Tag Archives: Clog Blog
AuThursday – Darlene DeLuca
Please welcome Darlene DeLuca to The Clog Blog! Darlene can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Hi, everyone. Thanks for having me, Tina! My degree is in Journalism, and I started my writing career as a newspaper reporter. That was before kids. The hours were long and I spent many nights attending planning commission meetings and city council meetings. While I learned a lot, after a few years, I moved into corporate communications. I spent about 25 years writing for employee and consumer publications with a little art direction thrown in as well. Then I was “downsized” and left Corporate America for creative writing. I have to say, writing novels is a lot more fun! Summer is my season. I love a sunny day at the beach with a good book, a little dark chocolate and a cold glass of iced tea!
How do you make time to write?
For me, the great thing about writing is the flexibility, because life happens and often eats into regular business hours. I can, and do, write whenever. I’m probably most productive in the middle of the day when I get all the busywork out of the way and I have the house to myself. I’m not one of those get-up-at-4 a.m.-and-start-going types. I need my beauty sleep!
What genre are your books and what draws you to this genre?
I write women’s fiction and contemporary romance. Basically, I like stories about people. I like the affirmation that generally accompanies women’s fiction, and I like the good old-fashioned happy ending of a romance.
How did you deal with Rejection Letters if you received any?
Oh, yeah, I’ve received them! They’re hard, but you’ll never achieve success by quitting. The hardest ones are the “passes” after a revise-and-resubmit because it’s easy to get your hopes up then. I just try to glean what I can from them and move on. It helps to have a support network of other writers!
How did you come up with the idea for your Women of Whitfield series?
It’s hard to ever pinpoint an exact moment of inspiration. The tiniest thing can spark an idea and it just grows with time and attention. Once I started developing the characters, it became obvious that each one of these friends needed her own story. I also liked the idea of featuring women in their fifties and delving into the issues of that life stage.
What are your thoughts on writing a book series?
I like the Whitfield series and the characters began to seem like real people to me, but honestly, by the time I finished the third story, I was ready to move on to something else. I’m currently developing a romance series that I’ve dubbed the “Masterpiece Series, where Love is an Art and every Romance a Priceless Treasure.” The stories are all related to art in one way or another.
How are you publishing your most recent book “The Story between us” and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or small press)
This is my first step into traditional publishing. My earlier works were self-published on Amazon’s direct publishing platform. “The Story Between Us” is part of the Sweetheart Line from The Wild Rose Press. It’s a very different process, and I’m hoping to reach a wider audience through their publishing connections. It would have been much faster to publish myself, but I’m happy to try something new!
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Learn the craft. Read a lot. Join a critique group. Look for and accept genuine feedback and criticism.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Everywhere, I hope! Here are the links to my social media sites:
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
Reed pulled his keys out of his pocket. In the doorway, he folded his arms and leaned against the casing. “Can I ask you a question?”
Chest pounding, Kristen forced a smile. “Of course.” She took a couple of steps toward him and braced a hand against the back of the sofa.
“Is writing your only reason for being here?”
Heavy, charged air closed around her. How to answer that? Honestly, of course, but…how honestly? “Well, writing is my goal for sure. But—” She glanced around the room before looking at him again. “I’d love to ride my horse, er, Star, and spend some time with…with people I like, too.”
As he pushed off from the door, a slow grin spread across his face. “Sounds like an excellent plan.” He sauntered closer. About a foot away, he stopped. “You’re good with dinner at the main house tonight? Don’t let Dylan bully you. You decide.”
She gave a shaky laugh. That was the plan, right? She couldn’t remember for sure. Her brain was going fuzzy. “I’d love to,” she managed to say.
He leaned closer, his breath warm on her cheek. She braced herself for a friendly peck, but when her eyes fluttered shut, his lips grazed hers. Hovered there, and when she thought her legs might give out, Reed caught her arm and pulled her slightly toward him, his lips covering hers again.
Sparks exploded in her brain, and she grabbed hold of his arm. All of her senses came alive and responded to the unexpected deluge.
A long moment later, he pulled back and brushed a thumb across her cheek. “See you in about an hour.”
Kristen could only nod. As soon as the door closed behind him, she collapsed against the sofa. She ran a finger along her bottom lip. That kiss…Oh, man. The chances of her getting any writing done this weekend just dropped from unlikely to who-said-anything-about-writing?
Cover Reveal – Fireproof
Series: Brave the Elements, Book One
Author: Tina Holland
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Release Date: May 8, 2020
Publisher: Book Boutiques
Cover Artist: Valerie Tibbs, Tibbs Design
Did you know all fairies are ruled by the elements? And they answer to a group known as the Veil–sort of a fairy secret council. There are rules that must be obeyed the first being never reveal what you are.
Jamie Waters broke the rules when she retrieved an anchor off the shores of California setting a new world-record for free-diving. She flees where the Veil will not find her, the town of Innocent, Minnesota. There she meets and falls hard for a human, Beau Collins. Beau Collins isn’t like most humans, he can’t catch fire and being a fireman is the perfect job for him. When he meets Jamie Waters it’s an instant attraction. Opposites attract but everyone knows, Fire and water don’t mix.
When Beau is burned after battling a warehouse fire, Jamie works to help him find the arsonist. Can they find out who it is before they lose control over the elements? Will Beau risk being with Jamie even if it means he can’t be Fireproof.
Beau struggled all night to keep his emotions in check. He rarely granted invitations to the opposite sex because women always seemed to set his blood on fire, especially if there was any level of attraction because the relationships eventually ended because of his secret.
This girl, Jamie, scared the hell out of him. His barely concealed erection was a testament to the draw he felt towards her. His usual heated senses were not there though and it really concerned him. He felt cool, calm, and collected at least in the flesh. His emotions were tearing all over the place. Attraction towards this unbelievably attractive girl, confusion over what drew him to her specifically and concern his fail-safe standoff approach wasn’t working at all.
Now her breath lingered against his skin. What did she ask him? He looked over at her with her long black hair and dark blue eyes. “What?”
“Chase said something about you needing lessons.” Her sensuous pink lips moved and all he heard was “lessons”.
“Lessons?” He asked unable to concentrate on the words emerging from those luscious lips.
“Yeah. What kind do you need?” She smiled.
“What kind do you want to give me?” Beau hoped he sounded flirtatious instead of the uncertainty rising within him.
Jamie leaned over and whispered against his lips. “I’d like to give you some very intimate lessons but I doubt you need them.” Her lips barely touched his own. Beau used all of his restraint not to pull her against him to taste her.
“So did you two figure something out?” Damn Chase and his bad timing.
“I’m still trying to find out what he wants.” Jamie turned and smiled at Chase. Beau’s gut twisted.
“He doesn’t know how to swim!” Chase fairly shouted it.
Jamie turned to look at him, “Is that all?”
“Yes,” Beau said in a clipped voice.
“I think I can help you out. I’ve done adult lessons before.”
“I’m not sure I need to know how to swim. Haven’t run across the need in a fire yet.” He teased her.
“Nonsense. It’s easy. Besides, it’s not like you’ll need to rescue people right away. Just a nice skill to have, especially living on the North shore.” Her face lit up as she talked to him, “I need to use the little girl’s room.” Jamie rose from the table, “Don’t take my spot.” She directed Chase.
Once she left Chase sat down opposite Beau, “What do you think?” he asked.
“About what?” Beau responded.
“She’s okay.” Beau quipped.
“Just okay? Dude, she’s like a walking goddess with her long black hair, perky tits, and a sweetheart shaped ass. Didn’t you notice?”
Beau noticed and so did his pecker. He merely shrugged. How could a man not notice dark denim jeans or the white t-shirt hugging her curves? Chase forgot to mention her captivating ocean blue eyes. A man could drown in those big baby blues.
“Well if you’re not interested, I’ll—”
“Don’t even think about it.” It was more of a command than a statement.
Chase laughed, “So you do like her.”
“I didn’t say anything of the sort.”
“But I can’t pursue her.” Chase clarified.
“Yep.” Beau took a long sip off his beer.
“Okay, whatever man. I’ll let you have this one, only because you’re showing a little bit of interest. You need to get laid. You can thank me later.”
AuThursday – Jacie Floyd
Please Welcome Jacie Floyd to the Clog Blog! Jacie, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
From the time I read my first Nancy Drew mystery, I’ve been an avid reader and writer. The public library was my happy place when I was a child. Throughout my professional career, I utilized my non-fiction writing skills in business and legal writing, but the desire to create my own stories became a secret obsession. While polishing my craft as an unpublished author, I was lucky enough to be named a six-time Golden Heart Finalist and two-time Golden Heart winner by the Romance Writers of America. After years of scraping together whatever time I could to generate one manuscript after another, I gave in to the inevitable, abandoned my day job, and moved away from the chilly Midwest to Florida in order to write full-time and self-publish the kind of stories I like to read.
How do you make time to write?
Now that I’m a “full-time” writer, I can structure my writing time to fit my schedule. Outside activities and travel do interfere, but I’m a night owl and don’t need a lot of sleep. I’m often at my desk writing from 10 PM to 1:00 or 2:00 AM. I realize not everyone has that kind of flexibility.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
No, not for me. It’s a real thing that some people do experience, but I always have three or four projects going on simultaneously. If the words don’t flow for the one I’m currently slaving over, I switch to one of the others for a while. I believe that if I just keep writing, the right words will break free.
What are your thoughts on writing a book series?
Since I’m currently writing four series (The Good Riders, Sunnyside, The Billionaire Brotherhood, and The Billionaire Brides), I’d have to call myself pro-series. I prefer to write books that stand alone in the series but are loosely related by some unifying element like setting, club, friend group or family relationship. The main characters appear in multiple books, but their conflict or story arc don’t necessarily overlap. I consider series the most reliable way for an Indie author to build an audience—the theory being that if readers like Book One of the series, they’ll want to read Book Two and so on. Hopefully, if they happen to stumble on Book Four, they’ll go back and look for the previous ones.
I see you are Indie Published. Why did you choose this route?
I think it’s safe to say that my daughter chose it for me! Back when I started writing seriously, the Indie route wasn’t a viable option. I tried for years to get a traditional publisher or agent interested in my books through standard queries, conference attendance, and contest entries because those were the only options. I got really, really close several times, before receiving soul-crushing rejections. In 2013 I was a Golden Heart finalist, and my brilliant, tech-savvy, librarian daughter went to the RWA conference with me. Indie publishing was really starting to boom, and after attending a lot of workshops, she encouraged me to go in that direction—with her technical help. I sorted and revised my existing completed manuscripts into series, published MEET YOUR MEET in 2014, and things grew from there.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Now I always have to consider my readership and ways to keep that number growing. I have to determine which characters from the existing series have the most compelling story that needs to be told next. And I have to stick to a schedule, so I write better, sharper, clearer first drafts than I used to. And even when the book is finished, I have to allow time in the schedule for social media, promotion, and even occasional personal appearances. Writing is a business for me now instead of a diversion, but the writing part is still fun.
How do you relax?
Time on a beach with waves lapping the shore, clear, sunny skies, sand in my toes, and a book in my hand is absolutely my happiest, most relaxing place. Luckily, I live close enough to the beach to make that happen as often as necessary.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
I have seven pieces of advice:
- Complete a manuscript and then another one. Until you know for sure you can get from the start to the finish, all you have is a hobby.
- Don’t overlook the necessity of learning your craft and polishing your manuscript.
- Whether you’re planning on Indie or Traditional publishing, a competent editor is a must.
- Establish a media presence for your author name BEFORE you have anything to promote.
- Have clear career goals, not just writing goals.
- Join writers’ groups and make friends with other aspiring authors.
- Don’t take rejection too personally.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
I’m everywhere! I love to talk to readers and authors, old friends and new about reading, writing, books, travel, cooking, shopping, you name it! Feel free to reach out to me on your favorite social media platform and sign up for my newsletter on my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Bookbub, Goodreads
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
Absolutely! Thanks for the opportunity to visit with you and your followers. This excerpt is from my latest release ALWAYS ALLIE, the first book in The Billionaire Brides series.-Jacie Floyd
As Allie slipped into bed, a familiar form emerged from the shadows. Her hand went to her heart, and a gasp escaped her.
But not from fear.
She propped herself on an elbow. “How did you get in?”
A light twinkled in his eye. “It wasn’t so hard.”
“Why are you here?”
Wearing the same jeans and T-shirt he’d had on earlier, Buck took a step toward her. “Wyatt called. He thought you could use a friend. I told him you’d made it clear you didn’t want to see me tonight, but he said that might have changed.”
And just like that, the tears Allie had been holding back all night filled her eyes and spilled over.
He rushed to her side. “Sweetheart! What’s wrong? Don’t cry. Are you all right?”
With her shoulders shaking, she nodded. “I’m fine.” Wiping her eyes with the corner of the sheet, she shrugged. “I’m sorry. That’s not like me.”
“Don’t be sorry. If you’ve had a bad night, you’re allowed to cry.” He scooted her over and climbed into the bed beside her. “How can I help?”
“I’m shocked to be saying this but having you here has helped.”
She’d had to be strong for Xander, and Mother hadn’t been sympathetic.
But Buck was here to support her, not lean on her. He had no expectations whatsoever about how she should behave, and he’d let her vent in whatever way she needed. All of that was a rarity. She knew they had issues to discuss, but for now she just wanted to breathe him in.
He stacked her pillows behind them and put his arm around her. “Can you give me a clue? Is it Xander? Something with the business? Your mother? Are you sick? I’m not trying to pry, I need to know what kind of support to offer.”
“How many kinds of support are there?”
“There’s the goofy, silly kind where I bring you a Beanie Baby.” He pulled a little green frog wearing a crown out of his pocket. “That often works for Bella.”
“Cute, but I don’t think a frog will do it.”
“There’s the huge soul-crushing disappointment where I buy you a Lamborghini.”
“Thanks, but I don’t need a new car.”
“There’s the small heartbreak or scuffed knee where I offer you a chocolate kiss.” Yep, he dug in his pocket and pulled one of those out too. Taking the candy out of the shiny silver wrapper, he held it to her lips. “There’s emotional distress where something unfixable has happened, and I give you a big hug and sit quietly with you while your head wrestles with wrapping itself around the new normal.” He put his other arm around her and pulled her against his chest. Holding on tight, he rested his chin on her head and rocked her back and forth. “Like this.”
“Ding, ding, ding, ding. That one works.” She listened to the reassuring beat of his heart against her ear, but she wanted more. “If accompanied by a real kiss.”
“Happy to oblige, but what kind? Sweet, sexy, comforting, hot?” He stopped between words to bestow a sample of each one.
With her hands cupping his face, she leaned in. “The kind that makes me forget everything else.”
“My favorite.” Sitting up, he pulled off his shirt and tossed it over the side of the bed. “And for the record, that’s always my goal when I kiss you.”
When he tapped her hip, she lifted up, and her gown followed the way of his shirt. “Not fair. I’m naked, and you still have on jeans and who knows what else.”
“Jeans and nothing else, but hang on, we’ll get there. I’m concentrating on you first. I can see I’ve got my work cut out for me.”
“Take your time. I’ve got all night. My trainer doesn’t get here till six.”
“You won’t need him,” he assured her as his lips teased hers. “You’ll get your workout tonight.”
Saturday Spotlight – Imperfect Saint by Jess Bryant
Title: Imperfect Saint
Series: All Saints Security Series
Author: Jess Bryant
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release date: November 15, 2019
Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48392464-imperfect-saint
Millie Turner is a master at compartmentalizing. She’s put her past in a box and she doesn’t talk, or even think about it. She’s managed to avoid her cheating, lying, manipulative ex-boyfriend for months. Unfortunately, avoidance is no longer an option. Her brother is getting married and his Best Man is none other than the ex that nearly destroyed her.
She doesn’t trust herself to spend an entire weekend in his presence. Not on her own. She needs a date, a distraction, a buffer, someone to keep him away from her… but she never expected her savior to come in the form of a saint.
Hunter St. James has been fascinated by the mysterious Millie since the moment they met. Despite his efforts to get her to open up, she’s kept their relationship strictly professional though. When their boss asks him to act as Millie’s date for a big family event, it seems like the perfect chance to get to know the girl that’s been keeping him at arms-length.
He thought a weekend of playing lovers would be all fun and games but he soon finds out Millie’s more than just mysterious. She has secrets and her picture-perfect façade is just as fake as their relationship is supposed to be. Only the more he learns, the more he wants to know and the less their relationship feels like a lie.
Can Hunter convince Millie to trust him with the truth? And if Millie comes clean about her past, will Hunter still want a future with her? Neither of them is perfect but maybe that’s exactly what makes them perfect for each other.
*Warning – This book contains scenes that could be triggering to some, including discussion of domestic violence situations, and on and off-page violence. If you are sensitive to story-lines that involve abusive relationships, please take care when deciding to read this novel. It is important also to note that these scenes do NOT involve the main hero and that our heroine finds her HEA and a healthy relationship with our hero after confronting her past. Still, caution is recommended to avoid triggers for some readers. *
Buy Links (Kindle Unlimited):
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3640ooy
Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/2BynW6K
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2N0i6k7
Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/2BxSHc0
⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑ “This one will be a Top Read of 2019 for me. It’s the kind of story you read with a smile on your face & an occasional tear in your eye.” – Michelle Claypot Reads
⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑ “This book is EVERYTHING!!!! I love all of Jess’s books. Her words make you feel everything… But this book is MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE EVER!!!!!!!” – Becca Whaley
⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑ “What an honest & real, sweet & swoon-worthy, heartbreakingly beautiful read.” – Megan (Goodreads)
Jess Bryant is an avid indoors woman. A city girl trapped in a country girl’s life, her heart resides in Dallas but her soul and roots are in small-town Oklahoma. She enjoys manicures, the color pink, and her completely impractical for country life stilettos. She believes that hair color is a legitimate form of therapy, as is reading and writing romance. She started writing as a little girl but her life changed forever when she stole a book from her aunt’s Harlequin collection and she’s been creating love stories with happily ever afters ever since.
Jess holds a degree in Public Relations from the University of Oklahoma and is a lifetime supporter of her school and athletic teams. And why not? They have a ton of National Championships! She may be a girlie girl but she knows her sports stats and isn’t afraid to tell you that your school isn’t as cool as hers… or that your sports romance got it all wrong.
For more information on Jess and upcoming releases, contact her at JessBryantBooks@gmail.com or follow her on her many social media accounts for news and shenanigans.
Social Media Links:
Saturday Spotlight – Made in London by Stella Andrews
Title: Made in London: A Forbidden Romance
Author: Stella Andrews
Genre: Steamy Contemporary/New Adult/Contemporary Romance
Release Date: March 24, 2019
Dark, dangerous and desirable.
He was forbidden, I was vulnerable.
He pursued me, I resisted.
When I came to London, It wasn’t to find him.
A man who shrugged on a life of crime like a well-worn jacket.
A man who made my principles desert me in a heartbeat.
A man who invokes fear, desperation and longing with just one flash of his deadly eyes.
A protector, a destroyer and a man with no mercy.
The one man I want and can’t have.
They say you always want what you can’t have.
That’s never applied to me…. until now.
One taste it all I want but it will never be enough.
Warned off and threatened with my life and if I had any sense I’d back off – but I can’t.
You know what?
I don’t follow rules, I break them.
And I’m going to break them over and over again when I claim her soul to burn in Hell alongside mine.
This is forbidden, dangerous and catastrophic love and I’m about to start a war.
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2FosQ9l
Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/2Foj7Qe
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2FpxCmU
Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/2FpxhAE
Read A Preview: https://www.stellaandrews.com/made-in-london
I love to write stories where the men are hot and sexy and the women strong and beautiful. I enjoy the freedom of a filthy mouth in fiction where I am prim and proper with my family. This is my guilty secret. Let’s just keep it between ourselves.
Follow me on Amazon to stay informed of all my new releases.
Social Media Links:
Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/stellaandrewsauthor/?ref=bookmarks
Direct link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/81aa78942027/
2012 in review – Thanks to all visitors The Clog Blog
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 6,200 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 10 years to get that many views.
Earth Day Blog Tour!
Welcome to the last stop on the LSB Blog tour! You should have come from:
If you are just joining the tour we started at:
It’s no wonder we have global warming…have you seen the hotties heating up these blogs?
As you know the books being given away by the LSB Authors are all E-books. E-books are environmentally friendly in that besides paper far less resources are used. Here are just a few:
1) Less Gas – you don’t drive to pick up a book and a book isn’t delivered via vehicle to you (either to your home or a bookstore)
2) Less Waste – E-Books that are not sold are not “Stripped” and sent back to the publisher…they don’t sit in warehouse waiting to be sold.
3) Less Space – An e-reader or a device you already own (PDA, Cell Phone, I-Pod, MP3 Player, even your computer) can store multiple books and are always easy to find. When was the last time you hunted for that treasured paperback. For me that was last Wednesday.
4) Less time – The E-market doesn’t require a certain number of words or pages to justify print costs. So you can find shorter stories that would not otherwise exist. Only have an hour to read, it’s easy to find one, in fact Fictionwise usually displays on their sale site how long a book takes to read.
5) Less money – Since a book takes less time to read, They can cost less. It’s not difficult to find an e-book under $5.00.
Does this mean our precious paperbacks will go away? Not necessarily. I think of it as more opportunities for a reader. Not too mention finding a genre that is unavailable in bookstores. Remember when Westerns went out. No problem finding them in ebooks. Whether you like it spicy and hot or sweet and romantic…you can find an e-publisher selling it.
So don’t forget to leave a comment and do your part and save our valuable resources. I mean with all the Hottie Global Warming we have to do something, right?
AuThursday – Kayelle Allen
Kayell Allen joins us to day and she is such a talented author. She seems to world build effortlessly and what a world it is.
Q: You’ve built quite a fan base around your Tarthian Empire. Why do you think it’s been so successful?
Thank you Tina! That’s kind of you to say. My books appeal on several levels and there is something for everyone. Each book can be read alone, although once readers meet the characters and learn they appear in other books, they often pick up one of those to learn more. In addition:
1) they’re hot romances with plenty of good character development, steamy sex, and people who care about one another. They don’t meet and instantly jump into bed, with one exception. Khyff Antonello in For Women Only is being paid to seduce an ambassador, and she walks up to him at a party, gives him the once over and within two minutes she’s asking him why they’re still there. Their first love scene lasts three chapters. He earned the nickname “The Machine” for a reason. Losing his heart was never supposed to be part of the mission.
2) There is a secondary layer to each story. Readers who follow all the books (five at Liquid Silver Books and now the first of a trilogy at Loose Id) know the background characters have ulterior motives; there are secret societies, layers of conspiracies, and hidden backgrounds. Nothing is as it seems, and searching the deeper meanings and covert aspects of the overall series fascinates some readers. It fascinates me to write them, because I have a twenty-year arc of books planned, and we are only in year five in the current book.
3) I recently began a yahoo group only for those who have read all six of the books so far. Those following the background stories, clandestine games, and hinted-at alliances can discuss them without spoiling the stories for more casual readers on my regular group. The new group itself is secret, and unlisted in the Yahoo directory. Membership is only by recommendation or invitation. If you’re one of those readers who’s fascinated by the deeper meanings and workings of these books and have read all of them, email me and I’ll send you a personal invitation. Here are the books to have read (the first five can be found at Liquid Silver Books: At the Mercy of Her Pleasure, For Women Only, and the Tales of the Chosen trilogy: Wulf, Alitus, and Jawk, and the newest book from a new trilogy at Loose Id — Surrender Love. My books page has links to all my books, including two short stories at Shadowfire Press. http://kayelleallen.com/Books.html
As to why it’s been so successful — I think it’s because I keep my promise to my readers: to give them a complex plot that immerses them in an erotic tale and provides plenty of unexpected action, in settings so real they’ll swear they’ve been there.
Q: Do you have a favorite hero in all your books? For any particular reason?
When I first started writing, it was Khyff Antonello. He was a tortured hero and the first two books either featured or were about him. Now, it’s moved to Luc Saint-Cyr. Luc is immortal, powerful, has a financial empire and a staff any real-life executive would give eye-teeth to have; he’s six feet five inches of glorious muscle and chocolate-colored skin, and is the most mysterious, enigmatic man in the Tarthian Empire. He wears solid-black contact lenses that cover every part of his eyes, the reason for which has been revealed (so far) only in Wulf, Tales of the Chosen. It will be revealed again in the next book in my Loose Id trilogy, Surrender Trust, out later this year. But the thing that captures my heart about Luc is that he uses his power, wealth, and influence to help the helpless. He’s spent thousands of years alone, always searching for the ultimate love and faithful heart. I described him this way in the blurb about Surrender Love. “…beneath the myths beats the heart of a man who craves what he has never given and is certain he will always be denied — steadfast, faithful love.”
Q: What’s coming up on your schedule, book-wise, in the next year?
I have several projects in the fire. I’m working hard to finish the Surrender trilogy, plus I’m writing an M/M shape shifter anthology with the prolific and award-winning Kiernan Kelly that we’ll be shopping around to publishers soon. Among other things coming up are personal appearances as a guest at Outlantacon in Atlanta, Georgia the first weekend in May, I’ll be a vendor at Gay Days in Orlando in early June with Kiernan and author Vincent Diamond, and then over the Labor Day weekend I’ll be moderating the first GLBT-writing panel at DragonCon in Atlanta, titled “Exploring the Final Taboo: Authors of same-sex and ménage romance answer reader and writers’ questions about the genre.” Authors include Jolie du Pre, Sascha Illyvich, Morgan Hawke, Ally Blue, and of course, the matchless Kiernan Kelly. She and I take turns being sidekick and leader, and have become good friends over the last three years. This makes the third DragonCon we’ve attended together.
Q: How hard is it to keep sex/love scenes fresh and interesting?
I do a lot of research. Before you start snickering, one detail about my research that I’m not able to experience personally is the sexual aspect of physical relations between two men. I make no attempt to hide the fact that I’m a woman writing Romance between two men, and some would say I “lack the necessary plumbing.” My response to that is, “Hogwash!”
Ever since mankind started telling stories, and especially once they became mass marketed, men have written books that have sex scenes between a man and a woman. Obviously, they haven’t experienced sex from a female’s perspective. They (if they’re good writers) ask women how sex feels, what an orgasm is like, and what pleases her sexually. If a male writer can write acceptable female characters, what is the difference between that and a female writing male characters? Believe me, I do plenty of research, and have — shall we say — “well experienced” beta readers who let me know immediately if I get it wrong. While writing Surrender Love, one of my betas wrote back things like, “You know men don’t really talk to each other like this, don’t you? It’s too girly. Punch it up and take out the emotion. Add physicality. Guys don’t bare their hearts this easily.” Another time it was, “You’re writing this guy like he’s a girl with a dick. Go back and reread the end of the chapter and take a look at how he acts. You have to make him more masculine. Have him stand up for himself and argue back.” I love valid criticism — not the negative “you suck at this” type.
I’m no diva. My goal is to be realistic, make my guys hunks, and when they are at their most vulnerable (as all men are at some point in their lives), to portray him as that without emasculating him. Is it hard? Hoo boy. This is probably where I spend most of my time rewriting. By the time it gets to my editor, all I need are corrections to meet house style, or correct a new way of handling serial commas, for instance. Here’s part of my bio and I think it describes the way I write perfectly. These were various comments taken from readers that I combined into one paragraph and edited for continuity, and I’m really proud to be thought of so highly.
“Kayelle Allen is a multipublished author whose world building skills include a broad sweep of ten-thousand years of future history, a feline language, and trade standard laws for the empire where her books take place. Her writing lures you inside each hero’s head and seduces you with what he feels and thinks. She thrusts you into the hero’s heart and mind, teases and satisfies you with his sexuality and sensual joys, and drags you onto the roller coaster with him when it plunges into the darkness of things-gone-wrong. When you and the hero get off the ride at the end, it’s Kayelle’s hope you’ll be back in line when the next ride starts.”
Q: To date which of your books was the hardest to write and why?
I’d say it’s always the book I’m writing now, whichever one that may be. Each has its moments of panic where I doubt the plot, the character, the point of view (POV), the inclusion of certain aspects, you name it. Sometimes, when I get stuck, I find that I’m writing the scene from the wrong POV. Generally, I look at a scene and decide who has the biggest emotional wallop and go with the story from their viewpoint. I’ve learned, however, that we sometimes learn more about a character by seeing him/her go through a trial from another character’s POV, like a filter.
In Surrender Love, featuring Luc Saint-Cyr and Izzorah “Rah” Ceeow, I had one scene where Rah discovers the “dungeon” that Luc and Wulf had used for sex games. I was going to show Rah’s impressions of the various items (he was a virgin at the time) and let us see how it made him feel to think the man he was learning to love and trust got a kick out of hurting his lovers. Instead, I let Luc’s butler reveal that Rah had been inside the dungeon and was now missing. Luc’s guilt and regret at having ever built the room to accommodate Wulf’s desires tore Luc apart. He was terrified Rah would never trust him again, even though he’d planned to have everything torn out and refurbished as a place for Rah to practice with his band. He believed the way to his younger lover’s heart would not include pain. However, Luc hadn’t yet discovered (and won’t until the next book) that Rah has always secretly desired to be dominated. In Surrender Trust, Rah will learn to put himself into Luc’s experienced and capable hands, and Luc, whose break-up with Wulf over the dungeon and its use, will have to learn to re-trust himself and his own decisions. He must re-learn how to be a master. To do that, there are so many levels to deal with that the book is giving me fits. Honestly, the books that give me the most grief turn out to be the most lauded and the best sellers. Surrender Love has had five star reviews, and I expect Surrender Trust to be no less excellent, thanks to my amazing betas and Heather Hollis, my Loose Id editor.
Q: On average, how long does it take you to write a book?
It took me a year to write one, but only 2-4 months for most of them. I wrote Wulf and Alitus both within five months, but due to a packed release schedule, they were released five months apart.
Q: What influenced you to get e-published? How long did it take for your first book to get published?
I was researching publishers to see where I might fit, spending a lot of time online and at the library. I wrote Sci-Fi and was determined to be published within the next two years. (This was in early 2003.) I quickly discovered that the manuscript acceptance rate for Sci-Fi was only about 2%, not too encouraging. Romance, however, was much higher, and accounted for 38% of all paperback book sales in the US. I wanted a piece of that pie! So I changed my Sci-Fi to Sci-Fi Romance, set the series back in time about twenty years, and started writing in that “story year” in order to create the extensive background I would need for where I wanted the story to end up. In December 2003 I joined an online critique group, submitted chapters and critiqued others, absolutely believing it was only a matter of finding the right publisher and having good contacts. Barbara Karmazin, an amazing erotic author and the supreme specialist on alien sex, was also in that critique group. Bless her, she took me under her wing and introduced me to Liquid Silver. The timeline for being published was fairly short. I sorted through various storylines I’d started in the past, chose one, changed around the characters a bit, and ended up with At the Mercy of Her Pleasure, completed by February. I polished it, submitted it in March, and had a contract in April. It was released in July. So from absolute start when I picked up the notes and decided this one would be a good place to start to the release date was about eight months. I released my second book, For Women Only in December the same year. A note on my personal tribute to Barbara – Luc Saint-Cyr lives in the Nizamrak Building which is Karmazin spelled backward. It’s mentioned in every book.
Q: What do you think is the biggest misconception in erotic romance fiction?
That Erotic Romance books aren’t for “ladies.” Hello? This is the 21st century! I grew up in an era where women were burning bras and fighting for equal pay for equal work. When my own mother was born, women hadn’t been allowed to vote yet. She was two before that law passed. The very phrase “allowed to vote” offended me. Why would I even have to be “allowed” to have the same rights as a man? Why was there ever a thought that we weren’t equal to men? Yet when I married, it was the first year that banks had to stop asking about what type of birth control I used before I could apply for a checking account or credit card, and I no longer had to have my husband’s permission to gain an account. How degrading was that! I joined the Navy the year before, and it was the first year that women didn’t need a parent’s permission to join the service; men weren’t required to ask. Translate those same grievances and multiply them exponentially to blacks in America. I remember the Freedom Marches and riots in Watts. Now we have a black American president. The newest target for prejudice (other than racial profiling) is sexuality. Brokeback Mountain was a perfect example of the intolerance of alternate sexuality. In the end, the brutal slaying of one of the lovers is discussed as if it was a mere accident, and not one his family lifts a finger to right the wrong, even though they are perfectly aware of what happened. They act as if he deserved it simply because he was different. His lover withdraws from life itself, with only a denim jacket as a remembrance of the man he loved. Erotic writing has the power to make alternate sexuality and preferences become less “strange” and more commonplace, opening doors for acceptance. I’m proud to be part of that trend.
Q: What makes your characters so vulnerable yet strong? Can you describe them to us? What do you do when characters stop talking to you when writing?
A vulnerable yet strong character is my favorite type to write. I relate most to them, no matter what their vulnerability or strength. To use the characters in Surrender Love — Luc Saint-Cyr’s strength is his immortality. No matter what happens, he will survive. That is also his greatest vulnerability. He’s doomed to suffer through century upon century of loneliness and loss. With his great heart, he falls in love every lifetime, and his stamina is legendary. He is no longer affected by alcohol, so he can down several bottles of Kelthian whiskey (his favorite) and it has no more effect than tea. That means he can’t even drown his sorrows with a good drunk. Sexually, few humans rarely satisfy him because his metabolism enables a nearly constant erection, so he makes no attempt to be faithful to a human lover — they could be physically injured if he took them until he was sated. In almost every case, a character’s vulnerability is a coin, the reverse of which is their strength. For Rah, the other hero in Surrender Love, his determination not to be dominated in a matriarchal society where once he had been married off he would have zero rights and no freedom drove him to find a clever means of escape off world. That same determination plunged him into a life on the streets once he reached Tarth City. His strength overshadowed his weakness, however, and he used his ability to play drums to find work as a fill-in drummer until he auditioned for a permanent gig with Kumwhatmay. Through it all, he kept three huge secrets, and only his closest cousins knew the truth. When Rah meets Luc, the walls each of them has built around himself start crumbling, and as each chinks away at the mortar holding up the bricks, more and more of their true selves are revealed. But how far are they willing to go? How much are they willing to trust? We’ll discover that in the next book.
To me, nothing’s worse than when characters stop talking to me. What do I do when that happens? I remember what my mother always said. “When in trouble, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.” LOL And of course I don’t do that! I suffer for days sometime, weeks even, always with the story on the “back burner” of my mind, simmering away, waiting for the right tenderness of the meat, the infusion of the vegetables in the broth. I edit something else. I rewrite the scene from another POV. I work on the outline, which usually starts a sketchy one page “Part A Boy meets Boy, Part B, Boy loses Boy and Part C Boys get back together.” It’s never that simplistic, because I have conspiracies to develop and political upheaval to plot on my world, so I will often work on perfecting more of the timeline. One time, I spent so much time piddling with a list of the Empress’s Stable (her male harem of men referred to as her Jades) that I wrote out the names, birth years, home planets, hair, eyes, skin tones, species (like a feline Kin or a Satyr-like Tyran, a completely androgynous Chiasmii, or a good old human) what their political background was (were they gifts from visiting “governors?” Did she obtain them herself in some interesting way? Why did she invite him into her harem? In my current books she has about twelve Jades, but I have a list of around one hundred-fifty men that she will add over the next fifteen years, including a few who end up heroes of their own books (such as Khyff). I’d really like to do a book of short stories explaining how she obtained a few of them, and what his sexual expertise is. Like Luc Saint-Cyr, the Empress is an immortal and has the same stamina. She however, was created with a sex drive that’s off the scale and having sex five or six times a day barely takes away the flame of her desire. No wonder she has so many Jades. Each of them has a back-story, family, and personal desires. Not all came to her unwillingly, and she has many whom she protects for various reasons. A few, revealed in a later book, are never involved with her sexually.
One book took me a solid year of rewrites before I realized I simply could not get the hero and heroine together because they weren’t right for each other. Once I got that through my head, I took apart the usable aspects of the story and actually came up with plots for five different books, including the Tales of the Chosen series. Writer’s block happens for many reasons. Sometimes, it takes putting it away and working on another project for a while so you can clear your mind.
Q: What do you feel is the most important aspect for all new authors to remember when writing or creating their own stories? Any advice for aspiring authors?
The most important aspect for all new authors … I would say take the time to develop your world, whether it’s a contemporary set in your home town, a Regency Romance, a tale set in the highlands of Scotland (oh, yum!), a cowboy story, mystery, faery world, vampire paranormal, or a gay romance. If there are rules your fey must follow, write them down and use them. Your readers will catch you if you say something’s one way in book one and another in book five. Keep notes! I have nearly a full language for the Kin, and I don’t create a word without putting it into my glossary first. That glossary goes with my ms when I submit it to my editor and proofers, and to my embarrassment, they have caught me using the wrong word in my own created language! Don’t assume no one will notice or that they won’t catch it. If readers love your work, they will. I just got an email from a reader who bought Surrender Love, then picked up my other five books and read them, then went back to Surrender Love and read if four more times. If there was a contradiction, do you think she’d find it? You betcha!
My favorite advice for aspiring authors in any genre is “Do not let anyone steal your dream. Not even you.” That means cut the negative self talk immediately. Never use the words “I’m only”. Imagine sending this letter as your query. “I know that you’re busy and will understand if you just set mine aside because I’m a new writer and don’t have the same polish as other writers in your publishing house. A lot of my friends say I have a way with words, so I thought I’d send it to you. I hope if you like it, you’ll let me know, or at least send me a bona fide rejection letter which I will reverently frame.” How interested is this publisher going to be in you after reading this? Yes, this is an extreme example, and not one most of us would be crazy enough to write. But never send a query without someone (think author, not your crafting buddy) read it first for clarity and interest. And for goodness sake – if you can’t take a critique from a friend who cares about you, how in the world will you ever survive reviews? Toughen up. Be friendly, care about others and help them as much as you can. The more you do for others the higher you are lifted yourself. Huge shameless plug here. Come over and join the group I created for authors (published and unpublished), literary agents, editors, author promotion services, publishers, and artists. Marketing for Romance Writers is open to every genre and you don’t have to be a Romance author. If I had it to do over, I’d have called it Marketing for Online Authors. My 20/20 hindsight kicking in. 🙂
Q: Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
I’m in way too many yahoo groups to list them all, so I’ll give you a list of my major hangouts. I frequent all these groups plus a few that are invitation only, such as RomVets, which is for female Romance writers who served in the armed forces. If that describes you, contact me and I’ll put you in touch.
Romance Lives Forever http://groups.yahoo.com/group/romancelivesforever
Romance Lives Forever – MySpace http://myspace.com/romancelivesforever
Romance Lives Forever – Blog http://romancelivesforever.blogspot.com/
Marketing for Romance Writers http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MarketingForRomanceWriters/
Kayelle’s Coffee Corner http://coffeetimeromance.com/board/
Loose Id Community http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LooseId_community/
Liquid Silver Readers http://groups.yahoo.com/group/liquidsilverreaders/
Shadowfire Café http://groups.yahoo.com/group/shadowfire_cafe/
Immortal Heroes http://groups.yahoo.com/group/immortal_heroes/
Whipped Cream 2 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/whippedcream2/
Promo Literary Nymphs http://groups.yahoo.com/group/promo_literarynymphs/
Gay Writers/Readers http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Gaywritersreaders/
Brenda Williamson Romance Party http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BrendaWilliamsonRomanceParty/
Wiki Romance – Kayelle (in process) http://www.romancewiki.com/Kayelle_Allen
Linked In http://www.linkedin.com/in/kayelleallen
Wow! Kayelle is sure busy. Be sure to join me Saturday when we read a SEXcerpt from one of Kayelle’s books. Yummy.
AuThursday – Shara Lanel
Q: How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing my whole life, but I really decided to focus in on romance and a career in writing about 9 years ago. I joined my local RWA (Romance Writers of America) chapter and learned so much about the craft of writing and the professional side of things.
Q: What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Start by learning your basics. Read Strunk and White’s Elements of Style and find a critique group or partner (preferably who knows more than you do). Attend any local writing workshops or meetings you can, and when you feel you’ve improved, enter some contests. Contests that offer critiques of your 1st chapter will give you an idea of how much more you need to learn. Don’t even worry about agents and editors until you’ve got a good handle on the craft.
Q: How did you deal with rejection letters, if you received any?
Well, that depended on what mood I was in and how many rejections I’d received in a row, like the time 20 agents rejected me in one month. Sigh. The reason I got so many rejections at once was because I was submitting like crazy. This meant I also received a few requests, so it was worth it. In some cases a rejection has made me determined to submit something better to the same publisher—I see it as a challenge. Sometimes you need to get a little angry to keep going, but don’t ignore the advice in the rejection when someone takes the time to give you specifics—that’s rare and useful.
Q: Any recent appearances that you would like to share with us about/any upcoming ones?
On Valentine’s Day five authors from my RWA chapter signed at our local Barnes & Noble. The store had a lot of foot traffic that day, so it was a very successful signing. I like signing with at least one other author so I have someone to chat with during the slow times. To keep up to date with my signings, etc , I have a Yahoo loop, announcements/newsletter only—not a chat loop. Join here:
Q: Do you have a favorite hero in all your books? For any particular reason?
I fall in love with each of my heros. I love Rick from Enlightened Love because he was my first and very fascinating (a virgin ex-monk). Then there’s Heath in Primitive Passion. He’s sexy, demanding, and a bit…well…primitive, but he’s fighting his own darkness—and that’s what I love the most about him. It makes him vulnerable.
Q: Who are some of your favorite authors?
This is constantly changing. For a while I bought every Evanovich book the second I could get my hands on them. I love older Nora Roberts—I haven’t read her as much lately—and can get deeply engrossed in an Elizabeth George novel (she also has an excellent writing book that I love). Most recently I just read book number one in Wendy Roberts Ghost Dusters series. Loved it!
Q: What´s coming up on your schedule, book-wise, in the next year?
I’ve finished a cute novella about a ghost hunter and a groovy 60s ghost, but it doesn’t have a home yet. Meanwhile I’m working on a sequel to my Loose Id release, Blame It on the Moon. No finish date yet.
Q: HOW “HOT” DO YOU LIKE TO MAKE YOUR SEX / LOVE SCENES AND WHY?
I like the scenes to fit the characters and the story. The characters and their emotions are what make each sex scene hot, whether it’s traditional or…ahem…alternative.
Q: WE ALL KNOW “SEX” SELLS…………HAVE YOU EVER BEEN ASKED TO “SEX-UP-YOUR-BOOKS”?
When I sold my first book to Liquid Silver Books, I was given an excellent editor who not only helped me heat up my book to LSB standards, but improved my overall writing. I am so indebted to her. Since then I gained a much better grip on the market, so I can cater the heat to the publisher.
Q: Where can Reader’s find you on the World Wide Web?
My web site is www.SharaLanel.com. You can also find me on Facebook and my MySpace page is http://www.myspace.com/sharasezone.