End

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lady Eve and the fortune teller

I remember going to a Renaissance Fair and having my fortune read--she said I would meet a tall, handsome man...but that's another story.

This week I'm going to talk about one of my favorite heroines in my novels, Lady Eve Marlowe, a titled Englishwoman who has an insatiable appetite for sexual adventure in 1939 Europe in that time when the world was teetering on the brink of war.

Lady Eve doesn’t see it coming. She’s unbelievably rich, beautiful and lonely…

Her journey begins in the duty-free port of Port Said, a city in Egypt which “harbors a white slave trade flourishing in its hidden places, bars, and houses where young girls languish and perish under the thumbs of men.”

She has her fortune told in a seedy bar:

"You will meet a man within a fortnight,” he insisted, “and his fire will peel the skin from your bones, making you lose all control–”

I pulled my hand away. “Sounds unpleasant.” I tried to keep my voice steady, not let him see how his prediction affected me, nurtured the elusive dream I craved, but even as I said the words, my lower belly ached and fever consumed me.

The fortune teller continued, “With him you will find immortality.”

I pondered this, though not for long. Immortality? What nonsense. What near eastern alchemy he was peddling I could only guess. I doubted I could find a man to fulfill the incompleteness haunting me since my husband’s death and assuage my hunger for the pleasures long denied to me. Still–

“Where will I meet this man?” I had to ask, wanting to believe I could escape my loneliness through this pre-destined encounter. I held my hands together in my lap to stop them from shaking. If I found such a man in Port Said and found sexual pleasure with him, that would mean I’d crossed the line into another world.

I sensed I was at a dangerous impasse by snubbing the staid world of British royals, forcing me to face what I thought I’d left behind: My taste for the sweetest of tortures. I’ll not regale you, dear reader, with details. They will come later.”

-–from Chapter 2, Cleopatra’s Perfume

So begins the Lady Eve’s journey that will take her to Cairo, London then Berlin in the spring of 1941…

Best, Jina

Monday, May 23, 2011

To Giveaway or Not to Giveaway. That is the Question

For the past two weeks, I've been crazy busy doing a blog tour to promote my latest book, Protective Custody. On many of those stops, I've used drawings for commenters to win a prize. I'm not really sure that offering a giveaway entices readers to a blog, though. It's been my experience that there are some blogs that just get more traffic. Maybe they've been around a while or maybe they are associated with a popular website.

I'm curious now. As a blog reader, are you more likely to comment if there's the possibility that you might win something? For me, I don't think it makes much of a difference, although I have won some giveaways after commenting on certain posts.

Just in case you were wondering, I have one guest appearance this week and that will be Friday, May 27 at Borders True Romance blog. I'll be talking about dedications. Am I offering a giveaway? You bet. One commenter will get a $25 AMC Theatres gift card. So come on by.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Squee! New Contract with Ellora's Cave!

I'm so excited! I just signed with Ellora's Cave for my sci-fi erotic romance CINDRA'S BOUNTY HUNTER!

Here's the blurb!

Cindra’s Bounty Hunter

When Cindra Mallory’s bounty hunter father is brutally murdered, she goes after the killer, determined to bring him to justice. She tracks the man halfway across the galaxy, only to run out of both leads and money on the planet of Pendari. Giving up isn’t an option, so she enlists the sinfully handsome, more experienced bounty hunter, Bladen Sloan to help her track down her father’s murderer.

Bladen doesn’t come cheap, though, and when he wants more than the thirty percent of the bounty she wants to give him as payment, she offers to sleep with him to make up for the difference. He consents to the deal, and she finds herself signing a contract that has her agreeing to provide him with ten sexual favors in return for his services.

As they track the killer from one sex club to another, Bladen introduces her to the world of spanking, bondage and exhibitionism. Things get complicated as Cindra discovers she not only enjoys being Bladen’s sex toy, but is starting to fall for him, too. While she desperately wants to catch her father’s murderer, she knows the moment they do, her time with Bladen will be at an end.

Or is it?


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

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Happy 30th Birthday to Harmony Italy (Harlequin) from Jina on Vimeo.

My Harlequin Italian publisher HARMONY is turning 30!

I was very excited when my Italian editor, Alessandra Bazardi, asked me to record a special Happy 30th Birthday to Harmony to my Italian readers.

All of my Spice books have been translated into Italian, so this was really cool.

Here is my video! I hope you enjoy it.


(PS -- the Italian titles follow the names of my novels:)

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

Jina Bacarr is also the author of The Blonde Geisha Passioni di una Geisha

Cleopatra's Perfume Il Profumo del peccato

Naughty Paris Trasgressione Scarlatta

Spies, Lies & Naked Thighs Bionda Vendetta

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bible Study

I brainstorm with my father.

Now this may not sound really off the wall until I reveal that he is a pastor. I know what you're thinking. Eew! I mean, erotic romance writer throwing around ideas with her father, the reverend... "Eew" factor aside, I've had some of the best idea-brewing sessions with him.

Of course, we don't hash over love scenes. First, he is my father. And I can't think of him and my mother having sex without throwing up in my mouth, much less discuss the ins-and-outs of my scenes. Not that he hasn't tried to school me on the elements I need to include, but, uh no. So not going there. What we do discuss is the bible.

Some of the greatest love stories are found in scripture! Solomon and the Shulamite woman. Ruth and Boaz. Jacob and Rachel. You have bromance. David and Jonathan. Sacrificial and unconditional love. Hosea and Gomer. Lust and revenge. Amnon and Tamar. Sisterhood. Ruth and Naomi. Betrayal. Samson and Delilah. Mass destruction. Sodom and Gomorrah. Redemption. Jacob and Esau. Forgiveness. Joseph and his brothers.

There is so much! And the material is endless. I know some people may object to using biblical stories as ideas for fiction. But, as a writer, I'm not trying to revise scripture. And, no, I am not a heretic, but what better story than David and Bathsheeba to use as a foundation to illustrate lust, treachery, the consequences of betrayal, and ultimately, love and forgiveness? The time period, setting and names may differ. David could be the king of the Fae and Bathsheeba the human queen of a kingdom on the other side of the Veil. But the emotion, relationship, growth and redemption surpasses genre and the characters' race.

As a romance writer, the suspense, murder, paranormal or historical themes are secondary to--you guessed it--the romance. Love is most important. It heals. Saves. Redeems. Brings joy and life. I can't think of a more appropriate resource of love than the bible.

If you were to base a story on a biblical story, which one would you choose?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Unicorns, a Horny Subject

I don't think it ever reached fetish status, but I loved unicorns as a young girl. I had a unicorn necklace, a unicorn sculpture, a unicorn music box, a book on the history of unicorns with famous images of them, and assorted other collectibles decorating my room. These creatures were romantic figures that symbolized hope, magic and love to me. The picture to the left is of a unicorn statue in Salzburg at Mirabell Garden.

I've considered writing about unicorns in one my next books. Mythology links them with the virgin, the pure woman who lures the beast to the touch of her hand or to lie down to place its head on her lap; a surefire way to capture one. But I write erotic romance, and there is a dearth of virgins in my stories. This leaves me in a quandary.

So, to follow the ever-popular trend of twisting current mythologies and fables, I'll have to turn the story of the unicorn on its head. Let's play what if.

What if one singular unicorn (let's make him a shape shifting unicorn because I don't want to end up writing about bestiality) was born different? Instead of being attracted to virgins like the rest of his fellow horned clan, he was attracted to, shall we say, women of the night. Sex workers. Whores, if one insists on using a less attractive word. I prefer sex workers. And what if this brings him a lot of shame?

And what if a woman he meets and to whom he is deeply attracted (one of these sex workers), a person forced into her employment by circumstance, is also ashamed of her path in life? But it turns out she is the most spiritual, holy, fascinating, magical, intelligent, evolved woman he has ever known. She has no idea of it, lacking the perspective on herself. And what if their story is the journey for them to accept themselves, purge the shame, and love themselves for who they are while falling in love with each other? Somehow this twist feels appropriate. Even convents (those notorious abodes of virginal women) were appropriated by the church from pagan institutions in their campaign to make Catholicism familiar to the masses. Virgins were not always the holy ideal. Why not sex workers. Sex magic anyone?

The above is a bit of writerly brainstorming, fresh off the gray matter. Do you think you would want to read a story about a shape shifting unicorn attracted to a sex worker if I promise you there will also be an engaging external plot? Did you love unicorns as a child? What about them did you love? Not the virgin part I hope.

This final picture to the left is of a unicorn gargoyle in Linlithgow castle in Scotland. I happen to like the chains. Not because I like the idea of a captured unicorn, but because I like chains. I do write BDSM erotic romance ya know.

In summary, I'll take a leap and insist that unicorns are the perfect fodder for an erotic romance. Just look at the horn. Phallic anyone?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Life of a loser--er, I mean PROLIFIC writer

The Life of a Loser Writer
Ashlyn Chase

As I sit here, gumming my breakfast of cottage cheese and peaches, I’m feeling a little “off.” Whether that feeling is due to the root canal I had yesterday, or the splinter in my index finger, causing me to type funny, is anyone’s guess. The thing is, it’s one of those days.
Either I can give up and read all day, or I can bravely soldier on, typing with the hunt and peck method, sans my right index finger. (Sheesh, I couldn’t even play “chopsticks” on the piano today.) But I’m a writer. It’s what I do, day in, day out, rain or shine, three-hundred and something days a year. I might miss a few days for an illness or family holidays. It’s rare though.
Okay, I just made my fifth typo in this short article. I’m now weighing the frustration of typing like this vs. the frustration of not writing at all. Ah, hell. I’ll keep going.
Many writers think I’m “prolific.” I laugh because even on a good day, I type about seventeen words per minute. The truth is, I never learned to type, but I can’t not write. (Pardon the double negative.) Many writers know exactly what I’m talking about. If you think I’m feeling “off” now, imagine me on a day without writing! It’s such a habit, that without it, I’m apt to wander around bumping into things, because I don’t know what to do with myself.
Stephen King says he usually lies in interviews and claims to write every day except Christmas and Easter…but the truth is, he writes every day, three hundred sixty-five days a year. I guess he didn’t want to feel like a loser who can’t take a day off for family or friends. I know what he means, but that kind of obsession doesn’t make you a loser. It makes you an author. He even tried to retire a few years ago—and couldn’t.
I have friends coming from the other side of the world to spend a week in our guest room soon, and I’m looking forward to seeing these wonderful people, yet I’m also trembling as I predict hours away from my keyboard. If that makes me a loser, so be it. I’m a loser.
But considering I wouldn’t even know my Australian friends if it weren’t for writing, I have to say I’ve gained far more than I’ve lost. I have friends and fans all over the world now. My friend Rebecca is an author whose talent of handling description without bogging down the pace captured my attention. I wrote to her and told her about my admiration for her writing. Soon she was critiquing for me. Not long after that, I was returning the favor and critiquing for her. The bonus was how much I enjoyed getting an early peek at her stories.
You’d be surprised how well writers connect, even with very little else in common. I’m almost twenty years older than my Aussie friend. She writes coming of age stories for children and I write hot, steamy love stories for adults. It doesn’t matter. We share the craft and business of writing along with the writer’s life.
Similarly, I have a local critique partner. We couldn’t be more different, personally, but I admired her writing and knew she could teach me a thing or two. She writes historical romances, and mine are always set in a contemporary time period. But when she put out a call for a critique group or partner I was right there, raising my hand.
If anything, she’s more dedicated than I am. She knows how to type and puts my daily word count to shame. Next month we’re heading to a writer’s convention together. I imagine we’ll find time to write in our room, even with all kinds of scheduled events going on. We’ve worked on our books simultaneously before. She lives about an hour away, and we both hate to drive in the city. So, I catch a ride with my husband, whose office is across the courtyard from her condo. Our critiques take maybe three hours, tops. After that, we sit side by side and write.
Hey, look at me. I’ve written an entire blog article with an aching gum and throbbing finger. It just underscores my point. If you’re a loser like me and can’t not write, you just might be “prolific.”

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Before Black Swan there was Anna Pavlova

When I recently checked out the DVD for "Black Swan," it brought to mind another dancer.

Anna Pavolva.

What would it have been like to see her dance?

I realized I should go straight to the source: Lady Eve Marlowe, the heroine of my Spice novel, Cleopatra’s Perfume. After all, who would know more about Berlin in the 1920s than someone who was there?

When I asked Eve to take over the blog, she was quick to point out she didn’t come to Berlin until 1928. I reminded her that she had inhaled the sights, smells and sounds of the city–an elixir of the finest perfume that was Weimar Berlin. Hadn’t she often whispered in my ear about the decadent goings-on in the cabarets, the entertainers, artists, literati? I said. And partaken of the erotic delights that hypnotize with the telling?

That’s when Eve smiled and I saw that sexy gleam in her eye, knowing what she was thinking, how much fun it would be to once again live through those wild erotic times and indulge in the poetry and fantasy that was Weimar Berlin.

And so I give you Lady Eve Marlowe, who will guide you through Hot Weimar Berlin.


Thank you, Jina, for giving me this glorious opportunity to write this post.

Sitting at a café, I write the words: Berlin 1921 and it unleashes a completely different world, people racing through a time when they struggled to find their life rhythm in sex and eroticism.

You mentioned several readers were interested to know more about Pavlova’s impromptu dance that night in the cellar club. Oh, how I wished I could have been there, but I was fortunate enough to hear about it from another dancer who knew someone who was there that night.

According to her account, Anna Pavlova was out for a night with friends, sitting in the corner and not drawing attention to herself. Someone recognized her and the buzz began–everyone started looking in her direction.

This was in 1921–she would have been around forty then (she died in 1931). I can see her in my mind, this sophisticated woman with the long, elegant neck and willowy body, knowing she possessed a beautiful gift that belonged not to her but to the world.

Pavlova embraced the wonderment and homage the customers showed her and rewarded them the best way she knew how.

Her dance.

According to this eyewitness, she was wearing a suit and shawl–she removed her jacket and whispered something to the violinist, who no doubt never dreamed his music would accompany the famed ballerina.

Then she began to dance…

Her body floated across the tiny nightclub floor with elegance and grace, her spirit ethereal and dreamlike, her steps as light as the gossamer notes of The Dying Swan played by the violinist, her art of dance shaped by a lifetime of diligence to her craft…but it was her passion that all who were there would never forget.

A beautiful swan who lives on…


Lady Eve Marlowe
Berlin 1958

“Cleopatra’s Perfume”

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Crazy Year

One of the most difficult parts of being a writer is finding the patience to wait. We wait to hear back about submissions, then wait for the contract to come, wait and wait until release day. For someone born with no patience, this is a tall order!

Yet when I look back on the past year -- Wynter's first year in existence, I realize how swiftly things have actually moved. My very first book (as Wynter) was released in March 2010. Since then I've had fifteen stories published, which completely boggles my mind! I can't possibly be waiting as long as I think I am.

This is a big week for me. Tomorrow is my birthday and today is release day for my first book from Carina Press, Protective Custody. I'm also doing a blog tour and will be all over the blogoshere. If you'd like to find me and have a chance to win some of the prizes I am giving away, here's my schedule for the next couple of days:
Monday: Not Your Usual Suspects, You Gotta Read, Book Junkie. Tuesday: Manic Readers. Wednesday: Carina Press Blog, Romance Junkies, The Romance Dish. For a full list of blog stops and interviews, check my website.
So please wish me luck that I can keep up with all this promotion. All I can say is, it's been crazy - thank God!

Here's a little about Protective Custody:

Witness to a murder, but no one will believe her… 
Shocked by the brutal crime she witnesses through the window of her small office, Megan Jackson calls the police and is devastated when they question the truth of her story. With no body and no evidence of a crime, she’s written off as a nutcase. Megan suspects the killer saw her face. Terrified, she calls the only person she can trust—her ex-boyfriend and former police officer, Will McCoy.
Despite a devastating breakup, Will jumps at the chance to help the woman who broke his heart. When the killer ramps up the stakes, Will is forced to take her into hiding—where the passion they once shared reignites, deeper and hotter than ever. But can Will keep Megan alive long enough to win back her heart?
Text Copyright © 2011 by Wynter Daniels
Cover Copyright © 2011 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A. Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved. ® and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited or its affiliated companies, used under license.

Friday, May 6, 2011

I've Got a New Book Out and It's Just $0.99 on Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook and at ARE!

I'm so excited! I've got a new book out and it's just $0.99 on Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook, and at ARE! It's called THE POSTMAN ALWAYS COMES TWICE and it's fun, sexy and smokin' hot!

I actually came up with idea while my hubby and I were out walking our dog. We were talking about my book GOOD COP, BAD GIRL and how popular books about cops are when the UPS man drove by. I said I wondered if women get hot for all men in uniform, like a UPS driver. My hubby said, or even a postman. I laughed and said, sure, the postman always comes twice. We looked at each other and both said, that'd be a great name for a book! So there you have it!

This postman is carrying one hell of a package!

Charisma Harlow has been lusting after her hunky postman Travis Walker ever since he started delivering her mail a few months ago. In fact, she’s so hot for him, she finds herself ordering things online so he’ll show up more often. When her subtle flirting doesn’t do the trick, she decides to finally get serious and seduce him outright. She orders the heaviest thing she can find so he’ll have to bring it inside her apartment, then greets him at the door in nothing but a short, sexy robe when he shows up.

Travis gets the message and spends his lunch hour proving he really knows how to deliver—in the bedroom.


There, standing on her doorstep, was six-foot-four inches of gorgeous stud. She would never have imagined the button-up shirt and blue trousers that made up the postal service uniform could be so damn sexy on anyone, but on Travis, it looked
hot as hell. She supposed it could have something to do with those impossibly broad shoulders and muscular biceps. Damn, he was built.

She could tell from the way he took in her robe he was surprised she wasn’t wearing her usual tank top and pajama bottoms. His golden eyes caressed the curve of her breasts for a moment before lingering on her long legs, and Charisma felt heat pool between her thighs at the flicker of lust she saw there. To her dismay, he immediately hid it behind a façade of professionalism.

“It looks as if I have another delivery for you,” he said, holding out the electronic clipboard. “What did you buy this time?”

“A spinning bike.” She glanced at him form under her lashes as she signed her name in the signature block. “It looks really heavy. Do you think you could bring it inside for me?”

He flashed her his usual heart-stopping grin. “No problem.”

As he bent to pick up the big box, Charisma stepped back so her could come into the

“Where do you want it?” he asked.

Anywhere you want to give it to me. She blushed at the naughty thought as she closed the door. “If you could put it in my home office, that would be great. It’s down the hall on the right.”

Even though the box was obviously heavy, Travis had no problem carrying it, Charisma
noticed. She had no problem admiring his great ass as she followed him down the hall, either. She caught her lip between her teeth to stifle a moan.

“Is this okay?” he asked as he set the box down in one of the few open spaces left in the room.

Between her desk, the built-in bookcase, file cabinets and the boxes of stuff she’d bought over the past couple weeks, floor space was definitely at a premium. She’d been so busy with work and ordering things online she hadn’t had a chance to open most of the boxes yet.

“That’s fine,” she said. “Thanks.”

He looked around the room, his mouth quirking. “You certainly buy a lot of stuff.”

She felt her face color at the amusement in his deep voice, and she reached up to tuck her long, dark hair behind her ear in an effort to hide her embarrassment. “Yeah, I guess I do. Fortunately for my bank account, I end up sending most of it back.”

His gaze scanned the boxes again before coming to rest on the rectangular box on the
edge of her desk. He studied the contents for a moment before reaching inside to pull out the hot pink vibrator she’d gotten a week ago.

Her lips curved into a smile. Score, she thought. She’d purposely left it there in the hopes he would see it. So much for rusty flirting skills.

He gave her a sidelong glance and her pulse fluttered when she saw that the lust she’d noticed earlier was back in his mesmerizing golden brown eyes.

“You aren’t planning on sending this back, are you?” he asked.

“I’m not sure. I haven’t had a chance to try it yet.” She gazed up at him from under her lashes, giving him her best flirtatious look. “Too bad you have mail to deliver. You could have stayed and helped me take it for a test drive.”

Charisma had never been so bold with a guy before, but since her subtle attempts at
flirtation hadn’t worked, she didn’t want there to be any confusion she was coming on to him. Even so, the words made her blush a little. They hadn’t even gone on a date and she was already inviting him into her bed.

Travis’s mouth curved into a sexy grin. “I was actually going to take lunch after I
delivered your package anyway, so I’m off the clock for the next hour. I could hang
around if you think I might be able to help.”

Her heart did a backflip. She had to admit, she hadn’t expected her plan to actually work.



“Are you sure it’s okay? To spend your lunch hour with a woman on your mail route, I

He took a step closer, his grin broadening. “It’s perfectly okay. Satisfaction is our number one priority at the Postal Service, you know.”

Buy it on Amazon Kindle!

Buy it on B&N Nook!

Buy it at All Romance eBooks in pdf, html, mobi or ePub (Sony eRreader)!


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

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mother's Day...another time...another place

Mother's Day is this coming Sunday...

I decided to post an encore of a story I wrote a while back as Lady Marlowe, the heroine of my WWII novel, Cleopatra's Perfume. I've not posted the story here before, but last year I made a video of the story, so that's here, too.

The story takes place during a time in Berlin when the Nazis were just coming to power.

--- Lady Marlowe wrote:I went to see Else’s mother today, feeling a terrific sadness, a prickly, gnawing pain. Else was one of the murdered performers in the all-girl revue where I danced before the show closed.

I found her mother to be a stalwart, honest woman dressed in tenement drab with reddened hands and pale round cheeks. But with a cold heart.

I had expected she would want to talk about her daughter, a slender wisp of a girl with carrot-colored sleek hair cut in a swinging pageboy and blue-red lips. Else had always spoken of her “Mutti” with a warmth that made me yearn for my own mother.

Imagine how surprised I was when Frau Müller refused to speak to me about her daughter. Slammed the door in my face. She wanted nothing to do with me, calling me a Tauentzienmadel, a streetwalker, and telling me her daughter had gotten what she deserved because she’d gone on the stage.

I should have gone on my way, left her to rot with her ugly, sordid words, but I didn’t.

My own mother had said those same words to me when I was assaulted by a man hanging around the theater back home in New York. I fought back her accusations, explaining how he waited for me after the show, followed me, then cornered me in a dark alley, ripping off my clothes and trying to rape me.

But Else couldn’t fight back. She was dead. A horrible, gruesome murder of passion, her body mutilated. I wasn’t going to let her mother defile her beautiful soul with lies and misplaced platitudes about virtues and morals.

Else was a good girl, always on time for rehearsals and humming a tune as she practiced her time step, the big red bows on her tap shoes pert and crisp, like the beat of her taps. She had the quickest feet I’d ever seen.

Determined to make Else’s mother listen to me, I started back up to the fifth floor walk-up when I collided with a young man racing down the winding stairway. A Brownshirt. He pushed me out of his way as if I didn’t exist.

I started to say something to him, but I’d seen ruffians like him in the beer halls, strutting around in their black jackboots, grabbing anyone they didn’t like, kicking and beating them with iron bars.

I heard him slam the front door. He was gone. I let go of the breath I’d been holding and raced back up the stairway. Standing outside the apartment, I knocked on the door. No answer. Then I heard a woman crying.

Else’s mother.

I peeked inside and saw the older woman sobbing her heart out. I put my arms around her to comfort her and she clung to me, grabbing me and not letting me go.

“Please forgive me, Fräulein, for saying such horrible things about Else,” she said in whispers, so fearful she was about being overheard, “but my son Hans makes me say these things to strangers.”

"Why?” I asked, not understanding.

“Else would not join the Nazi party as he demanded, then she spoke out against them in public,” she continued. “Hans says I must denounce her–”

He must be the young Brownshirt I’d seen.

"but I can’t! She was my daughter and I loved her.” She let out a deep, heavy sigh. “I miss her so much.”

I said simply, “I miss her, too.”

I spent the afternoon with Else’s mother, two women speaking in low whispers, remembering the life of a young girl whose courage inspired me, while the shadows of war leapt around us like cold, dank creatures of the night, threatening to consume us.

I never forgot the Brownshirts and their raucous nighttime political rallies with flaming yellow torches, billowing banners and red armbands tightening the noose around anyone who did not follow them. The Nazis claimed to offer the workers a path to self-glory and urged the men to stand up and fight for the Fatherland.

But it would be the mothers like Else’s who suffered.


Lady Eve Marlowe
on this Mother’s Day

Berlin 1958
Cleopatra’s Perfume


Here's the video I made of the above story with my voiceover and sound effects!!

God bless all our Mothers on the upcoming day...

Berlin Diary of Lady Eve Marlowe: Else’s Story from Jina on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What I've Learned

Two weeks ago, I lost my grandmother to a long battle with Alzheimer’s. This week a devastating tornado ripped through the southeast and, thank God, all my family suffered was power outage for several days. Many people lost their homes, businesses and even their lives. Then Thursday, my son had a bike accident and had to receive five stitches right under his eye. The doctors were amazed he didn’t damage his sight. Excuse my language, but it’s been a brutal ass couple of weeks. I’ve experienced heartbreaking loss but celebrated life and miracles, too. And through it all, I’ve written.

In the days after my grandmother’s death, my mother said to me, I don’t see how you can write. I’ve thought about that and realize that I had no control over Mama’s passing, the storm or my son’s accident. The only thing I did have control of was the story in my head—its plot, direction and characters. And the emotions—grief, anger, fear, joy and anxiety—that are sometimes very hard for me to express verbally, I poured into the story. I didn’t have to be strong on paper. Or brave. Or hold back tears. Or be less whiney. Though the circumstances my characters experienced weren’t the same as my real life issues, the emotions were. And through them I could let it all out like I was opening a trench coat and emotionally flashing the world.

I honestly don’t know what Dr. Phil would say about that. Maybe that I’m a control freak. But one question he would most likely ask me is, how’s that working for you? I would have to respond that being able to write saves my sanity. God knows it’s hard work and is not always fun, but it is still a joy, if that makes any sense. It’s cathartic and healing. And while one of the most difficult things to write was my grandmother’s obituary—I still don’t think I did her justice by capturing her spirit and life in those few words—I thank God that He gave me a gift to write it.

Even through the changes the last two weeks have brought, I haven’t lost sight of the peace my grandmother now has. Or the power of love and kindness that has been exhibited in the storm’s aftermath. Or that my son walked away with stitches and scratches that will eventually heal and fade. I also realize that what some people see as stories of love and suspense are places of escape for not just the reader but the writer.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Do We Make Our Own Happiness?

I just got back from the kick-ass New England Romance Writers Association annual Let Your Imagination Take Flight conference. And it made me happy. I had anticipated the pleasure of dancing at the dinner/dessert event, going to fantastic seminars, being inspired by terrific key note speakers, and enjoying the general atmosphere of Salem, the new host city of this year's conference. All these things I believed would contribute to my happiness.

I had a fantastic time it turns out. But there was no dancing. I went to barely any seminars (although I heard they were wonderful), and saw very little of Salem. Often what you believe will make you happy, turns out not to match what happens in reality. Instead, I took what did happen to me including wonderful moments with friends, a chance to write a little bit more of my manuscript,an impulsive last minute decision to get a reading with a psychic (I was in Salem after all) and some moments volunteering to help the conference run smoothly, to create a wonderful event for myself. And as I said I was happy. Was I happy because I decided to be happy with this new situation? Have I synthesized my happiness? Or perhaps, as the below YouTube Ted Talk video discusses, synthesized happiness is the only true happiness. We have to find the trick of being happy with what we have. And it's quite a trick.

Watch the below video featuring Dan Gilbert and tell me what you think about happiness. We're in the business of creating happiness, us romance writers. So I think we should all take a stand on this. We are in fact synthesizing it through carefully crafting our stories. We are deciding we are going to create it. And I'm here to tell you that the happiness I get from reading and writing a romance is just as real as other types of happiness in my life.