24 June 2012

Musical Inspirations

Music is a huge inspiration for my stories, and all of them have their own soundtrack.  Now, this isn’t anything new, really.  If you go to Stephanie Meyers website she gives her playlists.  And Cara Lynn Shultz lists the songs her hero and heroine listen to on their players. 

But some of my stories have actually developed from songs.  Though the beginning of the story is from my own personal experience, “A Silver Lining”, I got the idea from the song “Sweet Silver Lining” sung by Kate Voegele.

The chorus is absolutely amazing and sad:

"But so many people are looking to me
To be strong and to fight
But I'm just surviving
And I may be weak but I'm not defeated
And I'll keep believing
In clouds with that sweet silver lining"


When I first heard the song “Awake and Alive” by Skillet, I was captivated by the violin at the beginning.  Immediately I saw this girl in my head, a punk rocker with hot pink stripes in her pigtails.  And from that image, the story “In A Chord” was born.

I loved how the drummer, Jen Ledger, sings in the chorus.  She also sings on the track “Hero” and I love how her voice is a almost a soft haven in this heavy metal Christian music.  In her voice, I heard Momo singing.

“A Man After Midnight” isn’t more obvious.  I was on an Abba kick a couple of years ago and really started listening to the lyrics of Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (A Man After Midnight). 

“Gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight
Won't somebody help me chase the shadows away
Gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight
Take me through the darkness to the break of the day”

If you read the story, I set up every meeting with Wren at half past twelve.  I was actually in New York when the Times Square Bomber was there.  I remember walking past that car on my way to see “Billy Elliot”.  This story was originally written with that bomb scare and my experience in it, but my editor wanted me to take that out.  


My biggest regret in life is that I was born tone deaf.  In my car I crank up the volume and sing to the top of my lungs.  The first thing that captures my attention is the music, the rhythm and beat.  One current song that captured my attention is "Breath of Life" by Florence + the Machine, from the movie Snow White & the Huntsman.

Another song that tells a great story is "Undisclosed Desires" by Muse.  The lyrics are amazing, very melancholy and heartfelt.

"I want to reconcile the violence in your heart
I want to recognise your beauty's not just a mask
I want to exorcise the demons from your past
I want to satisfy the undisclosed desires in your heart"

Are there any songs that reach you on a personal level?  I would love to hear about them!

12 June 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey book review

After all the hype I decided to read Fifty Shades of Grey, trying to keep an open mind.  I had been somewhat skeptical simply because of where the story had originated from…which is a fan fic based on the Twlight franchise.  It seems this trilogy had captured the world because of its BDSM theme, and I couldn’t help but think of several other BDSM authors who have fantastic original works. 

So I bought the ebook version and sat down to read it.  First of all, the book could do with some serious editing.  The original version of the book had been published through The Writers’ Coffee Shop and then picked up by Vintage Books and the author should have demanded a professional editor fine tune her manuscript because much of the grammatical and punctuation mistakes are distracting.  I’m not trying to say I’m an expert on these things but there are too many that are obvious, especially toward the end of the book and typos rule almost every page. 

Second, there are many repetitive phrases that get quite a bit annoying and dumbs down the narrative.  For example, I can’t count the number of times that Ana frowns, or Christian frowns, or one of them rolls their eyes or she bites her lip.  Sometimes you just want to slap her or slap him or slap them both!  The comparison between Anastacia Steele and Bella Swan are so obvious it’s almost nauseating. 

Third, this is not a work that is going to win any literary awards.  The beginning felt very stilted, almost immature in the delivery of us learning who Ana Steele is.  She’s clumsy, she’s shy, she’s got an inner goddess that has her own personality, and she has no idea why men find her attractive…again I refer to Bella Swan.

And yet, despite my criticism, I have to admit that the author writes in a way that makes it easy for you to turn the page.  As one reviewer said “It’s awful, but oh so addicting.”  Toward the middle of the book the tone of the story starts to change and toward the end the darkness of Christian’s mind comes out full force.  The ending made the book, in my opinion.  Through the whole story we read about the “Red Room of Pain”, and some scenes are light BDSM, nothing too harsh, but then we finally learn the black depth of Christian’s “need to control” as does Ana, and suddenly her wallowing in love is seen for what it is and what it can not give Christian.  I really liked that moment; it was a very sad, poignant moment that brought the book together for me.

I think I know why this book has become so appealing to those who previously had never picked up an erotica romance.  Like I said, this book will not win any awards for its writing style, but what makes this BDSM book different from others is that it is introduces the world of fetish in a way that ordinary women hadn’t been privy to understand before.  Ana is you, she’s me, she’s anyone normal, for lack of a better term.  Those of us who have “vanilla” sex, like it, and live our lives with men who say they love us, without any darkness involved.  This book teaches us a why and a how, starting with the contract that teaches the reader exactly what Christian expects in his Dom/sub lifestyle.  Most women will quell at the thought of being told to sit demurely by a door, eyes downcast, hands on thighs, wearing nothing but panties and waiting for a master to tell them what to do.  We were brought up being taught that our mothers and grandmothers burned bras, protested and participated in free love in order to gain the feminist movement, so how dare we let a man debase us in such a way? 

And yet, Ana is such a normal girl that we follow her journey, we want to know her journey because we don’t have the courage to take that journey ourselves.  In the book, Ana is shown and slowly enters Christian’s world, but like all romances, Christian starts to fall in love with her, only he can’t emotionally handle that and he strikes out as only he can.  Ana tries to please him and the answer to her dilemma keeps us hanging on because we ask ourselves: what choice would we have made?

It is a clever book and because it is a clever book, I liked it.  Past all the typos and mistakes, past the repetitive phrases, there is a dark path to explore and I look forward to reading the next installment.  A movie version might be planned and I wonder how that might be explored, getting by without an X rating.  All I can say is that I hope the sudden interest in BDSM themes leads more people to explore erotica romance, bringing along a new wave of uneducated people.

07 June 2012

A Cutters Love Story

Once in a while you read a book that stays with you, and if you’re lucky enough, you write one.  The premise for Love Story for a Snow Princess went through many revisions and several different drafts before settling on the plot it turned out to be. 

The hero and heroine of the story are Paden Winters and Panthea Snow.  Initially, Thea was going to be an infamous socialite (think Paris Hilton), who was at fault for the accidental death of her best friend.  To straighten herself out, and to get away from her vices, she was going to be a mail order bride to a man in Alaska.  But something was missing in the story, especially when I introduced Paden and his problem…which was cutting himself for sexual gratification. 

I had always wanted to write such a complicated hero but hadn’t found the right voice for him, until I revised Thea.  I asked myself, what would the love drama be for someone who cut himself…and I came up with a girl who suffered from hemophobia, or a fear of blood.  Suddenly Thea’s story fell into place and so I went through some major editing and revising.  

A few months ago I had written a blog on masochism and this is what I had put on cutters:
Self-harmers are not suicidal, or even attention seekers. Quite the opposite, actually. People who self-harm tend to use this means as a coping method for something in their past, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, or a multitude of other disorders. Sexual masochism is slightly more prevalent in males and it is interesting to note that more people consider themselves masochistic rather than sadistic.  Using this bit of research, I created Paden’s back story.  Some may say I did a cop-out, having him be a victim of sexual deviancy, but I would argue that this is a story of PTSD of a sexual nature.

To read how Thea and Paden overcome their traumas and find love, make sure to pick up a copy of Love Story for a Snow Princess, which will be released on June 21st.  Please check back here on that day for a contest to win a free copy. 


When Panthea Snow loses her family in a horrific car crash, she needs something to keep her going.  She decides to replace one family with another and signs up as a mail order bride to a man living in the far north in Alaska.  When she arrives, however, she realizes she can’t go through with it but is stuck in River Ice, Alaska until the snow melts in a few weeks.

She meets Paden Winters and is drawn to him despite his moodiness and ill temper.  As she gets to know him, she realizes they are both dealing with issues of healing and concealing pain.  Only Paden deals with it by cutting himself for sexual satisfaction. 

Can a woman who has an abnormal fear of blood and a man who cuts himself ever find happiness?  Or are some pains too deep to overcome?

02 June 2012

Julia Quinn…Simply Amazing

If you’ve never read a Julia Quinn novel than you’ve been seriously missing out.  She writes with such wit and humor that half the novel is gone before you know it.  In her current series, The Smythe-Smith family, both novels have been delightful, as well as comedic.  Ms. Quinn has the perfect sense of timing necessary for laugh-out-loud enjoyment.

I’ve been a big fan of Ms. Quinn for a long time.  In fact, she’s the type of writer I wish I could be.  The first book of hers I ever read was titled Minx, followed by the unforgettable Bridgerton’s series.  There were a few misses, I thought, with that series, but with Just Like Heaven and A Night Like This, she has returned to full form.

The Smythe-Smith family has a musicale every season, despite the fact that no Smythe-Smith actually knows how to play an instrument.  Faithful readers of Ms. Quinn have been reading about the Smythe-Smith musicales through many, many books, and it’s delightful we finally get introduced to the whole family properly.  In A Night Like This, it is Daniel’s story when he falls for a woman running from her past.  The dialogue is witty, the action is fast past, and the love scenes are light and tasteful.  I know, as an erotica author I’m supposed to want the smutty stuff, but Julia Quinn’s style of writing is airy, almost carefree.  You read one of her books to enjoy and relax and having heavy sex in the pages of the book would distract.

I’m not saying there isn’t romance and sensuality.  It’s actually the type that makes your heart pound and hope that you’ll find such a romance one day.  With summer right around the corner, and maybe the beach or pool side calling your name, Julia Quinn is the perfect accessory to any relaxing afternoon. 

Anne Wynter might not be who she says she is . . .
But she's managing quite well as a governess to three highborn young ladies. Her job can be a challenge—in a single week she finds herself hiding in a closet full of tubas, playing an evil queen in a play that might be a tragedy (or might be a comedy—no one is sure), and tending to the wounds of the oh-so-dashing Earl of Winstead. After years of dodging unwanted advances, he's the first man who has truly tempted her, and it's getting harder and harder to remind herself that a governess has no business flirting with a nobleman.

Daniel Smythe-Smith Might be in mortal danger . . .
But that's not going to stop the young earl from falling in love. And when he spies a mysterious woman at his family's annual musicale, he vows to pursue her, even if that means spending his days with a ten-year-old who thinks she's a unicorn. But Daniel has an enemy, one who has vowed to see him dead. And when Anne is thrown into peril, he will stop at nothing to ensure their happy ending . .