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Friday, September 21, 2012

GUEST BLOG: WENDI ZWADUK

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Phantom and Me


I’m the type of person that when I get the opportunity to do something a little strange or left of center, I’ll probably do it. Why be ordinary? And on top of that, I’m one of those lost souls who wonders what happens when the characters close the door. Yeah. I want to know what’s on the other side. What’s going on in the next apartment?

So when Total-E-Bound asked me to take part in the Clandestine Classics, I couldn’t say no. What’s a Clandestine Classic? Taking the classics and giving them some zing. In my case, I chose The Phantom of the Opera. There were restrictions. I couldn’t take the story and make up things that never happened in order to change the ending. If you’ve read the original Gaston Leroux text, it’s still there. I added the heat and heart where it wasn’t as prevalent before. I worked very hard to make sure the text flows from heat to original text to heat and back again.

Why add heat? Like I said, I’m one of those people who wonders what happens when the characters ‘went into the bedroom and closed the door’. That’s not for all readers and I understand that. I respect that. But as a reader, too, I want to know what happened behind that closed door. Did they have sex? Go to bed? Get really crazy and swing from the ceiling fan? I want to know!

In my additions to Phantom, I let the reader know. The book is very sweet in nature—or so it seems. I wanted to dig deeper and explore what happened when Christine and Raoul spent time together at the Sunset Inn. Or what allowed her to succumb to Phantom so easily. And what exactly happened under the Opera. The places they took me were hot and fun.

I know, I know. I’m twiddling with a classic. Don’t I feel bad? A little. I know the book is a classic and venerated because of that. Part of me didn’t want to make it hot because then the reader can let his or her imagination take the characters where they’ll go. But the rest of me wanted to see Phantom get hot and bothered. I mean, if he can look like Gerard Butler in my imagination, then him getting hinky is not a bad thing. I’ll be honest, the first read through of the story I wasn’t sure where the heat would be. Then I read it again. Untapped sex oozes from the pages. That’s what I ran with.

The Clandestine Classics are the classic texts with erotic aspects added to them. You get the original words with heat sprinkled in. If that’s something intriguing to you, then by all means, grab a copy. I’m glad I got to take part!

About the Author:
I always dreamt of writing the stories in my head. Tall, dark, and handsome heroes are my favorites, as long as he has an independent woman keeping him in line. I earned a BA in education at Kent State University and currently hold a Masters in Education with Nova Southeastern University.

I love NASCAR, romance, books in general, Ohio farmland, dirt racing, and my menagerie of animals. I also write under the pen name of Megan Slayer. I’m published with Total-E-Bound, Changeling Press, Liquid Silver Books, Turquoise Morning Press, Decadent Publishing and The Wild Rose Press. Come join me for this fantastic journey!

If you like my work, tell your friends and email me. I love hearing from readers!

Find Wendi online at

Site: http://wendizwaduk.com/
Blog: http://wendizwaduk.blogspot.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WendiZwaduk
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/wendi.zwaduk
Fan page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wendi-Zwaduk/195277927167481?ref=tn_tnmn
Newsletter sign up: http://ymlp.com/xgjmjumygmgj



The Classics Exposed…

A chance sighting at the Opera, fated love, and three lives in turmoil.


One man pledges to own her, while another wants her heart. The Opera sets the stage for romance and intrigue. In the catacombs below the building lives a man rife with sorrow and passion. The Phantom. But he’s not content to live alone. He wants to possess the one woman who can set him free.

His Christine.

Viscount Raoul de Chagny doesn’t believe the rumours of a Ghost living below the Opera. He only has eyes for Christine, his childhood friend and first love. Together they embark on a sensual journey of discovery and fiery desire.

But she can only have one man. Will love raise her up or tear their world apart?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

GUEST BLOG: SHIRA ANTHONY

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Writing What You Know: Not As Easy as it Sounds


We’ve all heard it: “Write what you know.” But what does that mean, really? Write about lawyers because you are one? Okay. I understand that. So the story’s more believable, right? But believability isn’t enough to make a good story. Sure, believability helps, but the best stories are those readers can connect with emotionally (at least that’s how this reader sees it). I personally think “write what you know” is about far more than just familiarity with a profession or a place: it’s writing about emotions and situations you have experienced in your life. And let’s face it, that’s a tough thing to do, because if you’ve felt, you probably still feel it.

In retrospect, it’s not surprising that my first two books were pure fantasy. Pirates and genies. They were a ton of fun to write. They weren’t really supposed to be deep. Fun, romantic, erotic, but not particularly deep. But afterward I was left with “what’s next?” “Write what you know,” someone told me. So I did. I wrote about music. And it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It still is.

Of course you see the problem here, don’t you? Writing about something that is near and dear to you stirs up a plethora of emotional baggage. It also makes for a damn good story. But it doesn’t get easier to write what you know as time goes by. With each Blue Notes Series book, I feel as though I’ve gone through a bit of trial by fire. Each one has something of me in it (I’ll let you guess what bits are mine, but they’re there, I assure you). Still, there’s a bright side to the pain that sometimes pours out of me and onto the page when I write about something I feel: with each story, I let go of something that’s been holding me back. Writing as catharsis.



The Melody Thief is no exception. At times, it was painful to write. But I know I’ve grown through it. A minor epiphany. Oh, and by the way, the next in the series, Aria (December 2012 publication), was the hardest of all. For a former opera singer (former being the key word here) to write about an opera singer was particularly difficult because it was so close to home.

So that’s what my Blue Notes stories are, really. Stories about things I know. Pieces of my heart and my soul. Am I an incurable romantic? You bet. Wear my heart on my sleeve? Well, I write it on my sleeve, perhaps. So much the better. I wouldn’t have it any other way. –Shira

************


In her last incarnation, Shira Anthony was a professional opera singer, performing roles in such operas as Tosca, Pagliacci, and La Traviata, among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle.

Shira is married with two children and two insane dogs, and when she’s not writing, she is usually in a courtroom trying to make the world safer for children. When she’s not working, she can be found aboard a 30’ catamaran at the Carolina coast with her favorite sexy captain at the wheel.

Shira can be found on Facebook, Goodreads, or on her web site, http://www.shiraanthony.com. You can also contact her at shiraanthony@hotmail.com.

ABlue Notes Novel (Note: Each Blue Notes Series novel is an independent story, set in the same classical music universe. Books can be read in any order.)

Cary Redding is a walking contradiction. On the surface he’s a renowned cellist, sought after by conductors the world over. Underneath, he’s a troubled man flirting with addictions to alcohol and anonymous sex. The reason for the discord? Cary knows he’s a liar, a cheat. He's the melody thief.

Cary manages his double life just fine until he gets mugged on a deserted Milan street. Things look grim until handsome lawyer Antonio Bianchi steps in and saves his life. When Antonio offers something foreign to Cary—romance—Cary doesn’t know what to do. But then things get even more complicated. For one thing, Antonio has a six-year-old son. For another, Cary has to confess about his alter ego and hope Antonio forgives him.

Just when Cary thinks he's figured it all out, past and present collide and he is forced to choose between the family he wanted as a boy and the one he has come to love as a man.

Friday, September 14, 2012

GUEST BLOG: BRITA ADAMS

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At each stop of the tour, I'll give away a copy of an ebook from my backlist to one randomly drawn commenter. For Men Like Us, the newest release, isn't eligible.

At the end of the tour, I'll select one person from all of the commenters and that person will win a swag pack, containing *tons* of Brita Addams swag.
My POV on POV
Brita Addams


As a writer of romance, I'm aware of most the no-nos in writing. Craft-wise you have passive voice, unnecessary use of words like *that*, and filter phrases like "she felt her heart beat fast" or "he felt his d**k harden." If they didn't who would, right? The filters distance the reader from the story.

Romances must have a happy ending or at least a happy for now ending, something as a reader I find mandatory. Who wants to read a whole novel and find out that the couple went their separate ways?

Romances, as with most other writing, are a mere snapshot in time, a mere segment of the characters lives. Theoretically, they existed before the story, and will go on after the story ends. We are fortunate to be privy to this most important event—the meeting, falling in love, and HEA.

One of the most egregious errors one can make in writing these days is head-hopping. This is when more than one character has a point of view in one scene. Apparently, this wasn't always the case, that it was an error, as I've recently discovered.

Of late, I've revisited some of my favorite romances, some written in the late '80s and early '90s—bodice rippers if you will. There is a decided difference, in the style of writing, from more currently written novels. Not just as I read from author to author, but in the accepted methods of writing itself.

In many, everyone has a point of view, in the same scene. Often, each paragraph is devoted to a different character and their vision of the events. Sometimes, and I can only attribute this to different editing styles as well, there are times when two or more people have a POV in the same paragraph.

While not confusing, it is different, and I have to say, lends something to the story. I can't say I don't like it, because I do. It truly makes for a well-rounded story, giving the overall impression that everyone in the story is involved and has something to contribute, without that conclusion coming from the POV character. Think of it in terms of a movie, where you have a scene with several people, and you get to see and hear from all of them.

I've long maintained that, particularly in a love scene, the characters should each have a POV. Editors have told me that it is confusing to readers. I've listened to them, not written scenes as my heart dictated, though I don't agree at all. I do think that readers are underestimated. Most are thoroughly capable of distinguishing who is doing, thinking, and saying what.

Sadly, I think stories in all genres have taken on a rather simplistic writing approach, in an effort possibly, to appeal to a wider audience. The less complicated the plot, the story, and the characters, the easier it is to pull in folks who don't like complicated. There is a certain merit to that school of thought, but then again, there is much to be missed by simplifying everything.

Not every story is best told from one POV or another, or just two, just like not every story is best told in third person or first. For instance, I find first person to be extremely one-dimensional. You only get the story from one POV, and unless that character is particularly observant, you don't know much at all about the other characters, their surroundings, and definitely nothing about how they each feel about what is happening. I've written a couple of first person shorts, and found the style, for me, to be very unfulfilling.

Third person is the way I write and I like it. Being observant in real life, I make my characters observant as well. They probably see too much, if you know what I mean, but that's the way I view life. I see everything.

The very first thing I wrote, with any thought of publication, is rife with "head hopping," the buzz phrase for what used to be a quite acceptable writing style. I've stopped entertaining any thought of actually revising that 130k tome to fit into "modern" day acceptability, because it is a daunting task. I wrote it after years of reading romances written the same way. THEN, I read about head hopping.

I don't think everyone should have a POV in every scene, but I do enjoy both the main characters being on equal footing throughout the book. It adds a richness to the story that alternating POV scenes just can't do. That method begs the author to constantly add observances from the POV caractère de l'instant.

Take, for instance, an argument or a love scene. There is heat generated in each. Do you spend time observing the other person, ruminating about what they are thinking or feeling? Probably not. However, when writing those scenes, we must constantly do that, to bring the non-POV character into the scene, so it doesn’t seem, to the reader, so one sided.

I'd love to see a return to a time when each character is responsible for relating their own feelings to the reader. Placing the onus on one at a time is cumbersome. Certainly, authors do it every day, but I find, in rereading the older romances, that there is a richness that is missing within the strictures of "one at a time, please."

I shudder to think what some of those authors must have felt when they were told that the style they wrote was no longer acceptable. Should there be fads in writing style? Trends? I don't think so. Good writing is good writing, no matter what decade. Leave the fads for skirt lengths and hairstyles.

My newest release is an historical called For Men Like Us, brand new at Dreamspinner Press. There is a nice long excerpt there, as well as the purchase link. Here is the blurb:

After Preston Meacham’s lover dies trying to lend him aid at Salamanca, hopelessness becomes his only way of life. Despite his best efforts at starting again, he has no pride left, which leads him to sell himself for a pittance at a molly house. The mindless sex affords him his only respite from the horrors he witnessed.

The Napoleonic War left Benedict Wilmot haunted by the acts he was forced to commit and the torture he endured at the hands of a superior, a man who used the threat of a gruesome death to force Ben to do his bidding. Even sleep gives Ben no reprieve, for he can’t escape the destruction he caused.

When their paths cross, Ben feels an overwhelming need to protect Preston from his dangerous profession. As he explains, “The streets are dangerous for men like us.”

I love visitors, so please stop by my site, or contact me at any of my social media links:

Email address: Brita@britaaddams.com
Website /Blog
Twitter: @britaaddams
Facebook
Fan Page
Goodreads Page



After Preston Meacham’s lover dies trying to lend him aid at Salamanca, hopelessness becomes his only way of life. Despite his best efforts at starting again, he has no pride left, which leads him to sell himself for a pittance at a molly house. The mindless sex affords him his only respite from the horrors he witnessed.

The Napoleonic War left Benedict Wilmot haunted by the acts he was forced to commit and the torture he endured at the hands of a superior, a man who used the threat of a gruesome death to force Ben to do his bidding. Even sleep gives Ben no reprieve, for he can’t escape the destruction he caused.

When their paths cross, Ben feels an overwhelming need to protect Preston from his dangerous profession. As he explains, “The streets are dangerous for men like us.

Friday, September 7, 2012

GUEST BLOG: AMBER ROSE THOMPSON

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Why I started writing erotic romance books


A bit over a year ago, I found myself recovering from major surgery. Normally I’m an active person who loves to take walks, but now I found myself bedridden. No ropes tied me in place though psychologically there felt like heavy vines knotted around me in a cocoon of warmth--the warmth, of course, being covers I tossed off then pulled back on me every ten minutes.

At first I tried reading. As a kid reading romances served as my favorite pastime. I could read an entire Sweet Valley High book in one sitting and then want another. I hadn’t read romances for awhile, but now I craved anything that would transport me away from pain. I asked my wife to bring me books, but each one I opened bored me. Those romances severed all the sweat, pain, ecstasy, fear, and excitement I felt from falling in love and still being in love. The characters all seemed like Barbie Dolls sanitized to the point of being a Disney princess. I wanted more, craved for more. Of course, the library limited what my wife could bring home to me, yet I yearned for an adult romance with fully functioning genitalia.

Gently tossing the books aside, I asked next for my laptop. I couldn’t lift or move much; however, with pillows propping me up, I could rest the computer on my stomach and type. The two weeks of doctor imposed relaxation flew by, and the next thing I knew I had the start of a steamy romance that no library would allow on their shelves. The passion for writing had merged with a love of reading, and I liked the chemical reaction forming on my computer screen. Once chiseled down through editing to the sweet salty goodness of living, breathing passionate creatures, the book ended, and I called it Tied To Passion.

Before I had even finished the first book, an idea for a second and third started to percolate up from my unconscious and snare me with new character and plot potentials. Needless to say, I have not been able to stop writing since. I guess, as addictions go, writing is fairly harmless like my relish for coffee. Sometimes I mix the two and write at two in the morning which the cats are very fond of.

About the Author:
I write under the pen name Amber Rose Thompson. Why don’t I use my legal name? Well, I don’t want to be fired from my day job, now do I? By day, I am a public librarian working in the metropolis of New York City. I write the kinds of books that will never be offered at my library or even considered. And that is why I use a fictitious name. It is a bit sad to promote reading by day and hide my own writing while doing so. Before work, on lunch, break, and after work I write hot, erotic tales that I hope will make readers squirm and fan themselves. My one major hurdle in writing is my kitten who believes laps are for sleeping, not laptops. With this hindrance, I often write one-handed, and not for the reason your dirty mind is thinking. I hold the laptop with one hand and type with the other so my little bundle of fur can purr in her sleep. My muse for writing is my lovely and amazing partner who I’ve been married to for sixteen wonderful years. We all must get our inspiration from somewhere after all. My marriage is an interesting one; while we have been married for a while, we actually have two marriage certificates. You see part way through our marriage we both transitioned to the opposite gender. I told you my marriage was different. I am a trans man writing under a female name; talk about gender bending and mental games.

Find Amber Rose online at

Twitter- BDSMErotica
Facebook- AmberRoseThompsonPowerBroker
Blog- Amber Rose Thompson