It’s no secret that I write mostly for women.
Mostly. Not entirely.
When I was little and read books written for boys–and there were many–in my head, if there wasn’t one, I always inserted a girl. IMHO, girl perspectives brought something extra to those stories. While boy books made me think, I looked for books that also made me feel. Those weren’t as common as you’d expect.
As a teenager I was reading westerns I borrowed from my father and Harlequin romances supplied my grandmother. That’s how I got my thinking/feeling fix. (I once referred to Louis L’Amours as romances for guys and I thought the male librarian was going to have a stroke.)
I got my start reading fantasy a little later in life with Thieves’ World. Those books had female protagonists. They were kickass. I was hooked. I moved on to Piers Anthony’s Chronicles of Immortality. After that it was Guy Gavriel Kay, David Eddings, and Terry Goodkind.
But that’s not all I read. Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick/Jayne Castle, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and M.M. Kaye all factored in.
These days, as a writer, my optimal mix is 50% romance and 50% plot. While I write primarily for women, I want my books to also appeal to those male readers who want a story that makes them feel as well as think.
All of this brings me to the point of my post. Yes, I write for profit. This is my career and I love it. But I also write for fun. I want to share what I love with my reades, and I love ideas (and apparently cowboys). I love exploring “What ifs.” I have enough story outlines to take me through the next decade.
I hope you’ll join me.
For readers who follow my work, they know I write in two different genres. I’ve written dystopian demon westerns with fantasy elements. Western historicals with aliens and a paranormal vibe. I also write contemporary romance. They all have heat levels that vary from sweet–meaning closed door–to sensual.
Sensual, at least in my writer vocabulary, means there are love scenes, but in terms of the language I use to describe them, they’re pretty tame. It also means that if the love scenes were removed from the story, both the plot and the romance remain unaffected. The love scenes add another aspect to the characters’ relationship, but they aren’t what the deeper, long-lasting relationship is based on.
I’m currently working on a new contemporary romance series. Since this is one I plan to self-publish, I have more freedom when it comes to choosing the heat level(s). I opted to let the characters dictate the heat level appropriate for each of the stories.
Right now I’m almost finished the second book out of three. The heat level for this one is a little more, um…naughty than I’d normally write.
My characters, however, insisted.
To give you a preview:
“I think we’re both clear on what I’m interested in,” he said. “My concern is that neither of us knows what you really want, although whatever it is, I’m pretty sure it’s nothing short term.”
Short term was exactly what she wanted from him. The thought of anything else was too ridiculous. And overwhelming. “You think you know me that well after a few phony kisses and a day at the beach?”
“I’m saying you’d never go through with it. You’re too…”
His voice trailed off as if he’d thought better of whatever he’d intended to say. His expression, however, made his point loud and clear.
“Boring?” she suggested.
“I thought we’d cleared up that misconception last night. Boring is the last thing I find you. You aren’t, however, the kind of girl a guy picks up in a bar for one night.”
She crinkled her nose. “I’m judging you right now.”
He laughed. “Let me rephrase that. You’re more the kind of girl a guy takes home to his mother. I haven’t introduced mine to anyone since Sarah Keddy in fifth grade.”
Which brought them right back to boring. “Still judging you. For what it’s worth, I’m more interested in competing with the kind of woman you’d pick up in a bar, not a fifth grader.” She drew air into her lungs and went for brave. She swung her leg over his and straddled his hips, resting her palms on his chest. She leaned in close, her lips suspended above his. “I am very interested in that one night you speak of. Strictly for research purposes, of course. To see how you’d perform against a baseline.”
She read the astonishment in his eyes. Then, the spark of pure lust.
One broad palm cupped the arch of her bottom. Heat scorched through the thin cotton latex blend of her yoga pants. “I confess I’m a little turned on by the dirty research talk.”
“Maybe a discussion on safe sex should come first. I’m clean and I’m on the pill.” She blurted it out on a single breath, the words tripping over each other.
“Same here, Dr. Babe. Except for the pill part. I’m waiting for you science types to perfect one for men. When you do, I’ll be all over it. Until then, I can probably scrounge up a condom or two if you don’t trust me.”
“I trust you.” She wouldn’t be sitting on his lap if she didn’t. The last reservations inside her broke free. “I’m still not sure I like being called Dr. Babe, though.”
“How about if I say it like this?” His hand slid to the small of her back. His fingers eased under the hem of her tank top, caressing the bare flesh of her stomach as they worked their way beneath her bra. She caught her breath, the erotic sensation of his fingertips stroking the sensitive skin beneath the curve of her breast shooting fire to the insides of her thighs. “You are so freaking hot, Dr. Babe. I can’t wait to be inside you.” The evidence of that declaration was apparent, his erection hard and enormous beneath her. His eyes narrowed to cat-like slits in the darkness, predatory, intent, and a total turn on. “Tell me what you’d like me to do to you to get me there.”
The scene escalates from there. My heroine–a definite good girl who’d like to be bad–tries out her version of dirty talk.
Not going to lie, here. The scene was difficult to write because as a writer, it took me out of my comfort zone. It was also a lot of fun though, because it took my heroine out of hers, too.
As a reader, however, it’s still pretty tame. My question for you other readers out there becomes:
What’s your reading heat level comfort zone?
And I’m sharing it with Tricia Skinner!
About Angel Kin:
While channeling Robin Hood’s “steal from the rich and give to the poor” attitude at a local politician’s house, ex-con Katie Logan witnesses a forced suicide. Dirty or not, supernatural or not, he didn’t deserve to die, especially not by his own hand. But with her record, stepping forward as a witness isn’t an option. On the run from the police and the murderer, she turns to The Bound Ones for help.
When a beautiful woman comes to The Bound Ones, half-angel assassin Cain is immediately drawn to her. But when she fingers him as the killer, he can come to only one conclusion. The twin he thought was dead is very much alive…and trying to send him a message. Unfortunately, that message is: “You’re next.”
It’s a race against time as Cain fights to save the woman he’s falling in love with before his brother Abel destroys them both.
About The Demon Lord, a Demon Outlaws novella:
The Demon Lord has conquered the mortal world and sampled its pleasures. Now all he needs is to conquer the goddess who is meant to complete him. She, however, has other plans.
Allia is sent by her goddess sisters to win the heart of the Demon Lord and make him her slave. But Allia soon discovers that the Demon Lord’s heart is not easily given, and that in order to win it, she must sacrifice her own.
Sometimes it is.
But most often it’s not.
We’re in the midst of home renovations. That means the Foreign Guy is yanking stuff out of closets and bedrooms, dumping it all in the middle of the living room floor, and then walking away, wiping his hands and whistling. In all fairness, the junk is mine. He and #1 Son are the tidy ones in the family.
As I was sorting through boxes of papers and photos, I came across class notes, lab reports, and old exams from two third year university biology courses I took mmph number of years ago. The Foreign Guy, who doesn’t have a Canadian degree, had asked me to take a couple of classes for him.
I have a degree in Social Anthropology. No background in science. Physiology of Aquatic Animals and Fish Health were a BIG stretch for me. But I was game to give them a try. Because yes. I am that person. I like a challenge.
And those classes were HARD.
(Did I mention the arts degree?)
My first lab, I was the only student who didn’t know I was looking at a red blood cell under the microscope. I had to borrow a first year biology text book and basically educate myself in order to get up to speed. I’d write down any words I didn’t understand and look them up later. I created my own thesaurus. I even resorted to calling my old high school biology teacher to get help with some of the homework.
He chuckled. Loudly. With far too much evil pleasure. “Bet you wish you’d paid more attention in my class now, don’t you?”
I passed those two classes. In fact, I did really well. But some of my notes are hilarious. I’d written in the margin during one class, “Another effing graph.” The sadist professor liked to use them to illustrate points and I couldn’t read them. I still can’t. Don’t judge me.
What I remember the most, however, was the huge sense of accomplishment when I did well in an area that did not, by any stretch of the imagination, come easily for me. In fact, looking over my old notes now (the information, not the swearing), it’s like they’re written in a foreign language.
Education, it turns out, is my adrenaline rush. Some people skydive. I buy Physics for Dummies. I understand the second law of thermodynamics now, although I’ll never, in this lifetime, be able to do the math. I know my limits. I’m still trying to figure out entropy and measuring the disorganization of a system, too. I understand it in theory. I can’t remember the flow. It looks too much like a graph.
I pace my adrenaline rushes. I’m not insane. After I took those courses, I checked out every Georgette Heyer book the local library had. Thanks to Ms. Heyer, I also now know what ratafia is.
I can use that.