Saturday, March 27, 2010

Excerpts…What Works? **LIBERATING LACEY Giveaway!**

Today our guest is author Anne Calhoun. She's talking excerpts today AND giving away a print copy of her book, LIBERATING LACEY. This contest is open through Sunday, so make sure you answer her question to get your name in the drawing. Now, I'll turn the "pen" over to Anne.

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Excerpts…What Works?

As an e-book published author I’m always curious what prompts readers to buy a book available on an e-publisher’s website. To help make a decision there’s the cover, the blurb on the book’s buy page, and usually an excerpt of anywhere from 50-1500 words, depending on the book’s length. My publisher, Ellora’s Cave, prefers an excerpt to be within the first few pages of the book. With Amazon you can search a book’s contents for particular words, or random pages. So, for example, if you’d prefer your book to have sex scenes with handcuffs, you could search for “handcuffs” and get a taste of what the book has to offer (try it with the print version of LIBERATING LACEY). But with the publishers’ sites – Samhaim, Ellora’s Cave, what-have-you – you can’t search. All you get is the chosen couple thousand words.

As a reader, this is tough for me. While writers must ensure the first few pages are snappy, interesting, sexy, and guaranteed to grab the reader, I personally don’t browse books that way. I open the book to a random section. If the writing grabs me in the middle of the book, when the author should be clipping along, pulling out U-turns and surprises and conflict-upping moments with every chapter, then I go back and have a look at the beginning. I also know, as a writer, that sections in the middle of the book are my favorites. Don’t get me wrong – I love the beginning of LIBERATING LACEY, where Hunter and Lacey get down to brass tacks after a not-so-casual conversation in a bar. It sets up their characters perfectly. Newly divorced Lacey knows what she wants – a hookup – and goes about getting it. Hunter’s not intimidated by a strong, purposeful, classy woman. By the end of the first chapter they’ve had sex, and they both want more, not because the sex was smokin’ (it was, of course) but because of the dialogue and their personalities.

But that’s not my favorite scene. If I could have chosen any random 1500 words to tempt the reader into buying LIBERATING LACEY, I would have chosen the excerpt available on the Liberating Lacey page on my blog. Or the excerpt I’ve included below, which sets up one of the more emotional scenes in the book. I think these scenes draw me because they’re so heavy on the emotional ramifications of an ever-deepening plot (in this case, the consequences of casual sex). That’s why I read and write romance, for the emotions, which are harder to set up in the first three to five pages. Goals, yes. Emotions…not as easy to do, which is why I skim in the middle.

Here’s the excerpt, not available anywhere else, unless you buy the book!

It wasn’t just her lips. Her entire body both welcomed and maddened him, the soft give to her breasts and stomach, the way her thighs cradled him, the brush of the baby-soft skin of her inner arm against his back. He’d always enjoyed the slow, sexy build of foreplay, loved women’s bodies and all the mysterious, amazing things they could do, but with Lacey, he couldn’t detach. Kissing meant he had to touch. Touching meant he wanted to crush her under him. Getting her under him meant he had to be inside her, and when he got there the only thing that kept him from losing it and going all caveman on her was the knowledge that he’d scare her to death if he did.

Right now his prehistoric ancestors were beating drums just under the surface of his rational brain. He lifted her skirt, the fabric sodden in his fist, and pulled down her panties. She must be making up for lost time or something, because she never said no. Asleep, tired, irritable after a bad day, whether he asked for a quickie or a marathon session that lasted four hours she never said no, and she wasn’t now, either. He stuffed the wet scrap of fabric in the pocket of his cargo shorts and fumbled with his zipper.

The shorts were low on his hips, his throbbing cock getting pelted by the rain before he looked up to meet Lacey’s anticipatory eyes. She’d asked if this heat was normal for him. It wasn’t. If he got caught having sex in a public place by someone with a grudge or a holier-than-thou attitude, he’d get fired so fast he’d get rug burn on his ass from the carpet outside the chief’s office. First the parking lot, now the park. Even her driveway was considered public, with an expectation of being seen. Around Lacey his sense of self-preservation took a scarily long hike.

Today it looked like his career was safe because shitshitshit, “I don’t have a condom,” he said, knowing she didn’t either. She’d left her purse at home.

She peered up at him through her lashes. Lacey never left the house without mascara because her short, reddish eyelashes disappeared without it. The rain had smudged the makeup around her eyes, a shockingly slutty look for her that, combined with her swollen lips and sexy gaze, did nothing to convince his cock to stand down. “You have your wallet,” she said.

He did have his wallet because he didn’t care if she was as rich as the queen, if she was out with him, he’d pay for the mocha and lunch. But while he had money, he didn’t have protection. “The cupboard’s bare, beautiful. I meant to buy more yesterday but didn’t get to…”

He couldn’t finish the sentence because she’d reached between them to stroke his shaft. Cold water streamed down her forearm, over his balls, making them tighten but he was so hot steam should have been rising from his body. Just to torture himself he cupped one breast through her shirt and thumbed the hard, thrusting nipple, kissing her while he did. She could get him off here. It wouldn’t take long. Then he’d take her home, dry her off and love her up until he was ready for round two.


She might have said his name twice because her voice was raised, urgent. He forced his eyes to focus, saw both intensity and hesitation in her face.

“I’m on the Pill.”

He knew that, had seen the container with its twenty-eight tiny pills in her bathroom.

“I’m safe,” she said and stroked her thumb over the tip.

Sure she was. Shit, she’d been with one man before him. She was the one who should be worried. He didn’t keep score but even the approximate number was a fucking scandal.

She stroked him again, tip to base, before he uncurled her fingers from around his cock. “I can’t think when you do that, beautiful, and I’d better be coherent for this conversation.”

Obligingly she laid her hand flat on his stomach and looked up at him, complete trust and wicked temptation in her brown eyes. “I’m on the Pill. I’m clean,” she said. As if he hadn’t heard her.

“Fuck,” he whispered. He’d resisted temptation before because kids should be wanted and mistakes happened. Because women lied about all kinds of things, birth control not the least of them. But fuck, oh fuck, now that the option was out in the open he wanted to be bare inside Lacey. His whole body ached with wanting.

And Lacey was honesty personified.


What do you like in an excerpt that prompts you to buy the book, or does the excerpt not factor in at all? Do you only buy certain kinds of ebooks – BDSM themes, or shapeshifters, or ménage, or reunion stories, and the excerpt makes no difference? Is it about voice, or a suspenseful setup, a character who grabs you from page one and doesn’t let go?

Let me know by leaving a comment and I’ll choose one winner of a paper copy of LIBERATING LACEY! And stop by my website or blog to check out my upcoming Spice Briefs releases and other news. Many thanks to those Naughty Girls Next Door for allowing me to guest blog!

**Note** The contest ENDS Sunday, March 28th.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dark Man and Sexy Vampires

Today the third installment of my Blood Slaves series, Dark Man, released from Ellora’s Cave. Before I tempt you with an excerpt or two, I’d thought I’d share some of my other sexy vampires and vampire lore.

The Blood Slaves isn’t my first foray into the erotic decadence of nightwalkers and bloodsuckers. In Hot Blooded, Kelis is a vampire living in LA. And the woman in the story, Loni Soleil is offspring from a man from another star system. And in After Dark, Ellora’s Cavemen Jewels of the Nile Vol II, Alandro Blackwood is a Native American vampire searching for his bloodmatch, the only woman with whom he can breed. In After Dark, I explained away the myths of vampires. Garlic was only offensive because the vampire’s acute sense of smell intensified the odor. Alandro had a reflection but didn’t like looking at himself. Within the comments section of this post, I’ll share an excerpt from After Dark and Hot Blooded.

However, in Blood Slaves, the vampire world is unlike anything I’ve written before. Seven master vampires control the entire vampire world. Only the seven can turn a human, only the seven are warm blooded and only the seven have a heartbeat. In the first three installments, the history of the vampires is only brushed upon. This was intentional. Each story reveals a little more of their world. There is a rift occurring between the seven and the rest of the vampire world and the vampire world and humanity. In future works, you’ll learn more about the disease that nearly destroyed all vampires, how Theron and the other seven survived and how the disease will once again threaten the vampire’s very existence.

But for now, let’s move on to the good stuff. Theron is my favorite character to date. He's stubborn and yet vulnerable. He's responsible for his Sect of vampires and refuses to let others close. He feeds and F*cks in the Catacombs. There are times when he isn't likeable, but you can't help but still feel for him because you know his iron-fisted control comes from a need to protect his world and the vampires. To see him in his own story is both thrilling and scary as hell, because I hope readers love him as much as I do.

This book is graphic and intense. I'm going to post the excerpts in the comments section.

Book 3 in the Blood Slaves series.

Vance is determined to discover the secrets hidden in The Catacombs, an exclusive all-male fetish club. Someone there was the last person to see his ex-lover alive and he intends to seek revenge for the brutal murder. Once in, he meets Tac, the owner of the club. He's secretive and hot as hell. The BDSM sex is unlike anything Vance has experienced. Tac is becoming an obsession and keeping him from the truth.

Nothing can endanger the vampires' existence. Theron, known in the club as Tac, will destroy any who try. He is dominant and dangerous--in total control of his world. He lives only for sex and blood. He has never been emotionally involved with anyone. Now, a human has slipped into his life and under his skin, making him want more than meaningless sex with blood slaves. But Theron will never allow a mere mortal to bring him to his knees.

Note: This book contains scenes of smoking-hot men engaged in multiple-partner sex and bondage.

Click To Purchase Dark Man

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Guest Blog: Gail Roarke, with an excerpt from One Knight Stand

Michelle and the other Naughty Girls Next Door were kind enough to invite me to guest blog here today. Thanks, girls! I'm a long-time fan of pulp fiction and comics. I like larger-than-life heroes and heroines, so when I started writing erotica and romance, much of it involved superheroic characters. One recurring character is Victor Kruger, the Black Knight. He's co-starred in two other stories as the heroine's playmate, but One Knight Stand is my first story from Victor's point of view.

Excerpt: One Knight Stand

Broadway Street in Denver looked like a battlefield. Red and blue lights strobed across the scene, reflected on smashed windows and the wet streets. The last ambulance pulled away with a brief whoop of its siren to clear a path. Cops stood guard over empty suits of powered armor as their former occupants were loaded into police vehicles. Firefighters in heavy turnout coats coiled their hoses, the fires extinguished at last. Bystanders crowded the police barricades, gawking as always, talking and taking pictures with their phones.

Victor caught a glimpse of himself in a storefront window. He looked a mess. His chain mail shirt was slashed, torn, partially melted in places, and full of bullet holes. It was also covered in blood—his blood. He healed almost faster than he was injured so he felt fine, but he looked like an extra for a zombie film. His face and hands were clean, though. The energy that filled him, the same energy that regenerated any injury, no matter how severe, also burned away any blood on his skin. But his clothing wasn’t so lucky.

“Probably why I never get the post-battle interviews,” he grumbled.

Okay, yeah, he was a newbie hero. And he wasn’t affiliated with the Guardians, who invariably got the lion’s share of the credit any time they showed up. He could see the media clustered around the Guardians, including Iron Maiden, and hanging on their every word. But still, he was doing good work, and while he wasn’t doing it for the acclaim, a little acclaim now and then would have been nice.

A soft female voice interrupted Victor’s thoughts. “Mr. Kruger?”

He turned to see a reporter, judging by the press pass in her packet pocket and the photographer at her side, approach him. She was more than a foot shorter than Victor, but at six foot five, he was used to looking down at most people. Slender, with delicate features, fine platinum blonde hair and blue eyes, she was dressed for success in a dark skirt and blazer over a white blouse.

“That’s me,” he said.

“Robin Harris, Denver Weekly News. I’d like to interview you, if you don’t mind.”

“A little late to the party, aren’t you?”

She looked chagrined and glanced over at the media circus surrounding the Guardians. Reporters and cameramen from all the local television stations crowded around, clamoring for attention.

Then she turned back to Victor and shrugged with an adorable grin. “Just a little. It’s been that kind of day. No room at the table for the new gal from a small weekly. I imagine you can relate to that.”

He snorted. “You got that right, sister.”

“So…the interview?”

“Sure. Shoot.” He was pleased that she wanted to interview him, and more than happy to spend time with her. She was quite attractive.

“Great,” she said.

It took only a minute or two for her to coordinate with her photographer. He took a series of photos of Victor, and of Victor with Robin. As he worked, Robin pulled out a small digital recorder and held it up between them.

“We’re outside the headquarters of Ingolf & Devore with the city’s newest protector, the Black Knight—”

Victor grinned at the reporter. “Call me Victor.”

She smiled back. “Victor, then. Tell me, Victor, how did you happen to be here at just the right time to stop the Marauders?”

“Just lucky, I guess. I was in the neighborhood when I saw the Guardians arrive. You don’t usually see all the Guardians in one place unless it’s big trouble, so I figured they could probably use my help. I followed them here—and the rest is history.”

“Wow.” She sounded sincerely impressed.

Victor’s smile grew a little more arrogant, his attention a little more overt. He didn’t think she was a good enough actress to be so convincing, in which event he thought a case of hero worship might serve him well.

He shrugged in faux modesty. “I do what I can.”

“And you do it very well,” Robin replied. The faint widening of her eyes told Victor she realized how she sounded. “I mean, you rescued the hostages without any customers or bank employees getting hurt.” Her eyes flicked to her left toward her photographer. Victor could see him smirking.

“Yes, I did.” He would rather have gone head to head with the Marauders in their powered armor, but Sentinel, the Guardians’ leader, had had other ideas. Victor had been a Marine in World War II, and he knew when to shut up and do what he was told. It wasn’t about him or his taste for brawling; it was about rescuing the hostages—and he’d managed it.

The interview went on for another couple of minutes. Victor answered the woman’s questions, giving her the responses he knew she expected. All the time, he gave her the benefit of his full attention, letting his interest show in his gaze. She really was beautiful. She hung on his every word, meeting his eyes with a bold look of her own, all but preening under his gaze.

“Thank you, Victor,” Robin said, caressing his name. She turned to face her photographer. “That’ll do it, Steve.”

Steve shook his head. “Jesus, Robin, could you be any more obvious about it?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said, nose in the air. She tossed the recorder to him. He fumbled for a moment before catching it and scowled but didn’t pursue the issue.

Victor dismissed the man from his mind. He opened his mouth to speak just as Robin said, “I’d love to get a more in-depth interview with you, Victor.”

Victor heard her photographer choke on a stifled laugh as he turned away. I’ll just bet you would, Victor thought. And I’ll be glad to give it to you.

“What sort of interview?” Victor asked. The not-so-subtle emphasis of her words suggested that she was really angling for a date. She might do an interview too, probably would. But he wondered if she was really just a groupie when all was said and done. Not that there was anything wrong with that. He’d had his share of fun with groupies over the last few months.

“Oh, you know,” she said, twirling a hand in the air, “the usual. Some background, questions about rumors, how you got into the biz—the usual.”


“Yes.” She’d produced a compact from her purse and was checking her makeup as she spoke. “There are always rumors—you know that. For instance,” she added, eyes flicking in his direction once, “Rumor has it you and Iron Maiden are an item.”

Oh ho, Victor thought. “Not true.”

“Really?” She couldn’t keep the pleasure out of her voice.

“Really. I’m not the sort to kiss and tell, so even if we were an item, I wouldn’t discuss it. But take it from me, we are most definitely not an item.”

Not, he thought, if you mean we’re dating, at least. He and Leah—Iron Maiden to the public—certainly had fun between the sheets on a regular basis. But there was no relationship there, no emotional commitment. Just good, clean dirty fun.

“Oh. Well, then. See? That’s one rumor squashed already. So you’ll do it?”

“When and where?”

She smiled with undisguised pleasure. “Excellent!” She put away the compact and produced a business card from one pocket. “How’s eight o’clock tonight?”

Victor took the card. “Let me check my schedule.” He pretended to think for a moment. “That would be fine. That answers one question. But what about where?”

“It’s on the back of the card.”

He turned the card over and saw an address and phone number written on the back. She’d come prepared. He recognized the neighborhood, an upper middle class area in the eastern part of the city.

“Your place?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.

She smiled. “It belongs to friends, actually. I’m house sitting.”

“And you’re allowed to have…guests?” He put just a hint of suggestiveness in his voice, curious as to how she’d respond.

“My friends are adults, and so am I,” she said without the faintest whiff of embarrassment. “Having guests over is hardly unexpected.”

“I suppose not.” He waved the card gently. “I’ll be there, Ms. Harris.”

“Good. And please—call me Robin.”

“Of course, Robin. Eight o’clock, then.”

“I look forward to it. Oh—how do you feel about Indian?”

“I’ll try anything once—”

She cocked her head to look at him sidelong. “I’ve heard that about you. Perhaps we’ll put that to the test.”

He grinned. “If you like. You won’t be disappointed, I promise. And as it happens, I love Indian.”

She smiled without replying then glanced over her shoulder to where her photographer was standing with Man-Ape and Sentinel. She met Victor’s eyes again. “Well, duty calls. Until tonight.”

He bowed his head briefly. “Until tonight.”

She turned and walked away. He watched her go, admiring the sway of her hips and the smooth movement of her legs.