Monday, February 23, 2015

Finding Time When There is None by Alicia Dean

From left to right, Krysta, Amanda, Kathy, Alicia
Please welcome my guest, Alicia Dean, to Muse Monday!
I am an editor for The Wild Rose Press, a freelance editor, and an author. With a full-time, outside the home job. And, I’m involved in various groups, social media, writing groups, etc. So, finding time to write is a bit of a challenge. My goal is to arise at 5 a.m., two hours before I normally do, in order to squeeze in some writing time. Unfortunately, I don’t usually sleep well, so making myself climb out of bed instead of grabbing those extra few hours takes more will power than I possess. I try to reserve my weekends for marathon writing sessions, but of course, with family and friend obligations, I don’t always have weekends to myself. I also have an incurable condition ‘Can’tSayNoItis.’ So, anytime someone asks a favor or presents a new project to me, before I even consider my schedule and the impossibility of adding one more thing to it, I say, “Yes, of course!” (Don’t tell anyone, if word gets out, I might be swamped with requests ;)). I stumbled across a couple of sayings that I intended to take on as my mantras: ‘Yes makes less’ and ‘No is a complete sentence.’ So far, they aren’t working for me, but I plan to start practicing them…if I can find the time.

What is your schedule like? Do you have tips for managing your time you would like to share?

Fortunately, I was able to find time to complete a writing project with three of my writer friends. The four of us meet each Friday at a Martini Lounge in Edmond, Oklahoma. From those get-togethers, came the idea to write stories centered around a similar establishment. We call the series Martini  Club 4. Our first offerings are set in the 1920’s, and mine is called Ruined.


 She vowed she’d be no man’s doxy, but fate had other plans... 

After the Earl of Goodwin attempts to force himself on her, housemaid Eliza Gilbert flees England for New York, hoping to build a better life. But the land of opportunity proves as harsh as the London docks, and she finds herself in a situation more dreadful than the one she escaped. 

When Vince Taggart
 ’s childhood friend disappears, he heads to New York in search of her and meets Eliza, a woman with a less than honorable reputation. Inexplicably captivated, Vince can’t force himself to stay away, especially when he learns Eliza may be the key to finding his missing friend.

The whole idea sickened him. What kind of pathetic excuse for a man would have to buy a woman’s company? In spite of the bad taste the situation left in his mouth, he tried to appear interested and impressed. He scanned the room. His heart gave a little bump when he spotted Eliza from Club 501.
He tilted his glass toward her. “What about that one?” He hoped his voice sounded more casual than he felt. The idea of spending a night of passion with a dame like her… Nah, he needed to waylay those kinds of thoughts. He wasn’t the type to buy a prostitute. And he was here for one reason only.
Oscar followed the direction he’d pointed. “Oh yes, good choice. Eliza is a quite a prize. And quite a looker. She’s new, but she’s a sweet one.”
An odd sense of protectiveness rose. At the club, he’d sensed something vulnerable and innocent, even though he’d been told she was one of Oscar’s girls. She just didn’t seem the type. When their gazes met that first time, he thought some kind of current—some kind of connection had passed between them. But apparently, she was just really good at her job—enticing men.
Vince nodded. “I’ll take her.”

*** Available for pre-order, and through the end of February, for only 99¢ each - Regular price will be $2.99 beginning March 1!

Amazon pre-order buy link:
Find all four at this link:

Friday, February 20, 2015

Is It Still Fearless if You Are Fearful? by Angelica French

Please join me in welcoming Angelica French to an oh-la-la day at Discover Yourself!

I am so happy to be guest posting today for Brenda. I have admired her and her work for a long time, so this is a real treat to appear here. When she put out the call for guest posters, the “Fearless Friday” topic snagged my attention. Hmm! I have a pretty good life. Nothing to fear in it, right? And then, I realized I had taken a step that was a risk.
It didn’t feel fearless when I started. After all, no one would see it or even know it existed. It was not only my guilty little pleasure, secret for a long time, but it had to be done. The pressure on me to do it kept building until I could no longer ignore the necessity.
“It” was the erotic romance I wrote. Streetwalker was 180 degrees from the culinary mysteries I had been writing. From PG to X-rated.
In large part, I wrote Streetwalker because protagonist Carrie badgered me until I did. I’ve only written two novels in which the protagonist took control, and I felt like I was just the fingers doing the typing. This was one. The real work was done by my young protagonist who gave me her story fully developed.
So, that’s not the fearless part, right? I kept it quiet (except from DH who wondered why we were doing some, er, “inventive engagements” as I “researched” sexual descriptions I was writing).
And here’s a confession. I’ve never told anyone this. The sex in Streetwalker is hot and got me hot, too! I, mean, since I was channeling my protag, it makes sense, right? I was feeling what she felt. It’s a weird experience writing while in heat!
That confession is not the fearless part either. (Although, I am a little fearful about your reaction.)
The fearless part was taking it public. Okay, admittedly not fully public as I used a pen name. But I’ve never hidden the pen name connection with my other author name. I have three names for writing. Each was chosen with the purpose of branding not concealment. I don’t want someone who loves Sharon Arthur Moore’s cozy culinary mysteries thumbing through Streetwalker looking for the recipes.
I told people I had written an erotic romance under the name Angelica French and that I was seeking publication. Nervous titters from my very conservative neighbors. Statements of disgust from my very religious friends (“I do not write smut” I said on multiple occasions). And disappointment in me from some family members and concern that I would embarrass the family.
I’ve learned that few people know where erotic romance falls on the continuum of romance. I had to educate them that what I write is not erotica or porn. Erotic romance focuses on the relationship between characters and uses a lot of sex while doing so. Sex is integral but so is character development and a solid story line. Erotica and porn have much thinner, even non-existent such aspects.
Coming out to people I respect was hard. Judging doesn’t feel good. I don’t know anyone who enjoys being judged, especially from scanty evidence and prejudices and not from a reading of the material.
I sought publication, and after quite a number of rejections, a small press picked me up! Streetwalker was born on August 1, 2013. More e-books than paperbacks sell, but that’s okay. The anonymity of Kindle lets people enjoy my work who wouldn’t want to flash the sexy cover about. Fearless step one accomplished.
But it was with trepidation that I took another fearless step. I gave Streetwalker to my 85-year-old mother. And, like Mikey from the old commercial, she liked it! And she liked it for the right reasons, not just because her kid wrote it. She got it that the story was about Carrie’s character arc and about the relationship with Harlan. She liked the story line very much and enjoyed the surprises along the way. My sister never read page one. Never will. That’s okay. But, from my perspective, she had no right to criticize me for offering the book to our mother.
When you take risks like that, violating someone else’s sense of what’s right, you have to live with the consequences. My sister and I never mention Streetwalker. Her children don’t know I wrote it. Best to keep it as a family skeleton, eh?
Sometimes when people are expressing dismay when they learn about my other line of literature, I play along. “Yeah, I’m thinking of doing an ad campaign like ‘Granny Does Smut’ or ‘Dirty Books for Dirty Minds. Get Yours Filthy’ or ‘Melt your Kindle’”. They usually mutter something about needing another drink and wander off.
So, I own that I write books that many would ban if they could. I’m okay with that as long as you give it a read. Don’t make up your mind about my story based on the blurb or the cover or your definition of erotic romance. See what motivates Carrie. Find out how she comes out a winner despite incredible roadblocks. Then we can talk. Fearlessly.

Streetwalker Excerpt
Streetwalker is the tale of Carrie who wants more from life than to be a street prostitute. She has convinced Harlan, the owner of an Upper East Side brothel to take her as a minority partner for a trial period. In this excerpt from Streetwalker, Harlan grooms Carrie for her introduction to his upscale brothel’s prostitutes and clients.

          “Your eyes get bluer when you’re angry,” he paused, “and when you come. Did you know that?” Harlan teased her, tugging on his shirt sleeves under his tux to pull the cuffs lower on his long arms.
          Carrie blushed. “This is my dress?” There was little to it.
          “I am a diaphanous kind of guy, I guess.”
          Carrie stared at him. “And that means  . . .?”
          “Oh. Filmy, sort of see through, but shadowed a bit, to entice them to find out what’s under all that fabric,” Harlan explained.
          “But this looks like an x-rated prom dress. I mean, here are these sweet little straps holding up the bodice, but then there are only two layers of fabric for the skirt, both di . . .di . . .”
          “Diaphanous. Right. I want them to want you, see but not touch. That little shadow below your abdomen--drives ‘em crazy. Plus, I am pitching you as my virgin, saving you for the right experience, you need to be trained in this work, blah blah. Put it on.”
          She shrugged off her robe into Harlan’s hands, and he could smell the faint aroma of cinnamon around her. He wanted to lean into it and cover himself with her scent.
          She slipped the dress over her head, and he imagined the smooth coolness drifting over her body. Harlan zipped her up, smoothed the skirt, and turned her around for adjustment in front of the tri-fold mirror. The insubstantial straps held up a thin band of bodice, so low, all but her nipples were exposed; from the bottom of the bodice, the skirt fell away in a swirl of color. The silvery fabric caught the light and the color kept changing, blue to silver to white. He stood behind her, his hands on her shoulders. She took his breath away. It was exactly the image he wanted for her to project. Innocence on the brink of discovery.
          Carrie stared at herself as if in awe. “I’m beautiful. I never thought I was beautiful. Oh, Harlan, thank you.” She caught his eye in the mirror and smiled her thanks.
Harlan expertly applied her mascara, the lightest blush, and sheer lip gloss. He brushed her hair into bangs (“So sweet and innocent, aren’t they?”) and tucked the rest of her blond bob behind her ears, not at all seductive. She looked as if she had left the barn to get ready for her big date with the high school football quarterback. He studied her beauty, then crooking his arm asked “Shall we?”
          The room was full of the house women when they arrived, all sipping their grape juice, and chatting with one another. All of the women wore fabulous clothes. The room appeared to be regular Fifth Avenue party, not at all like the brothel waiting rooms Carrie had been in before. Still, none of the women had the fresh dewiness of her look. Carrie would be noticed tonight.
          Harlan was by her side when the first clients arrived, scanning the room and spotting her. His arm lightly around her waist sent a message. She wasn’t going anywhere with anyone anytime soon.

Angelica French Bio:
Angelica French is not now, nor has ever been, a prostitute and to her knowledge, she doesn't even know one. But, Carrie bedeviled her with the story until she sat down to write Streetwalker. She felt like she was just the amanuensis for this tale.
However, Angelica has always been interested in universal feminine issues of self- worth and self-actualization. The "Sex Sells" series is one of redemption, recovery, and romance.
Angelica is happily married, with children, and lives in the desert southwest where she writes with a view of her citrus trees and the snoring of her yellow lab.
Get your copy of Streetwalker here:
Blog: “Romance Righter”
Twitter: @RomanceRighter
Facebook: Angelica French