Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Blog On Hiatus

Since I embarked on this blogging journey about a year ago, I've learned many things. My knowledge of the publishing industry has grown. I've found some delightful new authors I can't put down. I've connected with some of you as I went along.

But I never expected blogging to take up so much of my time. While I have continued my research for my own books, after I started this blog I slowly stopped writing. At first, I moved to novellas and short stories instead of the novels which wanted to come out. Eventually it whittled down to nothing at all, as has been the case for the past six months at least.

So it is with regret that I need to sign off for now. Maybe in the future, I'll align my writing with the rest of my life and find that I have time for blogging after all. But at the moment, I just want to write. Thanks to everyone who joined me on this incredible blogging journey. Maybe someday soon I'll come back to it.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

EMLY FORREST: The Problem With Cougars

My friend Teresa wants a man. “Someone to share dinner or a movie, so I’m not the odd person out anymore,” she tells me. “A companion, a partner, and, okay, maybe a romantic liaison.” She states specifics: no dirty finger nails, no physical problems that might turn her into a caregiver, no deadbeats. Never mind that Teresa is old enough to be my mother (and I’m no teenager).

“Have you tried the Senior Center?” I offer helpfully. “Or what about a singles group?”

She gives me a look that says she’s sure I’ve lost my mind and then informs me that older men want younger women. By “younger,” she means someone my age. It’s relative of course.

Teresa’s daughter, a fine artist who makes her home in Mexico, advises Teresa that her problem is more about geography than chronology. Mexican men—actually Mexican folks of either gender—are not as age-conscious as most Americans seem to be. “They don’t see a problem with a fifty-year-old woman dating a twenty-five-year old man.” And she goes on to explain that it’s not only acceptable, but quite common.

Could this be true? Certainly, Americans are fixated on youth. Witness the thousands of women and (yes, it’s true) men who undergo the knife to undermine the wrinkles. Try to buy a magazine that is not filled with ads for creams and lotions that promise a smoother more youthful complexion. But is it possible that folks in other countries are not as obsessive about staying young as we are?

And if that’s true, is it possible that there are no cougars in these other countries? By “cougar,” I’m talking the woman-of-a-certain-age variety, not the animal. I’m guessing that if the age thing turns out to be mostly an American concept, then the idea of “cougar” would have little meaning in other countries. Maybe they even laugh at our notions of what’s acceptable.

While I try not to think of myself as a woman-of-a-certain-age (and what age is that exactly?), my doctor reminds me that I might be at each annual checkup. My petty physical complaints and pleas for understanding and relief are usually met with a pat on the knee and the assurance “Well, when we reach a certain age...” She’s letting me know that I’m falling apart slowly and there’s little she can do about it.

The upside, then, may be that I’m cougar material. Can there be a gorgeous dark-skinned lothario across the border who might find me irresistible? Is he willing to overlook a few mild frown lines, a slightly poochy tummy, and a drooping derriere because I’m witty, experienced and kind? I may never find out. But I like to keep the fantasy alive.

Perhaps that’s why I write about cougars. It’s my way of living the dream without doing irreparable harm to my marriage. But I’m particular about the “cougarness” of my cougars. First and foremost, no “Real Housewives” stuff. I don’t believe those woman are any more real than the folks that enliven Jerry Springer-type shows. My cougars must be women we all might know. Maybe even us.

Take Jessica Grandville from my novella Irish Ice, for example. Sure, she’s beautiful and has a good-paying job. But she’s also a single mom, bored with her life and ready to be romanced, whether she realizes it or not. Who couldn’t relate?

And then, there’s the matter of younger men. They should never be childish. Or too innocent (or even better, not innocent at all). In fact, as Jess finds out, some younger men may be more mature, more sensitive and more serious than a lot of older men. The point is, age is just a number. And there’s no accounting for attraction and no limits on love.

So, what do I tell my friend Teresa? This is me, shrugging. And hoping that someday she travels to Mexico to discover that her daughter was right all along. I hope she invites me along.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Interview With Maggi Andersen

To tie up my special February blog month, I would like to welcome author Maggi Andersen to talk about her book The Reluctant Marquess.

Clara: Tell us a bit about your book.

Maggi: The Reluctant Marquess is a Georgian romance. When Charity Barlow, and Lord Robert, the Marquess of St Malin are forced to marry, things get off to a very bad start. Charity must learn to be a marchioness, while Robert must give up the life he enjoyed as a single man in London. None of this can happen overnight, and as Charity wants her husband to love and cherish her and not just look at her with lust, and Robert is resentful and reluctant, the journey is a bumpy one.

Clara: Why did you choose to write historical romance?

Maggi: It’s a perfect form of escapism, and who doesn’t need a little of that from time to time? I feel a wistfulness or nostalgia when I read and watch historical movies, despite the knowledge that history was never quite like that. We are subjected to so much information today; the bleak, sad happenings reach us from many different news sources, far more than the good things that occur. I think that’s why romance novels are so popular. And the best thing about it? We know we’ll get that happy ending.

I think the historical romance genre chose me. The first books I read as a teenager were my mother’s. She loved Georgette Heyer, Agatha Christie and Victoria Holt, and I also read my father’s crime and thriller novels. I guess they made quite an impact on me. I like to combine some of those elements in a story when I write. I have written contemporary novels and a couple of young adult novels, but the world I prefer to inhabit is a historical one, because it offers so much for an author. Not just historical facts to weave into the story, but fascinating architecture, clothes and interiors; the mores and habits of the times; what is possible for my hero and heroine within this world, and what is not. All these go into the world building and help flesh my characters out.

Clara: What did it feel like to get your first acceptance?

Maggi: After some years of finding my way, I was very excited and a bit relieved that all that time and money – I studied a BA in English and Fine Arts and an MA in Creative Writing – hadn’t been wasted. But with hindsight I realized that those years were necessary for me to reach a standard worthy of being published.

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

Maggi: Writing is hard work, no writer would deny. An author – can’t remember who – said it was harder than working on the roads. In a way it can be although not as physical. The worst part is when I’m tired and think I’m writing rubbish, or having to write the dreaded synopsis which I hate. The best part is when it all comes together at the end. Or when my hero and heroine connect on a deeper level and the dialogue works perfectly. Or when the conflict sparks between them and the sexual tension almost leaps off the page.

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

Maggi: It varies greatly. I worked on my first novel, a thriller/mystery for years. I’ve written a novella in a couple of weeks. But a good full length novel needs time. At least six months and probably longer.

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

Maggi: No. I don’t believe a truly committed writer ever really considers giving up. I’ve heard it said, a writer is formed by what happens in the early years of life. That might be the case in some instances but I think we are born with a need to write. Call it obsession, sometimes close to masochism at times, and a good pinch of tenacity. Like an artist, a writer must develop a tough hide, because once your work is out there you come under scrutiny and sometimes hurtful reviews. That’s very hard for the more sensitive souls, and you have to bear in mind that it’s only one person’s opinion.

Clara: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Maggi: Keep honing your skills. Study and read how-to books. To be a writer means having to bear the frustration when things don’t go the way you planned. When you have to wait far too long for your submission to be accepted or rejected. Rejections can hurt too. But don’t give up. You learn a lot along the way, and it is persistence in my opinion that pays off in the end.

The Reluctant Marquess


A country-bred girl, Charity Barlow never expected to become a Marchioness. Nonetheless, she is determined to make her marriage of convenience into the ton work. Yet despite the strong attraction between them, and Charity’s bold attempts at intimacy, the rakish Lord Robert does not believe a husband should be in love with his wife. Can she ever make him love her?


‘You don’t? I wasn’t aware of you until the reading of the will. Then I learned of your parents’ death from my solicitor. I’m very sorry.’

‘Thank you. I’m sorry, too, about your uncle.’

‘My uncle fell ill only a few months ago. He rallied and then …’ The new marquess’ voice faded. He sighed and stared into the fire.

‘You must have been very fond of him,’ Charity said into the quiet pause that followed. Though, if she were honest, she felt surprise that the cool man she remembered could have provoked that level of affection.

He raised his eyes to meet hers and gave a bleak smile. ‘Yes, I was fond of him. He always had my interest at heart, you see.’ He sat in the oxblood leather chair opposite and rested his hands on his knees. ‘I am his acknowledged heir, and the legalities have been processed. I’ve inherited the title and the entailed properties. The rest of his fortune will pass to another family member should I fail to conform to the edicts of his will.’

‘His will?’ Charity gripped her sweaty hands together, she couldn’t concentrate on anything the man said. Her mind whirled, filled with desperate thoughts. With her godfather dead, where would she go from here? Her heart raced as she envisioned riding off along the dark cliffs to join a theatre troupe, or become a tavern wench.

‘This must be difficult for you to take in, and I regret having to tell you tonight before you have rested. But I’m compelled to move quickly as you have no chaperone and have travelled here alone …’

She raised her chin. ‘There was no one to accompany me.’ She would not allow him to make her feel like a poor relation, even though she was quite definitely poor. And alone. She hated that more than anything. What had her godfather left her? She hoped it would allow her some measure of independence and wasn’t just a vase or the family portrait.

The footman entered, carrying a tray with a cup of steaming liquid. Charity took the drink and sipped it gratefully. It was warming and tasted of a spicy spirit. She found it hard to concentrate on his words, as her mind retreated into a fog and her eyes wandered around the room. She finished the drink, which had heated her insides, and allowed her head to loll back against the cushions. Her gaze rested on her host, thinking he would be handsome if he smiled. She was so tired, and the warmth of the fire made her drowsy. What was he saying?

‘It’s the best thing for both of us, don’t you agree?’

She shook her head to try and clear it. ‘I’m sorry, what did you say?’

He frowned. ‘The will states we must marry. Straightaway, I’m afraid.’

‘I … What? I’m to m-marry you?’ Placing her cup down carefully on the table she struggled to her feet, fighting fatigue and the affects of whatever it was she’d just drunk. Smoothing her gown, she glanced at the door through which she intended to depart at any moment. ‘I have no intention …’

His lips pressed together in a thin line. ‘I know it’s perplexing. I didn’t intend to wed for some years. I certainly would have preferred to choose whom I married, as no doubt would you.’
Her jaw dropped. What kind of man was this? She had been raised to believe that marriage was a sacred institution. He made it sound so … inconsequential. She stared at him. ‘The will states I must marry you?’

‘Yes, that’s exactly what it states.’ He rose abruptly with a rustle of silk taffeta and moved closer to the fire. She wondered if he might be as nervous as she. ‘Unless I’m prepared to allow my uncle’s unentailed fortune go to a distant relative. Which I am not. As I have said.’ His careful tone suggested he thought her a simpleton. Under his unsympathetic gaze, she sank back down onto the sofa. ‘You are perfectly within your rights to refuse, but I see very few options open to you. As my wife, you will live in comfort. You may go to London to enjoy the Season. I shall give you a generous allowance for gowns and hats, and things a lady must have.’ His gaze wandered over her cream muslin gown, and she placed a hand on the lace that disguised the small patch near her knee. ‘What do you say?’

She tilted her head. ‘I shall receive an allowance? For gowns, and hats, and things a lady must have.’

‘Exactly,’ he said with a smile, obviously quite pleased with himself. ‘I see we understand each other perfectly. So … do you agree?’

What was wrong with this man? Slowly, Charity released a heavy sigh. She could barely contemplate such a thing as this, and yet he acted as though he’d solved all the problems of the world with fashion accessories. She had hoped for a small stipend, but marriage! And to a complete stranger. She couldn’t! Not for all the gowns and hats on earth. She straightened up in her chair and lifted her chin. Her words were clipped and precise, and she hoped beyond hope he would accept her decision gracefully. ‘I say no, Lord St. Malin.’

‘No? Really?’

‘Yes, really.’

‘How disappointing,’ he said quietly.

She gulped as his heavy-lidded eyes continued to study her from head to foot. She was uncomfortably aware that the mist had sent her hair into a riot of untidy curls, and she smoothed it away from her face with both hands as she glanced around the room. She tucked a muddy shoe out of sight beneath her gown and then forced herself to meet his gaze. Might he like anything of what he saw? Her father loved that she had inherited her mother’s tiny waist, and she thought her hands pretty. His lordship’s gaze strayed to her breasts and remained there rather long. She sucked in a breath as her heart beat faster. When their eyes met did she detect a gleam of approval? It only made her more nervous.

Visit Maggi on her website, on her blog, or buy The Reluctant Marquess.


What better way to tie up the end of the month than with a contest? Leave a comment with your email address for your chance to win an ebook copy of The Reluctant Marquess.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Interview with Gina Gordon

Now that I've gushed over her book, I'm sitting down with the author of The Only Exception

Clara: How long does it typically take you to write a book?

Gina: That depends! I have a novel I've been working on for over two years. But if I concentrate and my muse complies, I could probably write a novella in a month.

Clara: Thus far you write contemporary romances. Do you see yourself branching out into another subgenre in the near future?

Gina: I want to. I was thinking about branching out into the paranormal world but something is pulling me to romantic suspense. Not sure why. I'm still exploring.

Clara: Sounds like an exciting journey. Your book Her Five Favorite Words has topped Amazon's top 100 erotica, and Wicked Ride seems to be on the rise. How did you feel the first time you saw your book edge onto that list? How does it feel to be #1?

Gina: I was ecstatic the first time I saw myself at #1. But it is all so surreal. I still can't believe that I am on that list let alone in the top spot. In my opinion, it's a big fluke lol

Clara: What releases can we look forward to in the near future?

Gina: In 2011, I will have 3 more releases. Books two and three in my Bare Naked Designs series, Temptation In Lingerie and Bound In Lingerie, will be released in April and September. I will also be releasing a sequel to Her Five Favorite Words entitled His Five Favorite Lines.

Clara: What did it feel like to get your first acceptance?

Gina: I was lucky and I got an acceptance on my very first submission. I was shocked. Surprised. The first thing I did was email my CP who is my biggest cheerleader. Then I told my husband lol

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

Gina: The best part is when you get that epiphany--when the story line or character you've been agonizing over finally clicks. The worst part is agonizing over that story line or character.

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

Gina: I loved writing Becca and Jordan's story, more now that I have added to it. Even a one-time elevator encounter needs a happily ever after. But I especially love Aleks and Carrie from my Bare Naked Designs series. There is something so romantic about friends turned lovers.

Clara: Which writers inspired/influenced your work?

Gina: I have to mention Megan Hart because she was the first dirty author that I read lol because of her I was introduced to erotic romance and I've never looked back.

As for inspiration, as for the person I look up to and go to for support and motivation, it would be my CP Lindsay Below. It amazes me how many ideas and projects she has going on and how diverse her writing is. Not to mention the amount of words she can put down on the page.

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

Gina: I had the "Yeah, I can do this" moment in 2009. That's when I made the decision to pursue my dream. Getting into that mind space had been a long time coming.

I will admit that I ask myself almost every day whether I should continue. If I should maybe quit while I'm ahead because eventually the ideas will stop. But I haven't yet (:

Clara: How do you come up with your stories?

Gina: Most of them just pop into my head but I find that I draw a lot ideas from stories people tell me. Of course I get to add the good words and always give my characters a happily ever after.

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

Gina: I wait for the block to go away. Sounds dumb but I find that I can't force my writing. Not too long ago I went an entire month without writing. It was horrible but eventually my inspiration came back.

Clara: Not dumb at all. Everyone has their own way of dealing with it. Let's leave off with one last question: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Gina: Keep writing and read, read, read.

Clara: Thanks for joining me Gina!

You can visit Gina online at or on her blog here.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Review: The Only Exception by Gina Gordon

Caroline and Hayden have given off sparks from the first, but Caroline is determined not to mix business with pleasure. When the two are forced together in a mid-winter work retreat, things between them heat up hot enough to melt the snow outside. But does Hayden want Caroline or the fantasy he's created?

Gina Gordon promises a hot read with every new release, and man does she ever deliver! Hayden is a man worthy of being drooled over. He knows what he wants -- and that, of course, is Caroline. Despite her tough exterior, he doesn't stop until he's melted the shield around her heart. Ms. Gordon takes us on a roller coaster ride as Caroline fights her attraction to him at every turn. Is Hayden the man for her? Well if Caroline doesn't want him, I'll take him! LOL

In a word, this book was


Are you interested in winning an ebook copy? This book is being featured at The Romance Studio in their book-a-day-giveaway! Take a look here.

And don't forget to join me on Friday as I sit down for an interview with the erotic genius herself, Gina Gordon!


Monday, February 21, 2011

GINA GORDON: I Love Romance

Reading and writing romance is all about hope--the promise of a happily ever after. There are some books out there that don't end in a happily ever after or imply that there "could" be one but in my opinion, why would you want to read that? lol

I read and write romance to get swept away. I want to fall in love right along with the hero and heroine. I want to experience every kiss, sense every touch and feel every flutter. For me, a story isn't complete without some emotional connection between a man and woman. It's what makes television shows like Bones and The X-Files interesting--sexual tension and the possibility of a hook up!

Workplace romances are full of the possibility for sexual tension. They're taboo and some employers even have strict no-dating policies. But you can't help who you love no matter where you work, no matter what the rules. And that's exactly what happens between Caroline and Hayden in my newest release, The Only Exception.

It was the idea of a winter work retreat in the middle of nowhere that came to me before the actual characters. Snow can be very romantic. Especially white, untouched snow surrounding a cabin with roaring fires and champagne. Add a little music and you can't help but think sexy thoughts.

Caroline and Hayden definitely make the most of their surroundings. Not just sexually but emotionally. The winter air sheds light on their true selves. In the end, making it difficult for either to walk away.

The Only Exception

Two co-workers, one work retreat and explosive chemistry. The Canadian winter doesn’t stand a chance.

For Caroline Carlson, business is business. She will not let her profession define her. She’ll never make that mistake again. When she finds herself forced to attend a manager’s retreat in the middle of winter with her arrogant co-workers, the line between business and pleasure is blurred. Especially, since she’s forced to spend the time with Hayden, the man who has secured the starring role in her sexy dreams.

Hayden Cross is the new manager on the block. The retreat is a chance to let loose and get away from the daily grind. Until one night when a chance encounter with Caroline at a club morphs his plan into a personal dare. He is mesmerized by the sexy woman writhing on the dance floor. She’s a fantasy come to life.

Caroline is convinced that Hayden is just another man who wants the fantasy but his sexual advances are too hard to ignore. The more time they spend together the hotter it gets and the Canadian winter doesn't stand a chance.

Gina Gordon is an erotica and romance author living in Ontario, Canada. To learn more about Gina, check out her website at

Friday, February 18, 2011

Interview With D. C. Juris

Today I have the pleasure of sitting down with D. C. Juris, author of Omarati. Let's get down to the good stuff:

Clara: You created a devastatingly rich world as a backdrop for Omarati. What about this world called to you most? Do you expect to set other (unrelated) novels in it?

D.C: I have to admit, the world was formed long before Calliph and Mateo even existed. It started years ago, when I was a teenager. I have no idea where the idea came from, but I could see it all quite clearly in my head. I did all this painstaking work on it -- I drew maps and calculated distances between cities, sketched in mountain ranges and lakes, all that jazz. There's a lot more to the world than just what we visit in "Omarati" - there's actually a whole other side - sort of like North America and Europe. It was intended to be the setting for my very first novel, however I ended up needing to go back to the drawing board for that story. Calliph and Mateo were minor characters that kind of took over. I'm still working on the "very first novel," so yes, there will be at least one story that I know of that will take place there, and it's completely unrelated to Calliph and Mateo.

Clara: How long did it take to do the research/world building for Omarati?

D.C: The original concept occurred in a flash, but it has honestly taken me about three years to get it "right". The world has changed several times to finally become what it is now. The only research involved, really, was just double checking to make sure my ideas weren't too close to already established ones. There's *so* many stories in the fantasy genre, it's hard to know if a concept you have is something you've come up with, or something you're vaguely recalling from a movie you saw once a million years ago.

Clara: You write primarily gay/lesbian romance. Tell us a little why you chose to write in this genre.

D.C: The quick answer is "because I'm queer". Growing up, I was surrounded by friends who read those old romance novels. You know the ones? With the bodice-ripper pictures on the front, some scantily woman lustily wrapped around some hunk of man's leg, staring up at him as if she can't bare to look away? Yeah. That didn't work for a gender-queer kid.

The long answer is, all I ever heard was "write what you know". So I did. I penned my first m/m romance (the aforementioned still-under-construction-novel) and proudly showed it off. Everyone kind of cringed and said things like "well...maybe not this, though." They all said I needed to "take out the gay bits" and insisted that "there's probably not a market for that." Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across "Discreet Young Gentleman" by M.J. Pearson. Turns out there was a market after all, and The books I found!!

Clara: You have stories falling into many subgenres, among them paranormal. Which do you find most challenging to write? Do you have a favorite?

D.C: For me, none of them are harder or easier than another. I suppose the most challenging is anything that already has an established history - anything like vampires or werewolves. I feel very passionate about giving props to the lore we already know about. I don't try to change much about my vampires or werecreatures. I mean, if I read a book about a vampire, I don't expect him to ::ahem:: sparkle. I'm sorry...I just like my vamps with a little more Lestat in their veins, if you will. But that's a prime example - in "Interview with the Vampire" Anne Rice took vampires and put her own spin on them without going so far out into left field that it became almost farcical. Sure, she changed some things up, but the core beings are what you expect them to be. What you want and need them to be. That's what I try to do. Small changes here and there, while still giving you the things you love and expect about the kind of character.

As far as a favorite, I have to say its a tie between contemporary and fantasy. I like contemporary because of its ease. The elements of a good story are already all around you in everyday life. And of course with fantasy, the author is in complete control. Anything can exist in my worlds, as long as I can plausibly explain it.

Clara: Has anyone ever told you to "brand" yourself and stick with one subgenre? If so, how do you respond to that notion?

D.C: I've heard that advice quite a lot, actually, and I resist it every time. Here's the thing with me - I don't write for money, fame, or awards. I haven't spent one dime of my royalties, and I have no idea if I ever will. I have the luxury of an Evil Day Job that I enjoy, and that pays well enough that I really don't have to stress over aggressively going after sales for my books.

I suppose sticking with one subgenre might work for some authors, maybe even most, but I find the idea terribly boring.

Clara: You have many published stories. What did it feel like to get your first acceptance?

D.C: Orgasmic. Am I allowed to say orgasmic? LOL My first accepted story was "Even Guys Cry" which appeared in the "I Do, Two" anthology, which benefits charity. That's right - my very first contracted story didn't pay *anything*. Which just seemed so perfect. Writing was never something I was encouraged to do. Never something anyone took seriously. All my life I'd been told writing was nonsense, and I shouldn't waste my time with it, because I'd never make any money off it, and I always argued that I didn't *want* to make money off it. So, for the first story accepted to be for charity was so bizarrely gratifying. Even better, the anthology came out in print. I don't think it truly hit me until I received the book in the mail. I held it in my hands, and I literally wept. It was the culmination of so much work and sacrifice.

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

D.C: I love everything about the writing process. I love the research, the constant editing, the process of submitting and waiting, biting my nails as I wonder if the publisher will like my newest baby. If I had to pick one thing that was the worst, I guess it would be the isolation. Over the years, I've missed out on a lot of things because I chose to stay home and write. But I wouldn't change anything.

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

D.C: It really depends on a lot of factors. If I know a publisher needs something quickly (i.e. they need one more story for an anthology, or something like that) I will literally drop everything and bang something out as quickly as I possibly can. I've got two stories coming out soon, and one that just came out, all of which were written in about two days each. For longer stories, it depends on how excited I am about the characters and the subject, and how vocal the characters are. Some of my characters are just *so* very shy, getting details is like pulling teeth. Typically, though, I prefer to have a story completely done and submitted within a month. But I usually have several WIPs going at once. Right now I have ten. :-)

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

D.C: I'd love to be that good parent who says he adores all his children equally, but that's just not the case. Calliph and Mateo put me through the ringer every time I start to write about them. They've been the only characters of mine to actually make me cry while writing about them. So for that, they hold a special place in my heart.

For sheer fun to write about though, that would have to be Dean and Rick from one of my older stories, "Sundae Surprise." They're just these two clueless, lovelorn dudes who, when they get together, are no-holds-barred sexy. I've only got the one story with them published, but there are others and let me just say...yowza!

Clara: Which writers inspired/influenced your work?

D.C: MJ Pearson, obviously. In my younger years, I read a lot of Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. I loved the Drizzt books by RA Salvatore. That's probably where my love of different worlds came from. The underworld he shows us is just amazingly alive and complex. I also loved Peter David. He did a lot of Star Trek books, and I really liked how he seemed to have a grasp of the characters and what they would or would not do. There's nothing I hate more than an author monkeying with a character who already has a soul. I liked darker writing, like Poe. I'm the guy who wants to see the bad guy triumph. I want to see the good guy get stomped on a little. I think it keeps them humble.

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

D.C: I'll let you know if I reach that point. :-) Seriously, I still don't think I'm all that good. But I write because I have to, and people seem to like reading my stories, so that's good enough for me.

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

D.C: Never. Writing is a thing I do and don't even realize I'm doing. I'll say things out loud to people, and follow them in my head with "he said, raising an eyebrow to indicate just what he thought of the question". Seriously.

Clara: How do you come up with your stories?

D.C: I don't get inspired by things or places. I just listen to the voices in my head, and write down their stories. One day, I'm listening to a gay werewolf rattling on about his werecat lover, but the next, I'm taking notes from a lesbian writer who met her dream girl at the Department of Health. Whoever shows up in my head is who I write about.

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

D.C: I've only ever had anything like that once in my life. In 2009, I lost someone very dear to me, under very bad circumstances (not that there are any good circumstances, mind you), and it sent me into a complete tailspin. Everything in my life came crashing to a halt, including the voices in my head, and that sunk me into a terrible depression. I'd never been without mental chatter, ever. I had a very painful, turbulent childhood, and all along I'd had my characters to keep me company, but I didn't anymore, and I had utterly no idea what to do with myself. I reached a point where I literally believed that if I didn't write again, I had no reason to live. I woke up one morning and decided that was it - write or die. I don't know what happened - if something in me woke up, or if my characters got together with each other and decided to take action - I have no idea. But at exactly 7 pm that night I grabbed my netbook and I wrote until 7 am the next morning. Twelve straight hours and about ten stories. Some stories I finished, some I sketched, some I got half-way done, but most of them were published in 2010.

It's a situation I never, ever want to find myself in again.

Clara: I agree, it sounds like a terrible experience. Do you have any advice for aspiring gay/lesbian romance writers?

D.C: Don't be afraid of the genre. Yes, there are a lot of glbt writers, especially m/m, right now. But there are also lots of glbt-friendly publishers out there right now - if you write quality work, it won't be as hard to place as many people fear. The other thing I suggest is targeted advertising. You'd be amazed at the number of glbt publications, like magazines and whatnot, that really have no glbt writers advertising in them. And there amount of people who I meet who ask "there's male/male romance???" is staggering.

Clara: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers in general?

D.C: The best thing I can say is listen to critiques and advice, especially from other authors, and especially if they're published, and especially if *your* work has been "rejected". If they're published, that means they know something more than you - they know how to polish to the point of publication.

I met Aleksandr Voinov at the tail end of 2009, and he was the first real author (and what I considered real meant published) to take notice of me and offer his help. He's been an amazing source of guidance and input along the way. Shortly after that I met Raev Gray, and she's also provided priceless advice and opinion on many of my pieces, one of which was "Omarati". I've even been fortunate enough to have Jaye Valentine's input on one of my stories.

That isn't to say that everyone's advice is gospel, but in the beginning, when you're just trying to figure out why the publishers keep turning you's probably mostly gospel. At least, it was in my case! :-)

On a larger scale, decide why you're in writing. Are you here to make money, or for the sheer experience of seeing your books published? Both are valid, but both require a different approach. Most small presses don't have the resources to run a media blitz advertising campaign for you, so you're going to have to do some of that work yourself.

Beyond that - keep writing.

Clara: Thank you for joining me today!

You can find D. C. Juris online at

Next week I'm featuring erotic romance author Gina Gordon!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Review: Omarati by D. C. Juris

When Prince Obyn is banished from the palace, he takes his unwilling slave Calliph with him. But as soon as they step foot on the boat meant to take them away, Calliph meets the man he is sure is his soul mate, Mateo. With Obyn determined to keep Calliph for himself, how will the pair ever be able to be together?

*spoiler alert*

As this book began, I was enraptured by Calliph's character and the rich fantasy world that DC has created. Because of the way it opened -- depicting Calliph's slave relationship with his master -- I wondered about the happily ever after. Who would it be with? His master Obyn or the sexy werecat Mateo. By the time I learned what the word "Omarati" meant -- soul mates -- I knew that Mateo would be the one. And their relationship was combustible. Every time they touched, sparks flew.

But there was a catch. Obyn wasn't willing to let Calliph go. And as it turned out, this was a very deep problem. Obyn almost seemed like too much of a problem for me. Whenever Calliph touched him -- sometimes willingly -- a little part of me soured. What about Mateo? I had to keep reading on, just to make sure that Calliph and Mateo gained their happily ever after. At times, I even thought that this would become a menage, but I fought against that prediction. I didn't want it to be because frankly, I didn't feel any connection to Obyn whatsoever. I wanted him dead, or elsewise out of Calliph's life.

Once he did die, that didn't ease the taint for me. Neither did discovering that Mateo had taken a lover during the eight years he and Calliph had been apart. As I neared the end, this portion of the book switched to Mateo's point of view. Perhaps it was because it was all through Calliph's eyes before, but I wanted to read more about Calliph. I wanted to know what he did during the five year gap and how he felt about events. I felt more connected to him than I did to Mateo, though for Calliph's sake I wanted their happily ever after. When the end to this book came, I still didn't feel closer. I feel as though it could go on. I love Calliph and Mateo and their ending, while sweet, wasn't at as happy a point as I would have liked. They could have grown, they could have found something more that this sweetness shadowed by their bitter pasts.

And speaking of pasts, what is Calliph's? While DC gives some of the details his past is barely skimmed over. Towards the end when it is mentioned, he leaves Mateo with an "I'm not ready to tell you yet," and never gets around to telling me (the reader) either! I'd love to see more of Calliph and Mateo, maybe in a sequel, to tie things up.

In a word, this book was


Join me on Friday for an interview with the master behind this book, D. C. Juris himself!


Monday, February 14, 2011

D. C. JURIS: The Romance Behind Omarati

Hi everyone! I'm DC Juris, and I'll be your guest blogger for today! For those who know me ::waves:: hi!! For those who don't, I'm an out and proud bisexual transgender man who writes GLBT (mostly m/m or ftm/m) romances. Which is way less exciting than it sounds—except for the writing part!

I wanted to talk today about why I chose to give my characters, Calliph and Mateo, a happily ever after. First, I should say that I'm not your typical writer. I don't get inspiration from people, places, and things. I don't see a tree, or a bird, or hear a song, and think "wow, that would make a great book!" The stories I write come to me directly from my characters. They walk up and introduce themselves in my head, and start talking.

So for me, it's not a choice to give my guys a happily ever after—it's just the way their story turned out. It's what happened to them; their history. I couldn't change it if I wanted to.

On the flip side of that, even if I felt I had any control over the story, I'd still give them a happy ending. Why? Because books, specifically romances, are—at least to me—meant to be escapes. They're meant to draw you into wondrous worlds, where impossibly perfect (or flawed but still pretty awesome) people live impossibly perfect lives, where everything works out in the end. There's enough drama in my real life, I don't want to read it in my books.

Additionally, I tend to attract characters who have gone through some pretty horrific things, and frankly, I think they deserve a happy ending, so I'm always thrilled when they tell me they're going to get one.

:) Like I said, I'm not your typical writer.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Interview With Larion Wills

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Larion Wills, author of It's Still Tomorrow. Let's get down to the good stuff:

Clara: You added a subtlety, a realism to the witchery in this book. It wasn't as blatant as most witch books. What made you think of approaching it in this way?

Larion: Good grief, Clara, I don't know. That's just the way it came to me. If I had to analysis, I would have to say I think all of us have a little 'witch' in us, though personally I'd term it more esp. How many times have you thought of the name of a person as you answered a phone and it was them? Or had a dream about something that later happened? You hear about those coincidences all the time, but are they? If we trained ourselves, worked at it, could we develop those type of things until we could control them? Are some people more prone to them? I believe yes to both and played with it, creating Sara Beth.

Clara: Did you draw on folklore for witchcraft in it or did you create the world from scratch?

Larion: I drew on folklore, TV, movies and books, shifting through what I liked and didn't, fitting it to the characters in It's Still Tomorrow. In other books, I've given a different take. In Evil Reflections, for example, the main character didn't know she had any special abilities and rejected even the possibility based on a lifetime teaching that anything paranormal was evil.

Clara: How long did it take to do the research/world building for It's Still Tomorrow?

Larion: If being fascinated with the possibilities counts, then I've researched it for a lifetime, starting with herbal remedies, the basis for 'potions.' I did do additional for It's Still Tomorrow though. Dug out my herb books to be sure I had the right plants for the purification rite and my books on witchcraft for the alter.

Clara: This novel is a paranormal book. Why did you choose to write in this genre?

Larion: I've been asked that before and the only answer I can really give is the genre chooses me. I might very well go from something paranormal to a historical western. Actually, my next release is going to be a historical western, through Museitup Publishing. See what I mean? Whatever catches and holds my attention next is what determines what genre I write in.

Clara: You have stories falling into many subgenres, among them paranormal. Which do you find most challenging to write? Do you have a favorite?

Larion: I really don't think any one is more challenging than another. The basics are the same no matter what the genre. I don't have a favorite, either, other than the one I'm working on at the moment. In talking about one or the other of my books, people will hear me say, that's one of my favorites, but they all seemed to be in one way or another.

Clara: Has anyone ever told you to "brand" yourself and stick with one subgenre? If so, how do you respond to that notion?

Larion: No one has ever said that to me, and it wouldn't do any good if they did. I do try to make it easier for my readers to know what to expect by using two pen names, one for science fiction and fantasy and another for those in the different genres of romance.

Clara: You have many published stories. What did it feel like to get your first acceptance?

Larion: I had some trouble believing it. I kept waiting for the catch that was going to turn the whole thing into a disappointment. I read that first contract over three or four times and asked a lot of questions. I couldn't find a catch, but I was nervous even after I signed it, waiting to find out I was getting conned in some way. Of course that was in between the times I grinned a lot and kind of danced and skipped when I walked.

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

Larion: The best is sitting with a notebook and pen with the words flowing onto the paper. The worst is typing it into the computer so others can read it.

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

Larion: I never really finish one. I could sit down with any already published and do re-writing on them even if it's only a couple of words.

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

Larion: Actually, Sara Beth is one of my favorites. She has spirit and strength, a huge capacity for love, and a wonderful sense of humor.

Clara: Which writers inspired/influenced your work?

Larion: Any writer I've ever read has influenced me in some way, whether it's been positive or negative. I won't mention any names of those I thought were boring and didn't care to emulate in anyway. Those I've enjoyed are just too many to list and range through as many genres as I write in.

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

Larion: Sure, but I will admit I may have said 'I don't know how to do that' first.

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

Larion: I've never been to a point where I would have given up on writing. Publishing, not that's a different story. I had to convince myself I was brave enough to submit, face rejections, and stick with it. During the first go round, I received back a rejection that an agent had been kind enough to have taken the time to edit a few pages. My first reaction was to toss them aside and declare that I couldn't learn all of that. To begin, I had no idea what all those symbols meant. To end, with barely a sentence that didn't have some kind of mark on it, I thought I was hopeless as a writer. A couple of days later, I picked them up again. The first thing I noticed once I really looked at it was that most of those marks were repeats. I sat down, took them one at a time and studied them. One at a time, they didn't look so bad. Nor were they too difficult to correct, one at a time. I rewrote, resubmitted and was accepted because one person took the time to give a little of themselves to someone else. She didn't represent the genre that book was written in, but she did receive a thank you from me.

Clara: How do you come up with your stories?

Larion: Like the genres, the stories seem to choose me, not me them. Some little thing will start me off, maybe no more than a couple of words that pop into my head. Once they take hold, they don't let me go until the story is down unless something major comes along to take me away from it.

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

Larion: I don't think I've ever had a case of genuine writer's block, one of those things like you've seen or read about where the writer stares at the paper and nothing comes out. I've had times when the story stopped flowing and I've had to struggle to make it all seem to go together. When that happens I got back to the beginning, read what I've already written and find where I've gotten off.

Clara: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Larion: After what I wrote above, one at a time seems appropriate here. Don't let uncertainty and lack of knowledge overwhelm you. Take it one thing at a time, learn it and apply what you've learned. This applies to the submitting and publishing aspect of it. If you're a writer, nothing is going to stop you anyway.

Clara: Thank you for joining me today, Larion! Visit Larion Wills (or Larriane Wills, under her pen name) at

Next week, I'll be sitting down with gay romance writer D. C. Juris and his book Omarati. See you then!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Review: It's Still Tomorrow by Larion Wills

Sara Beth is running from a past -- and a wicked rival -- when she finally decides to visit the house she inherited from her rich boss. Without a job, she struggles to do the best she can, but she has no intention of staying in any place that reminds her of the past. Will Dem be able to convince her to accept herself, her house, and him?

This book kept me reading from start to finish. Ms. Wills does a fantastic job of weaving in clues and facts as she goes along. It's Still Tomorrow presented an entirely different side of witchcraft, and I soaked it up. Instead of blatantly showcasing it or making it a secret from most of society, the witchcraft element is added in subtly. Why? Because Sara Beth is running from that part of her past and has decided never to use her powers again. But she's unable to block it completely away, and therefore she knows things about people. She tosses out prophecies and insights without meaning to, but luckily there's another witch nearby so the town is somewhat used to this odd behaviour. Sara is a character I easily related to with a past that kept me turning the pages.

And what woman wouldn't fall in love with Dem?

In a word, this book is


Join me on Friday as I interview the author of this delightful tale!


Monday, February 7, 2011

LARION WILLS: Why I Write Romance

Why I write romance?

Good question and I’m not sure I can answer it. I suppose I could blame it on a tender-hearted muse, because it seems no matter how one of my stories starts, it ends up with romance in it. True love. Soul mate. That one and only. One man for one woman. That one that makes you complete, feel whole. How many of us openly or secretly yearn for that? I’m not talking about sex. That exists on an entirely different, strictly physical, level, even though it is a necessary ingredient for romance. The need to procreate? No, again. That can be obtained by accident or carelessness or even deliberate design without a smidgen of romance or love connected to it. The concept my muse believes in is the soul mate, that one and only that makes you feel complete and whole.

In It’s Still Tomorrow, as soon as Sara came to mind, I just had to have a man for her, not that she wasn’t strong enough to deal alone with the evil after her in the mystery I had going. As her character began developing, she’d lead such a lonely life I just had to give her some happiness. Though she’d shied away from relationships and tried as hard as she might to convince herself she could be content without a man, my muse and I knew her heart yearned for someone to love who would love her back, not go screaming to the hills to escape her weirdness. Dem, of course, had to be something special. After all, how many men could cope with living with a woman who, among other quirks, said things on impulse that turned out to be glimpses into the future? For his sake, as well as to save her the heartache when he decided she was too much to cope with, she blocked their attraction to one another. Did I mention she’s a witch? Regardless of her powers, of course, my muse and I saw a way around that.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Interview with Emly Forrest

Today I'm sitting down with Emly Forrest, author of The Last Resort.

Clara: You write primarily contemporary romance. Tell us a little why you chose to write in this genre.

Emly: They always say "Write what you know" and I only know the thoughts and feelings of contemporary women. I suppose that nothing much has changed over the years in the way women fall in love, but I prefer to speak in the voice of a twenty-first century woman. that said, I do believe that social mores and conventions influence love as much as any other aspect of life. I'm most comfortable with those of our times and with the freedom and acceptability of sexual expression that has evolved in the last thirty or forty years.

Clara: What did it feel like to get your first acceptance?

Emly: I couldn't stop jumping up and down and laughing. I had to read the acceptance message four times to really believe that it wasn't a rejection. It was umbrella-drinks-at-the-beach good.

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

Emly: What I love most is that zone that I fall into when writing where the characters take over and begin to say and do things that I hadn't really planned or intended. It's nearly mystical for me. The worst part is when I reread something I've written and can only think, "Crap, that really sucks!"

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

Emly: Not sure I have an answer to that. The Last Resort (Lyrical Press 2010) evolved over several years. My latest story Irish Ice (a novella, Lyrical Press March 2011) came together very quickly and easily in a month or so. A novel I'm currently working on rolled out very quickly at first, but now I'm stuck on the last few chapters. I guess it all depends on that pesky muse.

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

Emly: I'm very much in love with Lee Soloman, the biker bad boy from The Last Resort. He's based on a man I knew many years ago and have never quite forgotten. I've always hoped he never quite forgot me as well.

Clara: Which writers inspired/influenced your work?

Emly: I wouldn't be so bold as to even suggest that some of my favorite authors allowed me to produce work as fine as theirs. I can only aspire to their greatness. However, those I love include James Lee Burke, Barbara Kingsolver, Annie Proulx, Stephen King, Dennis Lehane, and Pete Hamill.

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

Emly: Maybe I'm overconfident, but I guess I never thought I couldn't do it. I've been writing and editing for the biggest part of my long professional life (and making a pretty good living at commercial writing), so I knew I had a least a bit of talent. I wasn't quite as sure about writing fiction, but I've never been known to shy away from challenge.

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

Emly: Never. It wasn't an option. Even if I never published a work of fiction, I'd still keep doing it. Writing is the only talent I have--modest though it may be. It's a part of me. Just something I have to do.

Clara: How do you come up with your stories?

Emly: My husband and my friend Jan provide my biggest story inspirations. They throw stuff at me--some of which makes little sense at the time--and I try to work it into a story. For instance, one time my husband told me about a dream he'd had involving two guys named Nacho Nate and Big Bob the Mover. I've not put them into a story yet, but I know they're lurking there waiting to be developed.

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

Emly: Keep writing. Even if I know what I'm writing stinks. I make myself write at least 500 words a day--good, bad or otherwise. No excuses and no backing down. I can always go back and rewrite or delete later.

Clara: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Emly: Write every day. Read a lot. Don't listen to anyone who tells you your work is no good. It's only their opinion. I was privileged to attend the University of Denver Publishing Institute years ago. At one of our classes, a publisher at a major house told about rejecting the manuscript for Jonathan Livingston Seagull, which was published by another house and became wildly successful financially. It seemed like a stupid story idea, but you just never know what's going to take hold and sell. At the same time, do pay attention to critiques of your work by friends, family and critique partners. Good advice is invaluable to good writing.

Clara: Thank you for joining me, Emly! Visit Emly online at

Be sure to stop by next week to hear about Larion Wills and her story It's Still Tomorrow.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

EMLY FORREST: Why Love Matters

“It’s only love and that is all.” So goes the Lennon and McCartney song. Only love. Not some earth-shattering event. And yet, so much of our music, literature and mythology circumscribe the theme of love.

Take for example, the catalyst of love as it figures in ancient mythology. Gods and men seem to be in constant turmoil because of romantic jealousy or spurned attentions. An entire war was fought over Helen of Troy. How cool is that?

Well, you might argue, that can’t really be proven. It may only be a legend. Nice story, but would anyone really go that far simply for love? I offer, then, the case of King Edward VII, who in 1936 abdicated the throne of England to marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee. No one could argue the depth of his feeling for the woman he wanted.

And while some are willing to die for love (Romeo and Juliet), others find comedic pleasure in pairing (Lucy and Ricky). Sometimes the whole thing is tragic beyond belief, as with Dr. Zhivago and the ill-fated Laura.

So why the big deal? Why are love and romance so important to us? They are important because...well, because they just are. No one is immune. Kings and paupers, wise men and fools. We are all looking for that unexplainable, sometimes painful, joy, sorrow, ache and thrill called love.

Perhaps the next best thing to being in love is reading about it. Or maybe writing about it, which is what I am privileged to do. When you write a romance, you can make it happen any way you choose. (Unlike real life, which—as we all know—often goes awry.) I can make a hunky bad boy fall inexplicably in love with a not-exactly-gorgeous wallflower. They can meet in the craziest scenario, hate each other and then decide they can’t live without one another.

If I want, I can craft a plot with a case of mistaken identity that forces a rift in a liaison. Or I can send the hero to prison (wrongly, of course), then have him released years later only to find that his love for one woman still endures (as well as hers for him).

Maybe it’s a sweet story about a married couple sharing an unbreakable bond of love and romance for a lifetime. Or a tempestuous affair that seems unlikely to last, but works out in the end.

These things don’t normally happen in the average person’s life. That’s why we’re so drawn to reading about impossible attraction and implausible endings.

When I write about romance, I draw from real life stories, either my own or those I’ve heard about. In my novel, The Last Resort, for example, I chose a protagonist who finds herself suddenly on her own after a bitter divorce. She has some road adventures, buys an RV park on the Gulf Coast and eventually reunites with a lover from her past. Not that all those things have happened to me personally. Nor to anyone I know. However, bits of Murph’s story come from many different people I know. And yes, even from my own experience.

And what about Happily Ever After? The rule for HEA is a marriage or at least committed relationship. In fact, most publishers and readers don’t consider a story to be a romance unless there is HEA. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not an absolute necessity. In Murph’s case, her HEA is a man to share her bed and be her companion. She’s a little old to expect or even need more than that. Does that mean it’s not a romance? Not in my book—literally and figuratively.

Do I have any rules for writing romance? Sure. Above all else, the focal characters must be likable and identifiable. They’ve got to be “real.” And their time together must be electric. I want readers to be drawn into the vortex of sexual attraction, feeling the irresistible pull toward something that may or may not be well advised. In a love story, of course, it won’t matter and can’t be helped.

In my soon-to-be released novella Irish Ice (Lyrical Press, March 2011), the protagonist is pursued by a man nine years her junior. She’s not looking for love. In fact, she resists the advances of the handsome stranger. Ultimately, of course, he wins her over despite her fears that he may be involved in some deadly activities.

For me, that’s the fun of writing romance. Do I really want an affair with a dangerous younger man? Nope. Am I interested in chucking my cozy life, starting all over and finding sexual adventure on the road? Not at all. But I sure like to imagine it. And I’m guessing you do, too.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Month Of Love

Seeing as February is the month of love, I decided that I needed to take the time to celebrate. What does that mean? Well, it means that I'll be opening up the blog to some very romantic books -- regardless of genre. I've got paranormal, contemporary, and even M/M romance on the roster. Each week I'll be featuring a talented new author.

Who are these authors?

Emly Forrest, author of The Last Resort

Larion Wills, author of It's Still Tomorrow

D. C. Juris, author of Omarati

Gina Gordon, author of The Only Exception

Be sure to stop by during the month for interviews, reviews, and more!


Sunday, January 30, 2011

L. K. BELOW - Want to read a free story?

Who can resist a FREE story? Well I'm hoping you can't, because the one I have in store for you is unlike anything I've ever written. In fact, I'm hoping it's entirely unique (but there are a lot of things out there, so who am I to say?). I'm talking about the story I'm offering, His Smoldering Eyes.

When I sat down to write this story, I wanted to write something that I, personally, have never seen done before. That's right, I wrote an erotic romance in verse. Why? Because I can. I don't know about you, but while I've seen an awful lot of mainstream and young adult novels in verse, I have yet to see an erotic romance written this way. If you're looking for something new and fresh, read or download His Smoldering Eyes for free here.

What's the story about? When Michelle meets Rick's smoldering eyes from across the room, she can't resist him.

Now, if you do decide to read it, I'd like to know: Did you like it? Is this format a dying art or would you like to see other stories in this style -- maybe in another subgenre, like historical or paranormal? Talk to me! Let me know what you think, good or bad. You can reach me through email at lbelow(at) Most of all, happy reading!

L. K. Below likes to think of herself as a jack-of-all-trades. Along with poetry, romance of all subgenres, and speculative fiction, she also writes young adult (under her full name, Lindsay Below). Visit her online at

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

GINA GORDON: Finding Time to Write

As a writer with a full-time day job, finding the time to do what I love most can sometimes be difficult.

Under normal circumstances, it isn’t a problem. I have zero children to be responsible for and I'm pretty lucky in the husband department. His obsession with watching sports has finally come in handy. The more sports he watches, the more time I have to write!

But when there is a lull in the sporting world or when life’s everyday obligations get a little hectic, I have to get creative.

Ever try editing a manuscript while preparing dinner? I have. It’s not easy, but depending on the type of meal being made, it can be done.

Instead of catching up on sleep, I write during my very long commute to and from work. It’s damn hard to ignore the gentle hum of the bus that tempts me into falling asleep but I have super-secret herbal help that does the trick.

Recently, I've discovered my secret writing weapon--being out in public. I don't have an office or a room I can call my very own so removing myself from the everyday dullness of my home has worked wonders for increasing my productivity. I have become a regular at the café in town. A few cappuccinos and something sweet later, and the satisfaction of accomplishing my writing goal is the best feeling in the world.

I'm sure I'm not the only writer who squeezes in writing time whenever they can and I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels guilty when not spewing words onto a page. In my own little world writing is my life but in reality, that just isn't the case. I often forget that I am a living, breathing being with family and friends and responsibilities that exist away from my laptop. I have to learn to remember that more often and more importantly, I must learn to get over the guilt I feel when I’m not writing.

But something in the back of my mind pushes me to focus on my dream no matter the cost as if trying to make up for the time I spent running away from it instead of toward it.

Making the most out every free minute in a day can make a difference. Any other writers out there? How do you make the most of your writing time?

Gina Gordon is an erotica and romance writer living in Ontario, Canada. Her newest release, The Only Exception, is now available from Breathless Press. To learn more about Gina, visit her website at

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Questions for Clara

As promised, I will be posting three separate short stories for you to read in the next two weeks. But in the meantime, I thought I'd answer a few of the questions I often ask my guests on this blog.

Why do you choose to write about demons?

Demons, I find to be fascinating subjects. As I've mentioned before, they provide the perfect opportunity to reform the main character. Often demons have the biggest sense of personal growth, the biggest shock when their demeanor changes and they fall in love. Not to mention they're damn sexy! Who doesn't love a primal alpha male? I know I do!

How long did it take to do the research for these pieces?

For the stories soon to be shown on this blog, the research for each took about a month, give or take. It went through phases. First, I had to research lore about the specific demon I wanted to showcase. Then I had to decide which parts to build in and which to leave out -- hence how I created my own world for each of these three series. But now that I have the notes, the research for the next works should go a lot smoother.

Why did you choose paranormal romance?

I think, rather, that the genre chose me. I've always been fascinated by worlds just a little different than our own, worlds with a supernatural twist. These were the types of worlds I wrote as a child and young teen. Once I discovered erotic romance, my works took a more...wicked twist. In the future, I'd like to explore sci-fi and fantasy romance, but in the meantime, paranormal has me enthralled with the possibilities.

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

Well, seeing as (at this point), I'm unpublished, that would be all the rejections. They can be very disheartening at times, but I've got friends who continue to encourage me to revise and submit elsewhere, sure that I'll hit it big any time now. They're probably the best part of writing, aside from losing myself in a new story as I write it out. Although the waiting can be pretty nerve-wracking. And I despise editing my work (although it is a necessary evil). Why did I choose to pursue this again? But I suppose, like many, for me writing is a disease. I have to get it onto paper and my friends will continue to encourage me to share it with the world. You can make your own judgement as to my skill when I post my stories in the upcoming weeks.

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

Forever. Honestly. I write the first draft. Then I fix the plot holes in the first draft. Then I more or less scrap every single sentence and rewrite it to make it perfect and sparkling. It's a time-consuming, agonizing process, but ultimately, I think it's worth it.

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

I do. When I'm writing a new story, my favorites tend to be whoever features in that story. But that being said, I love Lucky, from my Shadowman series. I love Aglaeca and Kirin from my Legion series, although they are complete polar opposites. Kirin is brusque, whereas Aglaeca is rather gentle. And my favorite heroine is Anna, from my Haven series. She's kickass and awesome. In my opinion, at least. But each of my characters has a special place in my heart.

Which writers inspired/influenced your work?

Sherrilyn Kenyon has probably been my biggest influence. My first introduction to romance was through her Dark Hunter series. Through reading her books, I decided to switch to paranormal romance instead of fantasy.

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

I'm not so sure that point's come to pass yet. I mean, I have embarked on this crazy journey of writing and submitting, but it hasn't become quite real to me yet. My first acceptance—seeing my first cover—that will make it real. Right now? I certainly don't foresee giving up any time soon, but there's a part of me that still feels like I'm in a dream. Nonetheless, I hope to get that "Yeah!" moment soon!

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

Writing? Never. But for years, I hid my novels away in a drawer after writing them, letting only a few privileged friends ever read them. Thanks to their encouragement, I'm now starting about the task of sharing my work with the world. But even if that never happens, I don't think I'll give up writing. I love it too much. Like I said, it's a disease.

How do you come up with your stories?

For me, there's always a "What if" moment. It can come from something everyday, from something I'm reading or watching on TV, or even something I'm researching. But from that what-if, I build a world, and from there, I eventually build a story. I have written the first drafts of quite a few novels, and revised even less of those. But that's where you come in. After I post a short taste of each of these worlds, I want your vote! Which would you like to read? That's how I'm going to focus on future stories.

What do you do to overcome writer's block?

I set it aside and come back to it when the magic returns. If I'm editing or revising, I take a week off. Eventually (because writing is a disease), it comes back to me and I can finish the story.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Angels and Demons, Part 7: Lucifer

The biggest bad of them all is Lucifer. Ahriman, in Zoroastrianism.  Called other things in other religions. He is the baddest of the bad, the head honcho, the Devil himself. 

But what if you want to use him in a novel?

It's more or less a given that the big bad is BAD. Can he be reformed? I encourage you to try, but while his underlings can be, I personally wouldn't mess with his malicious nature. I don't think I've ever read a romance where Lucifer was the hero. The bad guy? Certainly. Maybe one of his underlings or even his son or daughter was reformed. But not him.

Why is he untouchable? Because there always needs to be a big bad in Hell. If not, the whole order of nature disintegrates. How are you supposed to measure evil when the stick you normally measure it against has suddenly become softhearted? While I have seen him front and centre in some books -- in Christine Warren's short story,  Devil's Bargain, for instance -- his starring role has been limited to antagonist or overlord, never good guy. 


-Lucifer: The Wikipedia page

-The  Fallen archangel: Lucifer

Now that I've come to the conclusion of my Angels and Demons miniseries, I'm going to talk to you about my own writing! Check back in the next couple weeks to read three free reads and choose which series you'd most enjoy reading! 


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Angels and Demons, Part 6: The Key of Solomon

One resource that explains a good chunk of demon lore is the Key of SolomonGoetia, also known as the Lesser Key of Solomon, fully explains how to conjure and contain a demon. 

These texts state that each demon (and there are a host of names and their abilities available) is responsible for his own abilities. No two demons are alike. And in order to summon one, you need to be able to recite the proper incantations. 

Here is the diagram which needs to be drawn. The summoner stands in the centre of the circle, whereas the demon will appear in the triangle -- and will be unable to leave said triangle without the bidding of the summoner. 

To call the demon forth, the summoner uses a chant (I've been told to recite it in Latin, not in English as the translation here states it) and after a complex series of speeches to welcome the demon and request its aid, all found at the site, the summoner then recites another chant to dispel the demon back to its plane of existence. 

Whether or not you decide to base your demon lore on Solomon (as opposed to another religion or one of your own creation), it is an interesting read. 


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Angels and Demons, Part 5: Demon Lore

Same as almost every religion has angel lore, so too do they have demon lore. Demons are the embodiment of sin and evil, something to be feared and avoided. Christianity/Judaism has Lucifer's minions, Zoroastrianism has Ahriman's demons -- even Hindu has the Asuras, the demons who continually try to wrest the booze of immortality from the gods. 

Demons symbolize the ever-present something that needs to be fought against, but they also are the perfect "tortured soul" archetypes. If your hero or heroine needs a challenge, converting a demon to the side of good might just be the things. I know demons have featured in more than one of my works in progress. 


-The Wikipedia page

-List of demons (wikipedia)

-Deliriums Realm - a must-see when researching demons

-Demons in Pop. Culture

-Mythical Creatures Guide - demons

-Myth Encyclopedia - demons

Paranormal romances featuring demons include:

Kresley Cole

Dark Desires After Dusk

Kiss of a Demon King

Demon From the Dark

Christine Warren 

The Demon You Know

What are some of your favorite paranormal romances featuring demons?