Let’s talk about summer romance on the beach. Among my soon to be eleven published novels and novellas, I’ve written a series of beach romances called the Balls to the Wall Series and I’m happy to say they have been very popular. There are three books in the series so far, Volley Balls, Fire Balls, and the recently released Beach Balls, and they all take place in Laguna Beach, California, a place with which I am very familiar. Here are some of the great things about writing beach romances:
- Bodies! All that naked skin makes for hot romance. In Volley Balls, the book starts with my hero, David, dreaming over the rippling muscles of two magnificent volleyball players on the beach. In the new Beach Balls, Adam watches a tall, lean diver strip out of his wetsuit. Yum.
- Sports — If you like alpha males, the beach is a great place to find them. My volleyball players are a prime example, plus I’ve written about divers and surfers.
- Great attractions — Beach towns often have some extras that make the place super fun like amusement parks, boardwalks, and, in the case of Laguna, art festivals. Fire Balls stars an artist at the famous Laguna Festival of the Arts, and in Volley Balls, David poses as the statue of David in the Pageant of the Masters. Yep, nude!
- Sex outdoors– What writer could resist giving her lovers a great hanky-panky scene on the sand? I’ve included one from Beach Balls below.
- Sex in the surf– Remember the famous scene of Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster in From Here to Eternity? That’s why we love water.
- Sex underwater– The ultimate challenge, I put my lovers underwater for one super hot love scene in Beach Balls. You should have seen me sitting at the computer figuring out if you can suck while holding your breath! LOL You can.
Obviously, readers must like beach romances too because Balls to the Wall has been very successful. I’ll be writing more books in the series and lots of people have been sending me potential names for future books. Fur Balls? Hmm. Maybe not.
Here’s the promised scene from Beach Balls, a MM romance of summer love.
Adam James is so far in the closet he could find Narnia. But coming out would threaten all he’s built as the lead attorney for WMA Development, and the million dollars he can get when he finishes pushing a big land remediation project through the City Council. Then on an early morning scuba dive, Adam meets a tall, lean rebreather diver named Sky who makes him want to live a different life. But Adam’s dreams are shattered when he walks into the council meeting and finds the fire-breathing environmentalist who’s screwing up his chances of winning is none other than that same beautiful man. Sky Sea Mickeljohn doesn’t compromise, so how could he find himself lusting after a damned developer? And what happens when somebody open’s Adam’s closet door? These two better start telling the truth if they’re ever going to find world peace.
Still walking, Sky pointed at some boulders at the base of the cliff. “Want to sit for a while?”
Sky sank down on the sand beside the biggest rock. He scooted to the far side, which would make him invisible to anyone down the beach by the restaurant. He patted the sand beside him.
Adam sat, and Sky put an arm around him, pulling him close. Man, this was new territory. Adam took a deep breath.
“Is this uncomfortable for you?”
“No, just different.”
“Because you don’t go with guys in public?”
“Yeah. And when I am with them I usually top so I take the lead.”
“Oh, sorry.” Sky started to withdraw.
Adam grabbed his hand. “No I wasn’t complaining. Just explaining.”
Sky tightened his arm. “You like this?”
“Yeah. I do.” Adam wasn’t lying. The man was angel-faced and almost girlie with his halo of curls, but he sure knew how to be a man.
The roar of the ocean and yammering of the seagulls almost overpowered the sound of his heart in his ears. This was so damned nice. Adam pressed closer and fit his head into the hollow below Sky’s collarbone. He felt…almost cared for. Odd. That wasn’t a feeling he ever got. No one took care of Adam but Adam. Still. Sky felt good, warm, and even a little safe, which was bizarre since he was threatening Adam’s carefully manufactured identities.
Sky palmed Adam’s cheek then coaxed his face up. Adam looked into the stormy blue eyes as Sky’s lips gently touched Adam’s. He nuzzled then nipped, followed by a broad tongue lick full on the mouth. Adam laughed but he had to admit it sounded a lot like a giggle. He buried a hand in Sky’s curls and pulled his head tight, tasting minty toothpaste and pure goodness.
Adam twisted so they faced each other and wrapped his other arm tightly around Sky’s waist, pulling him close. Sky’s tongue was deep, marauding, hot and wet. Adam’s cock sprang to attention like a marine on parade. He felt as though years, not hours had passed since they’d last fucked. Sky was a heady drug, and Adam was rapidly becoming an addict.
Sky’s tongue pressed deep inside. Somebody moaned. Adam wasn’t sure who, but he wanted more. He rose up on his knees and threw one leg across Sky’s lap, settled his butt and leaned forward so their cocks pressed hard. Sweet Jesus, that felt good. He rode against Sky’s cock, and every thrust sent fire shooting through his balls.
Sky threw his head back. “Holy crap.”
What was he doing? Adam looked over his shoulder. No one was coming. Still, he should stop. But he couldn’t make his hips quit grinding against Sky’s cock.
Sky’s arms came around him. “You didn’t tell me you got rich doing lap dances, buddy.” His breath came so hard he could barely talk, and his hips pushed up like he was being timed for speed. “Hell, I’d pay a million bucks for you.”
Tara Lain never met a beautiful boy she didn’t love – at least on paper. A writer of erotic romance, mostly ménage and male/male, Tara loves all her characters, but especially her handsome heroes. A lifelong writer of serious non-fiction, Tara only fell in love with EROM in 2009 and, through perseverance and lots of workshops, had the first novel she ever wrote published in January of 2011. Then she capped off the year by being voted Best Author of 2011 in the LRC Awards and had her Genetic Attraction Series named runner-up for Best Series of 2011! A very good year.
After an exotic life of travel all over the world and work in television, education and advertising, Tara settled in Southern California with her soul-mate husband and opened her own small marketing business. She paints, collages, and started practicing yoga “way before it was fashionable”. Passionate about diversity, justice, inclusion and new ideas, she says on her tombstone it will read, “Yes”.
I have never been on a romantic getaway. Never. Even after my wedding, all we had was one night at a hotel when we were both too tired to do anything more than sleep. The next day we had to make a trip cross country for him to report back to the naval base because he only had three days leave for getting married.
Sad but true. I didn’t have a honeymoon.
So when you think of a romantic getaway, what comes to your mind? Would you want the glamorous life in a city or somewhere remote and rustic? Does basking on a private beach with your partner sound like your thing, or would you rather make love in front of the fireplace in a mountain lodge?
Image Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
I first met the amazing Jennifer Leeland at RWA in 2008.
So I’m super thankful she’s agreed to guest in my absence.
When you read this post I’ll be winging my way around the bottom of Lake Michigan toward the beautiful metropolis of Madison Wisconsin.
The DeJerkifying of Joshua
I’d never written a werewolf before. In fact, I believe when werewolves or vampires were mentioned the word “Never!” might have passed my lips. Hence, the Universe responded with not on werewolf, but three all set in the 19th century. I swear I heard the Universe laugh at the bruises on my forehead from head- to- desk contact.
But to continue. Lord Joshua Arundale, Earl of Arundale, arrogant and pushy aristocrat featured in “Wolf of Arundale Hall” was my first werewolf. Most of my stories are told to me by the characters and told in a past voice. In other words, they tell it like my friends tell me a Vegas vacation when they’ve gotten back to reality and sobered up. They lie to me.
Usually, my characters lie to me to make themselves look good or to gloss over some of the more painful moments that occurred while they were falling in love. Joshua created a whole new reality for himself. In this reality, he could leave his new wife in charge of his estates, his brother, and his pregnant cousin and come home after ten years to wedded bliss. No, seriously. Not only “wedded bliss” but dirty spanky-spanky wedded bliss.
Even I knew he was lying. Elizabeth tried to interject, to bring the story back to something that made sense, but Joshua was loud and forceful. I struggled with him. Argued with him. I asked him questions he wouldn’t answer. Most of all, I was tempted to kill him in the book just to make me feel better.
As a dominant, Joshua wouldn’t reveal his vulnerability, his abject fear when he came home nor his constant doubt as he attempted to make up for ten years of absence. The fact is that no man, wolf or otherwise, wants to grovel. And that turned out to be the biggest problem.
I got through the story, 70,000 words of some of the best bull pucky I’d ever written. I knew Joshua was lying to me, messing with me, hiding something. I knew that the key to making the book “right” was figuring out what he was trying to hide. Elizabeth, bless her heart, was no help. See, she loves him, so she’s willing to let his story stand. Reading the story, I wanted to kill him. It couldn’t be right. This couldn’t be the story they bugged me long and hard to tell.
Completely at a loss, I sent the story to my critique partner. After all, Melissa had nagged me to write it, encouraged me to finish it and listened to all my whining. So, she read it and loved (predictably) Elizabeth but completely agreed that Joshua was a first class bona-fide jerk. I got the book back with Melissa’s suggestions and corrections and gave Joshua an ultimatum.
Get real or get deleted.
Slowly, painfully, Joshua began to reveal what really happened. The dejerkifying process involved more groveling, more doubting and a near miss with a pistol, but eventually, he was much more human. Whenever he gave me trouble, I reminded him that it was his humanity that won fair lady’s heart, not his arrogance (though I think she likes that too).
You know, Joshua really believed that the way to win back his wife was good sex. I’m not sure why the male of our species believes a great orgasm will sweep away any conflict and resentment. Well, okay, it might for the moment, but in the long run, all that stuff is still there and, contrary to Joshua’s hope, we can’t stay in bed screwing forever.
There was a lot more of Joshua’s soul in the revised version. In the first telling, Joshua had made himself sound confident, sure of himself, always in control of everything and everyone. But the reality was more complex. His moments of pain, of panic, of despair were much deeper than even I knew. Once he got started opening up, he really bared all.
In the end, I had more respect for the vulnerable, less confident Joshua than the all-knowing dominant who was in charge of everyone.
Only two more werewolves to go. *groans*
You can find out more about Jennifer on her webpage here.
Amy speaking: She also provided the BLURB and COVER to her upcoming Ellora’s Cave release. You have no idea how I’m looking forward to this book. It doesn’t have a release date yet, but DANG do I hope it gets one soon!!!!
WOLF OF ARUNDALE HALL by Jennifer Leeland
Left alone to run the vast Arundale estates, Elizabeth Arundale listens to the whining of her husband’s distant cousin, extricates her brother-in-law from brothels and provides a firm hand for the cousin’s child who is a possible Arundale heir. For ten years, her husband has dumped it all in her small hands, never revealing why he traveled to Jamaica almost immediately after their wedding. But Elizabeth has reached the end of her rope and when she discovers a murder connected to a family secret, she wonders if she can protect her husband’s home and family.
Nothing would have compelled Joshua Arundale to return to his estate except a threat to the woman who had been his childhood friend and now, his wife. When he receives a letter stating a mutilated body has been left on Elizabeth’s doorstep, he rushes home. The years yawn between them and the secret Joshua kept from her is like a bitter sore he won’t allow to heal. Elizabeth rips away the scab and forces him to deal with the mess he left behind.
When Joshua’s brother gets himself into a situation he can’t handle, the secret is in danger of being revealed. Elizabeth and Joshua must team up to protect the men of Arundale.
Last night I attended my romance writers group, SARA, who are a lovely bunch of ladies. The topic for the night, time management. So, what did I learn? That my ways to avoid writing include procrastination. So what do I do when I am supposed to be writing. Um, well I just got into JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series and I really need to catch up…there are a lot of vampires waiting for me. I just started book five.
Oh another thing I love to do is start writing a new book because new and shiny is much more fun that half written mush. This is especially a problem when you are faced with a crucial sex scene or are in the middle of the book which feels like swimming in molasses.
I am also good at avoiding promo. I leave it to the last minute in the hope I can get away with not doing any but lack of sales usually puts a rocket up my arse. Release day usually finds me scrabbling for some places to blog. Now I have admitted my lack of ability and hired a PR person. Marketing is just not my bag. I am the only person I know who sold Avon door to door and made a loss.
They also mentioned something about being disorganised is an issue. I am not going there but let’s just say if I could afford a personal assistant it would be money well spent…and even better spent if he was young, pretty and happy to lay on my desk while I write as inspiration.
What genres do you write besides A Summer Night Fling?
RD: I write paranormal contemporary and I am branching into Futuristic/Science Fiction right now as well as BDSM.
What inspired your main characters?
RD: *laughs* Actually the character of Alex was in part from a Friday Flash Fiction titled “a day with Joe Mantiango (sp?) who plays werewolf Alcide on True Blood. That brought me a plot bunny of Alex stuck in a tree and Cal rescuing him.
Where do you write?
RD: Actually I write in the living room at the desk top computer since I don’t have a lap top yet.
What are you currently reading?
RD: Depending on my mood, right now a ton of M/M stories from Andrew Grey, Sue Brown, Patricia Logan, Sara York and others in that genre. And I am also reading Robin D. Owen’s Fantasy series the Exotique Summoning.
What is your best guilty pleasure? (By best I mean worst.)
RD: By far cheesecake factory cheesecake. LOL That stuff is addicting and I try to limit myself to once every 5 months.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
RD: CR Guiliano and Donya Lynne are terrific authors and have some amazing stories either coming soon or out now.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
RD: Sure…here is a little snippit from A Summer Night Fling, found in the anthology Hot Summer Fun, coming in ebook and print June 20th.
Cal Larson wasn’t expecting to find a hot sexy man stuck in a tree as he took his morning walk in the woods. When he meets Alex, sparks fly and these two will find that love is waiting to claim them. Except Alex has a secret…one that may bring danger to Cal’s doorstep. Can Cal find it in his heart to accept Alex and let this summer fling turn into something much more?
Cal Larson walked into his house and knew something was different. The feeling of peace, of home escaped him that moment. As he tried to figure out what it was, he tossed his coat over the stair railing and asked, “Hey, Mal, you around?” Silence seemed to be the answer even as he walked across the foyer to the living room, searching for his lover of five years. Spying no one in the room, he moved deeper into the house, his heart starting to pound and an uneasy feeling making his stomach churn. Opening the kitchen door and seeing nothing, he made his way back to the stair well and walked up to the master bedroom. Hoping that Malcolm was in the shower, he walked into the room and stopped short. Drawers were open, clothes scattered and no Malcolm.
He ran over to the closet and saw the emptiness where his lover’s clothes should have been. The suitcases they used on trips were gone and with a heavy heart he sat down on the bed, anguish running through his soul.
“What the heck happened?” Cal asked himself as he turned to see the destruction of the room he had many wonderful memories of. Of Malcolm coming towards him, naked after a shower, smelling all manly and all he needed to do was touch him and he was lost.
Hearing a crinkle of paper, he turned and spied a piece of crumpled paper stuck in the sheets of the bed. Smoothing it out as best he could, he saw it was from Malcolm.
By now you know I am gone. I can’t do this anymore. I have fallen out of love with you and moved on. I am sorry for this but hope you can forgive me eventually.
Blinking with shock, Cal stared at the paper in disbelief. His lover decided to leave…without even saying goodbye or offer an explanation at that. He leaves a ‘Dear John’ letter and wipes his hands of five years of being a couple, loving one another and the support from Cal as Malcolm pursued his dream of being an architect. “Well god damn me to hell and back, “ Cal swore as he stood up and walked out of the room, never glancing back as the letter slowly fell to the ground.
Other authors involved in this anthology are: Ike Rose, Jax Steele, Patricia Logan, Lisa Worrall, Sara York, CR Guiliano, Rawiya, Sue Brown, AJ Llewellyn.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
RD: Trying to keep love scenes fresh and different.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
RD: Sherrilyn Kenyon is awesome. She has so many wonderful books and series that it amazes me. Her books are layers of gooey goodness and she is definitely on my to buy list each time she has a release.
Who designed the cover?
RD: Sara York designed the Hot Summer Fun antho cover. The cover model is gorgeous and the photographer let us use it for free which was thrilling.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
RD: Making sure it read as a smoothly as possible. *sighs* For it being my first M/M story, I was anxious to make sure it worked right and that it connected with the reader.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
RD: I love hearing from readers on my work. I encourage them to follow me on facebook or my blog (http://authorrainedelight.wordpress.com)
Coffee/Tea? Both actually..I drink coffee in morning then switch to tea in the afternoon/evening
Cake/Cookies? Ooohhh toss up…I like both but cookies edge out over cake
Coke/Pepsi? Pepsi all the way…cherry pepsi is my favorite
Heels/Flats? Neither…I am a boots girl or sneakers.
BDB/The Order? BDB baby…love John Matthew to pieces
Vampires/Werewolves? Um right now I adore fairies….Werewolves shed and vampires like my blood too much. *grins*
Cats/Dogs? Cats….love them.
Fly/Drive? Drive though I am flying to New Mexico in October for a retreat. My first time on a plane. *grins*
This weekend, the husband and I celebrated five years of marriage and ten solid years of being in a committed, loving relationship. It’s crazy how fast time flies! Heck, I can’t believe that my ten year high school reunion was just two weeks ago. It’s wild how easy it is to lose track of time.
But nothing–and I mean nothing–takes me back to the earliest days of my relationship with Dave-O than watching him at the stove while he cooks up a big ole batch of bull’s eyes. (Some folks call this breakfast dish egg-in-a-basket or toad in a hole.) It’s the simplest thing, really. A slice of bread, some butter and an egg. It doesn’t get much easier than that for breakfast. They’re just so darn good!
This was the first thing the hubby (then boyfriend) ever cooked for me. It was one of those lazy mornings around his place. At some point, love wasn’t going to be enough to sustain us. Dave offered to make breakfast for me and, well, the rest is history.
It’s kind of funny, I guess, that in my mind, our love is tied to a fried egg in a slice of toast but there you go. Sometimes the simplest things are the best things. We tend to be a down-to-earth, casual couple so it makes sense that bull’s eyes are “our” food.
So what about you? Is there a specific dish that conjures up all those warm, fuzzy feelings? Did your love blossom over some late night Chinese takeout? Maybe you felt the spark over a big plate of pasta or the spiciest Indian curry. Inquiring minds want to know!
by Janice Seagraves
The black moment is near the end of your story, right before the climax. It can also be the moment you’ve been foreshadowing during the entire story.
It’s the darkest part of your story, where everything looks the worst so you reader will keep turning pages just to find out if . . . your couple will get back together. The hero or heroine will survive the encounter with the bad guy. Or in the Movies: is Luke’s Father going back to the evil Empire’s side. The Mercenaries are going to kill Tree of Souls and neither Jake nor the Na’vi can stop them.
Where it looks like all is lost.
So why do we write the black moments?
Because it make for a more compelling read and it makes the climax even more interesting, because that’s when you hero or heroine saves the day.
In my book Windswept Shores, my black moment involves pirates. Not the sexy pirates of the Caribbean, but modern day, nasty, thieving pirates of the Bahamas.
Excerpt, Windswept Shores:
Closer to camp, she heard voices. Oh, the self-styled-natives must be visiting again. Megan looked forward to their infrequent visits, and her Spanish was improving with use. They had also taken a second letter to her sons, if it ever made its way to the states, anyway. Maybe I can talk them into selling me some fuel?
With a lighter heart, she walked out of the bush, only to see suitcases and clothes flying out of her tent. Her wicker door had been cut off and tossed to the side. The deflated raft lay near it.
“Hey, what are you doing? Stop that.”
A dark head popped out of her tent. “Bueno dias, senorita,” he said with a gap-toothed leer, making Megan self-conscious in the bikini and sarong she wore.
A thump from the boat made her glance from the ugly man to the Dinki-Di. Someone was digging through the built-in tool box and setting things to the side. “Get out of the boat. It doesn’t belong to you.”
“Who might you be, little lady?” asked a man with dirty blond hair and a slight southern accent. He seemed to be supervising the men. He sucked on a cigar, blowing out a cloud of vile-smelling smoke.
“None of your business, that’s who. Tell your men to get out of my stuff,” she snapped. “You’re trespassing.”
“Trespassing is a matter of opinion, especially since your boat’s a derelict. We claim salvage rights.”
“The Dinki-Di is my home. It’s not a derelict.”
The man from the tent snatched her basket and stepped over to the blond man, stuffing fruit into his mouth. Juice dripped down his chin.
Startled by his hyena laugh, she took a step back. “Jerk. You guys are no better than thieves, you’re pirates.”
The blond tossed his cigar, took out a fruit, and shined it on his shirt before he bit into it. “Pirate is such an out of date word. I prefer the term entrepreneur, and these men are my employees.” He frowned at the plundered plum. “Ugh, it’s overripe.”
“Madre de Dios,” exclaimed the one in the boat, standing up as he dropped one of Seth’s huge sandals.
“Who else is here with you?” demanded the blond man, pitching his fruit to the side and wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.
Megan glanced around at the strangers’ hard expressions. All at once, she realized what they saw; a short, unarmed, scantily clad female all alone on a deserted island. They even took my basket away. I could have thrown my produce at them and ran. God, there are no police! No people. Just us. They can do whatever they want, and who would stop them? Feeling like she had just swallowed a lump of ice, Megan took a deep breath and yelled, “Seth, help. I need you.”
Windswept Shores: http://pinkpetalbooks.com/Windswept-Shores-Janice-Seagraves.html
Janice Seagraves website: http://janiceseagraves.org/
Janice Seagraves blog: http://ladyjanice.blogspot.com/
Janice Seagraves on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/janice.seagraves
What genres do you write besides erotic romance?
Erotic romance is my first love and its nearly always M/F contemporary. By that I mean set in the present day, no shape-shifters or blood suckers, just ordinary people meeting, having sex, falling in love (sometimes the other way around) and then finding their happy ever after. Menage is a sub-genre I come back to time and time again. I adore the dynamics of having three or more people in a relationship, not just in the bedroom but also out of it. I blog regularly at When One Is Not Enough – http://menageromance.blogspot.co.uk/
Having said that I have been reading a lot of paranormal lately and a sexy vampire story is staring to brew in my head. Soon I may have to set some time aside and get that written down. It’s going to be hot, naughty fun and the more I think about it the more I want to play with it.
What inspired your main characters?
For my latest release at Ellora’s Cave, Stockholm Surrender, the characters were already there, set in stone. Why? Because two years ago I had a short free story published at EC called Stockholm Seduction about Penny Tipping, the British Foreign Minister’s daughter getting held to ransom by a hunky Australian surfer.
Then about a year ago I was wandering around Amazon looking for something to read myself when I came across reviews for Stockholm Seduction. I was surprised to find that it either had the ick factor or the ‘more’ factor. Here are a couple of reader comments from either side of that spectrum.
“A woman is kidnapped, and decides to have sex with her captor? The message in this short story is disturbing on so many levels.”
“I was panting to know what happened when he found her next! I’ve read romantic short stories before, and they always left me hollow, but Lily’s left me craving. I would definitely recommend this e-book if you want a quick read with steamy scenes, hot men, and women that know what they want and are not ashamed to admit it. I get excited shivers thinking what the author could do with a full length book!”
This got me really thinking and I headed over to Goodreads to see what readers had said there. The overwhelming comments were to the effect of “this story is too short” and “where is the rest?” So me being me, I got my naughty mind whirring and over the next few weeks waited to see if the characters would talk to me again. I wanted desperately to oblige the people who had taken the time to comment on the book and give them the rest of the novel. Luckily Penny and Ty were desperate to have their steamy story told and soon Stockholm Surrender was evolving in my mind and flowing from my fingertips.
Where do you write?
At home, in my study which is up in the eves of the house and has amazing views from a big sash window. When I pause to let characters have a conversation in my head, or need to stare into space and imagine a location or dream up an image my gaze wanders across Welsh farmland and rolling hills dotted with sheep, barns and hedgerows – bliss!
What are you currently reading?
Not Her Type by Kay Jaybee
What book do you wish you’d written?
The Time Traveller’s Wife. Love the book, adore the film, particularly Eric Bana. The only trouble is I would have made it really raunchy!
You have to jump out of a plane w/ a holey parachute or edit your 100K MS by hand, what do you do?
The 100k any day. I would only jump out of a plane if it was about to crash, any other time, no way. I would die of fright, I just know I would. Not because I don’t have crazy moments and a sense of adventure, I do, but just nothing to do with heights. Give me speed, like belting around on a horse, or action, like white water rafting and I’d be first to put my hand up. But nothing to do with heights and coming down fast. Nope, just the thought of it makes be prickle with terror.
Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, I write full time now. In a former life (it kind of feels like that now) I worked as a nurse in a trauma unit in London. But moving to the countryside changed all that and now I’m thrilled to be able to write to my hearts content. If anyone had asked me ten years ago I would have insisted that I would still be nursing right now, climbing the career ladder. But that all changed, and I’m glad. The pace of life was hectic and burn-out gets most people in the end, I’m pretty sure it would have got me.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, I wouldn’t. There were however times I wished I could fiddle with things in the prologue, which is the free short story Stockholm Seduction, but because it was already published, out there in the world, there was nothing I could do about it. I had already set the characters physical attributes, some of their personality traits and speech quirks and the location. Luckily it didn’t prove too much of an obstacle and the novel came out just as I’d hoped.
I am writing my next c-author with Natalie Dae (aka Emmy Ellis). This is our third novel. The first is That Filthy Book – http://www.total-e-bound.com/product.asp?strParents=&CAT_ID=&P_ID=1604 , the second has just been contracted to Harper Collins new erotica line Mischief – http://www.mischiefbooks.com/ and this one, we haven’t decided on a name yet, is coming along swimmingly.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Just being able to type fast enough and get enough time to get all the stories in my head down. Also I write best in the morning, which is odd as I’ve never been a morning person, and sometimes it’s a challenge to not skip essential jobs and just sit down and write for hours after breakfast – I do that a lot, but guilt kicks in when a pair of big brown eyes look up at me and a tail won’t wag because my four-legged friend hasn’t had a morning walk! Its good for me to get out in the fresh air for some exercise though, staves off the dreaded writers bum!
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learnt that a short story can bloom into one big, fat novel if you give it time to fester. When writing the rest of Ty and Penny’s story I also thought of what Ernest Hemmingway said about short stories – the essential elements are a history, a present, and a future. In Stockholm Surrender I wrote my character’s future.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
One thing I have learned is once you’ve finished writing something, be it a short story or a novel, is put that manuscript to one side. Let it incubate, stew, rest, whatever name you want to give its time in the ‘finished’ folder. (Make sure you have it backed up.) Then go and have fun, spend time with friends, family, go to the movies, read a book, but just forget about your novel for a week or two and then go back to it with fresh eyes. A re-read will reveal flaws in the plot, typos, better word choices. Go through the ms again and pick up these things, polish it. I do this every time now and consistently surprise myself at how much I shift things around.
I have more tips on this page of my website – http://www.lilyharlem.com/tips-for-new-authors.html
Coffee/Tea? Tea – it’s my main source of fluid intake!
Cake/Cookies? – Cookies, but only if they’re fresh and have that slightly doughy texture in the middle.
Coke/Pepsi? – either as long as its cold.
Heels/Flats? – Oh, heels, so sexy!
BDB/The Order? – ? no idea
Vampires/Werewolves? – Vampires, mainly because I am a True Blood fan.
Cats/Dogs? Ah, I have both, they will never forgive me if I choose!
Fly/Drive? –Drive, again, it’s the height thing.
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Stockholm Surrender – buy link
By popular reader request, the full-length story of what happens after Stockholm Seduction.
My soul was in turmoil. Ty Winters had not only kidnapped me in Oz, my heartstoppingly gorgeous surfer had also stoked my darkest desires, bringing all my fantasies to the surface. So Oxford wasn’t going well. Until, that is, he creeped from the shadows—desperate, sexy, dangerous and wanting a piece of me, literally!
He teased me with a taste of his carnal skills, leaving me burning with frustration then forced to stand by as he fought for his beliefs using my lust-addled body as his most powerful weapon.
Oh, my kidnapper knew just how to get what he wanted, giving me just what I needed, while hiding our relationship from the British foreign minister and police. Because sometimes two people are meant to be, even in the most unconventional circumstances and twisted situations. We could fight the world, but we couldn’t fight our passion.
Reader Advisory: This book contains a steamy scene where Ty shares Penny with his best mate—lucky girl!
He reached back onto the bed for a small, brown leather rucksack. He delved into it and pulled out a newspaper and a camera.
“It’s yesterday’s,” he said. “But your father will still get the message.” He tilted his head and smirked lopsidedly. “The message that I can get to you whenever I want, wherever I want, bodyguard or no bodyguard.” Carefully he laid the newspaper on my lap. It was sort of folded up onto my belly so that the headline was visible. He took a step back and held up a small, silver digital camera. “I would say smile,” he said with a shrug, “but I guess it’s not appropriate.”
That was the goddamn understatement of the year. Dad was really going to flip at this one. Me in my underwear, gagged, tied to a chair in my room with Roger snoozing outside, just a few feet away. The shit was really going to hit the fan. Big-time.
I heard the camera click once then Ty was back next to me. He folded up the paper and shoved it along with the camera into his bag.
“Mmmph,” I said, shifting on the chair.
“I’m sorry, so sorry,” he said, bending over me and peeling off the tape. It tugged and stung as it pulled my skin. “Baby, I’m sorry, I just needed to do that.” He shoved the tape into his bag too.
“For fuck’s sake,” I hissed. “That stuff is foul and what the hell are you playing at?”
He stooped and pressed a soft kiss to my lips. “Sorry, I’ll make it up to you, I promise.”
I allowed my mouth to become pliant and open, let him in to search and gently tease my tongue with his in slow, languid movements. He tasted divine, like fresh water, a hint of vanilla and turned-on man. As he kissed me reverently, indulgently, my irritation with him dissolved as though it were a spoonful of sugar in hot tea. This was what I’d been waiting for, this moment with Ty. The man I shouldn’t want but did. The man whose tenacity and loyalty I admired even though everyone else thought he was a brutish thug who should be hung, drawn and quartered.
“Ty,” I gasped. “Please, untie me.”
“Mmm, in a minute. I kinda like having you at my mercy.”
He smiled, slow and sexy. “It gives me all kinds of dirty ideas.”
Seriously, just like in real life relationships, hot sex alone cannot sustain anything. Not even a book. Any book. Neither is a good story alone enough to support a book. The fact is, editing is essential in presenting a final product that readers can enjoy.
Of late, I have read a number of self-published books that leave much to be desired in the editing department. And, the most frustrating part is that they are good stories! As an author who is digitally published, self-published, and an avid reader it boggles my mind why an author would publish a book that is so in need of editing and proofreading that a 12 year-old could do it.
Here’s the reality. The world of self-publishing is a small community. And like it or not, how one self-published author behaves reflects on all self-published authors. When enough writers produce mediocre books, the entire community will be painted with that brush. It takes a lot for an author to rise above that tarnish and be noticed by potential readers.
What can self-published authors do? Be rigorous in your standards of production. As all writers do, re-write and edit. Be diligent. Set your WIP aside for a week or two once you think it is done and then reread it. Once you are sure it is complete, have a beta reader or five read it. Listen to what they tell you. Are you head hopping? Fix it. Stay in one characters POV for at least a scene if not a full chapter. I mean, if you’re in the heroine’s POV she can’t see that her face has flushed red. If you’re in the hero’s POV he cannot know that the heroine is thinking he looks sexy unless she says so. Correct any grammar issues and missing words.
Then, take a look at digital and print books. How are they formatted? Follow suit. There are industry standards that readers are accustomed to. Mimic those as best as you can. Don’t use crazy font changes. Italicize foreign words, thoughts, and words you want to emphasize (sparingly). Use the em dash, it’s a tool available in all word processing software.
Finally, hire a professional editor. Listen to what they say and make changes accordingly. The bottom line is you should be able to produce a product that is representative of your brand. Every book that has your name on it is reflective of you as a writer. It is the primary way you interface with your readers.
One bad experience can turn a reader off from you as a writer. It won’t necessarily, but it can. Just writing hot sex is not enough to carry readers into future books.