Thursday, September 27, 2007

The last book I read

I read about sixty or seventy books a year and I read in all genres - historicals, fantasy, thrillers, mysteries, literary, and, of course, romance. Non-fiction also takes up a significant percentage of the books I read.

If I start a book and I don't think it's very good, I stop and go on to another book. Soem books I get to a certain point and I flip to the back - if I can figure out how the characters got from where they were to where they are at the end of the book, I'm usually not motivated to read it. I guess that means I like surprise endings, and twisty, unpredictable plots.

A few days ago I finished Season of Storms by Susan Kearsley and I absolutely loved it- it's about this aspiring actress who travels to a very special villa in Italy to take on a role written for her namesake a century before. Why is the villa special? It was the home of the playwright, a known libertine, who, late in life, fell in love with the actress for whom he wrote his most famous play. A mystery surrounds the place and danger waits but our heroine finds love and creates a family for herself away from home.

Well-written and well-paced, the book is an example of the kind I'd like to write - though with lots more, ah, smut!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A serious moment here

Greece is one of those places that seem made for romance, particularly of the erotic variety! All those beaches and ruins! But there is a dark underbelly to sex that many visitors don't even guess at and that certainly doesn't come up in romances set in those fabled isles. Read the following (taken from the Amnesty International website) and then take action - forced sex and the erotic don't go together!

Protect the Rights of Trafficked Women in Greece

Greece has been a transit and destination country for trafficked persons since the early 1990s and has seen a continuous increase in the number of women and girls trafficked and forced into prostitution. The women mainly come from Eastern Europe and Africa. They often believe they are being brought to Greece to make a living but rarely know that they will be forced to work in the sex industry.

Many trafficked women remain unrecognized as such and face detention and deportation on charges such as unlicensed prostitution or immigration offenses. Only a few manage to overcome obstacles to being recognized as "victims of trafficking" by the authorities. Even then, the protection and assistance available to them comes at a price: they must "cooperate with the authorities" by testifying against their suspected traffickers whatever the risk of reprisals. In practice, the protection offered to them is often inadequate.

Trafficking of women and girls into forced prostitution is a human rights abuse and a crime in international and Greek law. The Council of Europe's Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings outlines the measures states must take not only to bring to justice perpetrators of this crime but also to protect and assist its victims. It is not yet in force, however, because it has not been ratified by the required number of states. Greece has signed but not ratified this Convention. Similarly it has signed but not yet ratified the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (the "Palermo Protocol"). Write to the Minister of Justice and ask him to protect the rights of trafficked women in Greece.

To learn more, click here -

Friday, September 14, 2007

Writing Sexy

Sometimes you want to write, you've got a story in mind, you've got your characters but the story just isn't coming so what can you do to get the juices flowing?

Here are three tips that tend to work for me -

1.) Put some great music on the stereo - you know, something sexy to help you get your groove on. Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" and Hot Chocolate's "You Sexy Thing" are perfect (can't beat the old school jams) and you should also check out Bob Marley's "Waiting In Vain" and "Kinky Reggae". Sexy songs will get you in a sexy frame of mind and can help your writing flow. Try it.

2.) Read in other genres. That's right - reading a great thriller or a horror can give your muse the kick in the pants she needs. Try a genre you haven't read or go back to an old favorite. Here's a secret - reading poetry helps make my writing more lyrical and gets me thinking about word choices I might not ordinarily use.

3.) Write out the summary of your plot and think on the theme or themes. Doing this kind of prework gets you thinking more deeply about your story and helps you to go from the beginning to the end. This isn't to say you mightn't change a plot line or two along the way but that's okay.

Good luck!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Sleep! From Cobblestone Press!

Thought I'd tell you a little bit more about my upcoming novella, Sleep, which is going to be part of Cobblestone Press's Vampire Oracle anthology. (Read more about the series here -

I check the submissions sites of epublishers periodically but had never gotten up the nerve to submit to any until I saw Cobblestone's call for submissions for this great series. Vampires! The Tarot! I was in!

I hadn't checked Cobblestone in a while and it was one day before the deadline when I did. I remember staring at the cover for Sleep - a woman lying on a bed, her dark hair like a pool of ink around her face. The card signified freedom and movement and I had to include those themes in my story. At first nothing came to me but then I thought ok, what about if somebody the vampire loves is trapped somewhere - could I make a story out of that? I could but how about if it's the vampire who's trapped? Then, who would have the power to trap a vampire? For a long time I've wanted to write a story about voodoo, how could I work that in? What would such an entrapment do to a vampire, to anyone?

And slowly, slowly, the story started to take shape. See the blurb for Sleep below!

When Kai Duncan discovers a cache of old papers he finds a reference to a female vampire from the American South. The woman, a beautiful mulatto, was supposedly ensorcelled by a powerful Haitian houngan in the early nineteenth century and taken away from her New Orleans home. Kai is intrigued and begins to dig into the story. He finds out enough to convince him the abduction really happened and sets out for Haiti to discover what happened to the vampire. His search leads him to the houngan and a violent battle ensues to free the captive vampire. Kai wins but he fears the woman he saved may be beyond his help. And beyond the reach of his love.

Gabrielle has been brought to the edge of madness by her long captivity. The houngan made use of her for his own dark and twisted purposes. Now another man has rescued her but can she trust him? Can she believe in Kai and surrender to the healing power of love?

Monday, September 3, 2007

When did she find the time?

No one knows for sure how many lovers Catherine II of Russia had but all agree it was more than a few. Serge Saltuikov, a Russian noble, became her first lover when Catherine the Great was just twenty-three. She had already been abandoned by her husband, the Grand Duke Peter, who took twelve years to consummate his marriage vows but who had once planned to divorce Catherine and marry his mistress. Peter went on to become Peter III but he was deposed in 1762 and replaced by Catherine.

Catherine went on to have several more affairs, including with Gregory Orlov who helped her to seize the throne. Gregory Potemkin, another of her lovers who assisted with the coup, went on to become her procurer after his own time in her bed had ended. (That means he identified willing, able and suitable young men who could offer her the pleasure he once had.)

She took her last lover, Plato Subov, at the age of sixty and he remained with her until her death in 1796.

During her reign, Catherine extended Russia's borders by thousands of miles and made the country the dominant force in south-eastern Europe. A great lover of the arts, she did much to support writers and painters. The Hermitage Museum now houses most of her personal collection.