Wednesday, September 10, 2008

On Not Going Gentle...

I received a recent email from my friend Doreen deSalvo (romance writer and one of the founders of the erotic romance publisher Loose-Id Books -- that's their logo over on the left) with this parting quote embedded:

What do you have now, and what do you covet, that you would not gladly trade for, say, five extra years?

It's from the journalist Michael Kinsley (past and founding editor of, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease a few years ago, and who wrote about life expectancy and other related issues in a wonderful piece called "Mine is Longer than Yours." Kinsley's condition is controlled right now, and he continues to write beautifully and with great urgency.

As one always ought to do, with the end in view.

Inspiring me to try and do likewise (at least qua the urgency) at the end of the life of this blog, while bidding my bloggies -- Jane, Celia, Kate, Lacy, Colette, and Sharon -- a tearful and grateful farewell.

We never really stated our common theme, and I don't know if we'd even agree on one -- not to speak of what any of us meant by "erotic historical."

But my guess is that there has been a consistent concern pumping through the heart of this blog (pumping, mind you, do let's give throbbing a well-deserved rest, okay?) And this constant concern has probably been something like "how do you write from the heart of your obsessions and keep yourself real and grounded at the same time?"

Starting with the obsession thing. I loved the fact that on this blog we wondered out loud what caused us to look deep within our fantasy lives and not blink at the surprising things we found there. Things no one told us were sexy (isn't it weird to live during a period where erotic taste is always being dictated, as though it were fashion or politics or morality...-- though who knows, maybe it does reflect aspects of them).

We brought words and objects back from the past, we ventured into the paranormal, and we weren't afraid of that other p-word, the pornographic. (Pausing for a brief message from the sponsor: you know I'm going to keep trying to understand where the boundaries of the erotic, the pornographic, and the romantic lie, and then do my best to confound them -- check my blog from time to time, and just about anything I'm likely ever to write for more wonkery on the subject).

While as for staying real and grounded: while we were testing boundaries, we were also trying to make deadlines, get kids to school, negotiate the erotic romance biz. We were distracted, exhausted, exasperated. Sometimes we were late to post.

We had fun -- well, I did anyway. But then, I've always believed that erotic writing is its own reward (which in the ups and downs of a career has to be a good thing), and that writing about erotic writing can be too.

And so now I'm tiptoeing away to turn off the lights.

And close the door. Because that's all there is (as they say in one of my all-time favorite children's books).

There isn't any more.

Good night, ladies.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sad Sad Day…

I have been thinking about what to post today for the past week. First, I thought I should do one more post on some historic bit of information. Then I thought I should just for fun ask everyone what their favorite sex word off of my website list was. Then I simply wanted to let you all know what how very much I have appreciated being apart of this blog and the readership that we have shared. The last one won out.

I want to thank you all Celia, Pam, Janet, Kate, Sharon, and Colette for allowing me a glimpse into all of your creativity, lives, and minds. You are all beautiful, wonderful, human beings and I was honored, humbled, and inspired to be included in a blog with you all. I shall miss each and every one of you.

Readers, Thank you for you comments, laughter, questions and support of all of our kinky creative minds! I shall miss you all.

Sniffle... Sniffle... Sniffle.

Oh, what the heck, just for the fun of it, what is your favorite word/phrase off my dirty words list?

Mine is bald headed hermit used for the prick of course. Grin.

Hugs and Kisses,

Friday, September 5, 2008

Reflections (on Spiced Tea and Strumpet Crumpets)

It’s funny that we’re saying goodbye to the Spiced Tea Party blog just as we’re also saying goodbye to summer (verrry sad up where I live, where the good weather doesn’t last long). School just began for my wee ones, with my son heading off for his very first year. He loves it, but I definitely had some teary eye moments as I watched him go.

I’m going to miss blogging here. It’s been a year of changes for me—some health issues in the extended family, the writing my first book for Bantam Dell (The Club), and then the revising :-). This week brought good news—author copies of Hot Silk (my next Aphrodisia) and coverflats for The Club. Much loving caressing of the embossed title on The Club's cover occurred. And also sadness, this week, as I chose my day to say good bye here.

One of the main things I’m going to miss, as Kate mentioned, is the chance to read the posts of my fellow strumpet crumpets—Celia, Colette, Jane, Kate Lacy, Pam. I loved having the chance to learn, to discover a new book (or an interesting invention of human sexuality) I’d never heard of before. I loved to mull over the posts for a few days after, then apply the thoughts they inspired to my books. When it was my turn, I’d sit down at the keyboard and wonder what I could share…

Kate and Celia did a wonderful job of pinpointing what was unique about we crumpets’ posts. And I appreciated the times I got to meet my fellow crumpets, and having the chance to form friendships.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a photo to top Jane’s photo of Prince Harry. (Honestly, I doubt I could ever find one!) But I wanted to post an excerpt from Hot Silk:


She had stood there and listened to the twaddle his bloody titled brother had fed her, but she ran away from him.

Devlin would not stand for it.

All he wanted to do was help her.

Heedless of the wet rock, he took the steps three at a time. Grace reached the small terraced plateau before he caught her.

Not there. He was not about to have a confrontation in this place—so he scooped her into his arms. She squealed and pushed against his biceps. "Don’t struggle, love. If I drop you here, you’ll roll down the steps."

God, she was a delicious weight in his arms. Her lush bottom rested against his forearm and his hand splayed over her shapely back. Instead of taking the path down, he took a narrow track away from the edge of the ridge and found his father’s folly. Bushes now obscured the path, but the branches were only budding and the white columns and oriental roof peeked through.

Slowly, Grace slid her hands up to his shoulders and held on as she twisted in his arms. "What is this?"

"Where I was conceived," he said with wry humor.

Pushing open the door with his boot, he gave a sigh. The daybed cushions bore stains and mildew, and dirt and dust coated everything. "Apparently my father hasn’t been trysting with the same regularity he used to."

"You are not taking me in there. It was bad enough that I went to the summerhouse at his lordship’s summons—I will not be carried in against my will."

Her breath brushed his face, warm and sweet.

"Is it against your will, Grace? Is that the truth?"

God, but her scent drove him mad. Rock hard, aroused to the point he could barely think, he refused to press his interests. He was not going to seduce her. He was not going to act like his damned brother.

"You thought I would be willing to become his mistress. After what he did. What he said. You think nothing of me—of course, you don’t—"

Putting her on her feet stopped her words. He touched his thumb to her lips in the doorway of the once sumptuous room where a hundred women had fallen in love with his randy father. Even through the leather of his glove, he caught his breath at the softness of her mouth, the sheer velvet perfection of those rose-pink lips. "I was afraid you felt forced to accept, love."

Her breath hitched—he heard it—and she brushed a soft kiss to his black gloved thumb. "I turned down your offer, Mr. Sharpe. I would never accept his."

From "Hot Silk" by Sharon Page ©2008. Coming October 2008 from Kensington Aphrodisia.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

And in the end...

I'm going to miss this blog. I LOVED reading everyone else's posts.
Jane made me laugh and snort tea on my keyboard on more than one occasion.
Lacy made me want to a) look like her and b) go to all those interesting places.
Colette inspired me with her rewriting of the classics.
Sharon's excerpts and thoughts on writing encouraged me to write better
Celia May Hart's dry wit and posts on her own writing challenges were inspirational.
And Pam? Pam's fascinating posts made me think-often for days until I could formulate a reply that made sense.

So thanks to everyone for inspiring me and thanks to our readers as well. Please come and find us at our other hang outs!

love Kate x

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Waving goodbye...

Well, not really. I'll be around like a loudmouthed bad penny here and there on the internet. You can catch me on Thursdays at Risky Regencies and occasionally at the Wet Noodle Posse, and dropping in at various places.

To be honest, sometimes I don't feel like an erotic romance writer. I'm not that interested in obscure sexual practices, because so many of them sound just weird. I'd be the person at the orgy wandering around asking if anyone wanted a cup of tea after they'd finished doing that. My characters don't have extensive collections of sex toys but they do drink a lot of tea.

I've loved being here, snarky or otherwise. I hope that what we've written about here has inspired, entertained, or educated you. And I've loved finding photos like this gem of Prince William waving goodbye and really meaning it.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

And now, the end is near....

A number of us crumpet strumpets caught up with each other at various points of the RWA National conference, and the subject came around: what can we do to keep this blog fun and bring readers to it?

We had plans, grand dreams, but alas, we also had deadlines, and were beginning to run out of ways to talk about historical sex (although who knew that could happen?). I’m going to miss Pam’s erudite posts, Janet’s snarky ones, Lacey writing from far destinations and always looking stunning, Kate's blurring the lines between erotic romance and erotica (with really neat historical pics), Collette's rewriting of the classics, and the "behind-the-scenes" of Sharon's writing process and her characters.

It’s been great forming friendships with my fellow crumpets, and I’ll miss them, but you’ll catch us around on various blog traps. And who knows? Maybe there’ll be a reunion somewhere down the line.

I’m not going to end on a sad note, or indeed, share my idea of who would be the sexiest man on legs (first, it varies, and currently, it’s Jeremy Irons), but on a note of hope.

Unleash Your Story: Make A Difference started yesterday. It’s a group of authors and readers with writing and reading goals for the month of September and raising money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The aim is to raise $10,000 during the month of September.

Leanne Shawler is one of the many authors who are writing and raising funds for this cause. (Wish I could, but this is my bit to help her out.) If you wish to make a donation to CFF as part of this event, go here.

We've decided to keep this blog online at least for the time being. Thank you everyone for reading and participating in this little corner of the bloggy world!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

We're in San Francisco!

Back next week...we're at Romance Writers of America's national conference.

Look out for us at RWA's Readers for Life Literacy Autographing, Wednesday July 30, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the San Francisco Marriott. Open to the public--more info here.

See you later!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Club

Hi all,
It’s been a busy week. My four-year-old came down with viral hives on Thursday—I had him halfway to daycare in the stroller when my daughter pointed out that he was turning red. And on Friday, I thought that I might be expecting baby no. 3. (A surprise and it turned out not to be the case.)

I also finished revisions on The Club, my sexy February release with Dell books, and made much progress on Blood Deep, my wip for Aphrodisia. Research for The Club has proved to be interesting, giving me the chance to read up a little on harems, the Kama Sutra, and India. I became completely addicted to a book that detailed how India was surveyed in the early 1800s. Enormous spiders, tigers, and disease proved to be very problematic, and ultimately the lead of the surveying team died, leaving a last journal entry that was the date and a dash—he never completed it.

The cover I’ve shown is obviously for The Club, and I’m thrilled at the elegant look Dell has given me. Plus, I’m in love with the hero’s shoulders. This will be out in February 2009. Here is a small excerpt from The Club (unedited):

"How am I going to explain to a man I’ve paid that I do not actually want him to make love to me?"

Jane asked the question of her image in the cheval mirror, but her reflection could provide no answers, obviously, that she could not think of herself.

So speaking aloud to it was quite pointless.

Groaning, Jane stalked around the brothel’s bedchamber, biting her thumbnail, and dreading the knock that was soon to come.

She had come here for Delphina, had come for answers. She’d paid a veritable fortune for the services of one of the young men employed by Mrs. Brougham, the woman who ran this Georgian house on the fringe of Mayfair, known simply as the "The Club". But since it had been a ruse, she now had to convince the man to leave without touching her.

Would he be angry?

She shivered.

Would he come to her aroused? Fear coiled, tight and cold, around her heart. She knew—though she had never experienced it with her own late husband—a man could become belligerent when he was aroused and the woman refused to play.

With Sherringham, she’d never had the courage to refuse to play. He had now been dead for thirteen months, and she no longer had to endure the nights he came to her bedroom. She no longer had to fight to find the courage to send him away, then despise herself when she couldn’t.

Jane paced, hugging her chest.

Surely a large bribe would soothe any ruffled…well, whatever might be ruffled on a randy young man. The man she’d hired had intimate relations for money, so wasn’t money the most important thing? And there were dozens of society ladies in attendance. Any reasonably attractive, healthy, and erect young man wouldn’t be frustrated for long.

Oh dear God, she thought, and she took hold of one of the bedposts for support.

Excerpt From The Club, © 2008 Sharon Page

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fan Fiction for Beginners (or for snobs)

Years back (in June 2006, actually), I wrote a piece on my own blog called The Snape Theory, finally, wherein I correctly asserted before it was revealed at the end of the series that Snape was a double agent working for good, and that it was for the love of Harry's mother Lily.

Of course, getting the Snape Theory right by the end of the fifth Harry Potter (The Order of the Phoenix) was hardly a stretch for a romance writer, it being our business to discern and delineate secret smoldering passions. Still, it got me much cred with my then-eleven-year-old niece, who could horcrux me under the table when it came to minor Harry Potter details and characters, but hadn't figured out the Snape thing yet.

And it also got me a fascinating piece of fanmail, directing me to some down-and-dirty and really rather well-written Harry Potter BDSM fan fiction -- about an intellectual relationship that (just as she becomes chronologically old enough) becomes an erotic one between Snape and Hermione.

I kinda enjoyed it, and was grateful to be pointed to it. I liked the idea of Snape wearing tight black jeans under his robes (not what Rowling intended, of course, but certainly a compassionate compensation for that heart-rending scene in the pensieve at the end of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix). And everybody who plays for the smart girl team will be gladdened by Hermione having an erotic partner who matches her in intellect. And then there's the strange point, which I have never quite understood, but which I feel to be absolutely true -- that BDSM is a kink often preferred by wonky types (I'll write more on this someday, I promise, but if anybody has any ideas I'd love to hear them now).

Anyway, I searched around in this fan fiction site, and followed links for a while... but then I went back to the book I was trying to write at the time and didn't think of fan fiction again until recently. Partly I was reminded of it when I read this quip from the supersmart lit-and-culture blogger Caleb Crain, who said he couldn't claim "to have read much fan fiction, but I feel as if I've been reading academic papers about it since I was an undergrad."

It's true -- particularly in the 90s, hip lit critics adored fan fiction, because it seemed to point to new and interesting aspects of the reading-writing continuum -- and perhaps also to point to a truth not generally acknowledged about a certain kind of reading, the adoring fans' desire to imagine characters' untold stories. We like to give them the breaks their authors never gave them (for Snape, something a whole lot better under his robes than the "skinny, pallid legs" and "graying underpants" Rowling gave him in the pensieve scene).

Sometimes, in the romance world, minor characters get their own books (sometimes this is sincere, sometimes market-driven, c'est la vie capitaliste, I guess). Sometimes, perhaps, it's the urge to continue a job well begun -- read the tough-love justice meted out on the final page of Pride and Prejudice: perhaps (I suppose this series assumes) England would be a better place if Mr. and Mrs. Darcy were solving all the unsolved crimes and dispensing rewards and punishments a la Lord and Lady Peter Wimsey. (I haven't read any of those Darcy mysteries -- have any of you? -- but I'll confess to a real adolescent wonky romantic thing for Peter Wimsey.)

And sometimes, as in the case of our own Colette Gale, the ending of The Phantom of the Opera just can't hold without the real lovers getting together. Colette, of course, writes in a "classics retold" subgenre. Retold and re-eroticized. Or perhaps (this is the fan fiction connection, I think) picking up on hints of eroticism in the original...?

Sometimes the eroticism really is there in the original -- or almost. The first time I read about fan fiction, it was (possibly like Caleb Crain) in the 90s, in the work of literary scholar Constance Penley. I think the word was slash fiction -- though I'm not sure what that meant. But in any case, Penley was gaga (her word) over stories of sex between Kirk and Spock by Star Trek fans. And whereas I don't believe that Gene Roddenberry had intended a sexual relationship, certainly there's an erotic vibe between two polar modes of macho -- Kirk the impetuous and Spock the remote, repressed, and contemplative. Which probably has something to do with the popularity of m-m couplings today (crumpet strumpets who mine this vein, please comment!)

Which brings me to the real reason I'm writing about fan fiction, because what I'm playing with right now is my own retelling of a classic novel -- to tell the "real" story that it's my pleasure to propose that the author was too proper to reveal. Perhaps like Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead -- well, that's a literary and hifalutin example. Or perhaps more like fan fiction. Where are the boundaries?

Boundaries or not, right now for me it's a journey and a challenge. The sex parts are pure pleasure. Righting injustices that I perceive in the original is a delight. Knowing how much to reveal about the "original," ostensible plot is a headache -- because some readers will have read the original and others will not have. I want it to work for everybody.

And I also want to know what you think about this farrago of partially digested ideas. I know that at least one of the crumpets (Celia) has written fan fiction. And that others of you have written m-m erotica and classics retold stories. Readers, what do you think? Writers, what have been your experiences?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ten things

that are almost as good as sex:

1. A Cadbury's flake stuck in a vanilla cone (soft English ice cream).

2. The scent of rain when it first falls on dry ground

3. Favorite words: island, farthingale, celestial, wondrous, celandine, fathom, jewel, darkness, velvet, lustre, piglet, ragged, pagoda, marmoset, sandalwood, counterpoint, cantilever, sultry, orange, wilderness

4. That wonderful feeling of anticipation you get when you open a book for the first time by a favorite writer

5. Meeting an old friend after years apart and finding that you pick up where you left off with no awkwardness

6. Eating a mango

7. Werner Herzog's production of Tannhauser

8. Ingmar Bergman's movie of The Magic Flute

9. Starting a new book and knowing anything can happen, but you're not yet sure what

10. Writing the last page of a book and realizing you're going to miss your characters

What are yours?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Writing Again

About a month ago, I talked about how I’d gotten back into the writing groove and had written 30 pages on vacation!

Well, they were the last pages I wrote for a while.


I’ve turned over a new leaf (yet again) and this month I’ve finished and turned in a novella, and am working on finishing a really fun proposal. I’ve given myself until the end of next week to write 30 pages and thus complete a first draft of the proposal. Which meant 2.5 pages a day. A cakewalk for me when I was under contract and writing 5 to 6 pages a day in order to meet the deadline.

As of today (Friday), well, I’m 3.5 pages behind my goal. But that’s okay. I know what I want to write next and I’m rather looking forward to it. There was supposed to be writing time tonight, but the hubby got good news at work and so we went out to a swanky restaurant to celebrate.

Yep, that kind of real good news.

So the writing is going well again, and I’m having fun doing so.

By the way, my husband is going to London. And no, I’m not going. What should he bring back for me?

Besides Cadbury’s, and possibly tea.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Hidden Stuff

This month I’m doing a cross contest with fellow Aphrodisia author Elizabeth Amber, who writes the Lords of Satyr series—sexy historical paranormal.

Check the contest page at my site for a chance to win a copy of Elizabeth’s latest book, LYON, THE LORDS OF SATYR.
For a chance to win my latest, BLACK SILK, check out Elizabeth’s newsletter group

I’m editing my first Bantam/Dell book, THE CLUB, right now, which has been making me think about the things we take out of stories, or "Outtakes".

Every writer has them. Some are even brave enough to post them on their websites. On her site, author Kelley St. John has a page called The Cutting Room floor, where she has posted deleted scenes and extra material. I love the idea—I love to see all the "behind the scenes" process that goes into creating a book. I also love to watch the deleted scenes on DVD—I find it really helps me think about storytelling to try to understand why the scene was removed, and how the movie is stronger because of it.

When I wrote the synopsis for Sin, I thought that it would be a great idea to have my artist heroine Venetia draw a portrait of Marcus, the hero. And so I wrote the scene. But through later drafts I realized the scene didn’t advance the plot, and even though I loved the idea and the scene made me smile, I had to let it go.

It’s always tough to make that decision to cut paragraphs or even an entire scene. I can never force myself to do that right after the first draft. It’s usually when I reach the third draft that I am cold-hearted enough to slash where needed!

Here’s a peek at a scene that didn’t make it into the final, published version of Sin. But I loved the scene, so if you’ve read Black Silk, some of this may seem familiar…

Fully clothed and he’d never felt more naked in his life. Marcus shifted his hip against his desk. What was she staring at? Why had he struck this pose where he was gazing off into the distance at not at her?

What part of him was she looking at now?

His shoulders? His chest? His thighs? Or worse, was she painting his groin, which of course at some point she would have to do. He couldn’t ask her to leave a blank unpainted hole where his hips and crotch should be, but his erection was tenting his breeches. Thankfully he’d worn black, so the bulge wouldn’t be so blasted obvious, but if he stood here knowing she was scrutinizing his family jewels to record them for posterity, he might just ravish her on the spot.
Hell and perdition, all he’d done was kiss the woman and now he couldn’t put her from his mind. He’d lost a thousand bloody pounds at the tables today.

How many women had he kissed? How many women had he made love to? He couldn’t remember the last, but he couldn’t seem to stop thinking about Venetia Hamilton.
Expecting an admonishment, he turned his head just a bit and glanced at her.

She wasn’t looking at him. Good lord, she was sucking on the end of her paintbrush. Her soft red lips pursued around the painted wood shaft and she studied her picture with a frown. Drenched in candlelight, her hair was a mass of flame. She was adorable as her amber brows drew together in concentration.

"No, indeed, that shoulder is not broad enough," she muttered in a breathy voice. Speaking to herself, she had a soft, kittenish purr. "Definitely his shoulders are broader…straighter…hips lean and narrow…decidedly trim and I haven’t quite caught the lovely line where they…ooh."

The soft little sigh at the end was almost his undoing. Blast, he should have posed behind his desk. Was it too late to pull a chair in front?

He was as hard as a pistol and she must be able to see it. He knew she was studying his hips. Which meant she would be working around to the front. Was she assessing him for length and girth? Did he make a good showing compared to her fantasies?

"Could we take a break?" His voice broke the stillness like a cannonball exploding.

She pulled her brush from between her lips and he fancied he saw the tip glistening. The tip of her tongue dabbed the very end, thoughtfully. He gripped the bullnose edge of his desk, tight enough to pop a seam of his gloves.

"You’ve not been posing for more than half and hour, my lord."

"I’m stiff—" God, had he just said that?

"But it will take weeks to complete the work if we stop every time you are…stiff."

For readers and writers, do you enjoy the "Behind the Scenes" sections where authors reveal the secrets behind the book?

Excerpt ©Sharon Page

Monday, July 7, 2008

Home Economics: Love, Sex, and the Marriage Ending

I've been thinking out loud over at my own personal blog, about a new project I'm playing with, which I hope will be (as I say there):

[...a] thoughtful, highly literate and very smutty piece of writing, with[...] no monogamous ending; no ultimate sorting [of characters into happy coupledom]; no cozy, well-protected final retreat back behind the gates of Pemberley. And yet (I hope) no loose ends either[.... A] way of bringing together all the stuff I’ve been meditating on during my loopy journey from erotica to romance and now, perhaps, back.

A collaboration, as I see it, between Pam Rosenthal and Molly Weatherfield target="_blank" -- an exploration of mean(ing)s and end(ing)s, where we get to play close to the edge of the provocative margin between romantic and (if we must call it that) erotic (with a wink and a nod, here, to Celia May Hart and her funny recent post at this blog).

Is my collaborative idea saleable? I have no idea. I'm not far enough into it yet, and I'm not even going to try to shop it around to publishers until I know more about the shape it will take. So I'd be grateful for your comments about the distinctions between romance and that other thing -- and what role ultimate monogamy and the marriage ending plays in all of this.

And if you're interested in the topic, you might also want to go over to Tracy Grant's blog post about the popularity of courtesan themes in recent romance novels, which I think is related to this issue. What does the widespread recent interest in erotically experienced heroines tell us? Does it widen romance fiction's purview or does it ultimately domesticate the question of erotic experience? Also and always germane is anything our own Jane Lockwood has had to say on erotic pairings and happy endings (or not) in in Forbidden Shores. (What's a good post you did on this, Jane, from the vast archives of your web-hopping?)

Other examples from the huge mess o' online discussion would be appreciated as well... Links to other readers' and writers' cherished beliefs, prejudices, and finely (or even not-so-finely) drawn distinctions are all good. Monica McCarty's opinionated post about Romance and the One True Love a few months ago at the Fog City Diva blog is a great example of taking a position (not my position, but an enduring one), and stating it with impressive clarity.

Let me know what you think, if you've got a mind to.

And meanwhile, here are some closer-to-home messages from the material world.
  • Sending my thanks first of all to Lacy, whose post on dildos a while back has evidently been inspiring some action in my back brain, to surface in the scene I'm writing right now in the new collaborative project (I'm stealing one of her fabulous illustrations, but there are more where that came from).
  • And adding an update from my own real life and times. Because the little anniversary present my husband bought me at Good Vibrations last autumn (when I read there with Lacy, Eden Bradley, and Lillian Feisty) turned out to be of shoddy workmanship. No, I'm not going to tell you what he bought me, but I will say that -- for my birthday this month -- he replaced the shoddy original with a terrific little number from the Xandria Collection online. And that at least from our experience, Xandria seems like a pretty excellent site. Have you used it? Anybody else have some consumer info to share?
  • And... oh, this old illustration? Well, some of you may know a certain sex toy scene from Safe Word. And some of you may not. I may post the scene on my website when I have time for that, but it's not there now, so you just may have to employ some lateral thinking to guess (though I couldn't have). I will tell you that it does work: unlike some of the more farouche stuff in my erotic books, I tried this one at home -- and so did a happy reader. It's subtle, though. You might just have to read my Molly Weatherfield books...

Happy consuming, everyone (the inner nerd insists that I tell you that the word "economics" comes from the Greek for "household"). And happy theorizing . And do tell me what you think about the erotics (or not) of the marriage ending.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


I find when I write my first draft my heroes and heroines all have explanations that are similar… usually ones that I say often, smiles… By the time I finish writing a story I know my heroes and heroines so much better and they have developed their own individuality. I can then give them individual sayings that fit them well.

I have to admit though, finding intensifiers that fit historically can be fun. Besides the known ones of the time period, some listed below, I have the most fun with my heroines. Some of them have made up their own like “Oh poppydust!” and such. Having them use them and get all flustered is fun and well finding ones to use during the act can be an experience!

Some known Intensifiers around during the Regency are: (Of course there are many more)
Oh Monstrous!
I dare say!
My Stars!
Take that!
Tally Ho!
That’s the dandy!
What the Devil!
What the Duce!
Dash it!
Blow my dickey!
Dang my buttons!
Good Gracious! (but not Goodness Gracious)
Hang! As in I’ll be hanged if it is not true!
Huge Grin. Even reading some of them puts a smile on my face.

What are some of your favorite Expletives/Intensifiers?


Monday, June 30, 2008

Not exactly a historical but definitely spicey!

or should that be spacey?

Yay! Finally the new cover for 'Secured Mail' my follow-up book to 'Planet Mail' from Ellora's Cave (yes, I do get around a bit) a scintillating tale of intergalactic viking love. It comes out in e-book form on July 30th.

I like writing these fun books occasionally after all the angst my Regency heroes put me through. These intergalactic vikings are honorable straight-forward sexy men who love women-who could ask for more?

Here's a quick blurb:

Sven Magnusson’s stuck on Planet Earth sexually serving his queen, Douglass and dealing with a culture where women don’t seem to want a man’s protection. As he struggles to understand Earth females, the queen encourages him to get laid. Of course, Thea Cooper, the only woman who appeals to him, thinks men are useful for one thing and on a one night only basis. Despite their clash of sexual cultures and the fury of their heated erotic encounters, can Sven find a way to convince Thea that her future belongs with him on Planet Valhalla?

And something else fun-if you are a writer-I got a mention in Publisher's Weekly! Here's the link

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Erastes interview!

Come on over to Risky Regencies today where Erastes is talking about, and giving away a copy of her latest book, Speak Its Name.

Friday, June 27, 2008

In praise of pretty boys

Alpha males? Forget 'em. (And apologies in advance for having one of the posts I claim to despise, full of pictures of attractive men and my Youtube favorites.)

I like men who aren't afraid to wear makeup or silk or elaborate clothing that emphasizes both their masculine and feminine sides. As Jo Beverly says of Georgian men, the delicious thing is that all this fine plumage only disguised the hawks beneath ... most gentlemen routinely wore swords, and knew how to use them.

How about a man who ... isn't really a man? Or is he? How about the gorgeous Billy Crudup in a dress and out of a dress in Stage Beauty? Here's a wonderful scene where actor Ned Kynaston demonstrates what's beneath his magnificent skirts--you're much too beautiful to be a man--and an intensely erotic scene where he and Maria (Claire Danes) explore roles. I wish I could write something as sexy and beautiful as the weaving hands here.

The ultimate in sexual ambiguity of the eighteenth century was the castrato--an international superstar singer like Farinelli. Trained since childhood, and with the advantages of height and huge lung capacity, castrati could perform amazing musical feats of breath and control, rarely attempted by modern singers, although virtuoso mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux is one of the few who can handle this repertoire. When the 1994 movie Farinelli was made, his "voice" was digitally created using counter-tenor Derek Lee Ragin and coloratura Ewa Godlewska's voices as raw material--read more here.

And here's a gorgeous scene from Farinelli using that engineered voice--I love the way it shows the
very stylized stage (watch for the erectile peacock) and the typical audience behavior at the opera. It's Farinelli's London debut, at which the crowd really did shout "One God, one Farinelli," although the movie uh, embroidered the history a bit (but who are we to point fingers?). The aria Lascia ch'io pianga is from the opera Rinaldo by Handel (the gentleman with the wig)--and you'll see why the words are so appropriate for a castrato to sing:

Let me lament
my cruel destiny
and yearn for liberty!

May grief, in its mercy,
shatter the bonds
of my torment

Who are your favorite pretty boys?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Summer Lovin'

Margaritas are, hands down, the best summer drink. (And enough of them can lead to what I call 'summer lovin', hence the title.)

They're cool, they're pretty, they're sexy, and they can be sweet or sour.

And I'm here to tell you how to make super simple designer margaritas.

Ready? Okay.

All you need is sugar, ice, tequila...and Kool-Aid. That's right--Kool-Aid's not just for kids anymore. No sirreee.

Pick out your favorite, most intriguing Kool-Aid flavor. Ice-Blue Raspberry Lemonade, anyone? Swirling Strawberry Starfruit? Soarin' Strawberry Lemonade? You get the idea.

Make the packet of Kool-Aid (I usually don't add as much sugar as the packet calls for) as directed, and then simply use that as your margarita mixer. Add tequila and ice to taste...and voila!

Designer margaritas.

Let me know how it goes and how much of the pitcher you drink yourself, okay?

PS You can also do the same for martinis by simply adding vodka (flavored vodka works too!) instead of tequila.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Porn for Women

Not only was that basically the topic at Wiscon a few weeks back (the true title was: “Porn Crushes the Patriarchy”) but it is the title of a book given to me last week.

I have never laughed so hard in my life.

Beautifully photographed with men in various states of undress.

Here’s an example: imagine if you will, a handsome, dark-haired man, his shirt off, showing nice pecs and abs but not anywhere near the over-developed man-titty we all giggle at.

His boxers are peeking out from the top of his jeans and he is barefoot on a white shag rug in front of a fireplace.

In one hand, he holds the handle of a... vacuum cleaner. And the caption reads: “I love a clean house.”

It was put together by the Cambridge Women’s Pornography Cooperative, photographs by Susan Anderson, published by Chronicle Books and the ISBN is 978-0-8118-5551-8

And it kinda makes me think we’ve missed the boat in claiming erotic romance as porn for women. What it should be is romantic comedy with guys doing the things they should be doing, but never do, like putting the toilet seat down.

To say any more would give away the sheer delight of this book. And it was verily the most perfect gift for me.

So, folks, porn for women: does it crush the patriarchy, is it erotic romance, or should it be romantic comedy?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Hot Silk and Naked Shoulders

I booked my flight to London yesterday, which means that my planned research trip to England this October is now a reality! It turned out that several members of my RWA chapter planned to go at the same time, so we’ve made it a joint trip and are renting an apartment. Now the real preparation begins! I have books on Jack the Ripper to read, and Regency locations to list so I can see them, and I’m also hoping to do some side excursions. Plus I’m looking forward to going to bookstores. What if I actually saw myself (i.e. a book of mine) in one of the stores? Boggles the mind. It’s like that scene in a Dirk Gently book by Douglas Adams, where a time-traveling professor claims that he hates to run into himself when he’s gone back in time. He never knows where to look.

I must admit it’s tough to follow up Pam’s amazing post of yesterday. I thought her comments on covers were really interesting. And I have to admit that I’m drawn to pick up covers like the one on The Edge of Impropriety. The elegant, historical female image is eye-candy for me—it looks like chocolate in a classy, lavish wrapper, and I cannot wait to delve inside.
I’ve also just received the artwork for my upcoming cover for The Club, my first book with Bantam/Dell. It took my breath away. Naked male shoulders were involved, and I do have a weakness for male shoulders.

I have to get back to the kids—I’m late posting and we have a truck-load of books to return to the library. The kids are antsy to replenish the supply, and I sure can’t deny them when they are so excited about books. So I’m posting an excerpt from my upcoming book Hot Silk. This one will be out in October—this excerpt is a little different. In Hot Silk my heroine originally makes love to the wrong man. Not a case of mistaken identity, but misplaced love. She thinks she is in love and discovers she’s not. How will romance readers react, I wonder?

Here goes…
"Touch me."
"Only if you take the blade from your heart."
"I will plunge it in if you leave me now. If you do not touch me. I cannot live without your touch. I could go to another woman. I know you are thinking that. I could bury my heavy, aching cock into her and fuck until my brain explodes and all the while I would be in pain because I wanted you. Do you have any idea what bloody torture that is?"
"I think I know."
"I want to marry you, Grace. All I need is a yes. One simple word."
"Yes." And there was no turning back. She hungered to touch him, and, once she did, she had to go forward.
If she touched him, she had to agree to do everything a husband and wife were intended to do. Slowly, she pulled off her glove—a white, virginal, and utterly irritating scrap of satin. She reached out, touching her fingertips to his chest, his skin hot and damp beneath her touch.
"Take the knife away," she breathed. He was drunk and his hand cupped her bottom—a place a man’s hand had never been—but she was afraid he would crush her to him and stab himself by accident.
He was young. Spoiled. Passionate. Wild.
Hers. With one simple word.
"Yes," she said again, to ensure there was no mistake, and she released a sigh of relief as he tossed the blade back to the desk. But in the next instant, he slid her skirts, petticoats and all, up her thighs. He pulled her drawers down before she could squeak, held her as she stepped out of them.
"You smell of lust, Grace. You stink of it and I love your smell. I want to cover my hands in it, my cock in it."
His earthy words made her more wet, more creamy and slick, and she could smell herself, flushing as she did so.
"Now, hold up your skirts for me and let me explore."
She obeyed and his hands slid around her naked inner thighs. His palms were strong, a little rough, and as he squeezed her skin she feared she’d fall to the floor.
"Stand up, Grace," he commanded in a growl and his hands skimmed higher, up and up to the juncture of her thighs, to her hot and sticky quim. "Part your legs for me a little more."
She did, aware of the wetness leaking down her inner thighs.
"Ah, yes, good girl," he murmured, and his look of fierce hunger softened with his heart-breaking smile. "Lovely, soft curls."
His fingers combed through them and she squirmed. Her quim felt tight and achy and hot and she was wriggling to ease the tension.
"Is your clit hard now? Would it like to feel my fingers stroking it? Would you like me to rub hard?"
She had no idea. A strangled, confused groan slipped from her lips. His bold erotic talk was what she wanted but not entirely what she’d expected. She was to be his wife—she’d thought he would be sweet. It would be sensuous and they would not speak—
Like a statue, she stood, unable to move, and his long, strong fingers slid into her cleft. It felt so good, it felt--

Excerpt from Hot Silk © Sharon Page

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sex or Science

From the New York Times's Thursday Style Section of June 12:

...scientists at the frontiers of research on the eternal question of what women find erotic... [say it's]... not naked guys, or at least simply naked guys.
You can read the whole thing here. But for me the central point is the study by Dr. Meredith Chivers at the University of Toronto, wherein she "showed people video clips of naked men and women in various sexual and nonsexual situations and measured their genital arousal," and during which:
Heterosexual women... were no more excited by athletic naked men doing yoga or tossing stones into the ocean than they were by the control footage: long pans of the snowcapped Himalayas.
When straight women viewed a video of a naked woman doing calisthenics... their blood flow increased considerably.

On the one hand, this was hardly a surprise to me -- or probably to anyone who came up through the heady days of second-wave feminism when we discovered for ourselves that images of women could be hot. And that, in any case, what wasn't hot was a passive, objectified male body, no matter how gorgeous (at least short of St. Sebastian -- where passive makes its way to active) .
And when Dr. Chivers asked her subjects to rate their own arousal to the videos they watched, the women, whether gay or straight, tended to give higher ratings to films showing women.

My experience exactly, and those of my commadres who were beginning to write our own porn in the 80s and 90s. We simply weren't like the boys with their Playboy spreads, we congratulated ourselves, and que vive, we said as we went out to write hotter stories -- at least for the small press anthologies like Cleis, which has been publishing my Carrie's Story and Safe Word, through several years and through multiple reprintings now.

Fast forward to the current mass erotica and erotic romance market.

Well, the money doesn't lie, does it? Or so one must assume, from the constant prodding from romance marketers like BGI's Sue Grimshaw that male torsos sell? Not to speak of those repeated exhortations (I expect more of them this summer at RWA National) to cut the f-f episodes (straight women will be turned off) and double the testosterone, as though the animals on George Orwell's famous farm were bleeting in chorus two pecs good, four pecs be-e-e-ter.

But here I can see that I'm getting the covers confused with the prose. Only two pecs per cover, I believe is the rule -- even if I'd make a beeline for a book sporting this graphic, copped from a wonderful earlier tea party post by Kate Pearce.

Lord that picture's hot -- because, I think, of the emotionality implied, and the fascinating play of dark and light, likeness and contrast. To me, it's the extremes of activity and passivity -- the implied narrativity in a non-narrative form -- that's arousing, and that just might circle us back to Professor Chivers' study results.

Except that the cover thing's not supposed to be about arousal.

As a close reading of this discussion at Dear Author makes clear, it's about... well, I'm not sure what gets triggered in the three minutes you have in which to make a choice at an airport bookstore, but I don't think it's arousal. Something more like genre recognition, making sure the customer got the kind of book she was looking for. I don't think cover art is supposed to bewitch, bother, bewilder you or make you miss your train stop -- I think that's what the prose inside is supposed to do.

But the problem for me here is the implication that a customer knows what she's looking for. Because when I'm the customer, what I'm looking for is the unknown. Reading always has this yummy masochism for me: what I want is to be seduced by a new, confident voice and taken helpless wherever that voice might want to lead me. As the first page of Sarah Waters' lesbian Edwardian romance Tipping the Velvet did for me, when I opened it in Modern Times Bookstore several years ago...
Have you ever tasted a Whitstable oyster? If you have, you will remember it. Some quirk of the Kentish coastline makes Whitstable natives -- as they are properly called -- the largest and the juiciest, the savouriest yet the subtlest, oysters in the whole of England. Whitstable oysters are, quite rightly, famous. The French, who are known for their sensitive palates, regularly cross the Channel for them; they are shipped, in barrels of ice, to the dining-tables of Hamburg and Berlin. Why, the King himself, I heard, makes special trips to Whitstable with Mrs Keppel, to eat oyster suppers in a private hotel; and as for the old Queen, she dined on a native a day (or so they say) till the day she died.

Did you ever go to Whitstable, and see the oyster-parlours there? My father kept one; I was born in it. Do you recall a narrow, weather-boarded house, painted a flaking blue, half-way between the High Street and the harbour? Do you remember the bulging sign that hung above the door, that said that Astley's Oysters, the Best in Kent were to be had within? Did you, perhaps, push at that door, and step into the dim, low-ceilinged, fragrant room beyond it? Can you recall the tables with their chequered cloths? The bill of fare chalked on a board? the spirit-lamps, the sweating slabs of butter?

I'd like to quote the whole thing, the richness, the irresistible, unstoppable onward movement that took me past the sweating slabs of butter to our heroine Nancy, but it's too long already for a blog post. Read it here, though, at Powell's Books.

And then tell me if I should beg for a mantitty cover for some future book. (Or worry that the cover art of The Edge of Impropriety, gorgeous as it is, just isn't going to cut it sales- and display-wise, among all those hunks of meat that yell erotic romance.)

Or tell me what sort of response you have to a mantitty cover. Is it fleshy or financial -- ooh or ka-ching? Perhaps for you it really hits the spot (you know which one) even if it doesn't for me -- because anyway, it would hardly be the first time that a scientific researcher was wrong about something.

And then -- even though it's way too long and even though it's insane for me to put my own stuff in the same post as the sublime Sarah Waters -- here's a bit of f-f for straight girls (or for anybody else) from my erotic novel, Safe Word (w/a Molly Weatherfield), in which our intrepid heroine finds herself in...
..a nursery. Well, that’s what it looked like, anyway -- like that enormous Edwardian dormitory where Wendy, John, and Michael Darling had slept, in Peter Pan. I guessed that whoever owned the house had hired a decorator to create it for their kids, in a fit of upscale retro Anglophile whimsy. It wasn’t a fancy sort of room; it was big and clearly expensive, but the decorator had gone for a sort of shabby, aristocratic, cold-showers-and-beef-tea asceticism. All the more dissonant, then, as a setting for Sylvie and Stephanie and me -- naked in our collars and cuffs. Sylvie was lying on her belly on one of the small white iron beds, carefully making up her face in a mirror propped against the pillows. No smiles from her, not even evil ones. Just calm concentration on the mirror, a brief glimpse at me, and a determined glance at Stephanie, who nodded firmly, shutting the door behind me. The children’s hour, I thought, gulping.

The room was full of toys, too, though not the kind the original owners had imagined -- these toys were were made of leather and latex and brass and iron. There were big wicker baskets filled with whips and restraints of various sizes and shapes. There were high-heeled shoes lined up at the scuffed powder-blue baseboard, and black corsets and garter belts hanging from hooks on the wall that once must have held sweet little smocked pinafores from Laura Ashley and overalls from Baby Gap and OshKosh B’Gosh. There were latex cocks on harnesses, too -- a large selection of them, in all the colors of the rainbow. There were two-tone jobs, marbled ones. And some were translucent as well, with glitter embedded in the latex. All sizes and shapes -- I mean besides your traditional naturalistic ones, there were twists and bumps and spirals. I watched warily, as Stephanie chose a handful -- a bouquet -- of them, strapped one on, and tossed another to Sylvie.

“I’ll go first,” she said to her, blowing her a kiss, “unless you really want to.”

“No,” Sylvie answered, coolly, “you go ahead.”

But first Stephanie just walked around me, critically. “She’s really not all that terribly pretty, is she?” she asked.

“Oh, no,” Sylvie answered, “but, well, she does have something, you know. Even Kate says so.”

“Attitude, Kate says. Makes people want to hurt her.”

"Umm, well, I can see that, yes. Too bad we only have permission to fuck her.”

“Well, her ass is her best feature after all.”

I started to look around nervously, for the grease. I mean, they were going to grease that cock, weren’t they, before Stephanie stuck it up my best feature? And I wasn’t at all reassured when Stephanie positioned herself squarely in front of me, her voice icy. “Suck it, Carrie,” she said.

I hesitated for a heartbeat. Did she mean that the only lubrication I’d get was my own saliva? And then, just before she had to push me down to my knees, I got down quickly, opened my mouth, and inhaled the monster, watching its shaft, in its obscene fuschia color, disappear down my mouth to my throat.

Sylvie had gotten off the bed and was watching closely. “Deeper,” she said to me. She smacked my ass with the cock that she hadn’t strapped on yet. “Don’t imagine you can hold back on us.”

No, I didn’t imagine I could. And yes, she was right. I could open my throat a little more widely. I could keep from retching, if I tried, gave it everything I had. I felt the latex fill my throat, in hollows that nobody usually touched. My eyes filled with tears, but I kept going down on that cock as though were my life’s work. I was frightened, disoriented. I mean, I’d known I wasn’t their favorite person, but this didn’t seem like Sylvie or Stephanie at all—more like their evil top twins. It was like getting to see the dark side of the moon. And then they blindfolded me—in soft, thick black velvet—and I couldn’t see anything at all.

A hand grabbed the ring in the back of my collar (“silly-looking collar,” I heard one of them sneer) and dragged me to one of the beds. I scrambled onto it, banging my shins, and raised myself up on my knees. And I breathed an enormous sigh of relief when one of them shoved some grease up my asshole.

They took turns fucking me—speeding up and slowing down, squeezing and slapping my breasts, and commenting dryly from time to time on my form, my looks, my performance. “Well, she can do this okay, anyway,” I think that was Stephanie, very grudgingly—and from Sylvie, a giggled, “I should hope so, or I’d lose all my respect for Jonathan.” They tried different cocks, commenting on some of the more exotic ones, and giggling about how they looked in them. They kissed and stroked each other, too, I think, though I could only feel and hear it, rather than see it. I began to cry out—it was painful, and it was also arousing—but when I felt the tears soaking the blindfold, I knew I was crying because I was lonely. I wanted one of them to kiss or stroke me.

They didn’t, of course. They left me kneeling on the bed and I guessed that they’d gone to one of the other little beds, where I could hear them giggling and kissing, hugging and poking and playing. And then deep moans, and I supposed that they’d taken off the cocks and were happily eating each other, crying out, and then ending with creamy sighs of contentment.

And whispers, then. “Oh, well, she took that pretty well, anyway,” and [...m]ore ominously, “She’s probably not going to have an easy afternoon, after all,” and then lots of stuff I couldn’t hear, until Stephanie called out to me, “You can come into bed with us if you want, you know.”

I tore off the blindfold. It was difficult not to take a flying leap, and it was delightful to have them touch and kiss me. But, “Kate lets you make love to each other?” I asked.

Stephanie laughed. “Well,” she said, “not all the time. But for treats, yes, she does[.... She... says] it’s a male thing, that business of being so stingy with a slave’s sexuality. Because it seems to us there’s always enough to go around—well, we never have any problem with it, anyway.”

And Sylvie added, “And neither does Randy."

They giggled at that, and so did I. The evil twins had disappeared, leaving me rolling around in bed with Marcia Brady and Laurie Partridge....

Monday, June 16, 2008

Character Development in Erotic Romance

The sun is out for the first time in a month and I am thinking… Man I would love to be home cleaning my house and sitting on the porch, reading a good book instead of in my office at work, trying to look as if I am not staring out the window at the sun shine.

I know that many of us have day jobs and write and have families. But how do you fit reading into all of that?

I seem to only have time to read when one of those three important things above is not present… like now… I am not writing, so I am reading.

I have been drawn to people books of late… books about why people are the way they are. Such as Mating in Captivity… mentioned in my last post. I have really been enjoying this book. I have just gotten to the section about the different needs of intimacy vs desire… intimacy needs closeness… Desire needs separateness… and how that all works. I am a slow reader. Smiles.

I also have been reading other people books like The Loving Dominant and Finding Meaning In The Second Half Of Life.

I seem to go in spurts with my reading. Reading history books like crazy… then switching to fiction… then to people books…. Etc.

I am finding all sorts of inspiration not only for my own life in reading theses books but in developing deeper characters.

I always find myself asking my characters... what was their first sexual experience?
from there I ask all those questions... do they like oral? do they have kinks? if they do have kinks, where did those kinks stem from? They say... your early sexual experiences shape your desires for life... so pretty important to know for ones characters.

Then to go deeper... do my characters have relationship patterns? Do they have choice patterns? Are they following society rules? or following their souls?

So for you other authors: I am wondering how do you go about developing characters that have real life issues, sexualities, and lives? Do you base them on someone you know? A mixture of people? On people in history? Or do you read People books?

For Readers and Authors: If you read people books do they ever affect you? Do you find things in them to relate to or want to try?

I myself dove into the world of sensuality and erotica because of something i read that moved me and made me look a small piece of myself that I had buried... that was my sensual, sexual being. I read and I looked deep, and I have yet to turn back.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tell me, gentle readers...

Lord Granville Leveson Gower, a portrait after Sir Thomas Lawrence-The Regency Collection

Seeing as I'm late posting this blog, I thought I'd really be lazy and ask you all a couple of questions that have been buzzing around my brain recently. The reason I'm asking is because I made the mistake of reading my reviews for "Simply Sexual" on various sites recently and found that some readers were not happy with me at all...

Apparently, for some readers I don't stick to the rules of romance and go off and complicate things by introducing other men, m/m elements or other way too kinky unrealistic stuff into my romances. For those readers, they feel cheated when the HEA they were expecting turns into something else entirely. (I write about characters who love and accept each other despite the rigid lines of sexuality). And I can understand that-to a certain extent. Reader expectation is the basis of the success of all genre-fiction-you expect to get what you paid for, right?

I think some of that problem about expectation is because the lines between erotic romance and erotica are blurred and publishers don't always want to alienate their core audience so write back cover copy that might um, 'fudge the issues' a little maybe? On the other hand, introducing risque elements into mainline romance novels gives me a vicarious thrill. So should I be voted off the romance island or am I simply expanding its horizons?

So does anyone have an opinion on this or have you all gone on vacation already?

And just in case you haven't-check out this awesome video of Regency heroes on YouTube

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Too darn hot

It's always the same here (Washington, DC)--the temperature shoots up anytime between May and October and we shake our heads in disbelief and claim that it never does this usually...

We've had heat indexes of over 100 for three days running. Yikes. The heat has made me very aware of my body in the worst sort of way--parts of me sweat that normally don't.

But there are also the small pleasures of dealing with the heat, too, the sort of experiences that you want to store away in your mind to use later when you're writing: the delicious sensation of fresh cotton sheets on your skin and the textures of linen and silk; drinking cold water from a bottle of melting ice and letting it spill down your neck; the first few minutes of a cool shower after you've peeled off your sweaty clothes; wonderful drinks and watermelon and other summer treats.

What do you like about the heat?

What summer experiences do you enjoy?

Or, as Cole Porter put it, do you find it just too darn hot?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Hanky Panky

Absolutely nothing to do with writing or historicals, but a lot to do with capturing your audience and building tension... enjoy!


absolutely not work safe!

Jane, posting today because Colette is off on the road...somewhere

Friday, June 6, 2008

I Had A Goal to Write

Y’all might remember in my last post that I was bemoaning that my ability to write had more or less gone out the window but that I was aiming to get back into the saddle.

You see, once I stopped having that deadline, I stopped writing. Until that point, I had been writing regularly every week day and had a page quota that I usually met and often exceeded.

Well, we won’t go into my excuses again, except to say I heard most of them at a writing panel as Wiscon on my trip. Let us see how I did.

The plan was to finish the way-out proposal. This didn’t get done.

Instead, in the notebook I’d taken with me to jot notes during Wiscon, I found some notes from RWA National a year ago, I guess, and I spent my time turning an unpubbed full-length manuscript into a novella, and coming up with companion ideas.

And so I wrote 30 pages of new stuff on my first week of vacation! Go me! And boy, they were hot, smokin’ pages of stuff too! Now I just need to fold the old stuff in, edit it so it’s smooth, write synopses for the three novellas and ta da! I’ve something to show for it.

But wait, there’s more. Since coming home, I spent my first day off, well, I wish I could say it was all spent writing but that isn’t true. I spent most of the morning dealing with a sick dog and taking him to the vet. But I got some time to write in the afternoon.

The bad news is I’ve been swiped with a nasty cold. But as I’m apparently with it enough to put mostly coherent sentences together, I could do some more writing tonight....or catch up on Doctor Who.

Sorry for the delay, for some reason the post-ahead option didn't take, so publishing now.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Life in Disarray

Finally, I am about to launch into a sex scene on my current WIP for Aphrodisia. I got a title for it this week—Blood Deep—and a release date. It will be coming out in June 2009. Honestly, this always freaks me out a little since quite a bit of the middle of the book is still just a gleam in my eye.
I had to spend the last two days doing computer clean up. Astonishing how you can run out of space on your computer. Well, not so much if you don’t delete an email for four years. Sigh. And unfortunately I had to do some tidying (against my will). The computer finally stopped letting me send emails—rather like a strict nanny giving me a few lashes with a cane.

And yesterday morning we (my hubby and I) inherited furniture from an author friend of mine who is downsizing, so we now have a dining table and chairs and a new sofa. The kids were stunned—they’ve pretty much ruled the main floor of the house. There just never seemed any point to getting furniture when we had toddlers—not for two kids who only scribbled faster with the pencils when you shouted "NO!"

So with all the upheaval, it’s been tough to find time to write. But I tried a new trick with "Blood Deep". I’ve decided to write the last line of the book first. I attended a terrific writing workshop given by Harlequin author Molly O’Keefe, and she pointed out that a story essentially rushes to its last line. So this is the way I now view "Blood Deep". It is hurtling toward that last line—the line that sums up the romance, the happy ending, the theme, and the growth of the characters. I’ve found that once I have that last line (or something hopefully close), even if I have nothing else on the story, not even a title, I suddenly "get" the story. Yesterday, I was thrilled because I also wrote the last line of my short epilogue. It may not be the final "final line", but it summed up (for me) what the series is about.

As a reader, do you get that sense of a story racing toward that one final line when you read? Are there any books that have left you remembering the last line? Do you ever sneak a peak at the last line while reading, or even while you’re in the bookstore?
And the image above is my cover for my next Aphrodisia, Hot Silk!

Guest blogging today

I'm guest blogging today at Love is an Exploding Cigar (isn't that a great blog name?) and giving away a copy of a book--do come on over and say hello. You have to register to comment, but it's a harmless procedure...


Friday, May 30, 2008

Scents and Sexuality, part II: Lotus-Eating in the Late Regency

When I was a very little girl, the final step in the ritual of getting dressed up was to “put on a little perfume.” I loved the romantic names of the scents, the sensuous shapes of the bottles on the dressing table, mysterious ritual of dabbing the stuff behind my ears – as I’d been taught to do -- and (particularly) on the insides of my wrists. And I adored the momentary shudder of the cold alcohol on my skin.

But why those places on my skin?

Why ears? Wrists?

I wondered but I never asked, as though not to tamper with something important. Because even the tiniest child doesn’t need to be told that some parts of her body are more special, more interesting than others.

I think – though I’m still not sure this is true -- that the point of the wrist thing is that that’s where the pulse is. Ears, I still don't know. But the truth is that I prefer not knowing for sure. I think what I particularly like is the ritual mystery, the bare, unexplained fetishism of it.

I like the slow attention to detail -- the primitivism, if you will, that we devote to body care.

And when body care is shared between lovers…?

When routine and ritual become the rules of the game…?

And when erotic power struggle roils just below the surface…?

That's when I like to write about it, as in this excerpt from my forthcoming novel, The Edge of Impropriety, available this November -- in which, gentlemanlike, my hero Jasper Hedges, has come to the aid of a person in need, to find himself and his sore muscles in my heroine Marina Wyatt’s bathtub.

The plumbing’s rather progressive for the late Regency era but hardly impossible.

And the scent rising from the steamy water?

It’s lotus. Ancient. Intense. A bit astringent. I bought a tiny vial of essential lotus oil to find out what it’s actually like and it turns out rather compelling.

As well it should be. For in legend it kept the classical hero Ulysses and his men lingering with the lotus-eaters when they should have been trying to get home to Ithaca.

And as Jasper is a scholar and collector of Greek antiquities (why fight it? I find brainy men overwhelmingly sexy). And as Regency Britons were nearly worshipping all things classical…

Well, anyway, here's a tiny taste of my take on eros and empire, in a lady’s bathtub at The Edge of Impropriety:

She resumed… probing and kneading… the knotted muscles and tendons.

It hurt a bit [he thought…]. It hurt quite wonderfully. As though the warm blood had once again begun coursing through his back and shoulders.

Perhaps it had -- as indeed the blood seemed to be coursing more quickly to other parts of his body as well. He opened his eyes, glanced down past his belly to his knees rising out of the suds. And then finally, to another perturbation of the water’s surface.

If perturbation it could be called.
[While…] on her knees […] at the side of the tub, Marina lathered up a large sea sponge. Pretty, she thought, all the little rainbow bubbles, a few of them floating upward until they popped from the heat from the candles.

She’d wash him slowly, beginning with his hands, lingering over the fine bones in his wrists […]. She moved the sponge up each arm in turn -- to his shoulders, and now down his chest, following the dark smoky line of hair down his lean belly…

The head of his cock showed itself above the water’s the surface. She watched it dreamily. Like a lotus, she thought, rising from the water where it grows.

She bent over to brush her lips against it. Her lips, and then the tip of her tongue. And then, not quite intending to, her lips again.

But -- she chided herself -- she needed to stop, groan as he might in protest.

All innocence, she sent him a mildly aggrieved glance -- I simply can’t imagine what might be troubling you -- and cleared her throat.

“Ahem. Let’s see to your feet, shall we? Of course you already know I’m rather particular as to a gentleman’s feet…”

He groaned again […].

She returned a suitably evil laugh. Fun to tease him, and in truth, she did rather like his feet -- long, narrow, with high arches and straight toes. Not too hairy, either. She lifted one out of the water, to wash it carefully, especially beneath the toes. One and then the other one, before she moved up to his shins, knees, thighs.

Eventually -- and happily -- she’d get around to where he wanted her to be.

But not before she worked a little at the muscles in his thighs. She though of how stiffly he’d stepped into her hallway and she remembered how he’d tensed his upper legs, yesterday when he’d lifted the cart. Surely he could use a little massaging there, to work out the achiness. She put aside the sponge, to use her fingertips.

The problem was that she didn’t want to hurt him by putting too much weight on the hurt places.

He was watching closely. “Careful,” he muttered.

She promised herself she would be. Wonderful, she thought, a man’s lean limbs, the finely defined shapes of the separate long muscles.

He grimaced. Oh dear. She rose higher on her knees, to get a better angle. Balancing on her haunches, she leaned over him, intent upon keeping her touch firm but even.


But how could she be careful when suddenly she’d been immobilized? She tried to pull against him, to twist out of his insistent grip.

When had he grasped her forearms so tightly, one in each large sun-browned hand?

Why was he grinning, his blue eyes gleeful, alight?

And how -- with a cry of triumph on his part, some choking and sputtering on hers, and amid great, splashing tides of sudsy water -- had he managed to tumble her into the tub on top of him?

Much better,” he told her, “but move your left leg, won’t you, Marina, over to the other side of me. Come on, climb up, don’t worry about squeezing me. I assure you that a little muscle ache is nothing compared with those well-intentioned discomforts you’ve been inflicting upon me. In fact, please squeeze, ah, yes, that’s right, that’s…”

That’s… perfect, she whispered, as best she could through her gasps and giggles. Perfect, he whispered the word back into her ear and crooned it against her neck, as he entered her and as she slipped and grasped and tightened herself around him, and then straightened her back to sit astride him.

And it was perfect, she thought. No matter if soapy water were in truth a highly imperfect lubricant of a woman’s private parts, she seemed to have done quite well for herself […].

But that’s it for now, and that’s where I’m leaving Jasper and Marina. And you, with the hope that you’ll want to read the whole book when it comes out this November.

And as for my question… Well, what scents – or even what names and myths and legends of scents – provoke your… imagination?

[apologies from Pam--she's on the road and will post pics later]