Monday, March 19, 2018

She never wanted a mate -- #Paranormal #EroticRomance #Immortal @ValerieUllmer

Jade cover


Jade never wanted a mate. She loved being an assassin and she had a family in her fellow assassins, their mates, and little Silas. She truly had everything she needed. But when Ghost assigned her to track the same immortals who tried to kill Xander’s family, she couldn’t refuse. 

But the complication arises when Ghost requests she partner with Noah, a human and ex-special forces soldier. Jade has never worked with a human before, much less one that hated her from the moment he laid eyes on her. But she was a professional and if she could play a part in destroying the immortals who threatened her family, she could accept the human. If only she knew how to fight her attraction to him.

All Noah Hale wanted was to kill the immortals who lured his best friend and fellow ex-Navy SEAL to his death. He had no desire to be teamed with a beautiful tracker who mesmerized him the moment she turned her emerald eyes his way. But in order to stop other soldiers from pursuing the same fate, he needed to swallow his pride and work with a group of immortals he didn’t trust.

As Jade and Noah track the group of shifters through the mountains of Colorado, the danger lurking around every corner threatens everything they both hold close. Will they be able to find a way through, together?

Buy Links


Jade caught a scent of a human as she entered the fourteen-story building in downtown Snowfall. It wasn’t any human scent, but something that made all of her instincts flare. She knew that she’d never caught this particular scent before, but something told her that this human might be important to her. She tried to brush it off as quickly as the thought came, but she couldn’t find it coincidental she smelled it in the same steel building owned by Ghost and house the headquarters of Dark Company.

As she dismissed the fleeting thought of searching for the scent, her heart thumped once, hard, in her chest at the thought of not finding its owner. She forced herself to walk toward the elevator bank, ignoring the unwanted perusals she received from the men in the lobby. Even in an unassuming hoodie and black yoga pants, she drew unwanted attention. A side-effect of being an immortal.

The elevator opened as soon as she pressed the up-button and she kept her gaze down as she walked into the elevator. She entered the code to get to Ghost’s private floor, her movements too quick to be caught by the human eye, before she squeezed into the corner. Jade used her other senses as three men in suits and two women entered the enclosed space with her. There was no need to glance at the glass interior that covered the back wall to see what she looked like.

She sensed eyes on her. Instead of searching out the gaze, she whipped her long, straight dyed black hair into a bun on the back of her head with quick movements before sneaking her hands into the front pockets of her hoodie.

Jade waited patiently as the car traveled toward the penthouse, her ultimate destination, but she couldn’t help but try and find the intriguing scent from earlier.

After my meeting.

All she knew was he hadn’t used the particular elevator she was in and higher the lift took her in the building, the more his scent dissipated.

In her entire existence, or what she remembered of it, she’d never been attracted to…anyone. She’d never felt the pull to find someone either. But lately, she’d felt increasingly restless whenever she had any downtime and her skin tingled in a way that had nothing to do with signaling immediate danger. It was as though her body tried to convey something she didn’t understand.

Her thoughts were interrupted when a man who had gotten into the elevator with her on the first floor stepped into her personal space.

Hey, beautiful?”

Jade rolled her eyes and raised her head to glare at the man. Of course, he wouldn’t take the hint that she wanted to be left alone. To emphasize the point, she crossed her arms and leaned against the wall, moving away from his intrusion.

The man decided to take this as an invitation and moved to wrap his arm around her waist. The move gave her a clear shot to his ribs and she took it, gently moving her elbow back and making contact. She flinched when she heard a distinctive crack, realizing she hadn’t been careful enough. Before she could apologize, the elevator door opened and he ran off without looking back, holding onto his side.

She sighed.

About the Author

Valerie writes paranormal and contemporary M/F and M/M erotic romances. She lives in Denver, Colorado with her wonderfully supportive husband and their funny and wise black lab. She's addicted to coffee, crime shows, and reading and writing character-driven romances.

Valerie’s Links

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Charity Sunday: Humanitarian Open Street Map -- #CharitySunday #donation #giveaway

Charity Sunday banner

Welcome to another Charity Sunday here at Beyond Romance. Today I’m highlighting an organization I suspect that few of my readers have heard of: the Humanitarian Open Street Map Team (“HOT”). 

What is HOT? Well, first I need to explain Open Street Map (OSM). OSM is a collaborative project to create a free editable map of the world. The OSM data base holds information about billions of locations, provided by millions of volunteer users. Under continuous development for almost 15 years, OSM can be used to create maps, to do navigation, to help decision making, and for many other tasks where geographic information is required. Think Google maps, but without the Evil Empire behind it! 

HOT is a separate but related project that leverages the information in OSM and the facilities it provides for data entry, editing, display and analysis in order to help communities around the world who need up-to-date maps. When relief organizations are responding to disasters or political crises, accurate and current maps are a critical resource. The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team creates and provides those maps.

Recent HOT projects include responses to Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which battered the Caribbean in the fall of 2017, the devastating earthquake in Mexico last September, and recent catastrophic flooding in Bangladesh and Nepal. HOT also supports community projects that need reliable maps and geographic information. Visit their web site for a fascinating introduction to this organization’s unusual mission and activities.

I’m a bit of a mapping geek myself; I’d love to have the time to volunteer for a HOT project. In the meantime, I will donate one dollar to HOT for each comment I receive on this post.

To sweeten the deal, I have a long, juicy, undeniably hot excerpt for you, from my BDSM erotic romance The Gazillionaire and the Virgin. Furthermore, I’ll give a copy of this popular novel to one randomly selected commenter. So be sure to include your email in you comment!

It sounds melodramatic to say I swoon in his arms, but it’s not far from the truth. I relax into his embrace, buoyed by his strength, dizzy with arousal. He kisses me thoroughly, thoughtfully, as though he’s memorizing my flavor. Meanwhile, he slips one hand under my jacket to palm my breast, thumbing my rigid, needy nipple as though he’d known about my nakedness all along.

Perhaps he did. He also knows exactly what to do with it, how to play with me until I’m drenched, trembling, moaning into his mouth.

I’m breathless when he finally releases me, with my pulse pounding in my ears and my clit throbbing in time.

You’re not wearing a bra.” He grins as he states the obvious. “What about panties?”

I suck air into my lungs and rake my fingers through my tangles, as though that might bring some order to my thoughts. When I start to pull my jacket closed, he stops me with a glance. Do I really think I can hide from him? “That’s none of your business.”

Oh really? I disagree.” He sniffs. Mingling with the scents of brass polish and seasoned leather is the tidal fragrance of my wetness. “I’m willing to bet the price of this fancy ride that your pussy’s bare under your skirt.”

Don’t be rash, Theo. Luxury Limos Limited charges six hundred dollars per hour…”

Prove me wrong, then. Spread your legs, Rachel.”

Don’t be silly…”

Rachel. Are you really going to disobey me?” There’s that tone of authority again, out of nowhere, challenging me.

Why am I resisting? Why in the world did I go commando unless I wanted Theo to see?

Still, it’s hard for me to comply. I’m so used to being the one in charge.

A fresh gust of pussy-scent fills the car interior when I part my legs. He rests a cool palm on my stocking-clad knee. I freeze as he walks his fingers up the inside of my thigh, up to the sensitive skin above the elastic of my hold-ups. Meanwhile, he holds me with that intense, knowing gaze. I can’t bear the sense of transparency but I can’t look away, either. Theo won’t allow it.

His thumb grazes my pubic hair. It’s the tiniest of touches but still enough to trigger a cascade of sparks in my cunt. I tense, waiting, hoping for more. He withdraws instead, a half-smile gracing his expressive mouth.

I knew it,” he murmurs. “You’re a total slut.”

Heat flashes through me at his crudeness. Anger? Shame? Excitement? Maybe all three. All I know is that my cheeks are blazing, my weeping pussy is staining the seats, and I want his fingers back between my legs.

Still, I pretend I can handle it. “That’s hardly the way to talk to the woman who’s taking you out to dinner at the most exclusive restaurant in San Francisco. Who helped to raise more than a million bucks for your charity.”

Do you measure everything in dollars and cents, Rachel?” He shuffles his bulk away from me, to the opposite end of the seat, where he stares out the window at the rush hour traffic. Clearly the question is rhetorical. He’s not waiting for an answer—he’s ignoring me, erasing me from his existence. I’ve seen him do this before.

Look, Theo…” I reach for his arm; he twitches away. “I’m sorry. It’s just that – well – what you said was so rude…”

I meant it as a compliment.” The self-confident dominant is gone. He speaks in the sullen tone of a petulant teenager. “But I should have kept my stupid mouth shut. I should have known you were way out of my league.”

It’s not that.” I have to tread gently here. “I – um – well, that isn’t the sort of statement one would make in polite conversation, you know.”

Polite? I wouldn’t call what we did the other night ‘polite’. I thought we’d moved beyond ‘polite’ to something a bit more real.”

He still won’t look at me.

I apologize for acting superior, Theo. I guess I was embarrassed.”

Embarrassed that you wanted a socially inept misfit like me?”

No, no, that’s not it!”

Don’t lie, Rachel. I know you wanted me.”

That’s not what I meant. I did want you. I – I still do. It’s just that you make me feel a bit – I don’t know – out of control.”

He turns back to me, arches an eyebrow, pins me with that X-ray gaze again. I squirm on the seat. My sex is heavy with need.

I don’t usually go out without underwear, Theo. I didn’t want you to think that I do.”

Have you ever, before?”

A fresh, hot wave washes through me, shame and arousal almost indistinguishable. “Um —to be honest—no.”

But you did tonight. For me.”

I nod, feeling miserable, exposed, and hornier than I’ve ever been.

He takes both my hands in his. “Thank you. Seriously, I’m grateful. That’s all I was really trying to say, Rachel.”

His obvious delight sweeps away my discomfort. Then his mouth is on mine once more, his tongue probing, his hands molding my silk-covered ass. He leans into me, his weight pushing me back until I’m prone on the seat. Before I can react, he’s stretched out on top of me, grinding the hard lump in his ill-fitting trousers into my crotch.

Oh god! Fireworks explode in my pussy, sending sparks flaring to my extremities. He’s still kissing me, with that single-minded ferocity of his that leaves me weak and trembling. I throw my arms around his neck, pulling him close. He’s heavy, massive, wonderfully strong. I love the way his chest rubs over my swollen nipples as he rocks back and forth, driving us both into a frenzy. He thrusts his tongue into my mouth in time with his jerking pelvis. I teeter on the edge of climax. The tension I read in his muscles suggests he’s close, too.

The car slows, swings right, then left. We must have left the freeway. We should stop, before it’s too late. The thought flits through my mind then winks out of existence, overwhelmed by the rising tide of sensation. Theo breaks the kiss to shift his weight. He thrusts a hand under my skirt, driving his fingers straight into my cunt.

It’s clumsy, almost violent. It’s just what I need. The fortress crumbles – the dam bursts – the ache that’s been building in my pelvis crests and blossoms into ecstasy.

Don’t forget to leave a comment. Each one translates into a dollar for disaster response, plus a chance to win this seriously hot romance!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Seven Places to Revisit -- #SaturdaySeven #Travel #Giveaway

Saturday Seven Banner

Travel has always been one of my passions, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen a lot of the world. Of course, like many people, I still have a bucket list of destinations I haven’t yet visited—a list far longer than seven items!

At the same time, certain places call me back. In some cases, I didn’t get enough time to fully experience the location. In other cases, I’m so deeply in love with the place that, even though I’ve been there many times, I want to return.

You might not be surprised to learn that quite a few of these places have found their way into my stories. I guess what’s surprising is that I haven’t used all of them for settings. At least not yet!

1. Prague

Prague is the atmospheric, history-steeped capitol of the Czech Republic. With its massive castle overlooking the Voltava River, cobbled town squares and centuries-old bridges, magnificent cathedrals and narrow alleys, the city whisks you back in time. Meanwhile, it’s also a mecca for art, both traditional and avant garde, and music, especially classical. I only visited for a few days, decades ago, but during that period I went to two concerts (Vivaldi and Monteverdi) plus saw a performance of Mozart’s “Cosi Fan Tutte”, in the same elaborately decorated opera house where it was performed more than two hundred years ago.

The city left an indelible impression on my imagination. My first published short story (“Glass House”) is set there, as is my paranormal tale “Prey”. Somehow I’ve never made it back. But I will.

2. Marrakesh

My very first overseas travel experience included a week-long bus tour of Morocco, as part of a longer trip to Spain. This was right after I graduated from university. Alas, the exoticism of the country was a bit wasted on me. Not that I didn’t appreciate the sights and the culture, but I found everything on that trip amazing and new.

In Marrakesh, my traveling companion and I explored the markets in the old souks and went to a night club featuring a belly dancing floor show. I remember the thrill of using my high school French to communicate with another customer sitting next to me. I really was in a foreign country!

Morocco hasn’t yet shown up in any of my books. I need to go back and refresh my memories.

3. Railay Beach, Krabi, Thailand

Railay is a peninsula on the western Andaman Sea coast of Thailand. Cut off from the mainland by craggy hills, Railay feels like an island. It is accessible only by boat.

I’ve seen many astoundingly beautiful places in my life. Railay has to be one of the most exquisite. The deep turquoise ocean nestles in the embrace of soaring limestone capes. Verdant palms shade the white sand. With only a dozen or so resorts and guesthouses, the peninsula is rarely crowded, though its precipitous cliffs make it one of the top rock climbing destinations in Southeast Asia.

I’ve visited Railay twice, once just for the day, once for a weekend. Since then I’ve recommended it to everyone who wants to see the best beach in Thailand. I know I’ll go back before too long.

4. Gloucester, Massachusetts

Although I now live in Asia, I spent much of my life in lovely, blustery New England. The old fishing port of Gloucester, on Cape Ann north of Boston, is one of my favorite New England destinations. For years my husband and I had a tradition of spending our mid-June wedding anniversary there, in a motel with an ocean view. Hence I strongly associate Gloucester with romance.

The geography of the city is delightfully complex, with several harbors and beaches that have very different atmospheres. Two hundred years ago, Gloucester Harbor sheltered the clipper ships returning from the Far East, full of treasures. Museums in the town bring that history to life. Gloucester also offers amazing seafood, as well as art galleries, book stores, and the chance to go whale watching.

If you’d like to get a sense for the place, pick up a copy of my lesbian paranormal romance, The Witches of Gloucester. Any reader will immediately grasp how much I love the place.

5. Bruges, Belgium

Photo by Hans Hillewaert, Wikipedia

My husband and I spent one magic night in Bruges, a city frozen in time. Starting from the 12th century, Bruges was an important commercial center for all of Europe. Canals crisscross the historic central city, lined with warehouses and the homes of wealthy merchants. Wonderfully preserved medieval buildings surround the market square, where traders used to set up their stalls.

At night, the ancient buildings are illuminated, giving the whole place a fairy tale atmosphere. I remember the sight left me breathless. We left on an early morning train, without much time for exploring. I’ve wanted to return ever since.

6. San Francisco

I’ve never lived in San Francisco, but I’ve probably set more of my tales there than anywhere else, including my BDSM romance Her Secret Ingredient and my dystopic MM sci fi novel Quarantine. Many important events in my personal life unfolded in the City by the Bay. I can’t think of the place without a sense of excitement.

The gaily-painted Victorian houses—the artsy cafes of Noe Valley—the sweeping grandeur of the Golden Gate Bridge—the view from Twin Peaks—San Francisco would be a gorgeous place even without the emotional overtones. I haven’t been there for more than five years, but the place lives in my memory. I know I will go back.
7. Shanghai

I just returned from my first visit to Shanghai. I loved it. As is often the case when I travel on business, my time there was limited to a mere two days. I used that time mostly to walk around, exploring the crowded residential warrens that somehow have survived urban renewal; admiring the art deco department stores and villas, relics from the period when the city was the gateway for Europeans to encounter the Middle Kingdom; marveling at the gleaming skyscrapers that dominate modern Shanghai.

I didn’t have the time to visit any of the museums, or wander through the French Concession quarter, or take a lightning fast elevator to the observation deck on the tallest building in Asia.

Next time.

Meanwhile I’m wondering whether I have enough of a sense of the city, from this short but intense visit, to set the next book of my Asian Adventures series there.

And speaking of Asian Adventures, you could win your choice of books one through four from this series. Just leave me a comment, with your email, telling me about one place like to revisit.

Friday, March 16, 2018

A Visit to Solace Lake -- #SmallTownRomance #Mystery #Giveaway @JanaRichards

Lies and Solace cover

Jana is giving away some wonderful prizes during this tour. Please use the Rafflecopter below for your chance win Ebook First and Again, Ebook There Goes the Groom, Ebook A Long Way from Eden, $10 Amazon gift card, or $5 Amazon gift card. Remember you may increase your chances of winning by visiting the other tour stops. You may find those locations here.

Series Blurb

Love is worth the risk…

When their grandfather dies, the Lindquist sisters, Harper, Scarlet and Maggie, inherit the northern Minnesota fishing lodge that had been in their family for three generations. The inheritance is bittersweet. They were raised at the lodge by their grandparents. The natural beauty of the place hasn’t changed, but the building itself is crumbling and desperately in need of repair. The lodge also reminds them of what they lost. Twenty-two years previously, their parents died there in what was ruled a murder/suicide.

As the sisters struggle to breathe new life into the failing lodge, old fears and questions rise to the surface even as new love presents itself. Why did their father murder their mother? What truths did their grandparents keep from them? The sisters must fight to keep the wounds of the past from putting their futures, and their fledgling relationships, in jeopardy.

Blurb for Lies and Solace

She can’t live with one more lie. He can’t tell the truth.

Harper Lindquist is convinced she’s found the answer to her financial prayers.
Unless she pours cash into crumbling Solace Lake Lodge, she’ll lose her family’s legacy. Her would-be savior arrives in the middle of a Minnesota blizzard and she’s determined to prove to her reluctant, and trapped, financier the lodge is a sound investment. But Harper isn’t completely honest with him. And she has no idea the lake is hiding secrets of its own.

Ethan James is a liar, but his money is very real. He isn’t convinced a broken-down inn is a smart investment opportunity. But the more he understands Harper’s dreams and desires, the more he wants to be the man to make them come true. The trauma in both their pasts means neither can fully trust the other. They must find the courage to love, to trust, and to accept, or yesterday’s sorrows will keep them apart.


As she stared into his dark eyes she realized how much she trusted him, and relied on him. That was something rare for her. The only people she trusted as much were her sisters.

I’m in love with him.

The thought blasted through her brain with the force of a tsunami. The tension of the last few weeks, the insecurity, the mistrust, the fear, slipped easily from her shoulders. For the first time, her mind was clear. She was in love with Ethan and she didn’t want to wait anymore. She wanted him. She wanted him to be her first, her last.

Finding courage she didn’t know she possessed, Harper slid off the stool and walked around the island. She plucked the wine glass from his hand and set it on the counter, then placed his hand on her breast. “Make love with me, Ethan.”

A fire lit in his eyes, telling her he wanted her, too. But there was a question there, a hesitation. “Are you sure?”

She’d never been more sure of anything in her life. “Yes.”


Shhh. Let’s not talk anymore.” She placed one finger over his lips, then stood on her tiptoes and kissed him.

Ethan’s reaction was lightning swift. He wrapped his arms around her and brought her close, his mouth descending on hers in a wild, warm kiss. Their tongues tangled, slid over each other. She’d missed his touch, his taste. She moaned, and in the sound she heard thirty-two years of longing.

For this. For him.

Secrets and Solace

Book 2 Coming March 21, 2018

Truth and Solace

Book 3 Coming March 28, 2018

About Jana Richards

When Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to commit the stories running through her head to paper, and they had to end with a happily ever after. She also knew she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War Two, in lengths ranging from short story to full length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpings of humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense Seeing Things was a 2008 EPPIE finalist.

In her life away from writing, Jana is an accountant/admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada with their Pug/Terrier cross Lou and several unnamed goldfish. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at

Social Media Links

Newsletter Signup:

Lies and Solace Amazon Buy Link -
Secrets and Solace Amazon Buy Link -
Truth and Solace Amazon Buy Link -

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Facts are not enough - #research #intuition #plausibility

Facts - the point

Research is an integral part of writing, even in fiction. When you're an author, you've got to get it right. Some readers take insane glee in pointing out gaffes and discrepancies. Have your ancient Roman characters drinking tea, your Elizabethans using the word “clitoris”, your Dom swinging a cane made of bamboo (I've been pointedly informed that bamboo is too brittle for a cane and that rattan is the preferred material), and you may find yourself ridiculed throughout the blogosphere. Even a more forgiving reader can be distracted from your story by some detail that just doesn't fit. Every author's goal is to build a fictional world in which readers can happily lose themselves. To the extent that this world is inconsistent or unbelievable, the author will fail.

If you write only about characters who share your class, ethnicity and culture, or if you set your stories in a non-specific contemporary locale, you may not need to do much research. However, this can get pretty boring. Thinking about my own work, I find that there are four situations that dictate the need for research.

Geographic or location-oriented research: When I'm setting a story in a specific location (as I usually do), I often research landmarks, place names, or spatial relationships. I don't need to give my readers a map, but I may need one myself in order to write convincingly.

Cultural research: If my characters are something other than white, western, and well-educated, I need to check on things like vocabulary, slang and tone. I also need to understand the characters' assumptions, the way they look at the world and how that is different from my own perspective.

Sexual research: There are many sexual practices that I haven't personally tried (though you might not think that from some of my previous posts!). In erotica, it is especially important to research the details of the fetish or sexual subculture you are describing. I've read many BDSM stories that struck me as ridiculous rather than arousing because the practices described were inaccurate and reflected a lack of research on the part of the author.

Historical research: Writing in a period other than the present probably requires the most intensive research activity. Every aspect of life depends on the historical period, from costumes, food, transportation and economics to language and world view.

Some authors adore doing research. I gather that for some authors, research actually distracts them from the writing process. They get pulled deeper and deeper into the worlds they are exploring, searching for the next level of detail, putting off writing as they gather knowledge that they might not ever use.

Personally I view research as something of a necessary evil. I'll spend the time I need to answer my questions, but I am always eager to get back to the story itself. I have observed that too much research carries risks—the author feels compelled to use all the nifty information she has uncovered, and ultimately, this distracts from the story. Normally, I'll let the story itself drive my research activity. Before I begin, I'll spend some time reading about the period, the people or the practices on which I'm focusing, but then I'll stop, only returning to my search when I have a question.

Geographic research is fairly straightforward, given the resources on the Internet. I also have two shelves full of travel guidebooks which I use extensively. I'm fortunate in that I've traveled quite a lot. Frequently I'll set a story in a city or country that I've visited. Even so, I will often need to check on details. “Prey”, for example, is set in Prague, but I wrote it nearly ten years after I visited that wondrous city. I spent quite a lot of time poring over maps and trying to reconcile them with my recollections. My MM romance Necessary Madness takes place in Worcester, Massachusetts and its environs. I lived in central Massachusetts for more than twenty years, but I still find that I need to jog my memory. Of course, if a tale is set somewhere that I've never visited, like Guatemala (Serpent's Kiss) or Assam, India (Monsoon Fever), I have to rely entirely on external information, supplemented by analogy with places I have been.

Cultural research is particularly tough for me. Not foreign cultures—if I've visited a place, I usually have at least a rudimentary sense of the people and how they communicate. But in capturing the subtleties of other western subcultures, I have problems. The American south, for instance, has a particular flavor of discourse. Likewise the American west. I've tried to write criminals and mafia and stuttered badly. One difficulty is the fact that you can't search directly for the kind of cultural markers that make a character seem genuine. The best way to pick them up is to actually meet an individual from that culture. The second best method is to read other people's work featuring characters from the same subculture.

Sexual research is always fun, and not too much of problem. The 'Net overflows with didactic material on various fetishes as well as content that can serve as exemplars. My story “Body Electric” features electric play, which I've never personally experienced. I had no trouble finding information on electric toys and the effects that they produce. Even my BDSM critic (the one who chided me over the bamboo cane) did not find fault with the result!

Historical research, of course, can go on forever. About a third of my novel Miranda’s Masks takes place in Victorian Boston. The physical environment was fairly easy; I had lived in Beacon Hill, which actually hasn't changed much since that period. However, I spent considerable time, effort and money researching costumes (Victorian clothing was extremely complex, with lots of special vocabulary), transportation, and the differences between social classes. I also read up on Victorian erotica, which was the subject of my heroine Miranda's dissertation, using Steven Marcus' encyclopedic though annoying tome The Other Victorians.

Even a historical short story requires an inordinate amount of work. Shortest Night, set in Shakespeare's London, took me nearly twice as long to write as a normal story, because I was working so hard to be true to the period. After all that effort, my editor still picked up a variety of words that were too modern for Elizabethan times. (I was extremely impressed.)

It's tough to get the facts right. Unfortunately, even if you do, that may not be enough. To accomplish the objective of creating a compelling, believable fictional world, an author needs more than a raft of detail. It's critical to have what I can only call a “feel” for that world—an intuitive sense of how it works and how its denizens think, feel and behave.

It's never possible to answer every research question. Sometimes I have to rely on imagination. But this only works if I can understand the people and places I am trying to portray, at a gut level. How do you acquire this sort of intuition? You won't find it on Google. For me, building a rich, nuanced picture of the world where I'm setting my story requires more personal experience. Reading original sources, including fiction, from a period can help. Visiting a museum or the actual site is a possibility. Ultimately, though, I find the process a bit mysterious.

Sometimes no amount of research will help. Several years ago I visited the ruins of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. During the twelfth century, the city of Angkor had more than a million inhabitants. It was the largest settlement in the world. I was fascinated by the civilization that had built such impressive monuments, only to disintegrate back into a village culture, and I had an idea for a time-slip erotic romance set partially during that period.

I set about reading everything I could find about Cambodia and Angkor. I spent lots of money on books. I went to museums. I scoured the Web. Somehow, the intuitive sense of those people eluded me. I just couldn't picture them, understand who they were and how they thought. I could look up all the historical details in the many books I bought, but my imagination remained bone dry. I've shelved the project for the moment, hoping that at some point I'll have some experience that triggers the sort of comprehension and empathy that I need to be able to proceed.

Research the facts. That's the starting point, sure. But developing a sense of your world, to the point where you can trust your guesses—that's far more difficult. Ultimately, it's a kind of magic. Like creating stories in the first place.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Channeling Rapunzel - #LongHair #FairyTale #freedom

Girl with long hair

During the past year, I’ve reclaimed a part of my identity.

After nearly a decade of keeping my hair no longer than than my shoulders, I’ve let it grow. It reaches halfway down my back now, at least when it’s wet. As it dries, it frizzes and kinks, looking far less luxuriant (and less well-groomed) but I still get a little frisson of pleasure when I look at myself in the mirror these days.

I have to admit that my newly extended locks present an incongruous contrast to my age-creased, sagging face. Senior citizens don’t normally sprout wild, hippie-like crops of hair like mine. But you know, at some level I really don’t care. That’s one solace to growing older. You start to realize you’re free to spurn conventional standards when they don’t suit you.

Free. That’s how my new hairstyle (if you can call this disordered frenzy a “style”!) makes me feel. Despite the steamy climate in my adopted country, I love the feeling of it swinging back and forth behind me. Running my fingers through the tight curls makes me smile. I’ve tried braiding it, with limited success, and I enjoy pulling it into a ponytail. It’s almost as if I had a new toy.

I’ve always appreciated long hair, on both men and women. The hero in my first novel has a black ponytail reaching almost to his waist; the heroine, a mop of ginger-hued curls. Undoubtedly I’ve been influenced by the mythos of the sixties and seventies. I was in high school when the “American tribal love-rock musical” burst on the scene and hair became a symbol of youth and rebellion. Peace, love, sex and hair became inextricably entwined in my psyche.

In fact, I had long hair for much of my life (see, for instance, my author photo, taken when I was in my twenties). When I started regular salon visits to erase the increasingly prominent gray from my hair, however, I also started getting it trimmed. I discovered that my natural curl was easier to tame when my hair was short. I looked (slightly) more professional and proper.

My DH kept bugging me to stop the cutting. (Like me, he’s a product of the sixties. Indeed, he lived through the Summer of Love, while I just watched from the sidelines.) For some reason, I resisted, for years.

So what changed? I’m really not sure. It might be that I’m trying to recapture my youth. It might be I just got bored with my short hair. In any case, I’ve found the process rewarding. Even empowering.

I’d love to have hair down to my waist, or longer. It’s not going to happen; I gather that the maximum length of a person’s hair is genetically determined. Mine is probably pretty close to its limit. Nevertheless, I fantasize about being Rapunzel.

In fact, here’s a few paragraphs from “Shorn”, a re-telling of that classic which I wrote for Kristina Wright’s 2012 anthology Lustfully Ever After. I think it will give you a sense of my feelings about my own hair.


Do not believe what you hear of me. It was not to preserve my chastity that I was imprisoned here, in this amusingly phallic tower with its sealed entrance and single window. I have not been a virgin for years; even my father knows that. In the cesspit of hypocrisy that is his court, no one cares what goes on behind closed doors. Only appearances matter.

And appearances are what landed me here in this unorthodox prison. I'm confined to this aerie because despite all blandishments and threats, I refused to cut my hair.

In a society like ours, valuing external neatness and order above else, my wild auburn locks are an offense to public decency, or so my royal parents would like me to believe. My father's crown rests upon a bald pate, shaved daily. My mother and sisters wear pale helmets of curls that are clipped back whenever they grow beyond the earlobes. Every proper citizen plucks, trims, waxes and shaves to eliminate any hint of the hirsute.

Not I. I love my hair, not just the luxurious tresses that flow over my shoulders and down to the floor, but the rest, too: my unfashionably bushy eyebrows, the soft tufts gracing my armpits, the wiry tangle that hides my sex. My hair is a source of my power. My father suspects as much. An ancient prophecy says the kingdom shall one day be lost to a red-haired sorceress and he fears I am the fulfillment of that promise.


In the end, Rapunzel gives up her hair for love of her prince. However, she knows it will grow back.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Review Tuesday: Stripper or Nurse by Larry Archer -- #ReviewTuesday #hotwife #smut

Stripper or Nurse cover

Stripper or Nurse by Larry Archer
Self-published at Amazon and Smashwords, 2017

Larry Archer’s erotic novel Stripper or Nurse begins with a heart attack. One of the patrons at The Fox’s Den, a high end gentleman’s club just off the Las Vegas strip, gets a bit too excited watching the lovely dancers and keels over. But never fear. All the strippers at the Den are trained in CPR. Dancers Peaches and Monique take turns working on the customer, keeping him alive until the ambulance arrives—though when he regains consciousness to find himself looking up at two gorgeous, naked girls, Tom wonders whether he has died and gone to heaven.

Concerned about Tom’s welfare, the two girls visit him at the hospital, only to have a run-in with Tom’s rather conservative wife Suzanne. Both jealous and worried, she blames the strip club for her husband’s condition and verbally shreds the young women who actually saved his life. When Suzanne shows up at the strip club to confront the management, she discovers that that the place is not at all what she’d imagined. Instead of a sleazy establishment that takes advantage of women, objectifying them and forcing them into sex, the Fox’s Den turns out to be classy and relaxed, a haven for exhibitionist gals who love showing off. The sensual, sex-drenched atmosphere almost immediately starts to work its magic on the unsuspecting housewife. Before she knows it, she’s fondling the breasts of the scantily clad club valets, wearing scandalously revealing clothing, masturbating in public, and offering her body to men and women alike.

Meanwhile, Tom receives very personal attention from a bevy of horny nurses, as well as Foxy Archer, wife of The Fox’s Den proprietor.

Stripper or Nurse features almost non-stop sex, with a lot of girl-on-girl action and swapping of bodily fluids. At the same time, it’s plotted quite tightly. Larry Archer manages to keep the focus on Suzanne’s enthusiastic transformation from prude to slut. He does an excellent job portraying both her doubts and her irresistible attraction to her new identity as a perpetually-aroused, anything-goes hotwife.

Overall, I really enjoyed Stripper or Nurse. I love the uninhibited sexuality in the story (indeed, in all Larry Archer’s stories), and the generous, affectionate mood. I’ve been turned off in the past by some “cuckold” tales that seem to belittle or denigrate the man involved. In this novel, Tom gets plenty of sex (despite being hospitalized through the entire book!), even as he watches (in high definition video) his wife get passed around to voracious females and well-hung males.

I did find the ending a bit abrupt. Somehow I expected a bit more tidying of loose ends. In the first half of the book, Suzanne keeps talking about a Saturday Couples Night party at the Den, and meeting people who plan to join in the Saturday fun. I expected that to be the big-bang (so to speak) ending, so I was a bit disappointed when the tale ended after a more private sex scene—if you can call a video-recorded butt-fucking “private”!

Anyway, I had a good time, as I almost always do when I enter Larry’s world of good-natured promiscuity. I’m certain I’ll be back.