If excuses were wishes…

So I’ve been rather absent these past several weeks. No excuses, really; just a lot of stuff going on these days, and it’s sapping my creativity. In short, real life is busting in, unwelcome, into my artistic life. And, alas, real life takes precedence. Survival demands it. I’ve barely managed to read any good books, much less write one!

However, I’ve got a nearly-finished project just waiting for the last few scenes, and two completed stories that are just edits – and covers – away from hitting the e-book shelves. So don’t despair! More juicy erotic goodness is in the wings, waiting for the perfect moment to waltz onstage.

In the meantime, don’t just sit around waiting for me! There are plenty of amazing indie erotica authors out there, and you should be reading their work. Here’s a brief list of some of my favorites:

  • Patient Lee  :  author of erotic realism (a.k.a. the REAL good stuff).
  • Pandora Spocks  :  featuring hot, modern BSDM relationships. Yowza!
  • Lilah E. Noir  :  all kinds of hot & sexy tidbits…
  • Ian Saul Whitcomb  :  one of the most creative erotica authors I’ve ever read!
  • Emmanuelle de Maupassant  :  sensual, sophisticated erotica with a historical bent.
  • Sexscribbler  :  amazing talent, with stories offered for free on her blog!
  • MS Tarot  :  always surprising, and a superb storyteller. Plus all the great sexy bits.
  • Siren Allen  :  Scifi erotica, with surprises on every page!

It’s here! The last book in the excellent November Snow series!

Those of you who actually read my blog know I am a HUGE fan of A.M. Manay’s November Snow series. I’ve had the great pleasure to read them all, and the frustration of finishing book two – which ends in a nail-biting cliffhanger, by the way. Now, at last, the long-anticipated third book is here! She Marches Through Fire : November Snow book 3.

I’m not a vampire-romance groupie, and usually books about supernatural creatures… well… bore me. There’s so much magic in the real world I’d prefer to sink my teeth into! Therefore it was my delight and surprise to fall utterly in love with A.M. Manay’s characters and story. Despite all their special powers, the fairies, werewolves, demons, and vampires in this series are never one-dimensional. Their world is our own, with all its challenges and joys, its hope and disillusion. It’s rare when an author can blend to much reality into a fantasy tale, but this is it! And the result is something even more rare: a rich, fast-paced, thrilling series that I could not put down.

Please do yourself a favor and buy all three November Snow books today! I’m serious. They’re THAT good.

Celebrate Romance!

Valentine’s Day is coming soon, and to celebrate I’m offering a lovely selection of erotic-romantic stories for your FREE reading enjoyment! These giveaways only last for a couple of days, so get in there now before they’re done. Because everyone knows, the best way to celebrate romance is with lots of steamy hot erotica. To be enjoyed alone or en couple. 😉

Here’s what you can get:

An Amazon’s Equal – free on February 13th!

amazonequal3DcoerPyrena, an Amazonian warrior, lives in an idyllic society. All sisters, the Amazons share everything: work, meals, homes… and captive men. The men they keep are for pleasure; love is unknown among these fierce women. For Pyrena, things become more complicated after she captures a handsome Greek warrior, Astrastos. As she comes to know him, she begins to realize that her world is not so perfect, after all.

Flowers for the Ancients – free through Feb. 14th!

flowers-working-coverThis collection of erotic stories features women across the ancient world, from Africa, through the Middle East, to Asia. Their stories are as diverse as the heroines. They are queens and peasants; virgins and mothers; loveless and adored. Some of their names are familiar. Others are unknown. All of them lived, and lusted, and loved. Just like us.

 

lemonscoverLemons In Their Slippers: an erotic romance retelling of ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses’– free through the 14th!

If you’re in the mood for some erotically imagined fairy tales, this one written just for you! Why did those princesses really wear out their dancing shoes? (It should come as no surprise that more than the shoes got some action every night!) Romantic and sexy, this remains one of my fuzzy-good-feelings favorites.

And finally, ALL the ‘Ancients’ stories are FREE on the 14th only! The stories (also to be found all together, in Flowers for the Ancients) are: Sheba’s Lovely Maidens,   Queen of Beauty,   Buktu’s Well,   The Girl With The Golden Eye,   A Bride for Seven Brothers, and   How The Lotus Blossoms.

The importance of a varied diet

We all know we need to eat our fruits and vegetables, limit fat and sweets, balance our whole-grain carbohydrates and healthy proteins. The importance of a varied diet is well documented. But the same goes for reading: if we overindulge in our favorite things (and be honest about your sugary favorites!) we end up with rotted teeth and diabetes. Or, in the literary sense, a lazy, mushy mind.

To that end, I encourage everyone — writers especially — to diversify their reading diet. Truly, it keeps your senses sharp, and offers plenty of perspective that can improve your own writing. If you don’t read, you can’t write. Period. (And if you don’t read many different genres and styles, you can’t write well.)

And just so no one can claim I don’t practice what I preach, here is a list of some recent books I have read and enjoyed, more or less in order. Amazon buy links included, as well as genre. With a growing stack on the horizon, I’ll be busily eating my literary vegetables for a long time! (And, you know, indulging in candy bars regularly too…)

Currently reading: The Things They Carried – fiction – The Vietnam War revisited through a series of brief, vivid tales, each a visceral reminder of the horrors of war.

The Cellist of Sarajevo – literary fiction – A gritty, wrenching portrayal of a city under siege, and the struggle to preserve humanity under inhuman circumstances.

Knight of Jerusalem: a biographical novel of Balian d’Ibelin – historical fiction – Well researched and unique, focusing on a little-known character during the medieval Christian occupation of the Holy Land.

The Shipping News – contemporary fiction – Superb characterization, snappy writing, and a darkly humorous look at love, life and struggle in modern-day Newfoundland.

Saga – graphic novel/space opera – One of the best things I have read, ever. Great adventure story, excellent dialogue, and gorgeous artwork. Go get yourself a copy now!

The Sport of Kings – literary fiction – A new take on the dark, gothic Southern family saga. Incest, violence, wealth, and racism intersect in all the worst possible ways.

My Antonia – American fiction – It’s a classic for a reason. People just don’t write like this anymore.

I Won a Basket of Porn – erotica/humor – In case you needed another reason to love author Patient Lee! Hilarious fun poked at small-town politics. Plus sex.

Because Beards – erotica/romance anthology – A fun collection of sexy stories, all with some kind of bearded hero. Some were excellent; all were okay. Plus, it’s for charity!

A Heart’s Promise – romance – On the sweet side, a classic romance novel featuring a horse-loving gal and a hot, modern cowboy.

Little Birds – erotica – Sexy short stories, from back in the day when erotica was all about turning on classy, well-read rich people.

Ancillary Justice – science fiction – An unusual SciFi adventure, featuring a ship that is also, somehow, a person. Totally unique.

All The Light We Cannot See – historical fiction – The kind of book that moves you to tears… and makes you wish you could write like that. Utterly superb.

 

Effortless Diversity : a book review

Some books can justifiably be defined as masterpieces. These are literary works that stand the test of time; The Classics, and all the other fine novels and texts we can read over and over again without tiring. All of us have books like that. I, for one, have always loved losing myself in words, in the geography of my imagination.

My husband, however, is not like that. If he reads a text-heavy book, it is probably nonfiction. However, a true Frenchman, he has long been an admirer of graphic novels. In the American context, these have until recently often been dismissed as (or rather, lumped in) with comic books. Superheroes and stuff. No offense if that’s your thing; too much spandex for my taste.

One book we can both agree on, now, is Saga. This is fast becoming one of my favorite series ever. It is, essentially, a space opera. Think SciFi/Romance. Yet of the deepest, most engaging kind. Yes, sexy aliens are getting naked and busy on a regular basis (That’s fun! And hey, graphic novel, so you get the artsy eye candy to go with…), but there’s so much more to it. Themes of diversity; clash of cultures; discrimination and stereotyping; the meaning of family; even the uniting power of literature; are woven throughout the main story. Adventure can be found aplenty, but for me, Saga is an inspiring example of effortless diversity. (Much like the delightful online cartoon I previously mentioned, Fated.)

15704307With my recent musing on how to address white privilege in writing, reading the recently-released sixth book of Saga was a welcome reminder that there is lots of great literature out there already fighting the good fight. In Saga, aliens come in all shapes, sizes, ages and colors. They live together, fuck together, fight each other, and generally are no better or worse than most “humans;” except way more badass. The blend makes this fantastic world excitingly familiar. Reading Saga, I can totally imagine how an inter-galactic, multi-species society might be. And you know what? All of a sudden, small differences are erased by the bigger picture. That picture happens to be an endless (and pointless) civil war, but hey, conflict has to come from somewhere.

Saga is the real deal. If you want some seriously good science fiction – and enjoy beautiful art, snappy dialogue, an un-put-downable story, thoughtful sexiness, and effortless diversity to boot – then you need to buy a copy right now. I’ll just be counting the months until the next book comes out…

Elizabeth Bennet Syndrome

So I’ve been reading a lot of romance novels lately – what a surprise! And something struck me. Not for the first time, but for some reason I felt the need to define it, and respond to it. I call it: The Elizabeth Bennet Syndrome.

Here’s what it is (and you’ll surely recognize this plot point right away): that typical – almost expected – part of a romance novel, when the two main characters are just getting to know each other. And instead of hitting it off, they actually start out disliking the other. Sometimes mere annoyance or discomfort due to unfulfilled sexual tension, but often full-on “I can’t stand you” confrontations. Yes, just like Lizzie Bennet and her hate/love relationship with the inimitable Mr. Darcy, of Pride & Prejudice fame.

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The smoldering eyes, the sexual tension, the money… Of course, it takes several dramatic hours before the actually smile at one another!  (And before you speak, there IS no other version than the BBC one. Don’t mention that recent movie they made – not a candle to it!)

When Jane Austen does this, it works beautifully because (as we learn throughout the course of the story), Lizzie and Darcy really are a great match for each other, but this only comes about through communication, gradual understanding, and seeing Darcy in a clingy white shirt after a hot&sexy swim in his (huge, rich) mansion’s pond. However, honestly, even when reading the original Pride & Prejudice, Darcy & Elizabeth’s relationship is not my favorite. No, I’m a fan of Bingley and Jane.

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So good together!

In stark contrast to her sister, Jane Bennet falls for Mr. Bingley, the all-around nice guy. (Not as rich as his friend, incidentally, but sufficiently well off for a practical Regency gal). Jane and Bingley are instantly attracted to one another, not merely physically, but also because they have similar, complimentary personalities and worldviews. Basically, they are a perfect match.

So why do we swoon for the Darcy’s of the world, and not the Bingley’s? Why do so many romance novels have characters who dislike each other in the beginning, and then fall in love? Why not fall for the nice guy first?

Part of it, I think, is the idea that the more “tension” you have in your relationship, the more passionate it is. Darcy and Lizzie argue, which leads us to envision bedroom delights of the tie-up-throw-down variety. (You know, the fun kind!) Whereas happy, easygoing Jane & Bingley don’t demonstrate that outward confrontation. Sex is a game and a battle; who’s on top, who’s setting the rhythm; who climaxes first; who yells and who thrashes. It’s all about control and submission, just like an argument, really.

The problem I have is how this translates to expectations, in literature and in the real world. As authors, we are taught that stories must have conflict. So when writing romance, naturally it is tempting to pit the protagonists against one another, only to bring them together in a blaze of exploding hormones later on. I get it; tension is hot, it gets the pulse going, it keeps you turning the pages, wondering how they will end up together. The less they like one another in the beginning, the more dramatic their eventual relationship seems on the page.

But life is not really like that. From personal experience, I can tell you that usually, the guy you don’t like at first is actually a guy you will not like, ever. Probably, he’s a jerk. Maybe controlling, maybe just has personal issues, or someone you don’t click with for whatever reason. That does not make the sex better. (The opposite is often true, in fact; those guys can be selfish in bed, and I don’t care how much erotic tension there is between you, if he’s crap in the sack, he’s not worth your time!) On the other side of the coin, couples who just seem to get along and be cool together can have awesome, passionate, kinky sex lives. True relationships are built on respect and communication. So is great sex. (We don’t read about it, but I bet sweet Mr. Bingley has some unexpected tricks up his perfectly tailored sleeves… lucky Jane!)

We need to see more of that represented in literature and film. Not only because it’s true – and I like to seek truth in fiction – but also because it’s way more interesting than retelling Elizabeth Bennet’s story. That’s been done over and over again. And seriously folks, Jane Austen already did it best.

First Sexy Books – remembering your literary first time

If you don’t already follow SexScribbler on WordPress, you should! Not only is she an amazing writer, she also reveals these bits and pieces that remind me we are never alone. Not now, in our over-connected world, and not ever. Who doesn’t remember the first time they discovered sex in a book? I certainly do… it’s one of those memories that will stay with me forever.

Mine was a surprise. I was a huge horse girl – one of those who preferred horses to boys all through puberty (and with good reason, considering the quality of the boys at the time… men, like wine, are better aged). Anyway, I volunteered at the school library, and as it was a K-12 school there were books at all levels. As I was reshelving some high schooler’s novel, I came across the evocatively-titled The Valley of Horses, by Jean M. Auel. Of course I grabbed it, and therein discovered not only a fabulously feminist version of prehistory, but also enough smoldering sex scenes to blow my little thirteen-year-old mind. Needless to say, I eagerly read through the rest of the series, and the rest is history.

***

My first experiences of sex were in the pages of books. I was an avid reader growing up and one day it dawned on me that not only could I find adventure and romance in books but there was sex too! …

Source: First Sexy Books

Summertime Freedom!

School’s out for the summer! And so am I. Ahead of me are five wonderful weeks of relaxation and freedom, as I enjoy time with family overseas we only get to visit once a year, catch up on my pleasure reading (and pleasure of all kinds, for that matter), and indulge myself in excessive quantities of food, wine, and sex. In other words, I’m going on vacation.

And so are my books! From June 25th – August 5th (yes, I know, I have an awesome vacation schedule), a large selection of my work will be available for FREE on Smashwords and AllRomance eBooks.

So what does that mean for you? Well, quite simply, it means click on all the links and read erotica to your heart’s content, for the beach bum vacation price of nothing. Now that’s summertime freedom! (As usual, I only request that if you read it, you leave a review. Reviews make indie authors smile!)

Here’s what’s free for you this summer:

tango cover (804x1024)One Night To Tango : a hot-blooded one night stand… with ball gowns. (Permanently free on Amazon, Smashwords, and ARe)

 

cowboy cover NEWTaking the Reins : sweet & sexy cowboy romance at the horse show! (Permanently free on Amazon, Smashwords, and ARe)

 

lemons thumbnailLemons in their Slippers: an erotic romance retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses (with all the good bits…)  Smashwords or ARe

 

football thumbnailFootball Her Way : lots of halftime fun in the marital bed of this adventurous couple! Smashwords or ARe

 

bday thumbnailHer Birthday Breeding : purely for fun (and, you know, to channel that primal reproductive beast within each of us), join a vibrant married couple and their sexy stud-for-hire in a birthday party to remember. Smashwords or ARe

 

NotSoSquareTHUMBNAILNot So Square : this accountant isn’t as square as he originally seems… and what he does with clothespins might change the way you look at laundry forever. Smashwords or ARe

 

Sheba thumbnailSheba’s Lovely Maidens :  a sensual visit to King Solomon’s Court in the encourage of our magnificent Queen of Sheba. Smashwords or ARe

 

Nefertiti thumbnailQueen of Beauty : Nefertiti lives again! A story of  the love, sacrifice, and passion that grows with maturity. Smashwords or ARe

 

amazonequal3DcoerAn Amazon’s Equal : this is the big freebie, so grab it now! Novel-length erotic romance, featuring an Amazonian feminist fantasy, sexy Greek warriors, and true love. Smashwords or ARe 

 

Also, stay connected on Wattpad to follow the story of my current work in progress, Major Arcana: sex, love, and Tarot. It’s more than halfway done now, so you can use your summer reading time to catch up! (Plus, always free to read on Wattpad, at least until it’s done. Be sure to check it out!)

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Major Arcana: sex, love, and Tarot

I’ve got the cow – so have some milk for free!

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Missed the giveaway? Never fear! You can still buy it here! (Wow, I must be in a rhyming mood…)

First of all, congratulations to the eight lucky winners of my Goodreads giveaway! I’ll be mailing out free signed copies of An Amazon’s Equal later this week, along with my usual plea to kindly read and leave a review. You know how much those mean to us indie authors!

Now, a lot of people are totally against giving anything away. In a way, they’re right: all work has value, and people should be paid a fair wage for whatever work they do. When it comes to creative arts, though, there is a sticky question: What is the value of art?

Art vendors put price tags on it all the time, but does that truly make one work more or less intrinsically valuable than another? If I happen to LOVE the $10 painting, and think the $1000 painting is only ho-hum, then it’s clear which one has more value to ME. (Whether or not the art experts agree is neither here nor there.)

I do consider myself an artist. Like most artists, I have a day job – which everybody else calls a “career” – and I invest most of my time and energy into it. However, writing and imagination is an essential part of who I am. What I produce is, therefore, art, for art’s sake, not for any hope of material gain. (Of course, I do love it when people purchase my work! And yes, it IS work, and I feel I should be paid for it, just like all other types of creators.) But…

Sometimes I just want to milk that creativity cow and give away glasses of that warm, frothy, creamy fresh drink for free!

Hence the Goodreads giveaway. 🙂 Also, did you know that two of my earliest works – One Night to Tango and Taking The Reins – are always, absolutely, 100% free to read? Grab ’em here if you’d like to have a taste before you actually buy the rest of the creamery’s fine dairy products. 😉

Okay, that’s enough milk metaphors for today. Anyway, enjoy!

tango cover (804x1024)One Night To Tango  :  Meet Esme, a shy wallflower who releases her inner seductress with a dark and handsome masked stranger. He quickly sweeps her off the dance floor, through the parking lot, and up against a chain-link fence… where a whole new kind of dancing ensues. Sensual and satisfying!

cowboy cover NEWTaking The Reins  :  The local horse show seriously steams up with the arrival of a sexy cowboy. Sparks fly. Hands touch. Pants start feeling way too tight. Belt buckles are strained. Perfect for the horse-loving girl and the cowboy-loving woman; it’s all the butterflies of a first date, with the rough-and-ready action of a truck fuck!

A Guest Post From Author Lizzie Chantree!

As many of you know, I’m a recent member of Rave Reviews Book Club. As an indie author, I am always on the lookout for new ways to connect with readers, and fellow writers. This week I am delighted to share a guest post from Lizzie Chantee, a fellow member of the RRBC. She’s highlighting her latest novel, a modern fantasy/romance called Finding Gina. Check it out!

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Weird writing habits

by Lizzie Chantree

I sometimes wonder if other authors have weird writing habits. Do you? I know I do! I love to write on A4, green, lined exercise books, with a beautiful pen my husband gave to me for my birthday. It has my name inscribed on it and is so comfortable to write with. I also have a small cabinet next to my desk in my studio, which is where I keep my bubblegum drawer, (don’t tell my children!) I love bubblegum.

Some authors, like Mark Twain , George Orwell and Marcel Proust, have been know to lie down to find writing inspiration. Others set word count targets, write on index cards, use a certain colour of ink like Lewis Carroll, walk around, colour code notes, or compose poetry in their head whilst on horseback, like Sir Walter Scott. This does make my bubblegum drawer seem rather tame, but as I’m a tad clumsy, it probably best I keep both feet on the ground!

With my most recent novel, Finding Gina, I hand wrote the original manuscript in A4 books and now it has been published, I can’t wait to unwrap a new exercise book and begin the whole process over again.

Excerpt from Finding Gina:

‘Sorry!’ apologised the woman, eyeing the handsome man on her doorstep. ‘We had the music on and didn’t realise you were here. This little munchkin heard the door and got to it before I could stop her. So much for all of the stranger danger talks I have given her.’ She raised her eyes to heaven in exasperation and sat the wriggling child on her hip with a stern look, which made the sides of the girl’s mouth wobble in uncertainty and her eyes become wary, when she realised she had done something wrong. Her mother gave her a swift kiss on the top of her curly head and lowered her to the ground in the hallway. ‘I’m hoping you are Lewis?’ she said jovially, beckoning him to follow her into the open plan lounge and kitchen at the back of the house. ‘I’m Hannah.’

‘I am,’ smiled Lewis, winking at the child as she tried to hide behind her mother’s legs, before darting off into the garden with the biggest dog Lewis had ever seen. ‘I really appreciate you taking the time to see me.’

‘I was curious to see if you could find her,’ she said simply, casting a glance at her child who was trying to dress the poor dog up as Cinderella.

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Find out more on the book’s Amazon page!

Follow Lizzie Chantree on Social Media:

Twitter handle: @Lizzie_Chantree

Facebook address: https://www.facebook.com/lizziechantree/

Website address: https://www.writewithsydney.co.uk

Any additional means of contact: Blog: https://www.lizziechantree.com