Sunday, November 28, 2010

Interview With Shona Husk

Welcome, everyone! I have the pleasure of sitting down today with Shona Husk, the author of Boyfriend in a Bottle, out now with Samhain Publishing!

Clara: Tell us a bit about Boyfriend in a Bottle.

Shona: Be careful what you wish for. It might come with an expiration date...

Josie’s well-meaning friends just don’t get it. It’s not that she’s overjoyed to be thirty-two and celibate since her boyfriend dumped her. She’d love to settle down, but she refuses to settle for just any man. After all, better single than a sucker. Nevertheless, she humors her friends and follows the instructions attached to the gift they’ve given her—a beautiful bottle from a new-age shop. Lick, and the perfect man will appear.

It works. The naked man she finds tied to her bed is everything she’s ever wished for. Except Mr. Perfect comes with a time limit.

Kede is tired of living life by the hourglass. Once, fulfilling the desires of the women who freed him was enough, but now it’s just another job. Josie is different, though. She sees him as a real man—a man she wants for all time.

Kede wants more than a moment. He wants a chance at life outside the bottle, and he wants a life with Josie. But he belongs to the goddess Inanna, and his time is running out…

Clara: Why did you choose to write something about genies?

Shona: At its heart the story is a simple wish fulfilment fantasy. And genies are all about wish fulfilment, so who better to embody a woman’s fantasy than a man who is there solely for her pleasure…of course when dealing with genies there is always a sting. In this case the time limit. The better he does his job the faster the sand runs through the hourglass.

Clara: A good fantasy, I'll say!

How long did it take you to do the research for this piece?

Shona: I tend to let ideas simmer before starting the story so I don’t know how long I spend building the idea.

The biggest part was creating a back story for how Kede, and his brothers, got into the bottles. I wanted to stay away from the traditional 3 wishes genie, or the cursed into the bottle story while still keeping the Middle Eastern origin. I have a large book on world mythology which is always a good starting point when I’m looking for inspiration. Inanna, the Sumarian Goddess of love and war, seemed like the perfect creator. Once I had her the story grew.

Like any world I had to create rules. I needed to work out how he was summoned, how he could be set free, and what would prevent him from ‘cheating’ and avoiding going back into the bottle at the end of his job.

Clara: Did you research the genie myth beforehand?

Shona: No, I didn’t research genies. In part because I wanted to create my own mythology—that’s the fun of writing paranormal romance. Taking a well-known creature, or idea and putting a new spin on it.

Clara: Why did you choose paranormal romance when you began writing? What about the genre called to you?

Shona: I grew up reading fantasy novels and watching TV shows like Dr Who and Buffy, so making up alternative realities seemed like the natural thing to do. All of my (very) early stories were fantasy. It wasn’t until I was an adult I discovered romance novels—in particular paranormal romance. As they say, the rest is history :)

Paranormals are so much fun to write and the only limits are set by my imagination…and yet at the core they are still about love and acceptance.

Clara: What is the best (and worst) part of the writing and publishing process, that you've found so far?

Shona: Writing and publishing are two different beasts. Writing is about creating and the love of stories. Publishing is business.

I love writing and making up new worlds and myths. The worst part is trying to work out why a story isn’t working, but my crit group will always give it to me straight and help find a solution.

The best part of publishing is still the offer of a contract (that never gets old), closely followed by seeing the cover art. The worst is the waiting…

Clara: How long does it typically take you to finish writing a story?

Shona: Hmm, that depends on the story. Generally I can get a story roughly plotted over a weekend and do a first draft in a week for a novella, or a month for a novel. Then I edit, and that takes as long as it needs. Some stories appear on the page as easily as breathing and require very few revisions before I send it off. Others have to be dragged kicking and screaming into existence and involve more re-writes that I choose to remember. My January release with Samhain, How to Breathe Fire, is one of these—but I loved the idea so I kept re-writing until it worked. It was worth the hard work, I hope readers love Matai and Camea as much as I do.

Clara: Do you have any favourites out of the characters that you've written?

Shona: I do (characters are not children, so I’m allowed to pick a favourite) but I’m not going tell :)

Clara: Fair enough. Let's move onto the next question, then.

Which writers (if any) inspired/influenced your work?

Shona: My love of fantasy definitely influenced my writing as that was what I started writing (I still write fantasy occasionally for a change of pace). Of course most fantasy heroes are either magical or sword wielding. I think I was 14 when I started reading Katherine Kerr’s Deverry series. Rhodry (also known as ‘the hot-half-elf’) was my first literary crush. Rhodry was a dishonoured soldier; a silver dagger riding the roads looking for hire. I still love a warrior hero (especially one with a dark past) as they have an edge and yet they are honourable.

Clara: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Shona: Write!

Experiment with different genres and different types of heroes/heroines. Push yourself to try something new. Read outside your genre, read outside of romance. And most importantly have fun.

Thank you for dropping by today, Shona!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Djinn (genie)

The Dictionary of Mythology by J. A. Coleman (Arcturus Publishing, 2007) lists a genie as:


a spirit made of fire capable of taking on any shape [also djinn, djinni, jinnee, jinni].

The five orders of jinn, in descending order of power, are marid, efrit, shaitan, jinn, jann. 

They were created some 5,000 years ago and lived on Mount Qaf but were dispersed when they became disobedient. The survivors reassembled on an island in the Indian Ocean from where they now operate. 

They are said to have magic powers over humans and interbreed with them. 

In some accounts they are described as half hyaena, half wolf, with the power to take the form of any animal, serpent or giant invisible to humans. It is said that they ride abroad at night on such mounts as foxes or ostriches. 

We all know, from such tales as The Arabian Nights: Tales of the Thousand and One Nights that a genie is able to grant wishes to whatever human lucky enough to stumble across one. While not commonly seen in paranormal romance, I have stumbled across a book or two featuring them, such as Cindy Spencer Pape's Djinni and the Geek. 

Or my guest next week, Shona Husk, who wrote Boyfriend In A Bottle!


-The Wikipedia page

-D for Djinn

-Exposing the Djinn/Genie myth

-The Monstropedia page

-Different Types of Djinn

-Djinn around the world

-History of the Djinn

-Arabian Nights: Tales of the Thousand and One Nights

-Jewish Fairy Tales and Legends by Gertrude Landa.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

GINA GORDON: My 5 Tips For Writing Love Scenes

I am not ashamed to admit that the sexy times in a romance novel are my favorite parts. Of course I love the sexual tension, the tender moments, the realization of love but nothing gets my blood pumping faster and harder than a good sex scene.  

So what have I learned about writing sex scenes?

1) If it doesn't turn you on, don't write about it.

There is nothing worse than a cold and mechanical love scene. What's even more saddening is a love scene that borders on creepy. If biting makes you cringe, so will your heroine. If being tied up goes against everything you believe in, your heroine will feel the same way.
However, don’t limit yourself either. I find the idea of writing a BDSM story terrifying. But with a little research and some guidance I am slowly learning the emotional and intimate connections that come with a BDSM relationship and feel more confident in order to portray it on paper.

2) It’s not all about mechanics.

Fitting tab A into slot B should not be your main focus. Despite this being about sex, inner dialogue and introspection play a major part in a love scene. Their bodies aren’t the only thing involved. Love, worry, doubt, hope…these are all things to think about when writing a love scene. Besides, the physical, what else is at stake?
Don’t forget about your setting. Where are they? What items are around them?
Use all five senses. Although touching is probably the best part, the scents and sounds of sex are just as important.

3) Always make the first kiss explosive

Now this may not necessarily go with an actual sex scene but in my eyes, it matters. A first kiss should be about fireworks. Hearts should be racing, stomachs should be flip-flopping, hands should be holding on for dear life. It should be fairly long, more than just a sentence or two and intricately describe the intensity and excitement that can only come from the very first time two people's lips touch.

4) Don’t forget your plot

Sex forwards the plot. How many times have I heard that? Too many…because it’s true. Frivolous sex does nothing but give you a quick thrill. If you want your reader to believe your happily ever after, remember that each love scene must be a stepping stone. With every love scene you have to raise the stakes. And I don’t mean make the scene longer or add more positions, etc. (Of course that does help) When I say raise the stakes I am talking about the emotional connection of the characters. Each love scene should reveal a flaw, heighten their level of intimacy or expose a characteristic that brings them closer to their happily ever after. In short, your love scene must have a purpose.

5) For every action, there should be a reaction. 

If the hero kisses the heroine's neck, does she quiver? Does he feel her pulse beat under his lips? If the heroine skims her fingers down the abdomen of her hero, does she feel his goose bumps under her fingertips? Does his stomach tense under her touch? Following this rule not only brings the scene to life but also helps to connect the characters on a deeper level.

Gina Gordon writes romance with sizzling chemistry. Her newest release, Forever in Lingerie, will be released from Lyrical Press, Inc. tomorrow, November 22nd. Find Gina online at her website,

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


According to the Dictionary of Mythology by J. A. Coleman (Arcturus Publishing, 2007), an incubus is:


a devil in male body: a spirit attacking women during the night

Early accounts regard the incubus as a fallen angel. In some accounts, the incubus rides his victim, sometimes even to the point of death from exhaustion. The offspring of such a union are monsters of all descriptions. 

Whereas in the same book, a succubus is:


a demon in the form of a female which attacks sleeping men and has intercourse with them.

I've read many accounts of incubi/succubi where these creatures are similar to vampires. But instead of feeding off of blood, they feed off of sexual desire and sexual energy. While this is undoubtedly good fodder for an erotic romance novel, most authors prefer to stick with traditional vampires. While certainly, there are books featuring these creatures, I have read none of them. 

Does anyone else know a book featuring these creatures that they would like to recommend?


-The Incubus Wikipedia page

-The Succubus Wikipedia page

-Incubus and Succubus mythology (an article)

-Famous Succubi 

-Incubus/Succubus ghosts

Next week, I'll be moving on to genie lore with some exciting guests!


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Interview with L. K. Below

Today I have the great pleasure of sitting down with L. K. Below, whose short story His Familiar Touch I recently reviewed in the Paramourtal anthology. Let's get down to business!

Clara: Why do you choose to write about witches?

Lindsay: Haven't I answered that question for you enough? LOL. ("Why Witches" guest post can be found here). Witches thrill me because of the possibilities. There are so many different things they can do (see the future, make magical potions, etc.). So that's why I write about them. I broke them into specialties for me to be able to make the most out of them. It's fun!

Clara: How long did it take to do the research for His Familiar Touch?

Lindsay: Not long. Mostly because witches is such a universal theme. I had only to decide what specialty the witch had, and I was good to go. What took longer was researching cougars -- because I wanted Rikkita's werecougar behavior to be similar to that of actual cougars.

Clara: What is the best (and worst) part of the writing process?

Lindsay: The best? Writing itself. The compliments I get from friends, readers, etc. The worst? I don't think I've really decided on that part yet. It might be promotion (because that takes away from my writing time). It might be editing (although I enjoy editing to the direction of an actual editor and not for myself). But it's just a very rewarding experience, for me at least. 

Clara: How long does it typically take you to finish a story?

Lindsay: Actually, I write extremely quickly. When I set my mind to it (like for National Novel Writing Month), I can and do write a 50,000-word novel in a month (sometimes even in a week). But that's first draft only (and even then, only if I'm not distracted by something the internet). It takes a bit longer to edit and polish it up. 

Clara: Do you have any favorites out of the characters you've written?

Lindsay: Yes. But I don't suppose you want to hear about my young adult works. I suppose for romance, my favorite isn't a character so much as a pair together. I love Rob and Hannah. They're great. You see them as side characters in The Princess and the Frog (coming soon) and then they've got their own story coming up, too!

Clara: Which writers inspired/influenced your work?

Lindsay: Putting me on the spot, now are you? I don't know (honest answer). There are certain authors that inspire me for certain works. For instance, I'm trying (key word=trying) to write a humorous fantasy in the style of Terry Pratchett. Or I'd love to try a historical in a similar style to Julia Quinn. But for my completed pieces, I have no idea. I can tell you authors that I love (Christine Warren, Lori Foster, Julia Quinn, Sally MacKenzie, Kresley Cole, Lynsay Sands) but I can't tell you whether or not they've influenced my published works. It's unconscious. 

Clara: Was there ever a point in your career where you said, "Yeah, I can do this!"?

Lindsay: When you're in writing, you have to say that to yourself everyday. Granted, some days it's easier -- you get an acceptance that day, or take a peek at a galley or cover art. But being a writer trying to break into the publishing industry, you have to say that to yourself at least once a day. And you have to convince yourself that you mean it, too. 

Clara: Was there ever a point in your career where you almost gave up writing?

Lindsay: There have been dips, lows in my mood. After all, it's hard to tell myself that I'm the best after I get a rejection on the same manuscript for the umpteenth time. But it's all about perseverance. That is the key to being published and continuing to be published. 

Clara: How do you come up with your stories?

Lindsay: Many ways. I get a lot of my ideas from dreams or just as I drift off to sleep. I also get a lot of ideas in the shower. This annoys me, because there's never any paper in the shower, and if there was, it would be wet. I have to keep repeating the idea to myself over and over as I hop out, hunt down some paper, and scribble it down. But I already have more ideas than I'll ever write. I place them in a binder, which I call the Big Book Of Story Ideas. Actually, now I have two binders. Not including the scribbles in a word document I have. Sadly, I'll never write them all. But I try to flow with the ones that catch me up. 

Clara: What do you do to overcome writer's block?

Lindsay: I set that book aside for a bit. I have so many works going on all at once, I just open another one, read through what I've got (fix it if it needs fixing) and continue on from there. Eventually, I'll get back to that first one. And when I do, I'll no longer be stuck. 

Another method that helps me is to vary the length of the pieces I'm writing. If I've just finished a novel, I switch to a short story or novella. And vice versa if I've written a lot of short things lately. Or I switch genres. Nothing better to clear the mind than to write something completely different, like young adult, fantasy, or even poetry. 

Clara: You cross genres. From paranormal, to contemporary, historical—even straight fantasy and young adult! Has anyone ever told you to focus on one, and create a "brand"? Or do you think your fans are broader because of it?

Lindsay: Almost everyone I meet seems to think I should have a brand. But I'm one stubborn pumpkin. I could never focus on only one. I write the story idea that grips me, and anyone who is interested in that story idea will read it. Those who aren't, won't. I'm not that worried about it. After all, I'm versatile in my reading and writing, and I'm sure there are others out there like me. I don't write all these genres to please everyone, after all. I write them to please myself. That's what writing is about. 

Clara: What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Lindsay: Don't give up. It's simple enough advice, but there are still times when I think, "What the heck am I doing?" But I keep going, and eventually my confidence in my work returns. If you want to make it in the publishing industry, you have to never (ever) give up. 

Visit Lindsay (L. K. Below) on her blog,, where you'll find the itinerary for her His Familiar Touch Book Tour. Comment there -- or here -- by 11:59PM EST on November 15th to be entered to win a signed copy of the Paramourtal anthology!


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Review: Rain by Kevin Hosey

When Kyle retreats to a mountainside cabin after the failure of his marriage, he meets an intoxicating woman -- but she only comes out when it rains. 

While this tenth story in the Paramourtal anthology evokes a somber mood from the beginning, with the onset of Kyle's irritability, it seemed stretched. The story seemed to drag for me at parts, though the beginning swept me away. Kevin Hosey certainly did a good job of evoking Kyle's black mood, though the hero was a bit too bitter for my tastes. In fact, the entire story (even the romance) was tinged with bitterness. Even the end.

In a word, this story was


Find Paramourtal here. Join me on Sunday as I sit down for an interview with L. K. Below, author of His Familiar Touch!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Review: The Underlying Beat by Evelyn Welle

When Megan is taxed with the task of convincing the reclusive composer Lee Ching to record with her studio, she finds that meeting with him might just change her life...

I hate to say this, because the story was exceedingly well-written, but what should have been a mysterious, engrossing story was, well, boring. At first, I felt a passing interest in who Lee Ching really was, but that quickly faded past the first few pages. Megan was an interesting character, but not as dynamic as I would have liked her to be. Despite the flawless sentence structure, I found that there was something lacking in this ninth story of the Paramourtal anthology. 

In a word, this story was


Find Paramourtal here. Join me tomorrow for my review of the tenth and final story in Paramourtal


Monday, November 8, 2010

Review: Sympathy From the Devil by M. C. DeMarco

When Ariel follows the mortal she's playing guardian to into a bar, she meets Forcus -- a fallen angel who might just call off the mortal he's sent to tempt Ariel's mortal. If she'll have sex with him, that is.

This short story was thrilling, lighthearted, warming, and hilarious. Most of it is spent in conversation, but the back and forth barbs between Forcus and Ariel are more than entertaining. Even the ending was cute. This might just be the best story of the anthology!

In a word, this story was


Find Paramourtal here. Join me tomorrow as I review the ninth story in the Paramourtal anthology.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Review: Of Fate and Fire by Rebecca Rhielle

In an ancient time of turmoil, Eleia finds herself restless. But as she exits her village, she meets a man. A dangerous man -- and a man she might just be able to give her heart to.

This seventh story of the Paramourtal anthology began beautifully, entrancing me with the beauty of Eleia's and Aurelius's love. The worldbuilding in this story is exquisite and the story spellbinding. But the ending... I won't give it away, but the ending did not uplift me in the same way the story did. While this author would undoubtedly make a wonderful fantasy author, I don't think I'll ever pick up another romance of hers again.

In a word, this story was


Find Paramourtal here. Come back again tomorrow as I review the eighth story in the Paramourtal anthology.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Review: His Familiar Touch by L. K. Below

When Rikki learns that her inability to shift into cougar form might be because she's a witch's familiar, she sets out to find her witch -- and along the way, meets the mouthwatering Derek. 

This story was lascivious from start to finish. L. K. Below definitely got the need and sexual tension of the two main characters across. Throughout the story, she layers in Rikkita's primal cougar nature with phrases like, "as enticing as the smell of raw meat." While that isn't an image which would usually invoke excitement in me, in this story, she makes it work! This and many other phrases work to tinge her desire with a primal aspect. Not to mention, the story is peppered with humour! I find it hilarious that she strolls around asking strangers to touch her. 

And Derek is definitely a man a girl can fall in love with. He's dominant, but thoughtful at the same time. He ensures that Rikkita continues to think about him -- but in the end, he lets her make the big choice (whether or not to stay with him) on her own. 

In a word, this story was


Find Paramourtal here. Remember to return on Sunday, November 14th when I'll be interviewing L. K. Below!


Friday, November 5, 2010

Review: The Flower of Hell by Noree Cosper

When Gabriella tries to corner and kill a demon, a vampire hunter gets in her way. Much to her annoyance...or maybe her pleasure.

For a story that should have held me enthralled, this seemed...over-told. Gabriella's voice seemed bored, like she'd done this a hundred times (which, from the context of the story, I gather she had). But it didn't hold me like it could have. Instead, I found my mind wandering, wishing to skip on to the next one. 

In a word, this story was


Find Paramourtal here. Join me tomorrow as I review the sixth story of the Paramourtal anthology!


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Review: The Prince and the Spoon by Kelly Wisdom

On a walk in the park, Summer is kidnapped by a band of pixies, taken before a fairy king dressed in a purple kimono, and thrown in a dungeon -- all for a spoon her companion, Hunter, happens to carry in his pocket. How is she supposed to get out of this one?

The ridiculous in the fourth story of Paramourtal starts with Hunter's costume and the three fairies who corner him and Summer in the park, and it just gets weirder from there. But I loved it! Summer's voice hooked me from the very beginning of the story. I only wish it hadn't ended so soon. The light tone of this story is sure to brighten anyone's day. 

In a word, this story was


Find Paramourtal here. Join me tomorrow as I review the fifth story in the Paramourtal anthology.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Review: The Fisherman's Wife by K. Stoddard Hayes

When Sean's wife, Muireen, finds her seal's skin, the selkie leaves despite his pleas for her to stay. Devastated, Sean doesn't know whether her love for him and the children is enough to make her come back to him. 

This third story in the Paramourtal anthology was astounding! I felt Sean's grief and Muireen's longing. Their love was tangible and seemed to flow off the page. This brilliant story should have been first in the anthology, in my opinion. It is the best so far and would have been a great way to start the anthology off. 

In a word, this story was


Find Paramourtal here. Join me tomorrow as I read and review the fourth story in Paramourtal! 


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Review: Dark Legacy by Elizabeth Ireland

The Guardian of the family lake has always been a member of Katherine's family, always one half of a happily married couple, who can only be reunited with their love when the next guardian takes over. As Katherine leaves her husband to pack away her dead grandmother's things at the lake house, she worries that the next guardian will be her. 

As I read the second story of the Paramourtal anthology, I was disappointed. Although intriguing, I found it flat. I didn't feel the bond between Katherine and Patrick, and to be honest, didn't care whether or not Katherine was the next Guardian. I felt no connection to the main characters and only a passing interest in the plot. If I had picked up this book in a store, this second story would have been one I'd skipped over. 

In a word, it was


Find Paramourtal here. Join me tomorrow as I review the third story in the Paramourtal anthology!


Monday, November 1, 2010

Review: A Touch of Sand by Nicole Brugger-Dethmers

When gently-born Angeline is kidnapped by the Sandman, Nicholas, a servant, sets off to find her—even though in order to do so, he must acknowledge the feelings he has for her. Feelings which might scandalize society. 

This story is the first story in Paramourtal, an anthology of paranormal romance tales. It started with great intrigue. Even though I wasn't transported back to whatever time period this took place (it didn't specify, but from the story my guess is Regency or Victorian), my interest was immediately sparked by the main character, Angeline, and Somnus the Sandman. Actually, Somnus was such an intriguing character that I found myself rooting for him throughout this story. Even so, the story ended on a satisfactory note. I wonder what the author might have done with it if she had been given more space. 

In a word, this story was:


Find Paramourtal here. Join me tomorrow as I read and review the second story in this anthology!