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Friday, June 29, 2012

GUEST BLOG: AMBER LIN

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One randomly drawn winner from each blog will receive a Giving It Up Swag Pack, which includes romance trading cards, a signed cover flat, a signature soap bar for showers together handcrafted by AnaBanana Creations and a $10 Amazon gift card. One randomly drawn commenter on the tour will win an erotic romance prize pack, including paperback copies of Bared to You by Sylvia Day, Simply Carnal by Kate Pearce, Lessons in Letting Go by Cara McKenna (print combo of Willing Victim and Curio), Comfort Object by Annabel Joseph, a collection of signed Giving It Up swag AND a $50 Amazon Gift Card (BN.com or All Romance may be substituted).

What I Learned From My Heroine About Strength


Thanks for having me on Long and Short Reviews!

Every author wants to write a strong heroine, whether that’s a butt-kicking sword-wielding heroine in a paranormal or a classy lady with a core of steel in a category romance. Even submissive women in BDSM romances are often shown in high-powered positions or possessing a certain sassy attitude.

We—readers, authors, all of us—define strength differently.

My heroine Allie has a rough past. As the book opens, she is at a bar looking for a random hookup. She wants it rough, dirty, because that’s all sex can mean to her now.

At the beginning, her strength is in the form of survival. It’s raw and gritty but very real. Not everyone could survive what she has and still be a great mother, a hard worker, a functioning member of society with no self-pity. I could say I learned that from Allie: from survival takes strength, but I already knew that. From the first page, I admired her for it.

Despite that, she’s definitely wounded. I respect her for carrying the burden while recognizing its weight: the loneliness, the shame. Plenty of conflict, plenty of room to grow, which makes for good reading. (And writing!)

As she grows closer to Colin, the hero of Giving It Up, her strength takes a different form: submission. She allows herself to accept his help, she learns that he will not hurt her, and she begins to trust. That’s another thing I could have learned from Allie—that trust is an incredible form of strength—but the truth is I knew that one too.

Allie has survived her past, she lives in submission, but she has more to learn. More to grow, in the form of acceptance and happiness. Peace, even, but you’ll have to read the book to find the details about that.

Nowhere yet have I talked about independence or even fighting back. Actually she does achieve those things as well, but they are a side effect of her core journey, not the end goal.

I originally thought that when she fought back, that would be proof of her growth. And it was…. But also wasn’t, because fighting is a form of the original strength: survival. It was only when she felt it internally, the lifting of her shame, that she grew and thrive.

I think the crux of what makes this book controversial (okay, there is a list of things, but the main one) is that Allie finds her peace in submission. I know some readers say that submission is okay, but only if X, Y, and Z conditions are met, thus proving that she’s actually strong on her own. But if there has to be a caveat for submission to be acceptable, then it’s not really accepted.

I could have made cut off some criticisms of the book having Allie find her strength in something else: in her career, in her family. Then she could go to the guy, free and clear of her issues and everyone would live happily ever after. Except that wasn’t realistic. That wasn’t her story. And honestly, it would not have required nearly as much strength on her part.

That would have been the easy way out, for her and for me as the author. I thought about taking it. I actually thought about not publishing this book. But thankfully, Allie taught me that when things get hard, I can survive it. She taught me to put my trust in my friends, whatever form they come in. She taught me to accept that this book isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay.

I said all along that I already knew these lessons. After all, I wrote Allie’s story based on them. But, as they say in writing: show don’t tell. It’s one thing to know about strength and another to watch it in action. Allie didn’t teach me strength—she showed me how to be strong.

About the Author:Amber Lin loves to read angsty romance with plenty of sex, so it was no surprise that her debut book turned out to be erotic romance set against a dark urban landscape. She writes with one rule in mind: it has to get worse before it can get better. She lives with her husband, son and passel of puppy dogs in the great state of Texas.

Find Amber online at:

Website: http://authoramberlin.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/authoramberlin
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5827158.Amber_Lin



Allie prowls the club for a man who will use her hard and then ditch her. Hey, it's not rape if she wants it. Instead she finds Colin, who looks tough but treats her tenderly, despite her protests.

He tempts her, but kindness and a few mind-blowing orgasms aren't enough to put her back together again. Allie has no hope for a real relationship. Two years ago her best friend betrayed her in the worst possible way – she’d be stupid to trust a man again. Besides, she has her daughter to think of, the only good thing to have come from that dark night.

But when her rapist returns, threatening her sanity and custody of her daughter, Allie turns to Colin. Under his protection and patient touch, Allie begins to heal and learns to hope. Colin’s no saint, though, and his criminal past draws danger of its own. Allie must fight to protect her child and the man she loves, hoping her newfound power will be enough to save them all.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

GUEST BLOG: CYNTHIA SAX

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Big Strong Alien Protector
by
Cynthia Sax


I’m a strong independent woman but when some man is mean to me and my normally peaceful hubby gets all primitive and threatens to kick his butt… ohhh… baby, my toes curl and everything inside me tingles. I think I’m normal (think because I suspect not everyone takes a poison class just in case they might need it some day). Although we can protect ourselves, we still get a secret thrill out of knowing the men we love can bust some heads and protect us.

My heroines are no different. They’re strong and powerful, and they fall in love with strong, powerful, protective men. With these men, they feel safe and cared for and loved. They know that not only will the hero not harm them but they also won’t allow anyone else to harm them.

Traz, the hero in Unleashed Menage, is ultra-protective of the women he loves. He kills to protect his baby sister and spends some time in one of the harshest prisons in the galaxy. Traz escapes that prison because… well… Gehenna 5 is a nasty place but also because his incarceration leaves his baby sister unprotected.

Traz’s protectiveness is one of the attributes Falyn loves about him. She would never ask Traz to change, not even when he faces the heart-wrenching choice between loving her and protecting his sister. She feels the choice is clear. Traz must sacrifice their love to protect his sister. Anything else is unthinkable.

Does your heart melt when you read about a protective hero? What do you love about them?



Prison escapee Traz captures Falyn, the most foolishly trusting and overtly sexual female he has ever met. The exotic future-bender isn’t destined for him. She’s to take his beloved sister’s place, becoming a merciless assassin’s sexual slave.

Traz restrains Falyn, binding her wrists to the merc ship’s walls. When she convinces him to strip her and take his pleasure from her willing body, Traz indulges again and again, fervently trying to sate himself before they reach the rendezvous point.

Falyn escaped her luxurious prison with her companion android, only to be taken prisoner by Traz, the man she is destined to love. The scarred criminal gives her the pain she needs and the passion she desires, using her android to make all but one of her secret dreams come true—the dream of being loved forever.

Buy the book at

http://www.jasminejade.com/p-10142-unleashed-menage.aspx
http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-unleashedmenage-834960-340.html
http://www.amazon.com/Unleashed-Menage-Operation-Erotic-ebook/dp/B008BSV45I

About the Author: Cynthia Sax lives in a world where demons aren’t all bad, angels aren’t all good, and magic happens every single day. Although her heroes may not always say, “I love you”, they will do anything for the women they love. They live passionately. They fight fiercely. They love the same women forever.

Cynthia has loved the same wonderful man forever. Her supportive hubby offers himself up to the joys and pains of research, while they travel the world together, meeting fascinating people and finding inspiration in exotic places such as Istanbul, Bali, and Chicago.

www.CynthiaSax.com

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

GUEST BLOG: KATE RICHARDS

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What I Am Going to Do on My Summer Vacation
by
Kate Richards


I remember—as do we all!—having to write those “What I did” essays on the first day back to school. I always wondered why we never wrote one in June about what we planned to do. It would have been interesting to compare. In September, summer is over, never to return, and it’s time to turn our minds to fall things, responsibilities and holiday preparation.

But in June, the summer months stretch ahead, full of promise. Long, lazy days when the sun stays up until almost nine and we played hide and seek and freeze tag, when we could stay out until the very last bit of light faded. When I would be spending at least part of every day at the beach, riding the waves on my Styrofoam surfboard, inflatable raft, boogie board…things were evolving in those days. Reading endless comic books and anything else I could get my hands on. Sleepovers and camping trips. Gardening. Even as a grade schooler I grew pumpkins and zinnias. I got hold of those seeds one year and just kept with the program.

Yep, at this time of year, all I could think of was the good times ahead.

I became a fulltime writer last year in mid-July. So this is my first complete summer of freedom from an office! In honor of that freedom, I thought I’d make my plans before summer flies away and leaves me wondering where it went.

First, I do want to swim. I don’t have a pool, but some of my friends do and they’re always asking me to come over. I can’t wait! There is also the beach, where I plan to go at least a few times.

Second, I want to spend time in the garden. We have a lot of container things, cucumbers, tomatoes and zucchinis, herbs and flowers, but this is the year I want to start getting serious about growing things on the steep slope behind me…gulp!

I want to read! I have a Kindle packed full of books of all kinds, romances, mysteries, sci fi, just waiting for a long afternoon on the patio, with a frosty glass of sun tea and lemonade over ice or up in the Sierras in our tiny cabin surrounded by nephews and nieces…with their Kindles. Yep, we’re a family who reads together!

But the best thing I want to do this summer is write. I can’t believe how lucky, how blessed I am to have the freedom to do what I’ve wanted to do my whole life, since back when I was playing freeze tag. It’s what I’m going to do today and tomorrow…and the next day.

With breaks for swimming, reading, and gardening, of course! Hope your summer is everything you could wish for, filled with friends and fun, and the good health to enjoy them.

If you would like to leave a comment and tell me what you are going to do on your summer vacation, one random commenter will win a copy of my Wiccan Haus book from Musa Publishing, An Apple Away. Also, a T-shirt featuring its gorgeous cover. My second story for the series is one of the things I’m writing this summer. I think Wiccan Haus would also be a wonderful place to take a vacation!

Visit me at my blog http://katerichards.wordpress.com I love to hear from readers!



Aislinn never wants to see another doctor. Their painful and pointless treatments have done nothing to improve her rapidly deteriorating health. She hopes that the staff of Wiccan Haus can at least offer a change of scene, if not a return of a little of her former strength. She's delighted to meet Punda, a masseuse, on her arrival and charmed by the cottage in the apple orchard where she will stay. Dr. Hugo Peralta visits the island at the insistence of his boss. The distinguished brain surgeon is in desperate need of a respite before overwork makes him one of his own patients. He is surprised but pleased with the privacy and serenity of his cottage--across the orchard from Aislinn's. An idyllic location on a magical island where love can blossom--if the Rowans can help the trio save Aislinn from whatever is killing her.

An Apple Away is available at Amazon or any of your favorite online bookstores.

Monday, June 4, 2012

GUEST BLOG: RODNEY ROSS

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Writing a novel is taxing enough. Writing about writing a novel proves even dicier. I recall something Nora Ephron wrote in her superb 1978 essay collection Scribble Scribble (and I am paraphrasing here):

Writers are interesting. They're just not as interesting as the things they write.


My own takeaway from this is that over-analysis can tend toward the reductive, boiling down the magical task of plotting, characterization and tone into a jumbled miasma of index cards and caffeine. Your writing should do the talking. Much more, and you come across as some literary poseur, which I am so not. I write in fits-and-starts in my shorty (and usually stained) robe. I misplace dialogue notes I've made on the back of ATM receipts. On some days, I review what I smugly thought was prodigious output and realize it's just typing -- and not very good, at that -- with not one worthwhile sentence to be pried out.

Yet here I am. Rodney Ross is running his mouth, as my late Dad would call it: "Windier than a bag of asholes"...which is a very wrong and very brown visual...as I discuss The Cool Part Of His Pillow, my new novel from Dreamspinner Press.

I must be frank. I am not a devotee of M/M fiction. I respect the genre and have been quite titillated by some of it. Yet often there's a sameness; a lot of sexual passages have a feeling of deja vu. (But then again, so does sex with my partner, at times.) I also resist my novel's strict classification as Romance, not out of snobbery, but because I don't wish to generate reader disappointment.

I came from the bloodlust industry of advertising. I understand categorization, focus groups, demographics. I despise them but I understand their practicality. TCPohP is less plot-driven and more character-centric, and I am so grateful to DSP's Elizabeth North, who saw the possibilities in my hopeful lil' manuscript, and to Lynn West, the Editor-In-Chief who appreciated the dense detail that is my calling card. No one was a scold about too little sex, never once was there an implication that the tone, especially the opening chapters, bordered on grim angst or, God forbid, I was never commanded to "lighten up!" I wouldn't classify TCPohP as escapist reading, but it's still a good beach read, something to pop open in an airport terminal...and isn't all fiction escapist? You willingly leave the shackles of your own day-to-day for shackles (in the case of 50 Shades of Grey, at least) of another sort.

But worry not, gentle reader: TCPohP is, of course, about romance, and after it's whisked away by horrendous circumstances, the remembrance of romance and the search for the possibility of new romance.

But sexual satisfaction is not what drives the focal character of Barry Grooms, and HEA is about as elusive an acronym for him as GOP (political jab intended). A widower after 20-plus years with Andy -- killed in a horrendous construction crane collapse on Barry's 45th birthday -- Barry is on a journey, one studded with denial, full of missteps and missed opportunity, that propels him from the Midwest to Key West to New York City to the small town he grew up in. Barry's life optimism has been upended to wicked pessimism. I've been cited in some quarters for this, that the character is a STFU snark. My goal was that the skeptical humor I bestowed this damaged character redeems some of the more mournful passages, when he goes on that lonely search in the center of night for the cool part of his late partner's pillow, only to realize the entire thing is cold. The whole empty, plump pillow can be kidnapped. There is no one to share it with.

So is Barry unlikeable? Criticism to that effect begs definition. Is being eminently likeable the overriding characteristic we seek in a focal character? Then explain the flawed Don Draper, the felonious Tony Soprano or full-of-himself Tony Stark, the addicted Nurse Jackie. It's a fine line, made of barbed wire, and where do you draw it, when a hero becomes an anti-hero? Pedophilia, avarice, murder? I'll take identifiable over embraceable any day of the week but, as Sondheim wrote in Sunday In The Park With George, I'll leave that for others to decide, as "they usually do".

It was said by someone certainly more celebrated and wealthier (Robert Harling, of Steel Magnolias) than I that "laughter through tears is my favorite emotion". That sounds about right. I think of the "Chuckles The Clown" episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show...the twists and turns of a Terms Of Endearment...I recall the unexpected sting of reality after giggling my ass off at some gallows humor. This isn't new, and now entire series, like The Big C, mine laughs from dire circumstance. I don't flatter myself by placing my work alongside any of those cited above, but the groove is there: I want readers to recognize their own foibles and frailties and have a good laugh as they watch my fictional character(s) flail.

Some of the examples in the previous paragraph also circle back something TCPohP has been tsk-tsked for: the many pop-culture references. Barry's an unapologetic theatre queen, a child raised on 70's TV, those are his coming-of-age pushpins (and, in full disclosure, my own). How many times have I resorted to Googling a sports reference, some arcane parallel to a historical figure, distant geography? Everyone has their own frame-of-reference, and the last fifty years has, for better or worse, been shaped by pop-culture, from Marilyn's skirt billowing over a subway grate to those krazy Kardashians.

I can aspire that my next novel (or trilogy...a menage a trois seems to the new story arc trend) nestles more easily into a cubbyhole but, knowing my predilection for the extreme, a main character will probably begin literally rotting in Chapter 5 -- like, their lips falling off into a soup tureen -- and conformity to the M/M mainstream will be out the damn office window again. What are the point of rules when you're making shit up? Writers are cantankerous contrarians who, at the end of the day, write what they write because they must.

And, upon that, I must get back at it.

About the Author:
Rodney Ross resides and writes in Key West, Fl.

As a former advertising Creative Director, he's accustomed to making stuff up.

Past achievements include multiple ADDY Awards and an optioned screenplay and play (both currently unproduced). Other screenplays earned Honorable Mentions or runners-up citations in the Monterey County Film Commission, FADE-IN and the LGBT One-In-Ten Screenwriting Competitions. Most recently, he won a 'Most Creative' citation in the Key West Mystery Fest writing competition.

The mid-40's are that time in a gay man’s life when the major paradigm shifts from sexy to Sansabelts, from Calvin Klein to caftan. But when Barry Grooms's partner of twenty years is killed on Barry's forty-fifth birthday, his world doesn’t so much evolve as it does explode.

After navigating through the surreal conveyor belt of friends and family, he can't eat another casserole or swallow much more advice, and so, still numb, he escapes to Key West, then New York. He embraces a new mantra: Why the hell not? First, he gets a thankless new job working for a crazy lady in a poncho, then has too many drinks with a narcissistic Broadway actor. Next, it's a nude exercise class that redefines flop sweat, and from there he’s on to a relationship with a man twenty years his junior, so youthfully oblivious he thinks Karen Carpenter is a lesbian woodworker.

Yet no matter how great the retreat from the man he used to be, life's gravity spins Barry back to the town where he grew up for one more ironic twist that teaches him how to say goodbye with grace.

Friday, June 1, 2012

GUEST BLOG: TARA LAIN

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Lovin’ in Laguna Beach


Hi everyone. Special thanks to Long and Short Reviews for hosting me today. This week I am introducing my new release, Beach Balls, which is the third book in the Balls to the Wall Series. All of the books in this series take place in Laguna Beach, CA. Have you ever been there? Seen a picture? Laguna Beach is a great place to set a romance. A small town full of sand, surf, art galleries and shows, beautiful homes, little shops, and lots of people, Laguna is the quintessential beachy art colony. I recently had a reader from Europe tell me she plans a trip to Laguna based on my novels that are set there. I should join the Chamber of Commerce!

As you drive into Laguna after miles of relatively flat coastline, you’re surprised to see tall hills dotted with houses looking out over the ocean. Incongruously, the Pacific Coast Highway runs directly through the town, bisecting the expensive hillside homes from the even more expensive beach-front mansions. But still, the town is eclectic and tiny cottages sit beside huge estates. While most of southern California is ruled by the automobile, in Laguna you can walk to a lot of venues and that’s a good thing because parking is pretty horrible and newcomers panic on the twisty roads and steep upslopes.

When you visit, you quickly find out that you never call any of the other towns in the area simply “Laguna”. Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills, Laguna Woods, whatever are NOT Laguna. Only Laguna Beach is Laguna. Laguna is a bastion of extreme liberality in the midst of hugely conservative Orange County. For years it was the only city in the OC to vote Democratic. Today it’s been joined by a couple other cities but they maintain much smaller margins. It’s also one of the most gay friendly cities in America. At one time, Laguna had the largest percentage of gay population per capita of any city in the US. Today, some of the gay population has moved out to Palm Springs, but the city remains gay friendly. When the Mormon Church organized a huge rally down the coast of Orange County against gay marriage, they stopped their banner carriers at the city limits. They knew they weren’t welcome. In Laguna, people carried pro-gay banners.

Laguna is most famous for its art festivals that happen every summer including the famed Pageant of the Masters in which people are dressed and lit to appear to be famous works of art. It’s an amazing show. Between the sand, surf , art and generally gay friendly atmosphere, Laguna Beach is a perfect place to welcome my gay lovers -- a gallery owner and two sand volleyball players in Volley Balls, an artist and a firefighter in Fire Balls, and an environmentalist and a developer, both scuba divers, in the new Beach Balls. All of them are very happy in Laguna Beach.

Before you go, would you like a chance to win a $10 gift card? Just leave a comment here WITH YOUR EMAIL. The drawing for the winner will be held on June 9th. And if you’d like a chance to win a Volley Balls or Fire Balls T-shirt or a Fire Balls carry bag, be one of three people to follow the most blogs and events on the blog tour. (US only. If someone outside the US wins, you’ll receive a copy of either Volley Balls or Fire Balls) Everyone who follows any events will be eligible to win. If you are one of the top three, you get a prize. All the events are listed at Beautiful Boys Books along with extra chances to win prizes. Come on over.

About the Author:
Tara Lain never met a beautiful boy she didn’t love – at least on paper. A writer of erotic romance, mostly ménage and male/male, Tara loves all her characters, but especially her handsome heroes. A lifelong writer of serious non-fiction, Tara only fell in love with EROM in 2009 and, through perseverance and lots of workshops, had the first novel she ever wrote published in January of 2011. Then she capped off the year by being voted Best Author of 2011 in the LRC Awards and had her Genetic Attraction Series named runner-up for Best Series of 2011! A very good year. After an exotic life of travel all over the world and work in television, education and advertising, Tara settled in Southern California with her soul-mate husband and opened her own small marketing business. She paints, collages, and started practicing yoga “way before it was fashionable”. Passionate about diversity, justice, inclusion and new ideas, she says on her tombstone it will read, “Yes”.

Adam James is so far in the closet he could find Narnia. But coming out would threaten all he’s built as the lead attorney for WMA Development, and the million dollars he can get when he finishes pushing a big land remediation project through the City Council. Then on an early morning scuba dive, Adam meets a tall, lean rebreather diver named Sky who makes him want to live a different life. But Adam’s dreams are shattered when he walks into the council meeting and finds the fire-breathing environmentalist who’s screwing up his chances of winning is none other than that same beautiful man. Sky Sea Mickeljohn doesn’t compromise, so how could he find himself lusting after a damned developer? And what happens when somebody open’s Adam’s closet door? These two better start telling the truth if they’re ever going to find world peace.