The details are all tied up… like the characters

Almost exactly one month after sharing my great news about Combustion, I have… more great news!

I’ve just signed a contract with Simon & Schuster for Playing Knotty, my next novel!

And now, the blurb for Playing Knotty:

Emma Green isn’t used to fitting in with the popular crowd: back in school, she was always a little too geeky, too chubby, too unfashionable, and now as an adult, she still feels inadequate next to her beautiful friends. When Ian Cooper, an old friend from high school, asks to rent the back room of her bookshop for a bondage workshop, she says yes because she needs the money.

Ian isn’t expecting Emma to participate in the workshop, but when his model comes down with the flu at the last minute, she’s willing to step in. They’re both surprised when she turns out to be a natural. Soon, Ian finds himself with a new bondage model… and a frequent partner in bed. Emma’s success as a bondage model means she must confront her own insecurities and her feelings for Ian, and Ian must decide if he’s willing to risk what he has for what he really wants.

As always, I’ll post any updates here first, so subscribe and stay tuned. And thanks for your support!

Categories: Erotic Romance, Kink, Playing Knotty | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Combustion is going full “steam” ahead…

Hello, folks!

I’m please to announce that I’ve signed a contract with Samhain Publishing for Combustionmy Steampunk erotic romance!

Samhain is a wonderful publishing company with an open-minded attitude toward a wide range of romance and erotica, and I’m really looking forward to working with them.

Stay tuned for more information, which will always be posted here first.

Categories: Combustion, Erotic Romance, Steampunk, Writing | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Putting the Steam in “Steampunk”

Howdy, blog!

Purely Professional is out in the world, making people happy and horny and curious about their next door neighbors and the potential of remote-control vibrators. What’s been happening in the meantime?

Well, for one, my agent has been shopping around Combustion, which is a Steampunk erotic romance. We’ve been getting some offers, which is very exciting, and I can’t wait to tell you more. In the meantime, though, I thought I’d answer a very important question: what the hell is Steampunk?

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This skirt is gorgeous. SO MANY RUFFLES.

I like to describe Steampunk as Victorian Futurism. It’s in the family of speculative fiction, meaning it’s based in a world that differs from ours by a few key factors. As you might guess, the world runs on steam power, so machinery is fundamentally different from how it occurs today. There’s also an anti-establishment core to Steampunk, the “punk” aspect, if you will: many Steampunk stories have a dystopian element to them, a corrupt government that should be subverted or overthrown. The aesthetic is usually Victorian in nature: corsets and top hats, but with a mechanical bent: goggles, brass, lots of gears. Sometimes, though, it’s more of a “Wild West” backdrop; the Joss Whedon classic series Firefly has many Steampunk elements. The fiction of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells is very Steampunk in nature. If you imagine the future through the eyes of an 18th Century inventor, you get Steampunk. Pop on over to The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences for more.

The appeal, of course, is multifaceted. The aesthetic of Steampunk is simply gorgeous. Every year, I attend Templecon in Warwick, RI, which is a Steampunk-themed gaming convention, and every year I dress up and spend most of my time flailing in awe at other people’s costumes. Beyond that, I love the way the genre plays with the complex morality of the Victorian era. The Victorian era was a time of great contradiction: on one hand, propriety was highly valued, sexuality repressed. On the other hand, though, prostitution was widespread and unregulated, even tacitly accepted as part of the culture.

Personally, I love the opportunity to explore female sexuality through Steampunk. In Combustion, my main character Astrid Bailey invents “felicitation devices,” aka sex toys, and teaches her naïve clients how to find pleasure in their own bodies. In her attempts to legitimize her business, she faces prejudice as both a woman inventor and a proponent of female sexual empowerment. In partnering with Eli Rutledge, an established business owner, she encounters a new problem: falling in love.

Goggles

Steampunk is more than just goggles, of course… but aren’t these beautiful? Click for source.

I love Astrid’s sexual confidence. She loves (and sleeps with) both men and women. Astrid’s bisexuality is, for me, a deliberate pushback against sexual repression, but ultimately, the story isn’t about her sexuality as much as it’s about her learning to give and accept love.

And, of course, it all happens in a Steampunk world. Zeppelins, goggles, hot men in waistcoats? Sign me up.

Categories: Combustion, Erotic Romance, Sex, Steampunk, Writing | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Welcome to guest author Elodie Parkes!

A special welcome today to guest author Elodie Parkes, whose erotic contemporary paranormal romance Forever Blue is now available from Hot Ink Press. She’s here today to tell us what inspired the novel and share an excerpt.

Forever Blue Cover‘Forever Blue,’ my December 20 release with Hot Ink Press, was inspired by the woodland near where I live. There’s a mysterious feel about the woods in autumn. It often feels as if something is watching. From the window of the room where I write, I can see across to nearby woods. I hear owls hoot at night. At dusk and dawn, there are strange mists that rise from the trees. It’s very lovely.

About the Book

Claudie loves living in the countryside and close to the forests. She’s a film maker and works for the wildlife trust. One night she steps onto her patio and sees a man sheltering there. She confronts him and he runs away.

Jasper has watched Claudie for a year. He fell in love with her, but he has a secret, one that might mean he can never approach her.

Will love and fate find a way?

What secret must Jasper hide?

What’s the strange blue dust that turns up on Claudie’s patio?

Excerpt

When she arrived home, he was in his usual place on the patio. It was an exceptionally dark night. The moon was covered with dense cloud. Rain fell in huge drops. He heard the Land Rover long before she pulled into her path and parked. Jasper heard her humming. She went through her front door. If she had been to a hide somewhere other than in the local area she was home early, he decided. He listened to the sound of her making a hot drink in her kitchen. He smiled. He couldn’t stop smiling. The sound of her voice flowed over him. It trickled into his mind and heart, lifting his spirits, and giving him hope.

Jasper stood silently by the holly tree and close to the biggest potted trees. One of them was shaped into a ball. He liked that. When the conservatory door opened and Claudie stepped out, he froze in the darkness and the shadow of the holly.

 About the Author

Elodie Parkes is a British author writing romance, erotic, contemporary, and often with a twist of mystery, paranormal or suspense. Her books are always steamy, cool stories and hot love scenes.

Elodie lives in Canterbury with her two dogs. She works in an antique shop by day and writes at night, loving the cloak of silent darkness that descends on the rural countryside around her home.

Elodie writes for Hot Ink Press, Moon Rose Publishing, Eternal Press, and Evernight.

She has also released titles as an individual indie author.

Find Elodie online: Blog  Tumblr  Facebook  Twitter  Google +  Pinterest  YouTube  Amazon USA  Amazon UK  Smashwords  Barnes and Noble  ARe  Bookstrand  Evernight

Thanks again to Elodie for joining us, and don’t forget to pick up your copy of Forever Blue.

Categories: Guests | 1 Comment

Purely Professional Release Day!

jeremyclarksonWow, folks, I can’t believe it’s release day. It seems like a lifetime since I began this endeavor, so many steps leading to today. It’s easy to forget that this isn’t the end; it’s only the beginning! I’m thrilled to see Purely Professional out on the market. As cheesy as it sounds, I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it… and far more than I enjoyed editing it.

I’ll be popping up on some blogs in the next few weeks, and as it happens, I’ll be posting links over on the right in the “On the Blogosphere” sidebar. Swing by and comment; I’d love to hear from you.

And, of course, if you haven’t gotten your copy yet of Purely Professional, pick one up. It’s cheaper than a cup of Starbucks and will wake you up just as effectively. You can order on Carina Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Don’t have an ereader? Read on your smartphone, tablet, or computer with a Nook or Kindle app.

Thanks for your support, internet friends. I feel like we’re all on this journey together.

Categories: Purely Professional, Writing | 5 Comments

A Special Surprise For My Readers

CARINA_0114_9781426897863_PurelyProfessionalIt’s T minus six days until the Purely Professional release day on Monday, January 13th. In honor of the upcoming excitement, I’m sharing a new excerpt. Click through for the goodies…

Read more »

Categories: Erotic Romance, Purely Professional, Writing | 4 Comments

“Longest Night Of The Year” List Of Hot People

Today is the winter solstice, also known as Yule, and subsequently the longest night of the year.

In honor of that fact, I thought I’d post a list of some hot people with whom I’d love to spend any long night. Consider it an early Christmas gift, if that’s your holiday of choice.

I tried to find the source of my gifs, but some are from gif hunts. If it’s your gif, let me know so I can credit you and/or take it down, your preference.

Without further ado, presented in no particular order:

Luke Evans (x)
LukeEvans

Idris Elba (x)
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Scarlett Johansson (x)
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Tom Hiddleston (x)
TomHiddleston

Misha Collins (x)
MishaCollins

Jensen Ackles (x)
jensenackles

Jennifer Lawrence (x)
JenniferLawrence

David Tennant (x)
davidtennant

Richard Armitage (x)
richardarmitage

Felicia Day (x)
feliciaday

Benedict Cumberbatch (x)
benedictcumberbatch

Robert Downey Jr. (x)
rdj

Colby Smulders (x)
colbiesmulders

Chris Hemsworth (x)
chrishemsworth

You’re welcome. Go enjoy your longest night.

Categories: Sex | Leave a comment

Why I’ll Always Get My Hopes Up

I’m an incurable optimist.

I try the front row in the parking lot at the mall during Christmas season. I call in during radio sweepstakes. I believe that people are inherently good, tomorrow is another day, and everything will ultimately turn out well.

People sometimes think this means I’m not realistic, that I live in a magical Pollyanna fairy tale world. This is not true. I recognize that life isn’t fair. When bad things do happen, though, I look for the silver lining of the proverbial dark cloud, and I believe that the situation will get better. I always get my hopes up.

Of course, I face disappointment.

Disappointment sucks. It’s a terrible feeling to want something, to actually hope for it and wish for it and work for it, and then have it all come to naught. It doesn’t get easier, either: disappointment isn’t something you get used to.

But what’s far worse than disappointment, at least in my experience, is the bland mediocrity that comes from not hoping. When I don’t get my hopes up, sure, I might avoid disappointment. But in doing so, I also avoid the joy of anticipation, the gleeful what if? that lingers in the space of possibility. I’d rather live with a thousand disappointments than give up that sense of wonder.

So what’s inspiring this philosophical rant? This past summer, I did Gishwhes, the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen. I had an amazing time in what turned out to be one of the best weeks of my life, having crazy adventures and daring to press the boundaries of my comfort zone. Intellectually, I knew my team wouldn’t win: only 6 of our 15 team members actually did anything, and we barely got half the items. But over the last few months, I’ve lived with the hope that maybe - maybe - our items were good enough to win. We’d rack up enough bonus points somehow and come from behind, the dark horse team of first-year participants rising above it all.

But we didn’t win. We weren’t even runners-up. The team that won deserved it, of course, and did tons of items and worked together and rose to the challenge. And even though I knew we probably weren’t contenders, I still had hope, and I was… disappointed. My disappointment came as a bit of a surprise: did I really have that much hope, despite the odds against us? Yes I did. I’ve imagined all sorts of scenarios wherein we might win and what it would be like to claim that grand prize trip. It was anyone’s game, and if anyone’s, why not ours?

The disappointment is poignant because of the hope, but the disappointment does not mean the hope was wasted. I loved imagining winning.

And it’s not just Gishwhes, either, although that’s what inspired this topic. It’s my life. I love having that kind of hope and thinking maybe me, maybe this time.

Because sometimes? Sometimes it is me. Sometimes I get the front row parking spot; sometimes I’m the ninth caller; sometimes I get back to my expired parking meter ahead of the parking attendant. Sometimes I land a wonderful agent, sign a contract with Harlequin, and live my dream of being a published author.

My life is extraordinarily blessed. I know I’ll face disappointments in the future, both small and large, but I will always keep my hopes up, even when the odds are against me. I would rather live in the possibility of joy than hide in the quiet mediocrity that never dares to dream.

Categories: Reflections | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Purely Professional Cover Reveal

I’m so pleased to reveal the cover for Purely Professional. So excited for the book release on January 13th! Read more about Purely Professional here.

CARINA_0114_9781426897863_PurelyProfessional

Categories: Purely Professional, Writing | Leave a comment

Fanfiction: The Controversy And The Love Story

bookmoviefanfiction2Few topics inspire such hot debate among writers as fanfiction. If you don’t know, fanfiction is the practice of writing stories starring characters from other media: television shows, movies, comic books, novels, etc. As a fanfiction reader (and erstwhile writer), I wanted to blog about this topic and explore both its controversies and its appeal.

The Controversies

Fanfiction inspires several controversies from different factions. First, there’s the whole copyright issue. These aren’t your characters, so how can you get away with writing about them? Well, generally, fanfiction is posted for free online and no one makes any profit from it. Almost all pieces of fanfiction are accompanied by disclaimers: “Not mine,” “no profit is being made,” etc. Authors and creators vary in their responses to fanfiction: some enjoy that it exists, and some despise it. Occasionally they put out “cease and desist” letters, requesting takedowns… but these reactions are the exceptions, not the rule.

Another area of the controversy comes when authors of popular fanfiction works change those works in either major or minor ways, then publish them for profit. It’s no secret that E.L James’s 50 Shades Of Grey began as a Twilight fanfiction piece called Master Of The Universe – which disappointingly has nothing to do with He-Man. Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments is said to bear many resemblances to her Harry Potter fanfiction The Draco Trilogy, which I haven’t read and can neither confirm nor deny, but the accusations are running rife online. So at what point does a fanfiction become original? That line, the point where a derivative work is considered no longer derivative, is hotly debated.

The third and final controvery, and the one wherein I am most personally invested, is the dismissal of fanfiction as a “lesser-than” form of writing. Critics treat the writers of fanfiction as if they are inferior to “real” writers, scoffing at their writing skills and the validity of their work. I watched a writer driven off a Facebook group in shame by the flaming they received about writing fanfiction, and it broke my heart. Even by those who don’t oppose fanfiction or its writers, it’s often treated as a stepping-stone to “real” writing, rather than a craft in and of itself. But for every writer that begins writing fanfiction and eventually stops writing it, there are many others who never stop, and that’s wonderful. You can use fanfiction as a stepping stone if you want, but there’s nothing wrong with writing fanfiction for the sheer joy of writing fanfiction.

Aja Romano wrote a beautiful, passionate, articulate blog post defending fanfiction, and rather than rehash those ideas, I’m just going to recommend you go read the post. (Seriously, go read it. It’s brilliant.) Instead, I want to speak about my own personal love affair with fanfiction, and why I will always hold a special place in my heart for the “derivative.”

The Love Story

I first started writing fanfiction before it had a name. These were the “golden” pre-internet days, when if you had an obsession, you pretty much were on your own about it unless you were lucky enough to have friends with the same obsessions. Alone with my confused adolescent hormones, I began writing Han and Leia fanfiction. At first, they were short hand-written scenes, painfully mawkish, sweet enough to be saccharine, mixed in with a healthy dose of cliché. Writing them, though, was immensely satisfying. I could explore all the feelings I didn’t understand through these characters I’d grown to love. As time progressed, my scenes became longer, stretching to 10 or 15 pages, often with plot, but more often with sex. The sex was terribly written, at first. I hadn’t read enough (or experienced enough!) to know what I was doing, and I was shy around terminology and specifics. Then, I became bolder, more talented, and my stories became… okay, they still weren’t great. But I enjoyed writing them!

I kept all these stories tri-folded like letters, each one labeled as if it were homework: “Math Set 98,” “Biology Set 105,” etc. Each subject had its own theme and characters, finally culminating in Chemistry sets, where I began exploring the kinky side of sex with Ms. Blake Corothers and Patrick I-Forget-His-Name, who eventually became the stars in my first romance novel. (Not Purely Professional.) I still wrote fanfiction, but I also wrote about my own characters.

sets

Look at them all!

My “sets” gained a significant following among my friends. The collection with its green rubber band (the shredded remnants of which are visible in the picture above) went around through my entire social circle, a naughty secret in my Catholic high school.

With the internet came a whole new world. I first discovered X-Files fanfiction when I was in college, completely floored that these stories I’d written had a name and I wasn’t alone in writing them. I spent hours reading the best Mulder/Scully smut on The Gossamer Project. I wrote my own, just one piece, which is archived on the internet under a pseudonym. (I’m not telling – and for good reason, too. It’s decidedly mediocre.)

In the intervening years, I’ve read a lot of fanfiction, going through periods of time where I’ll blow through entire archives of a particular show. I’ve also recently discovered Podfics, delightful audiobook-style fanfics read by talented voices, and they’ve been keeping me company on my long commute to work.

I’m a Real Adult With Many Important Things To Do. I’m an erotic romance author under contract to be published. I’m a high school English teacher. I should “know better,” right? I should have “standards?” I shouldn’t read fanfiction when there are so many excellent original books to read? Well, you know what?

scully_idontcare

Because they serve different purposes. Sometimes I don’t want to invest in character development; I want to spend time with characters I already know. The ‘net is full of excellent fanfiction authors, authors who can capture character mannerisms and actions to the degree that I can forget it’s not canon. When I find those authors, I read the hell out of them. And if their work is published somewhere? I go and buy it.

Fanfiction isn’t a replacement for other types of reading. It’s a comfortable place where I can slip off my metaphorical shoes and spend time with familiar faces in familiar worlds. If it weren’t for fanfiction, I might never have developed the courage to start writing sex scenes, and who knows where I’d be now?

I do have my preferences, and I definitely have my limits. I don’t read “RPF,” or “Real People Fanfiction,” where authors write about the actors rather than their characters. For me, that crosses a line of personal privacy that makes me uncomfortable; it’s like people assuming I have a dungeon in my basement because I write BDSM. (Do I? Don’t I? That’s beside the point.) But regular fanfiction? If I like the characters, and I like the author, I’m sure as hell going to read the story. And if people want to judge me for that, well, I’ve certainly been judged for a lot less.

hatersgonnahate

So how about you, readers? Do you read or write fanfiction? Leave me a comment!

Categories: Writing | 11 Comments