Thursday, May 31, 2007

More Phantom Questions Answered...and the Winner!

I'm back! Some great questions popped up in my previous entry about my forthcoming Phantom book, and so I thought I'd post the latest that I didn't answer herewith, answer them, and then get to what you're really wanting to know: who won the bloody copy of the book! we go:

Robyn asks: I'd love to see the movie The Phantom. With your book, who did the cover art and chose the title of the book? Thanks.

My publisher's art department did the cover design. Originally, we thought there might be that signature mask on it that's so familiar to Phantom fans, but they came up with this design and I love it!
As for the title...I had always wanted to title it Christine & Erik: The True Story of the Phantom of the Opera because I felt certain that Phantom fans would know immediately who that was, and what it was about, but my editor didn't like the idea of names in the title, and so then we had to think of something else. That was about a month-long process of emails back and forth between my editor and myself.

We just could not come up with a title that we liked, that we felt worked. We wanted to make sure that people knew it was an erotic novel--so they were prepared for the very explicit sex in the book....and so the official title is actually: Unmasqued: An Erotic Novel of the Phantom of the Opera.

tetewa said... I am so looking forward to the release of this book. I took my mom to see the play for Christmas. She'd never even saw the movie and didn't know what to expect. She loved it, so my question for you is what is your favorite song from the play?
First, you should know that I have the double CD version of the original London cast, and I know every single note, breath, and word of them. Love it!

I love all the songs, really...but some of my favorites are "Music of the Night," "The Point of No Return," and I can never remember the name of it, but it's the song Christine sings when she's walking through the graveyard, thinking about her father. (Incidentally, there is no graveyard scene in my book. Just FYI.)

Caffey said... Oh I'm so excited about this release! Can't wait to read it! With Phantom being one of your favorites, is there another legend, or history related story you'd like to write like you did with Phantom?
Funny you should ask! I'm currently at work on a very erotic version of The Count of Monte Cristo, which should be released next August ('08). It's going really well, and I'm loving it. I have a few other ideas that I'd like to write about too, so we'll see if my publisher goes for it!

Caffey said... Another quick question :) If you had a reader who is new to Phantom, what sites would you recommend for them becoming familiar with it? Delete
I think there's a site called that is just chockfull of Phantom info. But the best thing to do, in my opinion, to get a feel for the reason I wanted to write this story is to rent the movie version that came out in 2004. That was the reason I wanted to write this book....because I hated the way it ended!

julietwoods said... Hey Colette! Wow, people have really asked some good questions. This book looks sooo good. I really can't wait to read it. I've always loved the story and always wished it had a different ending. Plus, the story is so dark, sexy and romantic--the perfect tortured hero romance.

A quick question: Did you write this book while you were writing the historical romances you were contracted for, or in between books?
They have asked good questions!! And you're right about the story--and why I felt like I really wanted to write it: so dark, so sexy, and romantic. And, boy, is Erik tortured! :-)

Anyway, on to your question: I actually wrote this book for myself, just for fun, during the time my agent was getting ready to submit my first book that actually sold. I had nothing to work on (because I didn't know if I was going to want/need to write a sequel), and I had no other ideas...but I knew I had been wanting to write about what really happened during The Music of the Night scene, and why Christine did leave Erik at the end of the movie...and so I just started writing it for fun.

I finished a shorter version of it, and mentioned it to my agent, figuring she wouldn't be interested in repping it and that I would submit it to an epublisher...and lo and behold, my agent took it to my editor and my editor was very excited about it and immediately bought it.

However, since I had written it mostly for myself, it was shorter on plot than the final version, and I had to write another hundred pages to flesh it out (no pun intended) and to wrap some things up. But other than that, it's the same book.

Paola said: Did you take into account other elements fron different retellings of the story (such us Susan Kay's Phantom) to write your story or draw your characters?
Actually, I've never read the Susan Kay book (although I'm familiar with it), and the only book I took into account or drew from was the original Gaston Leroux book. In fact, I took great care to make sure that, while I had the "feel" of the Webber musical/movie in my mind as I wrote (meaning the heavily erotic, passionate relationship between Christine & Erik, and the lush sense of the movie/play), all of the events, the characters, the whole story is really derived from Leroux's book. Not from any other source.

I wanted to be careful not to "borrow" anything from Webber that he hadn't already borrowed from Leroux, because of course the original book is in the public domain...but the Webber version is not. :-)
Okay, so here we are! The winner of the ARC of Unmasqued is:

Rhonda Stapleton!

Email me at colette at colettegale dot com and I'll get your info and get that baby out to you!

Congratulations and thanks to all for playing!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Changing the genre

Recently Colette asked us to share our sexual fantasies, and there seemed to be one recurring common theme--of being forced and helpless while Mr. Naughty with or without his friends, had his wicked way with you. And naturally it got me thinking about how erotic romance is probably the only place you could go in genre literature to have those fantasies addressed without judgment or moralizing.

And that's refreshing, considering what a very preachy genre romance is, or has been, with the emphasis on the "good" marriage (read any Harlequin contemporary and it saves you having to read Pamela by Richardson); or, the bend over backward virgin heroine--and by that, I don't mean an exotic sexual position, but a heroine who is a virgin under extremely unlikely circumstances. Working in a brothel? Check. Widowed? Check. Accompanying an entire regiment on campaign? Check (bless her, she's been darning socks and writing letters home for the lads). A critic of my Signet Regency with bondage scenes complained that one of my characters didn't get her come-uppance (I'm not sure which one she meant since so many of them were behaving in less than stellar ways.) But I digress. It's always struck me that not only has there to be a HEA but order restored to the universe, the good rewarded and the wicked punished--no messy loose ends flapping about.

I hope that the rise of erotic romance can give us a little more moral ambiguity and a little less political correctness. Don't we want men to behave badly between the sheets (of a book)? Look at all the flap online about Anna Campbell's marvelous Claiming the Courtesan which had, gasp shock, a forced seduction and a heroine who was a courtesan. If the book had been written and published as an erotic romance I don't think anyone would have turned a hair (because those who don't read that sort of thing wouldn't have read it and/or felt compelled to be shocked online whether they'd read it or not).

I'd also like to think it would give us a little more tolerance for the loose ends-ness of it all; that our notion of "a love story" might become less simple HEA than together and facing the complexities of what lies ahead (which certainly doesn't lead to a good acronym). Will we erotic romance writers make the genre grow (or grow up?)? I'd like to think so.

What changes do you think erotic romance will make on the romance genre?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Big O and other related thoughts from Hollywood...and a chance to win

Awhile ago, dearest Jane brought up the Big O and how does one describe it, over and over and over again...?

Well, I'm still working on that (I really do need to post an example, don't I?), but here's something Candice Bergen said about it that made me laugh (and think of Meg Ryan):

"I may not be a great actress, but I've become the greatest at screen orgasms. Ten seconds of heavy breathing, roll your head from side to side, simulate a slight asthma attack, and die a little."

And here's another one of my favorite quotes from a Hollywood seductress:

"Let's forget about the six feet and talk about the seven inches." (That's what Mae West said when she was told that a new male acquaintance was 6'7". Go Mae!!!)

Okay, last one. This gem is from the wild Bette Midler: "I'm as confident as Cleopatra's pussy."

Yeah. Does that mean she's going to welcome that asp or not...?

Okay, sorry. I'm punchy. It was a weekend filled with laziness, junk/comfort food, and lots o' I'm feeling a bit out of sorts.


I think it's time I livened things up a bit. How about....a chance to win a copy of my erotic Phantom of the Opera novel, Unmasqued, which our own Pam Rosenthal said was a "labyrinth of dark, extravagant eroticism." (Thanks again, Pam!) It's coming on August 7th, from NAL, and here's your chance to win....

Ask me a question in the comments section about the book or the Phantom movie/play, and you're entered to win! I'll draw a winner on Thursday morning, and answer the questions in the comments.

Monday, May 28, 2007

If there was one question...

If there was one question you wanted to ask about the sexual climate during the Regency period, what would it be?

I'm doing a talk at the Beau Monde conference in July (the Beau Monde is the Regency specialty chapter of Romance Writers of America (RWA) in case you were wondering) called Sex in the Regency (subtitled: What Jane Austen Knew and Lord Byron Didn't). So this is why I ask.

I have a goodly portion of the talk done, and a mental date with the University Social Sciences library in a week (because I've read some verra interesting tidbits on Caro Lamb which puts a whole different slant on her, sorta) for some last minute research notes.

Last minute because the handouts are due in two weeks.

I have a bit of Rowlandson, some familiar stuff on what Jane Austen knew, availability of erotic works, and Byron. I even have the last sentence. But something is missing, and I cannot figure out what it might be....

And so I turn to you, dear readers, and my fellow crumpets to see what it is I'm missing.

If there was one question you wanted to ask about the sexual climate during the Regency period, what would it be?

(Sorry for the lateness -- but a girl is allowed to sleep in on a holiday, isn't she? (This is a complete lie -- I was up at seven, off to breakfast, shopped and planted two marguerites, got two loads of washing on before I remembered to come here)

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Naughty Hero

"Why would you want me to inflict pain, Mr. Swift?"

The governess had returned—cool, composed, the perfect servant who would accept any bizarre, scandalous, ridiculous thing he said and carry on regardless.

"But you sorely want to, don’t you, Serena? Don’t you strap naughty boys who misbehave?"

Serena crossed her arms beneath her lush breasts. "I do not believe in corporal punishment."

"You’ve never spanked a charge? I find that hard to believe."

He grinned as a little smile came to her lips—a crack in her cool demeanor, a wry smile that changed her from perfect servant to human woman.

"It leads to escalation, Mr. Swift. What do ten lashes of the strap lead to? Twenty, I assure you. A child will push boundaries, and then what is a governess to do? Keep making worse and worse threats? And once a threat is issued, it must be acted upon. Children know at once when they have taken control."

"So you wouldn’t spank me in punishment."

"You are a grown man, Mr. Swift."

"Would you spank me in fun?"

A blush. He’d expected her to blush, to be a little embarrassed. Instead, Serena walked calmly to the edge of the bed and picked up the whip. She curled her fingers around the grip, weighing it. "If I were to spank your bottom, Mr. Swift. I would be tempted to do it with the flat of my hand."
--Excerpt from "Blood Rose" by Sharon Page (coming August ’07)

I love to create the naughty hero. My hero in Blood Rose, Drake Swift, is naughty and oh-so-wicked because he wants to lash out at the rules of a society that he feels he can never belong in. So, of course, I paired him with an ex-governess, Serena, a woman fired from her post because of an indiscretion (she was foolishly in love). A woman determined not to be led astray again. It was tremendous fun to have Drake challenge Serena with his wicked fantasies, and have her knock him back on his heels.

And who is a better foil for the wicked naughty hero than the tormented responsible one?
On the TV show LOST we get responsible leader Jack, with the weight of the world on his shoulders, competing for love against tempting bad boy Sawyer. I’ve used those archetypes in my books Blood Red and Blood Rose, and took on the challenge to make them fresh and unique and explore why they have become the men they are.

Which led me to writing a menage book, the fantasy of a heroine with two heroes. Interestingly, I learned the challenge of writing a menage book with two heroes is that you must be fair to both men. You, as the author, can’t fall in love with one over the other. Or at least, you can’t focus on one man’s angst to the point where he’s not even having sex, while the other is a wicked playmate who is having wild sex with the heroine in every chapter. Hmmm, something I’d never thought of until I realized I was so entranced with one of my hero’s tragic pasts that I’d forgotten to let him have some carnal fun.

What type of man is your favorite hero? Your fantasy man? And if you’re a writer, is there one hero you’ve written who is unforgettable and will always be your favorite?

Thursday, May 24, 2007


I very much liked last Friday's anonymous free-for-all, and was particularly tickled to receive an email from a friend telling me how much she enjoyed my Lowood post.

Cool. I enjoyed it too -- as a reader. Because although one of my first literary erotic obsessions was poor suffering Helen Burns, it wasn't me who wrote that post.

In fact at first I had felt extremely shy about participating at all. Perhaps this was only a matter of timing (isn't everything?). Perhaps last Friday the viewing time on my own inner screen was being preempted by a regularly-scheduled episode of my own writerly self-doubt.

Whatever the reason, I found myself anxiously wondering if there was an erotic fantasy bouncing around my head that I hadn't already written down. And if there really wasn't one somewhere, where did that leave me?

Perhaps, I fretted, I should take down the plaque that proudly adorns the wall of my study. MIDDLE-AGED LADY WITH ATTITUDE, it says. Which is all very well, until the bottom line tells you differently.

What if my leaky little boat of a life had sailed off toward the ends of the earth, into the here-be-dragons territory out on the other side of middle age? What if it was time to trot out the other, scarier O word?

Not so fast, I decided. Because I'm pretty sure that no matter how old I'm getting on the outside, I can at least partially write off last Friday's anxieties to the affects of writerly masquerade. Because these days an invisible facet of my personality is wearing the sensuous, heavy-lidded mask of Marina Wyatt, the heroine I'm trying to write into existence.

And what was Marina fretting about in chapter one (besides having had nothing to eat all morning but an apple and some beastly gruel)? A boredom, a world-weariness, a lack of erotic enthusiasm:

...the whole bloody business turned a bit stale.... Was it really so surprising that she might find it more appealing to work by her wits, nowadays when she was clearly growing… say it, Marina… old?

Of course, Marina is aging in romance years -- Regency romance years -- which are not as fast as dog years, but a lot faster than the one we live in day to day. Marina is all of thirty-six, and it being chapter one of an erotic historical romance novel... well, you and I and everyone we know can be quite sure where I and her protestations are leading her.

But while Marina had no choice but to wait around for my narrative to prove her wrong and show her a good time, I got faster relief. Because I kept checking back on those anonymous Friday posts to see if anything caught my interest.

And suddenly there he was, a guy from an almost-forgotten fantasy of mine, the cool, analytical man with stainless steel tools. And I got so excited to see him there -- and with his toolkit, which I in my partially-written and probably ultimately unfinishable fantasy had named Iron John -- that I chimed right in and forgot to make myself anonymous. Thereby fulfilling the part of my fantasy whereby the recorder of the strange sex practices becomes so fascinated that she signs herself into the computer system and doesn't know how to sign herself out.

And although I am in fact blogger-savvy enough to have deleted my post, I didn't. Because I was charmed by having truly and sincerely trapped myself -- hoist with the petard of my enthusiasm for the fantasy. And more aware than ever how many of my fantasies have to do with being exposed -- to myself, to the world, to the one lover who will truly understand, and perhaps (ha! perhaps!) to a few attractive devils who'll make their own fiendish uses of it.

(After which I decided it was time to find out what a petard actually was. And no, it's not what I always thought it was. I know Wikipedia isn't 100% trustworthy, but the discussion of petard certainly told me a lot I didn't know. And as for the picture of a petard, actually it looked a lot like Iron John.)

While as for the question for you out there... hmm, I guess I have several.

Are you also fascinated by some variety of the gotcha fantasy? Does it jump out of erotic literature for you as often as it does for me? What makes it appealing? Or would you prefer not to analyze it?

What did you think a petard was? (Oh, and by the way, the OED tells us it can be used as a verb -- to be petarded, though it's not common useage.)

And are there any other high-tech fantasists out there?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Continuing our sensual journey...

Seeing as we've been getting very up close and personal with our blog readers recently, I wanted to talk about another of the senses-touch. One of the things I love most about writing historical romance is the layers of clothes everyone wore and the whole exercise of taking clothes off or putting them on again. And let's not forget that women didn't really wear undergarments until the early nineteenth century, so beneath all that lush clothing was bare skin.

From a writer's point of view, that combination of tightly laced stays, elaborate gowns and nakedness is incredibly useful. Sex can be had by a mere lifting of the skirt or an elaborate slow and deliberately tantalizing undressing.

One of my sisters bought me the most beautiful book for my birthday called "Historical Fashion in Detail" The 17th and 18th Centuries" by Avril Harte and Susan North, published by the V&A. It's a large 'coffee table' book. On each page a small section of a garment is examined and discussed. Sections include, Buttons, Slashing, Pinking and Stamping, Gloves and shoes. I find myself poring over the details, seeing each tiny perfectly positioned stitch that was set by hand and wondering about the person who put so much time and effort into such creation.

When I look at these pictures, I imagine my characters wearing the particular piece of clothing. I think about how it would feel to touch. Would it be soft like muslin or stiff like Spitalfields brocaded silk lustring? Will the garment slip easily off the shoulders or does it have tight sleeves and endless buttons to undo.

I get fed up with book covers displaying the heroine with her dress around her shoulders or open down the back and she had no corset on! I seem to remember that every 'decent' woman wore one and why not show them? The imagery of the tight lacing and the release from confinement has it's own appeal, especially to a writer of erotic romance. Think about Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind...

(Okay, stop thinking about Rhett Butler, Miss Kate!)

Perhaps it's because my eyesight is so bad that touch is so important to me. When I write I try to make it feel like you are rolling in the velvet with me, feeling it against your skin, licking it with your tongue and sinking deep into its embrace...

Sorry I have to stop now-I have to go write a love scene.

(image from

Monday, May 21, 2007

Do your characters eat?

I hope this clip from YouTube is okay because I don't have sound at work--I am in fact eating lunch, not blogging on company time. This is the infamous food scene from the 1963 Tom Jones starring the young and handsome Albert Finney, a brilliant film IMO. The lady who is spilling her bounty onto the bounteous table turns out, unfortunately, to be Tom's mum, but never mind that small detail.

So I ask again, do your characters eat?--food, that is. I'm busy researching servants during the Regency at the moment and that's educated me, finally, about food in the period. No, they did not exist entirely on orgeat and lobster patties, or, like most of my characters, on tea and claret. We've talked about writing the big O and writing our fantasies, but how about writing about eating and chewing and taste and texture? Do you think it's sexy or has the potential to be so?

Do you have a favorite scene you've written and would like to share, or a favorite scene you've read or seen in a movie that you'd like to tell us about?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Friday on a Friday

I don't know about the peanut gallery (that would be you), but when I read erotic fiction, I read it for the titillation. For the fantasy, the escape, the way it makes me feel.

Isn't that the point?

Which means, that for me, yes, the plot is important, but also pushing the envelope in the scenes is important too. Erotic fiction is where I live out my fantasies--things that I'd never in a million years want to have happen in real life (well, except the one with me and Johnny Depp and Clive Owen and Brad Pitt all naked in a shower together).

That's because for me, and for many women, those fantasies totally push the envelope of safety, control, and pain. The "forced seduction" is a big one--not just for me, but for other women. The orgy. The whipping and spanking. The domination and bondage and submission.

And so when I'm writing my erotic novels, I do research not only things like how the clothes in 1840 Paris worked (those blasted skirts! too wide to fit through a door, let alone be easily lifted for simple access) and what society was like...but also women's fantasies.

Since I have the golden rule (that's rule, Jane, not shower) in my books that there must be at least one orgasm per chapter (yep, it's my guarantee!), not only do I have to find, say, twenty ways of describing The Big O, but all the ways of getting there. (And, yes, I get paid to do this. I keep pinching myself.)

One of my best resources has been Nancy Friday's books My Secret Garden and Women on Top. For those of you who don't know, Ms. Friday has gathered and analyzed women's fantasies from women of our generations and collected them all in these, and other books. They're great.

So if you're worried that your fantasies are...shall way say...wayyyy over the top, that you're warped, disturbed, or otherwise messed up...check out her books. You'll be surprised at what you find.

Anyone want to share their favorite naughty fantasy? Feel free to be fact I encourage it. So, what is it?

Let's be Ms. Friday on a Friday here at The Spiced Tea Party. Who knows, your fantasy might just be brought to life in one of our books!

(And, no, Pam, getting tied to a harp wasn't one of my fantasies...but it worked just the same didn't it?)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Obligatory visit

So this past week it was time for my annual visit to the ob/gyn. I can sense you all shuddering with joy.

As I lay back, feet in the stirrups, the topic of this post came to mind.

How little things have changed in the last two hundred years. Well, okay, they didn't have the chemistry that will show up cancerous cells on your cervix, but I recently purchased "The Amorous Illustrations of Thomas Rowlandson", having been inspired by Lacey's post, and I ask you -- does the picture below look much different from your annual ob/gyn visit?

Although admittedly, I think she's getting treatment for syphilis or some other v.d.

Apologies for the short post. If my head wasn't suffering from a cold, I'd ramble on more about it, but I'll leave that to you, dear readers!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The 3 R's and the Big O (with a little help from my friends)

I was nervous before my recent reading at Good Vibrations in San Francisco. Of course I’m always nervous before a reading - that no one will show up, that no one will think my stuff is any good, that what I've decided to wear is all wrong and how could I ever have imagined...?

About the only thing I'm not nervous about before a reading is exposing my erotic imagination. In a Spiced Tea post a few months ago, Celia said something similar. Similar but different, of course -- mileage varies for everyone.

For me, reading publicly from my work is a very hot experience, but it's a different kind of hot from leaning back and letting it wash over me. It's so... purposeful, making sure that the sentences fall into real spoken rhythms, that the breath (both mine and the audience's) comes in the right places. Purposeful can be its own kind of sexy, though -- unless, of course, you're committed to the notion that sex is an entirely spontaneous, no-forethought kind of deal (makes it more innocent that way -- oops, before I realized what was happening, officer, there I was, having sex).

And of course I also always hope that people will laugh in the right places -- which is perhaps more like sex for me nowadays, than when I was younger and more deadly serious about it.

All in all, the reading went off quite well. I read from The Slightest Provocation; a young writer named Dahlia Schweitzer read from her short story collection, Seduce Me. We had lots of support: the good people from Good Vibes put out a great little spread of food and even better, they got the fabulous Carol Queen to introduce us.

Some introductions, if you need ‘em. Carol and her partner Robert Lawrence run San Francisco's Center for Sex and Culture; Carol can talk down and dirty in the sweetest, smartest, most rational and persuasive voice I know, and with her excellent shoes and cats-eye smart-bitch glasses, she’s likely to be the chic-est person at any orgy you might consider throwing. She’s written a lot of fiction and non-fiction as well: her cross-dressing novel, The Leather Daddy and the Femme, was an early inspiration for my Almost a Gentleman.

And Good Vibrations is San Francisco's history-making, worker-owned feminist sex-toy, sex education, sex-anything store; I believe it's the first of its kind in the country. There are ways in which San Francisco isn't my favorite city - its population density is too low to support a good public transportation system, for example -- but Carol and Good Vibes do a lot for my civic pride.

(I hadn't intended to include 2 photographs of Carol, but I'd never seen this one before, of her and Robert recreating the famous Brassai photo. Cool.)

Of course Dahlia and I both brought friends. For a while before we got started up, the audience threatened to look like a small, tasteful wedding -- her people on one side of the aisle, my little cohort of Will, Penni, Ellie, and Mitch on the other. But by the time we got started, there was a complement of genuine listeners.

Not that friends don’t listen. In fact, in some ways the best part of the evening was in Will’s car on the way home, discussing the reading and talking about sex. We all agreed that we’d specially liked the one of Dahlia’s stories about a couple who make a rule only to have sex once a week, to make the tension build up. Penni proposed that the tension was what made it erotica and not pornography, “because the orgasm comes at the end of a literary structure.”

“Hmm,” said Will, “but I’ve never had an orgasm in my life that didn’t come at the end of a highly elaborate literary structure.”

Which is why you should always bring your friends to your readings. You'll learn something about them and something about the world.

Because what Will said is what I think is what I’ve been getting at in all my novels, but which I don’t think I’ve ever heard put quite so succinctly. And I think it also has something to do with the weird way that craft and purpose articulate what's deep and involuntary, in the business of erotic reading and writing.

So I thought I’d seek your opinions, O panel of reader-and-writer experts out there. Earlier this week, the crumpets discussed how you put an orgasm into words. Is it possible that having a real live one implies a kind of narrative structure?

Do you think there's a difference between erotica and pornography, and if so, does it have anything do to with what I've been talking about?

How do the 3 R’s (reading, riting, and ‘rotica) come together for you? (Double entendre entirely accidental, of course)

Monday, May 14, 2007


Hi All this post will be short as I have a deadline looming and I need to write.
Okay deep breath.

The story that I am currently working on is based on Viking folklore for the Bear and the word Berserk.

I am really quite excited about the book, it is a paranormal historical set mainly in Regency England, one story is in Scandinavia. The book is about four brothers in a family, who is part of a subspecies of humans called Ursus.

Ursus are human only more…

The book my editor is calling ANIMAL LUST. LoL

I get a lot of my story ideas from reading history books. This one was no different really, though I did most of my research for this book after I had written the first scene, which actually is the third scene in the first story, The Love Of Ursus. (That scene came to me in a dream while I was writing Lusts Vow, the first story in WHAT SHE CRAVES.)

I have three of the four novella’s in this book written, and two of them edited. I have three weeks to write a novella and edit the last two. I have taken time off work and I am buckling down to write like mad!

My question is... Does it bother you when writers mix genres? Regency set historical erotic romance, mixed with paranormal, etc.

Off to write! See you all in June.

Hugs and Kisses,

Friday, May 11, 2007

What century am I in today?

I have a lovely mentee. courtesy of the RWA Beau Monde chapter. She emailed me yesterday asking for some references to Regency house parties. In a very un-mentorish way I had to point her in the direction of the Beau Monde boards and archives. I explained that I'm 7,000 words away from finishing a contemporary erotic romance about an ex-rodeo cowboy and his orthopedic surgeon and that I can't allow my thoughts to stray back to the Regency era.

I hope she understood. I'm not sure if I did. Toward the end of writing a novel I'm so immersed in it that I have difficulty commenting or connecting with the other books I'm supposed to be writing. At the front of the very rowdy line of characters in my head, I have an intergalactic viking and a bisexual Regency rake lined up next. They aren't allowed to talk to each other and they are certainly not allowed to talk to me until the cowboy's gone!

Is it just me complicating my life by writing in three different sub-genres or is this a common writerly problem? Do readers manage the switches without worrying or do they get stuck in a reading rut?

One way to relieve the stress of writing the big books is to write something short- but not necessarily sweet. One of the themes that popped up in the contemporary cowboy book was leather...(surprising that for a cowboy eh?) So I've taken the opportunity to write a very detailed erotic short all about the sex and the leather. If I put this much information into the big novel it would probably slow the pace to glacial, but as a short scene I get to lovingly explore all the sensual stuff, each drip of sweat (and other bodily fluids), the sound of each button being undone and all the fascinating textures and scents of leather, all in great detail. Sometimes this helps me refocus on the big story in a new way and adds new levels of lusciousness. Yum

So do you have a favorite flavor of romance? A sub-genre you can't live without or read exclusively or are you like me, all over the map?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Big Bang

For me, it's one of the great challenges of erotic writing.

She caressed his head, the springing curl of his black hair, pushed against him--yes, Allen, please--then grabbed with both hands to steady a world flying apart. Coming, oh, not nearly enough of a word for what happened, for the glorious tumult of spiral, rolling, boiling over-ness--she laughed, still gripping his head, and repeated his name.
Forbidden Shores, Jane Lockwood (Signet Eclipse, 2007)

And that's about the best I can do, I think, and that couple of sentences were agonizing to write. Other than the waves and fireworks and all the rest of it, how do you describe an orgasm? Is it even possible? We all know what it feels like (I hope) but none of us have been taking notes at that particular moment (have we? Do let the rest of us know how you did it).

Consider writing about sleep. Not dreaming, but sleep itself. You're aware of the moments leading toward sleep and then you wake up, but what happened in between? You could watch someone sleep--note how they moved, the sounds they made--but your own experience, what happens to you and where you go, is unknowable.

How do you write about a moment where you lose yourself? The French refer to orgasm as le petit mort--the little death--with good reason. Everything stops, time changes, you emerge changed. Sure, you can write about muscle contractions and physical reactions, or you can resort to imagery, or just mix metaphors as I did (my heroine was a housekeeper so I guess she'd naturally revert to kitchen imagery). But is the most important part of the orgasm, for readers and writers, not the actual Big Moment, but how we get there; how we carry the reader along on this journey and what happens after we reach the destination?

Or do you think that cheats the reader--to deprive him or her of the ultimate moment they've been expecting all along, even if they know what it's going to be?

What do you think? what have you written or read that worked for you?

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

A different perspective on Lady Chatterley's Lover

In 1959, a writer by the name of Ed Zern was working and writing for Field & Stream magazine (which, if you aren't aware, is an American magazine about the outdoors--hunting, fishing, camping, etc.) when it was decided that they should add a book review section.

Mr. Zern was told to select a good book about the outdoors to review. Unbelievably, he selected Lady Chatterley's Lover, which of course had been banned in this country, and he wrote this review:

Although written many years ago, Lady Chatterley's Lover has just been reissued by Grove Press, and this fictional account of the day-by-day life of an English gamekeeper is still of considerable interest to outdoor-minded readers, as it contains many passages on pheasant-raising, the apprehending of poachers, ways to control vermin, and other chores and duties of the professional gamekeeper.

Unfortunately, one is obliged to wade through many pages of extraneous material in order to discover and savor these sidelights on the management of a Midland shooting estate, and in this reviewer's opinion the book cannot take the place of J. R. Miller's Practical Gamekeeper.

Yeah. And I bet Mr. Zern only bought Playboy for the articles.

I can't say that I was paying much attention to gamekeeping while watching Mr. Sean Bean in Lady Chatterley. You?

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Subversive Smut

Erotica is one of those genres that can be thought of as subversive: many modern-day erotica writers proclaim erotica liberates women’s fantasies (thanks to Nancy Friday’s examination of the modern woman’s fantasies in My Secret Garden); others will say erotica recognizes not everybody swings to the same kink.

Still others will say that the proliferation of erotica in this day and age is a sign of Satan, of extreme moral decay and no self-respecting Christian should even look twice at the lurid covers gracing the romance aisles in bookstores.

OK, so nobody has ever actually said that to me, although I’ve had someone turn their back on me because of what I write.

I’m thinking, after this post, nobody will say it to me, because I’m ready to give them an earful.

I’m a Christian (an active, prayerful, go to church every Sunday and then some Christian).

Now, I have no objection to personal preferences being for something other than erotica. I mean, I can’t crack open a horror novel because I know I will have nightmares for weeks afterward. So if their objection is “I just don’t like it.” I smile and say, “That’s fine.”

But something Kate mentioned in an earlier post (Revealing Myself) has been curdling in my brain ever since.

So, the next time someone says that writing (or reading) smut is sinful, then perhaps you could say:

“Hey -- have you read Genesis 19:30-38? There’s this awesome scene where Lot’s daughters get him drunk and seduce him .... and God, who was in the business of smiting back then, doesn’t smite a single soul over it.” (Turns out that continuing the tribal line is more important than anything in the Books of the Law.)

I mean, the bible -- the Holy Scripture that guides Christians -- is loaded with sexual references and not all of them are derogatory. The most famous example is Solomon’s “Song of Songs”. Now, some will say that this song is a metaphor for Solomon’s love for Israel and that may well be a legitimate interpretation, but really, it is a love song, where:

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth --

for your love is more delightful than wine”
Song of Songs 1:2


“My lover is to me a sachet of myrrh,

resting between my breasts.”
Song of Songs 1:13

and in typical goat-herder king style, he says of his lover:

“Your hair is like a flock of goats

descending from Mount Gilead.”
Song of Songs 4:16

He goes on to marvel about how her teeth are so white, and she has them all. (Hey, this is B.C., people, dental hygiene was in its infancy.) If nothing else, it’s different from the usual metaphors for a lover’s body parts.

The bible is not hung up about sex, about sex out of wedlock, or having multiple partners. (Rachel and Leah anyone?) So where’s the beef?

Yes, there is a moral code outlined in Leviticus that prohibits women from associating with others during her period (nor could anyone have sex with her then); it also prohibits clothing woven of two different kinds of material, the cutting of hair on the sides of one’s head, or clipping the edges of a beard.

Then there’s a whole bunch of stuff about the prohibited degrees of marriage (not marrying your brother’s wife, for example), and keeping one’s women (that is, property) pure and virginal. Women aren’t (or shouldn’t be) property any more.

As for Bible heroes as examples of moral living? Moses was a murderer. Paul persecuted Christians (which means killing them, folks) and even Jesus has a temper (Matthew 21:12-16). Peter refused three times to even acknowledge his best friend in his time of most desperate need.

And then there is the incestuous Lot, and the lascivious kings: David and Solomon. I could go on, but I think I made my point a paragraph or two ago.

So, as a Christian, writing about sex out of wedlock, bucketloads and bucketloads of sex, should be contradictory to what I believe, right?


And not just because the bible alludes to such scenes. But because my writing is subversive.

Not in the modern sense of “empowering to women” or “being open about one’s kink and it being okay”, but through the themes of all the books I write, I carry a single message.


My books are about screwing up, making mistakes, and yet getting that second chance (or the fiftieth), and being forgiven for the wrongs of the past.

Remember Moses? God chose him to save the nation of Israel. Paul turned into the biggest “born again” Christian ever and evangelized the Mediterranean. Peter, forgiven for his betrayal, founded the Roman church which led to Christianity becoming an “acceptable” religion.

It’s why I write happy endings, why most of my characters are deeply flawed or are seen as “bad” by Society. I don’t write about angels, I write about humans, conflicted, confused, deeply flawed human beings and I redeem every single one of them.

It’s God’s most powerful message -- to be loved and forgiven no matter what. And having experienced it personally the weekend before last, I can tell you it’s real and palpable and overwhelming, and my attempts at writing it in a secular, already subversive genre pale in comparison.

For any of you who have read my books, you know there is no bible-thumping involved, and yet one thing remains plain:

Love is the most subversive thing of all.

Monday, May 7, 2007

The Real Thing

I’m still recovering from a wonderful trip to the Romantic Times convention. By recovering I mean catching up on sleep. Yes, still. And I got back last Monday night. This was my first RT and a fascinating experience. I met amazing author Robin Schone (an icon to me). I had the great opportunity to be on a panel about erotic romance. I realized (at 5:00 in the morning the day of my panel) that I wrote erotic romance because I craved knowing what happened between the characters behind the bedroom door (or carriage door, stable door, oak tree, curtain in brothel, etc….) The sexual interaction was just far too important to leave to…well, to leave out altogether. It was just so unfair that two characters with issues, conflicts, and problems would shut the bedroom door and emerge later with a heavenly afterglow. So I decided I would explore that—I would write erotica.

My favorite scenes to write are the ones where the characters don’t necessarily have great sex, simultaneous orgasm, and blissfully float around the room. Why? Because a character is much more vulnerable when sex doesn’t work out. In the book I finished in January, Black Silk (April ’08), I wrote a scene where the hero doesn’t reach orgasm during sex. My heroine is stunned. Doesn’t that always happen for men? What did she do wrong? And of course, since they are newly married, she’s not going to simply ask him. No, she’s going to worry. That was a much more powerful and exciting scene to explore than one of perfect sex.

In my current WIP, I’ve been wondering what was missing in my sex scenes and I only just put my finger on it. It’s humor. Sex can be sensual and erotic but there’s no way twining limbs and body parts doesn’t end up being funny. Someone gets hit with a limb and someone gets squashed. In my first erotic historical, A Gentleman Seduced, my poor hero is determined to preserve my heroine’s virginity. As she blindfolds him, drops to her knees in front of him and enthusiastically explores, he decides he should be nominated for sainthood. Definitely sainthood. It was his humorous banter in his head that I loved about writing that scene.

I once dated a man who wanted to try handcuffs, but I refused. Not because I had anything against being tied up, but I knew that some disaster would happen and I would be the woman who gets left chained to the bed with no way of phoning for help. Or if I did manage to call for help, I’d probably end up accidentally calling my mother. I’d read Stephen King’s Gerald’s Game. I was not going there.

So, for all of you out there, do you like to read about realism (and humor) in your erotica or do you look for fantasy encounters? Or a little of both?

(The picture of the eighteenth century handcuffs is from

Friday, May 4, 2007

I'll Take You There

Thank god our at-home wireless internet is unreliable, so that on some days, at least, I can go grab my laptop and write my novel without going online every couple of minutes... say to the Smart Bitches blog, which is one of my latest addictions.

This week, for example, I spent I don't know how much time at a recent Bitchery discussion of erotica and erotic romance favorites. Of course I got some warm fuzzies from having my own work mentioned. But the discussion really got interesting to me when it got around to the inevitable (these days) question of why m/m erotica is so popular with women readers.

You can read it yourself if you want to see what people said (and if I had it to do over, I would have been a little less tart of tongue -- thanks, Kassiana, if you're out there, for having taken my comment in such good humor).

But what I've been mulling over ever since is the question of how people "shop" for erotica. Which, it seems, is mainly to go for what they know they like -- to check the menu and order their favorite flavor.

I suppose we all do that. It's nice to have a menu of familiar, reassuring, entertaining choices. And who could ever have enough Cherry Garcia? Or in my case BDSM.

Except sometimes we don't. Like those times a trusted friend guides you to some wonderful little hole-in-the wall restaurant where there is no menu, where the wait staff doesn’t even speak English. And you go there, perhaps with some misgivings, because you trust your friend... or because you’re bored with what you already know you like… or perhaps you’re not sure anymore, what it is you know you like and what it is you like just because you've always liked it.

Which reminds me of the time when I had to introduce my friend Simon Sheppard, at a reading of his then-new book, Kinkorama, at Modern Times Bookstore. Now, Simon’s clearly a smart, talented, very hot writer – but it's also pretty obvious that he writes from a gay male sensibility that’s kind of foreign to me. And the men he writes about, while often attractive, are miles away from the ones you'll encounter in the recent m/m fiction written for women, or even the m/m stuff I dreamed up in the Carrie books.

I might not have bothered reading as much of Kinkorama as I did. But I felt I had a responsibility to introduce Simon intelligently and to represent his work fairly. Just call me Super(ego)Girl. My dreams begin in responsibilities.

So I read the chapter about daddy/boy sex, and even, with more than a little hesitation, the one about diaper play. And… well, it’s not that I’ve exactly changed my tastes, the stuff was still strange -- even challenging, as the menus describe some kinds of sushi.

But under the spell of Simon’s voice and smarts and writing skill, I felt myself taken to that strange, wonderful hole-in-the-wall place where there aren't any menus. And I closed my eyes and opened my mouth and tasted – who knows what I tasted? – jellyfish, foie gras, tobacco, absinthe? It sure wasn’t Cherry Garcia.

So I’m wondering whether any of the rest of you out there sometimes take the plunge, expose yourself to a new and different erotic sensibility? What was it like? Would you do it again? Do you trust a writer's style and sensibility enough to follow her where she wants to go?

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Costumes and dress up!!!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE to dress up. On a normal day I always dress so that I feel good about how I look. My mom taught me that if you are tired, or feeling blue… dress in a bright color and you will feel better. Amazingly this concept works for me.

My normal dress for work… some sort of knee length or long skirt and shirt, stockings, and a high sexy heal. I wear quite a bit of red. Other favorites are black and brown.

I have always loved looking good. Putting on a sexy dress and heals some how transforms me from my sweats and socks writer with geeky glasses, to the sex writer I am. lol

For me dressing up to go out on a date or out with friends is a ritual. I put on some music… I start to dance a bit to the tune, then I step in to my closet/bathroom and the magic begins… Makeup, dresses, hair, jewelry, shoes etc etc. (I LOVE SHOES) Just bought these two pairs. Grin.
I also love wearing corsets, I know some think they are soooo uncomfortable but I truly love them. I have one that I had custom made for me with real bone in it. I can get myself into it, but it is really hard. Pulling the strings in the back and getting them right takes two hands!

Every time I put a corset on I think of my heroines and how they dressed and how the heroes get them out of these things with just a quick pop pop pop. LoL Not possible. What I love is idea of all the ritual that went on to get into the proper dress for our period. The shift, petticoat, stockings and stays, followed by the flowing dress, coat and hat! I LOVE IT!

I was supposed to go to RT this year… I bought all the costumes. I was anxiously looking forward to wearing my corset and skirts, my top hat and wings, but alas I have a deadline and many pages still to write. I didn’t go.

So last night I decided I would dress up just for fun and take some pictures of me in my get ups.

I know it is not quite the same… but I did have fun!

Do you like to dress up? and if so when you are feeling playful what do you wear?

Hugs and Kisses,

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Walking the Line

When "Eden's Pleasure", my first Regency erotic romance was published, several of the reviewers were far more interested in discussing the hero's darker identical twin brother, Gideon than the hero, Gervase. (memo to self, never ever write a book again with 2 guys with the same initial especially if it contains a menage scene) Some of that was probably my fault because I dared to introduce the heroine to Gideon before she re-connected with Gervase, and that's apparently a no-no for some romance readers. Apparently it builds up the wrong expectations, so a couple of the reviews weren't happy about that and were routing for the wrong guy.

I really wanted to write a book about Gideon and so I did. It's called 'Antonia's Bargain' but it's equally about Gideon. But how do you write a book about a man who has bisexual tendencies and still make him a romantic hero? I decided not to think about it too much and just write the book, and yes, dear Gideon managed to remain incredibly complex, both sexually and emotionally and yet find the perfect woman for him.

I don't usually think about themes until I've finished the book and this one was no exception. When I read it through I realized it was about acceptance and finding someone to love you for yourself-and hey, that's really what we're all looking for isn't it? Even better, was that the people who read it, including almost all the reviews, got that too and even found themselves falling in love with an unusual Regency hero. As one reviewer put it, "It's not your grandmother's Georgette Heyer."

And this book felt so 'right to write' and has led to two bigger books with Kensington Aphrodisia which have equally interesting Regency rakes as heroes. Whether they will be considered romantic enough is another matter. I'm still not sure where the romance line is drawn these days.

Personally, I think that if characters are well-written, sympathetic and draw you in, you can write a love story about anyone and it should work. So, here's a question for you all- where are your romance limits? When does it stop being a romance and start being erotica? I'm beginning to wonder what I write again...