When I got home from vacation, it was only to dive right back into work — hence the lack of writing or any kind of online presence. But, I am back! We came home into the height of a hot, dry Seattle summer. Heat is not really my jam… I can’t wait for the rain. But there is one thing about Seattle in late summer — besides its beauty, backyard BBQ’s, forest hikes and sunsets — that is unlike anything else I’ve found anywhere: wild blackberries.
They’re actually an invasive variety, but few people care because they are so delicious. And this summer, for whatever reason, it was the perfect year for blackberries. Truly, there is nothing more delicious that a fat, fresh, ripe blackberry, just off the vine, still warm from the sun… so good. It’s more than that, though. Part of the pleasure is the hunt itself.
Now bear with me, please; I’m crafting a metaphor. It came to me while I was up to my elbows in brambles, reaching for that elusive berry (the perfect ones are always just out of reach, aren’t they?) The most rewarding thing about picking wild blackberries is that you have to fight for them. You have to dare the thorns. You have to look under low-hanging leaves, and find the secret treasures hidden deep. These are not cute, domestic farmed berries. They’re tough, thorny, unkillable thickets whose only goal is survival. (And outgrowing the poor native species.) These berries don’t care about you — their delicious fruits are a prize you have to earn.
Which makes them taste all the sweeter.
Isn’t that the way with a great romance novel? We love reading about lovers who struggle. We want a happy ending, of course — just the way I salivate over a fresh blackberry tart — but we don’t want to just give it to them! Passion comes from the fight; that’s the part we truly love. Conflict and thorns.
As I ease back into my writing routine, I plan to remember that blackberry picking afternoon. How good it felt to reach perilously deep, to snatch that sweet prize and pop it, triumphantly, into my mouth. The burst of warm juice; the earthy grittiness of a wild berry. If I can make my romances feel like that, then we’re all in for a tasty time.
Yes! It’s summer at last! I always go on a relaxing vacation (yes, I am aware of my good fortune), where I eat, drink, and be merry until it’s time to slog back to work.
This summer, I propose a free armchair vacation for my readers. How about a trip to King Solomon’s Court? Perhaps a journey to a magical kingdom where princesses disappear each night, only to return with their dancing shoes worn through? Or maybe you’re in the mood for Tokyo, Japan? And in honor of the new Wonder Woman movie (and Amazons in general), why not spend some time in a world where women rule and men are kept only as tools for pleasure?
It doesn’t matter which destinations you choose, because I‘m making them ALL FREE this summer! Yes, every day you visit my Amazon author page, there will be something offered for free. (Besides One Night to Tango, and Taking the Reins, which as you know are always yours for the fantastic low price of 0.00!)
I do love a good fairy tale. But they’ve cleaned most of them up to get rid of all the really good parts, in order to make them acceptable to parents of today’s much more sheltered children. (Pretty sure the old medieval storytellers had fewer qualms… of course, when you only live to be 25, childhood is forcibly much shorter anyway!)
For this erotic fairy tale, I took something fundamentally unsexy — a brutish king obsessed with gold, a pitiful girl doomed to die, and a tricky dwarf who only helps her in return for promises of increasing value — and plopped in right into the middle of pre-Colonial India. So there! Fixed it! Have I mentioned that I think saris are the most physically flattering traditional clothes? Something about the modesty of a veil, with the flash of midriff, and an elegant pleated skirt, just really spells seduction. I enjoyed using that beautiful garment to great effect in Little Big Man & The Rani.
Honestly, this one was purely for the fun of it. And you’ll have fun, too, if you grab it on pre-order today! It will be delivered to you, freshly e-printed, on June 30th. Just in time for summer reading season!
Birds are chirping, the sun is shining, it stays light out until 9 o’clock… yes, summer is almost here! And as usual, I’ll be doing some big giveaways to celebrate my vacation. (Hope you get a summertime break, too!)
Also, for the first time, I’ve decided to release three short stories at the same time. Another first for me is making them available for pre-order. I know, so many firsts, it’s crazy! All three stories will be released on June 30th. But you know you want to be the first to read them, right? So pre-order right now!
The first story I want to highlight is an intensely personal one. I’ve mentioned this only briefly, but I lived in Senegal, West Africa for two years in the mid-2000’s. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer stationed in a very small village with all the usual amenities: a mud hut, a grass roof, a well, and a dirt road. And peanuts. Lots of peanuts. It was an incredible (and incredibly challenging) experience. This story is loosely based, not on actual Peace Corps service, but on something I observed during a short – but very informative – trip to the beach.
Senegal has a long Atlantic coastline – no surprise the national dish is fish stew over rice! It has charming coastal villages, brightly painted pirogues, and broad, white-sand beaches. Basically a tourist’s dream… especially if said tourists are also interested in sex. I am hardly an expert, but I saw with my own eyes that it’s the thing to do: both women and men engaging in casual vacation sex with gorgeous beachside companions.
As a young observer, I was disturbed by this. Especially given my background knowledge of poverty in Senegal, and the many dreams of foreign wealth I heard about daily. Of course I understood and sympathized with the young Senegalese – they were taking advantage of a rare opportunity to make some money. What I did not understand was the many European tourists who came down, not just for the sun, but for the sex. It disturbed me for the simple reason that those White tourists, by the simple fact that their currency is worth more, had huge economic power. Yet they carelessly reinforced a backward kind of modern colonialism. Taking what they wanted from an ‘exotic’ country, and not bothering to truly understand it. Money flying everywhere, all to create the version of Senegal that suited them – a version that includes beautiful, available, anonymous, and cheap (currency exchange, again!) sexual partners.
I’m all for sex work. Legalize everything! But only if sex workers are truly treated fairly, as equals providing a service to other equals. Sex tourism – at least as I observed it – is based fundamentally on the economic superiority of one person, and relative vulnerability of the other. Sad stuff, guys.
And not sexy. Yet, I wanted to explore it, shed some light on it. And also, you know, write a good story. What I accomplished, I think, is some of my best work yet. It sheds some light on this small sliver of Senegal, while also (I hope!) crafting what turned out to be a heartfelt, and sexy, love story.
I hope you enjoy! And remember to pre-order, y’all!
Sources for further reading about sex tourism in Senegal:
Well, I had a great vacation – and so did my books, from the looks of it! I’m just thrilled that so many new readers had a chance to grab some of my work for free. (And hey, if you like it when it’s free, remember it’s just as good when it costs 99 cents! 😉 ) Anyhow, the summer is winding down, and it’s time to get serious. Back to work; back to buying the books you want to read. So the seasons turn.
But not everything has to get all buttoned-up and serious yet. And I am here to make the hearty recommendation that you consider ditching your bra more often this summer.
Yes, I know, I wrote all about how to find and appreciate a perfect bra, but here’s the deal: it feels even better to go without. Now, I just spent over a month in France, eating way too much, drinking even more, and spending time with family. Pretty excellent. And most of the time, I did my damndest to spend the whole day without my bra. Oh, the beautiful freedom! While I’m not about to go burning all my brassieres in the backyard – they’re way too pretty for that; plus I’ve got to go to work – it did get me to thinking about why we wear bras at all. It all comes down to culture and clothes.
A recent French scientific study,as seen here in this 2013 article, actually suggests that bras do nothing to help breasts keep their shape and “perkiness.” In fact, the study claims that bras actually make breasts saggier. Now, I am pretty sure this is bogus, because all the women in the study were young and French. Having spent the summer there, surrounded by elegant slim women with pretty, perky little points, I hardly think this is fair. Probably they weren’t breastfeeding either. Also, women around the world who do not have access to bras – I’m thinking of my years in West Africa, again – certainly develop what we would consider to be “saggy boobs.” (Why that even matters is another argument because, really, it doesn’t.)
Which leads me to believe that we really only wear bras because society expects it. Well, screw what society expects! Your body, your choices. And being braless is amazing, whether out on the street or comfy at home. Do it; love it; and feel superior to all those who, in their sad brainwashed state of mind, are shocked. But how to go about it and still feel great about how you look?
Now those lucky ladies with little breasts can pretty much go braless whenever they want. I shall be eternally jealous of them: their backless dresses, their daring V-necks, their just-barely-a-handful! (Yes, I envy them regularly.) If that’s you, congratulations. You can go without a bra in anything from t-shirt to evening gown, and look just as fabulous as if you were strapped into the most luxurious lingerie around. So enjoy it! Don’t even buy a bra, or if you do, only for purposes of seduction…
Women like me (by which I mean, those endowed with about a basketball-player’s handful) probably won’t love the way they look without a bra in many types of clothes. I know, because I don’t. (For example, I will always wear a bra to work because otherwise my breasts just don’t fit right into a tailored blouse.) However, I still prefer being without a bra in many situations. It makes me feel both comfortable and sensual. (In fact, I am happily braless right now!) What I discovered is that it’s all about the clothes you choose. Here are some that almost always work:
(please note: while I include the buy link in the image of each of these dresses due to professional honesty, I can make no guarantee of the exact model I show here! They’re just great examples. 🙂 )
Empire waist. With a band that fits right beneath the bust, empire waist dressed and shirts are perfect without a bra! Especially ones that fit tight across the chest, and offer some support. One of my favorite sundresses is like this, and it is delightful to just throw it on and go.
Peasant blouse or tunic. By this I mean something that is loose and draped over the chest, usually caught at the waist or hips by a belt or sash. The flowy, drapey design looks fantastic without a bra. And nothing is more comfortable!
Fitted bodice. This is kind of obvious, since dresses and shirts of this kind are designed to support the breasts without a bra. But still, they count!
Halter neck. I hesitated to put this one on at first, because it really depends on the cut of the shirt. This can be totally great, or a disaster, depending on how the halter works. But if you look around, you can find some beautiful, flattering clothes of this style.
Deep V neck. Oooh, this is a fun one, and also daring! If the tip of the V ends up right between your breasts, you can wear it really low… and that’s hot. No crazy cleavage, since you’re braless, remember; but the natural movement of your breasts is sexier anyway.
Are you tempted? I do hope so! Make the most of these last days of summer by enjoying life without a bra! Ah, sweet freedom… also, my husband likes it. 😉