Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday Meeting: Dane Reese from An Invitation: Ariel's Pet

Dane Reese appeared in An Invitation: Alayna's Training as the best friend of the hero, Logan Abrams. Then he became the hero of his own book in An Invitation: Ariel's Pet. When the opportunity presented itself to interview him, I jumped at it.
Enjoy the interview!

The Valerian Root was mildly busy as the breakfast crowd thinned out. It would be another hour or so before the lunch rush would begin. With the expansion of the café underway, I didn’t doubt I’d run into Ariel or Alayna, but my appointment today was with Dane Reese, Ariel’s husband. I spotted Dane leaning against the open kitchen door, but I didn’t stay anything or try to get his attention. I didn’t doubt he was talking to Ariel.

Instead, I took a seat in one of the booths and arranged my notepad and the list of questions on the table. One of the waitresses brought me one of Ariel’s special double-fudge brownies and a cup of cinnamon hot chocolate.

As I sipped my hot chocolate and nibbled the brownie, I tried to ignore Ariel’s voice as it rose in volume, “For the love of Pete, Dane, I am fine!”

Dane’s unruffled response was inaudible from where I sat, but I could see the intent look on his face as he hovered outside the kitchen.

Ariel apparently didn’t like his comment. “You step one foot in my kitchen, surfer boy, and I’ll have you on your knees. Besides, don’t you have someone coming to ask you questions?”

“Thirty minutes, Tink. If you’re not off your feet by the time I finish, I’ll get you off them.” This time his words reached everyone in the café.

The two waitresses whispered to one another, but the only thing I heard was “…five bucks.”

A muffin sailed toward his head, but he snagged it out of the air as if he’d had lots of practice. He didn’t wait for her answer before adding, “Don’t make me call Grimm.”

A litany of curses colored the air as he stepped away from the kitchen and allowed the open door to swing shut. He spotted me and grinned as he crossed the room.

By the time he’d settled onto the bench seat across from me, I’d noted the faded jeans and green tee shirt he sported, along with the battered sneakers on his feet. His golden blond hair was still neatly trimmed and the dark tan he sported only increased the intensity of his deep blue eyes.

“Thanks for talking with me today, Dane,” I offered as I shook his hand.

He smiled then tore a chunk off the chocolate muffin he’d caught and popped it into his mouth. When he finished chewing he said, “No problem, but we have to make sure we keep it under thirty minutes.”

I pointed over my shoulder toward the kitchen with my thumb, “Does Ariel have an appointment?”

Dane shook his head and looked a bit grim. “No. She’s just refusing to get off her feet for a few hours in the afternoon. The doc says she needs to rest, but you know Tink. The damned woman has a mind of her own and it’ll take a bulldozer to change it.”

I laughed, “Good thing you’re a bulldozer, huh?”

He shrugged. “If I have to be.” He pulled another chunk of muffin off and chewed, then suggested, “You said you had questions?”

“Yes. I have a few.”

“Fire away.”

I looked down at the list and asked the first one. “What is your favorite ice cream?”

A slow smile lifted his lips. “Jamocha fudge with malted milk balls. It’s complex and full of a mixture of flavors and textures, kinda like Tink.”

“Sounds yummy.”

“Oh, it is.”

The glint in his eyes hinted that more than just the taste of the ice cream was filling his mind. I hurried on to the next question. “What is your favorite thing about Ariel?”

He held up the half-eaten muffin his wife had thrown at him. “She’s a brat. Feisty and snarky and ready to fight at the drop of a hat, but she gets so wet when I paddle her ass for sassing that I know she’s doing it because she’s feeling scared.”

“Even when she throws food at you?”

He nodded, “Especially then. If she’d really been mad at me, she would have thrown the half onion she had left from Jake’s Denver omelet. Instead she tossed me my favorite muffin.”

I moved to the next question, “What does Ariel do that is most annoying?”

His broad shoulders shuddered slightly. “She’s too impulsive. And stubborn. I swear, she’s gonna give me a coronary one of these days with the stunts she’s pulled.”

I steered the conversation away from that and asked, “How old were you when you lost your virginity?”

He gave a low throaty chuckle. “Fifteen. The lady was a very mature eighteen and I was big for my age. The first time it was pretty quick, but after the third time that night I’d caught on and she was worn out.”

What is your favorite sexual talent of Ariel’s?”

The lids fell over his sapphire gaze and an expression of pure bliss softened his strong features for a moment. “Food. Tink has this way of making eating into the hottest foreplay I’ve ever experienced. And never argue with the woman about chocolate.”

I recalled the scenes he was describing and I could feel the heat enter my cheeks. Yes, he was right about that. I coughed and asked the next question, “What is Ariel’s weirdest habit?”

“That’s easy. She’s an OCD freak when it comes to organizing her kitchen. Everything goes in a specific place, in a particular container, and heaven help the poor schmuck who messes with her stuff.”

“If there is something you could change about the first few weeks you knew Ariel, what would it be?”

He seemed to think about the answer before he shook his head. “Not a thing in the first few weeks when Logan and I started going to the café, but later when I went to the café to help out while Alayna was being trained as a submissive at A Master’s Gift. If I were going to change anything in the first week I was at the café, I’d have paddled her ass then fucked her the first time she got snippy with me. Instead I tried being nice, but she wasn’t having any of it.”

I winced thinking of all the things Ariel had done to try to drive him away. “What is your favorite movie?”

“Safe House. Denzel is kick ass in that flick.”

“What is the craziest place you’ve had sex?” I was curious what his answer would be.

A wicked grin lifted his lips as he leaned forward and dropped his voice so none of the diners around us could hear what he said. “In the exam room at Tink’s doctor’s office after the first ultrasound of our daughter.” His look was thoroughly unrepentant. “I couldn’t help it. She was so fucking hot with her little round belly and no panties on.” As if that was a good excuse…

It took a moment for me to stop laughing. “Which do you prefer? Coffee, tea, or…?”

“Mexican hot chocolate. Tink got me hooked on it after I moved in with her.” He motioned to the nearly empty cup in front of me. “You know, heavy cream, cocoa, cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne. Sweet and spicy—just like my Tink.”

There was no doubt in my mind that the drink was sublime. “What addiction can you not live without?”

“Watching Tink come. She totally blisses out, her eyes go all soft and unfocused, she goes all limp, and for those few minutes she’s all mine without any barriers between us.”

I could see he enjoyed thinking of that and with the way he was looking over his shoulder toward the kitchen, I figured I needed to distract him before he created a scene Tink would never forgive him for… The man had not an ounce of shame when it came to sex. “Describe your favorite pair of shoes.”

He stuck his foot out so I could see the battered sneaker on his foot. Though it had originally been white leather, the scuffed and worn surface was more an off-white or almost gray. “These. They’re really beat up and Tink is always threatening to toss them out, but she knows I only use them when I go for a run. When I get the runners she bought me broken in, I’ll think about tossing these, but not yet.”

“What do you most fear?”

“Although, I love when Tink gets worked up because that woman has a wicked imagination and an over-developed sense of evil revenge, and there are days I wonder why I stick around, I know, if anything happened to my pixie, I’m not sure how I’d handle it.”

“What would you like to come back as if you’re reincarnated?”

The smirk on his lips and the twinkle in his blue eyes was all the warning I needed to prepare myself for a wild answer. “There’s this blue vibrator Tink has. Oh man, there is nothing I’d like more than to be that particular toy when my girl gets horny.”

I could feel my face grow hot as I remembered that scene from their book as well. I rushed into the next question, “If you could be in a (different) book, which book would it be?”

“Well, I know I’m supposed to show up in Grimm’s book and considering how close San Diablo and Ayerstown are to one another, I wouldn’t mind visiting the Diablo Blanco Club, but I’ve got my hands full with Tink right now. So…”

“If your life were a book, what would you prefer the author not tell readers about you?”

Dane leaned closer. “See, there is one thing, but if I tell you, Tink will read this interview and learn it and then she’ll go apeshit over it. A pissed off pixie is not pretty. Then, I’ll have to punish her which I hate to do and she will feel bad because she hates to disappoint me. So, it’s better if I don’t mention it at all.”

As curious as that answer was, knowing the inventive ways he’d found to punish Ariel, I erred on the side of caution and asked the last question I had for him. “Who, living or dead, would be your hero if you have one.”

“Hmm, that’s hard. I admire Tink and her sister, Alayna and how well they succeeded after their parents’ death at their young ages. But I also think Shendah and Grimm should be commended for their abilities to survive such traumatic pasts and still build solid futures. Then there’s my man, Logan. He’s had a helluva past and despite his fighting it, he found Alayna and grabbed on with both hands. So, if I was forced to name a hero, I’d have to list all of them.” He popped the last of the muffin is his mouth, chewed then swallowed before calling out, “Time’s up!”

I was surprised at how quickly the time had passed as I’d chatted with him, but before I could say goodbye, he rose from the seat and headed for the kitchen. As I gathered together my notes and pen, There was a squeal from the direction of the kitchen that was quickly muffled then a few minutes later Dane came out carrying a very pregnant Ariel, her hair sporting bright pink and blue stripes, but still as short and silky as ever.

Neither Dane or Ariel paid attention to their audience as their lips remained locked in a sexy kiss and Dane navigated the hallway toward the office in the back of the café.

An Invitation: Ariel's Pet is available at Loose-IdAmazonARe, and Barnes & Noble

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday Meetings: An Interview with Lyssa Lawrence-Halsey from Rite of First Claim

So, I've decided to recycle some posts...actually interviews with characters that I posted on another blog, but I thought I'd run them here as well...
I'll try to write a new one every two weeks on Mondays for Monday Meetings.

Lyssa Lawrence-Halsey first appeared in Unfair Advantage and made it very clear she didn't want to get involved with a younger man, especially if that man was Mike Halsey -- a man six years her junior and the younger brother of her sister's husband.

By the time her storyRite of First Claim, came around, life had dealt Lyssa some nasty blows. It made her reassess what she wanted and how she was going to get it, which opened her up to looking at Mike differently.

When I consider what happened in the book, I'm surprised Lyssa decided to speak with me, but her answers were very enlightening.

"Lyssa, thank you for taking time out of your day to talk to me."

Lyssa smiles and relaxes into the corner of her sofa, curling her legs under her. "I appreciate you thinking of me."

I laugh. "Considering the events you went through in Rite of First Claim I'm surprised you're willing to talk to me."

She shakes her head, her blonde ponytail swings against her neck and over her shoulders. "The results more than make up for everything that happened. Besides, I'm curious about the questions you could have for me."

I look down at the list. "Well, these are questions the authors on the Kinky Ever After blog came up with, so, first question, what is your favorite ice cream?"

Lyssa didn't even hesitate. "Neapolitan. That way I can have a bit of each flavor -- strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate -- if I want or just one."

I could see the logic in that. "What is your favorite thing about Mike?"

A soft smile lifts her lips. It isn't hard to see she's thinking about Mike in the way her blue eyes darken and a light flush colors her cheeks. "His possessiveness. It sounds silly, but when you grow up being told you were never wanted, having someone say that you belong to him -- not the icky stalker-obsessive-fan type of ownership, but a cherishing, protective possessiveness -- it makes you feel worthy of every loving touch and word."

I fought the urge to smile because I knew how important those feelings were to Lyssa's spiritual growth. "What does Mike do that is most annoying?"

Lyssa rolled her eyes and groaned.

I was pretty sure I knew what her answer would be, so I wasn't surprised when she answered.

"The picture thing. The man spent twelve years trying to get me to pose nude and now that we’re married he uses every opportunity to take pictures."

I knew the answer to the next question, but I asked it anyway. "How old were you when you lost your virginity?"

A visible shudder accompanied the grim look on Lyssa's face. "Because of the other things that happened, I try not to remember that night, but I was seventeen and it sucked. Turned me completely off the idea of sex for a very long time."

I nodded in understanding and hurried on to the next question, "What is your favorite sexual talent of Mike’s?"

Lyssa's face took on a dreamy expression and a blush turned her cheeks rosy. "His imagination and the amount of time he takes. Sometimes it’s fast and furious, but other times it seems like he takes hours drawing every sensation to the ultimate level. And he uses every sense from smell to taste and, oh my," her eyes closed as a blissful smile lifted her lips, "the sound of his voice..."

"What is Mike’s weirdest habit?"

She grimaced, sipped her tea, then answered, "Normally I would say the fact that he’s always carrying a weapon of some sort, but really, it’s how still he gets. It’s a bit unnerving to be out somewhere and turn around to see him looking at the people around us with this intense expression. I’ve asked him about it, but he doesn’t tell me all of it. I’ve been tempted to ask his daughter, Tuma, about it, but she gets the same look on her face sometimes and I figure it has something to do with the trauma that placed her in Mike’s path when she was twelve." Her grimace grew apprehensive. "And in a way, I really don’t want to know."

I didn't give away the things I knew about Mike because it wasn't my place, so I hurried on to the next question. "If there is something you could change about the first few weeks you knew Mike what would it be?"

"That I wouldn’t have dismissed my attraction to him so easily. Both our lives would have been a lot different, but I also realize that if I hadn’t pushed him away, Tuma wouldn’t have been saved. I don't think Mike or I could ever imagine not having her in our lives"

"What is your favorite movie?"

Lyssa gave a sheepish grin. "I know I should pick something related to the fashion industry since that’s what I do for a living, but my favorite movie is Buckaroo Banzai. I adore Peter Weller and John Lithgow, and the movie is just so campy! It's great."

"What is the craziest place you’ve had sex?" I asked as I tried to mentally flip through the various scenes from Rite of First Claim to figure out what she'd answer.

"Hands down it would have to be the supply closet at the Diablo Blanco Club. It was the first time Mike and I had sex and that night actually cured me of my phobia about closets."

I laughed. "Well, I guess that's one way to do it."

She nodded, "Uh, yeah. I guess you could say that."

"Which do you prefer? Coffee, tea, or…?"

She held up her half-empty cup. "Tea, mostly herbal, to help calm me down. Being with Mike can be intense — sexually speaking and a little down time makes everything stay in balance."

That was an understatement. "What addiction can you not live without?"

"Hearing Mike say he loves me. It took me so long to accept that he really meant it, that hearing him say it, even in the most casual way, makes my insides melt."

There was no disputing her feelings, I gave her a minute to bring her mind back to the present. "Describe your favorite pair of shoes."

She giggled and unfolded one her legs from beneath her and wiggled her naked toes before tucking her leg back under her. "None. I prefer to go barefoot when I’m at home and I tend to stay close to the house, what with a toddler and a baby to take care of and my designs to work on. Even when I’m at Mike’s studio I don’t wear shoes, it drives him nuts."

"What do you most fear?"

There wasn't a moment of hesitation. "Losing Mike and our babies. I know he’ll never stop loving me, I trust him when he says that, but he still takes the occasional assignment that puts him in harm’s way and I worry every second he’s gone."

I nodded my understanding of her sentiments. "What would you like to come back as if you’re reincarnated?"

"I don’t care what I come back as, as long as I’m with Mike."

I couldn't help but tease, "Hmm, I'm sensing a theme here..."

She shrugged and grinned. "Perhaps, but you know better than anyone how hard he worked to get me to see how we can be happy."

I knew just what she meant. "If you could be in a (different) book, which book would it be?"

"I’m already in Mattie and Bryce’s story, Unfair Advantage, that’s plenty of exposure for me thanks. I love my happy ending. I love my Dom. I don’t need anything else."

"If your life were a book, what would you prefer the author not tell readers about you?"

She looked pensive and hesitant before she answered, "The worst part of me was my refusal to trust my instincts, my inner submissive, especially with Mike. Once that was laid bare, there were no other secrets that didn’t touch on that insecurity that were left unexposed."

"Last question. Who, living or dead, would be your hero if you have one?"

"Oh, that's easy. Mike is my hero. No matter how much I tried to push him away he was determined to rescue me even when I didn’t realize how much I needed to be rescued. A man who opens himself up the way he did; who took rejection after rejection; attack after attack and still didn’t give up who he is and what he stood for — that’s a man to be admired. I’m very proud to say he’s mine."

I put away my notes and gathered my things. "Thank you again for letting me chat with you, Lyssa."

Lyssa unfurled herself from the sofa and walked beside me to the door. "You're welcome, Qwillia. Thank you for visiting. And for writing Mike's and my story."

Lyssa Lawrence fought her feelings for Mike Halsey, but when Mother Nature decides to play dirty, she does the one thing she swore she'd never do...attend the Diablo Blanco Club's Midnight Masquerade on Halloween. Which places her squarely under Mike Halsey's control when he enacts the oldest rule at the DBC -- the Rite of First Claim.

Available in ebook at:
Loose Id, LLC
Barnes & Noble

Friday, May 18, 2012

Pitching A Story

Writing is difficult. Very difficult. I'm not going to lie and say that anyone can write a book. They can't. To write a book you have to be willing to work hard. Very HARD. You have to be willing to take vicious criticism and write and rewrite and re-rewrite ad nauseum until the idea in your head is clear on the page. That kind of perseverance isn't easily cultivated. And it doesn't come naturally to many people.

How does this apply to pitching? The same perseverance needed for writing comes in handy when dealing with writing blurbs and pitches. If you aren't familiar with "pitching" I'm not talking about the skillful throwing of a baseball or softball across home plate in an effort to strike out another team's batter.

Pitching for an author is the presentation of a book idea to an editor, agent, or publisher. Most of the time and in many ways, it can be considered a verbalized query.  In my opinion though, every time a person skims the description of a book, either on-line or in a bookstore, they are reading a pitch. By creating a compelling "pitch", an author can pique the curiosity of another person and, with luck, make a potential sale.

So, how can you create a pitch?

Now, everyone does it differently, but this is my method.

You start with an interesting story. Not that all stories aren't interesting, but some are better than others. Once you have the story, then you can start paring it down. I know, I know, you're probably thinking, "but I just finished the darned thing!" It's okay, you don't have to cut anything out of the story. What you have to do is something I personally find more difficult than writing or editing the book — write the synopsis.

Yup, take those beautiful 100K (100,000) words and reduce it down to a 1,000 word summary of all the high points. Some authors write this before the story, some write it during, some write it after. Me, I'm an "after" if I really, really have to do it. If you know your story, it shouldn't take too long.

Here's where the pitching comes in. With the synopsis done, you now have to take that 1,000 words and reduce it down to 200.

Yes, I said 200 words. You're creating your long blurb. That neat description on the back of the book that makes the reader go "Hmmm? This sounds interesting." Just enough of a teaser to get the person reading it to want to know more. To ask why? And who is she? Or how did he know that?

Here's an example of a long blurb for my book, An Invitation: Ariel's Pet.

Ariel Valerian knew cooking techniques and recipes, but a Dominant like Dane Reese had her more hot and bothered than a dozen hours slaving in a steamy kitchen. And 'slaving' is just what she intends to teach her blond-haired, blue-eyed, oh so yummy surfer boy. He might be helping at the family café as a favor to her sister, but there was no way she was giving him an opportunity to play Dom with her.
For Dane Reese, Ariel Valerian is a full-figured pixie -- a life-size, blue-haired Tinkerbell in a chef's coat surrounded by the scent of chocolate and cinnamon and an aura of mind-blowing, sweaty sex. Too bad she's driving him insane with her determination to order him around. As a Dominant and half-owner of A Master's Gift, Dane has seen his share of Dommes and submissives, and, no matter how she might deny it, Ariel is destined to call him Master.
Two powerful personalities; a contest to determine who is more adept at control; and less than thirty days to discover if Ariel will bow to Dane's commands, or if Dane will become Ariel's Pet.
This long blurb is only 188 words. It gives the gist of the conflict in the story and the disposition of the hero and heroine. From these 188 words I made the short blurb.

The short blurb is best described as your elevator pitch. A quick two or three sentence description of the story that can initiate conversation. The short blurb is 200 characters — yes, I said characters and not words. What I mean by characters is letters, spaces, and punctuation marks.

This means you are going to really use your words wisely for this blurb. The short blurb is what is used on the publisher's website to give the reader a hint of what the story is about. It compels readers to click on the link to read the summary of the story.

Try not to repeat words or character names if you don't have to. Here's the short blurb for An Invitation: Ariel's Pet.

She knows flans, soufflés, and pastries; he has mastered ball-gags, floggers, and bondage. Ariel won't back down and Dane won't submit. Will she go to her knees for him, or will he become Ariel's Pet?
This short blurb was only 200 characters (including spaces) long. Note it doesn't go into detail, only presents the key conflict in the story — namely, the struggle for control between the main characters.

So, how can this help other authors?

As you work on your blurbs keep in mind the purpose of them. Blurbs or pitches are something you will always have to develop with each of your stories if you intend to pursue writing as a career. Remember, pitches and blurbs need to be as polished as the novels they represent. You need to know your story and characters so well that the pitch is an extension of the story and rolls off your tongue in conversation as easily as your own name.

Bouncing ideas off your critique partners or someone who's read your book is a great way to get help in condensing your story to 200 words or characters. Ironically, the 200 character elevator pitch is a snap once you have the 200 word pitch.

Personally, I like working on pitches/blurbs. It's like doing a 5,000 piece jigsaw puzzle or a crossword puzzle in pen. A challenge worth meeting.

If anyone has a pitch that's not quite to the 200 words stage, feel free to post it and I'll see if I can help with it. Then we can get it down to 200 characters so you're ready just in case you find yourself in an elevator with an agent, editor, or publisher.

Have a great day!