Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is all about the things we want to do. We’re asking everyone to name three projects we’ve been planning to work on for a long while and haven’t yet touched.
It’s kind of like the writer version of the Island of Lost Toys. Come on over to find out mine.
Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is, appropriately enough, our favorite horror or scary book. Come on over for my two.
I did a post the other day on the RMFW blog, about authors being competitive with each other, and why they shouldn’t succumb to that BS.
I’m just thrilled about this project – what I think will be a fantastic intersection of theme and authors I love. Check out the cover for THE DEVIL’S DOORBELL!
A woman’s pleasure is a dangerous thing. A primal appetite that, once awakened, can never be sated. A secret that gives power to those who know it. A magic that, once unleashed, can never be contained.
Some say the clitoris is the devil’s doorbell, set to summon him forth at the merest touch…
It’s time to ring the bell.
Here are seven tales of sexual empowerment and erotic defiance, featuring the hottest storytellers of erotic fiction.
Coming April 26, 2016
Katie Lane, member of my local RWA chapter, LERA, and a lovely person in every way, is kicking off a new series today. When she was first cooking up this idea, she talked about it to me as Duck Dynasty meets Victoria’s Secret.
I was all, yes, yes, yes!
Now A BILLIONAIRE BETWEEN THE SHEETS out in the world!
Overnight billionaires, the Beaumont brothers are thrust into life in the fast lane with exotic cars, private jets . . . and sex and success on their minds.
A commanding presence in the boardroom and the bedroom, Deacon Beaumont has come to save the failing company French Kiss. He was born to be boss in this glamorous new world of lacy lingerie and stunning supermodels. But one bold and beautiful woman dares to question his authority.
Olivia Harrington has dedicated her life to the company’s success. Just because Deacon is sexy as hell doesn’t mean he’ll make a better CEO. With a limitless supply of push-up bras and garter belts, Olivia turns her considerable feminine charms on Deacon to discover what makes him tick . . . and reveals instead the billion reasons why she wants him to stay.
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And the other release comes from online buddy and amazing author, Megan Hart. Seriously, Megan keeps me sane on instant messaging, even if she does bring out the all caps in me. I also love her stories and this is no exception. With a damaged heroine fighting to find a normal life, HOLD ME CLOSE will take your heartstrings in a fist and yank hard.
Apart, they are broken, but together, they are whole
Effie and Heath are famous. Not for anything they did, but for what happened to them as teenagers. Abducted and abused by the same man, they turned to each other for comfort until they were finally able to make their escape.
Now adults, their relationship is fraught with guilt and despair. Whether fighting or making love, their passion is strong enough to destroy them both—and Effie’s not about to let that happen. She knows it’s time for her to have a “normal” relationship, and Heath is nothing but a constant reminder of the dark past they share. Heath, on the other hand, knows Effie is the only woman he can ever love. She may want to forget what happened, but he’s convinced that they must face their past together in order to move forward. So while Effie continues to bring new men into her life, Heath becomes obsessed with proving he’s the one she needs.
Then a new crisis arises and Effie begins to lose every scrap of self-control she ever had. As she struggles against her desire to return to the one man who understands her, she discovers that sometimes the only safety you find is with the person who is the most dangerous for you.
Also, I should mention that my UNDER CONTRACT is on sale this week for only 99 cents! This is a great opportunity to pick up this most recent of my novel-length erotic romances.
The kinkier the sex, the higher the price tag…
Ryan Black has admired Celestina Sala from afar for years, her lush body and sensual nature calling to the dominant in him. For just as many years, Celestina was off-limits—married, proud and self-sufficient. But all that has changed, and now Celestina is in debt and in need…and available. Ryan proposes a contract: he’ll pay off her debt if she gives herself to him in bed, yielding control in exchange for the pain and pleasure he’ll bring them both.
There are words for women who take money for sex, and none of them are nice ones. Celestina never thought she’d have to sink this low, but giving up control sounds more enticing than ever before. And suddenly it’s not about having to give in to Ryan. It’s about wanting to.
But when Ryan’s dark past comes to light, they may both be in over their heads. The terms of his contract say her body is his…but her heart may be another story.
One thing is for sure—now that Ryan has Celestina, he can never let her go.
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Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!
Seriously – you all likely know I have mad love for Megan Hart, both for her as a friend and for her excellent books. She did a super cool thing with her contribution to DARK SECRETS: A PARANORMAL NOIR ANTHOLOGY. She’d written a deal-with-the-devil story called RIDE WITH THE DEVIL, then she turned that story on its ear and told us what we couldn’t know in that story.
DANCE WITH THE DEVIL by Megan Hart
When the devil starts the music, you’d better get ready to dance.
Kathleen Murphy has sold her soul to the devil. Fame, fortune, success…everything she’s ever dreamed of is hers, and all she has to do is the devil’s bidding. When love comes knocking, the last thing in the world she wants to do is involve Jake in her twisted world, but the devil’s started up the jukebox and Kathleen has no choice but to learn the steps.
It was not going to be all right.
The two weeks had come and gone and her editor had emailed politely to ask when Kathleen might be sending in the project. Kathleen generally preferred to talk one-on-one with her editors about things like that, but this time she’d sent her agent a message telling him to handle it. That she’d encountered some personal problems and the book was going to be a couple weeks late.
That message had sent her stumbling to the bathroom to hover over the toilet, dry heaving. It should not have been a big deal. Authors, especially big name authors who had the clout to get away with it, were late on deadlines all the time. Still, she had never been, and because it had been the devil’s doing, she knew there had to be more to it than she could begin to guess.
There were other books to write, of course. Even if she hadn’t had another deadline looming and another after that, there were projects she’d planned for her own sake. She had plenty of work, but when she sat down at her desk or took her laptop to her comfortable and ugly vintage recliner, all she could manage to do was stare at a blank screen for hours at a time. She couldn’t even rouse the interest to post stupid memes on her Connex page. Her emails were piling up, unanswered.
Perhaps this had been Lucifer’s purpose she thought as she stood in the shower, head bent beneath the spray. To paralyze her for some reason. To keep her from creating? To make her fail?
A drink helped. So did a pill. But nothing took away the rising sense of paranoia and anxiety. She stopped herself from calling Callie, just to hear her sweet babble. Derek would know Kathleen was drunk and a little stoned. He would condemn her, and rightly so. She was a useless mother. She’d been a worthless wife.
In her kitchen, she pulled open the junk drawer in search of a bottle opener and found the note that guy had left. Jake. The one from the pub, the one who’d seduced her.
She called him.
* * *
By the time he got to her apartment, she’d managed to get herself under control. She had another drink her hand, but was only sipping it for show. She wasn’t quite sober, but she was far from shithammered, which was where she’d have been if he hadn’t answered the phone with a slow and pleasantly surprised, “It’s Kathleen, isn’t it?”
He’d brought dinner. Sandwiches and pasta salad from the deli on the corner. Soft drinks. She’d put out plates and silverware at her dining room table.
“This is some setup,” Jake said.
Kathleen laughed, embarrassed. “It came with the apartment. It’s supposed to be for people who give big dinner parties, I guess.”
“Do you like to give dinner parties, Kathleen?”
She paused in dishing out the pasta salad, an action she’d took without effort as naturally as though they’d been sharing meals together for years. “I don’t, really. I used to love to cook for the holidays. We’d have big parties, invite all the neighbors. I’d make platters of cookies and this lasagna dish my grandmother had taught me…”
“It sounds nice.” Jake smiled.
She nodded after a second. “It was. But it was a lot of work, and it all fell on me, always. The cooking, the cleanup. The decorating. Taking care of my house and child. It didn’t leave much room for writing.”
“You could have a dinner party catered,” Jake said. “That’s what most people around here would do.”
“I’d need people to invite,” she said lightly.
Jake had made no move yet to eat, though he’d lifted the top of the sandwich to look inside with a murmur of approval. Now he looked at her in kind of the same way. Like he was considering how good she would taste.
“You invited me.”
She laughed. “This is hardly a dinner party.”
“Play some music,” he said and got up to take her hand to pull her from the chair. “Dancing makes the party.”
“I don’t dance,” she demurred with a shake of her head, tugging her hand from his. She didn’t move away from him, though. Not far enough.
There was a reason she’d invited him here, after all, and it had nothing to do with pasta salad.
She wanted him to kiss her, to take her breath away, to pull her close and put his hands all over her. She wanted Jake to make her forget about anything but how good it felt to touch and be touched, at least for as long as it lasted. It wouldn’t last long, of course, nothing ever did. But maybe it could last long enough.
He didn’t kiss her.
“Are you hungry?” Jake asked. “I’m starving.”
She was hungry, Kathleen realized suddenly. She hadn’t eaten more than a handful of pretzels or saltines in the past week or so, but now she fell upon the deli food as though it were the last meal she might ever eat. Because you never knew, did you? What would be the last of anything?
She’d have expected their conversation during dinner to be stilted, or awkwardly flirty, but Jake made her laugh so hard she had to cover her face with a napkin until she could compose herself. He asked her questions, not the ones everyone asked about where she found her inspiration or what her writing schedule was like. He asked about her childhood. Her favorite flower. Whether she liked the forest or the ocean best.
“Trees,” she said without hesitation. “There are times I’ll take the subway all the way out to Coney Island to get a look at the beach, and that’s fine, I guess, though to be honest I don’t love the sand. And I can take a stroll through Central Park, but for some reason it’s not the same. I miss the trees a lot. I used to live in the woods.”
“You could live anywhere you wanted, couldn’t you?”
She nodded. They’d moved from the dining room into the living room, where she’d put on soft music in the background and poured them both glasses of very good red wine — to savor and appreciate, not to get them drunk. Jake was looking in the large glass curio cabinet lining one wall where she kept souvenirs from her travels.
“I could. But I love New York.” The lie slipped out of her so easily she barely knew she wasn’t telling the truth.
He glanced over his shoulder. “Everyone loves New York.”
“It’s a great place to live, if you have the money,” she told him. “If you can afford to go and do everything the city has to offer.”
“What’s your favorite thing to do?” He turned and sipped the wine.
A hundred answers rose to her lips. Interview answers, she thought of them. What people expected and wanted to hear, not necessarily the truth.
Jake smiled. After a moment, so did she. The music changed to a waltz, and this time when he took her hand and pulled her close, Kathleen let him dance with her. Minutes passed as they moved in the simple but elegant steps she’d have fumbled if he hadn’t been there to guide her.
He kissed her.
It was better than she’d expected. His hand slid up her back to cup the base of her skull, tugging at her hair, tipping her head so he could draw his mouth along the curve of her throat. She shivered, and against her skin, she felt the curve of his smile.
She’d called him here for this, but now faced with the idea of getting naked with this guy, Kathleen started to withdraw. His hand on her hip kept her still. She looked into his face.
If he was going to kill her, she thought, it wouldn’t be the worst way to die.
She took his hand and led him to the bedroom, where she pushed him gently until he sat on the edge of the bed. She undressed herself in front of him until she stood naked. Jake said nothing, but he didn’t have to. All he had to do was look at her.
“You have no idea who I am,” she whispered, “so why do I feel like you’re looking right into me?”
If he had an answer for her, he kept it to himself. At least with words. He replied with his touch. The stroke of his tongue against hers as they kissed. The movement of his lips and teeth all over her, making her sigh and tremble and finally, after a long, long, time, so long she’d almost begun to fear it wouldn’t happen, he made her shatter.
Later, quietly, she pulled the sheets up over both of them to keep the chill from settling on their bare skin. He slept, or she thought he did, which was the only reason why Kathleen turned on the pillow to allow her fingertips to trace the edges of his dark hair.
“Who are you,” she whispered, not expecting an answer.
“Who do you want me to be?”
Caught, embarrassed, she withdrew her hand. He pulled her closer, tucking her against him so that her face pressed the side of his neck. He stroked her hair. When she tipped her face to look up at him, certain that in the dark all she would find was shadows, she saw instead the gleam of his gaze as he took her in. As he had that first night in the pub, Jake looked at Kathleen as though she were something precious to him. A treasure.
Again, she tried to pull away, but he didn’t let her go.
“How would she live without him? With dreams all gone black and white, with bruised knees and bloody palms, with an open space in the puzzle of her life that only one piece would ever fit.”
Her own words, spoken aloud, always sound so strange even when she was reading them. Jake had spoken from memory. Kathleen drew in a long, shivering breath.
“You’ve read my book,” she said.
Jake breathed into her hair and was silent for a second or so, before he said, “I’ve read all of them.”
Add DARK SECRETS to your TBR!
We are now on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26135577-dark-secrets-a-paranormal-noir-anthology
I’m over at the Contemporary Romance Cafe, talking about the characters in Heart’s Blood, my Goose Girl retelling in DARK SECRETS: A PARANORMAL NOIR ANTHOLOGY.
Sassy, who is a passionate activist for accessibility for the disabled put together this panel, inviting authors with books she’d read that she felt portrayed disabled characters in strong, positive ways – sexy ones, even. I tweeted about the panel (NATURALLY) and Carla Richards (@carlarichards) asked me to relay some of our high points.
Of course, this was over a month ago and it *feels* like years ago, but…
We started with introductions and each author discussed the books and characters Sassy had selected. We talked about why we “chose” those characters – sometimes they choose us – and what their various disabilities had to do with the stories themselves.
The thing about a really good panel is I learn so much from my fellow panelists. I loved hearing about other people’s stories. I’d read – and loved, loved, loved – Megan Hart’s BROKEN, about a woman whose husband suffers an accident and becomes quadriplegic. Damon Suede talked about his characters with PTSD and another with severe injuries. Tessa Dare writes of the impact of chronic diseases in her historical romances, such as the complications of negative rH factor on pregnancies in that era. Linnea has a deaf hero and another with cybernetic prosthetic limbs, following an accident.
I always feel like the non-dramatic one in this context. In fact, I wouldn’t call my heroine in PLATINUM disabled at all, but Sassy insists that’s why she’s a great example. My heroine Althea is albino. This was my follow-up to SAPPHIRE and I was playing with the impact of color in stories. I knew I wanted the book to be about a metal sculptor and the images of white-platinum. I wanted a heroine with that coloring – and for him to be attracted to her for that reason.
As I read up on what it’s like to be albino – and this was one of the questions for the panel, how we did our research. I did mine by reading an albino girl’s blog where she journaled very frankly about her condition – and discovered many things I hadn’t known. The tremendously increased incidence of skin cancers and, very interestingly, poor eyesight. This dovetailed perfectly with my heroine because I wanted her to be a failed artist. I tied in her difficulty with fine vision to her inability to paint the delicate watercolors she felt compelled by her culture to create. In the end, through her love affair with the sculptor, she finds other ways to express herself.
So, there’s a couple of key factors here, that arose over and over in the panel. I’ll try to encapsulate them.
- The disability was always a key part of who the person is. It shapes their lives, their outlook, what they can and cannot do, how other people treat them. We all agreed that the syndrome of having a character with a disability that doesn’t actually give them problems is weak writing.
- None of us had “magic fixes” for our disabled characters. They all had the same (or worsening) disability at the end of the story as at the beginning. The stories were never about curing the person, but about how they lived with it and achieved their goals.
- For most of us, the person was loved in part because of who they became as a result of the disability. Their loves appreciated their inner strength, their struggles, their joy in what they were able to do, and took part in that journey. In several cases – like mine – the disability contributed to their particular attractiveness.
- Sometimes the plot, the internal and external conflicts, hinged around dealing with the disability. Sometimes it was a subplot. Sometimes it didn’t matter to the conflict much at all. This is key because for all of us the STORY mattered, not expounding on the disability.
- Everyone agreed that doing research is key. Sassy, in particular, emphasized that most people dealing with disabilities are delighted to answer honest, heartfelt questions about what their lives are like. They’d much rather give good information than see nonsense perpetuated in fiction.
For those who were there, anything I forgot to mention? Or do you all have other additions or questions?
All in all, it was a terrific panel that I’d love to see again. Big-brimmed hat’s off to Sassy for organizing. Speaking of which, she’s in the hospital right now recuperating from brain surgery to remove tumors. (Yes, related to the blindness.) She can use all the positive thoughts she can get, so send them her way!
If you haven’t seen it yet, the USA Today HEA Sci-Fi Encounters Blog has a great write up on Fantasy Romance, with terrific insights from the leading writers of the genre – including me, wow! – along with selections from their TBR (to be read) lists.
Also, Going Under tied for Honorable Mention (3rd Place) for Best Book of 2014 at the Love Romances Cafe! This is a readers’ Yahoo loop, so I don’t *think* there’s any way for me to link to it. That came as a total surprise – a thrilling one!
One of the most fun parts of being a writer – particularly in the romance community – is sharing the love with other authors. I’ve been so privileged in the last year to have developed even more friendships with writers who are writing similar stories and even reading mine. We get to have the great pleasure of talking about each others’ work with sincere enthusiasm. Two authors who I’ve been reading and loving – and who’ve been really great about suggesting my books to their readers – are Grace Draven and Jennifer Estep. Really fabulous ladies.
and the possibilities for collaboration go up.
For example, I’m participating in an anthology with five other amazing authors. We’re calling it DARK SECRETS: A PARANORMAL NOIR ANTHOLOGY. It’s going to be SO delicious, people!! The participating authors are Rachel Caine, Cynthia Eden, Megan Hart, Suzanne Johnson and Mina Khan. I’ve only read Megan Hart’s story – a chilling and sexy deal-with-the-devil tale – but I’ve read everyone’s blurbs. Really excited about this!
Through this anthology – and another weird, random connection – I’ve become quite chatty with Megan lately. Yesterday on IM she suggested an idea for a future project. Did I want to play? Yes, ma’am! I’m already percolating on that one. Her idea is terrific and I love being inspired that way. In a similar vein, I read and loved, loved, loved Rachel Caine’s PRINCE OF SHADOWS. Seriously amazing book. It’s a retelling of Romeo and Juliet, but from Benvolio’s point-of-view. Almost impossible to describe how super good it is. That said, Rachel doesn’t go for the smexy like I do, and I complained to her about the scene we did NOT get. (I don’t want to be spoilery, but if you’ve read it – and if you haven’t, you should! – you’ll know exactly what scene I mean.)
So she wrote it for me.
Ha! How awesome is that? Even better, I get to make it even hotter. I don’t know if she’ll share it publicly, but what a fun thing for me.
At any rate, this is kind of a rambly, gushy post, but that’s my mood today.
Sharing the love, people!