It’s another rainy day here in Arkansas. I swear, this has to be one of the wettest years ever. Because of all the rain, pool time didn’t begin until mid-May (usually, we dare dipping our toes mid-April!). With quarantine ongoing here on the farm (that’s an exaggeration, we have 10 acres), we really love it when the kids can be outside. Instead, we have to be very creative to keep them from getting stir-crazy.
This is the last day of the current storm system, so we’re hoping the pool will warm right back up and we’ll be out there enjoying the sunshine, but in the meantime, the dogs, the cats, the kids, are all underfoot constantly. Gah. It wreaks havoc on my work schedule, but what can you do?
Any suggestions? Comment for a chance to win a copy of one of my short stories! I’ll choose 3 winners!
UPDATE: The winners are…gift cards: Colleen C and Mary Preston; and anthology: Debra Guyette and Becky Parsons!
Hi! My name is Megan Ryder, and thank you for having me back on the blog for another chance to talk about my books. Today, I’m thrilled to talk a little bit about making the transition between contemporary and paranormal romance.
I’ve been writing for a long time (longer than I care to admit) and I’ve been writing contemporary romance for most of that time. I’m published with a few books including sexy baseball heroes, a matchmaking bride and her bridesmaids, and lately, cowboys. While I love all of those, my first love has always been paranormal romances, especially shifters, but I was always hesitant to make the shift (pun intended) to a new genre. When I heard about this anthology, my short story popped into my head completely formed as a prequel to my series and the perfect way to test my skills.
My story centers around a female shifter who is trapped into running from a group of alpha males who want to forcibly claim her as a mate, only to run into another alpha who offers to save her. The only problem is – he really IS her mate and she doesn’t want a mate at all.
In paranormal romance, I wanted to deal with the concept of consent, because “fated mates” being a trope in the genre often blurs the lines for consent. In this story, I wanted her to be a strong alpha female and her mate to be willing to see her that way and accept her and look for her consent, even as their natures want them to mate.
It was fun playing with the paranormal world, setting up the shifter structure and society, and dealing with the biology, too. And I slipped in something I thought was relevant to our current times.
Check out the snippet below and let me know what you think.
For my giveaway, let me know if you like the “fated mates” trope, where characters have one and only one mate for them (and often they know it and can’t fight it for long). I’m giving away 2 electronic copies of the anthology – First Response (given on release day) – and 2 $10 gift cards to Amazon.
Excerpt from “Claiming Lyla”
A she-wolf being hunted by pack males during a claiming rite is rescued by a rogue alpha determined to make her his own, despite her desire to be independent…
Lyla folded her arms in front of her, a defensive gesture, closing herself off from him, while plumping up her full breasts so they strained against the lace. “What do you want?”
He cocked his head at the howls growing closer. “You don’t have much time, or much of a choice, sweetheart. You either deal with me or them. And trust me, I’m the lesser of your evils.”
A laugh broke from her throat, a raw, harsh sound that held no humor. “I’d prefer none of you. Why can’t you leave me alone, you bastards? You want me to just roll over and spread my legs like a good little bitch. Well, fuck that.”
He winced at her harsh tone and steeled himself. A breeze picked up her scent and tickled his senses with it, and his cock hardened further, painfully. His wrists burned hotter under the skin, prickling like a thousand fine needles that made him want to scratch an itch. Nothing would appease the sensation, he feared. He cursed under his breath. Fuck. Not the best time to find his mate. Not here. Not in this goddamn situation. This night had just gone to shit, and now the bonds were pulling him in even tighter.
I started my writing career as a ghostwriter. It was a great way to cut my teeth and hone my craft, but the pay was abysmal, and of course, other people took the credit for my work. So, last year I finally made the leap to writing for myself, and so far, the pay hasn’t been any better, but it’s been a blast! I’m back for another Boys Behaving Badly Anthology and have several more anthologies planned for the coming year. The most fascinating part of this journey has been developing my writing process and learning about that of other authors. It’s amazing how differently everyone approaches writing. Some authors meticulously plan out their work step by intricate step. It’s like a beautiful dance in colorful illustration before the first word is even put on the page. For others, they wade in with a vague notion or idea and just see where it goes. My process lies somewhere in the middle.
Typically, I have a rough outline of where the story will go with major plot points. How I get from point to point isn’t necessarily defined. Sometimes, the storyline drives the words, but more often, I find the characters and who they want to become influences the story the most. I’ve been astonished at how some of my stories have turned out!
No one was more surprised than me when I finished my latest short story, The Invisible Goddess, about Hestia, the Greek goddess of fire, hearth, and home. I call her the forgotten Olympian because she has almost no stories about her. She’s rarely mentioned at all in the myths. So, I reinvented her with the idea to make her bolder and write a bit of romance into her hum-drum life of keeping Zeus’s court at Olympus. What I ended up with was a fiery hot goddess who brings Olympus to the brink of war over her hand and in the middle of it all, a primordial god of darkness stirring the pot, and the heroine’s heart. The god of darkness wasn’t even in my original outline of the story! This is the coolest part of writing. I love it when my imagination gets churning, and suddenly, a story that I never even realized was there materializes on the page. I look back at this short story and wonder where the heck it came from!
Aside from how writers approach the structure of their stories, I also find the logistical aspect of how authors work intriguing. Some authors write every day, 8 hours a day. It’s their job, and they treat it as such. Of course, that whole time isn’t necessarily spent spinning words onto the page of their latest and greatest novel. A lot of it is spent working social media, responding to emails, editing, and updating their website and blog. Some authors have a particular place they like to write, or they have a prewriting routine they do. Other authors don’t touch their keyboard for days or weeks. Then, they sit down and binge write for days on end. Again, I find myself somewhere in the middle.
I’m not cool enough to write full time- yet! One of these days…. But for now, my writing must fit in with a full-time job as a nursing instructor, a 21-acre farm, and a family. I don’t have time for rituals or routines- other than coffee. There is always time for coffee! I fit writing in whenever and wherever. I often peck away at my keyboard at my daughter’s horse riding lessons and scribble ideas on the back of my grocery list while waiting in line at Costco. I wish I was one of those disciplined souls that would get up 2 hours early and write before work. Countless failed early morning exercise aspirations have proven that it isn’t a sound strategy for me! My main goal is to write a little bit every day. Sometimes, it’s literally a single sentence, and sometimes, when the writing gods smile upon me and the stars align, it’s pages. In the end, it always seems to come together.
Anthologies, like the latest Boys Behaving Badly with my gracious hostess, Delilah Devlin, attract me because I can write tons of different storylines, and they’re typically short story to novella lengths. I have several going at the same time. One of the other things I’ve discovered about my writing process is the stories and characters often need to marinate at different points along the way. Sometimes, we gotta give each other a bit of space! I also like to sleep on my stories. Seriously, I do my best writing as I am falling asleep. I’ll turn a particular point around and around in my head, and in that semi-dozing state, my mind forgets boundaries, conventions, and the distractions of daily life. Suddenly, the imagined world is possible and some of my best ideas have come from this technique (Ok… I’m not sure that falling asleep is a technique, but I’m going to go with it!). I’ve also utterly annihilated storylines and caused myself tons of extra rewrites because I came up with a scene that I just couldn’t live without. I guess that’s why they call it a process!
I will continue to hone my practice and do hope to transition to writing full time. I have dreams of writing full-length novels with glossy dust jackets adorned with my picture and having a fan base that stretches beyond blood relatives! For now, I’ll continue to grab the time as I can find it and inspiration where it is granted. I can’t wait to see where my journey takes me next. I hope that you’ll join me along the way!
My website and latest releases, including The Invisible Goddess coming this fall, can be found at acdawn.com or wander over to my Facebook page and follow me there!
As always, many thanks to Delilah for letting me pop in! Until next time…
Here’s a picture of my home base in north Georgia…
I have a confession to make, one which likely shows what a sheltered life I’ve lived:
Last year, I discovered that tentacle sex was… a thing. And as I shared my shocked wonder with my fellow author pals, their response was always a shrugged “Oh, yeah, Hentai. It’s been around for a long time.”
*blink*blink*picks jaw off floor*
So, it would seem that the Japanese tentacle erotica, which falls under the category of Hentai, essentially anything that isn’t human-heterosexual-twosome-sex in both the Japanese and English language, has been around since as early as 1814 when a Japanese artist depicted a woman having “relations” with two octopuses in his “Dream of a Fisherman’s Wife.”
Honestly, I shouldn’t have been shocked. After all, the 80s were my formative years, and the movie Better off Dead starring John Cusack was when I learned the difference between covering a love interest with testicles versus tentacles. However, my mind was blown upon the discovery of Hentai, specifically tentacle sex, for two reasons:
1) As a romance author, I thought I fully grasped the breadth and depth of what turns people on (obviously, I didn’t). And,
2) As a Sci-fi Romance author, this opened a whole new area of possibility when crafting my characters and worlds.
Turns out, an old dog can learn new tricks, and I put the knowledge in my back pocket, anticipating an opportunity to use it. That’s when Delilah’s Boys Behaving Badly Anthology call for submissions came. So I played with the concept of tentacles and had a blast doing it. You can read the result in Delilah’s upcoming anthology, currently on pre-order (links below, in case you haven’t already one-clicked).
I hope you like the story about spaceport bar owner, Lorlii Atarga and Fire Force Captain Roark Trekker!
Excerpt from “The Siren’s Song”
While verbal sparring, especially the joking innuendos, with Roark was entertaining, she’d give a bottle of rare Carhind’n Rum to change that into a physical tussle. But how to transition to a more climactic sort of ribbing? She was hornier than a bayhar and ready to ignite with little more than a smooch of his full lips. Her sexual drought had lasted several months at this point. No one seemed interested in her, outside of her mixology skills and Twofer Tuesday specials. A little attention from a handsome man that didn’t involve anything shaken, stirred, or two fingers neat…
Lorlii swallowed hard at the thought of what Roark could do with a couple of fingers. He’d never know, but he starred in all her masturbation fantasies.
Ava Cuvay writes out of this world romance featuring sass and sex set in a galaxy far, far away. She resides in central Indiana with her own scruffy-looking nerfherder and tween kiddos. When not writing, Ava is thinking about writing. Or wine. And she’s always thinking about bacon.
I am so excited to be selected for a second Boys Behaving Badly anthology with Delilah Devlin! This one is near and dear to my heart. For over a decade, I was a paramedic/firefighter in the urban jungle of Atlanta. When I saw the call for submissions for this anthology, I knew I had to enter. I had so many stories to share. But, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I abandoned several stories before I finally found my stride in “Crossing the Line”. I struggled to find the balance between fact and fiction, and it brought a lot of long-forgotten emotions boiling back up to the surface.
I was surprised how much I missed the firehouse and the guys as I went on my stroll down memory lane. The camaraderie in a firehouse rivals any family. I loved my guys, and on the days that I wanted to be anywhere but there, I still looked forward to seeing them. I knew their kids, wives, girlfriends, and boyfriends. We cooked dinner every night and slept in one great big bunk room. You can’t help but get close. I knew who snored, who talked in their sleep, how they liked their coffee, and who I could count on to have my back when the chips were down. They were my brothers, and I miss them.
I get asked a lot about station house romances. Oh yeah, they’re a thing. I never had one in my own house (that’s never a smart move), but I married a guy from the neighboring station! I had known him for years, but when I got stationed in the same battalion and started bumping into him on calls, the attraction that was there had a chance to grow into something more. At first, I wasn’t sure if I was imagining things. He was a nice guy, doing nice guy things like holding the door, bringing me a Gatorade after a fire, and helping me clean up the truck after a bad call. Surely, it was nothing more than that.
Then, in the wee hours of the morning, the battalion was called out on a house fire. We could see the flames from the station, and everybody’s heart started to go a little faster. Middle of the night fires tended to be tragic. Smoke detectors really do save lives! Fortunately, on that night, the fire was in an abandoned house, and no lives were in jeopardy. Unfortunately, the house, which was still under construction, sat down at the bottom of a hill, and it had been raining steadily for days. The lot had turned into a sea of red mud.
The roof and three out of four sides of the structure were blazing. My crew was assigned the backside of the house, which meant we had to cross the ocean of mud. At first, we made pretty good progress, but as we got to the rear of the structure, the mud swallowed my leg and refused to let go. Other companies had begun the attack. Water cascaded down on the fire, slowly filling the area until a pond began to collect on top of the mud. With the guys’ help, I managed to pull my leg free, but my boot was forever lost to the sucking mud. We sought higher ground, I borrowed a boot, and we got back to the fight. Finally, we got the blaze under control, and as the sun came up, we began the long process of cleaning up. Mud covered everything from hoses to firefighters.
As we were packing up, I realized I had lost my face mask, part of our breathing apparatus. It had been clipped on the front of my harness as we’d approached the house, but somewhere in the slog, it had gone missing. My stomach clenched. It was an expensive piece of equipment, and on top of my boot, the logistics officer was not going to be happy with me.
My crew reassured me they weren’t going to take it out of my paycheck, but my captain sent me to look for it. Suddenly, the rest of my crew had lots of other things to do that didn’t involve going back to the mud pit to look for my lost mask. Resigned, I skirted the worst of the mud in my mismatched boots and started to hunt. I soon had company. I smiled at the man who would become my husband as we waded through the mud in the early morning light. (We found the face mask by the truck. It had fallen off before we’d even got started!). I figured any man who would willingly crawl through mud to help me was worth getting to know a little better. He took me to breakfast, and I’ll leave the rest to your imagination!
My time on the streets of Atlanta adds depth to my stories. My experiences taught me that I could do more and go farther than I had ever dreamed. I weave those lessons throughout my writing. “Crossing the Line” is a blend of fact and fiction, but I’ll leave it to you to sort out which is which!
As I’m an erotic/steamy romance writer, the title of my post can only refer to one thing: the Cone of Learning. Ha, ha. Made you look.
One long ago Easter from my childhood, I made a Sunday School craft that continues to have a lasting impression on me almost fifty-five years later. What I recall is the first part of the tri-fold craft showed Jesus’ body being laid in the tomb. The second part depicted the stone rolled into place. The third showed the tomb empty. I remember thinking “How was that possible?” Precisely the point of the lesson: it was a miracle. I remember being hit with a sense of wonder like a flashbulb going off. Why is it the recollection of that craft has the same impact on me now when I’m sixty-three years old as it did when I was seven or eight? The answer is the Cone of Learning.
I came across this concept when I trained Sunday School teachers. Developed in the 1960’s by Edgar Dale, the Cone of Learning posits these points: people generally remember 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, 50% of what they see and hear, 70% of what they say and write, 90% of what they perform. In other words, the deeper you go, the longer it lasts. As I think back on that Sunday school craft, I’m sure I heard the story being told while I colored and cut and pasted in the company of other children doing the same thing. I probably read or repeated bible verses, too. That simple little craft took me deep into the cone.
The Cone of Learning takes on new meaning for me now I’m a writer. As I revise and edit my stories I have to do all I can so the 10% my reader recalls is truly memorable. This is why we writers are encouraged to show don’t tell, to evoke as many of the senses and to get as deep into the character’s point of view as possible. Think about the stories that have stuck with you. Think about passages you read over and over again to relive some delicious thrill or surprise. Your senses were engaged by sensory-rich sentences and settings. Emotion coursed through you as the character’s thoughts and feelings became your own. These authors took you deep and impressed you in ways that guaranteed you’d remember the 10% of what you read long after you put the book down.
With this in mind, my goal is to write thrilling, evocative and emotionally satisfying stories, stories so striking that fifty-some odd years later, the 10% my readers recall will be as fresh and impactful as my recollection of that Easter Sunday School take-home craft.
“$5.00 Kiss of Life” from First Response
Trapped by the small-town conventions imposed on her, a pastor’s spinster daughter finds rescue in the town bad boy’s very public kiss…
Excerpt from “$5.00 Kiss of Life”
Loose lips sunk ships during the war, Bev. And still do. Only now the ships are voter registration drives and lawsuits and attempts at economic self-sufficiency. It’s not Nazi spies listening and betraying but law enforcement officers who first tip-off Klansmen and other night riding types then stand by as they target the Negro lawyers, teachers and ministers who educate and encourage the folk of color to claim their rights. It’s not Tokyo Rose undermining Negro pride and confidence but those among our own people who choose the safety of their present limitations to the risks of a future determined by the freedom of true independence. Loose lips sink ships, Bev…and they still do.
You’d expect the ones oppressing you to do all they could to keep you down. But for members of the race to sow envy and fear and suspicion so as to undermine efforts to uplift the race was most distressing.
And most familiar.
A good reputation was the battleship in need of protection where she lived. To keep it afloat peer pressure, tradition and societal expectation waged a constant battle against the loose lips of gossip and scorn and lies.
As the daughter of the town’s minister she’d experienced the looks and the whispers and the dressing downs that kept her in her place. The freedom garnered by her one small rebellion – becoming the town librarian rather than the dutiful wife of her father’s associate pastor – turned out to be as limiting as the choice she’d rejected.