31 March 2011

An excerpt from RECONSTRUCTING CHARLIE from Charmaine Gordon

In 1996, I killed my father.

Dear old Dad was great with a belt. A belt of whiskey. A belt from around his waist unbuckled when you least expected it and later I knew when it was coming and some of us escaped. Not me, not Mom. Never Mom. I’m the oldest. I didn’t want the little ones to see the okay dad turn into a monster dad on payday. Every payday.

Chapter 1
I heard the television turned up loud before I opened the door. Mom always hoped for a distraction. Maybe this time instead of beating up on us, he’d watch the Minnesota Twins beat the hell out of the Boston Red Sox. Rant over every play, curse the umpires, yell that the Hubert H. Humphrey Stadium wasn’t good enough. 1996. Not a great year so far for the Twins. On this payday, after I dropped the kids off, I raced home just in time to be with Mom.

The front door banged open hard enough to rattle dishes in the cabinet. Mom’s treasure–a painted porcelain egg–rolled to the edge, teetered for a second and fell end over end to the hardwood floor. The small egg cracked with the force of a bomb. Mom stared at broken pieces from a life she had long ago. Her face turned white, every freckle showing, and my fists clenched.

He staggered around waving a tire iron in the air; muscled from working a jackhammer for the city all his sorry life and ugly drunk. Flowers flew off the table with sprays of water and shattered glass. Cursing, he went after Mom. This time I was ready. I wrestled it out of his filthy hands and hit him good. He lay torn up, didn’t move, blood everywhere on Mom’s clean kitchen floor. I stood there looking down at my father and thought how hard it was going to be for Mom to get the blood up. And how come he was the worst father in the world scaring all of us, hurting Mom and me. I breathed too fast and almost threw up. We were safe now because I’d done this terrible thing and I didn’t know how I could live with it.

Mom’s thick auburn hair came loose from her bun and she looked so pretty bending over him, a finger pressed to his neck as if she was a cop. On tiptoes, she pulled the ceiling fan chain and her sleeve rolled back. Black and blue marks covered her arm. I counted them. Mom had a lot more than I did. The breeze felt good. Then she wiped my fingerprints off the tire iron and replaced them with hers.

I watched Mom change from quiet refined Liz Costigan to someone I didn’t know.She reached in his pants like a pickpocket and came up with a handful of dollars and coins. Handing me the money, Mom said, “I guess he drank the rest of his pay. Sorry it’s not more. Let’s get you packed.”

She was in charge, this new mother, and I didn’t question her. Icy cold inside myself, Mom dragged me along to my bedroom. I kept looking back expecting him to come after us.

“Reach up high on the top shelf, Charlie. Bring the suitcase down.”
Mom’s hands caressed the leather case I’d never seen.

“I packed my clothes and ran away sixteen years ago,” she said. “I was wild, out-of-control.”

“Were you ever sorry, Mom?”

“I have you and Jimmy, and my little girls. Take a shower. I have things to do.” She pushed me toward the hall.

I heard Mom opening and closing drawers, knew she’d be too busy to worry about me for a while and crept back to the bloody mess to make sure he really was dead. His dark eyes had turned to an empty stare.

Shivering, I ran for the bathroom. Even a hot shower couldn’t warm me and blood refused to wash off. Words spun around in my head. ‘Out, out, damned spot.’ I scrubbed ’til it hurt. Lady Macbeth, that’s me.

Wrapped in a towel, I watched Mom empty my clothes into her suitcase.
I couldn’t move. He’s dead in the house and she packed my clothes for what? Mom added a dress hanging at the back of the closet, folded and placed it on top. The sound of the zipper closing on the suitcase startled me into action. I pried up the board in the closet, removed my money, and secured it into a money belt I’d bought in a second hand shop. Mom nodded approval.

“Wear this,” she said, handing me jeans and a long sleeved tee shirt. I dug some underwear out of the suitcase and dressed.

Unfastening a gold locket on a long chain she wore around her neck, she said, “Hold up your hair, my girl.”

We stood face to face, her hazel eyes looking into mine. I heard a tiny click when the clasp was in place around my neck. She kissed the locket and let it slide under my shirt.

“What’s in the locket, Mom?”

“Two sisters, my dear Charlie. One wise. One foolish.” Mom smiled the saddest smile. She held my face in both hands. “Yes, I have a sister, your aunt Eleanor. Now listen hard. Money and education. Most important. And one more thing, precious girl, don’t let boys catch your scent. Keep clean. That’s something I forgot.”

Scared and bewildered, I wasn’t used to her making fast decisions. Any decisions.
“I’ll call the police after you’re gone. It was self-defense. There are hospital
records of abuse for years. The Union will take financial care of us. Your job is to make a new life. Catch a bus to Chicago. My sister is there.”

She pulled a box out from a drawer in my small desk and opened it. Fancy stationery paper, the old fashioned kind with the scent of flowers. Taking a deep breath, mom wrote in her perfect handwriting. I always believed mom had a lot of secrets. Now I got a peek at some just before I was leaving. Not fair and I felt like my little sisters when they stamped their feet against the world. I didn’t want to leave. She tucked two sheets of paper in a matching envelope and added an address.

“Don’t lose this, Charlie. It’s your passport to a new life.”
I couldn’t speak. Somehow words got stuck in my throat so I read the name Mom had written. Mrs. Stuart Alfred. I unzipped a side pocket on my backpack and placed the envelope in with care.

“Don’t let her turn you away. She’s my older sister. She hated your father.”
I never saw her cry before and when tears fell, she brushed them away.

Panic set in. “What if she’s not there?”

“She’ll be there, same as always. I’ve kept in touch with her. Not often. Just enough.”

“Charlie,” Mom looked in my eyes so deep as if she was taking a picture, “don’t call. I’ll call you when I have something to say. Now hurry. It’s not too late to catch the bus.”

Mom hugged me and I ran.

-"Reconstructing Charlie" by Charmaine Gordon


29 March 2011

Charmaine Gordon Says...

Q) What is the best thing about writing?

As an actor, I cherished every word in the script with respect to the playwright never
thinking one day I’d be a writer. A mother hears her child say, “Read me a
story, Mommy.” Read becomes“Tell me a story, Mom.” And here I am with a
publisher, Kimberlee Williams-Vanilla Heart Publishing who calls and says,
“Write a new story.”

The best is using the powerful gift of imagination. An idea wakes me from sleep. In the
morning I write. Think of what the writer can do with a story. You create a
situation, two people meet, maybe fall in love, a misunderstanding, obstacles
you throw in their path to prevent an easy solution and at last, love wins. OR
an evil presence, a parallel story to collide, illness, death, destruction,
misunderstanding and love wins OR. . .Possibilities are endless. The author is
in command OR is she? The characters take over as they often do. The author
loses herself, cries, laughs, and writes until The End. You weep some more
because your baby has grown up and you want to show her to the world. Then the
real work begins. Promotion, marketing. Oh my. All you want to do is write.

Years of experience as an actor on daytime drama. Stage, spokesperson and commercials plus writing sketches for
Air Force shows helped prepare me for the wonders of a writing career. Of
course, I didn’t realize it at the time when immersed in the written words of
others, that I was like a sponge, soaking up how to construct a scene, write
dialogue, and paint the setting.

I kissed my acting career goodbye, leaving on a high note with the lead in an Off
Broadway play, “The Fourth Commandment” author Rich Knipe. It was great fun and
time to move on. Movies like “Working Girl”, “Road to Wellsville” and having
the pleasure of Anthony Hopkins company at lunch, working with Mike Nichols in
“Regarding Henry” and singing outside with Harrison Ford, crying with Gene
Wilder over loss on another set, When “Harry Met Sally” with the whole gang
singing It Had to Be You. Lots of fond memories. My first job as
stand-in leg model for Geraldine Ferraro in a Diet Pepsi commercial with Secret
Service men guarding her and her daughters. A sweet time.

**Charmaine has given me permission to post an excerpt from her novel
"Reconstructing Charlie"! Check back on Friday to read this totally
engrossing sneak peek!

27 March 2011

Movie Monday - Sucker Punch

There have been some negative reviews on this movie, and I think they come about from not truly understanding this film. Yes, its part anime, part video game, part fantasy, part steampunk, and part over-the-top drama, but at the core of it, Sucker Punch delivers a helluva ride.

The film starts out in a tech-noir type feel with Babydoll’s mother dying, leaving behind two daughters with a stepdad that is a lecherous old man. He goes after the younger sister, locking Babydoll away, but our heroine is fearless and brave. She shimmy’s down the drainpipe, runs back in the front, finds the stepdad’s gun and bravely goes to save her sister, only to accidentally shoot and kill her sibling.

Babydoll is taken away to a mental institute where the stepdad buys off the orderly to “send her to paradise” via a lobotomy. Babydoll has five days. Thus sends her off into a fantasy world to escape, literally, the crazy house via a journey of collecting five things that will help her in her quest for freedom. Babydoll transports her mind into a world where she has been sold into a brothel and she must dance to survive. We never see these dances but we know they enchant men who watch her. While she “dances” she goes into a fantasy world of WW1 trenches, fighting a fire breathing dragon, and stealing a bomb from a train. These fantasies are larger than life, including the four women who join her: Amber, Blondie, Rocket and SweetPea.

Now, this is where I think a lot of critics don’t understand who these women actually are and here’s my two cents…these friends are actually a personification of Babydoll’s psyche. She takes them with her on these fantasy journeys to escape the reality of being locked in a mental asylum with the threat of a lobotomy hanging over her head. I won’t divulge the ending, I don’t want to spoil it, but suffice to say that it is both tragic and sweet at the same time.

This movie wasn’t perfect. There were several things that could have been changed to make it a great film, and again, I can’t really go into it because that would reveal too much of the ending. But how can you not love a film that has badass girls wielding katanas and machine guns dressed in corsets and black leather? It was fun, it was entertaining, and it gave my imagination a jumpstart. I recommend seeing this film in the theaters to give the CGI and sound mixture its proper due, but don’t sit in the front row because you’ll give yourself a headache. And don’t be expecting an Oscar worthy script, like I said there are flaws and there are holes, but do expect to leave the theater thinking you’ve seen a helluva ride!

26 March 2011

Book Review- Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting

This is the sequel to the fabulous novel, The Body Finder. And I’m glad to say that it holds up to its predecessor! Once again we follow Violet as she navigates through the ability to see the “echoes” of murdered victims, the new relationship she has with her BFF Jay, the FBI discovering her ability, and an unsolved death only she can solve. We are introduced to new characters and a deeper meaning to Violet’s unique gift, one she has to learn to accept.

It took me about two days to read this 368 page novel and I can’t wait for the next installment. I became a huge fan of Kimberly Derting when I read The Body Finder, and anxiously awaited the follow up. I think what I really like about these books are the honest way that Ms. Derting writes about teenage feelings. Yes, there is cussing, there is angst, and yes, she does venture into the “first time” sex very well. She takes a mystery/thriller story and adds a hint of paranormal. We know that Violet has a gift, we know she is special, but she is also very ordinary, and I like that fact.

The first book dealt with a pair of serial killers and in this book the creep factor comes in the delivery of an ordinary crush turning into something dark and deadly. I had half of it figured out, but the part I couldn’t was what made this into a great read. It leaves you guessing and needing to read it all to understand, which was why I had it done by the second day.

There are some paranormal YA novels that meander along (Fallen anyone?) and some that I debate if I want to read more (Crave..eh), and I blame that on mainly the authors trying too hard. With Ms. Derting, it’s effortless. Her writing style is succinct but her depth fantastic. I love Violet and Jay as a couple, and while some bemoan that Jay is too polished to be a teenage boy in love, the romantic in me is drawn to his devotion to Violet.

I’m very happy to read that two more books in The Body Finder series has been optioned, as has another series (The Pledge) coming soon.

22 March 2011

Michael Mandrake/Rawiya Says...

Q) Do you ever feel some of the erotic books ‘cross the line?’ (too much BDSM) Are there somethings you won’t write?

A: Yes. I'm not into stories of incest. The recent controversy over an authors books being removed from Amazon did bother me but there's nothing that I find appealing about people having sex with family members. I do agree that the author has the right to publish what they want, and as long as there is a market then go for it. I myself would never write an incest story.

-Michael M- http://tabooindeed.blogspot.com
Rawiya/Blmorticia - http://rawiyaserotica.blogspot.com
Facebook - Taboos and Perversions
Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/rawiyamichaelm

Michael Mandrake's The True Meaning of Love is out now from XOXO publishing.
Different Kind of Family Portrait out in the Tattoo Anthology Volume II

Rawiya's Sugar Daddy Out in the Who's Your Daddy anthology by STARbooksin Spring

(Desires of the Dead book Review was suppose to be posted on Wednesday...I got my days mixed up! It will be up on Saturday!!!)

21 March 2011

Movie Monday - Laila's Birthday

Palestinian Director Rashid Masharawi’s body of work typically consists of films that depict refugee camp life; he was born in the Al-Shati camp, located in the north Gaza strip. His films “Curfew” (1994) and “Haifa” (1996) tell the story of one family’s adversity in a tumultuous era. However, in his current release, “Laila’s Birthday,” Masharawi teams up for a third time with vet actor Mohammed Bakri in a film about modern day Israeli-occupied Palestine, told through the eyes of an everyday working man.

Husband and father Abu Laila (Mohammed Bakri) is a court judge by profession, but he cannot attain his stature due to the economic climate of his country. As a result, to provide for his family, he's forced to drive a cab through the streets of Ramallah. One morning, Laila jolts awake to start another bleak day only to be reminded by his wife that it is their daughter’s seventh birthday and he must be home by 8pm with a present and cake in hand.

Although a simple task, Abu Laila does not have the luxury of using an “off duty” sign, and encounters a difficult day as each passenger he picks up weaves a theme with a socio-political message. The helicopters hovering overhead, reminiscent of a war-torn area, make Laila’s bright yellow taxicab is a glimmer of light against the neutral tones of the stone buildings and crowded market streets. Laila interacts with controlled agitation with each passenger, employing a judicial mind-set in trying to understand the psyche of his fellow Palestinians.

Laila is told by a young couple that it is cheaper to go for a cab ride than it is to surf the Internet; he charges only 4 Shekels, which is equivalent to one U.S dollar. As he drives past a potential welfare line, a female passenger jumps out to get on line not even realizing what the line is for. Later on, he refuses to take a Nun to an Israeli checkpoint, holding that they are demeaning and problematic.
Laila has a set of rules, which he enforces. He does not allow his passengers to smoke or to bear arms. Laila's own son (Saleh Bakri) stars as an ex-convict who insists on smoking in Laila’s taxi. Later in the film, the young man is seen marching in a street protest.

As Abu Laila attempts to choose a gift and a cake, he is consistently derailed by unexpected fares, a broken down cab, and then finally the coup de grâce–a bomb explosion that sends the city in to a panic. He gets so aggravated with the daily condition that he finally has an emotional breakdown. Stuck in a traffic jam, he takes it upon himself to vent over a vehicle megaphone that is conveniently situated at the side of the road. Ironically, although the day is harrowing, Laila still manages to make it home in time with a surprise for his daughter.
Visually, “Laila’s Birthday” opens with black and white title credits and uses artfully positioned saturated colors. Depicting Ramallah’s primarily stark landscape, gleams of beauty are seen through lush trees intermittently seen through the city. Accompanied with lyrical folk music, “Laila’s Birthday” is a simple story that tackles harsh issues with sardonic wit.

Mohammed Bakri is brilliant as a representative of the working class trying to get ahead. His is an overqualified cabbie seeking a superior life. His patience wanes as he overcomes each hurdle while analyzing the idiocy of the political situation. His final outburst towards the end of the film voices outrage towards the checkpoints, towards the young men who carry guns on the streets, and towards the futility of the resistance fighters. His wife (Areen Omari), who has appeared in both “Haifa” and “Curfew,” delicately reminds her husband of the importance of family even during dark days.

The beauty of this film is the comic and dramatic timing while dealing with grim material. The world is small, and although this film is in Arabic, it portrays global economic conflicts, whether caused by occupying country, overbearing government, or the internal struggle of one’s self-worth.

Winner of the Mustafa Akkad Prize at the 2009 Fajr Film Festival (Iran) and the
Silver Screen Award for the Best Asian Feature Film at the 2009 Singapore Film Fest, “Laila’s Birthday” is a 71-minute-long social message feature, told with sardonic comedy and familial storyline. Viewers will not be turned away by the film's serious theme and should be able to easily identify with the desire for a better life.

-Lark Aldrin-Clement

19 March 2011

Book Review - The Boundless Deep by Kate Brallier

(Sorry this is review is a day late!!)

Though this book was published in 2008, don't underestimate the power of this story. It's one of those books that you keep and re-read. It is a love story that crosses the division of death into the realm of reincarnation. Set amidst the era of whaling in Nantucket, it is told superbly in first person narrative.

Liza has had dreams of whaling her whole life, despite never having been to the ocean. So she jumps at the chance to spend the summer working in Nantucket with her roommate and friend. She has the idea that somehow she can disprove how accurate her dreams are, but quite the opposite happens. Not only can she spout facts about sailing, she can identify even the most obscure piece of equipment. Her dreams have revved up a notch as well. Every night she dreams of Obidah Young, a whaling captain from the 1840’s accused of murdering his wife.

Liza’s summer in Nantucket is filled with work and romance. She meets Adam, a museum guide, who has his doubts about her reincarnation theory. There is also Lucian, who uses his sharp tongue to defuse the sexual tension between him and Liza. The book is filled with memorable characters that help Liza solve the mystery of her dreams and who she used to be.

Ms. Brallier does a great job of differentiating between Liza of 1840 and present day by changing how she “talks” in the dreams, from very formal to modern day slang. But beyond how well this story is brought together, what really captures the reader is Nantucket itself. The author really did her research on bringing to life the city of old. I wanted to jump in my car and drive there, finding all the spots she wrote about and pointed out.

This is one of those books that beautifully blends a mystery, a romance, a historical and a paranormal all in one. It makes you want to visit Nantucket and see if you can find your very own Obidah.

The Reviews are in!

I've received some great feedback on my latest novella, A Man After Midnight! Many thanks to Sheila and Ann for reading my work and reviewing it!

From Two Lips Reviews:

Caroline accompanies her friend to a convention in New York City to get over her failed marriage. Her friend suggests she go to a bar and find a man for a weekend fling. Being attacked upon leaving the bar, Caroline is rescued by Wren. They begin a weekend fling where nothing is taboo. Caroline knows there is no future with her fling in Beth D. Carter’s A Man After Midnight but will it open her to her sexuality and allow her to take risks or will she go back to her safe life in Louisiana?

I liked Caroline and Wren. Wren has the stronger personality but Caroline is not weak. Wren asks the question, “What do you want?” That is not an easy question to answer for a woman who has been in a bad relationship. Caroline has to face herself and her fears to grab what she wants. I liked the intensity between Caroline and Wren, especially sexually. Wren brings Caroline to a sexual level she has never had before. Both are working through their fears, wanting to trust each other, and wanting to belong somewhere.

Beth D. Carter has a succinct writing style that works well in A Man After Midnight. She is concise and sparse in her words. It beautifully sets up the intensity between Wren and Caroline and gives a tone for their relationship. They are not given to much speaking during their weekend but what is said matters as does what is not spoken. I look forward to reading more of Ms. Carter’s writing.

And from The Romance Reviews (TRR):

This was a very sexy, incredibly hot read from beginning to end, with just enough humor thrown in to round out the story. I loved it when Caroline's friend Aldy finds out that she is dating her boss, Wren, and her response is "Ewww"!

The story begins with Caroline vacationing in the Big Apple with her friend, Aldy, who is attending a cosmetic convention. Caroline has tagged along in hopes of getting her life back on track after her divorce and also to spend some time with her best friend.

Wren and Caroline's weekend fling begins in the hotel bar where he rescues her from a slimy lounge lizard. The evening progresses from dancing to a Big Band Orchestra, to heavy petting in the stairwell of the dance venue, to finally spending the night with Wren in his hotel room. Las Vegas really started something with their Ad campaign because Caroline ultimately realizes that "what happens in New York, stays in New York". She tosses her pro and con list out the window and begins concentrating on spending a guilt free weekend full of sexually satisfying pleasures with Wren.

The erotic interludes start out in a G rated fashion and quickly evolve to XXX. The author skillfully allows Caroline to explore both her sexuality and her inhibitions. As each sexual encounter takes place, the author eases the reader into the moment and then moves the story along. It's as if you're given the same safe word Wren gives Caroline to reassure her during their sexual encounters. I thought that I might be uncomfortable with the anal play and bondage in this novella, but the author makes each encounter a passionate and very hot experience. It just goes to show that stepping out of your comfort zone once in a while can be a good experience!

I liked the way the author used the weekend fling as a starting point for Caroline's examination of her marriage and why it failed. This enables her to begin the healing process by letting go of her hurt and anger. It's at this point that she realizes that not only has Wren given her great pleasure, but he's also given her the confidence to begin the process of putting her life back together and to move forward. Caroline realizes that Wren has given her a wonderful gift - the ability to love again.

My only complaint about the novella was it was way too short! The main characters were well developed and the story flowed from one scene to the next without a hitch. I'm looking forward to reading the next installment from this author.

15 March 2011

Guest Blogger - Tricia A. Taylor

When did I begin my dream of writing? Well, it really goes back to before I can remember. I know that as a small child, I loved to put on plays which were performed by a myriad of stuffed animals and dolls, presented with pride to the full-sized mirror in my grandpa’s house.

Later, when I actually knew how to read and write, my imagination went wild. Many of my stories were written as gifts to my mom.

I only wish in hind-sight that I would have realized that pencil is not the best way to preserve these stories.

At the time, I couldn’t even imagine being 40 years old, much less that I would have held onto my writing for so long!! Thank goodness for the advent of word processors and then computers.

My imagination has always been strong, if sometimes inconvenient. My writing swayed from action to sci-fi to romance. I also loved to write about my favorite tv shows and movies….including a new character that remarkably reminded me of….me. Today they call it Fan Fiction. I wasn’t aware of that label at the time (or if it even existed before popular websites).

My writing has always been very visual for me. If I can't "see it in my head" then it doesn't go on paper. I rely on these instincts to write the best dialogue and mannerisms for my characters. Because I used actual people from history in my books, I like to try to keep "their" history as accurate as possible. Obviously a lot of creative license is used to meld the fiction and nonfiction in what is hopefully a smooth narrative.

I am proud to say that as I’ve kept up with my writing, I have since become a published author and am working on another!

My obstacles in my writing adventures involve…LIFE. I let things in my life suck me away from what I love. I have many unfinished stories…some so close to being done that I can taste it. Yet I still suffer from the distractedness of my imagination. I am constantly getting new ideas and putting other endeavors on the back burner. I have a very good friend (Beth D. Carter) who has always impressed me with her ability to juggle family, work and her writing with great efficiency. I am hoping some of her determination will rub off on me.

Meantime, I continue to jot down my ideas, write what I “see in my head” and hope that I will never give up on what is my happiest “job”.

Keep on DayDreaming!!!

-Tricia A. Taylor

Follow my published writing and share with friends!

14 March 2011

Movie Monday - Letters to Juliet

Set amidst the background of Tuscany, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried from Mama Mia!) and her fiancée take a pre-honeymoon trip to Verona, Italy because both will be too busy after the wedding to take time off. And it’s a good thing they do, because it broadcasts how each pursue their passions, indifferent to each other. Sophie, a writer, discovers the “Secretaries of Juliet”, a group of women who collect the letters written by women who visit the famed Juliet’s balcony and statue, asking for love advice. These women devote their lives to giving all types of love advice.

With her fiancé off finding new wines and foods for his up-coming restaurant, Sophie decides to help answer the letters, and finds a letter written in 1957 wedged behind a stone, left unanswered. The letter is from a girl named Claire Smith (the amazing Vanessa Redgrave) who had been too overwhelmed by her love for a boy named Lorenzo, and leaves him behind. Moved by the regret in the letter, Sophie answers it. Low and behold, her letter finds Claire.

And so the movie takes us on a charming adventure of two women at different points in their lives, rediscovering true love. Claire, as she searches through Tuscany, trying to find Lorenzo after fifty years, and Sophie as she falls for Claire’s ill-tempered straight-laced grandson, Charlie. Charlie doesn’t believe in his grandmother’s quest, doesn’t really believe in love, but over the course of their travels comes to discover the miracle of one’s soul mate.

The only problem to find is using the suspension of disbelief that a letter mailed to a “Claire Smith” fifty years later would find its way to the original owner, but that’s a very minor moot point.

I have been fortunate enough to visit Verona and Juliet’s garden, and while as lovely and charming as depicted, there were little things off from how I remembered it. Not many people would realize that it is expected to cup Juliet’s right breast for a photo-op, ensuring good luck in love, so that may seem odd to some. And while I don’t know if there really is a “Secretaries of Juliet” society, it certainly is a beautiful concept.

All in all, this move was one of those romantic, feel good films that’s perfect to curl up with on either a hot day or cold night.

12 March 2011

Eden Baylee Says...

Q) Who makes some of those racy covers? Do you get a say about them?!

Yes, I had 100% say in my cover, so it certainly fits the tone of my book. I am self-published, so I designed the cover with my husband who does media design for a living.

As my book is a collection of four novellas, I couldn't just highlight a particular story with the cover since each story is very unique. Instead I took the title and played on it. Two stories take place in the fall, and two in the winter, so I chose images that represented the seasons. Next, I had to incorporate the erotic nature of my stories into the cover. For that, I chose a picture of a female's curvy back. From there, my husband created the layout. I love the symmetry of her body with the snowdrifts. The autumn leaves falling is a play on words with the "fall" season, and is meant to be whimsical, creating an illusion of movement.

Because the title is poetic and a metaphor for the stories themselves, I wanted the book cover to convey subtle sensuality. I’m not a fan of blatant covers—I like some mystery. The fact that several people have told me they didn't even realize it was a woman's body until they looked more closely shows me that I’ve accomplished my goal for the cover

-Eden Baylee

08 March 2011

Stacey Espino says....

Before we get to the next Reader Question, I have some exciting news to share! My publisher, Loose Id, just offered me an acceptance letter for the sequel to "Spirals" titled "Kismet"! I'm very happy to be bringing Evie's unique story to life.


And now, a great question answered by an equally great author! She is the best selling author of such books as "Saving Grace", "Fearless Desires" and "Cowboy Domination"!

Q) How did you come up with your steamy ideas? Do you do ‘real’ research?


I have a very active imagination and put my ideas and fantasies to work when it comes to sex scenes. I like to keep things varied and exciting while adding an emotional element. As for personal research, I don't participate in menages or BDSM, but I'm in a happy, healthy marriage which can be helpful in my writing.

-Stacey Espino


Contact: http://www.staceyespino.com/

07 March 2011

Movie Monday - Boys Before Flowers

So this isn't exactly a movie, but the show is so good that I just had to blog about it! I am a sucker for Asian romantic dramas. So I recently was able to see a 26 episode Korean series called “Boys Before Flowers”, based on a Japanese Manga, on Hulu.com. There have actually been a Japanese and a Taiwanese version of the same story...and yes, I've seen them too. And while those shows had their own charm, I really liked the actors attached to this version. They really seemed to fit their parts.

With superb sets, great acting, and lots of eye candy, this show was like chocolate cake for me!

The first episode starts with a girl, of course. When delivering a Shinhwa student's dry cleaning, Jan Di saves the life of her customer from committing suicide, who was a heavily bullied student at the most prestigious school in South Korea, Shinhwa Academy. Her actions soon became public and exposed the harsh bullying within the school, therefore enraging the public. To end the outrage of the public, Jan Di is offered a swimming scholarship to Shinhwa High School which she declines but her family forces her to attend.

During her first day at Shinhwa, Jan Di learns of the famous F4 and of the other students' adoration and fixation of/on the boys in the group. Gu Jun Pyo, Yoon Ji Hoo, So Yi Jeong, and Song Woo Bin are the richest and most powerful kids within Shinhwa and South Korea. Subsequently, they use their power to terrorize the weaker students or those they do not like. Jan Di, instead of being impressed, becomes enraged and fantasizes about confronting Gu Jun Pyo, the leader and initiator of many of the bullying acts. She gains courage to confront him when a friend accidentally drops ice cream on his shoes and he demands her to lick it off. Jan Di defends her friend and attempts to reason with Jun Pyo's tyrannical demand. He refuses to relent and demands her to lick it herself. Feigning licking it, she bends down but shoves her own ice cream in his face. Enraged by this, Gu Jun Pyo declares war on Jan Di and encourages the other students to bully her, by putting a Red Card in her locker. Jan Di however, is resistant, refusing to apologize to Gu Jun Pyo, and stands by her decision to fight him.

Through the episodes, Gu Jun Pyo falls in love with Jan Di, and thus their rocky romance begins as he and his friends transform from spoilt rich boys into men with hearts. Hulu.com provides the English subtitle translation and the show is easy enough to watch on laptop or computer. It’s lighthearted, fun, and overly dramatic at times, making it the perfect desert.

05 March 2011

Rachel Leigh Says....

I want to give a big round of thanks for all my Guest Bloggers who posted with me. I learned so much from them! And thanks to all who left messages. The winner of my ebook, A Man After Midnight, is flchen1...so please email me (beth at bethdcarter dot com) so I can send you the pdf version of my story!


This month is exciting for me because I have a fabulous line up of various questions that have been asked...and answered by authors! Up first to answer is Rachel Leigh, a fabulous erotica author whose first book, published through The Wild Rose Press, is set amid the English countryside.

BLURB: Laura Markham needs to forget - just for awhile. Be someone else for change - live as her parents will never have the chance to. And for Laura, that means leaving the City for the English countryside and doing just what the hell she feels like…wherever she feels like doing it…

British stockbroker, Stephen Cambridge knows by going home to his country retreat two days early, he's likely to startled his contracted interior designer. And when he finds out she's the woman who performed the solo masturbation show for him on the inward bound journey, Stephen will do anything to further convince her to miss outward bound train and stay with him forever…

Q) Do you get ever feel embarrassed when you write erotica?!

Never! Is that bad? I love writing erotica, it gives me a fabulous sense of escapism and power. Why not enjoy it? The aim is that if I get turned on, so will my writers. There is nothing to get embarrassed about…all healthy relationships should have a good element of sex in them. Experimentation and spice is what adds up to a damn hot recipe after all!



04 March 2011

Book Trailers

There are a slew of book trailers out there on Youtube; some great, some made by fans, and some are so professionally done they leave you wondering when the movie is coming out. Which leaves me wondering…are book trailers really necessary?

I just finished reading the excerpt from one of my favorite authors, Kimberly Dertling, and when finished I saw that she had a book trailer. Now, most trailers have pictures flashed up over some melodic song, a hunting ballad or love story. So when I watched “Desires of the Dead, I loved that it was live action-with actors acting out scenes and a voice over explaining a little about the main character. I was instantly hooked and wanted to search for any book trailer video I could find!

But then I thought it would make a far more interesting blog, wondering if it’s worth it to the author to make these videos, because most of us have to do it on our own. Or pay some one out of our pocket. Some authors are talented enough to do it on his or her own. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people.

So that leaves me asking, are book video trailers really worth the time and/or money sunk into them? Ebook authors promote themselves, it’s how we get our name and stories out there, but has anyone ever heard feedback from their book trailers?

And which are the best book trailers you’ve seen?

02 March 2011

written butterfly...let romance take flight: Back in the Saddle by Lynn Crain

written butterfly...let romance take flight: Back in the Saddle by Lynn Crain: "Now many of you who don’t know me will be wondering what I’m talking about. Those of you who do wonder when I was ever out of the saddle. ..."

Back in the Saddle by Lynn Crain

Now many of you who don’t know me will be wondering what I’m talking about. Those of you who do wonder when I was ever out of the saddle.

Well…for both of you groups, I was definitely out of the saddle. What do I mean? you may ask. For me it is obvious. Quite a few years ago, I became disillusioned with life. And writing.

Not that I didn’t want to do either…no, I wanted to write and live life to the fullest. I was disillusioned with the fact that all I did was work. All I did was have a business. I never seemed to have time for any of the things that I loved. Or those that I loved.

Then 9/11 happened. I along with millions watched in horror as icons for our freedom and financial well-being were toppled in front of my eyes. To top it all off, it was my niece’s birthday. I can remember thinking, Oh hell…what a day. I can remember thinking, My god…what’s this world coming to? I can remember thinking, This changes everything.

And suddenly, I was thinking much clearer. I was thinking with the part of myself that had been shut off by business deals and bottom lines. Suddenly, I thought about what mattered most in my life: my family and my writing. I had neglected both for many months.

My husband and I no longer took those long walks. My youngest son and I only argued about homework leaving very little time for anything else. My oldest was a stranger I barely knew. One of my good friends, who I considered a sister, and I fought constantly about the business. God only knew when I had last called my brother and his family. And my latest characters at the time, Trista and Alfred, were languishing in the limbo state of barely finished with many chapters waiting for revision.

Suddenly, I found myself on the road to recovery. Recovery of my craft.

The business, which printed financial documents for a mainstay, suddenly couldn’t earn its keep and the following April it was decided to close it at the end of May. I started to reconnect with those I loved. I now try to take a walk with my husband at least once a week. I care for my youngest everyday…and he drives me crazy but I love it. I love it when my oldest comes in to tell me about his latest accomplishment. Currently, they are his two new sons! My friend and I planned critique sessions.

Trista and Alfred are also on the road to recovery. Along with them, I write at least one article, possibly one poem, come up with some ideas and plan for my next full day, or week if it’s Sunday, of writing. I’m going to write for a living…even though I may need an outside job to keep the hubby happy and pay for my share of the bills. (As of this update, this has come to pass and I can say I’m happier than ever...woohoo!)

This time I will make it…I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Now having said all that, here are some tips to keep the writing muse alive. Because, even with all I’ve been through, the muse never left me.

1. Writing doesn’t take as much time as you think.

All you need is to give it a little portion of each day. Are there times when you are waiting for something? Like a doctor’s appointment? Your kids? Is there a television show you can live without? If you answer yes to any of these questions, writing can be part of your daily routine. Write things down in a journal, then transcribe them when you used to watch that TV show.

2. Look at the markets weekly.

The markets change daily. This is because of the Internet. Today, writers have more opportunities than ever before. Exploring those markets will usually kick start an idea which will then lead to you finding more time to write. I personally get up each morning and head for my computer. Once I’ve waded through the junk mail, I start looking for new and interesting markets for my work.

3. Make a weekly plan.

I say weekly plan, because life can be so uncertain any more. I tend to plan my life at least 6 months out but for writing I do it weekly and sometimes even daily when I have a deadline. I start on Sunday evening looking at all the guidelines I printed during the week. I then check to see if I’ve written anything that will fit the guidelines. If I don’t have anything, I ask myself if I want to write it. If I do, I put it in the weekly calendar. I plan to have the article done that same day. I then put it down for revision the next day and submission the day after that.

While this may seem ambitious, it’s the only way that I can keep focused and on track. Otherwise, I tend to never get anything done.

4. Read.

I try to read something new everyday. With the Internet, you can read articles and reviews or just about anything. I reserve my evenings for my pleasure reading or study.

5. Research.

I have certain things that interest me…such as medieval medicine. I have always been fascinated with how today’s medical system works in relation to how it really started. Because of that I am constantly reading on this subject. It gives me get ideas for some stories as well a good read about something I thoroughly enjoy.

6. Networking.

Like attracts like. I cannot stress this enough. We are what we eat and whom we hang out with. Laugh you may but it is true. By this I mean, if you truly want to be a writer you will need to network with other writers. This can be done through meetings or conferences, both formal and informal. If you want to write…hang out with writers. Strive to do…not just be a wannabe.

7. Write.Write.Write.

Remember to write, write, write. It’s what makes you a writer.

Hopefully, I’ve given you some bits of wisdom that you can use in your writing life. Life is what life is…we can’t always change it, but we can shape what comes our way. We can make things happen…positive things. And like the old saying goes, it has to start with you. You have to make the changes, you have to want to write, and you have to do it.

And for this woman…I’m back in the saddle again. Permanently.

Anybody got any bag balm?


Website: www.lynncrain.com
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