Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Wednesday Words - “Agent of Mercy” by Betty Ann Harris

Today’s excerpt is from Agent of Mercy by Betty Ann Harris. First, here’s the book trailer, followed by the excerpt.

AgentOfMercy Sam left the cottage again and walked in the direction of the hotel. The walkway skirted the beach and as Sam walked along he scanned the few scantily clad beach dwellers. His eyes were drawn to a woman’s figure as she stood at the water’s edge, her back to him. Her form was familiar, as was her hair as it flowed over her shoulders and billowed in the ocean breeze. It’s her.

Sam sat on a bench near the walkway with his newspaper in hand. With sunglasses on and wearing a hat, he could hide behind his newspaper if she walked in his direction and she’d think nothing of him, just another tourist. He watched her as she stood there. Suddenly, she turned to walk back to her beach chair. God, she’s gorgeous.

Sam was almost envious of Hunter, who would get close to her and make love to her. He couldn’t think about that. This is just a job.

Catherine sat down on her beach chair and removed her bikini top, taking in the sun. God help me. She glanced in his direction and he looked down into the newspaper. Sam was feeling a bit uncomfortable, the other beach dwellers had left and he and Catherine were the only two people in the area.

Sam got up to leave when his cell phone rang. The number of the incoming call was unfamiliar to him. He answered with caution. "Hello."

"Hello Sam, it’s me, Catherine."

Sam was dumbfounded, but quick thinking and calmly maneuvering out of dicey situations, were his trademarks.

"Well, well, you certainly played me for a fool, didn’t you?"

"It wasn’t my intention to play you at all. But I wasn’t sure I could trust you."

Sam, eager to find out if she intended now to be honest with him asked, "Where are you?"

"I’m not sure I can tell you that, yet."

"Then why are you calling me?"

"Because I… I miss you, Sam."

She ran her hand over her breast, as if she was imagining Sam touching her. As he watched her on the beach, topless, as she stroked her own breast, he asked her, "What are you doing?"

"You mean right now?"


"I’m thinking of you, touching me, your hands on me, gently stroking me."

Sam thought he’d go out of his mind, but restrained himself. "Well, perhaps if you tell me where you are, I could come to you and make your dreams come true. There’s no reason for you not to trust me. I want to be with you, Catherine. I don’t really care about the money, as long as we can be together. I don’t want your money, I want you."

"Sam, I care for you. You’re the only man I’ve ever really felt comfortable with. To be honest, I was afraid you were just trying to control me and if I had brought you with me, you might just use me. I was afraid of my feelings for you. In the past I’ve been hurt and used by men, including my own father. I’m sorry I thought the worst of you. Can you forgive me?"

Sam stood up from the bench he’d been sitting on. He felt as if he was being pulled apart, two men: one the FBI agent who would be responsible for bringing this woman down. A woman who had been abused by men and was only trying to start a new life for herself, albeit at the financial expense of Derek Simpson. The other man he was had sympathy for her, maybe a twinge of guilt. What actual proof was there that she was guilty of anything other than stealing money from extremely rich men? His whole body was screaming at him, his heart pounding, as his brain fought itself.

"Sam, are you still there?"

"Yes, I’m here."

"I’m in St. Croix at the Regency Escape Hotel.”

"I’ll be there tomorrow. What room are you in?"

"I’m staying in room 717. Please hurry. I need you, Sam."


Agent of Mercy is published by Red Rose and available now.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Monday Morning Flash - “Retail Therapy”

It’s Monday Morning so that means it’s time for some Flash Fiction. Enjoy.


Retail Therapy

Mandy and I had an early night. We cuddled and caressed, kissed and licked. She handled my erection enthusiastically. I worshipped my goddess’s tits and fingered her slit to get her nicely juiced up. After five minutes (which is surely enough foreplay), I rolled on top of her and prepared to slip my boy home.

“No, Mike. I don’t feel like it anymore.” She pushed me back. “Can’t you just hold me for a while?”


“Can’t you love me for who I am instead of what we do in the bedroom?”


“You’re not in touch with my emotional feminine needs. Until you are, I can’t satisfy your masculine physical needs.”

I rolled over and went to sleep.

The next day I skipped work to spend some quality time with Mandy. We went into London, had a nice lunch, and then I took her to Harrods.

She couldn’t decide between two outfits. “What do you think? Blue or red?”

“Why don’t we get both?”


“Sure. And while we’re here, you’ll need new shoes.”

“I really love you, Mike.”

Mandy tried on shoes for over an hour. Then we went to the jewellery department where she picked out a pair of diamond earrings. She spotted a gold anklet that she really liked, too. She seemed close to orgasm from the retail excitement.

“I think this is all I want, for now. Let’s go to the cashier.”

“I don’t think so, honey.”

Her face dropped. “What?”

“Sweetie, you’re not in touch with my male financial needs. Until you are, I can’t satisfy your feminine retail needs.”

If looks could kill…

“Why can’t you just love me for who I am instead of the things I buy you?”

I slept on the sofa that night.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Six Sentence Sunday 27/06/10 - “Eternally & Evermore”

wp7b3eb1a9 Not surprisingly, today’s six sentences come from Eternally & Evermore. Why not surprisingly? Because release day is getting closer, that’s why.

Here’s one of the more dramatic scenes to whet your appetite.

“Keys,” Will said as they approached the car.

“William, you’re scaring me.”

“Keys!” She handed them over and he blipped the car open. “Get in, quickly. We need to get home - we’ll be safe at home.”

“Safe from what?” I hear you ask. You’ll have to wait for the book’s release in August to find out.

What more Six Sentence Sunday posts? Pop on over to the blog.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Keeping it ‘Real’

I read three blog posts recently that peaked my interest and sparked this post. This one by Ed Magusson pointed me in the direction of this one by Jane on Dear Author and finally this one by Jean on All About Romance which is a blog I subscribe to. The first two talk about the ‘alpha-male’, Ed in ‘real world’ terms and Jane in terms of the romance novel. Jean then discusses heroines in contemporary romance novels.

It’s the two about the romance novel aspect that I’d like to respond to here, primarily because they both sum up my own thoughts on these topics and discuss aspects of character creation that I strive to avoid. I’d like, if I may, to discuss the points raised in the posts and refer them to characters in my own novels.

Let’s start with the boys.

In the past, I’ve avoided referring to my novels as having ‘heroes’, preferring instead to call them ‘male lead characters’ – very PC of me, I know. But the point I was trying to make in doing that is that I don’t think that my heroes fit the ‘template’ of a romance hero. I didn’t think of them as alphas. Of course, to qualify that, you really have to discuss what the term ‘alpha male’ means. Ed does this very well in his post in terms of real people we might meet every day, and under this definition my guys would all class as alpha. In her piece, Jane discusses what alpha has come to mean in the romance genre, and my guys don’t qualify under this definition at all. Why? Because Jane argues that the alphas you find in many romance novels today are “caricatures instead of characters”. She said,

In recent years, however, this reliance on a concept rather than individual traits, has homogenized the hero experience for the reader. Perhaps in an effort to create diversity, authors have tended to over masculinize the hero to the extent that we have caricatures instead of characters for heroes. In recent years,  I’ve seen the romance alpha hero morph from tall, strong, and commanding to oversized, monstrous, and overbearing.

She then goes on to define aspects of this over-masculinised alpha-male which I’ll simply list here.

    • Controlling & Possessive
    • Physically Overpowering
    • Sexually Proficient
    • Contradictory
    • The Diminution of Women
    • Heroic

I’d have to say that this definition (apart from the last point) fits my antagonists more than it does my heroes - yes, I said heroes. I’ve dropped that whole ‘male lead’ nonsense.

If we keep this discussion to my novellas rather than my shorts, we have five heroes to discuss – Matt from Reunion, David from Charlotte’s Secret, Chris from Lost & Found, Adam from Kissed by a Rose, and finally Will from Eternally & Evermore.


So, are any of these five controlling or possessive? In a word, no. Each one of them is desperately in love with his respective heroine but none of them try to control what she does. Matt has no choice. Kelly is actually more successful than him in her business dealings. If anything, from when they meet up again after the titular reunion, Kelly is the one controlling the relationship.

David is in an odd situation from the outset of Charlotte’s Secret. He’s married to his heroine’s sister – a situation which is somewhat out of his control. He does, however, manage to manipulate circumstances to his advantage. But making the best of a situation isn’t the same as being controlling, is it?

In Lost & Found it’s Beth’s father who is the controlling and possessive one, not her hero, Chris. And due to his young age and his heroine’s fame, Adam finds himself sweep along by events in Kissed – although don’t think this makes him a wimp. It doesn’t.

Finally, there’s Will – who you won’t have met yet as Eternally isn’t released until August. Will is perhaps the strongest of my heroes. He’s a partner in a law firm. He’s decisive. He knows how to take the lead. But controlling? No. Yes, he ‘rescues’ Amy from her situation, but he doesn’t make her do anything she doesn’t want to. No, that’s John’s role. Who’s John? You’ll have to read the book to find out.


I’m not even going to bother breaking this down. I tend not to do much physical description beyond hair & eye colour or generalities such as “Tall” or “Burley” in any case - I like for the readers to fill in the blanks - but in my minds eye, each hero sort of looks a bit like me. Maybe an idealised version of me, but me nonetheless. And I’m not prototypical romantic hero. I’m not ‘six foot ten and built like a brick shithouse’. Now, what my readers project on to my heroes I have no control over, but I’ve certainly never used descriptions such as “Club-like manhood”.


Okay, so all my guys are good in bed. They’re romantic heroes, so to some extent they have to be. I mean, would my strong, independent heroines want a man who can’t make them scream his name? But in her post Jane talks about how modern alphas have had multiple partners and ruin virgins for all her future partners (not that she’ll have future partners after bedding the alpha).

In Reunion, Matt’s friend comments that the story Matt tells him of how he didn’t make it with Kelly when they were teenagers because his was too shy “doesn’t sound like you” and he makes reference to Matt’s ‘little black book”. So it’s clearly implied that he’s ‘living the single life to the full’. But it’s also been implied he’s been in love and had his heart broken more than once.

Charlotte’s David is married. And before that he was desperately in love with Charlotte'. Beyond that, there’s no discussion of sexual history. And neither is there any discussion of Lost’s Chris’ history – mind you, Chris and Beth met in an online forum and carried on as cyber-lovers with an ocean between them for over a year, so read into that what you will about Chris’ sexual exploits in the ‘real world’.

In Kissed, Adam is just nineteen – so how many partners could he have had? Still, what happens between when he arrives at university and when he first meets Chloe do hint that he’s not led a virginal life. Which brings us back to Eternally’s Will, how fell in love with Amy at fourteen, bedded her at eighteen, lost her at nineteen, fell in love and married someone else, got divorced an then… Oh, wait, am I giving away the plot here?


The example that Jane gives is this

if the hero should be heroic, shouldn’t he be honorable? shouldn’t he refrain from leading young women into ruin?  Shouldn’t he have the strength of character to resist temptation that could involve danger to the heroine? Shouldn’t he have the care to protect her from pregnancy and use a condom?

Essentially she’s say that if an alpha is overpowering, controlling and has multiple partners in the manner that would have a woman branded a slut, isn’t all this at odds with the very idea of him as a romantic hero. Is that the sort of man our heroine would actually want to spend the rest of her life with? And before someone pipes up and says, “You don’t marry alphas” let me point out that if a Happily Ever After doesn’t mean for the rest of their lives then we need to change the name. Perhaps "Happy Until the Alpha gets Bored.

I don’t believe that me heroes are contradictory. Matt scarifies everything for Kelly’s happiness. David moves heaven and earth to be with Charlotte and when her secret is finally revealed… well, he does the honourable thing. Chris crosses the Atlantic just to comfort Beth in her time of greatest need and Adam… Well, Adam takes everything that Kissed throws at him and still comes out smiling in the end.

What about Will though? Will is interesting in that he rides that fine line. There are times when you will questions his actions. There’s one particular scene where even his best friend questions the way Will taunts his nemesis. But even then, he’s still doing what he thinks is best for Amy. He still puts Amy’s best interests first. So no, not contradictory at all.


This is an interesting one for me. Why? Well, in case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a man. A man that has a certain… shall we say, fondness for the female of this particular species. I’m not ashamed to say that I’m a great admirer of the female form in all it’s shapes and sizes. Well, maybe all. But the point is that while I find the very diminutive Kylie Minogue very….

Sorry, what was I talking about? Oh, yes, I remember.

Look, Kylie and Kiera Knightly aside, I much prefer a fuller figure. In short, I like boobs and bums. Now there’s a blogpost all of its own. But because I like my real live ladies to have a bit of shape to them, so too with my fictional ladies. No, they’re not of porn star proportions, but you certainly couldn’t describe Kelly, Charlotte, Beth or Chloe as diminutive. Hell, take this line from Kissed  in reference to Chloe…

The lads’ magazines worshipped her feminine curves— they had even voted her Britain’s sexiest starlet ahead of her waif-like rivals.

Of course, there has to be an exception and that exception is Amy from Eternally & Evermore. She is described as being “a little too thin”. When this sentiment is expresses, one of the characters responds with “how can you be too thin?” but there is a reason for Amy’s diminution and its a reason that is central to the plot of the novel.


All in all, my heroes are just that, Heroes. Each one in his own way and each one in a different way. But while Jane bemoans a trend towards a certain type of hero, I hope that I’m able to offer readers a little diversity. Something a little different. Romantic heroes don’t have to be ultra-masculine. But they do have to be somewhat alpha. It’s just that I’d go with Ed’s definition of alpha over the one Jane described. My heroes are ordinary, everyday men because ordinary everyday men can be heroes too.

Soon, I’ll do a post comparing my heroines to the ones described by Jean in her post on AAR.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Friday House Guest - "Building a Brand" by Lisabet Sarai

Today’s guest if Lisabet Sarai. Please make her welcome.
If you want to be successful in the highly competitive game of publishing (I'm told), you need to do more than just write good books and get someone to sell them for you.  You need to “build a brand”. What does this mean? Here's a simple definition from

When people hear your name, they conjure up a set of impressions that influence how they think and buy. Those thoughts define your brand.

For an author, having a “brand” means, first, that readers recognize your name and second, they have a clear and hopefully positive understanding of what you write that leads them to purchase your books. Popular authors like James Patterson or Stephen King have legions of readers who will buy anything they publish, sight unseen. Readers know what to expect from these authors. They'll pre-order a book before it's even released. The power of the author's brand trumps the quality of the actual writing.

In the world of erotic romance, Carol Lynne jumps out as someone who has been tremendously effective in building her brand. Carol specializes in steamy M/M stories, mostly contemporary and often with a western setting.  She has a huge following of loyal readers although she has been publishing only a few years. All Romance Ebook's author of the year for 2007, Carol continues to put out best-sellers, month after month.

In the realm of erotica, I consider Rachel Kramer Bussel an example of effective brand-building. Pretty much anyone who reads erotica will be familiar with the dozens of anthologies she has edited, many focused on kink or fetishes. Rachel builds her brand not only through her publications but also through readings, parties and an amazingly active presence in the blogosphere. Just say “cupcake” or  “spanking” to any erotica reader and Rachel's name is likely to come to mind.

So how does a poor aspiring author like me go about building a brand? The authorities I've consulted highlight three major issues:

  • Distinctiveness – Both your name and your work need to be sufficiently unusual to stand out from the crowd.
  • Value – You need to offer your readers good value for their money.  You can't fake your way into effective branding, at least not for long. Especially when you're building your brand, every title you produce has to satisfy your target readers.
  • Consistency – Your brand controls readers' expectations. People who purchase Carol Lynne's books expect explicit M/M erotic romance. Readers who buy Rachel's anthologies expect playfully transgressive, sex-positive stories in which pleasure trumps more serious issues. For a writer, brand consistency encompasses both genre and style.  If a book doesn't fulfill readers' expectations, your brand will suffer.

And there's the rub, for me. Consistency.  I write all sorts of genres and heat levels. I write both erotica and romance.  BDSM fiction was my first love but I've deliberately diversified. I've written contemporary, paranormal, historical, suspense and even a bit of science fiction; heterosexual, gay, lesbian, and ménage; dark, playful and comic. When a reader comes across my name, he or she isn't likely to have immediate expectations about content or tone. About the only thing that a reader can assume is that my work is likely to contain a lot of sex―but even that isn't guaranteed.

Distinctiveness isn't a problem. I happened to choose a pen name that appears to be unique. (I was trying for something that sounded foreign and exotic, to go with the exotic setting of my first novel.)  Google my name and you'll find pages and pages of references to me and my books. It appears that in cyberspace, at least, there's only one Lisabet Sarai.

I'd like to believe that I'm set as far as value is concerned as well. I produce quality work, or at least I try, with original premises and engaging characters. Most of my work has received very positive reviews.
If consistency is required in order to have an effective brand, though, I may never succeed. I'm easily bored. I don't want to write the same sort of book over and over. I'm contemplating sequels to several of my novels and I'll be honest―I'm not sure that I want to return to the same worlds and characters for the duration of another book. I'd rather try something different―to stretch my abilities.

Obviously there are common threads that run through my work. I tend to write stories that have a strong sense of place and I frequently use foreign settings.  My characters tend to think a lot―they're not usually action-hero types. In my stories, sexual identity tends to be fluid; it's common for a straight character to discover homoerotic yearnings or vice versa. Sex in my tales is often a revelation as opposed to just recreation. This is particularly true of sex that involves dominance and submission.  Finally, I think it's fair to say that my style is more literary than popular (though I'm trying to diversify in this area as well.)

These kind of abstract commonalities aren't enough, I suspect, to bolster a brand identity.  I'd be really interested to know what readers think when they hear the name “Lisabet Sarai”.  Most probably, it depends on what (if anything) they've read. The trouble is that any particular book they've picked up will likely give them mistaken expectations for the next one of my books that they read.

I really don't know how seriously I should take this dilemma. Should I channel my writing energies into just one or two genres? If my goal were to support myself with my writing, I'd probably have to do just that. But really―I hate that notion!

So where does that leave me? Can I be a moderate success without building a brand? Can I attract a community of readers who appreciate diversity and don't mind having their expectations violated?  I don't know. I'm curious to know what readers and other authors have to say on this topic.


BIO:  A dozen years ago LISABET SARAI experienced a serendipitous fusion of her love of writing and her fascination with sex. Since then she has published six erotic novels including the BDSM classic Raw Silk, two collections of short stories, and dozens of stand-alone tales in print and ebook formats. She reviews books and films for the Erotica Readers and Writer Association and Erotica Revealed and is the editor for the Coming Together Presents series of charitable single author volumes. Lisabet lives in Southeast Asia with her husband and felines. For more information on Lisabet and her writing visit Lisabet Sarai's Fantasy Factory ( and her blog Beyond Romance (

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Wednesday Words - "0 to 60 in 5 Minutes" by Jasmine Black

Today's excerpt comes from Jasmine Black's "0 to 60 in 5 Minutes". Jasmine Black has been writing romances from her heart since 2005. Her stories don’t follow a cookie cutter pattern and the plots are all different as she lets her characters tell her where the story is going. She enjoys reading, computer games, and quite time. She also has a heart for charity, and you can find some of her stories in Coming Together anthologies—Against the Odds and Al Fresco.


Oh, he was perfect. His blue eyes had twinkled when she rubbed her foot on his muscled leg. He must have thought she was an easy score, but she had to know if his legs were as toned as his arms. Of course, they were.

His dimples were divine. For some odd reason, she loved a dimpled face. Her heart had flipped when she saw them. Two identical indentions on his cheeks. She wondered what his other set of cheeks looked like. How they would feel in her hands.

Slow down before you run him off. The advice might work in normal circumstances, but she didn't have time to slow down. She needed a boyfriend who all but lived at her house and had advanced to the meet-the-parents stage in a relationship.

After a deep breath, she gathered her nerve. "All you have to do is pretend you're my boyfriend and attend my high school reunion. Of course, we'll have to become very acquainted with each other, and we only have two weeks. Afterwards, I'll tell my family we broke up, and you'll get your grand."

He stared at her in disbelief. "That's all? I don't have to kill anyone or anything?"

She laughed, then stifled her amusement when she noticed his seriousness. "No. You don't have to kill anyone, physically. Emotionally, I hope my ex cries for days after he sees me in the best shape of my life and with a man sexier than he could ever hope to be."

Had she really told him he was sexy to his face? Minutes ago she'd scoffed at the hornballs in the room. Now drool threatened to drip from the corner of her mouth.

The coordinator's voice boomed over the microphone, "Switch."

Oh, no! Her time was up, and he hadn't answered. Months of searching for the perfect man and he was about to move out of her life. Well, maybe just move to the next table, but what if he found a better offer a few seats down? There were a lot of attractive women here tonight.

"Move buddy, I've been waiting to talk to number five all night." A man wearing a wife beater and ripped jeans nudged Noah over to the next table.

Noah inched over without answering her question. A lump formed in her throat. The man of her dreams… or lies, however you wanted to phrase it, left her waiting for his reply.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

At Least We're Not As Bad As France - Dave Henson

Just come across this and I had tears streaming from laughing so much. Really, Really funny.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Monday Morning Flash - “Pie Shop”

Here’s another little bit of flash, which will I hope raise a smile this Monday Morning.


Jack had spent a cold, damp, winter morning going from house to house trying in vain to sell windows. By midday, he was wet, miserable, and starving.

The estate he’d been working had a small shopping precinct at its heart. There was a butcher, baker, newsagent, chip shop, and a small Indian restaurant. There was a long queue in the chippy. Jack didn’t want to wait. He tried the bakers, but they didn’t have anything that appealed.

There was a sign outside the butchers. “Freshly made, hot meat pies - £1 each.”

“Sounds good,” said Jack.

He ran into an old man coming out of the butchers. He wore a wide grin and looked very satisfied. “The pies good then, are they?” asked Jack.

“Dunno,” said the man. “I went in for a wank.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“There’s a girl works here who gives great wanks. Only five quid a tug. She does it out back in the meat fridge. Sounds funny, but by God she’s good.”

Jack shook his head. “In there? In the butchers?”

“Yeah. And that’s not all. Tenner gets you a blow job, twenty and she’ll let you stick it to her. That’s what I do on Mondays, you know, when I get my pension.”

The old man walked away and Jack went into the shop feeling slightly bemused. There was one woman behind the counter. She wasn’t particularly attractive in Jack’s opinion, but who was he to judge.

“Excuse me,” he whispered. “Are you the woman who gives wanks for a fiver?”

The woman smiled. “I might be. Who’s asking?”

“I’m not the police, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“In that case, yes. I am.”

“Right. Well, wash your hands will you and get me a meat pie.”

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Six Sentence Sunday 20/06/10 - “Eternally & Evermore”

wp7b3eb1a9Yes, yes, I know, #sixsunday has been absent for a couple of weeks but it’s back and since today is father’s day, the six today - from Eternally & Evermore - have a fatherly theme. In fact, I’m offering up two sets of six to make up for the recent missed postings and both of them show how our hero, Will, feels about his daughter, Sophie.

In this first scene, Will is showing his friend Lizzie a photo of Sophie on his iPhone.

“Where is it?”

“At her thirteenth a couple of months ago. One of the few birthdays I’ve been able to get to, I usually have to make do with an early or late celebration. Some dad I turned out to be, huh?”

“I’m sure you’re a great dad.”

“How great can I be when I’m only part-time?”

In this second scene, Sophie, Will and Amy are at the bowling alley. Amy is taking her shot, leaving Will and Sophie alone.

“So, is she, like, your girlfriend or not?” Sophie asked as Amy started her run up.

“I told you, she’s a friend who staying with me for a while, that’s all.”

Sophie smirked. “I’m not, like, stupid or anything, Dad, this morning she came out of your bedroom wearing your shirt.”

Will started at his daughter, not knowing what to say.

“It’s okay if she is, I like her - she’s kinda cool.”

Eternally & Evermore will be released by Phaze books in August.

For more Six sentence Sunday posts, visit the blog.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Friday House Guest - “Inspiration’s In the Air” by Nina Pierce

Today I welcome Nina Pierce to the blog.


np Isn’t it nearly the first question every author is asked, “Where did you find the inspiration for this story?” And the answer I always give is everywhere and nowhere.

Everywhere there are the “what ifs” around you. “What if a virus killed off nearly all of the human population?” (Healer’s Garden, Ellora’s Cave) “What if vampires had a secret society for policing rogue vampires?” (Shadows of Fire, Liquid Silver Books) “What if someone was a wolf shifter and didn’t know it?” (Bonded Souls, Ellora’s Cave) Okaaaaaay, so maybe you don’t ask yourself those questions, but that’s the kind of thing that rolls around in my head. I’m always imagining the “what if” of other dimensions or characters or places. From these odd ball thoughts the nugget of an idea forms and voila! A story is born!

Of course if your synapses don’t fire that way there’s always the overheard conversation at the grocery store between mother and daughter…

“Seriously Mom, he’s just, I don’t know, the same age as Uncle Todd.”

“Well, I wouldn’t go that young.”

“But he’s my law professor.”

“And he’s very single and he has a great butt I might add.”

“Ewww. Definitely TMI.” (A pause.) “You’re seriously going to do this?”

“It’s just drinks honey, not a marriage proposal.”

Oh, yeah, that is definitely going to become a book some day. I just can’t resist the idea of a younger man with an older woman. And the daughter already gave me all kinds of information about the fact that the man is the same age as one of her uncles and then he’s her professor. Oh, the conflicts abound with just that snippet!

Inspiration also comes from my adventures in traveling. I had the pleasure of visiting Sedona, Arizona and going on a jeep tour over and around the red rock formations. Between the remote location and the stories of extra-terrestrials shared by our guide, I couldn’t stop my brain from running through all the possible romantic suspense scenarios. “What if they found a body?” “What if it’s an alien?” Man, I just went all over the place with ideas that day. And yes, I still enjoyed the tour, but mostly because our guide was a handsome character in and of himself with a rich back story of high school loves, alcoholism and divorce. (Which I got him to share because I’m that curious about people.) He’s going to show up in a story some day.

Then there are the story ideas that spring to me from the newspaper headlines (usually the suspense part of my stories) or the songs on the radio (the romance plot).

But those nuggets only get you so far. It’s from the nowhere of my imagination the characters start forming and their troubles begin to surface and before I know it I’m on the journey of discovering another story. And it is a complete discovery for me. I’m what authors affectionately call a “pantser”, which means I have no outline. No idea (or very little) of where I’m going or what’s going to happen next. It’s all very organic. But that’s a post for another day.

The point is inspiration is all around you. All you have to do is take a few minutes and truly look for it. So here’s a question for all of you … where do YOU find your inspiration? What makes your muse dance for joy?

I want to thank Marc for letting me take over his blog today. It’s been a lot of fun.

Nina grew up in a house of readers. So falling in love with books was only natural. In her early teens she discovered love stories. And we’re not talking about the Judy Blume young adult stories. Nope, she cut her teeth on the queens, Danielle Steel and Nora Roberts.

Of course since then, she’s branched out to reading all kinds of genres from science fiction to mystery, medical thrillers to historicals and Nina has too many favorite authors to list. But through it all romance has remained her favorite genre. Now, reading about lovers isn't enough for her (though she still devours books). The characters of her imagination beg to have their stories told. Nina finally put fingers to keyboard... and a new career was launched.

A native of Maine, Nina resides in what she affectionately calls "the great white North" in potato country with my high school sweetheart and true love of thirty-four years, her three grown children and a menagerie of pets.

You can find all her books at And you if you want to follow her musings join her on facebook ( or twitter (

Thursday, 17 June 2010

They Grow Up So Quick

school1 It only seems like the other week that I was holding my newly born baby boy in my hands – so tiny & fragile & helpless. So utterly reliant on his mother and me.

But it was four and a half years ago.

Yesterday, Mrs Nobbs and I went to the new intake parents evening at Jr’s new school. We met his new teacher, ordered his uniform and PE kit, and signed him up for school dinners. I can’t believe it’s come along quite so quickly. He’ll be starting university before I know it.

But anyways. His teacher is lovely. Let’s call her Miss M. She can’t be anymore than 26 or 27. She’s blonde, petite and very, very pretty. Given that Jr is a bit like his dad and has a soft spot for small, pretty young blondes, I think he’s going to quickly become quite enamoured with her.

And his dad might just find inspiration for a new book. You never know.

Roll on September, eh?

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Wednesday Words - “Exposure” by Lisabet Sarai

01Lisabet Today we have not one, but two excerpts from Lisabet Sarai’s novel Exposure. Lisabet is a New England lass who’s published a host of books in all sorts of genre’s. And judging from the gallery on her website she a cat person. Exposure is published by Phaze and is available now in e-book and paperback.

Stella is just minding her own business and having a bit of fun, working as an exotic dancer at the Peacock Lounge. Through no fault of her own, she witnesses a double murder and gets pulled into a shady dance of deceit with political bigwigs, mob bosses, dirty cops and scheming widows. Now she’s everyone’s target; her only chance is to sift through the lies and expose the truth.


ExposureCover200x300Excerpt 1

I strip for the fun of it. Don't let anyone tell you different. It's not the money. I could make nearly as much working at the mill and keep my clothes on, but then I'd have to suck up to the bosses. Here at the Peacock, I'm the one in charge, and I like it that way.

Sometimes I think it's a sort of revenge, for all the times I heard those nasty calls trailing after me: Honey Jugs, Monster Boobs, Bouncer.  Not to mention those sweaty, awkward clinches in back seats, trying to please. Trying to be popular. Now they can't take their eyes off my breasts, swinging back and forth in time to the music. Their tongues are hanging out. I can see the tents in their laps. They all want me; I know how to make them want me. I'm an expert. But I'm off limits. They can look, they can drool, they can beg me. But my job's to turn them on and bring them to the bursting point, then send them home unsatisfied.

That's my view, anyway. Some of the other girls think different. All in all, though, the Peacock Lounge is a pretty classy joint, not like some of sleaze pits down near the railroad.

I love the moment when the lights come down, and the DJ introduces me. There's this strange pause, as if I was floating. I can feel them out there, the audience, holding their breath. Then, I hear the first notes of my routine. Energy surges through me. I'm one hundred percent alive. My nipples get hard and my sex tingles when I step out onto the stage and meet their eyes.

That's my secret weapon: eye contact. Up close and personal. I can bump and grind, shake my tits in their faces, bend over so they get a good look at the G-string settled in my ass-crack. It doesn't do any good without my stare. I try to see their darkest fantasies. This one pictures me sitting on him, his mouth burrowing in my bush. That one wants me to hold his dick while he pees. That guy in the back, oh, he's bad news.  He aches to tie me up and beat me with his belt. Tough luck, feller. Dream on.

I don't know whether what I see is real or just my imagination, but it has a real effect. They feel my eyes; they think I know them. They get all flustered and embarrassed, wave to me, stick their tens and twenties into my G-string. Watching me, anxious-like, all the time.

Meanwhile, it turns me on. I dance a lot better when I'm horny. Sometimes I play with myself a bit before my set, to get myself into the mood. Then I hold my fingers under their noses, and watch their reactions.

I feed off their desire. The more they want me, the hotter I get, the better I dance. The more outrageous I become. So, it's particularly annoying tonight that this one guy in the front row doesn't react at all.


Excerpt 2

Ginger's routine is hot and raunchy. She wears an animal print jumpsuit, gold and black. She shakes her tawny hair around her face like a mane. The costume is all zippers. Little by little she sheds pieces of the skin-tight garment to reveal the real skin underneath, creamy dark brown, glistening with sweat. She's a jungle cat, sinuous, dangerous. I imagine I can smell the musk from way back here. My nipples tighten to aching nubs under my silk blouse. I squeeze my thighs together, creating ripples of sensation in my cunt that grow more intense the longer I watch Ginger's performance.

By the time she's finished, I'm actually panting. I'm amazed at my reactions. After all, I'm a professional. I know it's all show business.

Maybe it's the alcohol. Maybe it's the after-effects from last night, the explosive sex cut short by terror. I don't care. I'm having a wonderful time. I'm glad I came.

Who's next? I wonder. Then the music starts, and it's like someone plunged a knife into my heart. Chris Isaak. "Wicked Game". My song.

Before I realize what's happening, I'm walking between the tables, making my way to the stage. It's like I'm in a trance. I climb the stairs to the platform, swaying already in time with the haunting tune.

The audience realizes that something odd is going on. The men fall silent, their eyes following me as I move dreamily around the stage. "Strange what desire will make foolish people do", the singer's hoarse voice croons as I slowly unbutton my jacket.

I shrug and it slips from my shoulders, making a green puddle on the stage. My blouse is beige silk, high-necked, buttoned up the back. My nipples poke lewdly through the fabric of the demure garment. I cup my breasts, slowly stroking my thumbs across the protruding flesh.  Pleasure shimmers through me, sparkling in the shadowy chasm between my legs.

I scan the audience, but I'm not really seeing anyone. I'm not using the stare. I don't sense any particular person's lust. I'm just floating in the sea of their collective desire.

I turn my back on the audience, working the buttons of my top. My hair is coming loose from my business-woman's twist. Tendrils keep getting caught in my fingers as I struggle to release myself from the confining embrace of the silk.

Finally I get the last button undone. In triumph, I pull it over my head, turning to face the audience as I do. The clips holding my hair in place surrender completely. Black curls tumble over my shoulders, hiding my breasts.

I flick my hair back and smooth my hands over the satin of my bra, caressing the fullness it hides and constrains. The song rises to a climax. My sex spasms every time I stroke my fingers across the smooth, taut fabric. My tits ache for freedom, for nakedness. I reach for the front clasp of my bra, eager to release them.

"Stella!" I hear somebody call. There's a flash of light, then another. The spell is broken. "Stella!" Another voice takes up the call, and then there's applause, and raucous cheers. "Stella! We love you, Stella!"

I blink, confused, suddenly dizzy. Somebody grabs my arm.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Some Random Sexy Pics

We all know that the internet is awash with erotic images. I read somewhere recently that something in the order of 90% of traffic on the internet is erotic in nature – although I don’t know how true that is. Okay, so most of what you come across is hard-core porn, but there are also a lot of very tasteful images around too. In fact, I’ve built up quite a collection over the years. Boobs, bums and the suggestive are my favourites. Below are a random selection from my collection and the reasons I like them.*

tumblr_l16ynrl9b71qzi7rgo1_500I love the ambiguity in this picture – or maybe I’m the on;y one that can see it. Those look like men’s jeans to me, but look closely at those underpants. Or should I say knickers. Lacy ones. Is it a man wearing women’s knickers or a woman wearing men’s jeans? Or am I reading too much into it.Either way, with the jeans being pushed down and the bed in the background, this is a sexy shot.

© 2010 Kimberly Gillett All Rights Reserved Did I mention I like bums? Nuff said.

tumblr_l1lbd8Ofc61qb24xzo1_500Do I even need to comment on this one?  I love that you can’t see faces. I love that it’s dark apart from the focus on the guy’s back and their limbs. I love that she still has her shoes on – and that we can’t she if she’s got anything else on. It’s just very sexy.

tumblr_kz4upvAHeN1qzi7rgo1_500 I’m not quite sure what it is about this particular shot that I find quite so sexy. I just do. Yes, there’s the bum thing again, but it’s more than that. Perhaps it’s the stark contrast between the white background and the girl. Perhaps it’s what I read into what she’s doing – is she waiting for someone, thinking about someone, what? I love it.

So, what do you think of my choices? I’ll see if I can rustle up some more for next week.

* It is not my intention to infringe anyone’s copyright. These images are © 2010 Kimberly Gillett All Rights Reserved

Monday, 14 June 2010

Monday Morning Flash - “Lover’s Lane”

Today’s flash is a fun little piece. It may or may not have been inspired by real life. :-)


(295 words)

Mark, Benny and Jim watched Steve and Julie at the bar. “Don’t know why he’s bothering. That girl’s a slapper,” said Mark.

“Easy shag,” said Jim.

Steve and Julie headed for the exit.

“Hey, Steve, you off to Lover’s Lane?” Mark called.

“I’m gonna show Julie my new sound system.”

“Yeah, right. A likely story.” Mark burst out laughing.

Two pints after Steve and Julie had left, the three friends were depressed. “Why does Steve always get the birds?” Jim asked.

“Must be his winning smile,” said Mark.

“Hey, I got an idea,” said Benny. “Let’s go ruin his lovin’.”

Lover’s Lane was a ten minute drunken stagger away. Steve’s Ford Escort was parked there. The lights were off and it rocked gently. They sneaked up to the car and peered inside. Julie’s legs were wrapped around Steve’s waist. His bare arse bounced energetically.

“Knock on the window,” Benny whispered.

“I ain’t. You do it,” said Jim.

“I’ll do it,” said Mark. He raised his fist to strike the window.

“‘Ello, ‘ello, ‘ello. What do we have ‘ere, then?”

Mark turned around. Touch light shone in his eyes.

“I caught me some doggers. Oh, the sarge is gonna love this.”

“Wait,” said Mark. “He’s our mate. It’s just a practical joke.”

“Course he is, Sonny-Jim.”

“Ask him.”

The copper knocked on the window. Steve looked around. Julie screamed and tried desperately to cover up.
“‘Scuse me, Sir. Miss. These perverts claim you know ‘em.”

Steve looked at his friends. Mark silently pleaded with him. Steve shook his head. “Nah. Never seen ‘em before in my life.”

Friday, 11 June 2010

Friday House Guest - Viviane Brentanos

Today's Guest is Viviane Brentanos - A fellow Brit who is lucky enough to life on the gorgeous Greek island of Corfu.


Hello, good evening and welcome from sunny Corfu and a huge thank you for Marc for allowing me the opportunity to rant and ramble. Before I rant, a little about myself…

I was born in Reading UK in 1958. My father is English and my mother is French although there is a strong vein of Spanish on my maternal grandmother’s side. I was educated at various schools before completing Sixth Form College at St Peter's Huntingdon. I somehow managed to collect A levels in English, French and History and I subsequently won a place at Sheffield University where I decided to read Classical Civilization. Once there, however, I decided that I had had enough of the academic life; I found the student mentality rather false and having been brought up in student circles, rather boring. Much to my mother's horror, I gave up my studies and went to London to begin a course as a Canine Beautician.

In 1984, my first husband and I parted ways amicably and I decided to visit the Ionian island of Corfu to celebrate my new freedom. It proved to be a life-changing decision. I still remember to this day, sitting in a café-bar, overlooking the crystal clear azure sea and saying to my friend. "I never want to leave here". And here I still am.

Before you all sigh and say…ah, Shirley Valentine, it wasn’t like that. I came to my beautiful Greek island in 1984 to work.

I am often asked why I don’t write about my life on Corfu. I think people are laboring under the misconception I live in eternal paradise; a life of endless sun, sea, sand and cocktails on the veranda. I hate to shatter any illusions, but it isn’t quite like that.

Thing is, most of the girls who came out here, ended up marrying a Greek and, subsequently, marrying into the Greek way of life. We work, we cook, and we worry over rent, taxes. We bring up our kids, we suffer and stress over their exams, (you wouldn’t believe how tough the education system is here) and their future. Not very glamorous, is it, and most certainly not the stuff of romances. Sorry, ladies. Greek men drop their smelly underwear everywhere also. Not one Gerry Butler 300 to be found.

But – and it’s an important but – what we have here in Corfu is a glorious sense of freedom, the freedom to breath in good clean, sea air. The freedom to state what is on our mind without fear of the politically correct police jumping all over us, freedom for our kids to walk the streets of Corfu town safe, happy and secure. Greece is more than a country. It’s a state of mind. A nation of passion, love and exuberance, a country to holds on and is proud of his history and traditions.  No – it isn’t quite paradise. There is so much that needs fixing. We are in the midst of an economic crisis but the Greeks have heart and solidarity second to none.

And let’s not forget the stunning beauty of my enchanted island. Even after 26 years, it still takes my breath away.  Actually, I am beginning to think the Greek tourist board should pay me.

So… my writing. After all, that’s why I am here. I have been writing romance since my early teens, mostly for my own satisfaction and for my friends but now I really want to work at it. Writing has become my passion. I have always been a "Romantic", often accused of not living in the real world but who wants to do that? I like to call my work Romance with a quirky, humorous Brit twist and I am always striving to make my characters real, characters we can all relate to. I am fortunate to have two novels published: Letting Go – The Wild Rose Press, Dreamweek – Red Rose Publishing  and a further two under contract but more about them in a minute.

Back to my earlier point.  While I have no desire to write about the life and times of an ex-Brit on Corfu, my island has provided me with so much of my inspiration: stunning visuals by the bucket full. Dreamweek and Fragile Dreams are both set on the imaginary island of Kuros. Why didn’t I just use Corfu? Simply because I wanted poetic license.

What I have done is draw on my experiences as a travel rep to provide many of the comic anecdotes in Dreamweek.  Fragile Dreams is a little darker in tone. It touches on the subject of mental cruelty (a subject I  also touch on in Letting Go) and the culture clash that I am sorry to say is much present in some of the Anglo/ Greco marriages I know of.  I am not even sure if cruelty is the right word. Cruelty implies intent. More often than not, it is a simple case of lack of education and inherent intolerance. The irony of it all is that the young Greek women would never put up with the bull I know too many of my Brit counter-parts have to deal with. Why do they do it? I truly believe too many young girls were running from something back home. Too many sacrificed personal freedom for a big house, nice clothes and healthy bank-balance. Sad but true. Heavy stuff for a romance? Maybe but while a good healthy dose of glamour is injected into my tales, I like to balance it with a refreshing, ice-cold bucket of reality. I digress again.

Dreamweek is currently on release through Red Rose Publishing in digital form. I am hoping to see it in print soon. Fragile Dreams, its sister, has a release date set for September 16. 2010.

And if this is not enough to keep my little promo legs a running, I am delighted to announce my single title contemporary, Written in Stone, is contracted to the new and very exciting publisher, MuseItUp Publishing under their MuseItHot division.  Written in Stone is one tale not set on a Greek island but it is a tale dear to my heart. The theme is simple. We must learn not to place people in convention’s tightly packaged boxes. Love is more than about sexual orientation. It should be and can be about the joining of minds and soul.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Meet Don Luis de la Costa

Today Don Luis de la Costa settles in to tell us a bit about himself and his books.


51GukQvcy2L._SL500_AA266_PIkin2,BottomRight,-16,34_AA300_SH20_OU01_ My “normal” milieu is difficult to define. One of my all time favorite stories has been a riotous biker adventure story that spans a week of travel as they traveled toward an annual festival buried somewhere in the warmer, more favorable climes of the Southern region of the country, and all the drama that ensures. STARbooks Press also put out my second novella, Men, Amplified, whose central character contains many of my own personality traits, and a few actually personal experiences. Conversely, the two pieces of that I imagine have garnered the most attention – Battery Drain and Mission First – are more Kafka-esque sojourns through syllogistic science fiction logic, and for those perhaps you’ve heard my name. Recently, however, I’ve branched out, or, more specifically, managed to find acceptance for, a few pieces that are clearly outside of what one might consider my ‘normal’ experience: in the paranormal venue.

The first of these to see the light of day was a girl/girl vampire piece accepted by UK based Xcite Books for their “Spirit Lovers” anthology. The second, and much more central to the them of this post is a self-published anthology that includes pieces which either represent or cut across genre and gender lines: “Mythos” which comprises stories loosely based on the action in Alice in Wonderland, Clash of the Titans, and a few other classic mythological themes, which you can find on my Amazon Author’s page.

Self publishing is a concept that has, continues to, and for the foreseeable future will receive a great deal of attention in the media related to the publishing industry for the very same reasons that green energy startups get blasted by those in “power” (most specifically, those producing power): the big fish want to remain the big fish, and not be reduced to the status of guppies, even though, from a strictly Darwinian standpoint, the guppies may be better adapted to a new environment.

Allow me to stop here, for a moment, and share a maxim from Spanish which is one of the guiding principles of my own writing: “Es mejor no escribir nada, que aumentar el número de libros malos que hay en el mundo.” Quite literally – “It is better to write nothing, than to increase the number of poorly written books in the world.” Also permit me to offer my extensive memory of having read a great deal of poorly penned purportedly Pulitzer prize potentials pitifully packaged and portraying paladin-style physiques Photoshopped into the front cover. Almost to a one, they are from larger presses, and it is bothersome to consider the concept that these pass for a section of ‘literature’ which should contain every respectable property of a mainstream work of fiction, simply with a bit of erotic content added. Beyond that, there are some startling new talents whose sole mode of expression, despite there being an actual dearth of authors writing for the bigger houses who can produce desirable material. The rise of what is affectionately termed ‘urban erotica’ – stories whose basis is American big city life, can but does not always include elements of gang activity, and frequently focuses on underrepresented communities, which appeals to a certain cadre of folks, initially began as a few unique authors with self styled covers, hawking their wares on the city streets, until suddenly several publishing houses had to acknowledge the fact that these were credible revenue streams.

So what is the point? You may ask. Publishing your works has been notoriously difficult over time, at least, until the advent of Web 2.0. I would posit that push button publishing platforms have, as a secondary effect, created an entire strata of folks who fancy themselves ‘writers’ simply because they have the immediate validation of seeing their words online, and so begins the conflict. Does participation in social media, logorrheic journal writing, and 140 character short messages necessarily a writer make? I am, for better or worse, a proud member of the partition that thinks not. However, that doesn’t mean that self-publishing using the widely available platforms (CreateSpace, Smashwords, etc.) can’t work. Get a hold of a writer’s group that can review your work, join the discussion groups inherent to the platforms mentioned above, and a beyond that, re-read your story and see if it makes sense, because we are all legends in our own minds – especially me. Inform yourself of the perils and the benefits, Mitzi Szereto has written a few interesting blog articles regarding this, to which I have commented on occasion, but there is wide writing on the topic. Also, don’t forget about the legal implications, consult others who have done it, or find legal advice where you can, and don’t be afraid to pay for good advice. Whatever your message is, make sure it is one that engages, is clear, entertains, and is communicated well within the pages of your story, and uses language appropriate to the telling, then go about the design and implementation phase, which is very much going to be a whole different ball of wax (and for which you may also need to bring in help) but is not an entirely untenable situation. Lastly, have fun with it! This is your work, after all, and it needs all the love, sweat, and tears you put into the story for the package. If you simply see the process as a process, a means to achieving an end, it will go much smoother.




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