Back in the saddle again!

After a LONG hiatus, I’m pleased to announce that I have actually written something. (Ta-DAH!) Actually, it’s silly, because it’s the story I’ve been working on for months, and hadn’t managed to get the last scene written to wrap it up. Now, at last, the thing is finished and tied up in a nice pink bow.

Just in time for my summer vacation, which, as you know, is full of relaxation and getting great ideas, but generally void of actual, productive writing!

So here is my promise to you, my faithful blog readers, who have been so patient with my extended absence. I PROMISE to get these three new stories — yes, I have been sitting on three; it’s embarrassing — edited, cover art’d, and out to you before the end of June.

There! I said it, I wrote it, and now I have to do it. So stay tuned! The upcoming weeks have three new releases from me coming right up. (And, I hope, plenty of other sexy surprises, too.)

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Getting Inked

Remember that creative slump I mentioned last time? Yeah, I’m still there. It’s a sad, yet comforting place to be. No pressure, just the stories gradually fermenting until they get so bubbly the cork pops off, and I can write again.

In the meantime, good thing I’ve got plenty of finished stories to revisit! Today I’d like to offer my free novel, Major Arcana: Sex, Love, and Tarot, available to read on Inkitt. Remember this one? It was my experimental work from last year: each chapter began by drawing a Tarot card from my own deck, and using that to guide the story. Lots of fun. And I am really pleased with the result. It’s contemporary erotic romance (heavy on the erotic parts, naturally!), set in my lovable hometown of Seattle, and featuring a diverse cast of characters. Oh, did I mention it’s free? Yeah, so go get on Inkitt and read it now!

What’s Inkitt, you say? Well, I heard of it from indie author/publisher/editor extraordinaire, Ms. Eeva Lancaster.It’s like Wattpad in that authors post their work, either in progress or complete, and readers can peruse, glance, or read for free. Unlike Wattpad, Inkitt offers the possibility of a publishing contract. For authors, it can be a great way to preview your work, see how readers respond to it – and maybe even get offered a publisher in the bargain. For readers, it’s a chance to get first looks at new indie stories and novels from all genres (Yes! Erotica is allowed! Hooray for dirty words and graphic sex scenes! No need to curtail your content, as Wattpad requires). So far, I’m enjoying it.

So whether you’re new or an old Inkitt fan, check out my free novel there. The cards lead in mysterious directions… and all of them somehow involve our valiant protagonist in all sorts of sexy-romantic situations.

Major Arcana: sex, love, and Tarot

Rosemary has just been dumped. Again.

Everything in her life seems stuck in a rut: work, family, romance, not to mention her sex life. In desperation, she takes her sister’s advice and begins a journey of self-realization with a deck of Tarot cards. That decision is what changes everything.

Guided by the Tarot, she soon finds herself making decisions she’d never considered before. With two attractive men vying for her attentions – and her body – Rosemary is forced to reconsider what she truly wants, and how far she’ll to go to get it.

Set in the artsy, quirky scene of Seattle, Major Arcana offers a glimpse into the power of the self, the diversity of erotic experience, and the joys, agonies, and risks of love.

A Creative Slump

We’ve all been there, right? Things get busy, life is chaotic, and writing falls by the wayside. There’s a more-than-halfway-done story sitting in my file, and yet, somehow, I haven’t managed to sit down and actually finish it. Which is frustrating, because scenes keep dancing in my head, poking at me, burning to be let out… but those fires are doused by the ‘everything else.’

So, in short, I’m not feeling the writing these days. That’s not to say I don’t have stories in the works – there are plenty! – but it’s been weeks since I actually had the creative energy to actually sit down and write. (What can I say? Life happens. And as a part-time artisan, everything else has to be balanced and settled before art can take the forefront again.)

Hopefully I’ll be out of it soon, but if you’re wondering ‘Where is Fionna!?’ that’s the simple answer: in a creative slump.

Vive la difference?

Everyone knows that opposites attract. Right? That’s like, the oldest rule of coupling up, or creating fictional couples that belong together. Every romance writer knows, the heroine invariably detests the hero right off the bat — usually for his aggravating confidence and disarming seduction skills — but as the story wears on, she discovers he’s actually a total catch, does a 180, and bam! Opposites come together in a burst of fireworks. (Personally, I blame Jane Austen for all this.)

Of course, in real life things don’t usually happen that way. If you can’t stand a guy when you meet him, chances are you’ll never like him that much. Probably you’re right, and he really IS a jerk. Moreover, when you are attracted to someone in the first place, it’s usually for an entirely different reason: because you have things in common.

I still remember a college Biology class teaching us that some animals actually are attracted to difference. The more different the better! Orange bird gets the hots for blue bird of same species, for example. Then the professor asked us, “And what about humans? Are we attracted to differences, or to similarities?” Of course, we all parroted ‘opposites attract!’ And then she showed us a bunch of engagement photos. Like these:

(All courtesy of Google image search; click to go to source site)
View More: http://angelicacriscuolophotography.pass.us/marlonleslywashington-dc-lesbian-engagement-session-lgbt-37

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First of all, I’d like to say that I wish all of these lovely couples the very best! Long life, happy marriage, and all the good things that go with both. Anyway, as you can see — and as I saw all those years ago in Biology class — most couples are together because, well, they look alike. Because they ARE alike. They have a lot in common. That’s why they’re getting married!

And before you say anything like ‘But what about multiracial couples?’ I will counter by saying that, at least to me, ‘looking alike’ has less to do with the shape of your face, your height, size or shape, or color of your skin, than it does with your expression, the way you carry yourself, and how your personality shows. Kind of like how people grow to look like their dogs, right? And vice versa? Same thing for couples. (My mother-in-law took a look at our wedding photos and proclaimed that my husband and I both had the same smile; they could cut and paste them on our mouths and you wouldn’t know the difference! Doesn’t say much for my shade of lipstick… too discreet, maybe.) So whatever combination you happen to have made, I would bet you and your honey, set side by side, would ‘look like a couple.’ Am I right? Right. Let’s move on.

The reason I’m blogging about this today is because I’m thinking about what it all means for romance writers. Opposites attract, yes, but similarities are what bring staying power to a relationship. Therefore, when developing your characters, keep in mind that they must have more in common than not, if they are to be believable.  Maybe they are the same height, either much taller or shorter than ‘average.’ Perhaps they have a similar interest that ties them together, and affects the way they dress or behave. In lots of couples, both partners wear glasses. Something as simple as that, and yet it can make all the difference.

So let those hot opposites sparkle, crash, and burn, and vive les similaires!

Excitica: more self-publishing options for erotica authors

So with the recent demise of our smutty old friend, All Romance eBooks, indie erotica authors  were left somewhat bereft of self-publishing options. Besides mega-business Amazon and upstart Smashwords, which offer so much content erotica can get lost in the crowd. Plus they censor your best nude covers. Well mourn no more! Excitica is here to pick up the pieces.

The What: An online bookstore selling only romance and, especially, erotica.

The How: It’s fairly easy to set up a publisher account, either for yourself or multiple authors sharing the same publisher.

  • You’ll need to do some legwork on your own, in terms of file preparation and conversion. (The free e-book program, Calibre, is great for this.) They take Epub, Mobi, and PDF documents.
  • You also need a complete cover, 1000 pixels height maximum. (Covers can be more explicit! Hooray! Booties and (most of) boobies are welcome. No gentleman’s bits, however, as far as I can see… alas.)
  • Everything else is up to you, the publisher, to input: blurb, categories, etc. (Lots of sub-categories are listed, which is nice. Shop around, though, or you may miss one that applies to your book!) You also set the price, anything from $0.00 on up.

The What-ElseExcitica is a place for all your dirtiest stories!

  • Here is a brief list of some popular tags: Anal, Menage, BSDM, Brother, Creampie, Daddy, Gangbang, Dubcon (dubious consent, in case you didn’t know), Horror, Incest, Rape, Schoolgirl, Sister, Taboo

And there’s plenty more! Anyway, the good news is, if you write anything like that (and hey, don’t we all, sometimes?) then you’ll be among your people. There’s also a romance section, but from a brief glance at the homepage, it’s clear that Excitica is centered on erotica.

The Sales?: Honestly, not great so far for me. Perhaps their readership is limited. Maybe my stuff isn’t dirty enough, or my artsy covers don’t appeal among the sea of naked torsos. However, in the month since I’ve been signed up, I’ve had several downloads of my free stories, and one purchase. So hey, that’s a start!

If you’re an indie erotica author looking to get out there, get more visibility, and sell more books, you might take a look at Excitica.

My Secret Favorite…

I know authors aren’t supposed to have favorite stories. Each new book should be better than the last, and therefore should surpass earlier works, in both quality and the writer’s fondness.

However, I’ve always had trouble living by the rules, and I’m breaking one today by saying that, of all the Ancients stories, The Girl With The Golden Eye (free on Amazon Jan.29-Feb.1) remains my favorite. Why, I cannot say exactly. Something about Khorshid’s character, her loneliness, her resilience, the inner hidden workings of her heart, draw me in. Of all of them, she resonates most in my soul — as does Ardeshir, the man who, finally, comes to find her.

Perhaps it has to do with where I was in life when I began writing it. I read the article about an ancient woman with a golden eye way back in college. I was probably 19 or so. The story bloomed in my mind — still as a budding writer, of course, not yet confident enough to put my work out into the world — and I just sat down, and wrote it. Naturally, it was crap. Which is why, ten years later, I took the time to revise it and bring it into its own. The time and care that demanded made me intimate with the setting and characters. They came from within me, perhaps more than the others. When I read it again, I am reminded of all I’ve done so far in my life, and the many possibilities that remain.

So please enjoy the last of the free “Ancients” stories: The Girl With The Golden Eye.

Read all about my inspiration here: A mystery from the grave

2017 Writer’s Resolutions

Making New Year’s resolutions is rather silly, really. If you want to do something, why pick an arbitrary date to get started? However, I understand that the calendar year is a handy tool for setting goals, so this year I shall plow forth and attempt to lay out these, my 2017 writer’s resolutions.

  • First, I am determined to finish and self-publish all the stories I have rolling around in my head around the fairy tale theme, and compile a collection. Because I simply can’t go another year pondering how to make frogs sexy. I just have to do it. (I’m thinking something about the slippery skin…)
  • Second, I resolve to write more themed short stories for anthology submission. I’d like to get my name out there more with other folks in the genre, and anthologies are a great way to do that! I have a few thoughts lurking, just waiting for the right potential publisher to appear…
  • Third, I resolve to start a mailing list. I tried this once, got stuck, and gave up. This year, I’m gonna do it!
  • Forth, I plan to give away more books, and do a better job promoting said giveaways. The whole point of writing is getting your stories into readers’ hands, and I’ve found that giveaways are a fantastic way of accomplishing just that. Stay tuned for upcoming freebies!

And I think that’s enough for now. After all, the whole point of making resolutions is because you want to keep them! How about you, my fellow writer friends? What are your plans for wonderful, newborn 2017?

Flirting with Amazon: diving back into KU

Like many indie authors, I have a love/hate relationship with Amazon. Besides the fact that it employs about half of my hometown — resulting in a Seattle housing boom and shocking real estate prices, I might add — Amazon makes almost every book in the world available to anyone. You have to admit, that’s really great. In addition, Amazon has made it possible for independent authors to publish their books at no cost, unlike most “vanity publishers” who continue to ask hundreds of dollars for the same service. Without it, readers in Great Britain or France or India (all of which have bought my books) would never even know my work existed. My first book was published through Amazon CreateSpace, and honestly, I never looked back.

So, yes, I’m grateful to Amazon. And I will continue to go there first when looking to publish my work. But the trick to Amazon is the exclusivity issue. To benefit from KU (Kindle Unlimited), and have access to author-driven promotions like book giveaways and price reductions, an author must agree to make their book available through Amazon alone.

flowers-working-cover
Flowers for the Ancients — now on KU!

For a while, I didn’t like this. It didn’t seem like a good deal; Amazon is so full of books and information, my work was easily lost among millions of others. Not many readers seemed to be using the KENP feature, which pays per page read by subscribers. So, I branched out. I used Smashwords and AllRomace eBooks – both of which I also appreciated for their more open-minded view of erotica. No adult dungeoning. That place is not as fun as it sounds.

However, again and again I’ve been forced to admit that, despite diversifying, most of my sales still come from Amazon. In which case, it seems silly not to take advantage of their KU program. So, basically, I’m back in. Not all of my work is KU; I picked the stories that sold mostly there, and kept the others up on Smashwords & ARe.

Amazons Equal ebook Cover
An Amazon’s Equal, back on KU!

Also, don’t forget that I offer two short stories for free on any platform, Amazon included! (How did I get Amazon to offer them for free? Price matching. Read this Smashwords blog post for instructions on how to do it.)

Grab One Night To Tango and Taking the Reins as freebies, then go on and check out all my KU books on Fionna Guillaume’s Amazon author page.

A Peek Between the Sheets (of my new WIP!)

As I come down from completing my latest project, Major Arcana (free to read on Wattpad!) it’s time to get to work on something new! An idea popped into my head… the vision of a little French chocolate shop, all those mouthwatering truffles on display, and an equally delicious chocolatier behind the counter. What’s better than sex and chocolate? (The answer, of course, is nothing.) And so, I thought I’d share a few paragraphs of my work in progress.

What do you think? Does it whet your palate?

***

Without a word, he walked to the door, took hold of the welcome sign, and turned it to the side that read “Fermé.” The key made a grinding noise as he turned it in the lock. Then, slowly rotating until they were face to face, he reached out his hand.

“Venez,” he said.

His hand was warm, the skin slightly rough, firm beneath her grasp as his fingers closed over hers. In an instant they were moving together, she following as he led her behind the counter, past the tempting assortment of chocolates, and through the service door. There, she found herself in a fragrant world of cocoa and milk; sugar, flour, nuts and syrups; a paradise of the senses.

With a strong motion, he swung her around until she faced him. Her hip connected with the wooden countertop, and she jumped in surprise. His hands came around her waist, steadying her, gently guiding her back until she was comfortably perched on the edge of the counter. Their eyes met again, shocking her with their sudden connection. His were dark, the color of rich coffee; no cream. She wanted to drink deep from that cup.

Reaching behind her, he grabbed something from the countertop and raised it to her lips, like an offering. Holding his eyes with her gaze, she parted her lips in an act of blind trust, and was rewarded by the smooth taste of melting chocolate. A sliver of it coated her tongue with flavor, and she moaned. Until the sound of her delight was cut off by his kiss.

His lips were hard on hers, insistent and wanting. At first his tongue stole away the chocolate, soon replacing it with his own manly flavor. She closed her eyes, letting herself swim in the heady sensations. Her taste buds scraped against his, coaxing the sweetness from his tongue as their mouths fused together in a chocolaty realm of give and take. She felt the rough texture of his beard on her cheek. Unwittingly, she brought her hands up to his chin, stroking her fingers through the short, sharp hairs. The feel of his beard beneath her fingers was piercingly erotic, sending a jolt of arousal straight to her clit.

He pulled away, his eyes molten, questioning. The answer was in her gaze, sharp with lust. No words were needed; only touch.

A Sense of Accomplishment

I’m the kind of person who likes to pick one task, get it done, and then move right onto the next. In writing, this can be beneficial. Sometimes, it helps me slog through slow moments, forcing myself through as I get excited about whatever project I have waiting after I finish the current one. Other times, it makes me slow to finish, and I lose track of some of my inspiring ideas. Knowing myself, however, if I had more than one story going at once, I’d get bogged down in them all and never finish anything.

major arcana coverTherefore, I always experience a wonderful sense of accomplishment when a writing project is completed. (Or, at least, the first draft is!) This is especially true when it’s a longer work, and even more so when the entire story was one surprise after the other. That’s what just happened to me, as I typed the last word of the epilogue to Major Arcana.

As many of my readers know, this is an experimental work, published and available to read for free on Wattpad. Unlike most of my work, for this one I let my deck of Tarot cards be my guide. Each card influenced the mood and events in the chapters, so often I had to adjust the story to suit. However, in the end I think it turned out pretty well. Writing freely, with only the cards and my subconscious for direction, was scary. But it was a great exercise in flexibility and creative thinking.

Now, as that bright sense of relief and pleasure fades, the next big question arises: what to do next?

Like most authors, I have a running list of stories-to-be-written. At this point, I’m thinking about three categories:

  • Standalone erotic shorts, mostly contemporary erotica and erotic romance
  • Fairy tales erotically retold, for the purpose of getting several together into a collection
  • Historical erotic fiction, set in a variety of colonial times and settings, featuring mixed-race women as heroines (the research for these is going to be SO FUN!)
  • A new Ancients series, following up on Flowers, featuring more women from diverse corners of the ancient world

I’m dabbling in a little shorty at the moment, hoping to clean my mind and get geared up for one of the bigger projects on my list. So, what do you think? Which one should I write next? (Because you know, finishing books is addictive!)