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Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Spotlight: Diane DeRicci

What can you tell us about the Granier Falls Novels?

Well this is currently a two book line with Liquid Silver Books. The first is After The Fire, a story about Shar who discovers purely by accident her almost fiancé is cheating on her, only to be arrested that same night as a possible suspect to arson. The sparks don't stop there either. Her long time best friend, Trajan, is her knight in shining armor to rescue her from the bars of the jail cell and that's when life begins to get really hot between these two. Between her witchy penchant for starting fires and his craving to feel that heat skin to skin, anything goes in this paranormal erotic.

The second book is Feel The Fire, Maddie's story, Shar's other long time friend from the first book. A resourceful woman who meets a real "guy next door" in Rob. The only problem is "next door" is in the next state and too far away. Until he takes charge and takes command of the situation. He has issues-he believes he's cursed, and she doesn't know if she can trust him with her own truth. The problem is, it could all end any hope of happily-ever-after for them before the end of the weekend.

Granier Falls is a fictional community where witches of all talents live among the normal folks. There's an underlying understanding that keeps people from abusing the gifts of the magic, from either side but when danger comes looking for these two women, their men and the community come together and stand up for what is right. With a little magic tossed in for fun.

Thank you so much to Whipped Cream and all the lovely ladies for letting me stop and visit with all of you this week! I hope everyone enjoyed stopping in and learning about Diana DeRicci as much as I enjoyed sharing about her.
--
Victoria's life is ordered and secure. She has buried the nightmares of her youth in the deepest part of her psyche. Yet no amount of control can keep her life from changing when Cory steamrolls his way into her private world. Her professional and aloof exterior melts with the heat he ignites within her and in spite of her mind telling her no, her heart wants everything he offers, everything she has believed herself unworthy of receiving.


www.dianadericci.com

Buy it now!
Read the beginning here! (Adult warning)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thursday Spotlight: Diana DeRicci

What kind of writing habits do you have?

Hm... Well, honestly, I'm here pretty much all day, every day. It's my job. It consists of writing, promoting, editing, staying on top of the industry by reading blogs and articles, communications, website updates, and any combination of those and then some. I do tend to write more at night, after the boy is asleep and man is busy watching something on tv. If I write during the day, there's more likely chances I'll be interrupted. When the boy is in school, I can still get some done while he's gone, but the creative parts of me don't seem to show up until after the sun goes down. I think during the summer the Texas heat is just not conducive to good writing. Give me a swimming pool, shade and a good book any day.

One thing I really try to stick to is a minimum word count when I do write. 1K is my minimum goal. Sometimes I fall short and that's okay, but I know what I'm shooting for and often times I far exceed that. I also only do light editing while writing. I wait until it's all done to go back through and layer in descriptions and stronger verbs for impact and deeper emotional nuances. The first draft can take however long it takes to get done. Then the edits and revisions and reads, then it goes to readers if I have any victims for them to catch anything. Only then does it get wrapped up to be submitted somewhere. I rarely have deadlines other than loose ones like for final submissions on calls, so I can work at my own pace to ensure I'm getting the best story I can dream up on paper... er... computer. It also gives me wide open freedom to write what I'm inspired to write. I love that kind of creative freedom.

Victoria's life is ordered and secure. She has buried the nightmares of her youth in the deepest part of her psyche. Yet no amount of control can keep her life from changing when Cory steamrolls his way into her private world. Her professional and aloof exterior melts with the heat he ignites within her and in spite of her mind telling her no, her heart wants everything he offers, everything she has believed herself unworthy of receiving.


www.dianadericci.com

Buy it now!
Read the beginning here! (Adult warning)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wednesday Spotlight: Diana DeRicci

What is DeRicci working on right now?

Right now, I'm actually baking a new story for the Love's Immortal:Pantheon volumes. The next one is due out again early next year. I'm considering using the goddess of war, but in modern times, as a high tier professional. Strategy and risk will be parts of the story, while love and seduction are waiting to calm the temptress vying for the thrill of victory. So what will be the spoils of war? It will be interesting to find out.

I really tend to focus on a particular style to not have inconsistencies in writing. If I'm writing hot, I write hot until I'm done. Likewise, my mainstream, and right now I'm working on polishing the second vampire book for my Shadowed Souls series, so when he's done, I'll have the brainpower to focus on that lovely goddess and all her shenanigans.

I will admit I do enjoy researching historical aspects for these stories, from Greek to Roman and Egyptian figures. I'd love to write something some day about Cleopatra. That enjoyment of history makes writing the goddess stories that much more fun and easier to let the story flow. I'll also be the first to admit I don't enjoy researching Victorian or Regency periods and I'll be the last (either of the mes) to write a historical. I do hope some day to do a story for Isis and/or Osiris. We'll have to see about that one.

Victoria's life is ordered and secure. She has buried the nightmares of her youth in the deepest part of her psyche. Yet no amount of control can keep her life from changing when Cory steamrolls his way into her private world. Her professional and aloof exterior melts with the heat he ignites within her and in spite of her mind telling her no, her heart wants everything he offers, everything she has believed herself unworthy of receiving.


www.dianadericci.com

Buy it now!
Read the beginning here! (Adult warning)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday Spotlight: Diane DeRicci

Do the 'Dianas' share more than the writer?

Good question! Yeah, I own up to having two sides to my writing. Even Mom reads both. Talk about wanting to crawl under a rock! Both heats delve into just about anything that strikes my fancy at any given time. Castilleja is primarily a mainstream sensual paranormal author with a few early forays into romantic suspense and fantasy. DeRicci falls back on the love of paranormal with Secret being the first contemporary from either side of the brain in over three years. I feel that paranormal is one of my intrinsic inner strengths so either writing style can be molded to work an engaging story out of it. Proof of that is Seduction In Moonlight, the Pantheon story released earlier this year which truthfully was only my second attempt at an erotic, and it was written by request.

The writing for DeRicci is undoubtedly more graphic while keeping the sensuality and the emotion in the forefront and as the base structure to the character relationship. I also tend to write character forward stories, where you meet the character and their needs before the plot of the story is divulged. That doesn't change for either level of writing.

Aside from genres and overlapping writing styles, both are definitely a voice unto themselves. There is a sense of light and dark between the two that makes the stories challenging and hopefully engaging to the reader to enjoy either heat level. I don't have plans to quit writing under either name, hoping to continue offering stories for many years to come.

Victoria's life is ordered and secure. She has buried the nightmares of her youth in the deepest part of her psyche. Yet no amount of control can keep her life from changing when Cory steamrolls his way into her private world. Her professional and aloof exterior melts with the heat he ignites within her and in spite of her mind telling her no, her heart wants everything he offers, everything she has believed herself unworthy of receiving.


www.dianadericci.com

Buy it now!
Read the beginning here! (Adult warning)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Spotlight: Diana DeRicci

Well, it's no secret that Diana DeRicci is in fact the erotic writing pen name of Diana Castilleja. Did the picture give it away? The difference between the two writing styles is apparent between them though.

The heart of any story is going to be the romance. I don't think I could ever write a story without at least some semblance of the romance in it. It's what I live to read, so it's what I naturally feel when I write. With DeRicci's works, the sensuality and sexuality of the characters far surpasses my mainstream writing, typically in a flirty, adventurous style of story-telling. Where some focus on the sexual progression and then the relationship is in the background of the story, I do the reverse. I love a great romance. I love deep emotional, heart jerking moments. A little hot spice in the background is the icing. For me, the sex in writing is another means of expression for the character. If you need a cold shower after, then.... My work is done!
~*~


Why did I start to write erotica?

Honestly, as a challenge to get out of the doldrums of brain freeze. I was stuck at the corner of Writer's Block clueless of where to go when a friend basically said, write something "HOT". That book was After The Fire, a paranormal romance that set me off on a new avenue of exploration and creativity in my writing.

The Librarian's Secret is a story that is so far removed from that, I'm not sure how it came to be. I remember having Victoria pop up in my mind, and she was very adamant. I had to tell "her" story, literally. I know it sounds like I should be medicated, but there have been a few stories that have come to me like that. The thing with hers was it was in first person, and no matter what I tried I could NOT get it to third. We wrestled (No, there wasn't oil or mud involved. Quit reading over my shoulder, honey.) and I finally relented. And what came of that story was an emotional unveiling of a butterfly who was still imprisoned in a chrysalis of her own making. The kind of story that takes a real inner courage to face reality and move forward. She was an amazing character to write. If I hadn't taken that challenge, I never would have met her. Or explored the deeper sensuality of a wounded soul as she led me through the workings of the story.


~*~

Victoria's life is ordered and secure. She has buried the nightmares of her youth in the deepest part of her psyche. Yet no amount of control can keep her life from changing when Cory steamrolls his way into her private world. Her professional and aloof exterior melts with the heat he ignites within her and in spite of her mind telling her no, her heart wants everything he offers, everything she has believed herself unworthy of receiving.


www.dianadericci.com

Buy it now!
Read the beginning here! (Adult warning)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Saturday Night Special by Wendi Zwaduk

Blaine wiped the sweat from his brow and tossed his helmet into the cockpit of his Late Model dirt car. A third place finish wasn’t his idea of great, but then again, the small paycheck would be enough to race the next week.

A woman walked past him, arm in arm with another driver. He raked his fingers through his ebony hair, longing for the happy ending his sister Emma and brother-in-law Sam found. He yearned to stroll back to his car hauler with a ready and willing female. Yeah, right. He longed to celebrate his top five with the only woman he loved.

Blaine removed his gloves and threw them in the car window. He unzipped his fire suit and withdrew the wallet sized snapshot from his breast pocket. Mallory’s green eyes and fiery red hair sent a warm rush through his system. Sweet memories squeezed his heart. How he longed to tangle his fingers in the ruddy strands as they made love. He could almost feel her velvety tongue caressing his cock.

Did her latest bikini pictorial take her to a remote island in the Caribbean or maybe to Alaska? She loved snow. Her modeling career kept her in luxury while his job as a professional racer barely paid the shop bills. Before he could propose, she walked out and took his very soul.

“Thinkin’ about that woman?”

Crimson flushed Blaine’s cheeks and burned the tips of his ears. Kellen, his chief mechanic and best friend stood beside the prone race car. “What makes you say that, Kell?”

“The tent in your britches, B. She’s still on your mind, isn’t she?”

Blaine nodded and stared at the silent race track. “I’ll never forget her.”

Kellen clapped him on the shoulder. “Why don’t you grab your Team Whitman hat from the truck cab in case the press shows up?”

“Why?” Blaine snapped. “There’s no one at the track except us. Who do I have to dress up for?” Kellen gave him a punch on the arm. “Just get the damn hat.” With that, he walked away.

Blaine stared at Kellen’s back for a moment. What the hell? He unzipped his fire suit and tied the sleeves about his waist. As he rounded the car hauler, he noticed the driver’s side door of the truck wide open. A pair of long legs and stiletto sandals peeked out.

His breath caught when he spotted the black and scarlet 33w tattoo in her sculpted ankle. His number. His hands itched to hold her. Blaine surged to the truck cab. “Mallory?”

The pale light from the parking lot spread across the interior of the truck, making her eyes shine. She patted the seat. “I needed a soft place to sit. These heels are killing me.”

His gaze slid to the strappy black shoes. The sight of Mal in nothing but those sandals rocked him. “They’re killing me too.” Realizing he verbalized his thoughts, his attention snapped back to her face with a quick meander over her black miniskirt and blood red halter. “I mean…”

Mallory slipped off the seat and smoothed her hands along his pecs, flicking her thumbs over the turgid little nipples through his ivory T-shirt. She traced her nose along his jaw and nipped his lips. Blaine groaned. She still tasted like strawberries. He clutched her shoulders, afraid she might disappear if he let go. “You’ve been away a long time, sweetheart.”

Her green eyes darkened to the color of the forest. “Too long.” She nibbled his Adam’s apple and slid her palm to the bulge in his uniform. “Untie the sleeves, Blaine.”

He nodded and did her bidding. No other woman held this power over him. Blaine swooped in to sample her lips once again. His tongue tangled with hers. The struggles with the race, the frustration of his lackluster finish, and the stack of bills waiting for him in the garage seemed to evaporate.

Mallory tugged the zipper as far down as it would go. “I want to taste you like I did on our first date. Lay down in the backseat.”

Blaine jerked her into his arms. “This is the same track where you walked into my life and stole my heart.”

Mallory grabbed the door latch and tugged him into the truck cab. “Here’s to new beginnings. Now strip.” God, he loved the power games she played. He wriggled out of his fire suit and reclined against the vinyl. Mallory knelt between his knees and scratched his inner thighs with her nails. His cock stood at attention. She licked her lips and untied her halter, baring her breasts. Her eyes grew a darker shade of green, almost black. Her pink tongue danced over the thick vein on the underside of his dick.

Blaine tangled his fingers in her hair. “Fuck, yes.”

A muffled groan was her only reply as she sucked on the bulbous head. Her heat enveloped him. She pumped his cock, slurping and loving him with her tongue. The sensations of orgasm swept over him. He gritted his teeth. “Come with me.”

Blaine yanked her from the floor and ripped the miniskirt up over her hips. Slick satiny skin met his. “No panties?” Mallory slid back and forth on his dick, lubricating their union. “I held out hope.”

He grasped her hips and impaled her on his length. He panted. “I never stopped loving you.”

Mallory cupped his cheeks and matched his intensity with her own. “Which is why I came home.” She whimpered and pressed her forehead against his. “I’m not me without you.”

Blaine rolled over, increasing his thrusts. His mind spun. She came home? Held out hope? “God, you’re so snug, Mal. Your pussy holds me as tight as your mouth, babe.”

“Only for you.” Mallory clawed his back. Her body convulsed under his. “I love you.”

The orgasm took him over the edge and Blaine roared. He collapsed next to her on the seat and curled his arms around her body. “How long this time?”

Mallory nuzzled his neck. “Forever. New York isn’t the same without you.”

Blaine tucked her hair behind her ear. “Really?”

She drew on his lips with her index finger. “Marry me.”

He toyed with her nipple. “Later.”


About the author: About the author: Thanks for enjoying this work by Wendi Zwaduk. By day she’s a SAHM of one son, two dogs, and two cats, but at night she lets her inner muse run wild and writes tales of love won, lost, and won again. If she’s not at her computer, she can be found at her local dirt tracks cheering for the Late Model cars or haunting the local library in search of new authors. Her first novel comes out in early 2010 from the Wild Rose Press. Check out her blog at http://www.wendizwaduk.blogspot.com

Author Interview: Alex Beecroft

Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome Alex Beecroft, whose newest book False Colors has recently been released by Running Press Book Publishers.

Alex currently lives in Great Britain with her husband and two daughters. Raised in Cheshire, Alex studied English and Philosophy before accepting employment with the Crown Court where she worked for a number of years. She's thrilled, though, to be doing what she always wanted to do-- living her dream of being a published author.

Many of Alex's novels are historicals, so most of Alex's research involves reading up on the historical era in which she's setting the story.

"I'll start with an overview – Wikipedia is good for that. That gives me a vague idea for what I'm looking for," she explained. "After that I will link surf until I have a better idea of the era and know what sorts of questions I need to ask. After that, I'll go to the library and start reading books on the era. If it's an era where there are relics or original sources remaining, I'll make an effort to go and look at the artifacts and to read the original writings. There's nothing like listening to the voices of the people of the time to help you to get into their heads."

Instead of historicals, though, Alex started out writing science-fiction and fantasy. "I'm a m/m writer and I didn't think at that point that there were any other women like me who would be interested in reading love stories between men," Alex told me. "So I attempted to push the relationships down and keep them under wraps. The result was The Witch's Boy – my dark fantasy novel – where there are half a dozen platonic m/m relationships straining at the seams and expressing themselves in unhealthy ways. (Sulien loves Leofwine, who is straight. Gunnar loves Sulien, who beats him up, Guy loves Drago, but they both die… It's very sad!) Eventually I discovered that there was a market for m/m, went 'oh, thank God!' and allowed my guys to express their love for each other openly and to go on to happy endings. They and I are much happier for it!"

"How do you personally distinguish between erotica, erotic romance, and pornography?" I asked.

"I primarily think of pornography as being a visual thing; films and pictures," Alex replied. "You can get erotic writing which is like pornography in that all the emphasis is on watching the body-parts and who really cares about the story or characters, but I'm not sure that I would call even that 'pornography'. Erotica shares with porn the belief that sex on its own is enough to be worth reading about, but at its best I think it engages the senses and the emotions much more fully.

"Erotic romance, I've been told, is simply romance that includes explicit sex scenes. The main point of the story is still the romance, rather than the sex, but the sex is fully included as an important part of the relationship."

Alex feels there are several authors who write excellent erotic fiction, including Z.A. Maxwell and J.P. Bowie. "Mallory Path (from the I Do anthology) writes the hottest short stories I know of, but I think Laura Baumbach is the master (mistress?) of the erotic in general," she said.

She feels the biggest misconception about erotica is that it's easy to write.

"It isn't," she said. "For me the sex scenes are the hardest thing to write and I admire anyone to whom it comes easily. There are a limited number of ways in which human bodies fit together, and to write numerous scenes in one book and make each one interesting, arousing and different from the last – that's a really difficult task.

"I think erotic romance is all about the story. I write sex scenes because the story needs them at that point; the characters are expressing something that they couldn't express another way. Which may be as simple as 'you're gorgeous, I don't really care that I have no idea who you are, let's get it on.' Or it may be 'I don't want to talk about this. I'll distract you instead', or maybe 'it will be OK. I'll look after you.' Erotic romance is all about the relationship between the characters. If I found myself writing sex just because there hadn't been a sex scene this chapter and I felt people would be expecting one – and for no other reason than that – then I would have to stop and wonder whether I was really writing romance at all."

One book she really enjoys and recommends is Standish by Erastes. "It's not only an erotic book—it's also a love story and a fantastic journey around Georgian Europe," she told me. "It's very steamy and there are some great characters. It's a great mixture of sex and angst and death."

"What does your family think about your writing?" I wondered.

"I'm very lucky. My family are all extremely proud of me for having got published. My sisters (I think) wish that I had chosen a more prestigious genre than m/m erotic romance and have not read my romance, though one has read The Witch's Boy and loved it. My mum and dad are proud to the point of boasting about me to their neighbours, and so are my children. I've had invitations from teachers to come in and talk about my writing which I've had to decline with a certain amount of embarrassment! "

If she were going to entertain a character from a book, she claimed she couldn't invite just one since she writes m/m.

"I'd invite John and Alfie from False Colors, because I am fascinated by the dynamic between them. John would be nervous and earnest and terrified that Alfie was going to say something improper. And Alfie would be charming and would smoulder in a shameless sort of way until John lost his temper; and then there would be raised voices and plate smashing and aggressive sex. And then John would be apologetic and Alfie would help clear up while smiling like the lion who got the cream."

On a personal note, if Alex could be anyone she would have liked to have been Cochrane, who she described as "a true naval hero and a reforming politician, who died in his bed of old age after a long and glorious life." She admits, with a wink, that Nelson would do in a pinch.

Alex doesn't view piercings as sexy. If she had to choose something to pierce, she would pierce the septum of her nose so she could put a bone through it...she said, "That would be quite funny." But, tattoos are another story altogether. "Round the upper arm, the wrist, the waist, shoulder, shoulderblade, calf, neck, thigh… anywhere," she told me. "Tattooing seems so much more sexy to me because it's art written into your skin."

"What is your most embarrassing moment?" I asked.

"I don't think I remember. I may have blanked it out," she claimed. "Maybe getting very drunk and singing Javert's part from 'Les Miserables' the musical, complete with cloak and gestures, at a dinner party before rushing off to throw up in the toilet." Thai green curry is her favorite food, but don't ask her to eat shellfish. Her response to that? "Ew!"

When Alex isn't writing, she does a lot of historical re-enactment, both Saxon and 18th century, and weekends are often spent living like someone from the past.

"This means I have an impressive range of pre-industrial skills, like being able to light a fire with flint and tinder, spin with a drop spindle, weave, make shoes, make wattle and daub walls and thatch a house…. That kind of thing," she told me. "I've also recently taken up morris dancing, which takes up an evening every week to practice, and we get invited to perform at numerous festivals over the summer. We have to make our own outfits for both the re-enactment and the morris, so I also do a lot of sewing."

Finally, I asked Alex, "If you could give a new writer one piece of advice, what would it be?"

"It would be 'don't give up.' I gave up on writing and trying to be published for 10 years, while my children were young," she said. "Now I look back at that time and think that I could have been so much more established now if I'd only kept trying. 'Don't give up' is also good advice for the writing process itself. It's very tempting, when you're five or ten chapters into a book and all the magic seems to have drained away and you hate it all, to give up and start something new. But then you end up with fifteen books started and none finished. Press through to the end and you'll discover that you do like what you've written after all, and it was worth it."

You can keep up with Alex on her blog, http://alexbeecroft.com/blog

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Spotlight: Kelly Jamieson

I recently noticed that many of my stories involve food and/or drinks. I’ve written two stories about coffee ( Sexpresso Night, coming later this year with Ellora’s Cave is one of them) one story about beer (Dream Girl), one story about olives (as yet unpublished) and my serial blog story Insatiable, about a celebrity chef who loves women, sex and food. Chef Tyler is very sensual – especially when it comes to oral pleasure. He loves to taste things - food of course, but he loves to taste women, too.

The other thing my stories all have in common is hot sex. I like to make the sex hot by making it also a very sensual experience, and here’s where I see that eating and sex are so much alike – both are very sensual acts.

Food has to look attractive in order to appeal to us. It also has to smell good – we all know the powerful appeal of particular foods – charbroiled steak, sweet vanilla...for me, popcorn! Foods have a particular feel in the mouth – the lusciousness of whipped cream, the sparkle of beer or champagne, the silkiness of good chocolate. In Sexpresso Night I even talk about the mouthfeel of coffee! I suppose foods even have sounds – sizzling, crunching, rustling. And of course the taste – once you’ve seen it and smelled it and your mouth waters, you’ve got to taste it.

Just like sex – certainly an attractive outer package is your first impression. You listen to the cadence and tone of a lover’s voice –a deep husky voice, or a soft musical voice appeals to a certain something inside you. As you get closer to someone, their scent makes an impression, too. Then you get close enough to touch – satiny skin, silky hair, rough beard, hardness, softness...and then you taste – mouth, skin...and more.

No wonder I like to write about food in my stories...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday Spotlight: Kelly Jamieson

Life would be so much easier without hair.

I’d look hideous, but if nobody had hair, we’d all be the same, right? My hair is a constant battle. It is thick and wavy – verging on curly. But I like it straight. I spend a fortune on every anti-frizz product there is, trying to find the miracle one that will make my hair sleek and silky. I have an outrageously expensive flat iron (it IS a miracle!!) that I use daily. I can make it look okay curly, but only if I don’t touch it while it dries and then layer on anti-frizz products. Otherwise I look much like Bozo the clown. Or I glued straw onto my head.

I spend lots of money on color and cuts, too, I‘m ashamed to admit. I don’t go for manicures, and rarely for professional pedicures. I do those at home. But my hair has to be right. My hairdresser knows my hair and how I like it – except for the one time I made the mistake of asking her to do something different. Instead of my usual strawberry blonde, I told her I wanted some lowlights in a caramel color – just a little darker. She used chocolate brown!! Oh my gosh, I looked like a skunk. Then I did the worst thing you can do – I went to the drugstore and bought a highlighting kit and tried to fix it at home. It didn’t look too bad except for the sideways stripes where I’d inexpertly applied the bleach. I finally went back to the hairdresser and confessed. She was horrified at what I’d done and managed to fix me up, but it was so traumatic.

So I dream of shaving my head bald, imagining how much time and money I’d save.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wednesday Spotlight: Kelly Jamieson

Since I’m sharing all my peculiar neuroses, and you all probably think I’m a sketchy basket case, let me now talk more about my fear of flying.

I’ve jut returned from a trip to California, involving two hour and three hour flights there and back. This time was actually one of my less nervous trips, so I guess that writing therapy is helping. But my husband still laughed at me when he reached for my hand and found my palm drenched with sweat. Especially if there was even the tiniest turbulence. I swear every time the plane hits a little bump I believe I’m about to die.

I’ve never tried anti-anxiety drugs, but I used to drink a lot before I flew, which helped quite a bit. Then we had kids, and I felt I had to stay sober so I could rescue them if something happened (like there’d be much chance of that if the plane crashes). I also tried to hide my fears from the children because I didn’t want them to be influenced by my craziness. Acting as if you’re not afraid actually helps a little, too. One time we had to split up and my husband sat with the kids and I sat a couple of rows back. I fiercely instructed him to “save the kids before you save yourself.” He looked at me with bewilderment and asked, “How am I supposed to do that?”

I know flying is the safest way to travel. I’ve heard all the statistics and the logical explanations. But fears are not rational. I’m just proud of myself for not letting my fear stop me from traveling.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tuesday Spotlight: Kelly Jamieson

I read an interesting article recently about how people choose a dog that reflects their status in life or their heritage. Dogs such as Afghan hounds and Welsh corgis are selected by people who see themselves as upper class. Labradors, golden retrievers, and German shepherds are chosen by those who see themselves in a lower social class. Part of the reason is simply the cost of the dog – dogs that cost thousands of dollars obviously aren’t within reach of someone who’s not wealthy. Note that the study asked people about their social standing, not their income, so it reflects their self perceptions of where they stand in the world, not necessarily the reality!

The study also noted that your choice of dog shows how you view the world – if you have a Rottweiler, you see the world as a dangerous place, whereas a beagle might indicate you feel safe in your world. You want to be seen as tough – you get a tough dog.

Many people also choose dogs that haven been in their families for generations. Scottish families get Scotch terriers. And then there’s the old truism about how pets physically resemble their owners.

So what does my dog say about me? She’s a poodle. You might say that’s a “high class” dog – poodles have that snotty, prissy reputation. However, my poodle doesn’t look like a traditional poodle with the goofy cut, pointy nose, pompoms on the legs and bobbed tail. We leave her shaggy and fluffy and her tail is long. She actually looks more like a Bichon Frise, which, okay probably sounds just as snobby. Yes, I grew up with a poodle in our family – Buffy the Walking Footstool (she was a tad overweight). But the biggest reason we have a poodle: my husband is allergic to dogs. Poodles don’t shed, therefore don’t bother him. Actually, it’s probably a combination of all of those things! I guess I feel safe in the world because she’s sure not a tough, scary dog.

It was fascinating to me as a writer and I’ll be thinking about what kind of dog my characters will choose and what that says about them…

Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday Spotlight: Kelly Jamieson

Why writing is better than therapy

I’m a worrier. I love to worry. In fact, I worry on purpose. It’s how I feel in control. If you worry about something enough, it won’t happen. It’s the things you don’t worry about, that you never even dream about, that get you.

When I’m flying, I worry that the plane will crash. I once traveled across the North Sea on a boat. The sea was rough that night and the boat was heaving and tossing. I stayed awake all night worrying that the boat would tip over and we would all drown. I saved our lives by doing that.

I worry about my kids, that they’ll get hurt or killed. When my husband is out late, I worry that he’d been an accident. I imagine the whole scene of going to the hospital and what we’ll do if he dies.

Perhaps a little psycho? I think psychologists might call it a Generalized Anxiety Disorder. But get this: since I started writing, I don’t worry nearly as much. In fact, it scares me how little I worry. My kids are now teenagers. Do I lay awake at night waiting for them to get home? No! (And feeling a little guilty about that, because aren’t moms supposed to do that?)

My theory is that my imagination needed an outlet. So I made up terrible stories of doom. Now that I use my imagination for good instead of evil, I think I’m a much happier person. I’m prone to insomnia, and now rather than laying awake worrying about what I forgot to do at work, or how we’re going to come up with the money for the new furnace, I write stories in my head. I do some of my best work lying in bed at night (if only I could remember it the next day, LOL).

Of course, I just went on a trip to California, and had sweaty palms the entire way there and back on the plane. So I’m not totally over it…but I’m better!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Speed Zone by J. S. Nichols

Swirling blue and red lights reflected in her rearview mirror. Lisa stopped her beige sedan on the side of the road. She pulled out her license and registration then waited. The warm August breeze, heavy with the scent of lilacs, blew through her open window.

Boots crunched over the gravel then stopped beside her car. A light swept first through her back seat, traveled up her body then landed on her face.

“Hello Lisa,” Jake said, a predatory smile curling his lips. “Remember what I said would happen if I caught you speeding in my jurisdiction again?”

He opened the car door, reached across her lap and unbuckled her seatbelt. Along the deserted, darkened back road of rural route 632, she knew the likelihood of another car passing was slim to none; especially at this hour. Her body tingled.

“Jake, can’t we talk about this?” she asked, exiting the car. “I’m sorry, but it’s nearly midnight and the sitter’ll charge me double if I’m late.”

“It’s Sheriff Winters. You should have thought about that, before you decided to do eighty in a fifty-five.”

He spun her around and spread her hands wide on the side of her car. Lightly, he kicked her feet as far apart as her pencil skirt would allow.

“Is this really necessary?” she asked. Her breath caught.

Strong, lightly calloused hands frisked up and down her spine. His touch was gentle, light and very, very personal. Jolts of awareness rocketed from her toes to her core.

“Turn around, Lisa.”

She obeyed. Her breaths went shallow. His sinful fingers blazed a trail down her stomach as he continued to search her. The heat of him burned through her thin shirt. He knelt, sliding his hands down one leg then slowly up the other.

Lordy, but he was handsome, even when he wasn’t smiling. There was something about a man in uniform. Jake Winters was the epitome of sexy; a face straight out of a commercial, wide shoulders, narrow waist, and a trim taut backside. His sheriff’s hat hid his blond hair and shaded his storm-gray eyes.

“This time, it’s reckless driving,” he said briskly. “That’s worth a night in jail.”

“My speedometer’s broken,” she lied. He chuckled and she knew she’d been caught. “Okay, it’s not. But come on, Jake. Can’t you give me break?”

He answered by cuffing first her right wrist behind her back and then her left.

Headlights peered from atop the hill in the distance. What were the odds?

“Please,” she begged, her cheeks heating. “I’ll do anything, but don’t let anyone see me like this.”

His breath tickled her ear as he whispered, “Anything?”

Jake hurried her past the front of his cruiser, pausing only long enough to douse the lights. Cloaked in darkness, he ducked them both down behind the side of the car. His body wrapped around hers, shielding her from view, while they waited for the other car to pass.

Hauled to her feet, she heard the click of the lock springing free. The cuffs were off. His sensual hands covered hers as he planted them wide against the hood of his cruiser.

“Do you mean it?” he asked, his erection bulging at the seam of his pants and jutting against her back. “You’ll do anything?”

“Yes.”

What else could she say? She’d wanted him since the first time she’d seen him. How many times had she risked a speeding ticket on the off chance he’d catch her? He promised retribution if she broke the law. And Jake always kept his promises.

He slid her skirt to her waist. He unzipped his pants sending her heart rate soaring. They were really about to live out her fantasy.

“No panties?” he groaned in admiration.

Before she could reply he touched her, rolling and pinching her clit lightly between his fingers. Electric currents rippled through her. Her hips bucked.

“Laundry day,” she gasped, vaguely aware he’d laughed at another of her fibs. Steadily, he stroked her into a frenzy of exposed nerve endings.

“Really? Lucky me.” He guided his enormous erection inside her, while keeping her on an orgasmic cliff. “So wet. I should have done this to you long ago.”

She wanted to answer him, but her world had narrowed down to moans of bliss. He slid in and out of her at a deliciously increasing pace, yet he never neglected to caress her clit. His erotic touch kept her on the edge of climax, until release became a burning need. Clutching the hood of the car, she parried to meet his thrusts. Rising onto her tiptoes she half-demanded, half-begged, “More.”

Jake groaned her name then answered by gripping her hip and driving harder, faster, deeper.

Lisa’s breath dwindled down to sips of air when he pulled his hand away from her clit. He touched her again and his fingers were slick. He’d licked them. The cool sensation of his wet fingers followed by something cold and metallic against her sent her spiraling. Ecstasy pulsed through her.

He pounded into her, his fingers digging into her hip so hard it should it have hurt. Then he strained, grunting in satisfaction before tenderly kissing the side of her neck.

Panting for breath, she stretched across the hood of the cruiser. Languid and replete, she could only tremble as he dragged the metal up her body then pressed it into her hand.

A motel key.

“I called the sitter,” Jake said, sliding out of her. “She’s agreed to stay all night. Let’s go. I’m not done with you yet.”

“Will this keep me out of jail?” she teased as he straightened her skirt.

He pulled up his pants and spun her around, crushing his mouth to hers. He tasted like warm cinnamon. Potent and sexy. Her heart beat wildly. She wanted him again.

Sixteen years and he could still get her wet with a kiss.

“You won’t go to jail, Mrs. Winters,” he said, laughing. “But tonight, you’re my prisoner.”

About the author: J.S. Nichols spends her days teaching life saving skills and her nights dreaming up sexy heroes she'd like to come to her rescue. For more stories visit her website at http://jsnichols.net

Author Interview: Liane Gentry Skye

Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome Liane Gentry Skye, author of "Hearts Storm" in Secrets Volume 27 and Wicked Tempation, which were both released this month from Red Sage Publishers.

Liane feasted on Secrets volumes for a long time before she started writing romance and, when it came time to choose a publisher for her own work, Red Sage is the only publishing house she ever submitted to.

I asked her which authors she thought wrote excellent erotic fiction.

"Joey Hill, Natasha Moore, Alice Gaines, Roxana Blaze. Cynthia Eden, and Rae Monet. Also, my crit partner, Tambra Kendall who made erotic romance look so tempting that I had to try writing it myself!" she said. "You may have noticed that five of the six are Red Sage authors."

The main thing she uses to judge a good erotic story is a strong emotional connection between the hero and heroine. "I believe the emotion and larger than life stakes drives the heat between a hero and heroine," she told me. "I don't think excellent erotic fiction can arise without an author working those emotions and the conflicts that arise from them to the hilt."

Liane explained that she doesn't write erotica, but rather she writes erotic romance. "Many people are surprised to find that there is a difference between the two. While answers vary from author to author and house to house, for me, erotic romance tells a fully developed love story that leads to a happily ever after for at least the primary couple," she said. "For me, erotica doesn't necessarily promise a happily ever after ending, and might not be quite as developed plot wise as an erotic romance."

"Is there a boundary between porn and erotic romance that you personally would never cross?" I asked.

"I thought I'd never write a menage scene," she replied. "Not because I think it's wrong for an author to explore those situations, but because I believed I could never find characters who could prove to me that a menage could end up in a happily ever after without feeling forced.

"My upcoming release, Wicked Temptation, contains a very loving, yet heart wrenching menage scene. That scene is crucial to the resolution of the plot and the kick off to the entire Three Kinds of Wicked series. So if there's a moral here, it's never say never!"

Liane didn't always set out to write erotic romance. In fact, her novella in Secrets Volume 27, "Heart Storm," actually started off as a children's story. She has never written "straight" romance, however. She explained, "Straight romance didn't interest me as much as testing the boundaries of human pleasure within the framework of an intensely loving relationship."

Her first attempt at writing a sex scene is the one she would consider her most embarrassing—but not because of the sexual content. "It was so ridden with cliches and euphemisms that I found myself literally rolling on the floor laughing," she confessed. "Maybe that half bottle of wine I drank to loosen my muse up had something to do with that!"

Liane has always written for fun, but when both her sons were diagnosed with autism, she needed to look for something else.

"My social life flew out the window, and necessarily so," she said. "I've never regretted that. But at the same time, I needed something to maintain a grip on some life outside of their disabilities.

"First, I wrote about autism. Then I wrote women's fiction and literary fiction. One of those stories is still up on Amazon Shorts. Later on, I found myself reading for those 'happily ever afters.'. It didn't take long for me to begin spinning some ideas of my own. So I burned a lot of midnight oil and entertained myself with the passions and plights of larger than life characters in search of their one true love. "

On a more personal note, I asked Liane if she could be anyone she wanted to be, who she would choose.

"I'd be my oldest son," she replied. "He's severely autistic, and there's nothing I wouldn't trade for the chance to live inside his head and experience the world as he does."

Her most embarrassing moment? "Losing my strapless sundress during a drunken version of the twist in a very busy beachside nightclub," she said. "Worse, I was out with a guy who I already knew I didn't want to go out with again, and I had a very hard time losing him at my hotel room door at the end of the evening."

Her favorite food is Pad Thai (and, if you are in the San Francisco area, that's where she ate the very best Pad Thai she's ever had).

She cannot bring herself to eat beef tongue, though.

She admitted she couldn't tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi, however she can tell the difference between caffeinated and decaf sodas.

"Have you ever known anyone who can tie a cherry stem with their tongue?" I wondered.

"That would be me. I can also give a bar towel an erection. "

When she's not writing, Liane can be found battling for fair and appropriate educations for children with autism. "In Florida, those are hard to come by," she explained. "It's a never ending nightmare, mostly for the children who pay the prices for inadequate educations at the cost of any bright future. And it's usually not the fault of their teachers, rather the powers who dole out the funds. The arrogance I face on a daily basis never fails to break my heart."

Finally, I asked Liane, "What advice do you give authors wanting to write erotica?"

"Don't obsess over the heat levels and number of love scenes required to make your work 'hot' enough. Let emotion drive your characters. Once that relationship is developed enough, character conflicts and passions will take care of the heat on their own."

You can keep up with Liane on her blog, http://lianegentryskye.blogspot.com

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Spotlight: Emma Jay

Another place I draw inspiration from TV is in the story themes. There are supposedly only so many plots in the world, but endlessly different stories can be made from them.

Look how many “Romeo and Juliet” stories there are, which boils down to forbidden love. Or stories where the main characters are out for vengeance. Often in romance this need is tempered by love, so we can have more than one theme running through a story.

My personal favorite theme to watch is the underdog story. I’m always drawn to underdogs, whether it been in sports or American Idol or Survivor. I haven’t been inspired to write an underdog character yet, though.

Another one I love is the quest. I love the Lord of the Ring movies and the Mummy movies and the Librarian movies. Back when Silhouette was publishing the Bombshell books with the kick-ass heroines, I glommed on the Evelyn Vaughn Goddess books, which outlined a quest. Now I’m doing the same for Elisabeth Naughton’s romantic adventures.

Fish out of water stories can be fun to write, and to watch, as the character feels his or her way about in a new world, or a new social circle.

I noticed that some of my favorite shows don’t fit neatly in a category, especially sitcoms, or ensemble casts like Gilmore Girls and Grey’s Anatomy. Maybe someone can see where they would go better than I can.

Here are some of my favorite themes and my favorite shows that go with them.

Vengeance: The Fugitive

Underdog: Firefly, Burn Notice, The Big Bang Theory

Quest: Heroes, 24, Supernatural, The Sarah Connor Chronicles

Rescue: LOST, Prison Break (first season)

Forbidden Love: Buffy, True Blood

Justice: NCIS, any of the Law and Orders or CSI, The Mentalist

Fish out of Water: Men in Trees

Visit Emma Jay on her blog.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thursday Spotlight: Emma Jay

The settings of TV shows can be inspirational as well. You can’t use a drama for research, but you can get the feel of a place from a TV show.

I loved the show Men in Trees. I watched it while I was writing my story set in the northwest, because the show, while set in Alaska, was filmed in Washington. Also during that time I watched a lot of Gilmore Girls because I was writing a small town story and I wanted the feel of a small town story.

While I’d never want to be treated in Seattle Grace or County General, I could watch Grey’s Anatomy or ER for the feel of a hospital. Also, I learned hospital hierarchy from those shows. I haven’t used that information—yet.

Writing spies? Watch Burn Notice and Alias. Be careful what you take from the shows, but they can be inspirational. (Michael Weston…mmm.)

And nothing makes me want to write about the south like True Blood.

Want to write about a particular city, but don’t have the cash to go there? This little website is fun: http://www.hottimescoolplaces.com/TVshows.htm

What if you want real information? I know my friend Tricia Mills watched Tougher in Alaska when she was writing her young adult novel, Winter Longing. I watched Ghost Hunters when working on my paranormal. Writing about cops and tired of watching Law and Order? DEA is a good show to catch. Good information can be gleaned from the Discovery Channel or the History Channel. I set a wish list on my Tivo for whatever subject I want to catch.

Yes, I watch a lot of TV, but I always try to take something from it.

Visit Emma Jay on her blog.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wednesday Spotlight: Emma Jay

Yesterday I talked about how characters from television inspire my writing. Today, I’m going to talk about dialogue.

Screenwriters have it tougher than novelists, I think. They don’t have the luxury of showing internal thought. They have to depend on dialogue to both keep the story moving and present the information they need to get to the audience. Even in the darkest shows, like, say Battlestar Galactica, the writers infuse some lightness in the dialogue to relieve the tension.


The master of all dialogue is Joss Whedon. No show is as quotable as Buffy, except maybe Firefly.

From Buffy. Both of these are excellent sketches of the characters who said them.

“I laugh in the face of danger. Then I hide until it goes away.” --Xander

"I'm the Slay-er.Chosen one? She who hangs out a lot at cemeteries...? 'In every genera----' You know. I really don't feel like doing the routine. Ask around. Look it up: 'Slayer comma The.' " –Buffy

From Firefly, just because I think it’s hilarious.

“This will be interesting.”

“Define ‘interesting.’”

“’Oh, God, oh God, we’re all gonna die.’”

“Mercy is the mark of a great man. Guess I’m just a good man.”


Gilmore Girls is another. The sexual tension in this show between Luke and Lorelei built from the first episode to the first kiss.

Lorelai: Is this like a Mafia thing?

Luke: Excuse me?

Lorelai: The whole coming in, special table, reserved sign. Are you gonna have to whack someone before the soup course?

Luke: No, I've filled my whacking quota for the week. [cringes] Dirty?

Lorelai: [wicked grin] Extremely.

Luke: Thought so.

~~~~
Lorelai: I just broke up with someone.

Luke: Yeah.

Lorelai: We'd been dating for a few months now.

Luke: I figured there was someone in the picture.

Lorelai: You did? How?

Luke: Just clues. You know, you never dressed weather-appropriate, that kind of thing.
~~~~~
Luke: Rory's not here yet.

Lorelai: Then you'll have to entertain me until she arrives. Okay Burger boy, dance.

Luke: Will you marry me?

[Lorelai is taken aback]

Luke: Just looking for something to shut you up.

~~~~~~

Supernatural uses dialogue to illustrate characters so clearly, shows their toughness and vulnerability.

"Does anyone have a breath mint? Some guts spilled in my mouth while I was killing my way in here."

"You're piercing the veil, Dean, glimpsing the "b" side."

"Little less New Agey, please."

"You're almost hell's bitch, so you can see hell's other bitches."

“A couple of severed heads and a pile of dead cows and you’re Mr. Sunshine.”

“You got a neighbor named Mr. Rogers?”

“Not anymore.”

Dialogue needs to illustrate character and move the story forward, not just be cute. A writer needs to make every word count.

Visit Emma Jay on her blog.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuesday Spotlight: Emma Jay

I’ve always found inspiration in many places in my writing career. My favorite source for inspiration is television.

I love television. I own series on DVD, I have several on season pass setting on the Tivo, and I even have an essay in a BenBella book on my favorite show, Supernatural.

How can TV inspire me? Different ways. Today I’ll talk about characters.

Sure, there are some one-dimensional characters in TV, characters who act the same way in different situations, who never show growth. But there are some with such delicious layers, you have to keep watching. One of my favorite characters of all time is Logan from Veronica Mars. On the surface, you see him as a bad boy, but you learn he’s the neglected child of movie stars and has such a warped sense of right and wrong. He’s having to find his own way, and while sometimes he makes the right choices, a lot of times he doesn’t.

Another show with amazing characterization is Friday Night Lights. Again you have these kids who might be easily categorized on some shows, but the writers on this show dig deeper. Tyra, who comes across as the bad girl, is actually a girl who wants to get out of the small town of Dillon, where her sister is a stripper and her mother is man-hungry and aimless. Watching Tyra’s struggle to bring up her GPA and get accepted into college was a terrific arc. Then there’s Tim Riggins, a terrific football player, a ladies’ man. Only he’s also an alcoholic, being raised by his brother because his parents have washed their hands of him. But my favorite character is Matt Saracen. Matt is a sophomore when the series starts, and he’s thrust into the spotlight when the star quarterback is injured in the first episode. Matt’s not prepared for the pressure, and we find out the reason when we follow him home and see he’s the sole caretaker of his grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s, while his dad is deployed in Iraq. Throughout the course of the series, we see him adjust to the pressures, and sometimes the pressure crushes him. But the viewer roots for him to triumph despite the odds against him.

I can only hope the characters in my books are as layered as the ones I admire on television.

Visit Emma Jay on her blog.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Monday Spotlight: Emma Jay

Many authors have inspired me to write over the course of my life. From the pioneer life of Laura Ingalls Wilder to the Trixie Belden mysteries by Kathryn Kenny, to the worlds of Madeleine L’Engel and the small town, old fashioned stories of Lois Lenski, I always lived stories. I was part of the Bob White Club, I went to school with Laura Ingalls.

The part that always drew me, though, was the romance. Trixie and Jim had mutual respect though Trixie got them into scrape after scrape (and was only 14 when the series started!) Laura had a quiet courtship with Almanzo, but who could forget him coming to get her from her teaching position during a blizzard?

As an adult, I came to romance after I got out of college. It’s hard to believe that I used to have to go look for books, that I didn’t have shelves of them waiting to be read. Early on, in the early 90s, historicals were my thing. Karen Robards and Catherine Coulter were my first gloms. I couldn’t tell you who my first contemporary author was, but I soon scarfed up Virginia Kantra and Karen Templeton, Jennifer Crusie and Nora Roberts. I loved the communities these authors built, the relationships the hero and heroine had with other characters in the story. That gives characters so much more depth and makes them so real. I have a disadvantage there, in the stories I’ve written so far. I mean, how much community do you want in an erotic romance?

Visit Emma Jay on her blog.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Author Interview: Christina Phillips

Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome Christina Phillips, who has two stories out with The Wild Rose Press.

I asked Christina how she distinguished between erotica, erotic romance, and pornography.

"My personal take is pornography is primarily explicit sex with the sole aim of arousal, without necessarily any plot, relationship development between the characters involved or any kind of happy ever after," she said. "Erotica generally focuses on the heroine's sexual journey and has a plot. The heroine may have several sexual partners, but not necessarily form a lasting relationship with any of them. Erotic romance is, essentially, a romance, and as such has a plot and well developed characters with their individual goal, motivation and conflicts, who form lasting, loving relationships with each other by the end of the book. The main differences between erotic and non-erotic romance is the sex is a vital component of moving the plot forward and showing the developing relationship between the hero and heroine. Also, love scenes are more explicit and the language more graphic in an erotic romance."

Christina said it seems to her that people confuse both erotic romance and erotica with porn.

"I've been told I write dirty books and porn, and always by people who have never read anything in the genre, never mind my own writing," she told me. "My response to that is always, no I don't write dirty books or porn, I write erotic romance and what's wrong with writing about love?"

Christina started writing soon after she and her family immigrated to Australia ten years ago."

For nearly nine years, Christina wrote contemporary romance, although she can see looking back that each book had progressively hotter love scenes. "Obviously my subconscious was trying to tell me something there!" she said. "First I wrote a few category romances and after several of the 'lacks emotional punch and excitement' form rejections, started to get requests for full manuscripts and then revisions. But things never quite clicked into place, so I made the decision to try my hand at first person chic lit, which I found very challenging but enjoyable. Unfortunately, even though agents nibbled, chic lit was in the throes of dying a horrible death so I switched genres to paranormal romance which, bizarrely considering I'd never seriously pursued that genre before, had always been my first love."

At the beginning of last year, though, she got so fed up with the "almost but not quite what we're looking for" rejections from agents and editors that she went into a slump with her writing. Her CPs urged her to try erotic romance.

"Although I wasn't sure I could manage it, I decided it would be a fantastic way to stretch my writing muscles," she told me. "But then, as I began to write my first erotic romance, Foretaste of Forever, I discovered I absolutely loved being able to get completely inside the action as it unfolded, rather than pulling back at the last moment. I was hooked!

"I find both straight and erotic romance writing have their own challenges, but currently I'm enjoying writing erotic romance so much that I can't see myself going back to straight romance just yet.

"And I'm thrilled that in June this year I signed with my dream agent for my first full length historical erotic romance."

"Has your family read your work?" I asked.

"My husband has only read one paragraph of my new release,Touch of the Demon, , and that was because he looked over my shoulder as I was writing it," she admitted. "It's the only time I've seen a grown man reel!! The look on his face was hysterical. He has yet to read the published versions! As for my two adult daughters, they've been incredible with their support and are very proud of me! However, that stops short at actually reading my books. While happy that I'm published they're still suffering trauma from my chosen genre and have yet to admit to their boyfriends' parents exactly what it is I write." She laughed and added, "I can't think why. When my brother discovered I wrote erotic romance he was fascinated and wanted to know if it was autobiographical. And as for my in-laws, they wanted to know if that meant I wrote 'rude bits.' My response? 'Of course not. I write erotic romance!'"

On a personal note, I asked Christina, "If you could be anyone you wanted, who would it be?"

"I'm actually pretty happy being me," she said, "but I wouldn't mind a bit of strategic genetic engineering here and there. Not that I'm gagging to be the Bionic Woman or anything like that, just a few improvements and an overhaul would be cool!"

She wouldn't tell me her most embarrassing moment though, saying, "I try and pretend all my embarrassing moments are just horrifying nightmares!"

Her favorite food is Christmas dinner with all the trimmings (and don't forget the cranberry sauce). "When we moved from the UK to Australia," she told me, "and despite the 100 degree temperature and lack of air conditioning, we still had the full roast turkey, stuffing and roast potatoes even though I was so hot I all but puddled on the kitchen floor!!!"

She can't bring herself to eat liver however. "Even the thought of it disgusts me. All offal is revolting! And I can't get my mind around anyone wanting to eat brains!! Actually anything slimy or which has tentacles turns my stomach."

"Have you," I asked, "ever known anyone who could tie a cherry stem with their tongue?"

She grinned. "I have obviously lived a very sheltered existence as until recently I never even knew such a feat was possible!!!"

Finally, I asked, "What advice do you give authors wanting to write erotica?"

"The same advice I'd offer any author wanting to write romance" she said. "To me, the most important aspect is the romance, and the turbulent emotions involved in falling in love. Get to know these unique characters, crawl under their skin-- feel what they're feeling. With erotic romance, the sex tends to come before the love, so in my own writing my hero and heroine are drawn to each other sexually, before love develops. It's essential for an author to be comfortable writing explicit sex scenes and using language appropriate for the genre since otherwise these scenes might become awkward for the writer rather than a pleasure (and I strongly believe they should be a pleasure to write, even if the actual writing of them is very challenging!) And each sex scene should be there for a reason - to develop the relationship between the hero and heroine, not just for titillation purposes."
You can keep up with Christina on her blog, http://christinaphillips.blogspot.com

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Spotlight: Leah Braemel


One of the first questions I was asked after receiving “the email” for my first story Private Property was “what did I do to celebrate?” Immediately after reading the email, I proceeded to do what my husband now refers to as the “Price is Right” bounce. I bounced all the way downstairs to shout the good news to my children who high-fived me. I bounced all the way back upstairs and phoned my critique partner who has encouraged me for years to give her the good news. This was such good news, I needed to hear her voice. I don’t think I remembered how to breathe for another hour and a half.

It was very unusual behaviour for a usually staid Canadian woman who is approaching a milestone birthday this year. Ugh. It’s the first time I’ve not wanted to celebrate my birthday. Which is why it’s so surprising to me that I’ve arranged a huge birthday bash on my blog. I guess I figured I might as well do something positive, so I’ve decided to give my blog readers a chance to celebrate for the entire month of July. I’ve invited 30 authors to help me celebrate my birthday, many of them will be hosting their own contests, offering free books to commenters. Everyone leaving a comment throughout the month will also be eligible for contests I’ll be running each week and at the end of the month.

Come help me celebrate my birthday by visiting my “Birthday Bash” on my blog and be sure to leave a comment in order to be eligible. Maybe by the end of July, you’ll be doing your own ‘Price is Right’ bounce.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thursday Spotlight: Leah Braemel


A couple weekends ago, I went to a book conference in Toronto where I was surrounded by authors and publishers and promoters. There were discussions about ebooks and the Kindle, how to promote your book, all sorts of industry chat. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized that I’d been discussing subjects such as polyamorous relationships and ménages as casually as other people discuss what’s for dinner. I had to chuckle, especially when the week before I’d met a friend at a local Starbucks and we were discussing BDSM and various other aspects of erotic romance. This friend, who I’d only met the week before, leaned forward and whispered, “so, how do you know about BDSM? Do you … you know …” It’s not the first time I’ve been asked.

Yes, I did take an on-line course taught by a sub and his dominatrix. And, yes, there are authors who are Dommes, and there are a few who may be into ménages – I’m not about to ask. But writing an erotic romance involving BDSM doesn’t mean you have to be a practitioner. So when someone asks me “do you, you know …” I have to wonder if they’d ask Allison Brennan (who writes kick-ass stories about serial killers) how many people she murdered doing her research.

Of course, research into erotic romance is pretty interesting. As I said, I’ve done the BDSM course, but I get to research all sorts of interesting toys and techniques as well. But the main challenge of writing erotic romance is making sure the reader understands what’s going on in the characters’ heads and their hearts. That it’s not about the sex, but the emotion in the scene. For me that’s what separates erotic romance from erotica.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wednesday Spotlight: Leah Braemel


When I first wrote Private Property, I had to create a character the hero would trust to bring into his relationship for a one-time-only ménage. The wonderful Sam Watson was born. Originally I saw him as a rather dark and dangerous character, someone mysterious. But when Sam opened his mouth the first time you see him, I realized he had a playful side to him as well. He became a larger than life character who was so fun to write, so I was thrilled when my editor asked in her offer to buy Private Property if Sam was going to get his own story.

As part of Private Property’s storyline, Sam is in the midst of bailing out Mark’s company. (Part of the background can be found in the free story I wrote called "First Night". Mark’s opposition is undercutting his prices and has the financial backing to be able to hold out a lot longer than Mark can. The weird part is, I wrote it long before last fall’s spectacular market crashes.) As a former FBI agent, Sam has expanded his bodyguard company to one of the most successful on the east coast. But Sam has his pride, so when a stalker starts threatening him, he does what he advises his clients never do. He ignores the threats. Enter his second-in-command who lays down the law and assigns Sam his own bodyguard team. Lead by the feisty heroine, Rosalinda Ramos, who isn’t afraid to say no to the boss.

Sam’s playful side comes out, but Rosie also discovers a darker side, a lonelier side, and one she’s not sure she can battle. Sam’s past.

You can read more about Personal Protection at my website, and you can find deleted scenes and other excerpts on my blog on the Snippet Saturdays posts.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tuesday Spotlight: Lean Braemel


I love kick-ass heroines, but I love it more when they are outwardly strong capable women but when the reader gets to see in their head they see the same type of worries the rest of us have. I think as readers we all need someone we can identify with, someone who can overcome their fears and move forward. I once took a course from a woman police officer – she admitted that before she’d joined the force she’d been in an abusive relationship. Whoa! That got my attention. See, I told myself, strong women can be different in their personal relationships than their public personas. So when I sat down to write Private Property that’s the type of heroine I tried to create. Oh, she hadn’t been physically abused, but she’d let some of her previous boyfriends erode her self-confidence.

I love playing inside characters’ heads like that, watching them think one way and act another in order to compensate. Haven’t we all done that?

In Private Property, Jodi’s having a no-strings-attached affair with Mark, her boss. But Jodi broke one of the rules - she’s fallen in love with him. Which terrifies her. Especially when Mark surprises her one night by arranging to satisfy a list of sexual fantasies she’s drawn up. While she’s fascinated with the evening he’s planned, which includes bringing in another man to satisfy request #6 – to have a ménage – she starts wondering how Mark can share her so casually.

Of course, because the reader can see into Mark’s head where Jodi can’t, you see that he’s got his own issues. I loved torturing them both like that, it made it so much fun. To read more about Mark and Jodi, you can find the excerpt on my webpage. There’s also a link to a free short story that you can download about how they began their affair.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Monday Spotlight: Leah Braemel


Thanks to Marianne and Judy for inviting me to be in the spotlight this week. I’m Leah Braemel, and I write romance. In fact, I write steamy romance. Before I was published, not many people knew I wrote. When I finally admitted to my sister that I was about to be published, she asked me what type of stories I wrote. Her reaction when I said romances?

“Oh, you mean you write porn? Like Harlequins and stuff?” Yes, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. She thought Harlequins were porn? She then went on to discuss how Nora Roberts wrote even harder core porn. Eventually I convinced her that no, Harlequins weren’t porn, and no, Ms. Roberts’ stories weren’t harder core porn. When I asked her a few months later if she’d visited my website, or read the excerpt or even the blurb, she said “Yeah, but I don’t read fluff like that.”

Unfortunately it’s not an unusual reaction. So many people are quick to disparage the genre – which is strange considering how romance books are selling so well compared to other genres in this depressed economy. A couple weeks ago, I was in my local bookstore picking up the next book in a Lora Leigh series I was writing when another lady commented about how much she loved Lora’s writing. We chatted for a while, and she asked me to have coffee with her because she finds so few people she can talk with about romance books. We spent two hours sitting gabbing about the various authors and tropes we love. And those we aren’t so thrilled with. We’re meeting up again Wednesday evening – we just discovered our bookstore hosts a Paranormal Romance reader’s group. I’m thrilled to find a group of ladies who aren’t afraid to say “I read romance!”

That’s what I love about the various on-line loops, and websites like Long and Short of It, and Whipped Cream. I find other people who have similar interests and I don’t have to feel like I need to explain my love of romance.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Author Interview: Samantha Sommersby

Whipped Cream is pleased to interview Samantha Sommersby, author of the successful Forbidden series. Book 4 in the series, Forbidden: The Tempation, was released this spring by Linden Bay Romance.
 
All of Samantha's books have been erotic romance. She told me, "Sex is such an important part of a loving, adult relationship. I guess I can't bring myself to close the door on that."
 
Her characters do not have sex purely for sexual gratification; she was quick to point out. "My sexual scenes are hot and spicy - but they are always between characters that are in love with one another or on their way to falling deeply in love with one another. I'm a romantic at heart."
 
This goes show her idea of the differences between erotica, erotic romance, and pornography.
 
"I think that the goal of pornography is sexual stimulation, pure and simple," she explained. "With erotica, there is more of an emotional investment and connection with the story. I think there's definitely a desire to arouse the reader, but that arousal is based on both an emotional and physical hook. With erotic romance, I think you have all of the characteristics of a regular romance, but with highly erotic love scenes."
 
Samantha tries first and foremost to create a good story with engaging characters. "Because I write erotic romance I'm invested in the development of both the physical and emotional aspects of the character's relationship," she explained. "I try to keep in mind that what's happening between the characters is very intimate and personal. I primarily write from the first person point of view - so there's an immediacy and intensity that is captured there. I want the reader to get lost in every aspect of the story. How do I know if I'm achieving that as I write? I don't think I do know, which I why I bite my nails every time I turn a manuscript in to my editor. See the poor little stubs I have for nails?"
 
This importance of character is something Laurell K. Hamilton, one of Samantha’s favorite erotic authors, also seems to value. "She has amazing stamina and is an incredible author," Samantha told me. "I met her a couple years ago when we did a panel together at Comic-Con in San Diego. Laurell knows her characters inside and out and she's amazingly gracious to her fans. "
 
Her favorite erotic book is not a book at all...but an entire series. 
"I'm still completely hooked on the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series," she shared with me. "Although I must admit that I love ass-kicking Anita better than being at the mercy of the Ardeur Anita. I was glad to hear Laurell say that Anita will be getting that under more control soon." 

"What is the most embarrassing sex scene you've ever written?" I asked. 

"I decided long ago that if I was going to be embarrassed by something I'd written that I shouldn't write it and I've managed to stick to that commitment. I will tell you about a very difficult scene. I have a contemporary novel out called Shelter from the Storm. The heroine in the book had a history of abuse and there are a few flashback scenes in that book, which were very, very difficult to write. I wrote them all at once over a period of three days, then I didn't write for several weeks. I had to go to a really dark place to write those scenes. They were necessary for character development and I'm still very glad that I included them, but they were emotionally difficult for me. " 

On a more personal, lighthearted note, I asked Samantha, " If you had to pierce a body part, what would you pierce and why?" 

"I think I'm going to choose my husband's nipples," she said. "I'm boring and a bit of a chicken. However, I think I could have some fun with him if he were to be brave enough to get them pierced." Her husband is also very talented. Samantha told me he can tie a cherry stem with his tongue. "One of the many reasons I love him," she shared. 

For eating off another person? "Warm, dark, chocolate sauce," she replied. "You name the body part and I'll lick it off of it. Of course, I reserve the right to pick the body. Right?" 

She can't eat foods that are blue, however. "I got sick after eating blue ice pops when I was a kid," she explained. "I just can't stomach the thought of blue food." 

And...she's a Coke girl from way back. She told me she'd rather drink water than Pepsi. However, when it comes to beverages, she loves wine. 

"About 20 years ago my husband told me he thought I needed a hobby," she told me. "I started to go to wine tastings. We live in California, so we're able to get lots of really great wines. We have an 800 bottle cellar that my husband built in our house. We collect lots of different kinds of wine, but my favorites tend to be the big, bold reds."
 
"If you could entertain a character from a book," I said, "who would it be and what would the evening be like?"
 
"I think I'd try to convince Byron Renfield to have me over to his place for dinner," she replied. "He's a fabulous cook, a wine connoisseur, AND he's over 400 years old. So there would be a lot of good wine, good food, and lively dinner conversation. All the makings would a wonderfully entertaining evening!" 

Finally, I asked Samantha what advice she would give writers who wanted to try their hand at erotica.
 
"Read erotica," she said. "Get a sense for what is good and what is bad. Remember that the emotional connection is tremendously important. Writing erotica isn't just about writing sex."

You can keep up with Samantha on her website, http://www.samanthasommersby.com/

Friday, July 3, 2009

Friday Spotlight: Jax Cassidy

Power to inspire

I won’t lie-- I have an agenda when it comes to writing. I’m a hopeless romantic and through writing romance I’m able to create feel-good stories with the happily-ever-after I would want to read. However, beyond the happy ending is my desire to make a difference. As an author, I have the ability to inform my readers about issues dear to my heart. I’m vocal about things that are important to me, such as my love for the environment and advocating the use of sustainable design, helping those in need, and volunteering for causes that make a difference. When I’m not writing, I try to lend a hand in whatever way that I can whether it’s fundraising, donating, or helping to mentor a new writer.

In the beginning of my career, I co-founded Romance Divas with a fellow author, Kristen Painter. We started writing romance around the same time and we didn’t have the proper resources to help guide us newbies. Frustrated with the lack of online resources, we decided that we would take advantage of the booming virtual universe while giving back to the writing community. We created a place that was writer friendly and a safe haven for those who needed the support from others who understood their struggles. We wanted a place we could forge an online family to help each other through the bad and good times. Romance Divas took off far beyond our imaginings and we were able to connect international writers together, nurture beginning writers, as well as being a promotional platform for established authors who needed the extra help. Our website won numerous awards during its first four months of creation and the rest is…well, history. Now, it didn’t take much to launch an online writer’s website and discussion forum but the point is that everyone has the ability to make a difference.

Kristen and I were just two people but we were able to make an impact that counted. Every time I attend a conference, it’s a pleasant surprise to meet our members face-to-face and there’s no denying the instant camaraderie. The years of online interaction had produced lifelong friendships among our members that wouldn’t have happened without an accessible venue. What is the point I’m making? Basically, everything comes full circle. What we provide as a service to others we hope our members pass on the same knowledge to someone else. Writing is a solitary journey and as writers we have the power to inspire others by just a simple act. Kindness goes a long way and it doesn’t cost a thing. If we continue with the belief that we can make a difference, that we can offer a hand, who knows what good could come out of all this? I dare you to make a difference.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Thursday Spotlight: Jax Cassidy

Inspired by reality

Readers and interviewers often ask me where I get my ideas from and what inspires me. I can say I leave myself open to everything. Sometimes an idea pops into my head during a conversation, while I’m brainstorming with friends, or when I come across a news article or radio piece. It amazes me that I can literally think of an entire storyline in a matter of seconds based on one simple concept. Most of my stories are inspired by true life whether it’s a personal experience or plucked from a news story.

For instance, ART OF SENSUALITY was born when I watched a 2007 documentary called “My Kid Could Paint That” about a child artist prodigy who had been embroiled in a scandal. Art experts and media were vicious in their efforts to uncover whether the girl actually created her paintings or if her parents had a hand in art direction or tweaking of her artwork. Unfortunately, this ordeal was something the girl was never able to recover from and the truth is still unresolved.

Imagine being that child whose paintings were sold for over a million dollars and then in a matter of seconds was reduced to snide remarks and fodder for journalists. The story was so engaging I thought it would be a great premise to incorporate into my storyline about an artist. I guess I related to the girl because I never had formal art training, other than the occasional high school drawing courses. So, it was easy for me to imagine what it would be like if I were an art prodigy. I decided that it would be interesting to crawl into her head. I started to come up with questions to fill the holes in my story. I wondered: What if the artist felt exploited and confused and wanted to generate a little white lie to solve her problems without understanding there would be severe consequences? How would she overcome the bad press after realizing there would be no simple fixes? What if she had a nervous breakdown and how would she recover? How would she react to meeting a hero who understood her and accepted all her idiosyncrasies? The questions continued and during the process of writing the story I was able to tell a tale that was happy with and hoped my writers would be too. Of course, it’s one of those stories that either readers loved or hated if they couldn’t open their mind to the possibility.

Many of my past and future projects are inspired by the news and I think that it makes for a more deeper, compelling story. I find that when you can turn reality into fiction and execute it well, it’s a true test that you can tackle any challenging storyline.