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Monday, September 26, 2016

Falcon's Way by @nonaraines #Contemporary #99cents

Happy Monday, everyone! I'm so glad to be here today to share the news of my latest release, Falcon's Way, which is one of  stories in The Charmed Bracelet: Love Stories Linked Through Time. I'm sharing the anthology with four other amazing authors: Lara Archer, Leela Lou Dahlin, and A. Catherine Noon and Rachel Wilder. I'm so thrilled to be among them.



Let me tell you a bit about Falcon's Way:

Trust no one. Barrett Gilmore survives by that creed. She learned it the hard way.

The hard times are mostly behind her now. She no longer goes hungry. She has a job and a decent place to live. And if she's not really happy, at least she's at peace.

Until Michael Falco storms into her life. Sure, she's grateful he intervened when that street kid attacked her, but she never asked him to play the hero in the rest of her life. She doesn't need rescuing.

But still he pursues her.  Barrett knows there's an angle. A man with his wealth and high lifestyle could only want one thing from a woman like her. And she's not for sale. She doesn't trust him, but worse, she doesn't trust herself around him.


If Michael has his way, he'll show her how to do more than merely survive—he'll show her how to live.

And here's an excerpt: 

"How's your arm feeling?" he asked, watching her alertly, as though to pick up on any discomfort.
She was stuck with him, at least through lunch. No reason not to have a civil conversation. "Not bad. I'm just glad to know it's nothing serious."
"We'll stop at the pharmacy on the way home and fill that prescription," he told her.
"Wonder how much that'll run me." She didn't see the point in paying good money for something that was probably just fancy aspirin.
"I'll handle it." Falco's voice was firm.
Damn it, he was doing it again. Had she asked him to pay for the prescription? "Is that what you do? Handle things? Make decisions for people and expect them to just fall into line?"
She hadn't expected a response, but he seemed to seriously consider the question. "In my line of work I'm used to making decisions."
"Your line of work." She remembered the card the big man gave her last night. "Falco Ventures. What's that?"
"We're venture capitalists. We look for small businesses and start-ups to invest in."
"Falco. Is that Italian?"
"Yes."
She recalled something else about the card—its logo. A large bird with its wings spread. "Falcon? Is that what it means?"
"Falcon or hawk, yes."
Perfect. Barrett had caught a nature show on falcons once. They looked so majestic and lonely, circling the sky in solitary flight as they scanned the ground for their next meal. Falco watched her sharply now with hooded eyes, the way that bird of prey might watch a mouse.
             Well, he'd find out she was no mouse.

*****

I  hope you enjoyed that little snippet! I more exciting news--the complete anthology is available for only 99 cents for a very limited time! 

You can find it at any one of these retailers:






Thanks so much, friends, and have a wonderful week!

Nona Raines
Now available: my newest releases, No Promises and the Not the Hot Chick series

Thursday, September 22, 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

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Setting the (Writing) Mood with Music

The human brain responds to music in a way it does with no other sound, even language. Given music's tie to dance, which was originally intended to create an intense, pleasurable sense of intoxication and release, it's no wonder so much of our music centers on love and sex and that dancing often leads to sexytime. Here's how to harness the power of music for your next writing session.

Many people prefer to write in silence or with the TV on. Because I was a DJ once upon a time and can't imagine writing without music, I challenge you to spend a little time creating a playlist, whether it's through Spotify, YouTube, iTunes--whatever your preference is. This may seem time-consuming, but it can be a lot of fun and a great way to discover new music. Center it around a general theme or your current project. I write in several genres, so I have playlists for vampires, werewolves, fantasy, even the apocalypse! I also put one together specifically for Firebird, and now I can't hear those songs without picturing the scene to which they correspond. (You can check it out here.) For me, this is part of the discovery process. I've gotten tons of ideas from song lyrics; even the mood of a song can inspire me and lead to something I hadn't thought of previously. It can influence my characters as well. Alex's musical preferences largely arose because of the genres that dominate the Firebird playlist.

The trick is to avoid music you might sing along to, because before you know it, you'll be typing the lyrics. Video game soundtracks and dark ambient have become my go-to for this reason. This is where writing my first drafts in longhand also helps--I'm more conscious of what I'm writing and less likely to transcribe my favorite song into my book. :) But don't start writing right away. Just listen for a few minutes. Let the music speak to you and let your mind wander. How do you feel? What are you thinking about? Does the song remind you of one of your characters, and in what way?

Writing something sexy and don't know where to begin with your playlist? Try the Angels: Chill Trance Essentials series or the Sexual Chillout and Sensual Trance series for starters. Typing in "erotic chill out" brings up some nice results as well. YouTube playlists are especially fun because they lead you to a wealth of other songs and artists--and hopefully, to the sexiest scenes you've ever written!

--Jenn--

Monday, September 12, 2016

Not tonight, honey, I have a headache: 5 Things that Kill the Mood

If you're here and reading this, then, like all of us, you like to fling open the bedroom door and get your fictional freak on. Welcome! You're in good company ;-) As both an avid reader and writer of erotic romance, I've read a lot of sex scenes. Some of them had me dragging my husband upstairs or running to take a cold shower. Others left me shaking my head. I've even been known to laugh out loud at times (which I'm positive was not the authors intention). 

So, I've wondered, what is it about certain sex scenes that don't do it for me? What do those authors do that kill the mood? Here are my top five things that will make me roll over and cry headache... 

1. The "C" Word -- No, I'm not talking about cum. I'm talking about that nasty four-letter word that's used to describe the female anatomy, or often hurled as the ultimate insult. C-U-N-T. I absolutely hate this word. There's nothing sexy about it, and every single time I encounter it in a book, I physically cringe. Every. Single. Time. Please, please use something else. I beg you. 

2. Paging Dr. Penis -- I read a book once wherein the heroine either thought or said something to the effect of, "I can't wait to feel his penis inside of me." *Insert screeching air brakes sound* Nope. Cue the laughing. I'm sorry, but penis is such a clinical sounding term. If it's in a romance, it had best be used in a medical setting or by a parent having "the talk" with their kid. Seriously, I'd rather read the word "cock" or "dick" a bazillion times.

3. Say What? -- Now, I'm all for dirty talk. In fact, I find sex scenes without dialogue to be boring, and I generally skim read or skip them. But throw in some hawt dirty talk? Woo, now we're talking! However, if the dirty talk reads like it was lifted from a porno script, I'm outta there! Don't allow characters to lose their personalities simply because they've lost their clothing. 

4. No Doesn't Really Mean No, Does It? -- Lack of consent leading up to and during a sex scene will make me stop reading completely. I will put the book down and walk away. And silence does not equal consent. A perfect example... In a recent read, the hero tries to get busy with the heroine while she's at work. The heroine verbally says, "We can't do this here." To me, that's a big fat NO! But the hero, refusing to be swayed, keeps kissing her and tempting her. Eventually, she gets all hot and bothered and then they have mind blowing sex. I mean, is there any other kind? This isn't sexy. This is rape-y, and with the rape culture being what it is in today's society, this not okay. At all. Ever. Period. Full stop. 

5. The Never-ending Erection -- Okay, I get that this is fiction, and if the sex was portrayed realistically, people wouldn't read it. But c'mon! When the hero gets off in the heroine's mouth and then 2.3 seconds later he's rock hard again and pounding away inside of her... Let the eye rolling begin. Unless he's popped a little blue pill, give him a little bit of time to recoup. 

Remember, reading is a personal and subjective activity. What kills it for me might be the thing to get your libido running. So, sound off in the comments. What kills the mood for you? 

~ Lexi ~ 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Diversity in Writing and Publishing

Diversity is a word that is being looked at more and more closely in the writing and publishing world these days. And diversity doesn't always mean what people think it means. Diversity can have everything to do with skin color, and also nothing to do with skin color. Now, you may think that I get to say that, that because my skin is light, I can interpret diversity to mean something other than "non-white." But I would vehemently disagree. This is not me invoking my white privilege, honest. 

I wrote an essay back in college that was published in an introductory text to be read by all incoming freshman for years to come after I graduated, and it was an essay that I was uniquely qualified to write, because of my history. It was an essay on which the premise, there is no such thing as race, was based. Culture exists, culture is a brilliant, amazing diverse thing, but race is a social construct. It's something humanity created to make an "us and them" dichotomy. I know this, because I lived it. I'll give you a bit of a history lesson: my grandmother only dated black men after her third divorce. I had the immense fortune to grow up with six grandparents, three grandmothers, and three grandfathers, though my gram never married Sam, he was my grandfather. At every birthday, at every Thanksgiving and Christmas, etc. It was the most normal, natural thing in the world to me growing up that I had a grandfather who just happened to be a few shades darker than me. 

Now, diversity in writing and publishing does absolutely include voices from other cultures and backgrounds, 100%, but it also means so many other things. I've had the chance through teaching the past few months to do some research into diversity in publishing, both within the romance genre, and from outside of it, and I couldn't be prouder to be in the publishing world than I am right now. 

Looking at the awards, and the accolades, finally being doled out to women who write horror, and self-published authors who write romance, and yes, writers from different ethnicities and backgrounds - all I can think is FINALLY! Finally this industry I love, this industry I want to dedicate my life to is finally taking notice that women can write science fiction and horror, that men can write romance, that readers and publishers alike want diverse voices, authors from all walks of life and backgrounds, all ethnicities and cultures. 

4 out of 16 Bram Stoker winners this year were women, and there were several more women in the running to win in multiple categories. Now, you may say that 1/4 is a piss poor statistic for women in the horror genre, and yes, this is true, but 10 years ago, there was nary a woman even on the docket, and yet, one of the most famous horror authors of all time was a woman. One of the most-used texts that has been made into countless movies and inspired millions of authors, Frankenstein, was written by a woman, a hundred plus years before women writers were really allowed to be a thing. 

Now, when you look at this year's RITA award winners, it's true that they are all women, and that most of them are from "white" backgrounds, but some are not. Moreover, several of the books on the list were self-published. This is a form of diversity in publishing that we don't necessarily talk about all that often - the stigma still associated with self-publishing, as if that was the only option left when the book was deemed undesirable by everyone else - that's just not true. 

Now, I am not saying that we do not need more, many many more, other voices in writing, particularly in genre fiction, because we so do. But I am saying that diversity means a lot of different things, and I for one, see that we are finally moving in the right direction. So, readers, get to demanding more diversity in your reading. Writers, get to writing diversely. Write something unique and unusual for a genre, jump into a genre you "have no business writing in" because we need you to! 

As you may know, I work a lot of diverse characters from different backgrounds into my books. I write about people who are light-skinned and dark, some who have Asian or American Indian backgrounds. I write about straight people and lesbians, and gay or bi-sexual men. Because just because I have light skin and a college education doesn't mean that is the only perspective I can, should, or want to write from. I love writing about different characters from all over the place, and I hope you enjoy reading about them too. 

~ Rach


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

#TeaserTuesday: Sibling Rivalry by Lexi Lawton

Today's #TeaserTuesday is from one of my current works-in-progress; a contemporary erotic romance called SIBLING RIVALRY. 

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

“You’re not seriously suggesting we have sex.” McKenzie crossed her arms over her chest, pushing her breasts up in a tantalizing manner.
Tristan took her arms and moved them away from her chest, his knuckles grazing her hard nipples as he did. Her eyes widened, but he didn’t miss the soft sigh that escaped her lips, or the way she subtly arched toward him. “That’s exactly what I’m suggesting.” He dragged his fingers up the sides of her stomach and over her ribs, causing her skin to erupt in goose bumps.
She licked her lips and inched closer.
He moved his hands along the sides of her breasts and over her nipples, flicking them gently with his thumbs.
“Oh God,” she moaned.
His cock thickened painfully, and he knew then, if he didn’t get her to agree, it was going to be a long, lonely night—And his hand wasn’t going to do it for him this time. He needed to sink into the warmth of her body, to feel her legs wrapped around his waist as he pounded into her.
“Just sex. Nothing else. Just two people helping each other get off.” He rolled her nipples between his fingers and pinched slightly.
“Oh please.” She rolled her eyes.
When the idea to seduce her had first popped into his mind, he thought it would go a lot smoother than it was. “Okay, then how about this. One kiss.” He held up his index finger. “If it’s weird or awkward or you don’t like it, I’ll go back to my room and leave you alone.”
“And if it’s not weird or awkward?”
“Then we go farther. If you want.”
She paused for a moment then shoved him hard enough to cause him to fall back on the bed. Then she climbed on top of him, straddling his waist, her hands on either side of his head so that she was poised above him. “Just call this what it is. You want to fuck me. Plain and simple.”
“Damn right I do.” He rested his hands on her waist then moved them down to her ass. He gave her cheeks a firm squeeze then held her down on him. The heat of her pussy seeped through his boxers, and his cock jerked in response. “I want to fuck you.” He lifted his hips, driving his erection harder against her. “I want to hear you scream my name.”
She bore down on him, and his stomach clenched. “And if I say no?” she asked.

“If you wanted to say no, you would’ve by now.  You would’ve put your shirt back on and kicked me the hell out of your room. You wouldn’t have straddled me and dangled your tits in my face.” He caressed her ass and spread her cheeks, letting his finger slip lower, teasing her pussy with an almost touch. “Admit it. You want to fuck me just as badly as I want to fuck you.”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Like what you've read? Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and sign up for my newsletter for the most up-to-date information. And don't forget to check out TEMPTING TANNER, coming December 2016 from Entangled Embrace

Friday, September 2, 2016

#SaturdaySpankings: Rachell Nichole

Welcome to the new Divas of Desire site. We are now 9 authors strong, and ready to kick ass and take names.

Today, I want to share with you an excerpt from a femdomme erotic romance, Belle by Night. Anna is a mild-mannered preschool teacher by day, and a phone sex Domme by night.




He heard a loud whistle followed by a thwack. His pulse spiked. He wanted to ask what the noise was, but he didn’t dare; maybe he didn’t want to know the answer.
“Do you know what that sound is, pet?”
“No, Mistress,” he whispered, his voice almost gone.
“Oh, my sweet, you are innocent, aren’t you?” she taunted.
Since he felt about the farthest thing from it, he didn’t respond.
“When I ask you a question, pet, I expect an answer.” Her voice was hard, punctuated with another loud thwack at the end.





Anna by day, but Belle by night, Annabelle Stevens trades in her classroom ruler for a telephone and leather bustier when the sun goes down. With her heart set on finishing her Master’s degree and opening her own low-cost preschool, she had to earn extra cash somehow. And as a phone sex operator, she makes more than she could working three day jobs. But when day and night collide, Mistress Belle’s favorite caller jeopardizes her normal life, and she has to choose--the dream she’s always wanted, or the secret identity that lets her be the Domme she truly is.

Widower Dean Wellington has one goal in life: to be the best father he can be to his autistic son, Preston. But when he realizes he’s falling far short, he fears he can’t give Preston everything he needs alone. When his search for a wife leads to one disastrous date after another, he finds solace in the unlikeliest of places: a phone sex operator. He knows Mistress Belle can’t be appropriate mother material, but when she orders him to bend his will to hers, he’s lost to the passionate storm she calls forth.


When Dean realizes he’ll never find a better mother for his son than Preston’s teacher Anna, he has to choose between the Mistress that brings out his darkest desires, and giving his son everything he deserves. Little does Dean know that the choice may not be a choice at all.


Need more Belle by Night? Find it here: 


Need more Spankings? Find them below: 

Thwack!
~Rach

TRR

The Romance Reviews