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Thursday, March 8, 2018

Why Erotic Romance is #Feminist Literature & Why I Write It

So, it's been a good long while since anyone posted to this blog. I apologize for that, readers. In honor of International Women's Day, I wanted to share some thoughts with you on why I write not just romance, but erotic romance, and what it means to be a feminist erotic romance author. 

First let's start with the idea that romance is feminist literature. This may not sound groundbreaking in the news department, but it's a rather new idea on the block. For years romance has been denigrated for being anti-feminist, or bodice-rippers, glorified patriarchal rape fantasies that simply perpetuate stereotypical portrayals of women and romance in a male-dominated world. (Phew, that was a mouthful). In recent times, romance has become a better genre, but it also has become better understood, and the realization that it is actually the opposite of anti-feminist is becoming more and more prevalent. 

Romance is about women, for women, written by women. That's what romance is all about.

Note however that women is not all romance is about, of course. There are lots of different flavors of romance on the market now, with new subgenres and different forms of love and life becoming more popular every day. Romance is also about men, and about love. There are ménage stories and m/m stories and stories about groups of lovers, asexual partners, trans and queer individuals, some who identify as women, and some who do not.

On the whole, even when the story is not about just women, and not written just for women, or by women, romance at its core is still about feminism, about the idea that a woman is just as good as a man, just as important and worthy, and should have the same ability to pursue life, liberty, and happiness as any man.

I was asked (as part of a large group) recently why my books were going to change the world. Why were they important enough that readers needed them? Whose lives were they going to change? 

Those questions got me thinking, and now I have an answer. 

My books are all about being sex-positive, body-positive, empowering and feministic. I write all kinds of flavors of erotic romance: f/f, m/f, m/m/f, BDSM, contemporary, femdomme, multicultural. And every one of my books has one theme in common: empowering my characters to know what they want, physically, sexually, emotionally, and to give them the tools to go after what they want. My characters embrace their sexuality. They embrace the idea that it’s okay to want and need a partner (or partners), to be vulnerable and sexy, and to be bold and strong, all at the same time. This is what makes my romance so feminist in nature.

With every book, I aim to break down the idea that sex is evil, or that women don’t have a sex drive. I work to dispel the myth that sex-positivity and embracing sexual desire is a bad thing. I also work to dispel the myth that feminism = man-eating bitches. Feminism isn’t about hating men. It’s about loving them in a way that doesn’t mean loving yourself less. And that’s what I write about. That is why I write erotic romance. We can break down these barriers. We can change the world.

One book at a time.


Monday, November 28, 2016

No Secrets Goes Live Tomorrow! #Multicultural #New Adult @nonaraines

Good morning, friends! I'm so excited to share the release (happening tomorrow) of my multicultural New Adult romance No Secrets

She wants him…
            Alyxandra Franklin crushed on Cris Garcia the first time they met. He wasn't like the guys in her crowd, the boys in grown-up bodies. No, Cris was a man. A man who'd stand up for his girl, hold her close and keep her love safe. In spite of her feelings, Alyx never made a move on him. How could she? He belonged to her best friend, Gabi. And now it's too late.

He hates her…
            Cris figures if he never sees Alyx Franklin again, it'll be too soon. She's nothing but a spoiled stupid rich girl, too busy partying to care about anyone but herself. She's the reason Gabi, the girl he loved, lost her life.
            But he's wrong. Gabi had secrets. When those secrets blow up his life, Cris is willing to go to any lengths to unravel the lies. Even if that means befriending Alyx—and sleeping with her—to learn the truth.

Only 99 cents through December 3! Find No Secrets here:

He took her hand. "Come with me."
She allowed him to lead her to an alley next to the building. "What's here?" she asked, not afraid, just curious.
"This." He took her in his arms and kissed her.
Her lips were so pillowy soft, he wanted to lick them, bite them. Whoa, slow down there. Good way to scare her off.
She must have read his mind, because she placed her hands on his chest and gently urged him back. Her eyes were clouded with confusion. "Maybe we should…I don't know, slow down some."
He took a step back, disappointment settling in his gut. But he wouldn't be like that pushy douche outside Chauncey's who kept pestering her, who wouldn't take no for an answer. "Okay."
"I mean…" She shook her head. "I don't know what I mean. I like you, Cris. I have for a long time. But I just—"
"Because of Gabi, you mean?"
"Yeah. I was her friend, and you…"
"Is it weird that we're—"
"No," he answered quickly. "We both…we cared about her." He couldn't choke out the word love. "But she's gone."
Alyx was silent, as if weighing his response. "I hope it's not wrong."
A pang of guilt zinged him, but not because of Gabi. Because he was here with Alyx under false pretenses. She thought it was just a date. He had other motives.
But enjoying her company wasn't a lie. The way he felt holding her, kissing her—that was real. "Does it feel wrong?" he asked, holding his breath for her answer.
"No," she said at last, lifting a hand to his cheek. "It feels really, really right."
They kissed again. Gently, he urged her mouth to open. He tasted hops and yeast, but the bitter tang of the brew was no match for the sweetness of her kiss—a flavor he wanted more of.
When he released her, reluctantly, she sagged against the side of the building. Her eyes were dreamy and soft. She smiled hesitantly when he gave a quiet laugh. "What's funny?"
"Just…your makeup." Scary looking as it was in the glow of the streetlamp, it couldn't hide her natural beauty. "I never pictured I'd be kissing a zombie."
She laughed. "Well, I'm kissing one too."
When he tried to kiss her again, she stopped him. "Wait."
After fumbling in her purse, she pulled out a handful of tissues and touched them to his face. He jerked back at their moist feel. "What are you doing?"
"They’re wipes. To take off the makeup," she answered.
He snorted. "Baby wipes?"
"Hush, you. No, they're for makeup." Gently, she swiped the cloths across his forehead, over his cheeks, down his nose. He watched her as she tended to him carefully, tenderly. Her concentration on the task just made him hotter. Each time her fingers brushed his skin, his pulse spiked.
It felt like foreplay.
Thanks so much, friends! I hope you'll check out the story and its related romance, No Promises.

Have a wonderful week, all!
Nona Raines

Hot Contemporary Romance
Edgy ~ Emotional ~ Erotic

Sign up for my newsletter and get a free read! http://www.nonarainesfreebook.com/

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Readers, please don't panic!

My upcoming title is a m/f erotic, but please don’t panic dear fans. My Portland Men series is still going strong, to include (but is not limited to): shifting Rockin’ the ’Nog to reflect the series, as well as Ides of March, and creating a sequel to Ascend.  Rewriting the two books above came about because of the question of Ascend’s sequel. (Read: twisting my elbow and giving me the Stink Eye.) More on that in the next blog entry because I first want to discuss my m/f erotic novel and why I didn’t shift that one to m/m.
The book is, and has always been, a response to my fans’ question of, “Hey, what’s the story of Annabel and Jeremy?” Thing is, if I were to portray the situation in its fullness, then my Jeremy stops being relatable and transforms into an abusive a*shat. Yes, Jeremy was in a terrible emotional and intellectual space regarding his fearful choice to stay in the closet, and that resulted in damage done to him as well as the people in his inner circle.
Is there any value to read about this traumatizing mental landscape? No. Butterball is already out. But there is a story to tell. In sum: Annabel’s.
What is it like to be uncomfortable in one’s own skin?
What is it like to lost and orphaned?
What and how can torn souls be healed?
Those questions, and finding those answers, is the core of my upcoming The Veteran’s Homecoming. It’s my honor to introduce Annabel Lawrence and Jeremy’s brother Zachary Roberson.
Now, Annabel has been wronged by Jeremy but that isn’t anything I will discuss. I like to keep my heroes, wounded or otherwise, stay heroic. So…Jeremy’s past is in the past. However, it is referenced because what Zach knows is the lies. Why? Because this Jeremy is pre-Travis (in Butterball) and, consequently, he’s still closeted.
That means his life is a lie.
That means that he needs to keep the reason for his broken relationship to be a secret.
That means, when given the opportunity to come clean to his brother Zach..but fails
That means, Annabel is is Zach's target for justice. Zach is a marine. Honor is the heartbeat of Zachary Roberson. He learns too late that honor honor isn’t the course of his brother at that time in Jeremy’s life. Annabel, furious about the past, is on a quest for justice.
The two come together like a swirling confluence of raging rivers…and fall in love.  Isn’t that a lovely thing? Did I mention that Zach’s personal sexual kink is BDSM’s owner/property? Annabel’s miniscule amount of trust makes that sort of play problematic.
Now Zach must find a way to fix what he broke. He needs to heal what he injured. He needs to accept that Annabel may very well be his future.

Welcome home, marine!
So, another moment of genius or madness? Intrigue the audience or alienate them?
Time will tell...

Monday, October 24, 2016

Does #Romance Require #Research? #Writing

Good morning, friends. Nona Raines here. I'm proud to be a romance author. Unfortunately, romance writing is often downplayed as not being "real writing." When it comes to fiction genres, ours tends to be looked down upon as Cinderella sitting in the ashes. Never mind that ours is the top selling genre of fiction. And sadly, too often romance writers are not looked upon as "real" authors. But we work hard at our craft, and it also involves a good amount of research. Today I want to share some of my adventures in research.

*No, I don't mean that kind of research, LOL.* Kindly get your mind out of the gutter! :-) Though truthfully, I've been known to research sexy topics when trying to spice up a love scene.

In my first book, One Good Man, the heroine was a librarian. For the character of Andie I used my own career in public librarianship to guide me. 
For more on One Good Man, please go here.

For other books, I've had to research my characters' careers. I've also researched locations, cities, and landmarks. Having friends and family who live in certain spots can be very helpful.  Good old Google is your friend. Google Maps and Google Earth can be very helpful when trying to get the "real feel" of a place.

You can go old skool and use books, as long as they are up to date.  Sometimes even an out of date book can give you insight into how the job has changed through the years. Your local library is a great resource and if it doesn't own a copy of the book you need, can often borrow a copy through interlibrary loan. Speaking of the library, let me give a shout out to the fact that internet access is available for free at most public libraries--in case a person does not have the means or the access to their own computer or modem.

But let's face, nothing beats the internet. When it comes to researching careers, you can find a lot of information. There are plenty of blogs and websites devoted to different types of careers and jobs. I found a lot of info this way when researching Emergency Medical Service personnel for No Promises.  I found not only interviews, but video as well. Even comments on blog posts can be extremely enlightening. And don't forget good old YouTube--though there you must be careful to separate the wheat from the chaff.
For more on No Promises, please go here.

But our best resource is always other people. Interviewing folks about their real life jobs is so rewarding. Talking to someone provides real insight into a person's career and relationship to it. I've found most people more than happy to share information. During my research I've interviewed several EMTs and paramedics, a highway worker, an owner of a consignment shop and a 911 operator.  If you're polite and respectful, most folks are only too happy to share. Facebook friends too can be amazingly helpful. I've quizzed a few about working retail for my current WIP.

That's about it folks. As important as research is, we authors have to be careful not to fall down the rabbit hole and get lost. At some point we have to get busy and write! :-) Delivering a good story is what it's all about.

Have a wonderful week, all!
Nona Raines

Hot Contemporary Romance
Edgy ~ Emotional ~ Erotic

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Genus or madness?

Genius or madness?

I’m sitting at my keyboard and contemplating that question. Why? Because I decided to rewrite my title Rockin’ the ’Nog.  Complete revision of the story. Why? Because I’m either a screaming genius or corkheaded and mad.

So, what happened when I first wrote ’Nog—way back when—was a small story placed in the Christmas time of Portland, OR while I was in a time of transition in my life. No, not a cancer scare specifically (as mentioned in the book) but drowning in loneliness due to the alienation I’m forced to endure in order to escape the PTSD delivered by the childhood I’ve endured, survived, and continue to process in my fiction. It’s been hard, but I’m now out of “survival” mode and into “thriving” mode.

But, back to the book. As I’ve done in the past, and will probably do in the future, I used my fiction to help me process things that are happening in my life. More, I did receive a mistaken “c*ck shot” from a buddy, who thought he was texting someone for a hook-up. HILARIOUS!! Then I put it into a book and we all laughed. (The trouble of being buddies with a fiction author. Anything interesting that crosses my plate could, and probably would, end up in a book.)

But now, four years later, ’Nog has something else to say because I have something else on my plate. That plate is full of concerns for my audience who follows my Portland Men stories and characters. Specifically, my publisher’s murmurings for a “sequel” to Ascend. (The thriller about the knife-wielding serial killer?)

Well, okay. I’ll produce a sequel but, in truth, a sequel isn’t simply “picking up where the other left off.” There is usually more, at least when I produce a sequel, because for me a story must be larger before it can encompass more time and space. So, to produce a requested sequel I needed to produce MORE.

“Backstory is dead story” so, no, I wasn’t happy to lump it into the one manuscript. (I mean, why? I’m a fiction author. When I make a story I usually put it to paper. (Why do all the work and not get paid? #justsaying.) So, I decided to sacrifice my peace of mind—and more than a bit of my sanity—to restructure and revise Rockin’ the ’Nog, now to my m/m brand with Loose ID Publishing.

Yes, there will be a romance between two characters—one who just happens to be the attorney prosecuting the criminal who tried to kill the starring characters of my Ascend—and the guy he’s been lusting after but…well, you know.

Aside that romance, please pluck a bit of the criminal’s story from ’Nog. That would have been the “backstory” of a sequel but, like I said, I loathe backstory dumps so…yeah. Anyway, enjoy the new ROCKIN’ THE ’NOG and Merry (Upcoming) Christmas! And look for the Ides of March, my St. Patrick’s Day story which is getting the same revision treatment.

After that, Ascend’s sequel. Also, btw, I’ve working on upgrades of Catching Her Balance and, also, something new. My first try at serial-type detective fiction.

I expect 2017 to be GREAT!!

Friday, October 14, 2016

I'm Getting Married Tomorrow!

Good morning Divettes,

Just a real quick post to say that I am still around, just very swamped with my very own personal real-life romance. I am marrying the man of my dreams tomorrow. It's been a whirlwind of planning and life the past few months, preparing for the big day. I, of course, got sick last week, and have had a nasty chest cold for 7 days. I'm finally feeling better, so here's hoping I'll be in tip top shape for the wedding day (and night ;-p) That would never happen in a romance novel - the bride getting sick just before her big day! Though I suppose it could be a chance for great conflict in the book! It's certainly been a hell of a thing, trying to work, and get better, and finish up all the million and one little last minute details.

But I am off now to go get ready for my rehearsal and dinner! Wish me luck!


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Quest for Erotic

There’s nothing more annoying than a know-it-all. Am I right? Worse, once again the truism of “those who can’t write, critique” is proved. Yeah, I’m a long-term reviewer and, thus, I have an opinion. About everything. “It’s what I do.”

Worse, I’m o-so-confident in myself that I put my beliefs to action and I put my hands to a keyboard to write erotic romance. I’d love to say that it was an easy thing to do, with all the history I’ve had in the romance genre, but it wasn’t. Romance itself demands a deep sense of authenticity, erotic more so.

One can talk about something, maybe even build a scene around something, but unless one is actively inside that something—now or in the past—then the reader will recognize that. Worse, they will not forgive it. No, that’s not specific to romance itself, but this hard line in the sand is often proven in the romance genre.

I remember reading a book in the 80s where the protagonists were “on the bridge to Catalina Island and…” There is no bridge. Read that again. There is NO BRIDGE TO CATALINA ISLAND. Just a nauseating two-hour boat trip that I endured twice a summer, every bloody summer, because my mother dragged me on the boats for the hellish yearly July 4th trip—this is not a therapy session. 

Anyway, as you can see I *still* remember that gaffe and, no, I don’t forgive it. But back to EroRom and the tacit contract of authenticity between reader and author.  It was that very thing that gave me pause when my (then) publisher invited me to write m/m romance. Of course I said, “Yes,” but my mental answer was, “But, I don’t have the equipment for that.” Yes, EroRom demands authenticity and not to make too fine a point on that topic, I know what it’s like to desire a someone. More, (I’ll say it) I know what it is to touch and by touched by a guy I’m attracted to.

As for the “male specific” bits of authenticity—and, yes, there is a huge difference between the male mind and the female mind—I find authenticity from what’s authentic. A guy. My buddy Brian, in fact. (So very often he sighs when faced with a question, but he’s never let me down.)

Reviews: “Such an authentic voice!”
Me: “Yeah, my guy friends give input. I’m not gonna lie.”

But then, it was a question of “do I have a character for this?” As it happens, I did. My Jeremy, bless his (fictional) heart, had threaded through my first two books based in Portland, OR. (I see a coltish awkwardness in retrospect, but learning in the public’s eye is—imho—pretty much the story of all genre authors.) So, Jeremy, a bearded and balding, chubby and 50ish dude. I wanted him to be a heel, to use a wrestling term, but he fought back.

He pushed at me, telling me he was gay and closeted. How could that be a romance hero? I thought it was me. Maybe this craft wasn’t for me? Was I doomed to only review? Then I signed up for a teaching module at Seton Hill’s WPF program, and this one was on the topic of LGBTQ romances.

(Shout out to Annie Harris!) In that module I heard an off-hand comment about how there was next to no romance characters that were less than physically perfect. You’ve seen them.  John De Bare-Chested. Joe Chisel Chest. Laura of the Perfect Bosom and Flowing Locks. The idea of writing of an imperfect character was gently addressed by Annie. Basically “why not?”

I heard Annie and I heard Jeremy, and Butterball was born, now in the hands of Loose ID publishing. (To this day, it remains my bestseller. A chubby closeted gay man is my bestseller. What were the odds of that?)

~  Michelle


The Romance Reviews