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Monday, November 29, 2010

GUEST BLOG: HEIDI CULLINAN

Let's Talk About Sex


Sometimes I wonder if murder-mystery or horror writers ever get asked why they always want to kill people or have such a fixation with demons that melt eyeballs. Maybe they get asked, and maybe they don’t. However, if you write romance novels and have any degree of steaminess in the story, you WILL get asked about sex.

What I get a lot of are perplexed looks as people try to find the delicate way to ask, "You're a straight woman, so how do you know how to write all this gay sex?" Which is actually easy to answer: research and imagination. Yeah, I've looked stuff up. I've also made stuff up. Sometimes I think the latter is best. Your mind really gets to working when you're trying to figure out where someone's leg would go in this or that position and when it would get tired or whether or not endorphins would compensate. Or when you're trying to imagine how and why a flogger could feel good, or why (and when) exactly pain becomes pleasure. Yes, I've asked gay men questions and straight men too, and I've done a lot of reading and porn watching. But the best stuff to me is always found between the lines, not in the how-to but the how and the why and what that means to the character.

I write sex for the same reason a mystery writer writes murders and a horror writer writes scary: because it's interesting. Because how a human being could end up in such a situation and how different characters would react to it is interesting. Plus, for me, writing about sex is freeing, because it's a way to unpack something our culture has made far too complicated. Having sex, thinking about sex, and wanting sex is a natural human condition, but we load it with fear and shame and confusion. Sex is an exciting, wonderful, and fulfilling way to explore self and to explore relationships. It feels pretty damn good too.

So why do I write about sex? Because I learn a lot about characters and people in general and even myself whenever I do. Why gay male sex? For the same reasons, but also because I like to find out what is different and what is the same emotionally. Because I like exploring and validating and celebrating relationships that a lot of western society is still pretty squeamish about. Because the characters that come to talk to me the most happen to be gay men. Because sex, more than murder or horror or any other genre I’ve ever encountered, is always so very, very about character, about the deepest parts of us exposed, often in ways we hadn’t predicted.

But mostly, really, because it’s awfully, awfully fun.

Photobucket


Heidi Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren't enough of those stories out there. When Heidi isn't writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her family. Heidi also volunteers frequently for her state's LGBT rights group, One Iowa, and is proud to be from the first Midwestern state to legalize same-sex marriage.

 Visit Heidi's web site at http://www.heidicullinan.com and her blog at http://amazoniowan.livejournal.com/.

Friday, November 26, 2010

GUEST BLOG: GALE STANLEY

Romantica! It’s not your mother’s romance.


The times they are a-changing.

Back in the good old days I was forced to read my mother’s True Story and True Confession magazines under the covers with a flashlight. And between the covers of the magazines I was held spellbound by romantic dramas that ran the gamut of adultery, unwed pregnancy, disease and even rape. But those tales of sex and sin pale in comparison to today’s romance novels.

The prevailing definition says that a romance must focus on the developing relationship between the characters. Oh, and there must be an emotionally satisfying happily ever after. Otherwise the stories themselves can be in any subgenre, such as contemporary, historical, paranormal or science fiction.

Today there’s a new subgenre in town, erotic romance, sometimes referred to as romantica. It’s an uninhibited blend of romance and erotica that takes the sexual heat to a whole new level. Some people tend to confuse erotic romance with porn. Nothing could be further from the truth. Where porn is written strictly for titillation, an erotic romance is first and foremost a love story. It has a good plot and well-developed characters that go through hell. Somehow they overcome the conflict and obstacles and it all ends happily for them. How does romantica differ from a traditional romance? There’s greater emphasis on the sex scenes. Now, we can open the bedroom door, and let the readers in so they can experience the culmination of all that sexual tension that’s been building up since chapter one.

The sex scenes are fun to write. The biggest challenge is to keep them unique and fresh so they don’t start to sound like an anatomy lesson or a list of how-tos. I try to focus on the characters and their personalities. Their emotional response and sexual chemistry add a whole new dimension each time they come together.

We’ve come a long way. I think it’s great that the barriers have come down and writers can deal frankly with social and sexual mores and give the readers what they want. Of course if my mother were still here, I’d still be hiding my books under the mattress.

Gale always loved to read and write but real life got in the way, and she put those dreams aside. In alternate lives, she was a laboratory technician, a real estate sales person, a surveyor and a CAD manager. Now she has the best job in the world and she doesn’t mind living vicariously through the smokin’ hot alphas and strong heroines she loves to write about.

Email: gale@galestanley.net
Web: http://galestanley.net/
Blog: http://galestanley.blogspot.com/
Blog: http://booksblurbs.blogspot.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/gale.stanley.author
                                         Twitter: http://twitter.com/galestanley



Wednesday, November 24, 2010

GUEST BLOG: MISSY JANE

If Life was a Romance Novel…


As I drove down the street the other day I passed a construction crew marring up a perfectly good section of the road and thought back to a short story I’d recently read. In it a construction crew had a really sexy guy on it who tended to work shirtless when the afternoon turned hot, damn near stopping traffic in the busy intersection. That made me wonder, what would life be like if we lived in a “romance novel” world? I took a look around and considered all of the changes that would entail and decided it might not be so bad after all.

Of course it entirely depends on which author we’re going with. The paranormals would have hot alpha males strutting around, running the show and keeping the little ladies at home. Despite the views of most fiercely independent heroines, I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing. I could sure as hell go for some down time where my man sets me on a pedestal, cooks dinner and massages my feet, all while shirtless and keeping his thick, shoulder-length locks back in a neat plait. I’m even willing to overlook a growl or two at any other male who wanders too close or has the audacity to look my way. And after months of sitting around eating bonbons from his work-roughened hands during his free time from whatever insanely well-paying job he has, if I gain a few pounds, or fifty, that’s okay. My figure will be more womanly and he’ll love my curves as my hips take on a child-rearing form.

Now if we go with a straight contemporary world, the men will be smart and savvy. They will know when to let their women show independence while still opening every door and holding out every chair we encounter. I’ll be able trade dirty jokes with my man at intimately appropriate times without worry that he’ll take it the wrong way. He’ll always remember to put the toilet seat down, be ready to go shopping at a moment's notice and love long picnics in the park after a stroll through an art gallery. He’ll be emotionally there for me once I delve into his past and discover the abuse or neglect he’s worked so hard to hide. Once we get over that obstacle, nothing will stand in the way of our love. Not even Monday night football.

If I had to pick just one I think erotic might be the way to go. What red-blooded woman can resist a man who not only likes to strip his clothes off at a moment's notice, but looks damn good doing it too? Never mind that we just met five minutes ago in a stopped elevator, dingy bar or grocery store aisle. He always has a condom ready for impromptu sex, so who am I to complain? There’s hardly ever any baggage for him. Every now and again an old girlfriend, angry mom or bitter coworker might show up, but that’s all right. So long as we can find a flat surface, vertical or horizontal, to get it on we’re A-okay. His scars, if he has any, are only skin deep and add an air of danger to his overall persona. He’s always impeccably groomed, has the right amount of body hair and never passes gas. Overall, the perfect male specimen.

I think perhaps its better that life isn’t too much like a romance novel. For one, if my man ever came home from a hard day at work and insisted on making dinner while I sat and ate chocolate my head would explode. I’d assume he felt guilty for something and commence questioning him until he gave in and confessed. If vampires existed and were really sexy my anemia would kick in full force. If sex was all I really had to do all day the laundry would never get done. Besides, if that was real life what the heck would we read?

-Missy Jane
*Make reading a guilty pleasure…*
www.msmissyjane.com

Ms. Missy Jane is the alter ego of a Texas mother of four who has been married to the same wonderful man for thirteen years. About five years ago Missy finished reading a book by Mercedes Lackey and thought "Now, what if..." and a monster was created. Missy now spends most of her time lost in worlds of her own making alternately loving and hating such creatures as vampires, shape-shifters and gargoyles (to name a few). When not writing, she spends her time reading, taking photos of her beautiful daughters and training her husband to believe she's always right. Excerpts from Missy's work can be found at www.msmissyjane.com.

Monday, November 22, 2010

GUEST BLOG: ASHLEY LADD

I’m a child of the 60’s thus I grew up with Samantha from “Bewitched”, Andy and Barney from “The Andy Griffith Show”, the guys from “Hogan’s Heroes”, David Cassidy from “The Partridge Family”, and Genie and Major Nelson from” I Dream of Jeannie”.
I loved them all—in fact, I still do. My crush on David Cassidy aside, I have to admit my favorite characters were Samantha and Jeannie. Not only were they beautiful, they were funny, they were nice, and best of all, they were magical.
Wonderful, kooky, and amusing things happened to them and around them all the time. And weird things happened to their loved ones and those who opposed them. How I longed to whisk my tormentors a thousand miles away with the blink of an eye, or wrinkle my nose and travel the cosmos. Sometimes I’m very bad and wish I could turn my enemies into a toad, if only for a split second.
Writing is magical, too. I can do anything to my characters that I wish. I can create any world that I’m able to dream. I can travel anywhere in the universe.
Thus, it’s probably no surprise that some of my books feature magical beings including witches, wizards, and genies. My newest release is “Abracadabra”, my first genie story.
While writing, I’m the genie. With a flick of my fingers, my heroines vanquish the villains, save their heroes, and save the world. They do everything I desire. And of course they get into delicious trouble. They may not agree, but I’m dastardly that way, heaping pain and conflict onto them.
What fun would a story be if everything were hunky dory all the time? How interesting would “Armageddon” have been if there wasn’t a world-killer meteor hurtling at us and misfit heroes fighting impossible odds to save us?
Thus, I’m giving you and myself a birthday treat with “Abracadabra”. I know it’s coincidental my publisher scheduled the release day the day after my birthday, but I’ll take it as a birthday gift anyway.
If you like magic, if you like mayhem, if you love romance and would like to check out my newest story, it releases at Total-E-Bound Monday November 22, 2010.
Dream on. :-)
Ashley Ladd lives in South Florida with her husband, five children, and beloved pets. She loves the water, animals (especially cats), and playing on the computer.

She's been told she has a wicked sense of humour and often incorporates humour and adventure into her books. She also adores very spicy romance, which she weaves into her stories.
 
She loves to chat with her readers at her blog at http://www/ashleyladd.blogspot.com and www.twitter.com/ashleyladd 
 

Friday, November 19, 2010

GUEST BLOG: REBECCA GOINGS

Writing a series is a love/hate situation for me. Not only do you have to tie all the stories together, but you have to keep all the information correct. I’ve been known to read my own books a few times in order to get details correct. The color of a character’s eyes, a certain word or phrase they always say, or perhaps what kind of car they’re driving. It can become tedious, but one of my biggest fears as an author is being called out by my fans that one of my facts isn’t correct. And finding that balance between just enough back story and an epic info-dump is a hard line to straddle. Authors know readers sometimes pick up a series out of order. Which is why it’s important to make each series book capable of standing alone. And that in itself can be very hard to do.

I’ve written more than one series. I adore giving myself the opportunity to revisit characters I absolutely love. I enjoy exploring the love stories of secondary characters from a previous book. However nowadays, it seems series are old hat. Readers almost expect them, especially if they latch on to a specific character or villain you may have written. I have been asked on more than one occasion to write a book for certain characters.

But regardless of the hardships of writing series romance, they can be insanely fun, and I’m fairly certain I’ll be writing more of them in the future. Keep your eyes peeled for them. I promise one heck of a ride!

Rebecca Goings has always dreamt of chivalrous knights, gritty cowboys and dangerous men who go bump in the night… Now, she gets to write about them! She’s won a few awards for her efforts, but that’s not why she’s an author. She writes because she breathes, it’s as simple as that. She’s never at a loss for plots, and hopes to be around for a very long time. Rebecca lives in Oregon with her husband, five kids (which she homeschools), two cats, and one annoying, stubborn muttley.

She is published with Champagne Books, Carnal Passions, Cobblestone Press and Samhain Publishing, writing fantasy, paranormal, and historical western romance.

Rebecca loves to hear from her fans. You can email her at: rebeccagoings@gmail.com

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

GUEST BLOG: SELENA KITT

Writing Real Sex 
by Selena Kitt

“How do you write such hot sex scenes?”

This is the erotic writer’s equivalent to the question, “Where do you get your ideas?”

My response? “Hell if I know!”

I’m an intuitive writer. I sit down and I write. I’m not entirely sure how I do what I do, and when someone asks me to try to break it down, I’m often at a loss. For me, it’s like telling someone how to breathe. You just…do it.

But if I’m forced to try to explain how it is I get from point A to point B (I’m having scary ninth grade “show your work” math flashbacks now) I can do it. Eventually. So this is how I do it. It may not be how you do it, or how anyone else should do it. It’s just how I do it, and maybe that will help you, or someone else, get there too.

—————————

THEY’RE ALIVE!

Your characters are alive and they are not the sum of their parts. They aren’t measurements or hair color or penis size. I’ve done sex scenes without mentioning any of the above. Don’t ask, “What would my character do in this situation?” Let them act. Let them decide. Let them speak. Let them feel. Especially let them feel.

GET TURNED ON

If you’re bored writing a sex scene, your readers will be bored. If you’re turned on, your reader will be turned on. The emotion you are feeling will be conveyed on paper. It’s a natural law of the writer universe. (This applies to any scene, not just sex ones, by the way. If it moves you to tears, it will move the reader as well).

DON’T STOP

If you’re turned on during a sex scene, really getting into it, your fingers flying over the keyboard, unless the house is on fire or we’re under nuclear attack, DON’T STOP. Never, ever stop in the middle of a sex scene. (This rule also applies well to actual sex). You will lose your momentum, and it won’t be the same when you come back to it. Your mood will have shifted, and the reader will feel it.

LUST

Human beings want. Our entire culture and economy is based on desire. We lust after the things we want. We dream about them. We fantasize about them. We want. And we want. And we want some more. Our bodies and our brains are hardwired for desire. We don’t just eat once and then we’re done. We don’t just have one orgasm and then it’s all over. We continue to crave what we want. Our emotions rule us, especially when it comes to sex. They’re naturally going to rule your sex scene, too. We don’t insert tab A into slot B because we’re following a blueprint manual. There’s a reason behind our physical responses, and that reason is always, always tied to emotion. Remember that. Use it.

Desire is what makes the sex hot. Make your readers wait for it. Foreplay begins with seduction, not with sex acts. It begins with eye contact. Flirting. Innuendo. It progresses, but slowly. Tease your readers. Tease yourself. Draw it out. Make it a long, slow burn. The best orgasms are the ones we wait a long time for. It’s no different when writing sex than it is doing it, really.

DON’T BE AFRAID

Don’t be afraid of the sex. Don’t be afraid of the fluids, the flesh, the human expression of our bodies. It is what it is. Some writers will tell you not to ever speak of bodily fluids. They’re above all that messy stuff. Thankfully, erotica and erotic romance have come a long way, baby. We can use the words cock and pussy now, and I would encourage you to do so. I wouldn’t suggest using the medical terms, however (i.e. penis and vagina) or euphemisms like “member” or “sheath.” Cock and Pussy are good. Think of them like peas and carrots. They go together. A few (and I mean a FEW) other words can work for a little variety. Prick or dick for example. Or cunt. No, don’t be afraid of the words we use during sex. It’s okay to talk dirty. “Please,” or “Now,” or “Suck me,” or “Lick me,” or “Harder. There. More.” These are words we’ve all spoken (I hope!) They naturally arouse. That’s a good thing. I’m not afraid of cum – I’m not even afraid of spelling it “wrong.” You shouldn’t be either.

THE GRAND FINALE

Once you reach the point of no return, you’ve built up to the sex, you’ve teased your readers (and your poor characters) enough, now it’s time to give them what they want. This is not the time to skimp. You can’t gloss over the orgasm. (Or orgasmS). We all (hopefully!) know what an orgasm feels like. Description doesn’t have to be technical here. There are spasms and contractions, there is throbbing and trembling, gasps, moans—the combinations are endless. You can and should include those, but don’t be afraid to move into the realm of metaphor. Sex can be like flying. It can be like falling. It can be like dying. This is the culmination of everything, the point you’ve been waiting for, working toward. Let your imagination go as wild as you would during an actual orgasm. Let yourself free.

DEFYING THE LAWS OF PHYSICS AND OTHER MISHAPS

On a practical note – your characters shouldn’t defy the laws of physics. Women cannot take twelve inches of hot man meat down their throats. An average vagina is only four inches deep. 44DD breasts cannot defy gravity. And if you’re using any of the above descriptions in your sex scenes, you need a basic writing course, not a primer on sex scenes. Also, don’t let your character’s clothes go missing. She can’t be wearing pantyhose one second and be taking it from behind the next. The clothes have to come off and be accounted for somehow. Trust me, your readers will notice if they aren’t.

—————————

So that’s it. It’s not rocket science (or ninth grade math). That’s how I get from point A to point B—from a blank page to hot, sweaty sex scenes. Really, it’s no different from any other type of writing. I don’t write sex scenes any differently than I do scary ones or sad ones or violent ones. It comes from a place within me that is beyond me, beyond all of us, and I think as writers, we all know when we have tapped into that place. It feels a little like flying. Like falling. Like sex. Trust yourself. Breathe. And write. If your characters are alive, if you live and feel the sex scenes in the story yourself, I promise you that they will also come to life for your readers.


Like any feline, Selena Kitt loves the things that make her purr-and wants nothing more than to make others purr right along with her! Pleasure is her middle name, whether it’s a short cat nap stretched out in the sun or a long kitty bath. She makes it a priority to explore all the delightful distractions she can find, and follow her vivid and often racy imagination wherever it wants to lead her. http://www.SelenaKitt.com
 

Monday, November 15, 2010

GUEST BLOG: NEVEA LANE


Growing up Geek


When I was coming up, being called a 'geek' was usually a bad thing. We were ridiculed, laughed at and pushed around. That was until I hit a major growth spurt in ninth grade, I was the runt getting picked on. With the publicity that 'bullying' is getting on the internet, news and other outlets lately, I figured it was time that I let my feelings roll on this sensitive issue.

Don't get me wrong, I hate bullies. As the constant new kid in the school due to my parents' traveling and so on, I know what it was like to be bullied. I was teased about my glasses, teased about my Pippi Longstocking type pigtails and my weight. As I got older, I slimmed down and became a student Jeet Kune Do, you know, the one Bruce Lee founded.

Being a student of Jeet Kune Do, you learn to 'be like water'. He often used water as an analogy for describing why flexibility is a desired trait in martial arts; water is infinitely flexible. It can be seen through, and yet times it can distort things from sight and hide things from you. Water can expand if frozen, burn you when it is too hot, go around things, or it can crash through things. It can erode the hardest rocks by gently lapping away at them or it can flow past the tiniest pebble.

So what does that have to do with bullies? I could have easily fallen victim to circumstance and put on a self-pity robe and wallowed in it. But I didn't. I let myself be the water and decide to do something about it. One of the first things I did was to start writing. I wrote about all types of heroines. They were strong, knew their own mind and how to get what they needed.

I think perhaps if it weren't for being bullied I would have never picked up a pen. I needed someplace to vent, and I needed an incognito super-heroine with a sharp wit to come back with those witty punch lines that chop down a person's ego like a well sharpened axe. I opened the pages of my diary, and let the words just flow, like water.

I grew up a geek and there is no denying that. I would much rather read than play games. I was constantly imagining some faraway place or watching people and wondering what their private life was like. If I hadn't been backed into a corner by bullies, would I have been a writer? Perhaps, but I wouldn't have the same fire that I do today.


In the last book I wrote for Beautiful Trouble Publishing, Stunt 101, the heroine is smart, classy, but she is also a stunt artist. She isn't a damsel in distress; she isn't ashamed to be a tomboy. I love that my characters are strong but not unlovable. This all flows from my life as growing up geek.

Being bullied is not OK. Being a bully is not OK. Being picked on because you are different is not OK. Yet, I can't help but to look back over my shoulder at this road called my life and say to my bullies “I'm more than OK.” So to my bullies, thanks. You made me realize that I had more strength than even I knew.


Nevea Lane currently resides in the Midwest, where she lives the life of a hermit. Her life has taken her on many travels and adventures, including: the tops of the Swiss Alps, le Metro of Paris, the busy street of Adams Morgan in Washington, D.C., and the quiet mystery of the Silver Lake mountain ranges of the Treasure State (Montana). She has called herself a geographic mutt, and believes that your home is where your heart takes you for the moment. Right now, her heart has led her to the rolling plains of Minnesota, where she’ll remain until her characters have decided to stop chatting, or the muse leaves to pester someone else. She has received many marriage proposals, but has not yet decided to make that leap. She is looking for more than just a spark, she is looking for a forest fire...until she finds it, let her entertain you.

You can reach her at:

nevealane@yahoo.com

pinklacebows@writing.com

Yahoo Group:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NeveaLaneWorkshop/

Website:

http://nevealane.wordpress.com/

Buy Nevea Lane Books at:

http://www.beautifultroublepublishing.com

Friday, November 12, 2010

GUEST BLOG: BREATHLESS PRESS AUTHORS

When Breathless Press sent out the call for Halloween stories, I jumped at the chance. I'd already started on a demon story, so I figured "Why not?" A few days later, I was ecstatic to find out that Sweet Release had been accepted and would be published in October, just in time for Halloween (my favorite holiday).

Why do I write paranormal romance? I've always been fascinated by the paranormal. What can I say? I grew up next door to a cemetery. Then my dad got me into monster movies. He was always watching shows about vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and the like. Add the two together, and I didn't have a chance. I'm even an amateur ghost hunter, like the ones on tv. I started writing in junior high, when I wrote a weekly article for the local newspaper. But my true talent lies in writing paranormal romance.
 
Sweet Release is a 9,200 word erotic paranormal romance. Here's what it's about:

The day Miranda Billings dies isn't the worst day of her life, but it's close. Miranda dreams of adventure and escaping her boring existence, but death might be too much of an escape. But with the help of Andre the demon slayer, she discovers the adventure she craves and ignites the passion within her heart.

When Andre, the half-demon EMT, finds the woman he loves crushed by a bus, he reawakens her soul with his magic and his blood.  Now, Andre must decide if he’s willing to let her join him in his perilous quest to slay demons and save humans. He almost lost her once. Is he willing to risk losing her forever?

Buy the Book:
http://www.breathlesspress.com/erotic/forthcoming/sweet-release.html
Reach the Author:
http://carrie-pulkinen.blogspot.com
http://www.facebook.com/carrie.pulkinen 

~*~*~

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

GUEST BLOG: KELLI WILKINS

What I Learned in Writing 101… 5 Fun Writing Tips
by Kelli A. Wilkins


Hi everyone,
Welcome to my guest blog! Let me take a second to introduce myself. My name is Kelli Wilkins, and I’m an author of erotic romances. To date, I’ve had 11 novels/novellas published by Amber Quill Press. I’ve also written four non-fiction pet care books, and dozens of horror, sci-fi, and romance short stories.

Whenever I do an interview, I’m always asked, “Do you have any advice or tips for writers?” Sure do! So today, I decided to share five writing tips. Writers will (hopefully) find them helpful, and readers will get an inside look at some “secrets” that go in to making interesting and sexy stories. These writing tips are based on advice I’ve received in my writing classes and from other writers, as well as discoveries I’ve made as I wrote. I included brief examples from some of my Amber Quill Press romances to illustrate a few points.

So, let’s started…

1. Lights, Camera, Action!: Always start your story with an interesting hook to capture the reader’s attention. Begin either 5 minutes before, during, or 5 minutes after “the big moment” that gives the character a problem and draws the reader into the character’s world. Keep the action going in the first few paragraphs. Don’t waste the first page describing the weather or how a character got dressed in the morning. (You can add supporting details into the back-story later.) Jump into the story and take your readers with you.

For example, in my paranormal-comedy, Beauty & the Bigfoot, I started the story about 5 minutes before Tara’s father brings home Bigfoot. (Yep, you read that right.) The reader is instantly absorbed into Tara’s experience as she meets (and falls in love with) Bigfoot, and then has to deal with her wacky father’s quest for fame.

In my fantasy romance novel, The Pauper Prince, I started the story just after Prince Allan learns that he’s been banished from the kingdom and must live as a pauper. It sets the stage for what’s to come and gives Allan a big problem from the outset of the story.

2. What’s Your Sign?: One of the keys to writing a good story is creating a believable cast of characters. But before your characters can step onto the page and come alive for readers, you have to create them. As the author, it’s your job to know your characters better than anyone. (After all, they’re your inventions.) Before you sit down to write your story, spend some time with your characters and learn everything you can about them so they come off well-rounded and “real” to readers. Some of the details you should know are:

·         Hair and eye color, general build/body shape
·         Left or right handed (great detail to know if there’s a gun involved in the story!)
·         Birthday and astrological sign. (You can develop character traits based on the sign. An astrology reference book is an excellent tool for this.)
·         Distinguishing marks (scars, missing limb, tattoos – and the back-story behind each)
·         Family life (brothers, sisters, adopted, parents together or divorced, raised by uncle, etc.) Have children? Want children or never even considered it?
·         Pets (cat or dog person? reptiles? raises bees? or no pets at all?)
·         Foods they like, dislike, any food allergies?
·         How much of a dark side does he/she have and how does it show?
·         Recreation (likes sports on TV, hates all sports, plays hockey, hikes, swims, surfs)
·         Fears and phobias (water, dolls, monkeys, wasps, falling, fire – and why!)
·         Wears glasses/contacts/braces, any medical conditions?
·         Where and how did they live/grow up? Poor, middle class, member of royal family?
·         What kind of car and house do they have? What are the furniture/decorations like?
·         Religion and general opinions about social issues/politics
·         What secrets do your characters have? What would happen if people found out about them?
·         Dreams, aspirations, goals, and regrets. Are they happy with their lives or do they wish they had done things differently?
·         Sexual history (straight, gay, experiments, virgin, non-virgin with regrets, loose, never been in love, had heart broken, etc.) Knowing this is VERY important for romances!

The more you know about the characters in your story, the more you can make the reader (and other characters) identify with them through details. You can also build on these details and/or use them to move the plot along, add conflict, build dramatic tension, or liven up a love scene.

In my contemporary romance, Trust with Hearts, Sherrie has recently left her abusive finance. Curtis notices her odd behavior and immediately identifies with her based on his own experiences with an abusive parent. Knowing these details about the characters helps them bond and adds to the plot. (Curtis is also keeping a whopper of a secret from Sherrie, but I won’t spoil the surprise!)

You don’t have to use everything in the story, but knowing that your character has to overcome her fear of water to save a child trapped during a flood will bring her to life.


3. Do Your Homework: I once tossed a book across the room because the author had tulips blooming in October. (Nope, sorry. Didn’t work for me. On my planet, they bloom in spring.) Maybe it’s a small detail that a non-gardener wouldn’t notice (or care about) but a little research could have fixed that problem.

Whatever you’re writing, it pays to do your homework and research a topic. This is especially true if you’re writing historical fiction, and it’s essential if you’re writing non-fiction. Research provides interesting details the reader might need to know for a part of the story, but in the very least, it lends itself to the believability of the setting, characters, and plot.

Find out about the time period you’ve set your story. What did people eat, where did they work, and what did money look like? How did they live? What did they have around the house? (Wood-burning stoves, fireplaces, butter churns, cast iron skillets?) What was invented then? If you’re writing about a character living in the 1800s, you have to know everything about the time period and “live” through the character to show the reader what that person’s life was like.

For example, don’t surround your Revolutionary War-era fort with barbed wire – it wasn’t invented until the late 1800s.

Sometimes you have to do research for contemporary stories. I did a ton of research about Bigfoot to write the character of Charlie, the Bigfoot expert, for Beauty & the Bigfoot. I needed to know everything about Bigfoot that Charlie would know to make the character believable.

4. Gotta Have a Goal: No matter how grand or simple, everyone has a goal. When you’re writing a story, you have to know what your characters want most – at least for right now. Different characters will have different goals, and along the course of your story, goals may change or a character will develop secondary goals.

Goals can, will, and should, vary depending on the type of story you’re writing, but they generally fall into two categories: emotional, or internal goals, and physical, or external goals. An internal goal is something the character needs or wants. (This can be meeting a soul mate and falling in love or healing grief after the loss of a loved one.)

An external goal is something the main character physically must do, such as steal a magic ring from a dragon or climb down into a cave to rescue his beloved. Sometimes goals start out simple (like buying a house or getting to a wedding on time), and your job as a writer is to make it hard for your character to achieve his/her goal by throwing in conflicts and obstacles that force your character to work harder.

In my book, The Pauper Prince, banished Prince Allan’s goal is to make his own way as a “regular” person working in the shipyard. But before long, he’s added secondary goals (protecting the woman he loves, solving a mystery, and keeping a secret) all while facing obstacles along the way. 

But writers don’t just give their characters goals, they also have to motivate them to reach those goals. Ask yourself “what’s at stake?” for the character. What if he/she doesn’t reach the goal, then what happens? If the answer is “nothing, he just moves on” then you need to up the stakes and get your character motivated. It will increase the action and keep the plot moving.

In Dalton’s Temptation, Princess Elara starts off with a simple goal of spying on her husband while he’s at a pleasure palace. Over the course of the book, the stakes get higher for all the characters. Spying on Dalton while hiding her identity starts out as a game for Elara – but soon becomes a matter of survival.

5. Sex is personal – for your characters!: No Whipped Cream guest blog would be complete without talking about sex! Readers always ask me sex (or love scene) related questions. Some people want to know how to keep the sex fresh from story to story, or wonder how much graphic detail is the “right” amount, and others want to know “how hard” it is to write a love scene (pun perhaps intended!) Here’s the best advice I have:

My Amber Quill Press romances run the gamut from a Heat Level of 1 (mild) to a 3 (scorching hot). I let the characters in each story determine the sexual content, graphic details, and overall heat level. Every story is different, and so are the sexual lives of the characters.

Writing in different romance genres also influences the sexual content. In The Dark Lord, (a historical) Katarina is innocent, so I approached her character as curious, yet eager to learn. Lauren in The Sexy Stranger (a contemporary) is a modern, sexually experienced woman. Writing for the different characters and their individual situations helps keep things interesting and fresh.

When I write love scenes, I stand back and let the characters do what comes natural. I generally know how far the scene will go ahead of time, but I let the characters take over and enjoy themselves. (After all, it’s their story, they deserve to have fun.) Later, when I edit/revise the story, I go back and cut anything that doesn’t work with the scene. I think love scenes have to flow naturally from the plot and the characters.

As for “how much to show” within a book or a scene, I think it depends on the book and the characters. Sometimes it’s nice to give the characters some “privacy” and imply what goes on; and yet, other times, readers want to see the passionate (fully detailed and repeatedly consummated) side of the relationship. I blend a little of each into my books. No matter what kind of love scene I write, I try to keep most of the focus on the characters and what they’re thinking and feeling emotionally—how the experience makes them more connected to their lover—rather than focus on what their bodies are doing. (Want examples? Check out my Amber Quill Press romances here: http://amberquill.com/AmberHeat/bio_Wilkins.html


I hope you’ve enjoyed this “inside look” at the writing process. It was fun sharing my thoughts with everyone. I welcome feedback and questions from readers. You can contact me via a form on the “News” page of my website.

Happy Reading!
Kelli

Author Bio: Kelli Wilkins writes in several genres, including romance and horror. To date, she has published 11 romances with Amber Quill Press, and more are in the works. Readers are invited to visit her website (www.KelliWilkins.com) to read excerpts and reviews from her romances (and other stories). Each week, Kelli updates her writing blog http://kelliwilkinsauthor.blogspot.com/ with news, commentary, advice, and anything else that comes to mind.

Monday, November 8, 2010

GUEST BLOG: ADELE DUBOIS

Like Flying
by
Adele Dubois


I’ve been fascinated by motorcycles since my seventeen-year-old crush rumbled into my parents’ driveway on his Harley and revved his engine while I rushed out the door to meet him.

It was late afternoon in July, three months before my fifteenth birthday, when Bobby decided he wanted me to be his girl. He sat on the black leather seat of his bike with his legs splayed, looking like a young god in his tight blue jeans and torn tee shirt when he arrived for our first date. His long brown hair lifted and tousled in the summer breeze, and his muscles flexed beneath tanned skin as he gripped the handlebars. Big brown eyes under long dark lashes flashed as I sauntered over to meet him in my hiphugger jeans and cropped top. He smiled a crooked, sexy grin and the inside of my mouth went dry.

That’s as close as I ever got to riding on the back of his motorcycle.

My father nearly had a stroke when this too-old-for-me boy pulled up in front of our house. He followed me out the front door and told the boy I couldn’t go on our date. I swallowed my humiliation and took Bobby to my best friend’s house around the corner to hang out with her and our other friends. I walked all the way, trying to act nonchalant while he rode at a snail’s pace beside me, looking cool, but slightly bored.

My best friend was sixteen, curvy compared to my adolescent frame, and knew how to inhale menthol cigarettes. In no time at all, she hopped on the rear of my boyfriend’s bike and they hauled ass out of the neighborhood, leaving me behind with a broken heart. I walked home, dejected and royally pissed, more over losing my chance to sneak a ride on the back of a Harley than about losing the boy. For a clear-skinned teenage girl with big eyes and hair down to there, boys were a dime a dozen. But finding a boy who owned a Harley-Davidson motorcycle? That was something else, entirely.

Time passed before I took my first motorcycle ride, and I’ve never forgotten that feeling of elation when the throttle opened and we seemed to fly. Though I never bought a Harley of my own, I did buy a ragtop convertible, which is my pride and joy. I love the sensation of the wind whisking my body and whispering through my hair while I cruise down a highway.

Sometimes, at a traffic light, when I pull up next to a Harley in my convertible, the rider and I will nod to each other or smile. We both know we’re about as close to freedom on the road as we’ll ever find.

*****
REV ME TWICE by Adele Dubois
Coming Soon from Ellora’s Cave!



Crystal is a bad, bad girl in the most delicious ways. She tries to be good and is
tempted to commit to her Navy MP boyfriend, Tomas, but has no experience with an exclusive relationship or healthy family structure. She likes her life as a cable TV stripping weather girl and sex party host, and resists conforming to the traditional lifestyle Tomas craves. Without her weekly ménages and wild orgies, can she become the partner Tomas wants?

When Crystal receives mail threats, a media frenzy erupts. During a break-in the letters are stolen, erasing evidence that thwarts an arrest. Tomas sports Crystal away on his Harley to protect her from attack, but a deadly crash changes everything. Faced with the choice between self-interest and self-sacrifice, Crystal must decide if she will embrace a new life with Tomas or walk away.

*****

Adele Dubois Website: www.adeledubois.com/

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Friday, November 5, 2010

GUEST BLOG: BETWEEN THE COVERS

Welcome to Between The Covers, my monthly blog about erotic romance in the news! My name is Rebecca Gillan. Sometimes I come across stories that look like normal people doing normal people stuff. And sometimes I come across stories that sound like someone tried to re-enact their favorite scene from a romance novel and it didn’t go so well. Once a month, on the first Friday of the month, I share some of these juicy gems. So grab your popcorn and enjoy the ride!

November is upon us. While the weather may be getting colder, the news is piping hot! This month, I bring you two tales of modern people doing things that went out of fashion centuries ago, and one story of scientists conducting studies of things most people have known for centuries.

A woman was charge with adultery for after being arrested for sex in a public park with a man she wasn’t married to.This is a somewhat older story- it happened in June. I just found out it, though, about because this woman was recently caught stealing food from a buffet. That’s a whole ‘nother story I won’t get into. The pertinent one is her getting charged with adultery. Apparently, the way you get that very real charge slapped on you in the State of New York is to be married and get caught en flagro with corroborating witnesses with someone you are not married to.

First off, who has sex at five o’clock in the afternoon on a picnic table in front of children? Usually I love reading passages involving public exhibition. But, lady? There’s a time and a place and that wasn‘t it. I can’t fault her for choosing a hot young stud more than ten years her junior, though. With age comes refined tastes (usually) and hot young studs are always in style. There’s definitely something smoking-hot about sex with a hot young stud on a picnic table. Broad daylight on a weekday can definitely add some spice, too. The ick factor sits squarely with the venue and timing. Picnic table at five on a Friday in a deserted park? Very creative win. Same thing in a park populated by families with children? Massive fail. That antiquated law was obviously left on the books specifically to humiliate people like her.

And in other out-dated trends, a jewelry dealer lost $10 million in diamonds after a 30 minute stop at a strip club. He had the pricey jewels in a black pouch nestled in his pants with his family jewels. I suppose that is slightly better than burying them in a Mason jar in the back yard. One would think someone smart enough to legally obtain $10 million is precious stones would also be smart enough to use more modern means to secure them. I’m not even sure why one would go to a strip club with a bag of diamonds. I’m sure the strippers would not appreciate him slipping stones in their G-strings.

There are two things with this story that made me think: the suspects confessed over a year ago- and wrote apology letters!- but were not arraigned until a few days ago. And the jeweler paid $3,200 as a thank-you to the club owner before checking to make sure everything was there! Wait, no. He was keeping the gems in a Victorian era man-purse, guarded only by his trouser snake. I actually can picture him paying a reward for the theft of his stuff. But the first point still stands. How does writing apology letters keep one out of jail for a year after stealing $10 million worth of jewels? It never kept me from being grounded as a child!

I’ll round out this edition of Between The Covers with a thoroughly modern story. Scientist have discovered that sex is best in adaptable populations and that sex is better than cloning! Duh? I know scientists don’t usually have a reputation for having overly active sex lives. Surely they had realized sex was fun and best with exciting partners, though. I learned this in high school watching the popular girls get all the hot guys. Although, sometimes those cheerleaders did look like a bunch of clones…

I’m going to propose a different scenario for this one. Nerdy but sexy scientist tries to hide the fact he’s a virgin by staring at petri dishes of micro organisms, claiming he’s trying to study sexual reproduction. His hot boss doesn’t buy it, but goes along with it. Then one night in the lab…

See? Much better outcome. And with that lovely scene dancing in your brains, I will sign off for this month. Remember folks, there’s nothing wrong with letting your inner id take you to adventurous places. But keep it between the covers or you might end up in the police blotters- or on this blog!

Rebecca

RebeccaLGillan.com

P.S. Feel free to add your own takes on any of these stories in the comments section. I bet I’m not the only one who can come up with fun scenarios and I’d love to hear yours!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

GUEST BLOG: DENYSE BRIDGER

There is definitely something about an amazingly strong and sexy hero that captures the imagination. Randall Stone is one of the most intriguing heroes I've ever created, equal parts passionate romantic and lethal killer. He's a man used to being alone, with the occasional one-nighter or casual affair to keep him warm.

All that changes when he meets a woman who can go head-to-head and heart-to-heart with him, and he slowly realizes that there are no limits to the lengths a man will go when what he cherishes most is threatened or taken from him. I hope you will enjoy Randall and Robin's love story, and I suspect there are more stories waiting to be told with this special team of operatives and friends...

Randall Stone is the stuff of heroes, a mercenary given a discharge from the army he has served with his life. But the government is still interested in using the skills they've taught Major Rand Stone, and he continues to work with his hand-picked team. Into his shadowy world a light has come, and in her love, Stone discovers unhoped for joy, and, perhaps, unbearable sorrow?






“The only thing I knew then is the truth I know now,” she said, looking up into his eyes when he came to stand in front of her again. “I need you and I love you.” She hesitated. “Do I still mean anything to you, Rand?” She was scared to death of the possible answer, but she had to ask.

For the first time since she’d come into the room, Rand permitted himself to touch her. His hands slid around her waist and he pulled her to her feet and into his arms, the contact sudden, hard, and demanding as he molded her curves to his hungry body. His mouth descended on hers, crushing with the intensity of his passion. Robin pressed herself tighter to him, opened her mouth to his, and surrendered to him, heart and soul.

The ringing of the phone interrupted the kiss as it threatened to suffocate them both. Robin gasped when his lips left hers, and she began to haul his T-shirt free of the waistband of his jeans, eager to feel his skin against her palms. She was only dimly aware of his curt replies to whatever was being said, then his attention was fully on her again.

Rand buried his hands in the thick fall of her hair and held her head, forcing her focus to steady as he looked at her.

“Brookman’s called off the mission,” he whispered, then kissed her. “Let me tell the others, then we’re going upstairs for a few days.”

“A few days?” She laughed softly, breathless with excitement.

“Maybe longer,” he said, hands smoothing over her from the contours of her bottom to the generous swell of her breasts. His thumbs lingered over the rigid tips, caressing them to greater sensitivity beneath the thin barrier of her top.

Her eyes closed and her mouth opened, lips parted slightly as she gasped with pleasure. Slender fingers encircled his wrists, and he grinned down at her when she guided his hands back to her waist, then upward again, under the lightweight tank top. Rand hooked his fingers in the shimmering material and quickly pulled it over her head. Silken, warm skin seemed to ripple beneath his caressing hands and her back arched, pressing her closer to his chest.

A discreet knock on the door interrupted the downward trek of Rand’s lips just before he reached the nipple he’d been seeking. He pulled Robin behind him so his big body blocked the view of hers. “Who is it?”

“Jenn.”

“Come in.”

Jennifer poked her head into the office, smile broad and teasing.

“I know you were probably going to tell us at some point, but was that Brookman?”

Rand nodded.

“We’re free to go?” she asked.

“For now.”

“How long are you going to be incommunicado?” she asked.

“A few days,” he answered, his voice a hiss of air between clenched teeth. Robin was caressing the back of his neck and rubbing against him, the motion of her hips almost feline in its grace and eroticism. His eyes flickered closed, then he opened them again, grinned, and shrugged. “Maybe more.”

Jennifer’s laughter was cut off as she closed the door and left them alone.

Rand locked the door, then turned back to the woman he loved.

“Robin…”

His voice trailed off as she unfastened his belt buckle and pulled his jeans open. Her hand slid into the loosened material, and he groaned when her fingers began to trace the hard ridge of his erection. The couch in the small office was going to have to do, he decided, and pushed her toward it as he peeled off his T-shirt and tossed it aside, then stopped long enough to get rid of his jeans and briefs. Robin’s skirt was a wrap around, and he grinned in surprise when he slipped it free and discovered she wore stockings and a garter belt, but nothing else under the length of material.

She straddled his thighs and lowered herself onto him, moaning softly as their bodies merged. Rand’s tongue began caressing her nipples, sucking gently at one then the other. She pushed harder, taking him deeper into her. His head lifted, and he pulled her into another searing, lusting kiss as their rhythm grew frantic with need. Before their passion peaked, Rand eased free and rearranged her on the worn sofa. Leather creaked and he lifted her hair and let it spill over the armrest as he stretched over her. He reentered her with a strong thrust that made her cling harder to him, and this time their desire consumed them and pushed them into an abyss of pleasure they hadn’t shared in much too long.


Monday, November 1, 2010

GUEST BLOG: NICOLE MORGAN

How Powerful is the Written Word?

How many of you have read a book and have been disappointed? We’ve all been there right? It happens. We’re not going to like everything we read. Then there are those books that are okay. They weren’t a total loss, but you wouldn’t exactly pick them up for a second reading either. Once in a while we get lucky and find a book we love and can’t wait to read again.

Then there’s that special book. That book that makes your mouth drop open in shock, whether it be from delight, sadness or just plain OMG I did not see that coming!

Those are the books I want to talk about today. Those books that wow us. We’ve all come across them at least once in our life, I hope! The way I see it there are 3 kinds of WOW books. The ones that put a big smile on our face :-). The ones that send a chill up our spine from the suspense or intrigue :-|. And lastly, the ones that make us cry. :-(

Here are my WOW books:

:-) = Cowboy Love by Sandy Sullivan
http://www.bookstrand.com/cowboy-love

:-| = Poisonous Pleasure by Jennifer Salaiz
http://www.bookstrand.com/poisonous-pleasure

:-( = Cry No More by Linda Howard
http://amzn.to/ce6MB4

So, what are your 3 WOW books? Maybe you’ve been one of the few who have been WOWed so many times that you can’t even count that high. If so, you’re definitely one of the lucky ones and why authors today continue to do what they do best, WOW you!