Welcome Gentle Readers

This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Hot Cops - A Continuing Journey

Why, in the midsts of my princes and princesses do I have a Work In Progress about a pair of gay cops? Fully explaining that would take years. In short, I am a film maker as well as a novelist. The characters in this excerpt are from a film we're developing called Freak Experts. In short, the film is about a pair of LA detectives who are embroiled in a pair of complexed and kinky cases. To make their lives and jobs more complicated, they have recently started an intense relationship and moved in with each other.

This novel currently titled Freak Experts: The New Partner (title is likely to change) is about how they came together. This excerpt is the pivotal scene when they first make love. I'm not starting the novel there, but it's the section that I really have to get right, so I'm going to workshop it here. Opinions are welcome. For more on the film version, go to: http://freakexperts.com.

Without further ado:

CJ didn’t know why he was on that road. He should have taken the last exit. There were a few nice long-term hotels near LAX. He had babysat a few witnesses in one that even had a kitchenette and wfi. That one was right off the freeway on ramp. Getting to work even in bad traffic would be under a half an hour. Instead, CJ was hugging the coastline in the darkness enjoying the sudden biting crispness in the air. CJ breathed in the salty, fragrant breeze as he wound his way through the narrow complicated neighborhood without really thinking about where he was going.

“This isn’t a convenient place to live at all,” CJ observed to himself as he squeezed into a parking space on a street crowded with cars. Even the ones in driveways jutted out to almost illegal lengths. His destination didn’t even have a space for a second car. “What the hell am I doing? God, I’ve actually left Marilyn.”

CJ’s eye filled and almost spilled over at the thought of the anguish on her face as he closed the front door behind him. But her last words propelled him the remaining distance to the front door. He didn’t think about why he brought his suitcase.

Jordan looked tired when he came to the door. He may have even been asleep. CJ thought briefly about how tedious and draining it was biding time waiting to testify. He found it harder than working cases.


CJ blinked at Jordan’s sleepy blue eyes.

“It’s not just lust,” CJ blurted out. “For me, it isn’t.”

Jordan’s eyebrows raised. “But some of it is.”

“Some of it’s what?”

“Lust,” he replied. There was a lot in those big blue eyes then. There was befuddlement worry and something else that made CJ swallow hard.

“Yes,” he almost chuckled. How could he want to laugh now?

Jordan stepped back and waved him inside the living room. “Take a load off. I’ll get you a drink.”

“Nah, I’m driving.”

“No you aren’t,” Jordan replied firmly. His voice was floating in from the kitchen.

The tension in CJ eased then. There was something really pathetic about a lone guy checking into a hotel in his own city. How many guys had he interviewed that were living in one room with a hot plate? He never wanted to be that guy. Jordan’s sofa was really comfortable. Actually sleeping was suddenly a possibility.

CJ drifted mindlessly as he watched cable news. He hadn’t realized that a little time had passed until a small plate was deposited in front of him on the coffee table. It was an appetizing square of lasagna. A glass of red wine was placed next to it.

“You should eat something,” Jordan said settling next to him with his own plate and glass.

“You Italian?” CJ asked after sampling a forkful of the food.

“On Mom’s side, but I didn’t make it,” he replied. “Italian deli down the road.”

“Thanks. I didn’t eat dinner.”

“Knew that. Looks like you packed instead,” he said. His eyes were sad as he looked at the bag. “She told you about lunch.”

“Yeah. I’m sorry...so sorry,” CJ muttered. There was suddenly a lump in his throat. He put his fork down.

“Sip the wine, and keep eating,” Jordan said gently. “You’ll feel better.”

Keeping his mouth full was easier than talking. CJ didn’t know if he could really talk about what happened that night.

“I’m not going to be a good friend to you, Ceej,” Jordan said quietly as he eased back on the sofa.

“Hmmm?” The declaration surprised him mid sip.

“A good friend would get you a pillow and a blanket and make you eggs in the morning then help you find a furnished apartment,” Jordan replied sipping his wine.

“You aren’t going to do that?”


CJ put down his empty plate then turned to look at Jordan. He leaned back on the sofa as well with glass in hand. “What are you going to do that’s so bad, Jord?”

Jordan looked him straight in the eyes. He wasn’t befuddled or worried any longer. “I’m taking you to bed, Ceej. It’s a very bad idea. It’s the last complication you really need, but I have to.”

“You do?”

“Oh yeah,” he replied considering CJ almost lazily. “There’s something about you...makes me want to drive you crazy.”

CJ was fully confident that Jordan could accomplish that without ever touching him, but that wasn’t the matter at hand. “Is it more than lust for you?”


He looked CJ in the eyes again. Forget swallowing. Breathing was getting really difficult. “Then, why can’t you be more of a friend?”

CJ didn’t know why he was asking all those questions. He wanted Jordan to make him stop thinking. Maybe some part of him wanted to make sure he was acting with his eyes wide open. For his part, Jordan’s intense vibe hadn’t changed. He just seemed more agitated about any delay.

“I’m not perfect,” he said quietly. He deliberately placed his wine glass on the coffee table. He then took CJ’s glass and put it aside. “We aren't here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and die. Now, I want you to come with me and get in my bed.”

CJ stared at him. “You’re quoting Moonstruck to me? Jord, that’s so gay.”

Jordan had him by the shoulders and his head was angling perfectly. “You knew it was Moonstruck. How gay is that?”

Jordan's lips sealed with CJ's. A talented tongue invaded his mouth. That clean, spicy scent filled his nostrils. It seemed to CJ that Jordan was possessing him, and he didn't mind. CJ moaned into the kiss wrapping his arms around Jordan and holding on.

Sequels, Prologues and the limits of Debauchery

My apaologies for this blog being late. I've been waging war with the flu. First, it was my husband then it was me. Ah well. Here it is!

Why a sequel? Why, oh why as sequel? I was not intending to write one. In fact, I was only trying to scratch an old fanfic itch when the story popped into my head. And the book was a long time in the making as I was out of practice writing novels.

That said, the sequel was born out of one of my favorite aspects of the writing process. There is a moment during while with and writing characters for a long time that they develop their own voices and personalities and start living their lives in front of me. I'm no longer creating actions for them to take, I reporting on what they are doing. When I'm really lucky, it happens during the outline and synopsis process. Since I tend to live with my characters a long time before I actually start writing, it happens sooner than later. Often it makes for wonderful, free flowing prose. Sometimes, it can be a bother when the characters fight the way I originally planned on writing the book. It's annoying because they must win. When they fight me, it's because I'm heading in a direction that ultimately won't work for the novel.

In The Gift of Surrender, I wrote Nikulainen's kin as a strong and close knit family. There was a lot of laughter and warmth between the brothers despite their competitive natures. Their father, King Magnus loved them despite his warped way of showing it. It was the way those brothers were written that demanded that I find someway to heal the rift between Armas and his family that happened in the novel. Could I really portray them as such a loving family and have them be so unforgiving toward their kin? Ultimately, I couldn't ignore their deep, sexy voices. Armas had to work his way toward his family's forgiveness and find true love (of course).

The Price of Surrender presented many challenges because I felt it had to stand alone. I couldn't be sure if anyone reading it would have read the first book. At the time I began the new book, I was reading a hot debate on one of the romance lists about whether or not readers read prologues in books. I was almost disheartened by how many on the lists skipped prologues and started with chapter one. I had been planning on summarizing the first book in a prologue. Thus, I had to weave more of the exposition of the first book throughout the sequel. That turned out to be fun because I really had to show Armas' early debauchery so the reader would know how far he came in courting Princess Laurila. Thus, aside from b&d, I also have some scenes with multiple partners and references to buggery (all tastefully done, of course).

What is terribly annoying now is that I am barely finished the sequel when another character is demanding its own novel. And this one can't even speak yet! Baby Kirsi, the youngest of Nikulainen and Sarianna's children is such a charming and beguiling baby, I began to wonder what her life would be like when she came of age. Could her parents and protective brother and uncles keep her from falling for the wrong mate? Would she be called upon to save her kingdom's land from darkness as her mother had? I will wait a while before I answer those questions, but I do know at some point, I'll be compelled to answer them.

If these blogs piqued your interest, you can purchase The Gift of Surrender at:

http://sybpress.com/titles.htm#Surrender. The Price of Surrender will be available next month.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Eyes of the Beholder -- Point of View

I think Point of View (POV) is important in romance and erotica because it is part of the seduction of the readers. Many writers (including me, depending on the story) like to use a single point of view through the whole novel. Most of the time, it’s the heroine’s POV. That’s understandable because she is the seducee, if you will. The typical heroine is going from a state of profound innocence and loneliness to falling madly and completely in love. It’s always fun to fall in love, after all. And most romance writers are females and writing the heroine is writing what one knows.

In the Gift of Surrender, I switch POV between Sarianna and Nikulainen. There are a number of reasons for this. First, I’m weaving what I hope is a rich, complex story about a far off realm. Since the heroine and the hero are facets of a complicated political situation, the reader needs to hear from both of them to understand why events are unfolding in the manner that they are. Second, Nikulainen is going through as much of a seduction as Sarianna. In surrendering himself to Sarianna’s will over his body, Nikulainen is going through a physical and emotional experience that he has never known. He is being seduced just as surely as he is seducing Sarianna.

As the story unfolds, each chapter is usually told from one point of view. Once the couple meets, I usually overlap the events in the last part of the chapter with the opposite POV of the character in the chapter before. For example, if the chapter ends with Nikulainen wondering why he is being summoned to the King’s private receiving hall, the next chapter begins with Sarianna during that exact same time. This is to cover the two views of important events that are unfolding as the chapter ends or to have the two experiences in the aftermath of lovemaking.

I believe this method allows the readers to know and care about both the hero and heroine. Of course, I violate that rule in the sequel, the Price of Surrender. In that novel, which will be out next month, there are three points of view: Nikulainen, Sarianna and Armas. I do not have Laurila’s point of view even though she is inadvertently being seduced by Armas. Nor do I have the POVs of Julin or his lady love. There were just too many of them. I thought that many voices would become a din. The drama in the sequel revolves around Sarianna, Nikulainen and Armas, so that’s whose voices we hear. As for the seduction, Armas is trying hard -- though he is failing -- not to seduce Princess Laurila. The courtship is very different from those of his brothers, so I thought having only Armas’ POV in that novel was valid.

If any of this piques your interest, order the book:


Monday, March 13, 2006

Where to Start: The Novel's First Scenes

I never begin a novel at the beginning. I usually have a vivid scene in my head featuring the hero or heroine that makes me want to tell a story around it. Oddly enough, it usually isn’t a love scene that spurs me into action. They are the most fun things to write, but my stories rarely befing there.

For ‘The Gift of Surrender’ it is the moment that Sarianna first lays eyes on Nikulainen. I admit to being inspired by the amazing exploits of the wondrously beautiful Legolas Greenleaf. I saw a lithe, beautiful man racing around the tops of the Citadel outer walls dispatching assassins with his long blond hair whipping in the wind. I had a recurring image of how he looked at the battle’s end in the light of the setting sun with his hair still mussed as he looked at the woman he would love for the first time. It was a scene that I couldn’t get out of my head.

I had no plans to write a novel at that time, but the characters begged to be written. Thus, I had to figure out who Sarianna was and what forces were swirling around such a young woman that would result in assassins arriving to kill her. I had to figure out how a man unlike any Sarianna had ever seen came to be in the area and in a position to save her. Then, I had to figure out how they would end up together happily ever after. The entire plot of the novel sprung from that one scene.

The sequel (and possibly a third novel) have sprung from single scenes as well. For ‘The Price of Surrender’ (it will be released next month), it was a scene in the woods where Sarianna is once again in peril from assassins. This time, her 6 year old son is trying to convince her and her companion, Laurila, that the danger is real and headed their way. Though he is a child, Sarianna trusts his instincts because he is so much like his father. They hide in the trees while Laurila tries to flee. There is a taut cat and mouse game in those woods where Armas, Nikulainen’s prodigal brother, comes from nowhere to rescue Laurila and divert the assassins from Sarianna and her children.

Everything flowed from that scene. Why and how did Armas come to be in the woods near his brother’s kingdom? Why were the assassins after him? How did Laurila come to live with them? How would the family react to Armas’ return? Would he or could he find happiness with Laurila. And what danger stalked the errant Prince that could yet destroy them all?

I suppose I like to begin with where the drama lies with the characters. Everything else, including the love scenes flow from that.

A quick note about the use of Finnish in the character names and places. I didn’t italicize because that always annoyed me. I know it’s perfectly valid, but it somehow makes the words less part of the fabric of the story if I keep pointing out that they are unusual words. I wanted them to become part of the lexicon of language in the novel, so I treated them as I did English words.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Love Scenes -- When is the First and then How Often

When to have the first love scene in the novel is a common dilemma for writers, including me. There is a lot of temptation, even pressure from some quarters, to try to hooks readers as quickly as possible. A compelling love scene as early as possible is one way to accomplish that. I have read historical romances where this approach worked very well. In Shanna and The Flame and the Flower, Katherine Woodiwiss has her couple engage in sex within pages of first meeting each other. They then spend the rest of the novel getting to know one another. I’ve also read erotica where the couple was physically addicted to each other and the consequences of that addiction for good or bad is what drives the plot. In the hands of a good writer, these sorts of novels can be a great read.

However, I prefer for the reader to get to know the characters prior to their first physical encounter. I want the reader to be seduced as the characters are being seduced. In the case of The Gift of Surrender, there was also the issue of unfolding the political situation around the characters that threw them together. I want the situation to be as realistic as it can be in a fantasy setting that a reader would believe this pair could be thrown so intimately with each other in the way I’ve set up. But above all, I want the readers to know and like the characters as individuals so that they will root for the relationship.

My husband points out that I also enjoy subverting the typical romance novel. And this is very true. In many ways, the Gift of Surrender is a typical period or fantasy romance. It has the feel of a fairy tale at times. The beautiful Princess falls in love with the handsome prince. There is even an evil queen. But I had to subvert it. Yes, Sarianna is a virgin bride, but she and Nikulainen had been doing almost everything but the Big Deed (yes, it’s the Catholic school girl experience coming into play). On top of their exploiting the virgin loophole, there are the B&D elements to their physical relationship.

So once the couple has engaged in the act or in my case, begun round one of ever increasing foreplay, how often to engage them in carnal activities. As a rule, writers want the pages to get hot often enough to keep the reader interested. However, I really can’t stand formulas (every 25 pages, there must be sex). When a formula like that is imposed on a story, I believe the reader can feel it. Then again, the writer cannot get so wrapped up in dense plot and intrigues that the reason for writing a romance is forgotten. I like the love scenes to feel organic to the story. Before they are wed, Sarianna and Nikulainen seek each other’s physical comfort in response to the stress of their relationship. After they are married, they are addicted to each other and permitted to fully act upon those feelings. They are also strengthening the psychic bond they share after intercourse finally occurs.

So, for me as a writer, love scenes take a while before they happen, but they are frequent once they begin.

If this piques your interest, read the excerpt :


Better yet, buy the book!