Coming Soon

Friday 26 April 2013

Z is for Zoology

We’ve now reached the final day of the A-Z Blog Hop! It’s been a great month, and I’m finishing off with a topic that fascinates me – cryptozoology.

Yes, that’s technically a C, but it’s the best I could do with a Z.

Though I’ve never actually seen anything monstrous or out of place, I’ve been intrigued by cryptozoology ever since I visited Loch Ness. I love the idea of a displaced plesiosaur in the loch, or spotting the Beast of Bodmin Moor. I’ve always wished we were back in the days of mysterious sea monsters like the Kraken (or even belief in the Maelstrom). And I’ve seen many Bigfoot or yeti videoes, sadly most of which being debunked by Destination Truth or Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files.

So I couldn’t finish without a nod to one of my favourite blogs, which directed me to this blog hop in the first place. Please pop over to Jolie du Pre’s Precious Monsters.

And thanks for reading!

Thursday 25 April 2013

Y is for Youth

I don’t generally specify the age of my characters, unless it’s necessary (such as a college character needing to be of drinking age). But so far, they’ve all been at the younger end of the range.

I’m not entirely sure why I do that. Part of it has been because they were campus stories, but otherwise it’s just how I see them in my head. I’ve heard from other writers that older heroines, in particular, are outlawed by a lot of publishers – that young heroes and heroines are more attractive, in the romance field at least. Maybe they are. I admit I tend to associate older heroines more with dramas, sagas and historicals than with romance, erotic or otherwise.

Or maybe it’s because there are expectations attached to certain stages of life. Marriage. Children. Divorces. If you don’t want to tackle them in a romance, it’s easier to just put the character in their mid-twenties, when they could reasonably still be living free with all that to come.

I think at some point I will tackle an older heroine. How much older, I don’t know. But since I’m now in my thirties, I don’t think I can make any more excuses.

And they do say women reach their sexual peak in their thirties, don’t they? Roll on the erotica!

Wednesday 24 April 2013

X is for Xu

One of the first things I researched for my debut novel was the Greek system.

Being British, I knew very little of sororities and fraternities – we simply don’t have them over here, although they sounded like a great idea for university students to have a tailor-made social life. That said, we had plenty of societies at the one I attended, so maybe we don’t need them. Nevertheless, they provide good fodder for erotica.

It’s all those frat parties and images of girls floating around in baby doll nighties. However unrealistic they might be, it’s very easy to take a cliché and build on it – threesomes at a kegger, hot girl-on-girl sex between roommates, sneaking frat boys into your bedroom or having some maybe-we’ll-be-caught sex in the garden. My debut novel involved some menage sex in a sorority house and almost included a scene where they got caught in the lounge, except it was ultimately excised when the plot took over.

I also stuck with it for the Campus Sexploits 3 anthology, where I had two drunken roomies having sex in various yoga positions. Well, all that ashtanga I did had to be good for something, right?

I’ll always love the idea of the Greek system and college-based erotica. And I’m not the only one – Louisa Bacio’s “Sex University” was released around the same time as my debut.

Maybe I should have gone and studied in the US – experienced it first-hand!

Tuesday 23 April 2013

W is for Writing and Wine

It’s almost a cliché that writing and wine go together. I hear many writers talk about how they sit in front of their PC, glass of wine in hand; I feel very chick-lit when I do it myself. But you know, it does actually work. For me, anyway.

Admittedly wine isn’t always my drink of choice. You’ll often find me with a can of cider or a homemade Mojito. But yes, I find wine a great aid to writing. Specifically, it aids the flow. We all wrestle with our inner censor (no good if you’re an erotica writer) or inner editor; we all have the temptation to sit and fiddle with a sentence rather than just get on with it.

And wine helps.

I’m not a connoisseur, but I know what I like. I love a good Sauvignon Blanc, Torrontes or Vinho Verde. Occasionally I’ll be in the mood for a light red or a Pinot Grigio blush. And let’s not forget the plum wine I get from my local Chinese supermarket.

To the writers out there, what do you like to drink to get you into the flow?
And to the non-writers, what do you like to drink? 

Monday 22 April 2013

V is for Vehicles

I have always had a love of classic American cars.

My favourite is the pink Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz. There’s something I love about retro-Americana that the pink Cadillac feeds into nicely, and I could probably even afford to buy one – classic cars over here are surprisingly inexpensive to buy and insure. Unfortunately they also guzzle gas like there’s no tomorrow, and I have no idea where I would park it – unless money was no object, in which case it would go in my hypothetical car garage along with my Thunderbird and classic Chevy.

I also love Alfa Romeos. At one point in my life my dream car was a silver Alfa 147; a fairly attainable dream, since I ultimately bought one. I took great pleasure in watching people walk past, stop and come back to stare at the front end, with its huge badge and sideways licence plate. Sadly, Alfas cost a fortune to insure, so I had to downgrade to a Seat Leon, which was equally pretty but not quite so in-your-face.

My husband is the one who knows cars in our house. He knows that when I buy a new car I have to love the look. (Reliability is vital, of course, but a lot of cars are reliable. I want reliable and funky-looking.) My current car is a Kia Soul Burner, black with silver dragon decals down the sides, and is rare enough that when I pass another one on the motorway we wave to each other. It also has almost caused several accidents when people gawp at it, including one bloke who nearly ran his car into a petrol pump and promptly got clobbered by his girlfriend in the passenger seat.

And I’m now in the market for a new car, which will probably be a dark red Nissan Juke. Unless someone pops up in the interim with an idea for a cooler car?

Sunday 21 April 2013

U is for USA

Whenever I'm asked to provide an author bio, I always include the line "would like to take a driving tour of America in a pink Cadillac Eldorado."

The Cadillac is optional, although I've always wanted to own one. However, the driving tour is something I've always longed to do. If money and time were no object, I'd fly out there right now, buy a decent car and be on my way.

Of course, I've been told many times that fly-drives or flying tours might be a better bet, since it would allow me to see the parts that really interest me while skipping the long periods along identical straight roads in the larger states. There's a fly-drive I've seen advertised that begins and ends in Las Vegas, taking in the Grand Canyon along the way - that would be incredible. And I'd love to see Niagara Falls, which would be quite a hike from the coast.

On the other hand, I think the journey would be good for getting a real feel for a state. And I'd love to follow in Billy Connolly's footsteps - or wheels - and drive Route 66.

Any US readers have other recommendations of places to see?

Saturday 20 April 2013

T is for Travel

I'm not a good flier, but I love to travel. I never left the country growing up, so now that I can, I like to go to as many places as possible.

On my honeymoon, we went to Portugal.

Our hotel was on the marina in Vilamoura. We sailed with dolphins, we tried peri-peri chicken, and I discovered a heartfelt love for vinho verde.

Another year we went to Italy.

We stayed in Amalfi and spent the week visiting Pompeii, Paestum, Capri and Vesuvius while indulging ourselves on lemon tiramisu and buffalo mozzarella.

As mentioned in a previous blog, we also visited New York one year after I got tired of staying within Europe. My next plan is to push for either the Great Wall of China or a fly-drive from Las Vegas. I have always wanted to do a driving tour of the US.

Now I just have to learn to fly properly. Although there is one advantage of the queasiness and headaches I get from planes. By the time I reach the checking desk after landing, I'm so ill I look exactly like my passport photo.

Friday 19 April 2013

S is for Sequels

One of my current WIPs is a sequel to my paranormal novella I Heard Your Voice.

I’m not used to writing sequels. I’ve never written or even planned a series, nor have I taken supporting characters from one story and given them a plot of their own. And in this instance, I’m using the same characters, which threw up one slight problem – what do you do when your characters got their happy ending in the first book?

I write erotic romance, which means there has to be a romance thread somewhere. However, the primary romantic arc has already happened, so my choices are to split them up and bring in a new love, or to find a way to develop their relationship. And I really didn’t want to split them up. I liked them together.

Coming up with a separate story arc was straightforward – they belong to a team of paranormal investigators and my heroine has just discovered her mediumistic abilities, so the sequel takes the next step in her development. But how to handle the romance angle?

Fortunately, on this occasion, I had a side-plot from the original story about sex enhancing paranormal activity. Weave that into the plot and I had a neat way of keeping the hero fully involved, so to speak.

But next time I write a sequel, I think I’ll go the supporting-characters route. This way is too exhausting!

Thursday 18 April 2013

R is for Rock Music

I’ve mentioned previously that music is one of my inspirations. More specifically, rock music is one of my favourite things to run alongside my writing.

For one thing, I find rock ballads to be much more emotional than standard ones. Jon Bon Jovi singing “Always”, Queen’s “Somebody to Love”, almost anything by Meat Loaf. The degree of passion and emotion in rock is far greater than some of the anodyne junk in the charts (even if I do have a strange and regrettable liking for “Call Me Maybe”).

I also find rock works much better as a soundtrack to sex scenes. “Don’t Stop Me Now” was always a good one. I also once saw a supporting band (whose name I wish I could remember) whose songs had titles such as “It Won’t Suck Itself” and one song with the classic line “My heart belongs to you, but my cock is community property”. Gotta love them.

And hearing rock music live is one of my favourite things in the world. I’ve seen almost all my favourite bands live at some point, and every one of them turned in a spectacular show (with the exception of one famous group who shall remain nameless but nearly put me to sleep). In my experience it’s impossible to see a great band live and not have your entire body and soul involved in the experience – which is an inspiration in itself.

Excuse me now, I’ve got tickets to buy…

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Q is for Quirks

One of the reviews of my debut novel The Hand He Dealt described a supporting character as “maternal and quirky”. I agreed with the maternal bit, but quirky? There was something I had to think about.

I associate the word “quirky” with women in romcoms, usually played by Zooey Deschanel, who wear crazy clothes, are utterly unreliable and like to do things like run naked on the beach at midnight. It wasn’t something I would have applied to that particular supporting character. But then that’s probably just my bias, because we have to make characters distinctive, don’t we – and doesn’t that mean adding quirks?

It’s actually one of my favourite challenges with a character – coming up with quirks that also fit what we already know, and don’t define the entire person. (As an example of one done badly, in my opinion, I saw a male character in a film whose entire personality consisted of “terrified someone will crease his shirt”. That didn’t work.) When I prepare a new character, I plan out their favourite foods, their tastes in music and film, how they like to dress, and any unusual speech patterns related to accent, dialect or social preference. When I drew up my paranormal investigator Tamar Steele, I gave her a bedroom decorated with posters of nebulas and constellations and a taste for eating Chinese food cold.

Thinking about it, I’m not sure those are necessarily quirks. They’re character traits. So maybe “quirky” really is restricted to those loopy characters in romcoms. Never mind – there’ll always be someone who likes Zooey Deschanel; I’ll stick to Angelina Jolie.

Tuesday 16 April 2013

P is for Paranormal

I first developed a fascination with the paranormal when I was researching I Heard Your Voice, which follows a “sensitive” who works with a paranormal events team. Since my only experience with paranormal investigations was Most Haunted, I booked myself onto an investigation at a haunted location in Bradford.

I’ll be honest, the scariest thing that happened that night was being abandoned by my satnav on a council estate. However, the techniques used and the way the crew managed the guests was ideal for literary purposes, as was the small group of women who, I’m pretty sure, showed up only to fake phenomena. The moment during table-tipping when the table juddered across the floor may or may not have been genuine, but I strongly suspect they were pushing the planchette on the ouija board (although since the alleged spirit simply told us to go away, I could almost believe it – I wouldn’t want random people in my house either).

After that, I started an online course in parapsychology and began reading some related magazines, Silent Voices and Fortean Times. I’ve also been taking advantage of the many, many paranormal TV shows there are at the moment. Ghost Hunters, Paranormal Witness, Haunted Collector, Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files… you name it. There are LOADS.

Strangely, I’ve found that the more I read, study or view, the less scary I find it. I haven’t had many paranormal experiences, but have always believed in ghosts. However, when you’ve watched episode after episode of investigations which turn out only a couple of bumps and bangs, even the ones where the crew decide to “be provocative” (“Hey! Come on out here and scare us, asshole!”) you gradually realise that there probably isn’t much more to see. True, Ghost Hunters has caught moving objects, voices and occasional apparitions, but even those have ceased to chill me.

I think I’ve been given practical proof of what I should have known already – the truly scary thing is the unknown. Once you start to study it, it becomes really quite mundane.

Maybe I’ll take cryptozoology for my next major enthusiasm. Ghosts are in the past – roll on the chupacabra.

Monday 15 April 2013

O is for Optimism

Yup, optimism. Because as a writer, boy do you need it.

We spend most of our time putting our hearts and minds into writing stories and sending them out with the knowledge that they may come straight back to us with nothing more than “Not for us.” We work hard touring blogs and doing publicity for every release and dread the day the first month’s sales come in to reveal we sold three copies.

We hear horror stories about other writers whose careers have been skewered or story ideas scuppered by someone dropping the ball. The writer whose novel was reviewed favourably in a major US magazine and received a massive upsurge in sales, only for Amazon to run out of copies due to a print run of only two thousand. The woman whose suggestion for a three-generation saga novel was met with “Maybe you should write about four women who meet in a coffee shop to discuss their wayward children.”

And we have to keep smiling when people say things like “Oh, I could write a novel if I just had the time. What do you write, anyway? Romance? So when are you going to write a real book?”

It’s enough to drive anyone to drink.

So how do we keep our optimistic flag flying in the face of adversity?

In my case, I remind myself that this is what I’ve wanted to do my whole life. I love being a writer. I make sure I have at least three stories on the go at any one time, so if one comes back rejected I’m already way ahead with the next. I remember that my debut novel was turned down several times before being accepted, so a rejection doesn’t necessarily mean “this is crap”.

And I live near a really, really good cocktail bar. That always helps.

Sunday 14 April 2013

N is for New York

My favourite place in the world - New York City.

I visited NYC two years ago with my husband, a keen photographer whose camera nearly went on strike due to overwork while we were there. I spent the entire week with my jaw on the floor from all the sights.

Like this one:

Or this one in Central Park Zoo:

Or Times Square:

I would absolutely love to go back there. Maybe I'll make enough from my next release to pay for the flight.

Saturday 13 April 2013

M is for Mythbusters

Another personal favourite for me - Mythbusters.

Photo courtesy of the Discovery Channel website

For those of you not familiar with the show, Mythbusters follows Adam Savage, Jamie Hyneman, Kari Byron, Grant Imahara and Tory Belleci using science and robotics to bust, or confirm, their favourite historic, urban or movie myths. Notable ones have been whether it's possible to wakeboard behind the scoop of a JCB, if you really can't teach an old dog new tricks, and if you can make a boat out of duct tape.

What I love about this show is the degree of utter joy all involved have in their work. Watching Kari, Grant and Tory celebrate as a canister of coffee creamer explodes twenty feet in the air is infectious. Even the smaller myths, such as whether swearing increases pain tolerance, are done with an eye to bringing the most fun possible to the situation. The sight of Adam with his hand in a jar of ice water shouting "Puppies! Kittens! Baby hippo!" will stay with me for the rest of my life.

So I urge every one of you to head over to the Discovery Channel and check out Mythbusters. If nothing else, see it for the truly wonderful fainting goats episode. I don't know which made me laugh harder - the moment Tory leapt out of a trough covered in hay, or the looks on their faces when everyone managed to get a reaction from the goats but them.

Actually, no. It was probably the moment a goat ran up and kicked Tory in the nuts.

Friday 12 April 2013

L is for Losers in Love

If there is one aspect of chick-lit that I really don’t like, it’s the “loser in love” stereotype.

It’s not ubiquitous by a long shot. I read many strong heroines who don’t suffer from this. But all too often I’m presented with the unlucky-in-love heroine, angsting over her lack of a man, setting all her hopes on catching one.  And I absolutely can’t stand it.

Why does someone have to be unlucky in love to grab our interest? Why can’t they just be an interesting character who doesn’t happen to have a partner? Okay, there may be good plot-driven reasons for not having one, which may or may not give the heroine angst occasionally, but they don’t have to rule her life.

This is more difficult in short stories, admittedly, when you have to cram all the characterisation and plot into a smaller space, so the heroine may end up giving more headspace to the subject than necessary. But there’s a difference between wanting the hero (or indeed, second heroine) and bewailing the lack of any man.

I’m focussing mostly on heroines here, because I haven’t read that many male losers-in-love – maybe they’re not as attractive to readers. Most of the heroes I’ve read simply haven’t found the right person, but they don’t angst about it. Maybe I’m not reading the right books. But then, I don’t fancy reading about that kind of a hero either.

So, for me, I’ll avoid the unlucky-in-love routine. My heroines will get on with life and find the right guy – or girl – in their own sweet time. And my heroes will absolutely love it.

Thursday 11 April 2013

K is for Katharine Isabelle

Since I’m dedicating many of these blog posts to favourite things, I thought I’d dedicate this one to my favourite actress – Katharine Isabelle.

 I first encountered her in the Canadian werewolf movie Ginger Snaps. Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins (another excellent actress) play sisters whose relationship is tested when one is bitten by a mysterious creature and slowly begins to transform. The story adds a twist by running Ginger’s gradual wolfism alongside her menstrual cycle – nobody’s surprised by the growth of new hair or the increased sexuality, but a tail? Now that’s a new reason for back pain…

Most recently Isabelle took the lead role in American Mary, starring as a trainee surgeon whose financial straits lead her into illegal body modification. While the film itself occasionally lacks the courage of its convictions, Isabelle is spectacular as Mary Mason and some of the body mods shown looks amazing (the heart-shaped nipples in particular).

Now all I have to do is persuade somebody to make a film of one of my stories. Phone call for Ms Isabelle, I’ve got a part for you…

Wednesday 10 April 2013

J is for Jokes

As an erotic romance author, I need to make my sex scenes… well, sexy. But there are many times when I have the urge to write comedy sex.

Let’s face it, it would ring true with just about everybody. I defy anyone to claim they have never had something ridiculous happen during sex. From my own experience and that of friends, I have enough stories to fill an encyclopedia. Propelled head-first into a shelf, fallen off the bed, kicked off the rear-view mirror… you name it. One friend decided to drizzle warm brandy across her stomach, only for it to continue downwards and leave her screaming in pain. Another had things dramatically halted when the dog appeared behind them with its cold nose.

In my case, I still hold in reserve the story of my husband’s missing mobile phone, which leapt out of his pocket during a tender moment outdoors on the way back from Scarborough. We eventually found it down a rabbit hole after half an hour of panic at the roadside.

One of these days I will write a proper comedy sex scene. For now, though, I’ll have to stick to the erotic. BDSM-loving billionaires don’t mix well with slapstick humour.

Tuesday 9 April 2013

I is for Inspiration

To all the writers, artists, musicians out there – what inspires you?

For me, inspiration comes from many different sources.

Music. Nearly every story I write has at least one song as a theme. On one occasion I dearly wanted to include a soundtrack with a story – “OK, for this scene, grab your Basement Jaxx album and put on ‘Get Me Off’.” A couple of slow-moving WIPs are even named after their theme song – one of these days you might actually read them.

Dreams. As mentioned last week, I can pluck all sorts of weird ideas from dreams. The first spirit encounter scene from I Heard Your Voice came from a dream. Of course, they don’t all make sense, but it’s amazing how many times they do in a strange way.

Art. My favourite painting is “The Rose” by Salvador Dali. It’s a peaceful scene of natural beauty which one day I plan to write about (and probably utterly corrupt with erotica). I can easily see where Girl With a Pearl Earring came from – I adore that painting too.

Random encounters. I was once terrified by a very angry-looking man who chased my car up to a traffic light, cut me off, got out and shouted “Your tyre’s flat!” Much as I appreciated the information, I did wish he had approached me more as a concerned stranger and less as a raving maniac. I’ve never been so convinced I was about to become a road rage statistic. But it does make for good writing scenes.

So what inspires you?

Monday 8 April 2013

H is for Horror Movies

I love movies, and specifically I love horror movies.

Why do we love to be scared, I wonder? Is it because we want the excitement without the danger? Horror movies give us a chance to get an adrenalin rush without putting ourselves in jeopardy. You know that at any time you can just close your eyes and the danger is gone, and when you walk out of the cinema or switch off the blu-ray player it’s all over.

I think I’m a little jaded when it comes to horror, to be honest. When a new film is advertised as being “mind-meltingly scary” or “the most terrifying thing you will ever experience” I find myself thinking “Yeah? Bring it on.” It’s pretty hard to find a decent horror film these days. Slasher films do nothing for me, and I can’t be doing with torture porn. J-horror is usually good for a scare, but other than that…

Although “Sinister” was a good one. That moment on the computer screen sent a chill down my spine. And while I’m not usually a fan of exorcism movies, I did enjoy “The Possession”. I’ve never seen a film about a dybbuk box before, or a possession done in quite such a physical way.

I’ll definitely be seeing “Dark Skies” and the remake of “Evil Dead” this month.

What are your favourite scary movies?

Sunday 7 April 2013

G is for Gastronomy

One of my favourite ways to develop characters is to show what they like to eat.

Personally, I love to try new foods, even when it turns out badly (frogs' legs, for instance - ugh). In restaurants I will be the one ordering the squid-ink bread or the kangaroo steak. I will be that friend who calls saying "There's a new Russian restaurant just opened - want to go?" (I love pierogi - can't find a decent place that does them.)

My characters are sometimes like me, sometimes not. I had one character, Sasha, who was a quirky little sweetheart, eating fluffernutters as a snack. I looked those up specifically and think they sound ghastly, but then I don't like marshmallows or peanut butter and the thought of something that sweet makes me want to faint.

Sometimes I'll have a character eating things I personally hate just to be contrary.

Sometimes I'll use it to demonstrate a family background - French grandmother? Cook oeufs en meurette for lunch. Or maybe an Italian ex who taught her how to make lemon tiramisu. Now that's an ex I wouldn't mind having.

Oh, how I love using food in my writing. Only trouble is that it makes me hungry. So I'm off - I've got a croque-madame under the grill.

Saturday 6 April 2013

F is for Film Stars

I love going to the cinema, and I love watching films wherever I am. And, while I’m not necessarily a follow of celebrity culture, I do tend to keep track of movie stars.

One of my geekier characteristics is my ability to remember who has been in which film with uncanny accuracy. If anyone watches the UK game show “Pointless” – those final round “British Actors” or “American Actresses” topics? They’re made for me. I can usually list at least ten films relevant to the actor in question, even if none of them turn out to be obscure enough to win the jackpot (although the Catherine Zeta Jones round would have netted me a fortune).

Maybe it’s because I spent most of my youth wanting to be an actress myself. But, since that’s no longer the case, the main use I have for film stars now is casting my novels.

I almost always have an actor in mind for each lead role. Sometimes they’ll be an amalgamation of two, or the character will be inspired by X actor playing Y role. Tom Felton has played quite a few of my characters in various incarnations (he made a nicely moody Ash, for one thing) and I always like to use Katharine Isabelle when I can. Let’s face it, if these characters are going to be living in my head for a while, they need a face, and sometimes it’s just simpler to pull one off the screen than make one up.

Although I never managed to find a suitable actress for Tamar of I Heard Your Voice. I think it was the breasts. They ended up of a size only matched by Linsey Dawn McKenzie. And well… nah.

Friday 5 April 2013

E is for Experiences

If there’s one thing that truly defines how I live, it’s new experiences.

I am the person who keeps Red Letter Days, Experience Days, Groupon and LivingSocial running. Anything new, major or minor, I’m in there. New restaurant? Love it. I’ll be there trying the weirdest dish on the menu. New place to visit? Absolutely – I’ve got a list stretching from Pendle Hill to the Great Wall of China, although I expect crossing the Pennines will be a lot more likely than crossing the Pacific.

I’ve been up in a Virgin hot air balloon. I’ve bungee-jumped over the Thames. I’ve been on two track days to drive a Lambourghini and an Ariel Atom.

My favourite one, though, was probably the camel ride.

Camels are adorable – and despite what I had heard, these ones didn’t bite, spit, stink or kick. Although my friend, who accompanied me, was terrified that one was going to kick his car.

My next plan is to learn how to shoot. Not because I intend to carry a gun, I might add – I just would like to have a try on a clay pigeon range.

So what would you do, if you could?

Thursday 4 April 2013

D is for Dreams

One of the standard questions I am asked in interviews is “Where do you get the ideas for your stories?” There are a lot of answers I could give, but the first one I ever gave was “From my dreams.”

I tend to dream extremely vividly. Most of them make very little sense in the morning, as I often discovered when I woke up and wrote one down in the middle of the night only to find scribbled garbage come daylight. However, on occasion some dreams, or parts of dreams, have been the inspiration for some great story ideas.

The vividness is a particular help. Rather than imagining the emotions involved in a situation, a dream gives me the chance to live through it. It also means that any weird aspects – of which there are usually many – seem completely normal in context, so if I decide to use any of them in my writing there’s no small voice in my head saying “Nah, too off the wall.” And so far nobody else has said that to me, so I can’t be doing too badly… right?

But, you know, sometimes I really envy people who just lie down at night, sleep straight through and remember nothing. It would save me trying to figure out where that dream about crashing a helicopter into a pylon came from.

Wednesday 3 April 2013

C is for Clandestine Classics

Total-e-Bound Publishing were my first publisher and my primary writing home, and I wouldn't consider myself a loyal member of their author list if I didn't mention their Clandestine Classics line. However, since I've already described it here previously, I'll move on to say why it's such a good thing - this time from the point of view of someone who has read every release in the line so far.

I love to read new books, and I especially love to read classics. But it's sometimes easy to forget that there are many, many more writers than Jane Austen and the Brontes. When the first wave of Clandestine Classics came out, there were the usual suspects - Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, all of which I found equally good with their sexy additions. And then, much to my delight, there were novels I had never even thought of reading before.

Which ones, you ask? How about Dracula? Tarzan of the Apes? Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea? A Princess of Mars? And let's not forget the re-vamped Sherlock Holmes, which introduced me to a whole collection of stories I only wish I had discovered sooner.

So, when invited, I started work on my own Clandestine Classic. Sadly, though I have signed a contract, I can't tell you which one it is yet. But I will do so soon - and I thank all concerned for giving me the chance to write it.

Tuesday 2 April 2013

B is for Book Signings

As a writer, the thought of doing a book signing has always terrified me.

For one thing, I fit the stereotype of the introverted author pretty well. The idea of sitting in the middle of a bookshop, behind a desk, trying to attract people to come over and buy my book so I can sign it, is foreign to everything in my nature. I'm quite happy for people to just click on a link at Amazon, honestly. I'm getting better, because we can't get away with hiding behind our screens anymore, but I will never be an in-your-face marketer no matter how hard I try.

For another, the horror stories I hear from other writers make me cringe. It takes me back to high school. Not only am I forcing myself out there, but people are walking past ignoring me! Or, worse, giving me the wrong sort of attention. In these cheerful reminiscence sessions, writer friends have reported being asked what they write before being told "Oh yeah, I don't like those", told off for being too expensive, mistaken for someone else and then hearing "Oh... damn" or, on one memorable occasion, being asked where the toilets are. Having heard far too often that as an erotic romance writer I am a filthy slut, the last thing I want is to sit in the equivalent of the stocks to be insulted. Or mistaken for E. L. James.

Of course, since I'm primarily in ebooks at the moment, this hasn't been an issue so far. But we do have one method of signing now - Authorgraph. I signed up early on and wrestled gamely with the mouse to create a signature that bore some resemblance to my own, in the hope that somebody somewhere might want one.

So far nobody has. But hey, I can live with being rejected on the internet. I can sit comfortably, wear a dressing gown, and nobody can tell if I stick my tongue out at the screen.

Monday 1 April 2013

Day One of the A-Z Blog Hop - A is for Alpha Males

I’ve been looking forward to the A-Z Blog Hop for over a month. Now it’s finally here, I’ve decided to start with a topic which, as an erotic romance writer, is close to my heart.

Alpha males.

If there’s one thing we love in the romance field, it’s alpha males. Christian Grey, for instance, has women swooning all over the globe. My favourite character to write was Ash from The Hand He Dealt, a college football player who oozed masculinity. There’s just something about an alpha male that makes romance readers drool.

What is it about them that we love so much? Some of us like muscle and athleticism, but that’s not always necessary – power can also come from personality (back to Christian Grey again). Do we like to feel protected, physically or emotionally? Do we see strength of body or will as something we can tame?

At least these days we aren’t expected to match alpha heroes with weak heroines who need rescuing. Today’s heroines – my favourite ones, anyway – are strong women in their own right. I can’t do with the archetypal too-stupid-to-live ditz who spends all her time falling off her stilettos and expecting a man to make all her decisions for her.

In fact, one of these days I may even write an alpha female. Strong men are fun, but so are strong women.

(Although fetching a man to remove a spider is still allowable. You’ve got to draw the line somewhere.)

And, speaking of As, I'd like to give a shout-out and thanks to Arlee Bird for setting up this Hop!