Wednesday, March 28, 2012

With Love, to Spammers #humor

Stop Spam.

Dear Spammers,
Thank you for the many emails you've sent me. I've become quite adept at spotting them. One trick I particularly like is when all of you decide on a specific topic for the subject line of your emails, and then you all use it the same day. Such as "Notice of Extreme Win." Nothing grabs my attention like seeing six of these lined up in my inbox, all from different people.

Another favorite -- and recent trick -- was a flurry of notes that advised me about my "ex" saying bad things about me, or in some cases, that he was posting bad pictures of me. That had me puzzled at first, especially since I've been married to the same man for 37 happy years and don't have an ex. But it helped me spot you!

Then there's the "Can you tell English is not my first language" message. Topics such as "Plese to be my frend" or the oldie but goodie "strive to use for benfitting of ze chilldren." I also like the tried but true "this massage no the spam" one.

No Spam
Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't thank you for reminding me that I, too, can add an extra inch to my manhood. The fact that I'm female apparently doesn't make any difference. How nice to know. Recently, you brought to my attention that there is "strength in the extra inch" -- so I guess those old commercials about being a "silly milimeter longer" might have been right. And of course, I can always "Watch it grow bigger."

Thanks, too, for the email subjects that begin "Dearest One" or "Dear Winner" or "Dear Beneficiary." I look forward to these because they show me how many people out there love me. People I have never even met, but who go out of their way to show me how much they want to get to know me. I appreciate the opportunity to share with you, especially your kind requests for my checking account information, credit card secret number, passwords, and the like. The internet is an amazingly friendly place. People like you make it "oh so special."

End Spam
Another good thing you've provided is the reminder that to get the full benefit of your email, I should open and download attached documents. These have contained items that remind me of the fall of Troy, and that big horse that was left for its residents. Good of you to note in your subject that "this message is verified safe" -- which is what I know most of my true friends would put in their subjects to reassure me.

Stop Spam Forever
Lately though I've wondered about a few of you. Why do you put ***SPAM*** in the topic of your email? Do you think it will somehow miss the target that I've set for it on my mailbox system? I have to say, that isn't one of your better decisions. Kind of like painting a target on your back and chest. I am disappointed that you've gotten that lazy. I've been having fun trying to figure out which message is from you and which from real friends. I have noticed though that friends don't tend to send me emails telling me where to score the best drugs. Some of my friends might ask *me* where to get them -- but few will volunteer that info in the open.


Overall, I wanted you to know that I take special pains with your messages, and even have a folder just for you. Nearly all of your messages go directly there. I've trained my email program to recognize most of you. For those who are new, take heart. I'm sure I'll figure you out eventually, and you'll be routed to my exclusive list of "special emails" or that elite folder I've set up for you and your friends. Till then, My Dearest, may your inbox never be empty.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Peek at Jawk and Luc: Fight for Dominance


Jawk Brighton. 
In this scene, Luc has taken Jawk on a short tour of The Crossfire, Luc's ship, they've shared a few glasses of wine, nibbled on some cookies, and Jawk has agreed to relax and enjoy their week together. We're about to see a side of the indomitable Luc that we haven't seen before.
- - -
Jawk followed Saint-Cyr into a multi-room suite with high ceilings and low, indirect lighting.

"Wow." He turned in a circle. Several white leather couches edged the room. It wasn't half the size of the man's penthouse, but for a sleepliner--huge. One wall was painted with more of those meaningless but colorful lines and shapes humans seemed so fond of. White carpet, black leather chairs.

Saint-Cyr perched on the arm of the closest couch, seemingly content to wait while his guest gawked like some kid fresh off the planet. He gestured around the room. "Do you like the accommodations, Jawk?"

"I've heard about suites like this, but never thought I'd stay in one." Jawk hugged his backpack closer up his shoulder. "I could never afford shit like this. Er, excuse me. Stuff. You really could buy a planet, couldn't you?"

The man laughed, an infectious, throaty sound Jawk wanted to hear more often. Saint-Cyr rose and headed toward a doorway. "Come on. Hungry?"

"Not really." He followed him into an adjoining hall. "But if you are, go ahead and eat."

"I eat several times a day. Helps me stay active. How about some wine, then?"

"Yeah. Anything. I'm not picky."

Saint-Cyr turned so suddenly Jawk almost ran into him. The man lowered his brows as if studying him.

Jawk took a step back. "What?"

"You're very picky, Jawk. It's one of the things I like about you. What you mean is you don't know how to tell what's appropriate, when it comes to wine. I'm surprised, since you're a waiter."

"Oh." He flipped a hand in the air. "I say what they tell me to say when a customer orders meat, fish or chicken. And I always ask the maitre de what's selling well and push it. As long as the client thinks I know what I'm doing..." He hooked a thumb beneath the strap of his bag. "Everyone's happy, right?"

"I can teach you more than you ever wanted to know about wine. If you ever have a question, feel free to ask." He turned and shouldered his way through a swinging door. "The galley's in here."

They ended up with a bottle of red wine with a fruity flavor, which Saint-Cyr explained was created from a grape grown in soil famous for its quartz-heavy content. Between them, they nibbled a dozen palm-sized cookies. Thick, soft, and chewy like his human aunt made. The warm chocolate morsels inside them melted on Jawk's tongue.

He licked the chocolate from his fingers. "These would be really good dunked in milk."

"Your fingers?"

Jawk shot him a wry grin, reached out to thumb a smear of chocolate from Saint-Cyr's chin. He licked it. "Mmm."

Saint-Cyr's cheeks darkened. Was he blushing? The man brushed a crumb from his shirt. "Milk doesn't relax you nearly as much." He dragged one finger along the edge of his glass.
Jawk had seen him do that at Batchelors. Though he hadn't waited on the man's table, he'd been close enough to get a good view of him. Nervous habit? 

"You mean, milk doesn't relax you as in 'me specifically,' or people in general?"

"General." Saint-Cyr swept one hand across the table, brushed the crumbs onto his other hand. He dusted them over the empty cookie plate.

"So, you want to get me drunk."

He gave a short, gusty laugh. "Can I get you--or any Kin--drunk on two glasses of wine?"

Lowering both ears to the sides in a show of humility, he bared fangs in a human smile. "Prolly not."

Laughing, Luc stretched out both legs. You could read this man easily, once you got used to him. His solid black eyes didn't reveal as much about him as normal people's, true. But the way his mouth tightened, his nostrils flared, the flush of his skin tones, turning his cheeks a darker color than the rest of his deep, deep brown skin ... oh, yes. He had his tells.

"I hope I'm worth the expense, Luc. And the trouble."

"I don't usually like surprises, but you've been a good experience so far. I want to know you better."

"You know what I want?" Jawk dragged a finger through a wet spot on the table, eyes down.

"What?"

"Remember when I tasted your throat in the hoversine earlier?"

The man swallowed. He lifted one hand toward his throat as if recalling being bitten, made a fist and lowered it. He squirmed a bit. That same match-strike spark of heat rose in the room. "Yes."

Jawk dragged one clawtip along the table, near the man's arm. He lifted his head and captured his gaze the way he had in the car. "I want to know what the rest of you tastes like."

Saint-Cyr flashed his blinding smile and leaned all the way back in his chair, a sinewy slide of flesh that screamed confidence. "Do you?"

Jawk laid back one ear. "I know something about you your human lovers don't."

He tapped a finger on the table. "Which is?"

Jawk braced both elbows on his knees. "You speak Felis. Do you know what romtzeet means?"

"I've heard the word. It's some kind of scent."

Jawk lifted his head, sniffing. "It fills this room, more heady than the wine. I can barely catch my breath. Humans call it testosterone. You--" Inhaling, Jawk closed his eyes briefly "--taste of it."

Saint-Cyr wet his lips. The leather smell of pride added to the male-rich scents of the room. "Do you like that?"

Luc Saint-Cyr
"Yes." He dragged the tip of his claw along Luc's jacket sleeve. "Do you know what else you smell like?" Jawk could hear the inhalation of breath, smell the musky scent of his desire.

Saint-Cyr's throat worked. "No. What do I smell like?"

Jawk stroked his tongue into the air. "Mmm." The scent of desire heightened. "I don't have a human word for it."

"I..." He cleared his throat. "Say it in Felis."

Jawk smiled, savoring the way he surrendered, asked to be described. If you defined a man, you owned him. In Felis, he said, "You smell like roasted cinnapods with kai pepper. You smell of danger, I think. Risk."

Saint-Cyr leaned his chin on one fist, his smile cocky. "Are you sure you're not just hungry?"

He made a show of taking in Luc's entire length, from his feet up. "Only for sex."

The man rose, his movements slow, studied. Unhurried. "Our..." He gestured vaguely to the right. "The room's this way."

Jawk picked up his backpack and followed. One door down, Luc touched a panel and entered. Right behind him, Jawk dropped his bag on the floor, reached out to grip Luc by the arm. His biceps felt like steel beneath Jawk's fingers, yet the man did not resist. One tug, and he had Luc in his arms. He turned, pushed him back into the door as he leaned into him, body to body.

He rocked his erection against Luc's hard upper thigh. "Put your hands on the wall, arms out."

Luc did as told.

The sight of this man--this man--in submission to him brought a riot of emotions to the fore. Few knew who and what Luc really was. The thrill of having Luc Saint-Cyr at his mercy ... Jawk forced himself to move slowly, to savor the moment. Jawk set his mouth beneath Luc's jaw and huffed a deep breath against his skin, using the heat to increase the man's rich, romtzeet scent. Jawk's growl elicited a gasp.

"I must taste you." He gripped Luc's shirt with both hands, yanked it open and swooped in to lick the bared skin.

Luc's husky moan evoked another surrender, this one of pleasure. A fine shiver swept over him, translating itself to Jawk's body every place they touched.

He splayed one hand behind Luc's head, turning him so they breathed the same desire-steamed air. "Do you know what I want to do to you, human?"

With those black, black eyes closed, he seemed more human. Less of a force to be reckoned with, more of a lover. "Tell me."

Jawk growled against Luc's throat. "I want to keep you beneath me, all night. Keep you under my fangs, so I can lick every single inch of your skin."

Luc reached for him.

Jawk growled a warning. "Hands on the wall." When Luc complied, Jawk nuzzled his throat, kissed him in reward. "Good. Good. I'll tell you when to touch me. For now, human, the pleasure of touch is mine to take, yours to give."

Jawk, Tales of the Chosen
"Jawk, I..."

"Shh."

When Luc opened his mouth to speak again, Jawk hissed. Saint-Cyr glared.

"If all you wanted was a boytoy, you shouldn't have hired a Kin." Jawk scratched one sharp clawtip down the man's jaw. "I can smell how hot you are. You want a Kin to dominate you in bed."

"No." He shook his head. "I..."

"Shh." He set a fingertip on the flat planes of Luc's mouth. "It's all right for you to want it. Maybe just for one night, but you do want it." He added in a whisper alongside Luc's ear, "You need it. Crave it. And I, my fine human, am going to give it to you."
- - -
Jawk, Tales of the Chosen
Pleasure. Trust. Possession. Is a betrayal of the heart forever?
Liquid Silver:  http://liquidsilverbooks.com/books/jawk.htm

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Six Paragraph Sunday - Rah and Submission


"Izzy" -- Izzorah Ceeow.
Izzorah finally admits to Luc that he wants to learn about sexual submission.
- - -
Luc caressed Izzorah's face, and leaned in for a kiss. "You're free with me, Rah. It's okay to tell me when you want sex. Wanting to be dominated is okay too."

The emerald gaze held such longing it tore at Luc's heart. "Are you saying it's okay that I want to submit to you? It's not bad to admit that?"

"That's exactly what I'm saying." Joy rose up within Luc. It felt as if a smile had encompassed his entire body. Izzorah's trust held him rooted, solid, safely moored. "You're free to express your sexuality with me. To explore every part of it. I want you to know everything about yourself as a sexual creature. I want you to trust me with every secret thought and desire."

"I shouldn't have been afraid to tell you." Izzorah pressed his body against him. He nestled his head on Luc's shoulder, and relaxed. He lowered his lashes, then peeked up. "I know I can trust you. I just didn't know if you'd like me to tell you what I wanted. I thought you might prefer to figure it out on your own."

Luc chuckled. "I wish I could, but it's easier if you tell me." He ducked his head for a quick kiss. "I love you, Rah. The desire to be dominated, to give yourself to me is part of your freedom in our relationship. There's no shame in desiring freedom. There's no shame in wanting sex with me. I belong with you as much as you belong with me."

He savored the way his lover yielded into his embrace. Izzorah's sweet surrender filled Luc with such elation he couldn’t speak, only hold him close.
- - -
Luc and Rah are the heroes in Surrender Love.
Not rebound, payback, loneliness, or great sex, and far beyond love. This is surrender.
 
Heat Level:  R=graphic sex, plus extreme cuddling, tenderness, and the seduction of a virgin who knows exactly what -- and who -- he wants.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

1000 Words = 1 Image: Rah and the Sea #hot

Izzorah Loves the Ocean.



- - - 

I love this photo. I created ears for him, and that was about all I had to do to make this picture of my feline humanoid Izzorah work.

In an upcoming book, Izzorah (Rah) and his lover marry and go on their honeymoon. In one scene, Luc comes up behind him at the seaside and stands quietly, taking in the beauty of his younger lover as he enjoys the splash of warm water and the cooling waves.

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever," Keats said. That certainly fits here. Golden, tan, fit, in love with life. Who could not adore a man like that? Luc is certainly smitten.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Snippet from Surrender Trust: Kissing in the Shower

Luc Saint-Cyr 
Here's a sneak peek at Surrender Trust, the sequel to Surrender Love. This particular scene was cut, but gives a nice idea of what to expect from Luc and Izzorah in the upcoming book.
- - -

Water droplets from the shower glittered on Izzorah's dark lashes like diamonds. He rose up to plant a kiss on Luc’s mouth, and lingered there, sweeping his cat-scratchy tongue inside.
Luc allowed him to control the kiss. Rah’s purr rumbled against Luc’s chest and into his mouth, setting Luc’s heart racing. He clutched Izzorah closer, ran one hand down his back, and cupped it around his hard ass, tugging him up against his cock.
Rah slid both clawed hands into Luc’s curls and fisted them, drew him down for a deeper kiss. He rubbed his pelt against his lover’s chest, holding Luc’s mouth captive by the raw power of his fierce embrace. He pulled back and nibble-kissed along Luc’s chin, licked the stubbly skin of his jaw.
“Oh, Luc,” he whispered against his mouth. “I’ve wanted you since the moment I saw you.” He brushed his mouth against Luc’s, and then licked Luc's lips and jaw. “I can’t wait for you to take me again, make love to me. I want to give myself to you.” He shook his head, leaning back to meet the man’s gaze. “You’re like a feast-day. I hardly know where to start.”
Luc grinned. “How about at the top, and then we’ll work our way down?”
“Mmm, that sounds good.”
Without preamble, Luc spun him around and moved Rah so that he had both hands against the wall, legs spread. “There. Now, you stand still while I bathe you, and then we’ll switch.” He lathered shampoo in his hands, and dug his fingertips into the Kin’s scalp, taking care not to let suds reach his eyes. “Feel nice?”
“Mmm.” Rah leaned back into Luc’s hands, unresisting.
“Good.” He worked the lather into his lover’s hair, careful to reach every part. Rah lowered his ears to keep out the soap. “Okay, close your eyes.” Luc used a hand-held shower to rinse his hair. “Not stinging, is it?”
Rah shook his head, sending water across his broad shoulders.
He wrapped his arms around Rah and leaned him back so he could kiss him over his shoulder, and was rewarded when Izzorah whimpered with desire against his mouth.
- - -
Surrender Love
Not rebound, payback, loneliness, or great sex, and far beyond love. This is surrender.
In the beds of countless lovers, the immortal Luc Saint-Cyr has been mastered as well as master, commanded as well as commander. When his mortal lover leaves him, the distraught Luc withdraws and devotes himself to work. His entertainment company throws a ceremony for their most successful rock group, and Luc meets drummer Izzorah "Rah" Ceeow, one of the feline Kin race. Rah's dark hair and velvety, golden furskin captivate Luc. Pert cat's ears and a quick smile lighten his mood, and one look into Rah's emerald eyes, deep and tranquil as a forest pool, and troubles cease.
He suspects the mid-twenties male is a virgin, and Luc, fascinated by Rah's quiet serenity and lack of guile, longs for a deeper, closer relationship. Savoring Rah's surrender will be as delicious as taking him. Luc will force nothing. Rah will give himself to Luc when he is ready to surrender his innocence, to capitulate every part of himself to Luc's command. Rah will open himself and let himself be taken. Luc's anticipation and desire are palpable; as real as his hunger for faithful, unconditional love. But to gain Rah, how much of himself is Luc willing to surrender?
Heat Level:  R=graphic sex, plus extreme cuddling, tenderness, and the seduction of a virgin who knows exactly what -- and who -- he wants.
This book is the 2010 EPIC Award Winner in Science Fiction Erotic Romance
Love Romances & More, Best SciFi/Futuristic 2009 Runner Up; Winner "Best Cover"
Romance Junkies Reviewers' Favorite List 2009

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Six Paragraph Sunday - Senth

Senth Antonello.
Senth Antonello is a professional thief who collects trinkets for fun, but until he meets NarrAy Jorlan, he's never collected hearts. He's a virgin.

Drugged since puberty to suppress his feral, half-alien side, he goes on a job to steal back something taken from her by the Conqueror. NarrAy's addictive sex-pheromones won't be a problem for Senth. The drug he takes protects him. That is, until the job takes longer than expected, and the drug wears off, leaving Senth at the mercy of her pleasure...

- - -
NarrAy offered her hand. She'd practiced this with her father as a girl. "A gentleman doesn't try to overpower a lady's hand, NarrAy. But he isn't afraid to be firm either." She held his gloved hand between both of hers. "I can see you're a gentleman, Mr. Antonello."

"Just Senth ma'am."

She smiled. "Senth, I'm NarrAy. Never Ms. Jorlan, nor ma'am. Not on this job." She gave his hand a squeeze. "Understood?"

He met her gaze. "Does that mean you want me?" He blushed again and glanced down at their still-joined hands. "For the job, I mean."

She bit back a laugh. What a little innocent you are. "So long as we're clear on who's in charge."

"When it comes to theft, I am. For everything else, you are, in every way."
- - -

At the Mercy...


At the Mercy of Her Pleasure
When NarrAy steals a kiss from Senth, he steals her heart, but how much more are they willing to take -- for each other?
Senth holds a lofty position in the elite Thieves' Guild. Drugged since puberty to suppress his feral half-feline side, nothing suppresses his daredevil, risk-loving human half. His master offers him a deal. Work with a Better, an enhanced woman with addictive, pleasure-laced pheromones, and he'll buy and free Senth's cruelly enslaved older brother. The job? Grab-and-go. The condition? Remain a virgin. The drug he takes ensures it, no matter how tempting the woman or her pheromones. The problem? Nothing goes right. The job outlasts the drug's effect. All Senth wants is one touch, one kiss, one oh-so-tempting lick of her perfect, lush skin. The downside? With his brother's freedom at stake, how can he risk putting himself at the mercy of her pleasure?
Warning: Contains half-feline thief who plays with what he steals, and a by-the-book military heroine whose passion he liberates. Author not liable for items missing once book is open, including hearts.

Loose Id: http://tinyurl.com/atthemercy
Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/atthemercy-k
Get an electronic autograph for the Kindle version of this book at Kindlegraph.
Print: http://tinyurl.com/atthemercy-p
Barnes & Noble: http://is.gd/atthemercy_bn
Fictionwise: http://is.gd/atthemercy

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saint Patrick's Day Yumminess - Pistachio Cookies!


Shamrock 
A quick and easy low sugar recipe for cookies you can use any day of the year, but they're great for Saint Patrick's Day.

Pistachio Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cups baking mix
1 (3 oz.) package instant pistachio pudding mix
1 egg
1 Tbsp sugar


Preparations
Grease cookie sheet.
Preheat oven (350 F)

To Make
Stir the butter into the pudding mix, and add the baking mix a bit at a time.

Beat the egg slightly, and add.

Stir in the sugar.

Roll out on a lightly floured surface. A shamrock-shaped cookie cutter is great for this holiday, if you have one.

Bake 9 minutes, or until lightly golden.

- - -
Cream Cheese Frosting

5 oz pkg cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese
1 T vanilla
1 T honey

Mix ingredients. If desired, add 1-2 drops green food coloring. Spread on cooled cookies.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Little Pet Humor - Woolyboogers

A Woolybooger. 

 How about a little humor?
- - -
A man goes into a pet store and says he wants something unusual for his wife, who's been in a bad mood lately.

The owner points toward the back. "I have a new creature called a Woolybooger. You gotta see this."

The man follows him to the back of the store, and in a small cage sits a blue thing with pincers and one giant eye.

"Man, that's ugly. What does it do?"

"Watch this." The owner opens the cage, puts down a stuffed toy, and says, "Woolybooger, that toy."

The Woolybooger jumps on it, fangs protrude from beneath it, it uses its pincers, and tears the toy to shreds in seconds.

The man claps a hand over his mouth. "Wow! That's amazing! I'll take it."

He gets home, and puts the cage in the middle of the living room, and waits for his wife.

She drives home in terrible traffic, gets a ticket, and can't find a place to park in the apartment complex. By the time she gets inside, she's had it. She takes one look at the thing in the cage, and lets out a screech. "What the hell is that?"

The husband grins. "Watch this." He opens the cage and points to the ottoman. "Woolybooger, that ottoman."

The creature jumps on it, fangs protrude from it, the pincers go into action, and in seconds, the ottoman is shreds on the floor.

The husband folds his arms. "Well, honey? What do you think?"

"What did you say that ugly thing was?"

"A Woolybooger."

His wife turns her back, irritated beyond belief. "Woolybooger, my ass."

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Six Paragraph Sunday - Luc, Rah, and Beads

Luc and Izzorah.
Izzorah (Rah) is a Kin, a feline humanoid, and his people use beads in their hair as a means of identifying various traits about their warriors, families, and clans.

The scene below was cut from Surrender Trust, my current work in progress. In it, Rah is explaining the order of a spouse's beads. Although he's nearly fluent in Luc's language, he has occasional difficulty with words. T'hahr is Felis for "my heart."
- - -



"You'll wear my color on a strand of hair closest to your head." Izzorah touched the top of his head. "Your word is scout?"

"Scalp."

"Scalp. Scalp. Okay." He smiled at Luc. "And then your bead color is next, to show our two families have joined. On me, it's the other way. I wear yours next to my scalp and mine next. When a warrior adds another mate, his bead color goes over the first one, and then her color is at the end. The chief mate wears the other mate's color after his own color, showing he accepts the new mate, even if he doesn't really want to."

"So" -- Luc narrowed his eyes in concentration -- "If you took another mate, I'd wear your bead against my scalp, then my color, then his."

"No, t'hahr." He grinned. "If I tried that you'd probably shoot him."

Luc's grimace eased into a smile. "Busted."

- - -
Surrender Trust will be the sequel to Surrender Love.

Surrender Love
Not rebound, payback, loneliness, or great sex, and far beyond love. This is surrender.

Surrender Love
In the beds of countless lovers, the immortal Luc Saint-Cyr has been mastered as well as master, commanded as well as commander. When his mortal lover leaves him, the distraught Luc withdraws and devotes himself to work. His entertainment company throws a ceremony for their most successful rock group, and Luc meets drummer Izzorah "Rah" Ceeow, one of the feline Kin race. Rah's dark hair and velvety, golden furskin captivate Luc. Pert cat's ears and a quick smile lighten his mood, and one look into Rah's emerald eyes, deep and tranquil as a forest pool, and troubles cease.
He suspects the mid-twenties male is a virgin, and Luc, fascinated by Rah's quiet serenity and lack of guile, longs for a deeper, closer relationship. Savoring Rah's surrender will be as delicious as taking him. Luc will force nothing. Rah will give himself to Luc when he is ready to surrender his innocence, to capitulate every part of himself to Luc's command. Rah will open himself and let himself be taken. Luc's anticipation and desire are palpable; as real as his hunger for faithful, unconditional love. But to gain Rah, how much of himself is Luc willing to surrender?


Heat Level:  R=graphic sex, plus extreme cuddling, tenderness, and the seduction of a virgin who knows exactly what -- and who -- he wants.

This book is the 2010 EPIC Award Winner in Science Fiction Erotic Romance
Love Romances & More, Best SciFi/Futuristic 2009 Runner Up; Winner "Best Cover"
Romance Junkies Reviewers' Favorite List 2009

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Update on PayPal, Immortals, Teenagers, and the Election

Just Say No Way.
I'm a member of a group called Banned Writers. We are a coalition of writers, readers, publishers, and editors who have come together to fight against the economic censorship of erotic fiction by non-governmental organizations and entities who believe they have the power and the right to determine what adult men and women should be allowed to read.

We've joined with other organizations fighting the PayPal censorship movement and we are getting results. Doug Michelman, head of Investor Relations for Visa, responded to a message from our leader, Madeleine Morris.
- - -
Relevant to this situation, the sale of a limited category of extreme imagery depicting rape, bestiality and child pornography is or is very likely to be unlawful in many places and would be prohibited on the Visa system whether or not the images have formally been held to be illegal in any particular country. Visa would take no action regarding lawful material that seeks to explore erotica in a fictional or educational manner.

As you note in your letter, Visa is not in the business of censoring cultural product. We recognize, as courts in the U.S. and elsewhere have long recognized, that this is a challenging topic. Bright lines are difficult to establish. We welcome the input of all stakeholders regarding our policies as we work to sustain a network that supports global commerce, while respecting the laws of the countries where we operate.
[Read entire letter here]
- - -

In other words, they are not the ones holding PayPal's leash.

PayPal has finally responded publicly to this debacle, but their answer is murky, unclear, and they obviously do not yet grasp the significance of the growing discontent of their user base. To see what their response is, click [here]. You won't be able to leave a comment; they have blocked responses.

We are making a difference. Keep talking, tweeting, spreading news on Facebook, and blogging. Tell people you do business with. Talk to everyone. Don't let them get away with this. And since you're reading this, come over and take a stand with Banned Writers.

Friday, March 9, 2012

PayPal, Immortals, Teenagers, and the Election


No Sex.
What do PayPal, immortals, teenagers, and the election have in common? Followed the PayPal censorship controversy much? PayPal is a company that acts as a go-between to protect your identity online. You give this supposedly highly secure financial company your credit card and bank information, and they provide you with a means to purchase safely online. The merchant never has access to your credit card info. This means an entrepreneur who has an idea or product to sell can install some code on his or her website, hook up to PayPal, and sell internationally within minutes. You can take credit cards without having to invest in ultra-secure servers. PayPal takes the risk for you.

They, however, have decided that certain material is now too "high-risk." The internet commerce giant has decreed it will no longer permit its services to be used to purchase certain types of erotic material. Among the list are books containing BDSM, incest, "pseudo-incest," "barely legal," bestiality, and rape.

The definitions of these has been given many times, but for clarity, and in case you're new to the conflict, "pseudo-incest" covers people who are not related by blood but by marriage (step brothers/sisters of a blended family, stepson/stepmother, etc.), and "barely legal" is someone of legal age to have sex, meaning eighteen and nineteen year-olds. None of this material is new to the world. Oedipus wrote about incest thousands of years ago. The Marquis de Sade wrote about BDSM (bondage, discipline, and sado-masochism -- the term actually comes from his name) but PayPal has decreed it will no longer pay for this material. It claims it's being pressured by credit card companies. The credit card companies have, so far, been mute on the subject.

The "barely legal" material includes May-December love stories. PayPal doesn't want to pay for these because... well, I have no idea why. Maybe they think people aged eighteen and nineteen aren't capable of making solid decisions. Odd, that they are old enough to vote and go to war, but we can't write about them falling in love unless it's with someone their own age. At what point is the December lover supposedly too old for the May lover? Ten years? Twenty? Fifty? I'm not sure there's a scale, but imagine how out-of-kilter it might be if the December lover were immortal.

Bestiality - sexual activity between a person and an animal - includes stories (according to PayPal) with were-characters. Shape shifters, werewolves, werebears, were-anything. No petting of the lover's head while in shifted form; no sex while in animal form, no playful biting or nibbling. Nothing that might cause arousal while referring to the beast within. Pretty much the entire reason to write erotic were-type books and characters is taboo.

The internet giant has not only said it won't permit you to buy books with these topics, it will also confiscate funds of the booksellers and publishers who provide them. This means even if you don't write these books, but your publisher provides them, or you sell your books through a bookseller who does, PayPal can confiscate their funds, depriving you of your livelihood. Your recourse? Moving to another publisher or bookseller is about your only choice, because fighting with PayPal over lost revenue could take months, or even years. They are not covered by the FDIC and are not required even to respond to your complaint. Their terms of service say they will reply within 180 days (six months), and at that point, their decision is final. You do not get a phone number to call. You get an email. There is little you can do. If you can't survive for six months to a year without income, and you depend on getting paid by companies that provide this material, you are out of luck if PayPal follows through on its threat.

Which brings me to the crux of this article. I write about the Sempervians, immortals who manipulate current events to steer humanity towards various outcomes they desire. For example, a Sempervian might cause a fire in a seed warehouse, or cripple a shipping company with bad gas, making it impossible to ship seed on time. A failed corn crop pushes a farmer into buying his next year's seed on credit instead of with profits. A few years of "bad luck" and failed crops, and he defaults on the loan, losing his farm. A big farming company owned by the Sempervian buys his land on the cheap, makes it part of a conglomerate, and sells corn for less, making a huge profit, and over time, changing the face of agriculture. What does this have to do with censorship and PayPal?

Just Plain No.
Imagine you want to influence an election during a year when ultra-conservatives are on the ticket, up against a liberal. What kinds of things might swing the vote toward the liberals? What do Americans cherish and fear losing? Crops? Books? No. It's freedom. If a financial institution can decide for us what kinds of books we're allowed to write, read, and buy, then we are handing over our freedom in exchange for convenient purchases online. At what point does our freedom mean more than convenience and safety? What would make a person get out and vote for someone who is likely to stand up for your freedom? Someone who speaks well and looks good in a suit? Or a controversy that sparks outrage and determination to fight for what you have a legal write to read, write, and buy?

My Sempervians are not unlike the Illuminati. They move in the background, changing small things in the Tarthian Empire, influencing the populace to act in ways that benefit them and achieve their long-term goals. They're immortal. They have all the time in the world. In America, who is in the background, moving the small things that change our freedoms? Whose goals are achieved by PayPal suddenly taking a stand against specific details in erotic literature that it has (up to now) turned a blind eye to? Where is America headed, and to what end? PayPal, immortals, teenagers, and the election -- they may have more in common than meets the eye.

What do you think will happen next in this controversy? Who is the enemy, and who is on your side?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mind Maps or Why I am Not a Pantser

A Mind Map of my Work in Progress. 
I've discovered (the hard way) that unless I have a solid plot my book ideas fizzle. I am not a pantser. I recently got a program called Freemind that is "mind map" software. You start with a central idea, and keep clicking to create new "bubbles" or trains of thought, writing down a bit to capture the idea and then moving to the next point. I'm not an "outliney" kind of person either, so making one never worked for me. But for some reason, this program helps me capture my racing thoughts fast enough that I can get them down before they're gone. When I get an idea it springs whole into my head and I can't put it on paper fast enough. 


Click either image in this post to see them in a larger size.

My character Alitus Vivaldi started as a walk on part because I needed someone to deliver a bit of news to the Empress in her big scene. I kept calling him "her assistant" and after about six times, I realized I needed to name him. The moment I had his name I had all of him. His backstory, his life, his goals, everything. He ended up getting his own book and being a major player in my overall series of trilogies that link together. When things like that happen, it's hard to record it all. This program has been a real blessing to me. Five years ago I might not have been ready for it, but now, I can't imagine how I'd get through a plot without it. It's literally saved me hundreds of frustrating hours of work. My current wip is in its sixth rewrite, and I think this will be its last because of the program. It's Java based, and it's produced by Sourceforge, which made Audacity. 
One leg of the above mind map.

I used Freemind to come up with ideas for a non-fiction book I'm doing on how to write dialogue. Once I saw the possibilities, I started a mind map for my wip and within days, had mapped out the entire thing, solving my dilemma over the ending and plot problems. My editor had sent me some good info which helped, and between the two, it made a big difference. I attached a print of the dialogue thing, showing just one leg of the basic "topic" mind map. When you open the whole thing, it's so huge you have to move it around the screen to see it all. I'm doing one for each aspect of the book, and then will work on putting down the details. This program exports as jpg, png, flash, html, java, pdf, open office, and more. I can export it as open office, then save it as rtf, and open it in Word as an outline. I'm amazed that I can write this way. I'd never have thought of doing it but came across the idea in a book I was reading and decided to Google mind map software and see what I could find. This one was free so I figured what the heck. I'll give it a go. I'm quite visual -- I'm stimulated by visual images and inspired by pictures, so this turns out to be ideal for me.

Once I start with a solid idea of where I'm going, and a purpose to accomplish, the random ideas seem to flow better. A mind map seems to be just what I need.

Want to try the product? Go here to download it. Let me know what you think! http://freemind.sourceforge.net

Saturday, March 3, 2012

It's the Weekend and I...

Relaxing on the Weekend.
Finish this sentence. It's the weekend, and I... Depending on what weekend and what's going on in my life, it could be anything from "have a class to attend" to "will be in class."

Weekends are my busiest times. My Yahoo groups are jumping Saturdays and Sundays. On Romance Lives Forever, it's promo weekend, so I'm approving messages and/or reading them. My moderator, Jean Paquin, takes care of most moderating duties for me (and God bless her abundantly for it). But I do check the group frequently and respond when I see messages in queue.

Marketing for Romance Writers gets a lot of attention as well. Many authors have day jobs and therefore are busy online on the weekends. They drop into MFRW for a quick piece of advice, or they read a message that asks for help and they take a minute to respond. It's a wonderful group, and the volunteer staff is terrific. I love each of them for their caring attitudes and service.

This weekend, I'm updating my website and working on a book trailer. Next weekend I have a class to attend. I'm learning how to create and play a role-playing game. This is research for a book series. The game I play is called Imagine, and I'm fortunate that the player group I hang out with meets in the basement of the Imagine creator's house. Talk about a unique learning opportunity! And of course, I'll be writing.

What do you do on the weekends?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Flashing the Fiction

Good Writing.
Flash fiction is a short piece, often less than 500 words. I have three flashes from a challenge I did with fellow authors that I'm sharing today, each under 100 words. I hope you enjoy them. Each is a complete scene or story.

- - -

Waiting
Just a little more ... don’t stop. Don’t stop! Need this so bad. Need this. Please - don’t - stop.

A little bit more. Come on, come on, that’s it. Let it go. Give it up. So close. Almost there. He blew out the breath he’d been holding and took another one, hands shaking.

Been waiting for this - been wanting it, so, so damn bad. He licked his lips.

I should’ve started so much earlier, taken more time, gotten all of it ready. Oh! Yes. Yes.... here it comes!

The last little bit of ketchup landed on his fries.
- - -
Helping
She spread her thighs wider and slid down a little. “There. Can you get it in now?”

“No. Not yet.” He hooched over to the right, grunting a bit as he pushed harder. “Hold still.”

“Hurry up, baby.”

“I’m trying!” He shifted his shoulders, angled one foot against the ground for better leverage. “It’s almost within the hole. Just a little...”

“Do it harder! I can’t keep this up.”

“Hold on, baby. Hold on.” He wiped sweat from his brow. The heat rose. Fingertips slick with lubricant, he rubbed the opening. With a click, the car’s axle slid into place.
- - - 
Red
So much for avoiding a hard-on and embarrassing myself. She’s wearing red. Again.

I needed her to wear one more red dress to haunt my memories. This one was sleeveless, baring perfectly formed arms, strong and feminine. Strapless too, revealing skin the color of mahogany cream.

A man doesn’t stand a chance with her in that dress. Long, slinky, shiny, scarlet. Oh, God. It looks-- wet.

Her mouth was the same red, her lips plump, like she’d just been kissed. Like she’d run her tongue across them. Like she was wanting him.

Is she wet anywhere else?

Damn, damn, damn.
- - - 
So... how do you like my flashes? =^_^=