Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Guest Post ~ "The 50 Shades Effect" by Erotic Romance Author Samantha Holt

Hopping by from the Coffin Hop? Please visit THIS POST

Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, you will be aware of the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon. In fact, even if you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have heard of it. I tried that, didn’t work.

Love it or hate it, 50 Shades has affected the face of both romance and erotica. It’s opened people (women mostly) up to the idea of reading erotica for enjoyment (not that just that kind of enjoyment) but for a bit more than just getting your kicks! It’s also allowed people to explore a whole different side of themselves. Ann Summers have reported a huge boost in their sales of bondage gear since its release.

However, I’ve noticed a worrying rise in the number of reviews that well-established BDSM authors are receiving, complaining that their writing is nothing like 50 Shades. It’s not romantic enough, or it was too hard-core. This is where 50 Shades has muddied the waters slightly. See, 50 Shades is not really a story about a BDSM relationship. In reality, a true sub/dom relationship is nothing like this. There’s a distinct element of control, but it’s also about respect, and what many don’t understand is that it’s a very caring relationship. It’s about the trust that lies between the sub and the dom. Do I know this from experience? No, but I’ve read enough good quality erotica to understand it and have several friends who know this world far better than I and are very willing to share their thoughts.


So there lies the fact is that if you enjoyed 50 Shades, you may not enjoy true BDSM erotica. This is no bad thing, but should be taken into consideration before jumping into the fire. And should certainly be taken into consideration before leaving a scathing review. If it’s not your sort of thing, fine, but please, I beg of you, don’t state that you were disappointed because it wasn’t like 50 Shades! Take a moment to look at the quality of the writing and see around the elements you disliked. And if you loved it - hurray - you’ve discovered a whole world of amazing erotica.

I’ve also mentioned that it’s muddied the waters when it comes to the romance genre too. Personally, it’s had little effect on me as readers tend to understand what they’re getting with my historical romances. A little history, a little romance and some sensual content - much like it has always been with this genre. But 50 Shades bridges this gap between romance and erotica, creating more of an awareness of this cross-genre. Classic romance books will have erotic content but written in the most beautiful way possible or will have none at all. 50 Shades is neither of these and is considered romantic erotica. The issue is that people get confused and no longer know what to expect. It’s become necessary for romantic authors to be more explicit in their descriptions to ensure that readers know exactly what they’re getting. On the plus side, this has opened up a new demand for romantic erotica, with a whole stream of very well written (and not so well) books following the 50 Shades style.

Now, is it a bad thing that women are more open minded and willing to talk openly about sex? No, of course not. Anything that gets people reading and discussing something that has long been considered taboo, in my mind, cannot be a bad thing. And like many fads, things come and go. It won’t be long until we see the next big thing and who knows; hopefully this time it may be something that can be considered a classic in the future. The fact is that 50 Shades will not be something that we share with our grandchildren but Pride and Prejudice still will be. So, for the moment, us romantic writers have nothing to fear and erotica writers will weather the storm and enjoy the increase in sales while it lasts, along with the unfortunate reviews, comforted by the knowledge that we are lucky to have some wonderful, loyal readers who will always stick with us, whether we are the ‘in’ thing or not!

***

Samantha Holt is the author of several medieval romances including the bestseller, The Crimson Castle, and a series of historical erotic shorts. She lives in Warwickshire, England with her twin girls and occasionally her husband, who works abroad. She credits her ability to write about romance to his long absences! You can follow Samantha on Facebook for new releases, free stories and giveaways. 


Her latest book, The Angel’s Assassin, is available to download for free on Amazon on the 31st October - 1st November.

As a rebellion sweeps England, Lady Annabel finds her home overrun by rebels. Much to her relief, a dark knight comes to her rescue, claiming to have been sent to protect her by her uncle.
But Nicholas holds a secret about the job he was sent to do and it is a far cry from what Annabel believes it to be. As the attraction between them grows, Nicholas begins to question the dark life he has lived. But is it enough to change him and will Annabel ever trust again after learning the true nature of his sinful duty?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Blue Monday ~ El Dia de los Muertos

Hopping by from the Coffin Hop? See THIS POST.

Okay, El Dia de los Muertos and All Soul's Day are still almost a week away. Still, in place of Blue Monday, I present a collection of pins from my Skullduggery board, all appropriate for the Christian holiday honoring all the souls of the departed. Here in North America, it's been grafted onto native ways of honoring deceased loved ones - the Day of the Dead.

A good source of basic information about Dia de los Muertos comes from The Pagan Book of Halloween: A Complete Guide to the Magick, Incantations, Recipes, Spells and Lore by Gerina Dunwich. (It's only 175 pages, so I'm sure it's not completely complete, but it's a good start.) It says:

"In Mexico, the Festival of the Dead begins at midnight on November 1...With skulls and skeletons as its motifs, this holiday honors the dead and is celebrated as a joyous fiesta...



"Bread of the Dead (known in Mexico as panes de muertos) is a traditional food served on this holiday. Shaped like people or animals, these curious little loaves are decorated with brightly-colored icings and sprinkled with colored sugar, and beloved by both children and adults. According to tradition, each loaf represents a dead soul.

"It is a custom for Catholics in Mexico to prepare special suppers for the spirits of their deceased loved ones. The food is set out as ofrendas (offerings) and blessed by prayer. After the dead have appreciated the honor and partaken of the food in spirit, the family happily feasts on what remains...

"Each year on El Dia de Muerte (the Day of the Dead) celebrated on November 2, Mexican fairies known as the Jimaniños...are said to come out of hiding and take to the streets, where they dance merrily and delight in playing harmless pranks upon unsuspecting humans. They can also be found roaming through graveyards where they travel in troops...

"Many Witches of Mexican heritage invoke the Jimaniños on the 31st of October when they celebrate their annual Sabbat of Samhain and perform rituals designed to pay homage to their ancestors. Many Wiccans south of the border believe that these playful, seasonal fairies assist their Goddess and Horned God in the turning of the Wheel of the Year."

How will you celebrate the end of harvest season? Perhaps you'd like to rock this sugar skull-motif dress.



Need a handbag to go with that?



Maybe the neon colors are a little loud for you, though. Maybe you'd rather have an accessory that's a bit more understated.



And finally: let me call you street art




Saturday, October 27, 2012

Interview with Author Joshua Skye!

Hopping by from the Coffin Hop? See THIS POST.

If you had to sum up The Angels of Autumn in a few sentences, what would you say?

The Angels of Autumn is an intensely philosophical, supernatural thriller about one man’s quest for revenge that ultimately becomes his path to salvation.

How did it feel to have The Singing Wind chosen as a Dark Book Club selection?

It was absolutely thrilling. I couldn’t stop telling people about it. It renewed a passion in me about that book. I’d worked very hard for a very long time on The Singing Wind. For it to receive such attention was wonderful; cathartic really.   

What's your favorite genre to write?

Horror, but I twist it with elements of other genres. I love movies that defy classification. One of my all-time favorites is The Company of Wolves. It’s a horror story about werewolves but also an art-house dark fantasy. I love it.



Which passion came first - writing or acting? 

Writing. Acting was something I did for fun. I did it for a long time and pursued it quite earnestly. I even earned a degree in it. Writing however, was always my first love. It’s my ghostly companion and will always haunt me. In a good way, of course. 

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, do you have a favorite artist or style of music that inspires you?

Not most of the time. Dance pop is my preferred musical genre and listening to something designed to get you moving can be distracting. Madonna is my favorite musical artist of all time; she has been for over twenty years. There are times however, that music can be very inspirational. I’ve put on what I call “background music” and wrote. If I need to put myself in a particular mood because of the tone of a scene I need to write, music can be very helpful in taking me where I need to go. Classical and adult contemporary are genres that make good “background music.”

What has been the most significant book you've read (or listened to, if you were a small child) in your life? 

Out on a Limb by Shirley MacLaine. I’ve read it countless times and own numerous editions.



Do you read for pleasure? If so, what kind of books do you like to read?

I do. I read spiritual journals, political and religious studies, new age philosophy, horror, romance, fantasy, and the occasional comedy. I have a pretty vast home library. In my collection, the authors you’ll see most often are: Shirley MacLaine, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Clive Barker, Whitley Strieber, Michael Moore, Al Franken, J.K. Rowling, and Gary Brandner. It may not be fashionable to admit it, but I do own all the books by Martha Stewart and Stephenie Meyer, too. I like what I like. Currently, my shelves are filling with indie gay and horror authors.     

Do you have a favorite erotica writer or book? 

I’ve read Anne Rice’s erotic Sleeping Beauty series. It was eye-opening, to say the least. I’ve also read My Secret Garden: Women’s Sexual Fantasies and am very curious about the Shades of Grey series. Aside from the occasional short piece of gay and bisexual fantasy, for the most part I do not read erotica.

***

Joshua Skye was born in Jamestown, New York but predominantly grew up in the Texas Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. He is a graduate of K.D. Studio Actor’s Conservatory of the Southwest and has worked on indie/underground films and on stage. He lives in rural Pennsylvania with his partner Ray of sixteen years and their eight year old son, Syrian. His short stories have appeared in anthologies from STARbooks Press, Knightwatch Press, Sirens Call Publications, Rainstorm Press, JMS Books and periodicals such as Blood and Lullabies. He is the author of The Singing Wind, Bareback: A Werewolf’s Tale, along with the forthcoming Midnight Rainbows, and The Grigori.

***
The Angels of Autumn: A Profound and Powerful Gay Erotic Thriller

Kincaid Kingsley returns to the town of his childhood after the death of his twin brother, Xander. Believing the crime to be motivated by hate and prejudice, Kincaid sets out to discover why the police are no longer actively investigating the case and hopefully uncover his brother’s killer in the process.

Things in Wren are not as they seem, however, and the closer that Kincaid gets to an answer, the more danger he encounters. Why are all the townspeople so afraid to share what they know?

As the mystery surrounding Xander’s death unravels, the town becomes increasingly blind to what is actually going on. Can Kincaid discover who killed his brother and save the town from evil?

Author: Joshua Skye
Publisher: Pink Pepper Press
Number of Pages: 212 Pages

ISBN-13: 978-0615702100 (Pink Pepper Press) 
ISBN-10: 0615702104

Release Date: October 19, 2012

***
Links for Purchase:

The Angels of Autumn Excerpt:
From Chapter Five…

The Lombardi Funeral Home was among the oldest of buildings in Wren, constructed in the late 1800s as both a business and a residence by the Lombardi family, immigrants from Italy, of course.

They conducted the bulk of their unusual profession on the shadowy, beautifully decorated, meticulously maintained first level while the untidy dealings with body preparation were carried out in the basement. The second and third levels were where they actually lived. Kept in the family for well over a hundred years by strict legal clauses in every will and testament down the Lombardi line it was now owned and operated by the widow Mary Anne Lombardi and her only son, Angelo.

Kincaid felt queasy as he looked around the parlor. The furnishings were ancient, most assuredly antiques, perhaps even the original Italian décor, all aglow in the flickering light of electric candles. Aside from what little daylight filtered in through the dark sheers, there were no other light sources. A little bell had announced his arrival several minutes before but he’d yet to be greeted.

There was a musty smell and a pungent chemical odor beneath it. Someone, somewhere deep in the house turned on a hissing record player and after a few scratchy seconds a low, somber sonata began to play over unseen speakers. A curtain parted and a tall shadowy figure emerged. He said, “How may I help?”

Angelo was a handsome man with typically Italian features. He was dressed in a nice, solemn suit and had his hair combed strictly back. His large hazel eyes fell on his guest and there was an audible sound of shock, a sigh and then a deep intake of air. He said, “Kincaid. Wow, I thought you’d never come back to this place especially when you didn’t attend your brother’s funeral. Everyone thought it was pretty scandalous. So, how’s it going?”

Ignoring the crude judgment, Kincaid detected a genuine surprise in Angelo’s voice. He was the same age and had been in many of the very same classes as the Kingsley twins, he’d even been one of the disapproving assholes who had put them through hell. Angelo had been one of the popular kids, one of the over-exulted Wren Dragons, a dumb jock destined to forever mourn his golden high school days. As an adult, Angelo didn’t seem so intimidating anymore. He was just a man in his late twenties, wasting away in the family business, no longer taut, tan and toned, no longer important, no longer a Dragon…the toast of the town. He had a beer belly which alone made Kincaid happy. “I’m okay,” he replied. “How have you been?”

Angelo’s lips quivered when he forced a smile and answered, “Good. Thank you. How’s your mother?”

“As good as can be expected, I guess.”

Angelo said, “Right. Well, how can I help you?” He was stiff, formal. The fingers of his hands were entwined and resting at his waist. He cocked his head to one side, the sympathy in his eyes was counterfeit, a professional automation.

“I wanted to talk to you about my brother’s funeral, actually.” Kincaid found he couldn’t look at Angelo when he said ‘funeral,’ and so he diverted his gaze across the room to nothing in particular. Everything about the place was so old.

Angelo’s voice got deeper and there was a hint of umbrage to it. “I imagine you would. Your mother expressed her disappointment in your brother’s restoration. We’re very sorry she was so displeased. I assure you we pro-rated our fees accordingly.”

Kincaid slowly brought his attention back to his host and said, “Yeah well, do you do the restoration?”

“No. My mother does.” Angelo’s stance changed, he was getting defensive both vocally and physically.

“May I speak with her, please?”

“Why?”

“I’m not here to cause a scene or anything. I just want to talk to her. That’s all, Angelo. I’m not going to berate your mother.”

The Italian man just stood there for several tedious and silent moments assessing the guest’s intentions. Kincaid refused to look away this time no matter how nerve-racking or unsettling the situation slowly became. He wasn’t in high school anymore, he wasn’t the frightened and belittled teenager who shied away from everyone and Angelo wasn’t the pompous cock-of-the-walk anymore. They were adults and far more equal now than Angelo was probably even aware of.

Kincaid prepared himself for a physical altercation. Being picked on mercilessly had prompted him to take quite a few self-defense classes over the years. Angelo might have been able to beat the shit out of him once, long ago, but his glory days were long over. He was out of shape and didn’t have his buddies around to back him up. Kincaid put on a confident little grin and stated, “I said please.”

Angelo’s shoulders slouched ever so slightly. He swallowed hard and his eyes turned down as his voice became professional, disengaged. He said, “Of course. If you’ll excuse me I’ll see if she’s available. Please, take a seat.”

“Thank you, Angelo,” Kincaid said lowly.

Angelo nodded and disappeared behind the curtain.

Kincaid turned and meandered into the small, dismal sitting room and over to a stiff, uncomfortable sofa and sat down. A spider crawled over the surface of the weathered coffee table. Not particularly squeamish about such things, Kincaid watched it with a distracting fascination, the way it moved, the legs click, click, clicking along. He frowned as he realized that this spider was malformed. It had nine legs instead of eight and yet the added appendage didn’t seem to impede it in the slightest. He found himself leaning down, close, to get a better view of the little creepy crawly. The spider stopped. Perhaps it was now quite aware of its audience. It was perfectly still, frozen.

“Mr. Kingsley.” The voice was soft.

Kincaid flinched. The spider lurched into motion and scurried over the edge of the table and vanished. Being polite, Kincaid stood and turned his attention to the petite woman standing in the entranceway. She clutched a leather-bound portfolio to her bosom. Her salt and pepper hair was pulled into a tight bun on her head. She had modest make-up on and was dressed in a long, conservative black dress. There was a beautifully crocheted shawl draped over her shoulders perhaps utilized to hide the slight curvature of her upper spine. Kincaid said, “Ms. Lombardi, thank you for seeing me.”

She smiled courtly and entered the room, moved gracefully around the back of the sofa and sat down next to her guest. Kincaid sat down as well. Her eyes were down. He wondered what she was thinking. He imagined she thought he was there to complain. He wanted to reassure her he was not and so he said, “I didn’t come here to…”

Without looking at him, she shoved the portfolio at him. Sheepishly, he accepted it and took a deep breath before opening it. For a moment he expected to see pictures of his dead brother, before and after. It wasn’t something he was even remotely interested in. They were pictures of the dead and indeed they were before and after shots, instamatic snapshots, many of them yellowed with age. The first was an old man whose face had practically been pulled off in some horrible accident. After the restoration he simply appeared as though he were napping. The second was a woman whose forehead had been cleaved open and again the after picture was perfect. On and on the pictures went, each turn of the page revealing flawless transformations.

She said demurely, “My work. As you can see, I am very good at it.”

“It’s immaculate, you’d never know, but my mother said she could…” Kincaid paused as a realization hit him. He turned his eyes away from the Polaroid snapshots in the photo album. The widow Lombardi looked sad and afraid at the same time. His voice was shaky, hesitant. He said, “You did it on purpose.”

Mary Anne nodded and took the album back from him, she closed it and pressed it, embraced it, to her breast. Her eyes moved downward until she stared at the floor and there she focused for a long time, barely breathing, silent and still. She was contemplating something. Kincaid’s mind raced with what those thoughts might be. His heart fluttered nervously. What secret was she about to reveal?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Welcome To My Coffin! Coffin Hop 2012 Giveaway

Welcome to the Coffin Hop 2012! This is my second year participating, along with dozens of other authors of the strange, the horrific and the eerie. Visit the Coffin Hop's WordPress blog and be sure to visit all the participants. There's a giveaway at each author's website!

I rarely write straight horror, though. I did write my first zombie piece this year, but that - like most of what I write - was paranormal erotica. PN erotica is precisely what you can win in my Coffin Hop giveaway:

The Giveaway: I have a very witchy prize to give away: 5 copies of "The Spell You Cast" by Erin O'Riordan and Rushmore Judd.



In this e-book, Troy falls for Madeline’s magic only to discover he is part of a much larger plan plotted by Madeline, an admitted witch, and her "sisters." The sex is enchanting as Troy’s infatuation for Madeline becomes deeper even as she introduces him to the other women. The coven is up to something, but will the spell they cast be something he likes? Or will he perhaps end up in the cauldron? 

To Enter: Due to the e-book content, you must be 18 years or older to enter. Simply leave a comment on this blog post. If you have a Blogger (Google) account with a public e-mail address and I can find your e-mail by clicking on your name, you need only comment. If not, please leave an e-mail address with your comment. To thwart spambots, I typically use this format: erinoriordan AT sbcglobal DOT net.

Winners will be chosen by Random.org on November 1st.

You do not need to be a follower of my blog to win, but follows are always warmly appreciated.


This is an affiliate link:

Ghosts in Houses & Other Spooky Places by Daniel Hardie. $2.99 from Smashwords.com
Enter a world of the unknown and the paranormal, where strange ghostly and haunting happenings take place all over the world. Ghosts in Houses & Other Spooky places is a book that explores ghostly realms in haunted houses, haunted hotels, historic castles and cursed graveyards. Read this book... if you dare.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

SOC Sunday: Outside the Comfort Zone


What have you done recently or would like to do that’s outside your comfort zone?

I can't (and don't want to) give too many details, but before the end of the year I'll have to travel a considerable distance from my home within the U.S., and that travel is far outside my comfort zone. As you may know, I've already been to Kansas this year, and Kansas is far, but it isn't scary. Next I'll have to actually leave the Midwest and arrive at an urban destination. 

Yes, Chicago is equally urban, but Chicago is comfy and familiar to me. Next I'm going into foreign (so to speak) urban territory where I don't know the local transportation system - and people in Chicago are still Midwestern, so they're still pretty friendly, but I don't know about this "new" place. 

I'm not afraid to fly, but I'm afraid of the unknown. This place is completely unknown to me, although hubby has been there before - once. He'll be with me (he always is - in ten years of marriage, we've still never spent a night apart), but he's not much of a tour guide. We're nervous, but excited. 

Technically, I've been to the biggest urban area in the U.S. before - New York City - but I only ever saw Kennedy airport. I was there for about four hours total, going to and from Spain. You'd think if I could handle an international trip to a foreign country where I speak the language only at a rather elementary level,  I should be fine in a unknown U.S. city. I'll be fine. But I'm anxious. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

TCI Caturday!

I've been too busy to read much, so please excuse the large number of Pinterest posts that have very little to do with literature lately. If you enjoy cats, then perhaps you'll enjoy:






If you love Hello Kitty, perhaps you'll enjoy this adorable pink sake set.





Get Out Of There Cat is a hilarious Tumblr blog of nothing but cats where they do not belong.








This is an affiliate link:

Think like Cat by Benedict Stewart. $1.99 from Smashwords.com
Cats are probably the most adorable creatures on this planet. At least that is what cat lovers would say, but there are times when they can get very unpredictable and you would just want to get your way into their minds to think like cat. You want to know what a cat likes and does not like and before that, you would also want to know whether you should get yourself one or not.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Coffee Talk #6, the one with tattoos


Coffee Talk with Natalie Blair

Nat and I had quite an interesting discussion of reality TV star/Kardashian baby daddy Scott Disick last night.



Scott Disick is one of the asshole guys who I absolutely should not think is hot, but I still think he's hot. Scott Disick is a style favorite of Writer's Retreat, a U.K. Tumblr blogger who enjoys books and men's fashion. Another stylish gentleman, Michael Emerson, is not impressed. More like appalled.

Now, on to Nat's weekly Coffee Talk questions, this time co-hosted by Lovely Life of Leah.

1. Let's talk about ink: Do you have tattoos? How many?? 
I have no tattoos and no immediate plans to get one - hubby is not a big fan. If I ever got a tattoo, it would be "I love words" in 14-point Times New Roman around my wrist like a bracelet. 

I've also contemplated getting a wrist tattoo that says Isaac Nathan Bloom (a tragically doomed character in From Here to Eternity) in Hebrew letters. It would look like this:

ןדששב משאישמ נךםםצ

My parents are thinking about getting their first tattoos. Dad wants the Jack Daniel's logo to go with his Jack-themed man cave. I've previously written about my mom's vampire fixation, and she's contemplating a vampire bat tattoo.

Mom's all excited because I went to the library yesterday and checked her out a copy of The Twelve by Justin Cronin. Cronin's vampires are the post-apocalyptic horror variety. 
Please excuse The Big Book of Porn in the background. I use it for research, I swear. 

2. Let's talk about hair styles: Bangs, do you have them, want them, or trying to grow them out? What about side bangs? 

No bangs at the moment.

3. Let's talk about work: Without getting specific with a company name, what do you do? What did you want to be when you grew up when you were young? 


I'm fortunate enough to get steady freelance editing work, so I edit and write full-time. I do what I've always wanted to do for a living - read, write and research.

But if anyone wants to pay me to read the kind of fiction I like to read for pleasure, just let me know.

4. Let's talk about friends: Do you find it easier or more difficult to meet new friends as an adult? Do you have what you'd consider 'blog friends'? What about IRL (in real life) friends?

Making friends is hard when you work from home; most of the time, it's just me, hubby and the cat. I'm grateful for the "blog friends" I like to stalk interact with. 

5. Let's talk about Social media: Android or iPhone? Twitter or Facebook?

I don't have a smartphone, but my laptop and I are complete social media addicts. You pretty much have to be when you have books to promote. I'm on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest...all over the place. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Ritual For Celebrating Monty Clift's Birthday

Montgomery Clift was born on October 17, 1920, along with his sister Ethel; this should be a bisexual national holiday. There should be a ritual for celebrating said holiday. It should go something like this. (It totally does not matter if you are a guy or a woman.)

Breakfast: Smoke half a pack of unfiltered Camels from a Tiffany cigarette holder, then work on your abs. 



Watch From Here to Eternity. Get angry at Burt Lancaster for getting top billing. 

Recite "A man don't go his own way, he's nothing" along with Prewitt. 

Cry when Maggio dies, then drink a tumbler of Scotch, neat. 

After the movie, go four rounds in the boxing ring with your trainer. Take a long shower. Admire yourself in the mirror; you are the damned prettiest thing that ever lived. 

Lunch: 12 ounces of raw steak. 

Throw a party in your apartment. Make out with the nearest girl who looks vaguely like Elizabeth Taylor. Call her Bessie Mae, assure her that if you were going to marry anything it would be her, then wrestle her to the ground and bite her shoulder. 



Single-handedly finish off that fifth of Scotch and get out your Sinatra records. 

Dinner: Snort lines of finely-crushed Seconal off the shaved chest of a blond hustler who vaguely resembles a young Marlon Brando, all the while thinking that Brando is a hammy over-actor and he's starting to get love handles. 

Make out with said blond hustler. Abandon him to discuss the work of Anton Chekhov with your friends; help them finish off a bottle of champagne, the actual French stuff. If you lapse into speaking French, no one will mind.  

Pass out face-down on the carpet; your assistant will carry you to bed.




Listen, I'm being facetious. This is what I think Old Hollywood people did in the 1950s. I'm not advocating that you abuse alcohol or other drugs. 




Saturday, October 13, 2012

Evernight Birthday Blog Hop Winner + Caturday


I'm going to kill two birds with one post and announce the winner of my leg of the Evernight Publishing Birthday Blog Hop while hooking up with A Catlike Curiosity for Caturday (at the risk of being labeled a crazy cat lady).
The winner of a signed paperback copy of my Evernight Press anthology title, Indecent Encounters, as randomly selected by Random.org, is Laurie. Congratulations! I'll be e-mailing you for your mailing address. If you didn't win my prize, don't worry - you're still entered in the grand prize drawing. Good luck!


Now enjoy these frisky felines. This fancy lil guy cracks me so consistently up.



Kitten in a man's shoe.



Jack Kerouac and a cat.



Allen Ginsberg had a cat named Howl.



"Taco cat" is a palindrome.



Doing her impression of Mark Twain.



If you like bookish cats, perhaps you will enjoy The Literary Cat on Tumblr. It has featured my own lil guy, James. 

This is an affiliate link:

Think like Cat by Benedict Stewart. $1.99 from Smashwords.com
Cats are probably the most adorable creatures on this planet. At least that is what cat lovers would say, but there are times when they can get very unpredictable and you would just want to get your way into their minds to think like cat. You want to know what a cat likes and does not like and before that, you would also want to know whether you should get yourself one or not.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Columbus Day and Lies My Teacher Told Me

Hopping by from the Evernight Publishing Birthday Blog Hop? See this post

October 12, as you know, is Columbus Day. I'm going to ask you all to do something, not for me but for yourselves - read Lies My Teacher Told Me:   Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen. (It'll be interesting, but less immediately relevant, to you if you live outside the U.S.) It was first published in 1995, but it's about history, and I doubt very much has changed in that academic field in the intervening 17 years. Read the book and you'll discover why.
I "read" this book (listened to it on CD) probably 8-9 years ago, and two things always stick with me. One is that the U.S. Republican party has historically been the proponent of human rights in a way that seems the polar opposite of the party's current incarnation. The other is that Christopher Columbus' "discovery" of America led to events so horrifying, they make Dick Cheney seem like a humanitarian. If Ann Rule had been alive in 1492, she would have been writing true crime books about Columbus.

I'm going to share excerpts from this book. I know Christopher Columbus was said to be a native of Genoa, Italy (it can't actually be proven), and is a folk hero of many Italian-Americans. I promise you, I am not trying to pick on Italy or people of Italian descent. I love you; you're pretty. (See Wednesday's post.)

BUT you don't want to associate yourselves with Columbus. He was not a good guy. This is graphic, so sensitive readers may not wish to continue.

Using materials written by Columbus himself and other first-hand sources from the fifteenth century, Loewen writes:

  • "When Columbus and his men returned to Haiti in 1493, they demanded food, gold, spun cotton - whatever the Indians had that they wanted, including sex with their women. To ensure cooperation, Columbus used punishment by example. When an Indian committed even a minor offense, the Spanish cut off his ears or nose."
  • Quoting a biography written by Columbus' son Ferdinand on the quashing of a rebellion against the Spanish by the Arawak people: "The soldiers mowed down dozens with point-blank volleys, loosed the dogs to rip open limbs and bellies, chased fleeing Indians into the bush to skewer them on sword and pike..."
  • "Spaniards hunted Indians for sport and murdered them for dog food." 
  • "Haiti under the Spanish is one of the primary instances of genocide in all human history."
  • "Columbus not only sent the first [American Indian] slaves across Atlantic, he probably send more slaves - about five thousand - than any other individual." When large numbers of American Indian slaves died of starvation, overwork, suicide and disease, the Spanish simply looked to African slaves to replace them. 
  • "A particularly repellent aspect of the slave trade was sexual. As soon as the 1493 expedition got to the Caribbean, before it even reached Haiti, Columbus was rewarding his lieutenants with native women to rape. On Haiti, sex slaves were one more perquisite that the Spaniards enjoyed. Columbus wrote a friend in 1500, 'A hundred castellanoes are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten are now in demand.'"
There you have it, in Columbus' own words even. He literally believed that he had the right to do whatever he pleased to people who were non-Catholic. Their refusal to accept the Spaniards' "faith" justified everything, according to the cultural ethos of the time. The sex trafficking of 9- and 10-year-old children didn't bother Columbus. Dismemberment didn't bother him. Murder didn't bother him. Genocide didn't bother him. 

So now I hope you see why if we're going to observe Columbus Day in the U.S., we might as well observe Slobodan Milosevic Day, too. Read Lies My Teacher Told Me. It's disturbing, and sometimes we should be disturbed. 


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Columbus Week Trip to Little Italy

Hopping by from the Evernight Publishing Birthday Blog Hop? See this post.

In the U.S., Monday was the national holiday observing Columbus Day, but I don't celebrate that. I'll tell you very specifically why, with the aid of a book by James Loewen, on the actual holiday, October 12th. This post is just for fun. This is where I'd normally hook up Oh, How Pinteresting!

According to a skit on the long-ago MTV sketch comedy program The State, Christopher Columbus was internationally world-famous for beating up anyone who wasn't Italian on his holiday. I would be in line for a beat-down. I don't even have a little Italian in me.

That doesn't mean I don't want some. Yeah, I totally meant that dirty. So get your little passports, 'cause we're going to Little Italy. 

Milo Ventimiglia is from a multicultural background - some Italian (Sicilian, I believe) and also some French and American Indian. Everybody loves Milo. He'll make excellent vampire bait in Kiss of the Damned, and he almost kissed semi-werewolf Jesse Eisenberg in Cursed. If only he were gay in real life - Milo V. and Zachary Quinto would be the cutest couple ever.





Zachary Quinto is Italian and Irish, which is almost as good a combination as Irish and Jewish, in this Irish-American woman's opinion. The chocolate-brown eyes? Unnf. They melt me.



This Adriatic beauty is Joe Calderone. Who is also Lady Gaga. Who is also Stephani Joanne Angelina Germanotta.




This is Joe Manganiello. He plays the werewolf Alcide Herveaux on True Blood. You may remember him from last Halloween season's Werewolf Wednesday or from his gig playing a stripper named Big Dick Richie in Magic Mike



This one is David Giuntoli. He plays Nick Burkhardt, the Portland, Oregon, police detective on Grimm. Grimm is my replacement for Heroes, and Giuntoli is my new Milo Ventimiglia. Except that while Sylar made clock repair look creepy on Heroes, Monroe makes it look pretty normal again on Grimm - even though Monroe is a blutbad/werewolf. But a mostly-good one.



Then there was Peter Facinelli. Quoth Alexandra O'Hurley, "he was NOT meant to be a blonde," and it's true he's a complete hottie as a brunette. But he's Carlisle fucking Cullen. So I tells Alex, I says, "As a Twilight fan who likes her vampires noble, I so wanna get Carlisle in the sunlight and watch him sparkle, baby!"



I think Carlisle Cullen is my perfect fictional husband, actually. I also have this theory that Carlisle and Esme are secretly really wild in bed, wilder than Emmett and Rosalie. Same deal Molly and Arthur Weasley, 'cause the Demeter-esque mother-goddess archetype is perfectly comfortable with her sexuality.

Ambiguously Italian-American: Jim Caviezel

I called him Italian in the Epic Easter Post, going on IMDB's suggestion that his unusual surname is of an Alps Italian dialect. Wikipedia says Swiss, BUT Swiss people come in a variety of French-speaking, German-speaking and, yes, Italian-speaking ethnic varieties. The last names suggests Swiss nationality, Italian ethnicity. Does he get his ass kicked on Columbus Day? Well, no, 'cause he's a total BAMF and he'd kneecap anyone who tried.

Totally, unambiguously Irish-American on his mom's side, though. (Those "dorky" sweaters? Hella expensive imported Irish wool, and a total Celtic pride thing. He also rocks the flat tweed cap like nobody's business.) So if I can't count him for Columbus Day, we'll still have St. Patrick's Day.



These are a few of my favorite people of Italian descent. On the 12th, remember that I said nice (or at least respectfully lustful) things about them. "Respectful lust" is totally a thing.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Weekly Dish with B&N: Halloween Costumes

Hopping by from the Evernight Publishing Birthday Blog Hop? See this post.

The Weekly Dish with B+N
I haven't actually dressed up for Halloween since I worked in a school, years ago. But if I were going to dress up, here are some costume ideas:

Dia de los Muertos figure:



Goth pirate:



Vampire:



Marge Simpson:



Avenger:



Green Lantern:


Monday, October 8, 2012

Evernight Publishing Birthday Blog Hop!


Welcome to the Evernight Publishing birthday blog hop!
Evernight Publishing opened its doors two years ago. In those two years we’ve signed over one hundred and sixty authors and published over three hundred books. From paranormal to contemporary, we’ve had more best sellers than we can count and made thousands of people smile, sigh and gasp. So, as a thank you to all our readers and everyone who has supported us, we’re holding this blog hop and we have a whole lot of prizes to offer you.
Here's how it works... the more blogs you hop to (shown below) the more chance you have of winning prizes. Each author on the hop is offering a prize and Evernight is offering the following grand prizes, a Kindle, a $100 Amazon gift certificate, two Evernight swag bags (which includes a tote, a tee, vouchers, a mug and other coolness) and a personalized Facebook banner. To be in with a chance of winning the author prize simply follow the blog you're visiting and leave a comment which includes your email address. Each entry on each blog is then counted towards the grand prize draw. The more entries you have, the better your chance of winning a grand prize! You also get extra points for liking the Evernight Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/#!/evernightpublishing. Just make sure you let us know in the comments that you've done so.
Good luck and happy hopping!

Hi, guys. Evernight Publishing author Erin O'Riordan here. I wrote the short story "Post Op" in the Evernight threesome anthology Indecent Encounters. In "Post Op," a doctor bends the rules when she finds herself attracted to a patient - and his roommate-with-benefits.
I'll randomly choose one winner who leaves a comment on this post to the print version, signed by me!

When you comment, please make sure I can get in touch with you. If you have a Blogger (Google) account and I can get to your (public) e-mail address by clicking on your name, then you don't have to do anything except comment. If you don't have a Google/Blogger account with a public e-mail address, please leave an e-mail address in this format with your comment:

erinoriordan AT sbcglobal DOT net

Good luck, and don't forget to visit the other participating authors on their blogs!


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Guest Post ~ Happily Ever After by Kate Monroe

That’s the one thing that all romance novels have to have in common, isn’t it? The ultimate goal is for the two lead characters to end up together, no matter what subgenre their tale is set in. The reader won’t be satisfied unless the characters they’ve invested their time and emotion into get their happy ending in defiance of the obstacles that are in their way; and it’s those obstacles that make the story.

Can you imagine reading a romance novel where the two characters get together and resolve all their issues in Chapter One?  There would be none of the tension or delicious anticipation that a true tale of romance needs in order to draw in the reader and bring them along on the journey. That journey by definition cannot be an easy one, for if it was then the story wouldn’t intrigue the reader.
The conflicts that make the story a success and keep the reader’s interest need to come from two directions – internal and external. Simply put, the things keeping them apart need to be both their own internal doubts and fears holding them back, whilst at the same time external forces are working to make it difficult for them to be together.
In The Falcon’s Chase, Reuben and Ari must face those issues in abundance.  Both of them have personal issues that they must deal with; for Reuben, it’s the prosthetic arm he wears. Though the nanorobots that control it make it physically superior to the flesh and bone it replaced, it’s a constant reminder of a terrible and painful secret in his past. He detests it, for not only does it force him to remember all that he’d rather forget, he also believes it makes him less than other men; less attractive, and less worthy.

Ari has just as many troubles of her own. All she does is driven by her soul-deep need for the independence that has been denied to her all her life. The only child of the Admiral of the British Navy, she has been treated as nothing more than a possession by her father. Her wants and needs have been ignored since she was a small child, and now she has sacrificed everything in order to win the freedom she craves. She hasn’t done so simply to fall straight under the control of another man; and with that consuming her, the thought of submitting to all she feels for the captain of the Falcon is near unbearable.

Even if Reuben and Ari can manage to deal with those obstacles, though, circling around them is a disaster waiting to happen, inextricably tangled around them both in ways they could never have imagined. The families they both fled from  draw them back to the very last place they would ever want to be, and the enormity of the truth they discover there dwarfs all else that has come before.

It might sound formulaic and cliché, but the key to writing a successful romance is to stick to such time-honoured elements that have been proven to work from the days of fairytales, through to the era of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and then right up to the here and now.

***
Kate Monroe is a redheaded author and editor who lives in a quiet and inspirational corner of southern England. She has penchants for classic sci-fi, horror and loud guitars, and a fatal weakness for red wine. Her interests in writing range from horror to erotica, taking in historical romance, steampunk and tales of the paranormal on the way; whatever she dreamed about the night before is liable to find its way onto the page in some form or another…
Kate has had short stories published in numerous anthologies including works by Sirens Call Publications, Cruentus Libri Press, Rainstorm Press and Angelic Knight Press. The Falcon's Chase is her debut full-length novel.
***
The Falcon’s Chase 

Captain Reuben Costello is just hours away from facing his execution when the unlikeliest of rescuers storms into his cell. Lady Arianne Dalton needs the assistance of the infamous Black Swan to flee England and all its constraints. He finds himself more than willing to help the fiercely independent Ari in exchange for his freedom.

However, when they come to find their fates inextricably tangled in a plot that threatens the very foundations of British society, they are swept away on a chase that puts not only their lives, but their hearts at risk - and neither of them can defy the wild and stormy ride they find upon the Falcon.

Author: Kate Monroe
Publisher: Pink Pepper Press
Number of Pages: 298 pages

ISBN-13: 978-0615695662
ISBN-10: 0615695663

Release Date: October 5, 2012

***

Links for Purchase:
***
The Falcon’s Chase Excerpt:
Chapter One

London, 1861

Reuben Costello knew that he had tried a hundred times to wrench the unyielding iron bars of his prison cell apart, but he could not resist the urge to try just once more. However hard he tugged, though, they withstood even the inhuman amount of force that his prosthetic arm applied to them, just as they had so many times before.

He delivered a furious kick to the bars that had him inescapably trapped as his dark eyes settled upon the copper plated arm that he wore like a badge of honour. Meticulously bonded to the living flesh it clung to, it was just as responsive and more effective than the arm of muscles and bones that had existed in its place for the first eleven years of his life; but though he had worn it for twenty years now and it had served him well for all of those, the sight of it still filled him with a bitter and resentful disgust.

Even that painful emotion, though, could not distract him for more than a few moments. Far more pressing was the grim awareness that with every second that passed, sunrise drew nearer, and with it would come his execution. Reuben had lived a far from blameless life, always dancing along the thin, blurred line that separated the pursuits of an ordinary merchant and the more interesting activities that he liked to indulge in.

Betrayed to Her Majesty's Royal Navy after a dalliance with the pirates that roamed the Red Sea proved too irresistible for his mercenary side to ignore, Reuben had been captured and dragged to the infamous Tower of London. It had taken no less than a dozen captains to bring him in. Had he been aboard his ship when they attacked, he had no doubt that they would not have succeeded.

Reuben had not been aboard the Falcon, though. Instead, he had been spending the night with his latest mistress - and when she had brazenly lounged back on the bed with a cigarillo between her perfect red lips and laughed loudly as they dragged him away, he had silently cursed his propensity for choosing his bedmates based on looks alone.

That, it seemed, was not a mistake he would have the chance to ever make again. Though his crime was nowhere as severe as it should be to warrant execution, that was the sentence that had inexplicably been passed. Time was rapidly slipping away from him and much to his disgust, it was becoming clear that there would be no escape from the harsh fate that awaited him.

He sank down to the cold, grimy cobbles that lined his dungeon cell and affixed a menacing scowl to his face for the sole benefit of any gaolers that should happen to parade past his cell with their looks of disdain and taunts about the noose that was so soon to be claiming his neck in the hangman's embrace. Soon, light footsteps heralded the approach of just such a person.

Reuben snatched upon the only amusement that would be his on this last lonely night of life. He wrapped his fingers around the hateful bars of his cell and knelt down, drawing back his thin lips to expose the gleaming teeth beneath as he deliberately allowed a low, ominous growl to rise up from the pit of his stomach and echo around the confines of the dungeon.

He squinted into the dimly-lit gloom as the footsteps quickened and caught sight of a distinct shape emerging from the putrid darkness. Far shorter than any of the guards he had become accustomed to - he would estimate that the top of their head would not even reach his shoulder - and dressed all in black, the person reached into their pocket and extracted what was undoubtedly, from the jangling sound of metal against metal, a bunch of heavy brass keys.

Reuben's eyes narrowed as they quickly swept across the newcomer appraisingly. Their head was bowed low, concealed from his gaze by the shadow of the black cap atop it, and a full-length greatcoat enveloped their body and skimmed across their ankles to reveal tight-fitting breeches and laced leather boots.

Everything about the clothing that they wore screamed of masculinity, but an incredulous suspicion was rising inside him that it was no man that stood before him. The slender fingers that were now fumbling with the keys were pale and unblemished, as far removed from the rough and calloused hands of the gaolers as it was possible to be. As they unlocked the door and hastily slammed it shut behind them, the shape of a second person stepped out of the shadows in the corridor.

“I shall stay at the end of the corridor to stand guard, then - just shout if you need me, ma'am.” They were dismissed with a jerk of the head and an irritable wave of the delicate hand that had unlocked the door.

Even if those intriguing words had not made it plain that it was a woman now locked in the cell with him, any remaining doubt he might have had was extinguished when he inhaled sharply and a delicate scent that had wafted in with the newcomer danced around his senses, teasing and tantalising him with its faint notes of jasmine and gardenia. It was a scent that was intrinsically and undeniably feminine in origin.

Reuben swallowed hard, for a woman's appearance in his cell could mean only one thing. He let loose a soft groan. He had been alone in his cell for over a month now and the company of a woman was perhaps the only thing that might make him able to forget his imminent execution. With a deep, primal hunger raging inside him, he stared at her intently as she slowly pulled away her cap to reveal the face of the woman that had come to offer him the scant comfort she could provide.

“Ah! You are to be this condemned man's last meal, I presume?” Reuben's low voice was hoarse, for the instant that she had removed her cap and revealed herself to him, he had been consumed by such a forceful throb of aching desire that he knew he had to have her, prostitute or not. Not even pausing to think upon the surprising and uncharacteristic generosity that his gaolers had shown in sending such a rare beauty to him on the eve of his execution, he roughly backed her up against the stone walls of the cell.

Her soulful eyes widened and her lips parted, but before she could speak Reuben devoted himself to the far from unpalatable task at hand. If this was to be the last woman he would take before his execution then, he thought wryly, it was fitting that she was by far the loveliest he had ever had in his arms, despite her manly attire - attire that he intended to waste no time in stripping away from her shapely form.

He shook his tangled, jet black braids back out of his face, lowered his head and laid forceful, triumphant claim to her wonderfully soft and pliant lips, already dizzy with the strength of his desperate yearning for her. Reuben slipped one hand behind her head to caress the delicate nape of her neck and hold her in place as his fingers wound through the silken curls of hair escaping the tight bun attempting to restrain them, his arousal rapidly spiralling out of control as he pushed himself up against her to mould himself against every feminine contour of her body.

He forced his prosthetic arm between their bodies to reach for the intricate buttons of her greatcoat and tugged them apart with such force that they ripped free of the fabric, but even that was not enough to persuade him to break the kiss. Never before had a mere kiss managed to arouse him with such ferocity. Perhaps it was the adrenalin pounding through his body in anticipation of his death intensifying all that he felt, but Reuben had never craved any woman as much as he did this one.

As his fingers insistently moved between their bodies to seek out the fastenings of her shirt, though, brushing against the agonisingly tempting curve of her high, full breasts as they did so, she twisted her head to the side with a loud and rasping cry. “What in God's name do you think that you are doing, sir?!”

Reuben arched one dark eyebrow incredulously as he fought for breath and ruthlessly kept her pinned up against the wall. “I thought that was more than obvious! I was beginning to avail myself of all the pleasures that your sweet mouth had to offer to me. Is that not why you came here?”

No!” Rage burned in her wide, darkened eyes as she struggled desperately to free herself of his hold. “Good God, I am no...no...” She trailed off, blushing hotly as a small smile began to quirk back the corner of his lips.

“Prostitute?” Reuben offered mildly, his anger at being interrupted fading away in the face of her evident reaction to his proximity - a reaction that it seemed she was not simply falsifying for the sake of her wages.

“Indeed I am not!”

Her curt denial seemed genuine, much to his bemusement. As he allowed his fingers to work their way underneath the shirt she wore to caress the bare skin he found beneath, he tilted his head to the side. “But I don't understand - how did you get in here if you are not a prostitute, little lady?”

Her flush deepened but her lips twitched with what could only be irritation as she plunged one hand into her pocket and extracted a furled piece of parchment. She unravelled it and thrust it at him contemptuously. “Admiral Dalton's seal tends to open any door that happens to be in one's way.”

“Admiral Dalton signed an order for my release?”

“No, but I am very adept at forging my father's signature; I am Lady Arianne Dalton. My friends call me Ari, but you may call me milady - and you can let me go now!”