Tag: romance

My lesson in “$h**t happens.”

So I’m still pretty behind the ball these days, but I wanted to take a moment to stress a point that was stressed to me before I got my first writing contract: prepare as much as you possibly can, because once you have deadlines, sh**t WILL go wrong to keep you from meeting them.

All the seasoned writers who gave me that warning? You folks were right. Boy, were you ever.

Because even though people told me–lots of people–I didn’t quite grasp it. So here’s the deal. KING of DARKNESS comes out in mass-market paperback in February and I am super-mega thrilled, but there’s been a lot of hurry up and wait in the process. All the way back in January of 2011 I signed the contract with Sourcebooks, and it wasn’t until…I want to say late May that I finally had a lovely talk with my editor (Deb Werksman, who I just LOVE) and she told me very nicely that she felt I needed to re-conceptualize a fairly juicy chunk of the novel. Ideally, in about 3 weeks.


But, “Okay, no sweat,” I said. It seemed tight, but doable. I am the at-home parent to 3 kids, but those kids were in preschool part-time, and hubby would help if he could on the weekends. We had a sitter who came a few hours a week. So we’d work it out. Well, then our air conditioning died, so for a week I got nothing done because it was too hot to stay in the house, and the kids couldn’t sleep. Then, the preschool was closed for a school holiday. The babysitter got food poisoning, so there went my childcare help during the weekdays for awhile. Hubby had some work issues that ate up the weekends. Ugh! Oh, yeah, and I was rear-ended by a Lexus SUV while driving my friend’s Honda Civic and then sitting to type was painful due to getting banged up in the fender-bender. I mean–seriously?? If it could go wrong in those three weeks, it did.

But I did make my deadline. Not easily, and not without losing a lot of sleep. Not without swallowing a lot of ibuprofen. But I searched every nook and cranny I could for people who could help me watch the kids, and when my babysitter was back on her feet after my manuscript was in, I paid her to come watch my kids so I could SLEEP. I thanked my lucky stars that Amazon delivered coffee straight to my door. A LOT of coffee.

And I prayed that I could still deliver a good book, despite all the insanity.

So what else could I have done, in retrospect? I would have lined up some backup babysitters, for one thing. Maybe asked the preschool if they had any extra enrollment days once I knew what the deadline was going to be. There might not have been much, but there *were* things in retrospect that I could have done to be more proactive. Ah. Well.

So…planning, folks. It’ll save ya a lot of anguish.

I’ll know for next time. Though God willing it’s not another car accident. Or the central air.


Sex Has a Formula?! by Marsha A. Moore

This was originally posted by Marsha A. Moore at Ravencraft’s Romance Realm and my inner geek loved it so much I asked her if I could please re-post it, here. Thanks, Marsha!!

Sex Has a Formula? By Marsha A. Moore

In one workshop I attended, the instructor presented a helpful progression for structuring a sex scene. I found it useful and often refer to my notes while writing, if there isn’t some primary storyline already establishing the pace of the intimate scene.

Given you have a couple, person A and person B (gender doesn’t matter):

1)      Aggression from A
2)      Submission or pushback from B
3)      Elevated aggression or softening A
4)      Escalating physical contact between A & B
5)      Pull back/ fear/ uncertainty from either A or B
6)      Reassurance supplied by A or B (opposite from #5)
7)      Physical interaction
8)      Increasingly intense physical interaction/ both are lost to the physical sensations
9)      Completion
The moments of hesitation or pushing the other away add tension and invite a change of emotion from the partner, to be supportive or more aggressive. The drama of taking two steps forward and sliding back one builds excitement for the reader. Anticipation is a wonderful device.
As a reader, do you enjoy this gradual build up of intimacy in sex scenes more than wild abandon? As a writer, have you used this type of progression? If so, how does it work for you?

I’ll leave you with a wonderful example, a poem by E. E. Cummings—one of my favorites!

May I Feel Said He

may i feel said he
(i’ll squeal said she
just once said he)
it’s fun said she

(may i touch said he
how much said she
a lot said he)
why not said she

(let’s go said he
not too far said she
what’s too far said he
where you are said she)

may i stay said he
(which way said she
like this said he
if you kiss said she

may i move said he
is it love said she)
now said he)
ow said she

(tiptop said he
don’t stop said she
oh no said he)
go slow said she

(cccome?said he
ummm said she)
you’re divine!said he
(you are Mine said she)

Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her fantasy stories. She enjoys watercolor painting and drawing. After a move from Toledo to Tampa in 2008, she’s happily transforming into a Floridian. Crazy about cycling, she usually passes the 1,000 mile mark yearly. She is learning kayaking and loving it. She’s also a yoga enthusiast and never has enough days spent at the beach, usually scribbling away at new stories with toes wiggling in the sand. Every day at the beach is magical!

Links to Marsha and her books:



Guest Blog: The Benefits of Cheating by Jennifer Probst

Many thanks to Jennifer for guest blogging today! One lucky commenter will win a copy of her delicious book, The Tantric Principle!


I slept with Pierce Brosnan last night.

Got your attention?

Let’s just say I woke up with a smile on my face, purred happily and snuggled deeper into the covers. Let’s go, James Bond


My eyes widened. I wasn’t in Vegas and hadn’t bumped into him at the tables and then rocked his world in the elevator, and then the suite. My little one stood over me with a demanding face and the smell of pee. “Get up, mommy. I peed the bed again.”


I trudged into my regular existence and took care of business. But as the day passed, I felt a secret smile steal over my face. The dream had been so vivid! And totally safe, not really like cheating, because he was a celebrity and I had always told my husband if he could get lucky with a celebrity, then he had my blessing to have the time of his life.

This led me to the topic of cheating. Cheating can be done in all kinds of ways and means different things to different people. Is a fantasy cheating?  How about good intentions that turn unfortunately bad? Is a sizzling look but no touching off limits? Ah, the list is endless and swarming with snipers at every turn. Fortunately, personal relationships are not my cheating topic of the day.

Writing is.

When I begin a new book, it’s all hot romance and sex and getting to know each other. I fall head first in lust over my characters and the possibility of the blank page. I have high expectations to pen the story so flawlessly done in my head. It’s all heavenly foreplay and so intoxicating…

Then I get to chapter 3. Ouch. The six month bump. Suddenly, my hero is not really behaving very nicely. I told him to do something, and he refuses. My heroine sees my hero acting up and gets in on the action. And the plot that was so tempting seems to stall out and seem..well…cliché. Suddenly, I don’t really love this book anymore. Sitting down and trying to write sucks. I snack a lot, and jump out of my chair a lot, and watch more TV. Heck, I even seek out the attention of my children. So, I need to make my decision. Is this really going to work out? Perhaps we need a break. Maybe I should try that other story or article or essay and come back later and see if we are really meant to be together. Sometimes, I bail. Other times, I stick it out.

My current work, The Tantric Principle, went exactly this way. All heaven and bliss and then quarter of the way I fumbled. The manuscript sat for a while and I left the story for the lure of something more exciting. But then our time came back around – I bumped into the manuscript on my way through cleaning out my desk, and said, “Oh, yeah, I remember you! You’re hot!” And I committed myself all over again. I scrapped the last chapter and soared. I hit a few more bumps but I had promised monogamy. I finished it. Then sold it to Red Sage.


Sometimes I hate cheating and am forced to do it. I just started a new project that practically hit on me at the bar. Butterflies in the belly from the thought of my hero.  Yummy. Good plot, good characters. I was into the relationship. Then found my editor was interested in another pitch I had done with a book I hadn’t written yet. Another story I loved but quit after half of the first chapter. It had the potential of a great relationship but was basically a one night stand. Well, the one night stand was forced upon me like a marriage of convenience. When you have an editor interested in actually buying something, you write it. At least, that is what I believe for good business.

So, I started my new work and broke up with the last one. It was messy and undignified. I’m still upset but am beginning to think my new husband has potential. We’ll have to wait and see…

How you do like to cheat? Or don’t you? Share your story with me.

Thanks to Elisabeth for having me on her awesome blog – it is quite an honor.

To celebrate my new release, I am giving away a copy of The Tantric Principle – a story well worth cheating with. Leave a comment here and I will pick a lucky winner.

Drop by my website or my blog to check out my other books.

Visit my website at: http://www.jenniferprobst.com

Visit my blog at: http://jenniferprobst.wordpress.com

Any writing mommies out there? Stop by my mommy blog at: http://4badmommies.com

Guest Blog: FOREIGN CORRESPONDENCE By Therese Gilardi


By Therese Gilardi

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to visit foreign territories and write about my discoveries.  As a girl I used to page slowly through my mother’s “TIME” magazines while waiting for Peter Jennings to report live from London in his khaki trench coat and silk pocket square, reassuring me that there were new lands, customs, cultures and foods waiting out there, somewhere, for me to devour. Until that day came, I decided I would entertain myself by composing stories about everything and everyone I encountered. I believed I had to imagine everything that wound up as part of my long, descriptive tales – I was certain, living in a semi-rural township with lousy weather and no sidewalks, that there was no drama around me, let alone in my life. I based my stories on people and settings I’d learned of as I read my way through the shelves of our small township library. When I wasn’t reading or writing, I suffered my way through school, never fitting in, never finding my stride, hoping I was one of those “late bloomers” talked about in my mother’s magazines.

I never realized, since I spoke with very few others – one doesn’t encounter a lot of companionship eating alone in the school bathroom – that everyone didn’t create dialogue and back stories all day long, or read every word they encounter,no matter how mundane.  (If you want to know the difference between the back of a bottle of Prell shampoo and Herbal Essence, I’m your woman.) With the exception of a few English teachers along the way, no one ever seemed to think I had any extraordinary ability – in fact,no one seemed to think I had any great aptitude at all.  “Does not live up to her potential” was the most frequent comment on my report cards.  I shared the sentiment; I harbored no illusion I could be like my heroine Dame Agatha Christie, who wrote mystery, other genres of fiction and an account of her life on expedition with her husband.  I had about as much chance as being a writer like Dame Agatha as I did of becoming the next Peter Jennings.  I was certain, since I wasn’t in some exotic locale, that I was having any adventures about which anyone would wish to read.

When I arrived at college, still unwilling to claim my identity as a writer, things improved.  Living with a fellow literature lover and studying English and French, I met others who saw reading as a privilege and shared my love of the written word.  Though a few of my professors tried to encourage me to write more creatively, I still wasn’t ready – creative writing was not for the likes of me. The closest I got to allowing myself to surrender to my secret desire to write was the submission of a few mediocre articles to the college newspaper.  (I must say, though, that I should give myself credit for the creative writing I did on my computer science final, in which I managed to convince my professor to give me a high grade after a blue book full of impassioned arguments about why I could not grasp the difference between various computer languages.)

I continued to drift aimlessly through early marriage and motherhood, happy but haunted by the fact something intangible was missing from my life. I stalked the library at every opportunity and bored my son stiff with his insistence that he listen just one more time to one of my impromptu made-up stories.  Until one afternoon, as I sat in my quiet little house in New England while my young daughter slept, surrounded by more gallons of homemade applesauce than we could eat in a year, I realized I would go mad if I did not find a creative outlet. I picked up one of those free hotel pens my husband had picked up on one of his many trips and began recording my impressions, frustrations and lamentations about anything and everything.  Accounts of my days, thoughts about motherhood … anything was fair game. No one else would see my lined canary pages of poetry, short stories and confessional essays not even my husband knew I stored in the bottom cupboard of my grandmother’s old maple china hutch.

At least that’s what I thought.  Until the day we moved house, and I came across my mover, hunched over in my rose-colored wing chair, my sheaf of yellow pages between his freckled fingers. When he looked up, I could see it looked like he’d been crying.  I remember being numb with shock that my writing could affect anyone like that.  For weeks afterward, I pictured him, his forehead furrowed, his shoulders shaking. I knew it was a sign – I was meant to be a writer, no matter that I still didn’t live anywhere exciting or lead a life that was anything other than pedestrian.

I purchased a copy of “Writer’s Market” as well as a thick book that contained encouraging essays by Frank McCourt and Maeve Binchy and a list of publishers willing to accept submissions from beginning writers. I polished a few personal essays and a short story, sent them off for submission to small magazines, and had the misfortune of achieving publication.  I’m kidding of course; I was elated that my words were appearing in print, and I could acknowledge to myself and others that I was indeed a writer, reporting on my life just like I was Peter Jennings. I am, though, serious when I say that immediate validation of my work gave me a gross misconception about the business of writing. I was certain, given the fact that I had never succeeded at anything else before, that I had found my niche, and that writing would be an easy gig.

I know you’re laughing right about now, and you should be. Obviously writing is not the high-stakes profession of the first responder, pilot, or ER doctor. But stringing words together until I can make you see, hear, taste, smell and feel what is in my heart is a lot more challenging than most people realize. Over the nine-plus years I’ve been writing for publication I’ve been surprised to find that the submissions I thought had no chance of publication have appeared in the pages of prestigious magazines, while essays and stories I’ve been certain had hit their mark have never  been invited to leave the cover of my top desk drawer.

I’ve found writing to be a funny, fickle business. Ironically, my personal life over the past decade and a half has also been surprising and unexpected.  Somehow Peter Jennings, rest his soul, must have tossed me some fairy dust across the universe as I followed in his footsteps, living for many years in Europe, where I worked and traveled among many foreign people whose lands,customs, cultures and food provided fodder for my writing. My experiences living abroad gave me a lot of material for my work, for which I am grateful.  However, the more I’ve left the comfort of home, the more I’ve realized that my early perceptions were wrong: with the exception of travel writers and restaurant reviewers, most writers need never leave the comfort of their armchairs in order to create charismatic characters, heart-stopping settings, and sensational stories.  Those of us old enough to read and write need only worry about applying what life has taught us – life itself is the great creator, the ultimate writer with the unforgettable tales.  It’s the job of the writer to act, like Peter Jennings, as life’s correspondent.

Therese Gilardi is a poet, essayist and novelist who lives in the hills above Los Angeles with her husband, children and numerous pets.  Therese’s poetry and short fiction can be found online at “Literary Mama”, “The 13th Warrior Review”, and “The Dirty Napkin”, as well as in numerous print publications and the books “Knowing Pains” and “So Far and Yet So Near: Stories of Americans Abroad”.  Therese’s paranormal romance “Matching Wits With Venus”, about a Hollywood matchmaker and the Roman god Cupid, will be released by Astraea Press in mid-April.



Guest Blog: The “Unwilling Man” in Erotic Romance

Note from Elisabeth: This is a controversial topic, and one that I don’t see discussed very often. As a writer and also as a survivor of sexual assault, I find the subject fascinating – thanks so much to Laura for guest blogging and sharing her opinions today.

The “Unwilling Man” in Erotic Romance

By Laura Kaye


What’s more erotic than a battle of wills between two characters whose every interaction drips with sexual tension?  I love a dynamic wherein characters are sexually attracted to one another despite strong animosities or real good common sense reasons to stay the hell away.  I devour pages for the moment when such a couple gives into those basic, primal urges in utter disregard of all the reasons why their having sex is just a bad idea.  The giving in is always so carnally delicious…

But what makes that moment so delicious, what makes me cheer and groan in satisfied fulfillment, is that they desire the sex—in whatever form it occurs—and give in to that desire.

That seems to me to be altogether different from what I’ve seen in some recent works in progress and published stories, both m/f and m/m.  What I’m talking about is what I’ll call the “Unwilling Man” phenomenon.

The story often goes something like this:  Powerful alpha male warrior is captured by rival tribe/alien race/immortal enemies.  As a captive, he becomes a sexual slave or concubine.  Said slave needs to be trained or prepped to fulfill his new function.  The proud warrior/slave fights and resists, warranting humiliating punishments.  Then, a new trainer takes over and wears him down with an erotic array of sexual acts, words, threats, punishments, perhaps even favors, until he “gives in,” often developing affection or even love for that person in return.

I understand others might not agree, but I consider this type of characterization to be the definition of non-consensual.  For me, the non-consensual elements include:

1)      His status as a captive and a slave clearly deprive him of the full ability to non-consent and to enforce his non-consent

2)      His resistance constitutes an expression of non-consent, even if it isn’t verbalized

3)      The use of humiliation, punishment, favors, or other means of cajoling or forcing acquiescence prevent that acquiescence from equaling consent

4)      The captive having an erection is not evidence of consent; fear is also a powerful stimulant

5)      The possible outcome of the captive orgasming is also not evidence of consent or desire for the sex act to have occurred, nor does it prove the person enjoyed the act.

Nonetheless, these stories often receive a positive response.  Bringing the big strong alpha male to his knees has a certain appeal.  The idea of having our way with him does too.  Flipping it around, with a male aggressor and a female “victim,” rape fantasies or “make-‘em-like-it” fantasies are common—the journal Psychology Today released a study in May of 2008 indicating 37-51% of women have rape fantasies—a likely lowball figure.  But these fantasies are usually imagined within an existing relationship, where some expectation of safety exists within the fantasy, or with a stranger who helps the woman act out “wanton” behavior or indulge in repressed desires, making her sexuality “okay” because someone “forced” her to do it.

But if we go back to our newly enslaved alpha male, that’s not the framework being used with the Unwilling Male.  The Unwilling Male is not playing hard to get and not in an established relationship—and any relationship formed while the man is unfree hardly counts as safe.

An Ellora’s Cave story I read not too long ago had a different non-consensual set-up.  It was a m/m “gay for you” construct within the science fiction romance genre.  The two male characters had enormous sexual chemistry, despite the fact that one struggled with the realization that he had, for the first time in his life, sexual desire for another man.  His slow process of giving in was erotic as hell.  But then the author jumped the gun, as it were, and created a situation where the outwardly gay character (OGC) “had” to have sex with the GFY character in order to survive a crisis moment within the scifi worldbuilding (I realize this is probably making you scratch your head, but I hesitate to call out a specific author with clarifying details… Wuss?  Maybe. 😉 ).  The GFY character was telling OGC not to do it, that he didn’t want it like this or in this way, and then, in protest, the GFY character demanded—if OGC was going to do it against his will, GFY didn’t want him to use lubrication.  So, he didn’t.  And, of course, it hurt like hell, because, as well all know, our bodies don’t produce any natural lubrication back there.  [NOTE: Every time a romance author writes an anal sex scene without lubrication, a kitten dies.  Jus’ sayin’.] Now, at least the author gave the GFY character the dignity of breaking off the relationship and ending their former friendship…for a while.  Because, of course, they reconcile and live happily ever after in the end.


For me, some of these premises border on rape as titillation.  And leave me wondering, how would we react if the “victim” was female?  If it was a female who was turned into a submissive against her will?  If it was a female who was captured and torn away from everything she’d ever know, and then “trained” to be a sexual slave?  If it was a female who had to be fucked against her will to save the universe?  If it was a female whose family had sold her to someone to use as they pleased?  These are all premises I’ve seen in recent months—as contest entries I’ve judged, works in progress authors have blogged about, or published books I’ve read.

Often, when I read or hear of these stories, I can’t help thinking of one of my all-time favorite alpha male warrior characters:  Zsadist, from J.R. Ward’s Lover Awakened (Signet, 2006, Book 3 in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series).  ZOMG.  Total, epic, don’t-you-even-think-of-wanting-him-for-yourself LOVE for Zsadist, the bad-ass vampire warrior literally and emotionally scarred from a century of being imprisoned as a sex slave to a female vampire and being forced to sate her sexual and nutritional needs with his body.  He hates that his body reacted to her against his will (often, literally—they used a herbal salve on the skin of his penis to force him to become erect).  He grew to hate “the thing” / “the it” between his legs.  He bears the humiliation of the thick tattooed slave bands on his neck and wrists.  Once freed by his brother, he is totally dysfunctional in almost every relationship in his life, but especially with women, whom he can only fuck from behind so he can be in control, dominant, and not have to see them.  He’s plagued by nightmares, sleeplessness, severe weight loss, and considered sociopathic even by those who love him.  The story of how he finally gives in and falls in love is thus incredibly compelling and sweet because he finally gets to choose.  To me, it’s all the difference in the world.

Clearly, because rape fantasies exist, the line is not as hard and fast in fiction as it might be in the courts (of course, even there it’s not as black and white as you’d think it would be).  But, at the least, authors writing on the edge of consent should make an effort to get other eyes on their work before considering it ready for public consumption.

How do others weigh in on this? Am I in the ballpark or totally being too sensitive?